Alas Griff Rhys Jones

I never really found Griff Rhys Jones funny even when he was part of Alas Smith & Jones – the other guy was always funnier – the fat one.

So I did not find it in the least bit funny when Jones asked canoeists and boaters to disrupt the enjoyment of anglers who are minding their own business – even though the anglers have paid for the privilege.

He later tried to retratct his comments – kinda

“I am a supporter of all angling associations and thoroughly respect the rights of fishermen to peacefully fish on riverbanks, but I am also a great supporter of canoeists and want to see as much access to the rivers of England and Wales as is readily available in Scotland and much of the rest of the world.”

Um – nice one Griff – sounds like someone wanted to cause a bit of controversy for their new show and then had to rethink – possibly encouraging members of the public to assault law abiding citizens and get involved in breach of the peace incidents does not help a complex topic that is causing a lot of people problems.

I asked Lord Kelvin what he thought of Griff and his comments – he was uncharacteristically mute on the subject…

Q. What do you think of Griff Rhys Jones comments?

Q. What do you think of Griff Rhys Jones comments?

I believe The Angling Trust and Trout Fisherman are both out for apologies.

Way to go advertising your show about rivers Griff!


  1. Mike · August 4, 2009

    I’m speaking from a position of complete ignorance here but I think his comments were from just complete frustration over the situation in England. I was shocked to hear that he could use his canoe in most of the rivers in Scotland but shockingly only 4% of the rivers in England.

    Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and anglers could only use 4% of the rivers because there was canoes everywhere.

    Not excusing his comments but it’s bound to get frustrating as he’s obviously as keen on his canoe as visitors to this site are on fishing

  2. Alistair · August 4, 2009

    Maybe if the boaters put up some cash for the upkeep of the rivers they would be in a better position to argue – as it is they want to have access to all the rivers for free – anglers have worked hard for years to make sure water quality improves which the canoesists take advantage of!

  3. Mike · August 4, 2009

    I might agree if the statistic was he could only do it in 30 or 40% of the rivers and he was winging about that.
    But 4%!!
    Imagine being Jones and loving a hobby that you’re not allowed to do 96% of the places you think you should be able to when he comes up to Scotland and sees he can do it everywhere here. No wonder the guy’s angry.

  4. Paul R · August 4, 2009

    A proposal to allow fisherpeople and canoerpeople access to rivers was put forward from the fishing side to the environment agency (EA). The EA then invited the boaters to come to the table and discuss the matter. They are still waiting, not even a reply.
    I used to like Mr Rhys Jones, but these comments are pretty low. Alistair, you’re spot on with the paying for it line. The canoeists are looking for complete access without any fee or subscription.

  5. JimL · August 4, 2009

    What he suggested is wrong. Frustrated or not it’s wrong.

    But…. Is this about money? If we have to pay they should have to pay? … Is it about conservation? We look after the riparian environment they wont?
    I know it’s a big thing for the English and Welsh but I don’t know enough of the arguement to know why. I’ve met a lot of canoeists on rivers and never had a problem with them. If I’m wading they’ll try to give me room and generally lift out the paddles and glide past to cause less disturbance. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’d need to know more to understand what the problem is.

  6. Alistair · August 4, 2009

    TBH I have met my share of canonists on rivers and have never had a problem either which makes Griffs comments all the more galling – he is sticking his oar in places that he does not understand – TBH I think it was all a stunt just to stir up a bit of controversy around his show!

  7. Tim Bartlett · August 4, 2009

    It seems that a little ignorance goes a long way.

    Canoeists *DO* pay for licences. The fees vary enormously depending which “navigation authority” is collecting the cash, but they are generally far more than the price of a rod licence.

    British Waterways are one of the cheapest, at £39.52 for about 2200 miles, but the per mile fees for others are considerably more: The Cam Conservators, for instance, charge £33 per year to float a canoe on their 7-miles of river.

  8. Willie Yeomans · August 4, 2009

    What and whom do the canoeists pay on the Clyde system?

  9. TimBartlett · August 4, 2009

    Re: Willie Yeomans
    I don’t know. I always thought the Clyde was in Scotland, which would mean that it is covered by Scottish Law. But I believe that parts of the Clyde “system” belong to British Waterways, who demand a fee.

    BTW, Remind me again — How much is the national rod licence in Scotland?

  10. TimBartlett · August 4, 2009

    Re Paul R
    “The EA invited the boaters to come to the table to discuss the matter”

    The waters for which the EA are the Navigation Authority are part of the 4% that we are allowed to use, and for which the EA collects licence fees. The fees vary: for a canoe under 5m long in East Anglia it is £21.53. On the Thames it is £29.50.

    If you guys really want to know how much a canoe licence costs for any particular bit of water, why don’t you just get on the web and look it up?

  11. Nick · August 4, 2009

    Game shooting rights are very expensive, and it costs money to maintain the grouse moors to make them suitable for rearing birds, yet ramblers are not charged to walk across these moors, and would be outraged to be asked to pay. Ramblers won these rights years ago with the Kinder Trespass and other campaigns. I see this situation as directly analogous to the situation on the rivers today.

    What I don’t think anyone can understand is why rivers in England and Wales should be different to Scotland or indeed the rest of Europe where fisherfolk and canoeists share the rivers.

  12. Alistair · August 4, 2009

    I do not see it Nick – Ramblers are given access only when shooting is not taking place – When hillwalking during stalking season I have had to telephone the gamekeeper to see if anyone is shooting that day.

  13. Tim · August 4, 2009

    Alistair, I see your point, but this sounds to me like a safety issue — you’re not being banned from the moors altogether.

    I think Nick has hit the nail on the head.

    Even closer to home, walkers, joggers, and cyclists are all able to use canal towpaths and riverside footpaths without paying a penny for the priviledge.

    The canoe/kayak “problem” isn’t that we don’t want to pay, or even that most riparian owners object to canoes. It’s that except on waterways that are designated “navigations” (with designated “navigation authorities” collecting licence fees), a canoeist has to obtain the consent of everyone that owns every piece of riverbank that he goes past. For a five mile paddle, that could easily mean dozens (or even hundreds) of riparian owners, any one of which could say “no”, and effectively close a complete stretch of river.

    Here’s a thought. At the moment, 100% of canoeists are crammed into 4% of England’s waterways. If we were allowed to spread out, the average number of canoes per mile would fall to about one twenty fifth of the present level. Many anglers would probably go an entire season with even seeing a canoe!

  14. Alistair · August 4, 2009

    Hi Tim,

    Actually walkers,joggers and cyclists pay council tax for the upkeep of canal tow paths and river side paths.

    To be honest Tim if I have paid a few hundred pounds to fish a river and some bugger comes past in a canoe and ruins it I would be annoyed – I have heard some right horror stories about guys in canoes actively going out there way to piss off the angler – doddling around in the pool. I do not have that problem though as I am not a salmon angler 😉

    Interestingly the only time I have ever been in contact with a canoe was when I was fishing on the Clyde and the guy came so close to me I could have touched him – did not really bother me at the time however the guy did not even give a smile hello or even a “sorry about that”

    Saying all that – that was just one experience – a significant number of anglers are also boaters and are split by the problem.

    My main concern is that Griff Rhys Jones is telling you guys to disrupt our enjoyment ? I mean what do you guys think of that?

  15. Tim · August 4, 2009

    I’m not at all convinced that walkers and joggers do pay council tax for the upkeep of towpaths: nor, if it comes to that, do the fishermen who sit on them or use them to get to their pegs… I think you’ll find that towpaths are maintained by the Navigation Authorities, not by local councils. But whoever maintains them, the slice of council tax is (a) miniscule and (b) paid by canoeists *in addition* to the fees we pay for licences to use the water.

    To be honest, Alistair, when I have paid over £100 for licences to paddle a few miles of river, and someone comes along and says “if the boaters put up some cash for the upkeep of the rivers they would be in a better position to argue – as it is they want to have access to all the rivers for free” I am inclined to get annoyed — just as I am when some idiot hides in a bush with 20 yards of invisible monofilament stretching right across the river and then hurls abuse at my kids because they didn’t see it. They are in bright yellow canoes, and wearing bright yellow buoyancy aids: they are not exactly invisible. It wouldn’t hurt him to say “excuse me, but mind my line” — or even (heaven forbid) actually sit on the same side of the river as where he is trying to catch fish. But no — he prefers to pick a fight with a couple of little girls.
    There are good and bad, and rights and wrongs on both sides, but I think what GRJ was saying was that if anglers choose to be annoyed by the existence of canoeists, then let them go on being annoyed… don’t let them stop us doing the sport that we have paid for. After all, you wouldn’t like it if canoeists insisted that fishermen should be banned from 96% of rivers, would you?

  16. Tim · August 4, 2009

    Most of the fishermen I come across are cheerful and polite: we smile and wave, and they smile and wave back: some thank us for paddling round their tackle, and I always apologise if we didn’t see it in time and get too close.
    But I’m afraid it’s the occasional peasant who sticks in our minds.

  17. Nick · August 4, 2009

    Actually I think that GRJ has been misquoted in most of the angling forums that I have read. He has very clearly stated that he does not think that canoeists do disrupt fishermen. Therefore by advocating paddling he was not actually telling canoeists to go and cause trouble – which is what many hot heads in the angling fraternity including Sir Ian Botham thought he was doing.

    I don’t think that canoeists would mind paddling in the closed season, but up in North Wales, the fly fishermen are trying to use the 1975 SAFFA act to prevent paddling during the closed season. If that succeeds in any way, you are likely to see more paddling during the time when you are out fishing.

    What I really don’t understand is why anglers are so afraid of sharing the rivers, canoeists are not going to jump onto every carp pond. In Scotland the Right to Roam legislation has extended to rivers and as far as canoeists are concerned that is fine.

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