2020 - 'Sixteenth'

2019 was a funny year, although I as write this I am not laughing. Not so much fishing; the broken back bowed me almost to the ground, but I can take a hint and have since lost 18lb with another 50lb (22.7kg) to go (yes '50'). I am getting used to my new lifestyle, although this is necessity, not good intention; the damage done to my spine some 30 years hence cannot be fixed, but I can reduce the load on it.

A few wise words to ponder; firstly, for the 'woke':

"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." ~~ Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History  ~~ 

Secondly, for those who think everything is 'just an opinion':

"You don't need people's opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: Which number is bigger, 15 or 5? Do owls exist? Are there hats?" ~~ Steve Mnuchin ~~ 

Thirdly, for the magical thinkers:

"...that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens ~~ 

I can not add, meaningfully, to those. The previous years of the 'Diary', such as it might be termed, can be reached via the below links.

This is the 2020 'blog page, which displays in reverse date order, i.e. with the latest entry at the top. The 2020 diary page, i.e. with the earliest entry at the top is here.

KingfisherJAA's Diary for...

2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020

You can use the 'month' links below to...

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page) VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace

2020 - Hindsight Year  8th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.

The excellent alloy ones arrived on Tuesday from the reliable Les @ Classic Vintage Fishing TackleGood service, well worth using if you need Abu bits, among others, so I carried out the usual modifications. That is; I round off the lip of the spool and drill a 0.8mm hole in the rim, line for the poking through of. There was then a flurry of spooling up, which is made somewhat simpler with the AET'Electric Auger Technology' and an extra (plastic) spool. I now have 4lb, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb and 30lb braid, none of which should randomly explode. Probably.

My renewed interest in these fine little reels prompted a drag upgrade, fitting up to date carbon washers, which will help a smidge. The old ones are a little long in the tooth anyhow. Nothing to see there mind. I did clean the mud off the reels, but, eh.

Cardinal 44 Spools Cool black and very very shiny... Cardinal 44 Spools 'All of the line strengths'. It will be nice to get back to taking less gear and more making it up as I go along.

2020 - Hindsight Year  6th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.

So, I thought to myself (after discovering I'd fished with 8lb mainline at Donhead, while for some reason thinking it 6lb) I will load some 6lb line onto a plastic spool, but first fill the holes in the moulding with epoxy to prevent the spool collapsing...I did the deed, two-thirds filled the spool with unfused braid - this, wound on levelly using the EAT'Electric Auger Technology', acts as both backing and as an arbour - and then wound on 100 yards of 6lb Stren...

(While we're on the subject, it used to be the received wisdom that one's reel must carry 200 yards of line, presumably just in case one hooks 'the fish of a lifetime' in a 200 yards across snag-free water. For general fishing this is clearly bunk. While the nagging doubt remains, its function, that is to ensure one buys more line that one needs, is negated by a permanent braid arbour. Most of my '44x and '66x spools have had the same 'braid arbour' for well over a decade.)

...or I nearly did, as the top of the spool, leaving with a 'pop', pinged off the radiator leaving behind a bird's nest of 6lb Stren. Well, dammit. I'm not entirely sure that the two parts of the spool were not made separately, as the break is very clean and it seems to me the surfaces have a film of oil on them. Hm. Be that as it may, I put the bits into a bag (you never know) and proceeded to remove the 20lb braid (previously loaded onto the second ally spool for last December's Wetland piking) and replaced it with said 6lb Stren. So far, so hoopy.

I also wanted to replace the 4lb, still loaded onto the original plastic spool that came with my '40, which had the line capacities of the spool printed on the front face. Damn me, if the new 4lb mono (100 yards) didn't part 'pop' the top off. I wound the line and its backing off onto a spare spool to re-use and ordered (with bad grace) three new alloy ones. Dammit. Perhaps the face of the original one can serve as an ornament, it being no actual use. Additionally annoying is that this spool came with a groove for a chenille, preventing finer monofilament slipping behind the spool, something that only happened with lines of less than 6lb b/s or so.

The plastic, like all plastics, has clearly aged and I take some consolation that any aging of the alloy spools with be considerably slower than the aging process of, for example, myself. Sobering thought. So below, here are the broken ones and the front plate with its line capacities.

Cardinal 44 Spools In an ideal world, this event would have been accompanied by the 'Sproi-oi-oi-oing' noise from any Fred Quimby 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon. Cardinal 44 Spools The latest spool to, barely figuratively, pop its clogs. Cardinal 44 Spools The original, with its capacities; see how regular un-stretched mono has not changed diameter since the late 1970's (300m = 328 yards; 4lb Stren Original has an o/d of 0.2mm, 10lb is 0.3mm)

2020 - Hindsight Year  5th July 2020. The Saxon Ponds. Cool.

I had a quick look at the Lower Pond, thinking I might even take the Umbrella, but the water was very low and while the pond looks inviting, with colour in the gaps suggesting plenty of life, the low levels near the banks put me off, I dislike very shallow reaches. I've never seen potamageton growing here before, it looks quite nice.

The Saxon Ponds The view from the Umbrella Pitch The Saxon Ponds The east end of the Lower Pond

I headed back 'up'...a day of fresh fish-tail winds made fishing tricky, it being a little too windy for fine-tipped floats and the water not quite deep enough for a true antennae. I alternated between a fine tip and small quill as the wind yawed and pitched, the former float sinking in stiff gusts, the latter not sensitive enough. Absorbing stuff. Mid-evening the breeze was sufficiently puckish that I retrieved my coat from the car while lamenting the omission of a tea-flask from my inventory. Nevertheless, I managed a decent run of smallish crucians, one well over a pound, a bunch of small roach and four tench, from hand-sized, through 8oz, to the finest, shown below, of perhaps a little over 3lb or so. This was the last 'last cast' of the day, by which time I was watching the float-tip in a torch-beam. Good fishing.

The Saxon Ponds The finest of the crucians, 1lb 11oz. The Saxon Ponds The last light tench, the phone did a better job of capturing this than the camera.

2020 - Hindsight Year  2nd July 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Big Fat Smug Waxing Gibbous Moon.

The Saxon Ponds The plan was simply to fish. It was sunny/cloudy/windy as the mood took the Gods of weather. I didn't mind, and settled into the fish, which by now were up and about and there was a steady stream of small crucians, some small roach and one tiny tench. I spotted a rod-rest that looked familiar... The Saxon Ponds There was a flurry of interweb messages and it was agreed that in exchange for a quantity of maggots, 'cake' would be provided and eating the maggots was preferred in respect of any inducement or provision of instant noodles. The Saxon Ponds Pete arrived, I detailed the catch and activity to date, waved at Pam on the dam and no sooner had Pete vanished into the greenery, a big crucian turned up. Typical. A short while later, another, a few ounces lighter. That's good to see, all fish types present and correct and undamaged.
The Saxon Ponds 1lb 11oz The Saxon Ponds The pitch (I forgot the camera was in 'landscape mode', but these pictures look OK). Duncan arrived with ginger cake (always a good thing), but no landing net. Decently I refrained from negotiating a larger slice of cake for sharing mine...luckily he didn't need it... The Saxon Ponds 1lb 8oz
The Saxon Ponds A 'muscle of tench' turned up mid evening, which augers well for the pond's general health and a large fish rolled by the lilies with a flash of red fins. A swift commenced 'ciruits and bumps'. The Saxon Ponds It felt a little strange to fish until 10pm in good light, but we did, then caught up on the minutiae of lives, as we realised it had been well over a year. Huh. Fine evening. The Saxon Ponds There was, it must be stated, a big fat smug waxing gibbous moon.
I like porcupine quill floats...I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page) I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats...

2020 - Hindsight Year  25th June 2020. The Wetland. How to deal with maggots on the turn...

...go fishing with them and use them up. This was Pete's plan, so having some not completely fresh maggots, I joined in. There were many many small tench in '3', many rudd likewise and Pete, overseen by Pam (who, being civilised, had brought gin and mixers), caught rudd and a chub from '2', the latter possibly the trickiest catch on these little ponds. They went on and I, not being so civilised, opened a flask of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon tea and chain-sipped it until I was merely dehydrated.

The Wetland One rudd, simply to show of its fine colours The Wetland Some of the more-than-a-score tench The Wetland One small toad...which hopped it before I could turn on the 'macro' setting.
The Wetland At last; it was cool... The Wetland ...and...wait...

The light fades, the thin cane disappears into the shadows, so I swap it for a small translucent pink-tipped quill and using the OMT'Overly Manly Torch' on its 'dim' setting, I fish on, passing moths bursting in the beam like fireworks, until the water is still and the bites cease.

2020 - Hindsight Year  24th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Eight bites, four fish. Very very hot.

...which is why I didn't arrive until 4pm. Even so, I was counting off the minutes until the sun dipped below the dogwood on the left of the swim, and wondering if the umbrella pitch on the Lower Pond might not have been a better idea. I had a new hook to try, a proper '16' but strongish and went with my little loaded bobber and a single no.4 shot, ¼" from the hook. The first bite, a proper 'lift', yielded the first of four fish, but what a fish. It is not often one sees a roach of this size at all - never mind in a small pond - I was expecting a sluggish tench after a run or two, but a large roach was quite unexpected. This instantly explained the weighty swirls seen about the water, that were at once 'not tench', 'not crucians' and 'not Moby Dick as he's up the other end'. Aha.

"Well, that's me done." I said to myself, "I can go home now..."

I nabbed a decent 'netter' a little later and then had only two more bites until a good tench turned up then missed two more between that and the last tench at dusk...

The Saxon Ponds6-8oz, perfectly good 'netter' The Saxon PondsHot hot hot The Saxon PondsTench no.1 The Saxon PondsTench no.2, last cast...
The Saxon Ponds 2lb 2oz The Saxon Ponds 2lb 2oz

Very little fish movement, no crucians priming at all, a few signs of spawning in the weeds in the middle, very few bubbles one might be certain were fish, still a lot of midges hatching when and where the sun was on the water and again, not easy fishing. But worth it.

P.S. It occurs, reviewing this, that I was using a 'hemp shaped' 'tell-tale' shot...might have re-visit the solder-wire coils then...*facepalms*

2020 - Hindsight Year  22nd June 2020. Where Green Roads Meet...and Time Stands Still: Dickie Straker's fascinating 'blog. Is it easy to like the writings of a self-confessed 'inveterate daydreamer, loafer and enthusiast of many things from Tunnocks Tea Cakes to collecting driftwood' especially someone who lists one of his many eclectic interests as "leaning on gates". You'll like it.

One of the marvels of the modern age is that I can read 'Where Green Roads Meet' while leaning on my own gate. Heh.

2020 - Hindsight Year  19th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond

Strangely quiet. I opted for the late afternoon and aimed to fish until dusk, thinking that it was worth finding out if the fish were feeding more in the evening than in the morning. As it was, the fishing was not unlike earlier in the week. I fished the other side of the lily-patch fished on opening day and it fished in much the same way. That is, few bites, half seemed impossible to connect with, there was one tench (which was lively work in this more confined swim), but despite crucians priming from 7pm onward and every signs of fish being in the swim, I struggled to make any headway, and I was loath to drop to a fine-wire size 18 in this pitch as even the larger crucians need firm handling. As previously, I fished under the near bank on occasion, contacting something solid in a patch of effervescence, but the hook pinged out and this, some smaller fish bumped off earlier and the previous day's mishaps were not an good advertisement for the brand; one more chance, then it's the 'sharps' container and I'll name and shame. I swapped back to an obsolete S3, perhaps a little larger, but I didn't drop another fish. No sign of perch though.

The Upper Saxon Pond Strangely subdued The Upper Saxon Pond The tench, a smidge under 3lb I'd say The Upper Saxon Pond Quiet...
The Upper Saxon Pond One crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats The Upper Saxon Pond The rest of the catch, excepting one roach that fell off the hook, dropped onto my boot, then flipped into the water. The Upper Saxon Pond Another crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats

Again, not easy fishing.

2020 - Hindsight Year  18th June 2020. Riddle me this.

How does one separate the live maggots from the assorted casters, dead maggots and foul clumps of maize? Faced with 1¼ pints of said detritus, I sorted through the various bait-boxes stacked in the dungeon dimension that is 'the garage' until I located a box with no matching lid. This 'one pint' box fitted neatly onto the top of the currently occupied 'two-pint' box. Aha. I put it flat on the work-bench, then using the EATElectric Auger Technology, bored a matrix of 3.9mm holes covering the entire base.

I emptied the contents of the 'two-pint box' into this riddle, threw in a handful of fresh oats into the original box, slotted the 'riddle' into the top, then put the whole lot into a bait bucket, as one cannot be too careful with maggotsReally indelible memory.... I returned at the end of the day. Well that worked. I had perhaps 200 fresh maggots, which were then decanted into a 4" × 4" box for tomorrow's crucian foray.

2020 - Hindsight Year  16th June 2020. Opening Day - The Upper Saxon Pond

Damn it's early; despite this and the soul jarring squawk of an unwisely selected alarm tone, right in the middle of the a deep-sleep cycle, it is simply beautiful to walk across the field in the half-light and the mists that open ahead of me as fast as they swallow the old straight track behind. The pond looks perfect at dawn, although I generally eschew getting up to see it. I perch in my pitch, tackle up, cut off last September's rod-tip tangle, then for over an hour the promising signs do little but engage anticipation while I sit in the grey and the silver and listen to the mist-muted dawn chorus...

The Saxon Ponds4:45am or so...

...I recall my provisions and tuck into 'first breakfast', a pork-and-black-pudding sausage bap, a hard-boiled egg and a cup of 'brewed that morning coffee'. Ahh...when the float-tip lifts an inch it takes me by surprise, as does the solid weight of the cause, although it comes to the net rather more easily than it might, due probably to its on-board spawn. I scale the tench at 4lb 13oz, which is big for a small pond, carrying weight or no. The day under way.

The Saxon Ponds 4lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca The Saxon Ponds crucian The Saxon Ponds 2lb 14oz of fat tinca tinca

Despite this fine start, it is hard going thereafter. The tiny float-tip, fished on a 1×no.8 'lift-or-sink', does little that is positive, and I miss half of the bites. I nab two roach in the next hour, the sun's first rays streak across the far corner of the dam, then, at 7am or so, I whip out a small crucian. This is cause for celebration so I take a second breakfast, a replica of the first. The sun burns off the last of the mist and the birds and sheep noises have risen reciprocally.

The Saxon Ponds6:15am. The sun eased its way into the ponds...

I speculate the difficult fishing is a product of the vast continually midge hatches, a combination of busy fish feeding on the emergers and a host of fry joining in. Then there was a couple of roach, then a couple of crucians, slightly under hand-size but good sport, a couple of perch, a second tench a little under 3lb...and by this time some hours have slipped past. This is the day's pattern, fish seemingly arriving in pairs, with the rule something like "fish will arrive in pairs and no two consecutive fish will be taken on the same bait".

I alternate fishing off the bottom by the lilies at the front of the swim and the baited patch a rod length or more out, this regular changeover facilitated by using one of the silicone float stops as a top marker. I nab one or two fish on bread, another couple (and one of the perch) on a piece of shrimp, then catch a suspiciously familiar large tench, then more crucians and roach. The sun rises, beats down on the water, the temperature rises, and by the time Pete arrives I'd more-or-less had enough. It was tricky work, although there were enough fish to show that the pond was healthy, that there was minimal impact from the feared predation and also sufficient numbers for good fishing. Pete goes on, I nick out one more roach and a perch then tromp back up the track, now Mediterranean limestone cracking in the heat. Good enough.

The Saxon Ponds5lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca. Again. The Saxon PondsA nice crucian The Saxon PondsThe rest of the 'bag' The Saxon PondsA nice crucian
The Saxon Ponds Mad dogs and Englishmen... The Saxon Ponds Mad hatchers

[P.S. This all sounds idyllic. However...the first tench wrestled out the hook, cat-scratched it across my knuckles, embedded it in the net's mesh, then ripped it out, furling the hook-point. This I discovered when I 'bumped off' two crucians a little later. The hook-link then tangled to the extent I could not undo it, so was forced to cut and re-tie the hook. A little later the whole lot pinged around the rod tip...I realised it would be quicker to cut it all off and re-tie it, so reached for the VSSK...another strike later somehow put a turn of line around the rod between the third and forth rod-rings, something that is topologically possible, if not feasible...a little later I struck at a bite and the float was left in the water as the snap link had come undone...but barring this, idyllic. Sure.]

2020 - Hindsight Year  15th June 2020. The 15th.

Pork-and-black-pudding sausages cooked. Check. Buttered rolls. Check. Coffee pot ready to go. Check. Eggs hard-boiled. Check. Traces tied. Check. New 4lb line put on the 'pin. Check. Last season's tiny stones and mud removed from said 'pin. Check. Rods off the rack. Check. Bag emptied and re-packed for no good reason. Check. Be Lucky...

 Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish

2020 - Hindsight Year  11th June 2020. The Pike Lake and the Rain.

I fancied the Pike Lake at Revels because it is a rare thing, an under-fished lake at a commercial fishery. I suspect this is due to a combination of its distance from the complex, a good 200 yard walk across a path that will not accommodate a barrow, plus its low, almost normal, stock levels. Nevertheless I had to walk past the Canal Lake which had signs of fish at every point; the lizard brain scampered about behind me like an excited puppy, "Mate, mate, mate, there's fish, mate, there's fish here mate, there's fish, loads of fish, look..." Shaddap. The corner swim with its lilies and high skyline has seldom looked more lush or inviting.

Revels Pike Lake The Pike Lake Revels Pike Lake The Pitch Revels Pike Lake The bubble'd float

I throw in a few mussel halves, stick 12lb line on, a really strong size 8, both de rigueur for the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, for which even 10lb line might be a little light. The water under the float is almost four feet and no long rod is needed in this corner. I miss a couple of bobbly takes on the mussel nicked onto the tough little hook. I fold a small piece of bread over the same and extract several small bream, which explains the bubbles. A line of bubbles snakes across the swim and I replace the bread with a mussel and the float slips under, stops, and I pull into the anticipated eel, not for the first time here. This was a mere 2lb, perhaps a little more, easily enough netted, I roll it over and de-hook. Heh.

Revels Pike Lake Not the largest eel I've caught here. Revels Pike Lake One of several small bronze bream

I re-bait and then it starts to rain properly...for the next two hours, until my trousers were sopping, rivulets of water ran off my hat-brim and everything not under my coat was soaked. I hang on, as my sense is that 'after rain' is often a fine time for carp...during this time the float never twitched, save for when struck end-on by a large drop, not even after a bigger line of bubbles writhes across the swim...I weaken then, as there is no break in the cloud, scoop up my tackle and wade back across the field. Save for one grass-carp-like dorsal, not a sign of a carp...

Naturally, as soon as I reach the trees and the gate the rain patters away and ten minutes later the sun emerges. I stop at the first pitch on the Canal Lake, feed bread to a couple of carp that emerged in response to said bread, then, lizard brain now sitting like a good dog with its tail twitching, I put up the seat, pausing only to replace the missing nut on one of the chair's bolts, nick on another mussel and fish against the weed-patch. Stretching out my wet legs might even dry them out a bit...then the float zips off and the thief puts the rod into a quarter circle and takes 15 ft off the reel, which is not trivial. For an 8-9lb carp, it punches above its weight somewhat but is netted after a bit. A 5lb carp comes a little later, then a real pounce turns out to be 'mostly' rudd, if not 1lb, big enough to be worth noting.

Revels Pike Lake The Canal Lake pitch Revels Pike Lake Mostly rudd. The carp are hardly worth picturing.

It either went quiet or I got bored, as I wander all the way to the other end, spot a large dark shape in the reeds, sneak up on it, present it 'white toastie', which was immediately nicked by a smaller 'decoy' common. I try to pull it away from the reeds, the hook slips and the large interesting shape slips away...dammit. I park the chair, lob another mussel to the far bank and nab a couple more small carp, then decide that was all I need. I really should have gone back to eel corner...next time.

Today I dusted off the Shimano Nexave 4000R - this is a solid little reel and the spools are more solid for the epoxy used to fill the cavities inside them. It is a nice reel, but using it after a long break made me picky. It is not possible to reach the lip of the spool with the rod hand's fingers, which I find faintly annoying as I am in the habit of braking the spool on the strike. Plus the anti-reverse is silent, so one does not know if it is engaged or not...without checking. Small things, but they matter to this angler.

2020 - Hindsight Year  5th June 2020. The Wetland, yet another 'one more time'...

It is cooler than of late and although it would be balmy day indeed for January, the breeze has rendered pond '1','2', '3' and '4' devoid of colour and although a few chub are visible (as they always are) in the first two ponds, no other fish are showing, barring a long-range view of one chub in '4'. Pond '5' is the most promising looking and it is fortunate that my plan was to drag a swim here and see what it held. Unlike the preceding pools it is heavily weeded, with colour in a few gaps, but although a few rudd, the odd crucian and a few larger tench have so far been spotted, the carp are still conspicuous in absentia.

A twisting squall rendered the weed-dragging a particularly wet affair, so after that and baiting the pitch I return to the DT'Driving Technology' for my coat and determined I would cut back the crack-willow that was laying across the path alongside '1', its branches now at about 'face height' for this angler.

I was glad of the coat...I start to catch rudd. The water is clear, even after the rake, so I relax and play with the easy fish. After nabbing a few using maggots on the hook, I wonder if it is possible to catch then on a bare hook painted red with a permanent marker. Yes it is. It is also possible to catch rudd on the same hook threaded with a ¼" piece of thin red silicone tubing. Showers, various, beetle past and I note several tench-like shadows scooting along the bed at the shady edges of my personal hole-in-the-weeds. Aha.

The Wetland The Pond '5' Pitch The Wetland The Second Biggest Tench

I pop a BB ½" from the hook, re-set the depth and fish on the right-hand side of the gap, as close to the weed as I can get, immediately nabbing two tench, a fingerling and a 'two-fingerling', both falling to those 'dither-rise-dither-rise' bites that are typical of tiny tench in silt. After three or four such fish, with a smattering of extra rudd, naturellement, I nab a 6-8oz tench consistent with one of the longer shapes that I had noted earlier. A couple of rapt hours and a dozen tiny t.'s later, the largest fish of the day arrives, perhaps 1lb 10oz or so, putting a proper bend in the rod, but still smaller than one I had seen earlier...

The WetlandA panorama pitch picture
The Wetland The Turmoil of Tiny Tench The Wetland The Biggest Tench

...A few more fish come in the last hour, but no sign of a carp, although I was suspicious of one most carp-like bite, a eternity of trembling then a lightning take. Had I tied on an 'old-fashioned' size 18 baited with a single maggot, I suspect the tiny tinca count could have been doubled, but I was, with a stout 16, invested in larger tench and hoped for carp. Then, at 'just one last cast' time, another firm squall made a decision for me and I pack, swiftly, damply, and call it a fine day.

This is small beer for some, but for myself, these tiny ponds with their barely cut paths, wild fish and season-to-season and daily variations are more attractive than 'the same old carp' day in, day out, that is most of our fishing.

hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook
hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook

2020 - Hindsight Year  29th May 2020. The Wetland, another 'one more time'...

It was very very hot. I regretted turning up as early as 3pm, the '2' chub were sunning themselves under the south bank and I stalked to within two paces before they took flight, as did the rudd, also seemingly wild. I took a quick stroll then settled by the lilies at the north end of '3', expecting to have to wait until the sun lowered itself behind the hedge opposite...after 45 minutes I could feel my shirt sticking to me, so took the LBR'Little Blue Rod' aka the Other Mk.III and nicked out a few of the larger rudd from '5', which was fun and then spent some time under the trees there watching a couple of tench nose about the margin followed by three acolyte crucians, the largest perhaps 2oz. I stole up to the end of the pond and saw a large dark shape hanging in the water. I snuck around the tree and it was gone. From the gap between the ponds, I watched the extremely healthy rudd population in '6' scoot about while a pike of around 2lb of so evanesced into the weeds. For a pond full of pike, it has a lot of rudd.

I whipped a few of '6''s rudd out for good measure and then turned to face the other pond and spotted the same ark shape under the trees in the corner. Hm. Not a chub. Doesn't look or behave like a tench. Carp? I looked away, looked back and it was gone...

The Wetland So so gold... The Wetland Four of the rudd flotilla The Wetland The inevitable float

I spent ten minutes eyeing up '5' or standing in the shade, pick one, while thinking a sensible idea would be to weed-drag a swim and fish in the shade, sat back in my chair for twenty minutes, then did the smart thing and took chair and tea to the totally leafed-over path at the top of the ponds and spent a sensible hour or so in cool shade, disturbed only by what appeared to be a pair of willow tits, which I have not seen here before. Two cups of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon; tea, JAA for the consumption of later and now with a normal body temperature, I edged back to my pitch which felt like the right spot, despite the lure of a dragged shady swim in'6'. So I fished...

...despite the right sort of bubbling, bites were absent, so I swapped shrimp for punched bread and almost immediately nabbed an 8oz tench on a bobbling lift-bite. Heh. Pete arrived just in time to miss this fish, but not a few more bites which yielded nothing. I told of the possible carp and other sightings, then Pete went on. I dropped the hook size, slipped on a fine antennae, but still went on to have one of those times, when they were there, I was there, the bait was there, but I could not quite put all three together.

The Wetland The Pond '3' Pitch with its Lilies The Wetland The Biggest Tench The Wetland The Smallest Tench

I nabbed another rudd, pricked a couple of fish on the strike and finally nabbed a tiny tench, which is always fun. Then the sun was below the alders, the evening was wonderfully cool after the blast-furnace afternoon, and I was quite content with that.

The WetlandA panorama shot taken from between '3' and '4'
The WetlandA panorama shot taken from between '4' and '5'

2020 - Hindsight Year  23rd May 2020. Handled. The revamped (link) cutting blade was screwed into the landing net handle, viciously applied to the mistletoe, then further re-deployed on sedges, rushes and some crack-willow. After those exertions, I realised the clamp at the top of the pole had loosened the smallest amount. Hm. I have had this pole for over a decade, a 'well known tackle maker' one and it is very solidly made (probably a mistake on their part).

The only criticism I have of it, is that water gradually accumulates inside the pole. Both sections are thick-walled and the end ferrule ('3/8 BSF' naturally) is solid brass, although it came loose about four years back and I had effect a 'temporary' repair with water-proof cyanoacrylate. The screw-collar is a reasonable alloy and has not turned to white powder (this ruined the previous landing net handle). I decide to dismantle the whole thing and re-glue it, meaning the clamp and the ferrule had to be tapped off and the old glue removed. The butt-end cap was also tapped off and both pole-sections were leant against the kitchen window in the 'contemporary orangerie', until the plumes of condensation on the window, formed around the sections' ends, had dispersed and the poles were quite bone-dry.

Many years of fine silt was removed from various nooks and crannies, the required epoxy resin was applied, cling-film was wrapped around the screw-collar base and the whole left to set. To prevent future accumulation of rancid water, four clean 1.5mm holes were bored in the butt-end cap, which is made of a soft tough plastic so is otherwise unharmed. It was then popped back on with two tiny dabs of cyanoacrylate to keep it in place.

I then decide to add some purple and green whippings under the collar simply for fun and decoration - I had a reel end of some Gudebrod NCP green and some PacBay NCP Purple, which was altogether too purple for fishing rods. I covered up bits of shiny metal with a black permanent marker and re-varnished the screw-collar (which I had previously covered with cloth tape and varnished) and the ferrule.

I applied a little Vaseline to the plastic clasp's thread and worked the collar up and down it a few times to spread it out...there. Ready for mighty leviathans of the deeps. Or any 'netter' really.

The Landing Net Handle The collar whippings The Landing Net Handle The ferrule whipping

In the above, it can be seen the original collar, which was very very shiny, was covered with cloth 'camo' tape and varnished over. It is a little frayed at the edges now, but I re-varnished it for good luck. Some slight damage to the ferrule whipping is already apparent, I have already used the handle, this too will be varnished over.

2020 - Hindsight Year  22nd May 2020. The Wetland, one more time...

The plan was to fish the Wetland on the way home, although I was not convinced it would be alive with fish. It was certainly more alive that last week. Pottering up and down, there were plenty of chub moving in '1' and '2', with '1' clearer than last week and '2' with perhaps a tinge of colour, but not enough to hide the chub, especially those in the downstream corner enjoying the sun. There were several tench mooching about in '3', two fine chub and a large tench abroad in the still gin-clear '4' and in the sunny corner there was a pike of about 2lb bathing on the pond-bed.

Edging down to '5', which was also clear although weedy, I spent a while firing small crusts into the far trees and the accumulated flotsam in the NW corner and then waited...carp are too curious even if bread is new to them, but nothing stirred. Hm. The only signs of life were a few rudd and small crucians in the NW corner. In '6' a few rudd scooted about and I saw one pike laying up in the weeds; the swim helpfully cut at the end of the pond had been enveloped in floating catkins and fluff, so was not (today) an option.

I decided that I would fish the south end of '3' as the movement suggested that the fish might feed towards the end of the day, so I baited very lightly then enjoyed the sun, two scotch eggs and several tins of cool lemonade...a dog-fox made it halfway along the path alongside '2' before catching sight of me, and then only when I moved my head quickly to see if it noticed. It froze for a moment, then did that dog-like volte-face and trotted briskly back the other way, then darted up the path between the first two ponds and vanished. Heh. Pete'n'Pam came by en route to another venue, not that I had masses of fish to report or anything...but we talked of this and that, while at the proscribed seperation.

The afternoon stretched out and a few-score rudd and schools of tiny fish went back and forth, plus several 2-3lb tench which obligingly coasted around the float then hovered between me and it for most of the afternoon. Once or thrice the float was pulled in that determined way that suggests a small fish is doggedly tackling an overlarge bait. I debated slipping on a size 18 and fishing for the rudd, using scraps of cockle or nibs of bread, but really did not feel the need to overexert myself in the warm wind-blown sunshine.

The Wetland Descisions, decisions... The Wetland ...but really did not feel the need to overexert myself in the warm wind-blown sunshine... The Wetland ...the float was pulled in that determined way that suggests a small fish is doggedly tackling an overlarge bait.

The fully grown swan passed through the pond, traversed '2' in furious half-flight and proceeded to violently assault the immature bird on pond '1'. It drove it out the water and down the path, then into the hedge and after some noises off, the mature bird emerged and made its serene way back down the ponds. Over an hour later the younger bird emerged from the hedge and made its way dejectedly along the path to within a few yards of me, pausing every so often to extend its neck and scan the water for the bully. It then appeared to decide that I represented some kind of sanctuary and settled down on the path and after a while ate a half-circle into the lush grass, then went to sleep.

Meanwhile, I thought my chances were improving by the minute. There were sporadic feeding signs, obviously taking place wherever my float was not located and this kept me, figuratively, on the edge of my seat until about 7pm. At this time, small fish started priming, zipping up from the bottom and zipping back after a small splash and it seemed to me that these were probably small crucians, although it is hard to be certain. For the next 30 minutes this kept me hopeful, although the float only twitched once or twice and although the water seemed quite alive, I decided that was enough for me. I woke the swan, which grudgingly moved along the path, reproachfully it must be said, but before it slipped into '2' and began drinking copiously I had seen both wings and feet were intact, so I diagnosed a seriously injured pride then headed home for some scrambled eggs. And possibly a 'Red Label' or two.

2020 - Hindsight Year  22nd May 2020. Slashing. A one person work-party, to continue path-cutting for this year's '16th' with, this year, inclusive 'passing places'. There was a digger in the barn-yard moving a prodigious pile of hard-core, possible for a new dry-ski slope, so I had to spin the DT'Driving Technology' around and park in the field just off the beaten track.

It was sunny, 20°C in the shade, and even with the stiff breeze it was hot sticky work with frequent pauses to remove 'wildlife', both real and imaginary, from one's person. The light was very fine and even using the ST'Small Technology''s camera, the below pictures came out very well; it is nice to have some pictures of the path, rather than the water from the path.

The Saxon PondsThe First Pitch... The Saxon Ponds...the Second Pitch... The Saxon Ponds...the Third Pitch... The Saxon Ponds...the Fourth Pitch...
The Saxon Ponds...the Bridge... The Saxon Ponds...the path from the Bridge... The Saxon Ponds...to the Trail Camera Pitch... The Saxon Ponds...from the Trail Camera Pitch to the corner... The Saxon Ponds...and around the corner...

Plus, a rather nice panorama, taken from the dam.

The Saxon PondsThe Upper Saxon Pond

2020 - Hindsight Year  20th May 2020. Hooked. I had to take down the smallest apple tree, on account of it being quite lifeless. While I was at it, I decided to use my landing-net handle reed-cutting attachment to remove live mistletoe from the other trees, as the tree-surgeon who took down the Bramley advised me that the mistletoe would affect 'said other trees. Ah. I cut some, then the hooked blade pulled right out of its moulded plastic. Tat.

I mulled this over, possibly while muttering a few rude words. The blade, a nasty looking hooked thing, was reasonable steel. It took and held an edge, plus it had two 3mm holes in the blunt end, which were there so that the moulded plastic would grip the blade at all. I recalled I had some steel M8? M10? bolts retrieved from the dismantled tree-house.

First, find your bolt *...noises off, from garage...* the thread was re-cut to 3/8"BSF (I have both die & tap for 3/8"BSF). That worked. Hm. I resolved to cut the bolt down to the right length, cut a length-wise slot in it, drill two holes through, then rivet the blade in with cut-down galvanised nails 'of the right size'. Sounds simple.

I decided to put a 3/8"BSF brass nut onto the existing thread, screwed right to the end-stop as it were, then allow sufficient length for the blade's slot, plus a second nut. The bolt was cut to length, and then cleaned off by clamping it into the drill and running a file over it. The same file was then used to take about 0.25mm off the o/d at the unthreaded end, so that the die would fit.

A second thread was then cut at the 'other' end, the idea being that once the blade was in place, another nut would brace the open end of the slot. This rod was then clamped vertically in the vice, using the first brass nut, then using a hacksaw and some oil, a slot was cut to within 1mm of the nut clamped in the vice. Naturally the hooked-blade was about two hacksaw blades thick, so a second blade was added to the hacksaw and the slot opened out (I know, but it worked perfectly). Although cut completely 'by eye' the slot was 'true'. Heh.

The second nut was put onto the 'open end' of the rod, then both nuts were adjusted so that when the rod was clamped horizontally in the vice (across the flats of the nuts) and the hooked-blade was slid into the slot, the blade was flat and level on the top of the vice. Sneaky eh? The blade was gently tapped through the slot until half of both its holes were visible. By eye, the rod was punched to mark where the 'rivets' would be placed. The blade was removed, both holes were piloted through with a 2mm bit, then they were opened up to 3mm. The holes were de-burred and countersunk and the inside of the slot de-burred by running the 'double' hacksaw blade back through. The hooked-blade was offered up and, stap me, the holes were perfectly aligned. The plastic tub with galvanised nails was up-ended and two perfect fits were rooted out, cut to length (about 15mm). Then, using a small block of iron and a ball-peen, the blade was 'riveted' into placed.

The die was re-run over both threads along with a little oil, to clean them up and the sharp edges and residual burrs removed with some 400 grit and a fine wire brush. Finally the threads were cleaned with white spirit and both nuts were tightened into place with a good dollop of Loctite 263. There. All done. Rather pleased with that.

The Wetland The hooked blade The Wetland The hooked blade The Wetland Close-up of the 'rod' and its rivets.

It is not going to break, is it?

2020 - Hindsight Year  13th May 2020. Allowed Out. I set off with something of a buzz, as notwithstanding the 'lockdown' this would only be my second trip out in 2020. I was keen to try out the 'new' Four Piece Avon tip and was hopeful that the place would have retained a little warmth despite the recent cool snap.

The Wetland is at its best in Spring and is the greenest place I know of, but this didn't hide the clear clear waters...Pond '1' held a little colour, enough to obscure the corner chub, but '2'-'6' were as Bombay Sapphire. Ah. I pottered about, spotted a few tench promenading in '3' and a large chub and one large tench likewise in '4'. Pond '5' might have been bereft of life, for all I saw. Hm. Even the rudd were apparently hunkered down somewhere. I set up in '3' to fish for a random tench against the far trees, something which has worked in the past. Pete called and I vouchsafed that if I got even one bite I'd be above current expectations...

...can you say 'foreshadowing'? After an hour, sans tinca, I rootled out a few worms from under a rotting log and using the same float, cunningly weighted with two AAA shot, planted a worm in the gap in the willows in '2'. Two chub thought this was of passing interest, then the float slid along a bit, in that casual way that floats do when the fish do not see much fishing.

The Wetland The path by '3' The Wetland Pond '3' in leaf The Wetland The least chary chub

This fine chub exercised my rod 'enough' to see it was basically good, although the spine' alignment might need re-checking. Despite my exaggerated stealth, the other chub took fright. I wandered up to the other end of '3' to try the same game with the small posse of tench - they obligingly swam past, over and around my bait for half an hour. Hm. I had a look around the other ponds, even the '4' chub had taken refuge somewhere, so I tried for another chub from '2' for 40 minutes, which they were not having, then snuck around to '1' and lobbed the same worm (figuratively) into 'chub corner'. Or today, 'chub-less corner'. As there was some colour in '1' I opted to spend an hour fishing for bites on the sunny side, while sipping tea and contemplating the infinite. When I started there was decent colour; an hour later my bait had materialised out of the murk and could be seen on the bed. At this time I remembered the 'half-a-boiled-fruit-cake', with added blackberry whisky, that was sitting on the side at home...

The Wetland The long quill on the far side of '3' The Wetland Looking down the rod The Wetland Waiting on '1'...

(...In contrast with this time last year, the ponds all had some colour and I caught rudd, tench and carp without much trouble, I shall hope for a warm 10 days and try again...)

2020 - Hindsight Year  10th May 2020. Restoration at Barton Court Estate trout fishery. Lovely little video about the start of the Kennet restoration project at Barton Court Estate. Work is under way to create a habitat that promotes a healthy head of wild trout, as well as creating a diverse and varied fishery for anglers.

I have fished here a few times and alway enjoyed the place and it is good to hear that the habitat is being restored 'first'. This is the approach taken at the ...an idyllic and very fine fishery that was the product of many years of careful managementSaxon Ponds: water and environment first, fish second, anglers third.

2020 - Hindsight Year  8th May 2020. Catching Small Bass in a Tiny Spillway. Fishing 618 is well worth a watch. Although possibly at odds with UK techniques, the enthusiasm is infectious, the editing is nicely done, the soundtracks are well chosen and played at a 'background' volume. Plus, there is a fascinating array of fish and where else do you see folk catching turtles by mistake and having to avoid snakes?

In his own words: Fishing the ponds, lakes, rivers, and creeks from the midwest and beyond! You will find videos featuring gear from the lightest of ultra light to the heaviest of heavy. This channel is dedicated to fishing purely for the fun and excitement of fishing! Enjoy!"

2020 - Hindsight Year  7th May 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Busy bee Keeping Busy...Sane as a plank here. Box'o'frogs

Today I opted to fix the loose backboard on the second stair...peasy eh? By the time I had emptied the cupboard under the stairs, hoovered up 2,762 spiders, their detritus and a lot of dust, crawled in (on my unhooking mat), measured the width of the step, wriggled out, cut a baton, drilled it and wriggled back in, screwed the baton to the step, which luckily was good solid ¼" timber (the plywood had punched off the panel pins originally used to fix it, so I opted to screw a baton over the top of what was quite ragged plywood). I then cut a support block out of 4" × 4" fence-post for the two central heating pipes that run through the cupboard. This was to stop the pipes being bounced by the stuff being lobbed into the cupboard. I then took off the door, cut a hole for a louvre, fitted it and re-hung the door...that was pretty much my day. Oh, I nearly forgot, before that I fixed a new grille to the downstairs loo extractor fan - the old one had 'flaps' and the sparrows had broken two of them and finding a handy one foot deep 4" pipe, started a nest, bit of which were all over the shelf in the 'said, loo. They then decided the three berth nest box not 10 feet away was better, so this is currently 33.3% occupied. Before that I checked every JAA database entry for 2005, and amended several from 1982 or thereabouts...

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  5th May 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Busy bee Keeping Busy...I have not been going mad at all. Oh no. Box'o'frogs

There were number of 'things' on this site which have been niggling at me for a bit. There are basically several page types that are not behaving as I would like, which for the sake of argument can be termed: 'subject', 'topic', tackle, and 'venue'. I needed to ensure they all worked in the same way...and the way was that every entry on each page hyperlinked back to its location in the relevant 'dairy' page. This took me a coupla days...three if you count all the diversions to edit old entries that had spelling mistakes and phrases that simply begged a re-write. Plus I remembered some other stuff I had nearly forgotten...anyway, all done. Phew. I'm reminded of the old joke about 'always working on a low maintenance garden'.

Meanwhile...I glued the rogue trim down on the lad's car, put a curtain rail up in the 'contemporary orangerie', dismantled the treadmill ready for its new belt (which I have ordered), removed two polycarbonate panels worth of glazing-bar end-caps and bits, cleaned out a not inconsiderable amount of 'stuff' and put them back on using the s/steel washers and screws that came Friday - this will ensure that the panels cannot slip down again. I must mention the 'screw-removing' pliers that arrived for this job, awsome things. Certainly do the job, 16 panels to go...and as the new oil tank went in today, I dug out all the surrounding bricks, stones and other geological ephemera, put an axe through a recalcitrant Bramley tree root and filled a large tub with ivy-roots. I wonder if we have any grass-seed?

Here is one of our regular visitors and the view from the very top of the hill. Stay safe and well.

GoldfinchFront Garden Goldfinch
To of the North DownFrom the top of the hill - along with everything else I do this every day...
small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...(and return to the top of the page) small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and one more time... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...got it?

2020 - Hindsight Year  29th April 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Busy bee Keeping Busy...

The 28th was the single least productive day of the lock-down for me. No idea why; I ran out of jobs I fancied and did little more than pot up beans, squashes and a few errant maize seeds. The rain, which returned in earnest this morning, has soaked the veggie plot and flushed through and cleaned out the guttering I amended. I may yet have to tackle the loose backboard at the bottom of the stairs. It is an easy enough job but it is hard to access and requires emptying the cupboard under the stairs. Then the treadmill belt broke, so I've had to sort out a new one...

Stir Crazy? Me? Box'o'frogs

Fish in a barrelThere actually are fish in there....

Stay safe and well.Busy bee

2020 - Hindsight Year  27th April 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Keeping Busy bee Busy...

Some small stuff. Some expanding foam around the central-heating pipes' egress from the ceiling in two rooms was removed flush, then a pipe clip that had come loose (or more probably, had never been put in properly) was removed, the hole filled, a new hole drilled and the clip replaced. I have a small book-shelf, surprisingly well made in a 1975 woodwork class. I resolved to put it on the wall over my desk. I drilled out three old rawlplugs from said area of wall then filled the holes. I opened out the book-shelf's screw holes and countersink a smidge then drilled new holes in the wall and loosely affixed the shelf. Yep, all good. I took it off, wire-wooled then bees-waxed it, left it in the 'contemporary orangerie' for an hour or two, buffed off the wax, then fixed it on the wall. A small digital inclinometer is a useful thing.

Stay safe and well.Busy bee

2020 - Hindsight Year  25th April 2020. Keeping Busy... Busy bee

I finished the rod-rest previously mentioned, and very smart it looks. I sorted out the 'cotemporary orangerie' down-pipe - I previously added a new water butt to the two existing, hence the need to reposition the down-pipe, which involved 'some guttering', a hack-saw, an electric drill and a number of non-family appropriate words. I sieved out the soil removed for the setting of previously mentioned slabs then dug out one end of the flower bed so I can transplant two large foxgloves that had moved in next door to the horse-radish (which is growing nicely). I spread out a few of the liberated ubiquitous blue-bell and daffodil bulbs which we are blessed with. I dug out a massive ornamental grass thingy, think size of a basket-ball, shredded it (bloody things) and replanted 'said bulbs and some golden rod-roots that had been overwhelmed by 'said grass-like spawn of satan. I removed a few glazing bar end-caps from the orangerie and worked out I can make a retaining bracket out of steel and push all the roof segments back into place. Off to the internet to order said brackets and some s/steel no.10 × 35mm screws... Busy bee

Re-shaped and 'greened'... ...with its handy red stripe, I'll add some heat-shrink to the fork later.

Bet I lose the rod-rest though.

2020 - Hindsight Year  24th April 2020. Chilli Sans Carne

Mrs. AA and the two-thirds of the Littleanglers have foresworn meat but not spices, so I worked up a vegetarian chilli. The below serves four, more-or-less. It is assumed the reader can cook a bit. Chilli Sans Carne takes about an hour to cook to completion.

Weigh out 100g of dried Textured Vegetable Protein and put it into a saucepan.

Put the following into a Pyrex jug: 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon powder, a teaspoon of Worcester sauce (not veggie this last, contains 'anchovies', so for completely vegetarian swap this out for mushroom ketchup), a tea-spoon of dark soy (for colour), a dessert spoon of HP sauce, one teaspoon of ground cumin and one of un-smoked paprika. Add about 1¼ pints of boiling water and stir well until the soluble stuff has dissolved and the powders are suspended. Pour this into the TVP, mix well and leave for a couple of hours. This will hydrate it and the flavours will be drawn into the otherwise anodyne TVP.

Wait two hours...also, find a large saucepan.

Cut up 2 large onions and fry in a little olive oil until translucent, a bit of a brown tinge will not hurt. When the onion is done, crush two cloves of garlic and add them to the pan, fry for 1 minute (only), stirring constantly. Burnt garlic is foul...then add 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons of un-smoked paprika, half a level teaspoon of ground black pepper and chilli to taste. I use chilli flakes, they are reliable, that is, one level teaspoon is exactly the heat we like. It is as well to remember that it is far easier to add a bit more chilli later, than to remove any excess.

Fry the spices for another minute or so, stirring constantly, then add two tins of tomatoes, two tins of drained kidney beans (save one tin's liquid) and put in the TVP. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Optionally, cut 4-6 green and yellow peppers into chunks and add those along with a small tin of sweetcorn. Add a dessert-spoon of tomato puree. Simmer the whole lot until the peppers are soft. If any additional liquid is required, add some of the kidney bean liquid, but wait until the peppers are soft before adding any - the peppers liberate quite a bit of water as they cook...

Five minutes before serving add a tablespoon of lime juice and one square of 90% cocoa chocolate and stir until the latter has melted.

Serve with whatever you like - tortillas are good, as is rice. The Anotherangler household does not usually bother with either, we add the peppers to make it a complete meal, but a few rice-crackers on top are pretty good.

2020 - Hindsight Year  23rd April 2020. Why Are There Dragons? The Snakes of Loki

I have a hypothesis...I was looking up 'Four AshesOne of 'those' places...' in 2015 or so, after a too-and-fro with the LoD on 'those places' which give one the feeling one is being watched. Or something. It turns out 'Four Ashes' comes equipped with a tale of a worme or dragon The story of the Hughenden Dragon.... For me this beast had something of a salamander about it. I had seen, around the time of this first thought, a documentary on some very big carnivorous salamanders that hang out in China. It occurs that there once was, in times of yore, a giant salamander in Europe - they are not tropical animals per se - and a five-foot hissing, crying salamander would be, for your Dark-and-Middle ages person, a 'dragon'. It is instructive that such small dragons tended to emerge spontaneously from small pools and ponds...if I was the sort to take that further, it might be worth trying to work out if reports of dragons in mediaeval times coincided with unusually long dry spells of weather. You know, when water levels were below average... The Snakes of Loki

Four Ashes has a small shadowy pond on the corner, a remnant of the old Rockhalls manor-house moat; I never liked passing it by, especially at night.

Even more persuasive is the fine book "The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent" by Isbell. This wonderful piece of consilience convincingly explores and expounds on why humans see so well and are so snake-adverse; fear of snakes is our most common phobia and the most easily induced. There is a special part of the human brain dedicated to detecting those patterns that look like 'snake-scales' and freezing us mid-step; this has happened to me; but for this tiny part of the mid-brain, I would have trodden flip-flop-shod on a sun-bathing Viper and you would not be reading this.

Lynne Isbell's fine piece of induction neatly dovetails with many strong age-long traditions of chaos, being that which is outside the circle or tree-canopy, and its representation by snakes and dragons of types too multitudinous to describe.

We have evolved to fear these predators, large and small, the monitors, the serpents and the crocodilians, while at the same time sharing an ancestral limbic cortex. The limbic system is the seat of base emotions; fight, flight, food, the primitive basic survival drives. Not for nothing is the limbic commonly referred to as the 'lizard brain'; this is all a lizard has.

It is hardly surprising that the dragons of the mind share space and characteristics with the dragons of the world and that civilised man is, by his very nature, both jousting with his own dragons and those of others. It would be more surprising if there were not dragons. The Snakes of Loki

And then there are horse-eels...

2020 - Hindsight Year  22nd April 2020. Sit-Rep. Still Keeping Busy...

I decide to remove the escaped bamboo from behind the veggie bed, which required an axe and a firm state of mind, then recalling four bags of 'postcrete' and some gravel in the garage, decide to dig a hole and bed the three slabs displaced by the bamboo shoots onto that. This has the additional benefit of providing a barrier even bamboo cannot penetrate...by the time I had extracted all the ivy, the stump of a dead buddleia and its ivy, several errant bamboo shoots that had made it a yard across the lawn and shredded the whole lot for compost...

...in between times I re-fixed a bunch of fence slats; the original screws having rusted and loosened. A job, that without a power-screwdriver would have taken half a day, but with, half-an-hour. Gotta love power tools.

I also 'discovered' an old home-made steel rod-rest, which had been resting in the garage for some time - this, rusted, was found in a lake's undergrowth. I wire-brushed it clean, which revealed the brazed joint where the fork joined the upright and it appears to be patterned after one described in DMAL'Drop Me a Line'; still one of the finest fishing books ever.. I hammered the end few inches of the upright flat, to help it do a better job in the ground, then reshaped the fork, making the flare symmetrical (it was not), then added a slight curve to the fork. This proved tricky as different parts of the metal rod appeared to have different tempers. Still, done and 'hammerited' green, it needs only a little clear heat-shrink over the rod-bearing surface, if I have any.

Obviously I am going to lose it, what with the whole 'green' thing going on. So when the second coat of green has dried, I will add a short section of red hammerite.

Plus I have spent several hours trying to find out why inexpensive oxygen sensors are hard to source. The answer appears to be that no-one wishes to sell them cheaply nor has to. It is never good when it is 'better' business to sell a few high margin products, than to sell many more units at a lower profit margin, especially in health-care.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  21st April 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, One More Time, One More Time...

Black is cool on Hotblack Desiato's stunt ship (right up until the point it plunges into the sun), but on a fishing rod it is terribly dull, so I have added further colour with some Pacbay NCP thread in 'evergreen' and 'some purple'. I changed the butt-ring (stop it) to a fine grey 30mm lined Fuji MNSG. This replaced the 20mm previous incarnation, so all the existing rings shuffled up one space on the rod.

First though were those four places on the top section where the end of a carbon section showed after the paint came off. They will probably never move, but I have seen them now so; these need whipping over with epoxy. I have three spools of carp Dacron that I have kept for 'something' after a number of mysterious knot failures. I coloured a couple of yards of the 6lb black with an indelible pen, let it dry for a day or two (having first done an experiment to see if a couple of meters is enough). I cleaned up the offending areas, slightly buffed them with '000' emery and applied a thin cost of epoxy with a brush. When it was tacky (some two hour later) I put blackened 6lb dacron whippings over the tack resin, pulled the ends through and trimmed them up. I made up some more epoxy, warmed it with a heat gun until it was quite runny. I gently warmed the whipping to something less than 100°C (it all helps, painted each whipping in turn, put heat-shrink tubing over the top and shrunk it down to force the resin into the thread. Did the other three the same. Waited 24 hours and cut off the tubing and trimmed a few bits of resin off. There...

...were a couple of spots on the three smallest whippings with 'small fluffy bits', where the heat-shrink removal pulled a few fibres away. Possibly the heat-shrink tape I had previously used would be better...I do not like the end result, especially those done with clear heat-shrink tubing, which did not work as well as the thinner black heat-shrink on the lower whippings. I decided to remove them, cleaned up the rod and replaced them with black 6lb dyneema whipped over tacky epoxy resin. When this had gone off, I varnished them like any other whipping. Should have done that in the first place. Still, always good to learn something new...

The Hexagraph AvonTip Ring The Hexagraph AvonThird Ring, plus 'obsessive whippings' The Hexagraph AvonFifth Ring, plus 'obsessive whipping' The Hexagraph AvonSixth Ring The Hexagraph Avon'Ferrule' Whippings

Next the rings were evergreen-wrapped and I added a small fly rod ring, recycled from the 'GudgeonatorCute, but a failed experiment' as a 'keeper'. This was mounted only just forward of the champers fore-grip. I do not fit winding-checks (I have no idea what the point of them is). The idea is that the 'keeper' is close enough to the fore-grip that there is very little chance of a flailing coil of line snagging on it. This avoids the whole 'Swooosh-crack................................................................................................................................................................
..................................................      splot' related incident.

The Hexagraph AvonCounter Whippings The Hexagraph AvonSeventh Ring The Hexagraph AvonButt Ring The Hexagraph AvonKeeper Ring The Hexagraph AvonReel-Seat Hood whipping.

Over a week or so, I varnished the whippings to three coats, giving both sections of the rod sunlight-time in the lean-to during the day, to set the varnish a little quicker. There. Finished, as it has the right reel-seat, a perfect handle, a keeper that works and a decent mix of lined and light rings.

There, all done, nothing more needs doing to this rod. Probably...

2020 - Hindsight Year  18th April 2020. 'Puswhisperer: A Year in the Life of an Infectious Disease Doctor' by Mark Crislip MD star rating 

I am something of a rational empiricist with a tinge of renaissance polymathy, so bought this on recommendation. It is really very good, a year's worth of daily 'blogs from the life of an Infectious Disease doctor in the USA. Being an 'ND' NDNot a Doctor. JAA is not a doctor, but in the book the term 'ND' is used pejoratively to describe: 'naturopaths', 'homeopaths', 'chiropractors' etc. etc....and all the other forms of petty charlatanism. Quack quack. does not preclude either learning a lot from this book, or enjoying it hugely or indeed, snickering at regular intervals. There is something on every page for ND's to take away, although it is certain that real medical doctors would learn and appreciate far more from this book than I. As an additional bonus, scorn and derision are heaped on quackery of every sort, and it is easy to infer the glaringly obvious problems that accompany health provision that is 'not free'. This is a particularly relevant message for the times; the UK has a fine National Health Service. Do not take it for granted.

Nothing to do with fishing. But still very much worth reading. Plus, what MRSA MRSAMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Obvs.  stands for is now committed to memory. Sadly, not the spelling though.

2020 - Hindsight Year  16th April 2020. Keeping busy. Bits'n'bobs. I would not want anyone to think I have been idle...let us see; I have read about half of the excellent "Puswhisperer: A Year in the Life of an Infectious Disease Doctor", spread the compost over the veggie bed and dug it in, just in time for it to rain tomorrow and damp it well down. When the rain eases, the tarpaulin that was laid over the pile will be redeployed on the bed to keep weeds from sprouting until the beans are ready. I dug up quite a lot of 'random foxgloves' and made small plantation of them at the shady end of the nearest flower-bed. Well watered-in, they seem to be perfectly at home. If they self-seed there (as they have everywhere) they will make a nice stand. I did the same with even more random 'forget-me-knots', which grow in every nook and cranny, so I have made a border with them which should keep going for some years. Then restored a flower-bed brick-edge that was overshadowed by the now defunct Bramley tree and pulled up a sod of a lot of ivy...then it will be the root-killer for that. The Hex Avon is on its final vanishings.

Bluebells More-or-less at their best now Bluebells More-or-less at their best now Bluebells More-or-less at their best now

Plus the daily dozen. Some mild cabin fever. The river below is engaging, but there is not a fish in it...

...stay safe and well.

WinterborneLooks lovely, the stones are bones by June.

2020 - Hindsight Year  14th April 2020. Keeping busy. Winder. I have had one of those wooden float winders for some time now, extracted from a boot sale using the levers of reciprocity. It has hung on a hook above my desk, for no other reason than 'I just like it'.

Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.

...but. Coupla things. The rusted metal struts, hooks for the hooking of, were rusted and the wooden constituents themselves were loose, simply the shrinkage of the wood and glue over the years. Hm. The only thing holding the assembly together was 'said rusty pins, so all four were carefully cut through on both sides of the middle support. After this, it came apart quite easily.

...part dismantled ...parts apart ...dis-assembled

It is nicely made; machined and sawn for sure, even the cuts for the line appear to have been made with a razor saw of some sort. I used a safety razor-blade to clean out those slots, then resolved to re-glue it and replace the rusty struts with some brazing solder rod I had retained for some time, but which had far to much potential utility to throw away.

...in bits Interesting to see the dark patch where lead shot once rolled about.

The existing wire struts came out with little difficulty. The pieces in the main body were plucked out with pliers, likewise the middle supports'. The pieces in the outer supports split 50-50, two coming away and two having rusted into the wood, so they had to be punched out using a small masonry nail with the end ground flat. All the holes in all the sections were bored out to the o/d of the rod, 1.8mm, using a pin-vice. The whole was then re-assembled and glued back together in stages using various clamps. Then it sat for two months under a pile of paper...

...brazing rod is slippery stuff, even using a small hacksaw with a new blade. The rod was fully seated into one position in the winder, a small knife was pressed onto the rod, flush with the wood, and then the rod was gently turned a couple of times. The rod was removed and clamped between two pieces of 2×1. The short piece of rod was cut off just inside this mark. Repeat × 3.

...showing the four pieces of brazing rod. ...one pin-hole ...one pin-hole

The small pieces of rods' ends were cleaned up with a flat jeweller's file. A little epoxy was put into one hole on the body, the new strut was inserted and a little more epoxy was used to glue the strut to the outer support. The slight indentation on the outer, where the strut was (purposefully) recessed a little was filled with epoxy. This was repeated for the other strut on the same side, any excess was removed using nail-varnish remover and the whole stood on its side while it went off. Rinsed and repeated for the other side. The tiny blobs of epoxy covering the strut recesses were smoothed over. By the by, such small amounts of epoxy cannot be practically mixed, so I used left-over glue from other jobs. Colour variation is due to different lighting and white level compensation. Tricky business.

Then it got a light rub down with wire wool. There. Fixed. This is what I did today.

...the brass thingy is an old bullet mould I found in a junk-shop in Reading I think. Had it a while. There. 'Fixed'.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  12th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.

Yesterday and today I have been mostly reading an improving book by David CanterJust brilliant stuff; I have come to realise I know very little., well worth one's time. The remaining edges of the veggie bed have been dug out, then replanted with the Dutch onions and a very few springs of mint. The tomatoes and chillies are thus far un-sprouted, six days gone, but 10-12 is not unusual. The sun-flowers are sprouting though, which is good news for the goldfinches who have made their annual appearance in the front garden. The Hex Avon is on its last few bits, the counter whipping, the tip ring needs replacing and I want to whip over the reel seat hood, for funsies. The towel rail is back on the wall and very smart it looks. I think it was bought it in 1994.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  10th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.

I re-made the reinforcing whipping on the Hex Avon, more on that later. I dismantled the towel-rail in the downstairs loo, rubbed the wood down with some fine grade sandpaper, wire-wooled it to the death, cleaned it with white sprit and then re-varnished it. The 'rail' part, a thickish dowel, was sanded down, cleaned with white sprit and then given tow coats of beeswax polish. It will get put back on the wall in a couple of days. I glued the new struts into an old wooden float winder (more on that later) and for good luck reviewed a chapter of a book a friend is writing. I dug out the Dutch onions along one side of the veggie plot, split them up, took out most of the mint (you never get it all) then replanted this side of the allium border. Found a massive perennial fennel root, so dug a big hole in a flower bed that used to be over-shaded by the Bramley tree, and re-planted it. In the background I am tinkering with this site, removing spelling errors and fixing a few long left annoyances. But it is technically a Bank Holiday so I feel fine about doing only these few things.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  8th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.

I did a little less yesterday (although I stuck to the daily dozen). One of the house martins has moved into the garage to roost, so the door-work is postponed, as it is our custom to leave the door open for them. A few more security brackets for the top fence needed re-forming, so I did that and then I added a few side struts to the garden arch, strictly to keep the Himalayan blackberry under control. It is inclined towards world domination otherwise and but for secateurs and said struts the arch would be 'a bush' by the end of the summer. Having done that I was co-opted into using my day-job skills for something voluntary, which took up the rest of the day.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  6th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.

Today, we both set on the composters at the top of the garden. There are two and they are used occasionally and the bottom two-thirds of both were solid with years-old stuff. This involved a spade, a shovel, Mrs. AA, a wheelbarrow, an old trampoline cover used as a tarpaulin and a dozen or so trips up and down the garden, where some quite good compost was piled in a heap and the tarpaulin put over the top.

An amount of rotten heartwood from the doomed apple-tree was in one of the composters and breaking it up we fished out chrysalises, larvae and one or two dazed Lesser Stag Beetles (I gather this is the normal state for them). These had burrowed into the apple tree in some numbers and the life cycle of the larval stage is so long, it suggests that the apple tree was rotting from the inside out for 3-4 years. Huh.

We potted up tomatoes, peppers and chillies in the lean-to; we had to round up three small half-bags of compost stashed with the garage spiders for this and hopefully some ordered for delivery will arrive in a week or so. Beans will be potted in a few weeks, but there is no rush, the ground is too cold for them for a month at least and potting them too soon just means hard-to-transplant straggly bean plants, which never goes well.

Keeping busy Crysalis Keeping busy Lesser Stag Beetle

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  5th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.

I ('finally' some might say) re-sealed the back of the kitchen sink and made copper-wire 'anti-slug' devices for the horseradish roots. While the enterprising might consider connecting those wires to the mains, I cut the bottom out of several plastic flower pots, inverted them over the spouting roots and put two loops of copper wire over the pots. This seems to discourage the little blighters, giving the leaves a chance to get above ground level. I then ('finally' some might say) re-fixed the landing curtain-rail (the plaster around the existing rawl-plugs had crumbled).

That was after a dawn walk up to the top of the hill.

Keeping busySunrise

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  4th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.

I decided to sort out the garage door today; it was not properly fitted and needs a quarter inch off one edge...but my plane, an old 'Acorn' had also been dripped on, so the first order is a full strip, clean, sharpen and re-assembly. So back to the rotary stiff wire brush, although the blade and its support were better cleaned with a rotary linisher. I re-touched the blade on the Bugangler's whet-stone. I found some red 'Hammerite' under some spiders and used it to re-paint those bits that were painted. It took a few goes to get the frog in the right place and the adjustment knob jammed at the limits of its adjustment (which explains the pliers' marks on its rim). I screwed it onto its studding, put a turn of duct-tape around the thread, put that in the drill and re-profiled the inner edge of the brass with a flat jewellers file so it could not do that ever again.

One of the great things about Youtube is, not only can I find detailed guides on the setting up and assembly of a plane, I can find someone showing how to do it using exactly the same model I have.

Then I fixed an old round fence post (salvaged from the tree-house I made for the Littleanglers) to the flower bed sleepers (two angle-brackets, more stainless steel screws), to hand the bird feeder on. This was necessary, as the new PIR detector was tripped by the existing hanger, a hook under an extended garage roof timber. As I also had to remove an old wrought-iron bracket from the garage wall (to fit the previously mentioned light), I wire-brushed it to death, cold-forged a hook on the end, countersunk its screw holes, then gave it a coat of the green Hammerite; this was screwed to said post to use as a new hook for the feeder.

Keeping busy Before Keeping busy After

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  2nd April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.

If I wake early, I walk up the down, it is a very fine spot.

The North Down The view from the top. The North Down Another view from the top.

That said:

ThreeThree

Stay safe and well.

just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

2020 - Hindsight Year  31st March 2020. The Situation. Keeping busy.

I am fortunate, in that we live in the sticks and my employer has formally furloughed me, so we are well placed to keep away from everyone and shop once a week, tramping around the expanse of the north down in the early morning for our daily dozen. We see more deer than people, even at the moment. To retain our sanity, we have resolved to do something constructive every day, as far as it is possible. As of today ('day four') so far:

The last few items were greatly eased by the new electric drill/screwdriver, a Bosch PSB18 Li-2. This very useful bit of kit has drill, screwdriver and 'hammer' drill setting and on one battery charge, I drilled three holes right through the garage wall and did all the above. Extraordinary piece of kit.

Stay safe and well.

2020 - Hindsight Year  27th March 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, One More Time... So, I (carefully) ripped off the old reel seat and the corks.

I opted for green composite cork-rings, in two sorts, opened them up with a cone cutter to the 'across the flats' o/d of their relative positions on the blank and then used a mandrel, made with from an old piece of cane, to cut each ring's hole hexagonal-ish, then stacked them on the blank.

I numbered the cork rings, took them off again, carefully cut four 1.5mm pieces off opposite sides of all the rings, rendering them into a rough square, then glued them (epoxy-resin) back on in the same order, so the 'corners' of adjacent pieces were 45° from each other. I compressed the corks, 'manually', then by using a large 'penny washer' placed over the blank and against the last cork ring, then winding a thick solid cord, around the blank until it reached the washer and compressed the corks, then tied off until the glue had set. There is very little 'give' in these composite rings.

When the glue was off, using a very sharp wet knife, I cut the opposing corners off, leaving a rough round section then set to it with a piece of half-drainpipeIt is surpisingly how good this method is. and some P60 for the bulk of the sanding, moving to P100, then P120. I strapped the nozzle of the 'Henry' to the work-bench so that the resulting dust went striaght into the vacuum-cleaner as I worked.

When I was only a fraction off the required o/d (the same as the reel-seat, some 25.5mm ), I bored a champagne cork through the middle with a pillar drill, 3mm-6mm-8mm in that order, opened out the end with the cone-cutter, then bored it out with the mandrel as before. This was expoxy'd into place and compressed on using cord-and-washer as before. Then it was cut down to the same o/d as the existing corks, still a smidge proud of the reel seat o/d. I stuck four P60 grit patches on the end of the reel seat and rotated the seat, sanding the end of the champagne cork flush.

I nicked of the sandpaper bits (VSSKVery Small Sharp Knife (Opinel No.7)) and fitted the reel seat using cork tape to make up four arbours and a copious supply of epoxy. The seat was a working fit on the arbours and I coated those with epoxy, gave them 15 minutes for it to soak in a bit and then filled each gap in turn with epoxy as I pushed the seat home. I aligned it using the screw-lock locating groove on the top, which needed to be central to the flat opposite to the flat the rings are mounted on. Simples, one advantage of hexagonal sections.

I made a fore-grip with 2½ corks of the same sort (lest anyone think I quaff ruinous quantities of the fizzy stuff, these are mostly Prosecco corks, and my stock is the result of many years of quietly trousering 'cast off' corks of this type).

The fore-grip was swiftly cut to diameter, P60, P100, P120...

Couple of finishing touches: I polished all the corks, especially the last corks behind the reel-seat, with some P180 grit,. A wrap of cling-film and masking tape was used to protect the reel seat. I also had to gently remove the marks on the butt-end made during the handle shaping. I had planned to remove it and fit a new one, but it was barely marked, so I polished it with P180 and left in situ. There is a slight asymmetry to the foregrip, the result of some variation in the corks' densities, but it looks very fine otherwise.

I wiped the whole thing down with a damp cloth to remove dust and let it dry off in the lean-to (when we moved into our house there was a cheap greenhouse 'lean-to' at the back, which the surveyor described as 'a strictly temporary structure'. We immediately dubbed this 'the solarium'. When we installed a rather less temporary conservatory, it was immediately dubbed 'the lean-to'). The handle looks like this:

The Hex Avon Handle Green composite cork rings, two sorts, plus one champagne cork. Plus the toe end of a 'shark' sockie. The Hex Avon Handle The fore-grip. Two-and-one-half champagne corks

I had planned some kind of tricky whipping scheme, but discovering Pac-Bay now have a full range of NCP theads, I have bought some nice colours. To be continued...

2020 - Hindsight Year  22nd March 2020. Coronavirus. Isolate, take this seriously, slow this thing down. It will be grim, but we can take the edge off it.

2020 - Hindsight Year  10th March 2020. Barbaric. I just read this, utterly deplorable, Dorset caravan park owner jailed for shooting otterWords fail me. I would normally never fish there again and urge others to follow suit, but I gather the place has been under new ownership since late 2019. Nevertheless its name has been removed from this site.

2020 - Hindsight Year  9th March 2020. Dark Estuary by 'BB'. star rating 

I was lucky enough to pick this up for a song, a first edition, complete with its dust-jacket and water-colour illustrations. This is a soulful read, BB's love of the wild places of the geese is, for this reader, stronger than the love of the geese themselves and for me, (also) a lover of winter, wild spaces and the smell of the salt-flats, it is richly evocative of place and also perhaps, of a more innocent time. It seems to me that the book is as much about men undertaking these activities without the modern malaise of second guessing what is 'right or 'correct', as it is about wild-fowling.

It is interesting to note that BB himself felt strongly about only shooting the edible and eating one's bag. He had no time for slaughter for only the sake of the act. There are echoes of the privileged upbringing of the author and his fellows, but if one is determined to be offended, something can always be found to rail against.

The (water) colour plates are appropriately 'landscape' and display the wide skies and horizons that are soulfully evoked by the text.

There is too much easily recalled to note it all; evenings thawing by the fire are as well drawn as the stumbling pains of rising before dawn in glacial conditions and then going outside; the perfectly described creeping panic that one sometime grips one's senses in wild lonely places, a distant echo of long evolved survival instincts; an interesting passing note on the sudden booms that are heard on the coast, described by the shore's inhabitants as "the sea calling the wind".

This is a fine evocative read and ought to appeal to anyone who loves the outdoors and especially the outdoors next the sea.

2020 - Hindsight Year  2nd March 2020. This Fishing by Captain L. A. Parker. star rating 

This fine little book, printed in 1948, when chaps wore jackets and properly baggy trousers, even when fishing, has a great deal relevant to even the modern angler. A skilful angler, clearly, the author was also inventive and a great recorder of the kind of data that hardly anyone takes these days and in many waters today does not matter very much. In particular, the author notes that (winter) river water temperatures are critical and one will almost never catch at water temperatures of 40°F (4.4°C) or less but at water temperatures of 41-42°F (5-5.6°C) there are fish to be had. At 44-45°F (6.7-7.2°C) you may score very well, although the fish still have to be located.

This is but one example of his careful approach: others include the important of plumbing carefully and extensively, methods of shotting while avoiding damage to gut hook-links, something worth consideration even with nylon lines, ground-bait and its deployment and many other useful pieces of advice. All of these are distilled from experience, observation and experiment. Even his notes and methods for carp fishing are prescient. I was very taken with his method of long trotting dry-flies and there is much else in this little book to agree with, along with many more useful observations. A great deal could be learnt by careful study of this neat, accurate and entertaining book.

Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

2020 - Hindsight Year  20th February 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, one more time. This is leaning in the corner, while I consider some greenish composite cork rings, an 18mm reel seat and possibly some new rings...

I'm looking at the long shank of corks rubbed down to 16mm o/d and wondering if the whole handle really needs replacing. That's a large job and I pondered overlaying the corks with plain purple shrink-tube. Then I recalled the Sam's first rule (from that extraordinary film 'Ronin'); "If there is any doubt, then there is no doubt". Well perhaps not purple then.

2020 - Hindsight Year  16th February 2020. Still JAFAPick one....

One thing clearly worse than short-haul flights is a short-haul flight in two legs. I have a mental image of such journeys, something akin to a deep-dive into a tunnel, an artefact of the shape of the plane and the topology of a road journey, in conjunction with the fugue state of travelling ennui. One sinks, the passing world blurs into passing artificial lights. Like a tunnel, there are niches and in these pools of shadow lurk the small demons of boredom, cramped legs, dehydration poor food and too much coffee.

Decanted in Manchester airport; a new experience for me (the place, not the decanting). Not at its best with holiday flight delays leaving the place full of short tempers and bad fashion. Only a little late landing, but the connecting flight has pushed out an hour. I took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart then, under the guise of looking out the window at the planes, I watched the in-reflection semi-chaos. A man on my right drives his spouse off by mocking her smart-phone use. Then he reads his paper, aggressively, as if daring it to have printed anything he didn't agree with, but leaning in close if the pictures involved a swimsuit. I finished my tea, then biffed off to a quiet corner to continue reading the excellent and empirical notes on fishing by the redoubtable Captain L. A. Parker.

Very bumpy touch-down at the other end, FurryBootsToon, not 'top-ten most harrowing', but still. Half-a-mile on shanks' p. to the JAFHJust another Feckin' Hotel, blown breathless by the winds of the airport approach, ten minutes too late to use the bar. Ah well.

FurryBootsToon JAFH sunset FurryBootsToon ...took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart... FurryBootsToon JAFH sunrise

2020 - Hindsight Year  13th February 2020. Hmm.

2020 - Hindsight Year  5th February 2020. I Have Been a Bad Boy. Very bad. I took a perfectly good rod, no, more than that, a really good rod and cut it up to make a 'light tip' section for my Harrison's Four-Piece Avon. Yep. I really like the Four-Piece but its 1lb 10oz t/c is on the stout side for some fishing. So, for some time I have hankered after a really good quality 'light tip' section, ideally lowering the overall t/c down to about 1lb.

A previous attempt with an old incomplete multi-purpose avon rod (a pawn shop find), one of they with a dolly section and various other bits and bobs, wasn't a success. This was because the raw material's tip was thin-walled compared with the Four-Piece, so the transition from the tip to the third section was a bit abrupt. OK for 4oz roach; not so OK for 'surprise' 8lb carp.

The bad thing I did doesn't have this problem, in fact it seemed perfect. I planned to add a reinforcing whipping to the light tip's 'counter' area, with no-name uncoated green spectra braid and then coat it with a two-part epoxy that can be thinned with a little isopropyl alcohol, to the consistency of water. The notional plan was to whip onto a tacky coat of resin, mix a second batch, thin it, let it soak into the braid and leave it to go off. However 'comma' the internet says that this may weaken the resin a bit. Heat can also reduce the resin's viscosity (temporarily), but the surface its applied to would also need warming. Hm. I pondered and reached for the heat-gun. This, I reasoned, can be set to 65°C and if I used it to warm the resin...

...and then common sense kicked in. I had already carefully removed (¼" at a time) the lower portion of the 'light tip' section and of course it is far easier to make a reinforcing sleeve out of a piece of the off-cut. This cut-off also has the great advantage of having the same taper. I compared the length of the reinforced section on the Harrison's tip, 3", then carefully removed the same length of varnish from the 'light tip'. While it took some time to carefully cut such a sleeve, ¼" at a time until it was exactly right for the job - a loose 'working fit' as there needed to be space for epoxy - it was easy to fit and glue into place...

Some practical points concerning this process:

Cut carbon-fibre outdoors, do not breathe the dust and keep the dust off your hands.

I cut the blank down using a knife-edged jeweller's file. Not a hack-saw, it does far too much damage. I cut a groove in a piece of 1"× 1" timber as a former and then laid the blank in the groove. Using the flat end of the wooden former to align the file, I turned the blank, in place, until the cut-line was right around the blank. This ensured a flat square cut. I then rotated the blank and held the file in place until it was cut through. Don't use too much pressure here or the blank will delaminate a little.

The resulting sleeve was left a smidge overlong at the counter end and glued into place that way. I then gently rubbed back the 'overhang' with very fine emery wrapped around a lolly stick, until it was flush with the original section's end. As before, I did this outside and used a little water to keep the dust down. I used a piece of cork to bung up the counter end of the 'light tip' before gluing, as set epoxy in the hole is rather a nuisance to remove. I wrapped the other end of the sleeve in cling-film to stop any run off, then stood the whole thing on one end until it had set.

The Harrison's Avon The sleeved 'new' tip alongside the old 'light tip' The Harrison's Avon 'The Tool' The Harrison's Avon The sleeved 'new' tip alongside the old 'light tip', I wondering if the sleeve isn't somewhat over engineered...

The new section was a near perfect fit on the spiot of the Harrison's third section, but needed some work as it was would not seat fully 'home' and it had the slightest of 'knocks'. Secure in the knowledge that there is plenty of carbon in the new counter, I made a tool to bore it to fit. I rifled the stock-tube and dug out a length of carbon that had the same taper as the spigot. A micrometer is a very useful thing...the plan was to make a tool that extended only as far as the spigot would, but only ground the bottom two-thirds of the counter. This was because there was a gap visible between the spigot and the counter when they were mated.

The idea was to cut the tube so that the narrow end was a little less (think some tenths of a mm) than the desired fit (5.25mm) so that when a 5mm strip of 240 grit wet-and-dry was glued around this piece of tube, it would bore out to the desired 5.25mm at a 58mm depth into the counter. I marked the 58mm mark on the tool with a pen. Cyanoacrylate was used to coat the back of the wet'n'dry, it was bound it with string and left it in the 'contemporary orangerie' to set...

This worked perfectly, although it took three sets of grinding and very thorough 'de-dusting' operations, to get to a perfect fit. I removed the dust using strips of wet cleaning cloth.

I then needed to redistribute some rod rings - the original Harrison's tip's last two rings were tiny size 6's. Quite why I thought that was a good idea...so I removed them for re-deployment on the 'light tip', then whipped on two size 8 replacements. The new 'light tip' will not have to manage more than 6lb line and mostly will be dealing with 3-4lb, so the size 6's will be fine on this. Naturally, the 'light tip' is some 6" longer than the original Harrison's tip (there is no free lunch), so it requires one more ring. The bottom ring on the 'light tip' was spaced exactly as on the original tip. I then used 'excel' to work out spacing for the remaining four, which left the ring-spacing a little wider than it was on the original source rod. This was on purpose, as it will soften the action a little, which will not hurt. The extra length will be useful in any event.

The Harrison's Avon Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip. The Harrison's Avon Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip. The Harrison's Avon Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.
The Harrison's Avon Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip. The Harrison's Avon Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip. The Harrison's Avon A long shot to show the different lengths of the three tip-sections.

Gremlins of orderliness...hopefully, when tested, the new section will fish OK...it waggles/flexes perfectly well, the rod's curve looks smooth.

I apologise for the rubbish pictures, my camera is struggling to maintain its focus and I cannot be mithered to sort out a diffuse light source. I will now move smoothly onto making a 'dolly section' to facilitate the use of the top two sections with the handle, to do service as a brook rod...probably. So, my Four-Piece Avon now is a 'Six Piece', with three tips, about ¾lb t/c, a smidgen over 1lb and 1lb 10oz. Useful.

All the rod needs now is a tip-section to make the rod up to a 2lb curve or a smidge more, then I'll have four rods in one short bag. I may have to explore fly rod blanks for that...something like the top section of a nine foot #10. I shall also have to get a T-shirt made with "Born to Fettle" on it. Or "Born to Fiddle". Pick one.

I have not forgotten the handle needs a proper repair...

2020 - Hindsight Year  2nd February 2020. Palindrome Date Day.

2020 - Hindsight Year  1st February 2020. Darts. So: I found, when the Dabblers were setting fish refuges into the Lower Saxon Pond, the tip of a plastic float. So? It was about 6mm across and moulded into a cross-section of a 'cross' (sorry). This of course gives it high visibility and low resistance, which might be useful for sensitive bites. The piece of plastic was pocketed, but more pertinently, the idea took root.

I once made some very poor 'dart-flight' floats, something I didn't care to re-visit. Then, in part because the Bugangler (21¾) is learning to make violins, I discovered that good quality 'razor saws' can be had for under a tenner. The one shown is 0.35mm across the teeth, 0.25mm across the blade and, crucially, cuts on the draw stroke. Aha. I cut slots in the blunt end of four porcupine quills, long and deep enough so that a pair of plastic dart flights in an offensive pink colour left a few mm of protruding quill quarter-sections at the said blunt end. Hm. I didn't want the whole dart-flight. The idea wasn't to make a float that could be seen at 100 yards, but rather an easy sighter, with no attendant additional buoyancy or, worse, with the CoG CoGCentre of Gravity  elevated towards the tip.

Dart Flight FloatsThe 'Razor' Saw, plus a spare blade.

Mrs AA appeared and with that special sarcasm that comes as a free gift with every 25¼ years of marriage, asked if I was making darts. I put flights into the four quills, then threw them at the kitchen cork-board (the pointy ends are really very sharp). It turned out I have made some darts. I briefly considered penning a traditional angling murder-mystery that centred on a 'built-cane crossbow and porcupine-quill quarrel' incident. MM"Are you quite mad Sergeant? A true Traditionalist would never use plastic flights..."

Carefully, using a pair of braid scissors found some years ago, I cut one vane to a shallow curve. I folded it onto the next vane and cut around it. Repeated this twice and 'ta-daa', they all matched. So...I trimmed two pink sets, one orange and one translucent orange. I pared off the porcy-swarf, cleaned each slot with a piece of P150 sandpaper, coloured the cut quarters black with permanent pen, cyanoacrylate'd the flights in, then carefully ensured each 'quarter' was glued to its niche in the flights, then glued and compressed the protruding ends, using a few turns of thread.

I could have painted the 'quarters' but they'd probably not have kept their paint on, but I varnished over them and made sure the joints were sealed. A black stripe in the middle of the flights works well and a small colour band under the flights finishes the job. I expect the flights' colours to fade, but it'll be interesting to see how they fare on the water. It occurs to me, assuming they fish well at all, that iridescent dart flights in red or perhaps green will do very well for picking up torchlight or, for the latter, moon-light. Which is an idea.

They do look like darts though. At least they'll cast well.

Dart Flight Floats Orange Dart Flight Floats The floats - my camera is near the end of its natural life and its focussing is increasingly a bit 'off' Dart Flight Floats Pink

I suspect that the 'flights' will end up being trimmed, so that the float has a 'sighter' only at the top half of the tip, something about 'half a set of dart-flights' size.

Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Carp? What addiction?a very subtil fish Carp? What addiction?Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Carp? What addiction?if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it.

2020 - Hindsight Year  31st January 2020. Bloke XGnP 9' 10wt 4-Piece Fly Rod.

Bought sort of on a whim as a 'kit', the price was good and the blank came with the reel-seat and a kit of (Pac-Bay) parts. There is a plan...

2020 - Hindsight Year  13th January 2020. The Lane.

For divers reasons I haven't walked up to the Barn for some time, a twelve-month probably. It still has its poignant bygone red-brick and the Winterborne is running full and clear.

The Winterborne A lost farm-stead The Winterborne The Winterborne The Winterborne The Winterborne

2020 - Hindsight Year  9th January 2020. The Small Technology.

It occurred the other day, as I extracted the sat-nav off the Bugangler, then hung a new 'Silva' compass on my fishing bag, that the 'handy', the Small Technology, the mobile phone that is, has made a raft of things obsolete and is bearing down on others...most smart phones replace:

The Stand Alone GPS.
The Camera.
The Alarm Clock.
The MP3 or Music Player.
The Torch.
The Compass.
The Encyclopedia.
Actual Books.
Document and Business Card Scanners.

There are yet more things it is bearing down on...

The Credit Card.
The Personal Computer.
The TV.
The Telephone Land-Line

There is even an app that will make a passable Geiger counterThese results show that the devices can accurately determine the dose rate which a person is exposed to and that the phone is sensitive enough to detect radiation at levels which are significant in a radiological event... (for gamma and X-Rays) from some mobile phones.

For the vintage angler (I cut my technological teeth programming a 'Commodore Pet'), these things represent an extraordinary change in the world, not that I have any objection and I am as enmeshed as most people. But still...

The vigilant may care to note I still keep the Silva compass in my bag, along with an overly manly 'tactical' torch that can variously be used to (a) illuminate a float tip for 25 hours, or (b) to burn out the retinas of any sentient creature within 30 feet for a mere three hours or so.

2020 - Hindsight Year  6th January 2020. Pheasant Plucker. A nice pair of late season birds arrived today, more fat than I've seen on one for a while. They will make a fine game curry.Old Bob's birdsOld Bob's birdsOld Bob's birdsOld Bob's birdsOld Bob's birds

2020 - Hindsight Year  1st January 2020. Dorset Stillwater. The road across the ridge was so foggy I was obliged to drop my speed to half the limit and it was certainly colder here than chez JAA. Kingfisher Lake was becalmed, but I persisted, walking a worm about with the LBRLight Blue rod, aka the Other Mk.III and float-fishing lobs alternated with pinches on bread on the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment. A kingfisher was catching, but the worm-on-the-float only twitched a few times, once even moving down an inch, but that was that. After two hours, it felt like I had given it a proper go, so for this and other reasons, re-pitched on 'Blue Lake'. I need the walk to warm up; the mist, slight breeze and 4°C had sucked the life out of my hands.

Dorset Stillwater Flat flat flat... Dorset Stillwater ...flat flat...did I mention how flat calm it was? Dorset Stillwater Unmoved, despite all exhortations.

There were many rudd. Many many rudd. Using the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III, I extracted a few, then experimented with dropping a pinch of bread four feet straight down, using 3BB under a long quill; Blue Lake is deep, four or five feet off the bank and then rapidly falls away to over 10 feet or more in places, generating its titular colour. This method resulted in quite a few larger rudd, 6-8oz, and what appeared to be a 'choach'. Further experimentation with the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment showed that a bait fished deeper than 6ft wasn't touched and both lobs and bread fished anywhere else were quickly found and annihilated. Hm. I pottered about a bit to warm up - I had a tin of meat in the car and 1" cubes might be the way to try for one for the chub or 'anything but another rudd'. I CBHCan't Be Hedgehogged, but then recalled I'd had this problem before and dealt with it by rolling hard pills of bread around ½" in diameter and side hooking them.

Dorset Stillwater The 'choach' Dorset Stillwater The Blue Lake, one end of it anyway Dorset Stillwater One of very very many rudd

I added a ¼" to this size, put 3×BB 2" from the hook, then fished under a long quill at about a fathom deep. This generated a considerable amount of spurious float movement, but no false bites, then after one new bait, the float rose up in the water and lay flat. The mystery ran about hard and dove deep and it was five minutes before I saw it, a fine common in the 10lb range. I awarded myself a cup of 'reinforced' BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon tea. Heh. I re-baited, thrice and then as the light evanesced, the whole tip shot under and this mystery was not as heavy, so I backed off the clutch a little and let it run, which it did twice and it materialised into a fine chub on a cold damp day. The silver-and-red dressing around the chub is simply the rudd that were under the net when I lifted it...

Dorset Stillwater The thoroughly welcome carp Dorset Stillwater The surprisingly large chub

I fished on, packed the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III away, then all other non-essentials, then ran through two more cups of the RBEGCReinforced Black Earl Grey and Cylon tea and hung on for a last fish, but nothing came.

2020 - Hindsight Year  1st January 2020. Twenty Twenty. "Hindsight Year". There is an odd pleasure to be taken from adapting a piece of electronics in order that it will allow the detection of a signal of 0.1 µV. To put that in context; if you stand an AA battery on one end and let its height (5cm) represents its voltage, (1.5 V), then 0.1 µV would have a height of 3.3 nM (or: 0.0000000033 m). This, in context, is about the width of 16 silicon atoms. If you think a size 22 hook is tiny, the width of the wire is about 5,000,000 atoms wide...mind bogglingly tiny is 0.1 µV.

As we're 'doing technical', here is a relevant quote:

"Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail." ~~ Henry Petroski ~~ 

In order to rub along with the majority of the human race, it will on occasion be necessary to nod and apparently agree with a large variety of belief systems, almost all of which have no basis in truth.

"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. ...the grave will supply plenty of time for silence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian ~~ 

Do meaningful things, try not to believe any idiocy and have a Happy New Year.

HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of...(and back to the top of the page) HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of. HookHook, eyed, fishing for the use of.
11:39am on 2020-07-11 JAA