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!


Tuesday 10 March 2015

Inspiration, questions and doubts

My head is full of thoughts about the tench challenge that I've, set myself and, now embarked upon. If any of these ideas come to fruition, then I will be gleefully posting about my successes next Sunday? Until that time - all they are is dreams and schemes! Bread is something which I shouldn't ignore; it has played a massive part in my past tench fishing campaigns, and what about maggots? Is adding Tuna flakes such a good idea, knowing how active the eels are? Questions and doubts; it about sums up my entire 2014/15 season. To this day, I have still never found any other angling writing to match the chapter, by Len Head, in The Big Fish Scene (ISBN 0-510-21006-6) in which he recalls the lengths to which he went to solve the many problems he encountered during a project, after tench, in an Essex pit. Written in 1978, it remains one of the most inspirational pieces I have in my library and I regularly read it when I'm in need of encouragement. Len overcame many obstacles before he finally hit upon the spark, of an idea, which brought about his ultimate rewards - at that time he was the captor of the largest brace (8lbs 2oz & 7lbs 1oz) and more tench over 7lbs (six!) than any other angler, living or dead! Don't forget, this was pre-Wilstone and the re-writing of tench fishing history.
I'd caught my first Wilstone tench in 1974 (4lbs +) yet it was Pixie's Mere which was the local "big tench" venue - I'd already taken fish over six pounds with many fives gracing my landing net, halcyon days indeed. Tench over seven were as rare as hen's teeth - nobody I knew had ever seen one. This is why Len's chapter is so important to me - he deliberately went out and made a dream become reality; if that doesn't inspire - what can?

Benno at Loch Awe - early 90's - with a nice pike (8 lbs ish) from the bay behind "Fraggle Rock"
In the background is a 13' Bruce & Walker rod with a Grice & Young "Big Piker" centre-pin reel.
I used that gear for vaning baits out across the bay, the boat was used to get the float and bait out into deeper
water to get the drift started - I couldn't cast the rig far enough using the "pin"
I have no such pivotal drive behind my pike fishing, it simply evolved from my other angling experiences. I should imagine that Lester Strudwick was the first pike angler that made any impression on my approach. Later, after I'd joined the PAC, it would have been Gord Burton and then Eddie Turner, but I don't feel as if there has been a defining moment when I was "inspired" to seek pike as I have tench? Scotland is looming large on my angling horizon, Lester loved Loch Lomond and regularly exulted it's praise, but I had no such desire to face that particular challenge. My route to Loch Awe has been far less dramatic. Loch Ascog, on the Isle of Bute, is where the whole Scottish experience started, progessing through several smaller highland lochs before settling on Awe - I got there in the end!
There's so much to do, so little time; you know the score? I'm almost tempted to go up there with just three Duncan Kay's and the three Mitchell 300's (fully braided up) to get the very best out of our final trip - enjoyment wise? Yet I know that I can't do it, quite simply, I'd never forgive myself if I screwed up my chance of a Scottish "twenty" because I was under-gunned; dream on! Even with braided line, setting hooks at 100m plus requires a little more pressure than a 1 lb 10 oz T/C rod is capable of delivering - 13' broom handles is how I view my heavier gear, because that is what impression they give compared with my regular kit - the rods simply don't have "the feel" about them when a fish is hooked. Yet, just a golfer requires an assortment of clubs to play a round, anglers also need their equipment to match the situations they choose to explore. Long distance angling isn't something I particularly enjoy but, on Loch Awe, to get the best from the venue, it is the technique with which we've had most success. I ignore it at my peril. So 13' Bruce & Walker and Tri-cast rods it will be, but can I get away with Mitchell 300's? I'll have to see how much braid I can get on a spool?

That same Bruce & Walker rod, some twenty-odd years later. Fancy new yellow whipping, but still that
powerful, un-forgiving, feel when a fish is being played. Sometimes I have to admit that my normal "girlie rods"
are not up to the job - this place is certainly one venue where they are next to useless. Scottish pike have
no respect for the limp-wristed  approach - they have a proper tear up and will find any flaws in your tackle.
Once I've got Saturday out of the way, I've decided to have a couple of weekends off. There is quite a bit to do in the garden and I promised Bev that I'd get some odd jobs sorted out. April will get here soon enough and I might have a couple of sessions after a carp, or two, before the Scottish jaunt is undertaken. Then again, I might get tempted to have a bash at a PB perch, whatever I choose, it will be at a local commercial fishery - I'm rather intrigued by the potential of Marshside Fishery, nr. Chislet. Benno and I fished there a couple of years ago and very enjoyable it was too.

We're going back for one last time and this is why!
 More doubles than I've caught during the entire winter!
The whole season has, for me, been very much a struggle as I've not managed to establish any pattern to my approach. Apart from a short period when I was carp fishing at Sandwich Coarse Fishery, there has been very little that I've done which has given me any signal that I am on the right lines. That bite, from whatever species it was, last Saturday has really got me fired up and raring to get back. Why do I have to wait until the end of the season to discover such enthusiasm? I do have a trick or two that I'm going to use - all will be revealed on Sunday; whatever the outcome.


  1. Hello Dylan- I'm a local angler and have really enjoyed reading your blog; I googled 'pike fishing Thanet' and some of your trophy photos led me to your site- many genuine thanks for the good reading; I'm glad to have stumbled upon your work! Do particularly love your pike articles. I've fished for 25 years and always wanted to be a 'pike fisherman' but due to not knowing a single pike angler, I never seemed to get around to it until this winter season, when I decided to just get on with it on my own; to a general coarse/sea angler, pike fishing tackle can be quite daunting (- you feel like Van Helsing when you're fully kitted out!) but I'm confident and took fish safety really seriously; I did a hell of a lot of reading and could practically perform a heart replacement with the amount of different sized forceps I've collected! It's been a steep learning curve but it's been magical to catch a few and see them coming up to the surface. I've managed to capture some lovely fish, including several big doubles- and they were amongst the best fishing experiences I've had. Magical. I fish seasonally, and I've had some nice perch and even a few half-decent cod, too, this year, but now as spring arrives- it's all about the tench for me... I read with great interest in your recent piece that you had a run from an unseen fish- potentially a big wild tench... That really sums up the spirit of it for me! The unknown fish... Perhaps you're meant to catch her?... I often wonder about the mind-games that go on between a hunter and his quarry... I'm a firm believer in the atavistic element to angling... Anyway- it's been a real pleasure to read and learn from your writing- Yours Humbly, Gareth

    1. Gareth - many thanks for making the effort to comment; it's always nice to receive such positive feedback. As for learning from my writing? - I think that you'll quickly pick up on the fact that I have no time for modern angling and the fashionista cultism that accompanies it. My love of angling stems from my childhood, in Hertfordshire, and has its' roots deeply embedded in the mystique of the unknown quarry. I have been through phases when I've fished "popular" venues and competed for known fish, but those days are long gone. Today I am happiest fishing on my own, or with my son, pursuing the unknown. I doesn't matter whether it be a pike, perch, barbel, tench or roach (I could possibly extend this to carp in the right environment?) - I now seek challenges which allow me to use my vintage tackle and simply enjoy the thrill of being outdoors. All the very best & tight lines - Dylan