River Trent

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Welcome to the Looks Fishy Fishing Blog

Angling Trust Division One National Championship

September 19th, 2018

The 2018 Angling Trust Division One National Championship was held on the non-tidal River Trent on Saturday 18th August. The team event was held a week after the Individual National Championship, on the same sections of the river.

Angling Trust National Team Match

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Angling Trust Individual National Championship 2018

September 11th, 2018

The 2018 Angling Trust Individual National Championship was held on the non-tidal River Trent on Saturday 11th August.

In recent years, the fishing on the Trent really has exploded. Many would argue that the fishing now is equal to or even better than the sport in the 80s which gained the river a soft spot in many anglers hearts. The number of silverfish or barbel in the river mush be approaching record levels.

Angling Trust National Individual Match
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Pole Float Conversion – Styl To Shot

January 16th, 2016

We have all been there, you get back from the tackle shop ready to make your rigs with your new pole floats only to find that the weight on the side refers to styls rather than shot. Fear not, here is a handy guide you can use to convert the styl guide to the correct amount of standard shot.

Pole Float Size / Styl

Weight (g)

Shot Equivalent

3 x 10 0.10g 2 x No 10
4 x 10 0.15g 3 x No 9
4 x 12 0.20g 5 x No 10
4 x 14 0.40g 6 x No 8
4 x 16 0.50g 8 x No 8
4 x 18 0.75g 3 x No 3
4 x 20 1.00g 4 x No 3
5 x 20 1.25g 5 x No 3
6 x 20 1.50g 6 x No 3

Best Places to Go Fishing in 2016

December 31st, 2015

So.. New years eve, the end of another year and the beginning of a new one. I had a bit of a break from fishing over the past year but started again a few months ago – just as the cold weather started. I’m looking forward to the new year and have already started getting ready for 2016.

Getting ready for 2016

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Back Match Fishing

November 24th, 2015

Let’s flashback to last Monday to a conversation with Rich at work:

Rich “Have you even been fishing yet this year”
Me “Err”

Rich “You’re not really a proper angler are you?”
Me “Eh?”

Rich “Why don’t you come on this weeks match?”
Me “N..”

Rich “Go on, I will book you in”
Me “Yeah, ok”

That was that. It might be hard to believe, but for someone who runs a website that mostly features commercial venues, it must be around 12 years since I fished one.

Back Match Fishing

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Win a signed copy of Des Taylor’s Great Days – Extra

November 8th, 2015

I was fortunate enough to run into Des Taylor at a Barbel Society event where I managed to get him to sign a copy of one of his books. Pretty much anyone who has ever picked up a fishing magazine will know who Des is, he is a regular contributor to so many publications. The book is signed on the first page, along with a “tight lines” message.

Des Taylor's Great Days - Extra

Great Days Extra is the paper back version of his “Great Days” book, but with an extra three chapters. There are features on all types of coarse and game fishing in the UK, and sea fishing in some much more exotic locations. Learn how Des first got into fishing down on a local canal where he grew up.

I’ve dipped into a few chapters, but now is your chance to take ownership of a great book.

How to win the book

The competition is pretty simple, to be in with a chance simply like the Looks Fishy Facebook page:


The competition will close on Sunday 22nd November. The winner of the book will be picked at random and contacted by direct message.

Happy Birthday Looks Fishy

October 29th, 2014

Looks Fishy is 2 years old

Time flies eh? The Looks Fishy website is now 2 years old! I’ve just been reviewing the website after neglecting it somewhat over the past 6 months or so and noticed the time that the site in its current form has been online. It is sometimes quite hard to date a website as the domain was registered a good few years before, but October 2012 is when the first fisheries were added. If my memory serves me correct, I think Makins was the very first venue I put on the site. This was one of the first commercials I fished as a kid and I used to love the trips down the M1… to some it will always be referred to as “Daiwa Makins”.

I originally set myself the challenge to build a website that received over 10,000 visits a month, and this is now regularly the case. Hopefully the site will continue to grow and become the most comprehensive guide to for places to go fishing in the UK.

The long winter nights are a good time to spend working on content and features for the site. If you have any thoughts or feedback on how the site could be improved then please get in touch or leave a comment.

Interview with Jack Perks

January 7th, 2014

Jack Perks is a film maker and photographer who is based in Nottingham. His work has been used by the BBC, The Wildlife Trust, RSPB, The Environment Agency and The Canal & River Trust. I came accross his profile on the Kickstarter website and then got in touch with some questions about his work.

jack perks

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National Anguilla Club

December 9th, 2013

During the summer, at the Barbel Society show I met Andrea on the National Anguilla Club stand. The eel is a species that I have always been fascinated with so I was very intrigued to find out more about their club and their work to support the preservation and conservation of eels and eel angling.

Can you give us some background information on the National Anguilla Club?

The National Anguilla Club was formed in 1962 when 8 eel anglers formed a specialist angling group. The oldest known surviving member, Arthur Sutton, passed away at the start of October this year, and will be very sadly missed by those that knew him. He will be remembered at our forthcoming annual Winter Social event, attended by NAC members from up and down the UK.

The club was formed to study Anguilla Anguilla the freshwater eel and being fishermen, catching them as well. During those early years extensive study was made using the otolith bone, situated in the eel’s head, mainly to assess the eels age this involved killing the eels and extracting the bone. Eels were 95% more abundant in those days but this practice was stopped early on in the clubs life due to eel welfare.

The club is involved in angling politics with emphasis on the preservation and conservation of eels and eel angling. We have in the past worked with other eel groups and formed the “Eel Conservation Society” which was absorbed into the NAC a few years later as their political wing. We have also been closely involved with initially The National Association of Specimen Groups, which turned into The National Association of Specialist Anglers then The Specialist Anglers Conservation Group finally The Specialist Anglers Alliance.

During its years the NAC has won public enquiries set up by the Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food against water authorities who have tried to ban night fishing and close season fishing for eels. We initiated the campaign against eel netter’s in the early 1970s and at the same time began the national campaign to try and get anglers to return all eels to the water after capture, especially those over 2lb in weight. The age of an eel of 2lbs would be approximately 20 years of age. The campaign “Put Eels Back Alive” was begun by members of the NAC back in the 70’s and notable eel anglers like John Sidley were amongst the first to highlight the worrying decline in eel populations over 30 years ago

The majority of members fish for eels during the more prolific summer months, say April to October. But a few of us fish all year round on waters that can and do produce during the colder months.

The NAC celebrated its 50th year last year and now has over 100 members with a passion for eel fishing. Current members have an incredible list of PB’s to their name, with the largest capture standing at 9lb 13oz by Steve Ricketts in June 2012, with a 9lb 10oz eel in June 2010 and a 9lb 1oz eel in June 2012 as well. The club’s best brace of 9lb 2oz and 8lb 2 oz. was caught by Nick Rose in September 2011 and Barry McConnell landed a 9lb 2oz eel in August 2009. It is hoped that the current record of 11lb 2oz will fall to an NAC member.

We still work to ensure that conservation of the species is kept on the agenda by educating other anglers on how to handle and return eels alive after capture, by asking anglers to consider not using eel section as bait, and by challenging and working with other bodies such as Angling Trust and the EA to make sure current legislation to protect the eel is enforced and improved.

How has the eel fishing been over the summer? I’ve seen some great pics in the weekly press.

The cold spring had a big effect on eeling this year and the season was slow to get going but has produced a 9lb 8oz eel to one of our members in June, and a new Junior record of 5lb 2oz in May. One of the things we are very keen to promote is the correct weighing and measuring of eels caught by our members. Eels are tricky to handle and weights should never be estimated. Some eels featured in the press recently would not necessarily compare well against the “same” weights caught and verified by NAC members; however camera angles and difficult eels mean that photographs alone are not always an accurate assessment of a fish. The recent “record breaking” claim of an eel over 11lb was clearly an over exaggeration though, when compared to the present record of 11lb 2oz.

How long have eel numbers in the UK been in decline and how serious is the problem?

The decline was first noticed in the 70’s and notable eel anglers like John Sidley, commented publicly on the numbers of eels, predicting the crisis we have now where the population of returning elvers has seen a 98% fall and the European eel, Anguilla Anguilla is on the critically endangered list of CITES. The elver run this year was better than expected; however it will take decades for the eel to recover, and the continuing exploitation of eels for food will put more pressure on dwindling numbers. The eel cannot be farmed, as it spawns in the Sargasso Sea and its larval stage takes up to 3 years to drift across the Atlantic Ocean before reaching European shores as glass eels. These tiny creatures are netted by the tonne and sold on to companies which grow them to a size that the global food industry will use. Eels and elvers are a delicacy around the world, and in particular Holland and Japan import hundreds of tonnes. The netted elvers are taken directly from stock that should be maturing in our waters for 10-20 years then returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn the next generation. They are “farmed” artificially to grow them into saleable eels which are transported live across the globe, with any casualties being sold to the fishing bait industry. Classing these eel products, whether on a dinner table or a fishing hook, as “sustainably sourced” is fallacy and something the NAC, for one, is keen to dispel.

There has been a big outcry to stop using eels to catch pike and other predators. Do you think anglers are getting the message?

Hopefully yes. It will take time, as there are new anglers coming into the sport all the time, and older ones who still fish the way they first did, when Adam was a lad. Some habits are harder to break than others. However, by educating anglers that they cannot take any eels from any water in the UK or for up to 6 nautical miles from the coast, and certainly cannot kill any eel they catch for use as bait or to take home for the pot, we hope that each eel caught has a better chance of being returned alive and well. We are also asking anglers to consider where the eel on sale as bait has come from before they purchase it. An informed choice should be a good one, we hope. If anglers object to the large scale exploitation of eels by industries that take and farm elvers then they shouldn’t feel comfortable with supporting the same industries through the backdoor by buying the dead cast offs from the eel farming process.

Do you think that the eel as a species receive enough attention from organisations such as the Environment Agency or Angling Trust?

The Angling Trust and EA do take eel conservation seriously and work very hard to spread the word and protect the eel stocks we have. More is always better though! There are lots of other groups that work to raise awareness about the eel and the press can help too.

If someone wanted to get into eel fishing, what would be your initial advice to get them started?

Take a look at websites like www.nationalanguillaclub.co.uk, www.eelfishing.co.uk and Facebook pages like Eel Fishing for some tips and advice on what to try from other eel anglers. Find a water that no-one has eel fished before and try it. If someone tells you, “There’s no eels in there!” then that’s a great place to start. Keep rigs simple, try worm and dead bait to see which is favoured by the eels in that water. You’ll often find that eels will go for one type of bait more than the other in a particular water so it’s just a case of working out whether they are invertebrate feeders or fish feeders. And be prepared for a lot of blank sessions too. This is part and parcel of eel fishing!

What top handling tips would you give someone if they happen to catch an eel?

We advise that all potential eel bites/takes should be struck as early as possible so as to reduce the potential of deep hooking. Once an eel has been hooked and landed we advise the eel to be moved away from the water’s edge and laid on a soft material such as an unhooking mat.

If the eel is found to be uncontrollable we recommend covering the eel’s eyes with a wet dark material such as a retention sack. Gently sooth your wet hands down the sides of the eel and you will find it calms down. Alternatively turn the eel on its back and straighten it out. This puts the eel into a sort of coma or induced calm. Be very careful using this method as prolonged time left in this position could damage the eel and eventually lead to death. Please as with other species keep your hands and the eel wet as failure to do this will result in the removal of too much of its protective layer of slime which the eel needs to protect it from infections.

It has been suggested in angling publications and on the few TV programs the eel has been highlighted, that the use of dry newspaper, towels or your landing net to grip the eel is recommended. This is NOT the case and irretrievable damage can be done to the eel, removing its protective slime with these dry items.

Once the eel has been calmed down by gentle handling the capture should assess the location of the hook. If it is visible in the lip or at the front of the mouth, strong forceps can be used to remove the hook. If the hook is out of sight we strongly advise against the use of a disgorger, as these have the potential to puncture vital organs that are situated just behind the eels head. We advise if the hook is not visible or easily removed then the line or trace should be cut as close to the hook or eels mouth as possible, leaving the hook in place. The eel’s digestive acids are capable of disintegrating hooks in time, or as has happened many time the eel regurgitates the hook and trace overnight in the retention sack.

On saying all this please help the situation by not letting deep hooking happen, remember strike early.

When you come round to photographing your prize then remember the golden rule. If you grip hard and fight with the eel it will fight back. Lift the eel gently and pose, sounds easy doesn’t it. If it struggles lay it back down and cover its eyes and sooth it as explained in the previous paragraph. Remember all of the eels vital organs are just behind the head so a tight grip here will certainly irrevocably damage the eel. The best way is to gently hold the eel some few inches from the head and under the main body around the anal area. Many methods of holding eels have been seen in the press including inserting a finger in the eels gill and lifting it up, stringing them up on cord or hanging them on barbed wire. All these are barbaric and show a total disregard for the species. If you get chance to see the Geoffrey Palmer Angling TV show (The Complete Angler) which had a 15min bit on eels and eel fishing you will see two experienced anglers totally flabbergasted at the control that NAC member Steve Rickets over the eels caught. The respect he showed the eel and instilled into the two others was brilliant.

Please remember these few tips.

Strike ASAP to cut the chances of deep hooking, remember if it has not got the bait in a hookable position in its mouth its probably small and not the big eel you’re after
Keep the eel calm and moist. Fight with it and it will fight back
Treat the eel with the utmost respect as this fish is probably the oldest and most well-travelled beast you will get your hands on.

  • Strike ASAP to cut the chances of deep hooking, remember if it has not got the bait in a hookable position in its mouth its probably small and not the big eel you’re after
  • Keep the eel calm and moist. Fight with it and it will fight back
  • Treat the eel with the utmost respect as this fish is probably the oldest and most well-travelled beast you will get your hands on


Interview with Charlyfarly2

October 29th, 2013

If you are into fishing, barbel, chub and YouTube, then no doubt you will have already come across the Charlyfarly2 YouTube channel. I have been subscribed to this for quite a while, I love logging in and seeing that a new video has been uploaded. I do confess to sometimes skimming through the video to see when a barbel screams off along the river!

Tom is the man behind the alias, I contacted him so I could find out more about him and his fishing.


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Kryston Quicksilver Braid

October 14th, 2013

There are probably a number of Kryston braids that could feature in this series of favourite items of tackle. I’m a big fan of the Kryston gear, all of their products are strong and reliable, which are the two qualities you need in a hooklength when you are targeting big fish.

kryston quicksilver braid

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Stonfo Magnetic Hook Boxes

October 5th, 2013

As far as I know, the Stonfo beauties were the original magnetic hook boxes which started appearing in peoples tackle boxes around 10-15 years ago. The versatility of the design is proven by the way that many other tackle companies have created similar products. There are now magnetic boxes in the tackle ranges from most popular manufacturers.

magnetic hook box

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Lost Cat Poster

August 27th, 2013

There was no fishing action for me over the weekend, but despite that I did have fun in London.

Lost Cat Poster

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A Day on the River Wye with Dave Harrell

August 1st, 2013

I recently spent a day fishing with Dave Harrell on the River Wye. I had been looking forward to the day since I booked it six months ago… A day on what many think is the best river in the UK along with the best river angler in the country – that’s a pretty special combination!

On the Wye with Dave Harrell

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Fish ‘O’ Mania XX

July 15th, 2013

So… what many people believe to be the highlight of the match fishing calendar has been and gone. The 20th Fish ‘O’ Mania was held at Cudmore Fisheries on the weekend.

Fish 'O' Mania at Cudmore

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Caught in the Act Winner

July 15th, 2013

Congratulations to Gareth Williams who was the recent winner of the signed Caught in the Act DVD.

Gareth Williams

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Win a signed copy of Caught in the Act

June 11th, 2013

After attending the Barbel Society show over the weekend, Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker kindly signed a copy of their new DVD which is called Caught in the Act – which you could now win!

CITA - Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker

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Interview with Jan Porter

May 29th, 2013

Jan Porter is one of those names that people who go fishing hear and instantly smile. He is a one of the great characters in the match and now specimen angling scene. It was very exciting when he agreed to do a feature on here.

Fingers crossed that the day we have planned on the Derwent comes off when the season starts!

Jan Porter with a Bream

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Interview with Nick Fisher

April 4th, 2013

Nick Fisher will be remembered by anglers in the UK as the man from Screaming Reels. The program was a great show that covered a wide range of different types of fishing – in a very unique way. Nick is a very busy man who manages to find time to go fishing in-between writing TV and film scripts, radio shows, books and magazines articles.

Nick Fisher from Screaming Reels

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Interview with Richard Easom

February 12th, 2013

Richard Eason who owns the well established Quest for Barbel blog has recently started work on an exciting range of baits called 3FT – 3 Foot Twitch. After having some good success with them, I thought it would be good to catch up with him and find out some more information about his fishing and plans for future baits.

dubby boilies

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A Good Start to the Year

February 4th, 2013

All in all it has been a pretty good start to the year! In October I started going fishing again after a break of around 5 years… It was probably not the best time of year weather wise, but it’s not something thats bothered me too much!

Starting fishing again has been pretty straight forward. My parents were pretty relieved to get half of their garage back when I took my tackle back to my house! When sorting through everything I found about 5 big storage boxes full of old bait which wasn’t too pleasant – pellets, boilies, groundbait, additives, leam and turmeric. It was a bit of a waste but all of that went in the bin.

old pellets

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Interview with Keith Arthur

January 24th, 2013

Keith Arthur is one of the most well known and respected people in the fishing world. I’m not sure how he found time to answer the questions, but he managed to fit it in around this TV, radio and press commitments!

Keith Arthur

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Three Rivers Angling

January 21st, 2013

Patrick Oliver runs the popular Three Rivers Angling coaching and guiding company. Based in Derbyshire they take anglers out on the Derwent, the Trent and the Dove. I’ve heard really good reports from people who have been out on trips, so it was good to get an interview with Patrick to find out more about him and his fishing.

three rivers angling

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Interview with Andy Ford from Tight Lines

January 15th, 2013

Find out some information about Andy Ford, who is a reporter for Sky TV’s Tight Lines fishing programme. This guy has one of the best jobs in the world!

andy ford tight lines

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Green Sensas Groundbait Buckets

December 27th, 2012

A big green Sensas bucket – if you don’t own one then you probably should! I own a few of these and a range of different riddles and in terms of preparing bait, they make the process 100% easier.

sensas groundbait bucket

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Looks Fishy Feature:
National Anguilla Club