Without the people affiliated to Caught by the River such as Jeff Barrett, John Andrews, Will Burns and many many more, I’m sure The Tuesday Swim would not had found the depth nor the talented people that I have collaborated with over the last few years. CBTR has always held its integrity, a soft approach that people are drawn to – be it online, at a festival, or through books, music and film. CBTR supports and promotes like minded artists, there is no defining CBTR creative, it’s simply a place where their imaginations sit side by side.
Last autumn I visited the North Kent Marshes for the first time, an invite from musician Adam Chetwood. He spoke of wildies that were spread throughout the fleets. A journey began that has taken a year, lost landscapes, broken houses, a hidden moat and the feral carp. But it has been a tough year, in six months I had lost both parents – this landscape now holds a special place for me, a breathing space during some sad times. I hope the film translates the sense of openness, and of wilderness that lie just 35 miles from London.
The film will be released on the Fallons Angler YouTube on Friday 17th September at 5.00pm
My wife Lucy has created a limited edition A2 poster which can be purchased here https://fallonsangler.net/product/wildie-film-poster-limited-edition-print-by-lucy-merriman/
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.
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.
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.
My father fished mainly for black bream off the Sussex coast in the 1940’s and 50’s from his boat ‘Vulture’. I always thought the boat was more of an excuse for my father to hang out on the beach and watch young ladies pass by rather than a serious fishing vessel. In more extreme summer showers (just like this year) Vulture could accommodate a canvas pup tent, where upon pipe smoking and general tackle sorting would take place amongst friends. I now own that pup tent and have used it for many camping trips and was my prime over night fishing shelter for my carp fishing obsession as a teen in the eighties. The old sea tackle was sadly disposed of a few years ago in the local dump, (when I found out I went bloody mad) an old army haversack bag containing wooden line winders, floats, two Penn multipliers, three boat rods, a wooden centre pin and some old round pipe tobacco tins with hooks and lead weight, nothing of any great value but it was something that I wanted to keep. Now it has been thrown out in one of my fathers clear outs, hoarder he is not!
My father fished for the table and once married with a young family the piscator seemed to fade away. We have never spent a minutes fishing together, for my quest to angle was to admire and then put back, my father did not understand this but on one occasion we did share an angling moment and that was when the Passion for Angling series was broadcast on the BBC, in the early 1990’s. We both admired the way nature was captured on film and of course the fish being caught, I loved the old and new approach to angling demonstrated by Chris Yates and Bob James, respectively. But, I always remembered what my father said to me half way through the TV series, when we were having a catch up on the phone, he said “I stopped watching it because I thought the two presenters were too twee and the narration quite naff!” “Great Scott!” I exclaimed but I could see his point, it’s not everyone’s taste. Since the first broadcast A Passion for Angling has become quiet a cult series and generally considered to have not been surpassed in quality or in the way it captures the essence of angling. By chance I ended up chatting to Chris Yates in the pub a few months back and asked him about taking part in a new television series perhaps another APFA, his reply…”never, no, fishing and filming do not bode well!” So there you have it A Passion for Angling II will not be produced with Chris Yates. I digress…
Last year I was pointed in the direct of quite an interesting fellow, Nigel ‘Fennel’ Hudson at the Priory and his new website. Nigel or ‘Fennel’ had started writing at an early age under the encouragement from Chris Yates and over the years has created a quarterly publication that are now available to buy online. While looking at Fennels website and the images a haunting word kept coming back to me in my father’s voice ‘looks a bit twee to me.’ I was a little put off.
When written well, traditional angling writing by the likes of BB, for example is the type of literature that I can read again and again but with ‘traditional’ angling becoming more popular there is a trend for copy cat style scribblings that at best is a poor reproduction and at worst annoying and at times quite cringe worthy. So with Fennels Journal I stayed off until now, just in case of disappointment but then I saw ‘The Wild Carp’ edition!
I’m fascinated with anything to do with ‘wild’ or ‘feral’ carp at present an antidote to the current carping and commercial bagging up scene, so I decided to take the plunge and ordered a copy. Order made, and three days later a signed copy with a pleasant short letter arrived on my doorstep. After a quick flick through I could immediately see this was a labour of love, printed on high quality paper with high quality images. Straight away I had to read the first article chronicling the introduction of the ‘feral’ carp to Britain by the Romans and the subsequent stories of how these carp stayed and survived in the stew ponds over the next two millenia. The writing flows un-hurried without overly romanticising each point and the research is thorough, from the first sentence I was thinking, this lad can write, its informative and very refreshing. As the journal moves from the history to his own personal stories and then the stories of like-minded anglers who encounter the ‘wild’ carp the journey draws the reader into the mystery and rarity of these carp. Towards the end there is an interesting interview with an angler on the wild carp of the Danube that leaves the reader hypnotised by the size and beauty of these feral creatures. The photographs are still a little staged at times but I can live with those, the shot of the large Danube Wild carp is stunning. I shall order some of the back copies but for now I would recommend you get a copy of the Wild Carp Edition especially if you like catching the odd one yourself…
Although I do dabble throughout the closed season, the 16th June is still a special date for any traditional angler, and there is no other species that epitomises traditional angling than a good wildie.
Today I was travelling ‘heavy’ as I was taking two rods, a Mark IV Avon with a Ambidex Mark 6 loaded with 8lb line and a James Aspindale Carp Delux with an old Slater latch from around a hundred years ago, loaded with 10lb line.
It was not an early start but it was my way of showing some respect to the closed season, so from about half past Saturday Live I arrived at a rather small and I am afraid to say secretive pond in the south east of England. From the start I saw signs of wild carp (as this water seems to only contains them) high in the water searching for food. How wild these creatures are, I do not know but they certainly take on the classic torpedo shape, large heads, small bodies and big tails. The size in this lake does not exceed 10lb and to be honest I’ve not seen one over 7lb but this is not the point, they are so beautiful, an antidote to ‘Heather the Leather’ and ‘Fat Lady’, wild carp are exquisite…
The final few hours were spent with the old Aspindale rod and Slater Latch, bread cast out into the lilies, a slurp, a splash and then a clitter clatter of an old centre pin reel as line streamed out…