2021 - 'Seventeenth'

That was an extraordinary 12 months, I hope you found your way through OK. The coming year will be marked by the maelstroms of the 'new normal'. These useful observations may help:

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." ~~ Maya Angelou ~~ 

"Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right" ~~ Ricky Gervais ~~ 

In other news 'operation thinnerangler' is going well and the goal, that is, to be ~ ¾ of 'anotherangler', is within sight. There may be subsiduary goals after this...

Remember also; "This too shall pass".

The previous years of the 'Diary', such as it might be termed, can be reached via the below links.

This is the 2021 'blog page, which displays in reverse date order, i.e. with the latest entry at the top. The 2021 diary page, i.e. with the earliest entry at the top is here.

KingfisherJAA's Diary for... 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021

Year 2021's months... JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

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

April 2021

2021 - All Change  12th April 2021. Dearie Dearie Me.

I was perusing the new-fangled DTV's program schedules and came across a programme description which included the question; "Plus, is the human-wolf hybrid spreading across the US?"

No. It is not.
*shakes head despairingly*

2021 - All Change  11th April 2021. Holtwood Pools. Tench and crucian.

I arrived as a squall dumped wrinkled bolts of ice everywhere, as if 10p sized pieces of ice had been scraped from a giant wind-screen then swept onto the ground. Huh. The sun threatened and eventually chiselled through, but I tackled up with ice bouncing of my fingers and eliciting soft metallic noises from the reel. Sparingly baiting a small patch by some marginally dead weeds, I was slightly surprised by small perch and roach, perhaps a little more by the first tench – the water was 9°C and quite clear, if dark. The next 90 minutes brought tenches, roaches and a few more swivel-eyed small perch. Quite cold though so I strolled to the car and back to warm the blood. After I returned the sun beamed solidly for the next two hours, the water hit 10°C and even a crucian appeared. After this balmy period, when the bank was a fine warm place to sit, the evening stole the heat, more tench came along although the average size dropped as dusk approached, which is interesting.

Holtwood PoolsThe pitchHoltwood PoolsAcross the pond, where spring is happening right this instantHoltwood PoolsThere's alway one. In fact, 'five'.
Holtwood PoolsThe finest tench Holtwood PoolsThe sole crucian
Holtwood PoolsFour of the bestHoltwood PoolsJust a really nice colourHoltwood PoolsNine of the best

Slightly ahead of sunset and chilly again, I gave in and looking into the sun, headed west.

Kinda feel that I missed out on the crucians and that I might have set the float more carefully to that end. Next time.

2021 - All Change  4th April 2021. Swallows. Sure, one doesn't make a summer, or even two, but they were back perched on the wires this morning, and now flying in and out of the garage.

2021 - All Change  1st April 2021. Packhorse. I have maggots to use up and it’s warm. In the sun it was warm, in the wind it was not, so I nipped back to the DT'Driving Technology' for the beanie. The thermometer in the water started at 11°C and is now 11.3°C, the float has flicked once, and there are signs of 'drive bys' sudden calms, odd large ripples radiating out against the chop and carp have rolled. At this point I was optimistic, but the carp faded, the float never moved and in the last hour of three I added maggots and bread to a size 10, a search for data, and neither was marked despite the water reaching 11.7°C (with some strange sudden vacillations of 0.5°C).

Kingsbridge PackhorseSpring stuffKingsbridge PackhorseSpring stuffKingsbridge PackhorseMargin fishing

I decamp for the corner, on the basis that it will be warmer and sinking flake against the reeds often does well at dusk. Here the water is 12.2°C and although initially optimistic, this too stretches into a dull tan experience, the float never moving, so I muse on the excellent “Immoderate Greatness” and resolve to write something about it. Another angler comes by and we talk of mullet in Weymouth harbour, of eels and of various lakes about the place. Because of this chat, covering bait, water temperature and DO'Dissolved Oxygen', I realize I’ve fished Widgeon twice but only recorded it once, so have to fix that now.

The fisherman over the lake packs up and after a while I realise it's taken him 45 minutes. Immediately he (finally) departs a pair of magpies descend on his pitch driving off a pair of loitering black-headed gulls, then pick off the scattered bait on the bank.

Kingsbridge PackhorseOne of the new floatsKingsbridge PackhorseOne of the new floatsKingsbridge PackhorseThere was a pair, but they brought me no joy of fishes; I shall file a complaint.

I decide to pack when the water and air temperature converge; there's still hope and I'm enjoying the fishing. In the end I packed (in 4-5 minutes) and left ahead of this convergence, before last-light and after the third time the carpistas from the other side walk behind me to ground-bait ‘their’ swims on this bank.

It occurs, as I walk myself warm, that in my mind this is a reliable fishery for getting one’s string pulled, but recent forays do not bear this out at all. Blasted data getting in the way of ‘knowing’ there...dammit I miss Arfleet...

The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page) Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream Thymallus Thymallusgrayling The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus The Lady of the Streamgrayling Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus

March 2021

2021 - All Change  30th March 2021. The Saxon Ponds. The plan was to try and catch something (anything) at the tail end of the season. Pete had tried manfully, if not fruitfully, to catch from the lower pond, something he’d abandoned in favour of lunch by the time I pootle up. There is little evidence of fish in the lower pond and it is too weedy to net, so it looks as if opening the sluice and catching the fish en passant might be the only option. Hm. We talk of this and that; at least ‘lockdown’ has eased so we might have an actual work-party, as opposed to ‘work-pairs’.

Pete opts to have another go and I opt for the sun on the South bank, a triumph of optimism and warm weather over common sense. Maggots, hemp-seed, a size 16 and a mere 10mm of thin cane peeking from the surface tension; I had expected it to be slow. It is...

...although I recover from my own idée fixe in time to tweak the hook into a roach which obligingly nips of with two red maggots. Aha. Honour satisfied I take stock of the surroundings and a few pictures, and in this way miss a bite that results in a solid nick. This feels larger but one cannot know for sure...

...after some time passes I change the maggots for a pinch of bread. Sensibly (I know...) I hold the rod, and as a result, the sudden subsidence of the tip didn’t catch me unaware, well not completely; something solid beetles about in a manner that might have been awkward in the summers’ lilies, but today is a pleasing minor inconvenience. A crucian, a surprise, but no less welcome for that...

The Saxon PondsPretty, even with the ropesThe Saxon PondsThe answer to the question, ''How good is my new camera's zoom?'' is ''Pretty good.''The Saxon PondsAh go on...

...I was still clutching said rod when Pete arrived at 4pm-ish, and he having met with the same success as in his pre-prandial session opted, in view of the evidence, to fish a little along the bank. Thus it was, we both spend the next 90 minutes catching nothing at the same time...interrupted by the stockman arriving to return some errant sheep from the yard back into the meadow...the sun shines, things buzz pleasantly by, startled awake bumblebees mooching about and a convention of toads in the left-hand reed bed generating fish-like ripples and a continual series of convivial ‘quark-quark’ sounds. In our favour insects are hatching, occasional bursts of 4-5 emergers which hints at the warming waters (9.4°C) and lengthening days, all of which suggests fish are well advised to be abroad.

Sometime around 6ish, Pete starts ‘last casts’ and my float tip starts on a long series of tiny movements which results in several optimistic strikes and exactly no fish. Naturally, as Pete’s valedictory car clears the gate, my float zips under. Naturally I miss. The next hour is punctuated by a roach that took the bait ‘on the drop’, a crow chasing a squirrel with predatory intent (the crow finally foxed when the quarry ran vertically down an ivy’d oak-trunk) and a series of bites that barely qualified as such. Rum.

The Saxon PondsBecause it's perfectThe Saxon PondsThe emphemera of the slow dayThe Saxon PondsRoaches

The distant church bells announce ‘7’, I nick off another roach, then a second, then catch two in quick succession, which is why after the next strike when the rod yanks hard around, I realise my fingers had stiffened with cold. The cause gallops off under the left-hand ropes and then, chastened by the warming effect of the reel-rim on my thumb, decides it prefers the dogwood branches, obliging me to stand and move hard right. Ms. Tench now zips off the other way. This repeats for a few diminishing cycles, and so I net a fine lean tench. Hrh.

Now nearing half-light and the air smells of the damp descending the little valley, so I commence last casts and land a nice roach, an actual ‘netter’, then ‘call it’ when the first bat swerves to investigate my mid-cast float. Chilly by now, my fingers could do with loosening somewhat to tackle down.

The Saxon PondsThe lone crucian, 1lb 14oz. For a moment I thought I'd caught my third 1lb 15oz'er The Saxon PondsThe 4lb destroyer of swims - somewhat hampered in its efforts by there being no lily patches to bolt into.

I’ve had worst days mid-summer. I put on some ‘Good Times Bad Times’ and, dodging a barn owl at the bottom of Donhead Hollow, pootle back.

2021 - All Change  23rd March 2021. Word-of-the-Day: 'ilunga'.

ilunga n. A Bantu word meaning 'a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time'.

I just love that any culture at all has a word for that.

2021 - All Change  19th March 2021. Mappowder

I wanted to fish for bites, but lacking the resolve to try a ‘commercial’ or possibly the resolve to drive that far, I head here and circle Spring Lake once (pocketing a surface controller, odd for a venue where surface baits are banned) then decide I like the look of the reedy corner. Although the water is only two feet deep I keep it simple, cockles over hemp, and await events. A couple of events start nudging the reeds opposite, so I pluck off the tell-tale, pinch flake onto the hook and coiling line on the unhooking mat, lob it to the reeds. The float barely cocks...so not a blank. I return to the hemp-bed, two more carp come along, but with more float movements than I could exchange for fish, I drop both the hook-link and the hook-size to ‘tiny’, evict the robin I’d invited to wallow in my maggot box, then fish out a rudd and a gudgeon. I decide to fish for gudgeon.

Mappowder SpringThe pitchMappowder SpringFishing for bitesMappowder SpringFishing for bites

The afternoon trots along pleasantly enough, it seemed as if each time the sun broke through a skylark sang in the field next door, a trick, it was there all the time, and a woodpecker did its thing on some distant hollow bough. Properly bucolic. Despite adding a no.4 half-an-inch from the hook, to zip past the rudd and get the bait down with the gonks, I run out with 18 nuisance rudd, 3 nuisance roach, 3 nuisance perch, 1 nuisance bream, 1 nuisance roach-bream hybrid of about 2lb, 5 nuisance carp and 12 gudgeon. Heh.

Mappowder SpringThe blank breaking carpMappowder SpringThe cork-ball specialMappowder SpringThe surprisingly unexploded robin
Mappowder SpringRepresentative perchMappowder SpringThe roach-bream hybridMappowder SpringRepresentative rudd
Mappowder gudgeonsGudgeonMappowder gudgeonsGonk, a very fat gonk.Mappowder gudgeonsGobbyMappowder gudgeonsgobio gobioMappowder gudgeonsGudgeon
Mappowder gudgeonsGonkMappowder gudgeonsGobbyMappowder gudgeonsgobio gobioMappowder gudgeonsGudgeonMappowder gudgeonsGonkMappowder gudgeonsgobio gobio (that's 11, one escaped while being photographed...)

I start to pack, poke a goose that’d detected a ‘packing up food source’, put the maggot box a few feet away and robin waded back in. A solid rise by the reeds incentivised me to change the hook, add a pinch of flake and lob it over as before and I whip out a couple more small carp for the fun of it. I tip the casters and the few remaining maggots onto the path, poke the geese again, left the robin to eat itself silly and head off to the strains of "Rappalachia".

Mappowder SpringLate afternoon. Evenings are starting to draw out now.

2021 - All Change  13th March 2021. The Saxon Ponds

This was well meant but possibly ill-conceived. I took some maggots and hemp to the top pond, thinking it might have warmed enough. In this I was incorrect. On arriving the air was a balmy 8°C, the water on the south bank the same. I tackled up, hope over expectation. The wind swung around and the temperature dropped to 4°C and my core temperature, addled by a vaccination, followed suit. To warm up, I went around taking the temperature of the water and nowhere was as warm as my spot on the south bank which is odd, but notable. I dug in for three hours and although the sun came out aperiodically, it was for the most part cloudy with thin needling showers, several of which, being ice, rattled through the dogwoods and pattered off my coat. Hm. After three hours, I’d had enough, too cold to enjoy even the thinnest chance of sport. I packed up.

The Saxon PondsWhen the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite niceThe Saxon PondsThe bait of the day. I used a little loose hemp as well.The Saxon PondsThe float of the day.
The Saxon PondsWhen the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite niceThe Saxon PondsThe back end of the four-piece and the Cardinal 44xThe Saxon PondsI was forced to improvise a rod-rest. I say 'forced'...
The Saxon Ponds' inlet streamThe Saxon Ponds' inlet stream The Saxon Ponds' inlet streamThe Saxon Ponds' inlet stream

The last two shots are of the feeder stream the head of the pond, in principle a silt trap, although currently it has 5½ feet of silt in it.

2021 - All Change  10th March 2021. Hemp Saga. Three entire sacks of hemp. Sack one, provenance forgotten, simply didn’t split very well although I persisted with it and crushed/liquidised the cooked grains to add to the mix. After a year I gave up and bought sack two. This was worse. I very gently suggested to the vendor I’d not buy it again, although it was hardly his fault, because only about 20% of the grains split, whatever I did with it. Soaked, boiled etc.. He decently and swiftly replaced it with another vendor’s. This was no better, and although he assured me he wasn’t out of pocket, I didn’t really want to dampen his enthusiasm for ‘above and beyond’ customer service, so I cooked/crushed/liquidised for a period. This year, tired of this, I bought a well known make’s hempseed ‘especially for fishing’, something I’d hitherto thought priced for reassuring expense. Put a pint in a flask, un-soaked, boiling water for five minutes, drained it, refilled using a fresh kettle and left overnight. Result; beautifully split shiny black hempseed, 70-80% split. Perfect. Smelled lovely. Ah well, gotta pay more I guess.

Hempseed. Carp for the attraction of.Hempseed. Carp for the attraction of.

2021 - All Change  9th March 2021. The Treadmill Pond. There is a small dew-pond behind the lab, there are a couple more about the place as well. This one has a few goldfish, but also five nice common carp, three of which were sunbathing at lunchtime.

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

February 2021

2021 - All Change  25th February 2021. Treadmill. Arriving on Monday I recognised the junction, although the new buildings were ‘new’. Today, before the day’s work rose, I slotted my coffee into the DT'Driving Technology'’s cup-holder to cool, then took a stroll. Past the old stables, the keeper's cottage, down the road and around the corner was the building I recalled, the one with the big white dishes. Aha. A quick calculation, probably 1998. Funny how familiar places keep coming round.

2021 - All Change  22nd February 2021. Treadmill. Short sentence. Perhaps time off for good behaviour? First offence Lord (Plank is God).

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

January 2021

2021 - All Change  29th January 2021. The First Floats...of 2021.

For no good reason I decided to add a few small quills to my already over-full float tubes. This was in part due to the use one such short quill got at the expense of many others and in part due to the difficulty of finding ‘said quill. So I made some 4” and 5” crow-quills, based on primary wing-feathers gleaned from a field of wheat-stubble several years back, then stripped and stored in a 'Laphroaig' whisky tube.

These are perhaps 3mm at the tip, so carry little weight. Their main use will be for margin fishing, letting me know if a fish has taken the bait and run away. For this purpose, that is for larger baits and shy biting fish (a shy bite being one which is inhibited by resistance) they are ideal. They also have a buoyancy that is rather better than the cork-ball bobbers, these latter being fine floats but less effective in turbulent water.

The less causal reader will know that I often chose a windward swim in all but the coldest weather, i.e. when the air is colder than the water. As my blood thins with increasing years, I may yet give up suffering the cold for the sake of a few more fish. Still.

Some more crow-quill floatsRuler, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill.

Four are 4”, two are 5” and the tips are translucent, created with orange and pink highlighters. The eyes are simple loops of 20lb ‘Alasticum’, the back banding on the tips is 6/0 black thread. Of course, the other advantage they have over cork-ball bobbers is that they are far prettier.

2021 - All Change  27th January 2021. Warm. Relatively.

I needed to get out and today the wind warmed, the rain was light so I parked at the lee end of the lake, even though I knew in my heart it was the wrong end. I spent a couple of hours waiting and watching the reeds occasionally being shoved rudely aside, so thought there was a chance. Mid afternoon I checked the water temperature at 4.9°C and the air at 11°C so thought, as nearly all the others had gone, I’d try the warm end. Here the water was a balmy 5.6°C. Not that this made much difference. Once the float slid under, exactly when I was trying to get dead maggots out of a bag to embellish the hook. What are the odds? I kept the bread on the hook and with the light fading, the water boiled downwind of the float, which kept me interested right up to the end, even though the rain, steadily dampened hat, trews, rod-bag, rucksack and made my rod-hand pale blue. Nearly had one...

Kingsbridge PackhorseOne of those days when orange worked best Kingsbridge PackhorseWet, cold...

2021 - All Change  25th January 2021. The Weather Dog.

It is often the case that knowing the state of the weather is useful information. However, to actually go outside in the weather is often at the bottom of one’s list of priorities, at least until the state of clemency is ascertained.

What to do?

I give you 'The Weather Dog'. The ideal weather dog is slow moving and likes to play outside. One opens the door, propels the weather dog into the weather, shuts the door and waits. Interpretation is key:

Dog immediately wants to come in, dog very wet: raining hard.
Dog immediately wants to come in, dog dry: null; dog playing ‘inny-outy’.
Dog spends some time outside, comes in damp: light rain.
Dog spends some time outside, returns dry, with cold ears: cold and dry.
Dog spends some time outside, returns with snow on head: snowing.
Dog returns with ears inside out: very windy.
Dog goes to back door, sneaks back to the hall and smugly nudges your leg: dog outsmarted owner.
Dog returns looking pleased with herself: watch where you walk.

Today, sadly, the weather dog had to be put on The Long Black Train. This is an experience I don’t endorse. Buggrit. All very subdued here today.

2021 - All Change  8th January 2021. Still Allowed Out...

Well, at least we can still go fishing; Covid-19 Statement from the Angling Trust: Update January 7th 2021.

 Random Fish Random Fish Random Fish

2021 - All Change  2nd January 2021. The Last Floats...of 2020.

Top to bottom:

Pheasant quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over white paint, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent orange painted tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over white paint, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent orange painted tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent orange highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
It's a ruler, obviously
Crow quill, fluorescent orange painted tip
Raven quill, fluorescent orange painted tip
Reed-Mace stick float, fluorescent orange painted tip.

Some quill floatsQuill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, ruler, quill, quill, stick.

The tip colours flare a bit in the photo as I failed to work out how to keep the overall light level good while avoiding the slight over-exposure on the tips. Still, that is their job. I might even use a couple of these, although while I like the raven quill float a lot, I've no idea where (around here) I might find a use for it.

2021 - All Change  1st January 2021. Twenty Twenty-One. 600pV signal detection. Really. Impressive eh? And you think a size 20 hook is small.

Here is something to ponder as we head back out into the light:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." ~~ Upton Sinclair ~~ 

Do meaningful things, keep thinking critically, catch fish and have a Happy New Year.

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