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Big year coming. The site still has it's own dedicated search box (I need it to find my way about) and there are navigation aids built in.
I shall stick with a hook and bait on't in defiance of the 'industry' and its leashed-press and publishing - I've discovered I go fishing to go fishing, as opposed to going fishing to catch fish. The latter seems to me to be some kind of self-justification, but 'each to their own' 1In the context of angling, I quite dislike this phrase. It's normally used as a type of self-justification, allowing the 'user' to continue with some hard to justify excess, by 'allowing' others their own moderate views or practices. Or some such. 'Pah' anyway. . This site has made me friends, kept me sane when I've been on the other side of the world doing meaningless things for money and provided me with hours of harmless entertainment. It's still fun 2'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.' .
"No one becomes depraved all at once." Juvenal
"There is no idea, however ancient and absurd that is not capable of improving our knowledge." Paul Feyerabend
I am forced to read a range of books
3I take issue with those who say "You cannot learn anything from books". These are the same folk who say things like "All those qualifications and no common sense.", "I've got a degree in life." and my favourite; "It never did me any harm.". A few rebuttals:
(1) Yes you can, or you wouldn't be reading this.
(2) Sure, that's a sound argument. Well done.
(3) So has everybody else.
(4) Keep telling yourself that. ...
This venue is fantastically situated and the walk (as soon as the field is even a bit wet, driving is out) puts off the majority. Sadly, it's weed-bound come the summer and also has a surfeit of carp in the ½-1lb range which mob any bait before any of the better fish can get to it. I've had meat whittled to nothing and whole sprats torn to pieces. Earlier in the year before the weed really gets going, the small ones are less active, but still. It needs a clear out.
That said, I had a wonderful pleasant afternoon with wood-pigeon calling and distant crows going 'wark' from time to time, plus the place to myself and only wished for the weed-rake hanging on the garage wall. As it was, I tried for some time to extract whatever was bubbling in front of me then finally 'cracked' the problem by assuming the fish were either (a) under the bait, which was on the bottom or (b) they were above the bait and on a carpet of weed. Changing from a bait hard on the bottom to one resting under its own weight on whatever was on the bed, took a stream of fish none of which, pretty though they were, were over 1lb. After this fun-and-games, I tried off-the-top for a while, catching a few small fish on mixers (soaked in a plastic bag to soften) and when that failed to catch larger fish, tried crusts thrown 20 yards onto a spur of weed, that reassuring large swirls periodically visited. I missed two takes, although I'm not sure they were good fish, but a nice day and a fine place. But if it was mine, I'd fish out small carp and not put them back! I wonder if a grass carp or two might not help?
It was almost inevitable I would start at the north end, despite its effectiveness as a swim being cut along with the overhanging trees and a whole lily patch. I might have caught even so, with one carp 'thucking' along the end of the big patch and a hopeful crust, fished behind a lily pad a little further out than the rest, was soundly ignored for well over an hour. In fact, the crust appeared to spook the fish, unusual. Had I cast some flake properly under the tree to my left, when another fish sucked energetically at the freebies left there, I’d perhaps have had that one too. Then quiet and the bread thing was resolved by a chap banging a bubble float the size of a tangerine onto the other side of the patch, attached to bread. It didn't work for him (today) but I wonder if this is the source of the chariness with the white stuff.
This south-end died, the activity tailing with the breeze so I swapped for the last hours, to the south end and fished under the tree. Where I had no bites at all for over an hour, then missed two fast bites on mussels, at five-to and quarter-past seven. I then missed two slow 'sitters' on a bunch of bread flake, which is normally reliable. So I could have caught, I just stuffed up...but it was good to be back and nice to play with the titanium made-over 'Big Hex' which feels nicer in the hand than it ever did.
I like the rod in action - it's immensely powerful, especially for bigger carp close in, much more of a middle action than the ESP floater. Hm. I've ordered titanium 'Minima's' all through and a titanium lined tip ring, plus a 30mm butt ring GCCIf you want to know what the Geneva Comedy Convention has to say about 'butt rings' you can order your own copy. Just send a cheque for £3000 made out to "Just Anotherangler" and I'll post you a copy. I'll even sign it. to match. This took about a quarter-of-an-ounce off the top section, along with all the extraneous varnish and thread.
The last picture is not fish, (clearly). A pair of swallows moved into the garage and we left them to it, having made an anti-cat barrier (we have two in the locale, I stop them killing the birds any way legal and humane way I can, powerful water pistols are efficacious BSEver wondered why there are fewer birds around the place? Here's a clue - it begins with 'c' and rhymes with 'scat'. ) they built this nest on a small collection of old rod sections and rod rests. Very cool.
Last December I had the privilege of attending the launch of Peter Rolfe's new book. I promised myself then, with studies intensifying, I would read it after the exams.
So, today, with the results announced (in a good way), I settled down with my copy, put the hay-fever drugs on the shelf, got out a new bottle of very underrated Aberlour single malt (which was on offer and I got a discount) and had a jolly good read...
The book is a mine of information, nicely framed pictures and a narrative driven by the history, restoration and love of the lakes with fishing that is more than just catching fish. One might argue that fishing there a good few times (and the stream) made it more real for this reader, but I like that it focussed on the creation of the waters with much of the detail, as well the fauna and flora that sprang up, both on its own and with some help from Peter. I also like that the fishing tales are at the back of the book in, some might say, their proper place. I shall read it again, you may be sure and recommend it to any who ask!
You really ought to get yourself a copy. I may have something of a 'head' tomorrow.
Today's plan for the 'Donhead Dabblers' DDIncluding today, but not limited to: 'JAA', 'Dave', Garry' and 'Pete'. was to fish for crus of less than 6" in length and redistribute, then to cut the bankside paths out, a simple and satisfying job, levelling a yard-wide swathe through the spring greenery. It's not so much a path as a 'rough guide on where to walk if you want to avoid sliding into the pond'.
My plan was to fish from 8am or so, try for the six-inchers and see who turned up and when. The 'umbrella pitch' was all 'toil and trouble', so little further incentive or walking were required. Although the first fish was a tench, there were seven crucians in the bucket before another body arrived. I was all set for some slashing, but was firmly instructed to keep catching. "Oh, all right then" I thought to myself...as luck would have it, the tench were spawning for the most part, so absent and the crucians were very busy indeed. From 8am to 1pm a serendipitously constant stream of bites kept me amused and by the time I'd had enough, was forty odd crucians to the good, with the largest at 1lb 14oz and half a dozen more well over 1lb.
Dave, inspired, picked up his rod, fished alongside for the last two hours or so, and neither people on the bank nor path-clearing put the fish off in the slightest. Dave further padded out the six-incher crucian tally, bracketing them with several tench, some larger crus and a couple of greedy but reasonably sized perch (which took bread and corn). A fine effort considering Garry and myself did our best to trash his swim by cutting down some substantial willows on the other side of the rhododendron.
All-in-all 27 six-inchers were bucketed and of course none of the fish count as it's still the close season. Just as well I didn't enjoy it at all then.
The Lower Pond from the 'Umbrella Pitch'...(1)
The first tench...(2)
The second tench...(4)
Tench#3, the destroyer of swims...(7)
The four best pictures, including a rather fine 1lb 14oz crucian. That's probably the most crucians I've taken in a session and suspect it will remain that way for some time.
Once decamped to where I spent most of my day, the place was a continual rustle and patter of activity. A pair of wrens was in, out, back-and-forth in the vegetation either side of me, carting off unfortunate caterpillars to some distant progeny. Mice bustled about, showing brief snatches of snouts-and-whiskers before bolting in alarm at their own temerity. Two jackdaws had a nest in a tree to my left, a hollow fifteen feet up from the ground, for which entering and leaving required tumultuous cawing and croaking. A speculative magpie was hounded mercilessly away by one of said nesters.
A jay worked its way down the left hand bank, but jay-like never stayed still enough for a good picture, although I fluked some half-worthwhile in flight. A green woodpecker crossed back and forth. At some point the TOTW turned up to say he'd lost one and landed one, stalking about the next lake and then I had 'the' tench, a dark solid thing which bored hard, hard for the lily-roots. I saw little else until the bread-and-bob was whipped under at six-ish or so, catching me off-guard and my strike brought only a gently reproachful bow-wave.
A pub down the road was on the spot and supplied white-bait starters (a rare treat in this age of 'not wanting to see the animal you're eating') and steak-and-kidney pudding. I ate too much, the consequence of no lunch provender. The toasties'n'coffee eaten overlooking the Ouse at Lewes were a distant memory, although the view wasn't. A fabulous fishing day, rounded off by the TOTW plying my own blackberry whiskey for a nightcap. And we fixed the world (of course).
I nipped to the end swim for some deeper water and easier casting, extracted more roach, including a slightly breamy one of about a pound, then landed this carp on the after something of a dispute with the LHSRE. I called it a day then, my jelly-babies were finished and I wanted a cup of tea.
Four Marks 'Travelodge' is one of several hotels that my colleagues from a component distributor were banned from in the early noughties. One of my (better) line managers lived in Four Marks, his house a meeting point for exhibition-trips and training. The paternal grandparents also lived in Four Marks for some years, where we learned to dread the tea-time chocolate cake, which we hated, but they insisted we liked (an enforced narrative some might say). Once saw the 'Four Marks' sign with a perfectly stencilled "out of ten" under it. Heh. At the bottom of the hill before the roundabout there's an old railway arch, a cut-through to Alton. I use it when going that way, always liked brick railway bridges, no idea why.
The turning just past the 'Bull Inn' was one of my favourite cut-corners for a few years, because very early in the morning rabbits and jays scattered off the tarmac and I like to see both. Farnham, where I once saw sign that said "Psychic Fair next Tuesday" (why do you need a sign?), home also to an Ethernet switch company I never quite managed to persuade to my line card and where I bought my first Metallica CD. There's a B&B up past the station, hated it, just a box room in someone's house, an uncomfortable experience, why some run B&B rooms when they clearly don't want you in their house is a wonder. I interviewed at Guildford Uni' (1985), meeting a Sussex second XI bowler for the second time, the last time two years later preceded by a waspish bouncer that I saw, but only just. The last leg, the M25 to Tolworth is part of the route I drove to my first contract after the first degree, at New Malden, horribly familiar. I met Mrs. AA at Kingston, at a party in a nurses' house. Then there's Anglesey Road, Woodbine Drive and Penryhn House. Probably'd be the same kind of stuff wherever I'd studied. Let's say that.
So I chose this road to scatter essay references, a laundry-list, then used the insides of houses and pubs for the details. A 'Songline', not my idea really, we are in fact designed to do this. I've studied the subject somewhat.
The same server put me off some weeks back, since when I've been living off the accumulated gift cards of the last job's benefit scheme. Nero's service not much better to be frank. Still, I enjoy the food (don't think I've ever seen the same cook twice) and took the river promenade, up Woodbines Ave., part of my personal confirmation bias. The other parts are Penryhn House and Anglesey Road. This is where I came in, I've grown weary of these crack-au-dawns, but will miss the lectures, most especially today's and the company of fellow travellers. I wouldn't say I hate the drive exactly, but will really really not miss it. The last lecture then...coffee with two classmates and if we're being fair, something of a natter. *I wouldn't say a girlie-gossip at all, no no no... ;-) The highlight of the day, the lowlight being the three hour (of course) drive home...just un-serendipitous.
There's a casting practise trout pool up the road, I might join it. *If I join the angling club, for another £13 I get the privilige of (literally) taking two fish. I'm not ever so keen, I've nothing against taking the fish, but rather the limitation that places on one's day, so I'll practise on carpio.
I was passed this by another local angler - the story carried by the Local Echo and if my understanding is right it looks like Arfleet Mill is to become a tourist attraction. By April this will be a giant inflatable aquatic assault course.
I'm much saddened by this, for a few years this was my early season bolt-hole, seldom packed, the back pit especially not easy and it had a wonderful (if odd) atmosphere at dusk. I mourn its passing.
Such a shame, I shall miss the place.
While all the above was going on (hint 'tool-tip') the TOS, after a slight diversion to retrieve some hooks left at Bishop's Green (funny, the only thing I've lost for some years was a mini-bits box at the same place - the worst loss were two original Hildebrandt fly-spoons, far better made than the ones following their takeover), was feeding a variety of carp with mixers and extracted a good half a-dozen in the 'north of 10lb' range.
Early in the day, while fishing for what transpired to be carp #2 and #3, I was bemused to see a plastic float wander past and then submerge as I struck at a bite. I noted it, but didn't see it again until mid-afternoon by which time I was on a wander myself. Having set myself in the original swim, which was by now stirred brown with fish rifling earlier hemp, I'd tied on a single hook and was essaying a piece of bread. The TOS arrived and as we watched the waggler surface again, so I quickly looped my line about it and hopefully drew my hook through the tackle. I got a hook-up and the fish ran about a good bit, in part as I'd set the clutch light wanting to relieve the fish of its burden. Netted after some minutes, I removed a small 'birds-nest' (into which my hook was firmly stuck) around the base of a loaded waggler with several float stops and the strand of 3lb odd line with a size 14 spade end firmly stuck into the carp's lip.
You really couldn't have picked a better day for a spring meeting of The ToS & JAA Carp Avoidance Club.
See the account of the day here.
The journey started poorly, took ten minutes over the two hours, a good time, especially with slow start and roadworks by the river. It is a ridiculous pleasure to be driving two-thirds in daylight, the days lengthening in increments, but for me, weekly slogging, the length of road lit by the sun increases by fifteen miles a week, an easy lope through to the longer days. I now long to stop these early starts and the jolt of the alarm. After exams, I still have a dissertation, but I need never leave at 5:20am for anything related to that. Good.
In the event I chose a swim with an overhanging willow to the right, the 'carp pitch' and a tangle of branches and straw on the left the 'perch pitch'. On the LHSRE was a lob impaled on a red Gamatsu and for the right-hand-side was the B&W MKIV G S/U, a cork ball dipper over a stout size 6 with secret bait (SB). Missed a bite on the SB right away, so returned to the worm and nabbed a sluggish but startling mirror. Heh. Then a small common on the SB and then a third as the owner collected the money. And so it went. I spent half of the next three hours watching the worm-bob, but couldn't go a quarter-of-an-hour on the SB without twitching and dipping. Late afternoon, I'd amassed eleven carp, perhaps two in the 5lb range, the first and penultimate, the latter getting more than tip action out of the B&W. I thought a perch unlikely, so decamped to the main lake to see if a larger lump could be marginalised with a worm.
Worth recording that the worm was fished about 4" over-depth with a no.4 on a small quill, and the secret bait was fished 1" over with a single no.4 and the bob set 'on depth'. I didn't change this for the main lake, but stuck on a size 4 hook and fished 'down the slope' of the margin.
I tottered, breeze-stiffened to the main lake, now deserted, so mine own. A worm on a larger hook remained motionless, while I collected two disgorgers, a surface float, a bubble float and a string of three fake-corns on a hair, as that's just litter. I shifted to the other side of a willow, reasoning that if stood still I'd look like a tree. So slipped two SB's onto the hook, so missed the first bite. I decided to let the swim 'rest' and took advantage of that time to untangle the hook-link from the willow...recast, plus a few loose offerings and the next bite, as natural as you like, took the B&W well into its middle section and looked to be a 14-15lb common, which felt good. I took two more solid 9-10lb fish before the light went, testing the rod, but not to its limit and when I recast after the last, found I couldn't see. As my fingers were numb, this seemed a good time to plod off.
...so all's well that ends well. I tarried in a well known tackle emporium, saw that the queue for the tonsorial exceeded my remaining parking, so headed home the long way, along the Frome to see how it was flooded ('moderately') ditch-dreaming, past Holmebridge, cut through Binnegar Lane just because I like it, through Hyde, across the Piddle, which was running over the road, so I slowed to take pleasure in the ice-clarity of the water. Heh. Then though a proper crossroads, dead-set, the lane with set-back hedges and arrow straightness proclaimed an older track than tarmac. Then past the pond I have in mind for a 'project'. Must get out more.
For the coming year, I hope you get what you wish for, keep doing something to make the world a better place and let go of the long bag you drag behind you (paraphrasing Robert Bly).
"Real children don't go hoppity-skip unless they are on drugs." -- Susan, the ultimate sensible governess (Terry Pratchett, Hogfather)