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 29 October 2017

A better day

I returned to the club fishery for an afternoon session, hoping to continue with my fine tuning of the luncheon meat rig. The nonsensical fiddling with clocks, meant that everything was an hour out of kilter and the sun set 16.34 hrs as a result. I was in my chosen swim by 14.00 hrs; two baits in the water within a few minutes. I had just over three hours to play around with my bait presentation and make whatever alterations I felt necessary.

Bure Boy and Jono would have done far more justice to this spectacular scene. I simply pointed and pressed the shutter!
Yesterday evening had provided a magnificent farewell to  BST.  Looking out, over Newlands Farm, from our kitchen doorway, was a superb experience as the sky darkened via a series of orange, red and gold vistas. Bev and I didn't rouse until after 10.00 hrs (old money!) thus 09.00 hrs in this new time zone. A lazy Sunday was all that had been planned, so I was happy to go along with that gig. I knew that Benno was hoping to fish at Sandwich Coarse Fishery, but wasn't convinced that is where I wanted to be; so much unfinished business at the club fishery. As it turned out the commercial was "rammo" and I headed around to the club fishery to discover one other angler present - RESULT!

Setting up in a familiar swim, I was fishing within a few minutes. My right hand rod registered a few occurrences, yet it was the left hander, with the luncheon meat rig, which provided the fun. It's not too surprising that a puddle full of scamps was able to deliver some action despite the very obvious change in conditions. I'd already missed a few "screamers" before tweaking the presentation to include a tiny section of tubing, thus producing a "blow-back style" rig.  It worked a treat and resulted in a few fish ending up in the landing net. Just as darkness was falling, my final bite was to see me land a small perch, the first I've ever taken using luncheon meat (SPAM). Pleased with the outcome, I headed home knowing that I'll be back very soon - on "earlies" next week so afternoons look favourite for another session.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Wasted morning

Up at 05.00 hrs in order to get a short session in at our larger club fishery. I'd checked with the club diary dates, in order to avoid match fixtures and/or work parties. I'd even checked the club web page, just in case there had been some recent changes to the details printed on my membership card. No alternative information was to be forthcoming, and so off I went into the darkness, confident of getting a few hours in, trying to fine tune my luncheon meat presentation.
It was all going well, in as much as I was fishing with my modified presentation, when I was approached by a, dog walking, lady who informed me that there was a work party and I had to cease fishing! "It states the other venue" I said - "Oh, no - there's always a work party here on the last Saturday morning of every month".

Not my swim, today, just an image to accompany my whinging
Having no other information, I packed up my kit and was just gathering my bits together when a guy walked up. "You can fish after twelve o'clock - always stay to help us if you feel like it?" "No thanks!" His reply "Just taking the piss like all the others!" what a lovely man. Back home before 10.00 hrs and straight onto the club website, only to discover that the lady involved is the web master. Next thing is to check through the club rules and bylaws, especially those pertaining to the larger fishery. Once again, nothing about monthly work parties or planned maintenance programs - hey ho! I wasted my morning because of two very loyal, committed and hard working club members. I could have done without the "taking the piss" comment as one of the club rules clearly states "No Dogs" - for the couple to have their own dog running freely around the fishery smacks of "do as we say, not as we do!"
Let's get this clear - I don't have to fish this venue, just as I don't have to re-join the club next season. I'll let this go, without feeling any need to get involved with club rules and politics. There will be an AGM in the new year and this will be my chance to influence some change in match angling being the dominant force within the club hierarchy; despite the ordinary member being nothing more than a pleasure angler and wishing for no more than being able to catch fish from the two club fisheries. If the club wish for fishery maintenance to be part of the annual membership package, then a charge for members who opt out should be an extra cost, not a gesture of goodwill.
As for the work party duties today - ripping out the reeds which are encroaching into open water, thus proving troublesome for the match guys, but perfect spots for perch fishing. I'm rather pleased with myself that I managed to avoid confrontation - after all, they're only wet fish and I've caught loads over the years! It's a very small club with a long, and distinguished, history. The events of today are no more than a glitch - the club will survive whatever problems I perceive.

Friday 27 October 2017

Feeding station wishful thinking

With the passing of the seasons, so the visitors to our garden feeding station change in accordance. Over the years we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have attracted some wonderful birds into our garden, purely because of our provision of food and water (for drinking and/or bathing). However, our geographic position, on The Isle of Thanet,  has also played a major part, thus birds like Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare, Black & Common Redstart, Reed Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Waxwing, Tree Sparrow and Dartford Warbler have also been recorded "in" the garden, yet nothing to do with sunflower hearts, fat balls or bird baths.

A conversation with one of the guys at work, as I was attempting to explain my excitement about the recent Sparrowhawk/Collared Dove episode, actually set this thought process in motion. Over the years I've been privileged to have been able to photographed many birds around the feeding station. The vast majority of these images are of the very ordinary species, as expected in a Thanet garden, any garden?, but there have been some nice exceptions. I think that the image of a male Siskin, on our sunflower heart feeder, is the one of which I am most happy and sets the bench mark by which others are measured.

Yet another rare bird discovered at a garden feeding station - although, admittedly,  Dave's garden is pretty special!
I was staring out of the kitchen doorway, big lens to hand, via the full length, double-glazed, panel in the back door; simply watching the House Sparrows that are a constant feature of the feeding station. Bev asked "What are you doing?" - which isn't an unreasonable question. My reply went along the lines of " I am waiting for a rare bird to turn up" I had no major reason to expect such an occurrence, it was more wishful thinking based upon the fact that our garden has attracted so many birds over the past seventeen years, surely it has to happen sooner or later? Every year, without fail, rare birds are discovered in urban gardens, attracted by the provision of food. My only, UK, Slate - coloured Junco was discovered by Dave Bunney, in his Dungeness garden, feeding on seed that he had deliberately placed for the wild  birds. Will such an event ever happen in our back garden? Only by looking out of the back door window will I ever have a chance of knowing the answer.

A very sad indication of what's happening to our garden birds. In 2017 I've only recorded one Greenfinch at
the feeders, they used to be so regular as to be taken for granted. (Bit like hedgehogs!)

Thursday 26 October 2017

Top10 - revisited

In January, 2014, I made a post entitled Top Ten which was a run down of the best ten fish I'd caught since returning to angling in May 2011. It was very much about me, and my successes, and fitted within a template that Steve Gale had introduced (although I don't think he claims to have invented the format?) to this blogging circus. Time has passed and the circle of bloggers is constantly evolving as enthusiasm (or lack of) has resulted in a steady stream of  defunct, re-launched and new, natural history based, sites for me/us to regularly visit.
I was looking at my blog stats, recently, and saw that the Top Ten post had received a number of visits, so checked it out and, having re-read it, felt sure that my perception of the ten most important/pleasurable fish would be very different in October 2017. First off is the realization that I haven't caught some of the most memorable fish over the period, thus it can't be all about me. There is an undeniable joy to be had by simply being part of someone else's successes. So; this time round, I hope to purvey that sentiment by including fish that I have witnessed, along with those I've been fortunate to catch myself. There are three of us who regularly fish together, Benno, Luke and myself, but we are occasionally accompanied by Sye (my brother) and Bryn (my grandson). Attempting to narrow this down to ten fish might get messy and, chronologically, things will go a little awry? But here goes!

No 10 - Benno at Loch Awe, 5th May 2011 Pike 20 lbs 6 oz

Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe - Benno with the first Scottish "twenty" I had seen in 29 years of trying!
The first Scottish "twenty" that I'd ever set eyes on and the fact that I actually placed the landing net under this magnificent pike made it so much more special. Just being able to share the experience with my son and witness the joy, as he captured his first twenty, is as much as any father can hope for I reckon.

No.9 - Sye at Stream Valley Fishery, East Sussex. 10th June 2012  Perch 3 lbs 6 oz

A social at this lovely little venue was to produce perch fishing like I had never known. I can't remember just how many of these fabulous fish we took between us? A great many being over two pounds, my own PB of 2 lbs 10 oz was amongst them, but it was this stunning example which stole the show and made the whole gang happy to have been part of Simon's special moment.

No.8 - The Royal Military Canal, 17th February 2013 Pike 20 lbs 9 oz

A very special fish which produced some intense emotions. Taken just a few days after the death of my Mother; I was alone on the canal when the bite came. Only when I'd secured it within the folds of my landing net did I realize how special a fish it was. The pike I had been seeking since picking up the rods again in May 2011. My first English "twenty" since January 1990 and I had time to savour the event all by myself. It was an hour, or so, later when Benno and Luke arrived to witness the fish,  take some photos and share in my enjoyment of such a wonderful wild pike.

No.7 - Benno on The Stour, Canterbury. 5th July 2013 Barbel 11 lbs 6 oz

Rod Stewart once sang "Every picture tells a story" and never has that been more true than with this image. It proved to be a pivotal moment in our project and was, at the time of capture, the largest barbel I'd ever seen. Just a few days after we returned from a trip to The River Severn, at Hampton Lode, where I'd managed to land my first barbel since September 1985, this fish was the one that ignited the flame. Caught during a very short evening session, the walkie talkie message "Dad, I'm in!" was catalyst to a magical experience as I netted this PB specimen for my son! I remember ringing him the next morning and the phrase "smiling like an idiot" being part of the conversation. Benno had said it, but it applied to me in equal measure - a truly wonderful experience for me to be part of.

No.6 - The Stour, Canterbury. 21st August 2013 Barbel 13 lbs 14 oz

That River Stour barbel campaign was to be as exciting, an angling challenge, as I'd ever experienced, yet never did I feel that we (Benno and I) had learnt anything about the fish that graced our landing nets. Such was the random pattern to our successes. If, however, I look beyond the obvious and simply seek the impact and enjoyment of a fish then this barbel is right up there with the best. Benno was fishing nearby, thus able to share the experience and grab the photos. It was a very special time, and place, for us both

No.5 - East Kent Marshes 10th July 2015 Common Carp 20 lbs 10 oz

I am no fan of modern carp angling, completely unable to buy into the mind-set of the current generation of devotees. There can, however, be no denying that they are a fabulous species and provide a challenge like few other fish. I'd packed up carp fishing in February 1984, having caught my PB from Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. All 23 lbs 14 oz of it! It was a crazy twist of fate that contributed to my being out on the marshes, at this time. I'd been going barbel fishing, only to learn of an Environmental Agency weed cutting operation, so had reverted to plan B. I'll go tench fishing out on the marshes. Well that's what I'd planned, what actually happened was I caught an 18 lbs 2 oz carp! This fish is the result of my second, and carp focused, session and is everything I wish for from my carp angling. Probably never seen a hook previously, it provided a stern test of my angling techniques before it was drawn over the landing net. In the early morning sunlight it looked as though it had been carved from mahogany, a beautiful creature to behold and well worthy of inclusion in this list.

No.4 - Luke at Sandwich Coarse Fishery 12th February 2017 Perch 3 lbs 3 oz

Luke is the quiet one within the group, he's also a very accomplished angler. I wish I'd been able to use his 30 lbs carp in this listing, but wasn't present when he landed it so will have to make do with his PB perch instead. He and Benno had been fishing with Bryn (my grandson) in order to get some material together for our Freshwater Informer articles. I was stuck indoors with jobs to do, but a phone call from Benno had me making excuses and driving over to see them. As I parked my car the phone went again with Benno informing me that Luke had just landed his PB perch on the drop-shotting gear. I was there within a minute and gazing down on a truly stunning fish - Luke's soppy grin spoke volumes about the capture!

No.3 - Royal Military Canal. 23rd April 2017 Carp 23 lbs 5 oz

A milestone fish, in an unfinished project. It is only special because it is the heaviest fish I have so far managed to catch using the B James & Son Mk IV split cane "Dick Walker" rod that was my family gift to celebrate my 60th birthday. That promise to my Father, to catch a "thirty" using it, is the driving force behind this challenge. I realize that it's a very tall order but, I did make that commitment and will do my utmost to make it happen. Dad passed away in August 2016 and I have much to do in order to honour my word and his memory. St George's Day, on the canal, was everything I wished for. A savage bite, a prolonged battle and a nice fish to pose with. The split cane comes alive under these conditions and the use of a Mitchell 300 reel just adds to the fun. What will it be like when the dream becomes reality? I'll certainly have to re-write my Top Ten, that's for sure!

No.2 - East Kent Marshes. 12th March 2016 Eel 3 lbs 10 oz

At no time, in my life, did I think that eels would feature in my angling highlights until I received a comment from Darren Roberts about my dismissal of a 3 lbs 6 oz fish that I'd caught whilst carp fishing. I had always thought of eels as slimy, tackle tangling, pests - it didn't matter if I was after carp, barbel, pike or perch, these Sargasso Sea interlopers were a problem, no matter what time of the year. Then I became aware of "critically endangered" status that had been placed upon the species and set about a project to catch an eel in every month of the traditional "pike season".
I succeeded, and it is this fish which completed my challenge. The largest of the whole winter period, I can't recall being happier with any other fish of any other species. Eels had certainly gotten to me!

No.1 - Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe. 25th April 2015 Pike 24 lbs 10 oz

So we've finished up where I started. Kilchurn Bay, on Loch Awe, the scene of so many special angling events. That magnificent backdrop providing something extra to, what are already, very special memories. Just before 06.00 hrs, on April 25th 2015, my bite alarm sounded a take. I was using a centre pin and a thirty year old rod made the occasion even more quirky as I went on to land the largest pike that any of us have caught in Scotland.  The company of Benno and Luke was special, the fact that I'd waited 33 years unbelievable and the out pouring of emotion was a very personal experience. No, I wasn't crying like a baby - although I wouldn't be ashamed if I had.
The feeling of contentment, of personal fulfillment, was the overriding emotion as the day panned out - plus the fact that I went on the piss from 06.10 hrs.might have helped?  If there is ever going to be a fish to replace this one, at number one, then a split cane rod, or my grandson, will have to be part of the story

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Weird fish

A pleasant session, on Sunday afternoon, would have been posted about earlier but for a problem with our Sky Broadband. Pleased to be able to report that the situation was resolved by a telephone conversation with a lady at Sky customer services and, after talking us through the process, things are now back to normal.
I fished the same swim as on Friday, yet things were very different. I only had one indication on the prawn rod, tucked in under the branches, which I promptly missed, just to rub my nose in it. My other rod was fished in a more open spot and baited with cubes of luncheon meat. It was constant action on the bobbins, although many fish got away with it due to my very lax rig mechanics. Carp, carp and more carp were all over me and helped themselves to a succession of hook baits before I changed to a heavier lead and swing arm indicator. I was using luncheon meat on the advice of another angler who told a three pound perch being caught on it. I have also heard stories of big perch being taken on luncheon meat at Tyler Hill (when it was open) so worth an experiment ? The outcome of this endeavor were a handful of carp/F1's and a tiny little 12 oz tench. The first fish was the heaviest and by far away the longest I've taken from the fishery. If it had been in good health/condition in a different environment it may well have weighed over twenty pounds. The sad looking individual actually tipped the scales at 9 lbs 4 oz and had the body shape of a barbel rather than a carp. It was so strange that I set up the self-take gear and grabbed a couple of pics - one weird fish!

Missing part of the lower tail lobe, this fish still put on a decent show.
In good scale condition and reasonably fit, there must be some genetic reason for its' lack of bulk?

Saturday 21 October 2017

Feeding station carnage

The garden feeding station is still host to hoards of House Sparrows, 60 + being a conservative estimate, plus decent numbers of Starling, Blue & Great Tit, Blackbird, Collared Dove and Feral Pigeons. Sparrowhawks are frequently seen, although very rarely successful hunters, marauding through the Vine Close gardens, attracted by these, artificially food rich, feeder hanging, versions of an avian "Mcdonalds" We were just on our way out for lunch when I spotted a large, juvenile, female devouring a Collared Dove on the back garden lawn. Is this a positive, or negative, aspect of garden feeding stations in our suburban location?

A rare privilege to watch such a scene from the comfort of our kitchen doorway
After alerting Bev to the spectacle, I grabbed the big lens and rattled off a few shots through the kitchen window. ISO 1600 and 1/500th sec meant that the results were always likely to be grainy, yet better than nothing? Murder in the suburbs - or quite simply nature in the raw?
Other bird related stuff is rather sparse. There was a lone Sky Lark over the garden earlier this morning and Goldfinches have started to turn up on the sunflower heart feeder, occasionally. Three chunky finch-type birds flew over the factory yard, mid-morning on Thursday, and were probably Crossbills, although I am unable to confirm this suspicion as they remained silent whilst within my earshot, plus I obviously didn't have my optics to hand, and I still need them for my 2017 list!!!!!!

Pieces of a puzzle

I've managed to get four, after work, sessions in this week - thanks Bev! I've not blanked on any occasion, although my results haven't been that sparkling. Lots of carp/F1 hybrids picking up my prawn hook baits - more than a few lost using this light tackle. Perch have been my target species and I've caught them on three, of the four, outings - so not too bad? I even managed to tempt an odd tench, from the larger club venue (very unusual) but the bream have been a real pest. These are proper "snotters", 2 lbs at best and covered in thick slimy mucus which clings to anything it touches and stinks like nothing else (except eel slime - perhaps?)

The pick of the bunch, thus far, a smidgen over 2 lbs
The start of better things to come, I hope, as the project
moves forward.
I don't like to use the term "nuisance" fish, but these bream certainly come close to it. However, they do provide action when I'm awaiting the attentions of perch and create far less disturbance in my swim than those pesky carp! A bream, once hooked, simply waves the white flag and floats across the surface straight into the awaiting net; so much easier than feisty little scamps who's sole purpose is to create as much havoc as possible whilst attempting to avoid a visit to the unhooking mat.

I've made a couple of light weight bobbins and given them the "home made" treatment - it keeps away the fashionistas - they couldn't possibly be seen talking to a Noddy! I call them Jasper and Sid, because I can, and they are deliberately wasp coloured, so as to be easily confused with the Nash tackle item which also goes by the name of The Wasp Indicator!

Me doing my thing, as I await the next bite under darkening skies. I got a bit arty with
this image as I used fill in flash to ensure that I wasn't lost in the gloom of the overhanging foliage.
Thus far swims have been chosen for their proximity to cover, be that overhanging branches, reed beds or lily pads. Simply somewhere from which perch can mount an attack on any prey item that swims past. The depth of these swims hasn't yet been a consideration but, as the temperatures start to fall away, deeper areas will be targeted. Bait choice has been restricted to prawns, which I am fishing on  a hair rig set up tied with 5 lbs mono and using a size 11 Barbel Maxx hook. This has seen an improvement in my catch rate, and I'm pleased with the hook holds not being in the throats of these fish. Next stage in the plan is to start to use lob worms, so a whole new set of problems to overcome.
It's great fun learning by trial and error, my successes have far more meaning when they are a result of a tweak or idea that has been due to an angling situation which has had me stumped.

A typical club water perch swim. My bait is positioned under the overhanging branches less than two
rod lengths out. Easy to be accurate in both hook bait presentation and the introduction of freebies.

Monday 16 October 2017

A tench to savour

I'd caught my first 6 lbs plus tench (Dick Walker never caught a "Six") by 1974. Fred J Taylor was my hero, and inspiration, as those early encounters were experienced. The original fishery was Pixie's Mere, Bourne End, Hertfordshire and I have vivid memories of night fishing with bread flake under a float, which was illuminated by a bicycle lamp. I readily admit that my eyesight is not up to that type of challenge in 2017! Still, back then, I was mad keen and could easily fish all night before heading off to play football for Little Gaddesden, no worries!
It was Pixie's Mere which fired my enthusiasm to tackle Wilstone Res (part of the mighty Tring complex) and, as they say, the rest is history. My final tench, from the complex, was a 7 lbs 6 oz fish from Startops in March 1993. Tench have been a dominant force throughout my angling journey, although they haven't featured much since I returned to the hobby in 2011. I have managed a few fours, from the RMC, whilst about my carp fishing project, but very few others have graced my landing net since that date.

The sun, as viewed from just outside Sandwich at 16.00 hrs
All day, at work, talk has been of Hurricane Ophelia and what likely effect it would have on Thanet - zilch being the general consensus. However, arriving home, just after 14.00 hrs, it was obvious that something wasn't quite right. The sun had turned a funny shade of orange and there was a very definite haze in the air - perfect for a spot of perch fishing? I quickly arranged a pass out with my better half and was soon on my way to our smaller club water. The sun was continually changing colour as the effects of Saharan dust and forest fires polluted the upper layers of the atmosphere. I managed a few shots, after I'd arrived at the fishery, but missed the best of the show.

A plucky little fella - with attitude!
I quickly set up my gear on the southern bank and fished two rods, both baited with prawns, in opposite directions parallel to the bank. I hadn't been fishing for ten minutes before the right hander was away and I found myself playing a lively perch of 1 lb 6 oz - good start?
I fed with chopped prawns, little and often, over both spots and was to eventually reap the rewards of this approach. I have absolutely no doubt as to the role that the extended period of twilight had played; so give myself a pat on the back for being so receptive to the conditions - we'll call it watercraft/experience if you don't mind? What I can't do, despite my wondrous understanding of weather patterns, is place a label on my bait as to be selective in what picks it up!

I had some fun trying to use the new Fuji camera kit to do the self-take stuff.
Happy enough with this result - all the same
I missed an absolute cert perch bite, whilst chatting to Bev on the mobile, not to worry, plenty more chances coming my way! I was to enjoy a fantastic hour, or so, as the hazy daylight faded into proper darkness. A small carp, two bream and two tench caused the bobbins to rise and the bite alarms to warble their signature tune. Mk IV split canes and Cardinal 44X's doing me proud. I'd been speaking with a couple of club members, as I arrived, and had been told that prawns hadn't produced a bite and that there had been a new stocking of tench. I thanked my informants for the news, but felt sure the perch would take prawns and I wasn't at all bothered about the tench - I'd lived through the Tring revolution of 30 years previous. COCK! After I landed a tench of 5 lbs 2 oz I was dribbling idiot - my first proper tench for over twenty-four years! Don't ever believe a word I say when I pretend that big fish don't matter - even moderate fish have the ability to make me an, adrenaline induced, emotional wreck!

Saturday 14 October 2017

Catch of the day

Another early start at the club fishery resulted in a mixed bag of a perch, two bream and three carp - none of them worthy of weighing, that's for sure. The sun shone brilliantly from a clear blue sky and, as such, perch fishing was a non starter. A couple of small commons fell to free-lined floating crust, but that was it. I packed my kit and made my way towards the car park only to be stopped in my tracks by a small Grass Snake slithering across the path. I quickly made a grab for it before attempting to locate my camera from within my tackle bag.

It took a bit of fiddling around, but I managed to get a few shots of this fabulous little reptile. What a shame that none of the grandchildren were around to see it. No monster, around 18 " being my guess, it made the morning that much more enjoyable. The only other thing of note was the fact that a few Siskin have now joined the Goldfinches feeding on the island Alders.

A superb little creature - it made my morning

Thursday 12 October 2017

Ideas in action?

Wednesday 11th October 2017

This is another post based upon dreams v's reality. As I started writing it's fast approaching 23.30 hrs, on Wednesday night, and I'm just about finished getting the tackle sorted out ready for another early start tomorrow. I have knocked up a small balsa bobbin which might give better bite registration than the light weight carp swingers that I was using on my previous session. I am only taking a single rod, thus no chance of getting distracted by those bloody carp. Perch, and only perch, will be my target species, although a decent Ide wouldn't go amiss! These club water perch are quite a strange angling project, for me. I have yet to, actually, see a two pounder from these venues, yet the club members speak of fish in the four pounds plus bracket. I realize that the majority of anglers within the club are match anglers, thus big fish are not something which they have any regular experience of gauging. I don't know how many individual fish ever get weighed in a match situation - it's all about total weight as far as I'm aware. So my challenge is to explore the void which exists between fact and fiction - do four pound plus perch actually exist in these club venues? (I'd be overjoyed with a three!)

Thursday 12th October 2017

Well I'm back home after another silly o'clock start at the club fishery. I would have liked to have got this post finished before I left for work but events conspired against me and having custody of our grandson, Harry, took priority. I really enjoyed myself this morning, although conditions were a little too bright for perch fishing - in my opinion. I had one bite, which I missed, that might have been a perch; all the other action came from carp and ide. Very pleased with how my little balsa bobbin performed, so now I will be tweaking my bait presentation in order to optimize my bite to fish landed ratio.
My latest bobbin - much smaller than a 2 p coin.
I had started to play around with a permanent marker, so as to make
it look like a wasp. I will complete the job before my next outing
The lovely dawn was equaled by the angling. It was a pleasure to be outside getting my string pulled! A couple of carp, an F1 hybrid and an ide all found their way into my landing net whilst a larger carp did me right over. With my 3 lbs hook link and size 10 barbless hook I didn't stand a chance of stopping it going wherever it wanted - there was only ever one winner in that encounter and it wasn't me!

My bait was positioned just off the end of the reeds, two rod lengths out?
If you look closely the bobbin can been seen hanging directly under the bite alarm.
This presentation allowed fish to take at least 18 " of line before feeling any
resistance - I was very pleased with my indication if not the lack of perch.
There was still one Ring Ouzel, in the same hedgerow, along with a handful of Redwing, Song Thrush and Chiffchaffs. A lone Goldcrest put in a brief appearance and several small groups of Skylarks passed overhead. It was a very pleasant way to waste a few hours, even if the perch hadn't read the script!

Tuesday 10 October 2017

A promising start

Out at 04.45 hrs headed for a short session at the larger club fishery. Perch were my target species, although I did take the carp kit along as a back-up. As it turned out I shouldn't have bothered; not a twitch in three hours. The perch gear consisted of my 1 lb 2 oz t/c Tring Tench Rod, an ABU 44X reel loaded with 4 lbs b.s. line, a small link ledger and a 3 lbs hook link finished with a, prawn baited, size 8 "Widegape". An Optonic alarm and a light swinger provided my bite indication which, after missing three sitters, obviously needs some fine tuning. However, I did manage to land one Perch of 1 lb 12 oz, so happy enough with my first attempt at a morning session.  Back home by 09.15 hrs in order to grab a couple of hours kip before getting ready for a late shift - what joy!

Plenty to think about before I am able to get back for another early morning session.
Happy enough with the Optonics, it's my home-made swingers which need some tweaking.
Bait wise, I'd be a fool not to stick with prawns but, surely worms must be worth a go?
Plenty of bird life to keep me entertained whilst I awaited the attentions of my quarry. Two Ring Ouzels were feeding on the berry laden Hawthorns of the southern bank, accompanied by a Redwing, several Song Thrush and good numbers of Blackbirds. A Raven croaked its' way overhead, flying towards Richborough and Pegwell beyond. Lots of Chiffchaffs actively feeding, in the surrounding shrubs and hedgerows, with a decent charm of Goldfinches dropping into the Alders which grow on the islands in the pond. All in all, a very pleasant session with much to reward the effort of that silly o'clock start!

Monday 9 October 2017


Looking out over the surrounding farmland, beyond the garden boundary, was with much anticipation early this morning. Coffee made, I stepped into the garden armed with binos and camera kit, fully expecting it to be a fair morning for bird movement. A few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were around the gardens and there had been an arrival of "continental" Blackbirds and a few Song Thrushes overnight.

By 08.30 hrs it was apparent that my high hopes were destined for disappointment. A handful of Chaffinches dropped into the conifers to the south of us, one male uttering a few phrases of sub-song before the were once again on their way south/south west. The best of the rest were five Rooks north and two Sparrowhawks south; so much for autumnal vis mig!

I contented myself playing around with the macro kit and getting a few shots of the Ivy Bees which are feeding around our decking area. I'd managed a few shots and had become distracted by a Common Carder Bee when my attention was drawn to a movement in the shadows. A sinister looking Ichneumon wasp sp. was creeping about in the gloom and I managed to rattle off just four shots before it flew. Not at all sure if it is an Ichneumon, although I have no idea what else it could be?
One more Song Thrush pitched down in our neighbours apple tree and that was about it for the morning.

Sunday 8 October 2017

So what's been happening?

Apart from having to negotiate our way through the horrendous mire, that is red tape and bullshit bureaucracy, so that we can get a care package together for Bev's parents, there has been quite a bit of bird news from around Newlands and beyond. The first Whinchat, of the year, was present on 9th Sept, thus the day before we left for Kefalonia. Since getting back there has been a steady trickle of birds moving through the area. Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Goldcrests have accounted for the majority of sightings but, a Garden Warbler lingered for two days 28/29th Sept and constitutes my latest patch record by some margin. Odd Common Whitethroat sightings might just be a lingering individual rather than multiple records, they've all been in the same area of my garden. Swallows and House Martins have been seen erratically, passing through in dribs and drabs with no stand out counts as yet. Meadow Pipits are a regular early morning event, although probably decked in the cauliflower fields and moving between feeding areas rather than purposeful migrants. The first Redwings were heard in the bright sunshine of the afternoon of 6th Oct, not typical conditions for records here.
I must make a shameful confession - I saw my first Wheatear of 2017 yesterday, 7th, at our club fishery. A trully woeful state of affairs, I've recorded Bee-eater, Wryneck and Golden Oriole before seeing one of the most iconic migrants to pass through our region - must try harder in 2018.

A Grey Heron, in the gloom, being welcomed by a
young Black-headed Gull - NOT!

A very pleasant fishery at which to pass a few hours and catch a few fish
And so on to the angling stuff. The local club waters have provided, much appreciated, rest-bite from the rigours of everyday life. Carp have provided some fantastic sport, using a number of tactics, and I have now taken four doubles, from the largest puddle, with a top weight of 13 lbs 2 oz. The Ide continue to fascinate me. I'm catching them on a variety of methods, although not intentionally targeting the species. A future project is to specifically set out to discover a method which will enable me to get the most from these fishy aliens. Yesterday afternoon/evening I was able to spend a prolonged session (well Strictly was on!) and ended with six carp, an 2 lbs 2 oz Ide and two perch (1 lb 8 oz & 1 lb 14 oz) - nice!

Ide - 2 lbs 2 oz

Perch of 1 lb 14 oz - my best, so far, from this venue.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Esox await

The year of 2017 has, thus far, been a struggle from an angling perspective. Outside influences have impacted upon my ability to get onto the bank with monotonous regularity. Absolutely nothing I could have done to alter the situation, therefore I accept my lack of results as a direct consequence - such is life! On Sunday, we were able to move Bev's parents back into their Herne Bay flat and, as a result, our bungalow has returned to something close to normality. All of a sudden the Social Services have been galvanized into action and the wheels are now in motion to re-assess the needs of this elderly, law abiding, tax paying, couple, who have contributed to the coffers for their entire working lives! How screwed up is our system when, newly arrived, non nationals are given priority over those whose taxes have been used to fund the provision of this service?  I'll end it here for fear of being labelled a racist. Only in, politically correct, England (Not Wales, Scotland or Ireland) is it considered likely to cause offense by being proud of your birth place or flying the flag of St. George!

I'm English and 100%  proud of that fact.
What a pity our politicians have all the backbone of a
"Jelly-baby" and wilt at the first sign of p/c confrontation.
The nights are drawing in and there's a distinct chill in the early morning air, pike time is now upon us. No targets set, as yet, I just fancy a winter of seeing what I can do locally? I have a new section of the RMC which seems to be ticking all the right boxes. It's certainly well off the beaten track but, does it hold any decent pike? If neglect is a factor in pike location, then this venue has it in abundance - I'll have to wait and see what turns up. Knowing how well the canal responds to cold conditions, it will be a month, or so, before I bother travelling all that way. In the mean time there are the drains of the East Kent marshes, The Stour and one of our, two, club lakes to explore. Realistically, it is the river that has the greatest potential to turn up a decent fish, but those drains still have that mystique which provides the element which makes my angling so much more of an adventure. The club water has all the usual vibe which is associated with match anglers encountering anything heavier than a "skimmer" bream. Pike take on dimensions of Blue Marlin when a pole angler recalls how he had a pike snatch a roach from his hook. "It was like a crocodile!" The reality being a fish in the six to eight pound bracket in the majority of situations. A double would be a nice result under these circumstances and, as such, a worthy mini project, perhaps?

18th January 1988 - Wilstone Reservoir
22 lbs 2 oz of Tring pleasure.
One like this over the coming winter will do very nicely.
Perch are another species about which I still have much to learn. They are certainly present in our club fisheries and also in the RMC, so my challenge will be as much based on location (why are they here but not there?) as the methods required to actually catch the stripey bleeders. This is one species that I feel a new PB is a very achievable target given a concerted effort. Since 2011, I have been fortunate to have seen Benno, Luke and Simon all take perch in excess of 3 lbs - my turn next?

Monday 2 October 2017

A mountain high

Craig is a proto-type engineer for Land Rover Jaguar and spends lengthy periods working (?) in Dubai or Sweden; sometimes even in England whilst development testing new bits for these vehicles.  As a bi-product of this employment he is also a very capable and confident driver. Generally I am not a good passenger, but sitting in a car being driven by this guy was easy. All fortnight he had been speaking about taking me up to the peak of Mt Ainos. From the Saoulas complex we could look straight up to the highest point of Kefalonia, where there is a group of telecommunication masts and, therefore, a road to get the service vehicles/crews up to them.

Looking up from the Saoulas poolside it is just possible to pick out the masts on the peak of Mt. Ainos
A couple of years ago I had a thought, I would climb it - what a prick! The summit is 200 m higher than Ben Nevis and would entail some very serious climbing techniques if it were to be successful. I went off, headed ever upwards, and never got a quarter of the way before acknowledging the futility of my effort. Thus when Craig offered a lift, both Pauline and I jumped at the chance to accompany him to the dizzy heights. Our partners, Bev, Carrie Anne and Leon opted for lounging besides the pool and soaking up the rays - bloody wimps!

Looking down towards Argostoli
The wonder of digital! Looking down, from the masts, at Saoulas - the pool is in the centre of the shot.
 Bev, Carrie-Anne and Leon are on the sun loungers at the top left of the image
In a straight line it is probably a couple of miles, or so, yet in the car it took us over an hour! But what a drive, passing through stunningly rugged terrain, along mile upon mile of meandering mountain tracks (they actually pass as roads on Kefalonia). It was a fantastic experience; Pauline and I running out of superlatives to describe the unfolding scenery as we progressed steadily upwards. It was Thursday 21st September; the first day that the road had been re-opened after the fires and, as such, the number of visitors was much higher than we'd anticipated. Can't say it detracted from my enjoyment, although it might have had some negative impact on the natural history we were to encounter. Down at Lourdas it was in the mid 30's, up on the mountain it was decidedly chilly, you might even say cold, with a brisk wind doing nothing to help.

Pauline - suitably dressed for the mountain peak?

Craig similarly attired
We wandered around for while, just absorbing the atmosphere and the spectacular vistas. A truly wonderful experience that I enjoyed with two very dear friends. Two cameras on the go and a pair of bins around my neck, it was a case of what do I do next? It was all very strange that there were more birds up on the peak than I'd seen anywhere else on the island in 2017. Very limited in variety, Coal Tit, Firecrest and Raven, I did at least manage to get a few birdie images. On our descent I glimpsed a huge raptor, very briefly through a gap in the pine forest. An eagle ? My gut feeling is a vulture, but it's not important, as it was over before it began and therefore just one of those things that makes life what it is.

"Continental" Coal Tit

Firecrest - the best I could manage
I've hardly scratched the surface of this beautiful island and am unable to put into words the 2017 holiday experience and how much it meant to Bev and I. My parting image is a sunset, taken from St. George's Castle (actually from a restaurant very close to it) where we'd gone to celebrate Leon & Pauline's 20th anniversary - special memories, of special people and times, indeed.

Truly stunning - magical memories - "Yamass malakas" (It will only make sense if you were there!)