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 30 April 2017

Sunday again!

The weather forecast was dire, so much so that Benno & Luke cried off and stayed at home watching the football - strange that? One a Spurs fan the other Arsenal! Being made of sterner stuff, plus I'm on a roll, I got down to the fishery by 14.00 hrs - luck was on my side as Bev had plans to visit various retail outlets as she plans the interior of our bungalow following extensive modification - builders knocking walls down and similar stuff. Apparently I'm to be annexed into the loft, such is the scale of devastation Bev envisages - let's hope the money stretches that far!
So, once again, I find myself alone in my attempt after a split cane thirty. No worries, it's a fabulous place to be whatever else happens. I'd found some fish within ten minutes of arriving, they were in a swim some quarter of a mile west of where I'd taken the 23 last weekend. Gear collected from the car, I was fishing by 14.30 hrs, a screaming take, just fifty minutes later, which resulted in a lovely little common (14 lbs 14 oz) ending up in my landing net. A cracking fish, made all the more enjoyable when Paul, the bailiff, turned up. He was happy to take some photos and spend time chatting about the fishing and associated subjects - nice guy!

Rods back out, a few more freebies scattered over the area, I had to wait until 18. 10 hrs for the next action. Another screamer, this time a small tench had been tricked into taking the bait. Just out of interest I put it on the scales - 2 lbs 12 oz the result.

Tench - never seen an ugly one!
These will be Bryn's next target for The Freshwater Informer saga
Same routine, rods recast and a scattering of freebies over both spots, it wasn't ten minutes later when the same rod was away again. I have no idea what happened, but I lost the fish when my main line was cut by an underwater snag - it came back looking like it had been dragged over a cheese grater!
At no time did I feel that I hooked something exceptional and, if past experiences are anything to go on, I saw no signs of disturbance on the surface. All of the carp I've taken (and that's now three!) have boiled on the surface as I've set the hooks under these particular circumstances.
No more action before 21.00 hrs when I packed up and headed for home. It was a great session, the dog walkers friendly as ever (such a pleasant change from some of the Thanet version) and I made one guy's day when I allowed him to photograph that carp on his i-phone.

I've neglected birds in my recent blogging; although they are still a part of my daily routine. A cock Pheasant came strolling past my swim, beyond me before I could grab the camera. I only had the 18 - 55 mm lens fitted, but managed to grab a shot as the bird attempted to retrace it's route as a couple, walking their dog, approached from the opposite direction. Greenshank and Tree Pipit over the garden in recent days has been a nice distraction, but I have to admit that I am really struggling to find any enthusiasm of late!

Thursday 27 April 2017

Fine tuning and rambling thoughts

Avid Carp is a brand label that has somehow managed to avoid my notice since my return in 2011. I own just one piece of kit which bears their logo, a Combi Mat , which my Brother-in-law got me as a Christmas present several years ago now. Nash, Korda and Fox dominate my carp angling purchases, although there are several other companies who's gear I'll use without hesitation, such is the quality available in this huge market place, that is the carp industry.

The very simple, yet effective, logo of Avid Carp.
My "Combi Mat" might not be state of the art carp tackle, but it does the job and
is also brilliantly suited for unhooking large pike.
So what's the big deal with the Avid Carp thing? Well; I've been watching hours of carp related offerings on You-tube and stumbled across Next Level Carp Fishing - Vol 3, an Avid Carp production. I am not watching this stuff to be entertained, I want to be educated. I already know what a carp looks like, I've seen a bent fishing rod and the final moments of a successful battle - the prize being drawn over the waiting net. For the individual involved - bloody amazing and fantastically exciting! But I'm not that guy and I just want to know how and why? Is there some detail, some smidgen of advice, which might assist me in my quest for that split cane thirty? I don't want advice on specific fisheries either. I am fully aware of several commercials which are capable of producing thirty pound plus carp; all within twenty - five minutes of my front door (driving!) No, what I am seeking is that little snippet which I might just be able to adapt/adopt to suit my purpose. and may just have found one? It should assist me in my efforts when employing the "blow-back rig" (that I will be using) later in the year when more confident of introducing larger quantities of bait. I've experimented with tying this rig and have already come up with a small tweak which improves my own confidence. I will spend some more time tank testing the presentation and, hopefully, get a few shots to show what I'm attempting to do.
I'm not a member of any carp (angling) related forum group, don't use Twitter or Facebook, so might well be completely off the mark here? I have no more chance of original thinking, where carp are concerned, than I have of re-inventing the wheel! I would like to think that it is universally accepted that location is the number one factor in successful specimen angling, bait, rigs and tackle coming a long way behind in their relative importance?

 My friend, and ex Tring Syndicate member, Richie Francis made comment about the carp's limited ability to learn from experiences. Rigs and baits will have a given period of effectiveness in heavily pressured situations before the fish suss them out and deliberately avoid/ignore them. Fortunately I am not conducting my campaign on such a venue, yet there is still a fair amount of angling pressure, and I have no idea as to the methods, tactics or baits of the other anglers. From what I have seen there a few guys who are extremely cute, know the score, and are going about their own projects in a very focused manner. I cannot allow them to impact upon my tactics unless I have information which suggests duplication. I'm perfectly happy that they go their way and I go mine. If they are more successful - hey ho! Crazy thing is - none of us speak to each other, we'll probably never know?

It was around thirty-five years ago that I started to deliberately target carp and, to be perfectly honest, I don't think that much has changed, despite an eighteen year gap! If you are prepared to find an edge, that unlocks the code, carp remain fairly easy fish to catch. I readily accept that this glib statement might wrangle a few die-hards. After all my PB remains firmly stuck in 1984 - 23 lbs 14 oz!
I have absolutely no doubt that, should I take my kit across to Cottington Lakes for a session, I could improve upon this particular statistic dramatically. It's no longer what drives me. I don't want yesterday's news - I seek to make my own headlines, in an angling parlance? I am looking at the conundrum from the opposite direction. I'm attempting to think (?) like a carp and adapt my bait presentation accordingly. I agree that it's a weird concept but feel sure that there's plenty more scope to explore as the project unfolds.

Sunday 23 April 2017

When the wind's in the east

I had a window of opportunity, Bank Holiday, Monday afternoon, so took a drive down to the club waters for a peruse. Although wonderfully bright and sunny there was a chill wind blowing from the N/NE and I failed to discover any signs of feeding fish at either of the venues. "When the wind's in the East; the fish bite least!" It's a proverb which has been passed down through the angling generations, yet still has as much relevance today as it did when Izaak's peers first offered this observation. I returned home without bothering to get the tackle out of the car, such is my lack of confidence under these conditions. I give absolutely no credence, whatsoever, to the "moon phase" theory and will go fishing whenever I feel the conditions are right. So, for me, it's all about confidence. An Easterly is the kiss of death where carp are the target, being a species who's distribution and feeding behavior is dominated by wind direction. The moon, however, will only play a part if there is no cloud cover, thus, increased light intensity will also have to betaken into consideration when setting out my stall. I think that the only time I welcome clear skies, with a full moon, is when I'm pike fishing and either arrive pre-dawn or plan to stay late, exactly the opposite would apply if perch were my target species. At all other times I don't give the moon phase a second thought when I head out of the door - I'm going fishing, confident in my methods and abilities. Get an easterly wind; my confidence takes such a dive that I sometimes find myself sitting there wondering why I bothered ?
All this week I've been studying the weather forecasts, looking for that combination of wind direction, cloud cover and barometric pressure, attempting to pick my moment. Benno had wanted a Thursday session - all his fish, last year, came on Thursdays (how very scientific!). I fancied the Friday, but it coincided with Benno's birthday and so didn't happen. St. George's Day it would have to be, the best forecast for a while given the ridiculous temperature drop we've been threatened with.
On my own today, Benno still sulking over the football results - he's a Spurs fan (I tried my best, but school friends turned his head). I arrived just after 16.00 hrs and spent the next hour and a bit walking a two mile section looking for signs of carp. It wasn't until I was almost back to my starting point that I found what I'd been looking for. Couldn't be 100% certain that carp were responsible, but seeing reed stems being knocked about was better than nothing. Two rods out by 17.30 hrs, I had a two inch lift on my right-hander within 30 minutes. Tench? Half an hour later and I had a liner on the same rod; something was happening out there. Both rods recast and another scattering of freebies catapulted over the top I had to wait until 19.50 hrs for the next action - a screamer! Same rod again, this time there was no messing as a huge boil on the surface appeared as I picked up the rod! What a battle, I had the fish over the net only to have it swim back out. It was an epic encounter and one which left me reduced to a gibbering mess when I finally managed to draw it over the chord of the landing net. On the scales it gave the statistic of 23 lbs 5 oz - what a way to start my campaign.

I am forever indebted to Keith for getting the photos - thanks!
I rang Benno, who was willing to drive down to get some photos, but I said I'd ask another angler, who was fishing a couple of hundred metres away, if he'd do the honours. The guy, who's name was Keith, did me proud and I am forever in his debt. I slipped the fish back and pretended to go through the motions of carrying on. It was pure farce; I'd done what I wanted, now it was time to pack up and get home - job done! I'm typing this post, grinning like an imbecile, a glass of 1664 close at hand. Days like this don't come round too often, best make the most when they do - tight lines.

Sunday 16 April 2017

I don't get it

Out yesterday evening for another session after a decent carp. Benno had said, in a phone conversation, "you're just as well blanking after big fish!" How right can any man be? It wasn't, however, without incident; my tackle and tactics remain unchanged despite my dry net. At this time of year it's unrealistic to expect huge catches or masses of signs of carp activity. Nope - it's all about watercraft and educated hunches. When I arrived, I spent over 90 minutes walking a two mile stretch trying to locate some fish. One or two "might have beens?" but nothing positive. There were three swims to which I was drawn, all containing open water adjacent to overhanging snags and reed beds. Classic carp swims on these type of venues and less than six rod lengths from the bank - hence the requirement for watercraft and a subtle approach.

I'd made my choice and spent a while watching the reeds before catapulting out a dozen, or so, TG Active (or were they?) boilies and getting both my rods cast in to position. My choice of rig for these early season efforts is heavily influenced by the Korda Masterclass 4 material. I have no desire to use chod or helicopter rigs, but am sold on the "spinning rig" presentation. I've adapted the rig to suit my own situation and have spent some time tank testing the resultant tweaks.

This will take a bit of explaining.
Hook link = Korda N-Trap semi-stiff to a Korda QC Ring Swivel (size 8) , a
Nash Fang Twister (size 7) hook with a line aligner shrink tube cover.
Bait is a 14 mm Camo pop-up plus an IB maize plastic pop-up on
a size 20 micro swivel stopped by a Nash Hook Bead
I'm really fortunate that Alan Turner (aka Camo - please click the link) has his tackle emporium in Ramsgate and stocks everything that any wannabe carp angler could wish for. He also has his own bait range (there's a clue there?) which is far more reasonably priced than the mainstream offerings. I can only offer the advice - "Don't knock it until you've tried it!"
So there I am as darkness approaches, bite-less. Just as I'm preparing to leave my right-hander was away with a screaming take. I picked up the rod and bent into what felt like a small tench. Almost immediately the left-hander was away. Had the fish picked up the other line? It was carnage and I eventually lost the initial fish in a nearside snag. Funnily enough I wasn't unduly troubled - I knew I hadn't been done by a carp. I reeled in the left hand rod to find myself entangled with another carp rig. It was a horrendous contraption, the 4 oz fixed lead still attached! The hook was better suited to shark fishing and the hook link could have been made of fuse wire it was so stiff! There was a piece of anti-tangle tubing and about 3 m of mainline still on the swivel. Had the guy "cracked off" making an under arm swing into the venue? It was agricultural at best. I took it down to Camo's mid morning only to have a carp angler (a decent enough guy) offer support for the offending rig. It takes all sorts and I happily acknowledge that I'm no carp angler. It's a weird world and there are times when I just don't get it!

Saturday 15 April 2017

An explanation?

My recent blogging has been, at best, a mish-mash of half-baked nonsense. I've not managed to catch a decent carp, find a Newlands wheatear or lure an unusual moth to the garden MV trap - why? If I am totally honest; my heart's not in it at present. The ongoing saga of my, late, father's estate dominates my time, but there is light at the end of that particular tunnel, it will hopefully be sorted out before the end of May? I can't get motivated to start my split cane thirty challenge all the while my head is telling me that conditions are not right and mothing isn't doing it for me either. Birding around East Kent is very hit & miss - I'm mainly getting the miss part, I've still only seen seven Swallows! Work is hectic and then there is my commitment to Freshwater Informer and the provision of articles describing the angling development of my grand-son, Bryn. I offered my services and have no complaints about the situation but it does impact upon my time/ability/enthusiasm, to make blog postings.

It's quite likely that I won't see an Osprey during 2017 - Time in Scotland is about so much more than pike!
Luckily I have got the May article completed, well ahead of schedule, and now have opportunity to focus attention on blogging for a while. I find it really weird that we're not going back to Loch Awe this year. It has been a part of our angling cycle since 2011, six years on the spin we've fished Kilchurn Bay in the week leading up to the May Day Bank Holiday. I am well aware we'd all agreed, after 2016, that it was over, we'd cracked it, and we'd seek adventures in warmer climes. 2017; we're going nowhere and I'm suffering as a consequence. It's true that Bev and I have two holidays booked, June and September, but fishing tackle will not be part of the hand luggage on either trip! I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms - why are we not going somewhere? I'd like to think that it's no more than a glitch, due to the distractions of sorting out Dad's affairs, and normal service will be resumed in 2018 - even if I go on m own!

That's an awful lot of freebies for a £1
Anyhow, I'm still getting down to the club fisheries and catching a few small carp and horrible little F1 hybrids. Great fun with a single rod, some "Go Cat" freebies and small cubed bread crust as bait. I doesn't get any more basic than a rod, reel, line and hook - no need for leads, floats or fancy rigs.
I've actually been fishing in the reed beds, these fish are fearless when in such surroundings and will take a bait without the normal caution of an open water situation. 10 lbs b.s. line straight to the hook and it's hit and haul when the bite comes. All of the fish have been fully scaled apart from one. I caught a linear mirror which, if it weighed 20 lbs plus, would be the target of anyone who fished the venue; it is a beautiful little fish and was the highlight of my past week.

An absolute peach of a carp!

Sunday 9 April 2017

Competing with a big moon

It's just after 20.00 hrs (08.04.2017) and I have set up the garden 125 W MV moth-trap for the coming night. Temperatures are set fair at 10 C all night, so my only issue will be with the clear skies and beaming moon. The wind is predicted to remain a gentle southerly, so there is certainly a chance of something unusual turning up? I have certainly experienced some decent catches, historically, under similar conditions.

Many Plumed Moth
I've only run it on three occasions so far this year and endured a total blank on the second night. Much better for the third attempt; Double - striped Pug, Clouded Drab, Light Brown Apple Moth and a Many Plumed being added to the 2017 tally.
Sunday 9th April 2017
The reality proved to be rather disappointing, just three moths lured. One each of Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Bright Line - Brown Eye (which was new for the year!). I'm running it again tonight, although I don't really think conditions are that much better? I'm on another week of late shifts, well four days, and don't see me doing much else!

Saturday 8 April 2017

Deadline day approaching

My first article for The Freshwater Fisherman appeared in the April edition and I'm happy enough with the result. Barry Reed (Editor) and his production team have done a good job, however, being likened to a modern day Mr Crabtree was flattery most undeserved (click here to see - page 9) Having committed to this series of articles, it all of a sudden becomes far more difficult if the weather conspires to keep the main protagonist indoors! Bryn has spent more time on his X-box than anything else during the month of March due to the constant run of chilly NE winds. With just ten days remaining for my second offering to be on Barry's computer, I have very little to work with - call plan B into action. Long Shaw Farm to the rescue? We've Sunday afternoon to get enough to fill the space I'm allotted, so let's hope for lots of photo opportunities!

I have taken both Harry and Emily down to the smaller of our new club waters to look for fish and frogs; a box of cat biscuits handily in the car, just in case! The weather has been kind and on both occasions managed to get a few carp up on the top, although never in a frenzy of activity. I also got a rod and net involved when Emily came along and had a couple of small commons from a number of good chances. The successful method being tiny bread cubes, free-lined, on a size 11 Barbel Maxx, 10 lbs b.s. line, a Match Aerial centre-pin on a Duncan Kay rod.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Carp - but not as we know them!

Benno, Luke and I were, once again, on the banks of our latest venue, carp fishing. Only our second visit but, this time, all three of us had located some carp activity prior to casting our baits. Things were looking up until four lads, in kayaks, ruined any realistic chances with their inconsiderate (and illegal - they had no life jackets and, therefore, permission to be using the waterway) behavior. Not only did they paddle past as we were setting up, they made a return visit as darkness was falling and used all the manners of "Council House Central" to demonstrate their contempt for others. Chav's - nothing more, but something else we'll have to learn to tolerate as the project advances. They weren't aggressive, just enjoying themselves but with zero consideration for the impact of their actions upon others. It wasn't a complete waste of effort as Benno actually caught a carp! It's the first week of April - what's going on? The first I knew was when a garbled message came through on the walkie-talkie! "I've only f**king got one!"

My initial reaction was "result!" Benno not quite so sure once he'd examined his prize. It was a freak of a carp - more like a boomerang than a fish. Very long, but with a distinctive "kinked" back bone, it went just over twelve pounds on the Rubens - in good nick it should have gone twenty!
Where do we go from here? Well it's a start and there are many other fish in the venue. There can be no doubting that they get a serious amount of angling pressure during the course of a year. Our challenge is to test ourselves to see if we are capable enough to adapt our tactics to deal with these new conundrums and those alternative approaches of the unknown anglers?

Sunday 2 April 2017

"Looks like hard work!"

All three of us met up at the fishery, just before 16. 30 hrs (Saturday 01.04.17), and took a stroll along the chosen section in an attempt to locate a carp. or two. before committing to swim choice. We saw nothing which could be directly attributable to carp activity, thus had to rely on watercraft and "gut feel" for our first session of 2017. Fortunately we do have last years results to draw upon, so educated guesses were used rather than blind faith.

Sun-set wasn't until 19.28 hrs and we had plenty of time to watch the water and were eventually rewarded with two definite sightings of carp; so all very encouraging. It confirmed that they were present in our section and, as a result, boosted confidence. It wasn't until May, in 2016, that Benno managed our first carp from this venue, so it came as no surprise that all three of us blanked today. We're not getting involved in "time bandit" tactics - if we don't get any indication within three hours then it's time to head off home. We are on the banks five weeks earlier than last year; will we be able to make this work to our advantage?

As I have stated in my previous blog, we're fishing beside a public footpath which is very popular with the local dog walking community, plus regular joggers, cyclists and ramblers enjoying the exercise and facilities that the venue has to offer. It was an "off the cuff" remark by a lady walking her dog, which is the catalyst to this post. I was sat on my unhooking mat, what little gear I had, neatly stacked on the top of the bank, a can of "light ale" being supped as she approached. "That fishing lark looks like really hard work!" being her quip as she passed. I offered some, light-hearted, reposte. It wasn't until she had disappeared from view that I actually thought about what had been said and the perception v's the reality.

The carp that started our campaign in May 2016. Benno with a 17 lbs 4 oz Common'
We only managed five fish, from the venue, during our first season - three 20's! Benno leads 4 - 1; I've a lot of
catching up to do!
I have absolutely no doubts as to the image I portray, perched beside my kit - can in hand! Hard work? Well that's already been done, it's how and why I'm there! Bait preparation, rig tying and testing, assembling the various items required for the project - all of these things have taken place long before I leave home. My time at the fishery is about enjoyment, hence the laid-back perception of an outsider. Nothing could be further from the truth, although I am rather pleased with this situation. If that is how I appear to a non-angler, perhaps some of those "brand label fashionistas" will also see a similar thing and dismiss such "Noddy" tactics as unworthy of their attention - I can but hope!

Other bits to be mentioned are pertaining to my slowly evolving "year-list". I've added the following:-
Willow Warbler - 30.03.17-  one singing in the garden,
Blackcap - 31.03.17
Sedge Warbler - 01.04.17 - two in sub-song along the RMC
Swallow - 02.04.17 - Sholden, Nr Deal