Photo - Mr Kens view of a Pike with Roxanne tag in place!.
It's a funny old game is angling! I received the following through the post yesterday [Saturday] no name or return address appended. To whoever sent it thank you, it contains an article (I use the term in the loosest possible sense) that was found somewhere on the internet. It concerns our long term Pike Tagging Project which has been running since 2005
To the sender I wish you could have been more specific as in - did it originate from a blog, a fishing forum, web site or some far flung corner of the internet. Please get back in touch and let us know where you sourced it; we would very much appreciate it and your anonymity will be respected.
I have neither the time nor the wherewithal, to sit and trawl the net night after night searching for all the possible sources the comment may have originated from, the resultant mind numbing drudgery could be near life threatening, and we have a thriving angling club to run! Below in blue is the enigmatic note as it came to me complete with grammar and spelling mistakes.
"Thought you might like to see this I took it of the internet and its clearly about your clubs project. All I will say it was written by a bloke known as Mr Kens
That was the accompanying note, below is the"article"
"I've helped in the past with grayling tagging done by a properly qualified biologist. The fish were anaesthatised before the tags were fitted then treated with antibacterial gel before they were released. The biologist was the only person allowed to fit the tags. One of our local clubs has been tagging pike with "Roxanne" tags. I'm pretty sure these are meant for cows ears. Most of the members refuse to have anything to do with the tagging. Apart from anything else I believe it's illegal to tag coarse fish without the proper licence (in Scotland anyway). They also want scales removed from the fish too. Crazy to allow unqualified people to do this in my opinion anyway".
Let's examine and dissect the text containing this opinion and see if there are any inaccuracies or perhaps more pertinently any truths contained therein.
Firstly we have to determine do you mean Mr Kens in that it is his name, or do you mean Mr Kens in the slang sense that he "kens" everything. This is a common saying in use around these parts for a know all! Unfortunately we are not in possession of any sound pointers at this time to answer this!
Now to the "Roxanne Tags"- I was under the impression Roxanne was a hit for the Police way back in the eighties, actually it's a great tune but rather than tagging the fish with Roxanne CDs (see photo above) we prefer to use the purpose made Roxan Tags!
"I'm pretty sure they are meant for cows ears" This statement must be a contender for gaffe of the year! A flimsy pliable soft plastic tag with an insertion shaft diameter of one and a half millimetres, god willing, it would probably remain in situ for a whole day if the cow was asleep! I wonder if there are any further clues, and on further examination I see on the reverse of the tag (see photo) the words "PROTECTED FISH"! Yes ok then, maybe they are meant for cow's ears after all!
Photo - Roxan Tag, for Cows apparently!
Now to the point that "most of the members refuse to have anything to do with the project"! I searched the membership records there is no such Mr Kens in membership. Twenty two members (37%) have now been issued with tags, we would have more but are limited by the number of tags we have (they are very expensive). If a member wants to take part they are most welcome once they have demonstrated an adequate understanding of the principles involved, subject to the availability of tags, and if they do not wish to take part that is fine also, there is no compulsion.
How then does Mr Kens know about our membership? I will tell you! He knows nothing about our membership; speech in his case appears to be an involuntary release of air through the vocal cords giving rise to random words which mean nothing! I think the popular phrase is to open your mouth and let your belly rumble!
Next the "belief" (now a belief is not really substantive evidence is it?) that "it is illegal to tag coarse fish in Scotland". Well now let's see, the Scottish Government are unaware of such legislation as are Marine Scotland, the arm of the Scottish government that deals unsurprisingly with marine issues! I would also have thought with the many sound contacts we have made in the field of angling research, such a regulation would have been made known to us a long time ago, yet it has not been so! Maybe Mr Kens knows more than these august bodies?
"They also want scales removed from fish too"! Shock Horror!
Exactly just what kind of an angler are you Mr Kens?
I was removing scales from Brown Trout thirty years ago to allow for the identification and ageing of any fish not deemed to be "run of the mill". It is standard practice in Trout fishing waters which are also host to Sea Trout and Salmon, to remove scales from large or unusual Trout to differentiate the species, age and gather life history and who does this task fall to – the angler!
Most enthusiastic anglers that I know of are capable and more than competent to carry out such a procedure without batting an eyelid, and have done so on numerous occasions before! The Tweed Foundation have analysed scales for us on several occasions, and would you believe it, we did not have to send out for an on call marine biologist to come and obtain the scales!
In many cases the scales are deposited by the fish on to the unhooking mat or grass during the procedure of unhooking so the process becomes unnecessary. Scales are like fingernails they grow back in a short time and we want one or two if the captor and only if the captor feels confident enough! Mr Kens ineptitude and incompetence is absolutely staggering for a (I assume) an experienced angler!
In his opinion unqualified people should not carry out such procedures! I wonder if he visits his GP to have an Elastoplast applied after a minor superficial cut? It's not really advanced micro surgery now is it, the insertion of a purpose made tag through the dorsal soft tissue (not into the body of the fish requiring an incision and anaesthesia), or the removal of a scale from the upper dorsal mid flank area. Anyone with the most basic knowledge of anatomy/asepsis (such as an enquiring and enthusiastic angler) could carry out the procedures which incidentally follow a defined protocol given to us by a marine biologist!
We are not a group of educationally deficient Noddys mucking around with cable ties or Copper wire, out of the four members comprising the steering group three of us are Bachelors of Science, familiar with research methodology and one of the trio is a graduate in biology with a special interest in marine biology! The other member is a graduate from the University of Life and his contribution to the group as an aware and pragmatic angler is absolutely invaluable! We follow the correct procedures using the correct equipment.
We did not just decide one day – oh lets go and tag some Pike for something to do, we set out with clear objectives and goals and as the years go by in a systematic manner we will accrue more and more significant knowledge on the Pike in our waters. We have made mistakes just like anyone else but only by learning from mistakes can we progress, it's the basis on which society has arrived at where it is today in all manner of subjects.
If there was no innovation in angling where would we be now? Without anglers pushing the boundaries, trying out new ideas we would still be fishing using horsehair and bone hooks tied on to a willow branch!
Mr Kens might be content to throw his bait into the water, sit out the mandatory eight hours, hopefully connect with a few fish and then go home, and that's fine if that's all you want out of your angling.
Some of us have a deeper interest in the Pike we fish for, we want to know growth rates, where they go, are some destined to become the behemoths of the loch from an early age, mortality rates, longevity, age and population structure, how well they recover from injury, is there a long term pattern to their behaviour, do they have preferred feeding areas, the nature of their travel, how do they cope with congenital disability/angler acquired injury, by looking at scales we can tell the age of the Pike, if a certain year has been a bonanza food wise by the larger growth rings on the scale, it is possible to identify males from the scale reading and exclusion by weight.
photo Mrs Bond @11lbs 1oz
A case in point I caught No 007 now named "Mrs Bond" on Monday weighing 11lbs 1oz and as fat as a pig(see Photo). She was last caught weighing 7lbs 8oz around 11 months ago. We can now see that she is definitely a female and having put 3lbs 8oz on in less than a year tells us quite clearly that she is a well developed fish in a wild loch that has ample feeding for our Pike. A Pike in such good condition also indicates to us that the other fish populations in the lochs are thriving, in short a fishery in a state of natural balance.
The scales that I obtained have not yet been analysed to age her.
All the raw data we collect is kept on file as are the scale readings and the actual scales are also kept. We may also at some point make our results available to other groups in the field; we are in contact with a group doing a similar study in England and a group studying Muskie in the US. This allows us to exchange information/methodologies and modify any areas found to be suspect. We want to know all these things and more, only by being questioning and thinking anglers do we get the full range of satisfaction we seek from our sport!
Photo - Ventral tag requiring incision and anaesthesia
Mr Kens also implies that anaesthesia is required for the insertion of tags. Indeed it is for some types of tag but completely uncalled for with others such as the Roxan type we use. Any tag that requires the use of anaesthesia (see Photo) must be carried out by qualified personnel; no reasonably minded person would take issue with that. Antibacterial gel is used as a prophylactic measure and indeed is used by us as well.
Some of the readers may well say there is a Pike welfare issue here. Indeed there is to a very small extent, it is however miniscule when compared to the hooking and unhooking of fish from which a Pike stands the greatest danger of injury or mortality.
The moral is quite simple and I've said it many times before, if you truly do not want to put Pike at risk then stay at home, because every time you set a hook into a fish you potentially put its wellbeing at stake. There is no point in beating about the bush, covering up and bleating about Pike care, the facts are there and every time you hook a fish you will put it at risk, Pike care is but damage limitation! I along with thousands of others are willing to take that gamble, we voluntarily or involuntarily make a decision on the above principle before embarking on any outing.
Constructive criticism is always welcome; no one has a monopoly where knowledge is concerned. However loud mouthed unsubstantiated comments littered with innuendo uttered to third parties are of no benefit to anyone. The invidious Mr Kens has now been exposed as a fool, and even worse a charlatan, after being completely and thoroughly discredited! His chronicle of envy overflows with conjecture and supposition and as such is worthy only of ridicule!
His backstage machinations against us are but a twisted block of text completely devoid of fact, a fictitious narrative from the gutter penned to curry favour amongst the more impressionable and less enquiring type angler!
Mr Kens banal and erroneous text is simply this - an uneducated and ill informed slur on our work from someone on the outside looking in, and not in possession of the relevant facts! All at St Mary's Angling Club is well and as it should be, innovation abounds as we embrace the challenge of the future, clearly a fact that sticks in Mr Kens throat!
To Mr Kens, if you do read this, please do come out from under your stone and entertain us further with your concoctions of inexactitude which you so exuberantly spout to all and sundry from afar, excepting to us of course. From what we have ascertained so far it would undoubtedly be a most entertaining and jocular event!
It is of paramount importance that "anglers" such as Mr Kens are exposed and routed, if angling is to progress, loudmouth fact free baying will do the anglers cause no good whatsoever!
If anyone knows the source where the comment originated or the identity of Mr Kens please let us know. Oh and the title of this week's article, Latin for one who argues from a standpoint of ignorance, as most ably demonstrated by Mr Kens!
Apologies to readers who were expecting part 2 of the AGM and a further tackle review by Eddie this will now be published next week.