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!


Monday 2 January 2017

Wish list

"Realistic and achievable" - a phrase which I introduced to the Batchelor's Ashford "factory strategy group" as a part of the thought process required in any of our target setting projects. This was during my time with Unilever, and many lessons learned, during this period, have stood me in good stead ever since. "I want" doesn't mean "I will get", there are many reasons for failure but, generally, it will be an unrealistic target which is the major factor in a doomed venture. I can easily relate to my "split cane carp campaign" as an excellent example of just this. Forty doubles, including four twenties and a thirty. I got nowhere close because of the situation with my father's deteriorating health and eventual passing - I'd not foreseen this, thus not factored in the reduced time period I had at my disposal. I caught my four twenties, although didn't beat my PB, but only five other doubles - nine is a long way short of forty. I'll have to be less cavalier with my next project; I hadn't even settled on my venues when the target was set - unrealistic, therefore unachievable!

A nineteen - one, of only nine carp, over ten pounds, during the 2016 project.
I think that this is only image, during 2016, which doesn't have me wearing that silly hat?
So what do I want for myself in 2017? Health and happiness is far more important than accruing surplus wealth, aka prosperity, although it is quite likely that the year will deliver me a substantial windfall (via my inheritance from Dad's estate). It is, therefore, my angling which will be central to my plans. Benno, Luke and myself were out this morning, failing to re-capture, that lost pike of Saturday. To be fair, we failed to capture a pike - period. We had plenty of time to discuss our hopes for the coming twelve months, the two boys have already planned to revisit the Barbel of The Stour and have made noises about "drop shotting" for Perch. I have absolutely no idea what they're talking about?

I harbour a desire to attempt to better three of my PB's over the next twelve months. Barbel, Pike, Tench and Bream are non-starters, Zander and Cats - take a funny run. The most realistic have to be Perch (PB - 2 lbs 10 oz), Chub (PB - 5 lbs 2 oz) and Carp (PB - 23 lbs 14 oz). I would need to find a very special venue where my Roach or Rudd PB's could be beaten, although neither are particularly heavy. Crucian Carp, Eel and Dace all have a statistic beside their name on my list - none of them part of my plans in the immediate future.

Carp must take centre stage - purely because of the promise I made, to my family, to catch a "thirty" on their split cane Mk IV. If, for no other reason, I want to do this for Dad. Benno and Luke are equally enthused, we have a venue where such a result is very realistic proposition, so I won't be blazing a lonely trail in my pursuit of this goal. One fish will do this; sod all the back-up captures. Those other number are irrelevant should I ever achieve this ambition. I will have statistics, written on the pages of my diaries, but not sure I want to use such data to determine success or failure in this context.

5 lbs 2 oz - between the two bridges by the Viking Mercedes Garage at Sturry.
Don't get too excited, I've not spilled the beans  - this was 2012 and it's a very different prospect today!
Chub are a species which I have neglected for far too long. I've caught loads, over the years, but can't recall any extended periods of effort in their pursuit. That PB was taken from a tiny section of The Stour, between two bridges at Sturry. I've seen two fish which would have easily put two pounds on that fish, the river holds many other specimens which could beat my present best.

2 lbs 10 oz - easily beatable?
Perch were never a realistic option during my early years, the species being decimated by some aggressive disease click here during my first period of angling. That they are now back to their, swash buckling, best is a real bonus. I have been lucky enough to have witnessed three "threes" since 2011, although I've not really made any extended plans to pursue a PB. An accidental 2 lbs 6 oz fish from The Stour being a demonstration of how widespread the species has now become. If I can find a venue, then this dream is easily able to come to fruition -  it could be a muddy puddle - I really have no idea, as yet?

And what about the other stuff? Birds have played a massive part in my enjoyment of angling, ever since I can remember. OK - I know that they became a dominant part of my life for a period, but today birding is a nice aside to my life. Ambitions?  - none whatsoever. I simply want to be able to enjoy the birds which good fortune allows to cross my path. I have a feeling that the inquiring minds of the grandchildren will mean that I spend more time looking than I have done recently.

Moths, butterflies, bugs and bumble-bees - I'll keep looking! My desire to experience the joy of discovery will not diminish just because I don't have a clue as to the identity of what I'm seeing. Then there is the serious shit! I'm at the helm of "The Good Ship Wrathall" with all the responsibilities it incurs. I didn't choose it - that's life? Grandchildren and family issues will surely impact upon my own routine as the future dictates. Setting myself, realistic and achievable, targets is one way of remaining focussed on what I hold dear.  2017 will be a journey into the unknown, exactly as all previous years, yet surely there will be more at stake, in the Global arena, than anything since the end of WWII?  I have to cling to the notion that modern politicians are capable of rational thought, due to the brain cells between their ears. Listening to some of their rhetoric I have my doubts - the future generations have to rely on a bunch of egotists not hitting the switch. Let's hope that "reasonable and achievable" can filter through to the Governments of the World before someone does something humanity regrets - forever! (I wonder just how important Stonechat DNA analysis will be then?)


  1. Several things to go at there Dylan.Enjoy what comes.

    1. I'm hoping it will be fun. The chub and perch ideas have plenty of potential for employing new techniques and discovering new places.

  2. Good luck with the projects Dyl. I would like to get involved again with such things close to my home. Alas, my forays have only given me indications that the venues which were once teeming with fish life have become strangely empty.

    1. I am exceptionally lucky to live in a part of the UK where water quality remains good and the local fisheries abound with life. It doesn't mean that they remain balanced ecosystems, there are no minnows, bleak or gudgeon in the majority of water courses, yet eels remain plentiful, so always a good indicator. I have my opinions on the reasons behind these unbalanced populations of coarse species. I feel sure that agricultural fertilizers play a huge role in the "bigger picture" - just like they did on Wilstone all those years ago. That tench growth rate wasn't a genetic mutation, but a result of environmental pollution - the enrichment of a habitat due to external influences. I am convinced that it is these same factors which have resulted in the inverted pyramid of the population dynamic of the barbel within The Stour (the one that passes through Canterbury!). I've only managed seven fish, in three seasons - yet have five doubles (2 x eleven, 1 x twelve & 2 x thirteen) so that's some crazy ratio. The chub that I've taken are of a decent stamp, although almost all of them accidental captures whilst barbel fishing. I don't remember anything below 3 lbs 12 oz!
      The perch gig, at Tring, must have kicked off just after I'd stopped fishing? They are a species which enthuse me greatly, most of the big fish I've seen (and caught) have been from Stream Valley in East Sussex, although Sandwich Coarse Fishery has produced a few nice fish, to 2 lbs 11 oz, for Benno and myself. As for carp, Bureboy calls them mud-pigs, Kent is full of them. I would love to get that thirty from a local drain, but feel the RMC is going to be the place. I am excited by the challenges, yet know how easily I get distracted and my plans derailed. I'm about to embark on an extended period of late shifts, this will allow me to get a few early morning sessions in before I'm required to start work - that Stour PB chub could be out of the way before mid-March?

  3. Dyl, the eutrophication of our water ways has been a direct result of the UK entering the Common Market with guaranteed prices paid regardless of demand. Take the grubbing out of hedges and winter wheat instead of stubble and we see that environmental safeguard funding from the EU is so much nonsense. Forget Brexit. Market forces from the EU made the mess in the first place.
    Otters, Cormorants and Signal Crayfish have all combined to wipe out the formerly abundant fish life of my area.
    I fished last winter on venues which once had fish 'topping' constantly. I don't remember seeing a thing. I fished ten times, biteless blanks on seven, single small perch on two and a five pound chub on another. That's enough wasting time for me. The Colne valley is now a fishless desert.
    The Tring Perch thing.
    I didn't fish Tring at all between 1986 and 1993. In 1994 I returned to Startops not knowing what could be there. Up until then I had caught but one 2lb perch in my life. A few hours later I had caught seven.
    Setting my stall out, I fished on and off for the rest of the winter. I caught a lot more 2lb Perch, and also a few 2lb Roach. The Roach I caught finally put my tally of 2lb plus at over a hundred.
    The Perch meanwhile kept coming. The following season, they went mad. Gavin had a go after I advised, "Fish the road bank, cast maggot feeder lakewards". He was getting 2lb perch ten at a time. I managed that feat once myself, or was it twice?
    In 11 months I caught over 100 2lb perch, which matched the Roach pile.
    However, my biggest went 3lb 5oz, whereas every so often, a much bigger fish would come out, but not to me. I also had 2's from Wilstone.
    As things went, I'd stopped fishing again by the time the 5's and 6's appeared.
    I feel the reservoirs still have possibilities. Surely the Signals and Cormorants haven't done for that place.

    1. I think it was Jim Gibbinson who first raised the profile of eutrophication into the angling domain? He certainly touched upon it in "Modern Specimen Hunting" thus 1983. It's a double edged sword, when viewed from a "big fish angler's" perspective. Not many fish in the pond, but they're all big'ns! These fisheries are not healthy, balanced, environments, yet they do offer a realistic chance of a PB - so what's to moan about?
      As a grumpy old git, there's loads to get agitated by, but the clock ain't going backwards - it's today and tomorrow that matter. In East Kent, Cormorants, Otters and Signal Crays have not yet caused any issues. Common Seals, however, have been blamed for catastrophic reductions in match weights along The Stour as have the Polish (Eastern European migrants) - if they're so bloody good at fishing why haven't we adopted some of their methods? - I hear all sorts of crap about long-lines and netting - bollocks, it's the excuses of crap match anglers. The Stour still has a fantastic stock of coarse fish, the distribution of which has been affected by many factors, natural and man made.
      I am really looking forward to testing myself along the banks of this fabulous river - to infinity and beyond! - Dyl

  4. Well for Chub Dyl, I've found that a maggot feeder, a tiny fixed tail of 2lb line and a Super spade size 20 hook, is a combination no Chub can work out and avoid.
    I used a match rod with this set up and caught a 6:8 specimen. Two days later I caught it again.
    When my dad was about, his maggot method was simple. Fine line, small hook and a small ledger weight. Catapult out a small bed of maggots. Two on the hook, cast out and just leave it there.
    I watched him get a 4lb Chub on his first cast, and a 5lb plus with his second, doing that.
    Good luck.

    1. I am sure that maggots would be a fine bait for the chub but, The Stour has an inhabitant that the vast majority of rivers are now sadly lacking - Eels! Huge numbers of the things. Any pellets, worms, maggots, meat or fish based baits are a dinner bell for the ravenous hoards. My approach, therefore, will be with bread and cheese-paste in a very Mr Crabtree-like manner. Fine line equates to 6lbs Drennan double-strength and small hooks = a size 10 Widegape!

    2. Dyl, all the best with your targets, I look forward to seeing how you get on. At the start of our pike campaign my personal target was a twenty. Two fish in and it was done, so I'm glad that the campaign itself was always the focus and not just a number. Like me I'm sure you'll enjoy it all greatly!

    3. Gav, when I got back into speccy hunting, I too set myself the challenge of a "wild" twenty pound pike. I got close in the first season and cracked it during the second. At no time, before or since, have I been unable to enjoy the fishing purely because of a statistic. The target is there to provide a focus, not a definition of success or failure - if that makes sense? By targeting three PB's over the next year, I have allowed myself plenty of scope to chop and change as the seasons dictate. I'm really enthused by the project, although that split cane thirty might prove to be a step too far?

  5. Eels! ah yes, they would certainly compromise tactics of that nature, Dyl.
    Gav and me once fished the Royalty fishery and he declared; after yet another maggot filled bootlace, that "The bottom must be paved with the things".
    My other method was long trotting lumps of flake, following a trail of mash. Mr Crabtree that one. Couldn't believe how effective it was.

    1. A liquidized bread scent trail and trotted flake - now we're talking. A pair of chesty's and an ABU "All England Mk V" 12ft, glass fibre, match rod coupled with a Match Aerial centre-pin and off we, jolly well, go! There is a section of the river where I can easily stand in the water and work my float fished bait down towards a run of overhanging willows or rafts of debris on the opposite bank - chub fishing heaven! If this produces a few fish, then split cane will soon be brought into the fray. (I'm in the process of acquiring a Mk IV Avon to compliment the carp rods. Sye already has one and has been barbel fishing The Lea, at Wheathampstead, with great enjoyment and success)