Sunday 29 September 2019

The Tiny River Alne - Dry Boots and Dog Otters

A scotch bonnet pepper may sound timid, but it is nothing of the sort. It’s one of the spicier peppers (100,000 to 350,000 SHU, same as a habanero) that you may potentially find at a supermarket, especially in geographic areas high in Caribbean residents.

Now as a chilli consumer I should have known better when making a beef and tiger prawn curry the other day, you see I didn't wash my hands nearly enough and after rubbing ones eye within seconds I was in pain from the chilli oil that was now in ones eye. 

I've done stupid things like this before but for some reason after washing my eye with water it took a good while before I could open my eye, a wet wipe in the end seem to do the trick but boy it was painful.  

So Why the Caribbean? Because this is THE pepper of the region. In fact, if you say you want a hot pepper in most of the Caribbean islands, the scotch bonnet pepper is what you are handed. Scotch bonnet is used in all sorts of Caribbean cuisine, including the well-known jerk chicken (or jerk pork).

Now for me it's a hot chilli that I don't have post curry adverse reactions too, in the morning ones regulatory passes without issue, that cannot be said for other varieties of chillis, some just don't sit right in my stomach.

The shape of this famous pepper is what inspired its name. In shape, the pepper with its squashed look appears like a Scotsman’s bonnet (called a Tam o’Shanter hat). Simple as that. Nothing else reminiscent of Scotland about this pepper, but it does have a name that’s hard to forget. It has other names, too, including the Bahama Mama, the Jamaican Hot, the Bahamian, and the Martinique pepper

Scotch bonnets run between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units . The hottest possible scotch bonnet is potentially 140 times spicier than the mildest jalapeño you may find (around 2,500 SHU). That’s a lot of heat. So despite all its scorch, there is quite a bit of heat above the Bahama Mama.

So for this quick morning session I was on the banks of the river Alne which is a 3 minute drive from my house. The fish may not go big, well the fish I've caught anyway, but there is solitude here in abundance and up till now, I've not seen another angler.

There are some good chub here to be had though and despite their statue they give a good scrap. 

Simple tactics as well, I walk the stretch feed some liquidised bread in some likely looking chub holding spots and then on the return fish the swim using a large piece of bread flake.

Now the river can rise at a ridiculous rate and as I type this the river is likely to be in flood. The amount of rain we had last night enough to make it un-fishable where as when I fished it, in areas you could see the bottom. 

As I was making my way up the stretch having already banked a 3 lber I hear a disturbance just down from me and then something large on the bank opposite. It was a huge otter, easily the biggest I've seen on the waterways I fish.

Its tail was huge and it entered the water and was patrolling the margins causing a huge wake and bubbles in the process. I followed it upstream and managed to get this photo, sadly not of this apex predator itself but just goes to show whats lurking in small rivers like this.

I did mange 5 chub though and this one in-particular gave such a good fight it deserved to have a trophy shot. I fish fairly light for these fish and luckily all the fish I caught were in tip top condition. The larger and slower chub may not avoid the clutches of the otter though, only time will tell I suppose but at least there are some fish still hanging around despite their back watching.

A note for next time, pack your half wellies, the moan grass went to thick quite quickly and my walking boots ended up getting soaked and my socks acting like sponges. My trousers acting like wicks and were soaked through as well, Luckily only a short 2.5 hour session but I won't make the same mistake again. 



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