JAA's 2009 Fishing Diary

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2009 3rd January 2009. Horton Lake. Crikey, it's cold today. A new water for me so after some investigation and finding out the lake was old and large enough not to be frozen, so I thought, with a whole day to spend, "Might as well give it a try." I walk around the lake, find a couple of lads at the far end and they say it fishes well, with a lot of average carp to mid doubles and had had a run. The lake is pleasant but the banks are very very muddy, saved today only by the mud being solid under my feet. The water's colour is that odd translucent grey-green winter lakes sometimes are.

I spend several hours hooked in behind a tree, cleverly out of the little watery sun-light there is, trying for, well, anything with two rods. The wind is spiky, lancing through my layers and after two or three hours with nothing to show, I move towards the entry-end where the ghosts of old lilies persist and try my curried maggots against the pads. I feel more confident and after an hour, while the line freezes to the rings, I get 'the buzzIt's so cold and still, I can actually feel it' and a slow bite, which I miss. I try again; think my best chance has gone, but ten minutes later, away it goes, one-elephant-strike and no mistake this time. A smallish fish 4-5lbs perhaps but a hard fighter for the cold water.

Horton Lake That water is blue with cold Horton Lake A frozen stiff Chapman 550 Horton Lake ...because you really want a fresh breeze when is below freezing....
Horton Lake ...still blue with cold Horton Lake the amazingly still extant lily patch
Horton Lake a January fish - Horton hears a carp

By the time I take a picture the net is solid rime and my feet feel the same way so I hobble off to the car.

2009 18th January 2009. Crooked Willows. I last came here in about 1993 or thereaboutsIt was pretty much just a hole in a field at that time and to be honest hadn't realised it was the same place until I got there, I was just looking for a change of venue. I park myself at the far end of the lake (you know, 'furthest from the car park') and set up a small float and Avon-fished maggots for anything that came along.

Crooked Willows black and white kind of day Crooked Willows black and white but unwavering
Crooked Willows not really a January fish Crooked Willows ...possibly a bit breamy Crooked Willows technically small fry Crooked Willows often a January fish

After an hour of motionless float watching I get a simple bite and a reasonable carp which wallows rather than runs. The swim starts to liven a bit after that and while nothing approaches the first fish, a good stream of roach, skimmers, bream and a small carp come to the net, despite the cold weather.

Crooked Willows slab-let Crooked Willows ..too black and white for the camera Crooked Willows snotty!

Nothing exceptional, but a good regular day's fishing, which often is what it's all about.

2009 January 2009. 'Drop me a Line' by Richard Walker and Maurice Ingham. star rating

This is one of the best fishing books I have ever read. There is a wealth of good fishing tips in here and this along with the Carp Catchers Club, will show you that there is little in today's angling scene that wasn't considered and thought through in the 1950's. A great profile of the two authors and the social mores of the times. Post war austerity was still a factor in everyone's lives (petrol was scarce) and colours the already fascinating dialogue. Anyone thinking about fly fishing for trout should read this, and there are also the tapers for both the original carp rod made by RW and the "Light Carp", which is not unlike the MKIV. The latter was designed for 6-10lb lines and the former, at a rough estimate was around a 2lb t/c for 12lb line and up, and seems altogether a more useful carp rod than the 'MKIV'.

As does the Sagas of Icelanders axeAfter reading this through I found I had the idea in my head that whenever a character started a sentence with "It seems to me...", they are almost certainly reaching for an axe, 'just in case'. , this book demonstrates people haven't changed much - the bit about MIMaurice Ingham fishing quietly under cover being accosted by a loud, brightly dressed skylining fisherman for information on carp fishing rings as true today, I've had exactly the same happen to me, but with some 50 odd years interval, so we rediscover that some things haven't changed - there are always those who are prepared to experiment, make up their own mind and do the hard work required to affect changes, which is good to know.

I was chuffed to find that MIMaurice Ingham had a copy of "I Walk by Night" which I got some two years before DMAL'Drop me a Line'. It's a little dusty window overlooking a forgotten world.

2009 25th January 2009. Dairy Farm. There's not whole lot to say about this session, the pictures tell you everything. Nothing moved, nothing twitched, not even me. Unblinkingly, I watched the float for three hours, not once feeling there was a fish in the offing. Enjoyed it enormously.

Dairy Farm quiet Dairy Farm ...too quiet

2009 28th January 2009. The Last Straw. These days, I always fish accompanied by my all-purpose radio-controlled fishing correction submersible. This is surprisingly compact at 4' 11", considering that it has several useful operating modes for the traditional angler:

• "Complete Balls Mode". In this mode the submersible seeks out small round objects in the water, collects them and then pounds them flat for safe disposal, although not necessarily in that order. I'd advise against standing waist deep in the water. Of course, for some this is shallower water than for others.

• "Heron Mode". In this mode, any high pitched noises are monitored and then instantly jammed with an phase-inverted copy of the original sound. This means that most 'runs' will start with a strangled "meep" and end with a twang and very possible with a noise just like a rod pod being yanked into the water. Followed by a noise not unlike like an orthodox angler having a laughing fit. A mild side effect of this mode is that all the birds in the area, except bitterns, will find they are strangely silent. Most of them will sidle sheepishly into the undergrowth during this time. The extended use of this feature may make it advisable to avoid any pre-fishing comestible with a high spice content, unless you can emulate a bittern and to be honest, if you can pull that off without 'accidents', then fair play to you.

• "Bait Boat Mode". The submersible has full surface-to-surface miniature explosive harpoon capability. See if you can guess what for. Again, I recommend not standing in or near the water, especially while holding any equipment. Sorry, that should be "electronic equipment".

The on-board state-of-the-art computer uses character recognition to single out the word "Drennan" on any item of tackle and obliterate it with sustained mortar fire. Someone has to. Trials on a similar feature designed to eradicate 'realtree' camouflaged items, have so far been unsuccessful and it's fair to say that the birds that sidled into the undergrowth after the "Heron Mode" trial were fortunate indeed.

The submersible comes with a built-in Kelly Kettle, a reserve porcupine quill PQOne cannot have too many. , 2lbs of Pampered Pig's best Pork & Leek sausages SOSPut simply, suasages are never a bad thing.  and a 12 inch (steady now) cider and whisky fruit cake. An emergency single malt hip-flask is situated in the port nacelle (Mike). The speech recognition circuits will ensure these items are only released to an appropriate adult when it detects the secret password. This is shrouded in mystery and protected by a AES-128 encrytpion with a oratating key. I can tell you in rhymes with "hoppy bat" and it's the name of something can be used to keep things off your head. MUD...because then when it's raining cr*p, the hat will keep it off.

Extensive trials in Loch Ness have resulted in hardly any casualties, statistically speaking, especially if we discount the "Complete Balls Mode" incident, during which the prize ram wading across the shallow bit at the end suffered an involuntary gender-reassignment procedure as did, and no less regrettably, two gentlemen Spey-casting for salmon at the head of the loch. However I am given to understand the ram's best breeding days were behind it, something that can also be said for the unfortunate gentlemen, but spending weeks up to your nicky-nacky-noos in freezing water will bring this condition on. For the ram, an extended convalescence on a bed of finely chopped mint restored its purpose and as neither of the Spey casters was using spliced-joint rods, they may be considered culpable to some extent.

This useful piece of equipment is now available to the general public for the trifling sum of £9,999, cheques (crossed) made payable to "JAA RookU Ltd". In common with other traditional angling accoutrements, delivery will be when I feel like it.

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2009 1st February 2009. Crooked Willows. Cold. It snowed briefly, a flurry of fluff materialising apparently from nothing but flat frosted-glass sky and I winkled out a few roach, sipped tea and flexed my toes to keep them warm. A strangely enjoyable afternoon.

Crooked Willows the monotonic palette of winter Crooked Willows go on, go on, go on.....don't then Crooked Willows Ok, just one picture

2009 February 2009. 'Walker's Pitch' by Richard Walker. Another good book by the man. star rating

2009 18th February 2009. Homeclose. This new fishery is a little outside Oakham and I had a pleasant afternoon with the sibling, despite the grey still and chill. The carp were not really playing today, so I scratched out a few rudd on maggots, really just because I could. Not technically a blank. I really want to try the large lake for the tench (no carp in that lake) when it warms up a bit.

Homeclose so alert it's frightening Homeclose ...twinkle, twinkle tiny spar...

2009 21st February 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Classic February blank...

Milton Abbey Lake Milton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool' Milton Abbey Lake Milton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool'

2009 February 2009. 'The Carp Catcher's Club' by Maurice Ingham et al. star rating A classic, which will never be repeated, now we depend on email. So many of today's carp tactics were thought up within these pages, culminating with the record carp capture at Redmire. If you aspire to carp fishing you simply have to read this.

Unlike 'Drop me a Line' though this has a formality and a structure and also gaps in the narrative where things happened in the background, which are fun to speculate about over a beer, but are strictly speculation. We now know the BV thought carp fishing was being led in an over commercial direction for example and disagreed with RW on this. Water under the bridge. It does feel as if the stuffing went out of the group a little when the record carp was captured and also interesting to know that but for a dodgy hook eye, Peter Stone would have beaten that record. Certainly RW dominated the group, but not least because he was unwilling to take anything at face value, until it was proved to his own satisfaction, but that is one of the normal (but all too occasional) dynamics of human nature.

For all that, this is another interesting record of the start of carping (among many other equally interesting things), with all sorts of useful ideas, some of which are now de-facto methods, some of which never got fully explored at the time and still haven't and some which have since been shown as erroneous. Also fun to note that the match angling fraternity of the time derided them as "not serious" and labelled them as pleasure anglers. Plus plus ç a change, plus c'est la même chose...used to express resigned acknowledgement of the fundamental immutability of human nature and institutions... "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing".

The CCCCarp Catchers Club foundered on the missing letters in its last year and the strait-jacket conventional narrative make it difficult to say what actually happened, at least not without a libel suit.

Always would've liked to have met MIMaurice Ingham though, sounds like a proper gent.

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2009 March 2009. "The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes Saaverdra star rating (translated by John Rutherford). At some point on the turnpike engineering carousel I determined that if I was to have spare time on return flights I would read books that might improve my education. So it was I purchased and read this classic tale, which I can report is nicely written, wryly observed, shot through with sly wit and insight and has almost nothing to do with windmills. This is though, an account of a man who didn't get out enough, slept too little, read far too many books about a long past chivalrous world that never existed and became obsessed with it to the point of psychosis. See what I did there? Don't be Quixote.

2009 15th March 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. One of those grey still days matching the water here, often a blue-grey. Despite the lack of colour in the water I scratch out two tench on paste-cane-and-centerpin then miss a third. A small roach makes a last minute appearance at dusk, so pretty quiet, but there are no bad tench.

Milton Abbey Lake 'What a grey day' as Larry Grayson might have said. Milton Abbey Lake One of those grey still days... Milton Abbey Lake Oho, a proper quill!
Milton Abbey Lake tench the first Milton Abbey Lake tench the second

2009 21st March 2009. Crooked Willows. Went down for the afternoon with Nempster and despite an early flurry of a dozen rudd and this nice bream and carp on the move, it went quiet after a couple of hours and to make it harder a wind sprung up. Nemp had a good afternoon, pulling out smallish rudd and stripeys from under the trees on the island, but it got slower and slower as the day went on. Funny little lake, nice afternoon though.

Crooked Willows

2009 28th March 2009. Silent Woman. Another afternoon with the Nempster. The weather was pleasant for March and it was good to be out. The downside was that the lake, again, was completely dead.

Silent Woman Alert to the point of tautness Silent Woman Doldrums

While there was some limited movement, contrasting with 12 months ago when any bait was plagued with rudd and roach and small carp popped up often. The thick green weed beds are gone as well. It might be that we are failing to change our ways, but we moved three times today, and although a solitary carp showed later in the day and Nemp managed two tiny rudd, it's hard to avoid the thought the lake's best days are behind it and some sea-change has occurred, perhaps run-off, eutrophication or rising acidity. Ah well.

Another Crucian Carpcrucian...(and back to the top of the page) Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Crucian Carpcrucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Another Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian

2009 3rd April 2009. Once More unto the Breach. Monday, Santiago de Compostela, A Tafona do Peregrino as usual; Tuesday, Oporto, long hot day, finally through the gate, airside and there is the piano and player leaking classical music into the open plan whiteness, a starving bird cry in an artic waste. So far so good. Then the call from The French Customer, my bane, my karma for a past life transgression, must be. I wish for curved yew, slender white ash with blue-grey bodkin heads. I walk up to the far end of the soulless space and sip cool water, worn down suddenly and then joy, I have a new Waterlog in the bag. Peace and 90 minutes glide past, with a float tip in the passing current.

I board, JAFAJust Another Fcukin' Aeroplane, stick 'Queen Rocks' on when the seatbelt sign allows and burrow further into Cervantes and the psychotic Don Quixote, the original box of frogs. 'Garage Inc.' then, 'Astronomy', what is that song about? Seatbelts on, Cervantes only.

Gatwick South Terminal, 'Appetite for Destruction' on the headphones, 'Welcome to the jungle' strangely appropriate and a good beat to walk from plane to passport control. Then "It's so easy"...'I see you standing there, you think you're so cool, why don't you just F-' "Good evening how are you?" and with my "I'm as interested in your life story as you are in mine" straight face with a hint of very tired but polite anyway, hardly faked, I hand over my passport. I'm still me. Good.

I get coffee and a toastie snatched en passant like the Night Train's mail bag. 'Evanescence' for the car in the dark, skipping the songs that require a special knowledge of bipolar disorders and at a flat legal speed reach Stockbridge, pull in, past closing time and lean on white railing where a thread of the Test jinks between the road and the path, in daylight haunted by bread bloated rainbow trout. I sip coffee, still warm, watch the streetlamp reflection shimmer in the curving water and its echo in the coffee held in front of me. I breathe in, out, shut my eyes and listen to the water, picking out two beats, the side to side waves of the water caught between two near right angles and then a longer one, maybe a standing wave, the reflection under the road from the first bend and it's return. Then I realise the real sound is the stream chuckling at the absurdity of it all and I feel myself smile back in the dark. See, water is good for you.

Wednesday, back in the car, Abacabok, thudding Tuareg music, with the flat sound impedance matched to the still cooling sand around the tented players, an optimum power transfer. Zurich on Friday. Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:"


Henry V. Act 3, Scene 1

Porto, ticket from

2009 5th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. I know. I went fishing today and float-fished with the four-piece Avon on the back pit, but oddly, despite the pictures, which usually remind me of the day, I can't recall a single detail...so will assume I had a fine and relaxing session. This seems to be a reasonable assumption.

Arfleet Mills blank, blanking, blanked Arfleet Mills pretty place though you have to admit

2009 10th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. Busy evening and I fished about as far from the entrance as was possible on the lower lake, as there were several folk fishing. A chap on the bank near the car park had not long had a carp and plenty of fish were about. I stuck up the '550Chapman 550 with 6lb line and then managed to miss about five good bites, with various incompetences and eventually got a nice tench around 2½lb or so. Tried corn, cockles and paste, corn seems to get the most activity, including my one fish.

Arfleet Mills always good, tench

Some large carp rolling on the North bank, which is currently off limits. Back pit with at least two bivvies, not a lot of space left on that lake. Strong feeling I didn't get my share of the fish this time.

2009 13th April 2009. Highbench. Nice day. The sun shone and Nemp poled out about 60 fish (I grudgingly concede, 'quite expertly') with a good lot of crucians and next swim up I scratched out about 20 on my 'light gear' the '500Chapman 500 and 4lb line, with a couple of crucians, six decent bream of a pound or more and one big rudd, perhaps 1½lb. Worse days have been had.

Highbench getting there before the leaves Highbench yeah, well, not the best swim, knowwhatImean? Highbench well, lightish... Highbench a nice surprise

2009 19th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. Back pool was crowded so I went around the back of the newly deepened top lake. I put up a float rod and tried for anything with a size 14 and managing a couple of small rudd, but a cockle went untouched. As fish are moving to my right I chuck out some floaters and spend over an hour missing takes on a MKIV carp rod. After a bit I opt to change this for an 11ft Avon and a Cardinal 66, so after swapping rods and settling the fish back down, I miss one on floaters and switch to crust, miss one massive take and then hit one which really pulled, trying to get into the weed beds, but eventually, at the net is 8lb of common. I fish on the float for a bit and get a solitary 1½lb rudd, then get a tiddler as well. In the interim I feed more floaters to my left, as carp are about and after a hour, a small common and ghostie start on the ones not eight feet from me. I drop in a big bit of crust and a large shape materialises and takes it straight away. It's a big lump and even with the 12lb line it takes some bold holding, but after a bit of a thrash I net a 14lb common. Good enough.

Highbench ...eventually, at the net is 8lb of common Highbench ...and get a solitary 1½lb rudd Highbench ...after a bit of a thrash I net a 14lb common

2009 26th April 2009. Arfleet Mills.The top lake again, barely 2:30pm and all to myself. Went around the back (the 'furthest from the car park' gambit) top lake. I put up the '500Chapman 500 with a 'pin and a dibbery plastic thing and the Harrison's with a size 8 on flouro bottom for floaters. The first thing I found out was the dog biscuits I'd carefully soaked were rubbish, so I'll feed them to the hound.

I whipped out a rudd and then after some handfuls of stuff got a ghostie moving on my left in the reeds. It very quietly took some by now sodden bread and just when I though it would always be cautious, snacked my bread floater down. A run, a crash and a short but attritional battle revealed the ghostie, about 7lb or so. I nabbed a tench on a pinch of bread on the float rod as Nempster arrived and then lost another tench a bit after. By then a few fish were stirring in the weed, so I lobbed a floater into the middle.

Arfleet Mills a dibbery plastic thing Arfleet Mills ...revealed the ghostie, about 7lb or so Arfleet Mills ...tench on a pinch of bread Arfleet Mills ...in the weed, so I lobbed a floater into the middle

We nattered quietly and both watched the crust for an eternity, possibly 20-25 minutes as the fish edged its way over. Nerves jangled and hearts pounded. The take was deliberate and I hit it hard and backed up the back to drag it out the weeds and a hard tussle allowed Nemp to net 6lb of common and 1lb of weed. The hook was well in but bent, so I switched to a thicker wire then. Nemp slipped off and I got some small rudd, a 3lb common (F1?) that went like a dingbat on the lighter rod and as the sun set, the last gasper slurped down an optimistic crust plonked on the far side of the reeds - a 6lb common.

Arfleet Mills 6lb of common Arfleet Mills a 3lb common Arfleet Mills a dibbery plastic thing Arfleet Mills the sun-set Arfleet Mills the last gasper

Top-notch day.

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.

2009 2nd May 2009. Horton Lake...is a good size, a good age, a good 20 miles from my place and very muddy around the edge. There was clay pigeon shooting and quad biking for townies in progress, so I trudge right around to the far end, and settle about as far away as I could, although there were a good half-a-dozen anglers spaced around. At my chosen end there was floater fishing heaven (assuming fish were under that fluff). I float-fished cockles in the sunshine, missing two good bites and fed a stream of naan bread and crusts to the corner with my spoonThe only way to bait up..

Horton Lake right around to the far end Horton Lake ...floater fishing heaven Horton Lake I float fished cockles in the sunshine

Eventually, I connected with a 4oz roach on a tough size 10 hook, then put aside the float rod and at 6pm or so sneaked up towards the corner and the sluice. I stuck out naan which got inspected and rejected and I reverted to crust. After a few lost crusts, ignored until they sank, I got one almost alongside the sluice and it got the 'sink-plunger' and I dragged the fish out and played it out by my landing net. If worked hard and on netting looked 9lb or so, perhaps shade heavier. I waited. Another try got nowhere, so I went back on the float, lost a good fish when the hook pulled out, on bread, and then flicked a biggish bit of crust over to the sluice from where I sat. It sat, eventually a fish tried it, missed, tried again, and I struck but despite 30 yards, hit the fish, and it didn't work too hard, and looked to be around 6 or 7lb.

The light closed in, so I ambled off, plugged through the mud, and tried a last gasp by the car park in the gloom. I put three bits over the far side, four by the lilies and two under my feet. One lunge across the pool had me casting over and then something cleaned up the bits by the lilies one-two-three-four and then ignored my re-sited crust. One of the bits under my feet slurped down, so I tried there. Two minutes, two goes at the bread, short squabble and around this 4-5lb fish.

Horton Lake looked 9lb or so Horton Lake looked to be around 6 or 7lb Horton Lake this 4-5lb fish

Good day. Prefer it without all the bite alarms though.

2009 3rd May 2009. At a car boot I picked up a JS Sharpe's Scotty spinning rod for £5. Wow. Four original rings and 12 inches missing off the top section. The cane itself looks perfect otherwise. But for £5.

2009 10th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Trudged around to the pump pool, peg 13, thinking I might break the new old MKIV in with a few tench. I spent about three hours battling with drifting weed and willow-fluff, managing a tench, but it was a day when tench kept passing through but I couldn't seem to get them to take a bait. If felt wrong, so 7pm, I mentally shrug, throw the tackle into the bag and go and sit on Peg 2 by the car park to finish the flask and take a metaphorical early bath...

Milton Abbey Lake Trudged around to the pump pool Milton Abbey Lake I spent about three hours battling with drifting weed... Milton Abbey Lake managing a tench

The water is covered with debris here, although there is more colour, more than when I walked around at 2:30pm. I bait to my left with hemp and after 45 minutes this feels wrong and while sipping tea, I spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me and to my right and eventually follow with my fourth float of the day, which I hadn't taken off since the walkabout. Fishing here requires constant line-mending as the scum oscillates to and fro, due to wind dying away in fits and starts. Then a few bubbles, a 'buzz' and the float pops out of existence in a matter of fact way an autopilot strike and a good fish bores under the trees and I don't let it, which goes on for a minute or two. This develops into a battle of attrition with the old MKIV showing why it can be a good rod for playing fish, even on 6lb line, as I couldn't give an inch under the trees. Eventually the fish turns sideways and I net a shade over 10lb of leather(?) and about 3lb of weed.

Forty-five minutes later, I have a smaller one of 5lb, that took off with the bait and the line was already tightening when I struck. This fight was shorter, as the fish was half the weight and not as well streamlined. But two carp are two carp.

Milton Abbey Lake I bait to my left... Milton Abbey Lake I spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me... Milton Abbey Lake a shade over 10lb of leather Milton Abbey Lake a smaller one of 5lb

For a time, while draining the flask and dodging the bats, I listen to the birds going off to bed, then I pack and leave.

2009 17th May 2009. Arfleet Mill. It's blowing a gale and threatening rain, but I'm not fooled and find the lakes without fishermen. I decide after a look at both lakes that the back pit is worth a try, as it's not got the wind driven chop on the lower lake, although that chop had pushed two more floats for the collection into the bank. I sit down at the south end, and flick in some bits of bread and some hemp and watch for a bit. In reponse a large 7-8-9lb carp crashes out of the water right at the other end. I take the hint and slide around and set up a floater rod and the MKIV with an antennae and 6lb through with a small, but stubborn size 10.

Despite a promise of a rise at the bread nothing happens after the first half an hour but after some dithering I get a 4oz perch, wedged around a cockle. I try bread and corn and get more dithering and the hard to hit bites, so switch to a equally stubborn 14 and get a couple of rudd on corn, 4oz or so. After 90 minutes of this and flicking bread, I hit another dithery bite and get a sandbag. After the initial shock I realise this is not 7-8-9lb but considerable larger, and with 6lb line and a small hook I need to take care. I take 15 minutes of care with several 30 yard bores into the middle of the lake and I keep as much pressure on as I dare with this lake snag strewn. Eventually with the rod now alarmingly bent for it's 50 years, I net a 15½lb mirror  mk On reflection I feel compelled to explain I would not set out to fish for 15lb carp with 6lb line, MK IV or not, but on this water (like so many), passing the time catching roach, rudd and perch is always risky, so I generally use 6lb line and trade off the missed smaller ones against a fair chance at the inevitable carp that takes a grain of corn on a size 14 hook. , cracking fish.

Arfleet Mills A 15½lb mirror carp

Buoyed by this I spend the next two hours missing the odd bite and seeing no fish rise to crust, despite the cheery and regular passage of the kingfisher from my end to the other. Odd I never see it going the other way. A heron materialises in the shallow water at the far end, nicks a small rudd and creaks off into the grey sky. I opt for the last two-three hours on the other lake, maybe there's a calmer bit I can try for a fish off the top.

I sneak into the north-west corner, when I discover the lake is bisected by the wind into a choppy half and a slowly rotating calm bit. I fish the float to pass the time, nab a 6oz roach, and then after a rise in the corner, some of the bread starts to go. The crust on the other rod is ready to go, so I dip then over-arm it right into the corner, dropping it a foot from the safe haven of the bush. I wait almost ten seconds and down it goes, so greedy. The response to my strike is a semi leap and a big kite into the middle, but it's overpowered quite quickly. A 'ghostie', is it me or are they really greedy?

Arfleet Mill the lake is bisected by the wind into a choppy half... Arfleet Mill I fish the float to pass the time Arfleet Mill over-arm it right into the corner Arfleet Mill ...is it me or are they really greedy?

I pour tea, put up both rods and flick out more bits for 25 minutes. Eventually another carp makes an appearance, in the middle and very quietly picking off bits, hardly noticeable. I put on a big bit, lob it out, flick three more after it, and wait only a couple of minutes and the fish cruises past picking it off. I whip up the rod and realise I have a fish as big as the first at least, but it doesn't run, but bores and I make a mistake and tighten up on it. It starts to figure-of-eight almost under the rod tip and after five minutes of this, during which time I can't get it off the bottom, the hook just comes out...

I pour more tea and reflect on that for some time. Poor strike, didn't give the fish, which was in open water, a couple of runs to tire it. I saw enough to know not '20', but well over 15lb, so disappointing. I wait for more rises, but none are coming now, and edge off at 9:20 into the rising dusk, chastened by my floating hubris. Rats.

2009 24th May 2009. Arfleet Mill. Several anglers on the front lake and one on the back who ignores my greeting. I go to the other end from 'Mr. Happy' RDRude really, that's all.  and put up a floater rod and flick bread and wait. After about an hour of waiting and some speculative casts one crust is silently removed in a blur of deep ochre, then the fish retires under the tree root opposite and refuses to budge. 'Mr. Happy' leaves and I make my way down to where there is a cut in the bank and an overhanging tree stump. I put on a veil VThis is actually a piece of army surplus scrim, with a hole cut into the middle so it fits over my hat. It's easy to keep it tucked on the brim when not required and then dropped over my face when needed. , flick bread into various places and a small ghostie nips one off the end of the clump of grass at the base of the trunk then vanishes. I wait and two crusts, more distant, submerge without a sound. OK then. I flick some more bits and overcast a piece and draw it into the trunk of the tree. Five minutes pass, the dwarf lilies at my feet tremble to heighten the tension. A shape materialises vertically from under the stump and down goes the bread. Up goes the rod. Down goes the fish, a real thump. A battle ensues and with the lake bed denied the fish tries hard for the stump, then the dwarf lilies, which the line cuts into silage. It tries for the adjacent bush and I haul it back and into the net.

A common (12 ½lb), with a wound which is not today's. I think about the heron of the previous week.

Arfleet Mills A common (12 ½lb), with a wound which is not today's

I wait a bit more, but it's very quiet and as all the other fishermen have gone, I head for the other lake, picking up crumpled newspaper and some pliers. I sit towards the corner, put the rod across the knees, pour tea flick bread and wait. I have to wait 25 minutes, then one decides it's safe to come out of the weeds. One 30 yard crust and a sluggish romp around this end of the lake later, a 12lb common with the red tail of a recent strain.

Arfleet Mill I sit towards the corner Arfleet Mill a 12lb common with the red tail of a recent strain

I wait some more, scatter bread about and a fish starts sucking the rushes three or four yards to my right. I spot a ghost, and decide that's the next try. I plonk in a piece, keeping the rod behind the rushes. A tench come up vertically, Polaris like and in silhouette I see it suck at the crust. It fails and drops away. Well I never. Then a shape appears and with less noise the bread spirals away, and a real fight develops with a heavier fish. I don't make last weeks error and let it run until it has had enough and ten minutes on and at the second attempt net a 16¼lb common, carrying some spawn. I snap it and slide it back, nearly time to stop.

I wait but despite bread in copious amounts, cover's blown now so I slide around the back and despite a lot of movement and investigation, I wait until the light's almost gone and a crust right on the edge, between two clumps of weed, is nicked by a ghostie. I mumble a rude work and re-bait. Only five minutes pass and the rod is yanked almost from my hand and a fish tears into the middle and when I get it back, it does it again. And again. And again. And then the weed bed, and then under the bank, then hard left. It fights like a dervish for 15 minutes, extraordinary. Netted, not without trials, this 9½lb fish (snapped by flash) put the bigger ones to shame. I pack up.

Arfleet Mill a 16¼lb common Arfleet Mill cover's blown now Arfleet Mill this 9½lb fish (snapped by flash)

2009 25th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. As it's a Bank Holiday, a warm stuffy day, Nemp and myself tried for a tench. I'd write a long account of a long day trying to find feeding fish, but that would be to perpetuate the day itself. The lake wore a poker face, we scratched and moved looking for a 'tell' and I, in the end realising the game was up, took down my rods. Some days I'll relish the hunt for the fish, but today, mentally set for tench and finding clear water, just watched whileNemp managed to catch a dozen fish by fishing a single maggot 2' under a pole float in 4' of water, including two chub which we didn't even know were in there. One tench fell to his 'sleeper rod' and a cockle.

Milton Abbey Lake The lake wore a poker face... Milton Abbey Lake looking for a 'tell' Milton Abbey Lake the flat feeling from the water

I admit the flat feeling from the water might as been as much inside my head as outside, but the water's form has faltered of late. I wonder, whether some change in the inflow has altered the insect life balance, as even now when the water is warm, it's clear and in a water where three feet is about average, this suggests little bottom feeding is taking place. Still, that's angling.

2009 May 2009. The Fishing Box by Maurice Genevoix. Translated by Dexter Petley and Laure Claesen. star ratingEven as I write this I can smell the bleak and in the still watches I fear the frog-catcher and his knife.

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

2009 31st March 2009. Arfleet. Back to the mill. With fishermen on the front lake and the back lake to myself it's an easy choice. Unusually the water is coloured and I should bottom fish if I have any sense, but fish are cruising the surface in groups, but defeat my attempts to picture them. Pity. Still it's a great day and I tackle up a floater rod, one hook, nothing else and feed bread from behind a screen of new growth, which sets the pattern for the day. Schools of rudd and perch mob the bread and I discover that one supermarket's sandwich loaf is not as tough as another's but more to the point the fish are not really bothered. I miss one rolled-gold take 20 yards out spend about 90 minutes try to get another. I move around to the east bank and although some bread is taken it's done with a casual air and deep suspicion, both at once. I even try a big piece with a trailer crust on a size 10, a good dodge usually, and it is spurned. With a small self cocker I whip out a few perch and rudd on worm and bread but even that is slow. After another hour try to gull a ghostie on the far bank, without success, enjoyably frustrating, I decide to target an area where fish are rising on the far bank (they are crashing right in the corner as well, but they would not take bread there either).

Arfleet Unusually the water is coloured... Arfleet After another hour try to gull a ghostie on the far bank...

To do so I sneak into the swim on my right to give me the 10 yards advantage needed for the cast and lob two back-to-back half matchbox bits, which touch down with a splat, three yards short of the far bank, just the right spot. I sit on the ground with the rod on my leg, this time no different from the past three hours and the block of bread just vanishes off the top, like if fell off the far edge of a table. A firm pick-up and a good fishe bores down and right and then back and left and after five minutes of dogged short and deep runs, is netted. Possibly the best looking common I've caught all year, about 10lb. I return to the first swim and after a half hour of watching my floating bait, a nearer piece is whipped down by a large mirror that attacks it like leaping salmon giving me a flash of a broad cream flank as it dives, making me start. The last rise and despite the lure of the bottom rod, which is put aside, I call it a day, as the hard earned fish is enough.

Arfleet Mills Possibly the best looking common I've caught all year, about 10lb.
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

2009 11th June 2009. Gold Oak. This was supposed to be the first of two days put aside for relaxing fishing - but it started badly with a cane top section snapping getting out of the car, it caught briefly on the ceiling as I took out the rod bag - I felt really it was over fragile even for cane - I'd paid out some cash to have a second top section made for my Chapman 550, making a 10'6" rod with a t/c midway between the '550' and the '500'. It was nice as well, a lovely Avon like rod. And things were 'odd' (which I've since discovered was a side effect of the hay fever meds, tucked down at the bottom of the list of possible side effects is 'agitation'. Bloody right). Still between getting wound up by nothing at all, I managed to bluff a carp off the far bank with a piece of crumpet, then one out of the lilies by my feet.

Gold Oak Satisfying, lobbing a bait right under the far bank... Gold Oak Always good fun... Gold Oak Always good for a fish

Then, I got a nice common at 30 yards, under the willow branches, which I was especially pleased with as I waited 30 minutes for it, then something of a scamperer on bread bottom-fished. Lost another common when the hook pulled in the lilies and bagged half a dozen roach as well. So pretty good and Nemp had a carp, a tench and hat-full of other stuff.

Gold Oak I say 'under', think 'dangled'... Gold Oak Such a good place for a carp Gold Oak Funny little thing really

Threw the hay-fever-meds in the bin. 'Agitation'.

2009 12th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. The following day, I trip off to a club water for the first time. After an hour finding out the carp cruising in the green scum at the south end of the lake either don't like bread or can't see it, edge around to a lily encircled swim with plenty of life.

Luckfield Lake ...carp cruising in the green scum... Luckfield Lake ...to a lily encircled swim

This after a recce and I swap my bamboo MKIV for the 4-piece Avon, not risking the old rod in these snags. I put 8lb line on the 'pin and float-fish cockles two feet from the lilies for a tench. 10 minutes in I get a dithery slidy bite and hit it. Something fires through the near patch of lilies in two surges, the line breaking on the second. It might as well have been a sandbag fired from a cannon. Over in less than half a second.

I also loose my float, a gold-whipped porcy with an insert antennae. Clucking bell. I re-tackle with 10lb and ten minutes later lose a tench that pops the hook onto a lily stem. Twenty minutes later I try for a carp under the tree with crust and even knowing I have to hit it hard and hold it up, loose this heavy fish as it crash dives on the flex of the rod. I go back to the scummy end, put on a float, have three cups of tea and go home, 0/3...

Luckfield Lake ten minutes later lose a tench Luckfield Lake I go back to the scummy end, put on a float...

2009 13th June 2009. Silent Woman. On Saturday I take the HatanglerThe No. 1 son to a local lake, infested as it is with hordes of small carp. With a tin of corn and left over bread we plan to spoil the afternoon for plenty of them. In the event, the first swim yields a half dozen fish each with the son getting perhaps the largest of the carplets, and we opt to move up the lake a bit. After a few minutes I notice the swirls at the end and start firing bread up-wind which it encircled, serpent like and sucked under.

I swap the Cardinal 44 spool with 4lb for one with 6lb and put on a fine wire size 6 and hoping that my Chapman 500 is up to the task. There are no snags, and the biggest fished spotted in here is about 3lbs... the bread drifts and the circling movements converge after an anxious ten minutes and the bait is bobbled under. I strike, feel the fish, then nothing and wind furiously, then a silver torpedo appears level with me. Grass carp. The usual odd fight, with rushes, leaps inter-spaced with torpor. About 9lb, but before the scales could be used, it looked more distressed than I'd like, so I put it back. Odd fish, don't do much for me.

Silent Woman perhaps the largest of the carplets Silent Woman we opt to move up the lake a bit Silent Woman About 9lb

Then the snacks ran out and it was time to go...

2009 19th June 2009. Deciding to walk across the fields to the school 'fun night' (take my advice, avoid any event with the word 'fun'  fun You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means...  in the title and especially if multiple exclamation marks are involved), I find this treasure, which represents to me, four crow quill floats, a buzzard quill float and a bit over half a flint axe-head, a jewel to me.

Four crow quills, a buzzard quill and half a flint axe-head Four crow quills, a buzzard quill and half a flint axe-head

2009 20th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. Reeling a bit from losing three first time, but like a challenge, so came back with stronger tackle and a grimmer countenance. Spent about 45 minutes trying to get a crust in the right place on the third swim round but the wind, current and distance defeat me, so I return to last week's swim. I managed to miss a few takes (as I go on I realise that there are a lot of carp that can't manage the bread first go) and then also hook one on-and-off at the far end of the big lily patch. I then watch a three foot long fish amble about my next perfectly placed crust before a moorhen tries to nab it.

So, after a few happy minutes extracting size 4's from the vegetation behind me I wonder right around the far side, and after a few abortive and unique casts to get under one branch and over another, place a crust just the other side of a single pad on the edge of the jungle and when I get a slurp, power the fish out of the lilies and then batter it (metaphorically) into the net leaving bits of shredded vegetation and swirls of mud under my feet. Yay. A bit more than 10lb of dark common. I wander back one swim to the scene of last week's carnage and sticking on a lump of pasted-bread, take tea and then as the slack line twitches, a dark brick-pit tench. I knock off another tench, move to home base swim for the last floater and get manked by a big fish as darkness falls, failed hook knot. No change there then.

Luckfield Lake A bit more than 10lb of dark common Luckfield Lake a dark brick-pit tench Luckfield Lake ...move to home base swim for the last floater

2009 27th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. After a gander ga As in 'a look around'. Not an actual gander obviously, I like goose, but a whole one as a snack? Tch.  I head for a favourite spot enclosed by lilies for a floater-fish. The net breaks, so tread back to the car for the spare and spend ten minutes threading the larger net onto medium poles. These old landing net arms are solid glass, the newer broken ones are hollow carbon. YeahGood business, selling cr*p landing nets. After today, I never bought another landing net arm. I make all mine from solid glass or carbon tent-poles. It's very hard to break those.... I tackle up with 12lb through and tip a crust on the nearest pad and edge it off. Ten minutes later I get a confident slurp and a very short scuffle nets an 11lb common, with plenty of fight for the net. Twenty minutes later I then hook a fish about 14lb (ish) and the hook comes away after I see the leathery side. Drat.

I get my first sneezing fit of the day. I wait, try another half hour and move back one swim to tackle with a long cast the other end of the lilies. I get three cast's wrong and the last one right. A tunnelling fish slurped the bread and I zing the hook into the tree on my right...I get a cup of tea and wonder back round to see who else is fishing...I try back in my base swim for an hour or so, missing two takes and then slip back, and get my first cast on the money, and after fifteen minutes get a take and keel haul a fish away from the pads and into open water, and apart from one long run, it capitulates, 7lb of leather. Ok two-three.

Luckfield Lake tip a crust on the nearest pad and edge it off Luckfield Lake a very short scuffle nets an 11lb common Luckfield Lake it capitulates, 7lb of leather

I wander back to the original swim, get three bits in the water, watch as one bobs and disappears without a sound and the nearest to me then goes in two goes with much slurping. Odd. My bait remains. Half an hour later I miss two takes in a row from fish that couldn't absorb the whole bait and I try once around the far bank (last week's carp) and my second sneezing fit puts down the fish then my best and last cast is attacked by a coot. Bu88er.

I go back to home base and freeline cockles for half an hour, and drink several teas, then a stealthy approach along the lilies mops up some small crusts, so I switch over and get a take right off. I hit the fish, hold it, get a huge pull and the line goes slack. Without looking I know the hook knot has gone and then a big fish clears the water a few feet away, hangs in the air, a brass tear drop and crashes into the lilies. Certainly 18lb, maybe more. Ouch. So, it's war then. I watch the moon for a bit and finish my tea.

Luckfield Lake ...get three bits in the water... Luckfield Lake so I switch over and get a take right off Luckfield Lake I watch the moon for a bit and finish my tea.
should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...

2009 2nd July 2009. Homeclose Fishery. Three goldfish (sorry, 'carp') on cockles and floating bread. Possibly I do Homeclose an injustice - it's a nice fishery, really properly run and there is one serious lake with no carp at all. I nabbed one fish out of Sallow Lake on freelined cockle, then we switched 'Buckthorn' (I think) where I tried fishing on the bottom, while the sibling lobbed meat into the middle, but I found bread flicked over a patch of lilies to my right attracted nosey and silly carp - I was using the Ugly Stik Avon (for the last time? Unbreakable? sure. Lifeless? Certainly) and whipped out these two fellows, but that killed it off and although I sat there past the brother's leaving, until the lights were on ahead, nothing else came to me. Dark tunnel-drive home, brief stop for toasties and 'Italian for Coffee'. Really, quite a nice trip back accompanied by 'Kingdom Come', who's producer certainly knows where the console knob marked 'echoey' is and has turned it all the way up to '11'.

Homeclose Fishery Homeclose carplet #1 Homeclose Fishery Homeclose carplet #2 Homeclose Fishery Homeclose carplet #3 Homeclose Fishery Landing lights on...(OK, that's 'Saxon' not 'Kingdom Come'. It's a long drive.

2009 4th July 2009. Luckfield Lake. Back to the same lily-spot with some 14lb Stren and some 14lb flouro on the pin. I try the 2½lb t/c rod with the pin and put the 12lb and '66That's 'Cardinal 66' to you on the Ugly. I missed several takes in the first hour, annoying but I console myself it's not always a large fish, and that big bits of bread are hard to take.

When the lady in the previous swim moves on, after some background on the lake ("They like a bit of bread you know..."), I try the end of the pads from that swim, get a take right away and hook a big fish, which pulls the hook. 0/2. I take the stiffer rod and the pin onto the next swim and pulling a crust of the pads into the path of a tunnelling enter, I get a 9lb or so fish, which danced across the pads as I gave it nothing in a short and vicious battle. The swim, littered with lily pad bits and still circling mud, was 'pronounced dead'. I went back to my bag, put another bit out on the 'Ugly' and after 30 minutes thumped into a big fish, which I held and then the hook hold went.

Luckfield Lake ...I get a 9lb or so fish...

1/3. I drink tea as the light fades and wait with a size 2 crusted in advance and with half an hour of light a stealthy fish mops along the edge, and I tweak an overcast bait into the path and it plughole slurps it down. I hold the resulting thunderbolt for a second and the line parts by the hook. 1/4. OK then...up to 15lb Flouro and the 2½lb t/c rod...

• 2013: P.S. with that great thing, 20/20 hindsight, the problem was one of shock absorbtion and a softer rod would have served me better than a stronger 'tip action' like the five-piece travelling carp rod I then went on to try.

2009 8th July 2009. Luckfield Lake. A bonus Wednesday evening but the nature of the lilies has changed. The moorhens and dabchicks now expect to be fed (someone feeding them?) and they hassle me and anything I might cast. I try dangling a bait behind a lily leaf, an ersatz green waggler. I get one huge swirling take which I miss, then nothing for two hours. I try the next swim up and then pestered to death by the birds and despite several tenting missiles being offered hastily dropped baits, I get not a take. I retreat to the pad-less end to float bread while my tea cools and, fish or no fish, to enjoy the dusk and its almost suicidally curious bats.

2009 12th July 2009. Heath Lake. I get a morning for a change and after some missing of turns and a LONG '400 yard' walk to the lake, circle around to the far side (furthest from the car park) and with only myself for company, get as near to the overhanging tree patch and reeds as I can. It's the leeward end, but still.

I see plenty of movement and a bottom got get two bites which I connect with briefly, arcing the rod, and then I succumb to the fish on the top and put 14lb 'Stren' stren'Stren Original'. This has to be the finest unstretched nylon mono available. It has the same diameter as the much lauded Maxima with four times the scuff and abrasion resistance.   on the 'Fox Trek'. I miss more than a few takes, baits being pulled under but not taken and there are plenty of fish about, sucking leave and other debris. After some mucking about and a single carp 4-5lb on bottom-fished bread, I switch to 10lb line on the Avon, a size 6 hook and cast small crusts at the gullible ones.

Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1 (Yes, I know, it's upside-down.) Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1

I get two more the same really, and opting for practise, change the rig and thread two bits of cork, .22" bullet sized one 6" from the hook the other three feet back. The plan is to wait until the first cork sliver dips, then it's a real take. I get another and then decide to add strawberry to the bread. I get two more and several immediate takes after casting. They seem to like that. I get a bream of 1lb, fishing on the bottom while drinking coffee (the cork doubling as a float).

I move off, stopping at a swim recently vacated (boilies and floaters scattered everywhere) and nick another. I get another at the corner under a tree, by someone else's rod-rest. I then try against the wind driven reeds, car park end and get one under the tree, and then the biggest, number nine against the reeds, about 7lb maybe. I miss another and get a single scale back, enough for today. Well, it is the 'match' lake.

Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1 Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1 Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1 Heath Lake Heath Lake carp frenzy no.1

2009 18th July 2009. Arfleet Mills. Quarter wavelength out of phase... I must have caught these two carp and the words left here as a marker suggest the day didn't start well...but I can't recall a second of it...

Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills carps Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills carps

In any event, these are two from the 'new' lakeNew as in the '1970s', not the '1930s'.

2009 19th July 2009. Managed to update a few entries William, now stop nagging!

2009 July 2009. The Waterlog Years by Chris Yates. star ratingThis neat little collection of articles penned for Waterlog is a nice addtion to anyone's fishing shelf.

2009 23rd July 2009. Albert's Time

"There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time.
This in itself is not measurable."


Albert Einstein

If you're an angler, you already know that.

2009 July 2009. "Powerlines" edited by Dexter Petley  star rating An extraordinary collection of fishing stories. "Fish Running" is in my mind still, possibly because I have also fished and run, "The Wilderness Cure" water-horse clatters my own internal scallop-shell pile, "The Last Trout" is masterly and the visceral imagery of "Still Waters" and "Pond Life" suggests that for many, the 'Mr. Crabtree' days might just be figments. Every story in this book is a cracker. You'll read them more than once. You may well recall them for many years thereafter.

link swivelinter...(and back to the top of the page) link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked

2009 1st August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Nice day. It's raining, fine, dreech. I wander around to the swim of the lilies, spend two hours or so trying to retrain the moorhens (someone's been feeding them, they are begging for food) give up, move down the lake to the swim nearest the carpark. Yeah I know, but the bottom is fizzing with bubbles and the place is to myself.

I put up the four-piece Avon, but with 10lb braid hook-length to 10lb mono, a self cocking paste float and bung in some hemp and put on a size 6 with cockles on it. The water is best part of 6' here. The sun comes out. Good show. Despite a good lot of movement 40 minutes later I have nothing to show, so switch to bread on the hook and ten minutes after that miss a slow edgy bite the culmination of the dibs and twitches that signal carp. A bow wave ambles toward the middle, no great pace to it.

Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's

I stick with the bread. Fifteen minutes after this (during which time the moorhens arrive and the ducks and retraining continues) the float slips off and I hit a solid resistance which tries for the trees on my left and then waking up tries really hard and I'm forced to back up with the rod at 45° to get the required pressure and as a result it steams off into the middle, a good 30 yards, but after that it's downhill and I pump the fish into the net. 8lb or so of common carp. Bread gets nothing and I switch back to cockles. I get a 3lb tench a bit after and then another about 4lb. Good oh. I then bump off a 2lb fish, a shame as the look I had showed it almost completely black a curiosity I wanted to see from closer.

Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's
Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield lake Luckfield lake Tinca's

Things settle down then, and the fizzing eases off but a larger tench shows itself at the surface a few times, and a couple of carp are wondering about, but although I've a floater rod set up, the not-yet-retrained moorhens make a cast an impossibility. Without any preamble the float vanishes and I get my last tench. With the light going I slip back to the lily patch with net and loaf, but nothing shows and I finish my tea in the company of the bats then head off.

2009 4th August 2009. I was slack-jaw stunned to see the ridiculous outpouring of crocodile tears and mock-grief after the death of 'Benson the carp'. It would have passed me by but for more connected folk and it's a sad business. By which I mean all the faux sentimental clap-trap, "We're all rocked by the death".

No, we're not.

Puts me in mind of nothing more or less than the grins tinged with shame when the lads find out the village tart is pregnant. The terribly misplaced pride, the dawning realisation with sidelong exchanged looks, that what you had congratulated yourself for winning, was freely given to everyone. The time to realise there are consequences to even a brief moment of pleasure, (of course probably not for you, it was different for you). It's the other guys. Surely it's not that there's little or no merit in winning something so easily obtained and even less value. "All fisherman wanted to catch her." Bo££ocks they did. I know at least 12 who don't give a stuff. And I've not asked the others. 'RIP Benson', RIP Angling more like.

2009 9th August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Technically great. Toiling up to find a pair of anglers on the West bank and while I exchange the ritual greetings, I spot a lot of fish on the top, so decide to head Eastward and fish over one of the small lily patches for tench. I return to the car, trade the bamboo for the old carp rod (2lb t/c) and slip a spool of 10lb into my pocket. I set up a pole float on 10lb line on the 'pin and knot on 2 feet of 10lb braid. Size 8 thickwire and three fat cockles. All set and I put up a floater rod for speculative bread-in-the-lilies. After a while there are lumps in the lilies so I ship in the float and try a bit of crust in one of the gaps. I watch bumps, waves and swirls edge ever closer and of course after an eternity of hammering pulse and rapt attention, I look up for a moment and with a gentle squelch the bread goes. They must know. I watch the circling carp for a bit, toy with a cast crust but the birds render this unfeasible.

Luckfield Lake waiting... Luckfield Lake orange-tipped hypnotism Luckfield Lake ''Hello mate, got any bread?'' Luckfield Lake ''Floater biccy? Anything?''

I go back to float watching my cockles-over-hemp and miss one bite, hit the next and get a lively tench, a bit overwhelmed, but letting fish escape is not the point. I rebait, wait, then when the float slips under again, I strike and everything goes solid for a moment.

Luckfield Lake yay, tench! Luckfield Lake ready, steady....and wait.

Then a ponderous weight moves off into the middle and I tighten down the reel with my thumb, warming it until the rod is well over a quarter circle. This doesn't make any difference, not really sure how much trouble I'm in, but know at that moment I'm in trouble. Thirty yards out the fish dithers, swings left and lumbers onwards. I go with side-strain and realise that the inevitable result is the branches on my left so I stick the rod into the bush on the right, pull hard and the fish heads back the other way, circles a couple of times and heads right. This time it makes no difference where I put pressure; it crashes into the branches. I lean on the rod until I feel it will crack and gain about 4" at a time, then I wind in a little and pull again. After an eternity of expecting my rod to smash against the tree behind me, a big head shakes and ploughs back into the lake proper, pulling the rod tip hard down towards the sunken brushwood. After a heart wrenching moment the line thunks free of the branches. Back into the middle then, still the same bullish power over which I have little control, my thumb's burned. The fish dives for the mud and I try to bring it toward me, more a test of strength than intent and the reply is a hard run to the left which swiftly passes the point where I can influence it.

The fish kites into the tree branches on my left and the tug of war starts again, pull the rod into a hoop, gain a few inches, watch the branches sway and sweep-away as they free, one at a time. I believe the rod will break. If the line snaps the rod will smash on the branches on my right. For five minutes I pull as hard as the rod will let me. I gain inch by inch until the last branch sways free and the fish rolls in front of me, a flash of a long cream belly. I reach for the net and I edge it over the lilies and the fish crashes down into the roots and I dig in again, with the fish only 8 feet way, mud curls like warm butter in the water. The hook-knot breaks.

I sit down, stunned. Mind blank. Hurling the rod in seems futile. It never occurred to me I'd lose. After ten minutes of staring into space, I put up a 2½lb t/c rod and 14lb main line in a frenzy of displacement activity and catch another tench and two carp at 9lb and 14lb, but in truth I didn't really notice them, the colour drained from the day by the hardest fight I've even experienced.

Luckfield Lake all tench are good even when feeling bad Luckfield Lake 9lb consolation Luckfield Lake 14lb consolation
Luckfield Lake grey all grey Luckfield Lake all done

• December 2013. P.S. I've since learned of some very big eels in this lake, reliably reported to be up to 10lb . I wonder now, with hindsight, if this wasn't one such. A couple of carp anglers told me they've had runs from fish that just swam where they liked until snagged or broken, there were rumours of a catfish at one point. Nice to know there still be monsters.

2009 10th August 2009. I've not really got on with my 550Chapman 550, a new blank I bought last year and then built myself, with its two tone green whipping an Fuji rings (I know, I know). Two options then. Strip it and sell the blank. Or, I eventually decide, as I have an agate butt ring and Hardy white agate tulip tip (off the LRH No.3Which was, by the way, the first cane rod I ever owned), I get some traditional wire cradle guides and rebuild the rod in maroon with some bottle green trim and rings that seem to look better. Fish will tell if it's a successful transformation.

2009 16th August 2009. Luckfield Lake, not a blank. Technically. I didn't know Laurel and Hardy went fishing.

Nemp and I got here later PM and fish were cruising around unconcerned and we set up on the far bank with trembling hands...all was well until two lads turned up and spend half an hour knocking in pegs, rests and pods and then, bored, one started whacking the bank with a stick. Nemp stood up, which is quite a long way up and suggested quiet was the correct order of the day. Tool late for the fish, but eventually, after Abbot and Costello went on, I got one which fizzed about for a bit, then bit the mussel, and despite the LRH No 3Estimated T/C of 4lb+ and 12lb line on the 'pin, the hook came away on the first rush.

Luckfield Lake Luckfield lake comedy fishing Luckfield Lake Luckfield lake comedy fishing
Luckfield Lake Bubbling... Luckfield Lake ..got to love bubbling...

One late bite more or less impaled a careless roach of about 8oz, but that was the day done, could have been so good, with a little peace and consideration.

2009 19th August 2009. Heath Lake. This is the match lake, but with malice aforethought I took my Chapman 550 down there after it's re-vamp with maroon thread and cradle guides. Perhaps one coat of varnish short of a full finish. Tramped right around the far side, pausing to get a shot of two red deer at the limit of the camera zoom, passing some folk on the way home (at 3pm or so) then found a spot to set up and wait. I'd got a bit of bread and some mixers, some of which I'd soaked with some strawberry flavour.

After a bit the fish are moving enough and I spread a little bait around. I try for a bite with a dry biscuit with a home made controller but in the end decide I can cast far enough without it and switch to two cork balls (as bite indicators) and soaked biscuits. And that's the rig for the day which brings a score of carp from 3-8lb, a rudd and a roach.

Heath Lake The view from the far side Heath Lake Surprisingly good camouflage Heath Lake And a cracking bright-blue day as well...

I varied the hook size from 8's to 4's and back and varied baits from soaked mixer, crust, flake, dry mixer (the least successful). I get at least four from under the rod tip. That sounds like a five-hour caning (it was for the rod, which I like a lot better than previously), but I missed two takes for every fish and lost at least ten to hook pulls, using most of a white sandwich loaf. Match-lake fish can spit the bait out faster than you'd think.

2009 24th August 2009. I tramp about the fields most evenings (fending off the heart attack) and this is the time of year I circle around looking for the crow wing feathers, pheasant tails and the occasional buzzard primary. I've accumulated about 20 crow and two buzzard feathers so far and I'm waiting for the first road kill cock pheasant on the lane. Lots of quill floats in the making and a tinge of autumn in the air last night. So if you see a bloke wandering the Dorset fields with a bunch of feathers in his hand, it might be me. jaa...or, you know, it might not ;-)

2009 30th August 2009. Silent Woman Lake...with the Little-anglers. We all went, everyone had a rod and inbetween unhooking a variety of rudd, carp and crucians, baiting, passing around esential snacks, I casually bread-crust suckered out one very wonky grassy about 11lb, then a smaller grassy and a small but beautiful mirror out of the little black overflow all on the '550The 'JAA' Chapman 550. Fun for all, I don't know why there aren't more pictures really, then it got cold (really) and we tramped off.

Silent Woman Lake Very wonky indeed... Silent Woman Lake Not wonky... Silent Woman Lake Great looking fish

2009 31st August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Three hours of ebbing daylight, spent entirely in Peg 4, although using the lifeless 'Ugli Stik Avon', I managed a great little mirror from the only bite of the fabulous dusk.

Luckfield Lake Fishing under the tree again... Luckfield Lake Just another float picture... Luckfield Lake Autumn colours already?
Luckfield Lake Moon, moon, let it so be...
should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

2009 6th September 2009. Silent Woman Lake (Lower). I can't recall 'ought about this other than I fished the lower lake for a bundle of carplets and caught the larger carp from the overflow pond (all twenty leaf-mouldy square yards of it) on the '550Yep, the Chapman 550 again and a mixer, dangled over a bramble, nice fish in good condition as it happens.

Silent Woman Lake ...much like this purple-ish one Silent Woman Lake nice fish as it happens

2009 16th September 2009. ...A couple of mullet in the clear early morning water at the Brownsea Island Ferry - one of my less exotic trips on business, but huge fun...

Brownsea Island Sandbanks Ferry mullet Brownsea Island Sandbanks Ferry mullet

Spent a strange and enjoyable few hours padding around damp reed beds to old 'hides' seeing how much data I could get down several hundred yards of mains cable using PLCPower line communication (PLC) is a technology which uses existing electric power lines for data transmission, mostly by a form of magic or as we electronics types call it; 'Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing'. technology. The answer was, surpisingly, 'more than enough'.

2009 September 2009. "Moby Dick" by Herman Neville. star rating This was the second of my "Read an improving book while flying home." experiments. Yes, I know, a whale is not a fish. What on earth has this legendary tale of near psychotic obsession with a water-bound leviathan got to do with angli...oh, wait.

I have a confession to make. Three times I've tried to read this book now. The early chapters are finely drawn to the point where the smell of fish, fish stew and pipe tobacco infuses your brain and the cold touches your extremities. However, past the listing of the species of whale and once aboard the Pequod, I find myself unable to go on, my interested petering out like the land disappearing aft. 'Classic' it may be, but I'm not mothered to force myself to read on, when it feels like wading knee-deep where one might elsewhere run. Apologies to Herman Melville, but not it appears, my cup of tea, classic novel or not.

2009 28th September 2009. L'etang De La Morinais.

L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais

2009 29th September 2009. L'etang De La Morinais.

L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais
L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais L'etang De La Morinais
Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page) Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook

2009 1st October 2009.
'Soon to the sport of death the crews repair:
Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends
The barbed steel, and every turn attends.'

2009 October 2009. Breaking Up is Hard

I feel strongly about this - I hate being broken up. It's almost always self-inflicted at some level. Poor hands, unchecked knots or knot types, unchecked line, not paying attention and so on. If I think there's a good chance of being broken, I simply fish heavier. There are those who'd rather hook ten and land five, but for myself, I'd rather hook four and land four. I think it poor angling to aim for anything else. For me, being broken up is a failure. I hate it and there is no feeling like losing a decent fish, whatever the reason. Here are the exemplars and why they were my fault: