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!


Monday 31 July 2023

Taking the piss

 As if it's not testing the limits of my photographic ability when trying to get macro images, this evening I've pushed the boundaries way beyond anything attempted previously. With the moth trap fired up and the light fading rapidly, I noticed a small bat sp. flying around the large Buddleia which is part of our rear hedgerow. The Magenta 5, bat detector, rapidly involved, my best guess being that the individual involved was a Soprano Pipistrelle? The best reception I managed was between 53 - 55 KHz which is spot on for this species according to the limited information I have at my disposal. Standing there, ear phones in, pointing the detector at this wonderful garden visitor, it became very clear that it had a fairly regular patrol route. Would it be possible to get a photo? Only one way to get an answer to the question - grab the camera and give it a go.

Absolutely no way would my primitive kit be able to autofocus in nano-seconds as the bat passed, so I set the minimum focus distance and pointed the kit in the general direction whenever it flew past. Twice I managed to get an image of the bat, one of which is very pleasing under the circumstances. Not even close to being anything other than a record shot, it is, however, a start and something I can use as a benchmark should the opportunity arise again.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Progress report, enforced change and a target up-date

Just after 08.30 hrs, this morning, I took a drive down to Camo's (Carp Cabin) to drop off my original pair of Duncan Kay Carp rods so that Mark Plank could give them a quick service and replace the duplon handles with cork versions. What this will mean is that, for the foreseeable future, my Carp angling will involve using my pair of 12ft, 1.75 lbs t/c "Specialist Barbel" rods. That they are a foot longer, and 2 oz heavier in t/c, than my Duncan Kay's, shouldn't pose too many issues beyond the fact that I've not used them in nearly ten years!

I set up the "Specialist Barbel" rods on the rod-pod in our back garden
just to see if they would be suited to this particular piece of bankside hardware.

The "double in every month of 2023" caper is going splendidly. Thus far I've had no problems in achieving this target, although June did prove to be a bit perilous. My actual tally, to date, is thirty-three over ten pounds, thus one more than I managed in the period spanning March 1983 - March 1993! Two things need to pointed out here. One I didn't "Carp" fish this entire period, just the winter of '83 - 4. Secondly, Carp have never been easier, nor more widespread, than they are today and this is certainly true in East Kent. So as I move into August, and beyond, what is it I'd like to achieve? Obviously, that primary target of a "double" in every calendar month, isn't up for discussion but, could I amend the target, somewhat, by now looking to capture fifty doubles during the period?  Taking this thought process one step further, would it be possible to equal my best tally of "twenties" in a season? I only need another four and have certainly managed that out on the flatlands and what about getting that PB? Knowing that Sandwich Coarse Fishery certainly has such Carp, I feel sure that I have access to a C&DAA club venue where such fish reside and there is always the RMC loitering in the background, particularly whilst Bev is away with her daughter and the grand-kids!

Okuma CBBF 5000 - the only bait-runner reels I've ever owned.
Cheap as chips, less than £25 each, they come with s spare spool.
Just to put this into some context, a spare spool for my Nash GT 4000 reels
would cost more. Carp tax - you know it makes sense?

Whilst my bankside appearance might not be of "Carpy" standards, the important part of my kit is 100% as good as I can make it. To this end, I spend ridiculous amounts of time watching absolute toss-pots, talking bollocks about products and methods which catch more anglers than ever they do Carp. What is important to note is the fact that in amongst this cess-pit of product placement youtube dross, there are absolute gems to be discovered by anyone willing to sift through the crap. 

Heavy bobbins and a very short drop!
I only own these ridiculously expensive bite alarms (Nash Siren R3's)
due to an award from Fujifilm SIS, via their suggestions plan.
Back leads, tight lines and confidence in the rig presentation is what
really  matters?
. For this insight I'm indebted to the guys at Korda and Nash

Bite indication and rig mechanics remain my key focus. Whatever I can do to refine any aspect of these fundamental pieces of the "Carp fishing" jigsaw will never be too much trouble. Just recently I've started to use the "D" rig, with outstanding results. I make no claim to be particularly gifted, as an angler, but this very simple rig has got so much going for it when prepared my way. I use mono for the hooklink (12 lbs bs Diawa stuff) and a size 6 Gardner "Covert Dark Mugga" size 6 hook (barbless!), with a Nash bait screw. 

I'm not prepared to get too involved in my bait choices and such like, but will see the year out before spilling the beans? There's a clue there if you get my drift.

Thursday 27 July 2023

Mission accomplished - Sun-downer Pt 2

Even as I was packing away on Tuesday evening, plans to return to Sandwich Coarse Fishery were already on my mind. Even though I had caught a Carp, thus avoided a blank, I knew that I could have done so much more during my time on the bank. Short session angling has to be all about effort? There is no place for wait and see. If something is not right, or playing on your mind, then it must be addressed straight away. On Tuesday I hadn't done that, as I discovered to my cost at the end of the session, both rigs were masked with leaf debris. Today was a very different story! I was on site around 14.30 hrs and checked in with Kevin (the site manager) before doing a quick lap of Victory Lake. Quite a few folk bivvied up and enjoying themselves, by the sound of it. I couldn't get in the swim I had on Tuesday and opted for one on the opposite bank, which commanded a sheltered corner and also an island margin. 

My tackle and tactics were identical to those used on Tuesday. Two Duncan Kay rods, with Okuma CBBF 5000 bait-runner reels. A Mainline "Link" 15mm pop-up on a Ronnie rig on the left hander, a M/C 12mm wafter on a "D" rig being on the right hand set-up. The rod-pod, Siren R3's and associated nonsense was readied and I had two baits in the fishery bang on 15.00 hrs. The use of "The Bushwhacker" baiting pole system is a real game changer. Rigs can be positioned accurately and quietly with little disturbance. I'd started with both baits at twelve sections (18m) but because of what the fish were showing, I moved the right hand set-up in to eight sections (12m) after twenty five minutes. The first bite came just twenty minutes later and a scamp Common, of 7 lbs, had a look at my unhooking mat before being returned.  Less than forty minutes later, the same rod was away again and this time it got a bit serious. Fifteen minutes elapsed between the bite being registered and finally coaxing the, very angry, Carp into my net. If I'd had lost it I would have sworn it was a monster! !5 lbs 2 oz of long, lean, Common Carp was my reward.

The rig was shipped back out and within forty minutes the Siren R3 burst into life again as Carp number three charged off with my rig. Nowhere near as dramatic, this fish chugged about the fishery with plenty of power, but none of the speed and energy of the previous individual. In the net within five minutes, it was clear that this Mirror was in a different class entirely. The scales revealed a weight of 23 lbs 6 oz and, as such, just what I'd been hoping for. 

Once photographed, I decided to get the kit back in the van and head off home. I'd achieved what I wanted to do and have also gained an insight into the fishery which will be called into play later. Bev is going away with her daughter and the grand-kids, so I have a window of opportunity where some night fishing will be possible. Kevin has already penciled me in for a couple of sessions for next month, so watch this space. 

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Easy does it

 Over the past eleven days my self-found (birding) year list has had two additions. Little Owl, a pair in West Stourmouth churchyard and, today, I finally added Willow Warbler to the meagre tally of 160 species. Absolutely pathetic, when viewed from the outside, but there it is. I've already recorded Bea-eater and Honey Buzzard from the garden this year, so it's a crazy way of doing things I guess?  In 2022 I managed to end the year on 177 species, but that looks highly unlikely if our September holiday to Kefalonia doesn't happen and things aren't looking too brilliant at this current moment.

One, of three, seen around the garden during the morning

The garden moth trapping continues to provide some superb entertainment with quite a few decent species starting to appear. However, there won't be anything to report tomorrow as overnight wind and rain ensures that the Robinson Trap will remain indoors. 

Saltmarsh Bell

Jersey Tiger

Broad-barred Knot-horn

The Red Valerian, out the front of the bungalow is rapidly approaching the end of it's flowering period, but still manages to attract the odd Humming-bird Hawk-moth. As I said in a previous post, they always make me smile and I apologise for the very samey images that I capture. 

Finally, this very weird looking Scarce Bordered Straw turned up this morning. It looks very pale, although probably due to being rather worn ?

Tuesday 25 July 2023

"Sun downer" at Sandwich Coarse Fishery

 There was a few bits I needed to follow up, so a trip across to have a chat with Kev, site manager of Sandwich Coarse Fishery, seemed to be a plan. Whilst I was there it seemed silly not to have a cast? The "sun downer" ticket allows a four hour window (15.00 - 19.00 hrs) and was just what I wanted. Obviously a day ticket fishery isn't going to offer the freedom of swim choice, but you pay your money and take the chance. 

Not wishing to sound pretentious but the few other anglers, I encountered, seemed more intent on having a social rather than catching a Carp. Each to their own I suppose. I rocked up and found a few fish, "fizzing up" in a quiet corner. I wonder how much the fact that it is the furthest swim from the car park impacted upon the situation? Two baited rigs in the water using twelve sections of "The Bushwhacker" baiting pole, it was less than twenty minutes later that my left hand rod was away and I was able to coax a nice 13 lbs Mirror Carp into my landing net. 

No further action, although I certainly saw plenty more signs of Carp feeding in the area. Good learning opportunities and, hopefully, something I'll be able to use when I return on Thursday afternoon? 

Sunday 23 July 2023

Migrating Swifts and a bent rod.

 Having not run the moth trap, overnight, I was rather lazy and didn't get up until gone 09.00 hrs. Despite the overnight wind and rain, there were a couple of hanging baskets and four planters which still needed to be watered purely because of the wind direction. The wind was still rather brisk, from a SW direction and, as I was filling the watering can, a couple of Swifts passed overhead. Before I'd completed my task another three came over, headed in the same direction. Fairly high and certainly moving with some purpose, I still felt it might be worthwhile having a bash at grabbing a photo, or two. I was probably stood in the garden for a couple of hours, my final tally being seventy-three Swifts and a lone Swallow. Obviously this is nowhere close to an accurate assessment of the movement as birds were moving on a very broad front, thus will have been missed to the East and West due to the garden hedge and the bungalow roof obstructing my view.

This afternoon I took a drive down to the "Carp Puddle" just so I could bend a fishing rod. I managed just over three hours of angling, eleven Carp being drawn into the landing net during this time. Not a "double" amongst them, which was a little surprising but, the first fish, a small Common, did me right over. Just as I was removing the hook, it flipped and the hook was firmly embedded, deep into my right index finger. Boy, did that make me swear, yet I am certainly grateful for the "barbless" rule imposed by C&DAA or it might have been a whole lot worse? I packed up, an hour earlier than planned, purely because the 5 litre bucket of particle mix was empty. It was so good to be back on the bankside, a bent rod in hand, doing battle with scamps which have no intention of going into your landing net without a proper scrap.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Looking and learning

 It would appear that the local House Sparrows have enjoyed a very successful breeding season, there being well over one hundred and twenty birds present around my feeding station and the adjacent gardens this morning. I'd gone through the moth trap egg trays, early, and knew that I'd not be running it again tonight due to a prolonged spell of brisk winds, peaking at 40+ mph, and rain. I've not picked up a fishing rod in over a week, but knew that today wasn't going to when anything changed. All the usual chores out of the way, it was then time to listen to Radio 5 and hear the Lionesses scrape past Haiti in their opening game of The World Cup. 

This Ichneumon Wasp sp. was on the egg trays, this morning, and
the image captured before my latest tutorial.

With the skies darkening and the wind picking up, I then spent a while watching a youtube offering about macro photography for beginners. I'm not too sure what planet some of these folk inhabit but, in between  the blatant sales patter, there were a few snippets which were worthy of following up. The wind had certainly picked up, yet it was still dry and reasonably bright so I grabbed the camera, complete with the lens and extension tubes, to see if what I'd been told actually assisted my very basic understanding of the subject?

The first Fig-leaf Skeletonizer of 2023.
My neighbours, Mike & Leslie, have a Fig Tree which overhangs our garden
and the leaves have been absolutely obliterated. Leslie said she'd only found a 
single fig this year.

Trial and error is very much the name of the game. I have absolutely no issues with admitting that I could do better or, indeed, I've got it wrong. Only by using the mistakes as a learning opportunity will progress be made. Because I wanted to practice I spent time looking for anything which would provide a test for the new camera/lens combo. Under no other circumstances would I have ever looked at this wonderful "Mirid Bug"

Heterotoma planicornis - weird and wonderful as they come!

Fortunately it is quite distinctive and common, thus no issues with obtaining a positive id relatively easily. 

Friday 21 July 2023

Sunshine Hummers and other garden moths

 Running the garden 125w MV Robinson Trap provides almost unlimited possibilities for exploring the incredibly diverse variety of moth species which share the space with us. Size, shape and colouration is way beyond your imagination when first getting started with this fascinating group of insects. The harder you look, the more you will see and quickly realise that opportunity to push the boundaries of your knowledge and interest is only limited by the desire of the individual involved. For me, the journey into micro moths is a frustrating roller coaster ride, yet one that is incredibly enjoyable. 

I took this photo yesterday evening to show the Hedgehog fence
used to offer a level of protection to the moths drawn to the light.

Some of the family groups are really good fun to explore as each new species is able to provide another piece in the jig-saw which will allow you to unlock the code at some point. Pyralids, Tortrix's, Cranbids and Plume Moths certainly fall into this category. Case-bearers? Not a hope in hell! Rear them from larvae or kill them being the consensus amongst the mothing fraternity. 

Grey Knot-horn

Ash-bark Knot-horn

Pale Thistle Case-bearer?
It certainly looks like one given the images I've compared it with
on various websites, but that's not good enough apparently?

Just prior to turning on the trap, yesterday evening, I was watering the hanging baskets and containers out the front of the bungalow when I spotted a Humming-bird Hawk-moth nectaring on the Red Valerian. I quickly grabbed the camera and attempted to obtain some images in the rapidly darkening conditions. To be fair, the camera did all the work, I just pointed it at the moth and pressed the shutter button.

The best I could manage in the rapidly fading light

At around 10.30 hrs, this morning, whilst pottering about doing some dead-heading of the hanging basket Petunias, I spotted another Hummer feeding on the same patch of Red Valerian. By the time I'd grabbed the camera and returned there were three present. I set the shutter speed to 1/1600 th sec and rattled off a good number of shots whilst they remained. I was using the Sigma 170 - 500 mm lens, at full length, so not macro photography by any stretch of the imagination. 

I could make no attempt at estimating how many Humming-bird Hawk-moths have graced our garden over these past twenty-three years. It will certainly be hundreds, yet every time I see one it has the ability to make me smile. They are just fabulous little insects with so much character and energy. 

Thursday 20 July 2023

Can't have one without the other

I've not made any accurate measurements, but would think that I actually own (according to the property deeds) slightly less than a 1/10 th of an acre which includes the land occupied by the bungalow itself. Whilst that is more than enough grass to cut, when pushing a mower around, it does cause a few issues when attempting to make the most of the local wildlife opportunities. Running a 125w MV moth trap whilst also maintaining a Hedgehog feeding station, in such a limited area, is never going to be without a conflict of interest? No avoiding the simple fact that Hedgehogs will eat moths when the opportunity arises.  I do have a wire mesh fence, with a 7ft diameter, surrounding my trap, yet moths which land on the grass outside this barrier are beyond my help unless I happen to be watching the garden when they pitch down.

Moth killers, or not, I can't see a time when I won't encourage these
wonderful creatures to visit my garden.

Since the start of June I know that  Elephant (7),  Privet (3) and Eyed (1) Hawk-moths have fallen foul of these spiny garden visitors, plus a number of Yellow Underwing sp. and other odd noctuid-type moths. I suppose I could construct an even larger diameter fence, but where do you draw the line? Hedgehogs around the local gardens are a real success story and a constant source of enjoyment for all of us involved in the "Hedgehog Street" monitoring program. That I am also, very much, enjoying the garden moth trapping means that this conflict of interests will remain as I'm not prepared to give up on either aspect of garden wildlife watching. 

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Garden moffs - evening update

 The garden MV trap has continued to attract a nice, yet fairly predictable, variety of moths. The numbers of micro species has been drastically affected, however, by the brisk overnight winds. Migrants have been very much at a premium with just a scattering of Silver Y's, Dark Sword-grass and Diamond-backs. The odd Delicate being recorded is just as likely to be of local origins than from further afield so the one stand out moth has to be a Scarce Bordered Straw which turned up last Thursday night?

I'm still having plenty of fun with the camera gear and obtaining images of very common species is a good way to experiment with various camera/lens combinations and settings. 

Satin Grass Veneer

Maple Button

Quite a good morning, today, as a Little Egret flew over the garden whilst I was examining the contents of the trap. This is only the third patch, and second garden, record of this increasingly common species. Best of all was getting the opportunity to grab a few shots of a Humming-bird Hawk-moth which was nectaring on the Red Valerian at the front of the bungalow. Even at 1/1250th sec, I couldn't avoid the wings appearing blurred, such is the manic energy used by these fabulous insects.

There I was saying how predictable the contents of the Robinson Trap were and then this happens. I'd potted it up because I wasn't too sure that I recognised it. Very lively, so into the fridge it went, along with a couple of others, to be examined later in the day. A worn Dun-bar and a very fresh Pale Mottled Willow were quickly dealt with, so left me to head scratch over the id of this rather plain looking noctuid. My conclusion is that it is a Crescent Striped, although am very happy to be corrected, and, as such, new for me and the garden.

Crescent Striped

Sunday 16 July 2023

Forty years down the road

 It was at the tiny pond, situated right beside the main Euston to Birmingham (at the time) railway line at the very point where the Great Train Robbery had taken place some twenty years previously that my first twenty pound Carp was captured. Bridigo Pond, then on the Berkhamsted AC ticket, on 5th July 1983 my floating "Red Slyme" bait was taken by a, then, huge Mirror Carp of 21 lbs 10 oz.. My diary notes tell me that I was using a size 4 Partridge Z2 hook tied to 12 lbs b.s. Maxima line and that I was using a 10' glass fibre "Gerry Savage" S/U (stepped up) Carp rod, yet strangely there is no mention of the reel choice? Only my second, ever, double and it's a "twenty". I was totally blown away by the capture and certainly hadn't done anything to have deserved such a result at this stage in my angling adventure.

This blurred image, taken using a Kodak 110 camera, still makes me smile.
That Kevin Kegan perm, however, does nothing to enhance the photo of me, or the Carp!

I'd been a member of the Tring Syndicate for a couple of seasons by this point, and I'm sure that it would have been a direct result of rubbing shoulders with far more experienced (and competent) anglers which steered my angling efforts during these wonderful times. It was certainly the advice from, the late, Lester Strudwick (Carpike Speccy Group member) which directed me towards the municipal lake in Welwyn Garden City. Stanborough Lake, aka "The Cracker Factory" as named by Rob Maylin, was to see my carp angling develop into something beyond anything I'd experienced up until that point. I started the campaign on 17th September 1983 and finished it on 25th February 1984. One of the craziest, most enjoyable and rewarding campaigns I've ever embarked upon. My quest had been to land a Carp in excess of 25 lbs (still is) but I finished with a PB specimen of 23 lbs 14 oz and happily walked away from Carp angling knowing that there weren't too many speccy anglers who had a  PB better than mine.

20 lbs 15 oz - Stanborough Lake 12th November 1983

21 lbs 9 oz - Stanborough Lake 9th November 1983

23 lbs 14 oz - Stanborough Lake 25th February 1984

I did go back to the venue occasionally during the following summer, but my sights were already set upon the Wels Catfish of The Leighton Buzzard AC fisheries, particularly Claydon and Tiddenfoot. A story for another post, perhaps? So on with the Carp adventure and there is a huge void in my angling journey because I spent eighteen years totally obsessed by the Kent birding scene (1993 - 2011).It might just be prudent, at this point to add a bit of detail to the events leading up to my moving from Hertfordshire to Kent in August 1993. I'd been working for Brooke Bond, a Unilever company, at the Redbourn factory and, because it was being shut down was offered three options. Redundancy, a move to Manchester with Brooke Bond or to Ashford, in Kent with Batchelors, another Unilever company. Obviously it was that last option which I, and my family, took. What also needs to be mentioned is just prior to this relocation I'd spent time in Florida, catching Barracuda, then Madeira, where I caught Atlantic Blue Marlin in excess of 5m (1,000 lbs) and all of a sudden catching Pike, Perch, Roach or Barbel no longet came into the equation. Kent birding fitted the void perfectly. The whole experience was one of fun, passion, adrenaline rushes and camaraderie. Kent birding did nothing but provide me with some of the best experiences of my entire life and for this I remain eternally grateful to all those characters involved during that period. 

Circa 1990 - Benno doing battle with a Kilchurn Bay Pike.

The roller coaster ride that life provides did deliver a few twists and turns. My first marriage went down the tubes, certainly aided by my, successful, quest to post new record yearlist figures for Kent birding. OCD? Got it in one, but if that sequence of events hadn't happened Bev and I wouldn't now be together. Fate? I don't know, or particularly care, life goes on and that's what really matters. So I now have to fast forward to 15th July 2010, and it's my youngest brother, Sye's, 50th birthday bash in his garden at Aston Clinton, Bucks. The whole gang of family and friends are assembled, beer and wine consumed in some quantity. It is at this point that Benno, my son, pulls the master stroke. Pissed as a pudding he staggers across to where Bev and I are sitting and utters the game changing question. "Dad, can we go back to Loch Awe for one last (Pike fishing) session?" I swear to God (not that it means anything) that up until that moment Bev had no idea that I ever went fishing. I was a birder, no more or less. That positive reply to Ben's question has impacted upon our lives ever since and I'm very happy to remind her of this fact whenever she questions my desire to go fishing. 

Benno and I with a brace of  Kilchurn Bay mid-doubles in April 2012

That 2011 trip back to Kilchurn Bay, on Loch Awe, was to re-ignite a flame which had obviously been simmering, but subdued, during my Kent birding sabbatical? With eighteen years of catching up to do, there was a huge void in my understanding of the current coarse angling scene. Wow, what a wake up call it provided! Basically, if you didn't go Carp fishing you were a "Noddy", or a match angler! From my perspective it was a complete revelation to learn that specimen Perch could be deliberately targeted, Barbel and Bream record weights had surpassed 20 lbs and commercial Carp Fisheries now gave anglers year round access to fish that had been such a niche target during my formative years as a speccy hunter. It was a steep learning curve as I sought to get back into alignment with this modern version of "big fish" angling. So many projects, so many opportunities to explore, I had an absolute blast as I pushed boundaries that hadn't been present during my first incarnation. Barbel, Perch and Chub PB's were all easily improved upon, during those first couple of years, the Barbel project being particularly enjoyable due to my links with Fred Crouch and all that he'd instilled into my approach to these fabulous fish. He was the master of his craft and I'm certain that he'd approve of how I went about my quest for that River Stour PB?

It wasn't until July 2015, however, that anything particularly different occurred. Whatever quirk of fate was involved, that afternoon Barbel session which was curtailed because of EA weed cutting on the river has impacted massively upon my angling outlook ever since. Carp, real wild fish without names or previous capture photos, were discovered out on the flatlands and have been key to all of my Carp fishing ever since. Sure I've dabbled with syndicate and club water Carp fishing but, the real deal is those unknown inhabitants of the drains and dykes of the East Kent marshes.

20 lbs 10 oz of flatlands perfection - 10th July 2015

Eight years ago, almost to the day, I caught my first "twenty" in thirty-one years and the seeds were sown. Not a big fish, by modern standards , but so much more impressive because of where it lives. Every one landed is hard earned and must be appreciated as such. As a direct spin off, Benno and I then got wind of some incredible Carp which inhabited the RMC (Royal Military Canal) and were fortunate enough to cross paths with a few of these fish and included my first split cane caught "twenty". Off grid Carp fishing and everything I could have hoped for? It has been this desire to seek Carp from such venues which continues to drive my serious angling efforts. That I now also have the luxury of being able to experiment with various aspects of my angling techniques down at the club "Carp puddle" has certainly assisted the understanding of what is required to fine tune rigs and bait presentations. 

21 lbs 7 oz Mirror from the RMC. 30th May 2016 and my first "twenty" on a split cane Mk IV

The current state of play is fairly uncertain. I'm now at the start of a project on a completely new section of drain where I've seen a couple of fish, yet have only had two blank sessions, thus far. As much as I adore the stamp of Carp which live in these wild places, it would seem that finding somewhere you can conduct a pre-baiting program and be certain that you'll be the only angler to benefit from the effort is now becoming increasingly unlikely. I have no-one else to blame but myself. Not only have I blogged many times about the successes I've enjoyed out on the East Kent Marshes, but I've also published an article in Catch Cult extolling the thrills of such experiences. If, via my writings, I've inspired others to give it a go, there's no point in moaning about the situation. What I need to do is find myself another challenge and a return to the "dark side" of the RMC might do just that?

Quite possibly the best looking Carp I've ever caught?
22 lbs 3 oz of flatlands perfection - 3rd August 2021

I've not caught a "twenty" since August 2021 and feel that it's about time I targeted a fish of this size again. That I steer well clear of the commercial day ticket-type venues is purely of my own choosing. As a C&DAA member, I certainly have several venues where I could go and be in with a very realistic chance of achieving my goal but ,rubbing shoulders with carp faggots and time bandits, doesn't do it for me either. Nope, just like everything else I enjoy, it must be done my way or not at all. One massive edge, which I now enjoy, is that because I'm retired there are no limits on my ability to spend time on the bank. If conditions look good, I certainly don't have to book holiday leave, I just go fishing. One other positive, which was there right at the start of this Carpie adventure is the fact that I'm confident Carp can be caught during the colder months, thus have no issues with conducting a flatlands campaign once the majority of other anglers have packed it in or targeted other species. Just to highlight this fact, my current Carp PB came from the flatlands on 12th March 2021, not another angler (human being) in sight. 

It was sixty years ago when I first picked up a fishing rod and what a superb journey my involvement with angling has provided. All being well, health and fitness allowing, my aging, arthritic, body will continue to perform it's basic functions and I will be able to enjoy another decade, plus, of bankside antics before it becomes too much effort and angling is consigned to the memory book for ever. That last statement is not meant to sound morbid, in any way, just a summary about getting old.

21 lbs 14 oz of wild Common Carp from another section of the drain
that I'm currently targeting. 30th August 2016