I got the carp bug this year to add to a surface fishing bug - I don't normally record catches in quite such detail, this came about when the owner of one of my regular waters asked if I'd mind keeping count to aid verifying the stock. I back-tracked the count and kept it going for the whole year. It's a year of, for the most part, single species fishing, but having taken to surface fishing big time, at least for this year, carp inevitably followed. It was the most fun I've had fishing for years. Anyway, the totals are recorded in the last entry for the year - this started as a record of Arfleet catches for the owner's information, but ended up as a running total. I won't bother again though.
The travelling really started to pall this year as well. The Shanghai jaunt was long, tiring with little novelty. Despite the album down the page, I spent most of the time exhausted and wanting to come home. I cannot remember anything about the hotel room in Taiwan at all. Glamourous eh?
JAA's Diary for...2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018
You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...·•·January·•·February·•·March·•·April·•·May·•·June·•·July·•·August·•·September·•·October·•·November·•·December·•·
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
1st January 2010. Higher Kingcombe. Happy New Year! I took the day out, arriving midday, and despite being below zero, the sun was out, in my eyes and the water in the club lake was as gin. At the car park end fish were visible lolling in the sun, some carp, some black-tipped chub. I could have charged down to the waters edge, but took stock, set up by the fence, five yards back. I sit down, put on a hook and flick crust into the water. Well you never know. A carp takes a bit after a nuzzle in front of me but the fish then vanish and the rest of the bread-flakes drifted down the lake to collect on a weed bed. One vanishes with a swirl. I cast a few yards short to drift under the breeze, with seven yards of line lying across the grass and fifteen yards on the water. Nudge, nudge, swirl and fish on. Not a carp, leaping suddenly and then led to my already stiffening net. So, a chub.
I move down to the edge, part screened by a grass-clump and continue to fling crusts about and the odd one goes, no pattern to the takes. There's a big swirl in front of me, the bread bobs untouched in the widening ripples. Fish are still moving down the lake and I lob a crust down there, after thirty minutes, I miss a take, try again and get a second chub, this one's bigger, maybe 3½lb. I wait, drink enhanced coffee and wait some more. Swirls to the right, just the other side of the weed, a pool of sorts where the spring runs in. I flick bread over the edge of the weed, and it barely drifts into the green-line and down it goes so get on my feet to lug the fish out of the weed, and it's another chevin 3¾ perhaps, feeding ahead of the carp.
|Such a beautiful day||A chub then||Another chub. Strangly satisfying||Yet another chub. Heh.|
Well it's winter. I try more coffee, bait a spot with hemp, flick a few crusts about and after 30 minutes the surface starts to pucker again and I stroll around the end of the pool to watch and sip coffee. I wander back to get my rod, net and bread and sit on the platform at the end and wait for another swirl and when it comes I flick a piece of the crust three yards past and leave it. Despite bright sun my hands sting in the cold air.
A dark back surfaces suspiciously and appears to envelop the bread at the second attempt. I bang the rod back to keep it out of the weed, keel-haul a leather into the net, 8lb perhaps. Ok then. Half the day is gone now and I muse of staying put of setting up on the far bank and fishing on the bottom and after Christmas cake, do just that. I spend ninnety minutes fishing with maggots and get a perch and this roach, a hybrid maybe, but it's slow and the jetsam of bread dotted in the weed is dimpling away a piece at a time. So I get back on the floating bread. In January in a -1°C.
I miss at least three, get one fish on after it's third run at the bread and the hook comes away, cold fingers and arms not striking properly. Self inflicted. With 30 minutes of light and three cups of coffee to go, I get a small leather, 3-4lb maybe, lynched out of the weed and skimmed across the top of it.
|A very pretty leather, clear water = pretty fish||Choach - not the only place there'yre been seen||Another carp off the top in -1.5°C|
I absorb warming reinforced coffee as the temperature falls, the net is stiff, the line freezes in the rings and still the fish are rising. I try for one of the bigger swirls and get a kink which turns into a gnarly ball on frosted mono and realise I'm doomed with that one and give in with the light fading and the thermometer at -2.5°C. The landing-net sections are frozen together and I finish my coffee standing by my car. Raw, bright, rimey fishing. Great stuff. [C/2/0]
3rd January 2010. The Porcupine Quill Float.
For some of us past a certain age, amongst our first set of meagre tackle there were only a few floats, if you were lucky...but how many do you really need? Unencumbered with the today's mandatory profusion of wagglers, puddle chuckers, dibbers and duckers, it's a miracle we caught anything.
In the olden days I had three (floats). A spectacular black painted 9" antenna, for proper fishing, the big porcupine quill and the small porcupine quill. For two years that was it. The small one was used for almost everything and took about one No 6 shot. The big quill looked fine, but I never cast that far and as for the antennae, well, it was just for looking at and dreaming.
The small one, battle-scarred, fished with me for years and still is one of the many kept around the place. The top was ORANGE. That's like orange but really loud. Jolly red-tipped quills are the thing for some, but all my early 'porcys' were ORANGE, so I stick with it. Fished 'top-and-bottom' with a float band it caught fish in streams and lakes with equal luck. For perch I fished near the bottom but if I'd a few maggots, then solder wire (liberated from Dad's toolbox) around the quill base made a self-cocker. I'd cast 25 yards (the furthest achievable with my 7' solid glass rod and Intrepid Challenger) at rising rudd in 'White HouseCorrectly 'Llyn Treflesg' created in the late 1930's' lake in AngleseyThe Isle of Anglesey. These impossible jewels, compared with our bog-standard 2oz perch, were never large, but still felt more of a prize. More worthy, almost proper fishing.
The same float caught my first tench, 1½lbs of stunned tinca, yanked Polaris like, out of the reedy margin of Carnau LakeAnother lake dug from marsh and old history, (the only tench caught that year by anyone in the club). Also my first perch, roach, rudd, eel, brown trout, sea trout, stickleback and flounder. Very possibly my first gudgeon, ruffe and bleak as well, but it's hard to recall.
This one below in fact, the eye formed with copper wire scrounged from a junction box. The tip was repainted a bit back, but it's retired for now.
|Literally hundreds of small perch, dozens of roach, rudd and eels plus a few flounders, brown trout and sea-trout|
This was my staple float, but then used a home made sliding 'porcy' to catch my second, third and fourth tench"Should have been twice that number...blasted jolly-boat. in 12' of water with a 9' rod. Then, in 1979 I read 'Stillwater Angling' and may be wrong, but the great man panned them as overrated. So I put them aside and used 'proper floats' for some time. But the old habits of youth have a way of embedding life-long and I kept a few, bought a few. And then I thought, well, "Who cares? I like them".
I admit that 'porcys' fished 'top-and-bottom' and flayed at the horizon, do tend to tangle. They're not good river floats, except for gentle gudgeon swims, unless you stick a cork around the middle or make a tip with a goose quill and they are not good shot carriers, being quite dense.
On the upside, they are pleasing to look at and robust and cast well with little shot. And, much, much more to the point, I like them. When I've got fiddling-time, I strip, whip, paint and tinker, no idea why. If you like, you can overcome the downsides with inserts. I've made 'porcys' with toothpick and carbon antennae, carbon stems and a few upside-down ones, as sensitive as any pole float. I've even whipped the tips with bright thread in lieu of paint. OK, I could 'get out more', but really, you can't have too many. Can you?
|Insert procupine quills, mostly tooth-picks and cocktail sticks||The whipped-tipped porcys - an idea, but never fished with||A bunch of unnecessary floats, my favourite is the one at the bottom.|
And while they're not always the best float for the job, unless they are the worst by some margin, I find myself reaching for one when tackling up...
So I give you: the porcupine quill float.
Many fishermens' first float. Many first-time fishermen's only float. The float of day-dreams.
|The Glenmorangie float tube. This was given a coat of thinned yacht varnish inside and out, then two 'full-strength' coats outside and one more in. Then a piece of plastic drainpipe was araldited inside which was EXACTLY the right diameter and a circle of cork sheet glued to the inside of the base. There are two green whippings around the top to stop the cardboard expanding there if it ever springs a leak. The top was made from a 5'' cork jar bung, turned to size using an electric drill in a vice.||New technology, old technology. You can have both. It's not a zero-sum situation.|
January 2010. "Carp and the Carp Angler" by George Sharman This is a book for the thinking angler, it's both excellent and thoughtful, but perhaps never received the plaudits it deserved, perhaps due to the long shadow of another book ('Carp Fever') released around the same time.
George takes us through his early carp fishing and then launches into well thought out discussions on catching fish in heavy weed and bubblers, especially those feeding in deep silt. Few lakes now have this kind of silt, but as I fish on two such, I can vouch for his reasoning. There is a chapter on knots and their effectiveness, which raises interesting questions then answers them with a new knot. The careful examination of hooks sharpened with a cutting edge and outward facing barbs (both tested on self modified hooks) is a testament to one who didn't take face-value on faith, as well as having you reach for the whetstone. He shows that winter fishing for carp was not the dead duck is was then thought to be. There are many gems hidden in here, I recommend it to all those who occasionally think "I know everyone does this, but I wonder if...?".
In the days of carp books, magazines and articles by the score, most of which are recycled sales pitches, this is a breath of fresh air and its age has not rendered it obsolete. Although just age alone renders nothing obsolete.
17th January 2010. Luckfield Lake.
I took myself with over, on the basis it had thawed a bit and there might be a chance of a winterfish, a cold water carp. It was balmy, relatively, considering the prolonged frost, and had been for a week, but the water was still half-iced on the south side, the side of the least sun and after a moment or two, opted for the north corner swim as it would get sunlight all day and has lily beds, although they've died back and the long fallen autumn the leaves don't accumulate here, as the east bank gets most of them...but it was taken so opted for two swims down the bank, NNE if you will. I passed another angler on the east bank, who was enjoying the sun, but had tried both flavours of boilies and even popped one up without even a touch. Hard going then.
I opted to put some cockles in the lee of a leafless alder on the right hand side of my swim, a modified pole float and 10lb line with a braid hook-link, two feet of it, blacked to match the winter bed. After an hour a big fish rolled under the ice fringe, 50 yards distant, creating a small symphony of creaks intermingled with the muted jingles of broken ice. It nosed up and down the melting fringe, perhaps picking off falling food. I'd like to have twitched a bait off the fringe, but anything heavy enough to get to the middle of the lake would have punched a hole in the ice on landing, and while it might have been possible to get a bait over from the ice side, retrieving the fish presents a set of challenges I declined. Ba-doosh! The boilie chap is casting every 35 minutes and is nearer my swim than his, but I'm just around the corner, so out-of sight etc.
|'relatively' I said||pretty in the sun||tricky spot|
Oh well. It's mostly millpond still, with the occasional cold breaths spinning up a few indolent water devils, but then for about two hours midday my nerves tingle and so keep the rod across my knees, hand clamped on the 'pin-rim. The float wanders a bit and at one point something plucks the water surface almost directly under the float, leaving a spreading ring of slow waves. Despite this, nothing else approaches a bite and as the best part of the day recedes, try bread, maggots, a big bunch to see if anything is feeding (it isn't) and luncheon meat fried in tikka powder. As the slight warmth sinks into the ground, I remember my flask and chain drink my Talisker-buttressed Earl Grey, eat some of the bread and catty a couple of bits of crust toward the ice rim. Well you never know, but they drift untouched, Celeste like. Nothing doing and even the ice-breaker has vanished into the deeps. One by one the other souls depart, all as fish-less as I, so pack up with the float pulled into the margin where the tip is visible, black against the dusk sky's reflection, as I sort and put away. Last out as usual.
|no winterfish here||last one out, put out the lights|
23rd January 2010. Silent Woman Lakes.
As it's warmed a bit I take maggots to Silent Woman for an unabashed dibble on the small lake for carplets and rudd. It's almost impossible to miss out here and I just fancied a light rod, the Chapman 500 and a small pin (I admit to a Kingpin Regency in Bronze, recently purchased and loaded with 4lb Maxima) and some gentle snatching (steady matron).
I sit at the east end of the lake, which I have to myself, as it's the least water-logged and just fish a pole float, a size '14' with two maggots and loose feed a little hemp, maggots and corn. In between doses of fresh brewed coffee laced with Quinta Ruban and slices of a most excellent Turkey-and-cranberry pie, I manage to catch a dozen or so rudd and small common carp in the 2-4oz range and then switch to a '12' with a big bunch of maggots and alternate this with corn and bread flake. Mid afternoon the grey clouds change direction and the wind veers around to the north, the temperature slinks and it gets slowly colder, noticeable only when moving stiffened limbs. Keeping score in my head there were 16 carp to 8oz, 15 rudd, with one nice one of 6-8oz perhaps. I get one larger carp at about 2lb on corn which gives an average account of itself, but at least it pulled of line against the ratchet.
|weak milky-tea water||more tea-coloured water||skinny fish|
I've had worst days fishing mid-winter and finish my reinforced coffee and squelch back to the car in daylight, warmed by the walk and grounded for another week.
31st January 2010. Court Barn. Cold. Twenty-five perch, roach and rudd. Some odd carp observed. Biting wind, carp skimming about in the clear water, no pictures, no frost-bite, but only just.
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
6th February 2010. Heath Lake. Topologically instructive low water levels and I managed to winkle out a small carplet at the chilly windward end, missed several fish at the lee end, then like a dog chasing a butterfly, tried to catch fish off the surface for over an hour...
|Not as warm as it looks...||...in fact pretty chilly.||The other angler|
|The chilly end in the north wind.||The carplet||The quill and the breeze||Very shallow, fish there, not playing ball.|
14th February 2010. Milton Abbey. Receding weed (I hope) and some roach to 1lb, and two tench which came off the hook, well, I wasn't quite expecting them.
|The Pump Pool and it's weed.||The dogwood||The second best roach||The best roach|
25th February 2010. Green Flag.
Before 8am I sit in a coffee shop (where have all the caff's gone?) with what passes for breakfast, an ersatz fry-up toastie plus coffee (Italian for coffee? Go to Italy, they have the mutt's knuts coffee wise) and look at the décor, a basket of baguette slices and think, "they'd make good floating baits". In some Cambridge industrial estate, from the customer's coffee room, I look into the lake, clear water and leave hooks in my conversation for the other angler's and get a small bite, telling me there's rudd and a few carp, but the other lake in the middle has even more rudd and they're worth a look from the ornamental bridge. Always good to hear about rudd...
...behind the Holiday Inn in Basildon there's a lake and ten minutes into a completely dud meeting, I'm struggling not to watch the right sort of warming wind chopping the water against the far left hand corner, where I know there'll be something to catch...
...on the A34 at Beedon just off the southbound exit, there is small water hole, storage, irrigation, something like that, years old, 20 at least. I'd always wondered about it holding fish and even at 1am, as I pass it in the dark, I wonder still. The Kennet at Newbury then, Stockbridge, with its Test threaded pavements and bread-fed illegal immigrants. Then the Bourne, the Avon, the Ebble, the Stour, nearly home...
...my day's guide and myself leave Santiago de CompostelaStunning, beautiful and atmospheric and its statue of Cervantes. Due to a refuelling detour, we cross the Rio Minho at ValençaValença by the old international bridge and my guide is telling me about how his parents crossed this bridge when he was a child and how there used to be a street market at the bridge-end, I store this for later while looking at the river and wondering about the swirling possibilities below. The fortress with its thick-faced walls and banks though is both extraordinary and imposing, built to withstand and repel, an impassive 'by invitation only' statement for the Spaniards of old...
...at the regular restaurant, well past lunch hour, someone else's phone call meanders, so I lean over the car park dry stone wall and on the other side at the bottom of a cut is a familiar pond, but today earth is being bulldozed towards the water, which ripples as dry soil slides down the new scree-slope. When the dump-truck departs for more infill and the sliding mass skitters to a halt, the reeds still flicker and wave, panicking fish in a shrinking world, buried before the end of the day.
Dropped at Oporto, time to squander in this most sterile of airports, I walk outside, away from the terminal and lean against a concrete bastion, one end of the half arch/half beam that supports the roadway above and let the sun warm my face. It's not quite spring, in the UK at least, but in Portugal it's warm and the roads are green lined and it doesn't need much of a leap to imagine a favourite swim with long grass, a fresh green smell, a slightly metallic scent of budding blackthorn either side and new pads swaying with heavy shapes below them. I'll overtake Jack-o'-the-Green on the flight back though. After a while I go back into the glasshouse, start up the big technology and fill out a holiday form. Warm enough before the close season for a couple of days among the spring shoots and the early risers, after Jack's been around the lake to wake it. Yeah...
...on the metal tube home, the first track out of the small technology is J.J.Cale's "The Old Man and Me". What are the odds? (FAPP'For All Practical Purposes' 1 in 1852).
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
7th March 2010. Revels. I'd got a day off more or less and so volunteered for a car park building detail at least for the pm at a new pool. I turn up to find any work that I might have helped with, long over, and the gravel en route and machines to do the rest. I take a chance to look at the pool with some bread in my pocket and even in a raw March wind, see nothing that might be a fish, big or small. Pretty enough come spring but with few fish and allegedly only carp.
I head for Revels with the rod packed in case I was offered a go on the new water (was, but declined, as I saw little prospect) and so tried the main lake at Revels, although I had the place to myself. I picked a deep hole and spent 90 minutes missing one tweak on worms admittedly on 8lb line and a stiff rod for the job. I stuck on a narrow mono cast, technically nearly 7lb, but with a '14' and pieces of bread light enough to get bites (eventually after trying corn, meat, worms...) in the last 90 minutes nipping out seven roach to a 1lb, a bream and a couple of 1lb carp. OK for a light carp rod and 8lb line...but had planned to try using the bread on Court Farm Barn for the carp...
By the end, under dressed, no flask, nine days of short nights and a month of antibiotics, I was trying to suppress shivers with limited success and so headed for the car heater, which luckily enough was in the car.
March 2010. A Stream of Life by Bernard Venables. Interesting. As much to read between the lines as on them.
March 2010. Rod and Line by Arthur Ransome. The stories are in some respects unremarkable, but they are of course, beautifully written.
21st March 2010. Court Farm Barn. The usual hat-full of rudd and perch and after an hour of teasing, one of the carp, gulled on a double mixer biscuit soaked with some hemp juice, the others however, then vanished for the day...[C/1/0]
|Very pretty fish|
28th March 2010. Upper Sharnhill. Another new water which I nipped onto for a couple of hour pre-work-party on Lower Sharnhill. It turns out there are plenty of small carp from 2oz-8oz as well as some larger, plus a few crucians. Nothing touched surface baits but after some time I was able to nab a few small ones off the bottom with bits of bread flake, with a few went for worms and maggots.
|Still not spring||Winter tree|
Any attempt at larger fish was defeated by the smaller, so a large hard bait required...then shifted a cwt of clay which left me on the stiff side on the morrow. Getting older's a bu88er.
|Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of...(and back to the top of the page)||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.|
4th April 2010. Lower Sharnhill. I might just be the first one to fish here for 15 years...
This is a rare treat, an almost virgin water, although I paid for this chance with a day or two of painkillers. I set up on the south bank, it's sunny, warm enough for early spring and a good south-west breeze but not a strong one and there's shade from the late morning sun. I try a float with lobs and maggots working on the basis that the un-fished lake will respond better to natural baits. Nothing moves or looks likely for an hour save for a single twitch. I wonder around to the west end, the inlet and shallow end and spot a carp head down in the silt. I slide back to my float road, grab the worms and slink back and spend about an hour trying to get a catch one of what turns out to be three or four fish shovelling in the silt. I try big lobs and maggots with shot to mire the bait in the ooze, but whether the fish couldn't find the baits or they were preoccupied I couldn't tell. I go back to the original spot and miss a bite, then get a succession of denuded hooks without a hint of float movement, whole bunches of maggots stolen away one by one. Odd.
|...a nice spot...||...go on, go on...||notice the high steep bank||a movement in the west corner of my eye...over there|
There's a movement in the west corner of my eye - a slow rolling fish's pectoral in the shallows. Hm. I decide to try bread, despite reservations the fish have never seen any. I fire crusts and after some inspection fish take them, so I take the floater rod back west and moving under the high bank, sit halfway down the tussocks and flick out a bait, which is ignored by succession of fish, including two ghost carp. Eventually, after several tries, I put a piece of bread right on a patch of weed and flick larger bits around it. As tradition dictates the loose offerings are cleaned up one at a time until the bait remains, but it is taken, boldly in the end, by the larger of the ghost carp and although weedy, it's shallow and I've got 12lb line and a 12 foot rod...9lb perhaps.
I try for a while for another without success the fish having bolted from the disturbance. However they started to play in the weed on the south bank, so I go back around the long way, get my gear and set up camp in the shade of the leylandi-lites (which in a perfect world would be yew) and drink tea while the fish liven up.
|...the ghostie||...dinky fish||a bit more like it||you never know|
I then quite quickly get two fish on bread, one, 3lb, ten minutes pass then the other, more like 7lb. Quiet then, for a spell, so fish the float for a bit and get a bold bite and land a scrappy fish about 1lb, which I return unsnapped.
|better||a good way to finish||perfect|
After a while I pick off a larger fish, 8-9lb maybe, towards the islands, which burrows into the weed and silt but keel-hauled out and after an hour passes, this smaller fish, about 5lb, again bullied out of silt and weed stalks. Deciding this is a good return and with the light diluting, I tramp back up the field. [C/5/1]
5th April 2010. Luckfield Lake. I took a quick afternoon as the sun was out and headed over, swiping half a loaf of sandwich white en passant. I mooched around the lake, disturbed a grass snake sliding up the bank into the leaf mould, and spotted fish under trees at the opposite end to the two residents and plonked myself in that swim with the most fish. Despite the most careful of set ups the three dark shapes and a Cheshire Ghostie came and went.
I tried a piece of crust and this immediate drifted towards me, away from the tree branches, so I plucked out the hook squeezed on some flake and resolved to fish this on the bottom free-lined while I set up a float rod. Of course the sinking bait floated and I watched it for a bit and decided to fish out the first crust, by now bobbing by my feet, to deprive and dissuade the ducks from visiting. As I scooped the soggy bread, the water exploded by my non-sinking flake, spraying me, and making me grab for the rod, but it never moved, and of the bread there was no sign. Bu88er.
I put on a float and set up the hex Avon with some cockles and made a patch of hemp to put it in. The float twitched once or twice, even disappearing once, but nothing came of my strike but in the meantime I trickled odd bits of crust, when the ducks were not looking, into the tree on my left. These were quietly picked off. So, eventually I picked up the floater rod, edged around to the other side of the tree and flat against the bushes, dropped in a crust which was stealthily sucked down in a minute. I quickly pulled it out of the fishes mouth to avoid hooking it.
I tried again, but this time lowered the crust (size 6 hook, 12lb line) over a handy branch, leaving the crust on the surface with no line to show my intentions. I have to wait 5 minutes this time, time to recall that the fish here mostly suck a bait under, wait a moment to see what it does and then bolt it...I waited an infinitely long ½ second until the line pulled again, and thumped the rod up, bait only three feet from the brushwood snagfest.
There was a scuffle and some splashing and a passing assistant netted a small common, 6lb maybe with spawn on board. Good-oh. I wandered around the lake again, pausing only to loose a hook on a blackthorn branch, and returned to my chair and my flask to watch the float sitting still, while I did the same.
Just as I was thinking the wind and sun setting had conspired to cool the water too much, there as a slurp behind my left elbow. I peered carefully around the grass and saw a nose poking in the margin, next to an old Harcork float body (which I took home). Moving slowly I dropped in a piece of bread and the fish snatched it, scared itself, and bolted with a swirl. I hoook a bit on the floater rod and waited, and in the end went back to the float leaving some bread in the margin. Fifteen minutes went by and a cloop hade me peering again, and further off where a bit of bread had been, was a bit of pink plastic sweetcorn which bobbed once as an afterthought, but was wisely rejected.
I re-cast keeping the rod still across my knees and flicking the bait by hand, getting it close to the ersatz fluorescent green giant, perhaps only 10 feet away. Nothing happened for five minutes then the water boiled from a foot away, the bread went with a 'clop' and I said "one elep-", struck and it went mad for a minute with the fish thumping for the tree roots for a determined minute, restricted by the fixed radius of line. Then it swung out, dived into old lily roots, was wrenched out and whanged into the net before it got its bearings. And here it is, 15½lb of mirror, one of RW's MC crosses perhaps.
|small common, 6lb maybe||15½lb of mirror, one of RW's MC crosses perhaps|
Good enough, I tackle down, swap some words with a fellow dusk-haunter and head off. [C/2/1]
11th April 2010. Arfleet. Odd day. I went for the back pit, my habit when it's deserted and set up at the bottom end getting nothing for my pleasure but a string of shots of the deer, often seen if you sit quietly here (and with a veil on).
|...only against the bank||..? I thought I heard summat?||Nah, must have been my imagination.||...nom nom nom...|
I shifted to the other end after a bit, and couldn't get a take there either, trying every variation on floater fishing I could think of. Ah well, the time fled suddenly with the light snapping at its heels and the tea was untouched so I switch to the front pit and after a walk around, set up on the bank to drink tea.
|...yeah, see I did hear somthing.||grey dusk||grey dusk||...at last...|
Eventually, with the light almost gone, the optimistic crust against the reeds vanished, although in that grey it might have been a trick of the light. But it wasn't. [C/1/0]
13th April 2010. Small Pleasures. If the timing is not upset, then between making my and Mrs. AA's morning cuppa and two thick white slices of buttered t., then just as I'm finishing the second buttery slice the brew is at exactly the right level of hot and wet to really .................aaaaahhhhh, hit that spot. Perfection again today.
By-the-bye, this chap was parked by the winterbourne.
|Ratty||Ratty's mid-afternoon snack|
15th April 2010. The Bait Box.
A Feral Angler's blog. Or should that be Feral Angling? Either way it's Feral (a.k.a. The Shanghai Lily). Drop in tune out. Something like that. Dull it's not. Welcome back on line W.
16th April 2010. Arfleet. I have a "eff 'em all day" and take myself to Arfleet to sit in the sun and shade...I arrive at the back pit three-ish and at the bottom end the fish are about, taking in the sun. I slide into a spot over a rod length back from the bank with clumps all but hiding me and flick in a few pineapple floaters (supermarket mixer soaked in pineapple juice). These go, despite some nascent edginess and I delay a rod for a picture and miss by a shutter the adder that swims across the group of fish nearest me. It sussurates into the reeds on my left. Uh-huh.
It is idyllic with the place to myself, there is more wildlife that you can shake a stick at, the water is cool and deep, concealing immoveable snags and legendary disused clay pit workings. The water is always thick enough to hide the biggest fish, not often seen or caught.
I try, entranced, to catch the surface feeders. Wiser than they look, despite taking free bread and floaters all afternoon, baits are nudged, ignored and abandoned. I drop down to 6lb line with a size '10' with a single floater. I try big bolts of flavoured bread, plain bread and semi-zigged floaters (a single size 6 shot three feet under the floating bait) and in desperation a suspender float. Might have had a rise on crust at one point. Nevertheless, rapt from the fish that variously weave, porpoise silently and cloop all afternoon, I persist, hearing only distantly the scrit of the squirrels, the yaffle, the deer picking their timid way through last autumns leaves. I assign every rustle at my feet to the snake and assume my near hypnotic state is a by product of the lazy buzzing of the early bumblers. I glance at my watch once at twenty-to-six and then, as the temperature falls, again at five-to-seven and gave in to the inevitable, which the limbic brain flagged some time ago.
|come on, chuck us a crust mate?||we can see you...||neh neh neyeh neh...||Might eat a crust later. Might not.|
I remember the tea, meander to the lower lake, sit on the new bank drink several cups of the previously forgotten EGrey and watch my decoy crusts along the reed margin for 40 minutes and as the light leaks out I stroll to the monk with my flake, lob it into the scum in the corner and as I watch a big fish, nearer twenty than 15, dibbles in the water 10 feet from me. I reel stealthily, lose the bait and of course the loaf is 15 yards away. I walk as quietly as possible to get more bread and of naturally the fish is gone when I return. By now the light is cobwebs in my face and wanting to brush it away so I could see, realise it's time to go.
18th April 2010. Luckfield Lake. Due to a sudden vanishing of the brood I find a few hours to take half a loaf, bread-bin sacked, for a quick walk around the lake. Two residents are installed when I arrived, the inevitable double rod emplacement in the swim nearest the car park and a chap fishing in the swim the furthest away, both of the above lit up by bright blue, white and red clothing. Whatever happened to 'keeping out of sight'?
I try look at a swim on the way around to the far side and spot a carp under tree branches, so I don't linger but get on behind the tree, tackle up with the 12lb and a size '4' and drop the insouciant blimp a bit of crust, which lands more or less on it's nose, but it doesn't seem to mind. I keep back behind the branches and brambles and wait. Five minutes saunter past and nothing stirs, but for a large tail that signs a big "V" to me from the middle of the open swim. Eventually the fish of my desire sucks gently twice at the bread and then sinks down a few inches, sulking. I waited (see the return journey of the 'Victory' carp) and when it was clear it wasn't going to play I remove my bait spooking Mr. Indifferent and free line cockles while trying to lure the bigger fish out from under the tree with pineapple dog biscuits. This doesn't work so I head for the far side where the fish are playing, stopping at the other visitor and finding him fishing floating crust on a waggler, a good wheeze. He's had one 5lb or so. I move on round, slip as quietly as I can into a swim and flick a few baits in under the trees, carefully position a crust by flicking the line over a bare branch (careful with this, strong tackle required).
The grass snake is about as usual and the sun is warm on the strong-tea water and the fish are moving. Three doubles pass me and after an eternity of sitting immobile with my hat pulled down a big head looms out of the depths, sucks inquiringly at the bread and then sinks again, leaving my heart pounding as it's comfortably north of 15lb. Two other commons turn up moving horizontally this time, and one tries for the bread and I wait for it to go and move too soon leaving the bread for the fish and I wait for it to be mopped up before removing my hook from the tree.
(Tip 1: get one of those weed cutter blades and a gaff-head. With those and a 12ft landing net handle you can retrieve almost any line up a tree. The other good trick is to get the hook though the rod tip ring. You can usually draw it toward you, snip of the hook, and the line will nearly always pull through the branches without a hook on it.)
I try again, ignoring the fish clearing up the bait to my right. I could get bait in but there's a pliant cage of green wood which would make extraction impossible without a eight foot whopper-stopper and 17lb line, neither of which I have to hand. Another wait and a cream flank goes past just of the bank and presumably doubles back under the tree and pulls at the bread once, twice and under and I managed to hook it this time, and it tries very hard to get under the tree to my left and this is where a 12ft x 2½lb rod comes in handy, and then after a few runs and lunges I scoop it out, bite the line, 10lb perhaps, although I leave the scales in the bag.
|...waiting...||about 10lb...||...cleared the area alright|
So, missed one hooked one. I put on some pineapple floaters and wait for a bit on the same branch, but the ruckus has cleared the area so I make my way to the corner, (grass snake again, where is the camera?), and drop bread under one tree with four fish, which they ignore, and then try for one of the two upper doubles cruising in the branches on my right. I flick out some bread, not perfect, but it'll do and I wait. The fish mooch about, seemingly not spooked. I glance under the tree to my left and a loud 'thoop' tells me of a missed big positive take...
A deep breath...I re-bait and spend the next 20 minutes trying for a re-take without a nibble and then only a few feet in front of me a snout materialises out of the brown water and sucks gently at a catkin. I flick the hook out of bread, replace it and drop it four feet to the right of the vanished fish and wait. I don't have to wait long and up it comes, takes the bread first time and I wait until it turns and blows a small cloud of crumbs and strike hard and away from the branches. It dives hard, I hang on letting the rod absorb the repeated jags for the woodwork, then it goes slack and my hook pings into the tree behind my left shoulder. Bu88er. No time left, so a good time to mooch off.
(Tip 2: If you are really quiet and wear some real tree type jacket, olive everywhere else, pull yer hat brim down and keep still, you can catch carp only six feet away. It works even better with a net over the bonce [bee keeping veil in black or an old round landing net mesh], your hands out of sight from the water and no rod hanging over the edge.)
Note to self, need stout stalking rod just like an LRH No. 3. Oh, wait... [C/1/1]
20th April 2010. The dearth and death of Stren Original. I'm a fond user of Stren Original clear, as compared with almost every other line I've tried it's limper, has better knot strength and is tougher. Compared with Fox Soft Steel for example, if you pull this line across a branch it shreds up the surface (so the 'soft' bit seems good but the 'steel' bit seems a bit over zealous), but not with Stren. It's close to invisible in the water (as much as any flouro). In short it's the best all round line I've ever used and I'm counting Maxima. Now Purefishing have told me they don't carry it in UK as the demand is not there. Are you sure? Are you sure you just don't want to sell something else that's not as good? (I can have Blood Red apparently but this just looks black under water so not clear as such). It's one of the top lines in the US, you can even buy it in Walmart. But not here any more. So I have two choices. Deprive Berkeley of my money or import it myself from America. Great call by Purefishing, which will cost them 100 quid of my money as I re-stock.
21st April 2010. Monty Dalrymple and the View From Yat RockNot a rant. Oh no.. This is a good time to say "take a look at this as long as you are not overly sensitive". It's well worth a look.
23rd April 2010. Lower Sharnhill. St. George's day. Why are there dragonsEurope, India, China, Middle East, they're everywhere...but I have a theory?
I take a spur-of-the-moment half day holiday, bundled a loaf into the bag and tramped across the fields to the lake with a floater rod, a flask and a 'pin to go with the Avon. My plan was to fish on the bottom and divert for the fish on the top.
|....from the south bank opposite the island||View of the north corner, from the south bank||Some carp mooching in the weeds, north of the island||View from the north corner of the lake - last knockings||View from the north-east corner of the lake at dusk - best time of the day|
I settled on the south bank in front of an evergreen, keeping me off the skyline and even without bait the fish are poking around in the weed and the 50p sized embryonic lily pads. I stick on a size 6, 12lb through and skitter two carp out around the 4-5lb mark, skull dragged through the weed. Half an hour in and two up. Despite the bundle in the margins, fish are still about despite the very hot sun, so I try to the left and after some delay and two missed takes bank a couple of fish in the 1-1½lb bracket, setting a pair-pattern for the day...I go right again and miss several takes on bread, partly due to the curst crust on the loaf rendering the bread soluble in five minutes and partly the thick weed, which has the fish munching at the beard, seeming not able to get a clear run at it. I try further to my right, against a small path of vegetation with clear water around. I get a take right away, and the fish power dives into the bottom and the hook hold goes. I mutter something rude, try again and the same thing happens. All in pairs today.
I put on mixer biccies with added hemp and in the same spot get two in quick succession which got the full Monty strike, both about 1½lb...then takes tail off and after a bit I put 0.24mm on the 12lb main and get miss two takes, up the hook to a size 4, and get two about 5lb. Two by two...the sun is dipping a bit and the biccies are harder to spot than a really hard to spot thing on the same colour background, so put three floaters on one hook then miss take after take for too long, so I call it quits and head for the east end to fish off the bottom. I don't of course, fish are about so I put on a lump of bread and fling it right, watch it for a long 15 minutes then it bobs several times, vanishes and as I lift the rod the line is arrowing off. This fish, free of weed, bore into the middle pulling 12lb line off a clutch set at 3lb or so for 30 yards. Then it swings about and I'm dingbat winding, then to the right, more line torn of the reel. At the end of a violent five minutes leaving bits of weed and boils of silt all over the water in front of me I net a thrashing common, a little over 10lb. Pick of the day.
I ought to bottom fish the dusk but with enough movement on the top to entice, I try again, a bit further out and the next take is like the first, but this fish fights harder than the first, blistering pace and extraordinary power and after the dust settles, the fish is not even as the previous, a lean mirror of 6lb, but I've had less trouble with fish at twice that weight. Amazing. Lacking perspective now and spurred on by the big double that stands briefly on its tail before slooping into the middle, I fish the disintegrating bread until it's too dark...I manage a few cups out of the flask, remembering it only in the last hour.
carp #1, 4-5lb...1
carp #2, 4-5lb...2
carp #3, 1-1½lb...3
carp #4, 1-1½lb...4
#8, what is this two-by-two thing?...8
best fish today, a little over 10lb...9
lean, mean, swimming machine......10
With hindsight, four were lost to hook-pulls and missed as many as banked but here small carp plague, nudging and nurdling baits, some over 1lb can take bait, but are hard to hook with baits meant for their grandparents and great-grandparents. I MUST bottom-fish the lake for the bigger fish, before it's boilie bu88ered. [C/10/1]
25th April 2010. Silent Woman...a determined attempt to catch a fish from the top lake yields a lot of visible fish and two on the bank....inevitably caught with floating baits. [C/2/0]
|I went around the back of the lake and fed mixers. Fish took them, but any with a hook got ignored or nudged.||At one point, after adding a small bubble float to fish near the island, a carp took the whole bubble float on a whim. Wierd.||The first of these fat carp came on a mixer on a size 10, which I fished over the top of some soft rushes - having telegraphed its presence with some determined 'clooping'. I was using (perhaps for the only time in anger) a Fox Floater Special, which I didn't like at all. I'd also put on a 5lb pre-stretched hook-link and so had to play the fish with some care.||This fish came at about 40 yards. Rising fish had followed my mixers into the body of the lake and I'd underarmed a large piece of flake into the flow, which sunk suddenly with no warning...again played with some care. I've had worse days. Don't like the rod, the abrupt change in action between the very bendy tip and the stiffer middle is really not very nice.|
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
2nd May 2010. The Hardy LRH No.2 9'6" Salmon Rod
I bought this in 2010 as it was known to be a 'useful' carp rod. It had clear agates all the way up and a wire butt-ring which was odd, but still. One of the clear agate intermediate rings was cracked so I passed it onto a rod-restorer to get a 'proper job' on it. I had to chase it endlessly to get it back and in the end, well, I can do better myself and it was just as if one of the other rings was now cracked. I'm not doing that again.
I changed the 'new' cracked one in annoyance, then put the rod on the wall. Two years later I got it down, put Low 'Bells' on the top section on the opposite face - the rod had a 'set' and 'agates' are heavy and possibly are not really required. I then used it to catch five carp to 9lb, two very feisty pike in the 4-5lb range and a gaggle of 'pasties'. It's rather nice, easy but powerful. The reel-seat could do with being 5" nearer the butt though. Fish over 6lb only I'd say. Strike hard...best with a 'pin and fish close in.
I miss it. I'd like another, a good one, with fully sliding reel-bands, so I can place the reel to make best use of the length, plus I'd fit titanium rings. I think it would be even better then. to Haydn, always better to see a rod used.
3rd May 2010. Arfleet. OK, a bit floater fixated again but an 11lb common on the float rod for a change.
|pretty||one off the bottom for a change||go on, go on, go on...|
|the back pit #1||the back pit #2|
More work required on the top fish in this lake but they like one flavour more than the others for sure - pineapple (+ yellow) is good, but strawberry (+ red) scares them off. [C/1/1]
9th May 2010. Arfleet. What's really annoying about today was that I had a plan, and having set up a bottom rod, failed to watch the float properly, as I was scanning for surface feeders. Consequently I lost my first fish after 30 minutes when a lumbering troll, wondered away with my float-and-corn and the hook came away, as I'd failed to strike properly and lost my second the same way 20 minutes later for the same reason, although this fish was half the size of the first. So forsaking the obvious, I then tried to alternate between the two methods and stuffed them both up, and missed four, count them four "sitter" takes on floating pineapple mixers. I could only get a take with the line sunk, but really...at 7:45 with two hours of dusk to come, I quit and headed home. Some days nothing seems to sync. up.
12th May 2010. Pig. Out on the lawn last night combing for lobs and stabbing slugs that were sizing up the veg. plot and stumbled across a hedgehog. When we first moved in in here, they were everywhere, scuffles on the lawn were regular and any casual heap of cuttings was as likely as not to have a snoozing hedgehog under it come morning. Hopefully this means they're making a comeback.
13th May 2010. Common Ground.
Otterbourne Church is very old school, borderline pre-reformation with its cruciform decoration - I'm early, of course, so pop into the yard, pay my respects to 'Old Bob', then walk up the hill. Halfway up, a jay skips across the road in front of me, so scour the path for forest-sapphires, there are none, although I take the carrier of the riches as a good omen of sorts. Just before the woods proper start, there used to be a resting place and a bench that overlooked a horse-field and in the distance the old churchyard and the Itchen at Brambridge, but the bench has gone and the woods are stealing down the hill, which is not a bad thing in the end. I feel I know every bluebell, fern and the Shute's round pebbles. The Roman road south out of Winchester cuts across here, but not many folk know that. At the top of the Shute on the rabbit-mown grass of the common are three large of the same, who all stop to look at me, forty yards off, not remotely worried by a person without a dog. 'Old Bob' had a soft spot for rabbits in general, despite a realistic attitude to any specific rabbits' worth, which is about half a good pie (two wood pigeons being the other half) and like many real countrymen knew them for what they are, furry locusts. Nevertheless, he once said that he liked to see them about and I'm the same. The common is the same now, at least the half backing onto the oak-woods, as it was forty years ago, probably more than that. I walk across the springy turf, on which I've variously played cricket, lounged and courted and stand for a while watching the cottages and what used to be the Welstead's Store. And then it's time.
|...well I could see rabbits||still the same Shute|
I descend The Shute, resisting an urge to cut diagonally through the woods down the path which actually comes out nearer Brambridge than Otterbourne and meeting some of the others at the Church, I go in to bid my farewells.
I go to Beeches Brook with two four-piece rods on the way home, where I plan to clear my head, my Kung Fu is weak it seems and although catching rudd to 1lb easily enough I miss several carp on the float and despite enticing two surface takes from very decent fish, lose them both, to a leader knot and a hook pull. So in the end, as the dusk settles like a cloud, the day really didn't pick up at all. I choose a play-list on the small technology for the car, getting 'Rock Island', apposite and then "She Said she was a Dancer' which makes me smile and then "Mountain Men" which is about right and I coast home in the dark. Sometimes I would drive all night in the dark with just my record collection. But don't this time.
20th May 2010. Arfleet. A bit of a twiddle on the front lake for a change bagged me a nice common from the lily pads behind the island, but not before missing a ghostie. After a period of watching the motionless weeds, I slipped over to the inlet right at the back and lobbed a crust over the yard wide strip of weed in the middle of it. I hunkered on the grass bank and waited...and must have sat there for 20 minutes and then the grey dusk light tightened up imperceptible and the bread blinked out at the end of it and a tightly spaced struggle resulted in this a little over 10lb common, looking more like one of the back pit fish.
|...suckered||...always good to sit in wait||weedy|
|flat padded calm||dusk and reeds|
That was it, not even movement and I'm left with my tea watching the weeds as the light leaves for the night. [C/2/1]
23rd May 2010. Luckfield Lake. Three each. Long odds. It's hot, but not so hot I wouldn't sit in the sun at the lily-peg. Despite swirling cruisers, which I assume are sucking in tadpoles underneath the lily pads, floating baits get zero interest. The water is covered with fluff, looking surface paradise, but fish are not even interested in 'en passent' inspection. I consider a size '10' wide gape, a 7mm corkball and a black marker pen as an ersatz tadpole to prove my theory (I don't have the heart to live-bait tadpoles), but a size '10' would stop no carp by a lily patch. Thirty minutes pass with free bait disdainfully left, so put up the Avon and fish on the bottom with cockles. My hat is carefully filtering the light from the big fusion reactor, leaving enough heat to make sweat run down my face and back.
|never looks bad||'ullo mate, got any bread?||fluffy, fluffy all around...||...yellow float, good choice dummy.||hot hot hot|
I watch the shadows creep left to cover me, 90 minutes pass, during which the underpad waltz on the further lily patch increases in tempo, so catty out bread, watch the float and look back when the corner of my eye spots the swirl-and-ripples. Oho. I ship the rod in, put crust and a pinch of flake (to cover the hook) on the size '2' and whip it out. The take is violent and I really lean back and drag the fish out of the soft stems and as the fish whirls obligingly in front of me, a good fish, 15lb or so, I reach for the net, it strives sideways right and the line breaks, at the hook knot; 14lb 'Vanish' that. Apt. I vanish it into 6" pieces and put 12lb 'Stren' on. I'm unforgiving about line, that's the second fish flouro knots have cost me this year and even a Palomar is only good to 70% and 70% of 14lb is less that the 11.8lb with 'Stren' and a 'uni knot'. Bugger it. I wait for 15 minutes or so, watching my float again, which tantalises once then the lily-pad lambada strikes up again, so fire out a couple of hints and cast again.
After a short interval, down it goes and I work this one as hard as the first and once under the rod tip, rather more tightly controlled, net this 17lb common. Annoying though it is to lose a fish, this is bigger and if I'd landed the first, wonder if I'd have taken this second. I've had an introspective hour or to sitting here wrestling with other issues and I take this fish to mean, don't give up and lighten up. Well, it's lame, but a fish can change your entire perspective some days.
Despite waiting, nothing else moves so go for a wander and with the lake mostly deserted, try peg 1, which has a tree. I sit, merged into the background 'real tree' and all that and spoon a few JAA special floaters into the branches. After a decent interval, the branches sway, baits are being chased, so essay three biccies on a size '2' right beside the branches. This is serious tackle by the by, so don't get all wussy and mumble about snags. I get a positive take and pile into a fish which tries hard to climb the tree from the bottom up and win by keeping the rod low and bent double, the fish caves, hurtles out into the lake, swims in circles, comfortable double, then as I pick up the net it nips right and goes solid, not six feet away. Crap. It couldn't be any more solid if it had clove hitched the line on a tree trunk and hammered the hook in. One snag to remember for next time.
|shady grove, shady grove...||big fat one||more fluff...|
I break the line and resume trickling the yellow peril until things are active and this time creep forward, swing the line over the thinnest of branches, some two feet from the tanglewood, slip back a few yards, pleased with my makeshift suspender and wait. The bait goes and I re-join battle with smaller, but then after hauling away from the tree something odd happens. The fish is tethered to the tree by red mono and in the end with the fish midway between me and the tree, the hook-knot of the red goes, my hook hold goes as the fish suddenly drops and I get the end of the mono, which I manage to get off the tree and send the same way as my vanish. What are the odds? Still, one freed fish, otherwise stuck to the radius of this line. Very odd.
I resume my lily patch at the far end for a bit, but the willow fluff surface film is static, so I try the corner as well but the fish won't play far enough from the trees and the trees here are too far off to be creative with the branches. After perhaps an hour has passed I go back to the spot of the two odd losses, feed again and eventually, fish move so I wait and then try a suspender branch. A more cautious animal eventually takes my bait after three inspections and a nudge. There is NO WAY I'm losing this one and it's bundled into the net, 10lb on the scales, never leaving the net, returned. Aha. I sit quietly, flicking baits with the spoon, although it take an hour, and some chasing of a 1lb carp which likes the bait but can't get it down, I eventually get another rise and bundle a 6lb fish into the net as well. OK, honours even, but very strange day. 17lb always good. 14lb 'Stren' next...
|snaggy? Maybe...||hard won||hard won too|
It's not yet dark but quit while ahead, despite a few fish still bumbling under the tree, I've tested my luck enough. JAA special floaters JSFMixer biscuits soaked in pineapple juice and a little yellow food colouring. are a hit though, must make more... [C/3/2]
30th May 2010. Luckfield Lake.
The water was all mine but covered in catkin fluff. I don't think one end is going to fish better than the other, always fancy the lilies for a good fish, so go to the far end and park myself. I'm immediately mobbed by moorhens and chicks, who've clearly been hand-fed since the last trip, so give up and drink tea until they wander off, then essay the odd cast and after a log wait get crust sucked off the hook, that fish never returns but the birds do. I drink green tea and wait and after 1¾ hours, give up, having only fished for thirty minutes. I headed back to the tree-scene of last week's scrabbles. Inevitably the moorhens follow which made my tactic of trickling floaters into the tree branches less than 100% effective. I fumed, imagined moorhen a l'Orange. Bu88ers. Eventually, after several near takes from fish nosing among the fluffy floatsam, I miss two as the blasted birds home in on the bait. By now, vey pi$$ed off, so go for a walk around the corner, debating going home. I stand on a cut-swim and a vole runs between my feet and tumbles 18" inches into the water providing a mental freeze-frame of it spread-eagled upside-down. Hitting the water, it paddles frantically and erratically across the lake. This cheers me up for no good reason so I go back, try a bit of flake suspended on a handy branch and perhaps twenty minutes late a nose appears, checks, swirls takes the whole piece on a size 2. I bang the rod over, pull hard, got a bit of a lock, so drop the rod to change the angle and the fish comes out and mindful of the right hand side snag, pile in into the net, 9lb of slightly foxed mirror. OK then.
I wait for a bit more and with the light closing, swap the 12lb line for 14lb, re-tie the hook, check the point and wonder around to the narrow cut between two bushes which promises carp for the bold, off the lily-patch edge with perhaps ninety minutes fishing left. The first bit of floating flake dropped between two pads on the edge sits for twenty of them, before a fish shoulders its way through from the right and, no preamble, gobbles the bread. I thump it out the stems and play it to a standstill in an 8' circle then scoop it out, the second 9lb mirror of the day. Better.
I re-bait, wait for a long time, nothing happens so tow in the bread, re-bait and get a succession of interested bumps. These die away, although my heartbeat doesn't. A fresh flake and mangled cast leaves the bait 12" from the pads, with one lone pad between me and the bait On the point of retrieving, the pads start to sway and as it's very dusky, trust the light to hide the line. It does, and after a final wobble of the green, the ripples subside and the culprit is under the bread. Which just vanishes suddenly, so I pick up the rod tip hard for a firm tussle in a 10' radius, all swirls, lunges and dives to the bottom, finally netting the commotion which is the pick of the three, 12lb of common in the flash.
|'one'||'two'||well worth the wait|
Where's leviathan when you have the hang of it? Too dark now, even for white bread, so last out, but for the bats and Brock, who explains without words the mystery of the gate that clanks in the dusk, but then no-one comes to fish... [C/3/1]
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
3rd June 2010. Arfleet. A last-minute-loaf-of-bread thing, but they're not really feeding off the top, but a 6lb common dangled-flake-sniggled off a thin branch augured well, then missed the potential second fish three times, then at last gasp a clooped 13lb common. For the first time in a month I sit with the bats, sipping tea, trying for a third fish, even as the bread in front of me evanesced into the black. I put Tartit on the small technology in the car good for dark nights, evoking a dry heat we don't get here, but it pulls out old sun-bleached memories.
|...more of the dread fluff...at the other end||nice little common||The end with the convenient bush, crusts for the dangling off, of||one of the old fish here, the clooped 13lb common|
At Morden where the old road cuts the ridge, deep track-cut from centuries of passage, Brock and his friend nip across the road, windows up so can't hear the claws on the tarmac, but I know the sound, then a few hundred yards up the road, the hare, older she, even than the road. All is as it should be. [C/2/1]
6th June 2010. Arfleet. A brace of 10lb polished-leather coloured commons, one from each end of the back pit and one 6lb common from the front lake, just as the bats came out to play.
|A great fish, I wish they all looked like this.||How can you not like this?||A little scamp|
I make "When the Levee Breaks" and "In My Time of Dying" last all the way...three badgers scampering about the track-way home, busy night for them. [C/3/2]
8th June 2010. Get a life. "THOUSANDS of anglers were reeling in shock last night - after the death of Britain's most famous FISH." Bo££ocks they are. At least a million were saying, "Get a grip, it's just a fish". "Heather the Leather" = "Charlotte the Harlot". Hooks in the ceiling for that well hung feeling. This sort of cr@p does angling no credit.
9th June 2010. Barton's Court. This was on my way home, so starting at 6pm and ending at 9pm (early for me but it was raining), I bludgeoned out six carp to 11lb or so, mostly by fishing for them where they felt safe. I sought out spots where I could underarm large pieces of (best sandwich loaf) crust into the fringes of branches on the larger island, plus also under tree or two at the rear of the pit. 12lb line and the (rebuilt) ESP Floater rod did the rest of the work. [C/6/2]
13th June 2010. Arfleet. Two fish, about 6lb and 11lb dragged out of the back pit, despite extraordinary ineptitude and then missing so many chances in a half hour frenzy after a rain shower it was hair-tearing annoying to boot. Still, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick...and the 11lb fish one of the old commoners with polished-leather gilt-edge scales, always good. [C/2/1]
|One of the burnished leather ones||Big tail, interesting...|
The highlight of the day though, was turning up and sneaking up on these guys, who were enjoying the sun, although generally this means, "might as well go home or fish for rudd".
|Today, we are treating you with complete indifference||We are still treating you with complete indifference||I treat your mixer biscuits with comtempt and amusement...|
|..and continue to play 'nudge the mixer' for fun.||...although some clown in a white shirt has now made us mildly concnerd...||...so we're off.|
They obliged for several snaps and then melted away as a white shirted prospective dangler arrived and stood bank-edged, arms on hips, putting relaxed fish inot a nice state of tension. Thanks mate. Thankfully he decided not to get his tackle.
17th June 2010. Arfleet. I go for a quiet dibble on the front pit, ESP floater, half a stolen loaf and get a 5lb ghostie on the first cast, a long-flung 40 yard arc'd crust that dropped right in the one foot gap between reeds and bank, then line-curlingly bad casting for two-and-a-half hours, a missed take on a lily patch, a spooked fish under my feet and finally an 11/12lb common tricked out of the island reeds after two misses. Both landed with the unhooking mat, the landing net itself being on the garage wall, the Lord alone knows where the scales are and the flask of tea sat quietly on the kitchen worktop, leaving me with a throbbing head. So much fun...and two more carp... [C/2/1]
|The long throw ghostie||The tricked common|
19th June 2010. Arfleet. One back pit ghostie (yay) and a lost double. Flat calm on the front pit odd. Nothing moving at all. [C/1/0]
|One of the burnished leather ones|
24th June 2010. Wytch Farm. Back to the Wytch and five fish to 12lb on the upper crust, 5/5 oddly. Only missed two takes and got both of them second cast. First fish at 7pm, with the last at 10pm. [C/5/1]
|Carp #1||Carp #2||Carp #3||Carp #4||Carp #5|
|Wytching moon||Wytching moon||Wytching moon|
Nice cow proof fence now, a big relief to those of us who see cows and know that behind the eyes is the bovine equivalent of the test-card test tone TT1KHz audio tone. I spent a couple of months comissioning editing suites in the BBC Bristol building on White Lady's Road and got so used to this tone I could whistle it. I still can. . "...oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..."
29th June 2010. Horton Lake.
The plan today was to try new water on the way home so opted out of 'Ben's Lake' at Newbury as I had time to try Golden Pond near Stockbridge. This is pretty and small and I was completely ignored on arrival by the angler in the first swim and two gents chatting halfway along the bank soundly ignored a perfectly civil "Afternoon gents". Spotting the girlfriend on the lounger at the end of the lake clinched it, so and decided my money was better off elsewhere. MBIt's fair enough really to want peace and quiet when you're fishing but to park yourself in the swim that everyone who enters has to pass and then specially ignore perfectly civil (and quiet) greetings is just a bit naff. It's a bit like pretending to be a loner in the kitchen at a party. Sure you are. I tried Riverside Lakes only to discover that floater fishing, especially with white bread, is banned. I mooched around the lake for a bit and then decide Horton Lake, a scant minute away would be more fun. Amazingly I have the whole place to myself and get as far as the lily patch nearest the car park where fish were tenting and clooping for England.
|hellooooo mr carp||nudge, nudge||#1||...some more...||...OK that's a rudd...|
I sit on the grass and stick up the ESP, 12lb line, dink bread into a pad-gap and five minutes later have a 4-5lb fish, five minutes later, another. Normally at this point I mooch off for fresh pastures, but despite my best intentions, fresh fish keep turning up so I stay and, as I'd nothing since a coffee at 11am, alternate cups of tea with fish snatched, hauled & dragged out of the pads.
The biggest difficulty are rudd which demolish bread and mixers like piranhas falling on a careless rodent. I stick with the pads, lose one or two to hook-pulls, so try a few mixers further out, where larger shadows cruise. The pack-fish denude any bait cast out in minutes so I keep with the pads and get a couple on mixers, one fish even ventures a whole foot from the cover to snatch the bait.
At this point I perfect my bread technique, which consists of plonking it onto a pad, waiting for the fish to come by and tweaking it off onto its snoz. It's then mobbed by the ruddettes, pushed under a leaf and I wait for the line to pull...
|10½lb||yetanothercarp||a quartet of carp|
Then, one longer cast floats untouched as the minutes tick by...this means the bait is being sized up by something the rudd are not keen on...so it proves and after a clomping take, walk the fish up the bank to keep it out of the trees and the pads. 10½lb. I start to spoon-feed the trees with mixers and once things are moving, fish bread between the trees, miss one, take two, then switch to the right, take one out of some drowned cow-parsley then one from under the bank ten yards up.
|bit bigger||the two trees||bit bigger|
All too easy and I pack up with 45 minutes of fishing light left, thirteen fish to the good. It's now cool and the small technology starts with "Weathercock" as I drive into the coup de soleil's warm glow. Must go somewhere harder. [C/13/1]
|Split...(and back to the top of the page)||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot|
10th July 2010. Luckfield Lake. A quick four hours on the loaf, resulting in a 6lb or so mirror, an 8lb common from Peg 11 and another 6lb mirror from Peg 4. Or something like that. [C/3/0]
|6lb or so mirror||an 8lb common from Peg 11||another 6lb mirror from Peg 4||...and then it was dark|
The real story of this evening was the way I missed three takes under the tree on peg 11, then had the company of a lad who leaned over the fence and watched me manage, eventually, a common on a lump of bread. I'm not getting the floaters right yet, but I gave him a small waggler liberated from a tree to start his collection. A gent who set up a bivvie on Peg 3, who admitted that long-lining was lazy fishing, then cast one line 30 yards alongside the big lily patch and lost two fish which of course kited hard right into the thicket at said 30 yards range. It's hard to see how any other result was possible. Some might call that irresponsible. He also used flouro mainline and said he often had to go through five yards of line on a session to get a good hook knot. Odd strategy...he did confirm the presence of some rod thumping coal-barge fish that run off your line at a steady pace, which is interesting - to eel anglers. I suspect that my last gasp in Peg 4, although yielding a mirror right off the cuff, was in the end frittered away by 'Mr. Two lost fish in the lilies' and an angling presence in the way of the patrol route. I missed one under the tree on the right, self inflicted.
12th July 2010. Luckfield Lake. A whole day to fish, a whole day off. Cr*p it was. It was one of those days. I managed a crow quill on the way in, a 5lb mirror ten minutes later (Peg 7), which augured well, then it went downhill faster than a greased pig on a water slide, with moorhens all over the place (I find myself hoping for mink) and two fish hook-pulled on Peg 11 due to careless striking. Should have gone home two hours before I did. Bo££ocks.
|Neener-neener...||Luckfield possibly at it's best||...a 5lb mirror ten minutes later|
Did catch a moorhen on a floater though. Did it learn? Did it bu88ery. [C/1/0]
There were others there... LF...one who was fishing peg 3, right hand rod cast to the right against the large lily patch, the left hand rod hard around the corner, more lilies and snags. Sitting ten feet from his rods, both his runs, were marked by a panicked scramble, a lot of pulling, swearing and of course break-offs. I note in the book Mr. 'Two fish in the lilies' blanked and some 'angler' also noted he lost five fish due to snags. Five is completely inane. I don't lose five fish to snags a season. Less than that even. Next thing he'll want to have all the snags cut down and dug out. Wrote and complained to the club sec...see what the reply brings (nothing to date).
15th July 2010. Farewells are, for us normal folk, emotionally draining. Even when the departed is not so close, the whole day is coloured by what, in the end, is a short service and an hour of obligatory socialising with people who haven't seen you since the last time. The day is torn into two halves, the before and the after, with the event itself a kind of limbo. That time, shortened as it so often is by commercial interests and occasionally high-jacked by the self-aggrandising, is still much needed time to reflect and remember fondly. Before that, the preparations, the inability to focus, the importance of everyday things diminished, rightly so. After that, drained, relieved, tomorrow looks good. In the end, all funerals are one funeral.
19th July 2010. Santa Clara, San Franciso.
Ground squirrels, water to yearn over, 'Stren' fishing line delivered to the (first) hotel (courtesy of 'Basspro') and a long trip for the dullest training.
The 'training' was up the road, it was dull, uninspiring and neither use nor benefit. A waste of all our time and I spent most of it removing camera flare from pictures of basking carp. For lunch, we walked, in the concrete cracking heat, across the Old Mountain View-Alviso Rd., past the Westside Storm station and onto the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail,for a short distance then over a bridge to a restaurant of sorts.
|some kind of storm overflow||...suddenly there was a sign||San Tomas Aquinas Creek, known locally as San Tomas Aquino Creek|
They gave us vouchers - they also tried to get us to share rooms, but we all said "Stuff off we're grown-ups and we only share rooms with our partners." I tired of the IHop breakfast after one day, the rest of the stay, walking from the back of the hotel to a Starbucks in a small cinema complex, past ground squirrels that looked like rats to me and apparently some burrowing owls.
|I spent all but one day in Santa clara having breakfast at a well known coffee chain, as the coffee was better than the iHop and I could chose a breakfast which didn't make my heart spasm just by looking at it.||...apparently, on the way, there are burrowing owls...||Dusk atop the hills somewhere up Calaveras Road||Dusk atop the hills somewhere up Calaveras Road|
Some of my colleagues opted for extravagant tourism, I hired a car for a the day, went shopping and one evening a new colleague drove us up Calaveras Rd, past the Ed Levin County Park and we watched the most extraordinary sunset. Why I didn't have my proper camera with me I can't tell you, quite the highlight of the trip.
Then we're off to San Fransisco, loads of ra-ra and the offer I couldn't refuse. Huh. JAFH.
|San Fransisco||San Fransisco|
|Split...(and back to the top of the page)||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot|
3rd August 2010. Osmington Mills. A sandwich tin loaf, the ESP, 12lb line with a size '4' get me a dogged-battle dog-eared 13½lb common from the most northerly point of Meadow Lake, a 12¾lb leather in the channel between one small island and the north-west bank, taking my crust mid water as the bait drifted from one weed bed to another.
|hard won one - 13½lb common||has to be one under that lot||not a scale to be seen - 12¾lb leather|
Then came a 16¼lb mirror on a piece of bread just held up on a stand of weed from the east bank, then after 30 minutes hunched in a squall which pelted my hat, my coat, but not me.
|another fat double - 16¼lb mirror||always a good spot||choppy water always better|
Then an 18lb mirror from under the same bank, followed a 14½lb common (it looks much bigger, odd that, weighed it twice) that took a piece of bread on the run, which I'd cast into the middle with the wind from the south end.
|bit of a lump really - 18lb mirror||looked 18-20lb...14½lb common|
It's almost too easy... OMThat sounds bit smug, but the weather was perfect for surface fishing, a good breeze, something of a chop and fish feeding well, with said fish probably always fished for with boilies. These fish probably hadn't seen a lot of bread and even less on the surface. [C/5/5]
7th August 2010. Dairy Farm. They have gonks! Oh yeah & a few rudd, roach & a couple of carp.
I've not been here for some time, having formed the strong impression there were few fish of any type, something confirmed to me by the owner today, but restocking of the lower lake has taken place and the cream of all the fish stock are in the specimen lake. They got 'ottered' and 'cormoranted'.
I try the specimen lake in the first place fancying a chance off-the-top so go for the east end, with cover and access to the windward end, aiming to flick out tasters and 'subtle float fish' the margin with corn. So far, so hoopy. I get a bite or two on the float and after some misses, try the smallest grain on the 14 hook (6lb line) and get a gonk. Yay. I keep the floaters going in but see nothing, so play with the gobbies, fat ones too, 1-2oz and get the odd rudd as well. Fun stuff.
As the afternoon wears on I decide that the carp are not here, so take a few bits and wonder right around the other side, creeping, and end up around by the inlet with cover, and this is the only place there is a sign of fish, with one of two bits of debris getting nudged so gently you'd miss it on another day. On the second try I get the crust right in the corner among hazel branches and after a good 20 minutes, it's taken gently but positively and arc the rod back the other way and get solid resistance a massive pull and swirl and a hook pull. Cr*p. I wait but the swim is dead.
|looks the spot||still looks the spot||gobio gobio||spot the gonk|
I edge back around to the gonk-hole, go back to the gobbies and after a couple more one bite gets solid very fast and for a moment I think I might have a real problem, but this settles down into predictable runs, shortening towards the net, then I have this amazing looking carp, perhaps 8lb. Nice to be reminded of the Harrison's Avon's fabulous action. I pick out a few more gonks and rudd but with no touch on the floating bait, I pack but for the net-and-loaf and stop halfway down the main lake and as the sun runs for it, snatch a fish from the margin, the flash making it hard to tell if it's common' or 'ghostly'.
|purple blusher?||yetanothergonk||part of the point||Who can tell? Who cares?|
I enjoyed that and knowing that one can gonk it, always fun, will come back. [C/2/0]
15th August 2010. Luckfield Lake. 3:30pm touchdown and it takes 2½ hours to get a fish out of peg 11, along with two inspections, the bait haughtily dismissed with a flick of the tail, one fish even taking the bread in for a thoughtful moment and then slowly blowing it out, as if to say "Nah...not hungry mate". Then a fish appears out of nowhere and clomps the bread without a thought. I battle with the inevitable attempt for tree-branch sanctuary. A few minutes pass, then the fish tries for the open water and keeps me busy far longer than its eventual weight, 10lb of mirror, would suggest.
|cute one||plenty of fish-losing chances here|
Swim churned beyond swift recovery, I move to peg 5 and get a gulped crust, water-pig, then heaved out of the second patch, hauled six feet forward before it knows what is happening, then dives left into the smaller clump and I momentarily cede and give it six feet of the 14lb as the rod curls over and it heads into the stems, a mistake, but I'm lucky, burn my finger, stop it and with the length of rod am able to haul it right out the way it came, one more lunge and netted, a 12½lb common. I drink a cup of tea to recover, hands shaking a bit. I miss a sitter 20 minutes on, then drop back to peg 4, miss a take on the lily-pads (a small fish by the view) and widening ripples from the bank on the right encourage me to drop a piece of crust behind the soft rush clumps. A few minutes later it's nudged, cautiously. Then it's nabbed with a swirl. I sit back, add another free one and pick up a new solid carbon stalking rod already set with 17lb line and a size 4 crust-loaded and drop it over the edge so that the line is clear of the water and pull a foot of line off to hold between my fingers. I wait. Not for long. The free one goes and then the trap is bumped and slowly sinks and when about 4" of line have gone, I strike hard. Two feet of dusk-water explodes into silver shards and even with the clutch screwed down I'm forced to give a few feet here and there as I play a big fish to a standstill in a six-foot radius, hard lunges soaked up by the eight feet of carbon. Less than five minutes get a head above water in the settling gloom, netted first time and then see a very good fish. A 15lb common from under my feet, skulduggery. What the rod is for. Now my hands are shaking. [C/3/2]
|fabulous looking fish, scrappy too||great fish, rubbish picture|
21st August 2010. I am pain. I am, it must be said, a bit hacked off. After some three or four weeks of intensive sitting on my arse and then a week in a German car, blatted about bits of Austria and Switzerland among other places, turnpike engineering, my back has flared with a vengeance. I took the children for a breakfast on Sunday, it's hard not to be faintly cheered when faced with fried eggs and black pudding, but by the time I'd dropped the Littleanglers in town, the dull ache was developing teeth.
I slunk into a coffee shop with a good view and fewer clientele than some, got a large black one from a smiling, cheerful girl, with brown eyes and angular thinness and we debated the source of the best coffee (Italy, clearly). I found a comfy seat, planned to look over my 'CarpworldCarpcomic, full of folk desperately trying to make carping look like 'Extreme angling'', an annual foray into the angling press to see what's changed. The lumbar teeth ground so I put the comic aside, although they unclenched for Sunday afternoon, returning, to twist sleep like bundled bed sheets.
I spent Monday teeth-gritted, until at 10pm, with the usual ibuprofen not even taking the edge off, I went jonesing for pain relief around outpatients'. I say 'around', as the local hospital had quietly closed theirs and in the end I drove 30 miles in pain that made me vomit, before waiting, standing, for forty minutes so a nurse practitioner could establish (quite correctly) I wasn't a junkie and give me morphine and diazepam and a strict injunction not to drive after taking them. The offer of a doctor was at least three hours off, so I went home, got a brief insight into why folk take opiates when they don't need them, slept drugged, the best night for a month and in the morning went to the doc, who, agreed it was my bad back and a flared infection, gave me antibiotics, a lecture on exercises that I perform religiously anyway and made absolutely sure I didn't outstay the allotted appointment time. The osteopath fitted me in Wednesday, I spent Tuesday on the floor, night blurring into Wednesday and a short program of stretches and a sequence of cracks left me aching in a better way. Thursday I catch-up slept on the sofa. Yay.
22nd August 2010. Arfleet. It would be easy to conclude from the above, that I'm strolling onto the lake of my choice and extracting fish at will. When I arrived today there were five anglers on the front lake and three on the back. Against all common sense I opted to fish the back pit, despite the bright orange umbrella of the trio. I sat in the rain for 120 damp minutes and failed to interest a fish on the top or the bottom and got soaked. I gave up, went to the front lake, now down to two anglers, tried for a fish on a lily pads which wasn't there, tried in the monk corner for a fish that was but didn't care and when I attempted to cast to the island, normally tricky to get the distance, the bait went halfway up the tree and I broke my line and went home. Should have gone to Wytch.
25th August 2010. It's the time when folk blather on about mists and mellow fruitfulness, everything becomes a cliché when well-worn, but there's a point tucked away and although rain is making it feel more Autumn than it really is, the hedges are starting to sag with this years free food. There's always blackberries and although the taste varies greatly, stewed in enough apple juice to cover them and then kept in the fridge, they make the dullest cereal more interesting (and purple), with or without milk. The old standby, hazel nuts, my grandparents shelled and kept overwinter in jars of salt, a layer of nuts, a layer of salt.
Hedges do not provide so well in with mechanical trimming, spring and autumn, a lot of hedgerow food is lost this way, I wonder about the winter stock for the birds, but still. However nuts can be found for looking, and it's easy most years to pick 5-10lb of nuts 'in the shell' which keep 12 months as long as they are dried and kept dry. We have a large wooden bowl for this, last years are still proverbially sweet. Sloes make a good gin, there are two trees bowed with wild damsons down the lane that only we pick, wash, halve and freeze. Crab apples, jellied if you take the trouble, we are blessed with apple trees, from the time when everyone grew as much as they could for themselves, wrap in newspaper, or peel, quarter and freeze for all the year's cooking apple. Rosehips can also be jellied, although labour intensive and even the dull elderberry can be used making a good wine. If you poke and prod further in, there are sweet chestnuts, perhaps in a month, once located it's easy to fill a bucket (dry them on a wooden tray in the sun and keep them dry) then spend Winter evenings roasting them on the fire or bulking forcemeats to enliven roasted chickens.
I know of a walnut tree or two in the hedges, leftovers from Dorset's spread-cottage agricultural past and many tracts of wild onions, which, spread around my own garden to go with the rampaging mints, rosemary, lemon balm, lovage and perennial fennel, all are dried and used for the winter. There's work to collect, but it's that or watch TV. Large puffballs from the field opposite cooked thick-sliced in butter and well seasoned on toast are not half bad either. I'm sure there's stuff out there I don't know about, but if we collected and used all that I know it'd be a start.
I wonder why no-one picks blackberries these days?
29th August 2010. Arfleet Mills. One in the back and two in the front. GCC1According to the terms of the Geneva Comedy Convention of 1887, this remark should immediately be followed with the words "Oooh...Matron!" in a whiney nasal voice.
I'd planned to go to Wytch Farm but having spent 45 minute in Bank Holiday traffic and got there to find an un documented match on. WDAS need to communicate better, I've seldom seen so much indifference to the rank and file membership from one club.
So, Arfleet, only because the alternative was crossing queues of cars to get to Luckfield. The back pit had three anglers, fishing quietly and I opted in the end to fish at the far end. The last angler offered to move his ledger for me and this rare but welcome act of consideration settled my mind, but in the end he didn't need to move it as I opted for subtle float fishing in the margin with occasion trips to the corner for a crust dip. The lake is almost covered in birch seeds and spacers which against expectations are keeping the fish off the top. I try one crust under the bush in the back corner and after a few dummy rises miss a strike. I return to the float rod and watch the float for 30 minutes, during which a gust of wind brings more seeds down like snowflakes, covering tackle and water alike. I try to get the bait down with a blob of plasticine, but the floating debris is too thick and buoyant.
|seedy||you could walk across this||you could bounce a float off it|
I retie an 8lb braid hook-length and stick on a shot. I return to the corner, get two nudges and the bait is pulled down, giving every impression of a struggle to do so. I wait 'one elephant' and heave-ho and after a dogged fight, during which it's not clear what I have, net this small common, one of the smallest I ever had from this lake. I alternate between the two options two or three times as the afternoon wears on, but with no result on either rod. Odd to not even get a Rudd. The courteous ledgerman has a couple more, making him up to 7 fish over the whole day, which is a great result on this lake, but about 6ish they pack and I miss the only bite on the float with tip blinking out of existence too quickly for a carp. I hope. 30 minutes after the party depart the fish start to move again, with swirls and nudges patterning the floating carpet and I catty bits of bread to try to get them started - despite the reluctance of fish here to take bait in clear water, I believe the thick cover today will change the game. Just when I think the tide is turning, a man and two boys turn up at the other end and showing themselves to the whole water, fish in various ways and the eddies and swirls ebb away to nothing again. I give in, collapse the Avon and 7:30ish opt for a couple of hours on the front lake.
All to myself, I go right around the back, put the chair up, pour tea and 3 yards back from a narrow gap in the reeds, lob a crust into the lilies showing there, perhaps 4 feet out. I kneel on the damp grass and with the rod tip resting on the rushes wait and watch, and after a while ripples from the right suggest a fish, maybe. Time passes and I tune out, watching the bread, then suddenly it's gone. No warning, no bulge, no sounds, just gone. I wait half a second and bang the rod up as the line tweaks and after a short thrashing net this ghost carp, which fought under it's weight but weeded fish often do. Perhaps 8lb.
I take more tea and put a bait the other way which doesn't move and in the strange fading light, try for a time in the lilies directly in front, with no result and then with the light almost evaporated, a crust in mid-water, halfway to the lilies, this on the basis that fish are moving and they can't see the line either. I stand, screened by the bush on my right and watch the bread and in wavering light, this is hard work, but time passes, the crust survives the attentions of the Rudd and then rudd-ripples turn into a gentle wash and the bread sinks out of sight with barely a sound and 'one elephantom' later the water explodes and I've got a bigger fish on which, banned from long runs on account of snags, bores back and forth in front of me while I edge it towards the top, finally breaching it's head and then to the net. 13lb on the scales.
|little fish are sweet, as 'Old Bob' used to say||the only ghost around here...mostly||belter at last light|
Good enough. The bats are interested in the rod tip now and there's first a barn owl then the squeak of a careless rabbit up the lane. Time to go. Driving back along the dark lanes, with their floating pale owls and barking hares, it occurs to me that this swim, now overgrown from its inception two seasons back, is a belter. There's three narrow channels out of which to fish, but tall rushes and bushes almost completely hide you from the water and trees behind keep you off the skyline. [C/3/1]
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1st September 2010. It's just occurred to me (as I put a new butt-ring onto the '550) that in Luckfield Lake I've had several instances of fish, unseen until that point, rise vertically from the depths to inspect a floating bait and mostly reject it. They are the larger fish too. This is suggestive.
Known as Tiger Lil from Shooters Hill,
Mostly she lived on her wits,
But if she was starving,
For thruppence two-farthing,
She'd willingly show you her wares.
(Apologies to Allegra Dalrymple-Smythe)
2nd September 2010. The hedgerows look as they should for September, but nuts are still not quite shucking themselves and many berries are yet to ripen. The evenings have a chill and sudden nightfall that is a month early, as is the ground mist from the Winterbourne that materialises in the field opposite. We've just had a large volcanic event and no doubt the upper atmosphere is shot through with dust and infused with more SO² than usual. What do these things mean? It means this Winter is going to be frickin' cold. Mark my words.
3rd September 2010. Also in other news, 16 years ago today Mrs AnotherAngler agreed to be my wife. It's been brilliant, I would not change a thing. Here's to you Kate.
4th September 2010. Lower Sharnhill.
I've not been since April...4th and the 23rd as well and was able to drive down the dry-clay field, impassible when even damp, but now is a yard-deep purple sea of haygrass and clover, surreal but nice. The lake's weed, culled in profusion, has simply re-established itself, revealing copious dwarf lilies with yellow flowers. It looks stunning in the patchy sunshine, although it severely limits fishing spots, unless you use 17lb line and a stout rod. I offer a silent prayer to the gods of fishing to keep it this way and not have it dredged-and-weeded to banality.
I opt for the deep end as there are clear swims but get casting rights over the swathe of cross-corner lilies and a huge willow's flowing skirt of branches trailing the corner bank. It takes me only 15 minutes to get a fish from the lilies, deceptively easy. I try for a bit longer, then set up the '550 with 8lb and one of the new crucian floats (that sounds grand but it's a small crow quill with a bamboo toothpick for an antennae). 1BB cocks it perfectly, add a size '12' lashed to 8lb braid and try a single grain of corn. I'm amused for the next hour catching small commons up to 1½lb which skitter about like mad things, taking bread and corn indiscriminately, even cockles when they find them. I decide, well I say 'decide', I've been flicking baits over steadily, to try the lilies again with bread, prompted by larger than usual slurps. After several near misses I get one about 5lb which is on long enough to see, then the hook pulls. I go back to the cane for a while and the little Leviathans, teasing them with bread flake two feet under the float, cast at random (having cut off the braid after the mono split length-ways above the knot for 6", bizarre, never seen anything like it).
More slurps, a little nearer than the first, push me to swap rods again and I watch a big bit of bread for 15-20 minutes while a fish which I've decided, is too small for the bread, rattles around the lilies. Then there's a big swirl, the bread rocks and then a huge vortex, it goes and before I can move, a missile launches from the weeds to the centre and snaps the hook-knot like cotton. Good Lord. As the bow waves subsides I try to work out what happened, just the launch speed it seems. 12lb line right through.
I go back to the cane, chastened, catch more small dark gold carp, perfectly formed and about 6ish, decide to stalk around to the huge willow in the corner and hiding in the skirts gull a 3-4lb fish out of the don't-seem-so-thick-from-here lilies. I have a cup of tea and catch more small ones, with a few in the 1-1½ bracket, which even on a '550 are good value.
|very pretty||eh? What happened?|
At 7pm or so, I stalk around to the swim behind the island, where there is some clear water movement and sitting on the long grass, watch fish moving in this channel for a while. I drop a bait onto the lily fringe but the fish haunt the middle, 12-14lb some of them, emerging suddenly out of the depths (which I know to be 2½ feet) and plucking at loose crusts before bolting a yard, surprised at their own boldness. I pick out three individual fish, the largest two are commons, long bodied, in some waters near 20, but here, slender, wilder fish, 12-14lb at most but one mirror, deeper bodied, might be bigger. I try for almost an hour to put bread where these fish will take it. They spurn the hooked bread, seeing something wrong, but insouciantly mop up the bits curiosity-nudged off. Eventually after an age of crouching on the grass and so quietly casting new baits, I get a slender common that thrashes the lily fringe to fragments before I net it, a stunning looking fish at 7lb.
I mooch back to the home base chair and catch a few more small ones then try off-the-top as the light fades but with carplet-flocks descending on my baits like starlings, one startled ½lb fish yanked out on a size '4', I opt to drink tea and gently pack away. I see three sorts of bat, not that I'm an expert, big, medium, small and then at the last a water vole makes a timid enquiry for spare bait and a piece of bread seems a fair exchange for borrowing his home for the afternoon.
|look at the size of the tail||such a cool time of the day||big ripples, small fish|
Back across the thigh-deep clover again, alien in the headlights. [C/3/0]
5th September 2010. ...these are the foundlings, the flotsam and the injured. When they're fixed I'll show them again.
|we have the technology|
11th September 2010. It's 10:30pm, and I've decamped to the 'office', in truth a den, where technical stuff is crammed into every space and up the walls and yet I still manage to make the fishing stuff more prominent, at least to my mind. I'm playing hooky on the hooky this weekend. I'm taking a whole week out to chase Leviathan so very soon, so it seems like a better than fair exchange. Still though I'm tempted to slide off, dark as it is, I have a torch and it's warm out. But in the end, with my Talisker and the assorted jetsam and flotsam of the last 12 months, that which is beyond re-use, spare parts in truth, I'm manufacturing a new set of floats...which I don't need. When they're done, I'll put the before and after here. So today, the nut-coffers were further extended, damsons came home in a carrier bag with blackberries for the freezer and I discovered put-put boats. How did I get to this age without knowing about these little tricks of physics? Live and learn.
12th September 2010. Autumn Smoothies. Take 2 ice cubes, ½lb of frozen apple, ½lb of frozen blackberries, 1 banana, about 1½ pints of apple juice. Blend until smooth. Watch three teenanglers vanish with tall glasses and long spoons...
September 2010. Going Fishing by Negley Farson, illustrated by C.P.Tunnecliffe. I found this in a second-hand book shop in Dorchester, and bought it on the strength of a couple of paragraphs and the engravings. It turns out it's one of the best fishing books I've ever read and is also widely regarded as one of the great fishing books. I can't believe I'd never heard of it until September 2010.
19th September 2010. Tangy Mayonnaise. LEDM.....it's a Bugangler pun on 'La Morinais' :-) So. Off to La Morinais, all Tod Sloan, to catch a carp. Maybe...
|the best view of Weymouth (some might say)||Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink||St. Malo, a very pretty town||Who can tell? Who cares?|
20th September 2010. Tangerine Days. LEDM...it's so nearly a pun on 'L'Etang du Morinais'...
Having got in a 1:30am, I potter about the chalet for a bit at 8am or so and then take the ESP, Cardinal 66s, a size 4 on 14lb for a walk to the lake with some mussels, I sit on Point de Chasse, and the water is very low, and nothing sirs either my bait of the mist on the water, the clear sky already hinting at the heat to come. I wonder around the back of the lake and sit in a gap and free-line some more. Mike arrives, tells me the fish are feeding up and down the East bank and that there's plenty of soaked maize in the boathouse (all good lakes have a boathouse). I head back for some toast-and-butter, toast made in the frying pan, good blackcurrant jam and fresh coffee, I cunningly brought my own pot.
I head around to the Point des Epines as it's on the right bank, in the deepest water and fish are rolling under the trees. I bait up with handfuls of hemp and tease three maize grains onto the no. '4' and two bit of corn to cover the hook shank and flick it in, lay the rod at an angle to the bank and enjoy the sun filtering over the trees and the slightest of breezes in my face. Coffee. Ahhhh.
|...the slightest of breezes in my face. Coffee. Ahhhh.|
While I'm sitting there, by degrees, I sent up a Hex Avon with 10lb line, planning a simple subtle float rig for later on, something that will easily adapt to roach fishing when the mind needs a break. While I'm picking out a float a bow wave cruises past heading towards the corner, away from me. I change my float choice for a self cocking quill with some tip buoyancy. Fish move elsewhere contributing to a sense of impending action, while I tie on a braid hook-length, a size 8 and dapple the braid with a marker pen.
At which point the line streaks off the spool, I pick up the rod, snap over the bail make two turns, check the line is still cutting away and bang the rod over my shoulder, or would have done if a great weight didn't stop it ½-way there. Said weight bores 40 yards out into the lake perhaps angling a tad left-wards. I haul it back a little and it heads under the tree on the left and a haul-of-attrition develops as I'm not sure what the snag situation is, or what I'm dealing with and we go back and forth three times or so and then the fish decides on the open water again and it gets twenty yards, then I flip it on it's head and see a big 'twenty' mouth and as we near the net, one step toward me, two back, I revise this to 'upper twenty' and then when the fish flops in I'm not sure...I heave the fish out onto the mat, big deep bodied lumbering fish, 40lb 12oz, check it twice and check the sling twice. Well then. "1". My hands are shaking a bit...
|Leviathan, beached...40lb 12oz||...stunned I was...40lb 12oz|
After a while I decide to try Point Parfait as the fish are moving there and visible on the surface, but despite a few nudges and tweaks nothing firms, so I opt for late soup and fresh java and spend another ninety minutes baking in the high bright sun but nothing twitches into life. I'm too hot, so try the original swim, and after baking some more, move around the back of the lake, Point Pomme de Terre, put a 14 on the Hex' and catch roach in the shade with the serenity of man who caught his biggest fish two hours into a week-long fishing holiday.
|Point Parfait||Point Parfait||Point Pomme de Terre|
When the sun has slipped behind the trees at the west end, Coup De Soleil, I slip back to the first swim and free-line more maize, I push my hat down and listen to the crickets' chorus and the symphony of insect drones and finally a magpie and a jay arguing like an old married couple on the island, 100 yards off, could have been ten over the still water. At last light I drag back for a shower, several cold Corona-WFL's LEDM'Corona-with-feckin'-lime and a chicken pie. Bed, frazzled. [C/1/1]
21st September 2010. Le Mere Ennui LEDM...it's so not a pun on 'L'Etang du Morinais'... ...to come
|Point Pommes de Terre||across L'Etang||Point Parfait|
|midday moochers||Point Pommes De Terre at dusk, for the roach||Point Pommes De Terre at dusk, for the roach|
22nd September 2010. L'Orange Daze LEDM...it's so nearly a pun on 'L'Etang du Morinais'... ...to come. [C/2/2]
|What a sunken float looks like||Any moment now...about ten minutes after I took this, up it came.|
|Barely half-past nine. 35lb_12oz||Barely half-past nine. 35lb_12oz||Barely half-past nine. 35lb_12oz|
|Five-to-one, almost lunchtime. 31lb_8oz||Five-to-one, almost lunchtime. 31lb_8oz||Five-to-one, almost lunchtime. 31lb_8oz|
|Evening with the roach. Good day.|
23rd September 2010. La Morinais...to come
|Kind of a grey half-and-half day||Kind of a grey half-and-half day||Kind of a grey half-and-half day||Any moment now...but it didn't happen today|
24th September 2010. L'Amour Anné. LEDM...it's so nearly another pun on 'L'Etang du Morinais'...
The previous day's clouds had given way to overnight rain and even when I'd got up it felt like the right day. The reality on the bank, in the same pitch, (no aversion to moving, but it was well baited and it felt right) was two hours sitting in the face of nippy breeze, colder than previously, sharp little teeth. There's little fish moment, but I hang in there as the alternatives, the shallows, are even colder. Then, about 11:30, just when I was considering a different strategy, one which involved roach, the wind warmed, softened on my face. Aha. I decide on a swift break-of-the-fast, discover my legs stiff with cold, knock up a bacon-and-egg sandwich followed by two rounds of toast-and-butter-and-blackcurrant jam and return to the pitch with the stalking rod and a flask of fresh java. Yeah...
I go back to watching the orange speck, fish are moving, feeling I'll get a bite at any point. Time passes and a dark hump-back porpoises silently on my right then as I look up, not 5 yards past my float a huge fish surfaces briefly on a collision course for my bait and equally silently dives, the water either side overlaps the broad back like blanket ends thrown carelessly, one after the other, over a sleeping babe, leaving me with a dragon print in my mind, a lingering "S" shape with a huge head, scale colour barely different from the grey-yellow sunlit water.
My nerves stretch out and hum like cello strings in the breeze and I stay like that for a long time, but the float never even twitches. I recall myself and catty more maize and hemp and two more fish roll quietly to my right and left.
3ish, suddenly the float pops up like a cork, well it would, I missed the strike. Cobblers' awls. I replace the hook-bait and re-cast, sit through a squall that looked like it was in for the day, purple clouds stacked into a far away mountain range, but it was a squall after all. Then another, getting me mildly damp. I decide at 4ish I'm going to head around the lake with a tub of maize and mussels and look for a feeding fish. I lay things carefully about, I might as well have a go, but as the rapt spell seeps away, the breeze drops to nothing in sympathy, the bubbles start...
I watch the bubbled-glass tenter-hooked, thinking it was impossible not to get a bite. The float twitches, dithers, shredding my calm, but to no avail in the end and even with Mike leaving (might have had a sniff of a lift bite) the float lets me down. Nutkin appears on my left, darts below bank level and streaks under my rod presumable to find some earlier stash, a well practised move.
|How it looked when I turned up first thing||...but it just didn't happen for some reason.|
I remain unblinking, firm in my belief this was the right place and a fish is imminent, until at 7:30 my tension slinks into the lengthening shadows and I pick up the '550, tie on a size 12 and catch roach to ½lb until it is too dark to see. Odd. Some days you know it's not right and move, some days you are certain and nothing comes to your net.
I'm left with a frozen image of the great water-dragon inked in my mind, a great mythical willow-patterned pond fish, all the reasons for carp fishing summed into that moment.
Great week, glorious weather, a lot of roach and three mirror carp, 31lb 12oz, 35lb 8oz and 40lb 12oz. Still haven't caught a 20lb carp. Float-fishing and free-lining, look no hairs. Can be done.[C/89/30]
27th September 2010. The best carp rod in the world...probably...and now I have a 1½lb t/c 11½ft Hexagraph Carp, which is the perfect rod for most of my fishing, plays like cane, lighter than cane, stronger than cane. What's not to like? Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, it won't help me catch bigger fish or more fish etc., but I will enjoy using it...probably.
P.S. 2016. I passed this rod on a long time ago. I wrangled a 20lb carp with it (among others) as it lacked back-bone. I've got a Hexagraph 1.½lb t/c Avon which is a better rod, with real power in the bottom half for when it's needed. In fact the GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment are both better rods IMHO.
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
October 2010. 'Carp Fever' by Kevin Maddocks (1989 10th Edition). This is a fascinating book. It's been said that it's not a good read but I don't agree. That's like saying 'Moby Dick' is good, but a really good textbook on 'Moby Dick' is not good. This is, for me, a textbook on how to catch big carp consistently but of course it doesn't follow that one reads it for the lyrical prose. I approached this book with some negative thoughts and that serves me right for not making up my own mind. Much of the carp catching mechanics are not surprising or even new for the time of the first edition. There are echoes of Richard Walker and others and it all it really comes down to the same principle as making Jugged Hare. First, catch your hare...
Location of the fish occupies a misleadingly short part of the book and you can skim it and get the wrong impression. KM spent hours, nay days locating fish in various waters, making special trips and, I've no doubt, recording everything noteworthy with times, wind, temperature and so on. From this database he would make decisions of where and when to fish, in the reasonably secure knowledge that his emplacement and the fish would coincide at the right time. To this he added the detailed records of catches, bites baits and weather until he had as complete a picture as one can get. As Richard Walker and the CCC knew, finding the fish is much more than half of the process. It's easy to underestimate the importance of this both in contemporary terms and especially with today's waters where the fish expect to find your ground-bait, consider it their natural food and even home in on the sound of it hitting the water.
Added to this, KM fished long unblinking sessions, several days at a time, but don't be fooled here. He didn't catch because he fished long sessions. He fished long sessions where and when he had determined his target fish would be feeding. There's a big difference. KM seldom loose fed in any volume, the fish were already there (he'd checked), so were his baits. He scorned bivvies as they impeded striking. Even on a campbed he was right next to his rods and although having the benefit of being a light sleeper, he plan was to hit every bite right on cue (I'd have liked a section on how and when to hit bites on various rigs).
Although this all sounds simple (it is, in principle...), having made a massive investment in location, some considerable investments in baits and fishing hours, KM would ensure he hit every bite bar none and lost no fish if remotely possible. He certainly never lost a fish the same way twice. The rod was matched to the job and distance, the line checked, every hook tested and sharpened. How can you not admire that kind of thoroughness? Even if you, as I do, find this intensity too much for enjoyment; even knowing that it works I couldn't fish this way. But to carry it through like this requires extraordinary focus, strength of mind and purpose.
If the book has faults - the bait section feels a bit like filler, the knot section is brief (I just can't believe he didn't test knots a little more scientifically) and there are rafts of info on locating fish that I'd love to have seen - even just one water as an example, with the hours put into divining the likely spots and the resulting catches, an example case. Having said that, having explained what you have to do, I imagine it's left to the reader to make his own location sorties and record his own data!
Neither a purist nor a romantic, KM was nevertheless the benchmark for dedicated, consistent and even ruthless carping. It's not KM's fault that so much of what has followed is pale imitation, bivvie encampment armchair-fishers, far from their tip action rods and bolt rigs, more loose feed in a session that he probably used some seasons and stew-pond fish that exist only due to the good grace of said copious feed, locating fish and watercraft cast to the winds, camping site pitches near the toilets and café. The slavish following of the two-rod all-night-session approach but without the hard earned 'where, when and how', like small boys copying their Dad. But these adherents are no worse or better than the C.C.C. groupies who slavishly buy their B. James MKIV (even today).
Read this then and decide if you're 'serious' or not. I'm not a "serious angler" by any standards, but frankly 99% of all carp fisherman I've ever seen or met aren't either. Today's rod-pod and a bucket of boilies, pitched in the first swim that looks comfy, isn't even a tenth of the way serious compared with KM. Not remotely.
4th October 2010. ...by-the-by, noticed how it's warmed up since I predicted an ice age (below)? I stand by my prediction.
October 2010. "River Diaries" by Chris Yates. Not his best work, but an enjoyable read and still very much better than the majority of angling books.
10th October 2010. Wytch Farm, a common and two mirrors, should have weighed them....yep, bread, yep off the top. [C/3/0]
|The first mirror||The corner of the lake by the car park||A flat-float breather||The common||The almost fully scaled mirror|
October 2010. A Child Alone - The Memoirs of 'B.B.'. I've tried once or twice, probably as a 'displacement activity', to piece together his life and family background and it's much like trying to get hold of an irritated 4lb eel. Still, a revealing read, for all that.
16th October 2010. Nipped over to Kingsbridge.
(Did I mention I joined Wimborne AC?) and planned a walk around the lakes before doing any fishing, but got as far as the bottom of Packhorse, the West end and spotted the fish in the lilies and margins, so spent three hours working out a response to these well trained fishes' tactics on bread. They leave it until it's so soft it can be sucked off the hook...
The sky has cleared and although the temperature has dropped in the last week, it's not as cold as I was expecting, just single figures and while the sudden camp by the lilies at the end seems spontaneous, it's fuelled by the steady East Wind blowing into that corner and the knowledge that at least two people have thrown in mixers further up, so this is, as likely as not, a clearing ground for the wiser fish. I speak with two gents on the same bank, whiskered and friendly, the first is floater fishing in the middle, 'the way of the controller' and says he's had five all day, which is poor, while the second gent bottom fishing, has none. I'm advised to skip Wellington in the East wind. Sound advice.
Despite that, I yank a coffee-and-cream common about 8lb out from under a tree, then after several misses, get another common about the same from the lily patch. I spend an hour missing takes and eventually get a mirror around 6lb by dangling four mixers on a size '4' off a tree branch.
|bread sucking parasite||oops, clooped||mirror, mirror on the floor...|
I spend a cup of tea and two slices of ham-and-chicken pie considering 6lb line and a size 10 with a top and bottom porcy as a controller and also float fishing, as the fish are rising out of the depths, plucking at likely tit-bits and sinking again into the weak-tea water. Fish-on-the-top overrules this burst of common sense so I go back to more misses and a game of cat-and-mouse with a common that surfaced nearby and then after a lot of lost bread I manage to pull this pretty common out of the lilies, 11¾lb.
I decide that I ought to walk now, mooch along the lake, find Tranquil and despite a rising fish on the road side, opt to take a look at Wellington. I get as far as the end swim in Tranquil and it looks right so I try a few bits of bread in the reeds on my right, bait a patch on my left with hemp and corn and then float-fish cockles over it. After 20 minutes, the sliver of cane I use for an antennae-on-a-crow-quill slips away and I enjoy a merry battle for a good five minutes, the fish refusing to come up out of the 6' deep water.
A lad jogging a barrow with squeaky wheels thunders around the lake not five minutes after I sit down. He parks behind me(!) and asked if I've caught any ("No, been here five minutes mate") and asks to leave his barrow for a couple of hours. I stress it'll be that long at least but agree. He starts chucking the gear of the trolley onto the deck, thump, thump... "You know, I've changed my mind, if you're going to make that racket, can you go somewhere else." I said. "Oh, OK" he said, thud thud thud, squeaky-squeaky-squeaky...he's gone home by the time I packed up. Probably thinks I'm antisocial.
Eventually capitulating, more or less, it turns out to be a nice common of about 12lb in the flash. I realise I've picked a good spot, the fish are leaving the reed lined hole to my right and edging around the lake in both directions, reeds swaying as they shoulder past. I decide it's worth trying for another and recast, but dusk has flopped over the lake, so feel the line for bite detection but despite a few twitches the last 30 minutes are notable only for the recalled to mind flask with it's Carbost boosted Lap-Sang and the half-moon suddenly appearing as the clouds scarper.
|...and smile!||flash, what a picture|
It occurs to me while typing and sipping Quinta Ruban, that the Hexagraph Carp used today is like a MKIV but better than the one I've used and also that I got more out of the last fish than the other relatively hard won four. I can't speak for the others, but for me a float-fished carp is worth two off the top and any number heavy-ledgered-on-hairs. [C/5/2]
20th October 2010. Nipped over to Berlin. I know this because there's a receipt tucked into of my copy of "Unseen Academicals" from the 'Pocket Shop' in the airport, marked at 17:56 local time, so I must have been on the way home.
|The Pocket Shop, Berlin Airport|
This means I was very late getting back in Heathrow, then would have stopped at the M27's uninspiring Rownhams Services in the still watches for a coffee-and-toastie jDouble espresson at 1am? Mad, sure, but better home and wide awake than asleep on the road. Forever. then probably wondered what on earth I was doing and eventually got home well after midnight. Again.
31st October 2010. Nipped over to Kingsbridge. Again. One nice double. [C/1/1]
|A nice double figure mirror, from 'Packhorse'||The north end of the titular Tranquil||The trap is set...||..but the quarry stayed in the reeds.|
|...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)|
7th November 2010. I just liked this when I heard it on the wireless the other week. So I donate it to you.
"Each uneventful day that passes reinforces a steadily growing false sense of confidence that everything is all right - that I, we, my group must be OK because the way we did things today resulted in no adverse consequences."
This quote from Scott Snook, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School is used in the context of the "normalisation of deviance". Or in plain English, it means if you take a dumb risk and get away with it, you try it again, because it was OK before, yes? You ignore the risk and in the end crucially forget that the odds of the bad thing happening are the same as they ever were...
11th November 2010. Remembrance Day.
Today, take a moment consider those that died to protect this country and it's people, both in the Great Wars and other conflicts. Without this selfless duty we would not have our democracy, our comfortable homes, our easy lives. So spare a thought for them and be thankful.
And give some money for a Poppy which will help others remember and help those who fought and still suffer today.
12th November 2010. Travel-log...
Flying, especially long haul travel is for me like a plunge into a dark tunnel with distant light at the end. In general I take books for 'long-haul' and there's always the films and the plastic trays of cardboard food. Books it is. Taiwan via Hong Kong, long day...when I say 'day'...
Hsinchu city is a great mix of the modern and the less modern and my guide did a sterling job of showing me around - it smells like Singapore did, hot, damp and the smell of rancid standing water.
|Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city|
Sashimi (although Japanese in origin) tells you a lot. You pick the fish, a Red Mullet in this case, and then eat it raw with wasabi and soy, then miso soup made with head and fins and then grilled, all with noodles and vegetables. There's no escaping the link between the fish and the food and in the western world we've lost that and are poorer for it - I enjoyed it immensely.
Every morning the shuttle bus took me over the mountain and on one day passing through a village there was a lady wearing a pink "Betty Boop" T shirt, and I've no doubt in her heyday it would have worked but let's say now chronologically challenged and in some area gravitationally also, it was incongruous at the very least.
For all of the industry (the 'The Science Park' has 100K people and two universities) the thing which marks out the why Taiwan is still such a strong economy was shown to me in a '7-11'. We went in for a coffee to take to the sea. The girl behind the counter set my coffee running, served a customer, retrieved a meal box from the microwave for another then served cigarettes to a third in a neat and graceful little ballet, before presenting me my coffee. In the UK she'd have stood and watched the coffee trickle out, ignoring the lengthening queue.
|Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city|
There's a gully running in front of the Lakeshore Hotel with rank water in the bottom which varies between wide thin runs and narrow dark channels which swirl on their own. The occupants show complete indifference to bread, stolen from breakfast. I'm guessing some sort of predator but it's hard to say although there are a abundant herons and egrets about in the lower reaches. The Green Grass Lake is more a mud flat today, but the water there twitches beguilingly. An 'official' attraction, but the reservoir overlooked by lunch is far less organised and also teems with life, turtles which ducked before I could focus and long green grasshoppers which chatter away from your feet, never once sitting in shot, a pity, although not as much of a pity as getting spaghetti in Taiwan.
|Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city|
The night market was like all markets everywhere for second rate toot and cheap food, although it's busy, fizzing with people, it's more for show that buying. The warm damp evening air is full of the smell of hot deep fried dough, spices, cooked meat and a vague undercurrent of offal. There are more coloured lights than are really required to keep night at a fuzzy distance the other side of the stalls. I'm fascinated by quail eggs being hard poached in a metal block with holes in the top and then threaded onto bamboo skewers, an egg kebab. We miss the glass museum which is shut, but the lake at the front heaves with carp and cats that cluster by the railing as you walk, doubtless trained to expect food, involuntarily provided or otherwise by market-goers.
|Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city||Hsinchu city|
I'm almost sorry to leave, I quite like it here, the people bustle, there's vitality and people seem happy with life.
While travelling I'm constantly amazed at the stunning indiscretion of some. Getting on the bus morning two Americans got in behind me, one of them cracking his leg and this coupled with the slight slur of a man who knows he's slurring and covering it, tells me he's had a late night...however, they carried on a long and loud conversation about their meeting which, had I been on the opposite side of the table...and I hope one of the thick faces in the back of the minibus was. On my last morning at breakfast ,an American lady did the same with her phone and while this was in part attention seeking, had I been her competition she'd have been in trouble. Then there's the swaggerers, western business suits who walk like they've made it because they're on a business trip in China (or anywhere). Big bar bills, expensive restaurants, expenses a perk to be scarfed, snouts in the trough. Why would you wear your best whistle for breakfast by the way? Anyone can chuck food down their front by mistake.
|Water lilies in glass, Taiwan airport, quite brilliant||JAFH Shanghai - I have no memory at all of the hotel room in Taiwan|
What does all this have to do with the (very low here) price of fish? I'm weary I confess, worn threadbare with the common-room games the grown six-formers play. For many, business is only self promotion, the employer's covenant, to work for their interests, not yours, not even noticed, less often lip-serviced. I'm slightly outside this mind set, working for my employer, often in conflict with the "do as I say" types, which I've never minded per se, in the same way you excuse the brashness of most children. (I hasten to add that my immediate colleagues are not in that category, which has been a rare blessing.)
I've spent some two months way from home in week long blocks this year, something I didn't want to do again after the last time. 2 day and 3 day trips are ok in moderation but long blocks in hotel rooms just becoming dull, sapping enthusiasm for anything unless you are on your guard.
This year something changed, mid summer I sat down and set out to break this covenant for own benefit, my employer being swallowed up and in truth the job I liked ebbed away and the new one, non-optional, was not, is not my metier, so I've opted for keeping mum and taking the money until I reach the end of the period I've set for myself. I'm not altogether comfortable with this and that's the other half of the reasoning, that if I've got this far, it's time to move on. I've had enough.
Welcome to Taiwan.
|JAFH's next door coffee shop||Starbucks in the food court||peanut chicken, really very good indeed|
I was mugged in Shanghai airport as I left arrivals by a shorter and more Chinese 'Jacky Brown' who organised me a taxi with an English speaking driver with alarming efficiency and then snatched my suitcase to carry, despite the fact it was easier for me than her...the taxi driver learnt his English from the TV (he said) although we established he has one son who was three and all schools teach English now but not in his day and that he was from an old Shanghai family not 'new Shanghai'. We swapped numbers and arranged the return trip.
Friday was a waste of time, Saturday I skip the hotel bun-bath breakfast, which is like a blood-bath but stickier and slightly less fatal, and sit in the deserted adjoining coffee shop and drink espresso and eat blueberry bread. I debate shopping, but shops are shops and the Chinese food mall in the next block is more fun and I like to eat with chopsticks which raises the odd eyebrow but our Amah showed us in Singapore 'when I were a lad'. The hotel room has little cardboard tubes of Green Jasmine tea and I enjoy the making as much as the drinking watching the rolled green leaves unfurling in the hot water. This is new China, all shiny clean with nods to tradition. It's rationalised, organised, sterilised and I prefer Tsinchu's jostle of new and old.
|Sunday dinner, peanut chicken, spiced tea and plum juice||JAFH Bamboo grove||Monday lunch, side dishes - real Chinese food|
Striking by anyone for anything is simply illegal here. Did you know that?
All of which brings me to a totally new and unexpected experience.
|Chilli fish, Monday lunch, awesome||'Some Kind of muffins' - breakfast Tuesday, last day, home day||Noodles - Good-bye Shanghai|
I'm actually looking forward to seeing Heathrow.
20th November 2010. Packhorse Lake. Managed a carp and the other one caught four or five and a 1lb roach (OK, it's a hybrid, but still), so all in all a good result for a cold day. [C/1/0]
|The carp||the broach||the pitch||the float|
24th November 2010. The 'adjustabubble'. Picked a couple of these up in the USA, rather liked the idea.
|The adjustabubble...||...and how to use it|
28th November 2010. Triangle Pond. Blanked well and truly but did get to spend the day picking ice out of my tip ring and watching ice crystals grow in the margins. And probably in my bloodstream. Did I mention it was fricking freezing? Realised I was deficient in the "light tackle for the small stuff" area as well. Not something I do much, must try harder.
|Triangle Pond||Triangle Pond||Triangle Pond||Triangle Pond - it doesn't look nearly as cold as it was|
'Something' bit me on the wrist as well, which left my hand red and blotchy and oddly hyper-senstive for days.
30th November 2010. It's still cold and snowy, but don't say I didn't warn you. I am reminded that in 1992 I caught 5 pike through holes in the ice, three of them through holes I made myself, one of which was 17lb and in December 2008 I caught a hat-full of perch and roach in another self made patch of water, along with an 8lb common. If you brave the cold and the weather is settled, it's still possible to have some good sport. Of course sitting in front of a good fire is also quite nice - but after you've been out in the sharp cracked-ice cold a crackling fire has twice the comfort.
|crucian...(and back to the top of the page)||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Carassius Carassius||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian|
December 2010. The DIY 'Borrowing Kit'.
I went into an antique shop in Wimborne and behind the counter were two glass-front displays, one of shotgun cartridges (which Mrs AA bought me for my birthday) and one which had a line-drawn pheasant backdrop, a packet of fish-hooks, a box of raisins, an old miniature bottle of rum, a coil of fishing line, a couple of small paper cones and some wire nooses.
I laughed when I saw it and the custodian said something, I don't recall exactly what, but I knew what all of those things were for, Old Bob having used all of them at one time or another. We talked about that and the owner said very few people who came in knew the use of all of those bits. Wish I'd bought it now, some things come by only once.
5th December 2010. Court Barn Farm. Chippy, but little fish are sweet.
It was supposed to be unfrozen but in the event was ¾ frozen, with only a small patch by the footbridge clear and the top end of the lake. Having said that there was colour in the water, normally gin clear and when I got to the bridge, a duck huddled under the soft-rush ran for it, making slightly less noise than an air-raid siren fired out of a catapult, which made the other clear patch more interesting.
The sun was out at the start but only 45 minutes in some cold cloud blew down the valley and scrubbed at the skin on my hands. Oh good. In the end despite the colour, that water was only some three feet deep and after some mucking about I ended up with a slender thin tipped float over a size 14 and went for a steady but light feed of maggots, corn and hemp for my 3½ hours.
Towards the middle of the afternoon it was clear there were fish under the fringe of the ice, so I tried small bits of bread which were played with and eventfully I put a large pinch of flake on a size 10 and bunged a quill over onto the end with the other rod. I did get a bite in the end and my hopeful and perhaps cautious strike skittered out a rudd of about 2oz. I went back to the light rod. Well I say 'light' but it's the Chapman 500 and even this is on the heavy side for these bits and pieces. I might have to dust off my float rod, which needs a new handle. A bit before 4pm a grain of corn got this 12oz roach, the pick of the day, along with an 8oz rudd, which flipped out of the net, so no picture, for the size unremarkable but the gold with red flags were worth a snap.
|Not promising, but I'm here now.||A glitter of small ones, plus the 10oz'er||The ice and the float||The mist which came down with the tmeperature.|
Now my fingers are really numb and starting to burn on the 'pin-metal, the surface of the water is starting to develop ice crystals and the line freezes solid in the tip eye, but then it 'thawed' to a mere -1°C, at least that's what the car said. I save my last cup of Carbost boosted Lapsang for the car to warm my hands in parallel with the warming engine. So in the end, 10 Perch, 22 Rudd and 11 Roach although the star of the day was the 12oz roach.
12th December 2010. Court Barn. Not as chippy, little fish not so sweet today: I reckoned on getting almost three hours of watery sunshine and rigged the old float rod up with a 44x, 4lb main and 3lb hook-link, fine as a hair and thin wire size 14 under a pole float, balanced with three shot in descending size and a micro swivel, which I've found is the only really reliable way to join mono of different thicknesses. This caught me a score of fish in the sunshine, the majority of them on a fold of bread pinched on the hook to keep the perch away. I munched a warm chicken and leek pie, until abruptly bored with the roach and rudd twanging the long spindly rod I switched to 4lb line through and a size 10 planning to catch one of the bigger roach perhaps. Half a solution saw the stamp increase a little but in the end any size of bread was mobbed and whittled, three grains of corn caught greedy 4oz rudd and lacking a bait that could be made into larger size, I switched to ten maggots which caught me rudd and perch as well as the fine thread first put on. I've remembered why that rod's been on the shelf for about five years - I really don't like how it feels.
|Court Barn||Court Barn||Court Barn|
I packed up before dusk with half a flask of tea left and a strong feeling I was at the wrong water fishing for the wrong thing at the wrong time...
16th December 2010. Reel life. The plan was to pike-fish on the Frome. I got up, found out the pike gear, put 12lb on the 'pin, made the coffee, put the pie in to warm. Hit the post office and got the potatoes and got to the river at 12:10. Got the rod up and realised the landing net was handle was in the study. Cr@p. Went home, it started raining, there goes the piking. Now I'm in the same state of mind as 'Steve, Clem, Hobbsy, John, Crazy Dil & Pappy' even though I'm not travelling second class. TFH...they wern't too fecking happy.
18th December 2010. Matchless. The plan was that today would be the club Christmas match. Despite the venue being north facing and on average 2°C colder than the surroundings, BBC weather telling me it would be -10°C for the two previous nights and -4°C for the days and 6" of snow everywhere, no-one could have foreseen the match would be cancelled due to the venue being frozen solid. I slid over as a commitment is a commitment and after being told, ("quelle surprise") that match was off I decided I'd fish a gap by an overflow as I was there already.
|...meanwhile, out on the Tundra...||...there's always a chance||...tranquil or 'frozen immobile', you choose.|
Anyway the coffee would have been wasted otherwise. It was tranquil and despite expecting a fish at any time, after three hours of rotating bread, maggots and curried bacon grill, I packed away having bagged no more than pictures, including a thrush ice-driven to hop hopefully. Even the King of Fishers was stuck for a bite, although inconsiderately he would only pose with the light behind him. Ah well.
|cute, but it would look better gone.||poseur||a cold Thrush|
31st December 2010. I'd planned even today to slip out to a water which would given me an even chance of a carp to round me up to '100' for the year, just vanity (in any event, it turned out that I can't add up and when the site was automated in late 2017, there were 100 carp of over 2lb anyway). Nevertheless, the final tallies for 2010 are: 100 carp in total with 32 double-figure fish. There you go, I'll not bother with that again.
Plans for this holiday, for gudgeon on the Thames and pike on the Frome have all come to nothing, slain by the virus which may or may not have been 'flu, leaving Christmas decorations scattered in it's wake as well as fishing tackle. Here's to 2011Yep. Did it all again.... Happy New Year all, be lucky.
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
I've decided to record what I read, more out of interest for myself than anything else.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
|12:39pm on 2018-07-19|