Who am I?

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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. 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!

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Thursday, 31 December 2020

Looking beyond January 1st

 For Bev and I 2020 is a year we'll be happy to put behind us. Grateful to have come through the trials and tribulations, strengthened as a couple, in decent nick both physically and mentally. I'm now fairly sure that 2021 will be my final year of work, yet haven't made a commitment thus far. Going to work because I want to, as opposed to "have to" is a very nice situation to be in, Quite obviously money is a factor but we'd be comfortable, although certainly not rich, if I packed it in tomorrow? No, for me, money doesn't come into the equation. What I enjoy is the discipline of regular shift patterns and the undeniable fun derived from factory floor banter and camaraderie. Working for a decent employer counts for a lot; having a departmental management team who actually know about dealing with people, rather than spreadsheet data, is a massive influence in my continuing to attend the workplace. Should the day dawn and I've had enough? I'll walk away - simple as that.


A new dawn?

So as the new year draws ever closer what am I hoping for? Firstly, along with the vast majority of sane individuals, the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine would be a nice starting point. Getting the population back to some form of normality has to be the overriding desire for everyone in the UK (& beyond) I guess? From a far more selfish point of view, there's some more pike to catch. I'd already stated that I'd targeted a wild twenty and twenty doubles for the 20/21 season. With ten weeks of this challenge still remaining and only nine more doubles required I had a scan back through my old diaries and discovered that in my best season (1986/7) I managed three twenties which has set me thinking. Could it just be possible to do it again? I have the venue and the time, it all depends upon the weather, water conditions and the pike gods smiling? 

The garden hedgehog caper is an open book as I continue to be amazed at the activity levels which are way beyond anything I thought possible. That hedgehogs are active in December is a concept that I'd never considered, as all the literature suggests that they hibernate. Hedgehogs have been seen every night this month and I am confident that I'll secure a photo of one, at the feeding station, on January 1st. I find it as exciting as was my winter eel challenge, just doing something that very few have ever done before?

What else? Well there's a perch hunt in the offing with Benno and Luke keen to join in the project. As yet we have a few sketchy ideas for venues and tactics but, I want a three pounder and it won't be on a bloody artificial, a ned-rig or drop-shot set-up! Away from fishing, and wildlife in general, there's Kefalonia calling. Unable to say too much, purely because of the uncertainty caused by the Covid situation, we've some ideas being banded about, within the regular gang, which might lead to an adventure unlike anything I've ever experienced.

I'd like to finish by saying a huge thank-you to everyone who's visited my blog over this past year. Despite the obvious downside of the pandemic restrictions upon our personal freedoms, I have managed to achieve a level of output, and enthusiasm, which has been missing for a few years. I am humbled by your support and input.

  Stay safe, take care and have a great 2021 - Dylan

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Looking back at 2020

 No one, anywhere on the planet,  needs me to tell them what a crazy year 2020 has been?  A global pandemic, with all that it entails, would have been enough but, oh no, politicians also played a major role in the pandemonium that ensued. In the UK, our clown prince Bozo and his myriad followers were a piss poor excuse for a government yet, across the pond, the fake tanned loser demonstrated what a completely psychopathic nutcase he really is with his deranged efforts at dismantling the greatest democracy in the free world When viewed in this context I have to admit that my year hasn't been that bad!

January



I managed to secure a winter ticket on the local syndicate fishery and was happy enough just to turn up and fish for whatever species picked up my baits. Being guaranteed a season ticket, when next due, carp could wait until the weather improved. A cracking venue, all very intimate, with a nice bunch of guys as fellow members. What could possibly go wrong?

February



As the first wave of Covid-19 rampaged across Europe the reality of what was involved became ever more stark with the T/V news showing scenes of utter despair from with Italian hospital wards. Sadly, it was coming to a hospital near you within a very short period. I did manage to get a few trips down to the Stodmarsh NNR with both Emily and Harry, even grabbing a reasonable sequence of images of a Great White Egret on one occasion.

March



It all started to get very messy. Infection rates were on the rise with the corresponding loss of life as a direct result. Bozo dithered and delayed, but it was inevitable that a "national lockdown" would be required to control the spread of this deadly threat. Rishi Sunak announced a support package for those who were forced to use the furlough option as a means of getting through the lockdown. I, however, was deemed to be an essential worker, as a member of the chemical manufacturing sector, and the immediate effects weren't an issue. Life carried on, much as before, but no fishing allowed and birding restricted to what could be discovered locally. I must add, at this point, the huge debt owed to Steve Gale. For it was he who devised (based upon an idea from Italian birders) the "Laid back Garden Bird Challenge". Without his patience and skills, the BWKm0 snowball would never have gotten underway. What a brilliant way to bring together like-minded souls during this most uncertain of times. Folk from across the UK, and much further afield, signed up to the challenge and so began something very positive during this challenging first phase.

April



With the orderbooks empty, Fuji utilised the furlough scheme, but were generous enough to top up the shortfall from their own coffers. Over the next ten weeks, I spent seven on full pay whilst birding from the garden. You couldn't make it up! Three weeks at work for ten weeks money - an absolute no brainer! The weather was kind and the birds provided some superb entertainment. Each evening I'd click onto Steve's blog to see what had been spotted from various locations around the country and it was proving to be a revelation. Raptor passage over Thanet was a great source of interest, with my being able to add Rough-legged Buzzard to my own garden list late in the month. Common Buzzards were numerous and came in all variety of plumages, accompanied by Red Kites, a Marsh Harrier plus the usual Sparrowhawks and Kestrels. Just to add to my exploration of alternative garden wildlife opportunities, I started a hedgehog feeding station; embarking upon a fascinating journey of enjoyment and learning which has far surpassed anything I could have imagined.


May

Garden birding continued to demonstrate the amazing diversity of species to be seen when forced to watch from a specific spot. The camaraderie amongst those of us involved in Steve's challenge had a good feel about it. We were all in it together and making the most of a bad job. The obvious, personal, highlight, from this period, the Black Kite that I managed to identify, retrospectively, from images downloaded onto my laptop. Angling was, once again, allowed and I ventured down to the syndicate, but with little sense of direction or purpose. It was great to be back at the waterside, yet I needed a project and failed to concentrate my efforts as a consequence. 

June



Full time employment resumed, but with the cloud of redundancies on the horizon. I volunteered, thinking that it was better that the younger guys kept their jobs as I no longer had to worry about mortgages, kids and the like. Fishing continued to be a mish-mash of half baked ideas whilst, in the background, the deteriorating health of Bev's mum, Denise, was a huge cause for concern. Purely because of this situation, Bev and I continued to stay away from crowds not wanting to be responsible for Denise contracting Covid-19. One direct spin off from this stay at home mentality was the massive improvement in the appearance of the back garden. It looked good and I was really enjoying myself, much to my surprise.

July



The redundancy situation rumbled on with no clear purpose or communication which is very unlike Fuji under normal circumstances. With large numbers of the management/human resources working from home, those of us with questions were left in limbo. Away from work, it was nice to be able to spend some time with the grand-kids, yet I still couldn't find any inspiration to fire up a fishing challenge. Basically, I went to work, looked at hedgehogs and birds in the garden, caught a few eels, whilst awaiting a decision which would then allow me to plan a way forward.

August



Boom! Fuji finally arrive at a decision and it's absolute chaos. Seventeen people were removed from the payroll, yet volunteers weren't at the front of the queue. An absolute sham, the company used the exercise to get rid of those whom they'd failed to deal with using the disciplinary procedures specifically in place for such malingerers and piss taking abusers of the generous sick scheme. At the age of sixty-four years and eight months, I was told that I was far too valuable to be allowed to leave - "you what?" Thankfully I hadn't allowed myself to make plans based upon assumption and I carried on much as before. Away from work it was much the same, hedgehogs, garden birds and catching a few eels!

September



Denise's health was a major factor in our lives, with increasingly regular visits from the ambulance crews, district nurses and paramedics during the month, all of whom were telling us to prepare for the worse. I could do no more than be there to offer support and pick up the pieces as the clock ticked on. The autumn raptor passage got underway and I managed to get an image of a Common Buzzard which must go down as the photo of my year. Still no direction to my angling but with the pike season looming I started to make preparations.

October



I had holiday entitlement of nearly four weeks outstanding and was told that if unused, before 31st  December, they'd be lost. I'd set myself the target of another wild twenty before 14th March 2021 and got off to a reasonable start. By the end of the month I'd caught seven pike, from four different venues, best one tipping the scales at 14 lbs 6 oz. On the morning of the 25th Bev and I discovered her mum had passed away overnight and that our promise to allow her to die at home had been honoured. Horrible memories, but we came through it much stronger as a couple. 

November


With the cremation organised for Friday 13th, work wasn't much of a concern, for me, although the order levels were at an unprecedented high. Global demand for our products was triple that of normal and, as such, overtime was unlimited. I didn't get involved until we'd drawn a line under our own issues. Sixty four hour weeks became the norm as I joined in with the bonanza on offer post redundancies? I still had a  couple of weeks holiday to take but, with work as it was, the company allowed me to transfer five days over to 2021, which I did. Those few days still to be taken allowed me to break up my shift pattern, and get a bait in the water mid week, with a fair return for the effort. Hedgehogs remained incredibly active and were to provide some nice distraction from the realities of the grieving process.

December


Got off to an absolute flyer, just a day before my sixty-fifth birthday and the pike fishing gods smiled upon my efforts. Fish of 22 lbs 6 oz & 19 lbs 5 oz were followed up, just a week later with three more doubles. Crazy, wonderful, quirky results which make the hobby what it is for me. With all my holiday taken, it was twelve straight days though to Christmas Eve. This festive holiday has been anything but, although Bev and I have dug out the Scrabble to engender a bit competitive spirit into proceedings. As I type, Bev is seven - five up in our best of twenty-five series which, we hope, will see us through to New Year's Eve?

So there you have it, my personal summary of the craziest year of our lives? I would like to end by thanking everyone who has visited, thus supported, my blog. It is very much appreciated. When all said and done, the real heroes of this year have been the frontline staff at our NHS hospitals, the ambulance crews, paramedics, district nurses, carers. school teachers. police officers, fire fighters, et al, who are at the very heart of the battle to control this dreadful virus. As Churchill once said "Never has so much been owed, by so many, to so few"



Saturday, 26 December 2020

Always look for the bright side

 Benno and I got out on the marsh for a few hours, pike fishing, this morning. My first session since 9th December and, as such, very enjoyable although I blanked! Be fair, with my recent run of good fortune I was due a blank and wasn't overly worried. It was just the getting out on the bank which was important given the insane amount of overtime I've been doing in the run up to the holiday break. Benno, on the other hand, had three bites, landing two nice pike, thus ensuring we had something to be positive about. A cracking morning spent chatting about all sorts of things and further enhanced when Luke, then Neil Davies, turned up to, socially distance, exchange seasons greetings and good humoured banter - all very welcome in these crazy times.

Top fish weighed 14 lbs and was taken at 07.20 hrs, thus the "night" shot.
The lower one tipped the scales at 8 lbs 15 oz and was a lovely looking fish

Now back home, sitting in my study as Storm Bella builds momentum, I've already seen both fox and hedgehog coming to the food placed in the garden specifically for this purpose. It's a privilege to be able to enjoy such close encounters with these wild creatures and something which the Covid fall-out has made me acutely aware of. Bev and I had to take presents over to my daughter, on Christmas Eve, and had to endure a hazardous journey caused by the backlog of lorries waiting to cross the Chanel. It took us over two hours to travel twelve miles and we were moaning! Hang on!!!! Those poor sods, driving the Lithuanian/Polish/Italian/Czech/etc.. registered vehicles wouldn't be spending Christmas at home, even if they made the ferry. Cheers Macron - not! What I'm attempting to put into words is that however crap we perceive our own situation you can guarantee that there are so many others far worse off. 



It's that time of year when us bloggers traditionally post a review of our highlights for the preceding twelve months, attempting to paint a glossy overview of the annual cycle. However, given the pandemic and all its' associated restrictions, it would seem that this year might be a write off? It's not so, 2020 has proven to be an exceptional year, for me and many others, purely because we've been forced to reassess what we'd previously taken for granted - the local wildlife. I'm hoping to get a post together shortly, which might help put a positive spin on, what has been, the most surreal twelve months of my entire life?

Friday, 25 December 2020

Dunnit

 It's fast approaching 23.00 hrs and I need to get some kip but  just time for a quick post before I retire for the night! My Christmas Day hedgehog photo is in the bag - complete with the new feeding dish my grand-kids gave me as a present, this morning! Even as I'm typing this, there is another hedgehog at the feeding station. Merry Christmas - pike fishing with Benno in the morning - night night!



"Old School" pike fishing - my slant

 I have spent an inordinate amount of time scrutinising various, pike related, offerings on Youtube. As a resource the information available, via this cyber platform, is absolutely incredible. However, I find myself completely out of touch with so much of what's on view because I have been pike fishing longer than the majority of contributors have been on this planet. Lures/artificials are very much in vogue, it would seem, although quite understandable from a commercial perspective. Live and dead bait techniques are also covered, but without the frills, purely because of the market forces now involved, Tesco sardines don't feature in the mix because they don't contribute to the coffers of Drennan, Fox & others. I quickly realised it was a complete sell out when Mick Brown (a pike angler of huge reputation) sold his soul to Shimano by singing the praises of a "Baitrunner", in a pike fishing context, over the open bale arm technique - everyone has their price, so it seems?


Open bale arm and an original ET Backbiter

So whilst I admit to being entertained by these Youtube offerings it is very rarely that I stumble across anything worthy of merit. My roots are firmly planted in an era when, actually, catching pike was more important than looking the part. Very much the polar opposite of modern angling and the fixation with brand labels and fashion statements. If I required a piece of kit, away from the mainstream, then I'd happily make it myself. Pike monkeys are one such item which are not, never have been, available in the tackle shops. The sensitivity allowed by their incorporation into my bite indication is, without doubt, a huge advantage. My youngest brother, Sye, is a dab hand at knocking up bits of kit which are off the commercial radar. Bait boats, specifically for dead baits, and, extremely loud, back-biter alarms are just two examples of his talents. Designed and built specifically to fulfil a purpose which we've identified, our Loch Awe adventures being the catalyst for many of these innovations. We had "deeper pro"-type technology way before the carp guys had cottoned on to this. Just like so many other ideas that modern anglers would like to think they'd "invented", the original concept will have been spawned during the incredibly fertile period, for specimen angling, post Bernard Venables and his Mr Crabtree cartoon strip.



How does this all fit in with my slant on "Old School" pike fishing? You've only got to look at my hair to know that I'm rather resistant to change yet, not so stuck in my ways as to deliberately ignore the huge advances in terminal tackle quality due to evolving technology. I suppose the "don't mend what ain't broken" mentality prevails in the most part. So, yes, it's a no brainer where line and hook reliability are concerned, but rods, reels, bank sticks and the like, who cares? Certainly not the pike! Modern trace wire is light years away from the single strand "Alasticum" material which was the only choice in the 1970's! The beginning of the 1980's saw the introduction, to us pike anglers, of seven strand "Marlin Steel" trace wire. It was a complete revelation and, for me, set the new bench mark. Technology, however, wasn't going to cease advancing the quest for ever more supple materials with which to produce pike traces and, as a direct result of fly fishing for these predators, has seen the emergence of  the Iron Claw "Authanic" wire (there may well be other brands - I don't know?) No crimps or "twiddling sticks" for this stuff, all that's needed is the ability to tie a three turn blood-knot and away you go. Madness! It's almost like using braid, opposed to traditional wire, and, as a result, my dead bait presentation moved up another notch. 




When they look like this size doesn't come into it!

Hook manufacturing has reached levels that I could only have dreamt of, way back in the early 1990's, yet sadly, the production of double hooks, for pike fishing, seems to have fallen out of favour. I am fortunate enough to still have a small stock of these hooks, but they won't last forever and I find myself scouring the internet seeking new suppliers. Now this is where Youtube has come up trumps. I haven't parted with hard earned money to prevent my viewing being littered with adverts but, what would you know, there is a product out there called Bondic which is a UV curing plastic glue that might just allow me to produce these items for myself? There's a tube on order and a blog post in the offing if I manage to create the desired, usable, hook pattern. You saw it here first!


The hook pattern that I'm hoping to be able to recreate

Didn't you say "old school" - "What's wrong with using trebles?" Well, to those of you who are relatively new to my ramblings, I ceased using trebles, and live baits, in the mid-80's. A long chat with Vic Bellars at a NASA, or PAC, conference was all it took to convince me of the barbaric nature of pike fishing with trebles. I suppose it helped that I was, back then, a member of the Luton PAC region under the leadership of Andy Windmill. It was Andy and Alan Beat, along with Vic, who were to offer alternatives to the hideous contraption which is the snap tackle. Sadly, Alfred Jardine would still see this hooking arrangement in use in 2020, despite his passing in 1910. Not all of the theories offered by Andy, Alan or Vic, have stood the test of time, but the removal of twin treble hooks from the equation has certainly stuck with me. What next? Circle hooks are definitely worth exploring as Benno & Luke can testify. I think what I'm trying to say is that although my bank side appearance has changed very little since the Tring days of the 80/90's what I'm now presenting in the water, thus what the pike encounters, is far removed from that period. Would I catch more pike if I embraced modern lure fishing? Quite possibly. Would I catch more "big" pike - I very much doubt it plus I wouldn't be able to get distracted by the wildlife which inhabits the venues I choose. Pike fishing my way. I do it because it suits me and is not a template which others need to follow in order to glean enjoyment from the same journey. There's so much more to my fishing than catching "big" fish, but without those targets I'd not be so passionate about my time spent, impatiently awaiting events, behind the rods. If you've made it this far, many thanks. All that remains is to wish everyone who has supported my blog, over the years, a very Merry Christmas and a safe, peaceful, Happy New Year - cheers!


2021 has to be better? 



Monday, 21 December 2020

Waste disposal

 The Thanet District Council have a hugely successful recycling strategy which requires households to segregate their food waste from cardboard and other recyclable materials. Happy to conform with these requirements, our food bin remains unused! Why recycle food waste when the local wildlife can do the same job? Herring Gulls will be the prime suspects in the removal of any food items on offer during daylight hours, however, after dark there are other creatures involved in the process. Brown Rats are certainly a factor, although my widespread use of poison and the Webley Mk III, does seem to have ensured they aren't a massive issue within the garden. Foxes are a completely different situation and are actively encouraged with our provision of scraps off the dining table. Tonight a magnificent fox came into the garden whilst I was setting up the hedgehog feeding station and I was fortunate to have the camera kit to hand that allowed me to grab a few shots.




Hedgehogs continue to provide me with massive entertainment, three last night, so am feeling very confident of getting that Christmas Day image which I've set my sights upon.




Saturday, 19 December 2020

You can wish, but don't make plans!

 Well, now it's official, Christmas is cancelled - cheers Bozo. This useless piece of humanity quoting science which, if he'd heeded such learn'ed advice earlier, would have ensured that the UK wouldn't now be in such turmoil. Why does attending Eton equate to intelligence and not the simple reality of affluence overriding all other concerns? In this context Boris is a wonderful advert for avoiding such institutions, however prestigious. Thick as pig shit, despite the exorbitant fees paid for his eduction, Wednesday's PMQ's demonstrating just how pathetic this, mop-topped, fraud really is. One, very simple, question from Sir Kier Starmer and he was a blithering idiot, completely flustered and incoherent with his reaction, not even the slightest hint of an answer. Doctors, Nurses. Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Paramedics, Ambulance Crews, School Teachers, et al, all subjected to pay freezes whilst that "rule breaking" half-wit, Dominic Cummings, gets a £40k p/a rise - how are we supposed to take anything seriously? We're in the most unprecedented situation since the outbreak of WWII and, as such, only the very elderly, therefore the most vulnerable, will be able to recollect such adversity, albeit on a very different stage. 



I'd been planning to restart the pike campaign on Boxing Day but am now unsure as to the legality of such folly. Of course I can drive my kit to whichever venue I should choose, but will I be criminalised for my actions? Can't go fishing - how sad is that within the bigger picture? At least I have my health and there cannot be any more pressing concerns during this current situation. The vaccine roll out offers a glimmer of hope on the distant horizon but, in the mean time, we'll just have to play it by ear and go with the flow. Normality, in whatever guise it manifests itself, certainly won't be as we remember it; of that I'm certain.  So whatever hopes and dreams, I have, must sit on the back burner until our political elite deem it safe for us to resume a level of personal freedom that they see fit. Some how I don't see pike fishing and/or birdwatching being particularly high up on their list of priorities. Whinge over - let's see what tomorrow brings?


Friday, 18 December 2020

Mad world

 I realise that the post title is very open ended, just as easily referring to the lunacy, of the fake tanned loser, across the pond or Bozo over here. There's the severe impact, upon personal freedoms, imposed by the tier system being used to "control" the pandemic. Every individual who reads this will have had their lives changed because of the current situation. None of us are immune from such wide ranging effects. Not being able to visit friends and family is going to make Christmas 2020 a rather pointless period, although I will be able to get out with rods, weather permitting? Since mid November I've been working sixty-plus hours a week, my choice not a contractual obligation! There is no way that this level of overtime can be sustained into 2021 so I'm making hay whilst the sun is shining. Now here's the crux of my ramblings. Being stuck inside the factory for the vast majority of the daylight hours, depending upon my shift pattern, my chances of watching birds and/or other wildlife is very limited. Fortunately, I do have one ace up my sleeve - hedgehogs! They are still visiting the garden feeding station on a nightly basis and are providing continued interest and learning opportunity. Standing at a packing bench, putting ink into containers, allows my mind to wander off down various angling paths, exploring theoretical targets for coming campaigns. Watching this hedgehog, last night, I'm thinking that a Christmas Day photo might be worth a try?



With the tier system proving to be about as effective as taking a paracetamol tablet in containing the Covid-19 virus, another national lockdown would appear to be looming in the new year. Will Steve Gale, once again, be coordinator of another BWKm0 challenge as a result? These are crazy times, who knows what awaits us around the next corner?

Monday, 14 December 2020

Angling highs - a top ten

 I'll begin by stating that this post is purely because of something my son, Benno, commented after the capture of that RMC "brace" on 3rd December. Obviously he'd been in on the news as events unfolded, such are the wonders of modern communications technology. Therefore, well aware of the adrenaline effect, via my incoherent rambling, as I relived my emotions of the two captures. So, at Benno's request, I've put together a Top Ten angling memories, yet have steered clear of the early years purely because they are no advert for anything other than selfish obsession, at the detriment of everything (and anybody) else. I would be a fool, and a liar, if I said that there weren't some exquisite moments of utter joy involved during those times of "tunnel visioned"  lunacy. However, when looking back, I'm not particularly proud of that period of my life, certainly in no way wishing to glamourize such irresponsible behaviour, will concentrate on the angling I've experienced since returning to the hobby in May 2011.

I'm very lucky to have shared many of these experiences with a few others. of similar mindset. Amongst this small bunch of anglers, Benno, his best mate Luke, and my youngest brother Sye have played a major role in the adventure. It is an ability to derive pleasure from the success of others, as much as your own, which has made this choice of a top ten so much easier than a, self indulgent, "look at what I've caught" - type of list. So in true "Top Ten" fashion this will be a countdown from ten to one.

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



This is where it all started for me. The first trip back up to the magnificent scenery of Kilchurn Bay since 1992 and it proved to be a pivotal point in my return to angling. Conditions were very kind to us, and the fishing provided regular action, although never hectic. When Benno landed this pike, the first Scottish "twenty" I'd ever seen, the spark ignited the fire and I was back to being an angler again.


No.9 - Benno on The Stour - Barbel 11 lbs 6 oz July 2013



Looking back on the events of our barbel campaign, which was to last three seasons more or less, I'm glad we did it our way. It was a real struggle for the majority of the time but, when things went right, boy did you know how hard earnt that moment had been. This particular fish was only the second double I'd ever witnessed despite having learned my early lessons under the guidance of Fred Crouch down on The Royalty fishery, that most famous stretch of The Hampshire Avon. It was a garbled message on the walkie-talkie that had me rushing from my swim, a couple of hundred yards downstream, in order to arrive just in time to slide the net under this milestone barbel. Benno couldn't put two words together, such was the power of that moment - happy days!

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



Less than a fortnight after my mother passed away, events conspired to see me fishing alone on the canal. The second bite of the morning was to see me land my first "twenty" since 16th January 1990. It was a moment of such intense emotion that it's probably just as well I was on my own? A fish  that I'd targeted since my return to the hobby was in the bag and I was totally blown away. Benno and Luke eventually arrived to get the photos done, both nursing sore heads from the previous night out in Folkestone, thus the reason I was alone in the first place

No.7 - Me on The Stour - Barbel 13 lbs 5 oz & 13 lbs 14 oz August 2013


Saturday 17th August 2013 - 13 lbs 5 oz

Wednesday 21st August 2013 - 13 lbs 14 oz

Without any doubt the most intense, and rewarding, days of fishing I'd ever experienced. Just two sessions, five days apart, both under four hour each, from dusk through to mid-night(ish) but what a way to smash my PB out of sight. We were concentrating our efforts of the notorious Willow Close section of this lovely river and had already enjoyed some reasonable success. These two barbel took it to another level and it was my privilege to land both of them with Benno close to hand, thus I was able to share the joy of the moments with someone who understands the emotions of such events. 

No.6 - Sye at Loch Awe - Pike 20 lbs 8 oz ? May 2013



If I hadn't been part of the same angling adventure that Sye also experienced during our lives, this "twenty" would be just another pike which crossed our paths. However, knowing the level of effort involved in achieving this "Scottish" target is why it holds such powerful memories. This particular week was to see Benno, Sye and myself land thirty-eight doubles out of a combined total of fifty pike from Kilchurn Bay. It was an incredible sequence of events which was capped off by Sye's special moment.

No.5 - Luke at Sandwich Coarse Fishery - Perch 3 lbs 3 oz 17th February 2017



Luke is the quiet one in the gang, although well able to hold his own in any angling situation. Forever on the go, when out with the rods, this particular fish is but one, of many, which I could have chosen to illustrate his talents and shared enthusiasm. He and Benno were drop-shotting on the main lake, I had just stopped off for a quick chat and was parking the van when Luke hooked this magnificent perch, thus was able to enjoy the moment and grab a few photos. It could just as easily have been a big pike or carp that I used to demonstrate how the ability to derive enjoyment from the success of others can only enhance your own angling experiences.

No.4 - Me at Scroggin's Lake, Marshside - Perch -my finest hour! 1st December 2018



I had the first rod out just before 13.30 hrs but didn't manage to get the second one in play until well after 14.15 hrs, such was the hectic feeding spell that I'd dropped in on. I was using prawns as hook baits, with Krill & Tuna method mix as a ground bait. Between 13.45 and 14.45 hrs I landed five perch over two pounds! 2.04, 2.04, 2.07, 2.02 & 2.05, in that order, quite simply the best perch fishing session of my life!

No.3 - Me on The Royal Military Canal - Carp 22lbs 5 oz 30th May 2016



This fish provided me with one of the best experiences I've enjoyed since returning to the hobby. Everything needs to be put into context, because the reality revolves around the tackle, not the fish, on this occasion. I'd been presented with a 1959 B. James & Son "Dick Walker" Mk IV split cane fishing rod, by my family, to celebrate my 60th birthday. This carp was my first, over twenty pounds, that I caught using my wonderful gift. Put a Mitchell 300 into the mix, then add Benno with the landing net - doesn't get much better!

No.2 - Me at Loch Awe - Pike 24 lbs 10 oz 26th April 2015

 


Having witnessed Benno, Sye, and Tom Bradbury catching their first Scottish "twenties", all from Kilchurn Bay, I knew my time would come. Thirty three years had elapsed since my first trip to, the peat stained waters of, the highland lochs and at around 06.00 hrs on that fateful Saturday morning, my bite alarm signalled a take and battle commenced. As soon as it was in the net I knew my quest was over and it wasn't long after that a can of 1664 was cracked open! It was a moment that I dreamt of ever since that first trip up to The Isle of Bute in May 1982.

No.1 - Me on The East Kent Marshes - Eel 3 lbs 10 oz 12th March 2016



This was the fish which "sealed the deal" on one of the most outrageous projects I've ever embarked upon? I have no particular affection for these slimy, tackle tangling, pests, yet over the course of that "Winter Eel Challenge" became fascinated, bordering on obsessed, by these wonderful creatures. At 3 lbs 10 oz it is nowhere close to my PB, yet the absolute joy I derived from achieving my target, first time of asking, will stay with me forever. All I remember is walking off the marsh, that night, with a smile wider than my face! Enjoyment - it's what this hobby should be all about?


Thursday, 10 December 2020

A garden update

 I've just been looking back over my recent posts and, there can be no denying the fact that pike fishing has taken centre stage. Be fair, the blog is called "Of Esox" so the clue's in the title choice before anyone starts moaning. However, the "& observations" part has been conspicuous by its' absence, so I will attempt to rectify the situation with this offering. Today was my final day off before Christmas, a holiday day which was "use it or lose it" - thankfully I've been allowed to transfer five days over to next year's entitlement, so will have no problems, holiday wise, in 2021 as I now have thirty-two days in the bank!

I couldn't go pike fishing today as I'd promised Bev that we'd get those chores out of the way that can no longer put off as we, rapidly, approach Christmas. Some finishing touches to the decorations, pratting about with furniture and bedding, and, most importantly, a complete tidy-up of my study. As I'm sat here now, typing this latest episode of Dylan's drivel, I can happily report that all the tasks have been successfully completed and "everything in the garden is rosy!" It must be stated that the study clean up was the most arduous of all the chores, involving multiple trips to the bins in order to "declutter" the space which I call my own. To do this trip involves little more than a walk out of the back door, via the patio, to the bins situated just beyond the garden gate - a journey of 5 or 6 metres! No big deal but it does mean that I was, regularly, outside and able to see what was about. An immature male Kestrel was regularly perching in a large, leafless, tree a few gardens to the north and allowed a nice photo opportunity when it posed on the roof of the neighbouring bungalow. The BWKm0 total, for lockdown Mk II, now stands at 37 species with Stock Dove and Meadow Pipit the latest additions.


Some of the neighbours don't share my passion for wildlife, hence,
 the anti-seagull spikes along the ridge tiles

The only other news, worthy of note, is that we're are still having hedgehogs at the feeding station on a nightly basis. Obviously, nowhere near as hectic as in the warmer months, but a December sighting wasn't something I'd expected. Now whilst you might be expecting another hedgehog at the feeding bowl photo I'm going to share an image that I captured yesterday, whilst down on the Royal Military Canal.



Two weeks until Christmas, three to the start of 2021, can't see too much changing? 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

The canal keeps giving

 Unless something extraordinary happens, today was the last pike session I'll be having before Boxing Day. Work is absolutely crazy and the money, on offer, far to much to turn down. When the gravy train hits the "Brexit" buffers I'm sure I'll have all the time I want to cast a bait for old Esox. In the meantime, I happily work sixty hour weeks, with all that it entails, knowing that the retirement clock is ticking and I should get what I can whilst it's available. No surprise that I returned to the section where I'd enjoyed such a wonderful result, last time out. 


Is it any surprise that pike find this area so attractive?

It was a lovely day although the water was carrying a lot of colour following the recent heavy rain plus the EA had the sluices open, creating quite a current for this venue. Nothing that I couldn't cope with, but I knew it would be a struggle to keep floating debris from causing false alarms and so it proved. It was an absolute privilege to have both Brian Harper and Ian Roberts (Folkestone Birds) come to, socially distance, chat with me during the early morning. There is so much that birding and angling have in common. Brian couldn't stay for too long, but Ian was far less tied to a schedule and was on hand witness my first bite of the session and the resultant 11 lbs 10 oz pike. It was a really nice gesture for these two guys to make the effort to come out to see me - it's nice to be nice!




However, they both had work commitments which ensured I was all alone when the second bite was announced by the Siren R3's. A cracking scrap, partly due to the floating weed, resulted in the second double of the session being drawn over the chord. 13 lbs 9 oz - I'll settle for that.




The session meandered along, I spent quite a while watching a female Kingfisher attempting to find a meal from the opposite margins. The camera work isn't much more than "record shots" yet plenty good enough to post here.



Mid-day had come and gone without any indication of another pike, so I recast all three rods, giving the baits an extra dose of Predator Plus & Herring oil in the process. Less than an hour later one of the alarms burst into song as my third bite of the session was registered. No dramatics, I felt sure that it would be a "nine" but the scales revealed a pleasant surprise - 10 lbs 5 oz - very nice. Three bites = three doubles, my target of twenty looks well achievable at present.




In the run up to Christmas I'm not too sure how much scope for blog entries there will be? Rest assured, even if I'm unable to get out, Benno & Luke (and brother Sye) are still chasing dreams and if anything, worthy of note, occurs, you'll see it here first.