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!

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

When the wind's in the east

I had a window of opportunity, Bank Holiday, Monday afternoon, so took a drive down to the club waters for a peruse. Although wonderfully bright and sunny there was a chill wind blowing from the N/NE and I failed to discover any signs of feeding fish at either of the venues. "When the wind's in the East; the fish bite least!" It's a proverb which has been passed down through the angling generations, yet still has as much relevance today as it did when Izaak's peers first offered this observation. I returned home without bothering to get the tackle out of the car, such is my lack of confidence under these conditions. I give absolutely no credence, whatsoever, to the "moon phase" theory and will go fishing whenever I feel the conditions are right. So, for me, it's all about confidence. An Easterly is the kiss of death where carp are the target, being a species who's distribution and feeding behavior is dominated by wind direction. The moon, however, will only play a part if there is no cloud cover, thus, increased light intensity will also have to betaken into consideration when setting out my stall. I think that the only time I welcome clear skies, with a full moon, is when I'm pike fishing and either arrive pre-dawn or plan to stay late, exactly the opposite would apply if perch were my target species. At all other times I don't give the moon phase a second thought when I head out of the door - I'm going fishing, confident in my methods and abilities. Get an easterly wind; my confidence takes such a dive that I sometimes find myself sitting there wondering why I bothered ?
All this week I've been studying the weather forecasts, looking for that combination of wind direction, cloud cover and barometric pressure, attempting to pick my moment. Benno had wanted a Thursday session - all his fish, last year, came on Thursdays (how very scientific!). I fancied the Friday, but it coincided with Benno's birthday and so didn't happen. St. George's Day it would have to be, the best forecast for a while given the ridiculous temperature drop we've been threatened with.
On my own today, Benno still sulking over the football results - he's a Spurs fan (I tried my best, but school friends turned his head). I arrived just after 16.00 hrs and spent the next hour and a bit walking a two mile section looking for signs of carp. It wasn't until I was almost back to my starting point that I found what I'd been looking for. Couldn't be 100% certain that carp were responsible, but seeing reed stems being knocked about was better than nothing. Two rods out by 17.30 hrs, I had a two inch lift on my right-hander within 30 minutes. Tench? Half an hour later and I had a liner on the same rod; something was happening out there. Both rods recast and another scattering of freebies catapulted over the top I had to wait until 19.50 hrs for the next action - a screamer! Same rod again, this time there was no messing as a huge boil on the surface appeared as I picked up the rod! What a battle, I had the fish over the net only to have it swim back out. It was an epic encounter and one which left me reduced to a gibbering mess when I finally managed to draw it over the chord of the landing net. On the scales it gave the statistic of 23 lbs 5 oz - what a way to start my campaign.

I am forever indebted to Keith for getting the photos - thanks!
I rang Benno, who was willing to drive down to get some photos, but I said I'd ask another angler, who was fishing a couple of hundred metres away, if he'd do the honours. The guy, who's name was Keith, did me proud and I am forever in his debt. I slipped the fish back and pretended to go through the motions of carrying on. It was pure farce; I'd done what I wanted, now it was time to pack up and get home - job done! I'm typing this post, grinning like an imbecile, a glass of 1664 close at hand. Days like this don't come round too often, best make the most when they do - tight lines.







Sunday, 16 April 2017

I don't get it

Out yesterday evening for another session after a decent carp. Benno had said, in a phone conversation, "you're just as well blanking after big fish!" How right can any man be? It wasn't, however, without incident; my tackle and tactics remain unchanged despite my dry net. At this time of year it's unrealistic to expect huge catches or masses of signs of carp activity. Nope - it's all about watercraft and educated hunches. When I arrived, I spent over 90 minutes walking a two mile stretch trying to locate some fish. One or two "might have beens?" but nothing positive. There were three swims to which I was drawn, all containing open water adjacent to overhanging snags and reed beds. Classic carp swims on these type of venues and less than six rod lengths from the bank - hence the requirement for watercraft and a subtle approach.


I'd made my choice and spent a while watching the reeds before catapulting out a dozen, or so, TG Active (or were they?) boilies and getting both my rods cast in to position. My choice of rig for these early season efforts is heavily influenced by the Korda Masterclass 4 material. I have no desire to use chod or helicopter rigs, but am sold on the "spinning rig" presentation. I've adapted the rig to suit my own situation and have spent some time tank testing the resultant tweaks.

This will take a bit of explaining.
Hook link = Korda N-Trap semi-stiff to a Korda QC Ring Swivel (size 8) , a
Nash Fang Twister (size 7) hook with a line aligner shrink tube cover.
Bait is a 14 mm Camo pop-up plus an IB maize plastic pop-up on
a size 20 micro swivel stopped by a Nash Hook Bead
I'm really fortunate that Alan Turner (aka Camo - please click the link) has his tackle emporium in Ramsgate and stocks everything that any wannabe carp angler could wish for. He also has his own bait range (there's a clue there?) which is far more reasonably priced than the mainstream offerings. I can only offer the advice - "Don't knock it until you've tried it!"
So there I am as darkness approaches, bite-less. Just as I'm preparing to leave my right-hander was away with a screaming take. I picked up the rod and bent into what felt like a small tench. Almost immediately the left-hander was away. Had the fish picked up the other line? It was carnage and I eventually lost the initial fish in a nearside snag. Funnily enough I wasn't unduly troubled - I knew I hadn't been done by a carp. I reeled in the left hand rod to find myself entangled with another carp rig. It was a horrendous contraption, the 4 oz fixed lead still attached! The hook was better suited to shark fishing and the hook link could have been made of fuse wire it was so stiff! There was a piece of anti-tangle tubing and about 3 m of mainline still on the swivel. Had the guy "cracked off" making an under arm swing into the venue? It was agricultural at best. I took it down to Camo's mid morning only to have a carp angler (a decent enough guy) offer support for the offending rig. It takes all sorts and I happily acknowledge that I'm no carp angler. It's a weird world and there are times when I just don't get it!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

An explanation?

My recent blogging has been, at best, a mish-mash of half-baked nonsense. I've not managed to catch a decent carp, find a Newlands wheatear or lure an unusual moth to the garden MV trap - why? If I am totally honest; my heart's not in it at present. The ongoing saga of my, late, father's estate dominates my time, but there is light at the end of that particular tunnel, it will hopefully be sorted out before the end of May? I can't get motivated to start my split cane thirty challenge all the while my head is telling me that conditions are not right and mothing isn't doing it for me either. Birding around East Kent is very hit & miss - I'm mainly getting the miss part, I've still only seen seven Swallows! Work is hectic and then there is my commitment to Freshwater Informer and the provision of articles describing the angling development of my grand-son, Bryn. I offered my services and have no complaints about the situation but it does impact upon my time/ability/enthusiasm, to make blog postings.

It's quite likely that I won't see an Osprey during 2017 - Time in Scotland is about so much more than pike!
Luckily I have got the May article completed, well ahead of schedule, and now have opportunity to focus attention on blogging for a while. I find it really weird that we're not going back to Loch Awe this year. It has been a part of our angling cycle since 2011, six years on the spin we've fished Kilchurn Bay in the week leading up to the May Day Bank Holiday. I am well aware we'd all agreed, after 2016, that it was over, we'd cracked it, and we'd seek adventures in warmer climes. 2017; we're going nowhere and I'm suffering as a consequence. It's true that Bev and I have two holidays booked, June and September, but fishing tackle will not be part of the hand luggage on either trip! I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms - why are we not going somewhere? I'd like to think that it's no more than a glitch, due to the distractions of sorting out Dad's affairs, and normal service will be resumed in 2018 - even if I go on m own!

That's an awful lot of freebies for a £1
Anyhow, I'm still getting down to the club fisheries and catching a few small carp and horrible little F1 hybrids. Great fun with a single rod, some "Go Cat" freebies and small cubed bread crust as bait. I doesn't get any more basic than a rod, reel, line and hook - no need for leads, floats or fancy rigs.
I've actually been fishing in the reed beds, these fish are fearless when in such surroundings and will take a bait without the normal caution of an open water situation. 10 lbs b.s. line straight to the hook and it's hit and haul when the bite comes. All of the fish have been fully scaled apart from one. I caught a linear mirror which, if it weighed 20 lbs plus, would be the target of anyone who fished the venue; it is a beautiful little fish and was the highlight of my past week.

An absolute peach of a carp!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Competing with a big moon

It's just after 20.00 hrs (08.04.2017) and I have set up the garden 125 W MV moth-trap for the coming night. Temperatures are set fair at 10 C all night, so my only issue will be with the clear skies and beaming moon. The wind is predicted to remain a gentle southerly, so there is certainly a chance of something unusual turning up? I have certainly experienced some decent catches, historically, under similar conditions.

Many Plumed Moth
I've only run it on three occasions so far this year and endured a total blank on the second night. Much better for the third attempt; Double - striped Pug, Clouded Drab, Light Brown Apple Moth and a Many Plumed being added to the 2017 tally.
Sunday 9th April 2017
The reality proved to be rather disappointing, just three moths lured. One each of Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Bright Line - Brown Eye (which was new for the year!). I'm running it again tonight, although I don't really think conditions are that much better? I'm on another week of late shifts, well four days, and don't see me doing much else!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Deadline day approaching

My first article for The Freshwater Fisherman appeared in the April edition and I'm happy enough with the result. Barry Reed (Editor) and his production team have done a good job, however, being likened to a modern day Mr Crabtree was flattery most undeserved (click here to see - page 9) Having committed to this series of articles, it all of a sudden becomes far more difficult if the weather conspires to keep the main protagonist indoors! Bryn has spent more time on his X-box than anything else during the month of March due to the constant run of chilly NE winds. With just ten days remaining for my second offering to be on Barry's computer, I have very little to work with - call plan B into action. Long Shaw Farm to the rescue? We've Sunday afternoon to get enough to fill the space I'm allotted, so let's hope for lots of photo opportunities!


I have taken both Harry and Emily down to the smaller of our new club waters to look for fish and frogs; a box of cat biscuits handily in the car, just in case! The weather has been kind and on both occasions managed to get a few carp up on the top, although never in a frenzy of activity. I also got a rod and net involved when Emily came along and had a couple of small commons from a number of good chances. The successful method being tiny bread cubes, free-lined, on a size 11 Barbel Maxx, 10 lbs b.s. line, a Match Aerial centre-pin on a Duncan Kay rod.



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Carp - but not as we know them!

Benno, Luke and I were, once again, on the banks of our latest venue, carp fishing. Only our second visit but, this time, all three of us had located some carp activity prior to casting our baits. Things were looking up until four lads, in kayaks, ruined any realistic chances with their inconsiderate (and illegal - they had no life jackets and, therefore, permission to be using the waterway) behavior. Not only did they paddle past as we were setting up, they made a return visit as darkness was falling and used all the manners of "Council House Central" to demonstrate their contempt for others. Chav's - nothing more, but something else we'll have to learn to tolerate as the project advances. They weren't aggressive, just enjoying themselves but with zero consideration for the impact of their actions upon others. It wasn't a complete waste of effort as Benno actually caught a carp! It's the first week of April - what's going on? The first I knew was when a garbled message came through on the walkie-talkie! "I've only f**king got one!"


My initial reaction was "result!" Benno not quite so sure once he'd examined his prize. It was a freak of a carp - more like a boomerang than a fish. Very long, but with a distinctive "kinked" back bone, it went just over twelve pounds on the Rubens - in good nick it should have gone twenty!
Where do we go from here? Well it's a start and there are many other fish in the venue. There can be no doubting that they get a serious amount of angling pressure during the course of a year. Our challenge is to test ourselves to see if we are capable enough to adapt our tactics to deal with these new conundrums and those alternative approaches of the unknown anglers?

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"Looks like hard work!"

All three of us met up at the fishery, just before 16. 30 hrs (Saturday 01.04.17), and took a stroll along the chosen section in an attempt to locate a carp. or two. before committing to swim choice. We saw nothing which could be directly attributable to carp activity, thus had to rely on watercraft and "gut feel" for our first session of 2017. Fortunately we do have last years results to draw upon, so educated guesses were used rather than blind faith.


Sun-set wasn't until 19.28 hrs and we had plenty of time to watch the water and were eventually rewarded with two definite sightings of carp; so all very encouraging. It confirmed that they were present in our section and, as a result, boosted confidence. It wasn't until May, in 2016, that Benno managed our first carp from this venue, so it came as no surprise that all three of us blanked today. We're not getting involved in "time bandit" tactics - if we don't get any indication within three hours then it's time to head off home. We are on the banks five weeks earlier than last year; will we be able to make this work to our advantage?

As I have stated in my previous blog, we're fishing beside a public footpath which is very popular with the local dog walking community, plus regular joggers, cyclists and ramblers enjoying the exercise and facilities that the venue has to offer. It was an "off the cuff" remark by a lady walking her dog, which is the catalyst to this post. I was sat on my unhooking mat, what little gear I had, neatly stacked on the top of the bank, a can of "light ale" being supped as she approached. "That fishing lark looks like really hard work!" being her quip as she passed. I offered some, light-hearted, reposte. It wasn't until she had disappeared from view that I actually thought about what had been said and the perception v's the reality.

The carp that started our campaign in May 2016. Benno with a 17 lbs 4 oz Common'
We only managed five fish, from the venue, during our first season - three 20's! Benno leads 4 - 1; I've a lot of
catching up to do!
I have absolutely no doubts as to the image I portray, perched beside my kit - can in hand! Hard work? Well that's already been done, it's how and why I'm there! Bait preparation, rig tying and testing, assembling the various items required for the project - all of these things have taken place long before I leave home. My time at the fishery is about enjoyment, hence the laid-back perception of an outsider. Nothing could be further from the truth, although I am rather pleased with this situation. If that is how I appear to a non-angler, perhaps some of those "brand label fashionistas" will also see a similar thing and dismiss such "Noddy" tactics as unworthy of their attention - I can but hope!

Other bits to be mentioned are pertaining to my slowly evolving "year-list". I've added the following:-
Willow Warbler - 30.03.17-  one singing in the garden,
Blackcap - 31.03.17
Sedge Warbler - 01.04.17 - two in sub-song along the RMC
Swallow - 02.04.17 - Sholden, Nr Deal



Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sound advice - no pictures!

As the "split cane thirty project" enters season two I continue seeking advice, via the wonders of You-tube, amidst the copious offerings; ref - Carp fishing! The vast majority of these efforts are amateur, video blogging, "Look at me on holiday in France" etc, etc... However, there are plenty of  other, very professional, company sponsored/endorsed, programs which have been specifically produced for this web platform and it is these that I am drawn to in order to derive some snippet which might aid my cause. I've scrutinized rig tying, studied underwater footage of fish behavior, seen some amazing fish, caught by the very best carp anglers at some of the top venues.

Danny Fairbrass is the "Guvnor" at Korda, and competent angler to boot. It was something he said in a recent "Master Class" offering that really hit home. I don't know the guy, never met him, or any of his cronies, so this is a genuine thumbs up for a very honest piece of advice. I'd been watching Danny and Darryl Peck, catching some awesome carp in Germany, when he offered this pearl of wisdom. I won't make a direct quote but, instead, give my reaction to the implied sentiment. It is two pronged - firstly he said that it was perfectly acceptable to copy the example/methods of successful anglers. Nothing too outrageous in that concept, I've been attempting to copy the example set by successful anglers since Mr Crabtree! However, the real crux of his message, which could easily be overlooked, was that although it was acceptable to replicate, the aim should be to improve upon it! Now that's very special advice. Kevin Nash calls it "the edge"- that something which sets you apart from the other anglers at your venues. "Do the same but do it better!"

Getting involved in carp angling, 2017, is a bit like dabbling in the dark arts of the Harry Potter stories.  I'd still like to think that my apprenticeship will stand me in good stead - location, location, location. It isn't all about baits or fandango rigs. If I can locate these fish, then I will catch them, just as Dick Walker had done sixty years ago. So what I gleaned from Danny's spiel was that I need to be at the top of my game to ensure I give myself the best chance of a successful outcome. It's not simply about using "Cell or Key" boilies - it's when, and, more importantly, where, you put them!

April 1st, on Saturday, and we are already planning our strategies for the coming season. We are not only competing with the carp, we also have the actions of other anglers to consider. There are a small group of anglers who are already extremely successful at this fishery, they are highly accomplished and very cute (read sharp!) with their methods and approach. Then there are the others - unthinking, wannabe, carp anglers - "all the gear; no idea!" It is these guys who will shape our campaign as things move forward. Benno, Luke and myself are not a registered charity, we aren't about to become a benevolent society for the lame brains. Our methods and swim choices are not about to go viral if we hit the jackpot. We are only too happy to exchange ideas with others, especially those encountered on the bank, but we ain't dotting I's or crossing T's for lazy parasites. We'll be fishing beside a public footpath, absolutely nothing we can do to hide our presence, even if we wanted to? I think that the best mentality I can use is that of our River Stour barbel exploits. All three of us caught some exceptional fish during that project, without getting involved with the "circus" which accompanied those times. Let's hope that we can replicate those events over the next few months, catch a few decent carp and walk away without any fuss?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fearless

After the early morning fog had burnt away conditions looked good for a raptor, or two, so I had my camera and bins strategically placed by the kitchen door. Awaiting the gulls to alert me to a passing Buzzard or Kite. It wasn't to be; instead I was treated to some fantastic close up views of a male Rose-ringed Parakeet which made repeated visits to the feeding station. It is my guess, therefore, that it is breeding very locally and already feeding his incubating mate or a young brood?

Before dropping down onto the feeding station, it would perch
in the top of our "Christmas Tree"
Once on the sunflower heart feeder, it would allow me to within twenty feet, no problem. So I took full advantage and spent quite a while firing off a series of portraits as it gorged on the seeds.




Monday, 27 March 2017

Time to fire her up again?

The last time I made any serious attempt at recording the moths that share my space was when Bev and I were staying at Dad's during his final few weeks of June/August 2016. My 125w MV "Robinson Trap" has lain dormant since - nuff sed! It was August 1994 when I first became interested in these night flying denizens and deliberately went about catching them, Benno close at hand - it has it's origins as his school project after all!

Roger Smith and I manufactured this contraption whilst I worked at Ashford - Batchelor's Cuppa Soup factory.
It has seen some some sensational visitors over the years.
Being part of a rather tight knit group of, like-minded, bloggers, it was inevitable that moths would start to feature as the Spring exerted its' influence on our natural history. Checking the egg boxes this morning revealed a small catch of moths, none of which were unexpected. There were 6 Common Quaker, 2 Early Grey, 1 Hebrew Character and a Herald, so a double figure catch on the first night!





I'll be keeping an eye on the weather before I decide to run it again - cold N/E winds aren't the most conducive for producing decent catches.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Birds, bugs and butterflies around Newlands

Out early for a short stroll around the farm in the pretense of looking for a Wheatear - a fool's errand if ever there was one? A small group of Linnets were feeding in the rough area besides the Scaffolder's Yard and a pair of Mallards flew over, headed for Pegwell and beyond. It wasn't until I reached the White House that anything unusual happened. A small passerine was flicking about on the ploughed field which, on raising my binoculars, proved to be a female-type Black Redstart. Further scanning discovered two more, one a spanking male in full breeding attire. I rattled off a few shots, more in hope than anything else, before getting back home as we had a breakfast appointment in Deal.



It was just after mid-day that we got back from our outing and I had another scout around the farm in the vain hope of getting some better images of these irregular "patch" visitors. No dice, but I did add two Common Buzzards to my lowly day list as they moved deliberately N into the chilly breeze.
However, just as it had been yesterday at the fishery, sheltered spots were alive with insects and swapping lenses I was happy to snap away at some of these smaller inhabitants of the field edges.

Cereal Leaf Beetle - one of a very closely related pair of species. (Oulema melanopus/O. rufocyanea)

Possibly a Pea Weevil ?
At least nine Small Tortoiseshells were seen as I wandered around, it certainly seems that this species is making a welcome comeback after a few years of very low numbers.


Saturday, 25 March 2017

What it's all about

Benno and I had a session at our club fishery, this afternoon. We landed five carp between us which, if we'd added them together, wouldn't have made twenty pounds. Proper "scamping" and we've agreed that our time could be better spent in search of far bigger fish (unless we have Bryn in tow!)
There was a raw NE wind, although it felt warm in the sheltered sun spots around the fishery, so warm in fact that I saw two butterflies. One was a Small Tortoiseshell, the other being far less expected - my first ever March record of a Speckled Wood!



Loads of other insects on the wing and I spent much of my time playing around with the macro kit whilst awaiting the attentions of the fish. Several pairs of Greylag Geese are prospecting the islands for potential nest sites and were engaged in noisy territorial disputes and display/pair bonding flights.
Chiffchaffs competed with Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Mistle Thrush and Cetti's Warbler to make their presence known and I spent quite a while watching a pair of Long-tailed Tits gathering nest material from the adjacent scrub



Monday, 20 March 2017

The mark (IV) of 1959

I managed to get out for a few hours, Saturday afternoon, with my "matched" pair of split cane Mk IV's. It was more a "because I can" session rather than any need to catch a fish, although a bent rod is always the purpose for being at any fishery. I wanted to get a photo of the two rods and fate certainly played a part as a carp rolled over my bait as I pressed the shutter release.


Benno, Luke and I are all focused on the project ahead. Our desire to continue to test ourselves, within the very restrictive confines of our chosen venue, being central to this challenge. We have an idea of the techniques/tactics we need to employ in order to give us our best chance of success, although quite what success looks like has a very individual definition! In all honesty, Luke has still to catch a carp from this fishery, so a bite would be a result for him. Benno & I have taken fish from the venue; my first split cane twenty was one of them, thus our expectations are very much shaped by these previous experiences?

A "ghostie" Common - the best test of my kit, thus far.
Absolutely nailed - it had a right tear up.
Benno took a stroll along the banks, yesterday, but didn't manage to spot anything "carpy" - apart from a guy chucking boillies into the venue from a bridge - how subtle is that?
Seriously, we know we are not the only anglers who are targeting the carp in this venue; so will need to be at our best if we are to have any chance of being successful. Any fool can chuck a boily into a fishery, thankfully it doesn't make them a carp angler! (Doesn't even make them an angler - come to think of it!)


As much as I have striven to avoid using modern baits on my split canes, it seems that I have no alternative if I am to have any chance of achieving this target. Chick peas are fantastic, but won't cut it when up against some of these modern concoctions. Of course I might strike it lucky once in a while using my particle approach, but realize that to remain in with any realistic chance of success, I have to compete with the baiting strategies of the other anglers and hope that my watercraft, allied with fish location, provides me with the edge I require. If I achieve my goal, then there will be nothing to stop me experimenting with an alternative approach to see what else is achievable. Let's get that thirty first before starting to play games!
Rig mechanics and tank testing are very much part of my angling routine; this project more than most, seeing me tweaking various aspects of presentation as I seek understanding of some of the finer aspects of modern carp rig technology. I don't think I've ever been better prepared for an angling challenge than I am now? Only the passing of time will reveal how true this is - roll on April!



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Restoration of faith

Since Saturday afternoon my little world has been in a state of high alert due to a most wonderful demonstration of thoughtfulness. Fear ye not, The God Squad haven't succeeded in signing me up, nor have I discovered a, long forgotten, joy in sobriety; it has been far more surreal than any of those scenarios. Regular visitors will be aware of my desire to catch a thirty pound carp on a split cane, Dick Walker" Mk IV carp rod, having been gifted one by my family as a sixtieth birthday present in December 2015. What I failed to recognize, at the time, was quite how special their gift was. It was a limited edition Mk IV made especially for the January 1959 Earl's Court Boat Show and was to mark the end of a design, known as "the onion handle" and see the introduction of "the doughnut handle". Just to make it that little more special all the aluminium fittings were anodized black. E-bay is a wonderful playground, and a few months later I was able to get another Mk IV, although this one just a 1957 reconditioned affair. What was important, at the time, was that I had a pair of rods and would be able to go fishing with a, similar, set up to that which Dick Walker would have used back in his day. Two rods were always the limit when I started out, but, then again so was the compulsory close season, an appreciation of watercraft and angling etiquette!
It was only after the death of my father that I became drawn by the childish folly of using a pair of these 1959 "Boat Show" rods. Would it be possible, within the constraints of an ordinary working guy and all that other reality crap that gets in the way, or was I just dreaming?

On 07.02.2017 I'd ended my post, "Moving on", with this sorry tale - just another manifestation of the lure of the dollar?

"...... 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."


In an original rod bag - they don't get much better than that!

And that was it until Saturday afternoon! After an initial contact, via my blog comments facility, I got involved in a fantasy e-mail exchange with a guy, whom I have never met, about the wish to own a second "Boat Show Mk IV". Would it now be possible? All I can say is that the effort of Nigel (which may, or may not be his name?) is something which restores faith in humanity. The amount of work, he undertook, to make this come about is testament to a proper "nice guy". The rod arrived yesterday, and was exactly as he'd described, and sent accompanying photos. Not perfect, it must be stressed, but certainly good enough and very serviceable within my own angling expectations. So I am now the very proud owner of three B James & Son, split cane, onion handled, Richard Walker Mk IV carp rods, two of which are that matching pair I'd so desired! How can this be so?  Well, that's a little secret between me and my new mate! What it does mean is that my quest for a split cane thirty will be done using a pair of rods that originated in my dreams and have come to fruition because of some strange quirk of fate. Surely very good omens?



Ready for action - the two "Boat Show" Mk IV's in the sling




Friday, 10 March 2017

A magnificent sun rise

I was out at "silly o'clock" this morning, hoping to tempt a scamp from our new club water. I failed dismally, but really enjoyed a fabulous few hours watching the day develop. The dawn sun rise was spectacular, so I grabbed the camera and pointed eastwards, the settings dial on landscape. With a little help from my photo wizard computer thingamajig, I have attempted to recreate the feel of that magical hour. On the horizon are the ruins of Richborough Castle and those power lines used to radiate across the marshes from, the long gone, Richborough Power Station.


Three new species for the 2017 year list came in the form of Chiffchaff, Siskin and Brambling - real quality stuff for such a non-descript pool. On four occasions the bite alarms flickered into life, culprits long gone as I approached the rods. If I'm testing rigs, then evidence suggests that they are pants! I must try harder.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

School boy error and other stuff

Life is good in downtown Dumpton, I'm now in my eighth consecutive week of late-shifts. You can only imagine the "Brownie Points" I've got in the bag; my supervisors owe me big time, and that's a nice place to be when I next need a favour. However, my angling has been very hit and miss. Last weekend, that master plan of testing a few rigs fell by the wayside due to my own incompetence. I am not a match angler, thus didn't look at the match fixture list before driving over to the fishery. I had been there less than two hours when the match secretary appeared and delivered his "haven't you read your membership card match dates?" - I relocated to the other venue, but my heart wasn't in it and I wasted my morning as a consequence.

My Sunday "scamp" - I didn't learn anything new, my heart wasn't in it after the events of Saturday!
I did manage to get back on Sunday afternoon and caught a fish, but it was all very half-hearted. Barry Reed, the Editor of Freshwater Informer, had been in contact, ref the April edition, and asked for some more material so I have been attempting to get stuff sorted before deadline day. I'm fairly sure that I've done as much as is required, but need confirmation before I can rest easy.
The Spring migration is starting to pick up around Newlands, the first decent Buzzard movement was on Monday. I counted seven individuals, but the gull behavior suggested there had been many more. Chaffinches have also started to make their presence known, several small groups passing along the Vine Close gardens so a Spring Brambling must surely be a possibility?

Friday, 3 March 2017

Scamping with purpose

Another morning session planned for tomorrow at the new club water, the larger one. Weather is due to be mild, but wet and I have a couple of rigs that I need to try out before starting out on the trail of a "split cane thirty". A venue full of scamps is just the place to attempt such trials. I should get a few chances and be able to tweak accordingly, as the experiments advance. The last thing I need to be doing is playing around with rig mechanics when the next bite might be from the fish that I so desire!
April will soon be here and, with it, a change of venue and target. What I learn over the next four weeks has to be put into practice with full confidence. I am not going after a thirty with "I think it might work?" anywhere in the equation.
I have a slight variation of the "stiff hinged rig" which I am particularly drawn to. It is a very simple variation, based upon a far more complex set-up. I have already had a fish on it, but want to experiment further before making any decisions upon its' effectiveness. Club rules have meant that I am restricted in what I can offer as hook baits, water temperatures ensuring that my favoured particle approach is a non starter. Rigs, however, will still perform (or not) whatever bait choice. It is down to my watercraft and bait presentation as to whether or not I am successful in this quest for knowledge. When viewed in this perspective, even a blank will have taught me something?
I am no fan of fishing from under the cover of an umbrella, yet tomorrow has to be thus. I am getting over a prolonged chest infection and the last thing I require is to get a drenching in the name of my hobby. Bev asked "why bother going?"  My response - "I haven't had a day off work, so I ain't missing a morning's fishing!"

12 mm "Robin Red" pellet with an IB Maize pop-up. It is clear that the fish in this venue get
a lot of stick, simply by looking at the state of their mouths. This one is nailed! I am hoping to
get some more detailed shots of the hook holds which might assist my understanding of the rig effectiveness in
an angling situation.
I feel that there will be an afternoon of tank testing, should I get a few fish. I am taking the extension tubes with me, to hopefully record detail of the hook holds I manage. Interesting times ahead; are these to be the lessons which provide the learning experiences which lead to that ultimate prize? Acorns and Oak Trees - you know the score!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Early signs

Newlands has been very quiet recently, just odd Redwings flying overhead and, last Thursday, the first Oystercatchers calling out in the darkness. Cutting overland between Broadstairs and Pegwell due to the tide being my guess? A few Common Buzzards have been noted, but it's now very difficult to know if they are genuine migrants or local birds having a wander. One over the garden at lunch time caused quite a stir amongst the gulls, but it was all over rather quickly. The only other obvious signs that changes are happening was the appearance of the first adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Pyson's Road Industrial Site colony on Tuesday and, this morning, an adult male Greenfinch was displaying over the gardens along Vine Close, although I still haven't had one visit the feeding station whilst I've been watching!

From the back garden at lunch time - always nice to see.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Lazy Sunday afternoon and none of my business

It was a dreary morning. Outside there was a brisk, cum boisterous, S - S/W wind chasing thick cloud cover across the skies masking the watery sun. Bev and I had no plans, we're off to Southampton tomorrow for Brian's funeral, my Mum's younger brother. Tim & Julie, Sye & Yve will also be there, so we should have time for a bit of a catch up ref Dad's estate and where we go next. I spotted an opportunity and took a gamble, could I catch a carp in four hours? Bev was happy with the idea and I headed off just after 12.15 hrs - fishing by 12.50 hrs!
"You're having a laugh!" Split cane Mk IV's, Mitchell 300's and those £1. 66 "Redmire" bite alarms!
What was in the water couldn't have been any better if Danny Fairbrass, himself, had cast out

Kit for this gig was fairly standard fare. Two Mk IV's, Mitchell 300's and "Robin Red" 12 mm pellets with an IB plastic maize pop-up. I'm not fishing for big fish, this is scamping at the very base level. It turned out to be rather enjoyable. I had four bites, landing three fish, two carp and a bream, which, at 4 lbs 2 oz. is the largest one I've caught since 1992!

The first bream, to my rods, worthy of the name since 1992!
4 lbs 2 oz of carp bait snaffling "nuisance" - except it's not! I was very happy with the result.
So what's none of my business? Claudio Ranieri loosing his job at Leicester City FC, that's what! It has nothing to do with me but I still have an opinion about this whole shoddy situation. It's true that I am not a supporter/fan of LCFC, nor do I have any particular affiliation to Claudio, yet I feel that his "sacking" reflects very badly upon the club with which he has achieved his, and their, greatest moment. Surely it would have been far more gracious to have allowed him to resign? It's a mad world and the Premier League symbolizes much of what is wrong with modern UK - GREED!  Morality, loyalty, devotion - words which mean jack shit in this crazy "winner takes all" society. As I said - "None of my business!"

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A pool full of surprises

Benno, Bryn & myself were back at the larger club water, for another short, afternoon, session as Uncle Ben attempts to pass on his wisdom to his nephew, under the watchful gaze of Grand-dad! Bryn is like a sponge, soaking up every snippet that comes his way. I had perch on the hit-list and set my stall accordingly. Benno and Bryn were happy to catch anything which accepted their float fished maggots, but with a couple of sleepers chucked out for a carp, should such a fish be feeding. Small pva bags of freebies, accompanying the hook bait, so adding to the attraction of the offering.
Float fished maggots provided steady sport with "skimmer" bream, roach and perch providing the action, plus three times the carp rods were called into action, courtesy of Benno's Delkims! Bryn ended the day with three small F1 hybrids to his tally and a PB of 3 lbs 4 oz - he was well pleased.
My perch fishing went extremely well, with five fish netted to a top weight of 1 lb 12 oz - they were all over a pound! It didn't end there, however, as I also managed to catch my first Ide, all 2 lbs 3 oz of it - so a new PB! Then I caught some, fan-tailed, Goldfish-type thing before two lean Common Carp decided to join the fray, the best one going 7 lbs 15 oz.

1 lb 12 oz Perch

2 lbs 3 oz Ide - a new species/PB

Some "Fancy Dan" goldfish/carp-like thing which took a prawn!

The bigger, of the two, carp - 7 lbs 15 oz
Great fun, a bit like fishing in an aquarium at a zoo. It seems to me that we've joined a carp puddle with some perch in it!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Computer illiterate - that's me!


I have been toying with the idea of writing a book for some time now. I'd even got around to getting a few chapters together in Word document format on my original laptop. I lost the lot when my grand-daughter, Emily, accidentally knocked my beer over and destroyed my computer and external hard drive in a moment. It now seems destined to become a project for when I retire, whenever that is, and sits prominently near the top of my "bucket list". There is only one thing which has a higher standing - my desire to catch a thirty pound carp, on a split cane rod, purely because of my promise to Dad.
So where's all this stuff going? I have not had access to Microsoft 365 since that fateful day when Emily destroyed my entire computer system. The new Toshiba laptop is a wonderful thing, but doesn't come with Microsoft Office as standard. When purchased I didn't really care so long as I could get back to blogging. As time has passed, I have really yearned for the ability to create documents, so looked at ways of getting Word reinstated to my computer. A trip to the Microsoft home page resulted in a wondrous event. Clicking on the icon for Microsoft Word resulted in a "buy it now" facility - all £109 of it! There was one customer review associated with the product, so I clicked on that. Glory be! What a result? The reviewer was very complimentary about the Microsoft product but asked the question "Why pay £109 when Google Docs is free?" Google Docs?, never heard of it, so quickly had a search only to find that this word processing facility had been part of my computer package since the day dot!
I really am one computer dullard! My lack of recent blogging activity is directly attributable to the time I've spent playing with this, newly discovered, toy! I have already produced my first article for Freshwater Informer, using the facility, and have also played around with bits and bobs which might provide a basis for book chapters in the future?
I also produced an article which I had hoped to forward to Awesome Angler, but haven't had any reply to my inquiries; they must be very busy filming their youtube stuff? Click Here to view my offering. Back out with Benno and Bryn tomorrow, so more material for the Freshwater Informer project, which is progressing rather nicely thanks to the two way communication with their editorial team.

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?