Detectorists – series three

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I have never placed a TV program up on the Tuesday Swim but with Mackenzie Crook’s masterful comedy in it’s final series I feel the task of messenger urging you all to watch is duty bound. Series three has been inspired by the song  ‘Magpie’ performed by the Unthanks adding a new depth and spirit  to the narrative.  The dectectorists of Danebury; a conglomerate  of archaeologists, treasure hunters, romantics and anoraks strive on, challenged by modern life but driven by the mysticism of the past, tragic, funny, and spiritual, will Andy and Lance uncover the magpie’s tale or shall they leave it lost and buried. Watch here.

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The Suffolk Stour by canoe

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This year I have fished probably less than ever before but I have managed to achieve one thing, I built a canoe. Drifting on water would be a new found perspective that had an appeal and the urge to construct something was prevalent. The process of building the canoe and why I ended up doing it is written up in issue 11 of Fallon’s Angler along with a rather good cover but I will refrain from saying anymore while I gently blush!

After a few short trips on the Lea in the summer myself and a friend Greg decided to make one last trip of the year, to paddle along the Suffolk Stour in the autumn, (personally my favourite time of year).  I knew very little about the county or the river despite making many visits to Portman Road over the years as a life long supporter of Ipswich Town. For both of us this would be a voyage of unknowns and an opportunity to load up the canoe and try it out before I plan a longer trip next spring.

We set off a day after southern England was hit by the aftermath of hurricane Ophelia which whipped up the Sahara sands, a Ray Bradbury’esk atmosphere  cloaked the land in an orange haze as we set off from Bures on the Essex/Suffolk border. Our journey was to be around thirteen miles with a stop off overnight on a small campsite that nestled next to the river. We packed light but made sure we had good provisions; wine, whiskey and food, our campsite had a farm shop and 28 days old steak was offered up to our open fire in the evening cooked on my old steel pan, we were alone, we were the last campers of the season. The night was mild but by sunrise light rain started to fall which slowly became heavier throughout the morning. Over the two days we had the Stour to ourselves aside from the occasional dog walker and one lone angler who sat motionless in the early morning drizzle of our second day. He sat still, an elderly man who’s posture resembled that of a  heron transfixed on the water, mutual respect was exchanged in a silent nod as he waited for us to drift past so he could once again be alone with his thoughts as we headed on towards Stratford-St- Mary.

The last tench of summer – a film

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It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with Kevin Parr while he fished and talked about the landscape of Wallers Haven in Sussex. Kevin spent the day building up his swim confident in his choice which resulted in a wonderful tench. This film celebrates the camaraderie between friends, the banter, the early mornings, the landscape and the fishing. It coincides with the launch of Fallon’s Angler issue 11 which goes to press today. Sadly we delivered this one a little late but issue twelve is already under way and we aim to be back on track bringing issue twelve in the new year.

Shooting off grid – solar and portable power.

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Finding good editorial stories for Fallon’s Angler has taken us away from the usual beaten paths and ultimately to more remote places, last year we walked into Dartmoor staying over night and this year we camped in Snowdonia finding quieter places and catching wild brown trout. The down side is we have to carry everything, camping gear, food, cameras, tripods and fishing kit. Being away from power can be deliberating for the photographer, weight is always carefully monitored so carrying camera batteries has to be restricted; I carry eight LP-E6 for my two Canon 5D cameras, but these can be spent in under two days, so I decided to try out the Goal Zero Sherpa 100 power bank and Nomad 20  solar panel, they weigh 877 grams and 1132 grams respectively, so I decided to take a closer look and see how they could solve my off grid shooting problems.

 

Connecting of the Sherpa 100: The Sherpa 100 has two USB output ports, a 12v output and laptop output with various adaptors to fit most brands such as Asus, Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba, but there is no adaptor to take a Mac PowerBook (the choice for the majority of photographers). There is a work around by screwing an inverter but I will come to this later.  The Sherpa 100 comes with a 12v cigarette car output adaptors, one to connect the Sherpa 100 to any 12v cigarette lighter device. There is another useful 12v adaptor cable that allows the Sherpa 100 to be charged from any vehicle but this has to be purchased separately for £9.99. All of the male and female sockets are colour coded and neatly light up when connected; therefore no mistakes can be made when making a connection and you can see devices are charging in the dark. The single input-charging socket accommodates the 240v charger (supplied), the 12v car adaptor (sold separately) and any Goal Zero Nomad Solar Panel (sold separately)

Charging the Sherpa 100: Direct from the mains the Sherpa 100 took just over 3 hours to fully charge. To charge from a 12v vehicle adaptor it took a little over four hours. I charged the Sherpa using the Nomad 20 on a sunny autumn day in London, the sun was weak so the charge was slower but despite this I managed to achieve a 20% charge in around two to three hours, anyone who knows what an October day in London can be like will understand that the sun is far from it’s potential full strength.

Using the Nomad 20 solar panel: You can use the Nomad solar panel to charge the Sherpa 100 or plug the solar panel direct into a device via the female USB connector, obviously the panel does not store energy, that is the job of the Sherpa 100 but this is a neat solution to topping up devices. All of the cables and connectors pack into a built in mesh pouch at the rear of the solar panel keeping everything safe and tidy, the pouch will also accommodate the Sherpa 100, handy if you want to suspend the panel out of the way and leave it to charge.

I charged my IPhone 5 direct from the Nomad 20 again the sun was weak, the panel charged 30% of my phone in two hours. Mini karabiners are supplied to allow you to clip the panel on to a rucksack while in transit, and there is the option of daisy chaining the solar panels for added power. The trifold design measures 210mm x 330mm when closed and 630mm x 330mm when the three solar panels are unfolded.

Charging via the USB port: Canon – With the Sherpa 100 fully charged I found I could simultaneously charge two Canon batteries (LP-E6) via the USB port in two hours forty five minutes taking the Sherpa down to 80% charge, continuing to charge two more canon batteries it took two hours and thirty minutes with the 60% charge remaining. The variant was probably due to the condition of the LP-E6 batteries. Based on this I could potentially get ten LP-E6 batteries charged from the Sherpa 100 this could extend my shooting time to 2-3 days.

Go-Pro: The time for simultaneously charging two GoPro batteries was slight less at two hours.

iPhone: I charged by IPhone 5 six times with 50% remaining so in theory I could get ten charges from the Sherpa 100.

Using the Inverter: You screw this into the side of the Sherpa which offers you a two pin mains plug in option, purchase a standard UK three pin to two pin adaptor and you are once again in business offering more charging options, the inverter does add more bulk but only weighs an additional 184 grams. As I mentioned earlier there  is a lack of direct connection to a Mac PowerBook (not Goal Zero’s fault, the Mac connections are licensed!) so an inverter is required (additional purchase required). My MacBook Pro 15” only received a 79% charge before the Sherpa ran out of juice after one hour and twenty-five minutes, the issue here I believe is the energy used to power the cooling motor inside the inverter but perhaps someone more electrically qualified may be able to throw some light onto this? I would conclude the Sherpa 100 with the inverter is not ideal for charging Mac books and perhaps you should look at some of the larger models like the Goal Zero Yeti.

Conclusion: At 2kg for both the Sherpa 100 and Nomad 20 this option is not too heavy nor bulky, the panel clips neatly onto the back of my LowePro ProTactic 350 back pack and can be folded out when trekking to gain some extra power. I must confess I haven’t had the opportunity to fully test the potential of the Nomad 20 panel but weather pending I will in the future. Saying this, even in the autumn sun of England I could top up both the Sherpa 100 and top up my IPhone directly. I would consider two solar panels and daisy chain them, they could easily be laid out on my kit bags while canoeing during the day or at base camp.

The Sherpa measures only 133mm x 150mm x 40mm making it easy to pack in a rucksack or dry bag. I would recommend buying the 12v car adaptor so that charging could take place while driving. Charging via the USB port seems to be the most efficient way to use the Sherpa 100 rather than using the inverter. There are loads of Goal Zero accessories to go with this set up including led lighting, lanterns, re-chargeable batteries and more, check www.goalzero.com for the full range and prices.

For the serious outdoor photographer who requires extra power, the Sherpa 100 at only 877grams gives the photographer freedom to roam, and with the Nomad 20 and some sunshine your power is potentially endless. The build is rugged but remember it is not waterproof, so I would recommend buying a small dry sack for photographers staying out in the elements. Taking more power with me has simply taken some anxiety out of shooting off grid, the power bank will certainly be on our future photography trips whether we hike, canoe, or set up a base camp,  shooting off grid has become more appealing.

 

 

Fallon’s Angler YouTube channel

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Fallon’s Angler has now launched a YouTube channel featuring all of our previous films plus a new one featuring Kevin Parr, The Last Tench of Summer. Kev has been a bit of a star, aside from being a very talented angler his knowledge of the flora and fauna is clearly shown and beautifully delivered  in this film, so we are off again soon in search of an autumn species, please subscribe to the Fallons YouTube channel to keep up with our new films, better still buy the publication.

A London mullet.

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Don’t worry fashionistas of Hackney Wick and Dalston, the eighties mullet has yet to return, (for now) you may stick to your acid tones and cool electro beats but only the brave will dress the mullet once more.

My mullet were lurking in the tidal stretch of the Lea by the sanctuary of two discarded water tanks not found on a whim  but more likely a regular journey, summer after summer, sifting through the silt for a easy feed? Notably hard to catch, these stubborn thick lipped variety were positively zip lipped when it came to my free offerings. Do I have the patience to try and fool one of these or shall I stick to the carp? I’m unsure but to witness these mullet as I have done now for the last few days has been a privilege.

Video

Halfway home – film

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A short film written and narrated by Garrett Fallon of Fallon’s Angler, with music by Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou. A touching story about memory and the return to a place after a forty year absence, a place full of childhood dreams. This is not Garrett’s native Ireland but North Wales, and the Snowdonian lakes of Cregennan. Using his fathers rod and reel, Garrett searches for the wild brown trout.

The moon & the sledgehammer

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Last summer  I spent the day with author and angler, Dexter Petley, searching out river Lea carp. After many emails sent back and forth from his base camp in Normandy, Dexter finally made it to London while promoting his new book – Love, Madness, Fishing after a thirty year absence. It turned out to be a memorable day (Dexter writes about it in Fallons Angler issue 9) success came in the shape of a large Lea common. I was happy that it was Dexter that caught the near twenty, he only had one chance while I could return anytime, I felt it was the only outcome. What stood out  that day was Dexter’s boyish excitement and confidence in catching a carp, gifted by the fact we had a new moon, perhaps his whispy grey hair and talk of moon phases  captured me, spellbound in some form of carp wizardry? It was a great day, the new moon cast its spell and I became a moon child.

Almost one year on and the river season has commenced, I have been keeping a close eye on the river but the carp have disappeared, perhaps the dry spring sent the carp to deeper more oxygenated waters? On opening day I met with friends Garrett and Tony for a traditional 16th and despite many bream feeding on our groundbait our carp baits only spooked the twitchy bream, the carp were merely ghosts.

So last Saturday we entered a new lunar phase, I woke feeling half-hearted about getting up but the celestial pull took me to the river at a respectable 8.00 am, if the carp were enchanted then hopefully they were still under a spell. I arrived at a usual spot and looked into the river, below were three large carp, boisterous in their swagger as they pushed their way around the swim searching for food, it was the first carp I had seen in a while, their tails in the air, the moon had switched them on, dancing on moonbeams. River carping is not easy but sometimes it all drops into place, it did last year with Dexter and today it looked hopeful. I lowered a bait just one foot from the bank, I felt the line and watched the rod tip, thirty seconds passed and then wham, like a sledgehammer hitting the rod, the tip pulled down as the carp headed downstream, for five knee trembling minutes I fought the carp and finally landed a common, probably just under the twenty pound mark, just like Dexter’s common from last year. The wizardry of carp fishing strikes again!

Summer solstice

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I’m compelled to write a few words on the solstice, a date I regard highly, the longest day and also my daughters birthday. Fallon’s Angler 10 is at the printers and will be dropped through the subscribers letter boxes within the week. This issue we headed towards Wales and shot two films, we rediscovered Cregennan  Lakes after a forty year absence, and met a special lady who has spent a lifetime on the Usk.

Also in issue 10 Chris Yates celebrate his glorious 16th and some new contributors play their part in the Fallon’s story from Wales and beyond.

For now there is a pleasant lull, I’m not racing around the country, I’m fishing locally for river carp, but being nomads they seem to have disappeared, perhaps seeking deep cooler pools while we sit out the hottest heatwave since 1977; I’m happy to sit it out with them…

My canoe is also ready for launch, this may help in seeking new swims that only before I could view from afar, over grown banks and fallen trees obstructing my passage, but first I will have to see if the canoe is stable enough to land a ‘river lurker.’