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 March 2015

What close season?

I'm not going to get drawn into the annual debate about the rights and wrongs of an angling close season. In my past it was the accepted norm - all freshwater coarse fisheries were "closed" from 15th March to 15th June (both dates inclusive) and everyone, who went fishing, lived with these rules. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the advent of the "any method trout fisheries" which pushed open the door for year round angling, on enclosed, waters? Today, modern anglers expect to be able to go fishing whenever the whim takes them. Commercial fisheries exist purely to cater for this demand, and long may it continue. I am an "Old School" angler with my roots in the traditions of country sports and associated seasons but, I'm not so stuck in my ways that I'll ignore the changes in the legislation which now allow me to enjoy my hobby - legally - during a period which was once forbidden.

I recognise, and totally agree with, running waters (rivers and streams) being off limits - but can find plenty of scope to enjoy myself at other types of fisheries. There may be a few still waters which retain the close season, but they will be syndicated and have a healthy waiting list of prospective members. My recollections of the week leading up to June 16th, on Wilstone, are very happy ones. The top specimen chasers, of the time (me included!) would have "Brolly - Camp" bivvies set up in their chosen swims, sometimes 10 days before the season started. Swim markers would be put out, with the aid of an inflatable dingy, and pre-baiting would commence. The count down to that mid-night start on 16th June was a ritual which produced an atmosphere that could almost be touched. Excitement and anticipation, in equal measure, as the hours ticked by - ever closer to that magic moment. Of course we were all completely crazy, obsession does that to a person, yet I can't help feel that modern anglers are missing out on something, very special, when there is no longer a start and finish to the hobby? I've written about it before, the Tring Syndicate members were absolute sticklers for the adherence to this mid-night start; not one of them had any desire to sneak in a rod as darkness fell on the 15th June - not one! The chiming of the church clock (in Wilstone; although it might have been Marsworth or even Aston Clinton?) was the signal to go and not a moment before. With commercialism involved, I can't see angling ever reverting back to this situation so I'll have to content myself with these memories.

I took this fish in August 2013 at 13.05 - it was re-caught this year (February?) at 15.09
However, even in modern times I am able to recreate a little of the anticipation by completely separating commercial fisheries from my other angling. Summer 2015, to me, means a Tench and Barbel challenge; both species which inhabit local venues which are governed by the close season ruling. I'll happily continue to wet a line, probably in pursuit of carp and perch, but have in the background the build up to the start of the 2015/16 season. God willing - June 15th 2015 - I will be on the bank of a fishery awaiting the stroke of mid-night to make my first cast of a new season?  Ever since my very early days the close season was compromised with a trip north of the border. Out of season Scottish pike fishing was as much a part of a specimen hunters annual cycle as Christmas, birthdays and Easter! Times have moved on and English  anglers are no longer regular visitors to the Scottish Lochs - they much prefer carp fishing, in France, or the delights of catfishing, The River Ebro, in Spain. Slumming it on the shores of a highland loch, when viewed in this light, is not much of an option - except for a few of us eccentric saddos?

A "yard of barbel" a term that my brother Simon uses to describe a "double". This one is 13.14
That "thing" which Benno and myself saw was of a different class all together. My two "thirteens" were
impressive, that fish was a proper monster! Has it got my name on it during  the 2015/16 season?
So what does my 2015 close season involve? Well, I've got some stuff to do around the garden which I've promised Bev will get done before April? I have a desire to catch a decent carp before we travel to Scotland, but am torn between two commercials as a final choice. We're talking a mid-20 here, nothing bigger - wherever I end up it will a nostalgia gig of mammoth scale - Mitchell 300's and associated nonsense; monkey climbers, line clips and home-made boilies; you get the drift? My desire for a Scottish 20 is a massive part in my going back this year. I really thought I'd blown it. It was only a change of plan, by Bev, that opened up this opportunity. I'm going up there to give it my very best shot - not always a good idea, but it's the only one I've got. Potentially we have a ten day window in which I can achieve this ambition - thirty-three years after I first started the quest and it's come down to ten days!
The rest of my time will be taken up with planning - what am I going to do about my two target species? The River Stour barbel are, at best, a bloody headache (Hence my accompanying photos!). I am going to continue to fish for them purely because I know a monster lurks somewhere in that river - Benno and I have seen it, but that's another story! My tench fishing project is based upon a very fleeting encounter - did I really see these fish or was I dreaming? I have plans to visit the venue as the close season progresses purely to assess the situation and look for potential swims. The very worst which will come from this effort is I might not discover any tench but some wild carp instead - so another challenge to replace the original one. To quote the late George Harrison: "If you don't know where you're going - any road can take you there!"

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