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!


Saturday 13 January 2018

Favourites - revisited

Something incredibly humbling about all this blogging stuff. Out there in cyber space is the rambling jumble of thoughts that make up my archive of "Of Esox & Observations" posts; nearly nine hundred offerings on subjects many and varied. One of the most rewarding aspects of this activity is when what you write triggers others to pass comment on your work. Unless it's particularly odious and spiteful, I am happy to publish the thoughts of others, no matter how different to mine. All very healthy within a world of free speech. Every now and again something is posted which makes me realise just how mad this whole caper is - a comment about something I wrote three years ago, something I'd long forgotten I'd posted!

Such an event has happened today and I found myself delving back to a post of February 2015 in order to reacquaint myself with the writing, and photos, that had been the catalyst to the comment.
Wow, how much has changed in just three years? Favourite was written during the doldrums of some dreary weather and inspired by reading John Everard's Barbel chapter in "The Big Fish Scene". To re-visit the topic today has to have a very different slant. Is it possible to up-date the original, probably not? So here's my 2018 offering -warts "n" all! John's observation that "the favourite species was the one currently being pursued" is as relevant today as it was in 1979!


Absolutely no way that I could claim anything less than this magnificent species to be number one on my angling agenda, however set? For more than forty years this apex predator has been part of why I go fishing. I can make no guess at how many of these superb creatures have graced my landing net, but it will be many thousands! Once upon a time big was beautiful, not so today, I just love the challenge and un-blinking stare of a pike on the bank. Man, I've been very lucky!


A bittersweet experience which I have to acknowledge as being successful despite, never once, feeling like I'd learned anything? For two seasons, on the Kentish Stour, these fish provided the most extreme test of my angling nous. I smashed my PB and caught some wondrous fish, yet can't derive the pleasure I should, because I don't know why I caught them ? To have experienced such trials has to place these fish right up there at the top of the pile! In the background is my apprenticeship under the guidance of Fred Crouch - surely I couldn't have been that unreceptive?  Did I really learn nothing whilst under Fred's guidance? I find it amazing that I have experienced such success without once feeling that I deserved it. I'm probably being hyper-critical, but barbel have such an important role, within my angling journey, that I feel I've let myself down somewhere along the line. I take great pleasure from the fact that Benno was part of this adventure and he also caught some magnificent fish. Maybe that was Fred's influence? It made me a very proud man to place the net under his PB barbel.

This is not Benno's PB - a Kentish Stour barbel all the same and, as such, very a special fish.


What's to say? When I stopped speccy hunting, in 1993, fishing for perch was a waste of time. The UK population being decimated by some devastating disease and any perch, over a pound, being covered in sores and suffering extensive fin rot. To have the chance, not only to catch perch, but very big and healthy perch, is a revelation. I still await my first three - but I've witnessed a few and they are magnificent fish. At some time in the, not too distant, future I hope to spend a prolonged period targeting this species.


In the year of "Our Lord" 2018, there are catfish in excess of 100 lbs swimming in the waters of UK fisheries. Not something I find particularly pleasing, but a fact of life in modern Britain. That I allowed myself to get swept up on a whim, by Luke and Benno, shows that these fish still have a place in my heart. I didn't catch one, but the boys did and I was there - special times!

EEL (Anguilla anguilla)

Never did I think that I would spend a moment, of my life, writing about the merits of eel fishing? Just goes to demonstrate never say never! That winter project of 2015/16 provided the challenge and, ultimate, reward which I have never previously experienced. Eels had (have) always been a pest. Learning of their "global demise" was trigger to that project and under-pinned the satisfaction at my successful conclusion. March 12th 2016 is a date which will remain etched in my soul - a job done!


I'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that that this species played any part in my angling - yet the accidental capture of a single fish, whilst perch fishing, blew me away. Transported back in time to the banks of Wilstone Reservior; yet to see an ugly one!


How things have changed over three short years? The species which I hold totally responsible for the demise of freshwater angling, within the UK, but now find myself caught up in the most engrossing project. Was it the gift of a B James & Son Mk IV split cane Dick Walker carp rod, or the fact that I found that carp could be caught from wild venues away from the mainstream? Probably a combination of the two? I now find myself embarked on a mission to catch a thirty, using sixty year old sticks and I'm absolutely loving it. I've already caught more carp than I had when I spent  time in 1983/4 chasing the fish of Stanborough Lake, in Welwyn Garden City. Having the freedom to pursue my dreams at very intimate and un-fished venues, within the crowded SE is rewarding enough. When I finally achieve my target, and I will, carp will very firmly be established as my favourite species - for a short while.

To have been able to use my angling skills, as developed over a lifetime, to outwit such stunning creatures has been extremely fulfilling. That these same fish are magnificent to behold, like carved mahogany, ensures that I will never fail to be happy whenever I manage to put one on the bank. Having taken that amount of effort to catch, under no circumstances do these fish not deserve a visit to a weigh sling in order to be correctly recorded (for my own records!) Guesstimation has no part in my angling.


  1. Replies
    1. BB - they are a joy to behold. I think it was Gavin Haig who used the mahogany reference when I originally posted the photo in July 2015.
      Hoping all is well with you and yours - Dyl

  2. That's a great header photo Dyl. The old master showing the youngster how it's done.

    1. Thanks Derek, it's a photo we took to accompany an article for Freshwater Informer. I stumbled across it as I was looking for some images to accompany this latest post and though "that might work?" I'm pleased with it. All the best - Dyl

  3. Dyl, my own angling ventures were inversely proportional to what the masses were doing. I was told on one venue that the carp were easy to catch, so I fished for eels. When Wilstone was being hammered for Bream by all and sundry, I was on Startops fishing for Roach - alone.
    Claydon Lakes for Wels. Hmm! When to secure a pitch meant a race with other guys plus an argument or three at the end of it, that was me out!
    I grew up learning my fishing in deserted spots so tend to go for the unwanted and neglected species. Apart from that I find physically large heavy fish a bit of a handful. I'll leave those for others, along with the competition.
    You mention Perch. My best was just over 3lb's but I had a ton plus of 2's to go with with the Roach. I'm sorting the rods out again. I went to Tring for a look back in September and, despite ideal conditions, there was just three guys carp fishing, on the entire complex. I'm guessing that no one has bothered much with 2lb hooklinks and 18 hooks lately.
    No idea what has been happening there. I'll be fishing blind - so in my element.

    1. Ric, I take it that you and your good lady are back home ? Claydon in the mid-80's was absolute anarchy and I loved it! Knowing that I could give Maddocks and Baldock constant stick was worth it on its' own. Catching loads of fish, whilst on the piss and generally making a nuisance of myself (aided by some very "big" mates!) just made it even more difficult for other, serious, specimen hunters to take. Great memories! As for Tring, and Wilstone in particular, Simon has recently started to visit and reports no-one else fishing. I have got to travel up there in the near future and might just chuck the pike gear in the car and have a morning session. Startops and Marsworth are now little better than commercial carp puddles - 2 lbs hooklinks and size 18 hooks - no I don't think so!

      Take care - Dyl