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!


Sunday 15 December 2013

Tain't what you do - It's the way that you do it!

A classic track by Bananarama and Fun Boy Three - one I now find myself , and my approach to "big fish" angling, summarised by these very words. Luke Jennings has made reference, in Blood Knots, to the three stages of development that every angler undergoes (assuming they don't become disillusioned and jump ship!). Stage one - just catch fish; of any size, of any species, it's the fact that you are fishing that provides the motivation. Stage two - specialisation? It might manifest itself as a desire to become a (club) match angler, pursue a single species or, as in my case, catch the biggest fish, of whatever species, that inhabited the waters that I had access to.
Stage three - and where I am at today - it's no longer what I catch; it's all about the techniques and tackle that I use to catch it. Enjoyment is no longer proportional to a bare statistic, provided by a set of scales - give me a centre-pin and a floppy 1lbs 2oz T/C rod and I'll show you a contented angler!
Of course I still love catching specimen fish, and I'd be a liar if I said any different. However, big fish are no longer the be all and end all of my angling expectations; I now pursue the enjoyment obtained by how I've out-witted my quarry and the greater understanding of their habits and quirks. (What made the barbel fishing of The R.Stour so frustrating - I never got close)
I watched a Youtube video of a guy using the lift-method (a traditional float fishing technique) for catching tench - superb content and imagery. It finished with the revelation (to me) that Dick Walker had never captured a 6lbs tench!
The whole purpose of this clip was to extol the virtues of the float over modern "bolt rig type set-ups" and to help sell DVD's. From what I saw the filming was top drawer; the angler very competent and knowledgeable. As he returned a 6lbs+ fish I have to admit to a twinge of envy - how I love tench and tench fishing. Unfortunately for me, however, is the fact that my tench fishing experiences are based around a golden period on the "greatest" tench fishery in UK history - Wilstone Res, Tring. It won't matter where I now seek tench, there is no way that I will ever re find tench fishing of that calibre. Yes, it is not unreasonable to seek a new PB, but will the fishery be as steeped in angling folklore, the backdrop quite so foreboding, as the concrete lined banks of Wilstone Res? The population of specimen tench, which inhabited the depths of the reservoir, during the period 1981-93, was phenomenal. I caught more than my fair share (well over 100 individuals) of 7lb+ fish with two 8's and a 9lbs 2oz during my time at this magnificent fishery. It is quite likely that my memories are rose-tinted and the reality wasn't quite so simplistic.
I used this image when I was "Non-conformist" blogging. The fact that Angler's Mail
(w/e 12.06.1993) thought my approach, to this single venue, was of interest to
 a wider audience, demonstrates how much angling has moved on.
The carp culture has now re-defined the rules and, as such, tench have a very small core of
dedicated anglers, all others, being carp orientated, mean that these wonderful fish
 are a "nuisance" species - caught by accident by carp anglers who, due to their chosen
tackle, are unable to appreciate the fighting qualities of these superb fish.
The technique used, for these fish, was one that had been specifically designed, by a consensus of the thinking anglers who were fishing the venue at this time; we all used long distance ledgering tactics (with two hooks - as allowed for in the fishery by-laws) incorporating bread/maggot cocktail hook baits and Drennan feeders over a pre-baited area. It wasn't bolt rig angling, but far more akin to that method than any float fishing technique. I can't see what other options were available to us given the distances involved? If I make a return to these wonderful fish, despite my desire to ensure that the tackle/technique will provide the adrenaline rush, I will have no qualms using ledgered bread/maggot hook baits. I think that my major issue will be attempting to remove Wilstone memories from any present day situation. The experiences, and education, that I've enjoyed at this water are enough to mean that,it is my spiritual homeland - a place of almost religious significance! (Sye and I are going back for a morning session during the Christmas break - "It might get emotional?")
Posing with an 8lbs+ tench - Cyanide Strait beyond. My nylon "Brolly Camp", slung over a 50" wave lock umbrella,
the central aluminium pole required to hold the whole thing upright!
I have no desire to relive the discomforts of these old times, just the excitement and quality of the angling that I was
fortunate enough to experience.
If I do choose to make tench my target, for the next season, there is no way that float presentation will be a requirement. If there is a chance of me returning to the tackle and techniques of my past - I'll happily give it a go, even prepared to use pellets in place of my favoured bread/maggot cocktails. What I draw the line at is using boilies (mini-boilies) on a hair rig with semi-fixed leads - refined carp tactics are not an option I wish to pursue, effective as they undoubtedly are! I won't be using bait-runners either, my ABU Cardinal 44x's being perfectly capable of dealing with the demands of any hard fighting tench within my casting range. Duncan Kay, 1lbs 10oz t/c, 11'6" carbon fibre rods; 8lbs b.s. mainline with 5lbs "double strength" hook links and size 14 Kamatsan "chemically sharpened" hooks. Big tench are awesome creatures, every bit as magnificent as carp and barbel in their sporting capabilities, my project will be to find a venue where the tench fishing can provide the challenge that Wilstone had offered over two decades previously? Westbere might be an option - but do I want to compete with the crowds? A certain drain, out on the Worth Marshes, might just provide salvation - it's a long way off my decision day and I may well get side-tracked along the way!
My best pike taken using a centre-pin - 23lbs 4oz (Lynch Hill, Oxfordshire)

I fished the RMC this morning, landing two pike (best around 8/9lbs) and messing up two other chances - I bumped what might have been a very good fish at 09.50hrs - such is life! Benno, Luke and, my brother, Simon were fishing at a Sussex water. Just after I'd packed up, Benno rang with the news that Simon had landed a pike of 21lbs 14oz - a fantastic fish from a very difficult venue. Another phone call, in the early afternoon, relayed the news that Benno had also landed a pike, although a modest specimen of 10lbs 8oz. Back at the canal; I fancied my chances of another fish, but time dictated otherwise - I was on my way home by 10.30hrs. I have another chance on Thursday - I have two days' annual leave to take before 24th Dec.
Simon with a 21lbs 14oz pike  - the second "twenty" in two outings!
It was caught using a bait boat and fish finder! Would I find any enjoyment in such an approach?
Get real - a big fish is a result in spite of the methods used to fool it into taking the anglers' bait

My head is spinning with ideas of carp, chub, barbel, tench and perch - not a lot changes in reality? I seek a project for next season - but I seek a project that will allow me to "go my own way" and ensure that competition doesn't spoil the vibe. Between then and now, I have a pike seaason to negotiate - a 23lbs 5oz fish on the centre-pin will do it. Have I the venue, the skills, or the technique, to resolve this particular challenge?

1 comment:

  1. Really love seeing all the Tring pictures. Fab blog. Also, my dad, Tony Ward said Hello, he has been telling me about the trips he had with you!