Who am I?

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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 April 2018

Kilchurn 2018 - the downer

I'll get this started by being totally honest. I've no claim to having been an angel in my angling past and am not looking to single out specific individuals with this post. I write this, blog offering,  purely because I am frustrated by a situation which has no place in pike fishing 2018. English pike anglers travelling up to the Scottish lochs, during the close season, can be traced back to Dick Walker, Fred Buller, the Taylor brothers and probably well before. I have no idea if Alfred Jardine (1828 - 1910) ever ventured north of the border? Yet the agricultural rigs and techniques, still on display in 2018, would not have been out of place during his lifetime, over a century and a half ago. These magnificent pike are still being "stitched up" with hooks and rigs which belong in the history books. What's happened to all that superb work, done by the Pike Anglers Club, to promote the safe return of these apex predators to the Scottish lochs? Have the English pike anglers not been able to pass on the knowledge of developments in tackle and techniques to the locals?

Open bale arm - 50 lbs b.s. braided line and a 95 decibel (ok - it's a bit OTT) back-biter alarm.
The basic bite registration set-up for any, dead bait, pike fishing situation?
I'm totally bemused by the basic approach to pike fishing, with dead baits, as used by the Scottish lads. It appears that carp angling has a far bigger influence on tackle choice, and techniques, than anything pike orientated. Why rod pods, front runner alarms and swingers? Bite indication is pitiful, given this combination. Add to the mix, prehistoric hook sizes, monofilament line, cheap swivels, light leads, single strand wire traces and all the ingredients for a dead pike are present in depressingly copious examples. I've yet to meet a Scottish angler who uses "back-biter" style alarms and very few who choose braid over mono. These are the mainstay of twenty-first century pike angling, within my experience, and are a no-brainer whenever I start out with a pike project. I admit that I'd change over to front runners with monkeys, on needles, if a switch to centre-pins, was considered an option? Up on the banks of Loch Awe it is bait runners all the way. Open bale arms? Not a chance. I didn't record the exact number, but it was a significant percentage, of the pike we caught which required other hooks to be removed from the stomachs of our catches. Not particularly pleasant, but very doable when shown how to perform the task via the very basic effort of joining the Pike Anglers Club. But why should this be? Many of the pike were under six pounds and couldn't have possibly "snapped" the angler's line. Therefore, I assume (the mother of all f*ck ups!) that these pike have been released after the trace has been cut because the captor was incapable of performing the simple unhooking techniques as taught by the PAC. Deep hooked pike being a symptom of pathetic bite indication, and so the cycle goes on. Scottish pike fishing is still in the Stone Age! Please don't get me wrong; there are some exceptionally talented, and forward thinking, pike anglers in Scotland, but they are in a minority, hampered by the burden of those other individuals who care nothing for pike welfare.

"Bonnie Scotland" - I totally concur with that sentiment.
These two guys are symptomatic of the total lack of respect for other anglers. "we've got a boat - go where we like!"
They are not unique - there were plenty of other examples, just the light conditions for photography weren't so good!
So if it's you don't get too offended - I've photos of your faces, you were that close!
Now on to my pet hate! The complete lack of angling etiquette by selfish c*nts in boats! Kilchurn Bay is a private fishery, controlled (owned?) by Kenny & Krissy Gray. That they make their living from the anglers who visit the site is, therefore, why they are so passionate about the state of the banks and the respect of the wildlife that share the environment. As a bank angler, I make a positive contribution, via my wallet, to the success of the bay as a fishery. There is an, unwritten, rule that boats are not allowed into the bay, as they pay zilch for the privilege of being there. Means jack shit to the arrogant wankers who have all the gear - but no idea! With twenty six miles of Loch Awe to fish in, why attempt to cast a bait in an area where there are bank anglers fishing? This is not a recent manifestation, we've had to put up with these antics since returning to the loch in 2011. It'd have been quite something to see how "Cuddles" and "The Mitch's" would have dealt with such situations way back in 1986?

 Alan Gray, second left, enjoying a social "light ale" during our 2011 visit - happy days!
To get myself back onto a more even keel, I feel that I should make comment about the passing of Alan Gray, Kenny's uncle, who was such a key part of our early sessions at Kilchurn. When I spoke with Krissy, it was about the good times, the laughter and stories from a man who didn't drink! Soon got the hang of it when he wasn't paying - fantastic memories - sleep well old mate!


  1. I feel your pain brother!

    Was it not Jim Gibbinson that stated, "Pike thrive on neglect"?... how very true!... I'll refrain from jumping onto me soap-box here via "comment" Dyl, I'd only be preaching to the converted.

    I'm afraid the biggest threat to our old friend Esox Lucious is without a shadow of doubt, irresponsible Pike "Anglers"!... they make my piss boil! Despite all the hard work PAC has done over the last 40 years, and with a wealth of information freely available to any would be Pike Angler at their fingertips, it has been, and always will be, an endless task to educate the ill-informed/irresponsible, all in the name of Pike welfare. Make no mistake, it's not just "Noddies" that pose a threat either! Experienced Pike "Anglers" can be just as bad, if fact, worse in some respects! E.g. I still cringe to this day when you see the likes of John Wilson freelining a couple of baits from the back of a boat; the only form of bite indication, via a fucking loop of line under a rubber band! Seriously, just how many deep-hooked (dead) Pike has that man been responsible for? Either directly or indirectly, via the many thousands of Anglers that watched his TV programmes and adopted the same method – after all, he’s an "expert", isn’t he? (WTF)


    1. Andy,
      I'm completely at a loss to understand why such barbaric tactics are still in use within the UK fishery network. Forty years of the PAC and nothing has changed at one of the most prestigious/prolific pike fisheries in Scotland, yet modern carp angling tackle and bite indication technology have been promoted to the "normal practice" for this species. The PAC has, therefore, failed dismally in this modern era of information exchange and the promotion of pike welfare beyond the sphere of the anglers who are already on board.
      As for "experts" promoting a negative approach to pike angling techniques; then I need look no further than an article by (The Thinking Angler) John Bailey where he suggested that free-lined live baits were a deadly method. Correct, but for all the wrong reasons. I well remember John Roberts (RIP) getting extremely animated by this publication - setting back the PAC to the very beginning being his slant on the situation and robustly defended by his written reply to Angler's Mail.

      I'll keep an eye on the Canterbury/Thanet PAC website and try to get across for a visit and catch up very soon (Benno will probably tag along?)

      All the best & Tight Lines - Dyl

  2. I can see why you are upset Dyl. You have made the effort to be as efficient in the welfare of your catches as in the process of the catches themselves.
    However, for many anglers brought up on the basics, there’s no inclination to go in search of the ‘modern way’, if what they are doing already seems to work, albeit crudely.
    Yes, it’s ignorance. And in this case a difficult situation to resolve. It’s bad enough for the errant jockstraps to be told they are moron anglers. It’s even worse than that, to be told so by a Sassenach.
    I would normally say we have to make allowances for different ways of angling which aren’t actually illegal, but evidence seems to indicate that some modern ways of angling have ventured into an area which borders on bigotry.
    A neighbour of mine is a carp fanatic and I asked him about the way of the ‘lost leads’ and unhooking mats etc. He elaborated on the subject. Hmm. I doubt if I’ll be carp fishing any time soon then. Too risky.
    I don’t mean to harm fish, but being taken to task for not conforming to some special code for which deviations from, are heavily punished isn’t my idea of fun.
    Yes, fish care is important but let’s not get too carried away. Though as you know, we do have to be a lot more careful with pike.
    To put into context the modern carp man’s obsession with fish treatment, I asked the lad if he knew the story surrounding Dick Walkers investigation of Bob Richard’s record carp from Redmire?
    He hadn’t. Well, when Dick went to the guys house, he was shown the carcass of the fish where it had been dumped on the coal heap. Shocked or what?
    It of course was a different world. The guys weren’t long out of a war where they may have seen some real horrors.
    What was a few fish?

    1. Ric,
      Getting upset is a bit far fetched - frustrated is far more the reality. That such tackle is still being used (thus marketed) for pike fishing in UK fisheries is mind boggling. Carp angling, even in Scotland, has moved a million miles from the par-boiled potatoes, yet pike fishing remains in Alfred Jardine territory. I know that I'm beating my head against a brick wall, but at least I've voiced my opinions, despite having no chance of influencing any change?
      Carp faggots? Who gives a toss what these fashionista clones think - I fish for fun not conformity - Dyl