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!


Friday 1 May 2015

One fish's tale

When Benno caught our first "double" barbel from The R. Stour I was on hand with the landing net and, as such, became part of the event. I remember ringing him, the following morning, and asking how he felt? "Numb and grinning like a Cheshire Cat!" was his reply - nothing more to add. I'm sat here at my laptop in very similar fashion - although a week, not a day, later! That pike has impacted upon my life in such fashion that I am still wandering about in a daze - still pissed?
I took up the challenge of Scottish pike fishing in May 1982, inspired by the enthusiasm of Lester Strudwick. He was a "big fish" angler, and member of The Tring Syndicate, of massive experience and his stories of Scottish pike angling were inspirational. He also took a decent photo, so there were plenty of images to back up his extraordinary exploits. He, and his fellow members of The Carpike Specimen Group, fished Loch Lomond around The Endrick and caught some magnificent pike. It was some time later that Eddie Turner cast a few doubts about the stories that he told but Lester remains, to this day, the most influential figure in my development as a pike angler and I am eternally grateful for his friendship and positive contribution to my journey.
There was a point when I'd almost given up on this particular challenge, a Scottish 20 - I'd had enough of failure, although with hind sight (what a spectacular gift!) I couldn't have done much more? I had seen Benno, Tom and Simon achieve this target, actually putting the landing net under two of the fish.

Benno, in 2011, with the first Scottish "Twenty" I'd ever seen.

The answer was to remain positive and concentrate on the basics. Get it right, to the best of your ability, and then trust in the angling gods! The harder you work the luckier you get? Sounds familiar and it can be applied in any aspect of life. Despite the fact that I'm the best part of thirty years older than Benno & Luke, I was the first one up and fishing every morning. I had made the effort to get to Loch Awe, now I wanted to make the most of it. Effort equals success - I only caught five fish, all week; four doubles! My whole approach was geared up for that moment, the one when destiny delivered the goods. I realise that there is no way that anyone can place a label upon a bait stating "twenties only" - if it were possible I'd love to put "No Eels" on my barbel baits. I still remain convinced that my approach was one that targeted the larger fish? Benno and Luke fished their socks off and caught thirty-odd fish between them, just six doubles. I am a static dead-bait angler, but I ain't into chuck and chance. My bait is where I want it, because that's how I read the situation.

The fish of my dreams! 24 lbs 10 oz of Loch Awe magic.
So magic, in fact, that within a week, it had put on eight pounds!"***!
Our use of bait boats (Simon builds them to our specification - complete with echo sounders) are a direct result of our requirements.  We need to be 100% confident that our baits (and rigs) are presented in exactly the position we require - something that those twin-hulled "Wave Runners" can't ever hope to come close to with using the "carp biased" hopper system!

One of our custom built bait boats. A very simple hinged door at the base of a sloping deck allowing
us to slide our baits off of the boat by simply tightening the line as we release the door catch mechanism.
The fact that my fish came to a bait fished using a centre-pin speaks volumes of our technology - I couldn't "Wallace - cast" further than 20m. I had my bait over 120m away, in 12' of water, job's a good'n! Using centre-pins means that "monkey climbers" on needles are the best way of getting immediate indication of a bite with this set-up, back-biter alarms are simply not suited to this situation, good as they are. Braided line is the only material which is up to the task, at such ranges, there being little, or no, stretch involved when setting the hooks.

A digital Optonic front-runner alarm with a pike monkey/needle visual indicator system complete
with a Matt Hayes centre-pin (300m Spider Wire braid!)
The rod is my original Bruce & Walker (High Modular Carbon) 13' 2.75 lbs t/c broom handle.
All of a sudden, I really love that rod!
I have stated in the past that our planning is meticulous, we are not going up there to play games! What conditions greet us and how the seasons have progressed (or not) is way beyond the control of a holiday booked three months in advance. However, we do have a reasonable grasp of what is required to ensure the best return for our efforts, based upon the past five years. This will form the basis of my "kiss and tell" exposé when I get around to it in the not too distant future!

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