As one might imagine, at least a little bit of my minimal TV viewing is focused on the World Fishing Network that has a whole lineup of angling entertainment from A to Z.
Over the past few years, WFN has sought out European venues and has put on series such as "Chilly on Carp," "24-hour Rod Race" and "Wild Fisherman, Wild Places." Some are exciting and some are somewhat boring when compared to U.S. fishing shows that center almost exclusively on bass, trout and other predators.
One new show in the line up is the British entry entitled "Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr. Crabtree," with host John Bailey. What Bailey has done is excerpt fishing tactics and techniques from a fable writing of British angling lore and applied it to the teaching and catching of multiple fish species in Euro waters. All his shows have him with a youngster who tags along for a day's fishing and learns, and then catches, some impressive fish.
Most American fishermen would likely find Bailys' approach boring and slow. This is due mainly to the fact that most European freshwater efforts are aimed at tench, barbel, rudd and carp —fish the majority of U.S. anglers consider nothing more than "rough" or even "trash fish."
Fishing is different over there, as almost all of it is done on privately owned waters that incur a fee or day-use pass to gain access. The better waters tend to be more expensive. Here in the states, one can see why we might not get terribly excited about this kind of fishing. But the overall production, the beauty of the waters and the scenery, which looks much like Carroll County, make it enjoyable. At times, some big fish are caught as well.
Much of the European techniques revolve around the use of various live or prepared baits to catch fish; a far cry from American bass and trout efforts. Things like center-pin reels, bait cages and bite alarms are foreign to all but a few of us. Still, the charm and simplicity of this type of fishing, coupled with a laid-back, easy-going approach, comes across as a pleasant deviation from the onslaught of fast-paced, tournament-style bass shows that, to me, are starting to acquire their own brand of boredom.
One of the more recent installments of this show had a young lad of about 10 or 12 who gets to fish for tench, perch and pike in the two-day gig. The tench look like large, dark sucker-type fish that are baited in with prepared morsels. The perch look very much like our local yellow perch. European perch can exceed 6 pounds, and 3- to 5-pounders are by no means rare in better waters, However, on this trip, only modest 10-inchers were caught. On the final segment, the young 'un would cast, and retrieve, large dead minnows for European pike — very similar to the great northern pike found in Deep Creek Lake and most of Canada.
The show closed-out with a sensational 16-pound pike for the young boy, along with several others in the 4- to 10-pound range. All fishing was done from shore and much of it during a pouring rain. I found "Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr. Crabtree" to be both informative and entertaining as Bailey and his young friends seek to catch what is available in their native waters.
No, not run-and-gun bassing or offshore billfish action, but different and slower paced. And I like that.