Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to 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 21 March 2013

Thought provoking PAC meeting

I attended the March gathering of the Canterbury & Thanet region of the Pike Anglers Club of GB (Region 30/60) but was unable to stay for the whole evening due to work commitments. However, the time I did spend was very enjoyable and educational (as always). The "round robin" section of the meeting allows the members to share tales of their triumphs and disasters from the previous month along with the chance to hear other opinions and reactions to the problems encountered - plus get an idea as to how successful you have been in comparison to other local anglers. A much better indicator than reading the weekly angling papers and attempting to compete with the publicity machine of the sensationalised press. If nothing else, my return to angling has demonstrated just how scarce 20lbs pike remain. If the results from the commercial trout fisheries were removed from the reports, then the true stature of a pike weighing over 20lbs is the same as it was when I packed it in, way back in 1993! (Not true of almost every other native - and non-native - species!)

A cased pike of 15lbs 5oz, this fish remains my largest Scottish pike despite the fact that it was caught in May 1982
and I have been back many times since. It is set up due to my incompetence; quite simply I took too long
unhooking it, then spent more time trying to get photos! A magnificent fish that died for no other reason
than my need of a photo - fish of this size, prior to the 35mm camera, were killed purely for the taxidermist.
Cased specimens being the norm from the Victorian times when pike anglers did battle with these superb opponents, using some fairly basic tackle. They didn't have photo albums, so their memories were set up and displayed on the walls of their
grandiose homes - during that period, pike fishing was a preserve of the wealthy.
I was the sole representative from our "gang"; Gadget, Benno & Tom all unable to attend for various reasons, and took my laptop along with the photos of our recent successes and so bathed in the glory, for a while! We haven't performed too badly in comparison with our peers. It was whilst I was sharing our photos that a couple of subjects came into the discussion. Firstly was the "best" way to hold a pike for a photograph - if such a pose is possible? I have had some problems with this - going way back into the past. I'm not sure that it isn't subject to "fashion" that a particular pose becomes the accepted norm for a while? Certainly, if I take a look through the archives I can see that a certain pose was the preferred option at various stages through my angling journey.

Ron Thomas with a 23lbs+ pike from Grebe Lake at Emberton Park (early 1990's)
A cracking pike, well presented, but does this particular pose suit all sizes of fish?
I lost contact with Ron in 1993 - the last I knew was that he was living (with Alwyn) in Slip End.
If anyone has any idea where he is now - I would love to know. They were crazy times!
The 18lbs 8oz pike from the East Kent drain - a nothing photo!
I caught my first decent pike, of my return, in November 2011 and, without thought, posed for the subsequent photos with the fish held "chin up". It was a fabulous creature, yet I couldn't help but feel that the photos let it down - they certainly didn't do it justice. Fortunately, I was to recapture this fish twice more (Benno & Tom also landing it - 5 visits to the bank in 12 weeks!) and able to get more images. The second time I caught it, at 19lbs 2oz, I was on my own and had to resort to self-take images. The results were an image of the classic "M" shaped pike of the angling press.  Andy Larkin, the joint RO, made comment that the the position of my hand, closest to the head, was actually pressing on the fish's heart, so potentially fatal!

My self-take image clearly showing the "M" shape created due to the weight of the fish
 - pressure on the heart a direct result! Does it make this fish look better than the previous image?

The third time that I took this fish. Yes, I am holding it in the "best practise" manner, yet the image isn't particularly pleasing. The curved spine doesn't work for me!
The smaller the pike, the worse the pose looks! This fish weighed in at 9lbs 14oz and looks awful when held in this manner.
I am always willing to accept that kind of criticism (education) and will do my best to ensure that my future images will be posed in such a manner that the fish's well-being is not compromised. The guys at the meeting offered much advice about their particular favoured way of holding a pike, the general consensus being that one hand is supporting the body whilst the other is slipped inside the gill cover, thus under the chin! Having looked back through the files, I can see this has been a fad from time to time, maybe now there is more reason to adopt a uniform approach?

I've used this image before, but this particular fish does portray the very "Broadland's-like" large head - I'm also
holding it in the typical "M" shaped pose which was so popular during the early 1990's.
It came from Pixie's Mere, Hertfordshire - a fishery which held a large stock of tench and roach; bream were
not a species that were present during this period. Tom says this fish looks "pre-historic!"

The second subject that arose, as a direct result of the recent RMC pike captures, was raised by Richard Gibson and asked "if these fish were specialist bream feeders?" He based the question upon the apparent large headed appearance of the pike that we had captured. I was/am unable to answer, this question, as I've never fished the canal for any other species. I've since had time to chat with Benno and Tom, they both reporting that there is a healthy stock of carp, bream and tench along with a tremendous population of roach and perch - these pike are spoilt for choice! Richard made comment that the RMC pike reminded him of the Norfolk Broadland fish, which also have large, broad, heads - an evolutionary feature which allowed this population to prey upon the most prolific of prey species in these waters. Bream being very different in shape to roach, perch or carp - almost like comparing a plaice to a cod? Their body shape is very well described by the "dustbin lid" slang of the early carp anglers - bream are tall in stature but narrow in a head-on profile - any population of pike which seeks to feed on these fish will need to evolve a particular body shape in order to tackle their chosen prey.

Any excuse to use another image of this RMC 20lbs 9oz pike - yes it does look large headed, but could this be
a result of the way I'm holding it? Not quite an "M-shaped" fish but my left hand is certainly in a position to put
pressure on its' heart. Specialist bream feeding, or are carp and tench the key to this evolutionary feature?

I've included this image purely for Benno - he doesn't think a 19lbs 11oz could look this big!
Taken with an Olympus OM 10 - 28mm lens using Kodachrome 64 slide film
Yes it did only weigh 19.11 and yes I do blame Kevin Keegan for that ridiculous perm!
So my original question remains - "Is there a pose which allows a pike to be presented to the camera to best effect?"

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