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 24 May 2016

Seeking "close encounters" with a twist?

Len Head once wrote that "you can't catch a big tench if it lives at the other end of the lake" (The Big Fish Scene - 1979) whilst, even before this, Barry Rickards and Ray Webb had gone into extraordinary detail as to the importance of fish location in their joint masterpiece, Fishing for Big Pike - 1971. Location, location, location; the most important single factor in all big fish anglers thoughts if they are anything like serious about their hobby.
I have been going on about Youtube and the superb knowledge that is to be gleaned there (ref: carp fishing) for quite some time now. There is insight into a world of wonder, if you choose to look? On the other hand, there is also a baffling array of brand endorsements which are purely aimed at the angler, and not the fish! I have to accept that market forces drive the desire for progress - carp anglers, it would seem, are insatiable? "Wheat from the chaff" is where I'm at - what will actually assist, as opposed to hamper, my efforts - moving forward?
I admit that I'm fascinated by rig mechanics, for all my fishing projects, whatever the species - choosing a presentation which best suits the situation at the time. By using the advice, obtained from the Youtube offerings (Korda Thinking Tackle in particular), I have expanded my understanding of why and when to use certain bait presentations. Sitting in my study, I have practiced the skills required to tie the rigs and adapt them for my own angling situations. One glaringly obvious difference between my demands, and those shown on the majority of carp video offerings, is that all of my angling takes place in very intimate surroundings. Four rod lengths would be a long chuck at many of my venues, thus hitting the clip at 120 m+ isn't a consideration, so neither is the use of broom handles, 4oz leads and big pit winches - "horses for courses" is the best analogy. There is also another element to my fishing which is unavailable at any tackle shop, or on-line! Watercraft and bankside etiquette, something which is very rarely touched on in any Youtube posting - the Carp Angling Industry portrays their product as a very social pastime, where big fish are regularly landed by "the lads" having a jolly! This is a modern development and not one I am able to fit into my own angling expectations. Even when I am fishing with Benno and/or Luke, we don't spend our time chatting in each others swim (Scotland excepted); no, we are with our gear for the entire session, a walkie talkie being our preferred way of communication should we require assistance when landing a decent fish. I am able to trace this angling approach back to the days, in the early 80's, spent in the company of Lester Strudwick, on The Tring Reservoir complex, and Fred Crouch on The Hampshire Avon - I was an extremely fortunate guy to have such excellent mentors during my formative years.
So getting back to fish location; obviously it would be simple if the water was gin clear with little, or no, weed growth. The reality is very different, murky water with large areas of surface and sub-surface weed growth and a general unwillingness for the fish to show themselves. My task, therefore, is to use my experience to locate areas and features which I associate with my quarry - watercraft! I have, in my early years whilst tench fishing at Wilstone, been along a very similar path to the modern carp anglers. By regularly introducing large amounts of bait into a particular swim, this becomes a feature in its' own right and the fish become conditioned to the situation. It's the ploy of the "time bandit" - those guys with no other commitment away from fishing - my tax paying their benefit hand-outs in some cases! Even the most incompetent goon, on the planet, will get lucky when time is not a consideration.

One of the best all-round anglers ever - this book is testimony to his
skills and achievements, and an excellent read, to boot!
I would imagine that, for the vast majority of anglers of my generation, Dick Walker is the stand out character during that embryonic period of "Speccy Hunting". However, as much as I admire what Dick had done to sow the seeds; my own angling hero is Jim Gibbinson, although Pete Stone, Peter Drennan, Fred J and Ivan Marks are right up there with him! It was Jim, however, more than anyone else, who demonstrated, to me, that big fish could be targeted, and caught, by thinking anglers. An angler who's time on the bank had limitations because, as a responsible member of society, there were another commitments in his life (wife, kids, mortgage and job - he was a teacher!). His 1983 "Modern Specimen Hunting" is one of my most visited books - his writing style exudes enthusiasm and captures the excitement of that moment a fish is hooked, a rare gift. If I am looking for a spark of inspiration, Jim's writing is generally my first port of call - he is an extremely talented, and successful, all-rounder with huge experience of a variety of species and venues. Despite this tome being over thirty years old; many of Jim's ideas remain viable in 2016, although the quality of terminal tackle, now available, is way beyond the scope of anything written about back then. Fortunately, I am not seeking rig advice when I peruse the various chapters of this book. What I seek is the spark of an idea, something that I might use as a starting point for another strategy during a project. However, even back in 1983, the writing was already on the wall - to paraphrase George Orwell's "Animal Farm" quote - "All fish are equal but, some are more equal than others!"  The rise to dominance of carp fishing, over all other branches of freshwater angling, was already well underway - the catalyst being Kevin Maddocks' 1979 publication "Carp Fever" and the subsequent VHS video offerings of Clive & Malcolm - the Richworth originators! Jim's chapter on Carp is thirty pages long, ten more than the second longest, which is based on advice of how to go about catching a twenty pound Pike!

Dick with "Clarrisa" September 13th 1952
Chris Yates is, without doubt, a very fine angler - he is also one of life's great eccentrics and this can been seen no more clearly than during the filming of Hugh Miles "Passion for Angling" series. He comes across as a huge character, full of enthusiasm and energy, waxing lyrical about whimsical concepts and ideas. His 1986 book, Casting at the Sun, does nothing to dispel this aura; madcap recollections of time spent in pursuit of carp. It is Chris's tales of time spent in the company of fellow members of "The Golden Scale Club" which I am most taken by. Sneaking into Winchester Cathedral in order to secrete a "golden hook" within the light coming through the Izaak Walton, commemorative, stained glass window, along with stories of creaking cane, angling enjoyment, and like-minded company. I have no feelings of envy towards anything Chris has achieved - during that same period I was also enjoying myself, catching fish, playing football, getting married and bringing up kids - not necessarily in that order?
Therefore, it must be an age thing that has gotten me to my present stance? I will never be able to hold a candle to any of those anglers that I've mentioned in this rambling nonsense, however, it is a desire to explore, not copy, their exploits which provides the inspiration for my (our) current challenge. Bev has been a diamond in supporting these efforts. Although never at her best at 03.00 hrs - she always offers "tight lines", as I leave to go fishing, and has pulled off an absolute blinder to assist my personal project, via the wonders of e-bay. More to follow, of that I'm sure. A split cane, Mk IV, caught 30 - is it possible? I am forever hopeful, although we have a long way to go until September.


  1. My limited experience of carpers these days does see them fishing close in but as you say 120 yards away. Bivvies, barrows and rafios for fishing a day session. And the rods hardly bend.

    1. The modern day boys don't know any different - they didn't get the basic apprenticeship that anglers of our generation were able to enjoy. Straight into carp fishing, wouldn't have a clue to to shot a float or free-line a lobworm down a gravel run between streamer weed. The industry which produces these clones cares not a jot for anything other than profit - and, as we all know, money is the root of all evils! I'm confident that they derive great pleasure from their own exploits, just the observation that the lack of appreciation of anything other than carp is a sad reflection on UK freshwater angling in 2016.
      Are you planning to get out for a mid-night start on 15th June? - all the best & tight lines - Dyl

  2. Modern Specimen Hunting. Yes Dyl, that's one of my all time favourites too. Dare I mention my name appears twice in there among the stats pages. Met him at Tring around the time he was writing the book. He asked me (while on Startops)if anyone was on the Wilstone pier? (No). He went there and caught the slab which appears in the book.
    First became aware of Jim Gibbinson during the series 'The Fishing Race'.

    1. Rich - I think his modest ordinariness makes him such a great role model. He caught his fish due to outright ability and didn't require time to disguise any inabilities. I also remember that T/V series - the prize being "The Golden Maggot" if I'm not mistaken? And his partner in crime was Ian Gillespie, another fine angler. The only place my name got mentioned regularly, during this period, was in David Hall's Coarse Fishing mag - Snide Rumours & Dirty Lies column - I was a permanent fixture in the mid-80's! Not because of what I was catching but who I'd crossed swords with at the various venues our gang turned up at! Great days - happily long past - Dyl

  3. I do fancy a midnight start as I havent done that since about 1990 but to get the chub filled swim I want it would probably mean a dawn start on the 15th just to bag the spot..without bivvy barrow and radio obviously.

    Tight lines and I am sure you will enjoy your quest

    1. I've not been afoot on that magical hour since 1992 - but 2016 will see me in attendance once again. Shift patterns and holidays coinciding to provide that window of opportunity. I'm rather looking forward to it, although, if memory serves me right, expectations are seldom met with on that first outing of the new season. Dyl

  4. Snide Rumours & Dirty Lies. What a classic column.
    Never forget the apology to Phil Smith's parents for calling him a kiddy fiddler. Said something like ... Phil does not do that kind of thing. And on the line below the paragraph, in isolation, they added, anymore!