Lunatic Fringe

Neil Williams - A Member Of The Lunatic Fringe! I quite often meet members of the lunatic fringe in this job. Slightly insane anglers are, I’m pleased to say, not too thin on the ground – in fact, I’ve encountered so many that I’m beginning to think there must be something in the water…….if only they could catch it. There are the odd few, of course, who don’t share my own appreciation of the downright ridiculous but, on the whole, they’re a pretty entertaining bunch.

One of the daftest, of recent acquaintance, is one Neil Williams who sent me his ‘Essential Guide to Very Coarse Angling’, together with a couple of bizarre photos. So, here are a few extracts from the world of angling according to Neil. See what you make of him and his philosophy. Personally I don’t think there’s much hope for his mental health.


Neil, who is forty-ish, lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Elizabeth and two children – Andrew and Isabel. He often fishes with a couple of mates so bear in mind, when reading the following definitions that FG is Frank Gates and CM is Colin Moore – It’s a safe bet that they’re all as unbalanced as each other.

Arse: Part of small perch in which hook is often (always?) located.

Bait: Theoretically tasty morsel of food which persuades fish to attach itself to hook. Sadly is often at best ignored and at worst the cause of fish leaping over the lock gates into adjoining pound.

Canal: Man-made waterway divided into pounds by locks. Originally built for transport of goods and produce but now used by boats, canoes and dog-walkers. Often ignored by high-brow anglers in ultimate use of the phrase ‘You won’t catch anything there.’

Canoe: Lightweight boat which creates little obvious water disturbance but is still viewed with annoyance by FG and NW, especially when 62 of them go upstream between 6.00pm and 7.00pm then return between 8.00pm and 9.00pm.

Casting, Gates method: Foolproof way to place tackle in foliage on far bank. Endorsed by several tackle companies as means of increasing profits.

Casting, Williams method: Powerful swish of rod which results in float being a) 18 inches away from rod tip or b) 18 millimetres away from FG’s float, sometimes with lines crossed.

Catapult: Used by most anglers to distribute free samples in the vicinity of the hook bait. Used by NW in moments of tedium to distribute FS on both banks.

Disgorger: Instrument for removal of hook from fish. Often given away by fishing magazines and thrown in bin by NW. Rendered obsolete by discovery of implements, although still used by FG in moments of desperation – see arse.

Dog: Animal famous for it’s ability to locate and swim in or near the only angler-occupied swim in 5 miles of canal.

Float Rods: So called because they float even when attached to large carp, as proved by CM at Tunnel Cement ponds.

Hook: Bent piece of wire tied to end of line. Useful for attaching tackle to bushes, trees etc.

Implement: Steel forceps which ease the removal of hooks from fish. During the summer, vies with Scotch, bottle of, for the title ‘Most Useful Piece of Tackle’ although in winter months they both lag well behind umbrella, boots, thermal underwear, car heater and bedroom.

Legering: The only sure way of getting the correct depth first time – if the tackle lands in the water, see Casting, Gates method.

LM – Luncheon Meat: Intended for human consumption but research has shown that 99.9% of it ends up in canals, lakes and rivers whilst the remainder is found in trees, see Casting, Gates method. One of the few baits unattractive to perch. Large lumps intended for carp are frequently nibbled away to nothing by gudgeon.

Perch: Species of fish, known by experts to be sight feeders. When small are second only to gudgeon on the Damned Nuisance Index. Larger specimens caught early in a session often cause utterance of the phrase ‘I don’t mind knocking those out all day.’

Skimmer: Small to medium-sized fish whose name and nature change to bream at a mystical weight somewhere between 12 ounces and 15 pounds.

‘Smashed Up’: Tackle broken. Frequent outcome of encounter with carp when using anything less than 8 pound line. Rarely caused by gudgeon.

Tench: Bottom feeding fish, rarely caught in shallow water (but see Willow Park) or bright sunshine (but see Willow Park) or in great quantities (but see Willow Park)

‘The Method’:

1.Attach massive piece of bait to hook.

2. Build even more massive piece of ground-bait around massive cage-feeder.

3. Cast as far out as possible into massive lake.

4. Put rod into rests, set electronic bite alarm.

5. Sit back in chair, wait, laugh and think ‘Where is the fun in this?’ or ‘What the f**k has this got to do with angling?

Umbrella: When new, provides excellent protection from the elements. When not-so-new, develops holes which concentrate rain into steady streams going 1) down angler’s neck and/or 2) into open tackle box.

Willow Park: Willow Park Fisheries, Ash Vale. All year round complex where tench can be caught in great quantities, in shallow water and bright sunshine.