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!


Tuesday 23 September 2014

More Newland's news

The weather can only be described as changeable and, with it, the Autumn bird migration has been rather fragmented. Swallows have started to move in decent numbers, as have Meadow Pipits. In the garden, this morning, I recorded the first Goldcrest since last winter, two Blackcap, four/five Chiffchaffs and a couple of flyover "alba" Wagtails. A quick stroll around the farm revealed many more Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits plus a number of Robins - some decked in the cauliflowers. A lone Golden Plover did a circuit before deciding that Pegwell was a better choice and the second Goldcrest of the morning was in the, ivy clad, sycamores beside the "White House".

Ivy is a very widespread plant in the hedgerows around Newland's Farm and, unsurprisingly, Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae) are by far the most numerous insect around the area. I'd only discovered this species in 2011 - very numerous along the coastal path between Pegwell Village and Little Cliffs End Farm. Obviously overlooked, I was quickly able to confirm its' presence locally when I checked the ivy that grows at the end of Vine Close. It is now a regular garden visitor - such is the unkempt nature of our garden!

My only other sightings, which are rather confusing within a local perspective, concern the Jay activity. They are very conspicuous around the area, at present, with odd groups (up to five birds) moving westwards. They appear to be dropping down around the mature trees which surround St. Luke's playing field and the main farm buildings; so I assume these are feeding movements. I noticed that Margate Cemetery haven't recorded any movements thus far, although both Sandwich Bay and Reculver have - all very strange?

Monday 22 September 2014

Scamp saves the day

I was back at Sandwich Coarse Fishery for a short afternoon session. Two rods fitted with centre pins  - purely because they were still attached from my last trip here and I couldn't be bothered to change them.

I fished one with Spicy Pepperami, tipped with half an orange pop-up, the other was a 12mm Robin Red pellet with half a yellow pop-up. The swim was liberally scattered with my barbel particle mix (so I won't be disclosing what it consists of - just yet!) topped up with a few samples of my hook baits.

The signs were encouraging, but I had no indication on my alarms for over three hours. With less than thirty minutes remaining, my left hand rod was away and I found myself attached to a very lively little Common. Not quite how I wanted it to turn out - but I didn't blank!
The scamp that saved the day - the Robin Red pellet and yellow pop-up visible.
Duncan Kay carp rod and a Match Aerial centre pin

Thursday 18 September 2014

Back to normality?

Bev's health has improved greatly and we were both able to return to our respective employment today. I headed out across Newland's Farm, just after 05.30hrs - a few Robins "ticking" away in the gardens and hedgerows as I passed. Somewhere out in the gloom a Golden Plover called - the eastern horizon already brightening, the clear skies providing the signs that it would be another very pleasant day.
It wasn't until 08.00hrs that I made it outside - the digital ink manufacturing facility has no windows! It was a beautiful morning and, during my ten minute break, it was obvious that Meadow Pipits were passing overhead in dribs and drabs.

From the garden - late afternoon
As much as my boss is a top bloke - I'd be taking the piss
if I carried my camera gear with me whilst I was cleaning the yard
I had a right result, when my boss asked if I would tidy up the yard racking and give the perimeter a sweep - are you kidding? A cleaner on my wages! I'll have as much of this as is available - so I was outside for the most productive, raptor wise, part of the day. A Sparrowhawk and two Common Buzzards provided the entertainment whilst I was about my tasks but, try as I might, I couldn't hang it out any longer and was back inside the factory at 12.15hrs; who knows what I missed between then and 14.00hrs?
On my homeward walk, three Whinchats were discovered around the fence of the Scaffolder's Yard and a lone Wheatear was out on the potato stubble. As I had things to do; I didn't check some of the more productive areas - I feel sure that there was other stuff to be found.

Looking rather "round-winged" - the two Kestrels didn't flap once as they passed
over Vine Close. Not surprisingly my initial thought was two Sprawks until I got on them with the binos!
Two juvenile Kestrels spiralled over Vine Close around 15.00 hrs and, almost an hour later, a Common Buzzard flying steadily east caused a bit of a reaction from the local gulls. To be fair, the gulls were rather agitated for most of the afternoon but, being head down - arse up in my study isn't the best way to observe bird of prey movement above the fields of Newland's Farm. Yet, as it happens, it's been a rather good week thus far - in a funny sort of way!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

No two days the same

Back out around Newland's today - another holiday as Bev still isn't all that well; it was a restless night in our Dumpton abode. FSIS, as always, have been incredibly supportive and, should I need it, can take as long as I require - although we will be back at work tomorrow if things go to plan?

A rather gloomy morning with a brisk N-NE wind ensured that there would be no repeat of yesterdays' events and I had to go "bush bashing" in order to make the most of the time I could spend.
Wheatear numbers have increased to a minimum of eighteen birds, the vast majority still around the excavations within the Ellington Girls School boundary fence. Bird of the day, however, appeared in the hedge at the end of Vine Close, a Spotted Flycatcher. Far from annual here they are barely hanging on as a breeding species in odd locations around East Kent.

Always a welcome sight, wherever I see them. This individual was in the ivy clad, plum
trees that make up part of the hedgerow at the end of Vine Close
A couple of Swallows passed overhead and a little bunch of eleven Linnets went "bounding" northwards over the cauliflowers. Meadow Pipits seemed more numerous this morning with several groups encountered as I wandered the various tracks. A couple of Chiffchaffs added to the day list with my only Whinchat recorded in our garden hedge as I returned home.

A Meadow Pipit on the wires above the cauliflowers - where the G.G.Shrike was in Oct 2013
The flushing of my first two Song Thrushes of the autumn was a stark reminder that winter isn't too far away - so I'd better make the most of this period whenever the chance arises.

Another Wheatear image - it might be my last chance around Newland's for 2014?

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Two patch ticks in an hour!

My day started (05.00hrs) with me having to arrange an "emergency days' holiday" - Bev's latest hospital visit and procedure leaving her rather poorly. I was over to work and home again in less than forty minutes - job done! I left Bev sleeping and took a coffee into the garden to watch the dawn. Almost the first bird over the garden was a Kestrel and a male Blackcap was flicking around in the buddlieas. Overhead was clear, yet there was a low lying mist and the garden was heavy with dew.
Nothing much else happened and I went back inside to do some toast; leaving the kitchen door open just in case anything should cause the gulls to get excited. I could hear odd Meadow Pipits passing and a juvenile Sparrowhawk ghosted over the gardens - Blue Tits and Robins sounding the alarm. And that was about it until the sun burned through and the heat intensified; the first Common Buzzard drifted north - north-east at 10.45hrs and was the start of a rather hectic ninety minutes. I checked that Bev was OK before heading off for a quick circuit of the farm.
The first of, at least 9 - possibly 13, Common Buzzards that I recorded over
Newland's Farm today

Wheatear on the piled earth beside the new excavations at Ellington Girls School
Six Wheatears were around the excavations at Ellington Girls School - allowing a nice series of images as they fed on Crane-flies on the earthen mounds. I decided to check the stubble and was about a third of the way across the field when the gulls went up. Four more Common Buzzards were spiralling to the south - I rang Gadget who was already watching them from his garden! I continued on past the "White House" and flushed a Grasshopper Warbler from some rank vegetation beside the footpath - it flew straight into the caulis! I managed to kick it for a second time, getting a 10 second view through my bins before it dived back into the cauliflower field (all 150 acres) never to be seen again. Not quite what I'd hoped - but a patch tick all the same. Why couldn't I have discovered it out in the stubble, as we used to at Bockhill in 1999/2000?
Two more Wheatears were backed up by a couple of single Buzzards before I discovered a group of five thermalling over Broadstairs, some distance to the north. It was proving to be a good morning. I checked out a few other areas, with little result, before returning home. I made it out into the back garden, ringing Gadget to see if he'd had any more buzzards? As I was doing so three more appeared over the garden, however, all was not as it first appeared - one of them was an Osprey! The second patch tick of the morning.

High up in the murky haze, in the company of two Common Buzzards.
One of those regular Thanet visitors that had avoided detection on my patch for
fourteen years. It's in the bag now!
Another two Sparrowhawks, a trickle of Swallows plus the occasional flurry of Meadow Pipits and a bonus Grey Wagtail - it turned out to be a very fortuitous and eventful "emergency holiday" - very happy at how things turned out and Bev's feeling better as well.

More of the same - a great day to be on holiday

Sunday 14 September 2014

Newland's Sunday

I knew that there must be something going on when a Whinchat appeared in the top of the garden hedgerow, mid-morning. I couldn't get straight out, as there were a few jobs needed doing, so it was around 11.15 hrs before I ventured over to the farm. I discovered around 20 Wheatears and a further four Whinchats around the area, with a lone Swallow by the barn and a Peregrine marauding in the skies above St. Luke's playing field. I couldn't find a single "phyllosc" around the area - very strange?

There were groups of Wheatears flitting about out on the potato stubble;
never still for very long, they seemed to be making their way south in a rather deliberate manner

Odd Meadow Pipits "tseeped" their way overhead but the weather has become a little overcast with a rather stiff (16 mph) NE, so there could be something awaiting discovery out in the stubble? I might get out for another look later this afternoon.

Friday 12 September 2014

Cracker Factory memories

As a direct result of yesterday's offering I have found myself revisiting some of the great times of my angling journey. Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City - September 17th 1983 my first visit and my first success. I caught three carp during that fateful afternoon; the best going a very respectable 15lbs 9oz.
The carp which set the ball rolling
15lbs 9oz of "Cracker Factory" fun
As a keen specimen hunter, I had been told of this venue by Lester Strudwick (a Tring Syndicate member and founder member of the Carpike Specimen Group) who'd been "covertly" night fishing the lake for a few years and catching some very large fish. As a member of Tring, I was in contact with some of the finest angling brains that were active during the period, so rig choice and bait wasn't a problem.
Stanborough Lake in 1984 - every swim occupied.
It was an incredibly exciting place to fish and some great characters were present on these municipal banks.
Leslie's of Luton (The St.Alban's shop) was able to supply us with every item we required; which included the first imported Shimano reels in the UK - Custom EX 3000 and Carbomatic GT 4000 models. No bait-runner facility, these reels were marketed as direct competition to the ABU Cardinal 55 and were rear drag only. But they were new and we were having some! (Tackle Tarts that we were!)
The major downside to fishing Stanborough during the daylight (when it was legal!) was the fact that the venue was shared by other user groups - they being sailors and wind-surfers! Although their activities made no difference to feeding fish, they were problematic, to say the least, to us anglers.
At this time, cutting edge carp angling involved tight lines, line clips and open bale arms - something that a centre board of a sailing craft could, and would, often catch upon. Relations between the two groups was, to say the least, a little tense.
Rod tips pushed well into the water.
Original Optonic bite alarms complete with sounder box!
Gardner Tackle monkeys on needles made from brolly ribs - this was the "dog's bollocks"
Our answer to this maritime problem was to sink our rod-tips deep underwater; Kieth Sellick (proprietor of Middlesex Angling Centre) showed us an alternative solution - he used back leads! Yep! way back in the 1980's back leads were already in use, although not for the purpose they are today!

There you have it - 1983 braided hook-links, hair rigs and a boily.
The distance between swivel and hook was deemed critical - 10" being the optimum distance.
I could still catch on this today!
We had the hair rig and braided hook-links, although Kryston materials were still a few years away. We used Grudbod dacron, which we were able to dye using various permanent markers. I have an image of the original rig, which we used, that hasn't changed so much in the intervening years? As I've said before; carp aren't that difficult to catch!
My younger brother Simon with his first 20lbs+ carp
October 1983
That I am able to look back on this period, with such fondness, is because of the passing of time and the selective memory that comes with it! We were the new kids on the block, the noisy neighbours, the tackle tarts of our generation. True that we required a longer learning curve, but that is a direct consequence of the technology available at that time. If I wanted a photo - I had to finish a roll of film and take it to a chemist in order to have the film processed and printed. Do I wish to return to those days? Not a bit of it, yet I still feel sorry for those who've followed and are unable to draw from this experience.
August 1984 - 19lbs 6oz of hard fighting Stanborough carp
Every generation seeks to reinvent the wheel - the carp anglers and twitchers of today are no different!

25th February 1984 - the best of the bunch 23lbs 14oz
Sailing boats in the background - this really was a very special place and holds many great memories.

Thursday 11 September 2014

Carp puddle musing

Let me start by making very clear that I am not a carp angler but, instead, an angler who occasionally fishes for them and there is a "massive" difference between the two!. The opinions I hold are purely a result of my time, recently spent, at three, very well run and enjoyable, commercial day-ticket venues. "Carp Puddles"  - a term that Cliff Bunyon introduced me to several seasons ago. With the benefit of hindsight (that gift again!) even when my carp angling was a serious pursuit; it was undertaken at such a venue - Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, HERTS (September 17th 1983 - October 6th 1984 which included the statutory close season 15th March - 15th June 1984 : yet another demonstration of the value of keeping personal records) - Rob Maylin's "Cracker Factory" Thirty years ago I thought that this was "cutting-edge" carp fishing. We had the hair rig, braided hook links, Richworth and Catchum (Rod Hutchinson) bait ingredients, Bruce and Walker "High Modular Carbon" rods and the first Shimano reels in the UK - plus Kevin Maddocks had blown the lid clean off of the secret society that was the British Carp Study Group with the publishing of his book,  "Carp Fever" (I sometimes wonder if he doesn't regret this? Carp fishing could never be the same again.) and, as a result, caught a number of fish which were very large, for the period.

July 5th 1983 - Bridigo Pond, Cheddington, BUCKS (where the Great Train Robbery was staged)
My first twenty pound carp. Taken on "floating slyme" a Duncan Kay concoction.
Back then  my carp fishing was a very serious business
Back to today - and I find myself way out of my comfort zone. The meteoric changes that occurred during my 18 year break have left me in a sort of time-warp. The fish haven't changed as the "industry", surrounding their capture, has rapidly evolved. I find myself looking at some of these (so called) advances and asking "why and for what reason?" From where I now sit; fishing tackle fashion has caught far more anglers than it has fish! Tackle Tarts - angling's "fashionistas"; the guys who make their statement of ability by what is visible on the bank. If there's a gadget, they've got it and it's on display for all to see. So as it is; with all things fashionable, product brand labels are far more important than the ability of said item to fulfil a particular function? Hey-ho! A sign of the, market driven, times in which we now live and I love it. For once again I have a chance to make a statement, as an individual. Nothing particularly radical, or even that controversial - if the truth is told - no; just a demonstration of an alternative approach. One based upon methods and skills which were learnt, not purchased, in a bygone era.

Stanborough Lake - November 1983
One of three twenties (in three casts) which fell to my
"secret bait" - Semolina and soya flour boilies flavoured with chocolate!

Carp Puddles are the best place to do this, although not unique; there are plenty of other opportunities to display anarchy amidst the ranks of the branded tackle disciples, but commercial carp fisheries provide the most obvious. It is the number one faux pas not to have matched rods and reels, preferably in triplicate, the more expensive, the better! Such are the peer group pressures and values which dominate the modern carp angling scene; it doesn't matter if it is the bite alarm, rod-pod, landing net, un-hooking mat, weigh sling, bivvy or bed chair; each and every item on display allows other, like minded, souls to make an immediate assessment of your angling prowess. There is only one type of item that will not be on show - that will be the anglers' choice of bait. If these guys are actually catching carp the last thing they want to do is show their competitors what bait they're using! Stupid thing is that it will be Mainline "Cell" boilies in 90% of cases or the New Grange in the other 10%. Make no mistake, these baits are probably the best available, yet hardly a secret - manufactured to the very highest specification and developed over many years of field testing by some of the UK's top carp lads. They are superb baits which consistently catch carp - end of conversation - and will cost £12.95/kilo RRP!
When all said and done - "you pays your money and makes your choice!". If you think that the venue is worthy of such effort then who am I to question any individuals approach?  Modern, day-ticket, commercial fisheries exist to cater for a demand that wasn't present during the 1970 - 93 period. I don't recall the price of a day-ticket at Stanborough, whilst I was fishing there, but I know that it wasn't extortionate -  far too many families and pleasure anglers enjoying the facilities; my guess would be in the region of £1.50/day for two rods? And at a venue capable of producing carp in excess of 25lbs in 1983 - so over 40lbs in today's money! I took three twenties in consecutive casts in November 1983 - enough to make the weeklies at the time! Carp fishing has, in less than half a century, lost all the romanticism of the Dick Walker era and become the dominating force in UK freshwater angling 2014. It's a clinical science, with devotees as obsessed with the capture of these magnificent fish, as anything that has occurred in previous generations. Denys Watkins-Pitchford (alias BB) wrote "Confessions of a Carp Fisher" (1950 - Eyre & Spottiswoode) in which he offered the very direct comparison of the desire to go carp angling with an addiction to opium. Some of the stuff that appears on Youtube does nothing to dispel the myth of the obsessional drawing power of these magnificent fish. I suppose I should count myself fortunate for having gotten away from the carp fishing scene when I did?

Another of the Stanborough trio - 21lbs 3oz
Camo jackets and silly hair were compulsory if you were serious about carp angling in the 80's
I have never found carp to be a particularly difficult species to catch unlike big bream, for instance, which have required extreme efforts to get to my landing net - deliberately, not an accidental hooking of a "nuisance fish!" Carp are a worthy quarry and rarely disappoint when hooked; battles can be of epic scale when recalled in the pub, after the event, the display of a decent photo and no-one will doubt the tale.
As I no longer have the time, or inclination, to spend extended periods after "specimen" sized fish I am now happy to make do with whatever comes my way. I still use techniques that are designed for the capture of large fish, but the requirement to succeed has been replaced by the desire to enjoy. I'm not sure if that makes sense? I know what I mean.
Carp puddles fulfil all the requirements I need. I can turn up, pay my money and be in with a realistic chance of getting a bite or two. What it isn't is serious carp angling! Those guys who are bivvied up, giving it the big 'un are simply kidding themselves. Catching carp in these venues is easy. I deliberately use mis matched rod/reel combos, home made bite indicators and a 24" oval pan net, because none of that stuff matters. My bed chair, brolly, sleeping bag and jacket are emblazoned with the CK emblem of Carpkinetics (AKA Dragoncarp) which to, proper, carp anglers is the sign of the devil! I use "Spicy Pepperami" as hook bait (on offer in Tesco 5/£2) and leave it on display for all to see. If you've got it; flaunt it!
All of these visible signs are capable of sending the message "NODDY" to the fashionistas. Strange thing about it is, I catch carp fairly consistently whilst I am at these venues. My efforts are concentrated, as always, on where and how my baits are presented - not on "do I look the part?"
I do miss the romantic ideal, the world in which Richard Walker and his chums did battle with fabled monsters in mythical pools. I grew up with the notion that carp were intelligent, unreachable fish which required magical skills in order to trick into taking a baited hook. I have some fantastic literature pertaining to the impossibility of catching carp - H.G.C.Claypoole: Introduction to the Art of Coarse fishing 1955. has a wonderful chapter on "summer carp fishing" which is introduced by this quote from Denys Watkins-Pitchford's "Confessions of a Carp Fisher"

"Having laid out your rods (you may just as well have two while you are about it, with a different bait on each), you are at liberty to smoke, meditate, read, and even, sleep, if all goes well. Nothing will happen to disturb you. You and your rods, and floats gradually grow into the landscape and become part of it -...."

Carp angling, angling in general, has come an awful long way since those fanciful times. I can't help but feel that we've lost something from the hobby as the mysteries are unravelled and commercialism begins to exert its' influence? The clock will never stop and these advances will continue to gather pace - not too sure that I have any desire to keep up with them, but will continue to do things in my own way. After all, we're only catching fish for fun, my family will not starve if I fail.

P.S. - This rambling nonsense has been three days in preparation; it is nothing like what I'd intended when I first started writing. Funny how things turn out?

Tuesday 9 September 2014

More garden distractions

The weather has been glorious and the vast majority of avian migrants have been able to pass over the area unseen? There were a few pulses of Swallows, a Yellow Wagtail and seven Meadow Pipits (all S - SW) this morning with a couple of Chiffchaffs and, more notably, a pair of Blackcaps flitting around the garden shrubs.
Not going to cause much of a stir beyond my personal interest - but isn't that what this blogging is all about; sharing a very singular perspective on events and encounters?
Female Blackcap feeding on Elderberries
Male Blackcap in the same bush.
Didn't remain for more than a few seconds before moving off
along the gardens to the south
The only other sightings, of any worth, involve the local Jays which are actively engaged in collecting food from various sources and, as such, are very conspicuous as they fly between Ramsgate Cemetery, Broadstairs Cricket Ground and St. Luke's Playing Field. A lone Chaffinch, which perched briefly in a neighbouring garden and a sudden influx of Blackbirds (something which was noted at Sandwich Bay a couple of days ago!)

Monday 8 September 2014

A "charlie" in the garden

As I grew up in Hertfordshire the term, "Charlie", in reference to the sighting of a fox, was something which came with the territory. Apparently there had been a Victorian (?) politician - Charles Fox, who's wit and cunning had earned a huge reputation, thus, foxes were called "charlies" in his honour.
Bird bath to the fore, the aviary mesh to the rear - a young vixen in the back garden.
Looking through the kitchen door, mid morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see this young vixen (carrying her rear left leg and looking rather poorly) sniffing around in the garden. Such a shame that Emily wasn't on hand to witness the event but, as Bev commented, there will be plenty more opportunities.

Sunday 7 September 2014

Garden sightings and other stuff

I've somewhat neglected this blogging lark, of late, my focus being on the trials and tribulations of barbel fishing the Kentish Stour. It is true that "I've waved the white flag" in this particular contest - but I have no desire to stop fishing this magnificent little river; I am just going to aim my sights a little lower. I have plans to post a summary of my thoughts about this project in due course - but as Benno, Luke and Tom are still actively involved in their own personal challenges, I might delay it for a while?

From the kitchen doorway - an early morning Common Whitethroat.
On the fence post cap, closest to the bungalow
Autumn migration is now well underway, I recorded a single Grey Plover, in company of a small bunch of Ringed Plovers, flying over the garden on 26th August. The most likely explanation being a simple overland flight from Broadstairs/Dumpton Gap to Pegwell Bay (high tide roost) - although it is a rather strange coincidence that Steve Tomlinson also recorded Grey Plovers, at Margate Cemetery, on this same date?
Willow Warblers have now been, largely, replaced by Chiffchaffs in the garden buddlieas and today was to see a very noticeable movement of Common Whitethroats through our garden - at least seven individuals noted throughout the morning.
Feeding on the Elder berries that grow in our southern hedge.
There are odd Wheatear sightings from over on the farm and, yesterday saw the first large scale hirundine movement that I've witnessed in 2014. Fishing on the river had produced some rather good records, Greenshank, a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit and, best of all, two Great White Egrets which flew east down the Stour Valley towards Stodmarsh, on Sunday 31st August, just as it was getting dark - the birding being of a much higher standard than the angling! On Friday morning (5th Sept) a Kingfisher perched briefly on one of my rods - a real privilege to share a few moments with such a special bird.
I've got a notebook full of scribbled thoughts and semi-interesting sightings that I recorded during the past week. My coming to terms with the stupidity of my situation, ref - the barbel of The Kentish Stour - has lifted a great (self-imposed) weight from my shoulders and I am looking forward to the new angling adventures that await me.

Friday 5 September 2014

Nomads, gate-crashers and rediscovering enjoyment.

Well that's my week gone! I've not bothered blogging - but have kept detailed records in a notebook; as events unfolded. My previous blog entry seems as far away, from reality, as is possible. The barbel of the R. Stour have beaten me - I'm simply not able to invest enough time into their pursuit. I no longer have that single-minded, obsessional, mind-set that was once part of my approach. I spent four nights, in three different swims, for absolutely no return.
I am confident enough, in my ability, that I will catch them if they are present, but when they are nomadic individuals (not shoal fish) my tactics have involved setting a trap. I lay down a bed of particles with a hook bait positioned in the centre, and await my visitors. Twice, in 2014, I've been exceptionally fortunate to have two (very large) barbel  discover my banquet and subsequently end up in the folds of my landing net. As for the rest of my sessions? Eels - party poopers!! They have nothing to recommend them, although I have to respect the fact that they are native to The Stour whilst my quarry is an, recently, introduced alien. Can't have it both ways?
Sandwich Coarse Fishery - 17 lbs 4 oz
A short, fat, incredibly, thick-set, fish - most welcomed
Yes; I have been exceptionally lucky to have intercepted some very large barbel, but my life is far too complex to allow a return to those, crazy, obsessional, times of my past. Fishing now has to fit into my life - family life doesn't revolve around my fishing. For anyone, with unlimited time or zero commitments, (un-employed social scroungers) the river offers the potential to produce a barbel of a huge size - it's all about location. Find these nomadic individuals and get a bait to them - "barbel are not difficult fish to catch" (That's a quote from Lawrence Breakspear) I simply don't feel that I'm able to give to project enough focus to ensure the best return for my efforts - I am happy to walk away, without any regrets, knowing that I couldn't have done any more, given my level of time and ability. It's not the last time I'll fish the river, but I can't ever see that there will be the need for me to chase these fish - when I go back it will be on my terms!
So I was on the brink of despair - there was just no way could I face a fifth night beside the river. I needed to bend a rod and the commercial fisheries came to my rescue. I took Emily across to Sandwich Coarse Fishery, on Wednesday morning, and was able to secure a couple of night sessions on the venue. I'd only ever fished it for perch previously - Kevin was superb - he suggested the swims to look at.
I used my barbel rods, on that first night, coupled with my ABU Cardinal 66X's, taking three carp to 17 lbs 4 oz - such a relief to bend a rod again!
My swim at Sandwich Coarse Fishery - I look like an advert for "Dragon Carp!"
That CK "Stakeout MK II" is perfect for this type of short session
Back again the next night, I took another four carp - to 16 lbs 12 oz - but this time using centre-pins on my tench rods. The whole commercial fishery thing is, for me, about recharging my batteries. Four doubles in two trips - stuff that has to be taken in context. I've not become a better angler. overnight, but used the venue to rekindle a bit of confidence and enthusiasm.

If it's not about the size; then it has got to be about enjoyment?
Two centre-pins on my tench rods - snag-ears and home-made indicators.
I'd spoken to Gadget, about getting across to Longshaw Farm for an afternoon session - on Friday. He's still not back to 100% - but he just wanted to get back fishing. It was a short session, less than four hours, but we both enjoyed ourselves - Gadget was happy to get away from the mundane waiting for an "all - clear" - before he's allowed to drive again. I managed to winkle out a 12 lbs 2 oz Common; which was my fifth double in three trips - happy daze!

Long Shaw Farm - 12 lbs 2 oz (Five doubles in three days!)

Gadget - just happy to be back outdoors!
This one was about 8/9 lbs - for the first session since a stroke - job done!