What on earth is the Grand Union Gobio Gobio Society, I hear you ask? What, for that matter, is/are Gobio Gobio? Well, for those - like myself - not acquainted with piscatorial matters, gobio gobio is the classification of the freshwater fish commonly known as the gudgeon. And GUGGS
is the name of the society dedicated to this one fish: fishing it, recording it and, of course, throwing it back into the water. And they do it just on the canals.
A couple of days ago Jan and I came across this fisherman, Neil Williams, trying out various locations on the Shropshire Union Canal. I got talking to him as he was fishing opposite our mooring in Market Drayton. He was very happy to tell me about GUGGS, despite my confession that I knew little about the art of angling. I suppose what caught my attention was that he seemed to be using a moderate length pole, dangling the bait just a few feet away from the bank. Not trying to get it to the opposite side, as most seem to do.
As we were talking, he jerked the pole up. Dangling from the line was a small fish, a gudgeon, which pleased Neil greatly. He removed the hook and placed the fish on his scales. It weighed 41.6g - not even two ounces - but Neil was ecstatic.
GUGGS fishes only canals; the record for a gudgeon is only 50.8g* so this, as Neil said, made his day.
Neil caught several fish in the few minutes I was there, including a much more impressive (to me) perch. This was chucked back in with barely a glance.
Our friendly fisherman had travelled from Tring to spend a week on this part of the Shroppie; after his "whopping" catch he said he would extend his stay by an extra day. He sent me two more photos of gudgeon he'd caught in the Woodseaves cutting since meeting me ...
... including one weighing in at 42.3g.
To add more interest, I suppose, any gudgeon caught over 30g is termed a specimen fish and can be given a name. If the tenths of a gramme is even it can be "male"; if odd, "female". And for fish caught in 2021 the names have to begin with "S". So Neil's 41.6g catch was "Sloppy". (I am not making this up - look at the website
It was good to meet you, Neil, and I wish you good fishing. And thank you for inspiring me to resurrect this blog! I have fallen so far behind that I wondered how I was going to catch up. I don't think I will, quite, but I shall try to be a little more active.
All close-up fish photos copyright Neil Williams.
* According to the GUGGS website the UK record is 140g in any waters
(Updated to clarify information)