JAA's 2009 Fishing Diary

There was an introduction written in 2009, but I've lost it...ah well.

The below, if one is dispassionate, shows an increasing trend toward 'bamboo' in places. I can only plead temporary insanity and would re-assure the well-balanced reader that this was a phase and rational empiricism re-asserted itself at a later date. I wonder if 'bamboozled' should be a new verb? So, using it in a sentence bbdAs in; "He received a lengthy sentence." : "One could infer his bamboozlement from the centre-pin, the surfeit of old tweeds and a desperate need to make tea using an old and potentially toxic storm-kettle, instead of a perfectly serviceable spirit stove."

This year, on a whim w I say 'whim'. Possibly the obsessive need to organise played a part..., I changed all of the pages from "continuous HTML" to a set of records named by date and then used 'server-side includes' to construct the pages. This turned out to be one of the smarter things I've ever done with the site...

KingfisherJAA's Diary for... 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021 / 2022

You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...

Kingfisher2009's months... JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

Hat-TipIf you'd like to support my float & espresso addictions in a small way, by all means 'buymeacoffeeI promise to try and not spend it on another float.' or 'buymeanotherfloatIt'll be a float, we both know it.'. Many thanks.

It'll be a float, we both know it. Hat-Tip Probably. Hat-Tip

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

January 2009

20093rd January 2009. Horton Lake. Crikey, it's cold today. A new water for me so after some investigation and finding out the lake was old and large enough not to be frozen, so I thought, with a whole day to spend, "Might as well give it a try." I walk around the lake, find a couple of lads at the far end and they say it fishes well, with a lot of average carp to mid doubles and they'd had a run. The lake is pleasant but the banks are very very muddy, saved today only by the mud being solid under my feet. The water's colour is that odd translucent grey-green winter lakes sometimes are.

I spend several hours hooked in behind a tree, cleverly out of the little watery sun-light there is, trying for, well, anything with two rods. The wind is spiky, lancing through my layers and after two or three hours with nothing to show, I move towards the entry-end where the ghosts of old lilies persist and try my curried maggots against the pads. I feel more confident and after an hour, while the line freezes to the rings, I get 'the buzzIt's so cold and still, I can actually feel it' and a slow bite, which I miss. I try again; think my best chance has gone, but ten minutes later, away it goes, one-elephant-strike and no mistake this time. A smallish fish 4-5lbs perhaps but a hard fighter for the cold water.

Horton LakeThat water is blue with coldHorton LakeA frozen stiff Chapman 550Horton Lake...because you really want a fresh breeze when is below freezing...
Horton Lake...still blue with cold Horton Lakethe amazingly still extant lily patch
Horton Lakea January fish - Horton hears a carp

By the time I take a picture the net is solid rime and my feet feel the same way so I hobble off to the car.

20095th January 2009. Word-of-the-Day: 'bamboozle'.

bamboozle v. To cheat or fool.

bamboozle n. A psychosis or fugue in which the recipient believes that the ownership or use of 'traditional' fishing tackle and accoutrements is best and harks back to a mythical golden age of angling.

E.g. “Don’t show him that old cane rod, he’ll fall into a bamboozle.”

bamboozled a. To be under the influence of a bamboozle.

E.g. "One could infer he was bamboozled from the centre-pin, the surfeit of old malodorous tweeds and a desperate need to make tea using an old and potentially toxic storm-kettle, instead of a perfectly serviceable spirit stove."

[cf. JAA, 'bamboo-oozlum'. According to ‘Old BobYou don't want to hear about the Oomigooly bird...’ the Hardly Ever Spotted Oozlum Bird flew around in ever decreasing circles until it vanished up it own rear-end.]

200918th January 2009. Crooked Willows. I last came here in about 1993 or thereaboutsIt was pretty much just a hole in a field at that time and to be honest hadn't realised it was the same place until I got there, I was just looking for a change of venue. I park myself at the far end of the lake (you know, 'furthest from the car park') and set up a small float and Avon-fished maggots for anything that came along.

Crooked Willowsblack and white kind of day Crooked Willowsblack and white but unwavering
Crooked Willowsnot really a January fishCrooked Willows...possibly a bit breamyCrooked Willowstechnically small fryCrooked Willowsoften a January fish

After an hour of motionless float watching I get a simple bite and a reasonable carp which wallows rather than runs. The swim starts to liven a bit after that and while nothing approaches the first fish, a good stream of roach, skimmers, bream and a small carp come to the net, despite the cold weather.

Crooked Willowsslab-letCrooked Willows..too black and white for the cameraCrooked Willowssnotty!

Nothing exceptional, but a good regular day's fishing, which often is what it's all about.

2009January 2009. 'Drop me a Line' by Richard Walker and Maurice Ingham. Five-star rating

This is one of the best fishing books I have ever read. It contains a wealth of good fishing tips and this book, along with the Carp Catchers Club, will show you that there is little in today's angling scene that wasn't considered and thought through in the 1950's. A great profile of the two authors and the social mores of the times. Post war austerity was still a factor in everyone's lives (petrol was scarce) and colours the already fascinating dialogue. Anyone thinking about fly fishing for trout should read this, and there are also the tapers for both the original carp rod made by RW and the "Light Carp", which is not unlike the 'Mk.IV'. The latter was designed for 6-10lb lines and the former, at a rough estimate was around a 2lb t/c for 12lb line and up, and seems altogether a more useful carp rod than the 'Mk.IV'.

This book demonstrates people haven't changed much - as does the 'Sagas of Icelanders' axeAfter reading this through, I found that, whenever a character started a sentence with "It seems to me...", I imagined they were almost certainly casually reaching for an axe, 'just in case'. - the bit about MIMaurice Ingham fishing quietly under cover being accosted by a loud, brightly dressed sky-lining fisherman for information on carp fishing rings as true today, I've had exactly the same happen to me, but with some 50 odd years interval, so we rediscover that some things haven't changed - there are always those who are prepared to experiment, make up their own mind and do the hard work required to affect changes, which is good to know.

I was chuffed to find that MIMaurice Ingham had a copy of "I Walk by NightProper Poaching", which I'd found two years before I read DMAL'Drop me a Line'. 'I Walk by Night' is a little dusty window into a forgotten world and well worth tracking down.

200925th January 2009. Dairy Farm. There's not whole lot to say about this session, the pictures tell you everything. Nothing moved, nothing twitched, not even me. Unblinkingly, I watched the float for three hours, not once feeling there was a fish in the offing. Enjoyed it enormously.

Dairy Farmquiet Dairy Farm...too quiet

200928th January 2009. The Last Straw. These days, I always fish accompanied by my all-purpose radio-controlled fishing correction submersible. This is surprisingly compact at 4' 11", considering that it has several useful operating modes for the traditional angler:

• "Complete Balls Mode". In this mode the submersible seeks out small round objects in the water, collects them and then pounds them flat for safe disposal, although not necessarily in that order. I'd advise against standing waist deep in the water. Of course, for some this is shallower water than for others.

• "Heron Mode". In this mode, any high pitched noises are monitored and then instantly jammed with an phase-inverted copy of the original sound. This means that most 'runs' will start with a strangled "meep" and end with a twang and very possible with a noise just like a rod pod being yanked into the water. Followed by a noise not unlike like an orthodox angler having a laughing fit. A mild side effect of this mode is that all the birds in the area, except bitterns, will find they are strangely silent. Most of them will sidle sheepishly into the undergrowth during this time. The extended use of this feature may make it advisable to avoid any pre-fishing comestible with a high spice content, unless you can emulate a bittern and to be honest, if you can pull that off without 'accidents', then fair play to you.

• "Bait Boat Mode". The submersible has full surface-to-surface miniature explosive harpoon capability. See if you can guess what for. Again, I recommend not standing in or near the water, especially while holding any equipment. Sorry, that should be "electronic equipment".

The on-board state-of-the-art computer uses character recognition to single out the word "Drennan" on any item of tackle and obliterate it with sustained mortar fire. Someone has to. Trials on a similar feature designed to eradicate 'realtree' camouflaged items, have so far been unsuccessful and it's fair to say that the birds that sidled into the undergrowth after the "Heron Mode" trial were fortunate indeed.

The submersible comes with a built-in Kelly Kettle, a reserve porcupine quill PQOne cannot have too many. , 2lbs of Pampered Pig's best Pork & Leek sausages SOSPut simply, sausages are never a bad thing.  and a 12 inch (steady now) cider and whisky fruit cake. An emergency single malt hip-flask is situated in the port nacelle (Mike). The speech recognition circuits will ensure these items are only released to an appropriate adult when it detects the secret password. This is shrouded in mystery and protected by AES-128 encryption with a rotating key. I can tell you in rhymes with "hoppy bat" and it's the name of something can be used to keep things off your head. MUD...because then when it's raining cr*p, the hat will keep it off.

Extensive trials in Loch Ness have resulted in hardly any casualties, statistically speaking, especially if we discount the "Complete Balls Mode" incident, during which the prize ram wading across the shallow bit at the end suffered an involuntary gender-reassignment procedure as did, and no less regrettably, two gentlemen Spey-casting for salmon at the head of the loch. However I am given to understand the ram's best breeding days were behind it, something that can also be said for the unfortunate gentlemen, but spending weeks up to your nicky-nacky-noos in freezing water will bring this condition on. For the ram, an extended convalescence on a bed of finely chopped mint restored its purpose and as neither of the Spey casters was using spliced-joint rods, they may be considered culpable to some extent.

This useful piece of equipment is now available to the general public for the trifling sum of £9,999, cheques (crossed) made payable to "JAA RookU Ltd". In common with other traditional angling accoutrements, delivery will be when I feel like it.

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February 2009

20091st February 2009. Crooked Willows. Cold. It snowed briefly, a flurry of fluff materialising apparently from nothing but flat frosted-glass sky and I winkled out a few roach, sipped tea and flexed my toes to keep them warm. A strangely enjoyable afternoon.

Crooked Willowsthe monotonic palette of winterCrooked Willowsgo on, go on, go on.....don't thenCrooked WillowsOK, just one picture

2009February 2009. 'Walker's Pitch' by Richard Walker. Another good book by the man. Four-star rating

200918th February 2009. Homeclose. This new fishery is a little outside Oakham and I had a pleasant afternoon with the sibling, despite the grey still and chill. The carp were not really playing today, so I scratched out a few rudd on maggots, really just because I could. Not technically a blank. I really want to try the large lake for the tench (no carp in that lake) when it warms up a bit.

Homecloseso alert it's frightening Homeclose...twinkle, twinkle tiny spar...

200921st February 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Classic February blank...

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool' Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool'

2009February 2009. 'The Carp Catcher's Club' by Maurice Ingham et al. Five star rating A classic, which will never be repeated, now we depend on email. So many of today's carp tactics were thought up within these pages, culminating with the record carp capture at Redmire. If you aspire to carp fishing you simply have to read this.

Unlike 'Drop me a Line' though this has a formality and a structure and also gaps in the narrative where things happened in the background, which are fun to speculate about over a beer, but are strictly speculation. We now know the BV thought carp fishing was being led in an over commercial direction for example and disagreed with RW on this. Water under the bridge. It does feel as if the stuffing went out of the group a little when the record carp was captured and also interesting to know that but for a dodgy hook eye, Peter Stone would have beaten that record. Certainly RW dominated the group, but not least because he was unwilling to take anything at face value, until it was proved to his own satisfaction, but that is one of the normal (but all too occasional) dynamics of human nature.

For all that, this is another interesting record of the start of carping (among many other equally interesting things), with all sorts of useful ideas, some of which are now de-facto methods, some of which never got fully explored at the time and still haven't and some which have since been shown as erroneous. Also fun to note that the match angling fraternity of the time derided them as "not serious" and labelled them as pleasure anglers. Plus plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...used to express resigned acknowledgement of the fundamental immutability of human nature and institutions... "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing".

The CCCCarp Catchers Club foundered on the missing letters in its last year and the strait-jacket conventional narrative make it difficult to say what actually happened, at least not without a libel suit.

Always would've liked to have met MIMaurice Ingham though, sounds like a proper gent.

2009February 2009. The 'A Bit Like a Chapman 700' Rod.

I acquired what appeared to be a reconditioned Dennis Pye, 4lb t/c (!) nuts, but I rather liked it. It turned out it had the wrong tapers so not a Dennis Pye. Despite my affection for it, it never got used and wasSold to the bloke at the back to the same good home as the Chapman 500, which is good to know.

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March 2009

2009March 2009. "The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes Saaverdra (translated by John Rutherford). star ratingAt some point on the turnpike engineering carousel, I determined that if I was to have spare time on return flights I would read improving books. So it was I purchased and read this classic tale, which I can report is nicely written, wryly observed, shot through with sly wit and insight and has almost nothing to do with windmills. This is though, an account of a man who didn't get out enough, slept too little, read far too many books about a long past chivalrous world that never existed and became obsessed with it to the point of psychosis. See what I did there? Don't be Quixote.

200915th March 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. One of those grey still days matching the water here, often a blue-grey. Despite the lack of colour in the water I scratch out two tench on paste-cane-and-centrepin then miss a third. A small roach makes a last minute appearance at dusk, so pretty quiet, but there are no bad tench.

Milton Abbey Lake'What a grey day' as Larry Grayson might have said.Milton Abbey LakeOne of those grey still days...Milton Abbey LakeOho, a proper quill!
Milton Abbey Laketench the first Milton Abbey Laketench the second

200921st March 2009. Crooked Willows. Went down for the afternoon with Nempster and despite an early flurry of a dozen rudd and this nice bream and carp on the move, it went quiet after a couple of hours and to make it harder a wind sprung up. Nemp had a good afternoon, pulling out smallish rudd and stripeys from under the trees on the island, but it got slower and slower as the day went on. Funny little lake, nice afternoon though.

Crooked Willows...and this nice bream...'nice', sure.

200928th March 2009. Silent Woman. Another afternoon with the Nempster. The weather was pleasant for March and it was good to be out. The downside was that the lake, again, was completely dead.

Silent WomanAlert to the point of tautness Silent WomanDoldrums

While there was some limited movement, contrasting with 12 months ago when any bait was plagued with rudd and roach and small carp popped up often. The thick green weed beds are gone as well. It might be that we are failing to change our ways, but we moved three times today, and although a solitary carp showed later in the day and Nemp managed two tiny rudd, it's hard to avoid the thought the lake's best days are behind it and some sea-change has occurred, perhaps run-off, eutrophication or rising acidity. Ah well.

2009March 2009. KingPin Series 2 Review. (Originally written for 'Pure Piscator', edited for style & grammar.)

Deciding that I wanted to try fishing with a centre-pin, in part due to Waterlog et al, I dug out my old K. Dowling 'pin, given to me as a callow 18-year old. I quickly got used to its unfree-running nature, banking several carp to 11lb next to lily beds, which as 'BB' reminds us, spells doom if carp can get amongst them. I rather enjoyed being able to retrieve line when exerting pressure. So that is OK then. I then practised 'Wallis' casts in the back garden for a bit. Seemed straightforward enough in theory.

I researched, in-depth, the contemporary centre-pin market. Well OK, for a couple of hours, but this is 'Google' for you. I wanted a quality item but was not prepared to part with the inflated price of some newer 'pins, due in part to the name of the endorsee, especially in this age of CNC tools. It did not matter whether it was an older or contemporary model. Function was the thing, as I was still a neophyte 'pin angler. By chance, I found a reference to 'Arnold KingPins' being manufactured in Poole. As it happens this is local and I would prefer to buy British. With a call and a visit I discovered Series 2 Kingpins were available in a variety of colours, except green which is apparently a bu88er to get right and easily spoiled. Pity. Once I had one in my hand, I was lost.

I was invited to pay on collection when the reel was ready, which I did. The first time out I got memorably stuffed by a big carp ("Good OmensOne word; 'ping'"), but for the next 12 months used it almost exclusively for everything from margin carping, tench fishing, trotting the Frome for grayling and the Stour for chub, with lines from 3lb-10lb b/s. A decent 'trot', as it were. Arf, arf.

So, first things first. What does it look like? It looks like quality. The anodising is top rate and overall appearance is pleasing. The two colours shown here are black and platinum (mea culpa, I bought another; I tend to fish when I can and wanted to have two line strengths to hand). It is possible the reels were not cleaned before the photos.

Series One - Regal 450Series One - Regal 450 Platinum Series One - Regal 450Series One - Regal 450 Black

Do they spin? By golly, yes. When new, the first reel would spin freely for over a minute but now it has 'bedded in', it actually spins for over two minutes. Which is nuts. Even limited experience leads one to the benchmark of "any 'pin that spins freely for a minute is fine for fishing". The reel itself is made in two main parts. The spool and the back-plate. The spool bolts to the back-plate with a nice brass nut, which is just knurled enough to hurt when really cold fingers slip on it.

The spool contains the sealed bearing unit, so it is not a 'traditional centre-pin', so some purists are no doubt offended, but if using nylon line, it is hard to reject ball bearings as a modern solution. I understand metal has been in use for several thousand years though, so we should be OK there. The drum of the spool is continuous, so no fold marks however long or tightly the line has been on the reel.

The back of the spool is closed so no detritus can get into the sealed works, but the gap between spool and back-plate is so small that any bit of grit will cause nasty noises. Always dismantle the reel on a clean surface is my advice, and unhooking mats are not in this category.

The drum is wide, 7/8", with a depth that accommodates 200 yards of 12lb line on it, and a bit more besides if you feel the need. Hook a margin carp and need 200 yards of line? You wish! The ratchet lever is in a handy place, it can be reached with a fore-finger (and I have small hands), the ratchet is positive and not too loud. I quietened mine with a mixture of molybdenum and silicon grease, but I am a slave to silence. Since I wrote this in 2009, the flimsy back-plates have been removed from the spools and this quietened the reels considerably, as they were acting as a kind of sound-board.

Series One - Regal 450Series One - Regal 450 Black - disassembled

Both parts of the reel are very solidly made (useful for the aforementioned margin carp) and it is heavier than some reels. Despite the resulting inertia, the extremely free running nature compensates to the point where even a 2BB float in a light Stour flow pulls line off at a steady rate. Casting 'off the reel' needs some care at first, as you need to brake the drum almost from the off to avoid overruns. Otherwise, it is good for 'giving it some Wallis'.

The knurled finish on the drum edge provides very satisfying feedback from one's thumb when trotting, as well as a sight 'zizzing' noise, the note of which varies with the speed of the drum. I have got very used to that, even if one's thumb warms rapidly when a 'screamer' is hooked, although funnily enough this quite tolerable. The milled edge also aids 'batting the rim' if you like to retrieve in this way. The handles are nicely made, easy to remove if required and the big round holes in the spool are very handy for the 'one finger retrieve' (I sense a 'Samantha the Scorer' anecdote coming on, what with 'batting the rim' and the 'one finger retrieve').

Series One - Regal 450Series One - Regal 450 Black Series One - Regal 450Series One - Regal 450 Platinum

I find the reel body a little close to the rod when mounted, which can make it awkward to hold, as I like to get my index finger ahead of the reel mount for a secure grip. For most fishing this is not a problem, but I find a three fingered grip aching at the end of a days' trotting and also if into a large carp (steady Samantha). I would personally like a larger diameter drum, for a faster retrieve and a lighter reel would be nicer for the river but I see that the range has recently expanded to cover these things plus user serviceable bearings.

In summary, I find it a joy to use in almost any situation. Try one, you might be amazed. They perform perfectly for me and it is good to buy British. I was edging towards my third Kingpin when I wrote this and have since indulged in a Royalty 478 which I thought to be even better...but it never felt right in the hand and in the end I sold it on for what I paid for it. I did the same with a 378 (although I made a profit on that one). Nice, but I had little use for it.

I have since come to see them as rather over-priced. They are beautifully made of course, but they are CNC machined, high tolerances excepting and as of 2014, the market is showing more and more very nicely made reels that are a quarter of the price but are simply nowhere near a quarter of the quality, many with user changeable bearings and little significant difference in quality or performance.

For some there is a cachet that sits alongside 'reassuringly expensive' but for my money, there are several equally good and usable reels for £100 or so, and to pay £400 or even £700 for what is after all, a piece of CNC machining, is rather more 'Emperor's New Clothes' than 'value for money'. I was lucky to get mine for £120.

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April 2009

20091st April 2009. The B. James Mk.IV

I acquired a B. James Mk.IV, late 1950's vintage, which was, frankly, a dog. The original reel-bands were missing, replaced with two brass ones I had to snip off, to avoid damaging the cork. The butt thimble was "uhu'd" on, and it came away without damage when I put in a very long 3/8" bsf thread. The butt-button was badly perished. The second ring on the bottom section was not original and corroded, whipped on with D grade cotton, and the varnish over the top made the colour run from three intermediate whippings either side. The top section had a set against the rings and a bit of a dog-leg near the tip.

A closer look showed the rings on the top section had been removed, the rod turned around and re-whipped by a blind spider. So I removed all of them, cleaned back the varnish to the cane and re-whipped temporarily in bottle-green. This included gluing on the tip-ring, which hadn't been. Slightest of knocks on the ferrule nothing candle-wax won't make fishable. A charitable view would be 'it's a 'project'.

I cleaned the butt thimble, got hold of some reel bands and a rubber button for the end. I let in the cane at the butt very slightly (I can hear the sharp intakes of breath around the world) to prevent the thread on the button or a spear (I have a few, I use them) pushing off the thimble at a later date. The cork was restored with five minutes of a plastic pan scourer and washing up liquid, more or less pristine, then lightly steam to remove any compressed areas. No cork removed. It's managed a couple of double figure carp, although the 16lb'er made it bend alarmingly.Sold to the bloke at the back it on rr...to a 'rod-restorer', who insulted me by doing some fast adding up and taking away to try and confuse me, in respect of a rod-ring I'd had poorly repaired by the same.
(1) I can add up and take away really fast and
(2) even if they'd made an extra fiver ('no'), I never used said restorer again for anything. Ever. Never will either. Plus I've put the word about. Well you would wouldn't you?

I found it to be a horrible rod, too soft, no spine, not at all the feted legendary rod . I'm told by one who knows better than me that the cane quality is everything, but for me, this rod was not worth what I spent on it. Plus, the 'mate' who cheekily sold me a complete dog, is not my definition of a 'mate', but it's just as well to find that out sooner rather than later.

20093rd April 2009. Once More unto the Breach. Monday, Santiago de Compostela, A Tafona do Peregrino as usual; Tuesday, Oporto, long hot day, finally through the gate, airside and there is the piano and player leaking classical music into the open plan whiteness, a starving bird cry in an arctic waste. So far so good. Then the call from The French Customer, my bane, my karma for a past life transgression, must be. I wish for curved yew, slender white ash with blue-grey bodkin heads. arrErroneously. The role of the longbow at Agincourt is much exaggerated, as is its ability to pierce plate armour. I walk up to the far end of the soulless space and sip cool water, worn down suddenly and then joy, I have a new Waterlog in the bag. Peace and 90 minutes glide past, with a float tip in the passing current.

I board, JAFAJust Another Fcukin' Aeroplane, stick 'Queen Rocks' on when the seatbelt sign allows and burrow further into Cervantes and the psychotic Don Quixote, the original box of frogs. 'Garage Inc.' then, 'Astronomy', what is that song about? Seatbelts on, Cervantes only.

Gatwick South Terminal, 'Appetite for Destruction' on the headphones, "Welcome to the Jungle" strangely appropriate and a good beat to walk from plane to passport control. Then "It's so Easy"..."I see you standing there, you think you're soo-oo cool, why don't you just F-' "Good evening how are you?" and with my 'I'm as interested in your life story as you are in mine' straight face with a hint of very tired but polite anyway, hardly faked, I hand over my passport. I'm still me. Good.

I get coffee and a toastie snatched en passant like the Night Train's mail bag. 'Evanescence' for the car in the dark, skipping the songs that require a special knowledge of bipolar disorders and at a flat legal speed reach Stockbridge, pull in, past closing time and lean on white railing where a thread of the Test jinks between the road and the path, in daylight haunted by bread bloated rainbow trout. I sip coffee, still warm, watch the streetlamp reflection shimmer in the curving water and its echo in the coffee held in front of me. I breathe in, out, shut my eyes and listen to the water, picking out two beats, the side to side waves of the water caught between two near right angles and then a longer one, maybe a standing wave, the reflection under the road from the first bend and it's return. Then I realise this sound is the stream chuckling at the absurdity of it all and I feel myself smile back in the dark. See, water is good for you.

Wednesday, back in the car, Abacabok, thudding Tuareg music, with the flat sound impedance matched to the still cooling sand around the tented players, an optimum power transfer. Zurich on Friday. Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:"

Henry V. Act 3, Scene 1

Porto, ticket fromThe long white tea-time of the soul

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

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

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

Arfleet Millsalways good, tench

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

200913th April 2009. Highbench. Nice day. The sun shone and Nemp poled out about 60 fish (I grudgingly concede, 'quite expertly') with a good lot of crucians and next swim up I scratched out about 20 on my 'light gear' the '500Chapman 500 and 4lb line, with a couple of crucians, six decent bream of a pound or more and one big rudd, perhaps 1½lb. Worse days have been had.

Highbenchgetting there before the leavesHighbenchyeah, well, not the best swim, knowwhatImean?Highbenchwell, lightish...Highbencha nice surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top-notch day.

A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

May 2009

20092nd May 2009. Horton Lake...is a good size, a good age, a good 20 miles from my place and very muddy around the edge. There was clay pigeon shooting and quad biking for townies in progress, so I trudge right around to the far end, and settle about as far away as I could, although there were a good half-a-dozen anglers spaced around. At my chosen end there was floater fishing heaven (assuming fish were under that fluff). I float-fished cockles in the sunshine, missing two good bites and fed a stream of naan bread and crusts to the corner with my spoonThe only way to bait up..

Horton Lakeright around to the far endHorton Lake...floater fishing heavenHorton LakeI float fished cockles in the sunshine

Eventually, I connected with a 4oz roach on a tough size 10 hook, then put aside the float rod and at 6pm or so sneaked up towards the corner and the sluice. I stuck out naan which got inspected and rejected and I reverted to crust. After a few lost crusts, ignored until they sank, I got one almost alongside the sluice and it got the 'sink-plunger' and I dragged the fish out and played it out by my landing net. If worked hard and on netting looked 9lb or so, perhaps shade heavier. I waited. Another try got nowhere, so I went back on the float, lost a good fish when the hook pulled out, on bread, and then flicked a biggish bit of crust over to the sluice from where I sat. It sat, eventually a fish tried it, missed, tried again, and I struck but despite 30 yards, hit the fish, and it didn't work too hard, and looked to be around 6 or 7lb.

The light closed in, so I ambled off, plugged through the mud, and tried a last gasp by the car park in the gloom. I put three bits over the far side, four by the lilies and two under my feet. One lunge across the pool had me casting over and then something cleaned up the bits by the lilies one-two-three-four and then ignored my re-sited crust. One of the bits under my feet slurped down, so I tried there. Two minutes, two goes at the bread, short squabble and around this 4-5lb fish.

Horton Lakelooked 9lb or soHorton Lakelooked to be around 6 or 7lbHorton Lakethis 4-5lb fish

Good day. Prefer it without all the bite alarms though.

20093rd May 2009. At a car boot I picked up a JS Sharpe's Scotty spinning rod for £5. Wow. Four original rings and 12 inches missing off the top section. The cane itself looks perfect otherwise. But for £5.

200910th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Trudged around to the pump pool, peg 13, thinking I might break the new old Mk.IV in with a few tench. I spent about three hours battling with drifting weed and willow-fluff, managing a tench, but it was a day when tench kept passing through but I couldn't seem to get them to take a bait. If felt wrong, so 7pm, I mentally shrug, throw the tackle into the bag and go and sit on Peg 2 by the car park to finish the flask and take a metaphorical early bath...

Milton Abbey LakeTrudged around to the pump poolMilton Abbey LakeI spent about three hours battling with drifting weed...Milton Abbey Lakemanaging a tench

The water is covered with debris here, although there is more colour, more than when I walked around at 2:30pm. I bait to my left with hemp and after 45 minutes this feels wrong and while sipping tea, I spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me and to my right and eventually follow with my fourth float of the day, which I hadn't taken off since the walkabout. Fishing here requires constant line-mending as the scum oscillates to and fro, due to wind dying away in fits and starts. Then a few bubbles, a 'buzz' and the float pops out of existence in a matter of fact way an autopilot strike and a good fish bores under the trees and I don't let it, which goes on for a minute or two. This develops into a battle of attrition with the old Mk.IV showing why it can be a good rod for playing fish, even on 6lb line, as I couldn't give an inch under the trees. Eventually the fish turns sideways and I net a shade over 10lb of leather(?) and about 3lb of weed.

Forty-five minutes later, I have a smaller one of 5lb, that took off with the bait and the line was already tightening when I struck. This fight was shorter, as the fish was half the weight and not as well streamlined. But two carp are two carp.

Milton Abbey LakeI bait to my left...Milton Abbey LakeI spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me...Milton Abbey Lakea shade over 10lb of leatherMilton Abbey Lakea smaller one of 5lb

For a time, while draining the flask and dodging the bats, I listen to the birds going off to bed, then pack and leave.

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

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

Arfleet MillsA 15½lb mirror carp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

200925th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. As it's a Bank Holiday, a warm stuffy day, Nemp and myself tried for a tench. I'd write a long account of a long day trying to find feeding fish, but that would be to perpetuate the day itself. The lake wore a poker face, we scratched and moved looking for a 'tell' and I, in the end realising the game was up, took down my rods. Some days I'll relish the hunt for the fish, but today, mentally set for tench and finding clear water, just watched whileNemp managed to catch a dozen fish by fishing a single maggot 2' under a pole float in 4' of water, including two chub which we didn't even know were in there. One tench fell to his 'sleeper rod' and a cockle.

Milton Abbey LakeThe lake wore a poker face...Milton Abbey Lakelooking for a 'tell'Milton Abbey Lakethe flat feeling from the water

I admit the flat feeling from the water might as been as much inside my head as outside, but the water's form has faltered of late. I wonder, whether some change in the inflow has altered the insect life balance, as even now when the water is warm, it's clear and in a water where three feet is about average, this suggests little bottom feeding is taking place. Still, that's angling.

2009May 2009. The Fishing Box by Maurice Genevoix. Translated by Dexter Petley and Laure Claesen. Five star rating Even as I write this, I can smell the bleak and in the still watches I fear the frog-catcher and his knife.

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

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

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

Arfleet MillsPossibly the best looking common I've caught all year, about 10lb.
A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

June 2009

200911th June 2009. Gold Oak. This was supposed to be the first of two days put aside for relaxing fishing - but it started badly with a cane top section snapping getting out of the car, it caught briefly on the ceiling as I took out the rod bag - I felt really it was over fragile even for cane - I'd paid out some cash to have a second top section made for my Chapman 550, making a 10'6" rod with a t/c midway between the '550' and the '500'. It was nice as well, a lovely Avon like rod. And things were 'odd' (which I've since discovered was a side effect of the hay-fever meds, tucked down at the bottom of the list of possible side effects is 'agitation'. Bloody right). Still between getting wound up by nothing at all, I managed to bluff a carp off the far bank with a piece of crumpet, then one out of the lilies by my feet.

Gold OakSatisfying, lobbing a bait right under the far bank...Gold OakAlways good fun...Gold OakAlways good for a fish

Then, I got a nice common at 30 yards, under the willow branches, which I was especially pleased with as I waited 30 minutes for it, then something of a scamperer on bread bottom-fished. Lost another common when the hook pulled in the lilies and bagged half a dozen roach as well. So pretty good and Nemp had a carp, a tench and hat-full of other stuff.

Gold OakI say 'under', think 'dangled'...Gold OakSuch a good place for a carpGold OakFunny little thing really

Threw the hay-fever-meds in the bin. 'Agitation'.

200912th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. The following day, I trip off to a club water for the first time. After an hour finding out the carp cruising in the green scum at the south end of the lake either don't like bread or can't see it, edge around to a lily encircled swim with plenty of life.

Luckfield Lake...carp cruising in the green scum... Luckfield Lake...to a lily encircled swim

This after a recce and I swap my bamboo Mk.IV for the 4-piece Avon, not risking the old rod in these snags. I put 8lb line on the 'pin and float-fish cockles two feet from the lilies for a tench. 10 minutes in I get a dithery sliding bite and hit it. Something fires through the near patch of lilies in two surges, the line breaking on the second. It might as well have been a sandbag fired from a cannon. Over in less than half a second.

I also loose my float, a gold-whipped porcy with an insert antennae. Clucking bell. I re-tackle with 10lb and ten minutes later lose a tench that pops the hook onto a lily stem. Twenty minutes later I try for a carp under the tree with crust and even knowing I have to hit it hard and hold it up, loose this heavy fish as it crash dives on the flex of the rod. I go back to the scummy end, put on a float, have three cups of tea and go home, 0/3...

Luckfield Laketen minutes later lose a tench Luckfield LakeI go back to the scummy end, put on a float...

Got schooled.

200913th June 2009. Silent Woman. On Saturday I take the HatanglerThe No. 1 son to a local lake, infested as it is with hordes of small carp. With a tin of corn and left over bread we plan to spoil the afternoon for plenty of them. In the event, the first swim yields a half dozen fish each with the son getting perhaps the largest of the carplets, and we opt to move up the lake a bit. After a few minutes I notice the swirls at the end and start firing bread up-wind which it encircled, serpent like and sucked under.

I swap the Cardinal 44 spool with 4lb for one with 6lb and put on a fine wire size 6 and hoping that my Chapman 500 is up to the task. There are no snags, and the biggest fished spotted in here is about 3lbs... the bread drifts and the circling movements converge after an anxious ten minutes and the bait is bobbled under. I strike, feel the fish, then nothing and wind furiously, then a silver torpedo appears level with me. Grass carp. The usual odd fight, with rushes, leaps inter-spaced with torpor. About 9lb, but before the scales could be used, it looked more distressed than I'd like, so I put it back. Odd fish, don't do much for me.

Silent Womanperhaps the largest of the carpletsSilent Womanwe opt to move up the lake a bitSilent WomanAbout 9lb

Then the snacks ran out and it was time to go...

200919th June 2009. Deciding to walk across the fields to the school 'fun night' (take my advice, avoid any event with the word 'fun' fun You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means... in the title and especially if multiple exclamation marks are involved), I find this treasure, which represents to me, four crow quill floats, a buzzard quill float and a bit over half a flint axe-head, a jewel to me.

Four crow quills, a buzzard quill and half a flint axe-headFour crow quills, a buzzard quill and half a flint axe-head

200920th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. Reeling a bit from losing three first time, but like a challenge, so came back with stronger tackle and a grimmer countenance. Spent about 45 minutes trying to get a crust in the right place on the third swim round but the wind, current and distance defeat me, so I return to last week's swim. I managed to miss a few takes (as I go on I realise that there are a lot of carp that can't manage the bread first go) and then also hook one on-and-off at the far end of the big lily patch. I then watch a three foot long fish amble about my next perfectly placed crust before a moorhen tries to nab it.

So, after a few happy minutes extracting size 4's from the vegetation behind me I wonder right around the far side, and after a few abortive and unique casts to get under one branch and over another, place a crust just the other side of a single pad on the edge of the jungle and when I get a slurp, power the fish out of the lilies and then batter it (metaphorically) into the net leaving bits of shredded vegetation and swirls of mud under my feet. Yay. A bit more than 10lb of dark common. I wander back one swim to the scene of last week's carnage and sticking on a lump of pasted-bread, take tea and then as the slack line twitches, a dark brick-pit tench. I knock off another tench, move to home base swim for the last floater and get manked by a big fish as darkness falls, failed hook knot. No change there then.

Luckfield LakeA bit more than 10lb of dark commonLuckfield Lakea dark brick-pit tenchLuckfield Lake...move to home base swim for the last floater

200927th June 2009. Luckfield Lake. After a gander ga As in 'a look around'. Not an actual gander obviously, I like goose, but a whole one as a snack? Tch.  I head for a favourite spot enclosed by lilies for a floater-fish. The net breaks so tread back to the car for the spare and spend ten minutes threading the larger net onto medium poles. These old landing net arms are solid glass, the newer broken ones are hollow carbon. YeahGood business, selling cr*p landing nets. After today, I never bought another landing net arm. I make all mine from solid glass or carbon tent-poles. It's very hard to break those.... I tackle up with 12lb through and tip a crust on the nearest pad then edge it off. Ten minutes later I get a confident slurp and a very short scuffle nets an 11lb common, with plenty of fight left in the net. Twenty minutes later I then hook a fish about 14lb (ish) but the hook comes away after I see the leathery side. Drat.

I get my first sneezing fit of the day. I wait; try another half hour and move back one swim to tackle with a long cast the other end of the lilies. I get three casts wrong and the last one right. A tunnelling fish slurped the bread and I zing the hook into the tree on my right...I get a cup of tea and wonder back round to see who else is fishing...I try back in my base swim for an hour or so, missing two takes and then slip back, and get my first cast on the money, and after fifteen minutes get a take and keel-haul a fish away from the pads and into open water where, apart from one long run, it capitulates, 7lb of leather. OK, two-three.

Luckfield Laketip a crust on the nearest pad and edge it offLuckfield Lakea very short scuffle nets an 11lb commonLuckfield Lakeit capitulates, 7lb of leather

I wander back to the original swim, get three bits in the water, watch as one bobs and disappears without a sound and the nearest to me then goes in two attempts with much slurping. Odd. My bait remains. Half an hour later I miss two takes in a row from fish that couldn't absorb the whole bait and I try once around the far bank (last week's carp) and my second sneezing fit puts down the fish. Then my best and last cast is attacked by a coot. Bu88er.

I return to home-base and freeline cockles for half an hour, drink several teas, then a stealthy approach along the lilies mops up some small crusts, so I switch over and get a take right off. I hit the fish, hold it, get a huge pull and the line goes slack. Without looking I know the hook knot has gone and then a big fish clears the water a few feet away, hangs in the air, a brass tear drop and crashes into the lilies. Certainly 18lb, maybe more. Ouch. So, it's war then. I watch the moon for a bit and finish my tea.

Luckfield Lake...get three bits in the water...Luckfield Lakeso I switch over and get a take right offLuckfield LakeI watch the moon for a bit and finish my tea.
How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers? ?(and back to the top of the page) How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...?

July 2009

20092nd July 2009. Homeclose Fishery. Three goldfish (viz. 'carp') on cockles and floating bread. Possibly I do Homeclose an injustice - it's a nice fishery, really properly run and there is one serious lake with no carp at all. I tried a piece of bread by the island on Sallow Lake, with no result, so deciding on coffee, drop free-lined cockles into the water in front of me; while sipping the brew with one eye on a 'later to become annoying' swan, the line cuts off and I get the first fish.

One to me. The swan gets more pestilent as time passes and in the end we give in and drop to the middle lake 'Buckthorn' (I think) where I tried fishing on the bottom, while the sibling lobbed meat into the middle. After a bit of being fishless the bother takes off and I then try bread flicked over a patch of lilies to my right, attracting some nosey and silly carp. I was using the Ugly Stik Avon for the first time (Unbreakable? Sure. Lifeless? Certainly.) and whipped out these two fellows, both of which give the impression they’ve never eaten bread off-the-top ever before. Odd. This kerfuffle stilled any further activity.

Homeclose FisheryHomeclose carplet #1Homeclose FisheryHomeclose carplet #2Homeclose FisheryHomeclose carplet #3Homeclose FisheryLanding lights on...(OK, that's 'Saxon' not 'Kingdom Come'. It's a long drive.

I sat there past the bother's leaving, really just watching day-light fade and the lights turn on ahead, it's a three hour drive and I'm not anxious to get in the car. Even so, nothing else came to my rod. Dark tunnel-drive home, brief stop for toasties and 'Italian for Coffee'. Really, quite a nice trip back accompanied by 'Kingdom Come', who's producer certainly knew where the console knob marked 'echoey' was and had turned it all the way up to '11'.

The fishery will be closed permanently as of the 31st December 2020, a great pity.

20094th July 2009. Luckfield Lake. Back to the same lily-spot with some 14lb Stren and some 14lb flouro on the pin. I try the 2½lb t/c rod with the pin and put the 12lb and '66That's 'Cardinal 66' to you on the Ugly. I missed several takes in the first hour, annoying but I console myself it's not always a large fish, and that big bits of bread are hard to take.

When the lady in the previous swim moves on, after some background on the lake ("They like a bit of bread you know..."), I try the end of the pads from that swim, get a take right away and hook a big fish, which pulls the hook. 0/2. I take the stiffer rod and the pin onto the next swim and pulling a crust of the pads into the path of a tunnelling enter, I get a 9lb or so fish, which danced across the pads as I gave it nothing in a short and vicious battle. The swim, littered with lily pad bits and still circling mud, was 'pronounced dead'. I went back to my bag, put another bit out on the 'Ugly' and after 30 minutes thumped into a big fish, which I held and then the hook hold went.

Luckfield Lake...I get a 9lb or so fish...

One from three. I drink tea as the light fades and wait with a size 2 crusted in advance and with half an hour of light a stealthy fish mops along the edge, and I tweak an overcast bait into the path and it plughole slurps it down. I hold the resulting thunderbolt for a second and the line parts by the hook. One from four. OK then...up to 15lb Flouro and the 2½lb t/c rod...

2013: P.S. with that great thing, 20/20 hindsight, the problem was one of shock absorption; a softer rod would have served me better than a stronger 'tip action' like the five-piece travelling carp-rod I then went on to try.

20098th July 2009. Luckfield Lake. A bonus Wednesday evening but the nature of the lilies has changed. The moorhens and dabchicks now expect to be fed (someone feeding them?) and they hassle me and anything I might cast. I try dangling a bait behind a lily leaf, an ersatz green waggler. I get one huge swirling take which I miss, then nothing for two hours. I try the next swim up and then pestered to death by the birds and despite several tenting missiles being offered hastily dropped baits, I get not a take. I retreat to the pad-less end to float bread while my tea cools and, fish or no fish, to enjoy the dusk and its almost suicidally curious bats.

200912th July 2009. Heath Lake. I get a morning off for a change and after some missing of turnings and a LONG '400 yard' walk to the lake, circle around to the far side (furthest from the car park) and with only myself for company, get as near to the overhanging tree patch and reeds as I can. This is the leeward end, but still.

I see plenty of movement and a bottom bait gets two bites which I connect with briefly, arcing the rod, and then I succumb to the fish on the top and put 14lb 'Stren' stren'Stren Original'. This has to be the finest un-stretched nylon mono available. It has the same diameter as the much lauded Maxima with four times the scuff and abrasion resistance.   on the 'Fox Trek'. I miss more than a few takes, baits being pulled under but not taken and there are plenty of fish about, sucking hopefully at leaves and other debris. After some mucking about, then taking a carp of 4-5lb on bottom-fished bread, I switch to the Four-Piece Avon, tie a size 6 onto 10lb line and cast small crusts at the gullible ones.

Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1 (Yes, I know, it's upside-down.) Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1

I get two more of the same really, then opting for practise, change the rig and thread two bits of cork, .22" bullet-sized, one 6" from the hook the other three feet back. The plan is to wait until the first cork sliver dips, indicating a real take. I get another carp, then decide to add strawberry to the bread. I get two more and several immediate takes after casting. They seem to like that. I get a bream of 1lb, fishing on the bottom while drinking coffee (the corks doubling as a float).

I move off, stopping at a swim recently vacated (boilies and floaters scattered everywhere) and nick another fish. I get another at the corner under a tree, by someone else's rod-rest. I then try against the wind driven reeds, car park end and get one under the tree, and then the biggest, number nine against the reeds, about 7lb maybe. I miss another and get a single scale back, enough for today. Well, it is the 'match' lake.

Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1Heath LakeHeath Lake carp frenzy no.1

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

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills carps Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills carps

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

200919th July 2009. Managed to update a few entries William, now stop nagging!

2009July 2009. The Waterlog Years by Chris Yates. Four-star rating This neat little collection of articles penned for Waterlog, is a nice addition to anyone's fishing-book-shelf.

200923rd July 2009. Albert's Time

"There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time.
This in itself is not measurable."~~ Albert Einstein ~~

If you're an angler, you already know that.

2009July 2009. "Powerlines" edited by Dexter Petleystar ratingAn extraordinary collection of fishing stories. "Fish Running" is in my mind still, possibly because I have also fished and run, "The Wilderness Cure" water-horse clatters my own internal scallop-shell pile, "The Last Trout" is masterly and the visceral imagery of "Still Waters" and "Pond Life" suggests that for many, the 'Mr. Crabtree' days might just be figments. Every story in this book is a cracker. You'll read them more than once. You may well recall them for many years thereafter.

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

August 2009

20091st August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Nice day. It's raining, fine, dreich. I wander around to the swim of the lilies, spend two hours or so trying to retrain the moorhens (someone's been feeding them, they are begging for food) give up, move down the lake to the swim nearest the car-park. Yeah I know, but the bottom is fizzing with bubbles and the place is to myself.

I put up the four-piece Avon, but with 10lb braid hook-length to 10lb mono, a self cocking paste float and bung in some hemp and put on a size 6 with cockles on it. The water is best part of 6' here. The sun comes out. Good show. Despite a good lot of movement 40 minutes later I have nothing to show, so switch to bread on the hook and ten minutes after that miss a slow edgy bite the culmination of the dibs and twitches that signal carp. A bow wave ambles toward the middle, no great pace to it.

Luckfield lakeLuckfield lake Tinca'sLuckfield lakeLuckfield lake Tinca'sLuckfield lakeLuckfield lake Tinca'sLuckfield lakeLuckfield lake Tinca's

I stick with the bread. Fifteen minutes after this (during which time the moorhens arrive and the ducks and retraining continues) the float slips off and I hit a solid resistance which tries for the trees on my left and then waking up tries really hard and I'm forced to back up with the rod at 45° to get the required pressure and as a result it steams off into the middle, a good 30 yards, but after that it's downhill and I pump the fish into the net. 8lb or so of common carp. Bread gets nothing and I switch back to cockles. I get a 3lb tench a bit after and then another about 4lb. Good oh. I then bump off a 2lb fish, a shame as the look I had showed it was almost completely black, a curiosity I wanted to see from closer.

Luckfield LakeLuckfield lake Tinca'sLuckfield LakeLuckfield lake Tinca'sLuckfield LakeLuckfield lake Tinca's
Luckfield LakeLuckfield lake Tinca's Luckfield LakeLuckfield lake Tinca's

Things settle down then, and the fizzing eases off but a larger tench shows itself at the surface a few times, and a couple of carp are wondering about, but although I've a floater rod set up, the not-yet-retrained moorhens make a cast an impossibility. Without any preamble the float vanishes and I get my last tench. With the light going I slip back to the lily patch with net and loaf, but nothing shows and I finish my tea in the company of the bats then head off.

20094th August 2009. I was slack-jaw stunned to see the ridiculous outpouring of crocodile tears and mock-grief after the death of 'Benson the carp'. It would have passed me by but for more connected folk and it's a sad business. By which I mean all the faux sentimental clap-trap, "We're all rocked by the death".

No, we're not.

Puts me in mind of nothing more or less than the grins tinged with shame when the lads find out the village tart is pregnant. The terribly misplaced pride, the dawning realisation with sidelong exchanged looks, that what you had congratulated yourself for winning, was freely given to everyone. The time to realise there are consequences to even a brief moment of pleasure, (of course probably not for you, it was different for you). It's the other guys. Surely it's not that there's little or no merit in winning something so easily obtained and even less value. "All fisherman wanted to catch her." Bo££ocks they did. I know at least 12 who don't give a stuff. And I've not asked the others. 'RIP Benson'; RIP Angling more like.

20099th August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Technically great. Toiling up to find a pair of anglers on the West bank and while I exchange the ritual greetings, I spot a lot of fish on the top, so decide to head Eastward and fish over one of the small lily patches for tench. I return to the car, trade the bamboo for the old carp rod (2lb t/c) and slip a spool of 10lb into my pocket. I set up a pole float on 10lb line on the 'pin and knot on 2 feet of 10lb braid. Size 8 thick-wire and three fat cockles. All set and I put up a floater rod for speculative bread-in-the-lilies. After a while there are lumps in the lilies so I ship in the float and try a bit of crust in one of the gaps. I watch bumps, waves and swirls edge ever closer and of course after an eternity of hammering pulse and rapt attention, I look up for a moment and with a gentle squelch the bread goes. They must know. I watch the circling carp for a bit, toy with a cast crust but the birds render this unfeasible.

Luckfield Lakewaiting...Luckfield Lakeorange-tipped hypnotismLuckfield Lake''Hello mate, got any bread?''Luckfield Lake''Floater biccy? Anything?''

I go back to float watching my cockles-over-hemp and miss one bite, hit the next and get a lively tench, a bit overwhelmed, but letting fish escape is not the point. I re-bait, wait, then when the float slips under again, I strike and everything goes solid for a moment.

Luckfield Lakeyay, tench! Luckfield Lakeready, steady....and wait.

Then a ponderous weight moves off into the middle and I tighten down the reel with my thumb, warming it until the rod is well over a quarter circle. This doesn't make any difference, not really sure how much trouble I'm in, but know at that moment I'm in trouble. Thirty yards out the fish dithers, swings left and lumbers onwards. I go with side-strain and realise that the inevitable result is the branches on my left so I stick the rod into the bush on the right, pull hard and the fish heads back the other way, circles a couple of times and heads right. This time it makes no difference where I put pressure; it crashes into the branches. I lean on the rod until I feel it will crack and gain about 4" at a time, then I wind in a little and pull again. After an eternity of expecting my rod to smash against the tree behind me, a big head shakes and ploughs back into the lake proper, pulling the rod tip hard down towards the sunken brushwood. After a heart wrenching moment the line thunks free of the branches. Back into the middle then, still the same bullish power over which I have little control, my thumb's burned. The fish dives for the mud and I try to bring it toward me, more a test of strength than intent and the reply is a hard run to the left which swiftly passes the point where I can influence it.

The fish kites into the tree branches on my left and the tug of war starts again, pull the rod into a hoop, gain a few inches, watch the branches sway and sweep-away as they free, one at a time. I believe the rod will break. If the line snaps the rod will smash on the branches on my right. For five minutes I pull as hard as the rod will let me. I gain inch by inch until the last branch sways free and the fish rolls in front of me, a flash of a long cream belly. I reach for the net and I edge it over the lilies and the fish crashes down into the roots and I dig in again, with the fish only 8 feet way, mud curls like warm butter in the water. The hook-knot breaks.

I sit down, stunned. Mind blank. Hurling the rod in seems futile. It never occurred to me I'd lose. After ten minutes of staring into space, I put up a 2½lb t/c rod and 14lb main line in a frenzy of displacement activity and catch another tench and two carp at 9lb and 14lb, but in truth I didn't really notice them, the colour drained from the day by the hardest fight I've even experienced.

Luckfield Lakeall tench are good even when feeling badLuckfield Lake9lb consolationLuckfield Lake14lb consolation
Luckfield Lakegrey all grey Luckfield Lakeall done

• December 2013: P.S. I've since learned of some very big eels in this lake, reliably reported to be up to 10lb . I wonder now, with hindsight, if this wasn't one such. A couple of carp anglers told me they've had runs from fish that just swam where they liked until snagged or broken, there were rumours of a catfish at one point. Nice to know there still be monsters.

200910th August 2009. I've not really got on with my 550Chapman 550, a new blank I bought last year and then built myself, with its two tone green whipping an Fuji rings (I know, I know). Two options then. Strip it and sell the blank. Or, I eventually decide, as I have an agate butt ring and Hardy white agate tulip tip (off the LRH No.3Which was, by the way, the first cane rod I ever owned), I get some traditional wire cradle guides and rebuild the rod in maroon with some bottle green trim and rings that seem to look better. Fish will tell if it's a successful transformation.

200916th August 2009. Luckfield Lake, not a blank. Technically. I didn't know Laurel and Hardy went fishing.

Nemp and I got here later PM and fish were cruising around unconcerned and we set up on the far bank with trembling hands...all was well until two lads turned up and spend half an hour knocking in pegs, rests and pods and then, bored, one started whacking the bank with a stick. Nemp stood up, which is quite a long way up and suggested quiet was the correct order of the day. Tool late for the fish, but eventually, after Abbot and Costello went on, I got one which fizzed about for a bit, then bit the mussel, and despite the LRH No 3Estimated t/c of 4lb+ and 12lb line on the 'pin, the hook came away on the first rush.

Luckfield LakeLuckfield lake comedy fishing Luckfield LakeLuckfield lake comedy fishing
Luckfield LakeBubbling... Luckfield Lake..got to love bubbling...

One late bite more or less impaled a careless roach of about 8oz, but that was the day done, could have been so good, with a little peace and consideration.

200919th August 2009. Heath Lake. This is the match lake, but with malice aforethought I took my Chapman 550 down there after it's re-vamp with maroon thread and cradle guides. Perhaps one coat of varnish short of a full finish. Tramped right around the far side, pausing to get a shot of two red deer at the limit of the camera zoom, passing some folk on the way home (at 3pm or so) then found a spot to set up and wait. I'd got a bit of bread and some mixers, some of which I'd soaked with some strawberry flavour.

After a bit the fish are moving enough and I spread a little bait around. I try for a bite with a dry biscuit with a home made controller but in the end decide I can cast far enough without it and switch to two cork balls (as bite indicators) and soaked biscuits. And that's the rig for the day which brings a score of carp from 3-8lb, a rudd and a roach.

Heath LakeThe view from the far sideHeath LakeSurprisingly good camouflageHeath LakeAnd a cracking bright-blue day as well...

I varied the hook size from 8's to 4's and back and varied baits from soaked mixer, crust, flake, dry mixer (the least successful). I get at least four from under the rod tip. That sounds like a five-hour caning (it was for the rod, which I like a lot better than previously), but I missed two takes for every fish and lost at least ten to hook pulls, using most of a white sandwich loaf. Match-lake fish can spit the bait out faster than you'd think.

200924th August 2009. I tramp about the fields most evenings (fending off the heart attack) and this is the time of year I circle around looking for the crow wing feathers, pheasant tails and the occasional buzzard primary. I've accumulated about 20 crow and two buzzard feathers so far and I'm waiting for the first road kill cock pheasant on the lane. Lots of quill floats in the making and a tinge of autumn in the air last night. So if you see a bloke wandering the Dorset fields with a bunch of feathers in his hand, it might be me. jaa...or, you know, it might not ;-)

200930th August 2009. Silent Woman Lake...with the Little-anglers. We all went, everyone had a rod and in between unhooking a variety of rudd, carp and crucians, baiting, passing around essential snacks, I casually bread-crust suckered out one very wonky grassy about 11lb, then a smaller grassy and a small but beautiful mirror out of the little black overflow all on the '550The 'JAA' Chapman 550. Fun for all, I don't know why there aren't more pictures really, then it got cold (really) and we tramped off.

Silent Woman LakeVery wonky indeed...Silent Woman LakeNot wonky...Silent Woman LakeGreat looking fish

200931st August 2009. Luckfield Lake. Three hours of ebbing daylight, spent entirely in Peg 4, although using the lifeless 'Ugli Stik Avon', I managed a great little mirror from the only bite of the fabulous dusk.

Luckfield LakeFishing under the tree again...Luckfield LakeJust another float picture...Luckfield LakeAutumn colours already?
Luckfield LakeMoon, moon, let it so be...
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September 2009

20096th September 2009. Silent Woman Lake (Lower). I can't recall 'ought about this other than I fished the lower lake for a bundle of carplets and caught the larger carp from the overflow pond (all twenty leaf-mouldy square yards of it) on the '550Yep, the Chapman 550 again and a mixer, dangled over a bramble, nice fish in good condition as it happens.

Silent Woman Lake...much like this purple-ish one Silent Woman Lakenice fish as it happens

200916th September 2009. ...A couple of mullet in the clear early morning water at the Brownsea Island Ferry - one of my less exotic trips on business, but huge fun...

Brownsea IslandSandbanks Ferry mullet Brownsea IslandSandbanks Ferry mullet

Spent a strange and enjoyable few hours padding around damp reed beds to old 'hides' seeing how much data I could get down several hundred yards of mains cable using PLCPower line communication (PLC) is a technology which uses existing electric power lines for data transmission, mostly by a form of magic or as we electronics types call it; 'Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing'. technology. The answer was, surprisingly, 'more than enough'.

2009September 2009. "Moby Dick" by Herman Neville.star ratingThis was the second of my 'Read an improving book while flying home' experiments. Yes, I know, a whale is not a fish. What on earth has this legendary tale of near psychotic obsession with a water-bound leviathan got to do with angli...oh, wait.

I have a confession to make. Three times I've tried to read this book now. The early chapters are finely drawn to the point where the smell of fish, fish stew and pipe tobacco infuses your brain and the cold touches your extremities. However, past the listing of the species of whale and once aboard the Pequod, I find myself unable to go on, my interested petering out like the land disappearing aft. 'Classic' it may be, but I'm not mithered to force myself to read on, when it feels like wading knee-deep where one might elsewhere run. Apologies to Herman Melville, but not it appears, my cup of tea, classic novel or not.

200928th September 2009. L'etang De La Morinais.

L'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La Morinais

200929th September 2009. L'etang De La Morinais.

L'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La Morinais
L'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La MorinaisL'etang De La Morinais
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October 2009

20091st October 2009.

"Soon to the sport of death the crews repair:
Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends
The barbed steel, and every turn attends."~~ Herman Melville ~~

20096th October 2009. Autumn came in the night with a rattle of rain on dry leaves and the wind rushing in the chimney.

200910th October 2009. Higher Kingcombe fishery. Never having been I've no idea what I'm going to get. The club lake is on the small side for two½ acres and bypassing those at the lee/car park end I head for the ruffled end and take three carp off the top and three off the bottom in two hours or so despite the sun in my face (I need a new hat) a mix of mirrors and commons to about 8lb, then have a hook pull on a cockle, have a wander, meet a chap with a glass Ledgerstrike and a Mitchell, always good to find another orthodox angler, then catch one 6oz perch (always good).

I decide to take a box of floating baits and look at the rest of the complex, check out a small weedy pond just down the hill and see two fish but they're too wise to take bait, even 'free', while anyone is looking, so head three lakes down avoiding the bleepersBleeping bleepers. I spot a good fish under a tree from the high side of the pool and slip around the other side, hide behind a bush and flick out baits.

I don't succeed on the far bank (some bread is slurped down only after it drifts into the brambles) but fish are taking bait five yards away and with the tree between me and the bait, the fish are bold enough. I slip three floaters onto a size 4, and flick it around the tree and after some missed and short takes, a fish appears vertically and sprints off with the bait (a sign of fish that are wary of floaters). The result, a 10lb common, keeps me busy for ten minutes of deep runs to the far bank, although I feel quite sure the old bamboo could stop it in its tracks at any point. I spend the last hour of light trying to get fish the other side of the tree and miss two surging takes. For the last 20 minutes, which is when I remember my tea, I sit with bread drifting up against the bush, while I flick in small bits which are sucked down, stealthy though. Eventually a fish surges out at the crust, barely get the rod up to set the hook and after five minutes I have this one. More tea. Home.

Higher Kingcombe...the tree between me and the bait...Higher KingcombeThe result, a 10lb common...Higher Kingcombe...after five minutes I have this one.

Apparently there are gonksThe GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very wholesome.... The specimen lake looks nicer. Next time maybe.

200913th October 2009. The Brickyard. I took the afternoon off work, based on the weather forecast and decided to go for an old brick pit I know which has real crucians. I assemble the '500Chapman 500 or the 'Jammy Bender' which has newly bodged wire stand-offs, to see how it fished, although I had to wax the middle ferrule, almost reached the end of its useful life. I put on a 'pin with 6lb main line, a bristle float, a fine 4lb braid hook length and a size 14 and parked myself around the back of the pond, baited corn and hemp and pretty much started catching right from the off, about two rod-lengths out, getting bites often enough not to bother with pictures of the pool and barely found time to feed a fish in the brambles to the left.

The Brickyardcrucian #1The Brickyardcrucian #2The Brickyardcommon carp #1The Brickyardcrucian #3 - OK that's clearly a hybrid
The Brickyardcrucian #4The Brickyardcommon carp #2The Brickyardcrucian #5The Brickyardcrucian #6

I had about twenty small rudd and roach that mugged my grain of corn on the drop and a dozen crucians to 1lb, plus a few commons, lost two common carp of 3-5lb or so and at least four other fish when the hook failed to set, but with a bristle float not being sunk by the crucian bites, the bites were hard to judge. Still, for five hours with the autumn sun on my back, a light cane rod-and-pin, a really proper bit of angling. I did eventually persuade the bramble bound carp to take a bit of bread, but after a short and violent struggle the hook came away. Ah well.

The Brickyardcrucian #7The Brickyardcrucian #8The Brickyardcrucian #9The Brickyardcrucian #10
The Brickyardcrucian #11The Brickyardcrucian #12The Brickyardcrucian #13The Brickyardcommon carp #3The Brickyardcommon carp #4

Well I like crucians. Not a bad afternoon, all in all.

200917th October 2009. Luckfield Lake. Autumn leaves on a near-still pool looks good, but couldn't see myself catching. Nevertheless I set up round the back and watched a float by the lilies for an hour which, to make the job easier, never moved. As the odd fish was causally surfacing in the drifting leaves, I stuck on an olive controller, put a couple of floaters on a size 8 and tried for an hour to cross paths with one of the casual wanderers, the birdlife preventing me from putting more bait on the water to narrow the odds. No such paths were crossed, so I watched the float for another 45 minutes or so then headed around the end to try from the far bank, where the last of the sun would fall. I put the bag and the 550Chapman 550 against the fence out of the way.

Luckfield LakeAutumn leaves on a nearly still pool Luckfield Lake...and watched a float by the lilies...

My attention was arrested by movement in the lilies and so snuck into a back swim, tied a size 4 directly to 14lb, and dropped a crust behind lily pad. And waited. Various other bits of the pads twitched and after a long wait sat on the cold ground, I put on a fresh bit and tried near one of the moving patches. Another long wait and with a nudge-and-shove the crust was slurped down and I struck and then spent the next 10 minutes unravelling 14lb mono from a leafless blackthorn. Twenty yards of line was beyond use, but the hook was retrieved. lineThe line was recovered, not left in the tree. When this happens it's best to locate the hook, cut it off and then pull the line back through the branches. It's seldom useable then, so I cut it off and take it home. I'm 'familiar with' the situation...

Luckfield Lake...cross paths with one of the casual wanderersLuckfield Lake...so watched the float for another 45 minutesLuckfield Lakenudging the far side of the near patch

It went quiet so I shuffled back one swim, sat on the bank with tea and watched and waited. After a bit a ghostie started nudging the far side of the near patch, so I dropped a pair of floating biscuits there. The fish vanished and annoyingly appeared, a short wait later, almost under my feet, pale-bodied with a gold and black head. I wound the bait across the lilies and dropped it a foot from the fish which ambled up and sucked it under. I struck and spent five minutes getting the line off a bramble. The ghostie ghosted and despite waiting until I could barely see, that was that, except for chain drinking hot'n'welcome Earl Grey as the night leached the heat out of the evening. Where did the afternoon go? I get home, realised I hadn't seen a bat, prolific there in the summer. Self inflicted blank.

200924th October 2009. The Avon, Burgate. I had the good fortune to get a chance to break my Avon duck with Putnamsif, but despite good company, sparkling water and the occasional chub passing by, I watched the end of my 550Chapman 550 nodding ever so gently in the current for the best part of four hours, with a short break to trot up and down with a bit of flake on the 500Chapman 500 and a pin. Good to reacquaint with the Wallis chuck and good to meet Putnamsmif, who I hope had more luck the rest of the week than we did today. Glorious Autumn day on the river though, rocky road for tea (courtesy of the Marmiteangler), and it was The Avon...yeah.

The Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, BurgateThe Avon, Burgate

200928th October 2009. Today there is a hint of mist and the scent of damp leaves on someone's bonfire. The sloe gin is in the bottle...

200930th October 2009. Halloween Soup. Take the flesh from the children's pumpkins. Keep the seeds also. Cut the flesh into small pieces, about an inch square, and roast in a hot oven until crispy, but not burnt. Boil last week's chicken carcass with an onion and a carrot until falling to bits. In the meantime get a large soup pan, chop two carrots, two large celery sticks and a large onion and fry until soft with the lid on. Add a tablespoon of mild curry powder and a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon. Drain the chicken stock into the soup pan, and put in the veg. from the stock pan as well. Pick off any meat left and chuck it into the soup pan. Give the skin to the dog, it'll explode about now otherwise. Take the roasted pumpkin and chuck into the soup pan. When the potato is soft, blitz the mixture smooth and season to taste at this point. Add two chopped parsnips, and half a chopped swede. Cut the swede fine it takes ages to cook, so swede pieces a quarter the size of the parsnip bits. Chop a large leek and stick it in as well. Simmer until the swede is edible. In the meantime put the seeds into a frying pan with oil (go easy) salt, pepper and curry power, be generous with the seasoning. Toss the seeds until they are coated and then fry stirring all the time until they are brown.

On Halloween, serve the soup in bowls with roasted seeds sprinkled on top, sitting in front of a log fire with lit pumpkin lamps on the windowsill. Don't answer the door.

Well, do you know what's out there?

200931st October 2009. Eastmoors. Pretty here in the Autumn, but there is no escaping the fact that in three sessions here, I have never even had a bite, although to be fair I did see a fish this time. Several carp made an appearance but I could not tempt any of them to feed of the bottom or the top.

EastmoorsPretty, but gives you a headacheEastmoorsPretty, but gives you a headacheEastmoorsAlway half expecting a Nome 'neath, smoking a pipe

I did snap this terrific Fly Agaric, still fascinating to me, as they were for my mother. Will I come back? What do you think? Home for pumpkin soup and a locked door.

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

November 2009

20091st November 2009. Thirty minutes of removing cobwebs by walking on the sea shore at Hamworthy Lido furnishes me with enough seagull quills to make about 40 floats. With this embarrassment of riches I'm planning on dying the quills and steaming them all straight.

20092nd November 2009. Word-of-the-Day: 'furrybootsec'.

furrybootsec n. The short fuzzy moment in time between waking up in a random hotel room and working out what hotel you’re in, in which country and what the frak you’re doing today.

[cf. "Fauraboots are ye fae?" (Doric); trans. "Might I enquire as to whence you hail?"

[cf. 'Furryboottoon', i.e. 'Aberdeen' in the Doric.]

20096th November 2009. Crooked Willows. As I was up at 5am I thought, "I know, I'll go to Crooked Willows and try to catch a carp on a floater". It was, predictably, dark but dawn was on the way and it was a bit chilly, but I tackled up by touch, one hook, 10lb line and a 550Chapman 550 and flicked floaters about the place. As it was still too dark to see much I put a bit of good visible white bread on the hook and plopped it in front of me where I could see it and poured some tea. Small fish were moving, although nothing you might call a carp. I waited for the light to improve and as I'd just got to the point where I could see a floating biscuit, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and looked in time to see my bread rocking in a big swirl. So one missed chance.

Crooked Willows...dawn was on the way Crooked Willows...where I could see a floating biscuit

I started to fish out past the lilies and then fish started stealthily picking off biscuits in front of me, a long common, with a bronze sheen, rising silent out of the peaty water and sipping the floaters under so quietly you had to be watching to know. I reel in between takes and cast bait, but then it never came back. As the morning sun came up carp moved more and baits were rocking in swirls, not always taken, but they avoided mine and I waited too long to thin my line. I did, after some heroic clooping to my left, snag this common after a short tiff between two lily patches. I think it was more surprised than anything, but a really nice fish in good condition. So all worth it.

Crooked Willows...I started to fish out past the lilies Crooked WillowsThe early morning common

I had a walk round and bagged some floats for my foundlings collection. At about 9am two fishermen up, clattered and clumped around the back and thocked in bolt rigs. Lovely. I was so well camouflaged they didn't see anyone to say “Good Morning” to, or feel the need to avoid spooking my swim. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Nevertheless I tried to catch one of the swirlers 20 yards off but they avoided my hook bait with great prescience. By the time I'd switched to 6lb line it was time to go, but I'll be back as one or two of the swirlers were good doubles and more than one was a very good chub...perhaps I’ll flavour some biscuits and colour them green and try a single on a size 10 at 40 yards. Need some trace mono. And something I’d use as a controller. Must think about that.

200911th November 2009. The Cardinal 66. The bigger brother of the Cardinal 44 and I was very pleased to nab a couple from the Bay of Fleas, plus one spare spool.

As it happened, I ended up with five, two of which had a metal bale-mount at the 'non-roller' end, which I think was advertised as 'salt-water resistant' or some such (one is 207408, the other was given away to a friend). There are three 'regular '66's, 110807, 090705 and 750308. The last two are in pieces and one of them was bought purely for spares, although I can't recall what was wrong with it. The spindle of that reel, put in the EAT'Electric Auger Technology', is used for loading '66X spools. The line-lay of the 66x isn't quite perfect, doing it this way keeps the lay level.

Since I got '66X reels, these haven't been used at all, and it's hard to see when they will get used in anger.

As they're approaching 'not used for a decade' mark, watch this space.

200915th November 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. I wasn't going out today, this weekend even, as there was a threat of rain, but as the Buglangler was going to a party at Milton Abbey and going back and forth twice would barely have made any sense, I bunged the 550Chapman 550, a half-loaf and a tin of corn into the car and popped in for a couple of hours. The car park manifested several anglers so I headed for the pump pool.

First thing to say is that the lake is choked with weed. It's been an issue on-and-off for a year or two and I didn't see a clear swim, although there were a few with gaps. Weed rake next time. I set up a simple float rig and baited a gap in the weeds and spent two hours watching an immobile float. Kingfishers in a pair skimming in formation crossed the pool and occasional fish showed themselves further out with gentle swirls.

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey Lake

Just once a vortex near my feet snitched on a passing carp, but bread left for its next circuit never moved. Everything stayed mill-pond flat, until dusk crept and my float drifted slowly left, dipping a shade, stopped, went the other way, sunk slightly, came up and then came to rest. And that was that for the day. I went and got the Bugangler as the bats came out to play.

2009November 2009. J. S. Sharpe 9ft Spinning Rod.

A really nice light little rod, only used a few times by one of the Littleanglers on a mass outing.Sold to the bloke at the back for what I paid for it, seems a pity, but it was probably never going to be used.

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

December 2009

20095th December 2009. Barton's Court Lake. A pike to the sibling, a grey day, a pile of small perch on maggots, then as the only signs of life appeared to be tiny rudd at the surface, I, using the Chapman 500, took to pinging a self-cocking pole float with a single no. 16'd maggot at the rises, so had a score of those as well. So 'not a blank'.

Barton's Court LakeThe perching float at the back end of the lake Barton's Court LakeThe sibling's pike, from memory about 12lb I think
Barton's Court Lakethe big dead oak tree on the islandBarton's Court Lakefloaty floaty perchBarton's Court Lakefloaty floaty perch...Barton's Court Lake...more floaty floaty perch

200910th December 2009. Top Notch. Trips to Portugal make me more weary than usual, that's really only because it's a three hour flight to Lisbon and I've usually got up very early. The flight back is JAFAJust Another Fcuking Aeroplane, but I let the engines press me into the seat and after the seatbelt signs go out, I put on the headphones for a boost and blast through 5 tracks of "Another Perfect Day", after which I do the cryptic crossword in 10 minutes. See, music does make you smarter. Maybe this explains the good feeling you get, the sudden rise in perception turning some of the world's greys to colour and making them shine.

There's no disguising the real fatigue though, this can't be permanently dispelled by Lemmy, fast as he plays. I let the plane engines lull me for a while and am again amazed by the peace in a plane floating in the dark, even if I am 35,498ft over the Bay of Biscay travelling at 510mph. So the GPS in my 'handy' tells me. I'm still impressed by this, but this is not as amazing as this: most people are not amazed. This apparently simple thing is a triumph of science and engineering: that I can sit in a jet, at height of 35,000 feet and check my position with a hand held sat-nav. Too many now are not impressed by science and technology, it's hard, complicated, requires real effort of thought, and those who think themselves smart and well educated are too quick to take the view that: "..it can't be difficult really as I'm clever, so those engineers and scientists are just hiding behind double talk and arcane terms. It must be simple really." Well, here's a tip for all of you hypocritical Luddites. Throw away your phone, turn off your TV, the DAB radios, the MP3, disconnect the broadband, turn off the sat-nav, don't go to the doctor, get on your bike, rely on homeopathy and herbs and live the in the world you deserve. Please.

I put on Ágætis Byrjun and immerse myself in Sigur Rós's do-it-yourself fantasy and create a small flat calm circular pool in the middle of which is a single thin red tip. I focus on it, and feel for anything that might disturb this mirror. I wait. Sometimes things thump the ground, creating ripples that converge on the red line in the centre and then vanish, cancelled. Nothing comes today, but in a real pond it might. Eventually the bump of the lowering undercarriage ruffles the reflection. Oh good, Terminal One.

Last night, sunk in dehydrated sleep, I dreamt of large bronze Leviathans, leaping in tandem, a strange image that puzzled me until at breakfast I strolled between two bronze doppelgangers, for each other and for my dreams' fish. I recalled I'd been here three times already. That explains it. Mostly.

Lisbon bronze doppelgangersOne of the two bronze Leviathans of my dreams

200913th December 2009. Luckfield Lake. A frosty clear winters day, no wind, lovely day to be out. Nothing resembling a fish mind...

Luckfield Lakeskywater fishingLuckfield Lakecalm blueLuckfield LakeA still water float
Luckfield Lakedusk on a cold day

200920th December 2009. Court Barn Farm. The DDASDorchester and District Angling Society Christmas Match - cancelled, abandoned from the North facing Revels', frozen over, roads covered in snow, the driving technology unable to climb the track to the fishery, bl**dy rear wheel drive. Match moved to these spring fed lakes, the lucky drawers getting the club lake, overrun as it was with small roach and perch, we also rans find trout easy to catch and a few small scratchy perch harder. There were even folk with centre pins...other than me...fun was had by all with spotted perch and the view in the clear light was really rather nice, especially with reinforced coffee to keep one going. Good fun.

Court Barn Farmthe wonderful wintry view from the lakeCourt Barn Farmthe wonderful wintry view from the lakeCourt Barn Farmthe wonderful wintry view from the lake
Court Barn Farmthe wonderful wintry view from the lakeCourt Barn Farma cold, but not lonely floatCourt Barn FarmThe greater spotted perch

200927th December 2009. Court Barn Farm. Chapman 500, Kingpin and a box of maggots. First time here, but there's a good head of fish I'm told, it has the advantage of a heavy spring flow (so no ice) and I get the place to myself. Put a 4lb trace on with a size 14, OK, for some that's heavy gear. I plumb up five feet of water in the lee of a tree-bole, barely keeping the wind off my back. Cold cold cold.

Court Barn Farmchilly, cold, nippy, brass monkeys...Court Barn Farm1, 2, 3, 4, what is it we're waiting for?Court Barn Farm...chippy, fresh, blizzard, tundra...Court Barn Farm1 of 23, part of the collective

Twenty-seven Perch, 23 rudd and a roach. Good.

200930th December 2009. Revels. Dull grey day. I take Thin Lizzy on the Dorchester road putting of the choice of Revels or Kingcombe to the last minute last turning, then propelled by 'Rosalie', a hard push in the small of the back, I head for Revels, thinking it's on the leeward side of the incoming rain, I say rain, it's ambivalent, rain, mist, low cloud. Grey, clinging, cold and wet. 3°C.

The main lake has a dozen moribund looking fishermen and I circle it, establishing that there is little happening and then exchange a few words with a friendly face, helping him, temporarily short handed, land a crucian, by holding the pole out the way. I decide on 'Desperation Lake', despite the peer pressure keeping all the others on the main and pick a swim with a tree in the water and one out with the bank behind me. I bait up a near swim, tight to straw-reeds and with the new Hex and a porcupine antennae I wait for 90 minutes. The tip remains immobile, but the bread flicked optimistically into the bush-in-the-water gets a result and one piece vanishes with a swirl and a big fin, which doesn't look carpy, but still.

I bite off the float, stick on a size 8 Partridge with a bit of crust and fling it out 20 yards and get a take almost immediately. I hit it and get a solid thump and just when I'm enjoying it the rod straightens and I get back my hook, slightly more open that before. Last chance for the No 7's and they go into the middle of the water to rust away. I put on a stouter hook and after a cup of Carbost enhanced Earl Grey, fold flake over the hook, dab on some hemp oil and repeat the cast. I wait 15 minutes for a gentle take. The new rod, technically 1½lb t/c with the reel-clutch set accordingly gives not an inch of line and I get a 7lb common, if not overpowered, wrestled to a standstill. I spend half an hour trying for a repeat but nothing moves. But the washed up jetsam crusts on my far left are gradually and quietly subtracting in number so I try a flake-an-oil bait and right away get a take, which I miss...so time for Christmas cake and Carbost cocktail.

Revels FisheryA very out of season common carp, nice colour thoughRevels FisheryDesperation Lake DecemberRevels FisheryDesperation Lake DecemberRevels FisheryDesperation Lake December

After a bit I try the next gap to the left in the reeds where several fish are moving. This is part due to the various bits of bread all drifting that way on the slightest of winds. Perhaps a better swim, and a bit of bread only 10 feet out (but three from the far reed fringe) is nudged twice and then nicked, and I land a protesting 3lb common. I try several baits right in the reed fringe with no result. I return to the chair and free-line a curried cockle and maggot mix over my earlier ground bait and drink spirited tea while the light leaks away into the shade and the blackbird chip their way to roost. Winterfish. 'Parisian Walkways' on the way home.

should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...