The Long Dark 2018 of the soul is over. That makes it sound worse than it was. Before we plunge headlong into 2019, first, some Nietzsche:
"I notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature." ~~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~~
"Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar." ~~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~~
Nietzsche, even today, is much misunderstood, for example he was strongly and clearly opposed to antisemitism. He understood human nature rather well: on the individual level, the dynamics of groups and the power of the group over the individual. He believed that mass culture and the influence of press would lead to conformity and inevitably, mediocrity, (even mediocracy) and declining intellectual progress for the human race. Consider the latter in the light of social media and the influence of fake news, or more correctly, the inability to distinguish the fake from the real. Smart fellow. I might one day understand a quarter of what he wrote.
"He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself;" ~~ August Strindberg (from 'The Dance of Death') ~~
Although this feels like a Jungian re-casting of "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster..." (also from Nietzsche), I prefer the Strindberg as I'm fond of dragons as a motif and their global omnipresence intrigues me.
JAA's Diary for...2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019
You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...·•·January·•·February·•·March·•·April·•·May·•·June·•·July·•·August·•·September·•·October·•·November·•·December·•·
Still, '15'. That's a lot of tedious expositions of fishing adventures. I'd be contrite but I'm really really not. In other news, for some reason I'm inordinately fond of Liquorice Allsorts, except those blue chewy ones. Who likes those? No-one I've ever met.
I'm testing a Moon Phase calculator...so this might not be quite right yet.
The current moon phase is: 'last quarter'. Here's a picture:
|This space deliberately blank||Random mini fishes... (and return to the top of the page)||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||Random mini fishes||This space deliberately blank|
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
22nd July 2019. Word of the day.
Dromomania n. An uncontrollable impulse or desire to wander or travel.
21st July 2019. The Saxon Ponds. I really really meant to fish the top pond for a couple of hours, then fish pre-baited swims on the lower pond to see if I could winkle out a fish. I was on my way out the door at 1:30pm, honest I was… "Daaa-aaad…" ...so I managed to bait the swims and settle down for a couple of hours on the top pond by about 4:30pm or so…
The trouble was the tench. I lost a thunderbolt, the size 16 having opened ‘just enough’, then I had a nice little one and spaced around this were three fat crucians, two at 1lb 10oz and one at 1lb 11oz. Even thus far I was resolute on my lower pond sortie, even with that last perfect butter-coloured, even after the 10oz'er that glowed. Right up to a quarter to eight…but this thunderbolt was held, barely, with a one-size-larger hook. I checked my scales when I got home. 4lb 7oz. No wonder they’re getting hard to stop…so thus lured I hoped for another…which never came.
|The inevitable pitch||The inevitable float|
|Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian||Just another tench|
|Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian|
|They are getting larger|
But I meant to fish the Lower Pond. Honest.
19th July 2019. Split-Cane and Sable by Robin Armstrong.
This is the third of Mr. Armstrong’s books that I’ve read and they are all delightful. This is a little more autobiographical than the others, but as ever it’s wonderfully illustrated by the author and is redolent of his love and knowledge of his environment. I'm not a fly-fisher (yet) but it's books like this that edge me ever nearer to the Frome's sea-trout. I urge you to read it.
12th July 2019. Mappowder.
I’ve not been here for a year or two, but I wanted my string pulled, or more correctly I wanted the Big Hex’s string pulled and my plan was to nab a few easy carps and then mosey on down to the refurbished field pond at the bottom of the field. The former was accomplished in about ten minutes and the latter annoyingly was still verboten, as it ‘needs to settle in until August’, I'd missed that on the website. I found some shade, debated Pheasant pool, played with the carps, experimented with a long fished float to catch ‘anything but a carp’ and had one bream and a roach, then well before the falling light drove me out, went on, rod tested, but carped out.
The rod felt good in the hand, the new plate seat being about right for my hands – it’s a rod of two halves, the top being bendier that one first expects and in extremis the middle and bottom provide considerable spine. Only the tip got tested.
|Across the north end of 'Spring'. I wonder where the spring actually is?||What a bench on a pond should look like.||'Not a carp', praise the gods.|
It’s a lovely place; it’s nicely kept, take half the carp out and it would be better for it. What’s with the surface baits ban? It’s their lake, sure, but I can’t even take my fly rod there now, which was one of my two reasons for getting a ticket this year.
7th July 2019. A few hours foray of an evening to Ibsley. I admit dismay at the low levels in Crowe Pool, probably two feet lower than when I last visited, plus clear water. I’m not sure why this needs to be the case, the river has plenty of water…I stroll and settle for a swim I’d fished in March as it has a little depth and some colour. The alternative is to stalk carp and I don’t fancy my chances in these conditions.
A carp moseys past, which makes me feel a little better and a kingfisher whips into the trees opposite. I flick scraps of bread and mussels into the swim using an old wooden ruler and listen to the furry folk rustle and squeak.
On my left is a niche in the grass and this, it transpires, is someone’s front door. A nose appears, a flicker in the peripheral, and bolts when I look. I pop a piece of bread just outside, there’s a rustle and it’s gone. Heh. Another bank vole wanders across the front of the swim and buries itself in the landing net. I lift the net, a trap, and reach for the camera, but the bank vole finds a bank vole sized hole, drops onto the unhooking mat and scurries off.
Tiny fry are darting around the float, little needle fishes of silver and a large and suspicious patch of bubbles erupts just off to the right. I feed the reeds opposite with crusts, using the same ruler (the spoon is AWOL). I pour tea and wait, it clouds over and a cool breeze rises, doesn't feel like rain though.
I watch the water boatmen scoot about and try to become the background, the better to spring the trap laid. I feel a fish will turn up, not least because someone is dashing around the other end with a stalking rod. In any event, if still quiet when the light falls, I may yet drift bread against the shallow windward reed bed. More tea.
More clouds, I take off the polaroid’s to better see the float tip and watch the midges dance. A slight tension builds and the float nods at me in agreement...some tweaks later, a draggy bite…fully expecting a 1oz perch, but got not even that...the mouse door-steps me so I give it supper.
Lotta mices here. Still, an actual bite. Brown vole is bolder now and I snap him looking through the handle of the flask. Heh.
|The new reel seat and the reel||One brown bank vole|
The light fades a little and I need to decide to fish this spot out or try dusk in elsewhere. Tough call, a nice pitch, tea’s a simple pleasure on a cool evening after a hot day. I opt to move, and discover the breeze I had fondly imagined would be herding flotsam and carps was gone and the plan was a bust. I potter back to the pitch, briefly diverted by a nice lily-patch at the end of Tomkins, which for a moment seems a better bet. Carp were abroad though so thought my chances were as good on the baited spot as anywhere. That is to say; ‘none’.
|The porcupine quill||The pitch|
'Hello Meteor', a good night-drive soundtrack, although it feels as if it should be accompanied by neon signs passing the windows.
6th July 2019. Still muttering about the Big Hex...
I replaced the awful winding check whippings with some less garish colours, using (up) the same NCP green that I put under the reel seat, then a two-tone whipping with some dark green nylon and finally another two-tone of the 'new' NCP green with dark green nylon. I like the look of the last, so decided I'd two-tone the ring whippings as it added some colour but wasn't too 'in one's face'.
I did about half of the stupidly complex two-tone whippings and after changing colours (once) and redoing a couple (the three thread-cuts required resulted in nicked threads), I had a fit of pique and conspired to finish the remaining ring-feet off in medium green nylon and keep the ‘two-tone’ on the rings that got it first. I’m starting to lose the enthusiasm for whipping...it really doesn’t matter does it?
Then I kinda got the gig, an annoying fiddle improving with practise...so I finished what I started. I took the three remaining ‘test’ whippings off and left the rod in the lean-to, to harden the varnish on the others. I added the last whippings, put a small snake-eye ring near the butt as a 'keeper', put a whipping on each ‘ferrule’, ('mostly decorative'). Using a white paint marker, I carefully wrote 'Capax Infiniti' CI"Holding the Infinite" on the rod and the date. I varnished, thinly, the bare carbon. The white paint ran. I wiped it off, let it dry, tested clear nail varnish as a sealant and did it again....then varnished the whole rod and baked it in the lean-to for three days, cooled and hardened in the study at night. Then a last coat and three more days of this cycle.
|The motto, the whippings, the fore-grip.|
I'll fish with it, nowhere too easy and probably add another coat to the whippings. Hopefully that'll be the last rebuild...
4th July 2019. The plan, again, is to capture the carp which pottered about in the heat, oblivious to free offerings and at one point I spent 20 minutes not six feet from it, peering motionless through tree-branches, while it studiously took no notice of free bread. Hm…
The Mk.III was then leaned against a handy tree and I broke out a slender Avon rod and ‘pin then fished for crucians until such time as I could hear free bread being ‘clooped’. This is what I told Pete when he came by on his way to the lower pond to 'test fish' for the roach. Once the temperature dropped the carp vanished…I caught crucians spasmodically, tiny bites, continual bubbling, Pete came back roach-less, I’d yet to hear a ‘cloop’. Pete went on and I stayed until gone 10pm with one ear pricked, catching occasional crus while being buzzed by bats, which passed so closely I could hear their soft wing-beats. A lot of bats this year, which is good.
|The pitch||The Mk.III waiting...||The float on the gold-dusted water|
|One of four pretty fish||One of four pretty fish|
|One of four pretty fish||One of four pretty fish|
At least I had a cast with the Mk.III. It’s a start. "Passion and the Opera, 'Nightwish', night-drive.
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
29th June 2019. The plan is to capture the carp. At 4pm it's still 30°C in the shade and I tackle-up behind a handy bush, as the quarry was lurking not 10 yards from the dam. By the time I’d done, it had scooted off to some lilies against the dam wall. I sneak round and lower bread. This fails and it mooches further down the wall. I cast over the fish and it obligingly sidles up and sucks at the bread; when I strike the bread remains...the fish pops up further out, in no hurry...so I sit quietly on the wall for some time, with sweat running down my back, waiting fruitlessly for another opportunity.
I head for one of the lily-pad swims, wait for the carp to arrive and when it does, a vortex on the far side of this patch, I cast over, see the big tangle and move too much to deal with it; that was that.
I muse on this and decide to fish the fizzing swim for crucians, put on 6lb line, feed pills of bread and fish flake on the hook. For ninety sticky minutes the float ignores the bubbles, then a breeze springs up, blows across the pond in my face and almost at once I start catching fish. Despite the stout rod and the clutch set as light as it would go, I am utterly lost in the black-and-white ripples and fish until I can barely see the little yellow porcupine quill.
|The pitch||The green path||The first and soon abandoned float|
|One of the small ones||A bunch of crucians||Another of the small ones|
|Probably over 1lb, but it was dark...||The last crucian|
I thread back between the shadows to the car and go through a familiar re-stowing routine. The lizard-brain doesn’t like the barn's sepulchral creaks and groans and urges me to shine a light into the dark shadows at the back. The more evolved brain knows it’s sheep scratching themselves on the far side. I consign the barn-sprites to the pit of rationalism, but muscles on my back crawl as I get into the car. Outside the double-gates I slip the boots off, consider the sounds options, pull "Bat Out of Hell" from the DT'Driving Technology' a.k.a. the car’s jukebox and it's suddenly 1981.
This work-of-art passed me by, until I got a lift home from 'The Three Horseshoes' from a girl with an MG and a mass of dark hair. Whipping through dark Chiltern lanes set the music in my mind, I’d have driven round and listened to it all. I can’t recall her name, whose friend she was, or her face and she said only two words; "See you". On recalling this, I transpose for Debs, of slender hips, black hair, mean game of darts and dark green eyes, like a cat. She was a mystery to all of us. Still; walking up Cryers Hill at 2am, the titular tune prowled around my mind.
I drive up Donhead Hollow a little faster than is strictly necessary, but I am old and wise and so know about sudden curves and see them early...
...then there was Andy; lodging with his grandmother, he had the run of a huge bungalow with glass frontage onto a wild corner of Naphill woods. He’d light the fire, put unfeasibly large speakers in the corners of the huge front room, then we’d sit before the fire with good beer and listen to the album through, often two or three times, while the wood-sprites scraped at the windows.
Well, it is a hot summer night.
|Hot Summer Night|
21st June 2019. Sheepish. After making like a shepherd and 'getting the flock into the field', it was good to catch up with the normally faraway Steve"This Blog is a record of my love of the countryside, all things in it, especially old tractors, growing good food, drinking good tea and taking time out to enjoy life!", although he’d not had a touch. I set up in the next swim and in the next two hours had three bites and three crucians, all fine fish. But oddly still and quiet for all that. I strolled about, drank ginger beer, ate steak-and-kidney pie, looked in on the Bottom Pond, talked myself out of fishing it and so spent the next 3 hours or so watching an immobile float, save for one sly bite (missed) and several odd tiny dips and lifts. Three small crucians primed about 9pm, one even landed on the float…odd.
|The Pitch||The float and the damsel fly||The '450 and the hand of the angler||The unwavering cane|
|1lb 4oz||1lb 11oz||1lb 11oz|
Nevertheless, as I pottered across the Compton Abbas high-road towards the orange-framed faraway hills to the soundstrack of ‘In the Evening’ (from the DTDriving Technology’s jukebox), I thought it a fine day.
18th June 2019. The Avon Roach ProjectThe latest entry covers this years spawning, the changing future plans and their hopes for barbel.. Trevor Harrop’s and Budgie Price's indefatigable project to restore the Avon roach stocks. It’s well worth keeping up to date on this and my spies tell me roach are again being caught on the Avon.
16th June 2019. Opening Daze. The glorious started at 4:30am with the patter of rain on the lean-to roof and the rhythmic thudding of larger drops from the eaves, the latter signifying ‘more than a passing shower’. I went back to sleep...and at 6:30 the sounds were the same and at 7:30, but headed for a sausage sandwich and some coffee anyway. I could watch the cricket highlights if it was still raining...I pootle off around 9:30, grey, damp skies and a fine drizzle. I’m going anyway...the late hour (late? Hah!) re-setting the flask from coffee to tea.
I popped ‘Rumours’ on the DTDriving Technology’s built in jukebox and ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was fading out as I crossed the dam. Spot on. GP was there already, since 4am, impressive given that it was cloudy, rainy, the wind was fishtailing about the pond in gusts and it was quite cool for the time of year. Sadly for both of us he’d not caught, although I winkled out a few roach in the next swim using the bait of charlatans and mountebanks (a.k.a. maggots). Even those roach, nice fish of a hand’s size, pulled tentatively on the thinnest sliver of cane and after the first couple, I switched the hook down to 16(ish) fine wire with a single maggot, as it seemed like a scratching day.
Nevertheless, as if enlivened by the talismanic arrival of Pete, a solid crucian of over 1lb took the bait. I presciently noted I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the only one. GP offered around his very very fine chocolate-chip-and-banana cake. Pete went on. Jim turned up and wisely went further up the bank. Another gentle dip of the float led to a good tench and I briefly engaging in a violent squabble, in which the hook, called upon to arbitrate, found in favour of the tench. The fish left, stage right, in a furious cloud of bubbles lined into the lilies. Damn.
|Pitch the First||The Lone Crucian||The float rod and '450|
|The second float||The third float||The Last Pitch|
GP caught a fine roach and after another hour I ‘called it’ and decamped for my tea and a trip around the pond. Jim had a small crucian and was getting bites, so hypothesising the shallow water was perhaps warmer I set up camp. For me, this didn’t work...in the end with evening on the horizon, I cleared a middle swim of reed mace and flag iris using a vicious curved knife on a landing net handle (sorry Jim!) and fished the last two hours out in as fine as swim as one might wish for.
Not that the float even twitched for those two hours...I followed on GP’s heels, wishing Jim more luck than we’d had to date. ”In Through the Out Door” for the road home, fish pie, new potatoes and a ridiculous chocolate cake waiting chez Anotherangler. Pretty good for the ritual day.
15th June 2019. Still muttering about the Big Hex, although I note it’s been used nigh on 50 times...I had a notion that perhaps the plate reel-seat has come of age, so had a look. By pure fluke I found a second-hand shrFor the ‘youngs’ that’s a bit like ‘pre-owned’ ‘Vintage’ Fuji FS-7SGS Plate Style Reel Fitting in stainless steel. It has a nice grey finish, which I immediately liked. So; I stripped corks, slit and removed the plastic Fuji reel seat, which, it may surprise you to know, is terribly easy. I scraped off the glue and paint then offered up the seat. I opted for the sliding ‘foot’ to be toward the butt. This was on the basis that if it does move, the reel foot is hard against the fixed part of the seat and also, when gripping the rod, the tendency is to close the clip, rather than the chance of pushing it open. Here's the seat pre-fitting:
|The Fuji FS-7SGS plate reel seat||The Fuji FS-7SGS plate reel seat|
|The Fuji FS-7SGS plate reel seat||The Fuji FS-7SGS plate reel seat||The Fuji FS-7SGS plate reel seat|
I marked the places on the rod where the binding whippings will go and carefully whipped the gaps with a green NCP thread. Amazingly, I only just found out what NCP means and what the implication is. An NCP thread remains opaque when varnished, so its colour will stand out on a black carbon rod. Huh. I'd assumed for some reason 'NCP' was some Gudebrod proprietary term. Not so, it stands for 'No Colour Preservative' (required). dipYes I feel a complete idiot.
I mixed some epoxy and cable-tied the reel seat to the rod in the middle position and at the butt end. At the fore grip-end I whipped over the metal with some 18lb fly-line backing, coloured it with green marker pen and varnished over it. That’ll hold it. When it had spent the day in the lean-to, letting the UV set the varnish, I added the other whippings in the same way. I'm not a 'zillion coats of varnish' person for the most part, but I will make an exception for these. They'll get several more.
|The plate reel seat on the rod.||The plate reel seat on the rod.|
|The plate reel seat on the rod.||The foregrip, still needs a final smoothing. That whipping is awful.That's allegedly 'grey' and 'dark green'. It's coming off. Corks look good.|
I pondered stealing cork rings off the Hardy Glass rod blank to make a new fore-grip...then I thought, nah, stuff it, I’m already ordering some green and grey NCP thread for whippings, so I'll have a few cork discs, in green and green layers. For fun one understands. While I was at it, I de-flashed the butt ring. I also stripped the rings off the top section, removed the paint on the ring-side flat and put a tiny blob of white paint where the rings had been placed. I stripped the remaining paint off and then wasted two hours with a magnifier and a very well honed scalpel blade, removing flecks of gold paint...which was strangely satisfying.
I've not used cork-discs before. I opened them up to the distance across the ‘flats’ with a cone cutter and then marked where the 'corners' were with a fine back permanent pen and used a mandrel made from an old cane boat-rod to ream the round hole into a hexagonal one. I epoxy’d them onto the rod and left them for two days then took the 'half-drainpipe' to them, although I first covered the reel-seat and bare rod with cling-film and layer of duct-tape. They need a little more work, but I'll wait until the rest is done.
By-the-by if you're celebrating 'the 16th', best fishes to you.
9th June 2019. The Wetland...
After the previous week’s snitching, it’s clear that Pond ‘3’ has, strictly speaking, more rudd that it needs. So I returned to redistribute some rudd. Normally when one sets out to fish to order, even in the lush and verdant Wetland surrounds, nature has a way of confounding the best laid.
Today however, this wasn’t the case. Despite handicapping myself with the Milbro Tourist and a tiny Cardinal 33, in about two hours I put 61 rudd in the keep-net and returned three large silvery rudd whence they came. A couple of small tench came out as well and I was briefly attached to a large tench, but the hook came out before I could discover how well the old glass-fibre rod might work…
I poured the rudd into Pond '6', the reaper man came by immediately afterwards, naturally, and added cut-grass smell to the water mint. Between sweeps of a scythe, he said that any small tench could join the rudd. Whether it was the higher sun or the presence of a second figure, or me switching to the light Avon and ‘pin to fish a little further out, the rudd went and I nipped out nine small tench, one final golden rudd and one more of the 6-8oz ‘regular’ rudd, the original stock. The tench and the one golden rudd were re-homed. The reaper man went on, I nabbed another small tench which was involuntarily put back (they are hard to hold aren’t they?) and then got surprised by a near 3lb female tinca.
I sheltered from a shower and decided to try a little while on Pond '7', because you never know, and took the boy’s rod down there. Nothing stirred my float in two likely places, but I put up the pike which still lurks down there. Hm.
|The 'just about to vanish' porcupine quill||The Milbro Tourist and the Cardinal 33||The Green Orb-Weaver Spider|
|Three of the older and more regular rudd. And an odd tench||The very fine tench, probably the largest I've caught at the Wetland||A keep-net of rudd. That's the first time I've used that net in about 30 years||Nine of the small ones.|
I sheltered from an increasing firm shower half-way back and caught another small tench while waiting for the rain to ease. I relayed my tackle to Pond ‘1’ thinking I might have a dart for the chub, but the rain went from ‘firm’, to ‘meaning it’, to ‘with included hail’ and suddenly, drenched, I capitulated. The lane was awash with the sudden storm, but a mile away I was, sodden, mocked by the dry road. How odd.
The Milbro Tourist: even with a poorly filled ’33 spool it flicked a small quill and 2 × no. 6 shot 15 yards with barely an effort. Nice little rod.
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
27th May 2019. The Wetland...
...is at its absolute best in that mid-May to Mid-June period when everything is growing furiously and the result is that wonderful light green translucence that marks spring’s brief ascendance. This, coupled with the damp ground, ensures that what was a path last week, is today a thin channel between waist-high grasses, reeds, nettles, loosestrife and green brambles. It’s a fine place to be and for that reason alone is worth fishing at this time of year.
I did a little mild willow disassembly and while carrying some offcuts back to the gate, I’d noted Pond ‘3’ has the colour that most clearly signals ‘fish’. The corner swim is a good one, being deeper than the other corner and with a nice fillet of new reed-mace. So that was me for the duration and there are a LOT of rudd, so much so, it’s hard to tell how numerous the slightly-slower-off-the-mark small tench are. At one point a greater spotted woodpecker scooted past me and although it went into a willow at the end of the pond, I didn't get a picture, which is a pity...Pete came by with a few live maggots to go with my dead ones and brown shrimp. On the latter I couldn’t buy a bite, which is interesting. Live or dead maggots seemed to work equally well. Dead maggots also accounted for a very decent tench of 2lb or so, about my second fish of the day I think. Always a nice surprise.
I broke at midday to drag ever brittle balsam poplar out of Pond ‘7’, which needed doing, and fished for another hour or two, then sated, I pottered off for a cold beer.
|Pond '3' on a bright May day||The monstrous tench (for a tiny pond)||The pond '3' pitch||The blue-tipped foundling pole float|
|A buttercup. Just because.||The tiny pink-tipped quill (it got breezy)||'Some rudd'. Think in terms of 'x 50'.||Three tiny tench and one of the larger and 'regular' rudd.|
17th May 2019. Holtwood Pools. Lured back by Jack-in-the-Green and green muscle.
The pitch was diametrically opposite last week’s, that end of the pond now covered in fluff and embryonic weeds. The sun was absent, an occasional patter of rain went past and I got used to the whirr, blur and extra weight of the robin that perched on the rod. In the interim, although I caught tench, things weren’t quite right. I missed bites, hooked two which came off almost right away, so I removed the looped trace on which the hook dangled, but this didn’t change things and I lost another couple. I was obliged to stomp grumpily to the car to get my weed-knife in order to retrieve my float, after a ‘tree-related incident’. Twice. Having said that there were successes mostly in the 1-2lb range.
I was on the verge of calling it tea-time, when the stars aligned with a snap, I was properly starting down the barrel, right hand on the reel-rim and the five largest fish came out in the last half-an-hour, positive bites and thumping rod-bending thumb-burning battles. Heh.
|The pitch, looking down the barrel||The first float.||A tussle of tench. Yes that's a rare golden-flanked red-finned tench.|
|Just a really nice colour||One of the last four and the four largest||Another of the last four and the four largest|
|The penultimate tench, probably the largest of the day||The ultimate tench of the day|
I pottered off before the light fell completely accompanied by “Stand Up” , as the drive home is one I quite like, which is not always the case.
10th May 2019. Holtwood Pools.
The lower of these three idyllic little pools is for tench. I fancied some tench fishing. So that was handy, plus I had a float that required testing. I was drawn to the north-east corner, but the shape of the pool, the prevailing wind and willow catkins made this a fluff-fest of impractical if not impossible magnitude. I went for the other corner and fished under a tree which was straining to burst into leaf.
I waited half-an-hour for my first bite and that surprised me, no warning movements or bubbles, the float instantly ‘just not there’. The result was a tench of perhaps a pound, which is always good. The next bite, like the first, was without warning but the fight was quite something. The 15ft GTI is a nice progressive rod and I'd put on 6lb line in deference to the received wisdom that this pond has 6lb tench. This fish was not that, but its 4lb 13oz (I weigh the odd one, but the low battery warning was a testament to infrequency) pushed the rod very hard and it took a good five minutes to finally get it over the net and keep it there. Heh.
|Looking in the other direction||A fine thrush, one of a pair. I came soooo close to snapping the two of them side-by-side...drat.||The float, no wonder my head ached by the end of the day.|
|The really punchy 4lb 13oz one||One of the 3lb or so ones|
|Another of the 3lb or so ones||I put a fish back and a movement on the boards caught my eye. Two tadpoles rudely snatched from the margin by the landing-net. I carefully edged them onto a hook-packet and popped them back.||The other various tincas tallied|
Then things settled into nice rhythm, with tench turning up at pleasing intervals, a few in the 3lb range, most in the 1-2lb. When the light thought about fading I pottered off, quite happy with my afternoon and my new float. "Songs From the Wood" for the crow-flight across Witchampton and Tarrants, various. Fish-finger sandwich and blackberry whisky(s).
4th May 2019. Wedgehill Ponds. Rod testing.
I’d recently ‘adjusted’ an Allcocks Superb, which is to say, stripped off quite a lot of cork, added some decent reel-bands and added another ring. Now I need to test it, which meant somewhere with copious and easy carp. I plumped for the middle pond at Wedgehill and the cold sunny SE corner. I bunged in a little hemp, slung on a size 10 of some sort with a cork-ball special, put the whole in the margin and awaited results. I didn’t have to wait very long. I nabbed half-a-dozen carp in about 90 minutes or so, three on bread-flake, then when smaller fish homed in on the bread, three more on mussels. Despite it being cold enough to wrap warmly, the aforementioned sun incited me to get the wide-brimmed out of the car. The rod is very bendy, the taper in the top half is slight but the bottom half not so much and although it’s not a rod to hold high when playing a fish, it’s really rather fine and will make a good tench rod, especially as my ‘adjustments’ give you full use of all of the rod’s 10’. The largest of the fish perhaps went to 8lb or so, but two smaller fish fought much harder. The one shown was just a nice picture.
|The sun-lit pitch||The margin||A nice shot of one of the carp with assorted ephemera|
I put the still very straight bamboo away and headed for the top pond where the fish are fewer and larger. Allegedly. I bumped into Steve who was work-partying, and headed for the NE corner where there was a decent patch of young purplish lilies which were nudging about. I threw more hemp, briefly considered the Old Carp Rod then put the HSSRE up with 12lb line. I missed three unmissable bites, despite the fizzing swim. Hm. I reconsidered, put two × no.4 on, the first 1½” from the hook, the second 3”, put on a small float I’d made with offcuts of peacock quillKnew they'd come in handy and cut a mussel neatly in half with the SVSKSmall Very Sharp Knife. This led to these two fish in quick succession, lively work which thrashed the swim to bits, the second leaving the very stout size 8 a little bent(!) so, as the trace had frayed I replaced both.
|The second pitch||I was taken with the perfect set of this little float|
|The first trasher of swims||The second trasher of swims||The careless clooper|
It got slower (well it would) and two smaller fish came in the next hour, both under the size allegedly moved to the middle pond...and as I was pondering the rest of the day, a ‘slurp’ to the right piqued my interest. I’d put a few bits of bread in the lilies (this is compulsory) and the see-saw wind had moved a few along the bank and up against the next patch down. I took off the shot, took the net and a slice down the bank and waited...found the likely spot...again, lively work. The rod is perfect for it though.
I pondered the carp-less lower pond, I had the lazy-pole rigs, but that was enough fishing for the day. Below is the grey wagtail that dropped in during the afternoon, don't see those very often.
|The grey wagtail||The grey wagtail|
3rd May 2019. The WetlandPete's Wetland. Before and After. The fallen willow.
This doesn't show me 'before'; lithe grace and careless of step. Then 'after'; walking carefully, shall we say.
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
28th April 2019. The WetlandPete's Wetland Pikes. Again.
More fishing following Phase II of 'Operation Denuded Willow'. Once the said willows, between Pond '1' and '2', were properly reduced to stumps and the resulting detritus cleared up and turned into eco-piles (for the insects), Pete went on. I slipped up to Pond '5' to 'fish for bites' while drifting two sprats dangled under perch-bobbers about the pond, in the hope that a careless pike would intercept one or both.
|Pond '5'||'Operation Esox'||'Operation Esox'|
It was colder than last week – this spring's weather is a little up and down. Normally the thermometer has been abandoned by this time of year, I wish it had been packed for the last two trips, it would have been interesting to see what the temperature of each pond was for these two successive weeks.
|The Path by Pond '5'||Pond '4' as seen from Pond '5'||The Float|
I managed to extract a few rudd and a carp, but bites were few and far between when compared with last week's shorter session. The last two hours were almost biteless. The float dipped the tiniest amount a couple of times (I suspect an appropriately tiny tinca) and the last bite, which delivered the very fine tench, was tentative at best.
On or two apparent pike-strikes raised my hopes and the bobbers bobbled once or twice, leaving me hand-hovering over the handles, but it was curious rudd, no more. No pike again, nice afternoon notwithstanding.
|Carp #1||Perhaps the best of the rudd||The very fine tench||A runch of budd|
22nd April 2019. The WetlandPete's Wetland Pikes. The plan was that Pete, D. and myself would do a little light coppicing of the two willows between ponds '1' and '2' and then I'd move onto some pike-relocation, then indulge in some light 'fishing for bites'. D. was hunched over his rod on '2' when I rolled up, although the scum breaking away from the pond-bed had rendered his fishing all but impossible, despite a rope stretched across the corner of the pond. I pottered off to commence 'operation coppice', which was very warm work on a quite glorious day.
With the job 'mostly done', I spent an hour trying to catch a pike in '4', Pete went on, while D. obligingly lit his kettle, made tea, then his workshop beckoned, so he also went on. I spent the next hour on '5', where the family of coots picked and threaded their way through the willows on the far bank, then I moved on to '7'. I worked all three ponds with a kind of searching sink-and-draw although the colour of the water made this hit-and-miss strategy.
|Pond '4'||Two water snails doing what water snails do in the spring.||A hopeful, but ultimately disappointed pike-float||Pond '6'|
I missed. In any event, after 30 minutes on pond '7', I cleverly placed my dead-bait into a tree-branch, the retrieval of which briefly located the pike in the adjacent reed bed. I retired to pond '6' and for a while tried to catch some perch. I couldn't buy a bite bottom fishing, so I switched to 8” under the float and nabbed a small succession of rudd, after which I felt slightly competent. At this point some shade seemed sensible, so I decamped to the corner of pond '5' where I'd cunningly thrown in some bait while not catching either of its pike.
|That sort of a day...||A flotilla of coots|
I opened the flask, poured a cup or two and enjoyed the place; the pleasant balsam poplar's scent, the bright spring greenery, back-lit by the sun, a few tadpoles to watch and butterflies are out and about already (orange-tips, brimstones and fritillaries).
I threw in a little more bait and after a while things got interesting, some patches of proper bubbles effervesced into view then in what seemed like a burst, I nabbed several good rudd, two carp and two tench, one perhaps the largest '6' has to offer and one of the smallest. Then it almost as suddenly went quiet. I persisted for another hour with nothing but occasional tweaks of the float-tip, one of which yielded a final fingerling tench which threw itself on the bank (they are tricky to grip)...
|One of the little carp||One slightly larger little carp||The very fine tench||A glitter of rudd||Two tiny tincas|
…and that was that. I needed something to eat, so pottered off only mildly dehydrated.
20th April 2019. The Allcock's Superb, Part the Third.
Not withstanding its innate springiness, I’ve never liked the handle. It’s a monstrosity. I resolved to cut a large chunk off, some 7”, half-drainpipe the remaining bit until some sensible and effective Bruce & Walker reel-bands would slide on and then put on a couple of champagne corks as a front end to the newer handle and to sand them off to provide a fore-end stop without being two ‘champagney’ about it. This was a lot simpler than I’d expected. The bug-bear was removing the butt-ring (which was, if we’re frank, ‘miles’ from the reel), and the utterly useless keeper ring, in order to get the champers corks on.
The longest part of the job was removing the old cork from the 10” ear-marked for destruction and then the careful scraping of all the accumulated filler and glue left on the cane. Having said that, the new corks, when sanded down, looked very nice indeed.
I put a bottle green ‘winding check’ whipping on the denuded section and a wide spiral whip/inter pattern to the edge of the keeper ring whipping and replaced the keeper, useless though it is. I shall when the varnish has dried, put it flat against the rod and fill the hole with cyanoacrylate gel to stop its tiny annoying rattle.
I assembled the rod and put the butt-ring back on with a rubber band. It didn’t look right. Not even a bit. I got out the tape measure and measured the rings spacing from the tip to the butt-ring. If there was a plan for this, it escapes me, with no consistent spacing on the tip-section and no relation at all between the butt-ring spacing and the first ring on the tip-section...craftsmanship eh? I reluctantly decided not to alter any top-section spacings (although it will nag at me...) and opted to add a second ring on the butt section and adjust the spacing to it to be both consistent with the last ring on the tip-section, allow for the ferrule, and give a consistent spacing to the new butt-ring, which was put as close to the Allcock's logo as I could get it.
|Tip ¦----||---- 1 ----||---- 2 ----||---- 3 ----||---- 4 ----||---- 5 ----||---- 6 ----||---- B ----||-- Reel --||--------||--¦Butt|
|Old||Tip ¦----||---- 6¾" ----||---- 9" ----||--- 10¾" ---||--- 12" ---||--- 13¼" ---||---- 19" ---||---------||---------||--------||--¦Butt|
|Old||Tip ¦----||---- 6¾" ----||---- 15¾" ---||--- 26½"" ---||--- 38½"" ---||--- 51¾" ---||--- 70¾" ---||----------||--------||--- 120"||--¦Butt|
|JAA's||Tip ¦----||---- 6¾" ----||---- 9" ----||--- 10¾" ---||--- 12" ---||--- 13¼" ---||---- 15½" ---||---- 14" ---||---- 22" ---||--------||--¦Butt|
|JAA's||Tip ¦----||---- 6¾" ----||---- 15¾" ---||--- 26½" ---||--- 38½" ---||--- 51¾" ---||--- 67¼" ---||--- 81¼" ---||-- 103" --||--- 120"||--¦Butt|
Hm. I did a quick stock check, stole a larger butt-ring of the same pattern and the next ring up from the ‘Beastmaster’. Better. Really.
|The new handle, reel-bands, chapagne corks.||The bottle green ‘winding check’ whipping and the wide spiral whip/inter pattern to the edge of the keeper ring|
|Butt-ring, new postion||Second ring, note the site of the old butt-ring on the right.||Best to make a note...|
[Sadly, the 'BeastmasterWell, it tamed one beast at least.', used once, is not one of my great successes. It was fun, but a dog to use, so the parts will be recycled, the ferrules kept, the wire whipping recorded and the top section, which has EXACTLY the same counter as the MKIIIMust fish with it one of these days top section, will be lapped to fit as a short tip section for the same.]
15th April 2019. Todber Manor.
I was itching to road-test the Old Carp rod and this, along with a requirement for some pole elastic, led me here as they have a commodious tackle shop and plenty of easy fishing. Plus, I have a free pass on the CAC ticket. I went for ‘Hill View’ as it was close to the car, although it was a tad wind-swept. Despite common sense suggesting that getting out of said wind was sensible, I fished windward as the waves were tearing up the bottom along the marginal reeds and fish like that. I nabbed a little over half a dozen carp to about 11lb or so in about an hour; the bites were sudden and hard to anticipate due to the float's lively rise-and-fall. I probably only hit half of the bites, but several fish headed for distant parts allowing me to work the rod over, which was nice. I'd put on a Cardinal 44x with 8lb mono, some 7lb braid and a size 8 ‘S3’. This last was opened up somewhat by a medium sized fish, so I swapped it for a size 10 ‘Korda B’. I congratulated myself for some elementary watercraft and strolled around the lake to warm up.
|It was choppier than it looks here.||The uninspiring windward pitch view.||12lb? 13lb? Who knows exactly, didn't weigh it. The man who asked me what it weighed seemed disgusted I hadn't bothered to find out.|
The leeward side seemed altogether more comfy so I pottered around, fish or no fish. It took me a while to sort out where to fish. The absolute margin was very shallow, the drop-off rather more sudden that on the west bank. I ended up fishing about two rod-lengths out, setting over-depth and drawing back until the float had the right amount of tip showing. Something stole a couple of mussels and when the float went positively again I found myself playing a ticking sandbag, which after what seemed like a long time was a carp the best part of 20lb, although scales are meaningless here. It went on like this, with a variety of carp large and small, another a bit like the first, another 'double', among others. When a fish started picking off the crusts I'd been dropping along the margin (it's practically compulsory), I took off the tell-tale, pinched on a piece of folded flake about the size of a 10p, added a second more ‘old-50p’ sized, walked up the bank and from two rod lengths back from the water, flipped the lot into the margin. A mo later, a solid fish materialised and mashed the whole lot, leaving the 10p sized bit eddy-whirling. Which it promptly took. Which was fun.
|The fat rod-testing sandbag.||Leaner and almost as rod-testing.||The leeward pitch.|
|Two rod lengths off...||The ''Carp are ten-a-penny, so might as well risk an arty shot of playing a fish'' picture.||The second biggest sandbag.|
When a text reminded me I was providing quiz support for the off-spring, I packed in five then belted off down the lanes. Good rod, I'd forgotten quite how good. The thing with such waters is that they subtly flatter without you noticing. I automatically considered it smart thinking to fish in the face of the wind and the fish 'proved this', but the other bank was at least as good. The truth is; any pitch on the water would yield plenty of fish in all but the worst conditions. Confirmation bias, that's what it is. Tough little hook that size 10 mind.
14th April 2019. The Lazy Pole
I constantly have to balance my innate desire to take as little tackle as possible with the overwhelming urge to be able to fish in many different ways if the mood takes me. A long time ago, inspired by using my Old Carp RodBought in 1983 or so when carbon was a new thing and bolt rigs were a stupid idea as a flick tip, and also this article on rigging a poleOne of those simple, but really good ideas, I made a couple of rigs that combined these two ideas.
The basic idea is to take your elastic, tie a loop a little over two feet long in one end (use a double overhand knot and ensure it's snug). Then tie half of this loop into a second loop of about 12" with the same double overhand and snug it down. The goal is to end up with 6" of four strands of elastic and 12" of two strands - this ensures that even if the single strand elastic 'bottoms out', the double-strand will give and in the very unlikely event of the double-strand bottoming out...etc. It's a progressive shock absorber. Put the loops of the four strands through the butt-ring from the spigot end and over the butt and pull it back to the ring. Thread the elastic through the top section, assemble the rod and pull the elastic a little taught, as you would for a pole. You could mark this point and take the rod apart if you prefer. Saves all that pinging elastic and swearing.
Thread onto the elastic a 10mm shock bead and then a 12mm ‘bullet’ shock bead, then eschewing the unnecessary special pole elastic connector...combi-knotYep, it's that knot again. a piece of thick braid onto the elastic. I use the 18lb+ cheap fly-line backing I bought for something or the braid sheath from some 45lb lead-core, the lead being long removed and properly disposed of. About 5 turns up and back with a doubled piece of braid will do it and take a little time to pull the braid tight and pull the elastic through the turns. You’re aiming for snug, not strangulation. Then, optionally, tie an overhand knot in the tag end of the elastic and snug it down against the braid-turns. Ensure it’s pulled tight, and then cut the elastic off about 4-5mm from the knot. Then slide the bullet shock bead down over the knot and put the 10mm bead behind it. Cut off the tag ends off the braid at 4-5mm and use the loop in the braid for attaching the mono.
In the below picture, the top (purple) is no.14 elastic and the loop is tied with the 45lb braid; the lower elastic (blue) is no.10 and the loop tied with 18lb fly-backing. Typically no. 8-10 elastic is run through the top three sections of a pole and used with 3-5lb line for fish up to 5-6lb. No. 12-14 elastics are generally used with 5-7lb lines for fish up to 8lb. I plan to use the former with 4lb main line and the latter with 6lb main line.
|The beady end of the two lazy pole rigs.|
The idea is that the shock beads ensure a break-off doesn’t smash the tip ring...which would be annoying.
These seem a little incongruous, but they take almost no space in the bag, I've always got 6lb line and a spool of 4lb is not much to carry. For the Old Carp RodBought in 1983 or so when carbon was a new thing and bolt rigs were a stupid idea, which is more 2lb t/c than not, this works well - it's a decent all-round rod, but stiff for tiddler snatching. For those long still dog-days, when snitching is sanity, they’re useful things to have in the travelling-light bag.
12th April 2019. The Old Carp New.
The Old Carp Rod needed a re-build, especially since I’d stripped it three years ago, an essay-related displacement activity. It then rested un-noticed on the rack. Then I remembered it.
I wanted to make it as light as possible and with a fixed reel seat. It’d spent too long with a duplon handle, which I eventually loathed, and some of they green luminous shock-lined rings, which I rather like but are heavy. I dabbled with titanium but in the end opted for nine Fuji BMNAG's, alconite lining, black chrome, plus a Fuji MNST Sic tip in gunsmoke, the i/d of which necessitated the complete removal of any shred of varnish from the rod-tip.
I wanted a hook-keeper - I find most hook-keepers designed for the purpose to be quite useless. They are often at right angles to the point of the hook and tiny. They’re a fiddle - worse - they're a fiddle with the consequence of a hook through one's finger. You will find a small snake eye mounted at about 45° from the line of the rod-rings far easier to use. So I added a 'black pearl' REC Recoil Snake Guide near the handle. This is all very nice but 'blackish'.
Let’s look at the ringing pattern. This was based on the number of rings required, the placement of the reel seat (a regular Fuji 18mm screw-lock) and its spacing from the butt-ring. I used a spreadsheet to work out a geometric ringing pattern (the last space multiplied by a constant) and a linear one (the last space plus a constant). In the end I went for the linear as (a) the rod’s taper is linear, although it’s different in the top and bottom sections, being similar to the Harrison Four piece Avon in the tip and more like the ESP floater in the butt. To spread strain through the ferrule region, the last two spacing’s were adjusted to 1.5 × ‘the’ constant and 2 × ‘the constant’.
|Tip ¦----||---- 1 ----||---- 2 ----||---- 3 ----||---- 4 ----||---- 5 ----||---- 6 ----||---- 7 ----||---- 8 ----||---- 9 ----||-- Reel --||--------||--¦Butt|
|Tip ¦----||---- 6" ----||---- 7" ----||---- 8" ----||---- 9" ----||---- 10" ---||---- 11" ---||---- 12" ---||---- 13" ---||--- 15.5" --||--- 24" ---||----- 16.5"||--¦Butt|
|Tip ¦----||---- 6" ----||---- 13" ---||--- 21" ---||--- 30" ---||--- 40" ---||--- 51" ---||--- 63" ---||-- 76.5" --||--- 92" ---||--- 116" --||--- 132.5"||--¦Butt|
This left the distance to the reel stem – this was set 116” from the tip of the rod – where I wanted it when the rod was in my hand. That is 16.5” from a cork/composite 'fighting butt'. I dislike 'stupid long' handles with fixed reel seats. I see little point, on an 11’ rod, of keeping 8-12" of rod 'behind the hand'.
|The over-engineered keeper-ring and whippings.||The butt ring.|
|Some intermediate ring or other||The counter whipping and the nearest ring||The tip ring and the next one down|
As previously mentioned the rod, although carbon is fine as a material, lacked colour - we'll take the broad view that 'black' is not a colour in this context. This is fine if you harbour secret dreams of being a fishing Ninja (I suspect there are a few of those types about). I however, elected to put a strip of white paint onto the varnished (one coat) blank in the places where the rings go. This involved a tricky bit of mucking about with elastic bands and a steel rule. In many respects it was an utter pain in the posterior, but the final result is quite pleasing on the eye as the bottle green and garnet threads actually show their colours.
The observant reader will spot that the whippings perhaps need a final coat of varnish and that the whipping have a dark 'band' at the ends. This last is where the whipping is 'cast-on' to the carbon, then crosses onto the white paint. A final thing - I don't see the point of 'winding checks'. I whip up to the cork and on the end-face I carefully apply some layers of varnish to protect it. When I get around to it, I'll add a picture of the whole rod.
|crucian...(and back to the top of the page)||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Carassius Carassius||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian|
17th March 2019. Ibsley Pools. First coffee and I get the rods off the rack and ponder my day. Second coffee, bait and rods go into the car with the fishing 'go bag'. Wellies. Camera. Other things. Often the impediment to my going is the gathering.
I circled the pool, agreed with another that the prognosis was 'slim pickings', and found a spot behind an isthmus on the east bank, where I was delighted to discover 5 feet of water. A microcosm of the whole lake with the wind funnelled into this deep little bay. It's a good spot. I put the thermometer behind the worms to allow it to come to terms with the weather. It says...wait, something might have pulled my worm there...9.1°C, finally. I bung it ungratefully into the water, which is 10.2°C, so 'leeward' is a good call.
I flick some pills of bread to go with some loose cockles and worms; it's that kind of a day. 'Fishing for bites' one might say. That said, I wait for one. The sun is pleasantly in my face, I can hear geese, wind in the trees and hear, no sense rather, the high Avon writhing behind the lake. Could be worse. I let the sun warm my eyelids and drop a hand onto the rod and loop the line over a finger lest I drift too far...
|The little bay||The inevitable float|
A fish rolls soporifically under the tree opposite me, maybe 10 yards, this is encouraging. ‘Change the ubiquitous 6lb line for 8lb' encouraging? We shall see. Ninety minutes have slid past me and I, encouraged by two all quite too gentle but solid swirls, nabbed a '66x and 12lb line for the HSSRE. I've found some mini chorizos, a discarded snack from a fortnight past midnight flit to a sick littleangler ('little', hah they are adults now, midnight en passant Newark with 100 miles left to go). With one eye on the float I put up the big stick.
Two-thirty, all quiet.
Three-thirty I walk to warm the blood. I spook a pike lying up at the north end, that and the two earlier fish-rolls are the closest I get to a fish. I don't get any sense it's worth moving, so I put a big worm under the HSSRE in the margin and fish bread on its lighter cousin. By 3:50, I suspect another blank is in my stars...which proves to be the case when a squall lands at 5:15...I like it here. I wonder where the fish are?
|The south end of the pool.||Squall, incoming.|
9th March 2019. The Avon DiaryThe Fabulous Avon Diary This quite wonderful record of a stretch of the Avon at Somerley is well worth dipping into on a regular basis. It's nicely recorded and focuses on the subjects themselves: fishing, the environment, the water meadows and their other denizens. Give it a go.
2nd March 2019. Out out. I like grey blustery days and fishing in a windward chop. It was an odd effort of will to pack up and set off, but now I'm here, it is fine waiting weather. I'm trailing a worm or cockles against a wind-pile of broken reeds and 'stuff'; while the odds are thin, it's a relatively warm wind and there are probable looking bubbles to keep me optimistic. I toss in the odd broken worm and cockle for good luck and hope the rain only looks likely.
A patch of bubbles has appeared twenty feet away, and it's travelling. This is encouraging. I check my reel, the rod spanning a forked stick and a liminal timber. Interesting. I zip my coat against the wind an hour hence and try to banish notes and phrases of "Have a Cigar" from whatever loop it's playing on. And so I wait.
|I like grey blustery days and fishing in a windward chop...||Some days' incentive is the waiting...|
It is not gentle tackle, the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment, Harlow, 8lb main, 8" of fine braid and a size six, but I'm not in the mood for scratching for the little ones. Some days' incentive is the waiting, not the culmination of the waiting, although these two are a dichotomy of sorts. I switch the cockles for a worm and resume, part of me pondering laying-on a lob tail in the stream. The wind picks up from 'steady' to 'hunched angler' and I check the temperature, the water perhaps a degree under the air at 11.2°C. Close but positive. Another hour shall we say? Several passing spatters threaten that rain will come, but I don't believe them.
I check my thermal premises. This end is indeed warmer that the other, a little over half a degree. I, however, am not so warm so divert to the DTDriving Technology for thermal breeks. With the interesting 90 minutes left I find Black Sabbath's "Walk Away" has supplanted Pink Floyd and that this is still the 'warm' end. I opt to see the evening out here, it seems as likely as anywhere today and I'll bank on the extra 0.5°C. The thermals’ were a good call, I can still feel my toes, so I wallowed in the round sounds of the wind in my ears, the rushing noise from the tree-tops and the odd three-overlaid beats the float danced to.
Once or twice I found my hand had stolen from my coat pocket to hover over the reel, a shootist’s quick-draw, some subconscious response to the water’s patterns, but in the end nothing came. I selected Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell" from the DT's built-in Juke-Box. Earworms.
1st March 2019. Interesting. In 2016 'sometime', I stripped the Old Carp Rod down to its bare carbon as, well, it needed a make-over, as the last one gave it a Duplon handle which I don't really like. On a whim I got the rod-blank off the shelf and compared it with the Harrison’s four-piece Avon.
Quite why I hadn't made that comparison before I don’t know, but it was interesting, nonetheless. The top section of the 'Old Carp' was very nearly identical to the top two sections of the Four-Piece. In fact the 'Old Carp' top section fitted neatly on the spigot of the four-piece. With both rods assembled, the Old Carp is a tad stiffer overall, possible a thicker wall. The real difference in in the butt section though - the 'old carp' is considerably thicker in the bottom section, which is consistent with it having a bit more power in the backbone when it's required and it's the case the Four-Piece has, once or twice, tapped out under full load. I suspect an Old Carp re-build is in the offing.
|All tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page)||There are no bad tench||All tench are good tench||There are no bad tench||Tinca tinca little star...|
23rd February 2019. Floating Jobs. Here's another bunch of rescued and reconditioned foundlings, like most of such, they are waggler types that were missing tips and/or stems....
|I just have to have something on the go...|
...with a few exceptions. The porcupine quill is literally 'coloured in', the tip is highlighter-pen, the black bands are indelible pen, whipped on an eye and varnished over. The four small disposable dibbers on the left are made from pieces of peacock quill, dyed green, left on the shelf for four years, then threaded them onto bamboo cocktail sticks and painted up. One of these days I'll work out how to take better pictures...
(I have resolved to clear the mass of bit and bobs, restore all that is salvageable and ditch the terminal cases.)
19th February 2019. 6:40am. Not my most favourite time of the day.
|JAA Towers, the view from the north wing.|
17th February 2019. Fishing Test. Pete said; "I know you're a bit worried about your back. Why not bring your rod instead on Sunday? Any info about the fish in the top pond would be useful."
|The highly strung upper pond||Dogwood in the spring light||Dogwood in the spring light|
|You'd think that was the scene immediatly before a bite...||The Lower Pond, the Umberella Pitch fish refuge||Looking across the Lower Pond at a roofed-over fish refuge|
|Lower Pond snow-drops||Lower Pond snow-drops|
Even by the standards of the great Claude Shannon, where 'no information' is in itself 'information', regret have no info. about the top-pond fish to offer.
15th February 2019. Floating job. I'm a collector of discarded floats and I happened upon a bunch awaiting 'something'. Here are five of such - dried out on the radiator - they've all had new tips fitted, bamboo skewers cut to length and glued in using water-proof cyanoacrylate, bodies rubbed down and touched up with indelible pens, tips given the JAA treatment.
|I just have to have something on the go...|
Left-to-right: A peacock waggler cut almost in half as the top section was crushed, new tip added; a slender all balsa waggler, the top half had lost its paint the eye had come adrift so was replaced with a piece of cane; a 3BB antennae with a broken tip, this was cut off and a slender new antennae with sight-bob was added; a self-cocking float which also had a broken tip, the eye is crimped into a piece of brass tubing at the bottom end; lastly, a 'Gazette' bung I found late last year, they're iconic, but the 'peg' attachment is (still) not effective, so I epoxyied a 4mm cane stem though the middle, added an eye on the bottom end, painted the tip, so now it is a fine pike float.
12th February 2019. A Right Pain in the Back.
I had a cold which dragged out for ten days or so, finally tapering off around the 15th December (2018). Since then I’ve had sinusitis (it turns out) and a concurrent flare-up of the lower back pain that has been my constant nagging companion since around 1982 (or so). I think today might be the first day in six weeks when I’ve not taken at least six pain-killers (assorted) and last night I almost slept through the night. Almost.
To have to work out a notice period during this constant battle on two fronts was twisted-instrument torture and I actually took a sick-day due to the 'back thing'. This almost never happens (if I took a day off every time my back hurt, I'd be on three-day weeks). While the worst appears to be over (I hope), for the incept of a new job that has all the signs of a really good match, it's not ideal.
Still, it’s not as if I’m too old for this sh1t. Yet. Damnably weary though.
I might yet find the energy to go fishing.
|just a hook...(and back to the top of the page)||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...|
13th January 2019. Night-Floats. Part I.
I've experimented with quills that were made to take 'star-lights', bulky things, although effective and my old beta-light floats are, well, not very twinkly. I decided to make some new ones, so I did a little research on beta-lights. 'It turns out' that the basic rule is 'bigger is better', simply because the brightness is related to the amount of beta radiation impinging on the fluorescent material on the inside of the glass and larger lights have more gas, are thicker glass, so can be sealed at a higher pressure. It is also the case that the brightest are green, yellow, blue and red in that order. This doesn't tally with my experience of using blue beta-lights, which danced before my eyes like demented alien fire-flies. Annoyingly, this doesn't tally with the hard fact that our eyes adjust from perceiving green as the brightest colour in daylight to blue at night. In any event I bought three 25mm × 3.5mm lights in green, yellow and red, to try them out. My plan was to make quill tubes to carry the beta-lights and then attach them to porcupine quills. I realise this is anachronistic.
I carefully, using a knife-edge needle-file, cut the tips off three quills (a micrometer is a useful thing) pausing only to carefully work a beta-light back out of the tightest...
I considered them for a few days - one can both repent and consider one's options at leisure, the latter having the benefit of no additional work. It dawned on me there were three quills ready-sized and it made sense to use them ‘as is’. The plan was to place some kind of bung in the quill, put the beta-light on it and then seal the tip with another 'bung' and fill a few mm of the quill tip with epoxy-resin. I carefully marked a piece of 3mm cane to show the length of the beta-light and its position respective to the open end of the quill. I carefully, using this stick, stuffed the lower portion of the hollow quill with polystyrene beads to about 2mm short of the intended light’s position.
|Top-to-Bottom: A slice of cork, the 'measuring stick’, three cane 'plugs', the quills, shown with the first cork 'bung' wedged in a bit and the white area under the clear section is where the polystyrene was stuffed in and below them, one of the beta-lights.|
I cut tiny plugs of cork, a little more than 3mm. I cleaned the inside of the quill with ‘q-tip’ dipped in nail-varnish remover, let it dry and put a smear of epoxy-resin around the bottom inside of the quill using a cocktail stick. I then squished the tiny cork plug into the end of the quill and shoved it down the tube to the mark on said measuring stick. I clean out the epoxy-resin surplus with same 'q-tip' and nail-varnish remover and put a dummy length of 3mm cane in the quill and a piece of tape over the tip to stop trapped air pushing it back up the tube.
Next day I dropped in the beta-light, made another cork-plug, pushed onto the top of the light with the tiniest smear of epoxy resin. When this had set, I filled the open end of the quill to the top with epoxy, then stashed them vertically in a block of foam to 'go off'. Once this was done, I rounded the top off, then spent a little time rubbing down the 'epoxy' tip and also the quill itself. There's no harm in thinning this off as much as is practical, as more light is better and I finished this job with P800, leaving the quill as smooth as a proverbial something. With an indelible pen, I carefully coloured the area of the quill above the beta-light black, and added another black band under. I admit my first thought was to use white paint, but decided that the beta-light was enough 'or not'; the black bands and any contrast with them would be more useful as the light fell. Then all got a coat of varnish.
|Bottom cork plug in situ, beta-lights inserted.||Top cork plug in, epoxy-resin in and 'off'.|
When the varnish was dry, I got the really tall vase out of the pantry, some yellow thread and no.4 shot (a no. 4 is 0.2g, a 'BB is 0.4g and a no.6 is 0.1gSo a no. 4 shot is a handy size for this kind of thing...) and thus equipped played with the watertight quills. I established they would carry 4 × no.4 but with only half the beta-light above the plimsoll line. This is enough for this fishing they're meant for, but at (say) 3 × no.4 they lolled rather. In action they'll have an eye whipped on, another coat of varnish and carry a mini-swivel, so I've added a small cork ball to the lower end, which should give them the little extra they need to cock nicely with the whole beta-light showing. If they need more, I'll modify them again.
|The quills, selaed, black-banded and with their buoyancy aids. You can just make out the top one is green, the middle one is red and the lower one is yellow.|
9th January 2019. Word of the Day.
Faffberg (noun) In any enterprise, a monstrous obstacle to any progress, composed of middle-managers and bureaucrats that spend their 'working' day talking about stuff they either don't understand or care to carry out. Consequently they try and get other people to do it for them or stop other people working, e.g.
"Did you manage to order the 'widget' you urgently needed for tomorrow?"
"No, I hit a faffberg and now have to fill out a two-page form, get four signatures on it and it'll turn up in two weeks. Probably. If I constantly check."
cf. see 'a talking shop'
cf. see "Because otherwise we'd get stuff done, and that would be wrong." faffAn actual quote from a colleague.
4th January 2019. So, Wedgehill Ponds. Yet Again. Quite wintry.
I carefully ascertained that I should fish the south east part of the pool, on the basis it would get the most sun and so be the warmest spot, then wasted two hours fishing other spots that just 'looked promising'. Duh. In the second poor pitch I became the focus of a whirring war between three robins that had decided I was worth a territorial tiff, possible due to the box of writhing maggots. They flew over and under my legs and chair and at one point, one perched on my chest, another on my boot and a third sat on a rod-butt and screamed insults at the other two. Eventually one won feeding rights, but they all looked the same to me...
Once in the right place bites were regular but very tentative, even to a single maggot nicked on an '18'. I ended up striking at the tiniest of float dips or lifts of the 1.2mm tip and suspect that had I fished there from the off and not perched a big lob for the last hour, I'd have at least doubled the catch. Good frigid fun, I can't recall the last time I was quite so cold at the end of an afternoon's fishing.
|The Bottom Pond from the first pitch|
|The second best roach||The best roach||The brown goldfish|
|One of the three warring robins on my welly||The remaining nonet of roach||The last light perch attempt|
|The Bottom Pond late afternoon|
1st January 2019. So, 2019 then. You can of course re-write the software and it's possible, although difficult, to modify the firmware (although the firmware is persistent stuff and may require overwriting several times), but you are stuck with the bios.
"Now...if you trust in yourself...and believe in your dreams...and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy" - Miss Tick's priceless advice to Tiffany Aching, by the incomparable Sir Terry Pratchett.
Happy New Year. Be better this year.
1st January 2019. So, Wedgehill Ponds. Again. I had my perch head on; sadly, the perch didn't have their worm-heads on. I tried the south end of the middle pond for 90 minutes with nothing more than a tweak or two, although carp were in the offing, twitched stalks and sneaky crust removals gave them away (I fired a few crusts about to see what happened). I re-pitched at the scene of the last trip's perch and didn't have a bite to show for another hour, although the various carp that had taken to whoring up and down the bank finally wore me down and after watching a tail waving 6" from the bank and barely twice that distance from my right welly, I pinched on two good pieces of flake, took off the tell-tale-shot and rested the bait on a handy reed...having had the string pulled, I wondered off to the top pond and camped in the corner for the duration and although it felt like a better bet, I had only a few straggly bites of the 'small fish found large worm and was really determined to make off with it' sort. I did find a boilie drill, a 2½SSG loafer, a pole float (the one drifting about last week), and some kind of dart-flighted thing, which I assume was a depth-finding float or cross-bow bolt or the like.
|The Middle Pond from the first pitch||The inevitable hopeful float|
|The tamest and best-fed robin in the place||The lady of the bank|
|The probable looking final pitch||The probable looking final pitch||The probable looking final pitch|
Oh well. Next time yer spiny bu88ers.
|...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)|
|05:19am on 2019-07-24|