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!


Thursday 16 November 2017

I'm on a bit of a roll - stick with it!

"Blogland" is a fantastic place to inhabit; to be part of. Kindred spirits collide in cyber space and associations are formed with complete strangers, from places we've never been, yet know intimately through the postings of these virtual diarists. I now have friends whom I've never met, yet exchange views and comments regularly via this network. One big benefit of being part of this community is the ability to draw inspiration from the writing of fellow bloggers or from those other contributors who are moved to pass comment following something we've posted. It's a very fertile place, if you've the mind to search around.
I've been doing just this and stumbled across a post which was an advert for this bloggers book, "A year chasing big fish" or something along those lines. I won't offer a link, or name the guy, because I have no reason to promote such things. I had a little peruse of the site and checked out a list of PB's that had been proudly displayed, alongside a gallery of digital images. A very nice blog, well presented, but it didn't work for me. Why? Because, basically, the angler hadn't caught many (other than carp) "big fish"! And a year is a very claustrophobic timescale. My angling isn't solely about such captures, as important as they are, it's also about a lifetime's interaction with people and the enjoyment of places. That there's a pleasure to be gained from a plan coming to fruition is beyond doubt, however the frustrations and disappointment when things don't go your way is also part of the journey. The incredible high when that special fish is finally within the folds of the landing net and you are reduced to an adrenaline induced, gibbering, wreck is what keeps us coming back for more! Only a small percentage of anglers will understand this viewpoint - the vast majority, of which, being on the wrong side of fifty; at a guess?
Is it really possible to recall a lifetime's "big fish" angling highlights in a single blog offering? Probably not unless I take several weeks, to produce it, going back over my angling archives. Therefore I am going to give it a go; as a one off - might get messy? What species are included is purely arbitrary, they're the ones I have been successful in capturing unsurprisingly. That they span a period stretching back over four decades is probably the best indication of my journey and my belief that angling isn't a hobby, it's a way of life.

It is impossible to remove this fantastic species from my angling - their pursuit being my entry into specimen hunting. 1981, on the banks of Wilstone Reservoir, the very start of my apprenticeship, although I'd caught decent fish in the past. The anglers that crossed my path were at the top of their game and extremely generous in their advice. My confidence grew from the fact that these guys were happy to offer advice - I'd become accepted within the clique? Looking back, I was probably such a twat that I posed no threat on their own reputations as catchers of "big fish". It didn't take long for this to change. I learnt quickly and soon became very proficient at extracting tench from this venue. In the thirteen years that I was a member, over one hundred tench over 7 lbs made it into my landing net. The most prolific and happiest days of my early angling efforts. The members of The Tring Syndicate reading like a "who's who" of the very best speccy hunters of that period. It was a very special time, and place, to be part of - I'm very lucky to have been there.

Wilstone Reservoir in the 1980's - I was there!


They're the species I'd joined Tring for; this reservoir complex having a history of producing "doubles" with monotonous regularity since the 1930's. I never came close, all the time I was at the complex, although witnessed a fair few for other members. The largest being a 13 lbs 12 oz for Alan Wilson, from Startops. I had to traverse the county border, into Bedfordshire, in order to get that "double" I so desired. One crazy night, in 1992, saw me land four Bream for 39 lbs - an 11 lbs 2 oz fish being the PB I'd sought for all those years.

Maggots, not boilies, were the downfall of this magnificent bream. I caught by design - not accident!


The mid-80's and there is nowhere else I'd rather have been. Kevin Maddocks and Bob Baldock (God rest his soul) were on a mission to launch The Catfish Conservation Group. What they hadn't figured on was the fact that Cuddles, Sye, Me and The Mitch's were also fishing at Claydon during that same period. We weren't putting up with too much of their crap! The period is recalled with great fondness, the fishing was fantastic and the personalities immense - happy days and never to be equaled or repeated!

Benno with a 21 lbs plus cat from Claydon Middle Lake - 1992


The species which provides the name for my blog, the one that, to this day, is able to conjour some of the most intense memories from my school days. A small jack, caught on a live roach fished under a Fishing Gazette bung, was my introduction into a world of marvel. I'd caught plenty of decent pike before that fateful encounter with, a very young, Eddie Turner. His input was to elevate my pike angling to something which I'd never have achieved without it. He, along with Vic Gibson and Billy Hancock, showed me a direction that I'd completely no idea existed. Just to be able to call these guys mates is more than enough for me - I've been a very fortunate man to have enjoyed such company.

When everything comes right - Wilstone 1987


Kevin Maddocks has already been mentioned, but Duncan Kay, Rod Hutchinson, Richie Mc Donald, Roger Smith, Bob Jones and Rob Maylin had also played a major role in my discovery of these fantastic fish and the associated thrill of hooking a big one!  I  count myself very fortunate to have avoided the monumental rise to dominance that carp angling has exerted over all other aspects of freshwater angling, within the UK. My memories are of simple times and fantastic fish - thanks Kevin, for fucking it all up!

Benno goes close - 19 lbs 14 oz of commercial carp, on a zig bug!


There has been a lot of water under the bridge since I last cast a bait in the hope of catching a Zed. The 1980's, out on the Fens was a period of discovery, of madness, copious amounts of light ale and hilarity. The fishing was excellent and matched the company. Big Les Dudley is central to my recollections. Larger than life, he remains key to all that was great about that time during my life.

Cuddles with a Fenland Zed - Great times and sadly missed


I'd have nothing to say if Benno hadn't been part of this story, however, long before he was born there was a guy called Fred Crouch who was to provide the spark. Barbel are, without doubt, one of the finest challenges which face any UK angler. That I can recall my apprenticeship, under the guidance of Mr Crouch is something of which I am very proud. As I've already said, I'm a very lucky man to have made acquaintance with so many characters, within this hobby. My love of centre-pins and compound taper Avon rods is all directly attributable to this wonderful man. The fish that have come my way, since Ben and I started to fish The Stour would make Fred very happy, I hope?

The very essence of angling. A magnificent River Stour Barbel caught by design - but I have no idea how?

I have absolutely no idea if this post will work for others - it's taken far too long, in preparation, to change it now!


  1. Certainly not a single species list there Dyl. Good memories

    1. Thanks BB - I have to say that my life is so much better because of the interaction with so many other, like minded, individuals.
      I've been very blessed in this respect - Dyl