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!


Wednesday 31 August 2016

Swallows and stuff

The maize crop, in the field beyond our garden hedgerow, is being used as a roost site for good numbers of migrating Swallows. Obviously it is never going to compete with the reed beds of The Stour Valley, but provides a safe haven none the less. As the sun rose, this morning, several hundred birds left their shelter and started to feed over the crop and surrounding area. Regularly small groups dropped down onto the telephone wires and t/v aerials, along Vine Close, for a breather and I was able to get outside with the camera gear to grab a few shots.

My head is awash with masses of thoughts, and ideas, pertaining to the wild carp in our latest venue. Steve Gale sent me a very nice comment, yesterday, touching on the "purity" of the challenge we have undertaken. A nice concept, but not entirely correct, there are (two?) other anglers out there who also seek the thrills provided by these very special fish. I have to acknowledge that I wouldn't be there, at all, if it were not for the generosity of that guy I encountered and his willingness to exchange ideas and information. I hope it worked for him as well?
I had originally planned to finish this project at the end of September after which I was going to have a concerted effort after a "big" eel before turning my attentions to the barbel and chub in The Stour (another split cane challenge!) Somehow, I don't think it will be that straight forward and I will have to keep at this present venture for as long as it remains a realistic proposition. As with my winter eel exploits, I do have plans to post a summary of my experiences when the campaign has finished - I have quite a lot to say about the state of modern attitudes and expectations, within an angling context.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Nice result

I was on my way before 02.30 hrs and had two rods out, in the new drain, by 03.30 hrs. It was a still, clear, night and, after getting my munga into the swim, I contented myself by staring up into the heavens and watching the stars. Umpteen satellites and a few shooting stars later, the eastern horizon started to brighten and a good fish rolled over the bait. The surface of the drain was rocking and I experienced several liners as fish were feeding on the freebies. My heart raced as a bat hit the line, causing a rapid burst from the alarm - but I just knew my moment was getting close.
A Barn Owl called, somewhere out in the semi-gloom of pre-dawn, and a fox trotted past on the opposite bank, completely oblivious to my presence until I "squeaked" it. As the light intensified, so the natural world started to awake. Skylarks and Green Woodpeckers made for a strange mix of sounds, there was a distant Tawny Owl hooting away and a Cetti's Warbler exploded into song very close by. I had just picked up my binoculars and was watching a juvenile Sparrowhawk hunting a side drain when the right hand rod was away. A dogged, yet unspectacular, battle ensued before I drew my prize over the net and she was mine. A magnificent Common Carp weighing in at a very pleasing 21 lbs 14 oz - I sorted out sacking the fish, prior to getting a few photos, then set about getting the rod back into the fray.

I rang Benno with the news before getting my camera gear set up, not exactly as I'd like - the dawn was very still and dank, with associated mist covering the surrounding marshes, thus light levels were not conducive to decent images. Still, I did my best and hope that Camo appreciates the effort that went into getting one with his "T"-shirt on. Happy days!

Monday 29 August 2016

An encouraging start

Benno and I were out for our first session on the new drain system, yesterday evening. We spent a short while looking at various swims and putting out small handfuls of bait in a few likely looking spots. We finally settled on two swims, about 100 m apart, and set up our kit ready for the evening - when we felt these fish would move out of their weedy daytime haunts to feed on the open spots where our bait awaited them.

Benno could make a Minnow look big! Typical modern carp angler's  pose as the
fish is thrust towards the camera, thus distorting the perspectice.
The plan is to fish our usual 3 to 4 hour sessions, we'd packed up just after 22.30 hrs last night but not before Benno had managed to capture our first carp of the campaign. A beautiful little Common of 12 lbs 6 oz; taken within an hour of our start - very encouraging indeed. I should be back out there on Tuesday morning for another bash and to get some more bait in the water; exciting times ahead I feel.

Sunday 28 August 2016

I'm not expecting a picnic

Benno and I are off on our first session at the new venue - "Are you using centre-pins Dad?" My reply doesn't need posting - it ended with "off" Until I've got a feel for the place, I'm sticking with the Mk IV's and Mitchell 300's; a combination with which I have utter faith. However, it is quite possible that, with a little experience, I might well employ the centre-pins as fun/enjoyment is the real reason for my angling exploits in 2016. In the mean time, I have my sights set on a new PB carp from a venue which is as quirky as anything JK Rowling could have dreamt up; an adrenaline trip should it come to fruition without any shadow of a doubt. One of the bonuses, of this venture, is I don't have to worry about my photos, the place is so remote that no-one else has ever been there (apart from my new found friend) thus backgrounds won't be familiar to anyone?

Very much a tweaked up maize presentation; double chick pea (curry flavoured) with a single
grain of fake IB pop-up maize.
The one significant difference is my hook choice - I am now using Nash "Fang Twisters" size 7 as opposed to
the Korda Wide Gape size 8's. I have had no issues with the Korda hooks,
 they are fabulous for our barbel rigs,  but am happier using the Nash pattern for this particular carp challenge.
I have spent the majority of today playing around with rigs and doing some tank testing, just to see what my bait presentation will look like. I was down at "Camo's" before he opened, just so I could get a few items which might assist my cause. He was intrigued by the venue, but remains none the wiser - I haven't joined a circus, the fewer guys that know about these fish the better it will be for us. Selfish? I don't think so, but everyone is entitled to their opinions. If it matters that much, get off your arse and start seeking carp challenges for yourself!
I have promised Camo that he will get some photos, should things go to plan -  the pressure, therefore, is on!

Saturday 27 August 2016

A twist of fate?

Part one - before I left home (18.00 hrs - 25th August 2016)

As I was walking back from my fifth blank session, on the spin, I chanced upon a small group of carp in a tiny side-stream, feeding on a gravel patch in less than 18" of water! One of them was a lump - high teens if not a twenty? That was at 22.30 hrs last night - I'm going back there for a short session tonight. I don't have access permission and the exercise is extremely covert. A single (split cane Mk IV) rod  - Match Aerial centre-pin and double chick pea, on the hook; my original Steve Neville, proto-type, alarm, light weight hanger and Gardner rod rests. It could get hectic if a fish is hooked? Benno is at his Mum's, this evening, so very close by should I require any help - and I sincerely hope I do. A carp, of any size, will be a result. I will be on site for no longer than 90 minutes, unless I land a carp and require help with the photos.

Part two - upon my return 

It would've been utter folly to have rolled up and caught a carp straight away without any preparation. As it turned out, things took a very strange twist and I encountered another carp angler - an unique occurrence out on The Levels. Much younger than me, (but isn't everybody?) it was immediately obvious that he knew his stuff and, after a very guarded opening, our conversation soon developed into a fascinating two way exchange of information and experiences. I still have much to learn about the carp of these small drains, that's for sure. However, I was given some advice about another group of drains which hold fish in excess of thirty pounds - photos to prove it readily displayed. Game changing news and a quick change of tack. I might have to re-assess my autumn plans given this latest development - we'll see. Anyhow, after all this information overload, I blanked - my head swirling with ideas and half baked plans.

I had been planning the bank holiday weekend sessions for some time and had introduced a fair quantity of "munga" and hook baits in the build up. I was away before 03.30 hrs this morning, fishing two rods just over an hour later. It was obvious that there were fish in my swim, but I had to wait nearly two hours before the left hand bite alarm screamed into action as the indicator smashed up to the butt.

It was an  all action, highly spirited battle with the result being an angry 10 lbs 2 oz common carp finding itself engulfed in the landing net mesh. Well pleased to get a fish, this might be my last visit to this system, for a while, as I begin to explore the possibilities of a new challenge/project.

I had my suspicions that I'd seen this fish before? So it proved as I checked back through my archives and confirmed that it was the same individual I caught on the final day of the 2014/15 season - my first carp from the drains!

Tuesday 23 August 2016

All quiet around Newland's Farm

I flushed my first autumn juvenile Wheatear from the footpath to work on August 9th - very much a false dawn; I've not seen another since! A few Common Buzzards have drifted over, but wouldn't make double figures. thus far. Willow Warblers probably passed through, but we were at Dad's during the peak movements, as noted by many of the coastal hot-spots. Swallows occasionally pass through, in dribs and drabs, with odd House Martins in tow. A very tardy Swift was noted on the 11th and is probably the most notable sighting of the month?
The final field of wheat has started to be harvested, this afternoon, finished by mid-day tomorrow, no doubt. If the stubble is allowed to remain, then I hold high hopes for a few decked Skylarks, otherwise it will be a matter of scratching about the field margins for whatever the conditions bestow upon my meagre patch. Still early doors, so I am not too despondent, although a Whinchat would do wonders to lift my spirits to and fro between home and work. Grabbed the opportunity to photograph a juvenile Swallow taking a breather on the wires above Vine Close, this morning - a very brief stay before it was, once again, headed south.

Still an awful long way to go!
I've not run the moth trap since our return home, but can't help noticing an increase in Silver Y's, locally, over the past couple of days. Is there something going on? Back out with the rods tomorrow evening, so watch this space! I feel sure that my next split cane twenty is not too far away - that thirty, I so desire, is a completely different prospect.

Monday 22 August 2016

Moving on

What with the furore, surrounding recent events, and the associated emotional roller-coaster, of the funeral; blogging has very much taken a back seat of late. Thankfully the church service was less stressful than I'd imagined. I was able to stand up and speak about Dad's influence on my life, and our time in Hemel Hempstead, without descending into a whimpering mess - that I found the resolve has a lot to do with Mum!
Benno and I are back on the carp trail, although much has changed during my enforced absence. Bev and I have got to sort out our bungalow and garden, whilst there is still the clearing of Dad's place to be dealt with - fishing won't take centre stage for some time yet! The light, at the end of the tunnel, for Bev and myself, is our holiday in Kefalonia - I reckon we've earned it.
Do we move or do we stay put and extend? If that is the biggest problem we've got to deal with, then we ain't got anything to worry about. Can I afford to retire? That's the question which is key; to my way of thinking; fortunately there are legal bods working on the case and an answer should be forthcoming relatively soon.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Back home!

Bev and I are back at our bungalow after almost eight weeks away, staying with Dad at his home in Ash. Still some bits to sort out before the funeral, but we needed to get home and resume something approaching normal life. It has been a life-changing experience, although not one which I am able to recommend - Bev has been brilliant, her skills on the telephone invaluable, as events unfolded. I have absolutely no idea how I would have coped without her support?
The service (celebration of Dad's life) will take place at St. Nicholas (at Ash) Church - 11.00 hrs 17th August 2016 - before the committal at Barham Crematorium. I'm in no doubt that I'm going to find it a very difficult process to navigate. Emotionally I am not the strongest bloke on the planet; the only part of this final closure, that offers any sense of hope, is the "Wake" - Dad already providing funding for this event within his will. Only when we're able to raise a glass to the memory, and legacy,  of my re-united parents will I be able to draw a line under this difficult experience and properly move on.

Travel light - the essence of the project. I don't require a barrow, nor a bivvy, for
the type of session I now undertake. I can carry this lot over a mile and a half,
should it be required, no problem!
However, the "Split Cane Challenge" has resumed, I've already had three sessions; with no fish landed, although I did lose a decent carp on Monday 8th August when a Taska Quick-link failed - the second such occurrence in two seasons! Fishing aside, it has been an absolute joy just to get back to the waterside and rekindle the enthusiasm for this project. Time is quickly running out and there's so much other stuff I must attend to before angling can return to the forefront of my priorities. I seem destined to resume the quest, for a "thirty", next season. All things now being considered, a fourth "twenty" before October would see me very satisfied with my efforts for 2016.

The Mk IV's with Mitchell 300's

The Mk IV's with Matt Hayes centre-pins
There is one other development which has assisted my cause. Alan Turner - aka "Camo" - has opened a tackle shop in Ramsgate, thus saving me the trip to Fatfish, at Thannington, should I require any terminal tackle or accessories. It is a very modest shop (an understatement! - it's bloody tiny) but well stocked with most of the items a carp angler could wish for. He's a nice guy and we seem to have hit it off rather well - being of a similar vintage? I wish him all the luck with this business venture and would advise others to support his efforts by using the shop instead of the Internet - the true test will be time.

Friday 5 August 2016

Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again!

The latest angling project will resume on Saturday evening when I am able to get out with the creaking canes in search of those elusive "wild" carp. I was up very early, Thursday morning, so as to get some bait into a couple of swims which I fancy might have potential! Benno and I have spent some time chatting about what we hope to achieve over the next couple of months, a thirty remains a target for us both, yet we are resigned to the fact that it will now be a campaign which runs into next season? Six weeks is a long break and all momentum has been lost, thus we are back at the very beginning in terms of fish location and feeding spells.

It will be absolute joy to get out again!
Obviously we haven't forgotten our previous lessons, but the very essence of this challenge was a requirement to be flexible and reactive to the nuances of these particular fish - we're now well off that mark. What with school holidays and much improved weather, there are far more anglers about and keeping away from the crowds, whilst still wanting to catch a few fish, becomes increasingly difficult. I still fancy my chances of a new PB before October and the next project kicks in. I've also got an idea for this coming Winter involving more split cane capers. Although I don't, as yet, have a MK IV Avon rod; there are a few knocking around on e-bay, so I feel sure that one will be in my possession quite soon - Barbel & Chub being foremost in my plans.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

That's all folks - "The King is Dead"

I came downstairs, this morning, to find that Dad had died, peacefully, in his sleep and is now again with Mum. Such is the power of their devout Christian beliefs that I am bound to wish that it is true.
As a complete heathen, I have voiced my doubts; often cynically, yet have to conclude that their stoic and unyielding faith has provided comfort where I am unable to find anything to cling to.
It has been an experience which I am unable to recommend to anyone. To those who side with the pro-life campaigners I will ask "who's life is it?" If my father had been an animal I could have, quite rightly, been accused of cruelty, such was the loss of dignity and independence as he entered his final days. He prayed to die every night, yet would not take an overdose as that would have been a sin? The God Squad have an awful lot of explaining to do if I am ever to become a believer! It has been a roller-coaster journey which has ultimately seen my relationship with Bev strengthened because of the stresses placed upon us - my family is solid and remains united, the lessons shared by us all. I am eternally grateful for the support of friends, family and work colleagues, without whom I wouldn't have made it.

Mum and Dad - reunited again. Sleep well