Who am I?

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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!


Saturday 14 March 2015

Failure or success?

The diary of events leading up to the last session of the 2014/15 angling season - as defined by tradition and The Environment Agency

An example of the signs that are displayed on many of the fishery
 gateways of the East Kent marshes.  If fishing without a
 license is only a £1,000 fine; how can there be
 a £50,000 ceiling for breaking the close season rules?
Wednesday 11th March - I was up before 05.00 hrs and, accompanied by a bucket of "munger", driving across to my tench fishery for a spot of pre-baiting. The bait was a mix of half a kilo of Hemp, 1 tin of liquidised Sweetcorn, half a kilo of 3 mm Halibut pellets plus a couple of handfuls of 12 mm Halibut pellets, stored in a separate container, which were to be fed over the top.
I arrived in the glow of the pre-dawn horizon, the carpet of bait spread liberally over a large area, followed by the ritual scattering of the 12 mm hook-bait samples. The mission was accomplished without seeing another soul - good news. Even better was the fact that two, decent, fish rolled over the baited area within 10 minutes of it being introduced. Didn't see if they were tench, or carp, but the fact that there were fish in the chosen swim is a very pleasing result. I've come to a decision to use bread/maggot cocktails on one rod, the 12 mm, neutral buoyancy, pellet on the other. There isn't room for a third rod and, believe me, I'd love to use three if at all possible!
I know the rigs I'm going to present, I know which hooks (manufacturer and sizes) I'll be using - just haven't made a final decision on my choice of rods; the reels will be ABU 44X's loaded with 7 lbs b.s. mono. Three more shifts, to endure, before I'm on my way! Still, there's loads more to sort out before that big day arrives.

Cheap as you like - I got these from The Range. (less than £3.50 as  I recall)
I do not use them for the flavour, it is purely to assist my bait presentation by creating neutral  buoyancy
 and the obvious visual thing.  These particular offerings are "Squid & Octopus", but they might as well be salt & vinegar!
I'm back indoors after my late-shift and, whilst at work, decided that I'm using a Duncan Kay with the pellet rig and my Tring Tench Special for the bread/maggot combo. I need to get up in the loft to find some feeders - I've got loads of old, green, Shakespeare close-ended ones, but they're not really suited to my needs. A heavy (2 oz) cage feeder is far more to my liking and will assist with hooking anything which decides to pick up my bait. I've located the tub of Cotswold Bait Creations - "Technipops" fluorescent pop-ups. I use half of one of these things, trimmed down if necessary, to give my pellets the neutral buoyancy I desire. I will attempt to get some photos, tomorrow, of how my rig will look in the water. I've got to stay in to await delivery of a new suite - DFS promising delivery between 12.00 & 15.00 hrs! What the heck - I've rigs to sort out and rods to get ready; it's not such a big deal except that whatever work time I loose, on Thursday, I am going to have make it up on Friday - when I can least afford it. More dawn pre-baiting, maggots and bread to purchase and my final ground-bait mix to get ready, a trip to Newington for more Hemp, which will need to be prepared, being very likely? It could get a little hectic - DFS will have a lot to answer for it they screw their delivery times up!

Thursday 12th March - playing around with rigs and getting some photos; all the while I'm going through the list of "to do" things that I must get done before Saturday morning.

This is how it looks on the bank. My bait is positioned just at the base of the hook.
My boily stops are sections of elastic band which can be pulled into the pop-up. The hook is
tied knotless knot - all very straight forward.
 I don't actually require to take a great deal of tackle with me; it's just sorting out the essentials which is proving to be a problem. I have limited space in my bag, plus I'm taking my bed-chair and CK Stakeout Mk II brolly, so plenty to carry without the surplus crap that usually accompanies my travels to the fishery. The rods will be fished on separate rests, not twin bars, so that I can eliminate as much resistance, as possible, by pointing the gear in the direction on my bait. Last weekend I was using lead core leaders this week, however, I'm going to use mono with flying back leads - purely to pin the last few yards of line to the bottom. The fish in this water shouldn't be so cute that they know all the tricks - well not yet!

Back home after an entire shift spent stock taking digital packaging materials. Time passed quickly enough as I was teamed up with Ian Rackley (a carp angler with a PB of 62 lbs - he's not just any old carp angler) so we had much to chat about whilst we were number crunching. Once indoors the "munger" was quickly knocked up and now awaits another early morning visit - for a second helping of pre-bait' at first light. I've spoken with Benno; who is hopeful of getting across for, at least, some of Saturday. I still have to get down to Dragoncarp to pick up my maggots and a few other bits, if they have them? I'd like some more 3 mm pellets and red "method mix" but should have enough to see me through if they haven't got any. I just feel so much better when I'm overstocked - a bit like an insurance policy?
The baiting strategy, for Friday morning, is a little more concentrated than the Wednesday visit. I have two, very distinct, areas where I want to concentrate my efforts. My baiting will be much tighter than on Wednesday, but also there will be less of it. I don't want to turn up on Saturday morning trying to tempt satiated fish! I might bait up a couple of other swims, I've got plenty to spare -so at least I'll put Benno in with a chance, should he make it? The BBC 5-day weather forecast is predicting very favourable conditions for Saturday (Sandwich - the closest place I can get to this venue)

Friday 13th March - not a date to inspire? I was baiting up around 06.00 hrs this morning. Didn't see any fish moving, but there was an easterly blowing and the surface was quite rippled. Got another year tick when I watched a Merlin go dashing across the marshes causing panic amongst the displaying Lapwings. I'll tell Neil if I see him tomorrow. I've finally decided to stick with my original kit - I'm going to use the 12' Specialist Barbel rods and ABU 44 X's. I managed to get everything I wanted from Dragoncarp and the pet shop - I can have no excuses. If the tench don't want to play it won't be because I am under equipped!
I'm tempted to add a couple of drops of banoffee flavour to my maggots, which I'll do this evening whilst I'm boiling up my hemp seed. I've got Sweetcorn (which I liquidise) and shredded Tuna for my final mix, with a couple of kilo of method mix to ensure it is able to be used in my feeder rig. I really can't remember the last time I've been so excited by the prospect of a days' fishing? I don't put this much effort into a week in Scotland!

21.45 hrs - I'm home, had my dinner and a couple of 1664's - it's getting on for bedtime. My hemp has boiled and the sweetcorn and tuna are already in the bucket. 3 mm Halibut pellets will be added on the bank, as will my method mix. If I haven't got it now - I don't need it! Just got to get up, grab a coffee and make my sandwiches; in the car and away. Next time I'm at my computer it will all be over for another season - "Do I feel lucky?" I'll answer that question tomorrow.

Saturday 14th March - My alarm clock rattled into life at 04.00 hrs. Sandwiches made, coffee drunk and the car loaded, I awoke Bev, at 04.30 hrs who then accompanied me on the 20 minute drive. This is not because she has suddenly become an avid angler but, instead, she wanted to use the car and, as we only have the one, dropped me off before returning home to the warmth of our bed (she'd left the electric blanket on!). I, on the other hand, was loaded up with a ridiculous amount of gear and embarked on a trek, of some one and a half miles, to reach my chosen destination. It was dark but, getting brighter by the minute as I reached my swim. I cracked open a bottle of Lucozade before starting to assemble my tackle. The first rod was cast out at 05.40 hrs - all it needed was a lead attaching, the bait was already on the rig (it was the one that I'd tank tested on Friday!). Landing net set up, bite alarm switched on and indicator in place, I set about getting rod No. 2 ready for action. It wasn't ten minutes before the bite alarm screamed and the reel churned madly, as an unseen fish bolted off with my rig. However, unlike last weekend, I was on the rod in an instant and found myself playing a stubborn, yet unspectacular, fish. On the barbel rods and 7 lbs b.s. line it was a rather dour encounter - within five minutes the fish was wallowing on a short line and easily guided into my waiting net.
A chunky little Common with a very distinctive scale pattern - it would have been some tench!
At 9 lbs 4 oz it would have been a magnificent tench - but it wasn't! A stocky little Common Carp had taken my single offering - I'd not had the opportunity to introduce any fresh bait. I have to assume that it was still in the area due to my pre-baiting of yesterday?
A right result - I had a gut feeling that the bite I'd missed, so spectacularly, last weekend had been a carp and this capture seemed to confirm my suspicions? I sacked the carp and got two rods back in the water before getting some more bait into the swim. Once done, I sat back and awaited further events - and I waited and waited. Benno arrived, fished for about fours hours before giving up and leaving - but ensuring I got a photo of that little Common that had graced my landing net. There was a strong and persistent NE wind blowing - it was bloody cold when I left the shelter of my CK Stakeout Mk II. Although it did cloud over, later in the day, the morning was quite bright and the sun felt warm when I got out of the wind.

In all its' glory - my CK Stakeout Mk II brolly - and that's a CK bed-chair too!
I kept a steady trickle of bait going in and regularly ringed the changes on my terminal rigs. I'd been through the swim feeder with sweetcorn and/or bread/maggot cocktail, then lead core leader with a fixed lead and a semi-buoyant pellet. - absolutely nothing doing! As I had all day, I wanted to use all day - it isn't an option that I'm offered very often.
A bucket of munger (MUNGA or MUNGAH) awaiting delivery into the swim.
The basic ingredient is hemp (boiled in sugar) with liquidised sweetcorn, liquidised white bread, and
added 3 mm Halibut pellets. There are infinite other variants - I'm happy to stick with this!
The afternoon drew on, my highlight being a group of four "red-head" Goosanders which did a circuit of the marsh before heading back off east. A couple of female Marsh Harriers brightened up my time at the venue, but I have to admit that  was struggling. At 17.45 hrs I had a 3 inch lift on my left hand rod (plus accompanying burst from the "Redmire" alarm) the first bite in almost 12 hours  - I hit it immediately and for five seconds, or so, I thought I'd hooked something decent. Silly me! - a c*nting Eel - all 2 lbs 14 oz of the useless critter. With no-one about, I was forced to get a few photos of it laying in the landing net. They don't do it justice - but what photo could? I dislike eels with a passion - they are a waste of evolution (Although I'm sure that Moriarty - he wrote "the" book on Anguila anguila, would disagree!) - When Simon Mitch offered the view, to a guy manning the newly formed National Anguila Club stand (Reading University I think - around 1990?) - "So that's what a whole one looks like!" It was a moment of genius that I will never relive. Simon, Phil, myself and the rest of the gang were reduced to an hysterical mass by the reaction of that guy! It wasn't John Sidley or Mickey Bowles  - they knew who we were! No; it was some fresh face disciple who felt the urge to spread the gospel according to slimy things - he hadn't been told to expect that reaction; bloody priceless.
I am unable to offer a single word that will promote eels and their pursuit.
A bit like wasps and mosquitoes - simply part of God's scheme to piss us off? 
Sorry, I've digressed just a little - but then again; it is my diary and I can do what I want? Can I judge today to be a success, or was it a complete waste of effort? I suppose it depends on how you view the world, as an individual. Is that cup half full, or half empty?

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