Thursday, 24 May 2018

Closed Season Canal Zander Quest PT92 – Azaleas and Asshats

The Wife unlike oneself is not a lover of electronica and anything with repetitive beats and couldn't think of anything worse in accompanying me to the annual pilgrimage to Ibiza. However a lovely Sunday afternoon sat in the sun listening to Fluid Dynamics – 4hr Chill Out Mix she ended up sitting back, enjoying the good food and excellent wine and putting her feet up for once. Even the kids seemed to be happy in entertaining themselves once the homework was done. It’s not all about ‘banging beats’ this musical genre, it can nurture anyone neurones if they are open their mind to the sounds it can encompass and the mindfulness that can be achieve from something quite simple.

Now the Azalea is in full bloom at and such is its vibrancy at the moment it attracts some of the biggest bees I’ve ever seen recently which with the Wife with an irrational fear of anything wasp or bee related this isn’t a good thing, despite her, like me, admiring the plant at this time of year. If you don’t know Azaleas are not good for bees and us humans, not good at all because if you didn’t know….

Azaleas are weapons of war….

Visit the remote mountainside towns in Turkey’s Black Sea region during springtime and you may witness beekeepers hauling their hives upslope, until they reach vast fields of cream and magenta rhododendron flowers. Here, they unleash their bees, which pollinate the blossoms and make a kind of honey from them so potent, it’s been used in conflict.

The dark, reddish, 'mad honey,' known as deli bal in Turkey, contains an ingredient from rhododendron nectar called grayanotoxin, a natural neurotoxin that, even in small quantities, brings on light-headedness and sometimes, hallucinations. In the 1700s, the Black Sea region traded this potent produce with Europe, where the honey was infused with drinks to give boozers a greater high than alcohol could deliver.

The bees go a little doolally for a while, but then don’t we all from time to time….

The honey would be left in the path of invading legions; the soldiers would eat the sweet treat and end up vomiting and dizzy from the toxin in the honey. The effects rarely prove fatal to humans but would have halted or slowed down armies for a while. The grayanotoxin is the plant’s defence against herbivore attack.

When over-imbibed, however, the honey can cause low blood pressure and irregularities in the heartbeat that bring on nausea, numbness, blurred vision, fainting, potent hallucinations, seizures, and even death, in rare cases. Nowadays, cases of mad honey poisoning crop up every few years oftentimes in travelers who have visited Turkey. Apparently the honey is taken in small amounts, sometimes boiled in milk, and consumed typically just before breakfast, so it’s not slathered on toast or stirred generously into tea the way normal honey would be.

Where can I buy some, answers on a postcard please….?

As a towpath frequenter where hazards are usually dog poo related, over the last couple of weeks the amount of unruly and disobedient namesakes is beginning to get on my wick. Dogs off the lead appearing out of nowhere having what seems like a bag of Haribos for breakfast hell-bent on rummaging through ones tackle seeing what they can scavenge . The last incident the weekend just gone, having spoken to the owner in a mild manner that "maybe the dog should be put on a lead if he is that disobedient" as he completely ignored his owners shouts and annoying whistles whilst causing some bankside havoc, because not everyone likes dogs Mr. For some reason he didn’t appreciate the advice until Sam held up a pint of maggots and said “he’s been eating these”.

Now this is the same owner that dumps poo bags on the towpath and then collects them on his return an hour later FFS and seems happy that’s he doing nothing wrong. You’ve signed up for a dog, now deal with it, rather than having your head firmly up your backside, the towpaths are not just for you, they are for everybody.

Oh I do love a good moan....

The deep bit because of the access can be a bit overbearing at times because as a solitude seeker it’s by far the busiest stretch I fish. It’s fine on the most part as I’ve bumped in to some nice people ,but it can be frustrating sometimes as many are not as courteous as me. A mountain biker on a UK speed record attempt, a boater with a stuck throttle, a shirtless salad dodging tiller holding coffin dodger. But it’s got me coming back though to its hallowed waters because there are some decent Zander to be had here and I’m sure a big one is lurking in the side-lines.

So this was a quick after work session and a short one to, a scraper two hours if that, both rods set-up with smelt deads without their tails chopped to try and attract a bigger fish rather than a schoolie. Sometimes if I get a run but the fish falls off it's usually a small Zed with a mouth bigger than his belly, but if a bite is on the cards then the best way to bank a least a fish is reduce the bait to a couple of inches max. This seems to do the trick and to be honest I've not had an issue with once a run has been aborted or a fish drops off they usually take the bait again.

I fished two swims, the first, not even a nudge on the float despite there being fish in the area but then having moved to the more secluded swim because the skies were clear and it quite bright within 15 minutes or so I had a run. The right hand float starts to go from left to right and a fish is trying to get under the cover. I knew as soon as I lent in to the fish it wasn't a big'un despite giving a good account for itself. So a typical Zander fair, a scraper 3lber with a distinctive split fin.

Hmmm, having had good results here for a few initial sessions, it's certainly gone off a bit. The water is ridiculously warm at the minute, great for the carp, but in my experience you cannot say the same for Zander. There is an area I want to try where I caught the carp the other day as it has some character and I've caught Zander before where I've seen carp, so hopefully that will throw up something more suitable for my landing net.

Before that session, I'm off in to dusk and beyond to the furthest most reaches of my stomping ground.


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