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!


Sunday 30 April 2023

Pegwell conundrum

I had an early morning stroll around the Pegwell Bay NNR/Stonelees LNR circuit which has become a rather regular occurrence of late. My main motivation was to beat the crowds and, hopefully, discover a Turtle Dove prior to the arrival of the masses. As it turned out a plan doomed to failure but certainly not a wasted effort. Another addition to the self-found list came in the form of a couple of Greenshanks but there was plenty of other birdlife to keep me entertained.  At least three Cuckoos were singing (?) from various points around the reserves. One in Pegwell, one in Stonelees and another across the River Stour out on Shellness Point. A pair of Avocets remain on the Garage Pool, as do a couple of pairs of Shovellers. The early morning sunshine made it feel very pleasant yet, due to the venue facing East, the angle of the sun made for quite difficult viewing conditions. A lone Grey Plover was out on the exposed mud directly opposite the public hide and odd Lesser Whitethroats were encountered as I made my way around the coastal path. I'd almost reached the gateway into Stonelees when an alarm calling Redshank alerted me to the presence of an owl hunting over the saltmarsh. With only my binos to hand, I struggled to get much plumage detail given the light and distance involved. My gut feeling was that it was a Long-eared Owl, purely because the flight looked quite stiff winged and robotic. Only one thing for it, point the camera in the general direction and hope that 20 million pixels might be of assistance when I got home.

The distance between me and the owl was getting further with every wing flap so I just rattled off as many shots as I could before it disappeared over the hedgerow that lines the raised bank on the Sandwich Bay side of the river. 

The second image seems to support, although certainly not 100% confirm, my suspicion of it being a LEO purely because of the upper wing pattern that's discernable. I've seen Long-eared Owls hunting in the day time, previously, when a pair were feeding young at a nest site along The Little Stour but at much closer range that today's encounter.

Friday 28 April 2023

Golden days

If I were ever asked what the most exciting type of angling is, my answer would have to be "surface fishing for Carp."  If pressed further my reply would specify simplicity. Just a single rod (split cane when possible) a centrepin reel, line, a hook and a floating bait. Close range angling where a free-lined bait can cause mayhem with the adrenaline levels. Additional kit is a pair of polaroids, just to heighten the optical experience of getting repeatedly "mugged off" by the Carp. Floater fishing is simply the best way to experience the highs and lows of angling without the requirement of spending excessive time on the bank.

For the past three afternoons, this is exactly what I've done. The longest session being little over four hours, the other two less than three hours each. Tuesday, I started off fishing two baits, on the deck, but changed over to my floater set-up after I'd only had three fish in two hours. This resulted in a further five Carp, but also the realisation that my offerings needed a complete refresh due to having been stored in the van since last autumn!

Wednesday produced another six fish, but still my hook bait choice was causing me issues. A nice 11 lbs 10 oz Mirror, however, ensured I'd reached that magical total of seventeen doubles, in 2023, which equals my previous best tally for an entire season.

Thursday and the pieces all fell into place. By changing my hook bait from dog biscuits to wholemeal bread, I absolutely smashed it. Taking over twenty-five fish in little more than two and a half hours including another two doubles! Happy days!! Well it was always going to be a good session because of what happened even before it got going. I hadn't even set up the rod as I started to introduce my freebies into the swim. Two more additions to the self-found list began with a Common Sandpiper skimming over the surface of the small reservoir, calling loudly as it did so and then, just to put me into birding heaven a, female-type, Golden Oriole flew north along the row of willows that line the west bank of the fishery. I was absolutely dumb-struck, this being my first Kent sighting since May 2006 when I found one in Ramsgate Cemetery. 

The Duncan Kay's, rod pod and alarms will now only be required when, or rather if, I cast a bait in the direction of Eels. The persistent run of chilly Easterly winds has done nothing to enthuse me to get out for an into dark session. Hopefully May will see a drastic change in wind direction and an associated rise in temperatures?

Monday 24 April 2023

Another Pegwell stroll

Today was always going to be a little hectic so no chance to wet a line this morning. The rods are prepped, but leant up against my bookshelves, awaiting the next outing. With trips to the local pharmacy and Tesco out of the way, it was already gone mid-day before I was able to grab my camera and binos and drive down to Pegwell Bay for a wander along the seawall to Stonelees LNR. As it turned out it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours before I had to drive up into Ramsgate to collect my grandson, Harry, from school. 

Two pairs of Avocets remain on the Garage Pool which bodes well for a breeding attempt it would seem? They are now so accustomed to the regular appearance of dog-walkers, birders, ramblers, cyclists and umpteen other folk, as to be reasonably approachable, thus very photogenic if you're prepared to sit and wait a while. I did exactly this and was fortunate to obtain a series of decent images, including some flight shots as the two pairs got involved in some type of territorial dispute. To top it off, an absolutely magnificent Little Egret, in full breeding attire, gave me a very close fly past as it headed towards the far end of the pool.

I got a couple more additions for the self-found year list in the form of Cuckoo and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats. A very vivid male Greenland Wheatear was on a fence post near to the seal viewing point and it was a bit of a surprise to pick out two Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the rapidly rising tide. It would seem that the Country Park is now coming to life as Chiffchaffs, Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Reed and Sedge Warblers proclaim their territorial rites. With good numbers of Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits out on the exposed mud, there was always something to look at. A small bunch of Sandwich Terns were gathered over by the old hoverpad where a couple of noisy Mediterranean Gulls were flying about. With a number of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing and at least seven Common Lizards, sunbathing along the wall behind the garage, there was plenty to keep me entertained. 

Back at home, there isn't much to report. On Saturday, at 13.15 hrs, the largest group of Common Buzzards of the year, thirteen birds, passed over the garden in a southerly direction much to the annoyance of our local breeding pair. I've seen a couple of Swallows and the occasional Chiffchaff whilst out in the garden but that is very much the sum of it. Running the moth trap is a futile gesture for the most part. I think the largest catch has been just seven moths! God knows what they cost in electricity usage per individual? Still, the light does allow me to watch the antics of our other nocturnal garden visitors, so all is not lost.

I'm really having fun with the camera, of late, and am hopeful that my results will continue to improve with practice. We're back off to Halkidiki, NE Greece, next month and hope to be able to record the wildlife, I encounter, with some decent images.

Sunday 23 April 2023

A "Carpy" continuum

I'm pretty sure that I've blogged about this subject some time in the distant past but, because so much has happened in the interim, feel it's worth revisiting? What needs clarifying, right at the off, is that Carp aren't the only species worthy of attention within a UK freshwater angling context. Although I have no diary account of my first Carp capture, know that I was still just a spotty oik attending the Halsey Secondary Modern, in Gadebridge, Hemel Hempstead, Herts during the early 1970's. It wasn't until 9th March 1983 that I actually landed my first "double". At 11 lbs 9 oz it was never likely to have any impact beyond that of a personal milestone but, boy, what a pivotal moment. 

At this juncture, I'd already amassed a very creditable list of PB's including Pike over 20 lbs, Tench of 7 lbs +, numerous Roach over the magical 2 lbs barrier and a, Great Ouse, Chub of 4 lbs 7 oz.  It seemed crazy, when. my second double figure Carp was my first "twenty" (21 lbs 10 oz) purely because they weren't a species which was part of the regular scene up to that point. It will have surely been my, ever increasing, involvement with NASA (The National Association of Specialist Anglers) which was behind my decision to target Carp over the Autumn/Winter of 1983/4? I was a member of the National Executive Committee and also NASA Chiltern Regional Organiser. Being around the likes of Phil Smith, Des Taylor, Dr Bruno Broughton, Neville Fickling, Dr Barrie Rickards, et al, there is no surprise that improving my PB list became central to my angling effort at this point in my angling adventure.

Fellow Tring Syndicate member, Lester Strudwick (RIP) of the Carpike SG, pointed me in the direction of Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, where he, and his gang, had been pulling a few strokes and catching some very big Carp (for the time) by night fishing the venue. Back in 1983 a Carp of 25 lbs was an absolute monster and, therefore, very much sought after by the speccy hunting crowd. So with Lester's words of advice ringing in my ears, off I went to do battle with the Stanborough Carp. 

Between 17th September 1983 and 25th February 1984 I was to experience some of the most exciting angling I'd been involved in up until that time. On that fateful February day, which culminated in landing a new PB of 23 lbs 14 oz, I walked away from Carp angling and returned to chasing PB's of other species which also needed my attention. Looking back through my diaries, some thirty-nine years later, it was a surprise to learn  I'd only landed seventeen doubles, including five twenties, during that entire period. Fantastic memories of crazy times, wonderful company and some stunning Carp. All centred around a municipal park lake. I'd like to mention the impact that Keith Sellick, proprietor of Middlesex Angling Centre, Harrow, had upon my Carp fishing during this period. Not only did he supply the very first, purpose made, bait flavours for my home made boilies, but also showed me how to use a back lead! Yes, back in 1983 back leads were already part of the Carp angler's portfolio, although for very different reasons to the requirements in 2023. Stanborough is a park lake which not only provided anglers with opportunity, but also catered for sailing and windsurfing enthusiasts. It was the because of the boating community antics we required a back lead to avoid our lines being picked up on the centre boards/keels of these vessels. Keith was incredibly generous with his advice and contributions, although financial transactions were required for some items!

Forty years down the road I now look at Carp angling with a very different mind-set. Absolutely gutted that there are generations of anglers who've never known anything other than Carp fishing, don't understand the requirement of watercraft or bankside etiquette. It's a whole new world out there and one I'm very happy to steer well clear of. With this as the baseline, I feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered the East Kent "flatlands" and the wild Carp which reside in the intimate dykes and drains which criss-cross the marshland.  My PB Carp still hasn't reached that 25 lbs barrier (it's currently 24 lbs 10 oz) but, guess what, it no longer plays a part in my angling. I now go angling for the joy of being at the waterside. The desire to catch "big fish" hasn't been lost but, perhaps, replaced by a quest for enjoyment of the bigger picture? It could very easily be an age thing? How many "big fish" does anyone need to catch before they've had enough? I'm certainly happy to seek an answer to that final question.

They no longer have to be "big" in order to be beautiful.
An absolutely stunning "double" from the East Kent flatlands.

Friday 21 April 2023

My angling's evolution

There's a fair chance that this might get a bit heavy? I recently watched a Nash TV offering, by Samir Arebi and Henry Lennon, on Youtube (click this link) and, as entertaining as it certainly is, found myself drawn to the conversation about the willingness to accept/utilize modern technological advances within an angling context. In this particular situation they were questioning the use of a drone for fish finding, but the sentiment could have equally been applied to bait boats, or even bite alarms, at some time in the past?

With my own roots firmly planted in an era before Carp fishing dominated UK freshwater angling, I still remain devoted to the ethos contained within the pages of "Still-water Angling" by a certain Richard Walker. My own copy is a 1962 Macgibbon & Kee addition, the vast majority of advice contained within these hallo'ed pages being as relevant, today, as when first penned. What has happened over the intervening period is way beyond anything Dick Walker could have envisaged, yet nothing which he wouldn't have fully embraced. He was the inventor of the electronic bite alarm, compound taper Carp rods and the "Arsley Bomb", an engineering genius who liked to go fishing!

February 16th 1985
14 lbs 5 oz from The Thames at Mapledurham.
Link legered Sardine on a Duncan Kay with an ABU Cardinal 66X

So where do I stand on these issues? It's pretty simple really. As an individual I have a decision to make, nothing is compulsory thus, am at liberty to pick and choose what suits my own situation. If a bait boat isn't what you perceive as "fair angling" then you don't have to use one. If, however, the fish location abilities of flying a drone above a venue will aid your decision making why not utilize the technology to assist your swim choice? A drone won't help a piss poor rig become more effective, or cause a fish to pick up a bait which has no attraction - just the angler will know that they'd failed because of what this additional knowledge has provided. As Henry says in the Youtube offering, quite where technology will be in ten years time is a mind numbing prospect? To ignore the benefits is insane if consistently catching fish is why you're at the water side in the first place. 

I don't require a drone to find the fish I target, purely because my current venues are very intimate and watercraft skills learned, over the previous fifty years, stand me in good stead. A bait boat, however, was the major reason why my Loch Awe "twenty" visited the unhooking mat and my current Carp folly is fully reliant upon the use of a baiting pole for accuracy and stealth. Fair angling? Isn't that for me to decide?

The fact that my bait had been positioned using a baitboat,
complete with sonar recording technology, detracts absolutely
nothing from the memories of happiness at the capture of
this magnificent Pike.

The "Old School" label still plays a role as my pursuit of enjoyment remains a fundamental piece of the angling experience. That my rods and reels are from an era when Hemel Hempstead was my base and Tring Reservoirs the  hub of UK speccy hunting doesn't change a thing. I'm not in the least embarrassed to place a couple of Duncan Kay's, complete with ABU Cardinal 66X's, on a rod pod with Nash Siren R3's and those £16 butt grips. It's not about what I look like, when viewed by others, but is my kit capable of doing the job I require? One thing which can never be up for discussion is the vital importance of using the best line and various rig components that you are able to afford. I'm totally confident that every aspect of my tackle choices, which will connect my rod and reel to the fish, are the best quality items available to me. 

April 20th 2023 and I'm still using the same old Duncan Kay rods in
combination with ABU Cardinal 66X reels. Why fix what isn't broken?

Modern manufacturing techniques ensure that consistency of product quality is at the very top level hence hooks, line, swivels and umpteen other accessories are now better than at any time in the past. With no brand allegiance, personal preference is how my kit is assembled. If I should see something being used by another angler, be that on the bank or on Youtube, which might be an improvement on what I'm currently using then I will often explore the potential, usually via a visit to Camo's shop in Ramsgate. Once I am happy with a set-up, or product, I rarely seek to change it in order to comply with current fads and fashions. I leave it up to the fish, not market forces, to decide when it's time for a re-think of tackle and/or tactics.

It's the desire to get to grips with some more Carp of this type which is driving 
my current angling forays. What tweaks I devise whilst fishing on the club fisheries will,
hopefully, pay dividends later in the year when I return to the Flatlands.

Sunday 16 April 2023

Crazy day - photos speak volumes.

Not a fishing rod in sight. I'll start the post at 21.00 hrs on Saturday when one of the regular Foxes turned up at the feeding station. I'd been getting another Scrabble lesson from Bev and, between games, went into my study just as the tiny vixen showed up to get first choice of the morsels on offer

Another Red Kite drifted south, over the garden, mid-morning before we headed over to Ash for some serious shit. En route we called in at Pegwell Bay where we discovered four Common Lizards sun bathing on the wall behind the garage. There were also six Avocets present on the main pool, so it was very brief, but equally enjoyable plus I added Whimbrel and Sandwich Tern to the year list. 

Once I'd got Bev home, I took a drive across to Stodmarsh NNR where I hoped to add a few more species to the self-found year list. I got Yellow Wagtail between Monkton and Sarre and Corn Bunting just outside Stodmarsh village before I arrived on site. I took nearly three and a half hours to complete a circuit of this, jewel of a, reserve and added yet another three species to my tally. Wheatear, Sedge and Reed Warbler. 

No Cuckoo, Common Tern, Hobby, Bittern, Bearded Tit, Nightingale, Willow Warbler or Garganey, so plenty of excuses to return very soon in the hope of filling these gaps on the list. Brilliant fun pointing the camera at whatever species deigned to pose. I certainly need to up my game knowing that holiday season is fast approaching.

Friday 14 April 2023

Pegwell Avocets

Just a very short, ninety minute, visit to the Pegwell Bay NNR site in the hope of adding a species, or two, to the self-found list for 2023. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as the inland area was virtually bird less! So it was The Garage Pool which saved the day with four pairs of Avocets present. There was a ninth individual on the small pool to the right of the public hide which I spotted later, as I made my way to the Stonelees NR.

A singing Chiffchaff was the only sign of Spring migrants, whilst a fly by Little Egret provided the quintessential image of the view across the saltmarsh, dozing Common Seals providing the backdrop.

Thursday 13 April 2023

Enjoyment - why not?

My dalliance with Carp is certainly gathering momentum as 2023 progresses. The Wednesday afternoon forecast being for 50+ mph gales, plus accompanying rain, I knew that my window of opportunity wasn't that great. Bev had a luncheon engagement, with her mate Christine, so I headed back down to the local farm Carp puddle to waste away a few hours, safe in the knowledge that I could easily pack up and be home within twenty minutes should the weather get too out of hand!

Very much the calm before the storm. 

As it turned out I managed to get the rods out for  four and a half hours before conditions became so ridiculous that my personal safety might have been compromised had I remained on the bank? Seven Carp graced the unhooking mat, including two more doubles, so just the job. 

My bankside set-up is becoming more "Carp Clone-like" with every visit to Camo's shop. The latest acquisition being a pair of Nash butt grips, the requirement for which was due to nearly loosing a Duncan Kay rod, complete with an ABU Cardinal 66X reel, when a fish bolted off with my rig on Monday! These new items will certainly prevent a repeat performance yet, at £16 each, are another manifestation of over zealous Carp Tax! 

 Piss taking of the highest level?

I've owned a pair of these iconic reels, from new, 1975-ish.
Swedish built, they are a class above anything with origins in the Far East.

The bottom line, however, is that my angling is all about enjoying the experience of being at the waterside. That these various items of bank ware are able to assist the cause then so much the better. I pay my money and make my choices accordingly. I realise that this particular fishery isn't much of a test but, because of the regular action, it is a great place to work on various aspects of presentation and bite indication prior to using them in a more serious situation.

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Garden watching & stuff

Not too much going on in my little world beyond the ritual of Easter "Spring Cleaning" Absolutely mind numbing the amount of pointless debris that has accumulated in my study over the past twelve months! Nobody else to blame for the build up of useless crap - it's me! Chinese take-away tubs, fat ball containers and umpteen other, equally ridiculous, plastic items which have been accrued now in the recycling bin! Exactly where they should have been placed when originally emptied? One positive, if that's possible, has to be the opportunity to keep an eye on what's happening around/over the garden whilst going about these, self inflicted, chores.

The Blue Tits have certainly been active as they've collected nest material for use in the nest box right outside my study window. Two pairs of Great Tits must also be holding territories along the adjacent gardens as they frequently appear at the feeding station and squabble noisily. It's nice to be able to report that House Sparrow numbers remain buoyant around the Newlands Farm patch and it is not unusual to see flocks in excess of thirty birds flicking around the field hedgerows or local gardens. Rose-ringed Parakeets are a constant source of entertainment at the feeders. Seventeen being the highest count, thus far, in 2023. A male Skylark continues to proclaim territorial rites above the field beyond our garden, whilst Lesser Black-backed Gull sightings are now part of the daily routine as they return to the Pyson's Road gull colony for, yet another, breeding season.

With so much activity being centred around the garden feeding station it is no surprise that the local Sparrowhawks, of which there are at least three pairs within a km radius, are also regular garden visitors. 

My self-found year list is stuck at 105 species with Red Kite, over the garden on April 4th, being my latest addition. In times gone by I'd be suicidal due to this meagre tally. Today? Doesn't matter in the slightest. I enjoy the birds that I do see and worry not a jot about those which I don't. Knowing that Bev and I will be heading off to the Eastern Mediterranean, at least, twice in 2023 what's to worry about? I'm going to encounter some superb birds, in stunning surroundings, without some saddo wielding a, long lens, camera but no bins asking "have you seen it?" 

If it's the only photo then, by definition, it has to be the best?

Still haven't made any effort to cast a bait in the direction of an Eel, although the weather forecasts do suggest more favourable conditions as the month progresses. A very short session down at the Carp puddle, on Monday, resulted in three more fish gracing the net with the best one, a Common, weighing in at 11 lbs 14 oz. The learning opportunities that this type of venue allows has meant that I'm tweaking rigs and bait presentations which I'm hopeful will provide an edge when I return to the Flatlands in June.


Friday 7 April 2023

Making the most of it

 I'd planned to do a Wednesday afternoon, into dark, session down on the new farm pool but, circumstances beyond my control meant that I had to revert to plan B at the last moment. So it was just after 13.30 hrs when I loaded the van and headed back to the local irrigation pool knowing that I'd have to pack up around 18.00 hrs. Very much the same old routine. Bottom fished particle hook baits positioned using the "Bushwhacker" baiting pole (eight sections = 12m/3 wraps!). I am certain that these Carp have never been offered anything like my mixed particle concoction which I introduce as groundbait. If a commercial bait manufacturer was to produce such a product they would need to charge in excess of £20/kilo to ensure "Carp Tax" levels of profitability. For me, however, it is simply a matter of sourcing my raw materials, from a local grain supplier, then mixing them all together in my study and producing small batches (1.5 kg dry weight) in the slow cooker. The flavours and enhancers, I use, are added once the grain has been cooked, but prior to it going into the freezer. In exactly the same manner as it is stocked for a Pike season, the freezer now contains enough "party mix" to ensure I can get out to the bank at very short notice. My hook baits are produced in an identical manner, yet frozen in Chinese takeaway tubs with a date scribbled on the lid to help me with the order that they are subsequently used. 

May 2016 - my first "twenty" from the RMC on particles and a split cane!

It would have been around 1986 when I first became aware of the effectiveness of particle baits for Carp, yet it wasn't until 2015 when I stumbled upon the fish in the flatland drains that I sought to pursue the subject further. It's a really weird series of events which have gotten me to this stage because it was the 2013/14  Barbel campaign, on The Stour, which first  made me revisit the particle option. It wasn't because I thought I'd catch a Barbel on sweetcorn but, instead, a deliberate ploy to avoid Eels picking up the Halibut pellet hook baits we were using. Originally the swims had been fed with small pellets and it was like a "swim-through" Mc Donald's for the Eels, so a particle option needed to be explored. What then occurred is now consigned to the history books but, inadvertently, led to the current fascination with the flatlands and the Carp which reside there.

An old image but, tank testing rigs and bait presentations has been
a fundamental part of my angling, whatever species I'm targeting.

My confidence with particle baits is so strong because I know that 99% of the other anglers, on the same venues, won't be using them as hook baits? "They're not Carpy" or, more likely, because Danny Fairbrass and Alan Blair use boilies it's a case of "baa - baa - baa" stick with the flock. Let's get it right, the sun will never rise on a day when I will ever be perceived as being as talented as any of the Carp circuit "names". Guess what? Neither will the vast majority of those other anglers who frequent the club and day ticket venues I visit. If you do the same as everyone else why would your results be any better than theirs? So I'm back to the point where I'm telling Eddie Turner that I will only use dead baits for my Pike fishing. His advice is as relevant today, in these Carp related circumstances, as ever it was whilst on the banks of Wilstone Reservoir in the mid-1980's. "Give yourself an edge" That's exactly what I attempt to do with my approach to every angling project I undertake. For this current Carp caper I am reliant upon the fact that all my bait is produced at home, thus not available off the shelf and is, therefore, unique.  Doesn't equate to it being better than anything else, just different?

Like peas in a pod - a scamp Common of 11 lbs

So, after this post going around the houses, back to Wednesday's session. Under no circumstances can this particularly fishery be taken seriously, as a challenge. If you can't catch Carp here then it must be time to sell the tackle and buy some golf clubs or a mountain bike! In little over four hours I landed thirteen Carp, four doubles, and had to pack up because I'd run out of bait. Absolutely crazy and just the sort of session required to counter the disappointment of not being able to offer a baited rig in the other club fishery. I'm happy to let the Easter break pass before making any further visits to the bankside. Having spent a considerable amount of my time perusing the Youtube offerings, I've a couple of rig presentation ideas that need experimenting with as my season moves forward.

At 12 lbs 2 oz this "Ghostie" Mirror was the best of the bunch on Wednesday

Sunday 2 April 2023

Play time

My new Carp venue has provided more challenges than simply getting a bite. The swims have been built to last and the foundations, of the majority, are so solid that there is absolutely zero chance of getting a rod rest in the ground, let alone four - which is how many I require to fish two rods! My last visit resulted in me breaking a stainless steel rod rest and, as a result, resigned to the fact that I would need to purchase a rod-pod set-up before I returned. As I spiral rapidly downward towards total tackle tartdom, I called in to see Camo on Friday. Ten minutes and forty quid later, I left the shop with a Leeda "Rogue" pod and a silly grin on Camo's face. I spent much of Saturday playing around with my new toy and have made some alterations to the rod spacing on the buzz bars. Although designed to house three rods, my own requirement is only for two, thus I was able to grab a hacksaw and reduce the outer width of both the front and back cross bars. 

Although I'll never claim to be an engineer, the pod is now very much to my liking. I had it set up in the lounge and spent time playing around with the various configurations that the pod allows, much to Bev's displeasure! It was then down to the choice of attachments. My butt rests were simple rubber "U" types whilst I decided to dig out the "Dragon Carp" Ultimate Redmire bite alarms, in conjunction with equally cheap NGT bobbins. I purchased the alarms in 2013 when the Ramsgate branch of Dragon Carp shut down and they were available at the ridiculous price of three for £5! That they still function perfectly well means I get get huge enjoyment whenever I use them. 

With all this prep work done there was no way I could stay at home so, having secured permission from Bev, I headed off down to the local club fishery for a very short session in order to see how my new toy performed? To be fair the new pod is perfectly fine. My choice of butt rests was a major error, as the rods slid easily towards the alarms. I fixed it by using elastic bands on the rod handles but will change over to gripper type versions. The NGT bobbins are absolute crap and, again, will be changed for more superior models before I venture out again. The outcome of my, off the cuff, session was that I landed four Carp in less than three hours, the best weighing in at 13 lbs 4 oz thus ensuring my April target has been achieved. I would still like to catch a Carp from my new venue and will certainly give it my all over the next four weeks. However, with the pressure off, I might just have a dabble with the Eels before the end of the month?