Who am I?

My photo
An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Sunday, 19 February 2017

February tinca

I managed to get out for a couple of sessions over the weekend. Saturday morning was spent with Benno, Luke and Bryn, trying to get some stuff together for the "Freshwater Informer" gig. Bryn was on sparkling form and caught a couple of fish for the cameras. I, however, blanked - so nothing new there then? I'm not totally convinced that these club waters actually contain the perch I'm after. However, I was back down, this evening, for a short, into darkness, session and have to say that it was really enjoyable.
The photo is a little confusing - I am fishing my baits tight against that wall on the left. The metal scaffold
poles, poking out, being my swim markers.
Bait choice was prawn and lob-worm, so fairly standard fare for perch fishing. I missed two absolute sitters on the worm - I don't know how! Prawns were to provide my salvation in the shape of a "snotty" little bream and a rather angry male tench. I can't recall ever catching a tench in February, so it was quite something. The bite was a screamer, so never going to be a perch, but I put a healthy curve into the Mk IV before it was ready for netting. There is something rather therapeutic about fishing alone into the darkness. My mind was full of ideas, my ears tuned in to the sound of the roosting birds. Cetti's Warbler behind me, a Green Sandpiper high overhead, there were flocks of Fieldfares dropping in to roost, a couple of Grey Heron, a Common Buzzard and so much more. Bite alarms were set to minimum volume, yet they sounded outrageously loud in the stillness of the night air.

A small male tench - probably 3 lbs.
Not what I was after, but enjoyable all the same!
Another week of lates, so there's a fair chance that I'll be able to squeeze in a morning visit, before next weekend. I will only be able to learn these new venues by spending time on the bank.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Arrogance has no shame

Tony Blair should be in prison - serving time as a convicted war criminal. But no, instead this deluded, arrogant, toss pot is now offering his spin on "Brexit" and why the minority should rise up and reject the will of the people! More people voted out than ever voted for him, or his party, when he was Prime Minister.

Tony Blair speaking in central London

An exciting challenge

My apologies for the lack of activity on my blog, of late. I have been exploring other possibilities for my writing, following a sad tale in the February edition of Freshwater Informer - a free, monthly, angling/advertising magazine that is available in the SE tackle shops. The editorial of this latest edition told of the darker side of social media and the cyber bullying directed at a young angler who posted some images of the tackle he had received at Christmas.
It's hard enough to get kids involved with outdoor pastimes, without this type of nonsense, so I have offered to contribute (FOC) a few articles to attempt to dispel the myth that brand labels catch fish. I find myself in a very lucky situation, at present. Not only do I enjoy the company of my son, but now also have my grand-son tagging along. I am able to witness the joy of angling through new eyes as Bryn starts out on his own adventure. Just like the fish he catches, he has no concept of brand label snobbery or the big is best syndrome. A fish is a fish and he just enjoys catching them. If I am able to convey this sentiment to other young anglers, then "being judged by the tackle you use" won't be an issue? Of course there will always be numb-nuts who will find fault with anything which is contrary to their way of thinking but, hopefully, I can find the words to encourage kids to catch fish rather than worry about the tackle they use to do so.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The boys did good!

The phone went around 10.00 hrs; Benno calling to announce that he'd just landed a 2 lbs 2 oz perch whilst drop-shotting at Sandwich. The first two of the campaign and, as such, something to get excited about. I asked how long they (he was fishing with Luke) were staying before telling Bev I was nipping across to see them and their silly licorice stick rods. She was tucked up in front of a roaring fire and had no plans of going anywhere fast.

Benno poses with his first two on the drop-shot gear
As I pulled up in the car park my phone went again. "What's up Benno?"-  "Have you brought your camera? Luke's just landed a Three -three!" Sadly my camera was on the desk in my study, they'd have to use their i-phones. I was with them within a minute and gazed down on this magnificent perch that had just fallen for some plastic jelly, fish-shaped, contraption. It was a PB as well so, unsurprisingly, Luke was very happy with life.

That's the way to do it
I stayed for around 45 minutes, Luke taking another half a dozen perch to 1 lb 13 oz using the drop-shot technique. It was a revelation to me - I might have to completely rethink my strategy and attempt to embrace this artificial bait caper and active approach?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Getting better

It's been a bit of a weird one. I had another session at the local club fishery, catching the heaviest perch to date - 1 lb 10 oz - yet nothing made much sense? The weather was, at best, crap - sleet and a brisk NE breeze. I was back in my original swim for 13.15 hrs, a bite on my left hand rod just 45 minutes later. It was the only action I was to see, despite remaining at the venue till 18.00 hrs.

I have no reason to doubt my tactics, ie. - I'm fishing with prawns as hook baits. It's perch I'm after and this bait has proven to be the downfall of many decent specimens in the recent past. Snow melt water will have done nothing to improve my chances but, as it was my only opportunity this weekend, so I had to go for it?

The bite, when it came, was a classic slow pull on the indicator - I originally thought I'd hooked an F1 hybrid, such was the tenacity of the fight. There are a number of niggling issues with this club fishing scenario - I'll adapt my stance as I become more familiar with the club vibe?

This little chap provided more entertainment than the perch - that's for sure!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Moving on

Plans, projects, challenges and targets are all well and good, but it does require a modicum of resolve to maintain focus on the goal. This is a real problem when you're as easily distracted as I am. My 2015/16 winter eel campaign apart, I've taken a very half-hearted approach to my targets, although eventually achieving the majority that I'd set myself since returning to "speccy hunting" in 2011. I really feel that a time scale, in order to gauge success, is where I am most likely to stray from the objective and, for the most part, my results reflect this.

A milestone pike - that first "twenty" after my return to "big fish" angling
My original quest, for a "twenty" from the East Kent Marshes never produced that magical fish, it was over a year later that this goal was achieved, but not from the venue I'd first targeted? It was a frosty February dawn, out on the banks of The Royal Military Canal, in 2013 when my dream became a reality and I gazed down on my first twenty pound pike in well over twenty years! Almost by accident, and certainly against the run of play, I also managed new PB perch and chub during the early period of rediscovery. I hadn't made any plans for either, they just happened whilst I was using tackle and tactics suited to the situations I found myself in.
And then it was the turn of barbel to take centre stage in all my angling efforts. I had a desire to get a "double" onto my PB list, only ever having seen one previously, in 1987(8?), taken from The Royalty Fishery, by Chris Scott (10 lbs 2 oz). Quite what Benno and I were to experience (on a free stretch of The Kentish Stour) is beyond anything we could have imagined? Five crazy days in August 2013 saw me land two "thirteens", the biggest one being two ounces heavier than the, then, UK record when I'd packed up "speccy hunting" in March 1993!!

An absolute brute of a barbel from The River Stour in Canterbury
The catalyst to my getting back into angling was pike fishing in Scotland. Regular visitors to this blog will already know how much my "Scottish" twenty meant to me. Thirty three years after my first ever attempt and, finally, I manage to get one. It was an incredibly intense and personal moment, shared with just my son and his best mate; priceless? Another tick on the bucket list!

The culmination of an incredible series of adventures around the
lochs of the Scottish highlands
In the year of 2017, it is impossible to talk about angling without carp being part of the conversation. This species now dominates the whole perception of "big fish angling" within a UK context.Let there be no mis-understanding, I really enjoy my carp fishing. I love the simplicity of pay and play commercial fisheries. I have no gripe with the modern "time bandits" - they didn't have the apprenticeship I was given! Carp fishing is all things to all folk; it just doesn't work for me when the fish have names and "the social" is more important than catching them?

One half as big again please, oh yeah, on a sixty year old split cane rod if you don't mind?
So I have to do it my way, which, since December 4th 2015, has involved a B. James & Son split cane Mk IV Richard Walker carp rod (or two!) My stated plans for 2017 have three species in the frame. Perch are currently my number one challenge. The new club waters allowing me the freedom to explore an, as yet, unknown potential. I have until May (there I go again with time restraints, although I can always go back later!) before the 30 lbs split cane carp must take president. Unlike my Scottish pike target, I don't have thirty-three years available any more. If I am to achieve this aim, then it needs more effort than I've previously been prepared to make. There's a lot to be said for "No point getting old if you don't get artful?" but, I fear, the reality has to be "that the road in front is a darn sight shorter than the one behind" - all very sobering. My "split cane" thirty pound carp project has, therefore, to take priority over everything else; such is the promise I made to Dad.
As quirky as I can make it. A very comfortable mix of ancient and modern, with a bit of "home made" thrown
in for good measure.
It was with this at the forefront of my thinking that I made contact with a guy (who will remain nameless/blameless) about the possibility of purchasing another "onion handled" 1959 Earl's Court Boat Show Mk IV. He had advertised it on e-bay with a starting price, not buy it now. I made e mail contact, saying that I would happily match the asking price and travel to fetch the rod, cash in hand! My only thinking was that I would have a pair of these "variant" Mk IV's  and it would be quite quirky - I only have £350 to play with. The reply was very positive, but with one major stumbling block - the price was £30 more than the original one?  Thus beyond my limit. I replied, saying thanks, but no thanks, for the offer - I got a very weird response - it's only £30? No! it's £375 and beyond my justifiable price range. My reason for inquiring was purely because I feel these antique rods were built to be fished with, not collected. If the guy had any notion of my reasoning, therefore beyond the accruing of wealth, then surely it is better to keep this rod within UK angling circles than sell it to a collector - never to see the water side again?  He finished his parting e-mail with "Hey Ho!". That pretty much sums up my own feelings about the situation. It would have been a nice, but not essential, addition to the continued enjoyment of my angling adventures. Move on.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Not too shabby

Benno spent a few hours, yesterday morning, fishing the other new water we've recently joined. He took a couple of perch, around the pound mark, and a small bream - a good start. I couldn't make it as Bev and I had arranged to meet up with her family for breakfast in Canterbury. All very pleasant, and made even better by my discovery of a flock of Waxwings feeding on berries beside the main Canterbury Road East. I took Emily and Harry down to see them, later in the afternoon; probably a dozen birds present.
I had plans to fish the second venue early this morning, but decided that I should get the big lens in the kit, just in case the Waxwings were still present as I came home. Almost identical result to Benno. In a couple of hours I managed a perch and a bream, but missed a lot of twitchy bites. Small fish or very cagey perch? A few more trips before I can hope to understand these venues, although I have to say that the perch in the second water are much nicer to look at, being superb, vividly marked fish.
I'd packed up by 09.00 hrs and just as I'd hoped, there were still a group of eight Waxwings present. The light was awful, but I managed a couple of shots which illustrate just how striking these birds really are.

Work this afternoon - no worries, always so much more bearable when you've had a result!