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!


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Important? - probably not! (an opinion)

With every single, passing, day our political elite demonstrate an ineptitude that beggars belief. The elected MP's, of whatever party, have shown themselves to be totally unworthy of the trust that we, the electorate, have placed in them. The whole "Brexit" fiasco continues to spiral downwards to a point that places our very democracy in jeopardy, the country completely divided as these self serving goons pursue their own agendas. A "people's vote" - are you serious? We've already had one and look at what it's done to our country - utter chaos from top to bottom - we voted out, what's so difficult to grasp, if democracy remains a reality in 2018! I watched the BBC news channel, last night, as the no confidence vote was conducted by the Conservative party.
I'm no Tory, never have been, but still recognise what a good job Mrs May is doing under very difficult circumstances. The "Brexit" negotiations should have been conducted by Nigel Farage, he being the instigator of this whole situation, however, it's not going anywhere - just hind sight. Mrs May is only in her job because David Cameron jumped ship as soon as he realised that he'd lost - a spineless act by a complete coward/fraudster. Prime Ministers should be made of sterner stuff? If public office is what you seek, then a desire to see through your obligations doesn't seem too much of an ask by the voting masses.
The implosion of parliament is now a testament to the sorry state of our "Great Britain" I hope that Corbyn and co can sleep well, they are a bloody disgrace, the whole lot of them. When we're in a situation where party politics are of irrelevance, the national interest is paramount, they persist in point scoring idiocy instead of stepping up to the plate to ensure our Union remains the envy of the world. If this were not a true perception, why would so many migrants attempt their perilous journeys to reach our shores? I don't expect that this opinion will sit well with many others, but, there you go, in a civilised democracy I am still allowed one. For that reason alone, I wear my poppy with pride! Those brave, and selfless, folk didn't lay down their lives for us to now surrender to Germany and the Federal Republic that masquerades as the EU! Leave means leave - a simple concept if you understand one man one vote?

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Monday meandering

The perch project is coming along rather nicely, although not every tweak has proven to be a success. Even failure, however, can have its' benefits if you're able to learn from, recognise, the mistakes? The recent run of good fortune came to an end on Monday, when I was able to get back to Marshside for an afternoon session, into dark. Conditions looked good, although much brighter than my previous visits. I had nearly four hours to play with, but failed to add to my tally, the only fish hooked coming adrift at the net! Bloody barbless hooks! Not to worry, it wasn't the "three pounder" I so desire, thus wasn't left feeling like I'd swallowed an orange when it spat the hook. Various rig adjustments and bait presentations didn't produce, on the day, but I have to remain positive that the basic methodology is sound and will produce the result I seek so long as I can stick to the task.

The perch kit awaiting action. 
All that said, work remains off the scale and time is very much at a premium in the run up to the festive period. My next session will be completely different, as pike are the target species and involve a crossing of the Kent boundary into some dark, and inhospitable, terrain. Benno, Luke and myself are headed off, on an away day, to a venue with a decent track record for big pike, although we'll have to be at the top of our game, as it does see quite a bit of pressure during the season. Are we good enough? Only one way to find out; go there and see how we fare? The boys are far more adventurous with their tactics than me, and the static dead bait approach (even with all my edges). What I find most reassuring is the fact that my tactics are still capable of producing a result, despite changing very little since the mid/late 1980's. Pike really are that predictable/thick! I'm perfectly happy to watch the lads casting lures and whipping the surface to a foam, as long as it's not directly above my baits, whilst I sit back and watch the world go by. The bite alarms being my only requirement to keep me in touch with what's happening beneath the surface. All I have to do is ensure that my bait is the best that I can acquire and positioned in such a place as to be easily discovered by the pike. Location, location, location..............it's the very basis of any successful angling project. You simply can't catch what ain't there.

So nicely back to Monday and me sat out on the marsh awaiting audible alerts whilst watching the birds that were about their daily routine. Winter thrushes are now present in good numbers, both Fieldfare and Redwing conspicuous around the berry laden hedgerows, whilst Blackbirds are also present in higher than normal numbers, thus suggesting a continental influx?  There's a very good candidate for a juv Rough-legged Buzzard, which I've now seen on three occasions, yet still haven't managed clinching views therefore can't claim, but certainly worth further searching. The Cormorant movements, to and from the Stour Valley, continue to provide spectacle, whilst awaiting the alarms. Quite what the true numbers involved are completely beyond me, but a spectacular sight all the same. Best bits on Monday came in the form of a Little Egret which had decided to feed amongst a mixed herd of sheep and ponies, plus a stunning adult male Marsh Harrier which did a nice fly past, although always partly hidden by the fishery hedge! A Kingfisher sped past whilst Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Linnets were flitting around the field margins and adjacent reed beds. Just to see the session to conclusion, sun-set over the western horizon was stunning. I really don't need to catch fish to enjoy a session at the waterside!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Eight in Ten

No surprise that I returned to Marshside for another session, into dark, this afternoon. After yesterday's result, it was a no brainer in reality. Conditions were much brighter, although the wind was still a boisterous SW and played havoc with my light weight swingers. So much so that I switched over to Sid & Jasper, my, wind beating, carp hangers, for a spell. Mick, the bailiff, turned up before I'd even cast a bait and we had a nice chat about the perch and the forthcoming "newsletter" for which I have offered my services to assist the club secretary. It's Robbie's first effort and, as a new member, I am happy to attempt to put something back into the club that was so generous to offer me, a very sought after, membership. Mick is always good value, and cheerily said his good-byes as he continued his round of the fishery to grab day ticket money off two other guys on the opposite bank.
I got the rods out, same little and often baiting strategy as yesterday, and sat back to await events. It wasn't ten minutes before the right hand rod was in action. A cracking perch of around a pound came splashing to the net - blank avoided! Within half an hour I had a second fish, this one weighed at 1 lb 3 oz, to the same rod. I got destroyed by a carp, on the left hand set-up, and had to re-tackle after getting snagged in the reeds. It remained fairly quiet for the next hour. Odd bleeps from the alarms, but nothing to strike at until a stuttering take saw me attached to a very strange creature. Straight away I knew it wasn't a perch, but it wasn't a carp either. Bream couldn't possibly fight this hard and it didn't have the power of a tench, but it was very dogged and stubbornly came toward the waiting net. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn't this! A bloody wild Fan-tailed Goldfish-type thingy. I grabbed a photo, as it lay on the unhooking mat, just for the record. Very weird.

Bait back out, the sun already below the horizon, and the clock is ticking steadily towards home time. With the light fading fast, another bite on the right hand kit saw me attached to a much better perch which tipped the scales at 2 lbs 4 oz and represents my eighth, over two pounds, from the venue. It's been a superb weekend and I now have to get back into the groove with a 54 hour week, before Bev and I are off on an adventure. It will probably be in the run up to Christmas before I cast another bait. With these fish now under my belt, it will be far easier to do other stuff. Will this fishery provide me with a three? I'm happy to keep looking whilst the back up fish are of such high average weight.

The eighth two of the campaign - most enjoyable angling

Saturday, 1 December 2018

An hour to savour

Back over to Marshside, this afternoon, for another into dark session after perch. I had every intention of using a float, for the first time in "yonks!", but the stiff SW breeze, and accompanying rain, put that idea to bed as soon as I got out of the van. So it was two split cane Mk IV's, ABU Cardinal 44X & 55, on very simple set-ups, with the Siren R3's providing the audio and a couple of home made hangers the visual indication.

I had the first rod out, just before 13.30 hrs, but didn't manage to get the second one in play until well after 14.15 hrs, such was the hectic feeding spell that I'd dropped in on. I was using prawns, with a Krill & Tuna method mix as ground bait. Little and often being the chosen tactic and, boy, did it seem to do the trick? Between 13.45 and 14.45 hrs I had five perch over two pounds to the landing net. Four came to the right hand rod, purely because I couldn't get the left hander in the water! 2.04, 2.04, 2.07. 2.02 & 2.05 in that order - simply the best perch fishing experience of my life.

A selfie of the 2.07, and yes, it was windy.

I fished on until 16.50 hrs, missing a further three bites, bumping two others before hooking a most spirited adversary - a small common carp of around 4 lbs (shame it wasn't a perch!) A truly wonderful session out on the marsh and a real confidence boost. At long last I am starting to see a return on the tactics that I've chosen to use. All week, at work, I have been thinking through what presentations to use, the hook patterns, & sizes, and other such tweaks. For that magical hour, everything fell into place, I was truly living the dream. To be continued ......... I hope!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Nanny State greed

Now it might surprise many of my visitors, but I do enjoy a light ale; on occasion - surely not? Yep, never smoked, nor set foot inside a betting shop, wouldn't have the first idea how to fill in a betting slip, but have to admit that a beer is a weakness, although never been a fan of spirits. At my age, surely I should be entrusted to make decisions for my self? Well, apparently not!

From left to right. What it is, what it was and what it should be
I used to love a Stella Artois, or two, but despite the "reassuringly expensive" advertising campaign, the UK brewers took the piss by lowering the alcohol content from 5.2% to 4.8% yet failed to consult the consumers or pass on any cost saving. I voted with my wallet and took my custom elsewhere. Holidays around the Med. have allowed me to sample many of the brews from this fantastic region and I have to admit that I'm rather fond of San Miguel, as purveyed in the bars of Mallorca and Menorca. Lovely stuff, at 5.4% ABV. In the UK,  this same brand has been marketed, by whoever, as a 5.0% beverage, along with all the drink sensibly bull-shit that our government insist upon. Imagine my horror when I went into our local shop to grab a couple of tinnies, to discover that my beverage, of choice, has been reduced to 4.5% ABV, but remains at the same price. Yet another demonstration of contempt, by an elitist culture, who know better than me, but have no issues with ripping the arse out of it. FFS I'm an adult, I'll make my own decisions about what, and how much, I can or can't drink. Looks like I'm searching for a new "favourite"? It's a hard life!

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Perch 2018 - it's a start

The Black Dyke has led me a merry dance and I have to admit that I'm a beaten man. The perch that Nick, the gamekeeper, had offered tantalising glimpses of, just one year previously, remain figments of a longing imagination. I am absolutely certain that they did exist, yet can't bring myself to believe that they haven't succumbed to some disaster, natural or otherwise. Whilst I readily admit that perch are not a species with which I have much experience, my angling hasn't become so poor that I would expect to continually blank when using a lob worm where these ferocious predators exist in viable numbers? I've waved the white flag and am seeking adventure in pastures new.
At silly o'clock, on Thursday morning, I headed over to Marshside for my first bash at a new venue. I blanked, so consistency isn't proving to be a problem, wherever I go! It was a half-hearted session, setting up blind, in the dark, and having just three hours available. I got what I deserved, in that respect. One thing that I will mention, again, is the huge numbers of Cormorants leaving the Stour Valley at first light. I estimated 1,350 N in the first two waves which came directly overhead, there were many others moving in the same direction further east, towards Sarre and St. Nicholas at Wade. The first birds had passed at 07.16 hrs and it was all over, bar the stragglers, by 07.27 hrs. Bloody impressive stuff. The first returning bird (single) was at 08.20 hrs. Between then and 09.30 hrs, when I packed up, 574 Cormorants had flown back towards Stodmarsh/Grove.

Iconic reels, made in Sweden, from an era when tackle was built to last.
Back out there this afternoon, for an into darkness session, the first thing I saw on arrival at my chosen swim was a flock of 40+ Pink-footed Geese dropping down onto some arable ground, just west of the fishery. This is the biggest flock of "pinks" I've ever seen in Kent; so a good start! With more time to play with, I was able to get myself prepared and fishing without any issues. Two split cane Mk IV's, one with an ABU Cardinal 44X, the other an ABU Cardinal 55. Proper retro kit and an absolute joy to use. Mick, the bailiff, turned up for a chat, which is always nice, and we both agreed that the dank conditions bode well for my chances. I told him of my plans to fish into darkness, just so there was no chance of me, inadvertently, breaking club rules - he assured me that it was OK and bade me tight lines as he left.

What a result! I'm still not too sure that my tactics are as fine tuned as they could be but, one thing's for sure, they're getting better. I had numerous tugs and touches, as indicated by the Siren R3's, which resulted in two perch being hooked and landed. Like peas in a pod, at 2 lbs 5 oz & 2 lbs 4 oz, they represent my best brace, although my self-take efforts fail to do true justice to the occasion.
Work will prevent me getting back out until next weekend, so I have plenty of time to mull over some ideas that I'm hoping will provide that edge which will see continued improvement with this current project.

Two two's - shame that the image lets the moment down, somewhat!

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Sunshine pike fishing

Van loaded and on my way before 05.00 hrs, headed back to the drain for another session after pike. The weather has definitely turned colder and this is just the start if the forecasters are to be believed. It was a chilly dawn, with a brisk easterly blowing straight off the sea, but the sun rose in a cloudless sky and it was bearable, with the right choice of clothing. I was wrapped in plenty of layers and, hands apart, stayed warm for the entire time I was outside.
All three rods were fishing by 06.15 hrs, but it wasn't until well after sunrise that the first bite was registered. A very spirited tussle resulted in a nice, clean pike gracing the landing net, weighing in at 12 lbs 2 oz. A very pleasing way to start. I placed her in an ET Pike Tube, so I would be able to get my photos later, when the light had picked up. At 08.00 hrs an eel took a liking to my sardine and, while I was sorting out the mess, my mackerel rod was away. Jack attack, a fish of around 4 lbs quickly dealt with and I was just returning it when the herring rod registered a bite. A little better, this one, at around 7 lbs. I had to go through the ritual of recasting all three rods, two with new baits, then settled down to await further action.

Always better when the sun's shining. Another beautiful, wild, pike from the East Kent flatland drains.
With the sun shining brightly and the clock ticking steadily towards 09.00 hrs, I started to go through the motions in preparation for a few self-takes when, out of nowhere, came my mate Neil, the birdwatcher. Blinding good fortune, he seems to make a habit of turning up when I need a photo and he didn't let me down - top bloke. He stayed around for quite a while, chatting about this and that. The White-billed Diver got a good airing, as did the recent multiple Pallid Swift sightings and then, just as he was bidding farewell, the herring rod was away again and he hung on to watch me land my fourth pike of the morning, all 9 lbs 8 oz of her. Job done, he wandered off into yonder whilst I started a slow pack down. Well pleased with my morning's effort, I walked back to the van with thoughts of big perch niggling in the background. I really must get back on track and concentrate on the original project, if I can? Some information received, whilst on a club work party, yesterday morning has got me looking at new venues, but still with a big perch as the target. With a week of lates looming, there's a chance I might get a morning session in to do a bit of prep work.