Who am I?

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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!


Saturday, 21 March 2015

A sixth sense - more rambling

Quite often I find myself thinking about the most obscure of subjects, however, the majority are linked to my fascination with our natural world and how I might derive the maximum return for my efforts. When and where should I go? What effect will the weather have and how long should I give it? All fairly standard thought processes in any situation; I could apply it to my angling, a prospective sea-watch or a night out with the generator and moth traps - and umpteen other scenarios; I'm sure. Frustratingly, I'm not happy to leave it there. Oh no! I start complicating things, putting problems in place before they exist. What if this, or that, happens? How should I deal with it? I'm sure that the vast majority of individuals, who gain pleasure from outdoor hobbies, will be content with a very simplistic approach, uncluttered and uncomplicated. Just go out there and do it.

The sharp end of a Scottish twenty! How did I miss it?
Too much thought and effort - is that really possible? To be over prepared?  Since starting to go back up to Loch Awe, from 2011 onwards, the amount of preparation has been akin to a military exercise. In the past four trips - each one was slightly better organised than its' predecessor. Bait boats, braided line and a gas freezer are the most obvious developments, yet there have been no end of other little tweaks that have ensured that we are now better prepared for any eventuality. We've attempted to apply logistics to the planning, thus ensuring we don't unnecessarily duplicate our efforts - for instance we don't each require to take washing-up bowls, cookers or even trace making equipment. Between us we will have it covered, whether it be spare batteries for the bite-alarms or a particular design of float. One of the benefits of keeping detailed notes, of our captures, is the ability to correlate data from similar trips and, using my statistical process control methodology, see if there are any patterns emerging from our results? I have to admit that, for this one, I missed the glaringly obvious - I was looking for a single bait-species dominating the catch returns, or a colour/flavour combination. It was Benno and Simon who spotted it - the common denominator; and they were looking at the problems and results from a very different perspective.
Once this concept was brought into the equation, my statistics were able to support the theory, but it wasn't a solution provided by mathematics - it took a human to see the pattern. Benno and Simon didn't look at the results they looked at the pike! Scottish pike populations have evolved to take a very different range of natural prey species to their cousins down south. Simply by looking at the pike, themselves, it is easy to see why my statistics failed to spot the obvious.

Benno with a proper 'un from the RMC
Look at the head on this fish.
Benno posing with a superb Loch Awe pike. It weighs just 4oz more than the previous fish,
but look at the very obvious differences in the physique between the two specimens.
The pike in Scotland ain't equipped to hunt carp, bream or tench - they just don't occur in the highland lochs.
So what is it that we're planning for Scotland 2015? I'm sure that the majority of experienced pike anglers will have already cottoned on - as for the rest; you'll have to wait until our return for a full explanation. We're not even sure that it will pay off?

The only one, of my seven, which I feel I deserved.
I simply couldn't ignore the feelings that were directing me toward that swim on the river.
It was Rod Hutchinson who first made me aware of a tangible feeling between angler and quarry - he suggested that were times when, as anglers, we tried too hard and the fish could somehow detect our presence, no matter how stealthily we conducted ourselves. His answer was to switch off, get away from the waterside, do something else and allow the atmosphere to dissipate. There were other occasions when  he describes the undeniable knowledge that he would catch, by placing a bait in a certain spot or even moving to another swim. He hadn't seen anything or been told, it was just an overwhelming feeling that it had to be done - and bingo, a fish in the net. I too have been in similar situations, a wintering Ring Ouzel out on the Ash Levels was in my subconscious, long before I found it amidst a group of Fieldfares - I knew it was there, just don't know how. When I caught  "The Big Girl" for the final time, I knew that I had to be at the venue and even what swim. I hadn't dreamt it, but was woken by the powerful urge to get to the fishery, despite the fact that I had no plans for that fateful morning - you can read all about it by following this link   http://dylan-wrathall.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/campaign-on-very-small-drain.html
The first barbel of last season was another example of this type of experience - although I'd neither seen or caught fish in that swim previously - I simply knew that I had to be there and I would catch. Is it a sixth sense or absolute twaddle? I suppose it all comes down to individual interpretation of the events - if you're of a mind-set which allows for undefined influences to be part of any cause and effect manifestations, then you will also have some spiritual vibes going on - my guess,however, is that the vast majority will write it off as utter BUNKUM!


  1. No Dyl, not bunkum, there is a certain amount of the 'dark art' about what we do...

    1. Steve, I have lost count of the times when a premonition has become a reality - this has certainly been true in my birding. Simple things like where that first Wheatear will occur to the discovery of a rarity, or patch tick when I simply knew the places to look? Is it experience or pure coincidence - I have no idea. I do like the "dark art" theory - it infers that there are still many factors, that we have failed to recognise, which play a role in our exploration of the wonders of the natural history we so enjoy.
      Hoping all is well - Dyl

  2. Hello Dylan and Steve- Very interesting topic; a great read again... I strongly believe that both the hunter's urges and intuitive skills are built into our DNA. Some people may be more sharpened to it, but I think essentially that we're all born with it. It's a shame to see so many people, especially men, go through life without ever realising this birth-right... Chris Yates touches on the extra-sensory side quite often, doesn't he? To the point that in some of his books he hardly even mentions the end tackle... I think specimen hunting in particular is a superb way to evoke these dormant skills, whether it be perching in a farm pond, piking in a river, or carp fishing a vast lake... Don't get me started on tackle! For me it's all part of the genetic inheritance; we fret over and celebrate our rods and reels in the same way our fore-fathers sharpened their axes... For me our 'tools' embody the experience... And the glory of a well executed campaign...

    1. Gareth; thanks again for making the effort to comment. This subject is a weird one - manifestations of expectancy coming to fruition via some primeval hunter/prey connection are, to say the least, highly subjective. That I have personally experienced these "feelings" within my angling and birding exploits is something which I am unable to offer any better explanation than they are unexplainable? A genetic link to my prehistoric ancestors - I love the concept, it might help explain why I continue to look like a Yeti ?
      All the very best - Dylan