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.
|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|
24th July 2021.
"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering." ~~ Freeman Dyson ~~
21st July 2021. Bullfinch.
A hot and sticky evening, the fish were capricious and my hopes for the tench, initially raised by a small one followed by a solid crucian, were then dashed by a pestilence of small crucians that toyed with the float and occasionally impaled themselves on the hook not meant for them.
|They were there, I was there...||The evening's pitch||A wood-pecker mounted an assault on the dying ash across the pond.|
The evening's highlight was a bull-finch that appeared from the bush a few feet away, nodded as if to say “Oh, hello.” then hopped unhurriedly back. A wood-pecker mounted an assault on the dying ash across the pond. Tench burbled through the swim at annoyingly frequent intervals; I went through every sort of bait in the bucket and by dusk had conceded it was a ‘fishing is good, catching is bad’ evening. One of those. I hooked pinches of white-sliced and batted for my average.
The moon rose through the ash, I lit the float-tip with a subtly collimated torch beam and somewhere between the fourth and fifth chime of ten, the tip winked out of sight and there was the last crucian.
|The moon rose through the ash...||...and there was the last crucian.|
20th July 2021. Not Raining. Dammit, I wish it would.
19th July 2021. I'm All Right, Jack. On a winding down whim today, I tried Hoe Lane. It cuts almost a mile of the annoying last leg to the treadmill, but is no quicker, being one of those lanes with ‘passing places’. Still. I’m glad I did it, Jack-in-the-Green is down there, sitting quietly under oaks and old hedges, and there are two red-brick houses with blue-slate roofs, something I like to see. As it happened, it was the last of these journeys due to monumentally ‘interesting’ commercial management, so I did it again on the way home. Motorways and powerlines, Jack’s still here. Heh.
17th July 2021. Lastlight.
Saturday night, I felt the fever grow, had to fish, hot day ameliorated by a persistent north breeze, Martin and Martin's parasol occupied 'Land’s End', I opted for the perfectly pleasant shade of Jim’s Oak. The fish were feeding well, I bumped off a small tench on the pondweed, caught small cru’s steadily, lost a big tench when the hook, required to stop a headlong rush into the lilies, turned out to be lily-livered.
|The Pitch||Some Fishes||The Pitch|
I removed three crayfish (worrying trend), dropped a hook size and despite missing many bites, enjoyed myself. I worked through a small flask of tea, a water vole scrabbled through the reeds, I listened to something crunching through a crayfish supper; the light fell, Martin appeared valedictorially, I was blessed by a small tench – the fish were moving steadily further from the bank, I was casting at the end of the lilies by now - the owls were on call and response. When the 10 o’clock peal was imminent, a last cast and last bite brought one of the finer ones. Yep.
|Last Light||Last Crucian|
As I cleared the dam, the barn owl glid across, barely past the front of the bonnet, then another, in the middle of a red-eyed dream, crossed my path on the high road.
15th July 2021. The Prong Goes Home. The prong (the kind of multi-tined pitchfork usually seen outside a rouge scientist’s gothic laboratory, being brandished by an enraged villager carrying a flaming torch) had made a number of round-trips to The Ponds and it was good to hand it back, mended.
Fishing was a little slow to get moving, although Pete had several fish, including the pick of the evening’s cru’s, before I opened any kind of account. This is good fishing, though it seems that once the hand-sized fish arrive, the chance of a large crucian shrinks rapidly, as do the odds of a large tench – as previously noted, catching the tench requires fishing in such a way as to exclude small crucians – but I had a fine evening with a score of cru’s, one solid well-muscled 3lb+ tench, a perch and a small perfect roach.
|cru'||The usual pitch||cru'|
Moby Dick wandered up and down ‘as usual’, perch strikes are becoming a regular occurrence, Golden-Ringed Dragonflies darted about, all in all, just another fine evening’s sport. A privilege, that’s what it is.
|It landed there. So I snapped it and popped it back.||Not the finest picture of a fine tench|
Pete went on before dusk, I stayed until the church-bell pealed 10 and in the last half-hour the float never moved. Along the ridge the crescent moon kept pace with the DT'Driving Technology' and ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’, an illusion. But a good one.
|Cleverly, it has the wing on the paint side folded, otherwise it would be very visible (a Mottled Beauty I think).|
This is just a well camouflaged moth on the door-frame, kinda liked it.
11th July 2021. Still Raining. Dammit.
10th July 2021. Raining, Dammit.
7th July 2021. It's Spinning Fast...
3rd July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Dam, Rod. So; I spent an hour on the damn'd dam wall, the wind blew the line into tangles around the ‘pin, the float never twitched and it dawned on me, slowly, that slumping on a wall is for younger bodies. I headed for the south bank which luckily had a chair.
|the dam pitch||Easy chair fishing pitch|
This was a different and more copiously loaded proverbial kettle – I used the tiniest porcupine quill, second-hand with a tip of perhaps a centimetre of faded orange and then rapt on the tiny lifts and dips of this, caught cru’s steadily and forgot all about why I’d actually come up this evening.*
|A pyrites of crucians||A pyrites of crucians||A pyrites of crucians|
Things slowed a little as the light fell, a wood wasp droned about, it got to the time when I could barely see the spike of the float and bats were swerving at my casts. Then a white spectre floated up the centre of the pond, veered right through the gap next' the pine, glanced over its shoulder, as if to check I was watching, then wheeled left up the meadow. All in complete silence but for the water shushing in the culvert under the dam. The spike stabbed into the black and I caught a fine roach; last cast then.
|A decent roach, perhaps 1lb.|
‘Hello Meteor’ for the road home.
* I'd re-modified (‘shortened’ as engineers would say ) the 'light tip' of the four piece Avon by removing 3", which made far more difference than one might expect; this brought the t/c up to something like 1lb 4oz. It's still a little soft in the tip, thinner carbon maybe, another inch off might not hurt, but is was a joy to fish with, but I'd like to get into a large tench or two to test it properly.
2nd July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Home Turf.
An 'it’s been along week' session, and I opted for 'Jim’s Swim', which, targeting the tench with larger baits, yielded not a single bite in 90 minutes, then one; which I missed. As small cru’s abounded, I dropped a hook size, put on small bites, and caught a dozen crucians and a lone tench of perhaps 8oz. I switched back to large baits to wait for larger tenches and drank small cups of tea in the meantime. Despite the sultry overcast evening, some might say 'good for tenches', no other tenches came.
|Jim's Pitch||The quill and the ripples||The path back to the dam|
|One of thirteen||Minature tench|
A fine evening; I yard-and-barn packed with the sheep’s bleats in the background, so to ease back into real life I select “Animals’, skip forward to ‘Sheep’, somewhere near Compton Abbas this overruns into “Wish You Were Here”. Never did find out which one was ‘Pink’.
|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|
25th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Curate's Egg.*
|...on arrival...one of these evenings I'm going to fish from the dam|
Another sultry tench evening – but different to last week. A cool breeze kept the fish from feeding until 7:30 or so, then the swim went nuts with priming and bubbles, a weaker angler would have tied on a size 16 and cleaned up, but I stuck to my tench-plan... which was, possibly due to education and the frenzied activity of the hand-sized, only mildly successful; I had one fat tinca and a scare from Moby Dick, who briefly tailed-up near the float...but to compensate, the goddess of small ponds granted me two fine crucians among a clutch of smaller greedier fish, the last of which came at near-last light, the camera failing and I couldn’t be hedgehogged to set up the flash. The church clock struck ten, I counted the chimes. That’ll do.
|The small porcupine quill and the lilies||The small porcupine quill and the midges||...and a scare from Moby Dick...|
|Some small greedy crucians||The single tench||A compensatory crucian|
|The church clock then struck 10pm, I counted the chimes.||Blurry, but warm in the hand even this late in the evening.|
Packed the gear into the DT'Driving Technology' - a colleague recently observed that I didn't seem like the sort of person that drives this make of DT. Clearly, I need to work on my image. and realised I'd picked up the wrong Harlow. I thought casting was trickier this evening - it has 8lb line.
* In this instance the implication is that it was literally good for the most part.
20th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Phalanx*. I returned with the Harlow, new 6lb line, the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment, plain hemp, cockles, ‘SB3’** and whatever else was in the bait bucket. I was ‘loaded for tench’ and as luck would have it was a heavy sultry kind of evening that you'd consider to be perfect tench fishing weather...
|The swim...||...the path by the water...||...the first and least effective float...||...and the gear.|
...to my surprise, I then caught two perch and two small crucians on some fat fresh cockles. Hm. Still. On a whim I put on a piece of SB3. Then it got interesting...
Also; it turns out the LHSRE and the Harlow is a great tenching combo.
* This is my new collective noun for tench.
** It's not that secret, but it's a small pond and I'd prefer to educate the tench myself.
18th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds.
I picked a north bank swim, new-cut, as I liked the look of it but more critically, it provided shelter from the prevailing weather, a lot of which was wet and slanted. I picked up small cru’s steadily, a couple of roach, inevitable small perch, a porpoising tench, lost another which pulled the hook (grr...), took a large crucian, a few more small then opted, after another hook-pull - a large crucian - to change the hook up one size and fish some cockles.
The last two hours were slow, not slow enough to avoid losing another two large fish to hook-pulls and by then, fairly sure the portmanteau tip of the four-piece was not doing its job, I put the original tip back on; then lost another in the same way. I was becoming obsessive regarding the sharpness of the hook-point, so it wasn’t that.
WTFI am not entirely cognisant of the circumstances relevant to the current situation.?
|64oz right on the nose||Four of the best||1lb 10oz, where are those 2lb cru's?|
|The view across the pond - really awful job the camera did on this view, sawing off the light background with a blunt knife, it looks like.|
I decided to drink some tea and fish massive bunches of maggots on a small quill. This still caught small cru's. Annoying. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this tip was not setting the hook. I chatted with NR, who'd caught several tench but oddly no crucians and he‘d lost a few to hook pulls as well; so I'm now wondering if the lift method which works well for the most part, is not ideal for the larger cru’s with a larger bait. I pondered on the wisdom of a small quill, a 'BB', two inches over-depth and fresh cockles over pure hemp for next time.
Plus I'll do some test curve measurements on the portmanteau 4-piece. And I’ll fish either the GTI or the LHSRE instead. Probably.
16th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Obviously.
The alarm clock hurt somewhat, frakking early, heat under the coffee pot, ate toast, not because I wanted it but because lunch was half a day away, then drove through thick mist, under 40mph, fog-lights and wipers. Strands of the same mist hung about the blue-grey pond, then there were roach, then perch and then crucians, one whomping but oddly subdued tench, then the sun was up. By "Pete's Rounds" I'd had a score or more or hand-sized cru's and a few larger ones. The aide memoire of the man himself recalled Pete's prong was broken yet, mending is now tomorrow's task.
|Strands of the same mist hung about the blue-grey pond...||...then the sun was up.|
There seemed to me to be a lack of wildlife – swallows seem sparse this year, the garage birds are absent, none grace the water today and I've yet to see a kingfisher or sparrowhawk today, although a woodpecker drummed further up the valley. Possibly the increased landscaping/human activity here has changed the dynamic.
|...one whomping but oddly subdued tench...||Just one of the prettier ones.||Highbacked 1lb 13oz|
|1lb-ish||longer but 'only' 1lb 10oz.||The path home...|
I fished on, drank more coffee, hooked a good tench, the hook-hold losing the battle to keep it out of the oddly reduced lily patch. Crucians arrived at regular intervals and as I hit the road and the sun hit the overhead, they were still biting. But enough; 'Tangerine Dream', a cup of tea, snatched back an hour of sacrificed sleep, planted some beans before the rains came and wondered if I'm perhaps too old for this stuff.*
Good fishing mind you.
* Just kidding. Of course I'm not. Ridiculous notion. *snorts derisively*
15th June 2021. 'The 16th' Eve. Coffee pot ready to go. Check. Just got back from 220 miles round trip in blistering heat. Tired. Eyes hurt. 4lb line on the 'pin. Check. Put float-stops and mini-link-swivel on 'said 4lb line and tied on a small sharp hook. Maggots kept fresh by rotated freezer packs still alive, or at least 'not dead'. Check. Currently doubting wisdom of 4am start...be lucky.
12th June 2021. Brew. A quick Saturday morning dibble, The Woodsman having the tea brewed as I arrived. Quite right too. There are fish about, carp and tench, it’s bright, sunny, hot, we found some shade and fished for a couple of hours, hoping one of the carp would pass by, which they did, but they didn’t tarry. One of them was large enough to set the pulses racing. We chewed fat then pottered off in different d.’s. I tried Tomkins for a while, a spell in well-down water in the day’s highest heat. Predictably carp-less I wondered back, put up a pike of a foot or so, re-chatted with TWStill 'The Woodsman' for a bit, he opting for a look-see at Spinnaker and I opting to stroll down to Edwards’ for the same, passing by a far larger pike, which reminded me of the soft roach lure and wire coiled in the bag’s depths...the walk down to the far pool was worthwhile as it happened. I’ll be back.
|The corner pitch and the two rods.||Flowers. Nature innit.|
|Crowe Pool||The HSSRE and the '66x, poised. Well 'resting' then.||Crowe Pool|
1st June 2021. Songline. It's a score of years since I last went to this industrial park. The M4 junction on the way always recalls an ATM traffic management IC ('RCMP'?), doubtless reviewing it for some 'important meeting'; the broad sweeping right-hand curve down towards Yate is pleasing and familiar. Coffee-stopped at Yate shopping centre, and if anyone is wondering where the 1970's are, they are holed up in this arcade's concrete brutalism.
Returning; past the 'Toll Gate', the scene of many fine cake-stops, then turned right onto a new road; that is, 'new to me', one never travelled, a small pleasure for a turnpike nomad, a road not so familiar even the potholes are memorised. With 'google streetview' a journey can now be travelled in advance; mimicking my own navigation sense, I pre-view junctions, new tracks instantly familiar.
I recently read a paper that evaluated the efficacy of Aboriginal 'Songlines' 1 as a memorisation technique, a 'method of loci' system more useful than the 'memory palace' - this latter I've found to be of limited use, requiring over-frequent refreshing, the practicality not living up to the hype. Songlines though, are explicit paths to implicit memories, small wonder they work so well. It's possibly an innate navigational skill makes them work so well for me - I've used 'journey-lines' to great effect for exams, but, and it's a big 'but' (I like big buts...), these too are temporary unless regularly re-traced and then, eventually, the data remains and the track fades. Hm.
Anyway, songlines are a fine way of encoding information that dovetails with our pre-historic evolution – it makes sense that we are good at such; to be able to find the place with the good food at the right time would have survival value. That it seems the best also makes sense, but as a colleague of mine said "How do you know there isn't a better method?", which begs the question, "What would that look like?"
I arrive at the Park'n'Ride, find the 'stroll across the field' is sufficiently inclined to need steps and damp enough to cake my shoes with clay...good exercise. Pizza with the grown-up Marmiteangler, top notch evening. Two espresso drive home.
1. Reser D, Simmons M, Johns E, Ghaly A, Quayle M, Dordevic AL, et al. (2021) Australian Aboriginal techniques for memorization: Translation into a medical and allied health education setting.
|Safety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page)||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook|
14th May 2021. Wainsford. I managed to thread through the various lanes and turns between the main road and the lake, not an immediately obvious route...the lake looked perfect so I nabbed a dam swim, opting to take the B&WThe Bruce & Walker MKIV 'G' s/u and a Harlow, along with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment – the idea was to fish for bites until dusk and then try for a carp. Despite a perfectly pleasant evening, not a single carp showed (excepting those carp rolling in the reeds far down the lake) and my fishing for bites rig was set too coarse – even a size 12 missed bites; the B&W s/uThe Bruce & Walker MKIV 'G' s/u is a fine rod but overly stout for less than 8lb line and I completely forgot about the 'lazy pole' rig tucked into the bottom of my bag...
Nevertheless, I nabbed a perch, a couple of rudd, a roach, a bream and a snig. So 'not a blank'. At sunset I put up the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, tied on an overly manly size 8 and despite decoy crusts, some of which were nabbed by a bold rat, no carp came and when the float was lost in the gloom I dismantled the old glass carp rod, put a crust on the size 8 and fished it until it was invisible...
|...and relax...||The float and the evening hatch||Most of 'the bag'.|
All very pleasant, an evening of sublime flow state. Next time I'll bring the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and 6lb line...and catch a lot of small fish. Probably. The drive home was long and winding, a consequence of the night-works on the normal route, so 'Hello Meteor', so kinda enjoyed it.
7th May 2021. Crowe Pool. The traffic was appalling and it took 40 minutes to get to the freeway and just over an hour to get here. I circled Tomkins at a clip, clearly a bust, gin-clear, last weeks pitch was a patch of clear gravel and this week I could count the stones. I checked the sluice end of Crowe, a few roach, a wobble on the surface and last week’s pike midway down, or I'll eat my hat. Corner swim then. It's probably a bust, I know it, but as it’s taken an hour to get here I'll lay a trap as the setting sun brings the odd wanderer around into this thicket of branches. Sun's out, if setting, the birds are singing for spring, all in all I'll take it. Plus there are bank voles. I slip 'mostly cockles' onto the hook. Sunset is at 8:38. I wait...
The sun went down, small fish primed, once a gold-tinged fish flickered by the float, a heavy fish swirled in the reflected sunset; weighty ripples emerged from the thickets across the pitch once, twice. The first bats flickered about and a large fish, the dorsal more tench than carp, rolled under the far bank. I laid out corn for the bank voles and two sat companionably side-by-side eating a grain each until they'd faded to grey blobs in the grass.
|Sun's out, if setting, the birds are singing for spring, all in all I'll take it.||That duck has the right idea.||...a heavy fish swirled in the reflected sunset;|
Night-works on the way home, the detour took another quarter-hour from my span. There are days when the auspices are unmatched and the stars align with a near audible snap. Today wasn't one of them.
6th May 2021. Spring. Back.
It’s funny – this place, amongst the trees, has the same feel. The dark soil is pocked with chert-pebbles, the leaf mould, the ferns and the trees are the same - as the crow flies this is barely three miles from Old Bob’s place; the geology is the same, the flora is the same, the familiar smell of ferns mixed with green-oaks, bird-songs have a familiar cadence, same filters maybe. It’s...strange, oddly evocative, could easily be before breakfast in the woods at the top of the long-garden.
4th May 2021. Happy 'Star Wars Day'.
|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||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
30th April 2021. Tomkins Pool, which luckily for me is on the way home.
So; I’d planned to fish the swim in the NE corner, because I like the look of it. On the way around I spotted a large pike, its back end poking out from a layer of flotsam; as I watched from the sluice’s timber bridge, it reversed slowly out revealing an unfortunate bream crossways in the maw, its tail flapping weakly. A rare sight, so I gently lowered the mat/rod/net and reached for my camera...but EL pottered off. Huh.
A swan was nesting on the narrow bank between the pools, it being asleep I slipped past on soft feet, abandoned the intended swim that was rather too near to this nest for a peaceful evening and took the second pitch on the east bank. There the water was a fathom, so I scattered loose hemp, a few grains of corn and laid a size 8 trap over the top...
...I could stop here – a carp rolled under the tree an hour later, another towards the middle a little afterwards then as the light faded a tench rolled at the front of the pitch, briefly raising expectations. The first bat careered past at about 8:45 and a little later it was nearly too dark to see and by this time I was glad of the thermal trews and the espresso flask pressed into service as a ’tea-flask’.
|The pitch and the HSSRE. I started with 12lb line, thought 14lb was better but had to go get it from the DT.||The inevitable float picture...||The view from here.|
Mid-evening the field mice and bank voles relaxed enough to scamper and dart, so I laid out their yellow supper; a field mouse ate three nibs and presumably went off to sleep somewhere. Another one, curious under the net, trapped itself and poinged up and down in panic until I gently lifted the net; a bank vole almost burrowed under the grass to get to its supper, scotching photo opportunities.
|The well fed field mouse, in the process of becoming well fed.||The remains of the day.||...when this float is hard to see at two yards, it might be supper-time.|
I unclipped the float and tell-tale, threaded the hook back through the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment's rings, wound the hook-link around the spool, popped the hook over the bail, tightened the line and stowed the '66x carefully in the bag for the next time. No fish today, they’re few in this pool, but I like it here.
29th April 2021. The Secret Carp. (Again).
I finished it (for the third time) this evening. Tucked between pages 136 & 137 was a business card of the employer of the moment, dating my last foray through the precise reasons some of us fish at all to around 2011 at the latest. A decade.
For this angler, many of its views and observations sound deep although I’m fully unable to say whether my views are my own entirely or formed in part by previous readings. It matters not. I, although without the author’s fine angling pedigree, fish for many of the same reasons and I’ll keep doing it. Probably without the built-cane though.
As I write this, a good friend emails news of a thirty pound carp caught the proper way, fishing from a punt in a lily'd pond, hair-less and 'boilie' free. Still can be done. I didn’t need this excellent news to put my carp head on; I already have fresh hooks fanned out on my desk and the HSSRE is leaning in its bag ready for an evening diversion from a westward-bound return from the treadmill.
|A carp loitering on the sunny side.|
I may even use three grains of sweetcorn on a size 8.
28th April 2021. Circle. This wonderful feature is on a 1940 OS map, but I can't find it on earlier maps. It seems to filter sound quite well, once inside the circle there is certainly a muting of the M27's endless rumble. This might be a ‘wavelength of low frequency sound’ thing (for a three-foot gap between the tress, there could well be attenuation of all frequencies under 300Hz). Or not. Still. It's cool.
|The tree circle from the outside|
|The tree circle from the inside|
27th April 2021. Pond. One.
The plan for long term is to arrive early and get a twenty minute constitutional in before sipping a small strong black reviver. This has the double usefulness of missing the worst of the school-run pantechnicons and decompressing my crumbling infrastructure. Today, by way of a change, I circle out to the entrance where there is a fine white-painted wrought-iron gate, guarding an older long overgrown entrance, then back along the drive and around to the pond...
It's a fine pond, held in place on the slope by a long-standing bank and probably filled from one of several springs on this slope; I suspect a perched aquifer or the like. The water at the reedy end trembles and I watch for a while, slip around to the other end, disturb a dark bolt from right under the bank and at the next gap pick out a large ghost. There is no likelihood of fishing here, although it's nearly perfect looking. I head back up the slope through an old wide knotted hedge that forms a dark tunnel over mysterious looking stone steps with something classical at the top.
|Pond from one end||The Pond from the other end||...that forms a dark tunnel over mysterious looking stone steps...|
Pretty though, you have to admit.
23rd April 2021. Wedgehill. One.
To the Upper Pond with just a rod, reel and some breads; I fancy the far corner simply because it looks the part and I wasn’t convinced by the sunny side. The wind, shredded by the trees, keeps the float moving; during one of the lulls I was thinking “...that’s funny those lilies are moving..” when the float vanishes like a punched panel pin.
|The first pitch||The wind, shredded by the trees, keeps the float moving...|
I untangle the 12lb braid from the budding alder on the right and re-cast. After the right amount of time, the float slips under again and while I untangle the 12lb braid from the budding alder I consider whether I’m a little rusty. I fish on for another 30 minutes then abruptly this feels like the wrong place. I head back around the sunny side for a ponder. Three carp were loitering, good ones. Aha.
|I slip quietly behind a small birch and a clump of dry grass and fish about three feet out.||Almost got a much better picture of this combative wren.|
I slip quietly behind a small birch and a clump of dry grass and fish about three feet out. Because it’s a good idea, I scatter a few crusts right in the margin and after ‘some time’ one is mouthed by a decent fish, although perhaps not the largest on show. Two of the carp have now taken up station towards the hazel on the left, looking just as if they are sun-bathing. A crust on the right margin vanishes in a dark swirl. Aha. I stealthily retrieve, pick off the ‘tell-tale’ and dangle a couple of squares of white crust over a handy clump of soft rush, resting the rod on my toes. I had to wait a longish while, nerves jingling a bit as carp mosey about. A dark shape rounds the soft-rush clump, edges up the bait, nudges it experimentally, then reverses, gently pulling it down, then decides all is well; a few flecks of white swirl in the water and I lift the rod sharply...
...a few self-respecting lunges gradually lengthen into some quite long runs with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment doing a very good job – certainly still had something in reserve, which was not needed today - and fish gave a decent account of itself. The hook was very firmly embedded, not for the first time when using this rod.
|A very fine common carp. That'll do.|
This did for the swim, so I wander back up the bank to find a pod sunbathing in the corner. I sit behind a tree, curve a crust over and a fish inspects it, approaching from underneath, mouths the bait carefully once, twice, then reverses quietly away. Interesting.
I decamp again, decide on a sun-bathed dam-end lily-gap where fish are moving; I pop the tell-tale back on, sit on the unhooking mat and flick a few pills of wholemeal into the swim. Barely ten minutes have passed when I look behind at some small-furry-thing rustle and a tiny tug on my finger suggests looking back; the float had moved five feet and as I watch a carp bolts through the lilies, its alarm taking the others in its wake. I sit in the sun for another hour, just very pleasant, and although a few carp go back and forth, that is my lot.
On the way back to the DT'Driving Technology' I pass the middle pond, with anglers ranged along the leeward bank, and amusingly 'all the pond's carp' are fanned out on the opposite and sunny side of the island, taking no notice. Heh.
|'All the pond's carp' - out of shot were more than twice this number.|
There are dragons yet...
17th April 2021. A Tenner.
|There are no flies on m- ...oh, wait...||One day I may actually use them. Probably.||Bonus points to anyone who can name any of them.|
15th April 2021. Holtwood. Tenches. A bad day for ducklings.
I descended on Millers thinking ‘tench’, but it was flat. Although the water was warmer (10.4°C) than 'Shambles' a few days ago, it produced only two tiny nudges and a 3lb tench to a piece of flake. The other excitement came from an aggressive gander who ambushed a mother-duck with 12 ducklings. Despite the mother’s best efforts - twice she snatched a duckling from the gander’s beak - it split the brood and picked one off, shaking and drowning it. At least this gave the remainder time to re-group on the corner-bank, whereupon a sparrowhawk neatly paraglided through the trees and took another, heading down the pond with its quarry. Not easy being a duckling.
|Float the first||Waiting...with the 'tuna reel'||Float the second - the light changed and I needed the hollow tip to see anything at all|
At 6pm or so, I ‘called it’ and headed for 'Shambles' on the basis I might as well try a different spot for the last two hours. This, despite sticking to my 7lb trace (the last of my 7lb carp silk – I note that all hook-link braids of <10lb b/s have vanished from the market) although I’d dropped from a size 8 (for cockles) to a size 12. I swapped the 4" quill for a tiny porcupine float, perhaps ¼" of orange on the tip and an old copper eyelet, I'd simply varnished over. Sometimes that's exactly the right float. Despite the otherwise dredger-like gear, I caught tench steadily for the best part of two hours and the pick is below, including, last gasp, this little gold tinca. Cute. Here's a few of them:
|The only tench from 'Millers'||Just one of the nicer looking ones||The golden tench|
Quite nice to fish with the original Four Piece Avon; even with the little tench it was ‘soft enough’. Must use it a bit more often.
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*
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.
|The pitch||Across the pond, where spring is happening right this instant||There's alway one. In fact, 'five'.|
|The finest tench||The sole crucian|
|Four of the best||Just a really nice colour||Nine of the best|
Slightly ahead of sunset and chilly again, I gave in and looking into the sun, headed west. As I crossed the Roman Road (well, one of them) a hare loped along in front of me for 50 yards, not especially rushed at 30mph. I like that.
Kinda feel that I missed out on the crucians and that I might have set the float more carefully to that end. Next time.
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.
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).
|Spring stuff||Spring stuff||Margin 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.
|One of the new floats||One of the new floats||There 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...
|...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 :-)|
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...
|Pretty, even with the ropes||The answer to the question, ''How good is my new camera's zoom?'' is ''Pretty good.''||Ah 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 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 mooch about and a convention of toads in the left-hand reed bed generate 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 hint at the warming water (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.
|Because it's perfect||The emphemera of the slow day||Roaches|
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. Heh.
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 lone crucian, 1lb 14oz. For a moment I thought I'd caught my third 1lb 15oz'er||The 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.
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.
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.
|The pitch||Fishing for bites||Fishing 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.
|The blank breaking carp||The cork-ball special||The surprisingly unexploded robin|
|Representative perch||The roach-bream hybrid||Representative rudd|
|Gudgeon||Gonk, a very fat gonk.||Gobby||gobio gobio||Gudgeon|
|Gonk||Gobby||gobio gobio||Gudgeon||Gonk||gobio 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".
|Late afternoon. Evenings are starting to draw out now.|
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.
|When the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite nice||The bait of the day. I used a little loose hemp as well.||The float of the day.|
|When the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite nice||The back end of the four-piece and the Cardinal 44x||I was forced to improvise a rod-rest. I say 'forced'...|
|The Saxon Ponds' inlet stream||The 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.
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.|
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.|
|Split...(and back to the top of the page)||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot|
28th February 2021. Pond. One.
I arrive early; it's a habit. I have no respect for those who habitually arrive barely on time (or late) in an attention grabbing flurry of self importance. The trick to being on time is setting out to be, then to have things one can do with the inevitable spare time resulting. Here, a walk around the site and look at the several dew-ponds is a good way to get one’s daily exercise. The relentless exhortations for us to be more active are dreamt up by those who, nine-to-five wedded, actually have jobs with security and can leave on time without censure. For the great majority this is not the case. Still, walking where it's feasible.
One of these ponds, actual dew ponds gathering water from the slope, has added goldfish and a common carp of about 6lb which mooches clockwise around the perimeter. Today it's cloudy, there's a fresh breeze and after strolling I lean on the DT, pour coffee and position the cup so I can breathe the scent and write this. Tomorrow I'll be early again, and walking weather failing as was Jeeves’ wont, I'll maybe read an improving book. (Note: pack an improving book).
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.
22nd February 2021. Treadmill. Short sentence. Perhaps time off for good behaviour? First offence Lord (Plank is God).
|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.|
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.
|Ruler, 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.
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...
|One of those days when orange worked best||Wet, cold...|
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.
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.
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.
|Quill, 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.
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.
|How can you not like perch bobbers? ?(and back to the top of the page)||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?||How can you not like perch bobbers...?|