Year two. Getting into my stride a bit. For some reason I had the idea it was necessary to change photograph file-names to something descriptive, quite pointless, and also for some reason, to crop them into different non-standard sizes. Even more oddly, I then deleted the originals. Wonder what I was thinking?
You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...
|just a hook...(and back to the top of the page)||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...|
14th January 2006. Revels Fishery. Perches. Another one of those trips that was made because it was the best chance to get out. Still, despite the rain and a late decision to take the umbrella to Revels, rather than the Frome, I ended up with a fine day. Parking myself on the back of the car park lake, I lazily decided to ledger sweet-corn and pepperami and luncheon meat and baited up a couple of swims ten yards off.
The rain vanished in the first hour and the sky cleared, which was not in the forecast. However all I had were a few twitches by 1pm. As I'd picked a worm up off the wet bank and the omnipresent robin had found another by my foot, I took this as an omen and put worms on the ledger baits and immediately got a series of 'not-hittable' knocks. I can take a hint, sometimes, and so set up the 'Avon' with a 6lb line and a thin braid hook-length with a size '12', hung under a 2BB crystal. The depth was barely three feet, but only a few minutes after casting six feet from the bank, I had a small perch on the bank. The fourth fish, ten minutes later was a ½lb fish, which I managed to snap before the camera quit for good. Over the next 90 minutes or so I caught perhaps two dozen perch, mostly a couple of ounces, with a few fish around 4-6oz plus the ½lb 'monster'.
|...the 'monster' perch||the main Lake looking North||the main Lake looking North||the 'canal' lake (?)|
The much maligned small perch turned an average day into a fun outing and even the smallest of the fish, crammed with worms, gave enjoyment. I could have spent the afternoon picking off perch, but at 3:30 or so, went back to the baited swim with the cocktailed bait. Despite the baiting up, I have only a few twitches, which could easily have been line bites (not unusual in a small heavily stocked lake) and with the light fading, a couple of hard pulls on the luncheon meat which came to nothing.
It is one of the laws of nature, that if the camera is wrecked a great picture will present itself and today was no exception, with the moon half-risen over the hill to my left, framed between two skeletally winter trees, making a picture I'd really like to have had but now, only have committed to memory. Should I have taken the pole and fished maggots and worms I imagine I could have bagged up big time, but that wasn't (today) why I'd gone out. But a good reason to always take worms with you, as it is seldom they will not catch something.
Post Script: Last time I came here I collected a rod top section and a long crystal waggler for my tackle box. Today, while stretching my legs, I collected a plastic disgorger (I've never bought one of these, I have four), an 11BB Avon float, a 5BB Loaded Crystal Waggler, a 0.4gm Pole float and a cheap plastic "bobber" type float, which covered the cost of the day ticket.
22nd January 2006. River Frome, Wareham. Blankety-Blank... Since spotting that the River Frome at Wareham, downstream of the bridge, was a 'free' fishery (the fishery is owned by the Environment AgencyWhich is no bad thing and you still need your rod licenseAnnoying, but it's the law...), I had been itching to get down there, as the reports I have read to date suggest a good mixed fishery, with good heads of Roach, Dace, Grayling, Mullet, and sea Trout, Flounder, Perch and Pike as well. Interesting. This report is well worth readingStill useful info., same river, hasn't changed much.... I have previously gone down to the quay, and seen huge shoals of fish, so I readily believed it. The plan was to fish on the rising tide, but as I was up anyway, I went early and thought I might as well fish on the ebb for a bit.
I got to the quay shortly before 8am and the tide had an hour or two to run before turning, but nevertheless, it looked nice. Actually it looked amazing with mist on the marsh the other side of the river, the rising sun's orange glow diffused by the mist further downstream and wisps of mist rising from the river itself. I managed to get a good snap, which is below. I tackled up - Avon rod (of course), small fixed spool, 6lb main line, chickening out of using the centre pin. A 4BB Avon, size '12' and a worm, after knotting my first trace fatally when getting it out of the bag. Arrgh. I spent the next hour and a half or so, trotting this way and that, as the swirls and eddies varied minute to minute with the dropping water level just downstream of the bridge. The depth needed checking every couple of trots or so.
The tide turned about 10am or so and the oscillating pattern of changing eddies continued and also the depth was now increasing every couple of casts. Time flies by when you fish like this, as even with no bites, you are always doing something. What I didn't get though was 'any bites'. I tried bread (which I baited up with as well, rolling it into pills that sank to avoid being mobbed by the hordes of ducks), and worms, both out of the box and some I had dyed red with food colouring. Nothing doing. Another angler joined me on the quay for a couple of hours, and he had the same luck I did, which gave me some hope that it wasn't self inflicted. Nevertheless, the time was passed pleasantly as the sun was out, making it a clear and bright winters morning, which really should be experienced first hand to be appreciated.
|...the light rather flattering the photographer|
At 11:30 with no sign on life and chores to do, I called it a day - and unlike some days with no fish, this felt like a good result. It's easy to let blanks get under your skin, but on this occasion it was all to easy to take the positives away with me. I learnt from the other angler and also from a passer by, that the quay normally fishes well on the flow tide and that trotting maggots midstream is not a bad method. There are many dace up to 1lb, and also trout do show in mixed bags. The perch are also running to a 1lb at least. I also found out that the small dyke behind the river on the south bank has a good head of tench and is a WDAS water. And I re-learnt how to keep in touch with a float in moving water, which is something I haven't done for a while. I'll be back (probably with a pint of mixed maggots).
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
19th February 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Almost a blank. Might have rained. Who on earth would spend all day in the cold rain? It's not often I do for sure. Having missed out for a couple of weekends due to weather and circumstances, I was very determined to get out today, whatever the weather. In the event, it was raining, and 6°C, but as this represented a warming up compared with previous weeks and there had been enough rain to perhaps put some colour in the water, I went for the normally hard winter water.
I had planned to check both the water temperature and the air/rain temperature as I went along, but the thermometer (a handy freezer one with a sensor on the body and a second at the end of a long bit of wire) decided it wouldn't work any more. I decided that the pole and a single maggot with some bread cloud-bait would catch stand a good chance (Plan 'A') and arriving, I uncharacteristically trudged round the lake with the umbrella up to see what was what. Despite the rain most of the lake had little colour with the most likely looking swim nearest the car park, where the bottom showed signs of stirring. Everywhere else I could se the bottom enough to convince me they were not the spots. So Peg 1 then.
I screwed the umbrella post into a handy hole in the sleepers that marked the swim. Tackling up in thick mud and fine cold rain is hard enough, but sorting out a pole without getting mud on the joints and the wet elastic down the fourth section is a trying thing. After succeeding, I popped on a 3×no.8 shot bottom end only float and fished two maggots on a '16', about 12 feet out in three feet of water at most. I loose fed a few maggots, but keep the bread-crumb in the dry for now. After 15 tricky minutes, I noted a few rising fish, and after a minute or so of odd float movements, got a bite and a small roach of about 6oz. Not a blank then.
|See? I said it rained.||'Improved' i.e. 'rained harder'. Rain, rain. Bu88er off.|
The rain 'improved'. Which is to say it got heavier and windier. I abandoned the pole after half-an-hour as the weather was making control awkward if not unpleasant. I switched to ledgered baits, on the basis I could stay dry and as fish were moving still I had a good chance. I set up a left hand rod with a bunch of maggots on a ring and hair rig, with a size 8 'raptor'. I put this on a simple running ledger with a ¼oz Arsely Bomb. I fired small amounts of maggots over an area about 10 yards out. The right hand rod was baited up with a similar rig, but with red sweet-corn and pepperami, and a light scattering of free offerings put against the small island slightly under 10 yards out to the right.
In the next hour or so I got regular twitches on the maggots, but nothing more. Probably smaller stuff. After two hours of coffee and twitches, I switched the left hand bait for luncheon meat. I spent the next four hours with the rain dripping of the edge of the umbrella, and despite fish continuing to move and roll, and colour in the water remaining, I didn't get a take. That's how it goes. I imagine if I'd fished a maggot or two on a small hook, I could have caught some smaller stuff. But with weather being how it was, I lacked the enthusiasm for continually changing rigs and squishing in the mud and rain for a few small roach (much as I like them). That and being essentially dry and wanting to keep that way. I hung on until the light started to fail (last cast fish...?), but on this occasion none materialised and with hypothermia setting in I called it quits. Odd though. I had the right spot, fish moving, fish not taking. Wish I'd had some worms...
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
13th March 2006. Zen
Once or twice elsewhere on this site I've mentioned "Zen moments" while fishing. By this I mean there are times when for no good or discernible reason you know that something is about to happen.
There is a need for care here. Most of us spend a lot of time at the water's edge, willing fish to take the bait and bob the float. When the bob happens, a good proportion of the time you were thinking it was going to happen just before. It's human to straight away forget all those times that you anticipated a bite but one didn't come. It turns out this is a known thing as well, 'hindsight biasHindsight bias, also known as the knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism, is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it.' or 'confirmation biasConfirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one's pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.' depending on which way one looks at it.
But: there are those times, when I am lolling around not paying attention and suddenly am very much alert. I find myself tightening the fingers on the rod, or picking out one bobbin rather than the other.
So: Can I tell when I'm going to get a bite? "Yes, sometimes" and I need to be relaxed for this to happen. Can I prove it to you? Probably not.
But I have, with four separate witnesses, gone from 'not paying attention' to 'hand on the rod' and fish on the bank for no obvious reason - and many other times without company. Once with a regular visitor on 'Pike Pit' - apologising for disturbing me and possibly the fish, "No problem", I said "there isn't one around." And then five minutes of inconsequential chat later, 'the buzz' came, I sat up, put my hand on the rod and said, "There's one around now", striking as the float slid off, landing a 6lb 'wildie' some minutes later.
This also happened with "call me" Zen and when I was with girlfriend on Pike Pit, as well as with the sibling, where we both found ourselves overtly and intently interested in the right-hand bobbin on the 'pod, shortly before it took off (I missed that one). Although not inclined towards irrational belief in the mysterious, but satisfied that the effect is there, I sought a rather a more rational explanation of these occurrences. So what's going on? I have theories...
OK, so in bowling a regular leg-cutter slaJAA was once a handy slow left-arm bowler with a mean arm-ball and two sorts of leg-cutters, one of which scuttled straight on. Sadly the wrist contortions required to really rip both the cutters, especially the top-spinner, did for my shoulder. on a good length...
...the cliché is that one's subconscious is calculating a fifty foot parabola, based on an initial velocity (X) and a rotation velocity (Y) of the object, which is spherical, taking into account that the angular velocity of the object will affect the rate of curve of the parabola and the curve rate will vary as an inverse square of the speed of the object and gravity will apply...this is a good anecdote for matey maths teachers, deperately trying to link the sport-player de jour with maths. Probably cobblers.
It's rather more likely that one tries to bowl in a certain way, the brain notes what happened and that one needs to spin it harder 'by a bit' or 'a bit slower', and adjusts and remembers...it's still impressive how the 'procedural memoryProcedural memory is a type of implicit memory (unconscious memory) and long-term memory which aids the performance of particular types of tasks without conscious awareness of these previous experiences.' ('muscle memory') can be so exactly recorded and recalled.
So, if you pull this off, no-one is doing any maths, but templates are being slowly built up. Consider also, that most of us would have to bowl a good few deliveries to get close (even if you are Mr G. Swann255 Test wickets @ 29.96). On a given day, one bowls, the brain quietly notes that the action of the delivery matches very very well to the stored template for a 'good' ball and give itself a pat on the back. It felt 'right'. On another day, the delivery didn't match the template and you knew it was a long-hop the moment you'd turned your arm over...
This mechanism is, I believe the root of 'the feeling'.
You're float fishing in a light breeze with a 3BB antennae. The line's sunk, the float is behaving. Suddenly you think you're going to have a bite. You do... A pole float typically (for still water) has a bristle top and is shotted within a thou of its life can can be sunk by a passing gnat alighting on the tip. You see more float movement with one of these than with a regular float. Not all of this movement is a bite, as you discover when you strike at every twitch. Fish grub around by your bait, stirring eddies and swirls, which move the line and register on the float. Most fish will mouth a bait once or twice, carp are really pesty in this respect and perch can drive you wild.
Even with a less sensitive float your subconscious sees tiny movements and (figuratively) rings a bell to get attention. Some of these tiny movements are perhaps out of sync. with wind and current patterns. My own experience is that sometimes when float fishing the attention zeros in on the float which appears to be almost in a calm spot. Moments before the float pops under I suspect the fish holds the bait and the float's movements are momentarily stilled. The 'IDWhich, as Freud would have it, is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality...although most of his work cannot be experimentally proved and there was a LOT of sex. I consider a lot of his work to be one large 'Freudian slip'.' knows.
For bite indicators or bobbins the same applies - when ledgering I watch the rod tip, where you will see many tweaks and pulls that don't register on the bobbins or the alarms. The sharper the angle between the rod tip and the line, the more of these you will see due ot friction from the line passing over the tip ring. A good reason not to 'rod pod', but rather to use bank-sticks to align the rod with the line but only with line clips or bait-runners. A good yank on line, with no rod or clutch to absorb the shock, will snap line very easily.
Bobbins can sway in the breeze, seldom are they completely still, then may even tremble imperceptibly with the movement of the line caused by eddies caused by a fish. The same reasoning applies - you pick up that one bobbin is out of sync. with the other's movement in the draught, or that the movement is stilled. A tiny back and forth oscillation caused by tiny pulls. Twitches on the line or rod tip. And suddenly you are very interested in the left hand rod for no good reason...and then the bobbin whangs upward...
So not so mysterious.
There are other manifestations of this surrupticious pattern-matching machine. Working out where fish are is a good example. Returning to a recent trip, we wondered around the lake and only at one point did we really think it felt "fishy". However some surface ice put us off. We then watched a later arrival pull three carp out of that spot. I have no hard evidence but it's probably as simple as a slight water colour from stirred up silt or possibly even seeing fish that don't quite register. Either way, next time maybe go where you think it feels right.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate...||di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)||di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate...|
I wonder about other possibilities. You've all seen that shark homing in on the buried flounder by detecting its electrical field aloneThe Electric and Magnetic Sense of Sharks, SkaS, and Rays by Adrianus J. Kalmijn (1974). Likewise, all fish have some kind of standing electrical fieldThe 'Sixth Sense' of Weakly Electric Fish - In addition to the five senses humans and most other vertebrates experience, some fish have a sixth - the ability to detect electrical fields in their environment..
Anglers have an electrical field, so I postulate it's possible that the electrical field of a large fish interferes with the angler's and that some part of the brain can detect this. If this 'detection' coincides with a bite/fish, a template is formed, which starts to match conditions with the 'right' ones for a bite.
I've no idea what such a detection mechanism might be. It might be a signal in the nerves in the little finger (for all I know) or an interaction with the brain's electrical field itself. It doesn't matter per se, only that something changed and that change becomes associated with 'a bite'.
If there is such an effect, then it would be strongest when the fish and bait are nearby. The electrical field strength decreases as a function of the square of the distance, so that which is 'detectable' at 1', is a hundred times smaller if you go another 10' further away and 20' away the field is 1/400 of the signal at 1'.
My experience is this 'feeling' occurs most often when you are fishing close by.
Two perfectly good theories. It might be one, the other or both in tandem. Or neither. However, the 'template' may includes what you can see along with what you 'detect'. If small movements are the key, then you would also expect being close to the bite indication to improve the 'Zen' effect. Which in my experience, it does. None of this is a substitute for observation and experience, you'll catch more fish if you examine waters with care and pay close attention to the bite indicator you are using.
Does any of this matter a jot? Not really, but just in case my subconscious is watching, quite a lot of my floats have an extra black and white band on them now - I give myself the biggest chance of seeing smallest movements, consciously or otherwise. A slight curve of the float-tip is no bad thing, it'll curve away from the wind - and when it doesn't, it's more interesting to look at.
Oddly, I can't recall a 'Zen' experience with pike - that could be for a number of reasons, but typically pike do not fool around with bait. They pounce on it, which is often your first clue they are there. Pike also sidle up to dead-bait before pouncing, with hardly any discernible movement. I wonder if pike supress their own standing electrical field or if it's weaker than other fish?
Anyhow, most importantly, enjoy your fishing. If you reach any kind of enlightenment as well, then that's just a bonus.
19th March 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Here pike. Off a-piking we go. There are a few pike in this lake and they are neither huge (a few doubles) nor fished for. Accordingly I took some sprats, 'joey' mackerel, sand-eels and some fish sauce and oils. It's bright and sunny but colder than you think with the air temp being 3°C, but with no thermometer still, I cannot tell you the water temp. Putting on the polaroids I take a walk around the lake, spotting carp and tench on the back pool, but seeing no sign of the roach at this point, which would be better for my purposes. There are a small few patches of coloured water, but not many, and eventually I opt to try a couple of baits in the back pool on Peg 13 and work around the far side of the lake. This plan is based on the most sightings of pike in the lake and also where the most natural cover for a pike can be found.
I put a couple of baits out - float fishing one to the right to try and drift in into the channel there (where pike lay up) an popping the other up off the bottom with a piece of cork to the left. My plan is to cover most of this pool in a couple of hours - which I do with nothing remotely resembling a take. I try to work the baits to the edges (aided by the stiff breeze) where last summers reeds and rushes are collapsed on the water, making good cover for a lurking esox. As the sun is out and the water clear I am constantly looking for signs of the prey, but none so far. Just because you cannot see them doesn't mean there are not there. I move to Peg 11 after a couple of hours.
While moving swims I spot a pike, about 8lbs, under the fallen tree in the aforementioned channel. I'll try anything for a fish, but this one had it's head between the fork of a fallen tree. I could have got a bait to it (just), but I'd would simply never have got it out - even with the 7' rod, which I'd put in the car on a whim. I tried to tempt it into a better position over the next three hours or so, with worms and a small sprat. Nothing doing, it was still there four hours later when I packed up with my free nosh still on the bottom about 4" from it's head. I've seen this before...annoying isn't it? You can get fish like this to snap at a bait jigged carefully in front of it, but with the woodwork the chances of then landing the fish were about zero.
|I like this swim...it's round the back, I think it's 'peg 14''||Looks good for pike. 'looks'...|
It defied all attempts to photograph it, as the camera doesn't have a handy polarising lens feature. I fished out both Pegs 10 & 8, changing the baits to half a mackerel and ended up 90 minutes or so later on Peg 7. I spotted while moving swims the elusive roach giving me some cause for optimism. As before both baits out and after half and hour there was a large disturbance about 15 feet from my float, the real lunge of a feeding fish. I re-cast (a bit further out) and 15 minutes later another lunge and swirl. Promising.
About 10 minutes later a starburst of roach almost opposite me suggested more predator activity, but after another 15 minutes nothing was forthcoming, although I did spot my second pike of the day, a half pounder in the wintered rotted rushes near my swim. While packing up and getting into the car, a further three or four firework scatters of roach made me think seriously about a quick dart in the gloom with a sink and draw sprat, but Sunday evening beckons...
So Rule 2'Catching pike is not that difficult'. Sure, let's say that. not working today, Rule 3'Finding pike can be very very difficult, especially big ones' -- 'check' countered and Rule 21'Any of the rules can be wrong at any time'...er, rules. That's pike fishing. Wish I could have tempted the one in the trees to turn round though...
|All tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page)||There are no bad tench||All tench are good tench||There are no bad tench||Tinca tinca little star...|
14th 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.
|The actual ticket, no reason...||Arfleet, 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 rods...an 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.
|13lb fish, 2lb line...so so lucky.||15lb 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...
23rd 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.
|...from the south end of the lake, looking west||...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.
|the best roach||the 1lb carp||the 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.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||...a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
5th May 2006. Smith's Lake, Bishops Green. Tadpoles, tadpoles all around...back to Smith's Lake again, on the back of a weekend visit. Due to a happy work day-trip thing I was able to be there for 1pm and the carp were about and in the weeds, so I picked a margin swim at the top end of the lake.
As the carp were literally at my feet, I set up a float rig and fished the other side of a reed bed with a mussel hook-bait and loose fed hemp and occasional corn. Thus I started a series of nudges and bumps that ran all day, but only developed into 'bites' at about 7pm. From watching the fish that dug in the bed at my feet, I think they were preoccupied with frog spawn and tadpoles. Still, with the sun out it was pleasant to be there. With the fish clooping and slurping across the end of the lake, at 3:30 or so I gave in put up the 'Fox Trek', hair-rigged another mussel and baited a swim under the far bank, only 15 yards off. The bother called. Ten minutes after we hung up the Micron blipped and I hit a carp which went about 11lb, which gave up without much of a fight. At 6pm the sibling turned up and kept me company while I missed a succession of bites on the float rig, which resulted in two large scales and a bump.
At the time I was spitting feathers, but with hindsight, I think they were line bites with the fish still preoccupied with the amphibian spawn and offspring. Packing up around 8pm, I headed for a glass of wine and more drugs, as the cold donated to me by my offspring was now in full flight. Water temperature was a toasty 17°C or so with the air barely leading at 18°C, but from 7pm onward, the air temperature plummeted to 9°C, with the water barely cooling.
|...the wildlife||Preoccupation maybe...?||justanother11lborsocarp|
6th May 2006. Smith's Lake, Bishops Green. Rain, rain, sod off...the following day, we both set up on the west bank and both went for a float fished margin bait, sw/corn and mussels and loose feed. The sibling went for a ledgered meat bait in the middle, more or less as well. Some time passed, with the odd bite and after an hour or so, with no result, the rolling fish wore me down again and I put of the Trek with a hair rigged mussel and planted a patch of hemp about half way across. Fifteen minutes later, bro. hit a fish on the float rod, so I went across to do the net thing.
As I got there the clutch on my ledger rod went, so I had to nip back (the clutch made more noise than the Fox Micron, which was not audible at five yards - this is on purpose and involves sticking foam inside the case, as well as filling all the holes), whip out a 5lb common, then nip back for the netting of an 8lb common which gave a very good account on a feeder rod and 6lb line. Good start. At 11:30 it rained...and kept raining for a couple of hours on and off. I have to say, the whole rain, brolly and bad cold thing was not increasing my enjoyment and normally I'd have knocked off then but a special trip and all that. Still, Dad dropped by and as it was still raining, he went on and the rain eased in the early afternoon. Well more or less.
I was feeling very iffy by now, so skipping the blurry bits, my brother finished with four fish to over 10lb, I ended up with two, with five of the six falling to margin fished sweetcorn on the float, in my case a pole float 'bottom end only'. The other point of interest was the pleasant chap who turned up midday with a built-cane Avon and an old fixed spool. Using floating dog biscuits he removed three carp from various margins with some considerable skill. Proper fishing that. At one point he was trying a spot on the opposite bank from a bivvied-one and was soundly sworn at and abused by the bivvied-one for fishing "his" swim as he'd 'baited it up'. As one, we rose, strolled up the bank and took a strong interest in our new friend's unusual rod and reel...while it's not certain the sight of two much larger anglers on the oppsite bank casued the swearing to tail off to a mumble...it went quiet around that time 'for some reason'.
You really cannot want to see more pictures of the same carp. Oh go on then.
|...a 5lb humpy...||...another 8lb common||the bother playing with the carp (on the left of the shot)|
|The Bother's bag: about 6lb I think||The Bother's bag: around 8lb||The Bother's bag: 6lb again||The Bother's bag: well over 10lb...eventually|
7th May 2006. Turfcroft Farm Fishery, Burley. Quick session in a nice place. Stuck for ten minutes in the A31 traffic on the way home, prompted me to leave the road at Picket Post and headed to Turfcroft at Burley. I've been here a couple of times before and I fancied a couple of hours out of the grockle queue despite the throbbing head and raw throat. I rolled up around 12:30 and was tackled up by 1pm at the 3rd swim I passed, which was nicely screened with bamboo. Simple rig, pole float, a no.4 by the float, a no.8 about 3" from the hook, a size '10' on a 6lb feeder braid hook length, 6lb line and the Avon. One tin of sweetcorn, one grain on the hook. No subtlety...the depth was perhaps 2½ft, but the water was dark, coloured and the float 3" under the obsidian smooth surface was all but invisible.
I broke out the lunch I'd grazed from Tesco's and almost before I had a sandwich the float dipped and I missed one. Then I hooked one that felt solid enough, but it came straight off. Then a silver bream of about a 1lb, which fought so hard I thought I had a decent roach. The fourth bite hurtled right under the bamboo and almost to late I realised what I had. With light line it took me some time to bank a very feisty 10lb common, which made few long runs, but bored up and down with little inclination to come to the net. Good start.
|The pond...||...and the 10lb carp|
Over the next two hours I had a steady stream of bites and had another six bream of about the same size, which all ran and leapt like salmon. Odd. At around 2:30pm a solitary ancestor of all goldfish [crucian to you], leapt on my bait (in good condition, poor picture). A short while later another dogged bottom hugging lump showed itself to be a mirror around 9lb after being tricked into the net after ten minutes or so. One more tail-walking bream and at 3pm or so I packed up with the lurgy beating on the back on my eyeballs again. Not bad for a quick session though.
|many breams...||...the crucian...||...and the 9lb mirror|
Very nice water this. OK, so it's a commercial lake, but the surroundings are better than nice and the place itself is litter free and there are, frankly, many a lot worse. But like so many waters now it flatters your ability. But good fun for all that.
13th May 2006. One year of 'Anotherangler'. Where did the time go? I set out to fish once a fortnight this year (managed this, yippee). Spending more time at the water gave me time to re-acquaint myself with tackle and methods and the whole thing. For 10 years my occasional fishing trips have been formulaic and it's good to break some of those habits.
I added a Four-Piece Avon and Five-Piece Fox Trek (2.5lb t/c) and a couple of the cheaper Shimano reels to my tackle box and with some reluctance pensioned off my Abu Cardinal 40 and with less reluctance, several other reels. I've added an unhooking mat and collapsible landing net as well, plus a rod bag to hold all the shorter bits, which I have had to make myself. Not a lot else. Nylon mono is about the same diameter at when I last looked hard, but there is a greater variety of braided line around for hook lengths, but the price for small spools of this is simply daylight robbery, when 25 yards of a 'specialist hook-link' is, in real terms, more expensive than 100 yards of 11lb Milward's Black Spider. Although the latter has vanished from the shelves. Sure, that all seems above board.
What have I learnt? I've tried bite alarms and 'hair-rigs'. Technically, I tried 'anti-eject' rigs. Let me differentiate here between 'hair rigs' and 'anti-eject rigs':
• A "hair rig" i.e. attaching a bait with a fine hair (much finer than the main line) to the bend of the hook means you still need to work out when to strike and if you get it wrong you get nothing.
• An "anti-eject rig" is a short hair (usually the main line, so it's not designed as a 'hair' then is it?) tied in such a way, it is designed to lodge or part-set the hook as fish eject a bait. Whether you use a solid resistance to set the hook as the fish bolts or just be hanging on to the rod at the time, I'm not in favour. For me, it is only one step removed from long-line fishing.
So I reject the 'anti-eject' utterly. As for the fatuous argument that "Conventionally fished baits occasionally hook up without intervention from the angler, so it's OK to do it on purpose", that's the same argument as saying "accidents happen, so it's OK to cause them deliberately", or "I occasionally foul-hook a fish, so it's OK to foul-hook on purpose". It's about intent.
I spent more time than I should trying this and at the wrong time of the year probably. I tried a lot of different baits but mostly stuck with braid traces, as I have done with rod-and-line since around 1985. I learnt a new knot, the "uni", aka the 'grinner', which seems top-notch for hooks. I found 'rig rings', which I use to join braid hook lengths to mono. My favourite way, using braid dipped in varnish and a four-turn water-knot only works if mono and braid have similar diameters, which isn't so common now.
With the Internet and a digital camera I have no longer an excuse for ignorance about anything I see by the water. You can easily learn something new every time you go out (this is why I have odd links to irrelevant stuff). I fished a variety of waters, some of which were way too "commercial" to get second visits and with diligent asking around and use of "google" located some great water that was not so "commercial", not too far away. Nice to see 'boilie' bans on some waters as well, but still way too much litter scattered around some fisheries. While trying new methods is to be applauded, a quick scan over the results of the year show the best results were arrived at from the simple methods of quiet margin fishing and no hair rigged baits. Of the 10 or so double figure carp banked, only four were caught ledgering and three of those on a hair rig. I've caught nothing on a hair rig that wasn't a carp (yet). But margin fishing quietly caught both the carp and many other fish, even with 8lb 'Kryston' hook lengths! I imagine that the bigger fish avoid the margins if the depth means that their back will show. The self preservation instincts of the small fish, honed by herons, cormorants, kingfishers and even stray terns, do not leave the adult fish.
Even two feet of water will hide a 10lb fish, but not a twenty even if coloured - which goes back to my point about deep water at the margin being better than shallow for the angler. This is NOT a feature of many 'commercial' waters. It's probably more expensive to dig a deep hole. It's hard to shake off the feeling that 'anti-eject' rigged baits are always 'bolt rigs' in all but name. With the plan being for the hook to catch as the bait is ejected, the fish is off and running even before you normally react (unless float fishing) and any resistance to that will tend to set the hook. Bait runners seem a good idea, but I've found the clutch set as loose as it will go works fine, as the fish bolts anyway, even with a basic 1/8 ounce running ledger (which I can cast best part of 50 yards by the way with 10lb mono) - why all the 1 & 2oz weights for fishing at that range? Good grief, no wonder fish are chary on some waters. Not my idea of how it's done. Still, maybe I've got it all wrong.
The "knotless" knot is useful though, being easy to tie and leaving no knot above the hook eye, so hiding a hook in the bait is easier and tidier. It seems as good at the "Uni" for strength. I'll perhaps do some tests to prove it to myself though. Maggot rings are useful for bunches of worms though (or even a slug or two), which for stalking pike is a useful ploy...watch this space. It may be there are waters where carp are so wary of hooks, that the hair rig is the only way to get the bait in the fishes mouth and I wonder how we have got to the point where water are so heavily fished that the majority of the fish are caught many times, leading to this type of caution in an animal with strictly limited intelligence. I know of 'commercial' fisheries with pike lakes as well, but I cannot induce myself to go there and catch pike which have been caught several times.
I have learnt it's handy to keep a variety of baits in the back on the car (pepperami, spam, various tinned meats, corn, tinned mussels in brine) - and always try to have worms as they seem to work when many other baits do not. A loaf of white bread can be handy. I carry basic colours (red yellow green) and additives (vanilla, fish sauce, mint, turmeric) as well, as the convenience baits are easily modified for waters where they may be over used. Or if I'm bored with yellow. I'm still not a 'serious' fisherman still - us 'weekend pleasure fishers' are still derided, for not being 'serious' - many of us can only get out at the weekend - not all of us have the time of and money to camp for days on expensive lakes (it remains a mystery to me how some can afford to do this xI'm being kind. There's quite culture of fishermen who find days on end to fish, while quietly being on benefits of one sort or another. Or 'parasites' as they're known. ). It'd be nice to have the time, although that doesn't mean we are not serious. It could even mean we have a clearer perspective on some issues.
On the downside, I still see plenty of fat, blobby fish in the press - they don't get like that eating the fauna in the mud. Give me a lean common or 'wildie' at 10lb over a fat 20lb fish any day. And even in this week's Blackmore Vale Magazine there are several pleased looking fellows holding large carp three feet off the ground - if you drop a fish from that height you'll kill it. Better to snap it on the mat and stick it back in. If it's out the water longer than you can hold your breath...try holding your breath from landing to release.
End of rant. Now for the summer - plans for this year include some proper pike fishing and teaching my children more about fishing, to which I'll add some mullet fishing if I can find the time (and the fish). Still never used a 'boilie', still a 'float tart', still obsessive about knots. Nice blurry "ghostie" with a common carp and a school of rudd to finish off. I need a polarising filter for the camera.
|blurry ''ghostie'' with a common carp||...a school of Milton Abbey rudd|
Also the best of uses for a 'pensioned off' keep-net. At first glance, 'Blue Tits', but on inspection, mice. Agile little devils.
|The best of uses for keepnets||The best of uses for keepnets...agile little devils|
May 2006. 'Confessions of a CarpFisher' By "B.B.". This book probably did more for the birth of carp fishing than all the others put together. It's variously interesting, realistic, poetic, matter-of-fact and romantic and I suspect many of us are chasing the vision this book places dangles in front of us.
This is another of those books borrowed from the High Wycombe library in the 1970s, then filling my head with images of mystical carps and dark brooding lakes, which I'd thought my own. Reading it anew I found much that was familiar.
19th May 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 1½ anglers in the rain and some roach. After a couple of strolls around the water with No. 1 Son in previous weeks, he requested a fishing trip. So this week a pickup from school and down to the water. The weather looked iffy and grey, but as it was fine when we set off we went for it. I packed jam sandwiches (essential nutrition for a small boy) and a flask of Lemon tea and some juice, plus a few maggots. You have to get your priorities right you know.
Despite advice to try peg 1, I went for 14 on the basis it had good room for 1½ fishermen and some shelter from the prevailing weather. I set up a golf ball sized bit of spam on the 'Trek, five yards to my right, free-lined on 12lb braid/mono and then equipped the lad with the Avon and a '2×no.4' crystal to fish immediately off the reeds (under the tip). I loose fed the maggots, caught a roach about ¾lb setting the float depth and another getting it just right and then handed the rod over. It started to rain so up with the brolly and a quick move round of all the stuff to keep us both dry.
|Yet more rain||First of the ten||the float of the 'hatangler'|
Roach were spawning in the trees to the left, so we had a constant splashing and thrashing to listen too, but it didn't seem to affect the catch rate, unlike a similar period last year. I should mention the offspring's liking of lemon, so I only got about half of my tea...with loose feed the roach bit freely all afternoon, but despite the lack of practise ten roach were banked, and probably another ten came off but that's not too bad. All were between ½-1lb (just), so a good stamp of fish.
|the 'hatangler' under the brolley||The 'hatanglers' largest roach|
Nothing even tweaked the spam, until about 6:50pm when the bobbin leapt, giving me a minor scare, but despite further bumps for 15 minutes it became apparent whatever it was was too small for the lump I'd put on, which was underlined on retrieval as one end had been nibbled away. Oh well. 'The Hatangler' declared he had a target of ten fish and as the tenth hit the net, we opted to go on home. The rain had been steady all afternoon, but we had kept dry and busy, so we splatted our way back to the car. Good fun.
28th May 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 'Marmiteangler' and more roach. So 'Just' and 'Marmiteangler' headed for Milton Abbey for a few hours in the May sun. I went for peg 12 for the same reason as the previous week, based on the ease of sitting alongside and assisting the junior angler. Again I went for the Avon and margin fished maggot bait and in similar fashion roach showed themselves quite early on (at about 11:30am in fact).
|'Marmiteangler'||The swim||The firstest roach|
The day was overcast but when the sun broke through it got warm enough to be down to T-shirts and the fish kept nipping. A little before 1pm I broke out the lunch rations, and taking charge of the rod for a minute or two struck at 'yet another roach', only to find a find a perch of just over 1lb on the end, which is always a nice surprise. The roach were mostly half a pound of so upward, with a couple nudging the 1lb mark which is a great stamp of fish by any standards.
|Roach the second||The perch||Roach the third||Roach the forth|
Water temperature was a warm and constant 13°C for all of the day, with the air temperature around 22°C most of the day and a constant shower of catkin fluff from the surrounding willows descended in a steady stream onto the water, and gradually as the day wore on, the patch of the water to our left, which was covered in the bits and pieces extended towards us. Also with the advancing angle of the sun, the frequency of the bites waned, which prompted a change to sweetcorn and this gave us harder to hit bites, but by feeding both and alternating hook baits we kept the roach coming and around 6pm or so, a grain of corn produced a tench around 2lbs which was a good bonus fish.
|'Roach the fifth'||The tench||The 'Marmiteangler's' float|
We had a further roach and in the last hour or so as the sun dipped below the trees causing the temperature to descend to a rather cooler 12°C, we took our cue to head off and called it an evening...all in all we have about 20 roach between us with 'Marmite' notching up 13, with the balance to myself caught during sustenance breaks and setting the depth, with a couple of roach taking the bait during some optimistic casting to a passing school of rudd. Well it was worth a try. Top day.
|Safety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page)||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook|
2nd June 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Roach and fluff and stuff. Warm and June so off to peg 7. It looks idyllic on turning up, still, with a slight breeze. There are carp rolling all over the place, so I assemble the four-piece Avon, add a pole float, (3×no.6) to 8lb mono, 8lb feeder-braid hooklength and a size 8 hook ("You'll never get bites with that tackle..."). Baiting up an area only a few yards from the bank, I put several corn-grains on the 'raptor', set the depth and 'bump-off' a bigger than average fish. Half-an-hour on, two further lost 6-8oz roach have me check the hook-point - which is slightly curled...I hone it back into shape. Huh. It might seem as if I'm fishing a little close in, but clear winter water had revealed a slight gully six feet from the bank, perhaps only 6" deeper than the rest, so that's where the float is.
I add bread pills to the ground-bait, bank a small roach on three grains, so switch to one grain on the bend - a lot of hook shows, but it'll often turn missed bites and 'bumps' into hooked fish. A couple more come to hand on bread flake, the last one a solid 1lb, weighed to re-sync estimates. I should mention the willow-fluff, which is reaching epidemic proportions. A lot of roach are now visible, so I add hemp to the corn and bait with both. The next fish, which takes a single grain of corn, feels like a lively bream as it hacks off hard right, but on netting, it's an enormous roach, scaled at 2lb 2oz, there are not so many of these, I feel my day is already complete.
|What a 2lb 2oz Roach looks like|
It's only 4:30pm so I crack on. I catch several more roach at 1lb, then a bit after 5pm another belter at 1lb 12oz. Whoopee. At 5:30pm I lose one at the net around 1½lb, then 'bump' a fish at around 6pm that looked bigger than the earlier 2lb'er; although through a foot of murky water it's hard to be sure. Arrgh. The willow-fluff has now covered the swim, fishing increasingly hard with blobs of damp cotton wool sticking to the line and float, impeding casting, damping the strike and taking five minutes to clear after every second cast. Double arrgh. Hard work. I spend the next hour-and-a-half missing bites at a quite extraordinary rate. I change the hook for a regular fine wire specimen. No change. More and more fluff...I consider packing up, then get a tench about 3lb which makes me reconsider. More missed bites. Vary the shot pattern. No change. Then - a brainwave. 'Tell-tale' shot by the hook and loose fed hemp...aha.
|1lb roach||Another 1lb roach||The 1¾lb roach||Yet another 1lb roach||One of the 'small' ones|
The tell-tale removed, the un-hittable bites fade away and the evening rights itself, two more fine roach, another tench, a 2lb maybe. Another roach. A bream, another tench 1½lbish, another roach, a blood coloured tench around 3lb and a final 6oz roach. I give in then as the float is invisible and the willow-fluff has driven me potty. Owls hooting, bats flitting...five tench, a shining breswan, fifteen or so roach, several at a 1lb, and a 1¾lb and 2lb 2oz. Can't be bad. With hindsight, I might have tried a small stop-bead or shot as a bait...
|1½lb tench||A 3lb tench||Another 1½lb tench||A very shiny bream||Another 3lb tench||A 2lb tench|
11th June 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 'Bugangler', golden rudd and a flotilla of pike...off to Milton Abbey with the 'Bugangler' for a dangle. Peg 7 was picked as it has shade, and with the temperature in the 22-24°C region, shade and hats were the order of the day. I went again for the Avon and simple maggot rig, and as before when neophyte fishing, put a 'chuck and chance' rig of luncheon meat out to the right. Well you never know.
The depth here, as intimated previously, is around 3' in the narrow depression nearer the bank. Setting up a 2 × No 4 crystal and a 6lb rig (tench...) I plumbed the depth and following the pattern of the previous weeks caught a couple of roach doing that. I then handed the rod to the learner, with a couple of rod rests to take the weight. Contrary to expectation the sun remained resolutely behind a cloud for the session, which was a good thing. With some loose fed maggots we had a steady stream of bites, which over the next three hours, four sandwiches, a cereal bar and a banana produced a dozen roach at least, 2 × 8oz perch and two small handsome golden rudd, a rare treat.
Ratty put in an appearance as well, and good to see him. The mink haven't made it here yet, thankfully. Around 12:45 my 'chancer' bite alarm bleeps loud, but if a true run, the hook missed its mark. The bites are tailing off a bit, and what with the 'Bugangler' not doing 'sitting still' we have little wander around to see if we can't catch one of the stick-like small pike that are lurking in the shallows with the roach and rudd around the far side of the spit. In this we fail (although several are spotted and fade quietly into the murky water when spotted, although do add another roach to the bag. Another missed opportunity but for the worms I hadn't dug and taken. But a good bag - piccies of 'Bugangler's Bag' below. We pootle home at 2:00pm to return the fished out 'Bugangler'.
|the 'Bugangler's Bag'||Ratty out for a paddle||the 'Bugangler's Bag' (plus two tench I caught later on)|
Two rounds of sandwiches later I return for a go at Pitch 13, as I saw several VERY large roach there from the earlier wander around. I bait hemp and corn mixed with crushed hemp and maggot with some crushed hemp for luck. Although there are plenty of fish visible, nothing happens, except I get the sun in the mush and on my arms, as the clouds had cleared while I was home, this left me sitting in the blazing afternoon sun. I stick it out against the time it dips below the tree line, but even so with only one missed bite between then and 6:15 I considered returning to the swim of the morning's triumph...but another bite and a half pound roach keeps me going.
As the sun dips, it cools, but the real swim killer is the pike. This female in the picture, with it's back out of the water was circling the pool, with three hopeful male fish in close attendance for a couple of hours - which might have a bearing on the lack of fish. Some pictures of the odd procession...worth a closer look at this, zoom right in. Not something you see every day.
|Amorous pike||Amorous pike||Amorous pike||Amorous pike|
|Amorous pike - worth a closer look at this one||Amorous pike|
Anyhoo, I stuck out the increasingly fishy feeling and with another roach to keep me interested, spotted the tench slipping into my swim and had a fast bite at 7:05pm from a tail I could just see in the murk, which turned out to be a tench at 3½lb (ish) and other at 7:20, at 4lb on the scales. I have one more roach in the next hour and a last tench, 3½lb more or less, at 8:00pm with a roach at 8:10 and headed home. Odd, but another tench fisher around in peg 1, also had a very quiet session, so the morning with the 'Bug' was the pick of the day. You'll not want to see another tench. Oh go on then.
|The best of the tench, at 4lb. Never bad.'|
12th June 2006. Well I never. Yesterday the Telegraph had an article about carp fishing in the weekend section. Bit of a shock that, to us hoi polloi, but what was really good about it was they'd bothered to talk to Chris Yates. I've already made my feelings on much of modern angling plain, but it would be easy to classify those comments as sour grapes - I've never caught a 20lb carp or made a 'ton' bag at a commercial. But when Mr. Yates describes fishing at some places as like 'shopping at Tesco's' (for fish) and "It's for fishermen of limited ability who like to have a macho picture of themselves holding a huge fish", then it has the weight of truth. There is even the idea that 'hair-rigs' are self-hooking. Really? Who knew?
"By Jove, that's most certainly not excrement Sherlock!" as Dr. John Watson M.D. never said.
16th June 2006. The Stour, Blandford Forum. Official first day of the season and a good start to it. On general principle I decided to fish today and as 'working for a living' plus a 'crucial top level' tenth birthday party at the weekend will intervene with the serious business of fishing, I took a couple of hours 'au crack sparrow' to fish the Blandford weir-pool. So, rolling up at 4:45am OGGTEOh Good Grief That's Early, I check the depth, fling maggots and get cracking. Cunningly I set up the Avon and 3BB stick float the previous evening and leave it in the car. The morning is hazy and cool, the sun is just making an appearance and the water looks fabulous, which it always does, but that's no guarantee of fish.
|Blandford Weir||Downstream from the weir||Blandford Weir|
Ten minutes later I have a 3oz chub, then a slightly larger dace. Magic. I trot the swim in front of me and catch several more small chub and a few minnows, while thinking that the centre pin might have been a better bet. This is simple fishing - fling in a few maggots upstream every trot, let the float run, tracking it with the rod tip in the corner of my eye, and on reaching then end of the line, take the finger off the spool and swing the rod upstream and start again. I get another bite and thinking I have a largish dace or roach, I am gobsmacked to find a grayling in the net. Not huge, ½lb at the most, but what a great fish. I didn't know they got up this far...
This unexpected bonus compliments the continual torrent of sound from the weir and the early morning haze. A few more chub and minnows, a lost small perch, then another thump at 5:30am and a decent fight yields, again to my surprise, a large bronze bream, maybe 3lb. In a fast flow even the bream gives a good account of itself, kiting across the fast running stream pulling line off the reel as it goes. More mini chevins and at 6:10am or so the gentlest of bites provides another good fish that makes it across the flow and into the pool proper, but is eventually steered to the net, a 1¼lb perch. Well well.
|Probably the best of the dace||JAA's second ever grayling||The large bronze bream||A very decent perch|
A couple more chub, and at about 6:20am the magic fades almost perceptibly and despite feeding and trotting for the next hour and a quarter, I catch only minnows. I guess the sun, now over the trees and shining directly on the water is too much for the fish here in the clear water (it's a bit much for me without my hat).
|trotting the stream||Sunrise proper|
That's the way to start the new season.
24th June 2006. Breach Pond, Wareham. Deep water, bits and bobs. Breach pond is a 70 year old five acre clay pit surrounded by woodland, so is fairly well established. It's an idyllic setting for sure, even without the day's sun, clear blue skies and slightest of breezes. I had walked around the lake a few weeks previously (after getting my Wareham and District AC Permit), but learnt little about the fish life or the geography of the bed, although I spotted a few rudd.
Thus, I rolled up with practically no idea what the water would do, so took maggots as they will usually catch something, as well as the usual baits in the box. I went for peg 31 which is around the south East side of the lake, reasoning that the shade would persist longer there and I might suffer less from the midday quiet spell most lakes get, especially when the water has warmed up in the middle of the year. There are some great patches of lilies on the west bank and northern end though, and these are tempting spots for carp or tench for another trip. The first thing I discovered was the water is very deep. I gleaned this from fellow anglers, but plumbed my swim at around 10 foot only a rod length and a half out. At a rod length out I was around 8½ to 9 foot. This is good. I baited up and using a self-cocking crystal (a mistake, casting a self-cocker with that tail of line is awkward), with a couple of wrigglies on a '14', soon banked several rudd and skimmer bream.
|Breech Pond||Breech Pond|
The platform I was on held a small surprise. When dropping one of the small rudd back, there was a 'schlop!' under the platform, and a cloud of scales drifting out to tell me a pike was perhaps in residence. Bad luck on the rudd though. Half an hour later this turned out to be a 2lb+ perch that darted out from the front of the platform after some fry, and coasted into the branches on my left. Information to store away for later along with 'must always bring worms'. After a couple of hours of bits, I got a solid thump and slow but dogged resistance that showed itself to be a decent bream, pictured below. This proves to be the only large fish of the day, and despite changing baits to corn (single grain) and latterly some luncheon meat (on a similar rig fished on 8lb line and the Carp Floater rod) yielded nothing larger than 4oz skimmers for the rest of the day. I did swap to a pole float, bottom end only fished as a slider to ease casting though.
|Bream the first||It looks nice, no other reason||Bream the last|
I spent the last two hours watching a long pole float over a 'mini-stringer' of luncheon meat, wondering if the hemp in the loose feed mix would have attracted carp or tench towards the end of the day. It didn't - I had not a knock on the meat. Well live and learn. I probably caught 30 fish or so in total, which given a two hour barren spell at the end (self inflicted I would say) and a very quiet hour midday, is not a bad return on a new water - and it was a pretty pleasant day's fishing as well. I had an interesting chat towards the end of the day with a chap who had done some pike fishing on the water the previous winter and had, fishing nooks and crannies in the deep swims, blanked several times. That's what I would have done as well, but he did mention a man who turned up one day and casting herring as far out as possible into the middle of the lake, banked a 15lb and 18lb fish in an hour or so, and then went home again, as "later in the morning you'll never catch anything" apparently.
This chimed with a discussion earlier in the day about shelves from 11 to 14 foot towards the middle and I would speculate there is a shelf that the pike lie up on the lower side of, to strike up at fish passing over the edge. That and the fact herring are possibly the only sea bait commonly available that look a bit like skimmer bream. Perhaps that is something to put to the test later in the year.
Here's something you might not know about this pond. A chap called D. Leney introduced 400 large-mouth bass into Breach Pond between December 1935 and December 1937. They apparently survived into the 1970s but the population gradually reduced in numbers and the bass have now died out...
30th June 2006. Breach Pond, Wareham. More deep water and bits, but in a good way. And once more unto the breach (pond). This week I thought to go to the other end, where the lilies are, to see if there was something else I could catch apart from skimmers and rudd. It was warm and blue skied and ideal weather for a dangle, at least above the water. At 3pm (ish) I was met in the woods by a chap on his way out, who said that he had just had four bream from peg 17, so I ought t give it a try. It would have been rude not to really. I descended onto the platform on the peg. And immediately saw a school of rudd you could walk over, even if none were bigger than ½lb. They snaffled all ground-bait, corn, hemp and maggots before it had got a foot down. If you cannot beat them, stick on a size 14 and clove hitch the line around a broad-bean sized bit of cork a foot from the hook, and catch them.
So for half an hour I caught rudd, trying bunches of maggots and corn in an attempt to catch a larger one. Best effort was about ½lb, and after about half an hour and 20 fish or so, I again tried to bottom-fish for something else. I gave up after an hour partly because of the sun in my eyes and partly because no bait escaped the marauding rudd, and neither did my float and shot, which were frequently assaulted on the basis of "you never know, it might be edible". I probably caught another dozen or so. I moved around the lake to peg 22, which was the next accessible one. This involved a hike and a scramble, but put me at the south end of a patch of lilies, at the other end of which carp were rolling.
|...and then around the corner to Peg 22|
So 'Plan B' was to bait up, fish hard up against the lilies, and as the evening wore on, flip to a slightly heavier float rig and see if there were any tench or incautious carp to be had. In at least eight foot of water I had a succession of fish on corn: roach, rudd and skimmers, several decent roach including one at a about 1lb, and a skimmer around the same. Another angler moved into the swim almost opposite me and we exchanged words and established he was after the tench. The first thing that bent his rod though turned out to be a 3½lb eel (on bread) which would not go into his net (in a wilful, rather than 'net size' related way), then he too had bronze bream and a tench, which was still my hope.
Around 6pm I switched to spam on a size '8', and spent half an hour having it hacked of by smaller fish. In frustration I stuck on a piece of pepperami half an inch long. Twenty minutes later I caught a decent sized bronze one. Then the evening descended into muted frustration as twitch and pull after pull yielded one more skimmer and a mad rudd that took the pepperami on the drop. Changing baits made little difference, with anything smaller or softer than the big bit of pepperami, being pestered by stuff to small to hit (or too chary to take off maybe). My erstwhile companion across that lake was having some of the same frustration with a lot of missed bites and bobs. It can be like that sometimes.
|Just a nice view really||The brace of bream|
At 9:30 I got another bronze one and gave up. I could not see by then anyhow...as I discovered getting back into the woods. The five-minute walk back took twenty as I inched around the steep banks and thick undergrowth. A big torch might have helped...not spooky but irritating. A great fishing view, water lilies always good, and the two bream. Strangely, for a catch in the region of 50 fish, I was slightly underwhelmed; this I put down to learning about new water.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
9th July 2006. Milton Abbey. Olive beauties. Back again on Peg 12, for some tench, at least this was the plan. I baited with hemp and some corn. Why do I mix them? So something is visible to the fish - corn is very visible and hemp well, isn't. The corn gets ignored mostly when the hemp is discovered though. I started with bread paste mixed with crushed hemp on the hook at around 3:30pm. It was sunny and warm with little evidence of the rain of the past day or two.
|Peg 12, looking like an oil painting|
Nothing came to the paste in an hour so I swapped to corn on the hook, three grains threaded to cover the whole size 8 hook bar the point. These hooks are part of a batch bought years ago (Jack Hilton's) and while they are 'old', I find they hook better than some of the newer thicker wire hooks. While on end-tackle, I have the usual 6lb silkworm hook-length and the Avon rod, plus a long antenna pole float, with all the shot under the float and over-fished by about 4", the hook-length. No shot near the hook, it's too much like hemp. There were a couple of nudges on corn but nothing developed, until at 5:10 I had a sharp bite and after a short tussle involving an over-hanging willow, banked a tench around 3lb.
Despite my expectations, nothing else happend, except a few nibbles, until about 7pm when another sharp bite yielded a 4lb tench. The sun had lowered itself behind the trees and the evening was now calm and balmy, which went well with my pole float and I had no trouble keeping my attention on the long red remote bite alarm. I switched hook baits to the hempen paste and had another fish about 10 minutes later. Then despite a lot of feeding bubbles I had no clear bites until after 8pm or so when I had another fish around 3lbs, then after a recast, one about 2lb more or less 'on-the-drop'. I also get a bite and contact briefly another fish which comes straight off. The feeding bubbles tailed off, but despite less apparent activity, three more fish of 2-3lb come to the net between 8-9pm, all on paste.
|Tench the first||Tench the second||Tench the third|
|Tench the forth||Tench the fifth||Tench the sixth||Tench the seventh|
The crushed hemp bread paste was a try out, and I have to say the fish like it. The bites I had were deliberate and the fish seem to want to hang onto it. The other advantage is that if mixed nice and sticky (but not too soft) you can press plenty of hemp seed into the paste as well. I had hoped for a carp towards the end of the evening, but several went round the float and floated off. I'm going to have to find an invisible float or 'free-line'. They are clearly suspicious of the float. The other oddity, is that despite a lot of roach being around, many big enough to take the bait, I didn't have one - and missed only three bites all evening, two of those on corn.
JAA's favourite fish. Well, joint favourite with the gudgeon.
gonkIzaak Walton in 1653 wrote of the Gudgeon: "The GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very wholesome: he is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in the year, and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of excellent nourishment: the Germans call him Groundling, by reason of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself in sharp streams, and on the gravel. He and the barbel both feed so, and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do: he is a most excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red-worm, on or near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost off from the hook if he be once strucken.
They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer; but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour and rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deep parts of the water, and are to be fished for there with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork; but many will fish for the Gudgeon by hand, with a running-line upon the ground, without a cork, as a trout is fished for; and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod and as gentle a hand."
22nd July 2006. South Drain, Wareham. More Tench and rock. Another new water, presumably there is a north drain somewhere. This water is long (400 yards) and narrow being 10-12 feet wide at most, and in most places half of that is reed growth. The water, it turned out, was around an even four or five feet deep, perhaps a shade deeper in the middle but not much. I plumped for a swim about half way up with nothing to go on (save some reports of big tench), so went for shelter from the wind and sun and the passers by on the footpath on the bank, which is some eight-to-ten feet higher than the water level in the drain. Well, there are only so many times you want to hear "have you caught anything?
I baited up with corn and hemp and bits of hemp paste and tackled up a 6lb rig on the Avon and a pole float with a long antennae. The nature of the reeds means fish have to be controlled hard (OK 'stopped dead in their tracks' then) when hooked so while I would normally use 6lb line anyway, on this occasion it was needed. If I was expecting very large tench I'd want more than that...anyhow, at 4:30 it was windy and bright, at 5:15 I had a bite, which was not a total surprise as there were plenty of bubbles in the swim. This brought a 4lb tench to the net, after some powerful lunges towards the reeds. I put the fish back and tightened the clutch down a bit, hoping for many more...
|South Drain looking South||Just's Favourite...||Waiting...|
Well that proves how wrong you can be, as I had not a bite for more or less the next 3 hours. The only break in my unwavering concentration was the sand-martin (out of Redcliffe I suspect) that sat on the reeds opposite me for fifteen minutes. Not usual. At 7:30, I nabbed a large slug off the unhooking mat and spent a few minutes dropping it beside the various patches of reeds that were within casting distance - this resulted in me snapping off my hook-length (which I then retrieved with the landing net) and then trying out a 'spectre' float for a bit. This proved less than invisible as the small rudd in the swim mobbed it and kept pulling it under. Hum.
A lot of big slugs came out to play about this time, and you have to speculate on the potential for using them as bait here. I reverted to the paste float-and-corn and a rock band started up in Wareham somewhere (on the quay as it turned out). They were rockers. And rollers too. Oh good. It's not as if I could tap my foot in time or anything. So, several rock classics later ('Communication Breakdown', I've heard worse) at 8:15 or so, I got another positive bite on corn, and a 3½lb tench. I was alternating corn and paste and had two fish on corn but not even a nibble on the paste. I stuck with corn and at 9:05 had one more bite and another 3½lb tench. Three bites, three fish. I packed up and the band were playing "Get it on", so I got on. Bang a gong.
|My pal the sand-martin||Tench the second||Tench the third|
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
6th August 2006. Ratherheath TarnNot on a day-ticket any more, Cumbria. Some rain and a lot of micro-carp. Ratherheath TarnNo longer on a day ticket... is around five acres and is apparently, nowhere more than five feet deep. I find this at odds with the apparent population of large carp, as I would have though a deeper area would be needed to keep them going in the winter months, but there you go.
The tarn is surrounded by trees for the most part and the swims are well defined with good quality platforms, which in some of the swims are essential to get you past the very shallow water under the tree line. Money and thought went into these platforms and they are an good example to many other waters. I picked a peg only a few yards from the entrance (Peg 29) as it looked nice and because my first choice, which would have been to fish against the lilies a few swims further back, was taken. Hey ho. It was overcast and relatively cool, around 18°C.
There is a lot of lake to choose from, but there didn't seem a lot of mileage walking right round at this point as I knew nothing about the water. I started things off with corn and hemp, which is sheer convenience, as while on holiday there is a limit to what you can carry. Also I went with a small paste float initially and the Avon rod, but after a couple of hours of catching a lot of small carp (½lb and less) went for a smaller pole float than that as the length of the paste float was probably a third of the water depth, which was certainly no over than two feet under the tree to my left. About half-way through my opening stint I got a bite, which moved swiftly under the tree and then the hook hold gave way and while not a massive fish, it was certainly in excess of the ones I'd caught up until then. Drat.
|The intersting looking south bank||The intersting looking south bank|
Around this point I was visited by a gent who had been fishing for over 70 years (I hope I am that lucky) and he complimented me on not fishing to far out and we had a discussion about that and the pointlessness of fishing on the horizon, or as close as you can get to it, unless fishing to a feature. He liked my paste float with an eye whipped on the bottom as well. He explained that the Environment Agency carried out a Top Mouth Gudgeon removal project in the Spring of 2005 to eradicate themThis is exactly why importing and/or releasing non-native speices is the act of an environmental vandal. The lake was drained and netted and the remaining water with the plague fish poisoned. The lake was then refilled and the fish replaced. White floats in a ring halfway up the lake mark the "fish refuse bins" the sole outward sign of this culled infestation.
The rain started soon after he passed tackle-laden for his own go and after 30-40 minutes of sitting under the brolly and a load more carplets, I moved around three swims (to peg 32?) to take shelter from the rain under the trees - having been dropped by my family with the return time being set at 7pm, I had to 'weather the storm' as it were. I passed the erstwhile veteran on the way and he was attached to a largish carp, caught in about 1' of water at the base of a rhododendron bush, proving his earlier point about margin fishing, unless fishing to a feature.
I went for the same idea, but despite my best efforts all I had by 6:30 was a lot of wet gear and another 20-30 carplets. As the water was only a foot deep, I swapped to a 1×no.4 insert crystal float, which is about 1" long. At least the fish won't bang their heads on the float. These little carp are fun and even a ½ pounder runs hard, but after a while you find the you want to try a larger bait for something else, but any other bait tried was mobbed and dismantled. Oh well. Good fun fishing though, it's hard to be displeased with 50 odd fish.
|A couple of the many many small carp||The rain (well it is Cumbria)||Looking westward|
At 6ish the veteran in the next swim packed up and he had a lot of small carp, but tellingly, three large ones, all on corn. I had the same (you would say) method and bait, but having nothing larger than ½lb, which tells you that he might well be a better angler than I...my lift was late so I took the chance to explore, decided I liked the look of the far side better and wanted another go. In the middle distance was a chap using a cane rod and a centre-pin, to land a carp around 10lbs. Hat tip to him as well.
8th August 2006. Lake Windermere. Bonus perch. At the south end of Windermere there is a National Trust Park, Fell Foot. Fishing from the bank here is free, and as the children were out having a scamper, took the four-piece Avon to the stone quay at the most southerly point and tried a quick hour.
Initially I went for a ledger rig with a worm-baited fly-spoon, which after fifteen minutes had not yielded a knock, so asuming I'd have to look for the fish, set up a loafer, about 5BB, set the depth to around seven feet and bunged it out about halfway across. A few casts told me that it was dragging bottom and that despite the brisk southerly wind there was a steady current in the opposite direction. I reduced the depth until the float was in effect 'trotting the swim' with the bait just off the bottom, which was around 5½ feet or so.
The third cast got me a solid bite toward the end of the run and I had something fairly solid on, which turned into a very decent perch around 1½lb, which was landed by dint of paddling in the water and lifting it by hand, having no landing net. In the next half and hour or so I had two more, around 8oz (shown) and 4oz and missed two bites. Then with the wind freshening and the littleanglers cold from paddling in the icy-cold lake, we moved on.
|Windermere at Fell Foot||The 5BB loafer belted half-way across (it really is in there)||One of the 'average' perch||The bigger perch||South end of the lake|
Always worth a dabble.
10th August 2006. Ratherheath Tarn, Cumbria. More of micro-carp, roach, a tench and a rubbish hook. My second visit to Ratherheath Tarn, and this time, thankfully it didn't rain. I went around the lake to the far side, on the end of the spit of land that sticks out into the lake from the west end. This looked fishy, and had the advantage of shelter and also being away from the gate way not a footpath to the rest of the lake. This is the swim more or less opposite the boathouse, Peg 8.
I again opted to margin fish, under the bush to my left and the depth here was around two feet, which was double the depth where I fished on my previous visits. Again I stuck with corn and hemp, but for convenience rather than any great plan. This is nice sheltered swim with a view of a lot of the lake, but with few passing visitors (well, none). Weather was warm and pleasant if overcast. No rain!
|The boathouse - there should always be one||Another view of the tarn||A smattering of mini-carp|
As before I caught mini-carp steadily from the outset, but for the first two hours missed a lot of bites, changed hooks twice and varied the hooking of the corn to overcome this. I ended up with a Drennan 'Specimen' size 10, and this cured my problem with missed bites, but then I got a five-yard screamer towards the middle of the lake and the hook came out. I said a couple of rude things, and on checking the end tackle discovered a rather bent hook. I'll not use these hooks again.
|Quite buckled||The orginal trace with the rig ring for the mono main-line.||Quite buckled|
I re-tied with a Raptor 10 T4, and carried on with a single grain thread onto the hook, with the point showing only. I only missed the odd bite after that hook change, and had five roach over the rest of the day, which accounts for the fast bites and a lot of the carp as before. The difference in bites is striking with the carp pushing the bait around and the float dipping and weaving, but the roach plucking it under in a flash. I spotted the tell-tail of a tench by my feet, and a little later off it went, jagging to the bottom, and after a short while I use my net for the only time that day for a 4lb tench.
|Well, I had one roach at least||The lone 4lb tench||The view out from under the trees|
Despite my optimism, I had only roach and carp for the rest of the day, but other than the non hook (still annoying), a good day. The veterangler of my previous trip materialised opposite me and we chatted for while, and I mentioned the tench and hook and we discussed fishing things for a while. I wish him many more years of fishing. I hope I get to fish for 70 years. I got steadily more optimistic as the evening approached but had to go at 7:15, which was a wrench.
On the way back on Peg 43 was the split cane rod man of the previous evening. We exchanged words, and discover we had seen each other, and discussed carp for a while. His rod and centre-pin were from times past, which is nice to see, and I passed on a suggestion to make bread paste with crushed hemp. Another 'brother of the angle', who I could have discussed fishing at length on another day.
12th August 2006. Capplethwaite Beck, Cumbria. Real Fishing. On the last full day of our trip, I decided to test the hypothesis "the beck at the bottom of the farm had fish in it". I'd not seen any, but having seen fish in smaller streams, was undaunted. Capplethwaite Beck feeds the River Lune, a beautiful river, a fabulous name, mostly given over to game fishing, no bad thing. After passing through the field we were staying at the top of, this rill dropped into a wooded and increasingly deepening gully.
|Downstream, into the gully||Upstream, the source was a marshy field not 400 yards off|
I set up a 'whip' with a 1 x no. 8 shot dibber, a size '20' on 2lb line, put two packets of hooks, one of shot, a disgorger and a box of worms into various pockets. I started to follow the pools down the gulley, after about fifty yards I startled a fish in a small pool, which was the first sign of any life although the next two pools drew a blank. I then tried a pool at the bottom of a nine foot drop, which I fished from the top. The picture shows this, but does not do the stream justice. Awkward, but out of sight.
There was no result, but undaunted tried the next one down, a further drop of three feet. Having tried from the top of the pool with no luck I dropped beside it and tried fishing the worm on the bottom of the pool (a foot deep maybe) on the far side of the rock in the picture, thinking to entice a bullhead or loach out of its home. I got a nibble and whipped out this trout. Stap me, I would never have guessed that was in there. That's a 5" box lid, so the fish is around 6". Looking at the rock in the middle of the pool it's hard to see how it hid. A lesson.
|A nine foot drop, it really is.||The really very fine brown trout||This trout was under the rock with the orange dot on it and totally invisible to me|
'Strike 1'. Stealthily I tried the next pool down, fishing from the top, got a bite as the float hit, but missed it. Never saw the fish and carefully fishing out of all the nooks and crannies yielded nothing. Drat. For the next twenty minutes I worked down an increasingly obstructed and deepening gully, to which the pictures don't really do justice. I tried every pool and rill with a worm, but spooked a couple of fish - once spooked in these streams they are gone for a good half hour. After a while the beck opened out a little and in one large pool (4'×12') with a handy rock shelf on the upstream side there were several smaller fish, so I quietly lowered in the worm, getting a sly bite which produced a bullhead the size of my little finger, which wriggled free and dropped back into the water.
I persisted for another fifteen minutes as several fish were present, fishing all round the pool with no result, but on standing at least three fish the size of the one caught earlier panicked and hid. I'd never even known they were there and cursing my impatience to move, moved on. Being able to walk upright I dropped my tackle into each rill as I went and ten yards down from the 'panic pool', had a miniature trout. And that, as the gully opened into a field, was that. With more time I'd have waited and worked back up, which is the direction of choice, but packing was pressing.
|the pool of the tiny trout||looking upwards...||sub-miniature brownie|
I spent two hours down this gully and would spend more time fishing like this if I could; it's a magical environment with deep shades and constant water noise. You have to move very carefully as these fish are painfully shy and once spooked will stay down for a half-hour. But every one is a small triumph and the larger trout the pick of the holiday's fish, with the good perch on Windermere a close second. Fabulous.
13th August 2006. Luck
Luck. 'Old BobOld Bob has his own page...' used to say, if asked about his fishing or shooting success, "I've had a bit of luck." if he'd caught something, and "I didn't have any luck today." if he didn't. I liked that. It's why I prefer "good luck" to "tight lines".
However skilful and prepared you are, luck plays a large part. All the skill and preparation serves to reduce the odds of a blank, but never entirely removes it. There are apocryphal stories of the reverse case, of the heavily encumbered and possibly over prepared angler getting nothing, then 'the lad' turns up with a bent pin bpModern dress-making pins cannot be bent into hooks, they tend to snap. The old-fashioned pins, slightly thicker and softer in the wire, can easily be bent into a decent hook. I've got a few of these and plan to catch fish on them just to see how well this works. and sugar-string ssI've never found out exactly what 'sugar-string' is. Even google hasn't helped. and banks a good 'un. 'Old BobOld Bob has his own page...' used to chuckle about Jack Hargreaves pike fishing with no luck, then a boy turning up with a worm and simple tackle then banking Esox right off the cuff (I don't know if this is true mind).
Digressing, 'Old Bob' mentioned the "bent pin and sugar string" more than once, not that I ever saw any or knew what it was exactly. Even 'the internet' could find only a couple of references in a fishing context, one of which was an online archive of a "Supplement to The Fishing Gazette, July 6, 1907. Vol. LIV, January to June, 1907".
Even in our more zealously stocked commercial fisheries, there's still a piscine lottery at work, with the right place and time playing a part. It's part of the fun, as if there is no chance of blanking, then catching has no worth.
So all that preparation, knowledge and tackle boils down to improving the chances of a catch or decreasing the odds of a blank. Odds are a funny thing - it's always possible to blank, however well prepared you are. It might just be the fish never spot your bait. I mean, we're smart, but how often do we find a big bunch of car keys hard to spot? The chicken brained carp (smart for a fish we are told, certainly intelligent enough to train to eat certain things at certain times) could easily miss seeing a particle, even a big one (that's more likely than you think, which is why we use flavourings that travel - the odds of a fish not smelling something that wafts over a large area are smaller). It's one reason why the ever-visible yellow corn continues to work year in and out, it's easy to spot, even in deep water and by the stupider than average fish. Which is around half of them.
On larger ('un-stocked') waters, even if you have a plan, finding the fish at all can involve a good bit of luck. Like finding wandering shoals of bream or tench in a five acre, 15' deep lake. After a while you'll find the places they tend to turn up eventually. But will it be today? You've improved the odds by fishing a good few times and noting where and when you caught various fish, even if you are not writing it down and making a conscious decision. obAnd you should write it down or note it. Memory is fickle and we tend to associate a good catch with a swim long after we've had half-a-dozen blanks on the same spot.
This can work against you as well - you turn up, fish, catch and spend the next umpteen goes in the same spot or near it, when you might learn more about the water by moving around a bit, which would improve your chances in the long run.
[Somewhere out there they may well be the fishing equivalent of Douglas Adams' "rain god" lorry driver ("Goodbye - and thanks for all the fish"), who despite all the best methods and application, simply doesn't catch. Equally of course there is the hypothetically fortunate angler who always catches whatever he does or wherever he goes...rather more like the perpetually fortunate 'Tom Chance' of 'Chance in a Million'. I digress. ]
A good way to evaluate any new idea or item of tackle or change in method is to ask oneself - "Does it improve the chances of catching fish? Why?"
Of course life's not that easy, with many ideas in angling being based on at least one supposition, so trying things out is the only way to know for sure. If you have a tackle-based idea or theory, why not track down a 'fish-in-a-barrel' lake and use it to road test the method? I recently read of someone practising their fish playing by getting someone to run around a field trying to break the line. I suppose you could use a sheep...
This sounds silly, but how often do you play exceptionally large fish? Practising on the fish itself has significant potential for disappointment. Another thing you can improve the odds with.
It's why it makes sense to take that extra bit of care with the bit of the lottery you can exert some control over. That is to say your tackle - care and inspection of line, knots, checking the line hasn't whipped itself around the reel handle on the last cast. Will the hook take the strain? And how do you know that by the way?
Always have a selection of baits - I keep corn, hemp, pepperami and tins of mussels and various meats in the back of my car, so if my first choice bait doesn't work out I have a choice. Again, just improving the odds.
Likewise you can do much to avoid scaring the fish - I'm slightly sceptical of the full commando camouflage stuff I see, down to rod rests, torches and the ends of bleepers. But it is certain that vibration on the bank plays a part in scaring the fish and sudden movements and unnatural colours will startle any prey animal, above or below water.
Stick to drab colours (I favour musty greens), avoid short sleeved shirts (arms being easy to spot), a hat won't hurt, move slowly and with care and avoid clumping tackle box lids or hammering in bank sticks and similar. Keep your shadow off the water. Better still keep back from the edge and keep the rod tip only by the waters edge. If you scare the fish, you'll wait half an hour for their return, more often you'll just miss the chance of catching the scared fish at all. You'll never know, but if you are quiet you might be surprised (in a good way).
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate...||di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)||di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate...|
[Brightly coloured tackle boxes, trolleys (bump bump), chrome fittings that glint in the sun (paint or tape them over), watchstraps and rings, none of these are my favourite things. Folk who clump around the bank in bright colours talking in loud voices ("Any good?" "Not now" you mutter quietly to yourself). I've had more than one dithering developing bite startled into stillness by a friendly approach. If you talk to someone on the bank and they seem a bit anti-social, maybe that's the reason...
Finally on this rant, if you should have the great luck to get a fish so close you can see it, DON'T look at it's eyes. If it sees you looking at it, it'll know something's amiss.]
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If you are very quiet, you'll often get a bite sooner than you think - cast in and then start sorting out your tackle or a cup of freshly brewed and you might miss the best chance you'll get. Put up your landing net before the rest of your gear. It's much less unlucky than hooking a good fish and have to deal with it without the net... or put up a net one handed.
None of these things will make you a great angler, but doing them improves your chances of landing the great fish and the good fish - you still have the 'right place and right time' lottery to beat, but it's a good start. And the more of these things you manage, the 'luckier' you will get...
I know only one thing with complete certainty when I go out; that I don't know what I'm going to catch, if anything, even on waters I know well and fish often.
As my youngest daughter said to me; "You have to enjoying fishing as well, because you spend a lot of the time fishing NOT actually catching fish". Exactly so.
Why would you have it any other way?
20th August 2006. Breach Pond. Bream on. I managed to get a few hours middle of Sunday for a dart at tench on Breach Pond and arrived around 10:30 with 3pm my limit. I went for Peg 18, which is perched out in the water almost at the end of some a large lily patch. This is nice but I'm always concerned about the vibration these platforms put into the water every time you move something. You can't have everything (where would you put it?).
|The pitch||The paste float, going, going...|
I put in corn and hemp loose fed and corn on the hook. No frills, a 'paste float' with about 1BB of shot and 4" over depth or so, size '14' thick wire and a short 6lb braid hook link. The water here, even hard against the lilies is probably eight foot deep and the wind was blowing fairly hard right to left. Other than the wind the weather was ideal to be out in. I was fishing a few feet out from the rod tip, but holding the float against the surface drift. I had a bite right off and banked a good bream. This foreshadowed the day, as I had a largish bream every half an hour or so on average and a pestilence of rudd, mostly taken on the drop.
|bream no.1||bream no.2||bream no.3||bream no.5|
|bream no.6||bream no.7||exemplar rudd||exemplar rudd|
If I'd revised the bait upward of one grain on a 14 I'd have perhaps missed the rudd. I also tried some large hemp grains as hook bait but got no bites at all on these. So nothing exceptional but after my four hours, I had seven good bream with the largest (which was a bit misshapen/chomped) at 4lbs, a couple of smaller ones around the 1lb mark and 20 or so rudd, which isn't bad for a quick go.
I've never been a huge fan of bream. My experience of them is of them being small and slimy with zero fight. These bigger bronzies and even the smaller ones, put up a good struggle if without the speed of other fish and seem to make the most of what they have - with a small propeller, there is only so much speed you can muster. The large ones are not so slimy either and I find I'm starting to like them a bit more. They're doing their best it seems to me. Still no tench though. I'll try paste next time; they have to be here somewhere.
28th August 2006. Breach Pond. To fish here you've got to like bream. 'Once more unto the Breach'. I went for Peg 20 at the end of the lake with the wind in my face and enough lilies to constitute a feature. I baited corn and hemp and had corn, giant corn and hemp bread paste (plus a few worms) to try and kicked off at around 10:30 or so.
I got bites after about 40 minutes and had a couple of bronze bream around the ¾lb mark, and varied baits (and hook sizes) to find an optimum pattern for the day. After much messing around with my paste float, shot patterns, hook and bait sizes the one which worked best for the fish in residence was hemp paste on a size 14, 1×BB three inches from the hook and the float shotted up to sink when the bait was picked up. This in eight feet of water a rod length out.
|bream no.1||bream no.2|
Giant maize got no more than fiddly nudges, probably as a result of being over large for the fish down there. If I'd stuck with it (on a size '6'), it would have got the larger fish, but it would have been a quiet day other wise...
Despite this the bites were often tentative, with 2 or 3 pulls before a bite that could be hit - these from the smaller 'bronzies', ½-1lb or so. The larger of the bream took the bait right of, not too fast, and I had several very fast takes out of nowhere, which I speculate were perhaps roach. I have a number of sidling slow bites, which I couldn't hit and I wondered about small eels.
|bream no.3||bream no.4|
Still, the day wore on and I must have had 30 bream in the end, with three good fish at 3-4lb. Nothing else, which made the bream-fest slightly less fun. There was an hour quiet spell around 2pm and at 7:45 everything went dead, which was also odd. The light was 'funny' for the last hour or two and the picture below shows it as it was and the float was hard to see as a result.
|NOT 'ha ha' funny though...||...spot the float...|
I'll try swims further up the South bank next time, for a change. There are tench (allegedly), but so far I've seen no sign, which given the excitement they usually show for hemp is unusual. I've not found them yet, that's for sure. Hindsight's easy, but I think at around the four hour mark I should have moved on for myself, as the pattern for the day seemed set. Good bag though, I must check the smaller ones against rudd-bream hybrids, as they are feisty things when hooked, as I am told these crosses often are.
30th August 2006. Milton Abbey. Things that go bump in the evening. A short session at my current favourite water. I went for Peg 3 and set up a small, 3×no.8, crystal and fished right under the bush to my right. There is no wind to speak of and I am able to cast past the bush and reel back in under it. Having slipped up to the swim quietly all should be well. I've gone for corn and hemp and giant maize for hook bait and hemp bread paste.
Giant maize on a size four gets trembles only, so I switch to a '14' thick wire and a single grain. I get several small roach (6oz), bump one off and then about 40 minutes in a 1½lb fish into the net. Top notch. I spook the fish sorting it out, as the swim is then dead for 20 minutes. I swap the float for a small pole one, as the crystal has started to sink (eh?), and bump off a large slow fish, that felt like a bream. Argh. Another smaller roach (6oz) a lost tench, several missed bites, and then I bump off another tench. Arrrgh.
|The good roach|
Another small roach around ¾lb and then with the light fading, I put an LED torch beam on the float and miss a sideways sitter and 30 seconds later latch into a carp (large, straight run for five yards), then hook pulled out. Arrrrrrrrgh. One more roach and it's time to move. Short but very frustrating. But for being off my game I'd have had a fab bag for 2½ hours. Drat. Double drat. Who says fishing is always relaxing?
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8th September 2006. Milton Abbey. A bit less than magical...a short session on Peg 4, which is rapidly becoming known as the "Nemesis" Peg. I set up a peacock quill for lift bites, and baited with hemp and used paste made with crushed hemp on the hook. I started around 5pm, but then had to go home for the landing net "V", which didn't improve my mood. Moral; "Don't use landing nets for apple picking." Weather was fine calm and grey with temperatures around 13°C.
|coupla blurry roach||night fishing|
I had a few fiddles on the quill but nothing I could hit so at about 7:30 put on a small pole float (with one eye on the dark hour, when it would show better in torch light. I caught a 6oz roach then, and despite swapping baits (tried mussels) and changing hook and bait sizes, had two more similar fish by 10pm, and only missed one bite. Even the usual twilight magic didn't really improve on the bag nor my mood. Not a great return on the 4½ hours. Grumped off home.
9th 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.
|example rudd||quite 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.
10th September 2006. Highbench. A Rare Tench. This fishery is unusual in that it has no carp, but is a day ticket fishery. In a good way. It is plagued by smaller bream and roach though, which means small end tackle to catch everything, or larger and miss half of all your bites. Not a great choice. After a move out of the sun and following advice I ended up on the North bank and put on a size '10' and fished worm and corn cocktails or luncheon meat and worm cocktail as this seemed to improve the stamp of fish and also allowed me to hit the bites. I endured a stream of missed bites to land several small roach, probably 15 or so bream to almost a pound and two crucians.
|the tench||a crucian||the pitch||the other crucian|
I also had a tench around 2lb which really put a bend in - it didn't feel tenchy, and on getting it to the net, I discovered the line looped around the pectoral fin, which gave it a bigger advantage than I'm used to. But a cracking fish, as you can see, No marks and a good slender body. Not caught much, but with the standing population of other stuff, I expect they don't get much of a look in. I've had worse days. Recently too.
17th September 2006. Breach Pond. Another blank saved by the lone perchthat odd perch again ...a short trip to Pitman's pond turned into a trip to Breach after I failed to check the match list. I'm not sure why I didn't but there you are. Still, I did find the pond which is apparently hard to find, but having consulted a map, I had little trouble.
I went for Peg 18, with a four hour session being the plan, but after two hours of sitting in the grey conditions, had only a single bite for my trouble. That was when I ate my pasty, which is clichéd, but it's funny how often that happens. At 12:45 I decided that the fish were absent for reasons not known, and moved around the lake to Peg 12, to see if they were there. They weren't. On a long narrow lake like this the middle section is seldom the answer to where the fish are and if they are to be found when fishing is hard it is generally at one end or the other - but time was short, and most of it would have been used getting to the other end. So after another hour, I kicked back and cast in a bunch of worms more-or-less free-lined with a single AA shot, rigging a bite indicator that had to be dragged sideway across the platforms to get my attention. On my third cast I had a positive bite which yielded this 6oz perch, the whole bag.
|saved by a Wheeler-Feynman perch (again)|
At 2:30 I headed out. I have a wander around to some carp anglers, who also had had nothing, and although the angler on Peg 17 had a few bream (but the lilies here make this a good swim at most times), it was slow compared with previous trips, with bites after midday petering out entirely. I did learn from the aforementioned that there used to be a lot more tench seen a few years ago, but this year they have hardly showed at all. The water was little clearer that previously and there were bubbles to be seen further out at Peg 12 and I wonder whether the answer was as simple as the clearer water driving the fish out from the bank, despite the depth in the margins.
22nd September 2006. Pitmans Pond. Four-two in favour of the carp this time. Warm with blue skies and a few clouds. I've not fished here before but have heard about good bags of carp, but of little else. I decided that I like Peg 1 by the 'car park', but took a walk around the 'U' come 'Z' shaped lake first. Peg 1 still felt best after the walkabout...
|peacock quill sky|
...but after two hours of corn and hemp and nothing that resembled a bite (although small fish plagued my float) I got the itch to walk again.
|the view from Peg 1||looks good, but not a touch|
At 6ish, I looked at the lily patch on Peg 3 with more interest. Earlier in the day it was still, but now the stems swayed and the leaves trembled with fish rooting at the bottom. Aha. I sneaked back with my dibber and corn and lobbing in a few grains checked the depth (almost two feet) and hunkered down. After about ten minutes I shifted position slightly and saw a brown swirl by the bank as one inhabitant took fright at the slight vibration. Five minutes later, after a long series of bobs, tweaks and sideways swerves, the dibber sidled of into the muddy water. I struck and got nothing but a bow wave heading into the centre. Encouraging.
A second bite, modelling the first, materialised five minutes later and I hit it as it disappeared and immediately found a very heavy mass on the line, which although eschewing long runs, even after being given the option, would not come in. It clung to the bottom like a tench with a brick-in-a-bag and after five minutes of obdurate resistance eventually was drawn reluctantly to the net. What I had was a 6lb mirror, very light in colour and very feisty still, flipping itself to the point where I photographed it in the net. As soon as I laid it flat it flipped and flopped and fearing for its health I returned it without further ado.
• 'One-one'. I looked again at the lilies, which still had a lot of life. I resumed. Ten minutes passed and I hit another sidling bite and had a repeat of the last fish, but for a sudden dart into the lilies, which resulted in a tug of war to extract the same. Having done that I managed to get it into open water and this one ran, but slowly and I let it go to wear it out a bit. Then, just as I thought the net was the thing, the hook-hold just gave way. 'Drat'.
• 'One-two'. Recasting and continuing to loose feed, I hit another and lost it right after the now half expected right hand dart into the lilies, again the hook hold giving in.
• 'One-three'. A short calm of 15 minutes and then another underhand bite, with the hook-hold going almost at once. 'Double drat'.
• 'One-four'. A tinge of frustration creeps in and I miss two perfectly good bites in the next 20 minutes. Finally as the light is going for good, I get my last bite and hitting it (perhaps a tad harder than normal), I again find my self tied to a dogged lump that first buries itself in the pads and then swims in slow but determined circles 10 yards distant for five minutes, before being overwhelmed by the Avon and the 6lb line. Another carp very like the first, but almost scale-less and light in colour.
|a pale mirror||almost a ghost|
Final score is 'two-four' to the fish, but I have the last laugh. He who laughs last, was too slow in striking. It's a pleasant spot in the evening. There is little habitation inside a mile and being round behind Poole harbour it is isolated and quiet with only the noise of the Wytch Farm oil refinery and the glow of its lights. The fauna are loud at dusk, especially the chirping and while it's not unpleasant, I always have an ear cocked for the sudden cessation, which happened to me once before, but that's another story.
P.S. After leaving my hat behind, I returned the following day to look for it. After talking to a couple of anglers, I discovered that the carp were easily caught on meat at the start of the season and then went off meat, onto maggots, of maggots onto corn. They learn, you know. I'll go with something else next time. I also found out there are larger fish, one or two over 20lb and tench as well, with the back arm of this odd shaped water being five feet deep in the centre of the narrower section. More info is always good. I'll be back, as they say, mostly for a practise with the new centrepin (I have a Kingpin 450 on order).
September 2006. Haiku
The mythical pool
the carp pierces the center
of widening rings
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6th October 2006. Reasons and Rain
It's stair-rod raining and 7:05am. Just dropped off the eldest, early, for a trip to London, leaving me not quite enough time to get home for a cup of tea, so headed for the office. Not the dedication to duty some might think. The grey autumn rain hammers on the car roof as I swish along. The first tendrils of a reluctant dawn are showing. Would I go out in this? I'd swap almost any working day of my life to be leaning on the lee side of a good tree with my waterproofs on and my leather hat keeping rain of the seeing-gear and a bait out even in this rain, perhaps a good lob worm on a size '8'. A flask of fresh-brewed coffee wouldn't hurt.
It's 17°C out, and with the last two nights being a shade under 10°C (warm for October), the warm night tonight with the warm rain now bodes well for a morning feed. The blurred windscreen merges with a vision of an orange tip on rain-circled water, the drumming on the roof becoming the patter of rain on a cagoule and the drip off the hat-brim, the picture too soon spoilt by orange street lights emerging where the float tip was waiting.
Even if it were 3°C, I'd prefer to be out there trying my luck. That's the point really.
8th October 2006. Pitman's Pond. More goldfish. Sunday dawns bright and sunny (if windy) and leaving aside a failed plan to get up before the sun and be there when it appeared, I head down to Pitmans Pond again to level the score with the carp. As previously the largest patch of lilies show a lot of life, so I slide down to the bank, set up a small quill, chuck out some hemp and put a mussel on a size '8'. I put my old K. Dowling centre-pin on the Avon, which is real fishing and given it's age, I've no idea how that's going to pan out.
|fishing in the sky|
The trembling lily pads keep me in high expectation, but after an 30 minutes nothing has really touched my mussel, so I put on a lob worm. I immediately miss a bite, then with a firm strike skitter a 6oz roach across the surface. Ten minutes late I get a rudd of about ½lb, which is nice. But not a carp. After an hour and lot of pest attacks by 1oz rudd on a falling lobworm, I add corn to the mix. Three grains gets no response , so I try a lob and a grain (to keep the worm on the on the hook really).
Twenty minutes later I get a dithery bite, which hares into the middle and wallows there for a bit. I discover that playing fish on a 'pin is easier in some respects - the feel of the fish is as they say - but the continually variable drag (or 'thumb' to you) is a handy asset, making it easy to allow line or not. You can also recover line without reducing pressure on the fish, which is handy when the fish is trying to get into lilies or under the bank. Finally netted the fish is around 4lb or so, and I keep on with the corn and worm and after a bit get a rudd of ½lb. At this point as the wind has strengthened, I swap my quill, top-and-bottom for an upside down porcupine quill, bottom-end-only.
As things are quiet I switch to a size '12' and a couple of small worms, and catch a dozen small rudd on the drop and switch back to size '8' with mussel on the hook, and miss a bite. Around 12pm I get a large swirl, small fry leap and the float jumps and without needing to look I know my mussel has been ejected and so it proves with the bait blown up the line. So I thread the mussel up the hook leaving the bend sticking out. Around 1pm or so another take eventually reveals a slimmer 6lb fish, after a determined fight, which again I find easier on the center-pin. My hook length, which was 'Drennan' braid (8lb) has semi-parted by the knot, a "uni", so it is finally relegated to tying floats on. This has never happened with other braids.
|a pale swimmer||slimmer swimmer||The best rudd|
I get another decent rudd around 2ish, and then, thinking I would leave at 3pm, switch back to large worm and small grain of corn and around 2:45 get the 'buzz' and ten minutes later hook the largest fish of the day, only to lose it when it rolls in the lilies and smoothly transfers the hook onto a lily stem. Argh! How do they do that? It's the right time to go. On balance, the carp win again.
14th October 2006. Pitman's Pond. Undergunned. I return and would have gone for Peg 3, but the chap in Peg 2 would rather I didn't (which was fair but mean-spirited) so rather that sit in a cloud of resentment, I took myself round to peg 13 which had been in my mind. The corner of the lake at Peg 13 is the boundary between the older part of the lake and the newer, and boundaries are features of a sort. The unseasonably warm autumn wind has drifted scum under the trees in the corner and this is also a good place for a carp. I put in a small float and a mussel on a size '8' over some hemp and corn, then spread the hemp out across the lake and also toward the corner to my right, to lay a trail. I fished up against the small patch of lilies, about eight leaves in all. This had the advantage of giving me an early warning if a carp came though from that way and also enabled the float to sit in the lee of the surface drift.
Twenty minutes went by and a chap with a gun went past, disturbing a scrawny 'woodie' from the tree opposite (one of this year's perhaps) and stopped for a chat about grass carp in his lake and mullet in the not too distance costal inlets. Ten minutes later two more anglers arrive at the lake and wandered past, not in least interested in any progress. I had a bite developing by then and expected the walk by to spook it, but as they rounded the corner of the lake the float slid sideways and I hit a fish which thumped into the few lilies and the hook came out. No interest from the walk-bys. Fifteen minutes later a smaller fish 'darted' (well, 'hurtled') inside the lilies and the hook-hold went again. By this time the sound of bleeping and setting up for the duration was coming for a swim out of sight around the corner. Oh good.
I stuck with the mussels & hemp and around 1pm got a bite I could hit. I got a solid lump for my trouble that didn't run and swirled around near my feet, so much so, I almost risked netting. Then the fish woke up a bit and trundled of to my right toward the branches of the sunken tree and I headed it off and dragged it back. And again, after which it wallows some more. This was a heavy fish and I'd seen enough flashes of brass peeking out of the brown soup to see it was a fully scaled metallic gold common, well over 10lb, perhaps 15lb. A cracker of a fish and after another solid run and retrieve I reckon I had it beaten and then another run straight out and as I turned it to bring it back the float pinged back over my shoulder. Another hook-hold gone. What is this?
An obsessive checking of hooks thing is going on now. Nothing wrong with it, sharp as a pin, no curled over point. Size '8' black nickel Partridge No.7. One of my favourite hooks. Must be me...1pm sees a fast run into the lilies and I hang in there while the fish runs on and then with line freeing suddenly I discover the fish has hit the lilies and doubled back to my right. Frantic winding and I'm still in touch. Several boring, bottom-hugging runs to the sunken tree and under the bank are held, mercifully so does the hook hold and another 'goldfish' hits the net. I get a repeat only 20 minutes later, perhaps a little smaller. My fingers ache as I cannot hold the rod with my index finger and keep the thumb on the reel, so have a three-fingered grip on the rod.
|Another goldfish||Yet another goldfish|
The wind has picked up, although not cold and the water has acquired strands of clear water in the silty brown and I speculate that the wind has finally cooled the water to the point where it will not hold so much sediment. As I need to phone home, at 4pm I wonder around to Peg 3, now the grouch has gone, for a last hour at Peg 3, until the Chinese takeaway opens, (collecting tea on the way home). Calm descends like a blanket, with dusk coming. That and background drone of the refinery lulls the senses to the point where a heron screech startles me.
At 4:15 a 6lb golden tail gets right through the lily bed and I opt to slacken off and retrieve hard to get it back through. I almost make it, with three releases and retrieves gaining ground so that I can see a large half orange tail flapping in the lilies like Moby Dick's and my float clear of the water. Inevitably the hook gives way (again). At 4:40pm, I hook a train. At least it might as well have been. It takes of like a missile and a short attempt to hold it make it apparent that this is not an option and I give line at full bend (well over the 1½lb mark) and the fish barely slows, clears the lilies, make another five yards and the line breaks at the rig-ring.
The following day my fingers ache from the unaccustomed grip with the 'pin. War it is then. Carp rod and 8lb line next time. I've done some research into the hook-pulls. There are other folk who have had the same problem with barbless hooks. Continual turns by the fish move the hook point inside the hold, loosening it. The shallow water and lilies possibly exacerbate this, with a lot of twists and turns in a fight. If the option is there it will pay to let the fish run more and if conditions allow, hold the fish less hard. But - a micro-barb will apparently stop the problem, but these are banned here. I will change from a No.7 to a Raptor with a short shank reducing leverage. These have a slight sneck on them which may help. Stronger line 'optional'.
22nd October 2006. Pitman's Pond. I win. This time. Kind of. Lying in bed listening to the patter of rain on the conservatory roof and the traffic on the main road, I am far too cosy to leave the marital bed to sit in the rain, even if it is my last chance of a go this weekend. It is relatively fine, as opposed to the forecast of 'heavy rain', but warm and dry wins. Things change at 10:30, when management announces she is taking the children to the local pool for a dunk, so as it's not raining 'right now', I stick the knapsack (Polish army surplus) in the car and a rod, some hemp, a few worms and mussels and go for a two hour try.
I head for Pitman's via a small lake I have unearthed and plan to check on the fishing there. It looks nice and a stroll round shows a path and some apparently well tended swims, but no sign of activity - no litter, fishing related or otherwise but the water is cloudy and disturbed, so something lives here. Another time...arriving, it's raining again, but I sit in the car (for 'some reason' the only angler out) and tackle up a quill, BB and a size '8' a foot from it, with 8lb line on the old Dowling 'pin. I have thought over the previous visits and have decide to lengthen the tail to ensure the float only moves when the take is definite and brought the 2lb t/c carp float rod as well. I elected to fish until I couldn't see the ridge next to Corfe Castle, which despite the rain is clearly visible and as it is 17°C still, it can't be that bad.
I decide to fish in the near corner as the wind is southerly and if nothing bites after half and hour move to the patch of lilies in peg 3 and if no action then the junction of the new lake and old. Not so pleasant, but the wind in your face is the best bet especially with the unseasonably warm weather. 'Phase 1' gets me wet and with only a suggestion of float movement to my 45°-angled green-tipped porcupine to show for it. My hat keeps water out OK, but the run-off soaks my legs and the result of sitting on the bank will have to be imagined for now. I spend the next 40 minutes listening to the rain on my hat and shoulders, which has a rhythm of it's own.
I move to peg 3. More hemp, a few mussels and 35 damp minutes later I get my bite, with the float traveling gently to my right through the raindrop circles and slowly lowering in the water. I wait until it's not visible and strike firmly and a large fish bolts toward the lily pads tip and steered hard away heads to the middle of the water. I think I have won the battle but the fish gets half way across, does a handbrake turn and belts into the lily patch at its furthermost point from the bank. Drat. I ease off the pressure a bit and the fish responds by keeping going until I can tells it's near the bank, despite my line, arrow straight, to the far end of the patch. I try to increase pressure and get a jerk and then slackness. Really annoying, especially as the float has gone as well - I put the eye on and re-varnished that one Friday. I squelch back to the car to re tackle with a smaller quill but the same end rig, pausing only to re-bait the swim. I use the unhooking mat to keep the water off the car seat.
The new quill sits almost flat on the water and it heels around like a waterborne windsock, moored by its single BB. Fifteen minutes later away it goes, just like the previous. I strike and pull away from the lilies in one movement. I hold the fish until it quits and heads to the middle of the water and I let it. I spend five minutes letting it run and then bully it into the net having seen by now the hook hold is a good one. One to me, even if it's a 'goldfish', at around 7-8lb.
I celebrate with the umbrella to keep the rain off my face and checking the end tackle, go again. I add a large lob-worm hooked once on the hook with the mussel, as it's raining. At 1:40 another very dithery bite that take five minutes to develop turns into a smaller fish, which does it's best but is outgunned by my 2lb t/c and 8lb maxima. This funny looking mirror has the same parentage of the longer bigger brothers (take a look at its tail), but is still odd for all that.
I vote myself a last cast at 1:50pm and opt for 2:30pm leaving and the ridge is looking grey and vague by now. 1:55pm the float lays flat, dips, lies flat again and slides off. Another battle to avoid the lilies commences. ("BB" is not wrong in his assertion that once a carp is into the lily roots you've had it.) I win and the remainder of the squabble goes on in a three yard patch of water to my right and while I net the fish easily it's not nearly worn down enough and even while in the net, makes frantic swimming motions for a bit, like a clockwork motor running down, then subsides enough for a snap, then straight back into the murk.
That's enough; I'm very wet, but not cold and pleased with a victory over the carp this time, on points at least.
27th October 2006. Warm Autumn winds. During a visit to Newbury, we took the littleanglers for a post prandial walk around the lakes - always good to have a quick look and today was clear-skied, with the late-season temperatures only just starting to dip. Half-way past 'Jubilee' we passed two anglers hunched over a pair of rods and bleepers, with lines bow-string tight across the water, the stiff breeze in their faces. Normally a better idea when fishing, but on this lake the windward shore seldom produced for me, but in fairness this is more likely due to the sterile bed on this side than the wind.
We got as far as the end of 'Long Lake' and while the offspring capered, stood at the end of the lake and watched the red-setting sun on the water and the breeze-whipped waves whispering between the reed stems and I thought about the pike caught here and the hypothetical prospects for the moment, which seemed good, what with the reed beds, warm November water and wind in my face.
Around the end of the lake came a man, on the phone, with a camouflage jacket and a bucket of boilies. Not breaking his conversation for a moment, he stood on the sleeper at the edge of the swim, peered at the water and threw in several large handfuls. And then carried on around the end of the lake in similar fashion. We shadowed, tea-time looming in our minds. I paused a moment or two and looked at the end swims (scenes of good pike and piking) and imagined (no, knew) that a smattering of offerings against the reeds and a small float held gently against the drift would catch this evening. It would have caught the tench here before they got to be the pot-bellied protein bulked 'specimens' currently coming out.
The mobile angler was diminishing with the light down the avenue of trees between the lakes and fittingly as we passed by, the two previously hunched were stood, one with bright orange shirt on at the waters edge, while the other, although more quietly dressed was less quietly kicking a root on the ground. Ah well. Tea.
|just a hook...(and back to the top of the page)||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...||...and a loaf of bread||just a hook...|
3rd November 2006. My Kingpin 450 Series Two (black) is ready, I'll have to collect it next week now, as otherwise engaged. Drat.
This is a fine reel. The Kingpin 450 Series Two ('Regal') has a 4½" drum diameter and fine brass fittings, although I find the reel foot to be far too close to the drum, making it a little awkward to use if you have small hands. Like so many centre-pins, it is hard to hold the rod 'on the reel' and while this is not everyone's preference, it is certainly mine. Putting a ¾" spacer between the foot and the back-plate made it a far more pleasant reel to use and I may yet have a well-engineered spacer made up. I do like the large holes in the drum which facilitates easy line retrieval and these are rather more ergonomic than the handles.
I wrote a more comprehensive review for the 'Pure Piscator' website, which can be read below.
10th November 2006. Barton's Court. Good Omens GOOriginally written up for 'Pure Piscators', some minor edits since then. ...for this weekend trip with the sibling and we had chosen a water midway between our domiciles. For my part, I'd had a vague vision of a large carp (as I write, recalling the fleeting picture that came into my head between sleep and waking on Wednesday morning), perhaps this weekend on the new water with my brother sat to my right and the far bank just 30 yards distant with a heavy fish attached and boring to my left. I'm not prone to flights of fancy (well OK, sometimes), but then my 'Stren' arrives in the post Thursday, Friday brings my "Tartit" CD for the drive up and the new Kingpin was collected. Even before the drive, all was set. Perfect. How could it not go as planned?
I arrive at the water at around 2:30pm. It's a nice gravel-pit, 30 years old at least with old stock dating to its creation and there are three or four acres of depth variations, willow trees, reed mace, nooks and crannies. So while it may be described as 'technically commercial', as one has to pay, it has a lot of the things I like and is missing many that I do not.
So, after a little exploration on a cool blue-skied November day, I head for the back (north east) corner, edge quietly into one of the nooks, bung some corn and mussels then while things settle down, I attached the new 'pin to the 'Avon' - which at a 1lb 10oz t/c, is perfectly matched to 8lb line - and spin 100 yards of 8lb Stren onto the reel. To the line I attach a home-made goose-quill float with a de-barbed size '8' "Jack Hilton".
|I head for the back (north east) corner...||...edge quietly into one of the nooks|
I'm easily satisfied most days and there are plenty of bumps and nibbles on the mussels, which I put down to small things. These keep me amused or alert, take your pick, but eventually I switch to the clichéd, but very effective, three grains of sweetcorn. There are early autumn leaves drifting on the water, catching on the float from time to time - some days these are a nuisance, but not today and I enjoy the view. Occasional fish suck at the passing russet rafts in a spirit of inquiry and a carp or two splash and slap under the far bank. The spot feels like the right one, with the swim nicely sheltered, but at the pit's windward end. I wait.
A light footfall hints at the arrival of the other one. Well, when I say 'light'...there is a ritual exchange of greetings, as usual centred on comparative weight, hirsuteness, individual ascetics and personal habits. He sets up a ledger rig, baiting with some kind of tinned meat and we share a coffee or two and the minutiae of family life, while he removes a signal crayfish from his side of the swim. I venture to suggest it isn't a real fish. This is rebuffed and a scurrilous claim is made to the effect it counts as 'half' beating my current 'zero'. I remain unperturbed, secure in the knowledge that the moment would materialise. This and that the alleged 'half' is an invading Yankee crustacean.
Then a passing Harry fills us in on the good swims and some lake bottom topology. (Ta Harry, very much appreciated). Even this gentle disturbance (how polite for a visitor to take care not to spook your swim, rare but most welcome) doesn't muddy my clear confidence. The last hour passes, with twilight approaching from behind us, chasing the setting sun's glare in our faces, the sinking light further advertised by soon-to-roost pheasants. The wind-speed sinks to a breath in tandem with the descending grey and then, in the fading light, the orange float-tip flickers into life, dithering, edging, to-and-fro. Truffling, not small stuff. Ten minutes of teasing and it slides slowly off to my, right sinking as it goes. Classic carp bite, my favourite sort.
I tighten up and lean into the arc. There is a pause, the thump of a once shaken head, an about turn. Something then powers heavily away to the left with steady acceleration and the low frequency throb of a very wide tail. I let the rod curve over well past the right angle, then ease the brake pressure. Line peels off, in time with the tail-beat driven note of the knurled rim on my thumb. Heart in mouth, serious fish. I manage to say "It's quite big". Slow tail beat, medium speed. Implacable power. Battle lines are drawn. I step across the swim and angle it away from going around the corner. This would involve tree roots, which is bad and I may have changed its course. Marginally, perhaps. It keeps going. Boy, does it keep going. I keep the rod bent in a hoop and the 'pin rim is wearing a smooth spot on my thumb joint. It wins 50 yards straight without slowing or deviating, carrying a 2-3lb drag. I check my reel for remaining line.
There is an island 60 yards in front of my charge and me, so I'm going to have to apply the brakes soon, all or nothing. The headlong charge is unabated with no discernible impact on speed or course. I allow myself nerves and then the first thought of what might be. The first rush is all. If you beat that you usually win. It's the longest and hardest run. Without a doubt, this is one such. I weigh up my chances and the angle between my bowstring-line and the cut water. Too soon to lock down. I have a perhaps ten yards yet, with the pressure at my end as unrelenting as that from the depths. Then there is a bump. The bump you get when the line passes over the dorsal fin or the nose. I'd turned it...first run to me? I dare to hope.
The rod is still in full lock, but nothing is moving and a splinter of doubt stabs into my stomach. Sand-bag solid. I wait with the nagging fear spreading out like frost-cold stealing up from the toes. I slacken off. I hand-line. Nothing. After a few minutes of alternating hand lining and slackening, the slim hope the fish was on yet, fades into the dull ache in my core. I face the fact that my fish was gone, snagged on some unseen and unknown obstacle. I pull for a break with the black dog's rumbling behind me.
Anyone who has lost a good fish knows the gut-wrenched wretchedness of this moment. You want to throw things. I don't. It won't get it back. Beaten. I get my hook back, undamaged and a bit bent. A close look at the last two feet of line shows it to be well roughed up. Next time, I tell myself.
|undamaged and a bit bent|
The brother wisely packs up and slips away in silence while I try out most of the rude words I know. To be fair just one or two of them but I repeat them a lot. Too late to re-bait with the swim disturbed, I prowl off into the descending gloom. Good omens. Right. Typing, seven months on, the wump-wump-wump transmitted up the line, is as clear to me now, as on the day.
11th November 2006. We returned the following day and discovered a strong wind, getting stronger and moved swim twice from the north bank to the west (with deeper water and finally to the south bank to get shelter from the willows. I had a small bream on the west bank when I switched from an '8' hook to a '14' with a single grain of corn. Forty minutes later with no change we headed south, despite briefly considering a change of venue as things looked off for the day. We perhaps unwisely opted to stick it out. I put on the '8' again, peg my quill in six feet of water and watch the battle on the float between the wind blowing left-to-right and the right-to-left undertow set up by the consistent wind. It dithered and bobbed all afternoon, in part caused by careless fish picking up my 'tell-tale' 2BB thinking they were hemp grains and while I caught nothing else I felt confident I'd do little better elsewhere. I wish I'd the thermometer I thought I'd packed, as on days like this you really want to know the temperature of the top flow and the return, i.e. where is the warmest water? The brother had two bream on a single grain of corn, which he caught 'trotting the swim' using the undertow. He cracked first, but I fished on into the gloom, hypnotised by the rushing of the wind in the willow and the ripple on the water until the float wasn't visible and I fished by touch only. At 5:00 with the light gone I gave up for this time, more to do with family than anything else. I've have stayed another hour left to my own devices (and likely nipped around the back on the lake too, I'll get you yet cully).
|Barton's Court small bream. 'The bag'. Count it.|
Fabulous water though and although technically a commercial water, it is not over stocked, had deeps, shallows, willows, overhanging bushes and islands and bays. Not a scrap of litter and while the banks are tended, it's not to the point where you feel nature is on the retreat. I'll get back here in the spring for that carp. Oh yes.
12th November 2006. Beeches Brook. On the way home, on a whim, I popped in for a few hours. This is near Burley in the New Forest and although mostly shallow and very much commercial, is a fabulous setting and I tucked myself under the trees in one of the narrow channels on the North end of the lake, with 6' of width and perhaps 2' of depth in the small tri-legged confluence of two channels. The bank is mossy and green and the tree a mixture of beech, holly and yew, plenty of late bracken with fly agarics lending an alien appearance. A small flock of pigeons clattered about in the beeches opposite and a crow 'skrarked' behind me somewhere.
In keeping with the mood carp moved from the off, so I hemped up and musseled in and put the No 8. and a braid hook length on, 8lb through and fished a foot over depth with mussels and a lob worm. An hour went past with tweaks only, although several fish went by which induced me to keep still. After an hour the float went off and I struck checked, as the rod hit a branch and the hook bumped out leaving me with a tricky bit of untangling. The trick here is not to pull, but wind down and thread the rod tip around the branches to unravel the loops. Re-cast and ten minutes later away the float went again, I tightened into a lump which behaved like a tench and I actually had the net in, with the carp on it's way. I was just telling myself it was a commercial carp that gives up a bit easily, when it rumbled it and belted around the corner to my right, which battle curve put paid to any worries about damaging the rod earlier. It then started a series of short runs up each arm of the confluence I was on, which all had to be held within five yards or so and in between several real head down rushes at the bank opposite, which I could pull up in the last few inches before it buried it's head in the bank. It took ten minutes of this to get it near the net again and four times it bolted on the net. Eventually, the fish landed, it went about 11½lb and was nice looking but leathery. Much more like it.
|About 11½lb and a nice looking fish. Yes the background is odd. I'd over-cropped the orginal and I did some photoshopping to restore proportion to the picture.|
The swim was now dead. I expected some returning life after half an hour, but even the rising carp round the corner had gone. After an hour I called it quits as it felt dead as well and went to the main lake to try again and found a spot where I was shielded by a small bush and could fish against some dying weeds, in three feet of water. This was less pleasant than being in the trees, but I persisted while a headache grew and had plenty of bites that were not big enough fish to hit with my rig.
|...and found a spot...|
After about 90 minutes a large carp lunged out of the black mirror water 30 yards in front of me with a hushed sploosh and while I was watching the ripples it rose again almost to the tip of its tail, shook itself three times and slipped back into the water with a scarcely a noise - the full length and girth of the fish is frozen in my memory, like a stylised carp in a Chinese picture, with the light underside stark against the darker water and moss bank behind. 15lb pounds at least. On another day, I'd have moved or waited longer but I was feeling bad now, with the waves of pain moving from the back of my head to the pit of my stomach in sync with the dying ripples of the wash from the carp. So I went, took a pain-killer and ambled off.
Nice place. Might make a nice winter water, probably busy in the summer.
November 2006. "The Floatmakers Manual" by Bill Watson. So, so handy if you're float-obsessed, or even if you are just very very interested. While much of the advice herein is aimed at those who might want make floats in larger numbers, the author made floats for sale in his own tackle-shop, there are plenty of valuble tips for the small batch amateur float-maker.
18th November 2006. Milton Abbey. Madness enhanced by carelessness. One might have thought by now that I would know better than to try for a carp in near-freezing temperatures, but had got the bug in the head, so Saturday afternoon took off with some mussels, hemp and few worms then went down for a go. As I ought to have guessed, the water was fining down, clear, even on Peg 12 where the best chances might be - fish were moving but not feeding, although the summer weed was still here. I baited up. Flat calm water, the sky was clear and even with the nip in the air I would much rather be outdoors.
A few tench are lurking and there's plenty of roach about. On 10lb line I strung a piece of peacock quill, a long tail from the 'tell-tale' BB, then set up about around 6" over-depth, terminated with a size '6' Jack Hilton, a lob-worm and large mussel. I would have bet on my only real chance being in the last hour, but as it turns out that was not so, but in the end the lack of fish was self-inflicted (so often the case).
The afternoon wore on pleasantly enough, even too pleasantly. The sun hid early on, which took it out of my eyes, but still no wind while a better fisher than I streaked back and forth, fishing opposite and to the right. After an hour came a bleeping from the main lake. Oh good. A large lead hit the water 100 yards off, which made more noise than the 40 yards distant kingfisher hitting the water from fifteen feet up. The late autumn colours are excelling themselves, the red of the bushes on the far bank nicely setting off the overstaying leaves and patches of green weed. It's like an oil painting today.
|Told you it looked like an oil painting|
A movement near my feet and the float twitched and a big swirl of mud announced a spooked fish. I don't recall moving but maybe I did. I'm joined by small flock of long tailed tits in the tree to my right and notice an orange blob near the kingfishers spot on the far bank. I muse on the lost tackle and resolve to collect it later. I wonder why I'm not interested in changing tackle and trying for the tench or the roach and then a 4lb jack-pike materialises from the depths, a spectral torpedo, gently breaks the surface 6 feet from me after some imaginary prey and receded back into the mirror with hardly a ripple. Five minutes later a big twitch on the quill and a huge cloud of needle bubbles gets my interest but it turns out to be an ejected bait and another a spooked fish. Late in a long season maybe? I remove the float and switch to free lining with (wait for it) silver foil and coil or two of line on the unhooking mat. Well I know it's a cliché but a surprising effective one and my intent is to remove the vertical line that might be brushing the fish off.
More dithering from the king of fishers but not nearly enough for a picture and at 4pm with the cold gathering itself for the twilight, I wander round to pick up what turn out to a large plastic pike float and I find a small cruise missile on the way, but according to the writing on the side it's a carp float of some sort. If I had a crossbow I could bring down small game with it. Warmed by the walk, I return gently to the penultimate coffee and re-cast, flick the line off the rod and the foil jerks, which make me jerk and after waiting five minutes, check the bait to find the tail gone from the worm. I replace it and settle back. Owls have started up now, a feature of this hollow place I quite like and then another huge explosion of bubbles and a twitch of the rod-tip signals another spooked fish.
|Five minutes later a big twitch on the quill and a huge cloud of needle bubbles...||I resolve to enjoy the twilight and the last cup...|
Hmm. I resolve to enjoy the twilight and the last cup, despite the toes numbing a bit. I watch the light fading over the trees opposite, turning the view black-and-white and listen to the owls calling back and forth. Then a twitch of the foil, another cloud of bubbles but despite sitting until 5:15 there is nothing I might call a bite. I pack up and it occurs, dullard, it might have been better had I sat back from the edge of the water, keeping the rod from poking out over the clear water. Sometimes it's as if you're not trying hard enough for a fish.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
2nd December 2006. but I've been reading 'Chris Yates', 'BB' and have a newish pin, so have carp in my head and with the weather breaking, more or less, head to Pitman's to see if that common is around. Worth a try.
It's very soggy, so after carefully parking the car, try peg 1 for an hour as the wind is pushing the lake more or less into this corner. The weather is fresh and more-or-less blue-skied, but the preceding day's rain has filled the lake, which is now a foot higher than a month ago and the water is muddy and thick, which is good. A tyro carp angler has just arrived in Peg 3, but no activity yet. I let him know there is a lily patch in front of him and suggest fishing beside that might be worth a try. It's no longer visible, but the roots are still there for truffling in.
There's plenty of small fish activity on the mussels and worms, but I catch only a piece of line with a soggy 5BB loafer on it. After nothing one might call a carp bite, I decide that the smart thing to do is try Peg 13, which is close to where the old lake meets the new. This part of the lake is exposed, with the wind crossing a the large and wet meadow behind, so the brolly is set with the spike through the handle of the unhooking mat, which I sit on, out of the wind and the occasional near-horizontal shower. More mussels and hemp fished close to where a small lily patch exists in warmer times. One of the heavier squalls produces a double rainbow in the meadow, one end pointing at my swim, so I take it as a sign from Izaak to keep going.
|the smart thing to do is try Peg 13...||a double rainbow in the meadow...||...one end pointing at my swim||a sign from Isaak to keep going|
After an hour of occasional bumps with only a half pound roach to show (on a size '8', a mussel, two grains of corn and a lobworm) it's around 2:30 when I decide to 'join them' and trade the size '8' 'Partridge No. 7' on 8lb, for a size '10' on 6lb with a cockle. First cast I catch a 4" rudd 'on the drop'. Hm. Fifteen minutes later the float bobs and dips and I strike expecting another small fish, but get larger, which trundles of to my right heading for the bank and ultimately a submerged bush. I lean into the slowish but determined fish and eventually it comes back, circles the swim and heads back off for a repeat run and this time I get a float full of vegetation. More circling and dogged defiance, which goes on for a good 10 minutes, making my fingers ache - I try to let the fish run, but it doesn't really, just hugging the bottom. I steer, eventually and grudgingly, a small common around 6lb to the net. Very pleasing and a good looking fish compared with it less heavily scaled brothers.
Cockles are good then and I switch back to the 8lb bottom, but stick with the size '10' and a cockle. At 3:20pm, another dithering bite gets me one of the half scaled rockets, that heads hard into the bank on my right again but at four times the speed. This fish does run and eventually runs into the middle of the lake, but always returning to the bank to try and tangle up the end tackle. Ten more minutes pass and I drop the fish into the net, to find one of the red tailed mirrors around 7lb or so and a small stowaway rudd.
|I steer, eventually and grudgingly, a small common around 6lb to the net||...to find one of the red tailed mirrors around 7lb or so and a small stowaway rudd||As the moon is over the trees...||...and in the water in front of me|
At around 4:00pm the moon makes an appearance in the trees and water, the wind drops a bit and peace settles over the end of the lake like a fresh clean sheet. I get the best moment of the day, kicking back on the mat and watching the float, little caring about any further fish and so it is that a bit before 5pm, I strike lazily at a bite and lose a largish but sluggish fish that rolls in the water almost on striking, giving me a flash of silver for compensation, which suggest a number of things but not a carp. As the moon is over the trees and in the water in front of me, I hang on until the float is playing hide and seek with my twilight affected eyes and miss-strike another fish, which had covered four yards to my right before I realised. No problem. I pack up and saunter off, with the last hour making it all worth while. Perfect.
5th December 2006. Smith's Lake, Bishops Green. A stressful day helping someone move house, I darted into Smiths Lake for a quick relax. With only a few hours to spare it was still better than 'not fishing', but with the temperature falling there'd need to be luck to get a carp. The carp here are mostly good fully scaled commons, although a little over fished in the summer, but nice fish for all that. Even so, as I bumped down the track, there was six magpies in the field on my left. Count them. Six. For 'gold' scales clearly. I reverted to optimism, pitched at the deep end with the wind in my face, set up a simple margin rig with corn and hemp. In the next three hours there were a few tweaks that might have been construed as bites and a lot of wierd movements caused by the slow end-to-end oscillation of the water, caused by the steady wind up the lake tailing off from time-to-time.
|Spot the peacock quill||Dusk at Smith's|
|Spot the porcy...||Just the moon and me, let it so be.|
Despite a relaxing few hours, I never got the sense a carp was on the cards. Small fish started picking at the surface as the light withdrew, but nothing like the bigger swirls and thumps that so often precede carp feeding. Eventually, with the moon easing itself over the trees to my right and the cold stealing like a foot-pad out of the black-flooded trees behind me, I called it a day and headed home. The magpies lied, you can't trust them you know.
17th December 2006. Pitman's Pond. A funny little tench. Rolling back to Pitmans, despite the rain, I arrive to find Pegs 1-3 & 7 are taken. I'm not unduly bothered, as I like Peg 13, it's a good distance from the car park, well placed for the asocial fisherman. At 1:15 'peg 7' hops off with a couple of small ones to his ledgered baits and I take two rounds of lime curd sandwiches, a strong coffee and enjoy my spot in the late and low sun. The usual hemp and cockles (pickled, but they seem to work) are the plan today and an 8lb rig on the Avon. Size '10' No.7, plus a small quill finished this weekend, made from a pigeon's tail feather. If you're wondering about the pictures below, it was on my way and just looked nice.
|...the stream that runs from West Morden bog toward West Morden Mill...||...the stream that runs from West Morden bog toward West Morden Mill...|
A late bee dribbles past, there are always one or two around, dozy with the winter, despite the green alarmists saying every late bee means we're all going to fry. The other three folk move on, leaving me alone on the corner, which is fine, my preference most days. Soon after, I get the feeling I have underwater company and after ten minutes, of perhaps microscopic twitches of the float, I risk a coffee. The wind has heeled the float around so I pick up the rod to mend the bow in the line and get a twitch. A gentle enquiry only, the raised eyebrows from a gentle medium-pacer. I sit with the rod for a bit, reposed in response, but nothing happens. The orange tip, becalmed, lies almost flat now. I wait.
Stren original is good line and my favourite but it seems to need a few minutes in the water to allow it to sink by itself and it's not there yet. I mend another wind blown loop. The float flicks again tipping down away from its obtuse angle with the surface film, to almost vertical and I hold the rod waiting for a burst of life, but not this time. I notice the top section is misaligned and fix it. It's not much, but having been seen it has to be fixed... I've had the thermometer out for a good bit, in the shade of my leg, and it's telling me the air is around 8°C, which is warm for the season and I bung the probe-on-the-wire into the margin.
The day elongates like a stretch after a yawn and a light plane drones across the clear sky, a distant and evocative sound, more associated with summer. Nearly as good as a distant jet, with the many thousands of feet of air in between you and the engines filtering out the harsh notes, leaving a far off relaxing tone, which also appears at the end of Camel's 'Moonmadness', so it's not just me. The float is now over-heeled for even my insouciant angling, so I'll slip it down the line on the next cast. I'm jerked alert by a big swirl in front of me that spells a spooked carp, but this happens even in water that is the colour I don't like my tea. A slight shuffle on the mat is all it takes, or a brush from the line. Another rushed vortex fifteen minutes later. Odd. They're twitchy today and I feel a missed opportunity slipping past.
The dots of hemp-oil are increasing, which can mean several things, one of them good. I pick the rod up anyhow. The air temperature is sinking slowly, now 6°C and has dipped under the water temp, which is still 7°C. I recast, adjusting both rod and float and both sit better, knowing fish are here means I ought to be OK in the end. The hemp oil is more than just seepage, something is truffling and the next couple of whiskish twitches change into a sliding sideways submergence, which has to be my favourite bite. I strike, too soon it turns out, as the thump of the fish, slow though it is, heading under the bank on my right then the side strain pulls out the hook, which comes back clean...2:15pm, there's still time.
I add a good worm to the hook and 40 minutes slip by, marked only by a Fortean shower of white ash out of the clear sky and two crows across the water, 'skrarking' into the silence, emphasising rather than breaking. Neither of them dropped a useable quill either, although I stared hard at them. Selfish really. The fish activity has changed and a lot of small fish are around now, tasting the float. Plenty of twitching, but I don't mind that as the sudden cessation makes a great early warning system for the arrival of larger things. More coffee heightens alertness...the air temperature has slipped under 6°C now, tied to sinking sun. A dithery bite, which has been keeping me interested for ten minutes at least, eventually slinks off and I strike firmly into a ½lb tench. Not a winter fish but a great green colour - a nice bonus, but that is the last fish of substance I sense or see sign of.
|nice spot||nice spot||funny little tench|
At gone 4:00pm, with the air slumping to 4°C, I change to a size '12' and a 6lb rig (the lightest I have) and catch roach and rudd, with three rudd for each roach and after considerable entertainment and about a score of fish up to ½lb, I switch back to cockle and worm and try, foolishly, for a last gasp carp. With the sky still clear and blue and sucking the heat out of the ground, I spend 25 minutes with just a robin 'chipping' for company and a careless pheasant advertising it's roosting spot to any hungry foxes. The best bit of the day. The light fades with the last of the warmth and coffee and I pack up with robin begging for scraps, which it gets. A fine day's reality.
24th December 2006. River Frome. Trotting the stream. Having got a WADAS ticket especially for the Frome, I headed off for a few hours of trotting. This is not my forte, as especially of late I've been a lake angler, but winter makes one inclined to move and with the "carpio" obsession tapering off, it seemed like a plan.
It's a grey day, but no frost, no rain and that is good enough. I took the 'pin', maggots, rucksack, a few worms and the Avon, which is a tad heavy but it's what I have, 6lb on the reel and a 3lb bottom. Stuck on a stick (3BB) after the bottom pulled out of the 4BB. (mental note, never buy anything ever again with the word "drennan" on it) and essayed a few casts by the bridge with a few maggots on the feed. I spent some minutes mucking about with the depth and discovered the current was comfortably fast enough on the swollen Frome to pull the line nicely off the reel and with a little adjustment of the drag (or 'thumb'), learnt quickly to float the bait ahead of the float. I got a sharp knock about five minutes later and hauled in a small salmon parr, (identified on getting home - wasn't sure whether it was a small trout or a parr). Popped it right back. Good omen.
I moved steadily downstream with no further luck and struggled to find anywhere I thought fishy, with the few slacks fishless and the inside of the bends not producing either. Two hundred yards downstream I regretted not bring the unhooking matt, my normal seat, so I had to drink coffee standing up. Eventually having fished my way to a sweeping right hand bend with a gravel run on the nearside, immediately deemed 'fishy'. I cast midstream and swung the float over to the end of the bar - the water here was 18", if that much and had been trotting in three-four feet until now. I swapped the stick for lighter 3×no.4 and keeping the hook 2'6" from the hook, put the bulk of the shot under the float. With a slight drag on the reel the bait fluttered nicely just above the bottom (I could see it). OK then. Three trots later a stabbing bite caught me unawares, but pulled the rod tip hard enough. Drat. Two more trots with maggots got nothing else, so switched to a worm and had a bite just as the float looped out of the middle over the back end of the bar, got a small wriggle and reeled, rather than played, a small dace.
Now I was especially pleased with this, as it's the first fish I've had from a Wallis cast...I'm trying to pick this up. My plan is to Wallis cast, if it works carry on. If it doesn't, switch to the 'Nottingham' cast until the next swim. Mixed results today with some good casts, some over runs and some rubbish. The reel is so free running it has to be checked from the off and getting that right has proved a test. But I perservere with the 'keep going if it works, stop if it doesn't' method. I awarded myself a coffee and fed a few more maggots. The river here is shorn of cover, to presumably keep the fly-fishers happy and the wind is flat and hard across the wet pasture and the coffee helps keep the chill from the back of my neck. Keeping moving doesn't hurt either. Switched the hook bait back to maggots, no reason. Nowt for quarter-of-an-hour, switch back to worms and first cast, another hit and this time a nice grayling maybe half a pound. The day is a success already. Notice the scar across its back.
|...and this I immediately deemed 'fishy'||Shiney, shiney...||The Lady of the Stream||The Lady of the Stream - obverse|
Still glorious though. Ten minutes later another is 'bumped off' on the strike with enough flash and serpentine response to supply disappointment on losing another grayling, a bit larger perhaps. This is only my third ever so I'm hardly an expert...I stick with it for another half-an-hour but the bites are gone, spooked by repeated casting, the marsh ditch is impassible with wellies, so I tramp back to the bridge and take another cup of enthusiasm while laying on a worm (you never know). Home then for tea. That's my best days fishing all year. Terrific. The Zen like calm of lakeside margin fishing contrasts with the continual cast and trot of the river, the latter hypnotic in repetition, the former in its inactivity and reflection. Both good for the soul. hbI'd set off for the Holmebridge stretch. I took one right-hand turn too soon, saw a bridge and fished...some might say 'poached'. Oops. Sorry. Happy Christmas by the way.
27th December 2006. River Frome. Zen casting. The day after Boxing Day, I return, but actually to the Holme Bridge stretch this time. I make my way into the trees downstream of the bridge and almost at once come across a swim where the river bulges and shallows, with runs of green weed and clear gravel. So I trot from the upstream end of the neck, feet feet under a 4BB Avon (araldited by now). I fish worms, corn and maggots in rotation for half an hour and then get a sure bite on a bunch of four maggots and have a grayling on for ten seconds, then fumble the reel and give slack line, the barbless size '14' hook is shaken out almost immediately. Beginners bungle and I mutter rude words to myself. Perhaps a pound, but I'll never know now.
I persist for another half-an-hour maybe and work to the bottom end of the wide spot and a bit later get a salmon parr (see below), again on maggot, in contrast with the previous visit where the fish were taken on worm. I work steadily downstream, spooking a 3lb pike, lean and mean, lurking in a bit of slack water right by the edge. If it had stayed still, I'd have lobbed a bunch of worms at it. I fish through, round and over trees and out into a field, but despite varying depths and fishing shallows, glide and eddies get nothing remotely like a bite.
|Technically a Salmon (I think)|
I did a short experiment today with a goose quill (2BB) proving that a 2BB float was not buoyant enough, but a 4BB one would be a perfect float for this type of fishing, with its hollow top and great visibility , compared with tiny tipped balsa Avons. I wonder, not for the first time, why some many river float hve such tiny sighting tips. I trudge back to the scene of the early near miss and settle in for the last 40 minutes (in-laws visit looms). I bait some maggots and settle again into a Wallis and get a perfect 30 foot cast midstream. Wow. Now, the trick to this is a Zen thing. If it works don't think about it. Just repeat and keep the mind blank. I spend 40 minutes making effortless casts of 30-45 feet for the last spell, enjoying the fizz of the reel rim under my thumb and the feel of the line snaking across my left thumb and the float and line arcing, shot first, into the stream.
While I catch nothing (might have had a bite, it's hard to be sure), I enjoy myself enormously what with casting as if in a dream and the trotting absorbing, with the reel ticking over smoothly and the note off the knurled edge on my thumb telling me how fast the float is running. Timeless. A fish might have almost spoiled it. Well almost. Still, not a blank, frustrating to lose the only good one of the day, but the rest of the day is already fading against the bright light of the last ¾ of an hour when everything clicked for casting and control.
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float||Another proper float||Another proper float|