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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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.