Just Over a Decade of Dithering, Dipping and Doddering, or;
'Mr. AnotherAngler's Most Efficacious 2015 Fishing Diary'

No idea whether this has been going longer than most, or not; I suspect it is 'longer than most'. I keep wondering why I do it, probably a habit now, despite consciously not letting the 'need to update' become the driving force, this 'tail-that-wags-the-dog' grips most bloggers at one point or another. It's also still enjoyable to look at the previous years. It started with the simplest coding, acquired galleries, spacers that change at random, a search box (it's got so large I need it to find my way about) and there are navigation aids built inHow to get about, if it turns out you like it here..

Over the course of this decade, I've become less strident about the state of the fishing nation, but that's resignation, not change of opinion resIf I could make access to this site (and some others for that matter) conditional on having a rod license and Angling Trust membership, I would.  and I stick with a hook and bait on't in defiance of the 'industry' and its leashed-press. This site has made me friends, kept me sane when I've been on the other side of the world doing meaningless things for money and provided me with hours of harmless entertainment. It's a good thing, it's fun. FUN"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."  I'll carry on...in another ten years this will require its own web-server, but by then this will be an afterthought on the Small Technology'Smart-phone', keep up......

"En fleira er mönnum til hugganar en fébætur einar." ("There are more things to be thought of by men than money alone.")~~ The Saga of Grettir the Strong, Chapter 47 ~~

"But ye gotta know where ye're just gonna rush in. Ye cannae just rush in anywhere. It looks bad, havin' to rush oout again straight awa'."~~ Feegle tactics (Sir Terry Pratchett, 'The Wee Free Men') ~~

"If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?"~~ W. S. Maugham ~~

I read a wide range of books. bookI still take issue with those who say "You cannot learn anything from books". These are the same folk who say things like "All those qualifications and no common sense.", "I've got a degree in life." and my favourite; "It never did me any harm."
A few rebuttals:
(1) Yes you can, or you wouldn't be reading this.
(2) Sure, that's a sound argument. Well done.
(3) So has everybody else.
(4) Keep telling yourself that. And perhaps talk to a therapist.
 Allons-y. sf"Pretentious? Moi?"

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

Kingfisher2015'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

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...

January 2015

20151st January 2015. Happy New Year. 2014 has slithered past, pausing only to look back over its shoulder in a smug way. Hah. It's been a good year, with no 'life experiences', something close to job satisfaction and most gratifying exam results for Littleanglers. I refer the reader(s) RExtensive, in-depth research reveals the number of readers to be in the low double figures and rising 10% year-on-year.  also to the fishing expeditions mounted during the previous year.

On the day, I slipped over to the Stour to receive a chub catching lesson (at least six fish to best-part-of 4lb) from the Woodsman and despite gallantly continuing on with maggots and worm, I wangled only this chap, which made me smile. Only a 'jam-jar sized' fish, but you don't see so many of them about. Luckily there was plenty of JAA's finest Christmas cake.

The upper StourThe pitchThe upper StourThe tip in the sun...The upper Stour...and the smallest thing between me and another Stour blank

For the coming year, may the twitches turn into firm bites, may you always get the timing exactly right when a monstrous perch mugs your bait after a long run-up, may your floats sit pretty in appearance (and otherwise), may your clutch never stick and above all, do something to make the world a better place.

"Quae amissa salva"~~ (What has been lost is safe) ~~

"To everyone all over the world that ever picked me (or even a leg or arm) up, I am always (although not always visibly) grateful and ready to do the same in return. As for the other kind: It's not working, is it? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"~~ Lemmy Kilmister ~~

20157th January 2015. I was aiming at the horse. Arriving at the treadmill to the stirring theme of 'The Magnificent Seven' which ended, to the semi-quaver, as I swung the transport's grey nose into a parking slot, it occurred to me as I went through the morning 'grab-bag-put-on-pass-lock-car-door' dance that this was probably the least appropriate theme tune imaginable for the start of my day 007Although on reflection, the original "James Bond Theme" (from "Dr. No") would be even less appropriate. Pay attention 007!".

201511th January 2015. Labour saving tools. "As you get on a bit," said Pete, "you employ tools to make things easier for you". "Like us?" I said...there were, of course, potatoes, we'll be kind and call them 'well done' and for myself, a selection of aching muscles to grace the following day, testament to brambles cleared, willows pollarded and whatever word one uses to describe razing sheaves of bamboo at ground level with a felling axe.

The Saxon PondsThe lower end of the Lower Pond, sunlitThe Saxon PondsThe upper end of the Lower PondThe Saxon PondsThe top pond, a rather less flattering view of.The Saxon PondsThe fire, the pond and the clear patch

Still enjoyable for all that. Netting next...

201518th January 2015. Clump hill Farm. After the perch.

I spent a steak-and-ale pie and coffee with ice in my face, sun on my back, 5.4°C water, wind a low 2.4°C, hands stinging, I reverse the wind and sun, not ideal perching but a big dying lily patch gives me hope, so do overhanging bushes and half a degree warmer water. I stick with mashed bread and prawns, with a prawn on the deck, enjoy sun and Java. And wait.

The day wanders on, I miss a thin bite on a scrap of prawn, switch to a small worm and remove two of the culprits. I give a couple of '16s' and 18's to a chap who brought his lad - he'd nothing under '14' and from fifty yards off saw regularly hoisted fish twinkle. I nabbed a roach, a 4oz perch, watched a cormorant work up courage to land and wriggled my toes which were numbing down. Another hesitant bite produced a near 1lb roach. It went quiet for a bit, save for tiny nudges of the few dead lilies.

Clump Hill FarmThe winter sun view across the lakeClump Hill FarmThe very perchy looking spotClump Hill FarmA melange of smaller thingsClump Hill FarmA 'goer' roach, always nice

With the sun scratching on the tree-tops I switch to a fine-wire with whole prawn and the second cast got a fine 1lb stripy. I returned it down the bank, anticipating, then the father of the lad, who'd bagged up on the small hooks (as I heard him tell his mother on the phone, which made me smile) brought me his leftover maggots a, favour repaid, his boy had taken a 1lb roach, a whopper for a small lad. I gratefully used them for loose feed and but nothing came until penultimate knockings, a reflex sideways strike after the world shrunk to the patch of water around my float, the pheasant quill vanishing without preamble, producing a tussle, languid and cold, a small feral looking carp. Ah well, a fish is a fish.

Clump Hill FarmIt's a pounder honest (that reel is 5¼ inches across)Clump Hill FarmA small and quite feral looking carpClump Hill FarmA larger and slightly less feral looking carp

At the very last, the float jittered off to the right, so so perchy, the first shakes of the head raising hopes and heart rate. The non-perch burned my finger on the tuna-reel-rim, in truth glad of something to warm my bones, long-played with care, the prawn hook is very fine wire. Heh. Home.

201524th January 2015. Blasted Heath Lake. So worms, maggots, prawn, the bold perch hunter set forth, or 'slogged 500 yards through clay and muck' anyway. Peg One looked inviting, it's also the NE corner. After fifty minutes I missed a bite and was cold due to the wind in my face. After sixty, one 'parp', the float sinking slowly, the fish sluggish and after ninety called it a wrap, not even a steak slice and coffee inciting me to exposure. The 'top' perch swim was in the teeth of the ice-breeze so I negotiated myself and tackle in three relays through the flooded corner and went for a sheltered 'fourteen' where there is, today, eight feet of water. I put on a proper perch float and elect to fish for a bite then changed to a bit of a sliding rig to ease casting. Coffee and chicken pie for the look of the thing...

Heath LakeYes, it's blue. Get over it...Heath LakeThe NE corner in the sunHeath LakeThe second bite of the dayHeath LakeThe proper perch float in the second pitchHeath LakeA view of the North end from the south bank

My strategy ('fish out of the wind') accomplished, the tactics were to trickle feed maggots, fish worms and prawns four inches off the bed. So I feed the robin and wait... after two hours and changes of float, depth and not even able to catch a bait fish on a single maggot on my 'bait-fish' rod, conclude that I might have picked the wrong place. Out of interest I check the water temperature, 4.4°C, the air a tenth of a degree higher. Hm. The robin is stuffed, I speculate that the red-breast is rather less to do with thorns and more to do with vast quantities of red maggots, so consider it worth freezing in the wind in my first pitch, returning with a couple of hours to go.

After baiting and casting in, I check the water temperature, at 5.7°C an insight into why the north-east corner is worth a try in the face of few other signs and half an hour later a chunky common reinforces my decision, although the fine-wire worm hook obliges me to be cautious. The sun sinks low, orange as a conventional float-tip and the wind falls away, leaving a few priming fish and a feeling that today the wind was my friend, if one that snapped at my fingers. I switch to a slight sight-bob and a finer size '8' for a bunch of reds and the light is just fading, when the float vanishes suddenly, then a fish zips off across the bay, the liveliest, but it's fundamental f is higher than previously, so I know it's the smallest, but bright gold in the net. So home then, not a perch of any sort.

Heath LakeThe third bite of the day and possibly the finest.Heath LakeThe bay in the NE cornerHeath LakeIt's still blue, but by now you're used to it, right?Heath LakeThe low winter sunHeath LakeThe last bite and the most shiniest

Seems 600 yards on the way back, but the walk warms up my toes.

La Morinais carpa very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page) La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpa very subtil fish La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience

February 2015

201514th February 2015. The Nadder, Pete's Ponds.

Pete's PondsThe Lower Pond, denuded for winter Pete's PondsThe Lower Pond, denuded for winter
The NadderA nuisance of browniesThe NadderA small stream roachThe NadderThe small-stream pool of your dreams...The NadderThe respectable 3oz roach
The NadderCoffee on the dam wallThe NadderThe view from the damThe NadderThe small-stream bobber waiting for the fish that never came...

201528th February 2015. Milton Abbas

Milton AbbasThe Pump Pool and its blazing dogwoodMilton AbbasFour of the eightMilton AbbasDecent, a goer
Milton AbbasOver the poundMilton AbbasThe green sight bob in the blueMilton AbbasThe most welcome tench
split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

March 2015

20158th March 2015. Bishop's Green

Bishop's GreenThe lake as it ever wasBishop's GreenThe lake as it ever wasBishop's GreenFour of the identikit carp...I think there were more, can't really recall...Bishop's GreenThe bob in the wavesBishop's Green...and a classic BG long ,lean one.
Bishop's GreenThe afternoon sun Bishop's GreenThe margin float...
Bishop's Green...and the consequence... Bishop's Green...and the result

20159th March 2015. Court Farm. Barton's Court closed, feels out-of-phase to not be beating its bounds with two halves of McBreakfast, one in each coat pocket. Still IFCItalian for, ah, you know is acceptable and this one has a grand view of a consumer giant (and lemon tarts). Court Farm then, but first, 'supplies'...

Court FarmTwo of the 'nuisance' carpCourt FarmLake two from the cold-wind-in-my-face endCourt FarmThe fished for roach, a couple at the 1lb, all 'goers'Court FarmGreen bobbing for roachCourt FarmThe nasty break on the '44x

Hankering after 'fishing-for-bites' I took a spot on Lake 2 with a tree and scattered hemp and fished maggots keeping the mainline at 8lb with one eye on the tree, the other on the reeds. My first guess on the depth was well short, the float after hovering under the surface for a bit then vanished into the black and a small common turned up. Heh. Always plumb up with baited hook (a '14' with four maggots and a finer hook-link). Kerfuffle over, I discovered the water was nearer five feet deep so settled down to dithering bites which produced decent roach at regular intervals, a couple in the 1lb range (with a short break to capture for posterity the TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar''s finest fish of the day.

At some point I spotted the bale arm on the '44x was chipped - I pulled it gently and a small split right to the screw opened and closed - confidence in that surviving a bitter battle evaporated instantly and I recalled the 'pin with yesterday's 8lb line at the bottom of the bag. A swift change ensued, finding myself comfortable with the four-piece Avon and 'pin, two years went by with this as my default rig and even with the Avon's brand new cork handle, this sat in the hand like a large Quinta Ruban someone else paid for. A small truculent mirror livened things up but by midday, roach or no, my hands were numb, so I sidled around to Lake 1 with a heavier rod.

Court FarmThe 'pin, replacing the broken '44xCourt FarmChange of lake, change of floatCourt FarmWindward end, hiding behind the rushes and blackthorn...Court Farm...a good long 'porcy' standing guard over a big lob

I found a spot on the north bank, opposite TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar' and flicked a large bait with a tiny float to the end of the branches in front of me and missed two bites of the 'now-you-see-it-now-you-don't' variety, one on two mussels, the other on a very big unshelled prawn. The BBBBig Bait Bucket had a still frozen core of four or five solid lumps of left over seafood, corn, maize and 'other stuff', turfed out of the freezer for the trip, so hook-baits were 'lucky dip'. Hm. I noticed a tail up nearer me than the tree and then spend a while trying closer in, but got only line bites, then two visitors stood on the edge asking me what the fishing was like, so it went quiet for a bit. Thanks lads...

I eventually dropped a worm off the bank about two yards to my left and popped the float on the grass. Naturally the first time I looked away the end of my rod pinged...a second try waited half-an-hour, but my strike fouled a fine common on the pectoral. Pah. I gave in gracefully and headed to the east end and baited a spot next to a tree with a slightly foxed reed bed, for no other reason that it reminded me of the east end of Long Lake. Twice the long quill sat up and dived, collecting me Foxtrot Alpha, the third time got a scruffy familiar mirror that I suspected was around 15lb but TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar' had it at 14lb 15oz on a prawn not two hours later. Ah well.

I decided, contra-instinctively, to adopt the LOSLord of Sussex - 'late of Dunbar''s tactics of baiting multiple swims and fishing them in turn, so by this expedient missed two crash-dive bites in the corner of the lake and a couple further down the bank then one odd incident in the original swim, where the strike appeared to flip a fish over and then I found myself attached to three feet of line with a snapped hook and I wonder if I didn't pull that out of a fish. Third time lucky in the corner swim, hooked a bottom hugging fish of some weight that figure-of-eight'd under the rod tip for a long while and was eventually the fine common shown here. That was nearly my lot, with a few missed twitches and a startled 4oz perch, which was briefly treated like a double-figure carp. Heh.

Court FarmThird lob unluckyCourt FarmThere's always one, or in this case, 'nine'.Court Farm...and a careless common, also 'third lob unlucky'.

I should point out that the LOSLord of Sussex - 'late of Dunbar' in the meantime to all these high-jinks, banked a double figure number of carp...not that it's a competition...

201510th March 2015. Court Farm. Lucky start to the day, why so? Firstly I found a nylon spoon near my car, assumed I'd dropped it the previous day and it had got scuffed by being driven over. Not so, it was my missing second spoon, that I'd given up for lost a twelve-month past. Hah. Secondly, while getting the landing net pole out, the ferrule with the fork came off in my hand. This was lucky as (a) I carry waterproof cyanoacrylate so fixed it in a minute and (b) it could have happened with a fish in the net. Good Omens.

Court FarmThe view from the roomCourt FarmLake one, stretched out in the morning sunCourt FarmLake one, stretched out in the morning sun

Yesterday was grey, breezy and chilly. Today, the sun is out, it's windless, first thing Lake 1 was a mirror and barely ruffled day-long. So, the east end then, fished 'the roach rig' from the day before, with 8lb braid hook-link and a stout '14', presided over by a fine-tipped float. Relaxing in the warm spring sun, happy to nudge out whatever came by, I enjoyed a steady procession of roach, perhaps to 8oz, 'plus' a host of small perch, the intervals between fish short enough for fun. I put up a carp rod, tried it only a few times, lobs being mugged by small perch and flake by small roach. Oh well.

TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar' carried on with his bait'n'switch and then slunk off down the west end for some jungle warfare. One fell to the man in the trees, I struck a tiny bite mid-afternoon, momentarily might as well have struck a sandbag...some lump mooched about, I kept it dragging 2-3lb for the duration, to keep the speed down occasionally more...I suspect it took over ten minutes to land, the small hook limiting, the Avon and 'pin doing a fine job, my thumb less so. But, having got assurance from the 'thunk' of the line over the dorsal that it was a good 'un', I was uncharacteristically relieved and pleased to net a fine mid-double mirror. Heh. I sat with it in the net for a minute, felt like proper fishing there.

Court FarmThere's always one...or 'twenty' evenCourt FarmThe first carp on the 'roach rig'Court FarmSome decent roach and two carp on the 'roach rig'Court FarmThe sun came up...the sun goes down

I thought I'd share my pleasure with the tree-monger and stood behind him watching some fine carp, no one of which was the size of a deuce there when he started, "...a foot across the back" says he, I believe it. For TSC, the yips had set in (happens to us all yer know). I spent a while sitting under a nearby tree with some bread and a hopeful outlook, but it felt like the wrong plan, despite occasional carp eyeing up the bread then thinking better of it, so I slipped back to the 'roach rod'.

This turned out to be one of my better ideas.

Court FarmAn always welcome tincaCourt FarmThe last-light common @14½lb...Court Farm...and the evening star.

A few roach came out as they started to prime, switched to a size-'12'-and-cockle, then had a big common that didn't push me as hard as the last, another fat mirror not ten minutes later, then a 'small carp' that evanesces into a tench completing my day, but for a nearly last-light fat common, scale-tipping at a little over 14lb, (for internal re-calibration). Another 'last castThere is never only one' beckoned but replete now, so packed, keeping the LOSLord of Sussex - 'late of Dunbar' company while he tackled down by the light of the evening star.

Steak pie with proper vegetables and gravy at the Carpenter's Arms. Still good.

201511th March 2015. Vale Farm

Cold when I got here, probably a bit before 8am or thereabouts, it was close to dawn, close enough to have grey light speared by shafts of thin sun, not enough sun to take the edge off the sharp wind. I strolled about sipping coffee, chatted a bit with a gent on the back-bank of the middle lake, nice chap. I went for 'Trout', the oldest of the three lakes as I fancied more fishing for bites ffbTo explain: 'fishing for anything wot comes along'. This is of course not what 'serious anglers' do, they fish for a 'target species'. I can't be ars*d with that, so most days so stick on 6lb line, a bendy rod and a fine braid hook-link and then can generally catch everything and deal with the nuisance carp as well. On this occasion though, went with 8lb line, as that was the line on t' 'pin.  and so pitched at the windward end of the water, which was a nice colour and despite the nip in the air, the breeze, although numbing the fingers, was warming the even colder water by 2-3°C or so. Nothing happened for a bit, then my maggots got snatched, twice, then a small perch materialised. I caught 'several' of these, the LOSLord of Sussex - 'late of Dunbar' arrived, he went for the middle lake enticed (I assume) by tales of Leviathan, then I put on a cockle and nabbed a carplet which put the previous day's lumps to shame, just wouldn't give in. OK then.

Vale FarmCold dawn at Vale FarmVale Farm'Trout Lake' windwardVale FarmA fine green cork-ball specialVale Farm'Trout Lake' windwardVale FarmThere is always one, or today 'dozens'

I alternated baits, scattered cinnamon hemp, snapped the floats of the day, stuck artfully in the hemp and eventually settled on a lob nicked on a size '12'. Several fish later I went to see how LOSLord of Sussex - 'late of Dunbar' was doing - some wrong 'uns and a nuisance of rudd, that's what. I repaired but move downwind of the small bush I was fishing under. Bubbles started, I cast a bit further and bream showed, not massive, but decent enough and I spent a happy post meridian plucking them and more carp out of the blue-green.

Vale FarmDecisions, decisions...Vale FarmMore pretty fish, if similarVale FarmThe particularly cute mirrorVale FarmBlasted light keeps changingVale FarmA 'slimeball' of bream (new collective noun)Vale FarmA tree in dreich

Four-ish I upped sticks, no monster bream (alluded too by the nice chap), so camped by himself and fed a little hemp up the now deserted bank. While TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar' wrestled with rudd, I nabbed four decent carp and two fine rudd by flicking a lob right under the bank and chuck hemp over it, two of them mid-doubles, one of those giving me a scare when it lumbered off. TSCThe Sussex Correspondent - 'late of Dunbar' finally connected with a carp the proper way on a borrowed lob, but his afternoon of baiting up with prawn had every rudd in the lake (and a couple of perch) under the bush we was fishing under...

Vale FarmLast two from 'Trout Lake', two larger nabbed from the centre lakeVale FarmNice lean mirror taken on a marginalised 'lob'Vale FarmOne of the fine looking 'nuisance' ruddVale FarmOne of the fine looking 'nuisance' ruddVale FarmThe last one nabbed on a marginalised worm, with a careless rudd

2015March 2015. The JAA Rig

I do not have 'rigs'. In general I tie a hook to the line and impale the bait on the hook. I suppose this might be a 'rig', we might even call this the 'orthodox rig'. I do not bother much with carping writing, but the paraphernalia required for the 'next big rig' is often quite extraordinary. I suppose they work. I am certain no-one has ever tested whether you would catch fewer fish without them. In scientific experimental circles, this is called 'not having a control condition', i.e. to check 'nothing' or 'what we did before' is not working as well as the experimental condition.

Jim Gibbinson, one of the few more contemporary writers worth reading, uses about three and states quite clearly none of the others are really needed. I guess using the same old basic rigs does not sell a whole lot of 'rig bits'.

Still. This is the 'JAA rig'. I thread two clear silicone float stops on the line either side of a tiny link-swivel. I Albrightaka the 'JAA magic braid' or 'combi' knot a braid hook-link on the end and then tie the hook to the braid. I usually, but not always use a 'uni-snell' for this. I will often tie it the day before I go fishing, as threading the hook, stops and the mini-swivel through the rod eyes is barely slower than threading line. The braid is generally long enough for a second hook-tie, but not always. Any 'tell-tale' shot is subsequently pinched on the braid hook-link.

I developed this idea from my original 'braid float attachmentWhile I have no doubt the idea came out of my own head at the time, I would bet someone somewhere thought of it before me.' I came up with in the 1980's - this linked attachment changed into two slider knots either side of a link swivel and then when I discovered cheap latex float stops, I used those (as opposed to 'well known angler' named float-stops which I simply refuse to pay for). I stopped using those when a fleabay moron sent me 'dayglow' stops and argued he didn't have time to update all his product descriptions. Equally, I don't have time to bother with feck-wit vendors.

At this point (in August 2014) I bought 2mm and 2.5mm o/d silicone cord, cut it into 5mm lengths, then threaded them onto loops of 8lb 'Fireline' - this is a fine trotting line, but its slick surface and thinness also make it ideal for this job. With a fine needle and a small pair of pliers it takes about 30 minutes to make enough for, well, 'yonks'. These are much cheaper than any I can buy and silicone does not seem to be so fierce on the line and stands multiple reuse.

The JAA 'rig'So here it is. That's literally the one out of the float tube from the last time I went out, including the float. The JAA 'rig'So in close up: the hook, 'uni-snelled' to 6lb spectra braid, a no.6 'tell-tale' shot, an 'Albright' knot to 6lb Stren, then two silicone stops and the mini-swivel.

When I tackle down, I slide the whole thing down to the Albright knot, cut the mono off at about 6" length and drop the lot into the float tube with the line still attached. For the next session, I tie this piece of mono over the reel line with a single overhand and then thread the whole lot onto it. Once they are too loose to work, I throw them out, but that seems to take many uses.

So this is my 'rig'. GOS gosThe Gloucestershire Old Spot is an English breed of pig which is predominantly white with black spots. It's also the nom d'internet of a pretty good angler.  also developed exactly the same, as we discovered when nattering one day. This 'rig' allows me to swap floats in a trice, change depth in a moment or two and the addition of a small cork ball to the link-swivel, surface-fish cbI have some 10mm cork-balls with a small link epoxy'd in them for this, although making a slit with the point of the VSSK and pushing the link into it works well at a pinch.. I can remove the float and by sliding the stops apart on the line, I can ledger, make a link-ledger on the link-swivel with swan shot and a loop of thin mono, or even free-line. See how handy this is?

I use two variants of this: firstly I replace the 'top' stop with a tiny plastic bead and a slider knot made with braid. This is useful if the water is deep, especially if you need to cast near a snag. Tackle set up in this way is easy to accurately cast underarm, even in water only 4-5ft deep. Even at moderate ranges it is easier to cast such a set-up right against (say) a lily bed, and also removes the need to over-cast and reel back. The line running through the float is generally enough to sink the line to the rod tip.

Secondly, I put 2 × 8mm cork balls between the two silicone stops. Generally one is red and the other black, coloured with permanent marker (I keep four in my bag, black, red, green and brown). I tend to do this on trips when I plan to surface-fish. However, the addition of a shot and sinking bait will catch plenty of fish - as long as you do not mind the really silly carp sucking hopefully at the cork-balls.

If a venue has a braid ban, I will use the same set up, but put a 'tell-tale' shot between two additional stops. I keep a few large shot for this purpose, bored through with a 0.8mm drill, as well as a number of weights made of solder-wire wrapped around a needle then coloured black with a permanent marker. These are also handy when fishing with hemp. To be frank, anywhere that bans braid hook-links usually bans surface fishing as well, which considerably lowers the odds of me visiting.

Lastly, I use uncoated dyneema braids for hook-links, it is quite soft, the 6lb is around the diameter of 4lb 'Silkworm' (for example), but crucially, if bought as 'no-name' braid on the slow boat from Hong-Kong, is about £4 for 300 yards. I rather resent paying £10 for 25M of 6lb braid because...well I really cannot see why I would. For £10 I have a lifetime supply of 6lb, 8lb and 10lb braid...

There you go. 'Rigs'. Pfft *waves hand dismissively*.

201518th March 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #1.

I picked up Allcocks 'Perfect' (20 quid) in 2013, it's dead straight, 9' on the nose and a terrific honey colour. The butt-ring was missing and the real seat was set well down the butt - an old salmon spinner. It was, Nobbyngton-Smythe reckons, Allcocks most expensive rod ever...

The Allcocks PerfectThe Allcocks Perfect

So...my dastardly plan is to strip it...make a butt section, something a bit like a Chapman's handle, two feet long dowel, or something fairly rigid, and turn it into a 10'6" or 10'8" carp rod...10As I'm already fairly sure that I'm not going to Heaven, I'll risk it.

However, this powerful rod was horrible in the hand. Not all experiments are successes. Binned Possibly why they're called 'experiments'.

The Allcocks' PerfectThe tip The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' Perfecta middle bit The Allcocks' PerfectThe butt

201521st March 2015. A morning 'emergency' netting on The Upper PondThose ponds... (a bottom board on the sluice had gone, bringing forward a planned netting, we relocated some 70 odd tench and probably 200lb of crucians, all is well).

The Upper PondThe upper pond from the damThe Upper PondThe lower pond's hollow treeThe Upper PondThe lower pond looking towards the dam

201521st March 2015. Woodfrys Farm, Melbury Abbas. I've had my eye on this lake and had been angling for a chance to drop in...and it's on my way home. Sort of.

I levered open a caravan door, paid my seven squid, slipped down to the lake and found some carp, but they simply wouldn't play in 6" of water although the odd one took a mixer - as long as it didn't have a hook in it. There was a thick layer of decomposing sludge on the surface, the water warmed enough to start decomposition off again, in turn starting the algae, ahead of the daphnia hatch that should mop it up...the thick silt made bottom fishing over this sludge tricky, even with corn, must have seen a dozen fish spook off the line. I gave it a couple of hours and zipped off for fish'n'chips, creaking with cold once I decided to move, defeated by a handful of small carp in water that barely covered their backs.

Woodfry's FarmOne side...Woodfry's Farm....and the otherWoodfry's FarmThe best shot of an egret I could manage at that distance.

I've wanted to come here since I saw the landscape on 'google maps' and it was in the end something of a disappointment. It's a nice looking place, but it has an air of decay that is barely dispelled by the neatly mown grass. 'Up' the valley, along which a clear stream runs, was a tumbled-down hatch pool, clearly to supply just-visible drowners in the grass with warming water, but long since ruined. There is a mill leat along the south of the valley, cut cleanly into the slope. With the odd shape of the lake and its square marsh with a ditch around it, it reeks of old water-management, but left to nature far too long ago. The ditch is silted, the lake barely a foot deep anywhere, and for the most part barely 6". There might have been more fish than the few carp that mooched about, bellies skating the silt, but I saw no sign of them. There is tatty litter on the slopes, old corrugated iron in heads, scrap metal, old out-buildings - against one such a big old millstone is canted - a giveaway, glad I went, shall equally glad to drive past next time. If the place was for sale, I'd seriously consider giving it a go. But you'd need to spend some money to get nature back on its feet. Such a shame.

201523rd March 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #2. I removed the corks, not so hard, found water damage, not serious, but this is why one might consider varnish before corks go on, discovered the reel-seat was plastic, tacked on through a box-wood cylinder, the lower cane still with its outer shell on. There's a big nick out of the cane just up from the reel seat. That's going to bug me, the rings are going on the opposite side to the old, so the nick is going to be on the underneath of the rod - it's unlike to matter much, but I'll epoxy/dyneema it anyway. A lot of careful scraping was required to get the mixture of glue, string and gunk of the section under the handle - which was rough in places.

The ferrule and counter came off easily enough, the female on the butt section cut off flush with the cane, then a steep spiral cut with a hacksaw - one must be careful doing this, the idea is to cut a gentle spiral up from the open end until the brass is paper thin - work around and up the ferrule until the cut is nearly at the 'cane end'. It pays to cover the last few inches of cane with gaffer tape first, so avoid damaging the cane if the saw catches. Optionally, gaffer tape your fingers as well...

Insert a flat blade screwdriver into the slot cut at the 'open' end and twist it gently, the brass should open up, tearing any last layer of brass - if you've cut it thin enough. With a pair of pliers, you can usually 'unwind' the ferrule until the last bit can be slid off. Be gentle, use the saw to ease open parts of the cut which are not quite deep enough. Next time I'll post pictures on how to do this...look at this - the cane under the female ferrule. You can just see where cane flats have been glued on and turned down. The counter end has been rounded as well, but is back to whole hex section cane before it gets to the ferrule 'exit', so no loss of cane at the critical points.

The Allcocks' Perfect'nick' The Allcocks' Perfect'nick' The Allcocks' Perfectglue line/water damage? The Allcocks' Perfectglue line/water damage? The Allcocks' Perfect'nick' The Allcocks' Perfect'big nick' The Allcocks' PerfectReel seat pin hole - another on the other side The Allcocks' PerfectFerrule pin, to be filed flat

I've cut away the varnish on either side of the logo to keep it on the cane. For the handle I've cut a two foot piece of cane from the butt of an old 'Black Seal' rod, a terrible thing (but cheap...). This is 15mm across the flats at the thick end, so will use it to make a butt section with a 'reverse' taper, not that I think it will bend at all. This will be strong, heavy enough and slender enough for me to get corks down to 20mm for 'Lockfast' reel bands...that's the plan.

The real shock was to find water damage on the top section just past the second ring. There were a few black marks under the varnish but one of them had the tell-tall black line along a joint and I despaired briefly. I gave the section a good bending and it was 'quiet', no creaks or 'tik-tik-tik...' noises, but nevertheless its existence gnaws away like a loft-mouse in the night, so I used a two-part epoxy and reinforced these areas with some grey 6lb 'dyneema' and brushed a little more resin into the thread. I'm pondering black whippings, I like how the look on cane (since owning a sadly, un-straightenable Octofloat in black thread) with perhaps a few turns of green wire on the thick ones. Hm... Ferrules ordered from the truly helpful Ted Oliver, still the best quality.

Once the ferrules arrive I'll order cork, rings and thread.

Ringstead BeachRingstead beach on a nice March day...'just because'

201524th March 2015. There be... 'Monster salamanders' found in fossilised mass grave'Monster salamanders' found in fossilised mass grave. Now, read my theoryIt's as good as anyone else's. Funny thingAlways felt a bit creepy on the corner by the pond, especially at 2am.

Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights...(and back to the top of the page) Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights Ledger-Weights, various.All the weights

April 2015

20154th April 2015. Packhorse. A grey day, perhaps the water's still chilly, I pick the windward, a reflex, stick on a worm, cane, pin, quill, cut up the rubbish in my pitch, pour coffee, put my feet on the boards and pretend not to watch the float.

9.8°C in the water 11.7°C out. Warm end, probably good. I flick bread pills under the tree on the left and around the float and wait....and try a change of side, a coffee later...then bread on the hook....I muse on a worm at half depth drifted down the lake...twice the quill, pink tipped with three black threaded bands, riding on two of them, has dipped to the very tip, then stopped, an ironic bow. Hm. I went for a wander, learnt little and resumed under the tree, my heart leaping suddenly as a fat mirror head-and-shouldered between the float and the nearest branch, casual, as if thinking "Angler, yep, thought so..." I was obliged to put down the rod rest head I was carving out of a plastic bank-stick label. No bite came, so presently I switch to a sight bob and a lob. More coffee then.

Packhorsethe pitch... Packhorse...and the pink quill

A lob on the right then, time passed, the float travelled, its dip a surprise, a poor strike, the head shaking thump weighty enough to raise hopes but the rod is stiff for stripes and a big swirl saw freedom for one and disappointment for the other. Double drat. I fished on, a little disappointed, alternating sides, bread and worm and when the small technology said 'time to go', I'd barely put the flask in the bag when the float vanished. Another head shaker, played on the ratchet, not the rod. Right on cue. Awa'.

Hard to shake off the feeling that carp was checking for a bank-side presence.

Packhorselooking down the 'marginaliser'Packhorsethe rod and the netPackhorse...and the perch

But wait...it's another Wheeler-Feynman perchWhat are the odds?...

20156th April 2015. Packhorse...lured by a big swirl...

...I return with two lighter rods and tell myself I'll fish for perch and 'bites' in alternation. It's blue-sky sunny and clear. Hm. The mill-pond water is 9.9°C and remains that way for two hours, then a breeze whips up the surface and the temperature goes to 12.5°C in a trice and creeps up another half a degree during the afternoon. I get all sorts of bobs and bumps, so scale down to a scrap of cockle on a '16 and forth time lucky get a fine roach of 1lb 4oz. I persist, things go quiet, so fish under the tree for bites and at 5pm get another big roach, this one longer but also 1lb 4oz. Miss a few bobs and with the gorse shadows lengthening across my swim, I put on "The Last Cast" float with a big lob for perch, miss a couple of twitches then hit a fine solid bite, leading to a fine solid 1lb 6oz roach. For a brief period I fished both rods, missed bites on both rods, took the Avon down then fished an hour with the 'perch' rig, not a twitch. And that was that, had enough, even with an hour of daylight left.

Packhorsework work work...Packhorseroach the first 1lb 4ozPackhorseroach the second, 1lb 4ozPackhorseTree branches, several. Fishing under for the use ofPackhorseroach the third, 1lb 6oz

201510th April 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #3. The top section had multiple deep nicks across the flats where every silk whipping had been cut off. Careless and crude. Resolving to put reinforcing over all the nicks along with the two areas where water damage showed and using a two part epoxy, a tack layer was applied between 5mm pencilled markers and then whipped over with 6lb dyneema, brushing more epoxy over the whipping. Horrible job and my first thought was it would be unmanageably lumpy (it's not really) and a tad ugly (it is). Unable to reconcile myself with this, it didn't look good or 'right', and taking RedFin's advice, ordered some white silk thread to re-do in silk. Once varnished the whippings will almost fade into the cane. So a happy hour cutting off the first go and scraping off the epoxy came ot pass, then the cane got a coat of thinned varnish, while the silk was in the post...

Also the ferrules; They came, fine solid things, the smaller pair fitted the cane almost to the mil, the larger needed some work...investigating the lathe at the work-shop it was clear the cane was 'too long' to build up and machine down. Both sections of cane needed some work, the bottom end of the Allcocks' needed just the corners off really and that barely (I took 4¼" inches off the bottom end, it was rough on the outer layers - although mighty tough to cut - and the nail holes from the original reel seat bothered me, those ought to be well inside the counter's brass embrace.

The handle section, the late not lamented Black Seal, needed work. Decided to use the same technique used for cutting cork handles down, i.e. 30mm plastic drainpipe sawed in half lengthways used as a sanding former. If this didn't work well, the duff bit could be cut off. By rotating the cane in my left hand at a steady rate and cutting in short strokes (stop it) back and forth at a constant rate with my other hand, while regularly offering it up to the female for size(I said stop it), it was quite easy to maintain a true and even cut. I discovered twisting the ferrule hard left black marks on the cane, so using this as ersatz 'engineer's black', worked steadily until a 'working fit' was achieved, then gave the cane a few a few gentle strokes (...come on!) with a finer grade. Time elapsed about 30 minutes. 'By eye' it's not possible to see if 'true' or not, so probably 'not'. Huh. Not so hard.

The_BeastmasterSanded down cane, both counters and a 'threaded' top section, ready for gluing The_BeastmasterThe air holes drilled in the bottom of the counters. One hole would do in truth...and one without a broken off drill-bit would be even better.

Repeating the sanding exercise, after cutting the lower end of the Allcocks off, took only 10 minutes to fit the ferrule - this was very nearly a fit 'out of the box'. Again, 'true'. Measuring the total length with the rod laid out on the floor, with a 24" handle and an inch off the tip (Oi! Really...) - which was bevelled for the original tip ring - it comes in at 10' 8". The ferrules' feathered edges were removed with a jewellers file...so annoying when the whipping frays here...and then also coloured in the bright brass with a black indelible marker - with black thread over the top, there'll be not a glint.

One other thing. The butt section was hollow - sort of - perhaps eight inches deep, this was filled with epoxy and carbon rods.

The_BeastmasterAnother view of the sanded down cane, both counters and a 'threaded' top section, ready for gluing The_BeastmasterThe counter for the bottom section.

201516th April 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #4. Having decided to whip the rod in black thread, on a whim, I decided to use some green wire to give the ferrule whipping some muted bling. The whipping over the ferrule was done using a 'C' grade black thread, with an overlay of '0.16mm/0.006"/AWG 34' bobbin wire, with a green enamel coat. They're strictly decorative, which is to say, not there to add strength.

'Twas like this; cast the whipping on, after three turns put a 'pull through' loop under the thread and do three more turns, then flip the loop back out of the way and whip up to about six turns from the 'cast off' point, then whip a backward loop (facing the opposite way from the 'cast off' loop) for three of those turns and finish the whipping in the usual way. Keep the whipping turns tight together.

Then use the first loop to pull the end of the wire through to start it off. Whip the wire on top of the thread whipping following the grooves between the threads, the first turn is critical. When you get to the second loop, pull the wire through to finish. The line used for this needs to be stout - the wire is hard to pull through and using 6lb dyneema, the wire will break at the pull through as often as not (which is OK as long as it's tucked under OK).

The_BeastmasterWire-whipped ferrules The_BeastmasterWire-whipped ferrules

Thinned varnish is then applied; make sure it soaks in between the wire turns. They'll get another coat or two of undiluted 'yacht' later. You can see a few places where the wire whipping varies a little, the thread itself varies slightly, there's not much to do about that, but it looks fine for one who is 'less than a perfectionist'.

The_BeastmasterWire-whipped ferrules The_BeastmasterWire-whipped ferrules

You may have realised by now, that as a rod, this might be something of an animal...my original idea was to produce something like a 'MK III' but a shade longer than 10', but less than 11'. While on the face of it it would have made a nice 9' rod, I find that too short for practical general carp fishing and my experience of 11' cane rods is that they are mostly a little over long.

201518th April 2015. 'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'. An antidote to the asininity of office life. Hard graft, bush-work, lily root toting and planting, spreading lime...when did my back age ten years more than the rest of me?

The Saxon Pondsthe upper pond, drained and dredged The Saxon Pondsthe upper pond, drained and dredged
The Saxon Pondsone of the bunds and silt The Saxon Pondsthe upper pond, drained and dredged

To the Wetland then, for a 'rest'...

201518th April 2015. The Wetland. A fly-by on the way home, removing one more of the dratted and fecund pike.

The Wetlandone more pike out the Wetland...as it was on my way home.

201522nd April 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #5. I have now whipped over all the top section iffy bits with white silk thread and varnished. It's a swine to pull though and cut without wisps of silk remaining...however...I finally cut the tip down 1", then assembled the rod in its bare state. I measured the overall length at 10' 8" and cut the butt section at that length (allowing for ¼" wear on each ferrule). Once cut down, it was taken outside to play and the first proper waggle was a surprise. It wasn't as heavy as I expected and has a decent feel. Heh. Here carpy carpy...

The_BeastmasterThe fore-grip champagne cork and one of the handle sections.The_BeastmasterThe fore-grip champagne cork and three of the handle sections with their destination. Note the lines on the cork which ensure that the re-alignment of the sections is correct when they are glued on.The_BeastmasterThe fore-grip champagne cork in situ.
The_BeastmasterThe fore-grip champagne cork in situ form the other end.The_BeastmasterThe first of the two narrow reel-band section corks in place.The_BeastmasterThe second of the two narrow reel-band section corks in place. These were glued down and then sanded to the right diameter, using the 'half-pipe'.

The next job was to form the handle. I opted for a champagne front cork (for fun), bevelled a little on the inside, then a narrow section for the 'Lockfasts' some 12", which I glued on and sanded down in isolation. Then I placed corks over the rest of the butt, finishing the butt-end with another champers cork. This amuses me, but the cork is very good quality.

The_BeastmasterThe narrow section for the reel-bands is clearly show, and the section behind that was left at its original diameter, as was the champagne cork butt-end. The narrow section was chamfered into the cork used for the end of the handle, though I'm not sure I like the look of it. The_BeastmasterA slightly closer view of the same.

The butt ring is a game guide, but the other rings were Pacbay titanium and a Fuji titanium tip ring. I did this as they look OK, are very very light, not a bad thing especially for the tip ring which had a 3.6mm tube diameter. It's a heavy piece of cane. The tip was 'gun-smoke' when it turned up, I may have wire brushed it a bit to match the others better. I whipped the rod with black thread throughout, a scheme I think looks quite nice.

201525th April 2015. Fort Rowner Moat

A grand TFF extravaganza, with Nobbyngton-Smythe et al. Hat tip to Rosie's Kitchen19 Rowner Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 9UB, opened a bit early for assorted old duffers (thanks Hat-Tip Emoticon to Bumble for that), fed the same with heart-hostile vittles. Rowner MoatBuilt circa 1858 as part of the outer defence line for Gosport along with Fort Brockhurst and Fort Elson to the North East and Fort Grange and Fort Gomer to the South West. is grand water, the fort an imposing piece of Victorian history, squat solid red brick with artillery deflecting earth banks, plus a very spooky tunnel...

I jacked the first swim seen, fine looking water to my mind, then was treated with complete indifference by an insouciant vixen not ten feet away. I nabbed a fat Abramis B. at thirty feet, then missed several bites trying to shutter-trap a pair of nesting/gathering jays. N-SNobbyngton-Smythe landed something in the distance.

Fort Rowner MoatYeah, I might be bold, but not daft...Fort Rowner MoatA millisecond from the most astonishing picture I'd probably ever take...Fort Rowner MoatStill not daft...

My swim flat-lined, unwisely I fished it for another ninety minutes. Wandered about to see N-SNobbyngton-Smythe land a humongous tinca, so moved myself...

...'cleverly' picking a swim with a small sheer mud wall bored through-and-through by a squadron of what I took to be mason bees. They're amiable enough in my experience, so let them buzz about behind me, a fine soothing white noise. My float remained immobile despite changes rung, though worms removed three bright perchlets, N-SNobbyngton-Smythe and I called it 'lunch and cake time'.

Fort Rowner MoatThe 'colony'...Fort Rowner MoatOne busy one...Fort Rowner Moat...and a sealed burrow.

I socialised a bit (it's important not to overdo it...), opted to go 'untraditional' for the last part of the day, which didn't make a difference, N-SNobbyngton-Smythe though might have had the best day of us all, with two very fine tench and two crucians among other fish, not bad at all, but then went bite-less for some hours. Hence he headed off, I remained, bite-less, until the rain...tea and extra cake, spacing out the time to a daughter's pick-up. Wonderful venue, thanks to Hat-Tip Emoticon SK for organising.

Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner MoatThe fat bream Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner MoatAn almost inevitable perch Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's moat Fort Rowner Moata middle bit Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner's goats
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'

May 2015

20151st May 2015. The First Extra Tip Section.

I had found one of those multi-purpose Avon rods in a pawn shop of sorts, going so cheap so I bought it out of curiosity. It had a dolly section to extend the length past its 'natural' 13ft (I think), was missing several quiver tips and it had a tip section that immediately commended itself to being cut up to make the Four-Piece Avon's hypothesized 'light tip'. It also had one of those combined fore-grip and reel-seat thingies, the leverage of which inevitably causes the reel-seat thread to lock, like Mrs Thane-of-Sussex's did; I mended that by stripping off the corks, cementing a carbon-fibre tube over the top and putting new corks onto that.

I stripped the rings off the tip-to-be, cut it down a quarter inch at a time until it perfectly overlapped the third section spigot of the Harrison's, then roughed up the 'counter' area, applied a uncoated green spectra braid whipping over some tacky epoxy resin, and then brushed a warmed up second coat over the top. This wasn't a super strength joint as it was intended for 'smaller things' so would do the job perfectly well.

Portmanteau AvonThe joint, first fitting.Portmanteau AvonThe 'counter' with its braid-and-resin.Portmanteau AvonThe first ring - one scarlet, one green whipping.Portmanteau AvonThe tip ring - bad choice of colour, I later changed it to yellow (so I can see it).Portmanteau AvonA single leg ring at the tip end. Green-on-green seemed silly so I changed all the whippings for scarlet.

It did the job perfectly well, although the transition from the tip to third section looked a little abrupt under strain. As it was 6" longer than the existing tip and considerably thinner, I sewed a section of the same combo rod into one side of the Four-Piece's rod-bag, to protect against 'accidental re-configuration'. All done.

...but now I want a tip-section with a test curve about halfway between this tip and the original tip's t/c...the remaining multi-purpose Avon's parts will be useful for a new dolly section to shorten the Four-Piece for brooking and general fettling. If I had fished with said 'combo Avon rod' I could comment on its utility, but I never did and as of this date it is not, strictly speaking, possible...

20154th May 2015. Tranquil Lake. 'Star Wars Day'. Il pleut. Squeezing in a quick worm-drowning, I managed two rudd and a very wet hat.

TranquilJust a fine spring sightTranquilTwo of these, both on a single lob...TranquilThe bucket/rod-rest and the float-boxTranquilThe rain

201516th May 2015. Lemington Lakes. When does a journey begin? For me 1p.m. Friday, an MOT, some brass rod (to slightly load reverse pheasant quill antennas), new navigation technology, IFC, some worms, then home to pack, then blend hemp-seeds with bread. Drugs have eased the discomfort that would have made 100 miles a hundred hours, so only a dawn start to go...which right now looks horribly early, this a.m. wrenching enough. Meh. What rods? What reels? What floats? (Just: 'a lot').

Before Lunch, Sunset Lake. I was tackled up and in the water, windward-end, fishing on the tip of a small scatter of fresh lilies that were creeping around from the lake's end, like a rampant side-burn. I nabbed four or five (I think) before N-SNobbyngton-Smythe arrived at nearly 'lunch-time', technically. It wasn't easy fishing, the chop was variable and bites were coming in little clutches of two or three bites perhaps 30 minutes apart and I missed a few by virtue of having drifted off a bit in the interim. After N-SNobbyngton-Smythe arrived I had a few more in the same kind of intervals, as did himself and I foul hooked two tench which made me think I'd latched into one of the larger ones. Racking my brain, I can recall ever having fouled a tench before - I was fishing barely 2" over depth. Odd. In the end the wind defeated the senses and N-SNobbyngton-Smythe's reel, which I think was loaded with 'extra tangley' line. We opted for lunch and N-SNobbyngton-Smythe produced a round of sausage, egg-mayo, bacon and tomato relish sandwiches which were stunning...

Lemington Lakes - SunsetA ruffled pitch...Lemington Lakes - Sunset...with a ruffled floatLemington Lakes - SunsetWhat is the collective noun for tench?Lemington Lakes - SunsetThe pick, 4lb or so

Priory Lake was, counter-intuitive, out of the wind, courtesy of the line of trees on the far side of the track - the tench however, were greedy and numerous. If we fished until the only meal we could sensibly get at 9:30 was slow 'fast food', we could hardly be blamed, but luckily there was bottled 'Old Speckled Hen' to ease the pain.

Lemington Lakes - PriorySome of the mobs of tench that assailedLemington Lakes - PrioryPerhaps the pick of the afternoonLemington Lakes - PrioryA small stripey reason to stop using maggotsLemington Lakes - PrioryThe pitchLemington Lakes - PrioryA fine piece of water mintLemington Lakes - PrioryThe pick of the roach
Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #1Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #2Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #3Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #4Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #5Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #6

Much is written on-line about this fishery, a proportion of it negative. So straightening out the record somewhat, this tightly run and beautifully presented fishery is a good example of how a commercial fishery ought to be managed. There are very few rules, but these rules are monitored and enforced and while this has no doubt caused 'issues' with those who think 'Rules only count if I like them', my view is:
(a) their rules are perfectly reasonable and
(b) a fishery owner can ask you to wear Hawaiian shirts every third Tuesday if he wishes and
(c) once you've bought a ticket you've agreed to be bound by said rules (one might even say a contract has been formed).
I'm rather sick of keeping to water rules and seeing them broken as a matter of course by those who think they're silly rules - it doesn't matter what you think about a rule, you've agreed to keep it and those who then break rules wilfully based on some flimsy egocentric self-justification are hypocrites of the first order and the fishery is better off without them. So is angling for that matter.

Lemington Lakes keep their grass cut and the lakes 100% litter and idiot free. That might mean they have fewer visitors than some waters, but if you honour the contract, you get in return a great tench lake (with only tench), a small pool with crucians, some very greedy tench and the odd specimen roach plus a general fishing lake with carp and 3lb roach and perch (plus the odd gudgeon). It's really all rather fine and if I lived only an hour up the road (as opposed to two-and-a-half) I'd visit Lemington LakesHow fisheries ought to be managed very often. Hat-Tip Emoticon

201517th May 2015. Barton's Court. I absolutely wasn't buying anything at the Redditch Tackle Fair this time. Nope. I told GP this, firmly, a mantra even. I spotted a cute little float tube (Bembridge Floatsafe in 'ivorine' - celluloid to you), GP then kindly pressed a lucky float on me for the new purchase, confiding he'd made them for CY and it was a 'lucky float' for certain. I promised to use it. I then weakened and bought a Cardinal 33 which I've been after for some time and a very the early 'Carp' (The Richard Walker Angling Library) by James A. Gibbinson. Good read that. I think next time my strategy will be "Have no cash in wallet".

I'd planned Lemington Lakes on the return journey, but weary, couldn't face a two hour drive home after fishing to near dusk, so split the journey and planted myself, the 'Allcock's Beastmaster', and the new 'lucky float' at the car-park end and drowned lob-worms for an hour, two of which were briskly stolen, the third of which enabled me to remove the rather stocky thief of 14lb or so, testing the portmanteau cane rod out quite hard and it dealt summarily with the miscreant with some power in reserve, but a 'pin might not be the best option next time. I could barely buy a bite from then on, a hare loped across the car park, too quick for the camera, omen or no, my worm was snatched, no result and then a kite wheeled and keened, vanished, then stunningly, silently cleared the fence across the water by a whisker, skimmed the car-park hard-core, snatched some rodent from the cut-swim, almost stationary mid-flight on-the-pounce, then heeled to my right while tearing a beak-full off the careless squeak. Amazing.

Barton's Court lakeThe 'Allcocks Beastmaster'Barton's Court lakeThe lucky float in 'unlucky mode'...Barton's Court lake...and an unlucky carp.

I spent two hours crouched, hopeful for a second fish, but nothing came, I moved to the end for the same result and as the last two hours approached, the lake emptied of carpistas and a man arrived, admired the portmanteau cane, produced a Mk.IV and an Aerial, we talked about whippings and varnish, I gave him my bread, pointed him at my ground-bait, wished him well and hit the road.

201518th May 2015. The Cardinal 33. Yesterday at the Redditch Tackle Fair I bought a Cardinal 33 ('760301'), a reel I've hankered after for some time. I then nabbed an ally spare spool from Classic Vintage Fishing Tackle while I was there.

Cardinal 33 ('760301')Cardinal 33 ('760301')Cardinal 33 ('760301')Cardinal 33 ('760301')

It weighs 8oz, the gear ratio is 5.1:1 and the original spool has line capacities of:
0.20mm (~4lb) -- 200m
0.25mm (~6lb) -- 150m
0.30mm (~10lb) -- 100m

Not unlike its larger brothers, it's a fine little reel even if its use will be limited to those places where the fish are small and casting a long way is not required and possibly with shorter rods than the norm.

Having said this, I used it a few times and it just 'didn't work for me', I felt like it was not as nice as the '44x even in the right context. Hm.

201525th May 2015. Nightingale Pool. There's a curious pleasure to be had, from a drive that almost always takes three hours due to the sloths-in-the-road, taking two hours on the nose (without once exceeding the speed limit). The TOSThane of Sussex, 'late of Dunbar' hove into the trees and with a quick look at the cricket pitch that was properly of England, we threaded through the leafy lanes to a pool at the end of a long walk across a field. Perfectly bucolic.

The first pitch on the overgrown side looked fishy, as did others, but this one seemed better. I missed several slithery bites on a cockle, pricked something large, on-and-off, then once more, then a writhing eel, perhaps 12oz, which was off the hook in the net and returned without a snap even. Hm. I wondered about the first bump-off, a very fast streak to the bank, very eel like...I carried one with a good lot of bites proving hard to hit and I assumed there were rudd mobbing my cockles. After a bit I wondered up to see how The Thane was doing, just in time to hand him the landing net for a lively common. Heh.

I returned to my pitch, curiosity made me flick bread under the tree on the left and when a piece that had dropped short right under my feet disappeared as I watched with barely a ripple, I pinched flake around my hook and didn't have a long wait to put a small mirror on the bank. Heh. The Thane crossed by behind heading for a break-off, I heard slurping under the tree so fed...and dropped in another piece of flake on the deck, missed three sitters...The Thane came back, said it was a big one that snapped him off, then returned and extracted one. I'm going to have to take the blame for getting this obsession with fishing off the surface started...

Nightingale PoolThe morning pitch...Nightingale Pool...and its float...Nightingale Pool...and the viewNightingale PoolOne bread-nobbled carp

The PM pitch - even the fruitless activity had dried up by midday - so reversed banks and found disconcertingly shallow water (18"), but rather more in the way of fish. The first carp came to a cockle fished against a small lily patch after one stealthy bite, missed. With a fish moving around the shallow reaches of the island to the left, I'd started a trickle of Warburton using the spoon - with fish taking the bread, pinched on a large dollop, put the tell-tale shot on the hook and removed one quite quickly, although it worked hard in the shallow water, then missed one, then another which bow-waved off leaving the idea that I'd missed a big opportunity. The last carp was extracted at about the limit of the little sight-bob's underarm casting range. All very satisfying, the move homewards prompted by the second float-loss of the day, the cane stem snapping in the net mesh.

Nightingale PoolThe afternoon pitch...Nightingale Pool...and the cockle'd carpNightingale Pool...and a bread'd carpNightingale PoolThe last bread-nobbled carp

The LOSLord of Sussex, 'late of Dunbar' was in the next pitch and was missing a series of sail-away bites, one of which, while I watched, didn't, the attached bolting hard under the tree on the left. The following passage bore a more than passing resemblance to that bit in "Caught in Time", where our hero tries to play a carp one handed while balancing on a tree branch over the edge of the water...I was torn momentarily between handing over the net and waiting for a splash...a nice common was 'steered' into the net though. I left The Thane some of my fading fast lobs, (mentally noting they needed releasing back into the wild). I beetled off across the meadow, a longish drive to come and the day had done its job for my blood pressure, many thanks J.

201531st May 2015. Kingsbridge, Packhorse Lake. A late decision, bolstered by the thought to take the Mk.IV G S/U, satisfying in the hand plus a packet of mussels from the freezer. I tackled up by the car and a lad asked me what I was fishing for, and I said "Anything really." and then, unguarded, "If I catch too many carp on Packhorse I'll move to Tranquil." and he said, mystified "Too many carp?". Oops.

In the event the prevailing wind was scudding the water to the shallower east end and so parked in a swim almost encircled by lilies and stuck with the 8lb line threaded up the old glass rod. To keep a float above water in the strong chop needed a pheasant quill held down with two × no.1 shot, about 1" from the size-four-hooked single mussel (note: this 'size 4' is about the same size as a 'Jack Hilton size 8'). Large baits attract fish well enough but do not sort them, so was philosophical about the false dips and occasional spurious lifts and the first fish actually hooked was a curiously pale roach of just over 1lb, the second, on the next cast, a scrappy perch of about 8oz, then a fat bream. The next thing hooked pulled hard and came off and then one after that went hard and fast and the rod's tip got out of the way then - the second attempt got the long thick eel's tail in the net - a good fish of over 3lb. I was pleased with this and endeavoured to turn it on its back to 'calm it' and remove the hook. A wrestling match ensued with much potential for humour, my neighbour came to watch the entertainment. The books don't tell you eels don't want to lie on their back and as fast as one bit was turned over another bit made a break for it. After a minute or two of this, my visitor said, with admirable restraint, "Is that the hook in the net there...?"

Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe pink quill adrift...Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe bad tempered snigKingsbridge - WellingtonThe very fine roachKingsbridge - WellingtonThe perch with the horse-power of a carp

I took a picture or three, slipped the eel back and it, departing shot, cracked its tail, showering me with water. We chatted for a bit about fisheries and France, I learnt things, landed a proper looking roach, then a small carp and a bunch of 6-8oz roach, bream and hybrids of both. A tentative bite yielded a fish which pulled carp-hard, once even taking line of the firmly set clutch and when the fish came to the net, a fine perch, perhaps 2lb, I was a bit stunned, I've never had a perch pull back so hard. Two more large bream at wide intervals and with the temperature falling the dither-a-chuck dried up and with last-light on the way, I nominated the previous two casts to be last casts 'one' and 'two', the current cast to be the last, terminated by whatever bite I got, twenty minutes after that the float vanished without pre-amble and I worked the glass rod over hard, landing a 10lb common. Fair enough.

Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe curiously pale roach. Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe small but ever welcome perch Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 1 Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe small carp Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 2 Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 3 Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe larger and last-cast carp

I packed up, discovering wind-stiffened fingers and toes, and strolled back to the car with a new respect for my Mk.IV G s/u. It bent 'enough' with perch and roach then with the 'snig' and the 10lb common, I had to deliver some serious 'short range humpty', it's not a bad rod at all, although I'd like an 11 foot version - as it is I now entertain desecration with with titanium rings and a screw reel seat...

...I bought this rod as a wreck, the top section female ferrule was split, the corks on the butt's end rotted and 'threadbare' cork (if I'm kind) at the top of the handle. I had to replace the tip and butt rings plus three of the bells' rings, two rusted, one broke. So, it's not quite such a sacrilege to replace the corks entirely, add in a scavenged Cormoran reel-seat and put on a set of much lighter, finer rings. I will however, take the precaution of cancelling my 2015 Good Conduct Medal.

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

June 2015

201514th June 2015. Two days to go...

201516th June 2015. The Big Day. At 5am I stayed in the marital b., a good place to be sure, lay, listened to the dawn chorus until I was sure sleep was gone. It was a drive of wraiths, more than once visibility vanished into cloud without warning and a spectre or two remained on the top pond as I crossed the dam.

Pete's Pond, LowerThe top pond spectresPete's Pond, LowerThe lower pond far to early in the morningPete's Pond, LowerThe cork ball-bobber rides againPete's Pond, LowerAn inevitable perch

Umbrella swim then (I just like it), some hemp ladling, then hard boiled eggs, ciabatta, zingy orange marmalade in buttered rolls - the last interrupted by the first two of a plundering of tench. Heh.

Corn to start, then a switch to shrimp brought cru's interspersed, then both golden tench in successive casts, the morning streamed by punctuated by tiny lifts and slips, then P. arrived, 'on his rounds', about elevenses. We talk of this and that, P. went onto the lakes and after a quiet interval, livened by a foot long grass snake slipping onto shore and the bees over my head in the azalea, a continuous light drone with lower pitched bumblers fading in and out. I opted for lunch at, it transpired, noon. Breakfast was around 6:30am tho'.

Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#1Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#2Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#3Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#4Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#5
Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#6Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#7Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#8Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#9Pete's Pond, Lowercrucian#10
Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#1Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#2Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#3Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#4Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#5
Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#6Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#7Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#8Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#9Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#20
Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#11Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#12Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#13Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#14Pete's Pond, Lowertinca#15

Sport tailed off after bread, olives, tomatoes and Parma ham, during though, two outrageous lift bites on corn landed the smallest tinca so far and another 1lb of crucian. Ginger beer...feet up eyes closed...D. came by making me start, I'd drifted into a sleepy reverie while playing a word game on the Small Technology, I had one bite after D. went on, a gentle lift yielding a single roach.

Pete's Pond, LowerThe 'umbrella pitch'..Pete's Pond, Lower...and one of its lost blossomsPete's Pond, LowerThe 'umbrella pitch' from the other sidePete's Pond, LowerDrifting offPete's Pond, LowerThe post-script roach

...the big decision now is the cows, various, JAA for the braving of. Since I arrived the farmer flushed the herd into the gated meadow that I have to cross to leave. But when? And how avoid (a) fright [mine] and (b) letting any bullocks out at either end. Hm...

201517th June 2015. Pete's LakesYep, those are the ones.... A fading fish-wind, an electric fence and a hare.

Against better judgement, I sallied, gingerly, forth - motivation coming from a holiday day booked and a membership paid for. Hm.

Brach was denuded somewhat since my last visit, but a wind had gathered enough of a run-up to push ripples into the east corner and a dark shape or two piqued my interest. I'd only the Mk.IV 'G' s/u, but the skippy quill brought out a small dark carp after ten minutes, then a stream of bold gold rudd beaching themselves on a big-hooked mussel...

Pete's LakesThe scampering carpPete's LakesThe skippy floatPete's LakesThe pitch...Pete's Lakes...the rudd...Pete's Lakes...and the evening hare

...but the wind died in diminishing stages, fish drifted off, so I wandered about Eelstage looking for somewhere I liked. The closest match was in the south-east corner where, over-tackled for cru's, I endured small-rudd-nuisance for one bite after two long wheezy hours, the strike tying the whole end tackle around the rod. Teasing out one of the loops with thinning patience, I recalled suddenly, prompted by a sharp 'crack', the otter fence...I bit off the line and scooted. Halfway up the field was a hare, which lolloped a few yards and hunkered. Slowing the driving machine I took a snap through the window, the day's highlight.

201519th June 2015. Kingsbridge. A big wind down...back to the Mk.IV 'G' s/u, no (good) reason. I'd Tranquil in mind but the thin looking colour didn't ring any bells, then I realised Wellington was free. Aha. I tried a spot for a while, because I thought I ought, never a good reason. I snuck into place and fished a mussel over some potamogeton and missed one sly bite completely, another I could have sworn I had something on briefly, then a third was 18" of eel, released involuntarily into the wild as I picked up the net. I pondered that over a cup of 'Earl Grey', so despite carps mooching in the opposite corner, the vibe was all wrong and so pottered back to Packhorse, pausing only to swap 10lb line for 8lb, then fished in the lilies.

PackhorseWellington, mine all mine...PackhorseLift? Dip? You choose.PackhorseSome fishPackhorseThe hard pulling perchPackhorseThe slab

It wasn't the same day as before, but nabbed a small mirror on the drop second cast (eh?), then missed a lot of dithering, had a couple of small bream and roach, then finally nabbed a slab and then another ferocious perch, perhaps the same one as a fortnight back. A solid common of perhaps 8lb took a mussel on the drop, then I pitched some bread on the edge of the right hand patch and waited...then it was 10pm, so aimed the DT'Driving Technology', do keep up at the crescent moon, the evening star and a glass of Merlot, in that order.

201526th June 2015. Weston Shore. Well, more Hamble-Le-Rice. A humdrum supplier visit. Although I'd noticed its location was barely a mile down the shingle from the Weston shore, to arrive early (I'm always early) and find I could walk onto the beach and breath sea air, was an unexpected bonus. The shingle seemed familiar, a trick of the mind, and I could see up the shore to the bit I knew better. I crunched up and down for a bit, took a few snaps and did the dull bit.

Weston ShoreSea-shoreWeston ShoreBig, aren't they?Weston ShoreSea-shore

On the way home, I drove by the place itself, seemed hardly changed, not sure why I didn't take pictures there. Didn't need to I guess.

201529th June 2015. The National Crucian Conservation Project

The National Crucian Conservation Project has produced a video to encourage angling clubs and fishery owners to develop crucian fishing.

It is so encouraging to see the work that is being done to bring the crucian back into favour amongst anglers. Martin Salter has driven forward the idea of crucian conservation through the Angling Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency, and Chris Turnbull's Facebook Association of Crucian Anglers is going from strength to strength.

Why not join in?

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'

July 2015

20154th July 2015. The Path by the Water Great Gudgeon Snitching. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so....

Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThe roads were covered with gravel washed into the roads from the night's thunderstorms and sudden deluges, but I arrived in 1:59 dead, so was in the car park at 7:40am and was standing by the Driving Technology munching boiled egg sarnies with a cup of fresh brewed when 'DavyR' arrived, so fat was chewed with the sarnies while we watched the fizzing in the stock pond in front of us. Marmalade sandwiches are much nicer than you think. At 7am we 'ticketed' and 'DavyR' headed for 'Priory' for his beloved tench and I opted for 'Abbey' as having recently fished 'Priory', wanted more of a mixed day, perhaps to move on later. I pitched with the wind in my face, mostly, grey dawn, nice and cool, I was going to miss that later.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyIt is my custom to take a shot of the pitch and the float, which you can just see in the act of disappearance...and a small tench came out.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThis was the first of a throng of small tench, along with a couple of perch and various rudd. 'Standfast' arrived and immediately won the prize for the nattiest titfer. Not that there was one really. A prize that is.Lemington Lakes, Abbey'Nobbyngton-Smythe' arrived and hands were shaken and he headed up the bank with gudgeon in mind. I had my attention drawn to this chap, quite deliberately. He sat four feet away in the tree and made enough noise at maximum volume to ensure I'd noticed...I've seen quite tame chaffinches before, there were some on the Rye Dyke which would take bread out of your hand, so flicked corn onto the unhooking mat and took a payment with the camera. Sweet-corn was acceptable but it was soon clear he preferred hempseeds, makes sense really. From then on the 'tac-tac' of small claws on the mat became part of my day.
Lemington Lakes, AbbeyAnother shot of my new friend, then 'RedFin' arrived and set up the other side of 'Nobbyngton-Smythe' with a cane Avon made by himself and a quill float supporting a few maggots. This found him a welter of small perch and one in the 1¾lb range.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI couldn't resist another shot of the chaffinch, really a very handsome fellow. 'Nobbyngton-Smythe' headed for 'Priory', presumably fixated on monstrous gudgeon.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThere was a long near-fishless lunch-time of the soul, then this roach came along, a fine fish of well over a pound, that's my 'Harlow', the 'Tuna Reel' as RedFin christened it. It's six inches across. I was pleased enough with that to show RedFin, who was down the bank on the left and Standfast. There was a period with only a few bites, but these few bites brought good roach to the net in the ¾-1lb bracket and a couple of very good 'roach', which to be fair, had a measurable percentage of bream in them. Early afternoon there was a flurry (well, 'three') of carp under 1lb, which scampered...Lemington Lakes, Abbey...here are four of the best roach, if I recall correctly there were three biggish hybrids as well...and also a couple of carp in the 5lb range, all good fun on a sawn-off 9-11aftm Hexagraph salmon rod and 6lb line.Lemington Lakes, Abbey...then came this rather fine bronze bream. I'm not a big fan of abramis, but this fish looked so fine, EXACTLY like the books say they look like. It deserved a picture and was a good solid size as well.
Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI snapped this bronze bream and the next one as they were simply too good-looking and bore recording. I'm not a big fan of the bream, but these look the part and the last one leapt clear of the water when I struck, something else I've seen before.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyAll the while 'Standfast' extracted roach, tench and occasional nuisance carp. 'RedFin' volunteered to ensure there was enough curry and beer for the overnighters - stay for a beer next time mate.Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThe swim was still fizzing at almost packing up time and I did wander down to the end of the lake where carp were milling, some very large indeed. On principle, I thought I ought to catch one on floating bread and perched behind a handy bush and had a crust dangled over a sagging reed when Nobby and DavyR. went by...I missed a take (inevitably), free-lined a lump of flake under the loose offerings, missed that bite as well and then finally nabbed one about 7lb with a crust carefully lowered right under the rod tip, over the rushes in front of me. Heh. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI went back to my pitch and probably caught some small tench. There were a lot of them...'DavyR' won the Gudgeon Trophy on some slight pretext but had extracted a large bag of nuisance tench, crucians and a few gudgeon from 'Priory'. Then there was a sudden clatter of disassembling tackle as 'Standfast' and I packed up and headed for beer, beer, curry and beer. In that order.

Lemington Lakes were immaculate and strife free as usual and produced superb fishing as ever. Sorry you couldn't get there GarryP, next time I hope. Hat tip Hat-Tip Emoticon to the 'Inn on the Marsh' for perfectly kept beers and friendly staff and the 'Hassan BaltiSuperb food' for excellent and 'non-standard' food (Lamb Kuchee, Akbari Khana & Jeera rice) produced at the end of what was clearly a very busy evening for them, only just past. Hat-Tip Emoticon Next round's on me 'Standfast'.

'The Path by the Water' Gudgeon Trophy 2015.Well done DavyR.

20156th July 2015. Pond near Heathfield

Pond near HeathfieldSadly, this is the only view I took of the lake, I've not really done it justice - I was pretty much occupied by the fishing. I was sitting on the south bank and the 'Thane of Sussex' was loitering at the east end, encouraging carp (with some success) to take mixers from under a tree or twoPond near HeathfieldThis is the first of half-a-dozen goldfish-influenced fish I caught fairly early on...Pond near Heathfield...and another shown with the well re-varnished cigar box I use as a temporary float holder. As in 'today's floats'. A 4lb or so carp also tripped up during the morning rush.Pond near HeathfieldThere is much to be said for fishing with the most basic of floats and tackle and it's surprising how often it makes no difference at all to the catch. There are days when fish will tow the biggest porcupine quill you've ever seen and a swan shot with an insolent insouciance. If you look closely at this picture, a lot of insects are there or thereabouts, a good hatch is under way.
Pond near HeathfieldNow you might think this is a bit of a crucian. There are several clues as to why it's not. The first two (shown), are the preceding fish which were very definitely goldfish...this fish, although humped like a crucian, has a lateral scale count of 30 (which is marked up for your convenience), which puts it firmly in the goldfish range and at best it's a cru/goldfish hybrid - the dorsal has a reasonable curve to it, but the caudal (not shown here) was markedly forked. I had a lot of fun though, with this guy and four or five of its brethren. Pond near HeathfieldOne of the many roach.Pond near HeathfieldThis carp which was about 5lb or so gave me a serious tussle and like a smaller carp earlier in the day, it was bubbling right under the bank, well inshore of my quill, and as before I stealthily reeled my bait over the bubbles and dropped it where I judged the eating end was. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-zzzzzzzzzzzzz.....Pond near HeathfieldThere was a quiet spell early afternoon, so while I was musing on the meaning of life, these guys lit on the same branch and it seemed two good a chance to miss. I then spent some time spooning bits of bread into the lake to try to draw the carp in a bit and one larger one started to pick off the bread, so I took the tell-tale shot off, removed the float and jammed a cork ball over the link-swivel, spun a small pile of line onto my knee and cast a floating flake. I'd been fishing perfectly well with 6lb line until then but the take I got snapped my line instantly somewhere above the cork-ball...I was using a soft rod and a pin, so I really have no idea why that happened. Slightly hollowed-out I re-tackled and went back to my pitch. Pond near HeathfieldThe last fish to turn up was this common, 10lb or so. The classic, dither, dither, dither, dither, bobble...the first run was impressive though and it took a good five minutes to get to the net. Nothing wrong with my LHSRE and line then...I ponder the likelihood of a weak spot introduced by moving float-stops a bit too quickly.

20157th July 2015. Pond near Michelham Priory. One of the nicest places I've ever fished, the first of three days angling while chez ToSThane of Sussex. A fine way to spend a few days.

Pond near Michelham PrioryThis is the pond from the 'dam' end, looking more or less west I'd say. It's overrun with dwarf lilies and disappointingly was barely 18'' deep anywhere.Pond near Michelham PrioryAll four of these floats were rescued waterlogged by the Thane and restored to usable, if not the original use.Pond near Michelham PrioryHalf-way up on the north side. It's about a foot deep and I nabbed a number of rudd and one careless small carp, while 'The Thane' had settled into the swim one up from the dam on the same bank and was baiting with mixers and picking carp up off the surface. All much the same 3-4lb though.Pond near Michelham PrioryThe 'bag' so far. I then wondered up to the reed bed at the top and nabbed another carp on a piece of bread fished under a quill and some surface freebies. Some interfacing with a tree was part of the landing process.
Pond near Michelham PrioryThe rest of the carp, all small and not in the best nick. The water was perhaps a foot lower than it ought to be, which can't be helping - but to be fair they all put up quite a scrap for their size.Pond near Michelham PrioryI moved, PM, between the ToS and the dam and fished in a gap. I tried for some time to extract gudgeon (none) with a size 16, swinging in a lot of little rudd, which I eyed up as eel-bait, then went back to a single mussel nicked on a size '10'. The carp signalled their intentions with nudged lilies and occasion puffs of clay and fine bubbles, but there were tense periods with singleton bubbles which made me speculate on the so far theoretical crucians.Pond near Michelham PrioryThe lake is wonderfully situated, with the bank behind me a rounded slope of bracken and brambles in bloom, the path was short grass rabbit-mown, all very chalk downland. All too pleasant for words really, the three notes of white noise from the wind in the tree, the reeds and the hedge drifted me into a near trance and twice I was startled by dogs popping around the corner during the afternoon stretch.Pond near Michelham PrioryThe Thane of Sussex, poised, pantherish, like a coiled spring, ready to strike. More or less.

20158th July 2015. Pond near Mayfield. It's a secret, club rules or something like.

Pond near MayfieldThis pond is very nicely set out - the is a path all around - gravel but hey ho, and plenty of boarded swims. It look idyllic on first glance, but the walk around gave me that 'don't quite know where to fish' feeling, which I've come to associate with 'not much of a chance'. The surface was a bit too calm and the water, despite depth seemed to me to lack colour. Never say never though.Pond near MayfieldThe morning zipped past but the only bite I had was on a worm for the almost inevitable small perch. At midday, I was thinking it was a 'Wheeler-Feynman' perch. 'The Thane' was trying to persuade a carp in the northern corner to take a surface bait, but at the point I thought to decamp, this hadn't worked. Pond near MayfieldI parked across the lake in a new pitch and tried again, on the basis that if one side and end was a dud, despite occasional carp leaping at range, the other might be a better bet 100% correct as it turned out.Pond near Mayfield'The Bag', twice the morning's. The rudd is stunning, if small and apologies for the state of the perch, but it twisted out of my hand, presumably trying to bite my arm off. I took my leave about four o'clock, I had a longish drive and I felt the fishing wasn't going to pick up any time soon, although I pondered a late dibble at the solid common mooching under the left hand lily pads, but it didn't seem like it's heart was in it. On the up-side, England were in the ascendency in the first test. so that's all right then...'The Thane' reported sport remained as was, a day or so later. Funny flat day, you get those.

201519th July 2015. Pete's Ponds.

Pete's Pond, LowerA cork-ball special fished under the branches and mostly under the water. Pete's Pond, LowerDown the path towards the dam from the 'umbrella pitch'.
Pete's Pond, LowerLooking down the barrel of the LHSRE, NW across the lake. Notice the 'impossible to forget' rod-rest. Drat, I'll lose it now for sure. Pete's Pond, LowerA handy vase, a boot sale find, now co-opted for those long useful things one collects when one makes floats.

201530th July 2015. YKYMF. I had a plan yesterday to fire mixers across the main lake down which the wind, autumnal and brisk, was doubtless racing and then arc out some decent bits of bread on the LHSREStill the 'Light Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment' for wind-drift fishing. Thwarted, a pity for me there was a match organised...

...the next day, the 7:30am air smelt of autumn, I badly needed music on the STSmall Technology that 'stepped lively', one of the little warning signs, like sitting on the edge of the bed just long enough to think "Here we effing go again." The sun was bright, though seemed a month later in hue; I muse on the annual tread-mill slog-through, is it a programmed response to many house-moves during the upbringing, or some ghost of a migration instinct, just time to walk south for the winter? Is blackberry whisky merely an echo of the harvest instinct after all that?

Desk-bound, the seasons are passing me by, which is why yesterday, realising I was the wrong sort of 'YKYMF'Yippee-Ki-Yay Mummy-Fracker' (I'm paraphrasing)', so took the afternoon off, some days office life just isn't real. JJCJ.J.Cale, obviously's "Oh Mary" shuffles on, I see a momentary image of dancing angels a lá MichaelLike in the film... and the song-writer laughing. This amuses me for a few miles...at the gate, pausing to slip on the ID, I see a 'V' formation in the westward sky, so stop, watch them fly over, count ten heading east with the sounds only in-flight geese make, seems apposite.

Also, yesterday, I caught these fish (among others) and lent my digital scales to 'another angler', the only time they've been used to date.

Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeA very decent and feisty perchKingsbridge, Tranquil LakeThe pitchKingsbridge, Tranquil LakeThe very finest of the roach
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeA 'mould of bream'. The last one really pulled back
I thought it was a tench.
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeThe lone tench and...Kingsbridge, Tranquil Lake...the prettiest rudd.Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeThe best shot of two deer before they spooked.

201531st July 2015. Clearwater Pool. This was a lucky dip and expecting muddy-puddle-mania, to my astonishment I found a nice clear pool, a small stock of carp (plus a very few small tench), a bailiff with an enlightened attitude (plus a few good stories of an area I knew almost as well as he), grassy, under-mown banks, a harvest moon and peace. I blanked of course, properly and contentedly, convinced myself the camera was at home, so took a few STSmall Technology snaps, then found the camera in the car...drat. I'll be back when the leaves start to turn.

Clearwater PoolThe net, the foot, the LHSRE, the pool...Clearwater Pool...the early evening sky...Clearwater Pool...the pool as the sun set...Clearwater Pool...then came the moonrise...Clearwater Pool...and the harvest moon
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 2015

20157th August 2015. Highway Farm. It looked idyllic, both from far away and close up, but halfway down the hill I could see small carp converging on other anglers setting up and realised, with a slight sinking of the heart, what I was in for. I went for the bottom pond, no more than a porcy, two float bands and a size '12' tied right onto the Tuna Reel'sThe Harlow reel 6lb line, then spent an hour extracting a colourful variety of small and slightly gaunt carp, mostly by virtue of dropping bread on the water, waiting until the myriad of small rudd/roach were making the water hiss like a fresh G&T, then dropping a scrap of bread on the competitive carp that followed the commotion. I nabbed a few more with a cockle on the bed, a swan shot required to get it through the fry with any regularity. An hour did for me, I checked the depth at the 'dam' end, nearly six feet and no masses of rudd...I confess to eyeing balefully those fry, with a view to live or dead-baiting for carnivorous carp or the inevitable anguilla. Had the B&W Mk.IV G been over my shoulder...

I moved, set up, caught a few carp off the bottom, same size, all 1-2lb or so. A little hemp brought in 'all the fish' so after a few carplets off-the-bed, nipped out a few more on a heart shaped mixer I'd drilled a hole in with a perch hook, then amused myself by dangling bread just off the surface until the rudd fizzed, then the carp mobbed, then dropping the bait on the first carp that took my fancy. It took half-an-hour to get the one I really wanted, perhaps 3½lb, then I headed up the slope, pausing only to show the Tuna ReelThe Harlow reel to an interested party, although the admonishment to 'take it easy up the hill' a bit patronising. All done, home-drive to the disintegration of the Australian test team, 'The Ashes' back, for a few years anyway.

Highway FarmThe upper poolHighway FarmThe Lower poolHighway FarmThe lower pool looking away from the dam.

A pretty fishery, nicely kept and decorated with live willow arches and handy seats, but such a shame to see the stocking and management as for a goldfish pond. A good place to take a five year old for their first carp. I doubt I'll ever return for myself though.

201515th August 2015. Packhorse Lake. I needed a few hours behind a fishing rod to consider a big thing, so took one rod and pail of hemp to Kingsbridge - I recognised the signs, the lake becalmed, but scooted around the far side to fish by a reed bed in the face of a stiffish breeze. I nabbed a very decent carp twenty minutes in, but it capitulated too quickly, even on the LHSREStill the 'Light Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment' and 6lb line, so I suspected low oxygen levels. With a cockle on a size '10', I picked away at spasmodic bites and took a couple of small bream, a small rudd and a whopping 'mostly roach', the last giving up so easily it really rather confirmed my earlier suspicion. After 90 minutes the breeze died, the bites faded and after another hour I took the hint hand headed for the NWnorth-west corner on the basis 'there be perch' and you never know...in the time remaining to dusk I had just one bite, yielding just one carp, not really fighting its weight either although a few carp were swirling as the light went. Huh. Good though. Got 100 yards down the track and realised I'd made my mind up... MSc...to step off the current treadmill and read for an MSc in Psychology.

Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe first pitchKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe first pitchKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe 15lb common
Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe humongous 'roach'Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second pitchKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second pitch...Kingsbridge, Packhorse Lake...and the result of its sole bite

201518th August 2015. Today is a Big Day. So, 'electronics' is suddenly pro tem something I did...funny, not going to miss it.

201521st August 2015. Freya's day. The senior minion said it would rude not to eat here before I leave. The threads of the Disir Fates do perhaps fan out through space and time as Mrs AA's STSmall Technology, timed to go off at 5am, was face down, no light to guide the fumbling, so took an waking age to find and quell. I sipped a conciliatory EGEarl Grey, no milk naturally and peeked at the cobwebbed dawn. Well, I'm up now, so threw the rod in the car for later and headed, herding the last grey strands, for breakfast, pausing after parking to chat with a tattered grey-winged crow stood on a rock. He angled his head at me, curious, smarter than the average bird. A decent coffee never hurts and bubble'n'squeak. Wyrd.

The Early Starter at the Granby DinerThe Early Starter at the Granby Diner

Then there was a spell of work...then to Revels - 'Pike Lake'. Hint; 'tooltip'.

Revels - 'Pike Lake'So this is the first pitch. The weather was truly wet - on my immediate right there was a large alder, the rain was being driven across the lake from the right (south-west) by a strong wind and despite sitting here for two hours or so, listening to the rain whispering through the branches, I didn't get remotely damp, perfectly positioned in the vortex behind. Heh.Revels - 'Pike Lake'This is the carp which nipped the pink-tipped quill under (needed something a bit floaty as the waves right-to-left were high enough to require more than a cork-ball special) after spending some time hoovering up hemp and flicking the line often enough with various fins to let me know he was on the way. Politely he'd also rolled under the bank to let me know he was in the vicinity. Despite being a solid double there were no long runs, the water is five feet deep here and there was some wallowing, gently soaked up by the LHSRE.Revels - 'Pike Lake'The swim also produced a perch (traditionally), a bream of about ½lb or so and a solid roach in the same range. Then the dips and twitches of the float stopped and after a long stretch of complete inactivity, (the rain had stopped, the wind dropped) I opted to move up the bank to the inviting patch of lilies in the corner...
Revels - 'Pike Lake'...and very inviting they look. The hemp I scattered brought forth bubbles in ones, twos and clumps, or so it seemed and I had a series of tiny bites that barely submerged a cork-ball dibber, the boldest of which, struck, yielded a sprat of a roach. Hm. And then even those bites faded away. I had started to form an idea something was snarking about when the float zipped down suddenly, obliging me to untangle the line from a sprig of blackthorn behind. Revels - 'Pike Lake'However, a few minutes later it bobbed twice, sharply, then vanished and the first 'run' was typical, very very fast and I was lucky to hang on and it took me a moment to realise what I'd hooked. Once out of the lily-stalks I had the upper hand, the fish clearly lip-hooked and simply not having the body-mass to win out. Took two goes to net the bu88er though. I'm starting to like the big eels, I've had three well over 3lb in the last 12 months and am pleased to see them. By golly they certainly pull back. Not another bite, although I sat poised until nearly dusk...pretty good.

201524th August 2015. Bear Right. The moral of "Goldilocks and the three bears" appears to be 'If you're blond and cute you can get away with burglary and theft'. But you won't fool the bears. Oh no. 3BFor the bears to be fooled they'd need to believe 'blonde'='good'. But they're bears...it's about the bears' point of view, not the observer's. Obvs.

201526th August 2015. Binary Float setting. Not that it make a huge difference to one's life but here is how I set the depth. If you know the approximate depth of the water, plus or minus a couple of feet, set the depth to (say) two feet over-depth. Let's pretend that's still too deep. Move the float down to a point that is too shallow. Now, move the float half the distance between the 'too shallow' mark and the 'too deep' mark. Check the depth again and depending on whether this is still 'too deep' or 'too shallow' move the float half the distance in the relevant direction (toward the first 'too shallow' or 'too deep' mark). Check the depth again, repeat etc...

From an initial guess of three feet over, you'll be within an inch of the right depth in seven adjustments or less, every time...if you know the depth reasonably well, set a little deeper than memory suggests (say 12") and using the halve-and-halve again method you'll be within an inch in about four adjustments (12", 6", 3" 1½", ¾").

Of course you don't need a ruler, you can use the rings on your rod to approximate a distance and half of it. 'Simples'.

swivel...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-) swivel...and...wait for it...swivel :-)

September 2015

20154th September 2015. Revels. Pike & Match lakes. Hint; 'tooltip'.

Revels Pike LakeAt the end of 'Desperation Lake' 'all of the carp' were mooching and milling, so I stopped, threw mixers at them then watched a few being picked off. Debated shipping up a rod, but in the end, rather too easy...so hopped over the electric fence and plodded off up the field.Revels Pike LakeThe pick of the day's two pitches, a couple of decent roach, a very decent perch and one of several carpRevels Pike LakeThe first pitch on 'Pike Lake' which yielded a scattering of roach, rudd and perch.
Revels Pike LakeThe wren. These are hard to 'capture' with their never ending movement, but this was one was locked in a 'battle of the song' with another on the other side of me, so obliging, sat still enough for half-a-dozen shots, of which these two are the pick.Revels Pike LakeThe second snap of the battlesome wren.Revels Pike LakeThe second pitch...on the 'Match Lake'. I was hoping for goldfish, there are some good uncoloured ones in here, but in the end just carp and one fine roach. I tottered off before it got dark.

20156th September 2015. Tackle Fair Weather. So, the Romsey Tackle Fair - Nobbyngton-Smythe and myself took a table to raise funds for Fishwives' CornerI say, I say, I say..., but footfalls were not as large as yore we thought and certainly there were fewer exhibitors. But still a fixture and good fun, plus outrageous tiffin from Mrs Arthur2ShedsHat-Tip Emoticon. Managed to not to spend any money...

So to Headlands Farm. Long pondered, looks the right sort of place, but the rules are odd and ambiguous. Anyway, I went on the way home, eschewing the specimen lake for its lack of shade and finding a cool spot on the lower lake with bushes to screen. All good in theory...the water is barely three feet deep and my first two ambushees bolted amid swirls of mud, so switched to a red bobber and fished 5" over depth with two no.8 shot spaced 2½" and 5" from the size '10' and its cockle.

This worked and after one small and surprised roach, nabbed a 5lb or so carp which gave up. Hm. Then 'some small perch', a goer roach, missed a swirler, then connected with one which swum about a lot, 10lb or so.

Headlands FarmThe pitch of the day. It was a nice warm day, but I had a screen of trees behind me and was in a cool and shady spot. Never bad.Headlands FarmThe second carp and the 'slime' of bream, all three of which leapt like tarpon when hooked, one of them twice, then of course they gave in right away. 'I could fight if I wanted to.' Yeah, course you could...Headlands FarmI had a quite a few small roach and perch and this was the pick of the perch by some margin. There were another three carp as well, but, well 'you know', all the same etc.Headlands FarmThis was the last carp and the last fish and it did a good thirty yards on the first run - the water is perhaps three feet and the bottom firm and gravelly - so the fish can only go 'along' and this one did, a lot (14lb).

I alternated cockles and corn for a steady stream of bream, roach, carp spooked by me/rod/tackle, another carp and one solid perch...fun though it was, I nominated a cast as the last, second 'last' got a slidey bite, struck right, felt weight then nothing, was just thinking "buggrit" when the rod curved off to the right as the fish, heading atypically with the pull, belted off down the pool obliging me to stand up in order to improve the sharp angle which otherwise would've kited the fish into the bank. Based on the 'cricket pitch' method it hove-to at a good thirty yards, of which I then retrieved ten...and this is how it went for ten hard minutes, the tuna-reelThe Harlow 'pin ratchet too loud for too long, so I clicked it off for the second half. 14lb on the mat, good old LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and 6lb again, home, warm setting sun, Mrs. AA, red wine....

201512th September 2015. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.

The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A very small porcupine quill very close to the edge, holding up a scrap of bread, aka the 'Weyfarer' method.The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A 'constellation' of cruciansThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The lone and vegetarian perchThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The lone, late and very welcome tench
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'One of the scale perfect little crucians, small but not a hardship to fish for...'Little fish are sweet.' as 'Old Bob' used to say. The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'Another of the scale perfect (but humped for gape defence) little crucians
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view taken with the new 'Small Technology' of the lower Pond from the 'Umbrella Pitch'

201515th September 2015. Blackberry Whisky

Try this steeping for a nice winter warmer; 'assemble' the following:

Any decent supermarket blended 'own brand' is fine. It is really not worth using even a good blended whisky for this (e.g. 'Red Label') never mind any single malt's, as once it has been in with the sugar and blackberries, the quality of the whisky is completely masked. Muscovado sugar will add a touch of flavour and a little colour. I would avoid cultivated blackberries, hedgerow is the way to go, they have more flavour and a better colour.

It does seem like a lot of blackberries but they are relatively insipid, so to get a really intense flavour, quite a lot are required. I would suggest freezing them in batches until you have enough, and I suspect freezing helps the fruit to release its juices once immersed in the spirit.

Put the blackberries, whisky and sugar into a clean demijohn. Shake the demijohn until the sugar has dissolved or until your arms start to ache. Wipe off any blackberries/whisky on person and surroundings, then seal the demijohn with a cork. Carry on shaking. Put the top back on the whisky bottles and keep them to one side - there is no need to wash them out. Shake once or twice a day for the first two weeks then once a week for six to eight weeks in total. In the meantime keep the demijohn in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

After this time, decant back into the original bottles, or indeed any bottles you like. I recommend straining the blackberry whisky through a coffee filter paper using a funnel, to remove any sediment. Do not use kitchen towel, it is likely to flavour the whisky and not in a good way.

This recipe, perfected over several years of intense experimentation, has rather less sugar, pro rata, than many steeping recipes you see around the place. If you would like the finished article to be like treacly cough syrup, be my guest and use more sugar. It is worth checking the final product for taste, as natural fruit varies and occasionally a little more sugar added at the end is a good idea, perhaps 1-2oz, at least for our tastes.

By the way, do not believe all those "And the blackberries at the end are yummy!!!" type remarks. They really are not (the multiple exclamation marks are a giveaway). With all the sugar and flavour leached out, they are bitter and unpleasant, much like slightly narcissistic reality TV show contestants who reach 40 years of age, realise it was all over a decade ago, that they need to get an actual job and no-one likes them or cares.

The finished product, although slipping down all too easily, is about 30% proof. So if drunk to excess, JAA takes no responsibility for the effect on the reader, the reader's brain, or indeed Mrs AA.

2015September 2015. Word-of-the-Day: 'whitherweather'.

whitherweather v. The act of looking at a weather forecast on the pretext that it will make the slightest difference to one's planned course of action.

201520th September 2015. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.

The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A tiny float and a pinch of breadThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A 'constellation' of cruciansThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'CrucianThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'Crucian
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view of the Lower Pond from the the dam side of the 'Umbrella Pitch' (taken with the new 'Small Technology')
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'the smaller of the golden tenchThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'An inevitable small perchThe 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'one of the 'regular' tench

201523rd September 2015. Registration day...

the Old Father, at Kingston-upon-ThamesThe River Thames at Kingston, home from home

201525th September 2015. Pete's Lakes. This trip was over planned, I've never done very well here on the lakes, partly because I think I tend to go 'because I ought' rather than on the whim I mostly follow, but still, two pitches with the finest float in the world (probably) produced only fine rudd of a satisfying size. Pete's company made the day more enjoyable, but there were no crus. for either of us. Pete went on and so I wandered the upper lake finding nowhere which felt fishy, so in the end fished the top of the river arm and after 30 minutes of gentle hemp, I removed, while working through a forgotten flask of Earl Grey, perhaps a dozen-and-a-half roach the largest perhaps ¾lb, on pinches of bread. The moon was up by dusk and my hands chilly; autumn's arrived, in anti-phase to the vanishing crucians.

Pete's LakesThe first pitch...Pete's Lakes...breath ye not, or it will tremble in resonancePete's LakesThe second pitch's float...
Pete's Lakes...and the second pitchPete's LakesOne of the many fine ruddPete's LakesOne of the river arm's roachPete's LakesTime to go

201528th September 2015. Welcome to Kingston, have a nice day...

Fat carp, at Kingston-upon-ThamesI was, admittedly, slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at me in the morning lectures, also reeling from the 10:1 ratio of chapesses/chaps and if I had any concerns that I'd taken a wrong turn, contemplating the morning river-side, seeing this fat lad (15lb+) loitering presumably with duck-bread intent, was reassuring.
split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

October 2015

20151st October 2015. Masterful. A 9am start requires 5am on the road, two hours dead with the rising sun in my face and a ticket issued at the NCP, 15 minutes early for the coffee shop opening so take a turn around the town, then settle in a faux boulangerie for a 'Parisienne', that is a double espresso and a pain au chocolate. It's OK, they change the blare of a local radio station to something smoother and Frencher, small mercies, but it's not the Brioche Dorée at Place de Columbier in Rennes, where an industrial sized pain au' and a double espresso was €1.50. Either the shop means to kid the good and well-heeled folk of Kingston-u-T. or an enterprising French boulanger has decided there is an easier way to make a living.

It occurs that I'm travelling again, my whole life seems to be travelling in one way or another and this, the geographical part, is not worse or more arduous than the other journey I'm about to undertake...here we go then. Electronics just became something I used to do.

20153rd October 2015. Dour Stour: having to drop 'the boy' at a cottage cleaning gig, so think to myself, "I'll try the Stour at Julian's bridge while the permit is current." I took the 'Leeds', the trotting reel de jour, the 15' GTI and fished a shallow run down from the bridge, I missed one bite across the river (I was stood half way across), then after a bit contacted a fish 35 yards down in the really shallow water which pulled hard, I enjoyed the brief head shaking battle even at range, with Fireline you feel connected, a dolphin leap confirmed my suspicion, a trout of perhaps a bit over 3lb, then the hook came away. I nicked a further bite and that was my lot - I fished on down the river, perhaps a mile in every run, glide and hole, at several (and varying) depths with bread and corn and got not a touch, except for a careless minnow, and even that could be felt through the 'fireline'.

River Stour, Julian's bridge.It was every bit as exciting as it looked.

Huh. I cut straight across the fields to the car, pondering the utter stupidity of a couple who were canoeing, themselves without safety gear, but worse had a four year old and a baby not even a year old sitting between legs, on a river with holes that would drowned me. Stupid beyond belief.

20155th October 2015. OK so not a 'logbook' day lbOne of the course modules requires that I keep a logbook of my thoughts after a lecture., but a reset alarm (5:30am) and have time to spare, rain, light easing nearing town, biggest hold up Farnham, thirty minutes maybe, cut through past shops, along Thames. Not bad, A3 tomorrow. Espresso and tarte Normande. Bona. It's starting to feel like college days are the easy days, all Sunday studying, penalty for not knuckling down Wednesday, Friday last week.

20156th October 2015. Au crack sparrow en Kingston.

So this is Kingston-upon-ThamesLe BoulangerSo this is Kingston-upon-ThamesThe espresso and the Tarte CitronSo this is Kingston-upon-ThamesSome chub in the HogsmillSo this is Kingston-upon-ThamesAn optimistic heron with the chub

201510th October 2015. Packhorse: The second degree is eating time and energy, but still thought to fish - but a 'whatever's in the freezer' day, the LHSRE, the Adcock (6lb) and the Kingpin (8lb) as an afterthought. Overcast, grey, a good perch day - foreshadowing the result if not the intention, so fetched myself to a lily bed nearer the west end than not, fished in the lea of it - and had a thumping boring perch of 1lb 6oz right away, then lost another on a hook pull. A roach, a rudd or two on the cockle, then switched to a red flashed nymph hook for the perca f. and had another, scissor-hooked and then had another hook pull to a fish which was twice the size, I felt that loss keenly, as they say. A few more roach, another 1lb 6oz fish, then a carp banged my 6lb line and it strung the trace around a lily before I'd got a grip and the hook knot parted. Pah. I put on drop-shot hook for the colour, the next bite was a common of 13lb or so which resulted in a titanic battle at short range, the rod's curve belying the thin line's capabilities but, nearing the net, the hook, fine-wired, opened enough.

Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the firstKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe windy pitchKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe floatKingsbridge, Packhorse LakeA roach
Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the secondKingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the thirdKingsbridge, Packhorse Lake'parp'

Wasn't so upset as you might be, the swim was trashed, but I had one more carp, a mirror and by 4pm my swim was dead and I proved it, barring a couple of post-scripted roach, goers, but that's that trouble with too many carp. 'Parped'. Huh. Live-bait then?

201511th October 2015. Sunset from Goschen Barn.

Sunset from Goschen Barn, panoramic shot with the New TechnologySunset from Goschen Barn, panoramic shot with the New Technology.

201514th October 2015. Another nice journey - anything less than 2¼hr is nice - but today, changed to Patisserie Valerie, as the cakes look better - they are pricier though. The First Test against Pakistan today and TMS made the second half of the drive more bearable. The cherry frangipan is excellent, if overpriced.

At midday I opted for the other side of the river, to scope out swims and by way of a change. A bivvie was tucked into the end of the small mooring by the bridge, hunkered in the lee, I stopped, talked fishing, and discovered an engaging angler who was still fizzing from his 35lb river carp that morning, his first from the river. I'm not a bleeper fan (even though he was using Fox Micron's) but that's an achievement, extracted from under the prow of the nearest boat. He offered me a bucket to sit on while I ate and a cup of tea, so we passed an hour talking, as anglers do, of fishing and fishing things. Hat tip to him, 'Mark', quite the high point of the last three weeks.

OAU"Onwards and Upwards", as they say. OAUWhenever anyone sincerely says "onwards and upwards" you can be quite sure of two things. (1) You are not moving forwards and (2) your trajectory is fundamentally, 'downwards'.

201515th October 2015. The old world, a 6004 day, a grey flat morning, prised apart by the wedge of red-eyed traffic up the A3...2:07 today, as good as it ever is, too early, I'm finding the haul in a bit much for the moment. Hotel rooms and restful trains are beckoning. On the grown-up BBC radio channel there was 'yet another' 'engineering skills crisis', finding myself in the old world, considering the whole idea of 'generating interest' in technical things at an early age, nothing more than the 'same old same old', i.e. a form of blame shifting. If you want a shortage of skills filled doesn't one pay more money? Always the talk in science and technology is of interest, which as we know doesn't pay mortgages and raise families. Here's a radical sodding idea. Make careers in science and engineering more lucrative and with better career prospects, then quityerbitchin'. The whole 'make it interesting' thing is in itself a reflection of the attitude that somehow 'technical' people are only doing it because they're 'interested'. It's patronising, controlling and dumb.

Toastie, library, lecture in that order. That's the old world, it's a new world now.

201517th October 2015. Bad Luckfield. I knew the lake had problems; but checked the website and headed off, thinking for a single carp or two even. The aerator running put the first nail in the fishing box, I persisted, tried around to 'peg 3', the water was low and for 45 minutes I watched, saw nothing attributable to a fish, any fish, you could see a foot down in the water, rare here, autumn-time anyway. A committee member turned up and we talked about the lake. I asked, at one point, how many carp he thought were in here - he thought no more than fifty. No more? On my own experience of fishing here, the average weight might be almost 10lb, that's 500lb of carp in a lake under one acre with no inflow and precious little exposure to wind. Really? Then add in the eels, the roach, the perch, some tench (the old stocks are gone), re-stocked twice though to little avail. There's at least 600lb of fish in water which naturally might only support 300lb. I'm mystified by this service of the angler ahead of fish welfare and lake welfare, but he goes on, I find out they are taking down a dead oak by the gate, to deter cormorants (meh) and head for 'peg 5' which is as far away from the work party as I can and also the windward end.

Luckfield stock pondThe 'peg 5' pitch, the north end. Looks nice...Luckfield stock pondThe nearly inevitable cork-ball bobberLuckfield stock pondThe robin on the Mk.IV 'G'

There are fish twitching the surface here, one carp crashes between me and the aerator but that was all and after two hours, the highlight being a robin bouncing on my B&W Mk.IV 'G', motionless water and bait made my mind up, packed up and passing a worthy, was asked "Giving up then?", "Oh yes" said I, barely pausing in my stride.

201519th October 2015. Weeeeee..... If you leave the house 20 minutes later then the journey takes another 20 minutes, which is that weird sliding scale of journey time as one nears the rush hour nadir.

Big news is, following my request to take a workshop online at home (freeing Tuesday for reading and in reality at least half of Wednesday), the lecturer did a fine thing and transferred me to Monday at 4pm, which means a longer day, a drive outside of the home-run nadir and a lot more time to work. Just cracking, I felt I was barely keeping up, in truth, down to poor physical condition and early mornings, but a big help nevertheless.

So today I watch the two magpies, where the A3 narrows at the A307 junction, with renewed interest - they stroll nonchalant about the near stationary traffic picking dead insects off the road, I like to see them there. Double espresso with hot water, scrambled eggs on sourdough with fried mushrooms. It's a good start, so stroll along the river, overtaken by a jogger, who's not a natural, head down, heavy tread and she's in turn overtaken by a slight lady in a coat carrying a handbag with the deft sprung step of a seriously good runner just a bit late for the office. A boat's chimney sprays smoke, someone's rising cuppa and I walk through the smoke for the scent of wood-smoke. Worth it.

201522nd October 2015. Leaving the house at O-five-hundred hours...the 'O' stands for 'Oh Great Scott it's early'. In fact up a bit in front of the alarm, left 6:50, less five for fuel, careless planning, still actual journey 2:01, two of the 'pinch-points' open today. Odd, not that big a difference. Still that and TMS's Second Test commentary make today an easy run with only the prospect of handing in a dissertation topic and a PM run to a book-shop, two spikes in the smooth. Coffee and the usual scrambled-eggs on sourdough toast. In truth I don't need the calories. Anon.

More Kingston picturesThe sun rising over Kingston at 7:30am from the top floor of the car-park - I prefer the top floor as (a) it's seldom busy, so fewer mystery dents in my car doors and (b) ten flight of stairs are good for me. Next up, Scrambled eggs on sourdough bread and double espresso. More Kingston picturesThis is about a third of the chub shoal in the Hogsmill by the High Street bridge. They've not missed a day yet and I've seen several well over 5lb. Always fun to watch, even at 'stupid o'clock'.

201526th October 2015. 2:02, not the worst trip in, clocks went back, I wonder if this extra daylight helped. Took a deliberate decision to ease off a bit last week, knowing I had two extra days a week from this week and also with 'reading' and 'themed' weeks looming. As a result I feel 'different'. Somewhere between more relaxed and a foot back in the logic of the old world. Funny. Today and tomorrow I dive headlong back into the shades-of-grey, the new world now. But first, the espresso, scrambled-eggs and sourdough. The breakfast of larks and loons.

2015October 2015. The Rules According to Hardware

These will cover most engineering disciplines. Read the notes in the voice of 'Edmund Blackadder' from 'Blackadder II', or a really sarcastic John Cleese.

  1. Ethics matter.
  2. Safety Matters.
  3. Specify, review, design, review, verify. In that order.
  4. "C.C.C."   Correct. Clear. Concise. In that order.
  5. The design shall have a specification, or it will not be possible to tell when the design is finished. So it never will be. sp   It is jaw-droppingly stupefying just how many pieces of design are started with no clear specification, sometimes to avoid the tedium of writing things down, but more often to avoid someone having to actually commit themselves.

    As a Design Engineer one is strongly advised to write a specification oneself and put it in front of the people who have asked for a design, should one not be forthcoming.

    It's quicker in the long run.

    Yes it is.
  6. There never seems to be enough time to do something properly the first time, but always time to do it again when that didn't work (again).
  7. If one thing is changed, then re-verify everything
  8. There is no such thing as a 'current rating' for a wire or a PCB track. ac   There is however, a current for which the said conductor will operate at some degrees above ambient.

    There is also a resistance and inductance and these need to be considered against peak current density - the resulting voltage fluctuations, however momentary, can cause problems that take a lot of finding. Especially if they are during EMP testing at type approvals time...
  9. One cannot have too much ground.
  10. The schematic is the design. sch   It is as well to remember that the schematic doesn't belong to you, but to your employer.

    It is as well to remember other people need to use the schematic after you.

    No 'mystery signals', components without values, unnecessary un-joined signals on the same page, port pins with no corresponding port pin somewhere else, enable destination page numbers etc. ... and include a block or system diagram.

    These things matter. An error is an error and drawings that increases the chance of an error later in the process, are at best careless or inconsiderate and at worst, just lazy.

    And always cost more money.
  11. Signal names shall be consistent and make sense across a PCB and a system.
  12. If it can have a second source then it shall have a second source. A third source never does any harm srce   It can be tedious to sort this out but this is still 100% less tedious than having to continually drop what you're doing to sign concessions for manufacturing and/or find new parts. Or worse, design changes 'on the run'.

    As an added bonus, multiple sources give purchasing a chance to keep costs down, which they quite like. Part of purchasing's role or something.

    It's part of the job.
  13. There is always a way.
  14. There is always another way.
  15. Always have a plan...or planning to fail you are. pl1   ...but it needs to be a proper plan. One starts with a specification, then one earnestly works out the resources needed to design and manufacture such a geegaw and if this date is later than the business needs, then one adds resource.

    This contrasts with most 'planning', which is to decide when you want to sell it, don't specify it, take no notice of anyone who counsels that there's not enough/time or resource and then browbeat/blame everyone else when it's late. Typically this involves a 'project planner' (who doesn't have to be a weasel, but mostly is) who has a plan detailing exactly how things went and a future timescale which at best is 'wildly optimistic' and at worst, might as well have one big task called "Once a upon a time..."
    pl2   One of these approaches is used by successful businesses that have to hit narrow product launch windows on a regular basis, just to stay in business and also by large aerospace companies managing multi-subcontractor contracts worth millions of spondulas often with seven figure penalty clauses for being late.

    See if you can guess which is which?
  16. In testing and verification, remember than for a sample size of one, there is no probability you have tested the design, just that one piece of kit. twt   Statistically, a sample size of '1' yields a standard deviation that is 'undefined'. So there is a very small probability you have verified anything other than the piece of kit in front of you...

    Even if that worked for you 'the last time'.
  17. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It is not broken only if the design has been 100% verified.
  18. Cost always matters. lsd   Target costs shall be part of the specification.

    Sometimes expediency trumps higher costs, but you still need to pay...and keep paying...

    In these days of type approval testing, unless the product in serious volume manufacturing, once costs are locked into a product by not designing to a specification, or simply not removing the surplus cost, the product will literally spend years shipping out the door with an imaginary bank note taped to it - which one can't then justify the money or resources to change...

    Would you do that with your own money? Thought not.
  19. There is no prize for investigating the mystery, only for finding the problem. The fastest way to do this is the right way fubar   A lash-up for development purposes or as an experiment is fine.

    Once you've passed that point and have designed a product, if it doesn't work, that is there is a 'fault' then an 'error' has been made on some level. This happens.

    However, absolutely the last trait I want to see in a design engineers is enjoying fault finding new designs.

    I want people working for me who are really really determined to avoid doing this. Because that's easier in the long run.
  20. When it's very shiny, stop polishing.
  21. You cannot polish a piece of mud (I'm paraphrasing). poo   'Mud' rhyming with 'hit'.
  22. Whenever you are involved in a third-party's statement that uses the word 'we', it as well to recall this old joke lr   The Lone Ranger & Tonto are riding into a box canyon. At the far end, our hero notices an army of Comanche Indians in full war-paint, glaring down from the cliff walls.
    To his left he notices a host of furious looking Arapaho Indians staring down.
    On the right is a host of well-armed Cherokee Indians peering over the rim of the canyon.
    Looking behind, he sees every Apache brave in the world slowly creeping into the canyon, blocking the exit.
    "I think we're in big trouble." said The Lone Ranger.
    "What you mean 'we', Kemo Sabe?"
    or this ch   "Be ... suspicious ... of all those who employ the term 'we' or 'us' without your permission. This is [a] form of surreptitious conscription ... Always ask who this 'we' is; as often as not it's an attempt to smuggle tribalism through the customs." - Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian .
  23. The primary function of a business is to stay in business biz   For any business, the basic principles are broadly the same:

    Sell the customer what they want at the price they are willing to pay.

    Work out how to make a profit on that.

    The 'horse before cart' principle is well established, following shortly after the development of the wheel. There's a reason why they are in this order.

    The moment you find yourself thinking that what you are selling is 'worth more' than folk will pay, you're on a slippery slope indeed. If it took four hours to make 'it' at £20 an hour and the customer will only pay £40, it don't matter a rat's derriére what you think it's worth.

    As an example, there are those who think 'handmade' is better than 'mass produced', those same folk however, would baulk at paying £1,000 for a £100 TV, which would be the price of a 'hand soldered' one...
  24. Training will rarely make a twit into a useful employee. nob   Something something "silk purse" and a "sow's ear".
  25. It is a good idea to occasionally consider whether one was just really lucky the last time...
  26. Just because it worked before, doesn't mean it will work again. nut   You've doubtless come across the phrase: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    A moment's quiet reflection will assure you that using this phrase to try to stop this very thing happening is by definition 'insane' as it hasn't yet stopped reams of numbskulls doing just that.
  27. Learn to accept when you are wrong and that this, in itself, doesn't matter. Everyone is at some time err   What matters is the right thing gets made and shipped at the right cost and sold at the right price.

    If the office cleaner spots a mistake, thank them.

    Conflict resolution is appropriate in some instances, but can be a luxury. The business is best served by ensuring the best decision is made and that will occasionally mean someone having to grow up and accept they were wrong.
  28. ...finally. We are not hobbyists or geeks. We are professional engineers who have qualifications in difficult and challenging subjects at school and at degree level. If we say it will take a month then it will. Saying "It needs to be done sooner than that!" or "Make it happen!" more loudly does not change this. mih1   No it doesn't.

    Have you not not read any of the above?

    It does however; change the current valuation of the shouter on the 'nob' scale, moving this estimation (which is often carried out by extremely numerate and objective engineers) rapidly to the highest score possible.

    Respect and loyalty scores simultaneously move equally rapidly in the other direction.
    mih2   There is a whole generation of would-be managers out there who think the being a manager is simply a case of transfixing the hapless underling with a firm stare and saying emphatically "Make. It. Happen." If only life was that simple, because if it was the case no-one would need managing at all, they could take turns saying that to each other. (I blame films and TV). . As Fiske notes (1993 p623), stereotyping "operates in the service of control". Next time you use the word 'nerd' or 'geek', you might consider this.

If you've just read the above and think I'm an old cynic who'd rather bitch about things that get the job done, Mrs. AA has just told me at her 'well know high street name' place of employment, they have been instructed in small groups to put the highest marks on their 'employee satisfaction survey' "so that we weI refer you to the rule above, concerning the use of the word "we" by a third party. all get bonuses."

I'm not making it up.

Some staff are perplexed by this approach as, with morale currently lower than the bottom of a spring tide in the presence of a passing exoplanet, there's kind of a feeling, that were the management to deal with, for example "requests for holiday and days off", "staffing levels that would allow jobs to be completed by the end of shift" and "staff who are openly skiving or stealing goods", the morale issue may well resolve itself. Just sayin'...

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."~~ Albert Einstein ~~

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

November 2015

20152nd November 2015. Woodpecker Pool. Sussex.

Woodpecker PoolThe first float, fished on the liftWoodpecker PoolThe first pitchWoodpecker PoolThe second float, a cork ball rigged after the aborted take.Woodpecker PoolThe late butterflyWoodpecker PoolThe second pitch, site of the second aborted take
Woodpecker PoolWoodpecker Pool
Woodpecker PoolThe dam-end leaf-driftWoodpecker PoolThe float amongst the bream bubblesWoodpecker PoolThe blank breakerWoodpecker PoolThe last gasp abramis

20153rd November 2015. Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond, Sussex.

Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry PondThe non-car-park side of Belfry pond Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry PondThe non-car-park side of Belfry pond
Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry PondBelfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond

201519th November 2015. Some notes on what has become something of a routine. The shipping forecast has become my introduction to the world, starting three minutes after hitting the road and I switch to long wave for its softer and more reassuring tones. Then I usually see plane-lights in-bound to Hern, hear about the farming world via the M27 in the New Forest and 'Tweet of the day' as I pass Hedge End. As I get to Guildford, around 7:45am, I generally switch to Classic FM, often depressed by the current news on a loop, certainly saturated, so resist the bleak of it.

Today, I haven't booked parking, this is cheaper for part-days, paying only for that used, not in advance for what I might use. And so to the philosophy of science. And now we see...

201530th November 2015. Takes a deep breath. Well, that's one essay over and done with...my first one since 1981...*

* Passed it, but on the line. Thought I could write. Turns out 'not'.

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

December 2015

20151st December 2015. 'Reflections on Still Water'. I've just had my first glimpse of Peter RolfeThe 'Crucian Crusader', this way to 'crucians.org'...'s new book and thought I would share it with you. Hope to see some of you at Shaftesbury Arts Centre on Saturday 5th for the book-launch and a signed copy.

'Reflections on Still Water'Reflections on Still Water - dust jacket 'Reflections on Still Water'Reflections on Still Water - Fishing Tales

Several things are happening on the day, including an auction of a copy of "The Net on the Garage Wall" (so I'll have to give it back first). Chris Yates has promised to pop in, as have Hugh Miles and Peter Wheat.

20152nd December 2015. Piking on the Frome.

I got it into my head to essay a spot of piking on the Frome - taking only the 8ft, some braid and the strange contraptionous end tackle that is now the club's idea of sensible piking. Duh. The water was not nearly clear enough for good sport and despite fishing all nooks, eddies and crannies for upwards of four hours, I got not a snatch nor a snap. Bait-fishers were catching sporadically, where the pike were was entirely another matter. The blue tit (complete with ring'd leg) was just a good shot out of the man-cave window. No other reason.

Pike Rules and ringed footThe 8ft rod, the champagne cork float, the 35lb braid, the 1 meter of 35lb nylon, plus a pike trace of 'good quality'. I kid you not, those are 'the rules'. Plus, oh yes, don't forget TWO pairs of 18-inch forceps, an unhooking mat and a weighing sling to release the fish. Pike Rules and ringed footBlue tit with ringed foot

Then there are the 'pike rules': a 30cm wire trace (of 'good quality', whatever that means. I've never seen a shop bought one as good as my own) of 33lb breaking strain, plastic covered or single strand wire. Then one meter of 35lb nylon mono which can be connected to braid at that point. Plus, oh yes, don't forget TWO pairs of 18-inch forceps, an unhooking mat and a weighing sling to release the fish. The local tackle shops must love these rules.

There should be rules for a water, but sometimes it feels like rules are to put people off fishing for pike. However, even if the rules are silly, heed them if one fishes. If one dislikes the rules that much, don't fish there. Which is why my piking will now be downstream of this club's waters, as I prefer an 18" wire trace made and tested myself (so, you know, 'better than the rules') to the b/s of the mainline, which will be 17lb mono or 30lb braid. I use single hooks for the most part these days, get yourself some bass crab-hooks and take George Sharman'sFor some inexplicable reason, the most under-rated carp fishing book, with much good (and evidence based) advice on all sorts of topics. advice on 'cutting points' on hooks. Notice on the below, the loops are double crimped, mostly because most wire-trace crimps are brass, which means they're not brilliant (I feel it's too hard a metal for the job), so I crimp one in each orientation and then put heat-shrink over cyanoacrylate over the whole crimp. The hooks are wired on with a knot-less knot and then more heat-shrink over cyanoacrylate to keep them snug.

high quality pike tracesTwo single hook traces in soft multi-strand wire, one large circle-hook and one bass crab-hook. high quality pike tracesTwo single hook traces in soft multi-strand wire, one large circle-hook and one bass crab-hook.

So 'high quality' shop stuff be damned. While we're on the subject I'd love to get hold of some copper crimps, they're softer metal and deform around the wire when crimped, giving a better hold and are less likely to damage the wire on crimping.

201513th December 2015. Bargain. A spot of breakfast with the LittleAnglers, a boot sale and some applied psychology and I have this fine thing for £8.

Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.

201518th December 2015. Dairy House Lakes. Hint; 'tooltip'.

Dairy House LakesThe east end of 'specimen lake' - it's about 2' deep and despite fishing cockles over hemp/bread for an hour, I got no sense that fish were there - not even movement on the rest of the lake, in contrast fish were moving on both the other lakes.Dairy House LakesThe first pitch and its quillDairy House LakesI capitulated and fished for an hour at the south end of the lowest (Park Lake) and nabbed three carp (the first three shown), one in the margin, 12'' from the bank, on two cockles, then two more fished about 6' from the bank, one on cockles and the curiously purple one on a piece of bread about the size of an old 50p piece. They were coming to the top, picking off the shreds of bread from my ground-bait, but I opted to fish under the fish.Dairy House LakesHaving bent a rod (the B&W Mk.IV G s/u, perhaps over gunned for carp to 5lb), decamped to Oak lake, this time at the west end, where I'd been steadily baiting this pitch. Nought happened for two hours, nothing stirred not even a mouse - well on that lake - despite the colour in the water.Dairy House LakesI went back to Park lake, fished with the wind in my face for 90 minutes, had some rudd, a tiny roach (scraps of bread on a size '14' got a bewildering variety of slow bites which would've needed finer tackle than I'd fish in a lake rammed with 4-5lb carp). Cockles under the trees didn't catch hoped-for perch - there were some decent fish to 8oz in bunches when last I fished, but all that came was one more carp.
Dairy House LakesDairy House Lakes, 'Oak' and 'Park'. It was a nice enough place when it was £7 for a day, but £10 a day is pricey for what it is and £12 for the tiny specimen lake is not for me, value for money - one used to be able to fish it with all-round tackle and it has roach and gudgeon, good even on a cold day but there's now a 10lb line and 40'' net rule.

201528th December 2015. The Dead Tree lake at Revels. Hint: 'tooltip'.

Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'The pink tipped quill. It flickered a bit, if I fished with bread on the '14', but I swapped it fairly quickly for a cork-ball special and a size '16'. For my own memory, I was fishing the LSHRE, the '44x, 6lb line and a fine braid hook-link.Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'The air temperature was about 10°C, but with a stiff breeze down the small lake in my face, as well as pushing the fish up here, got me very cold over the next 3½ hours.Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'During this time, I caught perhaps a dozen 'skimmers' to about 5oz, the same number of fingerling roach, cold to the hand and four carp, two of which were in the 2-3lb range, one about 6lb and one about 10lb. I nicked one more carp and lost something that felt much like a very big roach, but not having seen it I've no real idea. The highlight, if not the largest carp (which ran twenty yards, gingerly retrieved to keep the tiny-hook hold intact), were this series of gudgeon that came to the tiny flecks on bread on a 16.Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'I moved at 3pm to a more sheltered spot, nearing exposure, even though the fish were still biting. Moved, on the next lake's leeward bank, to warm and drink tea, brought me a nicked carp, two more bream, one a small bronze and two more small roach. I spent the last 40 minutes working through half of the flask's 'Christmas Spice' tea and warming a little. Stiff and cold then, dammit, when did I get so creaky?
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December 2015

2015's Books

"Raising Steam" by Sir Terry Pratchett.star rating
The usual run of hilarity, sly digs and in-jokes as steam-power comes to Discworld. Great fun and a good read and the Patrician out-thinks us all again.
"My Outdoor Life" by Ray Mears.star rating
A surprise birthday present - a very good read indeed with some great insights. If you like it outdoors, you'll like this book.
"The Idle Angler" by Kevin Parr.star rating
Just read this, after keeping it 'on ice' since Christmas - on purpose - as a good read for a week-end away. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it was too short...read cover to cover in one sitting (a rare treat in itself) and was transported...oh wait but it didn't fully explain where the best perch spots at Barton's Court are exactly... ;-)
"The Whole Hog" by Lyall Watson.star rating
Good and interesting as usual with Mr. Watson.
"The Goddess and the Alphabet" by Leonard Shlain.star rating
This book left me almost open-mouthed with its reach and implications. The idea that literacy and the alphabet reinforces left-brained male traits to the point where literate societies were almost always born in a welter of misogyny and blood, is carefully argued and beautifully spread out across the centuries for you to take in.
The left brain's focus and the right brain's being has peculiar resonance with angling and my own profession - an explanation as to why attention to detail is the obstacle to seeing the bigger picture and vice versa - although most who think they are 'looking at the bigger picture' and are therefore smarter than the detailers toiling away, are of course, let's be kind, misguided.
If I was to carp at all, it's that there is a hint of confirmation bias (are there any major societies where this didn't happen or the reverse occurred?). However, the rise of images as communication media, TV and image based messaging services give one some hope that the world will change for the better. One, of course, can't believe everything seen in pictures and videos - but not everything that is written down is true either. Even this. You'll need to read the book for yourself.
"The Death of Kings" by Bernard Cornwell.star rating
It is unwise to pick a fight with a man who has two swords.
"A Darker Domain" by Val McDermid.star rating
"A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin.star rating
I've cracked and read it. It's true, nearly everyone dies, there's a lot of violence and the 'other stuff'. Riveting. For a bit. Then you start thinking, 'get on with it' and midway through book two I lost interest...
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