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!


Tuesday 28 February 2023

Dumpton Gap to Broadstairs

It was some time back when fellow angling blogger "Bure Boy" wrote that the most boring photo collections were those of single species fisher folk. Scanning through my recent posts would certainly seem to confirm his theory. If my blogging is not about my recent Pike sessions then it's Foxes and Hedgehogs taking centre stage. Time to throw a few avian "observations" into the mix I feel. 

The view from Dumpton Gap this morning. France is out there somewhere!

The van needed its' annual MOT in order for me being allowed to part with £290 for road tax covering the next twelve months. Today was to see a further £300 added to the bill as the guys doing the MOT also needed to fit two new tyres and do an oil change, with a new filter, being part of the deal. Still, now it's done I know that my fishing won't be disrupted due to vehicular issues as they had been last year. I digress, the MOT station is in Broadstairs and my van was booked in for 08.00 hrs this morning. This meant that I drove to the garage just after 07.40 hrs, left the van and took a slow stroll back home along the seafront. The weather was horrible. Heavy, grey skies, intermittent rain and a brisk N/NE wind making it feel very chilly as I made my way back to the bungalow. 

Ancient Fuji Finepix camera and awful light conditions - it's still a Purple Sandpiper

I'd walked the coastal pathway because I still needed Purple Sandpiper for my self-found 2023 year-list and it didn't require much effort to ensure mission accomplished. However, because of the conditions, I had only taken a cheap Fuji Finepix camera and my photographic efforts were pitiful. A couple of phone call later, I was told that the van would be ready for collection at 14.00 hrs and, thus, I made my way back along the coastal fringe, this time carrying my proper camera kit. Not only did I secure much better images of the Purple Sandpiper(s) I also managed to capture a series of photos of Scandinavian Rock Pipit. 

Whilst I'm very happy to be corrected on my id of said Pipit, all I can say is that the vivid supercilium, and grey/blue tones to the head plumage, make this individual glaringly different to those boring little brown jobs which nest around Ramsgate Harbour.

Normal service will be resumed shortly. I think I've now got all the images required to complete the self-take blog offering? The repetitive trophy shots might well be boring to my blog visitors, the capture of the photographic subjects certainly isn't. 

Monday 27 February 2023

The RMC just keeps giving

With sunrise now around 06.45 hrs I'm having to leave home at 04.30 hrs in order to ensure I've got my baits in position as the light intensifies. Not overly sure why I make the effort to be there at such an ungodly hour, but it's part of the ritual I've partaken in since Pike fishing became an established piece of my annual routine. The earliest I've had a bite, in 2023, has been after 07.30 hrs and bite time seems to be closer to mid-day, than dawn, if the truth were told. Still; old habits and all that stuff, it is great to be outdoors watching the natural world awaken, even when it's bloody freezing! Two bites this morning, two Pike landed. The first was the smallest I've taken from the canal this year. Six, or seven, pounds at best. The second bite was to provide further evidence that I'm in the right area to capture my March target fish. At eighteen pounds, two ounces, this individual had the physique to have weighed more. I had to remove another "snap tackle" rig from this fish's stomach and feel sure that this is why it wasn't heavier. 

Seemingly blind in it's right eye, this Pike could surely tell a few stories - if only!

Having the capability to remove treble hooks from a Pike's stomach lining isn't something you discover by accident. I will remain forever indebted to the guys within The Luton Region PAC, in the 1980's, who were more than willing to share their skills and knowledge with a long-haired wannabe! Andy Windmill was the R/O during the formative years, Paul Elborne taking over the reins at the start of the 1990's. Great memories of wonderful times and so much opportunity to learn from the experience of others. 

Sunday 26 February 2023

One step at a time

That post about self-take, angling, trophy shots is well advanced yet, bizarrely, requires some images of how the camera kit is set-up in order to ensure it makes sense? Hopefully the final result will be worth the wait? Another RMC Pike session, on Thursday, was all about a hunch. Sadly, it didn't pay off but, even blank sessions can be useful if you are able to learn from the experience. Friday I was back down, on the irrigation reservoir, scamping. A cracking afternoon session producing five bites = five carp landed; two doubles! It would seem that I've very little to complain about, from an angling perspective, at this current moment. 

At 11 lbs 14 oz, this Common Carp was the best, of five, on Friday.

With two angling projects already underway in 2023, yet knowing that I've only fourteen days to catch that March "twenty" Pike, there are several other loose ideas floating around in my head. Barbel, Bream, Tench and Chub are certainly in the mix yet, without any logical reason, Eels have certainly risen in my thought processes. The quest for a double figure Carp in each calendar month isn't something which will stretch my angling skills to any extent, such is the wealth of local fisheries which hold huge populations of these fish. My C&DAA membership is up for renewal on 31st March and something I'm certainly going to do, however, I'm also looking at the possibility of joining a couple of other (relatively) local clubs who control some interesting fisheries. There's certainly no great rush; I'm happy to get the Pike season out of the way before finalizing any plans moving forward. Back down to the RMC tomorrow, hoping to continue with the learning experience offered by this magnificent waterway. All being well, I'll get the photos to finish that "self-take" post which is awaiting the publish button in my blogger's draft folder.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Waste food disposal - Dumpton style

"What's the best food to entice a Fox into your garden?" A question I've been asked several times since starting to blog about the wonderful experiences, enjoyed, watching/photographing these fabulous animals from my study doorway. Foxes are, despite their canine features, very much opportunist omnivores and will readily take advantage of any food supplied (Lettuce, Peas, Carrots & Tomatoes excepted!) If I was forced to stick to one item then Yorkshire Puddings would be it! I don't know either, it was only because of the fact that I'd thrown some (well out of date and suffering severe freezer burn) out onto the lawn, late afternoon, and the Herring Gulls hadn't taken advantage of the situation. I'd prepared the bowls for both Hedgehogs and Foxes and was looking from the study window as darkness fell. A Fox came into the garden and proceeded to hoover up all the Yorkshire Puddings completely ignoring the dinner left-overs which are normally on offer. Since that original encounter I've deliberately placed Yorkshire Pudding scraps around the garden and have watched Foxes seek these items in preference to the alternatives. I will add that they were "Tesco" own brand and there might be an ingredient in these items which isn't included in other similar products? Either which way, Tesco don't sponsor my blog and there are plenty of other Yorkshire Pudding manufacturers which Foxes will also enjoy.

Pasta, Fish Pie, Roast Chicken, Steak or a silly Chinese chuck-out, all the left-overs go into the bowl and the Foxes are free to make their choice. Whatever's left, at first light, is quickly devoured by the local Magpies, Herring Gulls and Feral Pigeons. Quite why I need to pay Thanet Council Tax for the provision of a food waste disposal service, when there is absolutely no requirement, isn't likely to be supported by other members of the local community. I live on The "Isle of Thanet" yet many of my neighbours despise the presence of Herring Gulls? I seem to think that the clue might be in our "Isle of Thanet" address? Still in February yet I've already photographed four different Hedgehogs at the feeding station this year. 

Garden wildlife, what's not to enjoy when the effort involved is almost zero?

Monday 20 February 2023

On a roll?

Not too sure if it's because I've trodden in something or simply that "The Pike Gods" are smiling down on me? Whatever the cause, I'm certainly bending a fishing rod on a regular basis of late. It was only a month ago (23rd Jan) when I blogged that I hoped that I wouldn't go through the entire Pike season without landing a double. Well a bloody lot's changed since then and the RMC has been very kind to me. I'm now on six Pike landed, all doubles, including two "twenties". Thank you very much Izaac. My trip, this morning, saw another single bite produce a nice fish of 14 lbs 15 oz.  I was about half a mile away from the area I'd fished last week; a direct result of the Cormorant action I had seen. It's called watercraft! Cormorants don't eat Pike, but do compete for the same sized food items, therefore, if the Cormorants are targeting an area there's a bloody good chance that Pike will also be in the vicinity. That I was using a 1/2 Rainbow Trout section, as bait, is altogether a more weird quirk of fate. I've sourced my dead baits from Tesco, Westwood Cross, for several years now but this will cease next week due to the wet fish counter closing. Good decision Tesco!  Fish in the human food chain are far superior, and much better value for money, than those frozen dead baits offered for sale in angling retail outlets. Fortunately, my freezer is full of decent dead baits and I'm not likely to run out before March 14th! Whenever Bev and I are in Tesco I always make an effort to see what's available at the fish counter. The two, regular, guys are very friendly and always happy to chat about my Pike fishing antics. We were in last Friday and they'd already sold out of Herrings (my preferred choice) but was told that they'd put some round in "isle seven" that they'd failed to sell the day previous. You know the score? Quickly scanning through these knock down, best before, items it was obvious that the Herrings had been purchased yet I did stumble upon a couple of Rainbow Trout (1.7 kg) for the princely sum of £3.42.  See how that compares with five skinny Smelt in a freezer pack weighing in under 400 grms. Today was the first time I'd ever cast a trout into the RMC - so any action has to be a positive. 

Because of my desire to catch a very large Pike from the RMC I must, at times, appear quite blasé about fish which, to others (dog walkers, joggers, etc), are physically big fish. I was certainly guilty of this today when speaking with a couple of ramblers. A fifteen pound fish is way beyond the experience of the average Tesco shopper, so my glib dismissal of this Pike was rather disrespectful to both the ramblers and the fish! If I catch a fish like this every time I go fishing, what's to moan about? I drove home with a smile on my face and that warm feeling of success. Not a monster, but certainly better than a blank! 

Just as an aside, the self-take photo gizmo has been an absolute god send. I am hoping to produce a post relating to the methodology used very shortly. Don't worry it's not expensive and certainly doesn't require an "A" level in IT.

Friday 17 February 2023

Nocturnal antics

It seems incredible that, already, nearly three years have elapsed since the original "lockdown" which marked the start of the pandemic. I will, forever, be indebted to Julie & Gary Pearse who advised me about the fun to be had from setting up a garden feeding station for the local Hedgehogs. Add into the mix an additional bowl for the Foxes, a 125w MV Moth Trap and the garden wildlife experience has taken on a wholly new dimension. We're already into the third week of February and signs of Spring are beginning to appear. There's a Sky Lark setting up territory beyond the garden hedge and I've seen several Buff-tailed Bumble-bees around the garden this past week. 

Scar Face, at the feeding bowl, at the beginning of February

The Foxes are very active (and vocal) around the Newlands Farm area and that "Scar Faced" male has become a regular feeding station diner. To be completely honest, he is a greedy bleeder who is always at the front of the queue. I'll get the food out just at sunset, he'll be there within twenty minutes! The one obvious benefit of seeing this individual, on a regular basis, has been to realise how quickly the healing process has progressed. That open wound on the inside of his left foreleg is now little more than a faint mark in the dark fur, those nasty bite marks on his face all but gone, just the obvious scars on his snout remain as testament to past battles.

That open wound on his inner left foreleg is now just a feint mark in his fur.

After a conversation with my neighbours, Terry & Glynis, relating to Hedgehog at their feeding station on Tuesday night, I was delighted to spot one at the Fox bowl yesterday. Not overly sure why the photos were so poor, even through double glazing, I've got the study door open tonight as I await further visitors.

The moth trap is very disappointing, at present. with just two species (individuals) recorded. Dark Chestnut and Dotted Border the culprits. Onward and upwards - it can only get better as the days lengthen and temperatures rise.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Scamping like a "tart"

I've been toying with various ideas as to what I'd like to achieve with my angling during 2023. Quite obviously, that March "twenty" plus Pike has suddenly become a very current challenge. However, there are several other projects which may, or may not, come to fruition one of which revolves around my desire to land a double figure Carp in every month. There are Carp anglers all around the UK who will wonder what all the fuss is about as they do just this year on year. Well, as I'm not, nor have never been, a Carp angler this is something which is there to be attempted and not beyond possibility given the venues available locally. 

Whilst I was number crunching my Pike captures, one side effect was that I examined the diaries relating to my time at Stanborough Lake in 1983/4,  to discover that I only managed to land fourteen Carp over ten pounds (four twenties) during that full-on project. Further investigation showed that in the period 1981 to 1993 I only managed to land thirty-two Carp "doubles. With Carp now dominating the modern, freshwater, angling scene there will be venues capable of producing these type of returns in a few days/weeks. 

There are several local venues where my short session approach will still give me a realistic chance of enticing a bite from my targets. What is becoming quite worrying, from my stance, is that I slowly appear to be morphing into a tackle tart. A bloody "Carp Faggot" Nash reels, alarms and baiting pole, Korda terminal set-ups, what's happening to me? Fortunately, a semi-sensible side does come into my tackle choices. NGT bobbins, landing nets, unhooking cradles and weigh slings plus assorted Korum, Kodex and Avid kit ensures I've all bases covered, yet without the trendy logos!  A short, three and a half hour, session down at the farm irrigation reservoir produced a single bite, but from the fish I was after. A 12 lbs 5 oz Common Carp my reward and therefore, the February "double" in the bag.

Another session, probably on Friday, down at the reservoir before I'm back to the RMC in search of that Pike which has, so far, eluded my efforts.

Monday 13 February 2023

Ideas and action

 I do sometimes feel that I'm guilty of overthinking a problem when the blatantly obvious is staring me straight in the face. This current Pike season has seen me struggle, like never before, as I plied my craft on the banks of The (Kentish) Stour. Not one bite registered along my chosen section and just four Pike landed between November and the start of January. Insane; had I forgotten how to catch them? The February RMC return had always been part of my plans, so to get off to such a (late January) flyer with a "twenty" was certainly a confidence booster. However, as reported in an earlier post, the loss of two "decent" fish hasn't been quite what I'd hoped for and there has certainly been a great deal of head scratching - I've got the splinters to prove it! I've been forced to revisit many of my basic concepts of bait presentation and rig mechanics just to ensure that they still functioned 100% in my current situation. 

Not too sure that many other Pike anglers will be
using ABU Cardinal 55's?

Analytical thinking! Here I am, back in my Unilever days, under the tutorage of Sarah Frost, looking at details with a statistical process control mentality. Many will doubt the part that this industrial process could possibly play in an angling situation? Maybe they're correct but, for me, the skill set involved has allowed me to tweak my presentations to a point, at which, I'm very confident. Just to illustrate this exact point I was back down on the RMC this morning, tweaks in place! Two bites resulted in two Pike to the landing net, which has to be an improvement in itself. The first weighed in at 21 lbs 3 oz and the second 15 lbs 8 oz. Happy? Off the scale!

21 lbs 3oz of pure joy

I'm completely out of my depth when attempting to offer any logical explanation
as how this Pike has sustained such horrific injuries? Not replicated on the 
other flank, thus unlikely to be due to natural causes.

I make no claim to have solved all the issues which have beset me over these past few months but, feel very confident, I'm headed in a positive direction. I've been going back through my diary records, right back to 1980, looking for clues and there is one fact which has become glaringly obvious. I've never landed a twenty pound Pike in March! Guess what? I'm going to give it a bloody good try in the first fourteen days of March 2023.

Friday 10 February 2023

Foreness in the afternoon sunshine

Bev had a luncheon engagement with her regular gang and I was tasked with transporting her to, and from, Margate where their chosen venue is situated (directly opposite the Tate Modern). It was too good an opportunity to pass up, as it meant that I could have a wander around the Foreness/Palm Bay area whilst awaiting a phone call saying that the gig was over. As it turned out, I had well over two and a half hours to explore the coastline and adjacent cliff-top. Excellent! With the sun shining brightly from a cloudless sky, the camera was close to hand as I slowly meandered around the site. It is hardly surprising, given the weather conditions, that the place was heaving with other folk out enjoying the facilities. Still, I made the best of the situation and came away rather pleased with my efforts. Only one addition to my self-found year list, but I'll cope with that. Some photos - 

It really was good fun pointing the long lens at the various birds I encountered. The technology within the Canon being far more capable that the long-haired goon pressing the shutter release button. Realistically, I'm more than happy to get a few shots which assist with the blogging, yet every so often I manage to capture an image which has "something" extra. Certainly not deliberate, nor an attempt at some artistic whim. Accidental, pure and simple, but enjoyable none the less.

My final offering is of the same male Stonechat but, due to the composition, far more pleasing on the eye than the portrait I've posted?

Thursday 9 February 2023

Never too old to learn

That winter Piking campaign of 2021/22, on the RMC, seems so long ago. My mini project, for February 2023, is now fully underway and I'm struggling to get to grips with many aspects posed by these RMC Pike. If getting old has any benefits, and they're certainly not too obvious, then the ability to learn from past mistakes must be one of the best? It was a comment posted last year, by a fellow Pike angler, questioning the merits of "tweaked" dead baits over more standard offerings which I was unable to offer any sensible response. I use anything which I feel will give me that "edge" over other bait presentations. 

Well something isn't right. I've lost two very decent Pike, since the start of this caper. The one on Monday 6th Feb was a very big fish indeed. I actually had it to the net before it surged off, shook its' head and spat my bait, complete with hooks, leaving me feeling like I'd swallowed an orange! Do nothing? Well nothing changes, so I obviously had to do something. As there's still two and a bit weeks of February to go I'm not minded to start posting details about what I've changed, and why, because it might be a load of tosh?  All I can report, thus far, is that at 08.20 hrs, this morning, I managed to tempt my latest Pike from the canal. A very nice fish of 15 lbs 11 oz which took a popped-up, flavoured, coloured, 1/2 Herring section, thus exactly what I've been offering since 1983! Two steps forward, one step back? 

Talking about the RMC, what I must say is that it is an absolute pleasure (privilege) to be able to spend time on the banks of this iconic waterway. The other folk who enjoy this stunning place for dog walking, jogging, cycling, rambling and/or whatever other purpose, are a wonderfully diverse mix, the random nature of our conversations is testament to all that is good in society today.

Saturday 4 February 2023

Moving on

 Unless I really start to get amongst the RMC Pike, I'm not minded to undertake three sessions/week purely because of the fuel expense involved. Two trips equates to one-hundred & fifty miles, give or take, and that's more than enough driving for me. However, Bev has no issues with me doing three angling sojourns per week and, as a result, my fishing is split between the serious Pike pursuit and a very laid-back Carp dalliance. It would probably be better to say "scamp" folly. The C&DAA Brook Lake, at Minster, is my chosen venue and I'm having an absolute blast, Three and a half hours, on Friday afternoon/evening, resulted in five Carp visiting the landing net. What's not to enjoy? The biggest fish weighed in at 9 lbs 14 oz, but really doesn't matter, I had a fantastic time bending a fishing rod.

My tactics are very simple. I'm using a seed mix (Racing Pigeon conditioner) with added sweetcorn and boily crumb as my attractor with a very basic "blow back" rig presented 15 mm boily. Rigs are positioned using the "Bushwhacker" baiting pole at 24 metres (I've got sixteen sections to play with) and feel sure that my bait actually becomes the focus in this very featureless irrigation reservoir. The real edge that the baiting pole system provides has to be accuracy, without disturbance? There are no leads crashing into the swim, nor the whirring sounds of a bait boat (banned on the venue - I believe?) This is stealth presentation at the top end and the Carp are certainly un-phased by the minimal disturbance. My membership ticket only allows me to use two rods which is more than adequate at this prolific fishery. I've already experienced a bite, whilst attaching the bobbin, thus further proof of the effectiveness of the baiting pole presentation.

Both these carpy images were taken using a very old Fuji Finepix camera.
I won't make the same mistake again.

As I was leaving, yesterday evening, it was blatantly obvious how many moths were on the wing along the entrance track. So tonight, for the first time in 2023, the Robinson 125w MV trap has been fired up and is now illuminating the garden including the Fox & Hedgehog feeding bowls. Not too sure how things will turn out but, you've got to be in it to win it! A Mottled Umber would be a nice start.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Better than blanking

 Back down on the RMC, this morning, with just a single bite for my troubles. A nice Pike, of 14 lbs 2 oz, gracing the landing net and, therefore, allowing me further practice with the self-take gizmo.

It's nice to have the chance to prat about taking shots of fish like this as it really doesn't matter if I make a complete "pig's ear" of the result. What's important is the lessons provided during such times. The last thing I want is to discover that I've completely screwed up the photos of a new PB! Top excitement from the session was provided by a perched Little Egret. It obviously felt safe on its' perch, high up on the opposite bank and I rattled off over one hundred shots as a result. Got to say that some of the better images are the very best I've ever captured of these lovely birds. 

I realise that this post is very short and sweet; there's a lot going on at the moment. Family stuff has no place in blogdom, but there are plenty of birds and fish to keep me entertained if all goes to my February plan?