Arfleet Mills

I started fishing here in 2006 and for a few years it was a fine pre-season bolt-hole. During the winter it was closed for fishing, so by spring it was well rested and the tour-anglers had yet to arrive in the land of Blyton. It was occasionally hard fishing, never dull and had an atmosphere like no other water in the area. Its location, under East Hill, just across from the Purbecks' gate-guard, Corfe Castle, did something that rendered the lakes' dusk-light translucent; grey strands swirled in front of your face and more than once I used a free hand to brush them away, to no avail.

I got used to the moon-rise over East Hill, the muffled sound and sight of fireworks in Swanage and the strong feeling that I was not alone.

Despairing of buying tickets from Wareham or Corfe every time I felt like visiting, I managed to negotiate a deal with the fishery manager who let me come and go as I pleased for a handful of tenners. This was way more money than he would make from me if I had to stop at shops and buy tickets, as I seldom had that time to spare. For one reason or another I had not fished it for a couple of years, so when in 2016 I heard that it was to be turned into a water-park (of all things) I was much saddened. I wish a plague upon the water-park and its investors.

It has gone now, so here is my record of fishing this wonderful venue.

Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

2006 JAA14th April 2006. Arfleet Mills. No boilies here... These ponds lie in the shadow of Corfe Castle. The 'new' lake, where I fished, is the shallower of the two and runs from about 2' deep on the south bank to around 4' on the north. There is plenty of plant growth and a walk round and a look at the banks make it clear why the water shuts for winter, with the banks clearly prone to collapse. I went for the south bank as it was the other side to the lone angler on the lake - working on the basis there would be less disturbance that side. He shared with me the details of his catch so far, 'sprats' and a chub about 1lb. Interesting.

Arfleet MillsThe actual ticket, no reason... Arfleet MillsArfleet, the 'new' lake

I opted for a swim that had a small bay of weed to the right and baited up on the lake side of it and fished a small crystal insert hard against the weeds. I used sweetcorn and after a good few missed nudges, switched to a small worm and caught three or four of the 'sprats', which turned out to be rudd in the 1oz bracket. It was overrun with them. I don't mind small fish, but they attacked any bait (and any shot hanging in mid water), making it hard to wait for anything else. After an hour and a half or so, a bit after 12pm, I shipped the tackle in and went for a walk round and a look at the other 'old' lake - this is deeper (30 feet in places 'apparently') has a good number of carp and from what I saw, small rudd and perch. This lake is set back in the trees on the south of the Corfe River which bisects the site. At about 1pm thinking I would perhaps move to the 'old' lake, I wandered back to my tackle but opted to remain. I put my thermometer into the water about now, finding the air temperature a balmy 18ºC and water (a foot and half down) 12ºC.

I did opt to put out a bait for the carp said to be in the lake (up to 15lb or so). I used some corn and spicy pepperami and baited an area some 20 yards to my right and put out a hair-rigged sandwich of the two baits with a small (½oz.) running ledger. I know this isn't normal for a hair rig, but I don't see the point of bolt rigs. The hair rig (or more correctly "anti-eject") may catch fish in hard fished waters, but I prefer to do my own hooking. This was in part an excuse to air my Fox Trek 2½lb t/c, which I had only just bought. I like the convenience of four or five piece hour later there was a bite on the carp rod which I missed. This was in part due to me continuing to catch rudd on worms, which was passing the time pleasantly enough. Well I say missed. I did feel the thump of a fish for a few seconds and on retrieval (with a rude word or two) found blobs of slime on the trace. Whether this originated on a tench or a bream I have no idea. Having 'missed' the bite I put the float rod down...

The man across the lake got into a fish about five-to-three - and as I noticed that I had another run, which I hit (what are the odds?). My fish broke water almost at once, inevitable in 2' of water. Without much troubling the 'Fox Trek', I steered a good fish to the net and banked a good common, 15lb on the scales, although some of that was spawn I would say. The battle over the lake went on...and on. The other angler had a feeder rod and 2lb line and did very well to bank a 13lb fish after a good half hour (by my watch). Hat tip to him. The bent rod in the picture at the bottom of the page belongs to himself, about 15 minutes into the struggle.

Arfleet Mills13lb fish, 2lb so lucky. Arfleet Mills15lb on the nose

At this point the air temp was still 18º and the water up to just under 14º. Where it stayed all afternoon, in fact when I left at 8pm the air temp was down to 8º but the water was still at 13.5º and the fishes' heads were down, as a lot of bubbles proved. Sadly despite a lot of tweaks and bumps I failed to improve on my score of rudd and the single carp, not that I minded that much. I did spend a good bit of time watching the rod tip (as I tend to do - even with a bite alarm I find I do this). Tonight was very instructional. I ledger with small weights, as mentioned, and the line although tight does not have the bowstring look of a true bolt-rig.

What was interesting was the acute angle of the line with the water surface. With the tip near the surface the point at which the line enters the water moves up and down 4-5" with even the slightest bump or knock, the majority of which are not hard enough for the Fox Micron to even 'meep'. To be fair they are not enough to hit either, but often a firm carp take will be preceded with a fair bit of playing around - and I'll take all the help I can get. I'll be back...

2006 JAA23rd April 2006. Arfleet Ponds What, no dragon? Back to Arfleet. (I liked it last time). I went for the 'old' lake this time, which is also about one acre but significantly is much deeper, at 6' less that a rod length out at any point, as far as I can tell. There are depths of 30 feet apparently and certainly a few areas around 12ft (unusual in these days of 'carp puddles', sorry I mean 'commercial fisheries'). There is a head of carp, running to over 20lbs, good perch and rudd to 2lb and big eels. This link will tell you a bit moreNice write up as it happens.

Arfleet Mills...from the south end of the lake, looking west Arfleet Mills...from the south end of the lake, looking north

Turning up at coffee-time, I went for a corner which looked nice and had plenty of bubbling...the air temperature is around 14° degrees, water between 13° and 14°. The sheltered aspect of this water means that there is seldom any great ripple on the water, which always looks inviting. I set up two rods; baited two swims with chopped pork pie and spicy pepperami - and for an hour got plenty of tweaks on the alarms, but no runs. At about 12pm when I am adjusting the right-hand rod, the left-hand bobbin whacks the rod. I miss this. Still, mini pork-pies are popular.

I'm getting plenty of nudges to keep me going and pass the time by feeding the various small fish at my feet. I flick bits and pieces of bait in and although the majority of the fry are just that, larger shadows occasionally detach from the deeper patches of shade. So it is at 1:30 I take the left hand rod down and switch to the Avon rod and crystal antennae, 8lb Krsyton with a size 10 raptor and a short hair rig. I put a single BB about 4" from the hook. I tie the hook with a short hair, which I ignore and fish worms conventionally for a bit - the depth even six feet out from the bank is five foot or so. So several perch later (one about ½lb) I loose feed some corn and get another ½lb perch...and a roach or three. This carries on for a hour or so and then the bites dry up and I gradually move both the baited area and float further out, towards the bubble patches which have come and gone all day 20 feet or so from the bank...

I switch the bait to three grains of (green grYep, green. Corn is handy, but commonly used, but changing the colour and flavour is easy. In this case I used green as the water is deepish and red light is filtered out quickly with depth - so even in 6' of water green/yellow will probably show better than red. Blue might work, but blue food seems odd. Yellow does show up really well even at depth though and white as well. If only there was a white bait that was cheap and easy to get and easily moulded onto hooks...  and vanilla vaFood colouring and flavours from any supermarket. Handy.  flavoured) corn mounted on the hair and miss a few nibbles and eventually switch to spicy pepperami and a grain of corn. After a long pause and a few misses, I get a few plucks and a dip and hit a small carp around a pound and a bit. Aha. See, you can float fish an 'anti-eject' rig - the key is to wait for a positive indication - the first two or three dips are just footling with the bait, as carp do (most large fish do, big perch and roach can be a real pain in this respect).

Half an hour later, another dip-dip-dip, plunge and a solid lump on the line. This bores around the bed at a slowish pace and just when I think I have a (very) large tench a carp shows itself. It took about ten minutes to bank and you can see scarring on the mouth, which restricted it's gape to the point of affecting breathing and the top half of the tail is pretty ragged. Otherwise perfectly healthy though and getting by fine (and carrying spawn). On release it took off at good rate, none the worse. Nothing else doing for the last hour, although the bait was nudged a few times. You could put this down to the 8lb main and braid, but the carp pole angler on the far side using 6mm pellet bait was also getting an unfeasible amount of float movement for no result. Despite a quiet time at the end of the day, a greater spotted woodpecker settled in the tree behind and continued its day long audition for a position as a heavy rock band drummer and two deer picked their way through the brush on the far bank, but of course in reaching quietly for the camera they spooked and trotted off. Drat.

Arfleet Millsthe best roachArfleet Millsthe 1lb carpArfleet Millsthe embattled 10lb carp

A good result when I ditched the bite alarms and dual rods. A lesson here - sometimes it's better to focus on one rod completely, than two half watched. While I have no problem with bite alarms (except the volume), it is easy to put on buzzers and stop thinking. I'll certainly avoid the rod-pod from now on though - the number of alarms caused by one rod moving and setting the other one is unhelpful and there is no doubt in my mind that the angle between the rod tip and line is a factor in getting hittable runs - that bit of drag gets you a lot more 'once mouthed' baits. I'll get another bank-stick and have the rods pointing more or less at the bait for next time - BUT if you do this line clips are a must. With a direct line from hook to reel, line could easily be broken by a largish fish and a fast run.

About a dozen roach/rudd, six perch and two carp. I've had worse. Water temp still at 13.5° when I headed for tea at 7.00pm. I stopped the car by a fence post on the way out and exchanged stares with a buzzard from four feet, while wishing the camera was not in the car-boot. I left with the distinct impression that my size was the only thing preventing it from considering me as a meal on wheels.

2006 JAA9th September 2006. Arfleet Mills. Arf arf. Having an afternoon pass I headed for Arfleet for a change and set up at 3ish on a swim at the end of the lake, nearest the path. For a good hour and a half or so I caught a succession of roach, rudd and perch on corn and hemp paste, with one perch making ½-¾lb maybe and some nice rudd.

Arfleet Millsexample rudd Arfleet Millsquite a nice perch

I used a small paste float and was fishing in around five foot of water, with the level looking to be a foot or so down on my last visit. Relaxing into the fishing, a chap then turned up for a night's carping, went around the other side and then the tent pegs went in. Two more arrived. It was frankly, not unlike the Omaha Beach landings. One set up next to me. Mandatory shouted conversations went on. More hammering.

Then, the chap next to me whacked out his bolt rig and got it halfway up a 40 foot tree, not 15 yards across the lake. He arced the rod to free it. I kept down. You have to wonder. After a bit it came free and 'thopped!' into the water three yards out from the suicidal one. Apparently "that scared all the fish in the swim". Eff off, it did. They'd run for it half an hour back. I'd given up any hope of a margin carp already. His erstwhile companion did the same a bit later on. It's not like you can miss seeing the trees. At 8pm or so, I gave up and went home, but did bank a couple of nice rudd about ¾lb in the last hour (which I neglected to photo), which both took half a mussel 'on the drop'. On reflection I should have moved to the lower lake for the peace. Danglers.

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2007 JAA's third year8th June 2007. Arfleet. Eels.

Back of the back pit, which is quiet, just me and a floater-fisher at the opposite end. He’s just put back a carp of about 6lb or so. I’m laying on cockles on a bed of hemp in 6ft of water with a paste float, 10lb rig and the ‘Fox Floater Special’. A float-tremble turns into a bite which I miss. Bubbles as well; keep paw on rod; more trembles for 15 minutes, bite, turns into a ½lb eel, let it slide back. Not a blank then. The swim is heaving with rudd to 1lb. Tempting. Size 14, one nib, I’d get loads...

Carp are abroad. A 5lb fish breezed through when I baited up, heading for other side of the rushes, another has clooped along the far bank. There are more bubble patches (eels?). More tea; yet to try a mussel on the hook. I don a fleece as it cools, but really it’s to drab down my arms (note: need drab long-sleeved shirt). More ground bait and a stealthy bite, more eels then, my baits slowly moved eight feet by itself. Two carp splash in the corner spooked by the ground-baiting maybe. 6:50pm.

Plenty of twitches, eels all and there are other rising carp behind vegetation on the right. Plenty of bubbling; another dithery bite, and after a pause for though, the culprit takes off, makes ten yards into the main body of the lake, then the hook whips back past my ear. 1-0. The floater-fisher is also into a fish. Re-bait, recast, then another slow bite for no result. The carp are enthusing so I stick to the cockles for now, I’ll switch to sweetcorn if it gets too silly. A dark carp with cream undersides has cleared the water in front of me, 5-8lb maybe. Three bumps in the next ten minutes suggest a carp is testing the bait. I miss the bite. Hmm...

I shorten the tell-tail length, then two 1-2lb carp cruise past. More ground-bait. A lot of movement that I’ve failed to translate into fish, carp are continuously back and forth, more carp cruising around than I've ever noted here, so I switch to corn on the hook. I lob in a dozen mussels at 8pm. Another dark common, 10lb at least, mooches past. Bubbles surround the float.

A she-mallard and a drake appear from the right, moving swiftly. Bordered by tall grass and rushes, my hearing is tuned to the susurrations surrounding, a few stealthy noises come from across the way and a jay squawks behind me. A vixen’s head shows by the water’s edge opposite, explaining the alarm calls, she laps a little water then spooks when the camera softly whirrs into life. Drat. I silently offer a carp bite (and the carp) for a shot of it returning. I get neither as the hunter slinks away up the lake in the direction of the hurried ducks, marked only by slight movements in the tall ferns and occasional rustles.

Arfleet MillsArfleet Pit, harder than a really hard thing Arfleet MillsArfleet Pit, harder than a really hard thing

The float dips into a cloud of bubbles, spooked fish again; I give it a few minutes and change the bait to sea food. Mussels and cockles generate a slow bite @8:45pm. Nothing. A repeat fifteen minutes later results in a bullish 20oz eel, wide-mouthed like the earlier one, predators both. Might have to fish for them on purpose...there are persistent stories of big eels in here.

When dusk finally falls, I pack up and move back out of the secluded corner, gaining a little light as a result. Having packed all but my rod, as is my custom, I drop the bait in a gap in the rushes and stand, not in hope of a fish, but to enjoy the deepening grey and the bats flitting past my head. I look down after a time and see a large light shape coast past in front of the barely visible float. A big 'double' for sure. I wait another five minutes with the night birds calling it a day.

P.S. Typed up in April 2021 from notes taken on the day. A charitable view is that I was fishing like a complete novice.

2007 JAA's third year26th August 2007. Arfleet Lakes. Well I hooked one...I've been fishing for 1½ hours and finally relaxed, dibbled out twenty rudd'n'perch on worm and single grains of corn, 6lb line. A large spade tail, five minutes in made me hold my breath, it moved on, but occasional cloops float across the lake from somewhere close to my pitch. Have the lake to myself, worth the day-ticket Cannonball Run to Corfe this time - Bank Holiday w/end! I've tried hot dog and corn, had a slow take with 'eel' written all over it so have gone back to corn only for now, 6" of 8lb Merlin and a size '8' Jack Hilton, knotless, perhaps use the hair later if eels prove too pesky. First tea of the day. I get a gentle pull while taking a snap, not carp like. I slack line to reset the 'Canal Insert', 2 x no.4 on the float one on the trace, I wait.

In the car earlier, got a 'forgotten something' feeling, I got halfway here, ran through the 'list', aha unhooking mat, 'reel-tree' unhooking it is. Float's slid off again, small things, but if they persist...I'll hair a larger bait. Again. Hmm. The sun has dipped below the treeline and this is not the shady spot I had in mind earlier today, bumble bees, plenty here, are dinking off the purple loosestrife and cow parsley heads.

Another dip with no result for it, Bubbles burst, but they tend to be eels so don't get too excited. I suspect there'll many false bites for one carp tonight. Longer hair bigger bait maybe? Swanage trains rattle by in the distance.

Arfleet MillsA migraine inducing shot of the far bank Arfleet MillsThe north-end inlet

I'm trying a new trace, the float trembles, making me jump and wait - it then stays where it is. I break out oatcakes as rudd attacked the float on the basis of 'well, you never know'. 5:40pm. Put the fleece on to cover my arms and lob in some pieces of hot-dog. The tip dithers and reverses course. The float trembles and dips the length of the tip. Then returns. I get another firm bite that strips the hook. I try a cockle and two grains of corn. The Kingfisher streaks right to left and then after a short while, returns. Good Omens. A carp leaps right in the far corner, as the ripples reach my float it move three inches to the right. It nips under five minutes later, but for nowt. I add sausage to the cockle on the hook. Another carp leaps and a crow caws behind me, the sound tracking the right. 6:15pm, after twenty minutes of bob and dips I switch to a big bit of sausage on the hair. A jay screeches agreement. If I had the juice I'd dribble it under the rod tip. More 85% chocolate and tea. This lake's downside is the rudd, perch and eels, not that I dislike them but to carp fish you need a big solid bait, ('boilies') I should try paste at the next opportunity, bread and hemp, there's still time. Bite, missed, quickish, no predictions, okay. Another quickish bite, no catch. Eels? I check the bait after another tweak, not a mark. The road is now a steady thrum of holidaymakers heading for wherever they came from. A carp jumps five feet to the right of my float, heart in mouth. Feeding and heading down, hand on rod...a few trembles and three bubbles between the float and...and then it was gone...

Arfleet MillsThe float and the sneaky gap in the reeds Arfleet MillsThe narrow south-end outlet and the evening sun

The fish charges straight out, weighty, but I turned it, then it canted hard right and so side-strain on to keep control - the end of the lake is a mire of broken wood - and the line broke right on the swivel. Gutted. Twice in two sessions, same line 'Stren Extra Strength Green'. I re-tie and test the mono knot hard. It holds. Bu88er. It's tempting to give up when this happens. But you may get the next one and all will be well. Nah. With the swim under curfew I strip the 8lb and put on 10lb, better. Stren in the bin, back to Maxima or "Stren Original". 7:20pm.

Very unhappy. To a non-angler this desolation is a mystery, to us free-rangers who consider two bites in a session is good, it's a disaster. The lake is quiet now, no leaping fish. No tweeks. Spoke too soon, a carp rises under the far bank. 7:30pm. Something's afoot. 7:40pm, I'm certain, 'bob', kingfisher goes s-t-pstarboard-to-port, 'chip', check line is not around reel handles, a slow dip, I pull in thinking 'eel'. Nothing. Too slow, recast. The breeze freshens, the onshore sea breeze of the cooling land. Last of the tea. Some bubbles and a twitch, hand on rod. I get a bite that was most un-carpy, but in response a carp leaps at the other end, twice, thrice. I shorten the hair by tying two knots in it. Knock, check bait, good. Breezier now. A distant rolling toll calls the faithful to evensong and a rabbit bounds out of the undergrowth behind me, no warning at all, making me jump. A bite and I overreact with the heart pumping from the lepus surprise. New baits. Pigeons clattering into roost and the massed twittering of martins overhead. Dusk, there are dozens of martins up there following some thermal of insects. The first owl, blackbirds roost, the skittering of small furry things in the undergrowth. 8:20pm a good time for a bite. A carp leaps in the middle of the lake, it not over yet and I hook the line over my finger...

[This was the penultimate time I ever used an 'anti-eject' rig.]

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.

200826th April 2008. Arfleet Mills. The Old Pit, 5:30pm. Sunny, warm, calm, two rods. Large paste float on the carp rod, 10lb mono/8lb braid. On the Webley & Scott Avon worm 6lb/4lb fish around but nothing yet. Carp jumped opposite already and one in the corner on my right. There is a crow at the end of the lake sitting. I put corn on the 'light' rod, one grain. More hemp and birdsong. There's a patch of bubbles ten yards out to the left, I check the anti-reverse on the '66. It's on. Stuff rustles. Two pole floats, a 1g paste float self-cocking by my own hand 2" clear of the water two feet laying on bread-and-hemp 'cos of eels. Squawky jay over the way (is there any other sort?), I have tea and Lindt, and fish cockles for a bit, but they'll attract eels as well. A perfect April evening needing only the gentle sink of the float to complete it. Bubbles on the right between me and my pole float. It would be ironic to hook a carp on the Avon (but not ideal). Jay again, moan moan moan. Fishy...cup'o'tea would be good. Check paste at 6:30pm...paste float twitches.

Fish tops by the other float, brackets it, and moves on. Float bobs and a big swirl to the far left. OK then. I've never gone this long without a small fish here. Might try a cockle next. The small float pushed to the right by the breeze, suddenly dips. And stops. Line bite I suspect. More rustling on my left. A wren in the reeds edges closer. I debate fishing a worm high in the water and casting at rises. The wren bounces of the carp rod. Tea. More Tea. I get the tiniest tweak on a cockle fished a foot down. (bread failed). I go back to the bottom on the Avon and risk the eels. Still a nice evening for it. Another big dark cream bellied fish splashed at the far end. The cockle float dithers and I put my hand on the rod. It stops of course. If it does it again it's coming in (eels, I'm sure of it).

Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........

It's gone tense with a big swirl to the right and the small float has twitched. Check paste soon, cockle dithered and stopped. A start. Something will happen soon. Rod down. A carp just surfaced a foot away and bolted sinking the float on the Avon. Hm. Ill check my bait...An odd bite on the paste fires me up but I hit nothing. I reset twice to get the float how I want. Don't feel I missed a fish but you never know. Might try paste on the Avon as cockles are not getting anything. Hemp time. More tea. A slider would be useful here, must knock one up.

Something nudged through the reeds at my feet and then later rippled out to my left. Fish nearer the edge maybe? I've bought both baits into the margins, fishing paste as that's my only real bite so far. A few pills of paste and hemp go in and I wait. Risky on the W&S Avon? The floats are flat in front of me, one three foot to me left, the other six feet to my right. Tea. On a whim I put the Avon back out with corn. No reason. Something squeaks and skitters past my feet. A fish swirls on the right, they're about for sure. I might simplify, one rod and put bait by the bank. Think about free-lining the paste and look for the foil. OK, the foil is on. A worm on the Avon. I wait. Might have to get some lead core, handy for free-lining close in. I tweak the line off the Avon and flick the paste almost over the lake. I put a cockle on the Avon and then get a real bite which I miss in surprise. 16.9°C water.

8:20pm I drop the probe two feet down. 16.5°C. Amazing difference, I must check that. The Avon will come down in a bit...dusk, still a good chance . Maybe plain bread on the free-line right under the tip for the last hour. Cockle or corns then? Penultimate tea. Roosting songs echo in the trees and the distant puff of the train. Good even without fish. Which was just as well.

...and that's it for the April Fool...

20082nd May 2008. Arfleet.

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills... Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills...

20084th May 2008. Arfleet. South corner, back pit, mini crystal waggler and a size '6' adorned with pasta, macaroni to be specific. I've aligned myself at an angle to the bank, the rod (the '550Chapman 550) pointing into the corner, laying on in eight feet, perhaps two of them over depth, one foot of that 'leadcore' for weight and to keep the line against the sloping bed. It's 5:10pm, 15.7°C (water), two others were here, one floater fishing, both gone on, one generously giving up the swim I coveted. I find a bit of G&B chocolate, finish it, drink tea and wait.

Fish are gently rising but are chary of the floaters (dog biccies) not taking the hooked one however hard my neighbour tries. The breeze rustles the new leaves, light green, and drifts bits into my corner. The floater man goes on. Good (no offence, but I like the place to myself). Carp are rising this end. All down the lake carp are public spiritedly clearing up the floaters left by the departing duo. I fancy a bait over the water just short of the reed bed there, a long flip for a light float set eight feet up the line. Slider or free line? Next time perhaps. The float flicks but it's indolently set and this is a one fingered gesture to the wind only. 5:30pm. If nothing by 7:30pm then free-line and hold the rod up and bait up over the water as well.

I'm drawn here. The last four carp attempts have yielded a hook pull, a break, a blank, rudd, perch and four missed bites. Drawn back to gaze into depths like the brown eyes of an enigmatic woman. It remains to be seen whether I prosper here tonight or indeed any other. Tempted to try pump air into a slug on the surface. The ground is covered here which makes then good for a try. Float is interesting now. A big cloop from the middle, perhaps halfway down the lake. I add a libation of hemp and corn using a low held boilie 'pault, to avoid waving my arms around like a loon. A bumbler wobbles past, sunlight streaks through the trees and the woods break into gentle birdsong. A jay then cracks the peace into shards.

The float dips twice sharply, which gets my attention, but is only small fish molesting the float. I re-bait the paste, put more offerings into the far bank swim with the twatapault. Having disturbed the peace, I pour tea. Why does tea in the flask taste of coffee and vice versa? How does it do that? (The Hatangler knew at once hat "It tastes of both, but you don't notice when one when the other is in the flask" he said after the briefest of pauses. Bright lad.) I wait. 6:10pm, 15.7°C. Rod on knee, miss a bite, get a scale as consolation. OK then. Did and gone, no preamble, like Friday. Rod in hand it is then. 6:25pm 15.8°C. Five minutes later another fast take (I assume). Options? Cockles, free-line? Both? Hm. Another fast one missed. I rig a big maize bait with paste behind it. Rod across the knees again. A prowler visits en route to the other old pond, aiming for eels pchr  Some would say he's a local poacher of ill repute, Some might even call him 'Don', a notorious poacher of eels and occasional potter of EA bailiffs....either way, he didn't see me until he was on top of me, that made him start. Heh. Kind of him to let me know his plans...spooked my swim though I expect. Cockles on the hook? Corn on the hook, dip and travel, no fish no paste. 15.8°C, 7:10pm. Free-line I think. I try paste with a grain of maize and get a couple of trembles. I put four cockles on the hair after another fast bite on the paste. I'm going to take the lead core off and put the trace straight on the moon and add a BB. The old ways are the best and so on. More tea and Lindt. 7:45pm, still 15.8°C. 8:10pm, lead core off, 'number one' basic over fishing rig with paste. Why not, nothing else is working.

At 9pm I'll free-line, at 8:30pm there's another fluttering flirt. Nothing to show, I put corn on the hook with a blob of paste. Getting desperate, still 15.8°C. I think it's back to basics and a bigger bait for the very chary fish. Meat perhaps...sunset.

Arfleet MillsArfleet May 4thArfleet MillsArfleet May 4thArfleet MillsArfleet May 4thArfleet MillsArfleet May 4th

20088th May 2008. Arfleet. I actually caught one, but for the old scratchy diary, I'd never have recalled how...too many planes and airports this month. Back with hemp, hemp-paste and sweet-corn, same spot. No sooner here than a passing visitor, so all spooked despite a line bite knock. They'll not nibble the corn off. I'll try two takes and then risk the dreaded hair. It's warm and sunny (again a cool breeze filtering through the trees, 6:40pm might have had a bite. A drifting branch and the breeze conspire to sink the float. But a sudden submergence had me striking, no bait left, recast. Tea. Lindt 90%. It occurs to me under my feet might work as well. Cockles as well. At least two carp, one dark common one ghost have materialised in front of me without a sound or a ripple. Plenty of bubbling but it's a gassy lake and one can read too much into that. A tweak, hard to shake off the feeling that these are not real bites.

Still, time will tell. Baiting the near swim as well now. Another ghost drifts by my float, I put a hand slowly on the rod. Might try bread next, another pull for nothing. Bait being ejected I think, a smaller ghost carp sweeps past my float radiating indifference. OK, two misses, one on the drop, so I beat up with five fat corn grains, next I'll go for 8lb, size '14' and one grain...of course nothing happens, then bites and bubbles gone by at Appropriately 'the margin', the pole float it is then. 7:45pm I strike at a bobbing float, all wrong again. Should have left it. Another pull no fish even on a hair, nothing I can hit. Nuts. I must just be bad at this.

Fish or work, but not both. 8:05pm I switch to a pole float four feet out, 18" over depth but laid down the slope of the bed. Convenience rather than expectation to be honest. If I can't hit 'em I might as well fish simple and enjoy the evening. I miss a bite even as I write...I hit my second bite get a dogged lump that bores hard for a good five minutes and giving me time to consider how nice cane can feel in the right situation, but then eased into the net is 10¼lb of perfect dark common. A start, the water it turned to stewed milky tea by the struggle. I celebrate with tea and Lindt. 8:35pm. That'll do.

Arfleet MillsFinally, one of the Arfleet common carp

200817th May 2008. Arfleet.

Arrived 6pm and it's grey and oppressive, a showery evening, more April than May. I gave up on the back pit and stomped over to the 'new' pit where I sidled in behind the rushes. 7:35pm, lost a clunky tench going by the slime on the trace. It rhymes with "ducking bell". Cockles and hemp, 'no change there then', then bagged a reasonable and startling rudd after a red-shirted angler and his cubs moved on...a 'meh' type of session. And it rained. Otherwise perfect in every way.

Arfleet MillsArfleet May 17thArfleet MillsArfleet May 17thArfleet MillsArfleet May 17thArfleet MillsArfleet May 17th

200818th May 2008. Arfleet. A brighter and calmer evening, I've picked a swim nearly opposite the path entrance, risky as every man and their (actual) dog wants to see how you're doing. I'm encouraged by the rod rest left by the previous addict, optimism tempered by water the colour of black tea, never a good sign here. There's a huge rise in front of me, chasing some jetsam floaters of to my right. Note to self: must get some flouro. It's now 18:25pm, I'm using a feather for a float and cockles on the pointy end. Bubbles only, so far. Paste next, 45 minutes pass with a twitch on the feather and a couple of folk, half of which have white 'T's, stop to scare the fish and ask about permits.

Fish are rising everywhere even so, some are even leaping which is encouraging. Should have brought the loaf. The feather darts forward and I pick up the rod. It stops. I wait and consider the paste and removing the 'BB' 'tell-tale'. At 7pm I opt for just that, plus a dry feather. Some depth adjustment required, feathers come in 'sizes, various'. I wait some more. Paste turns out to be too soft so revert to cockles, corn and another new (drier) feather, they soak up water and are especially poor after being 'clooped'...which keeps you on your toes. 7:45pm more hemp and at 9:00pm after only a few twitches, revert to free-lining a string of corn kernels and two cockles with foil over the line. Which is where it stays until I can't see it...

Arfleet MillsArfleet May 18thArfleet MillsArfleet May 18thArfleet MillsArfleet May 18thArfleet MillsArfleet May 18th

I've got into a rut with Arfleet's clay pit - not thinking it through, more sort of hurling myself against an immovable object. So Just went here a lot and tried so many things - even using tiny feathers as floats (didn't work) - and ended up veering between missing bites like a novice and getting none at all. 'Obsession by JAAIt's a man-perfume scent and it smells like carp slime, stale bread and sweetcorn.'.

200823rd May 2008. Arfleet. Best part of two hours has glided past on another pleasant evening resulting in a 10lb fish that I've had before. After 1½ hours of 'feathered' paste, I switch to a pole float, one of the self-cocking paste ones and get a ¾lb rudd at 8:30pm, then the carp, dogged and slow. Cockles again, two fish this year both falling to cockles. So much for hemp paste - lots of interest, can't seem to hit a bite. At 8:50pm I miss a bite and at 9:20pm get a regular eel, wide mouthed, sullen, 1½lb maybe, which sheds the hook without help and pours itself over the lip of the bank back into the lake. I put paste on the hook for no good reason and let the night settle over me.

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills, finally another fishArfleet MillsArfleet Mills, finally another fishArfleet MillsArfleet Mills, finally another fish

(I've caught this fish before, in April 2006Back again. Hasn't changed much, but seems to be getting by OK.)

200826th May 2008. Arfleet Mills. The rain eased off, the sky cleared and so took both sticks to the clay pit. I put in some hemp and corn (no change there then) nearest side only and put 6lb/4lb, pole float with size '16' 'thick-wire' on the light stick. A worm yields nothing and corn gets just a couple of blips which eventually morph into a proper bite, getting me this 3lb ghostly mirror which careered about the swim like a clown on a mini bike. Interesting. I switch, optimistically, to a 6lb bottom.

Some corn lobbed earlier lingered frozen floating; suddenly vanished in a rolling boil of water the float rode like a surfer. A hint. Another bite, pen in hand, I'm too slow. 4:10pm and I missed three or four pulls, then get a 4oz rudd, the metallic smell of which flings me to Whitehouse lake and it suddenly feels a little more eerie where I'm sitting. Two rudd, two jam sandwiches, two visitors. Tea, two cups then. One of the visitors was Nemp joining me for a natter and my second carp, a common, 8-9lb, proved a little hard to net, but it was one of those fish which signalled its presence for some thirty minutes ahead of the bite, without actually giving you anything you could use in a court-of-law to say it was there. Nemp and I spent that time leaned forward in our chairs with the expectation that comes from a lot of carp fishing, 'the buzz...that odd cross between mild tinnitus and the feeling you really can hear something...'

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills, finally fish Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills, finally fish

So persisting with float fishing the margin, although with limited success because I hadn't really thought it through. Having said that, this session did seem to turn a corner...the second fish made me think I'd cracked it, but of course, I hadn't...

200811th July 2008. Arfleet. Arrghfleet.

I’m on the SE bank right at the outlet end, due to some half-formed idea about cold water running along the far bank and this side being warmer. I have a quill-float, a size 10 and hemp-paste. There's plenty of small fish to keep the float mobile. There's a patter of rain; 6:10pm. Maybe that was a bite (missed). There’s a good fish rising behind the stump in front of me. I’m tossing it slugs as they appear, eventually they’ll be a hook in one. To the left is a nook or niche in the bank, which I fancy for later. Tea. Bell is 192*. Did he get his ‘200’? All right thinking people hope so. Some of the float's nudges have faded away, those fast dips caused by passing rudd forming a bow in the line (the giveaway is the sharp rise of the float after said dip).

There is a large swirl, a fish spooked by the float (or the angler) perhaps. More and more I think about free-line, only the lure of the float keeping me from trying this more often. The fish are busy and feeding though and one of them will (I hope) do the deed in the end. There are two other anglers beside me on the bank, both novices; my good side is itching to help them catch - maggots fished two feet down in ten feet of water is only going to score a few rudd.

Arfleet MillsArfleet - the outlet end Arfleet MillsArfleet - the 'niche' and its potamogeton

I’ll try the paste for an hour and swap to cockles. We’ll see. 6:50pm more paste. Another slug lobbed. More hemp scattered. Another ‘maybe’ bite, it’s hard to tell, a dip-and-stop. Cockle or the niche? Hmm. 7:15pm; miss a sitter. The neighbours leave. More tea; decamp for the niche and its potential potamogeton, where a carp of about 10lb potters about. I miss a bite after 10 minutes, recast closer in. A big fish appears at my feet and vanishes in a vortex. Funny place. More bites in the margin. Back onto cockles.

I switch to a size 10 ‘No.7’, recast, hook a ghostie almost on the drop, after a bit the hook-hold gives. Dammit, 3-4lb maybe. I try a ‘regular’ hook; get bites and a 4oz rudd. I switch to a pole float, drop to a size 12 and 8lb line. Jack up the blood sugar for the last hour with oatcakes. The float dips off as I write and so miss the fish (hint) but not a tree. Hm.

P.S. I typed this entry in April 2021 from notes taken on the day and then, inexplicably, put on the shelf for over a decade. As part of the memory experiment this is instructive. I had absolutely no recall of most of the detail in the notes, although now it feels like I remember some of it. The thing though, is I know I didn’t, but the memory is now indistinguishable from one I had all the time...and as the original handwritten notes pass through the shredder, the above becomes the original and is more accurate anyway...

200827th July 2008. Arfleet. Well helloooo there 'fishing off the top'. Now, the thing about today is that I've decided to give the old floater-fishing a bash. I'd stolen the dog's kibble, at least the whitish bits, soaked them in the hot water from cooked hemp, patted them about with kitchen roll until I'd got a more-or-less-spongy-and-floaty kind of consistency, then took them to Arfleet along with a bag of dry mixers to fire about, the Old Carp rod, some 10lb line and a Partridge hook, long-shanked but fine in the wire for its size. Heh. New notebook, new start.

16:40pm; I'm in the first swim, south corner, the water has an atypical muddiness. Odd fish are about and on the top so I've lobbed in a few floaters. Those on the right vanish with barely a sound, the 10lb magician passing by my feet with a swirl that rocked the float. I've got two hempy dog-biscuits on a size 6 in waiting, meanwhile fishing corn on the bottom under a modified paste float, with cockles to try later. It's 29°C but shady. I've had a fine day, taking the Littleanglers swimming then getting through 'The Secret Carp' and three 'Jethro Tull' albums in the same two good hours. Floaters next...rod then.

I miss two bites on the float watching the floaters. A 10lb common starts on the few right-hand baits and I miss a take. I try again, but wise, it clears up the single baits and merely nudges the trap-double, then evanesces. I fire a few more hopeful mixers, a shower of which rebound from the catapult and scatter the water a yard or three in front of me. I was reasonably dumbfounded when a ghostie loomed out of the opaque, nabbed a couple and blurred off. I added two to the hook, dibbled it only eight feet way in hope not expectation, but stap me, back he came and the game was afoot with a practise run and then one quick slurp. After a one-sided scrap, 6lb in the net. But first blood and all that. I go back to the float rod while things settle.

Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'

There are far left cloopings, but the baits there are ignored. I change back to the float-rod looking for a straggler and lengthen the trace, soaking it so it sinks. Cockles and tea anyone? There are bubbles to the left (of me) but surface activity at this end has tailed off, the float's also static; 17:40pm, I'll go a-floating in a bit. More bubbles to the left, perhaps 10 yards off. I feed the far bank with dry biscuits, there was a fish about as baits were being nudged and popping out of sight in a reasonably regular way, so I stuck two more on the hook, flung it about three yards short of the far bank, waited...and waited...after what was about 15 minutes and a number of pokes, this too went under and there was a struggle going as it dove towards the rushes, getting attached to 50 feet of some other person's line and an old bubble float that must have been draping the bed. Most odd, but in the net about 9lb maybe. Two in no time, unheard of riches here. Hm. I like floater fishing. 6:15pm, tea.

After a bit of a think I moved, about 7pm, to the other end where the floaters wash up and carp were now moving. I try for one in the last-but-one swim and see only rudd despite the presence of a real fish that picks off the few loose baits. I then opt to get right in the corner on all fours; I loose three hook-baits to the rudd then have an aborted run at the hook-bait from a carp that looms out of nowhere.

Down to the last five baits, I opt for the far bank right in the corner where I know there's a carp, and the first pair of baits sinks...I try the second pair which floats and edges towards the middle. This nudges a couple of times and then suddenly becalmed, raises the tension. I wait five minutes with silence in a circle around the bait then in a cream-swirl, it goes. I hit the lump and it tries to get under the far bank and then whips out into the lake, so I swap swims, then it heads back into the corner, curving the rod right over. I retrieve the carp, then it sounds deep, once, twice, then gives into the net; 11lb, "3". 8:15pm.

Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'Arfleet MillsArfleet, 'off the top'

More tea. It's gone quiet with the approaching dusk and cooled enough for me to put my fleece on; a big change from the 30°C of noon. A big carp surfaces dead ahead then a trough of bubbles tears along the top to five yards out, making me twitch. I've put a few of the remaining floaters out, but the carp are less evident now, I might try a dibble under the far bank or under the rod tip. A yaffle cackles, stealthy rustling starts, blackbird chips quietly.

A carp tops five yards ahead, ignores the floater I send after it; 8:50pm. I essay a distance floater and get rudd-robbed. I go back to the float, corn-and-cockle, fade to black.

So, this is surface fishing. I rather like it.

P.S. This entry is an amalgam of the web entry and a diary entry typed up in October 2019; the diary entry was a little different from the backfilled memory, which is a trick memory plays...

Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

20095th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. I know. I went fishing today and float-fished with the four-piece Avon on the back pit, but oddly, despite the pictures, which usually remind me of the day, I can't recall a single will assume I had a fine and relaxing session. This seems to be a reasonable assumption.

Arfleet Millsblank, blanking, blanked Arfleet Millspretty place though you have to admit

200910th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. Busy evening and I fished about as far from the entrance as was possible on the lower lake, as there were several folk fishing. A chap on the bank near the car park had not long had a carp and plenty of fish were about. I stuck up the '550Chapman 550 with 6lb line and then managed to miss about five good bites, with various incompetences and eventually got a nice tench around 2½lb or so. Tried corn, cockles and paste, corn seems to get the most activity, including my one fish.

Arfleet Millsalways good, tench

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

200919th April 2009. Arfleet Mills. Back pool was crowded so I went around the back of the newly deepened top lake. I put up a float rod and tried for anything with a size 14 and managing a couple of small rudd, but a cockle went untouched. As fish are moving to my right I chuck out some floaters and spend over an hour missing takes on a Mk.IV carp rod. After a bit I opt to change this for an 11ft Avon and a Cardinal 66, so after swapping rods and settling the fish back down, I miss one on floaters and switch to crust, miss one massive take and then hit one which really pulled, trying to get into the weed beds, but eventually, at the net is 8lb of common. I fish on the float for a bit and get a solitary 1½lb rudd, then get a tiddler as well. In the interim I feed more floaters to my left, as carp are about and after a hour, a small common and ghostie start on the ones not eight feet from me. I drop in a big bit of crust and a large shape materialises and takes it straight away. It's a big lump and even with the 12lb line it takes some bold holding, but after a bit of a thrash I net a 14lb common. Good enough.

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

200926th April 2009. Arfleet Mills.The top lake again, barely 2:30pm and all to myself. Went around the back (the 'furthest from the car park' gambit) top lake. I put up the '500Chapman 500 with a 'pin and a dibbery plastic thing and the Harrison's with a size 8 on flouro bottom for floaters. The first thing I found out was the dog biscuits I'd carefully soaked were rubbish, so I'll feed them to the hound.

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

Arfleet Millsa dibbery plastic thingArfleet Mills...revealed the ghostie, about 7lb or soArfleet Mills...tench on a pinch of breadArfleet the weed, so I lobbed a floater into the middle

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

Arfleet Mills6lb of commonArfleet Millsa 3lb commonArfleet Millsa dibbery plastic thingArfleet Millsthe sun-setArfleet Millsthe last gasper

Top-notch day.

200917th May 2009. Arfleet Mills. It's blowing a gale and threatening rain, but I'm not fooled and find the lakes without fishermen. I decide after a look at both lakes that the back pit is worth a try, as it's not got the wind driven chop on the lower lake, although that chop had pushed two more floats for the collection into the bank. I sit down at the south end, and flick in some bits of bread and some hemp and watch for a bit. In response a large 7-8-9lb carp crashes out of the water right at the other end. I take the hint and slide around and set up a floater rod and the Mk.IV with an antennae and 6lb through with a small stubborn size 10.

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

Arfleet MillsA 15½lb mirror carp

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

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

Arfleet Millthe lake is bisected by the wind into a choppy half...Arfleet MillI fish the float to pass the timeArfleet Millover-arm it right into the cornerArfleet it me or are they really greedy?

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

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

200924th May 2009. Arfleet Mills. Several anglers on the front lake and one on the back who ignores my greeting. I go to the other end from 'Mr. Happy' RDRude really, that's all. and put up a floater rod and flick bread and wait. After about an hour of waiting and some speculative casts one crust is silently removed in a blur of deep ochre, then the fish retires under the tree root opposite and refuses to budge. 'Mr. Happy' leaves and I make my way down to where there is a cut in the bank and an overhanging tree stump. I put on a veil VThis is actually a piece of army surplus scrim, with a hole cut into the middle so it fits over my hat. It's easy to keep it tucked on the brim when not required and then dropped over my face when needed., flick bread into various places and a small ghostie nips one off the end of the clump of grass at the base of the trunk then vanishes. I wait and two crusts, more distant, submerge without a sound. OK then. I flick some more bits and overcast a piece and draw it into the trunk of the tree. Five minutes pass, the dwarf lilies at my feet tremble to heighten the tension. A shape materialises vertically from under the stump and down goes the bread. Up goes the rod. Down goes the fish, a real thump. A battle ensues and with the lake bed denied the fish tries hard for the stump, then the dwarf lilies, which the line cuts into silage. It tries for the adjacent bush and I haul it back and into the net.

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

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

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

Arfleet MillI sit towards the corner Arfleet Milla 12lb common with the red tail of a recent strain

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

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

Arfleet Milla 16¼lb commonArfleet Millcover's blown nowArfleet Millthis 9½lb fish (snapped by flash)

200931st May 2009. Arfleet. Back to the mill. With fishermen on the front lake and the back lake to myself it's an easy choice. Unusually the water is coloured and I should bottom fish if I have any sense, but fish are cruising the surface in groups, but defeat my attempts to picture them. Pity. Still it's a great day and I tackle up a floater rod, one hook, nothing else and feed bread from behind a screen of new growth, which sets the pattern for the day. Schools of rudd and perch mob the bread and I discover that one supermarket's sandwich loaf is not as tough as another's but more to the point the fish are not really bothered. I miss one rolled-gold take 20 yards out spend about 90 minutes try to get another. I move around to the east bank and although some bread is taken it's done with a casual air and deep suspicion, both at once. I even try a big piece with a trailer crust on a size 10, a good dodge usually, and it is spurned. With a small self cocker I whip out a few perch and rudd on worm and bread but even that is slow. After another hour try to gull a ghostie on the far bank, without success, enjoyably frustrating, I decide to target an area where fish are rising on the far bank (they are crashing right in the corner as well, but they would not take bread there either).

ArfleetUnusually the water is coloured... ArfleetAfter another hour try to gull a ghostie on the far bank...

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

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

200918th July 2009. Arfleet Mills. Quarter wavelength out of phase... I must have caught these two carp and the words left here as a marker suggest the day did not start well...but I can't recall a second of it...

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills carps Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills carps

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

split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

2010 carp11th April 2010. Arfleet. Odd day. I went for the back pit, my habit when it is deserted, then set up at the bottom end getting nothing for my pleasure but a string of shots of the deer, often seen here if you sit quietly (and with a veil on).

Arfleet Mills...only against the bankArfleet Mills..? I thought I heard summat?Arfleet MillsNah, must have been my imagination.Arfleet Mills...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.

Arfleet Mills...yeah, see I did hear something.Arfleet Millsgrey duskArfleet Millsgrey duskArfleet 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] [Ctotal:/]

2010 carp16th 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 susurates 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.

Arfleet Millscome on, chuck us a crust mate?Arfleet Millswe can see you...Arfleet Millsneh neh neyeh neh...Arfleet MillsMight 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 E.Grey 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 but 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 is time to go.

2010 carp3rd May 2010. Arfleet. OK, a bit floater fixated again but an 11lb common on the float rod for a change.

ArfleetprettyArfleetone off the bottom for a changeArfleetgo on, go on, go on...
Arfleetthe back pit #1 Arfleetthe 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] [Ctotal:/]

2010 carp9th 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 7:45 with two hours of dusk to come, I quit and headed home. Some days nothing seems to sync. up.

Arfleet MillsThe clay-pit

2010 carp20th 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.

Arfleet...suckeredArfleet...always good to sit in waitArfleetweedy
Arfleetflat padded calm Arfleetdusk 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] [Ctotal:/]

2010 carp3rd 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 DT'Driving Technology''s small technology, good for dark nights, evoking a dry heat we don't get here, but it pulls out old sun-bleached memories.

Arfleet...more of the dread the other endArfleetnice little commonArfleetThe end with the convenient bush, crusts for the dangling off, of Arfleetone 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] [Ctotal:/]

2010 carp6th 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.

I'm starting to edge toward short evening sessions with the days at their longest. So a loaf and a floater rod to the old clay pit it is. I get into the south corner and try for a fish out of the bush, miss three takes, seeming not able to connect with the line over a branch, bread or floaters. After an hour I call time and try floating biccies about two feet from the bank, which are sniffed and nudged, so I risk 10lb flouro on the hook link. In the meantime big bread freebies, as close to the far bank as I can get them, have vanished stealthily, so I try flake and despite a bit of a smack-down on landing it's taken almost right away. I miss and stick the hook in a tree behind me with the line covering me like thistledown...

OK then. I try again. 5 minutes tick by and down the bait goes, I don't miss this time. I'm circumspect, despite severe testing of the hook length knots, after a pleasant battle I slip this 10lb common into the net; a bit tatty in places but one of the chestnut old stock. I wait for a bit, with tea, and nothing moves at all for a long time, then the chap at the other end leaves and with the scummy fluff-carpet at his end I think it's worth a bash.

I put the tackle down short of the spot and flip a big lump right under the under-hang on the far bank, banking on the surface carpet to hide my intent. When the stealthy ripples start I tense, missing my chance when the bread quietly sinks. I try again, bait now under the same brushwood but on the other side of it. Tick tock...I don't miss this time and the carpet of debris explodes about eight feet from the take, they do go fast. I pull the rod up and over the stump and drag the fish to the more open bank, enduring a few minutes of dogged head shaking before netting the twin of the first fish.

ArfleetA great fish, I wish they all looked like this.ArfleetHow can you not like this?ArfleetA little scamp

Too dark under the overhanging trees by now, so I head for the other lake, put the rod across my knees, drink tea and wait for fish. I try the monk-end weed-drift until I can barely see the bread and then put a piece in front of me in the sticky gloom and wait until the white blob merges with the grey background...'three' then.

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] [Ctotal:/]

2010 carp13th 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] [Ctotal:/]

Arfleet MillsOne of the burnished leather ones Arfleet MillsBig 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, "You might as well go home or fish for rudd".

Arfleet MillsToday, we are treating you with complete indifferenceArfleet MillsWe are still treating you with complete indifferenceArfleet MillsI treat your mixer biscuits with contempt and amusement...
Arfleet Mills...and continue to play 'nudge the mixer' for fun.Arfleet Mills...although some clown in a white shirt has now made us mildly concerned...Arfleet 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 into a nice state of tension. Thanks mate. Thankfully, but too late, he decided not to get his tackle.

2010 carp17th 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] [Ctotal:/]

Arfleet MillsThe long throw ghostie Arfleet MillsThe tricked common

2010 carp19th June 2010. Arfleet. One back pit ghostie (yay) and a lost double. [C:1/0] [Ctotal:/]

Arfleet again for a few hours before dusk. I nip around to the curiously calm back pit, enigmatic on its good days; today with a thick face, it could be hiding something or nothing. Despite this, I have the place to myself and try a couple of long casts to the far bank, none of which made the grade.

After fishing the crust out, to keep the spooking down to a low cacophony, I switch to the inside track and try under the bushes in the inlet corner. I miss a nibble right off, and then after two tries, get a bit or bread over the branches of the tree opposite, only 15 feet away and it sits in the water, punch-bagged by rudd for a few minutes. I’m thinking the rudd will win by a knockout when a fish slips out for under the branch and steals the bread like a cringing dog stealing a biscuit. I haul it out and after a short fight land this very light fish, one of the ghosts perhaps. They seem shyer than the others.

Arfleet MillsOne of the ghosts

After a few minutes I get the feeling there is another fish about, but I bungle three casts and quit, heading for the other end and dangle another piece of bread over a twig and after 20 minutes tick by it vanishes with a pop, resulting in the hook catapulted behind and the line settling over me like spider silk on the breeze. I re cost and after two poor throws get one right under the far bank and I wait...

...then after a rudd-jab or two it sucks down and battle ensues, but I run out of good fortune and the fish rounds some underwater brush or some such and despite my best efforts remains the wrong side of it, surfacing and shaking its head, 15b or so of common carp. I slacken to hand-line and the hook pulls right through, shaken out. Rats.

All spooked out now, so tried the new pit, flat calm though, odd. Nothing moving at all. Home

2010 carp22nd 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 umbrellas 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 there but did not 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.

2010 carp29th 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 whiny 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. I'm fortunate (or possible unfortunate) to live right in the middle of the catchment of four different clubs, so I exercise a policy of not buying a ticket next year if the club does something that inconvenience me, costs me money or is just plain silly.

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.

Arfleet MillsseedyArfleet Millsyou could walk across thisArfleet Millsyou 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.

Arfleet Millslittle fish are sweet, as 'Old Bob' used to sayArfleet Millsthe only ghost around here...probablyArfleet Millsbelter 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] [Ctotal:/]

Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page) Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook

2011: crucian27th April 2011. Arfleet Mills.

Arfleet Millsthe afternoon hatchArfleet Millsthe 'downstream' end of the old clay-pitArfleet Millsa closer look at the insects
Arfleet Millsthe float in situArfleet Millsthe 'upstream' end from the 'down stream' endArfleet Millsthe pitch in the rushes

2011: crucian10th May 2011. Arfleet. I headed back for the second time this year, finding the back pit still in a grump, with the water still barely coloured and the fish mooching about the bottom end. I know this game, when they're about like that you're usually doomed. A few fish did tease under the far bank in the sun and even perhaps sucked at some hot cross bun floaters, but in truth, after three hours, interrupted by a man with towed family and several poles, I couldn't raise a bite, off the top or off the margin-bottom, or the lake bed ¾ of the way across. Given it was warm and fairly still, that seemed apt and after a bit I tried for an hour at the other end, missing the casts I need for a take, although one piece was tugged experimentally. Couldn't buy a bite on corn even, from the rudd. Odd.

ArfleetMeh. Not hungry.ArfleetWe scorn your bait and your presenceArfleetWe swim up...Arfleet...we swim back...

At 6ish I gave it up for a bad job (if at first you don't succeed try again by all means, but don't be an obsessive twit) and headed for the other lake planning to fish the margin with 6lb line and the '550 and a pole float and take whatever came along. The sole resident, I slotted onto a spot on the bank, like a jigsaw piece in the right place. I settled back and caught several small roach 1-2oz maybe, although I had to cut corn grains in half to hit them - there's 4" of 6lb braid on the end of 6lb mono and a size 14 'barbel', the back pit is that kind of water...and was to lazy to change it. After a scatter of the smaller ones I got one in the 8oz range which was nice, a 4oz fish and then switching to a single cockle which, obligingly bobbled off after about 30 minutes, giving me proper bend in my rod and was thankful of the 6lb line. A 5lb common, unable to overcome the bendy stick. I resumed corn, nabbed a few more bits then swapped back to cockle when peace returned. A tench whipped the float under almost on the drop, a bit over 2lb, but there are no bad ones. The lake then displayed one of it's quirks which was the emergence of shreds of mist of the surface, drifted across in the coaxing breeze which funnels through the castle's gap in the ridge, a sea breeze at birth. These spectres haunted the water while I waited for a last fish, which after a trip-and-duck turned into a roach well over a pound which, split finned, perhaps had spawned of late. I watched the tip until it jigged in front of me in the Castle lee's odd grey light and took my rods back to the car, the crust rod assembled but untouched. I doubt I saw four carp move all evening, two seasons back, it would have been ten times that.

ArfleetI got one in the 8oz range which was niceArfleetA 5lb common, unable to overcome the bendy stickArfleetThe view from my second swimArfleetA tench whipped the float under almost on the dropArfleetturned into a roach well over a pound

The near full moon-shadows track me back to the car and the black rabbit of the Wareham bypass was cropping grass, it, or descendants of it, have been marking the dusk here for at least five years and I like to see it, I like to see them all. The early warm days have sprung the lanes' verges to a snow-capped man's height and in the headlamps, tracks known from a hundred passages look subtly alien. The three-ways' yew looms sudden, unfamiliar and the thundercloud on the north skyline is so black I see myself driving to a different house at the base of a mountain. But then it's just the 'Red Post' and the A31.

2011: crucian14th July 2011. Arfleet Mills. Moth-like I flutter by and the back pit has clear water, the bottom visible 4' down and fish cruising on the surface. I try fitfully to get a crust over my favourite bush, one such was ignored for an hour. Never seen that before. I tied on some 5lb and Domhoff'ed a '14' to it, slipped a small cork ball on the line and gulled a few small perch on scraps of prawn, but could not get a rudd on anything. Odd. I head for the other lake, a hour behind a rational decision.

Arfleet Millscome on, if you think you're hard enoughArfleet MillsAnother stripey, no bad ones...Arfleet Millsdog day hazeArfleet Millsthe favourite bush

With the lake for myself, I slip in behind some reeds and fish a cockle-on-a-10, under a thin tipped quill in five feet of water. I miss a bite out of surprise and then get a tench, a big roach and the time slips by with another roach and tench and some missed tweaks. With two hours of dusk left, I opt for a size '7' (a bonus carp?) and after some dithering hit a fish that pulls hard and keeps down, then think I have the queen roach and then it's Anguilla, over 1lb, under 2lb.

Arfleet Millstinca!Arfleet MillsJAA's wireless bite alarmArfleet Millsa very respectable roach north of 1lbArfleet Millskinda gets your heart beating doesn't it?
Arfleet Millstinca twoArfleet Mills½lb of roachArfleet Millsanguilla anguillaArfleet Mills...see, you can put them back without killing them

I wrap it in the net, roll upside down, tweak out the hook and let it find its way home. I get another roach, nothing carp-like and packing see the moon sneak over Challow Hill. The moon with the sky to itself hangs, eternal it seems, with an old-hill top in the way one can watch it move, so I watch it rise before leaving, worthwhile.

Arfleet Mills½lb of roachArfleet Millsmoonrise over Challow hillArfleet Millsmoonrise over Challow hillArfleet Millsmoon risen over Challow hill

The Small TechnologyIt's a phone. has 'playlists', so I choose a lively one, am reminded that the third best rock intro of all time is "Again and Again" (of course the first is "Stay With Me" by the Faces) inAlso in the top ten are "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)", "Rock it".... No badgers, hares, black bunnies. Things are getting so weird, I have to tell you everything I see... Yeah.

hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook

201221st April 2012. Arfleet. It's 7:35pm and the crow, the murderer of frogs is now taking parts elsewhere, to a mate I guess. Yaffle's behind and there's a jolly big magpie taking turns with the crow on the bank, but the crow is in charge and charges the thief when it's out of turn. Almost funny-light time. After some dither I hook a bottom wallower which after a moment wakes and twice heads halfway across the pond and in the end I tighten the clutch and take charge, a second solid shouldered low double to add to the 12lb fish on the trick bait...

Arfleet Millswhy I like it here, #1Arfleet Millsnice pair of shoulders boy, show 'em off...Arfleet Millssuch a reproachful lookArfleet Millsthe murderous crow

I had the place to myself when I rolled up, rare, so put my bag down and tried few baits, long thrown on 6lb, nothing played so I stalked the fish excavating the bank on the other side. I cover the last few feet on damp knees and watch three tails for a while and lower two pineapple surprises which results in a fish, little to do except switching the rod tip to keep it guessing. I watch and miss a crust flicked over the bay, then becalmed, I sit on the bay's far side with the rod across my knees and chase a ghostie, then some black and gold thing. This chasing seldom works...

Arfleet Millsthe bankside burrowerArfleet Millswhy I like it here, #2Arfleet Millsthe tell-tale clumpArfleet Millsthe first of the after shower marks

I circle, and would've tried the back pit but the water's clear, weak black tea or iron stain. Sufficient history to know that's a very slender chance indeed...

I park the brolly under a tree, and after more than a shower, promise myself home if it's raining in an hour. At quarter-to-decamp the drops thin and fade, I stretch my legs, see a dark shape ambling about. I loop on thin leader and a size '12' and squash a sausage of flake on and whop it 30 yards off where to my surprise it's nudged once, looks alright and engulfed whole. Huh, happens. A second try, in between desultory sprays of rain, heart not in it, is ignored by another shadow. I opt for a trick and bury the hook in one mixer and squeeze bread above the hook for disposable casting weight. The second shadow looms and a pale yellow sink hole engulfs the lot. Some trick. Something of a tussle, I never really trust the knots with the thin stuff.

Arfleet Millssomewhere, under the another rainbowArfleet Millsthe second, larger, after shower markArfleet Millswhy I like it here, #3

Not so shabby, but the corner is not the place, despite a roll under a mat of new reeds to my left. I decamp to halfway along the bank and watch a crow hop down the far bank to the water's edge, hassles a fleet of fluff off, then spears a frog, pins it with one foot, proceeds to eat the best bits...

Arfleet Millswhy I like it here, #4 Arfleet MillsBob, dammit!

201226th April 2012. Arfleet. Two old, two new and a tinca. Had worse. The old, came from the back pit, unattended. Three fish attended the potamogeton patch, one pale, two dark. I snuck past, threaded 10lb sitting on my ar$e and dropped a crust at the far end of the patch from a spot behind a tree at the other end. I waited...

It was nudged and one of the dark shadows retuned to my end of the weed, using the same tree as cover. I plucked the hook from the soggy bread and dropped a second at my end of the weed. Naturally the remaindered bait was snaffled a moment later. I persisted. It took and age it seemed and a lot of back and forth by the fish but when the take came it was positive and firm. I responded in kind and an interesting situation persisted for five minutes, which consisted of me with a very bendy rod'n'10lb and a fish which I wouldn't allow outside the bounds of the weeds. Eventually I pushed the net in and realised my line was crossed with another line that strung from the weed to the distant bed of the lake. Odd. I shoved the net under the fish and pulled it in, pulling the foreign line with it.

Strange to tell, my line was cut in this exercise, I never found the hook. I wrapped the fish, pulled the other line until it broke and hanked it up for the bin. The fish, a good looking 13lb, got photographed with the wrong photometry, but still.

I decamped to the corner where one of my favourite trees lived and first go dropped a bait over a branch (hah, a good day) and barely 15 minutes passed then it got the sink-plunger. My branch, it transpired, was a split bramble which snared my line and after some hilarity, I realised the only option was to circle the end of the lake with the rod and hope the fish was still if you saw a grey-ish duffer scramble through the undergrowth, passing the "no fishing beyond this point" sign, loose his hat, only get a bit sunk in the silt and finally net a fish which appeared to be tied to a bramble...then I wasn't there. Likewise if you saw the same buffoon make his way back with a fish in a net. The line was so firmly wedged, that even after I bit off the hook, it took quite some force to pull it back through...a fish I've seen before I think, but welcome anyway.

Arfleet MillsOld pit 13lb mirrorArfleet MillsOld pit 11lb commonArfleet Millsthe windward end boots

The front pit looked the part and although 'Plan A' was to walk'n'stalk, the wind was right into the corner which felt to be "the place". I popped on a quill, which I presently swapped for a bob, not before I'd missed a snatch, then let it wobble about between me and the monk. I'd just settled then saw a fish sip a mixer from the corner scum, a brief flash of cream, and then a bit later a slurp for under the bank about six feet away. I retrieved the bob, and despite now having braid hook-link, I squeezed on bread to just sink in the right place. It of course floated, the mini-swivel turning into a floating zig-thing. This, drifted, beached, was taken in five minutes and when I stuck the surprised fish cleared the water before I bullied it net-wards. Improvisation, don't you just love it?

Arfleet Millsdistant quill...Arfleet Mills...not so distant quillArfleet Millsthe up-side down zigged one

Fifteen minutes later, after putting a mussel on and flicking it by the monk, I had a smaller carp, the float causally slipping a foot under, then missed two sitter bites as the light thinned. I swapped the float, link-swivelled on in anticipation, for a bored out cork ball around a star-light - a piece of silicone over the end of the light, which the link was pushed through and a float band to keep the cork on the top. Instant float. When it eventually wobbled under, it was tinca that was on the other end and after another 30 minutes in the black with my guiding light I called it a day. As it were.

Arfleet Mills6lb common ('ish')Arfleet Millsstar-lit cork ballArfleet Millsstar lured

Start light, start bright, first tench I see tonight...

20125th May 2012. Arfleet. Two more...kind of a funny day, I started on the back pit, it had the colour it needs to fish at all, but a man with two margin rods took up, two swims, including the one I fancied. He all but missed a run, I heard his reel going before his remote alarm went and I carried his net the ten yards to the potamogeton patch in time to see the fish shed the hook, which some would call fair. I tried the far corner for a couple of hours, but despite some fish movement, nothing seems to be grubbing today, bread flicked over the lake was nudged with suspicion. After a couple of hours, it clearly wasn't working out so I decamped.

The front lake was slightly more welcoming, but little moved. I went halfway up the south bank and sat part-screened by last year's reeds and waited. Eventually the 30 yards off patch of weeds bulged a bit so I put on 6lb line and flung bread, good bread, yeasty, made good toast, rubbish on the hook. I was on my third crust and a cup of tea when the bread bobbled, causing me to spill and strike, no particular order, the result was the ghost below, seldom gulled from close by these days. I finished my tea and watched a large fish swirl to my right which ignored a speculative crust. I opted for distant weed and a wait...

In the event, my crust fell two feet short, windless tho', so left it, poured a Lap-Sang and watched a large lump burrow in the potamogeton, opting to leave, expecting nothing, than move it and spook the fish. I was scalded for the second time when a pectoral and tail-top swerved around the bread and it foundered. This fish, decently, ran parallel the bank for a bit and then started, once it neared halfway, the sulk and bore of a larger fish. With 6lb only, I let it go and once it was nearer me than the middle, started moving it up a foot at a time. Not a bad effort for 6lb line.

Arfleet Millsthe gold spectre, an 8lb ghost carpArfleet Mills17lb common on 6lb line, GHSRE...Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills new lake, how it looked today

That was me, little else stirred and I wasn't in the mood for bite-fishing. At some point I noticed the new pool, dredged out between this one and the tiny (but interesting) Corfe River, an extension to the weedy sinkhole it was, was clooping behind me. In general, ponds don't cloop without assistance, so it proved and there were three dark fish, nose deep in the new bank, but they fled when I cast a bait, even after approaching on my hands and knees. Next time.

201213th May 2012. Arfleet. Funny thing. Three carp, missed three. Two of the carp were the same one, two fat roach, a tinca and an eel. And helped one new to the game to catch one off the top with donated bait. Now he's hooked...

I'd spent some time waiting and watching a raft of reeds which was giving the odd indication of fish...I'd only put on 6lb line and missed my first go, a long bait lobbed 30 yards onto a the edge of a lily patch - it fell short and drifted by, but the take as it left the pads' lee caught me on the hop and the wind-bow in the line did the rest. I got no second go...back to the odd indication which had me dropping a bait past the clump and after quite some time, during which I'd start to feed a little hemp in front of me, the thing went and I'd mistaken my fish for a smaller one and it bored and lugged and in the need when I started to dictate, it charged into the matted rushes by my feet. Enveloped, becalmed, I only had to push the net under the fish and lift it and weed out. Well over 16lb. One-all then. Back to the float and steady slurps had me again and I crawled back to the rushes and there was a ghost, nosing and sipping. I dropped two squishy dog biscuit things. It took then. I pulled then back. I did it again. Cursed, edged back for some softer pre-soaked pineapple floaters and it took those and I pulled them out again. Good grief. Even a really stupid carp wouldn't wait for the fourth go and thus it was proved...

Arfleet MillsThe first of 16lb fishArfleet MillsThe second carpArfleet MillsThe view from the south-west corner, looking north
Arfleet MillsThe view from the south-west corner, looking north-eastArfleet MillsThe finest roach...Arfleet Mills...and a tench, never bad.

After time and tea had passed, I decided to walk around to the scene of the first miss, upped the line to 8lb, and dropped a crust, waited a long while behind a tree, as a fish swam around past, through and probably over the bait and in the end was this one above, undignified squabble that it was. I chatted with the other angler, new to coarse from sea fishing, and gave him cockles and floater baits which he tried...while sitting there I missed a take, then by the time I'd stalked around and re-seated myself, he's had a decent common on the floater and than can be an addictive moment...which a later meeting showed...

Arfleet MillsThe first of 16lb fish, for the second time Arfleet MillsThe all-purpose JAA controller float

I looped a tiny float onto my 8lb and fished cockles and fed hemp, after a while swapping the through-mono for a mini swivel and some 8lb braid and a size '12'. I promptly missed a bite, nabbed a tench (yay), then an eel which as usual refused to pose and a couple of decent roach one of which is shown. The tiny roach seem to have gone and the stamp is better, but there are fewer fish. No surprise there. Eventually, after watching a huge battle over the way, the newbie floater fisher got a hook pull, back luck. I hit a bite and everything goes solid again, then the fish woke and charged off across the lake a few times. It then dropped through a hole in the net I'd have sworn wasn't big enough for the fish, leaving me doing a quick hand-line and re-net job to be untangled later. 16lb, but check those missing shoulder scales - twice in one day for this chap and ½lb less the second time if not mis-weighed. Same fish either way, not sure that counts as 'two' and perhaps it's time to consider some time on the back pit. I tied a knot in the net, but didn't need it again...two black rabbits at Wareham, they're breeding like - oh wait.

201220th May 2012. Arfleet. Back for more. Two three-rodders packing up as I arrived (three rods each, 2¾lb test on this tiny pool, anyone see the problem there?). They'd had a few each and the wind, atypically, was blowing NE to SW. So I went the other side, on the basis that the wind and campsite would herd fish over there a bit, so set up shop in a swim that I'd fancied for the koi and put on a hook on one rod and a float rig on the Mk.IV B&W, 8lb to 'pin, fishing for bites, a bit stiff for that, but it's weedy, while decoying others onto the top and swap rods about. In the event, fish were edgy and after the float nipped under and I briefly connected with something which shed the hook, I aimed a crust ten yards down the bank into a small round patch of weeds where several fish were circling. Then a nice man turned up with his daughter and stood behind me pointing and generally waving his hands about. Just to make sure he spooked all the fish in my corner he walked to within ten feet of my bait and hoisted his girl up to make double sure all the fish had seen them. She then stood on a stump and pointed some more. Jeez. I'd peg that as "modern" behaviour, but nothing changes, although the easy fishing in water where fish are used to 'pointing' doesn't help. You can catch here if you clump about a bit in sight (at least early season). Trust me when I say, if you keep quiet and out of sight, you see twice as many fish. All this left me a tad irritable.

I, of course, missed the take after sitting and waiting out the disturbance, part of which informed me about the 16lb fish he'd caught last week. I decided to keep my fish catches to myself. Went back to the bottom rod and swapping between that and the top managed to waste (I say waste...) several hours without a fish. In the end, as I'd been feeding into the corner, I opted to slip a cork-ball on the line and crush some flake to sink, the double bluff...first cast the ball bobbled under and I had a feisty tinca. I felt better. My protégé from the previous week, who arrived meantime from the back pit (where his fish had been hand-waved into obscurity also) said he'd caught that very fish last week and also told me he's had four off-the-top during the week...thought he'd be an addict by now...

Arfleet MillsThe tench, more in here than you thinkArfleet MillsThe 'new' pit from the south sideArfleet MillsAn odd goldy thing. Not see before (or since for that matter).

The tyro moved on and I got a belting run on the float which needed some hard hands to stop it gaining the far band of potamogeton and when nominally subdued, was technically a carp, but I've never seen one that colour. After the hiatus, the larger fish were back, swirling cautiously in the little bay. Free baits were gently submerged, mine ignored. I edged up the bank to change the angle of the line to the bait and cut two 1cm crusts and fitted them back to back with no hook showing and thus got pole position to see a cautious common edge up to the bait from the opposite side to my line and down it in one, bread-and-cork-ball dipping as one. Some weed thrashing ensured and there was solid common. Hah. Much better.

Arfleet MillsThe first of the commonsArfleet MillsThe second of the eels, this one 'spooked, making a slither for it'Arfleet MillsAn Arfleet ghost, one of the good sort.

The float rod provided a dithering bite which squirmed onto the bank and slid back into the water. Good to see and while I float fished and fed, a transient ghost appeared, I repeated my long thin crust trick and it repeated the gentle sidle and sudden grab and then flailed about, trying for all weeds and finding none. I had another anguilla, this one snapped en route to the water. Three eels so far this year, my best for some time, good to know they're about. That, as they say was that, I stripped the float rod and relayed gear to the other bank and used the wind to drift crust against the island, seldom an option, but nothing came to play. Wiser now, on the top, the excellent hot cross floaters I'd carefully made at breakfast time were still in the fridge. Ah well, next time maybe.

Arfleet Millsthe JAA 'all-purpose' float and controller

20123rd June 2012. Arfleet Mills. No epistle, but a few notes: I had the place to myself, I spent an hour trying to rook one of the overflow pond carp in gin clear two-feet deep water. It didn't work out. There was a fine brownie about 1lb in the Corfe stream. The eel got it's snout wedged in the net making the usual break for it, so I snapped it while pinioned. The large carp fell to bread fished about 18" from the bank. I'd spent an hour fishing for bites on 6lb line and swapped the entire rig over, once the carp had risen Polaris like to sip at my litmus bread, to 8lb though with a 2" braid hook length and a size '6' with a pair of 8mm cork balls, one of which was coloured red and the other black with marker pens. The tench then dragged a cockle-and-mussel off, fished on this heavier set up, then when bites dried up, I tried in the corner. I noticed the escapee carp in the middle pond (now behind me) nosing the potamogeton, missed one on a rough diamond of flake then had the second carp of the day - this one a pleasing dark scaled common.

Arfleet MillsYep. It's pink. Certainly can see it though.Arfleet Millsone of the ruddArfleet Millsanguilla wedgedArfleet Mills18½lb
Arfleet Millsthe correct attitude for 'fishing for bites'Arfleet MillsFully scaled Tinca (see what I did there?)Arfleet Millsone of the Great EscapeesArfleet MillsOne of the Ghosts of Arfleet

Interesting that my double cork ball got two clear takes before the bread was taken. Something to ponder. The ghostie was lurking on the far side of the monk and got tricked by a crust I lobbed right into a patch of cow parsley that had subsided into the margin. The photo doesn't do it justice, it was not emaciated as it appears in the picture and certainly didn't fight like it and was nearer 10lb than 8lb I'd say. All on the GSHRE.

20129th June 2012. Arfleet Mills. One of the old carp.

Arfleet MillsOne of those old commons form the back pit Arfleet MillsThe potamogeton patch where I once saw a terrifyingly large eel
Arfleet MillsA view across the back pitArfleet MillsA dragon-fly I quite liked.Arfleet MillsA ghost from the new pit

201212th August 2012. Around. Should have stayed at home, just not right. Breach pond was weedy, looked horrible and Arfleet had the stillness of the First Circle, should never have tackled up.

Arfleet MillsLooks nicer than it was...Arfleet MillsLooks nicer than it was...Arfleet MillsLooks nicer than it was...
split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

2013: grayling21st April 2013. ...then Arfleet Mills. Sunday we do the boot-sale egg-n-bacon thing and I, my custom, skip the trip to the 'big shop of shiny things', take coffee in non-corporate surroundings, which was fine brewed, watch the sun on the street, listen to Nora Jones and dream of fishing later.

Arfleet then, the rod bounces off my leg, the clutch yelps and the 'small technology' lands face down. A small mirror, high colours, I tidy up....start again...pick up the Small Technology, pour another brew....

Arfleet MillsOne eyed ghostArfleet MillsArfleet LakeArfleet MillsArfleet Lake

...brown dead rushes still and not a fish in sight, but the odd sucking noise drops broad hints. I fish on the deep side halfway down and with nothing doing, pad around the perimeter and resume, whip the float off for a browser down the bank to my left, this fails, so I put on the quill in my pocket and overarm flake to the spot of the surface feeder. Kneeling behind thin reeds for 10 minutes is all it needs and the float bolts, giving way to a circling one eyed ghostie. I slip down the bank, a fish has rolled by the monk and 30 minutes later another over the lake. I recall there were two ghosts three feet down maybe, slipping by me an hour back.

Arfleet MillsArfleet LakeArfleet MillsThe feisty mirrorArfleet MillsPrimroses, a good year for them

I fish on, the breeze freshens, the only thing that stirs, bar the tapping yaffle. Hm. I decide it's worth a try over the lake inside the dead lilies, so I slip on a swan shot, pull the float up a foot and drop in on the spot at 30 yards first go. Damn, too good. It takes 20 minutes for the float to slide off towards the far bank, me stood squinting at the distant orange fleck. I whip the rod up hard, over the shoulder, get one savage pull and then only the dead weight of rotting lily stems. Ah well. Two for three, time for tea.

2013: grayling28th April 2013. Arfleet. All day and all of the night he'd fished the back pit, hooked one, 'spat the hook'. It's black stewed tea colour, I know that's a forlorn hope. The other pit. Fish tease me in the weeds, the carper arrives opposite, phone..."Did you hear about the world record common, big as a f**kin' fiesta...." Wind swings and the words blur, well I blame the wind...he decamps, not before he'd scattered half a loaf between both ends. Good of him, the pieces at the west end are vanishing, too many too quick, so I slip round and feed the ghostly culprit a chunk of cinnamon bagel. 'One'.

Arfleet'One'ArfleetArfleet MillsArfleetArfleet MillsArfleetArfleet Mills

I drink tea and walk under the trees and pausing only to wedge a size 8 in my thumb, lay on flake with my new lucky quill, back of last weeks weeds. After 20 minutes of tree leaning and flicking bread pills it slides off and the resulting swoosh makes me think bigger that the common that results, pale enough to remark, not a ghostie. "Two".

Arfleet'Two'ArfleetArfleet MillsArfleetArfleet MillsArfleet'Three'

I scoot the long way to the monk end, just because it's a nice place to sit and find myself thinking of that old joke about the WWII pilot giving a talk in a girls school, I get to the punchline fkr...oh all right then... A World War II fighter pilot was invited to give a talk to a very proper Girl's School about his war experiences. "In 1942," he says, "the situation was really tough. The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember," he continues, "one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these three fokkers appeared."

"I looked up and realized that two of the fokkers were directly above me. I aimed at the first one and shot him down. By then though, the other fokker was right on my tail."

At this point the Headmistress leaps to her feet and interjects "I think I should point out that 'Fokker' was the name of a German fighter plane used during the war."

"Nah, nah, nah," says the pilot, " those 'fokkers' were Messerschmitts."
 and the float dips, if it'd been a bar-room gunfight I'd have come second. Scrappy scrappy common. "Three". More Earl G. ...and the wind freshens, the chop settles into a long distance stride and I punt off before the sun, passing the black rabbit of Wareham on the way.

2013: grayling5th May 2013. Arfleet. Funny old day, fish wandering about, pre-spawning for the most part, they would take loose offerings but hardly bothering - I snag one out of a patch of emergent potamogeton on two pineapple mixers but fail after an hour to get a single take at the rear of the lake. However, I note at least a dozen different ghost carp and one koi and probably a score of other fish. More than I thought was left in here, so I stand corrected. Retreated to the deeper water and set up a long-lay-on short of the far patch of lilies. This, after an adjustment, reveals itself to be solidly snagged and I pull for a break, successfully, and one of my perfectly pretty quills remains marooned. You can just see it in the picture.

Arfleet MillsThe sole carpArfleet MillsFireworks over the castleArfleet MillsThe pink marker buoy

The highlight of a slow day was the appearance of a charming Russian lady, belted coat and broad sunglasses adding rather than detracting from the parodied but so-easy-on-the-ear accent, interpreting for her father who wanted to fish while on holiday. I walked through the local options, looking at the one and talking to the other, (something I'm used to doing with technical detail). He watched me tie on a new float/hook and admired both it and the tying and his charming daughter explained. My single regret of the day was that I didn't make him a gift of some floats.

Although some careful casting with a size 4 did free the marker buoy. A couple of fish swirled later in the day and the only take I managed was a scrap of bread launched with a bubble float then I predictably missed the pull. Even the fireworks didn't set things off any better. Funny.

2013: grayling2nd September 2013. Arfleet. Odd, very odd, but pretty as ever...

Arfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as everArfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as everArfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as ever
Arfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as everArfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as everArfeet MillsArfleet Mills, beautiful as ever

I fished for five hours, never bored, but even with a grain of corn or pinches of bread on a 14, never had a bite of any sort, although I snagged on a lily pad and pulling it free snapped the link swivel, loosing for ever a cork ball special - never had that before. Even a last minute slink under the tree for previously visible fish came to nothing, the fish melting into the dark water, too wise after a summer of tourists. Ah well.

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.

201624th March 2016. A lost fishery.

I was passed this by another local angler - the story carried by the local Echo and if my understanding is right it looks like Arfleet Mills is to become a tourist attraction. By April this will be a giant inflatable aquatic assault courseBy April Arfleet Mills will be a giant inflatable aquatic assault course. I'm much saddened by this, for a few years this was my early season bolt-hole, seldom packed, the back pit especially not easy and it had a wonderful (if odd) atmosphere at dusk. I mourn its passing.

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills - the best of the back pit carp sunning themselves. Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills - the best of the back pit carp sunning themselves.

You can see the rest of these pictures hereThe Arfleet Carp, basking, some would say 'ignoring'.

P.S. In May WDACWimborne & District Angling Club conducted a netting operation on the 'old' pit, which they described as '14ft deep and littered with snags', not altogether a surprise. After four sweeps, they had netted twenty-one carp from 6-16lb and around 200 roach. I wonder why no rudd or perch were mentioned. These fish were transferred safely to 'Packhorse' at Kingsbridge, which seems ignoble, but still. I wonder how many times I was 'reliably informed' of the twenty pound fish in the back pit, which I never even saw...but no one ever had a picture of. Just sayin'...

Arfleet Mills - one of the back pit elders, appropriately nabbed with an old 'Mk.IV'.Arfleet Mills - one of the back pit elders, appropriately nabbed with an old 'Mk.IV'. Arfleet Mills - the front pit in early evening.Arfleet Mills - the front pit in early evening. Arfleet Mills - the back pit in the late afternoon.Arfleet Mills - the back pit in the late afternoon.

Such a shame, I really shall miss the place, so I made a page for all of my Arfleet fishingThe late and greatly lamented Arfleet Mills Fishery.

just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

A summary of sorts. The newly revamped all-singing-and-dancing '' can now be used to extract handy information from the various diary entries. The species of any fish caught are recorded and so is the number of said fish, if it was noted. When I did not keep count for any reason, the entry simply notes (for example) 'some perch'. Or, suprisingly often, 'no fish at all'. In the case of the latter I cannot help but feel my own website is mocking me for my lack of angling prowess. I would if I were it.

I fished Arfleet quite a bit; there are 51 entries on this page and 50 of them describe fishing trips. During some of these visits I nabbed at least: 67 carp, 24 rudd, 17 perch, ten roach, ten tench and eight eels. This is more eels than I remember.

In addition there were times when I either caught too many fish to count (which seems improbable) or did not bother to count them (which seems possible), so there were: six occasions when bunches of rudd were caught, three occasions when bunches of perch were caught and two occasions when bunches of roach were caught.

"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." ~~ John Gierach ~~ 

"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish." ~~ Roderick Haig-Brown, about modern fishing, A River Never Sleeps, 1946 ~~