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!


Wednesday 29 November 2023

The incredible RMC adventure resumes

I went back down to the RMC yesterday morning for my first Pike session of the 2023/24 winter. I blanked, although have plenty of excuses should they be required, but the bottom line is that my tactics weren't good enough on the day. A superb morning, with some reasonable birding to keep me amused whilst the alarms remained silent. The session was topped off by Chrissy and Mo turning up for the regulation banter and piss taking, plus a Baker's Meaty Meal, or twenty! The canal has provided me with some outstanding Pike fishing since Benno and I first visited way back in the winter of 2011/12. Over the years, we have explored the fishery from Seabrook to Iden Lock and so, so, many locations in between. That's a lot of canal. The biggest lesson we've learned is that the Pike fishing is better the further away from access points you travel This where Google Maps plays a massive role in my Pike fishing. I am able to do an awful lot of prep work, sat at my laptop, which allows me to make educated decisions on where to fish without the requirement to actually do the miles of hard graft checking out the various sections It's not without flaws, yet certainly is a great asset when seeking new opportunities.

My very first RMC "twenty" taken near West Hythe Dam

It was in February 2013 that I managed to capture my first "twenty" from the venue, Benno had to wait until December 2016 for his first Pike over the magical number. Still, we were constantly striving to push our knowledge of the fish in this remarkable waterway and slowly our methodology evolved to suit the particular challenges set by this man-made drain.

Benno's first RMC "twenty" from Iden Lock (East Sussex ) and probably twenty miles away
from where I made my first capture. That's an awful lot of water to explore.

Wild Pike which reach the weight of twenty plus pounds are rare creatures today. Each, and every, one will have a wondrous tale to tell, if only they could. The RMC still contains a very healthy population of these niche predators, but they seem to peak at around twenty - two pounds, give or take. That there are a small number of Pike which have managed to push through this glass ceiling and attain weights in the region of thirty pounds is what keeps me motivated to undertake the long drive, followed by a long hike with the barrow, to seek an encounter with such a creature. I've seen photos of two such fish, one captured over a decade ago, the other was in March 2023 and on a stretch I was actually fishing at the time. I haven't got tunnel vision, another serious campaign isn't on the cards at present. I am simply going to keep an eye on the weather and pick my sessions accordingly.

Wild Pike, from wild places.
As long as I'm able to undertake such arduous exercise, these magnificent fish
will continue to play a part in the annual angling cycle.

The canal offers everything I could wish for in my Pike angling today. Remote sections, which require more effort, than the vast majority of modern anglers are willing to undertake, to reach. The only other folk I am likely to encounter are just as serious about their hobbies as I am mine. As a side show, the random conversations I've experienced, with complete strangers, have been an aspect of the fishing journey which has become ever more important as I grow older. I really don't think that achieving my target will actually see me draw a line under my RMC adventure? It's quite simply one of the nicest places I've ever fished, and that speaks volumes about the place and people.

Another RMC dawn - "what will today bring?"

Thursday 23 November 2023

Admit defeat and move on

The Carp "double" in every month of 2023 looks doomed to failure. I just ain't feeling it anymore. Bev's injury has played a part but, even without her tumble, my heart really isn't in it anymore. "Never say never" as I might just fluke a double on a short afternoon session and re-ignite the flame, however, it's now late November and conditions are telling me to get out after Pike. The RMC is calling, but the section I favour is still carrying a lot of extra water due to recent high rainfall levels. Bev and I took a drive down to Giggers Green just to allow me to gauge the situation. Utter mayhem being my impression looking at the filthy, debris filled, water flowing towards the sluice at West Hythe. It'll require a good week, without further rainfall, before the canal will start to fine down and be fishable again. In the mean time, I have a simple quest to catch a double-figure Pike from a new venue. 

"Black Dyke" as named by Gareth Craddock
Will my hunch pay off?

I've certainly taken a few Pike from this particular drain, over the years, yet the best one was around the 9 lbs mark. It is part of a massive drainage infrastructure which is in place to prevent flooding across the East Kent area and, as such, connected to many other drains, dykes & ditches via sluices and junctions across the flatlands. I've met anglers, whilst on my travels, who tell of decent Pike being caught from the venue yet haven't seen one for myself.  Tomorrow morning I am planning to cast a couple of baited rigs into a section of this drain that I've never previously fished. What's the worst thing that can happen? If I don't try, I'll never know, so the adventure continues. 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Flatland fun

Safe in the knowledge that Bev would be perfectly happy to mooch around in her "jim-jams" until I got home, it was an early morning drive across to the marsh for my second Pike session of the new season. Two baits positioned before 07.00 hrs, it was a joy to be on the bank just to witness the sun rise above the Eastern horizon. 

I had only allowed myself three hours, so it was a major bonus when, at 08.40 hrs, a "Back-biter" burst into song as a Pike picked up my Herring tail section (dyed Yellow and flavoured with mixed fish oils). A fairly mundane tustle resulted in a nicely marked Pike, of 15 lbs 15 oz, visiting the bank. A fish which I first caught in 2019, thus testament to the catch and release ethos and everything which the PAC strives to promote in these, Carp dominated, times

22nd November 2023 - 15 lbs 15 oz

10th February 2019 - 12 lbs 7 oz

I am currently in the process of cobbling together a post based upon Jim Gibbinson's 1983 Pike chapter in his wonderful "Modern Specimen Hunting". With forty years to think about it, surely I'll have some opinions worth sharing? Don't hold your breathe, it will appear at some point in the future.

Sunday 19 November 2023

One step at a time

 Gradually Bev and I are adapting to the situation created by her broken wrist. As time passes, the swelling has started to go down and a regular intake of Ibuprofen seems to combat the pain rather effectively. The hospital have been in contact and we're due back to the fracture clinic, on 4th Dec, for a replacement cast and an assessment of the healing process. So until then, my excursions to the waterside will be erratic, at best, and very short sessions. In this respect I am very fortunate to have the club "Carp Puddle" just five miles away. I can almost guarantee a bite, or two, and still be able to get home quickly if an emergency were to arise. 

With the camera set on auto I got a fill-in flash due to the shaded swim
I was occupying. 

It is a lovely, quiet, venue at this time of year which I often have completely to myself. The surrounding fields are currently flooded and are home to large numbers of gulls, Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing and Golden Plovers. Common Buzzards are resident in the area and the Great Crested Grebes, on the fishery, are still raising a brood of three very late youngsters. Two sessions down there, since Bev's accident, have produced three Carp in under five and a half hours fishing time. Best one going 9 lbs 8 oz - I must try harder if I'm going to complete my challenge.

A lovely watery sun-set and it's only 15.50hrs

Meanwhile, back at home, the moth trap has been packed away for the Winter. The garden planters are in a very sorry state with only the odd Begonia hanging on to their flowers. Storm damage and natural decay has certainly taken it's toll. Hedgehogs are still visiting the feeding station every night, with at least three regulars. Foxes are also very active around Newlands at present. The high pitched, tri-syllabic, barking of the males it audible most evenings as darkness falls. I've seen two different individuals in the garden, neither of which hung around for a photo session. I've been using my LED lighting system to watch the food bowls and on a couple of occasions I've note single Rusty-dot Pearls flying around the light.

This small Hedgehog is usually the first to arrive at the feeding bowl. I'm
fairly sure it lives under my neighbour's shed?

So that's the current state of play in deepest Dumpton. The Pike gear is ready, and waiting, but will remain inactive until Bev is confident that she can get herself washed, and dressed, in the morning without further aggravating her injured wrist.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Computer "hissy fit" and a spanner in the works

November blogging has been a real struggle as the weather conspires against all of my angling plans, thus I've had nothing to write about. Then, just to properly piss on my picnic, the laptop decides that it doesn't want to play games, so tells me that it requires up-dating. If you have the first idea about such technological nonsense, it will appear pathetic that this simple process has caused me major issues. Two days later, it appears that all the boxes have been ticked and I am, once again, back in the loop?

Don't be too hasty you long-haired twat!!! Around 18.00 hrs, yesterday, Bev decided that it would be a good idea to take a tumble and fracture her left wrist. Four and a half hours in QEQM Hospital A&E, followed by a visit to the fracture clinic, ensured that this morning's Pike fishing plans were a total non starter and will remain as such until Bev feels able to cope without my assistance. Too be fair, she's an independent character and will tell me to f^^k  off fishing sooner, rather than later, but it is still a situation which will require some fine tuning before I'm happy to leave her at home for any length of time.

Just to finish this little up-date. The first Canterbury/Thanet PAC Regional Meeting took place at The King Ethelbert PH, Reculver, on Monday evening, and was a fantastic success. Our R/O, Nick Prior, certainly knows what the guys are about and does his best to ensure we all feel part of the local Pike fishing community. 

Friday 10 November 2023

Is happiness Pike shaped?

It must say something about my mental state when that recent Pike capture has still got me grinning, like an imbecile, days later. It seems unbelievable that I caught my first Pike well over fifty years ago, yet still get excited by such encounters in 2023?  Should the day ever dawn when such emotion is not aroused I'll know it's time to pack it in. Until then, however, I remain fully committed to the pursuit of enjoyment via this angling journey.

January 19th 1987 - 18 lbs 7 oz
British Aerospace Pit, Colney Heath, Herts.

At this present moment I have no concrete plans for how this current Pike season will unravel. Yes, I have some unfinished business down on the RMC and have also gotten the spark of an idea (from Brian over at the Pike Blog) to capture a "double" from two venues that I've not fished previously. The one thing that has obviously impacted upon this planning aspect has been retirement. Time is no longer a major issue. If conditions look favourable, then I can get out on the bank under most circumstances. There is also the distraction of wanting to complete my "double in every month of 2023" Carp project. I did have a short, two and a half hours, session down at the local Carp Puddle resulting in two Carp, the best one tipping the scales at 9 lbs 8 oz - "close, but no cigar!" so I will be back on Sunday, weather forecasts being accurate, to see if I can draw a line under the desired November statistic?

The Pike that set the ball rolling?
November 8th 1981 at Kodak's Water End Fishery, Herts.
20 lbs 3 oz - my very first "double" - how's your luck?

The first 2023/24 Canterbury/Thanet PAC Regional Meeting takes place on Monday so will provide a good chance to exchange opinions and assess the options moving forward. The motley crew is made up of a very diverse mix of characters, thus just the ticket when wishing to explore thought processes "outside the box" I'm pretty confident that somewhere, amidst the piss taking and shop floor banter, a few ideas will be formulated?

Loch Awe - April 2016
Wild Pike, from wild places, don't come much better than this!

Having spent the vast majority of 2023 in pursuit of Carp I now recognise the addictive nature of such, single species, angling mentality. It's been a wonderful experience, especially because I've done my level best to remain on the outside, looking in! I dearly hope that I complete my challenge and, as a result, seek adventures with other species. What won't change, however, is the role that Pike play in the annual cycle of my angling year. Wild Pike, from wild places, will never cease to hold a fascination for me until such time that my body tells me otherwise.

Monday 6 November 2023

Off the mark

Since my success on 12th October, I've had a further seven sessions out with the rods each and every one a total blank! The impact that the two major storms, Babet and Ciaran, have had obviously played a role, but I did mix it up a bit with two sessions after Eels and a, rather half-hearted, bash for some local Perch. Still, if you don't experience the hard times, there is no way you'll enjoy the successes. Today has provided me with just such an outcome. My first Pike session of this new season and I decided that I'd return to a drain where I'd failed to catch an Eel, last Friday. If I'd known how coloured the water was, I certainly wouldn't have bothered setting the alarm for 05.00 hrs, but that's of no consequence now.

I parked the van, close to the stables, just before 05.45 hrs and went through the ritual of loading the barrow and pushing my kit over a mile along the farm track to reach my chosen swim. Two rods fishing by 06.25 hrs, I sat back to watch the sky brighten, although sunrise was obscured by dense cloud cover. Binoculars to hand, I was first entertained by a Short-eared Owl being harrased by a female Peregrine, then a magnificent adult male Merlin perched up in the top of a Hawthorn just along the drain. I then enjoyed prolonged views of a stunning Dog Fox, hunting mice/voles in a flooded field directly behind my position. It was a good to be alive morning, even if the water conditions weren't particularly favourable. At 08.15 hrs the right hand alarm sounded, as a fish had been tempted by the popped-up Roach deadbait, heavily flavoured with mixed fish oils and Predator Plus. It was a splendid tussle, lasting a good five minutes, before my prize was drawn over the net chord. 

An absolutely magnificent Pike, of 17 lbs 2 oz, being my reward for the effort involved in being there. I remained on site until 10.30 hrs, without any further fishy action. I really couldn't care less. It had been a fabulous morning, out on the flatlands, and to see it finish on a high a lone Swallow flew south as I was packing the kit away. "There's certainly more to fishing than catching fish."

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Holiday snaps

 The start of a new month and to say that the weather is a little unsettled is simply taking the piss! The ground is sodden from, seemingly, endless rainfall and yet Storm Ciaran is imminent and forecast to provide even more, but this time accompanied by an "amber warning for gales" from the Met Office. Bev and I took a drive across to the village of Preston, crossing the Ash Levels en route, to have a coffee and a bite to eat in Coppers Resturant. There was standing water in many of the fields and the lanes were lined with puddles, tomorrow might just be enough to see The Stour break it's banks given the tidal surge predicted as the storm moves up Channel. The Dover ferry services have already announced the suspension of crossings and I'm fairly confident that the ensuing travel chaos will provide the local news providers with plenty of scope for politically skewed drivel to keep their readers/viewers entertained (or should that be informed?)

Eastern White Admiral

So with this as the backdrop, I thought it might be prudent to finally share some of the insect images obtained during our recent holiday on Corfu. I walked many miles during the fortnight we were on this fabulous island carrying my camera kit, and binoculars, in the hope that I'd be able to capture some images to use on the blog when we returned home. The one major issue I was to discover came whenever I decided to swap lenses. I'd always be unprepared for that moment, when it occurred, purely because of the wrong lens choice. Still, it was a fantastic break and, although the image quality isn't top drawer, those shots I did capture certainly provide happy memories when I look at the results.

Nettle-tree Butterfly - a "snout" species amd a "lifer" for me

Grasshopper sp. - with a blue underwing

This dragonfly sp. was the most numerous around the apartment complex

Although insects aren't particularly high on my list of interests, they're still capable of providing so many enjoyable experiences whilst wandering these unfamiliar surroundings. 

Female Red-veined Darter

Female Praying Mantis

Mallow Skipper

Long-nosed Grasshopper

Lang's Short-tailed Blue - probably the most numerous butterfly in the local area?

The one subject which was very obliging proved to be Humming-bird Hawk-moths. There were days when I'd come across twenty plus individuals feeding on a patch of flowers. Under these circumstances, I spent long periods playing around with camera settings and lenses, just to discover what I could achieve. 

If I'd captured this image in my garden I would be delighted.
I was using the Sigma 170 - 500 mm lens on my Canon EOS 70D

This shot was obtained via a Canon 70 - 210 mm lens
I didn't know that Hummers could have bad hair days? 
(click the image to see it enlarged)

I'm not too sure that my photos are able to do true justice to the natural history which crossed my path whilst on Corfu. The camera is just a means to aid my blogging, thus not a hobby in itself. All that said, I am currently exploring new lens options and for that I can thank my old buddy Ric F.