So. Still here. Hah. One of the best things about a self-propelled blog is that I don't ever have to argue about what I write. It's peaceful.
"We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn't any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work."psycOi, psychologists at the back. Talking to you now. ~~ Richard Feynman in his 1966 Nobel Lecture ~~
"They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game" ~~ R.D. Laing ('Knots' p.1) ~~
However, there is one certain way to beat a game-player...which is my secret. RDLThe gamers may care to note: I won't play the game, will call you out on your game and call it a game. In front of everyone.
You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1st January 2017. Happy New Year.
In 2016 I took exams, started to learn critical thinking and how to write essays. Some called my intellectual 180° U-turn 'brave'. I thought they were being complementary. In the run-up to the exams, I realised they were quite wrong, it was more like temporary insanity. Still. lo...although, I passed everything, after some minor flailing about. psy'Insanity' is now something I have a better than average understanding of.
"Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom." ~~ Sir Terry Pratchett ~~
"It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done." ~~ Sir Terry Pratchett ~~
It is extraordinary that in a world where almost anything can be discovered with a few strokes of a keyboard, that so many are so disinclined to find out anything for themselves. It baffles me, frankly. Perhaps ignorance really is bliss? It's certainly ignorance.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~~ Santayana ~~
To which one might add, that those who remember the past are condemned to failure by the same argument. In any event, may 2017 bring you peace and fishes.
2nd January 2017. The 'SkyLiner' Carp Rod.
This 12' 2¾lb test curve rod was 'found' by the ToSThane of Sussex during a misty day's fishing last year. He had already found a broken waggler-rod tip-section of some kind and while my request for "A complete rod next time..." was tongue-in-cheek, he returned some time later with this. It appeared to have been launched javelin-like into a reed bed and barring one broken ring, the first one on the top section, is sound if not a top-of-the range rod. One can only assume the original owner had a very bad day. It will, with a new ring out of the box, do very well for casual piking or sea-fishing.
I fitted a double-leg ring that more-or-less matches the broken single-leg ring. I whipped this on with a green 'D' grade thread, because it needed some colour and then for fun put another green whipping on the 'counter' end of the tip section. I then painted the top two inches of the tip-section white and whipped bands of orange and yellow thread over it, to make the tip easy to see. From 50 yards. I also noticed the real seat is floating at the top end, in fact there's a 0.5mm gap between the winding check and the seat. So I bored several 3mm holes in the seat and then injected hot-melt glue into the holes and cut back the excess. OK so that's all fixed then. Nearly. I bought some garish shrink-wrap handle stuff for the bottom end and put it on, mostly to see what it looked like.
|The whipped tip||The reel-seat fill-in||The garish butt-end|
11th January 2017. Kingsbridge, Packhorse.
The air had warmed to a balmy 9°C and there was a fresh wind so, wanting to fish water with movement, I took the remaining worms and some better than expected maggots for a dip. Initially it all felt 'right', it was just good to see waves after a month of flat still water, so I cheerfully fished in a stiff breeze for two hours, keeping the rod-tip on the float, so its apparent upwind drift could be ignored. One carp rolled giving me hope, but nothing else. I worked through my baits ending with one maggot on an '18' and when even this didn't flicker, conceded, went for a stroll, picking up what I thought were two drifting boilies, which turned out to be oak-apples on a leaf. Huh. All the mixers I'd flicked ('spooned') were bobbing in the margins, untouched, so I headed for the other end of the wind.
|The windward end, with its encouraging waves...||...and the float.||The peculiar oak-apples.|
5.1°C here, warm enough, 5.9°C directly opposite where two trickles of metallic water oozed across the path. Next swim down 5.1°C. I pick up an old shell from the gravel deposits, seed the reeds with mixers and head back to the second pitch. The sun is low, bright, the wind is fish-tailing and I've seen one fish, a carp, at the other end. Not a ripple otherwise. I wait. I've caught fish on less promising days, but today feels like an empty promise. I muse wandering with worms as at least I'll be moving. 3pm, two hours is plenty of time for a change. Hm.
At 3:30, with my body temperature sinking, neglecting to bring a flask and half of my thermals, I decide that no fish at 4pm would send me back through the two gates (which I loathe). Naturally, I get two dithery bites on maggots both of which produces small rudd. Enthused, although not warmed, I persist to the first tendril of dusk and the rising moon, but that was it...I must work out how to get my camera to take the scene exactly as it looks.
|The leeward end...||...and its first float.|
|The very old shell,||the wind-driven sky...||The 'bag'||...and the bad moon rising.|
I raise my core temperature yomping to the car, but not as much as I'd like. The STThat's the Small Technology', or for the hard of abbreviation, 'smart phone'. produces "Gimme Shelter" which is apposite and I ponder a bucket of bread-and-hemp, the best cold-water spadge, which had slipped my mind of late.
15th January 2017. Loved River by H.R.Jukes. I read of this in 'Waterlog' and wondered, much like when I stumbled across Negley Farson's great book NFNegley Farson's 'Going Fishing' illustrated by C.P.Tunnecliffe. , where had the 'Loved River' been all of my life? It's a simple account of the author creating the river of his dreams from the river of his childhood. By stages it becomes apparent that the river and the denizens of its valley, beautifully drawn, are tenants, that the whole is part of some estate. It is shot through with wit, beauty, engineering and above all a deep respect. The players are finely drawn, the old schoolmaster, the school-friends, the effortless charm of a good friend, the grotesquely self-entitled and the tenants. The latter are by turns indulgent, sly, slightly irreverent and decent. One must always take care with the pictures drawn by one in a privileged position, but its self-deprecation and humility rings true. You leave the 'Loved River' reluctantly wanting to know more, but that, tantalisingly, knowingly, is held just out of reach. Mesmerising, like the river itself.
|H.R. Jukes 'Loved River' map.|
Here shall he fear no enemy,
But Winter and Rough Weather.
P.S. It's a total fiction by the by, but what in fishing is all truth?
24th January 2017.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." ~~ Thomas Pynchon from his 1972 novel 'Gravity's RainbowGravity's Rainbow is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon, traversing a wide range of knowledge, the novel transgresses boundaries between high and low culture, between literary propriety and profanity, and between science and speculative metaphysics.'. ~~
27th January 2017. I was saddened by the passing of Rick Parfitt in late 2016. 'The Quo' were a big part of my 1970's and 1980's, part of 'the warehouse' culture, along with cowboy boots (guilty), swaggering a bit and rolling yer overall sleeves up to the elbow. I saw them perform at least half-a-dozen times and played their early albums incessantly. In the late '80's they went a bit 'pop'...I recall Chris Tarrant saying of 'Burning Bridges', "It was a nice record but hardly music to bang your head on the furniture with"...or words to that effect. I ceased my slavish buying of albums and recycled the existing vinyl on my 'Dual CS505', rattling the 'Wharfdale Diamonds' on their steel-spiked stands....
The other night on BBC4 was the documentary 'Hello Quo'. I enjoyed it enormously, although it was really really 'Spinal Tap' - it really was. I can't help thinking this was deliberate, during the 'Spinal Tap' interview in which the blundering dysfunctional duo riff out one of their 'first hits', there's definitely a sense it's not unlike 'Down the Dustpipe'. And that's before the cod artifice of 'Listen to the Flower People' pomm'Pictures of Matchstick Men', 'Ice in the Sun', pick one. and 'Gimme Some Money' mkgsThere's at least three tracks on 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon' this could be mocking, but I'll go with 'Shy Fly'... . So very hard to see the join.
Anyhoo, nodding a bit, I boogied off to download 'Quid Pro Quo'. It's just terrific and harks back to those thumping great days of 'Blue for You' and 'On the Level' and stirs a vague memory of listening to 'Rain' from outside Penn village hall, while 'Joanne the Harlot' tried to get me to do something sacriligeous in a churchyard cthI felt obliged to decline said offer or inducement. One must have standards, even with a harlot . Today, I ached, winter grippe, this album quite took me back to 1979 and cheered me. Rock on. Again. And Again. aaaAh come on, you can see what I did there.
28th January 2017. Had to drag the hound, the Little-anglers all toiling. Wonderful light, but only had the SMIt's a Blackberry, I like them. on me. I planned to get the camera and go back down the lane, but by the time I'd descended the hill, the clouds were zipping over.
|The church-yard snow-drops are, of course, wonderful.|
|An unusual view of the place||The winterbourne, unusually dry at the end of January, possibly foreshadowing a dry year.|
|The view from up the hill|
|Safety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page)||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook|
|crucian...(and back to the top of the page)||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Carassius Carassius||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian|
1st March 2017. Quiet, isn't it?
hamThe words "I don't like it sir, it's too quiet..." are traditionally muttered by an NCO at the head of cavalry troop to the commanding officer, shortly and presciently before an arrow appears in said NCO or officer, depending on the star billing of the respective actors.
The laws of narrative causality are so powerful, it's now almost impossible for an NCO to mutter those words without something terrible happening to him or the officer. But, oddly, never both.
10th March 2017. Words-of-the-Day: 'mystify', 'flennel'. If I were to take up Morris Dancing, both legs would have bells on.
mystify v. To befuddle, cloud, obscure, mask whatever is going on. The substitution of false for true constructions of what is being experienced, being done (praxis), or going on (process), and the substitution of false issues for the actual issues.
flennel v. 1. To use a lot of words to avoid telling the truth or answering a question, as part of an overall strategy to construct a new narrative by mystifying the old narrative, possibly in order to deceive. 2. To masquerade as a rustic in an attempt to prise cash from gullible internet users, book buyers or anglers. ToSMy thanks to the Thane of Sussex for the second definition of 'flennel'.
14th March 2017. Curiosity, proverbial. It occured to me that the slender carbon switch leaning on the window-sill, aka an 'ice rod', might make a fine thin flexible tip for a salmon fly-rod tip section, as part of an experiment to make a tough adaptable 'all round' rod.
16th March 2017. Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE).
It had been in my mind for some time, that is, to make a 10' two-piece 'stalking rod' from the top two sections of a 15' 10-12 aftm Hexagraph salmon rod. One such hove across the bows for a silly price, so broad-sided it, and it arrived in a tube a few day later.
In theory this was a simple job; put a handle on the bottom part of the middle section and move a few rings about. If only...the finished rod is 10' long and has a test curve of some 3lb. One must use this rod with very strong hooks...I made a landing net handle out of the butt section.
The build entries are rather spread out...taking some 18 months from purchase to bank-side. Ah well.
20th March 2017. Curiosity. Drat. The slender carbon switch mentioned in the below entry was exactly the wrong size to add a slender tip to the fly-rod tip section. Simply put, if I had cut the fly-rod tip section back to allow the insertion of the 'tip' I'd have ended up with a 'broom-handle-with-a-quiver-tip' type of affair which was not the idea at all.
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
2nd April 2017. Not foolish. Cabin-fever, so bundled the bait bucket, cockles and the LHSRE. The end of the lake without any anglers, a swim with invisible features at this time of the year, plus sun-shine, hot enough to remove my coat. I spadged the swim after sitting with flake-on-the-hook-on-the-line for a while, cruising carp for the potential tempting of. They were mooching, not feeding. I gave this up, put on a tiny quill and a fine-wire size '14', then fished in four-foot-eight of water, six feet out from the platform, from a seat behind it. A carp swam carefully and indifferently between my float and me. I removed a few wood-ants from the bait bucket and ducked a few gorse-entranced dumbledores.
|Calm, blue, carp-mooching sorta day||...and the float.|
|Spike the perch popped by||...and his slighty expectant sister...||...and their big brother|
|Gorse flowers at their best, I could even smell them.||''When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season''. True, but they are at their best around now tho'|
The float jiggled away and the satisfying pull revealed the first of three perch, so I immediately added a wisp of red tinsel to the hook. Threafter bites were a satisfying wait apart, easy to work through the fresh coffee while also nabbing four good roach, perhaps two over 1lb. Then the last and largest perch really pulled the rod tip over hard, the float slipping away after a scatter of fry around. Then a small roach and two 1lb bronze bream, hand-landed to spare the net. Four hours was up, good enough.
|Suprisingly good roach #1||Suprisingly good roach #2||Suprisingly good roach #3||Suprisingly good roach #4|
8th April 2017. Today I saw my first swallow of the year.
|OK it doesn't make it summer, but still...|
14th April 2017. Goldfinch.
|This fine fellow was breakfasting on dandelion seeds, not a bad shot for being taken through the window with the bird at the far end of the garden.|
Three more turned up about coffee time, which was nice. Saw a big hedgehog behind the bin yesterday, nice to see them making a small comeback, at least chez JAA.
|Three more turned up about coffee time||Three more turned up about coffee time|
24th April 2017. Old home, new home.
|Ok, it's not a work of art, but still...|
The swallows seemed OK with the placement of last year's nest onto a bespoke shelf - simply building this year's nest on top of the old one. Heh.
|...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)|
6th May 2017. Field curiosities.
|This, it turned out, was a Black Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus), about 1¼'' long I'd say. Rare now apparently.||A fine Early-Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula), not a great picture, it was rather stretching the old 'Small Technology' camera.|
25th May 2017. Kingsbridge. Having reached a milestone in the studies, I awarded myself a day out, grabbed the big Hex, with it's paint strippped between rings, bought a loaf of white, a hot-cross-bun loaf, a pack of mussels and some very cheap prawns-in-the-shell. I avoided the temptation to mow down the boiler-suited chap on the track and carried a chair to Wellington for one who's barrow was bust.
I ambled off to the other end, one o'clock by now, to fish Widgeon but was diverted up by a thin mat of debris and a scatter of carp. I snuck around to the other bank, tackled up behind a bush and spent a while cork-balling a prawn and watching circling carp. This failed, so I tried several pieces of bread (discovering that bread in the detritus was not spotted by gulls) and after a long long wait, a carp nabbed my hook bait and I struck, it all went solid and then the hook returned...the Wellington bogey still good then. I recast, flicked a few free bits and waited...and waited...and waited. The take was positive and I realised on the first long run this was the '66x with the dodgy clutch. Mental note. The carp gave in more-or-less after the long run. So much for the bogey.
All other carp having evaporated, I headed for Widgeon, scoffed two fine scotch eggs, then spent almost an hour fishing a long crust on the patch of lilies in the far corner. Encouraging movements, but a bailiff arrived and it didn't seem so good after that. Apparently there's a 'twenny' in here. So I snuck back around to the opposite bank of the Boot Lake and again fished prawn-on-the-deck, while carp ambled about. There were too many movements in the trees on my right to ignore, so I placed a piece of bread right into the branches. Then watched fish after fish mooch through, but one dark one, not mating-minded was sucking branches and I felt I only had to wait...
...a very long wait, stood behind a bush and just when I thought it was nearly over, another carp swanned in from stage-left and snaffled the bread in one gulp. OK then. That counts. The fish under the tree departed, I looked at the other end, thought better of it then sat on the most northerly swim on Tranquil (where they've cut down the tree that gave one shade, cover and a decent patch of Fly Agarics) and left the cork-ball to fish a prawn unaided while I sorted out a re-tackle to 10lb and a float. Onto Packhorse...
|Wellington from the east end||Having an amble, so not bothered...||Looking down the Big Hex|
|Do like this common, dark & lean. Wish they all were.|
|The cork ball behind the reeds||The smaller common, so much for my Wellington bogey.|
I'd hoped to see lilies here. This swim is a good one, with a channel between lily-patches and what appears to be step-changes in depth. No sign of the lilies is alarming; they've not removed them surely? I fish a rod-length out, the need to watch a float and although my half mussel is motionless a swirl or two by my right foot shows me a smallish carp. I feed it a couple of pieces of bread, pinch flake onto the stealthily retrieved hook and drop it in the gap. This vanishes with a 'pock' and the fish thought to be 2-3lb gains weight and speed...oh. It takes me a good ten minutes to bring it to the net, a very solid carp that was not the one I first saw. I'll take it. I tromp off for my chair, left behind doing the earlier good deed. Another carp came to the net, a solid common nabbed with a piece of flake on the deck, whipped out a roach on half a mussel then briefly contacted something firm enough to make the clutch yelp on the strike. When I told myself the next bite was the last one, along came another solid common, on a mussel. Off to get the boy from the day-job then. Hot day.
|The pitch and the rod|
|Yeah, I know, it's a float picture.||It's another float picture||Three carp and a roach|
P.S. The next day I felt like I'd been mauled by a bear. I'm too old and over-weight to sit on the ground for hours and it felt like it. It occurred to me that sitting in the sun (24°C in the shade) for three hours wasn't smart either...it felt not unlike heat-stroke.
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
1st June 2017. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE). Part the Second. I was anxious about splits and there was evidence of a tiny one in the female ferrule area on the top section. Good enough, the rod was in great condition otherwise, a few paint chips but sound and solid. I stripped off the snake eyes. I cleaned off the whippings and paint to facilitate three wraps of carbon cloth to the said female ferrule area. Might seem excessive, but this rod will get some serious humpty. I added a narrower strip of carbon wrap to the spigot surround for good luck, and then because I'm a man who needs peace of mind I put a few braid whippings over tacky epoxy in the 8" area just below the spigot. To put this into perspective, stretchy Class 'D' thread barely has a b/s of 3lb and 6lb spectra is thinner with no stretch. So if you are serious about a reinforcing whipping...just sayin'.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I tried to use the same two-part epoxy used for the carbon wraps and it refused to go off, remaining soft. As it was weighed out for mixing, I suspect it was past its 'sell-by'. So, the first set of whippings had to come off.)
I cheerfully cut the carbon spigot off the butt section, rubbed it down and epoxy'ed it into the socket in the middle section. Then I placed corks, 23mm, 11½" and a 'fighting butt' to the bottom of the handle; you'll need that at close range when it's often necessary to keep one hand free. Having glued on those corks, I tried to fit some carbon loaded foam arbours to the blank, which were advertised as being joy for fitting reel seats. Feeling like a Luddite for using duct-tape and hot-melt, I gave it a try...and it was a complete mess. I left it and went onto the top section...
I'd got hold of a set of Pacbay 'Minimas' in black. I whipped these onto the top section and in doing so noticed a small nick in one flat between the third and fourth ring, it's through the paint and nicked the carbon. I'll need to do something with that, although whether a resin whipping or a wrap of carbon cloth is best is not immediately clear. A splint of 1mm carbon fibre rod epoxy'd and whipped across it would more than replace the missing carbon. Hm...
I decided to keep the tip ring for the moment. However, when I put on the three × 10mm 'Minimas' it was clear that the tip ring was 15° out of alignment, so I had to remove it. This stubbornly defied heating and twisting off. Twice. I gave up before I weakened the rod and was obliged to cut a spiral groove in the tip-ring's tube and lever it open with flat blade screwdriver. Even so I had to tear off most of the tube before it finally came free. Huh.
I gave up in annoyance, put the sections on the rack, and went back to my dissertation...
4th June 2017. Mystery Pictures
I found these (in 2021) on a 'MicroSD' card that I was giving to the youngest; I have no idea what I was doing at Donhead on the day, probably pre-season path-clearing. Anyhoo.
|The Style Pitch||Looking across to the Semley bank||The heeling pine||Looking west from the style|
8th June 2017. The Swallows.
|The first brood of this year. They're fledged and close to moving on - later in the day they were sat in a neat row on a hook near the nest, making occasional test flights down the garage and back.|
9th June 2017. Risby Park Fishing Ponds (near Kingston-upon-Hull). I was collecting a Littleangler from higher education and took a few hours to relax after a 300 mile drive, something I am increasingly ill-equipped to absorb with no consequence. I thought I'd try Folly Lake on this little complex as it's barely two miles from the digs.
I headed for the windward deeper end, after chatting to a chap at the other end to dig out a little information, and pitched in the corner. There was a shallow shelf, perhaps 2' and a drop-off about two yards out. I scattered corn on the shelf, slipped on a size '8' and pinched on a large bit of bread. The first thing that lifted the little quill was a decent bronze bream, and then a small carp, perhaps 1lb. For the next 90 minutes, I caught only these small carp and I pondered trying the next lake up, but stuck with it as about this time some larger fish appeared to be moving. In hindsight a mistake, as I only caught perhaps a score of these small carp to 2lb at most. Quite a few them had some kind of small louse on them and after flicking some of those off my hand, for the remainder of the day, I nicked the hook out with the fish still in the water. Yrch.
|The pitch||The float and the rushes||The east end of Folly lake - really should have taken a picture of the folly|
The pleasant chap in the swim next to me, fishing two method feeders, caught a stream of fish to perhaps 5lb, perhaps this is what people want now, or is what passes for fishing. I packed up at the appointed time, spoke with another feeder-rodder up the lake, had a look round the bottom of the tench lake, where a group of fishermen tried to make me feel very unwelcome, with hard stares and uncomfortable silences. I ignored them, walked around and went off for pizza. Maybe it's not a bad place, but it's not my kind of place.
16th June 2017. The Glorious. Dammit. The ethics forms have to be in today and late yesteday, someone let me down, so I've had to work. Pah.
To those of you who got your tackle out, I hope the big day brought you what you needed, even if that wasn't what you were hoping for, to wit:
18th June 2017. Goldfinches, again.
|The goldfinch collecting seeds on the front lawn||The other goldfinch collecting seeds on the front lawn|
25th June 2017. Erstaz opening day. Busy with stuff, I eschewed the 16th, a rare thing, but the mind was elsewhere, plus the Saxon Ponds are unusually busy this year. Nevertheless, I got my usual shady swim and fished from early afternoon through to dusk and managed four small perch and the same number of tench, the last coming as the light left. Small perch and roach made bread and shrimp fishing twitchy work, but for my size '11', I could've plucked a fish every cast albeit a tiny one. I lost a couple of fish to hook-pulls, one weight zipping under the tree after the float slid off 'on-the-drop', I suspect a 'fouler' and the second, a tench, headed straight out and the hook simply slipped.
|Looking up the pond||Looking across the pond||Tench I|
|Tench II||The path leading to the dam||The float, poised.|
|Tench III||Tench IV and a few of the perch.|
Plenty of roach priming and perhaps one or two crucians at the end topped in their skittery way. Nice day out (but you knew that).
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
July 2017. Dreams. I don't have much truck with dreams, they are dull to the outsider, and once, during the first degree I spent some weeks writing them down on waking. I learnt that: you only recall the last dream in a sleep-cycle, that often even this single dream this would take over an hour to record, that the surreal fragments that we mostly recall then join into a continuous and (mostly) sensible narrative and that you'd better be comfortable in your own skin before you try it. But this night's dream was good. There was a pool in my front garden, which was long and oblong and the narrow end by the front door had a rush-bed. The two long sides running away from me were sleepers of weathered oak and at the far end, faded red-brick. The pool was two railway-sleepers wide and four-long, with two small patches of lilies in each of the brick-work corners and one more about half-way down. It lay in half-sun and half-shade, and harboured crucians and small tench, which I knew of, but did not fish for. This I will call "Nightmere" and I shall return.
4th July 2017. Eggs.
|This is the second clutch of eggs from the swallows in the garage. I took the shot by holding a mirro tile agisnt the roof, which is why there a blurry edge of the nest at the top of the shot.|
6th July 2017. Weed. The top pond is over-grown with pond-weed, so three-and-a-half of us rolled up and threw weed-rakes around for an hour to try to thin the stuff out a bit. It makes fishing awkward, gives the fish cover almost everywhere making location tricky, and lastly and more significantly, it sucks the oxygen out of the water at night and can occasionally cause fish problems because of it. It's also wet and silty...
I admit I was tempted to fish an upper pond swim I'd weed-dragged in the south-west corner by the dam, it looked nice, but I chickened out and headed for the rhododendrons on the lower pond. My plan was to fish until past dark and I'd brought star-lights and floats for them, but intended to fish with an LED torch on the float to see how it worked. I've modified a small LED torch with a piece of plastic tube pushed over the end and lined the inside with a piece of duplon, the idea being to produce a narrow beam of light.
While it was still light, fishing lift style, I had a clutch of perch and one tench and watched 'the' carp amble past and then turn to give my float a good hard stare before thinking better of it. I missed several really big lift-bites, which with hindsight, I should have left until the float sank again...
...I had one more of those lift bites after I focussed the torch on the thin cane, then swapped it for a small translucent tipped quill, which lit very nicely. Dusk came and despite tench bubbles all over the place I didn't get another tench-bite, although I was literally on the edge of my seat for an hour. A bit after dark the little quill bobbled flat and I thought for a moment it was a crucian, 'alas' a decent roach. Then all becalmed and for the next hour the float didn't stir a millimetre, so I packed up at 11:30 or so.
|''Hello sky'', as Madelaine Basset might have said.||The orginal custom porcy-quill-and-cane antennae, crucians for the use of.|
|Across the pond and the JW Avon||One of the multitudenous swagger of perch||The late roach|
|The tench of the day||Just a comma butterfly in the 'lean-to', just liked it.|
As for my last trip here, plenty of roach priming and a few skippy crucians topping at dusk. Feels odd to be out that late and not feel cold.
9th July 2017. The 'Mk.III' Incarnation of the Blue 7' Rod. I had been eyeing up the old glass-fibre 7' rod for some time. This project started off as a 'tidying' rebuild. My whippings needed to go; these were very neat, but with less varnish than would prevent dirt runnels between the threads. The ferrule need replacing and the corks, long ago varnished, a score of years perhaps, looked OK but...the reel seat had acquired a slight looseness, which had bugged me for some time.
|The 'MKII'. Seven foot (6'9" then), BLUE, solid glass-fibre, 2½lb t/c. As well as a gazillion perch, it has accounted for many pike including a 17lb fish caught through a hole in the ice, a wrasse in the 8lb range, flounders, plaice, sea-trout, eels, bass and a couple of decent carp, ruffe, eels, bream, chub, roach, rudd...and a few gudgeon. I know, 'I don't get out enough'.|
I stripped off the rings and using the hard square edge of a steel ruler, removed flaky varnish. The glass is a really fine BLUE colour, which is embedded in my psyche. It occured to me, while idly staring out the window, on the sill of which was a cheap 24" 'ice-rod' , to make an extension to the tip-end with some 10½" of the said 'ice-rod' (9). I decided to fit this using a carbon-fibre sleeve (8), an old telescopic rod section cut to fit. My first thought was to make this sleeve into a ferrule, using the BLUE glass-fibre tip (7) as a spigot, but then decided to epoxy it on. I cut ½" off the tip (7), as there was a suspicious white area at that point - whether this was caused by strain or the heat used to remove the tip ring, I know not.
The join of the 'ice-rod' (9) and the 'sleeve' (8) is shown by the arrow (10) in the first picture.
This 'ice-rod' tip is nigh-on unbreakable and in use I'd expect it to fold out of the way rather, like a quiver tip, so I resolved to cut the carbon-fibre sleeve (8) just long enough to take the strain and whip a lined intermediate ring over the point on this sleeve where the two solid sections meet (11). This provides a de-facto tip ring, onto which any serious strain will be thrown. This will allow the use of lighter lines for gudgeoning. The overall rod length is now up to 7'7".
In the second picture the point where the 'ice-rod' (9) butts against the fibre- glass tip (7) is shown by the arrow (11). Once glued into place, I fitted three rings of reinforcing carbon-fibre at each end of the sleeve and one over the 'join' (10), the latter will nestle between the rod-ring's 'feet'.
|The 3.5mm diameter fibre-glass tip (7), the carbon-fibre sleeve (8), the 'ice-rod' section (9), and the arrow (10) shows the top end of carbon-fibre sleeve (8).||Showing fibre-glass tip (7) inserted into the carbon-fibre sleeve (8). The arrow (11) shows the marked point on the carbon-fibre sleeve (8) where the fibre-glass tip (7) butts against the the 'ice-rod' section (9).|
The sleeve (8) had the slightest looseness of fit to the fibre-glass tip (7), a mis-match between the tapers of the two parts (an inevitable consequence of this type of fettling), so before gluing them together, I rubbed the thinnest coat of epoxy onto the top 1" of the fibre-glass tip. Once set, this provided exact alignment for the final gluing. When gluing, I found that the air-tight fit of the sleeve (8) to the glass-fibre tip (7) prevented it being fully inserted, despite me applying sustained pressure. In the end, I bored a 0.3mm hole right on the point where the two sections meet in the sleeve (11). This worked fine and any weakness will be supported by the de-facto tip-ring and a small carbon fibre sleeve. I did nudge the middle reinforcing ring a mm or so up the sleeve(11), so had to shave ½mm off the 'tip-ring' foot to seat it properly.
On to the ferrule replacement. The butt-section female ferrule had a neatly whipped black thread coverall, to cover the flashy but careful brass wire whipped-and-soldered reinforcing I put on in 1980. Clearly I'd resolved to make it as stout as possible. You can see the wire, the solder and the epoxy. Actually not a bad job. It came away easily, the soft (lead) solder barely resisting and I discovered it was a '× 2' whipping.
|The female ferrule, with its neat black thread whipping.||The female ferrule with its brass wire reinforcing whipping. The epoxy on the fibre-glass bears the imprint of the thread. I porably whipped over it while it was soft.||The two wooden arbours that supported the reel seat.|
I cut off the fore-grip cork, removed the excellent winding check, to be reused, and worked the reel-seat off, pulling it up the rod and twisting it 2mm back-and-forth. A blister later and it was off. It's good quality and is stamped "MODERN ARMS COMPANY LIMITED BROMLEY KENT". The reel-seat was mounted on two turned beech or boxwood arbours, a good solution. However, the reel seat needs turning round - the screw lock at the top has two advantages - firstly the natural action of the right hand on the rod works to tighten the screw NOT loosen it and secondly any strain on the reel pulls the reel-foot into the screw, locking it, as opposed to providing slack for it to come loose.
This means the rear-grip needs to come 4" up the rod in order to keep the reel foot more-or-less where it was before. I pondered keeping one wood arbour, but decided, after discovering the impossiblity of boring carbon arbour without a lathe, to use the tried and tested tape-and-glue, using hot melt and epoxy.
I pondered making a carbon-fibre ferrule - replacing the brass - with the glass-fibre on the butt-section acting as a 'natural' spigot. This would be lighter and possibly stronger. Hm. I spend a few days batting this mental ping-pong ball back-and-forth. In the end, although kind of liking brass as part of the soul of the rod (I know...), I went for the technical superiority of carbon-fibre. This was also free and I'd gain experience and expertise of making spigot joints.
I opted to make and fit a spigot onto the butt-section, not really liking the idea of the bare glass-fibre spigot. To get the best fit, I first made the tip-section 'female' (1) from a piece of the old telescopic rod. I dropped it over the tip section (2) and then carefully cut away ¼" at a time until I had a good working fit and an overlap of the tube (1) with the glass-fibre (2) of 1½". This was the length of the old brass counter. I wanted the spigot to be about 2½", so cut the bottom end off the tube at that mark 'plus a bit'.
|The carbon-fibre 'sleeve' (1) and the thick end of the fibre-glass tip section (2)||Showing the 'sleeve' fitted over the tip-section (1). The line on the sleeve shows how far the glass extends into the 'sleeve'.||The reel-seat, the winding check and the butt-cap.|
I used the 'other bit' (4) and slipped it over the butt-section glass-fibre (5) and cut it back a bit at a time until it overlapped with the glass by 1½" as before and cut the other end off 1¾" from the end of the glass. I then cleaned up a piece of an old fly-rod flyTwo butt-sections of 6-7aftm rods found in a rubbish bin at Bishop's Green, along with broken top sections... to use as the 'spigot' (3), having first cut the thinner end down to ensure a good fit in the tip-section 'female' and then cutting it to length, inserting it through the butt-section 'sleeve' before replacing it. That'll make more sense with the pictures. I epoxy'd a thin section of an old roach-pole top section through the spigot and when it was set, cut if off flush - to add a little strength. I can't make an impression on it with my bare hands, so rationally, it's probably strong enough.
|(5) The narrow end of the glass-fibre butt-section, (4) the sleeve that will both contain the spigot and mount over the fibre-glass and (3) the spigot.||Showing the spigot (3) inside the sleeve (4)||Showing the spigot(3) + sleeve(4) fitted over the fibre-glass (5)|
I was going to chamfer off all the various edges before gluing, but why weaken the tube where it's under strain? So I expoxy'd the spigot (3) in the butt-section sleeve (4) and then epoxy'd this assembly over the end of the glass-fibre (5). The female on the tip-section was done when the butt-section had set, as I wanted to double check the spacing before gluing. I wanted about ¼" gap (6) when assembled tight to allow for some wear.
That sounded too easy...What I did was mark with a pencil the point on (3) where the sleeve came down to. I then put a rough spectra braid whipping up to this pencil mark. This stopped me misaligning if the pencil mark is obscured by glue. The whipping also prevents the epoxy running out of the ferrule...inside the spigot/sleeve they'll be quite a bit of epoxy, but this will settle at the bottom and any air bubbles can escape though the middle of the spigot. I wrapped the two places where epoxy might get out with cling film and stuck rubber bands over them. I left it for 24 hours...
I again decided to add a little more strength where it was most required. If you think about it (or try it), you can crush the end of a tube a lot more easily that the middle of the same tube. So, the ends of the load bearing tube will be reinforced and also the places where the tube meets the internal fibre-glass. I used carbon-fibre tube sections for this pundered from an incomplete JW Avon I got in a junk-shop.
When flexed, there a bit of a flat spot (something one can also say about the brass ferrule), also the rod is now another about 4" longer, making the overall 'restored' length 96" (8 feet).
I wanted to keep the BLUE theme, so I put a coat of white paint over parts of the carbon-fibre ferrules and (gently) whipped over the paint with D-Grade blue thread - so it looked BLUE when it was varnished.
There was a ridiculous pleasure to be had from the lack of reaming required to fit the corks to the glass-fibre. So easy...the butt-cap was a kind of white neoprene, still solid enough and attached to the 'ally' cap by what looks like a nylon thread. I decided to just reuse 'as-is' and cleaned it up, inside and out first. I had a small tapered spinning rod fore grip. I reversed this so the taper fitted inside the butt-cap. I then put epoxy inside the butt cap and fitted it over the cork - which was essentially acting as a template to centre the cap. I left it to set overnight, standing on the butt-end. I pulled the cork back up the rod, then mixed more epoxy smeared a little on the glass and put a good dollop inside the butt-cap and then worked the cork back down the rod and slowly pushed it into the butt-cap. The idea was to do this incrementally and wait for trapped air to be forced back out through the cork. So I applied pressure three or four times about 15 minutes apart. Then it was left standing on the butt-cap to set. The next issue was that this re-purposed fore-grip shI'm sure you've noticed that posh folk and virtue-signallers use phrases like 're-purposing' and 'up-cycling' rather than 'second hand' or 'make do and mend'. This is to make absolutely sure we all know they can afford to buy new stuff but they're doing us a favour. had a slight rounded profile at the thick end, where it will adjoin the main corks.
|The butt-end before sanding.||End of a spare piece of cork, with four sandpaper pieces glued on|
Top tip; get something round and flat, like a piece of spare cork handle and glue four small pieces of sandpaper on the flat surface with cyanoacrylate. When it's dry, place over the rod and against the surface to be flattened off and sand it back by turning it. It's also handy for flattening off cork sections after you cut them to fit and with care you can even make a tool to recess the end of a reel seat into a piece of cork.
I glued the main cork on with cascemite and then made an arbour from duct-tape about 1" down from the corks. I filled this with epoxy and pushed the reel seat into place. (I'd already done an alignment exercise and mad marked the corks and the reel seat with a black line with an indelible pen). I then ran the rest of that batch of epoxy into the reel seat from the other end and used the 'fore-grip' cork to hold the seat central while the epoxy set. When it had, I ran another batch of epoxy into the tube and repeated the process. When that had set I filled the remaining space in the reel-seat tube with plastic melt glue.
I trimmed the hot melt off flush and glued a few strips on sandpaper on the surface with cyanoacrylate (see 'top-tip' aobove) and sanded a recess into the fore-grip for the reel seat, removed the sandpaper strips then epoxy'd the foregrip on. I epoxy'd the winding check on, ensuring a thin film of the same covered all the forward facing cork.
I covered the reel-seat with cling-film and then put a turn of duct-tape at each end. Using a 6" piece of 1¼" plastic pipe, cut in half length-ways as a sanding block, I chamfered the fore-grip down to almost meet the winding check and chamfered the reel-seat end the same amount. I did the same to the corks at the other end of the reel-seat and also smoothed off the joint at the butt-cap end of the handle.
If you've got this far, it might look as if I've galloped though this re-build, but in truth, most stages were a day apart. The handle, for example, took 20 minutes but spread over four days.
So. I then put a Fuji lined ring on the butt and the 'de-facto' tip and Pacbay Minima's in black for the rest. Black thread (which looked nice) but blue thread on the new tip, which is black in itself...
|The butt-end sanded down, plus the top-section 'ferrule'||Tip of the rod, with the 'male' ferrule on the bottom section.|
|The third ring on the joint, a lined 'Fuji'||The maker's name|
The Mk.III 'pool-cue' is over a foot longer than the 'MKII' and a foot longer than the 'MKI'. It's lighter due to the carbon 'ferrules' being about 10g lighter overall than the brass/wire and the orginal rings mostly being changed for lighter ones. Now I need to fish with it. Just because...
|The 'Mk.III' Pool-cue'. Eight feet now, BLUE, solid glass-fibre, 2½lb t/c, sort of. At least I have a hobby.
...yes, the top section has a slight curve, caused by years of use 'the other way up'...
• Cut tapered tubes down a ¼" at a time, or less, until they fit.
• Cut those tubes with a knife-edge needle file. A hacksaw will split and splinter the tubing.
• Keep all the off-cuts.
• Wear a mask, carbon-fibre is horrible stuff.
• Decent carbon-fibre fly-rods provide 100% better quality carbon tubes for this kind of thing, with twice the wall thickness of most rods and easily four times the thickness of pole-sections.
• Carbon-fibre is amazingly strong.
13th July 2017. The Saxon Ponds. A day awarded to myself to 'blood' the Mk.IIIAs described down the page a bit... and see what the small stuff was composed of blI cut up a piece of old mono, the usual way by winding it around my fingers and then cutting the hank through twice with the very sharp small knife. I cleverly sliced a flap of skin on my forefinger and although I'm not remotely superstitious or anything, I wiped the blood onto the handle of the new corks... . A leg-dangling tiddler-bash. I parked on the dam and mucked about with the renovation, a small porcy and a size 16, simple stuff. Said simple stuff removed a flurry of small roach, mostly by fishing off the bottom. A few perch showed and I discovered that dragging the bait a few feet would pick up one such as likely as not. The thin springy tip of the Blue Rod worked neatly for tiddler snatching. It also flicked the quill and its single no.6 shot 10 yards with little effort, so for fun I pulled a few more perch from in-range nooks and dropped a selection into a landing net for a photo.
|The other Mk.III and the dam wall||Looking up the pond||A few of the tiddlers|
|The fishing of day-dreams. Well, for me anyway.|
I decided to try the top pond for a bit, with a few shrimp and some bread. My first thought was the swim nearest the dam, but it was so shallow I tarried only to plumb the depth. I'm never very confident in such shallow swims, so I moved up the pond to between two patches of lilies. Four hours there drove me nuts. There were fish present continuously but try as I might (and I tried) I conjured only two bites (on bread) in the first two hours and missed them both. I then hooked a crucian which rolled under my feet and nicked the hook onto some hornwort. I'm not saying how big that was. I missed another bite, then hooked another which I netted sharpish, after a tussle it must be said. Here it is. It's not a bad one. I missed another bite and by now large crus were rolling with the small, but nearing insanity, I edged off.
|The pitch||The float||The dam wall from the south bank|
|Not bad though...|
17th July 2017. Terminal Condition: Dropped the Marmiteangler off at T5, a shinier version of the older terminals, same air-side commercial trap. The trick in airports, which I neither miss nor desire, is to stay surroundings aware, reject the travel fugue. Horrible places, no way to take the neophyte flyer air-side, so waved her off. Parking misfired, pre-booked, clocked me in, refused to let me out. Unreliable technology annoys, it's always let down by its weakest component, usually some twerp with power over stuff they don't understand. I jink off the M3, remember-rolled down the old straight track, then picked up a nice fly rod handle extension from 'The Rodbox'. More coffee in the city of streams, not even nine o'clock. Huh.
21st July 2017. Crucian Fishing: I do not usually write this kind of entry, as in truth I attach little importance to such things. Nevertheless, I have evolved several basic methods for playing with crucians. I can take no credit for these, as having read and taken in so much information over the years I cannot tell whether I have had an idea, or just remembered someone else's.
It is unfashionable, but I generally use a braid hook-link, even for little crucians. Generally, this is 4-6" of uncoated un-fused 4lb braid, of which I have a generous supply, combi-knotted to the main line. This useful length allows at least one hook-change. This, in the water, feels indistinguishable from the normal filamentous stuff fish expect to pick up along with whatever they are currently eating. Additionally, the one or two shot used are pinched onto this braid, and I remain firmly convinced this is far less likely to weaken such line, than the same shot pinched onto monofilament.
A digression: a 'shy' bite is not the same as a 'sensitive' bite. A shy bite does not move a float very much, perhaps as little as 1mm. A sensitive bite may move a float a long way, but resistance to the bite needs be minimised. For crucians, the issue is generally lack of movement (shy) rather than lack of confidence (sensitive) on their part.
So, I usually fish using the 'exaggerated lift' for 'shy' bites. This requires a float of my own devising, a 4-5" porcupine quill with a 75mm (3") × 1.2mm cane antennae insert (I realise this is more-or-less the same as a small 'Stillwater Blue'). The idea is to set it so the tip is about 1cm clear of the water. This is done by adding 1 × no.6 shot, the inevitable mini-swivel with float-stops and then to wrap solder wire around the base until the float just sinks, then use tweezer-cutters to nip off wire until just 1cm is above the plimsoll line.
Once this is done, I take the wire off the float, smooth it out by pulling it around something round and hard, like the handle of the VSSKthe 'Very Sharp Small Knife'. I then put a smear of water-proof cyanoacrylate just above the eye-whipping and neatly wrap the wire on. I then pull off my glued-on finger, and if required add a little more cyanoacrylate to keep the wire's ends stuck down. When the glue is 'off', I colour the solder-wire with a green or black permanent marker. There, all done.
|A selection. The 'lucky crucian float' is in there along with a small 'Still-water Blue', and two small quills that work perfectly on those fussy fish days described below.|
I uni-snell the hook onto the braid and put a single no.6 shot about ½" from the hook. Most days. It can pay to vary this. Bites generally show as the slightest of dips on the tip and then a steady rise. Generally you need to strike as the float is rising, that is, before the float gives the fish a gentle tug. A variation on this, perhaps my own, is to 'uni-snell' the hook and leave the tag end of the braid intact. Then tie a figure-of-eight knot in this tag and tighten it some 1cm from the bend of the hook. Then put the tell-tale shot on this tag - the knot is simply to stop the shot sliding off.
This, correctly set and fished with a long rod, is very effective, especially with bread-flake or punched bread. The trick is to set the depth very slightly 'over', place the float and when has settled, rest the rod, sink the line then tweak the line in (a centre-pin is good for this) until the tip is dotted down. This is incredibly effective on its day.
There is a need to check the braid has not looped around the hook between casts but it is easy enough to cut the tag-end off if this is not working. I have often taken this shot off and put it above the hook and fished on without cutting the tag-end off and it makes no difference to the crucian.
I have also found that when the swim is alive with crucians, sizes various, it can pay to fish a little off the bottom and split the single no.6 into 2 × no. 8's, very nearly the same weight. Particularly with hordes of smaller crucians, the bait is often taken on the drop, and once one has tuned into the slight delays as the first and second shot reach depth, a bite will often register as one or the other 'settles' being late, as it were.
In this way, I have managed decent catches of small crucians using far less sensitive floats with two split-shot. Even detecting just ¼" drops in the float is enough to catch. A crow-quill float will do the job, especially if the tip is delineated by two or three black bands about an eighth of an inch apart - two such are shown in the picture above. Any small slender float will work, as long as it is easy to tell 'one shot settled' from 'two shot settled'.
When the fish are definitely there, but for some reason bites are not forthcoming, it is worth adjusting the depth so that the bait is just on or just off the bottom. Sometimes this does not work, so moving the shot to the top of the braid can be worth a try, but then there will be no 'lift bites'. But persevere; I have had 'hard to hit a bite' scratchy periods transformed by removing the tell-tale shot, and vice versa.
I have alluded to 'knowing fish are there' and so to make adjustments and sometimes, with all the planning and careful setting up of tackle, adaptation is required on the day. So, how do you know if the fish are there?
The first and most reliable method is to catch the odd one and miss a lot of bites...
Crucians do prime at the surface, zipping up from the depths, flipping over and plunging back again. The smaller ones even 'buzz' a bit as the tail clears the water and I have seen crucians do this from a fathom of water. So there is that. They do bubble, but unlike the tench's obvious effervescence, crucian bubbles are often sporadic. A few large fish will generate two or three larger bubbles. Now and then. These seldom 'track', as a feeding crucian stands on its head, roots about, then having found something, tend to right itself and potter on. But with experience, the pattern can be learnt.
In my experience, the most maddening days are when you have a lot of small to medium sized fish in the swim. They churn the bottom up, compete and then bites can be both un-missable and quite missable. If this happens, it can pay to fish slightly outside the feeding zone. Try a slightly larger bait such as a grain of corn, if you are after the better ones, or, fish 'on the drop' as discussed above. However, all such advice might still leave you striking at air and then it is time to try different things.
|A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians|
One last thought. Small crucians, like all small fish, are easy to catch although they are more fun than most as even the little ones scurry about putting perch to shame. Larger fish learn fast. Good catches from a particular swim, on a particular bait, or even at a specific time of day, will seldom occur twice especially if the stocking density is natural (that is, not overstocked). If this happens, you might find that to keep catching you will need to try a different swim, a different bait and a different time of day. And sometimes all of those. And lastly, I have fished as sensitively as possible and many times when reeling in to check my bait, have discovered crucians, both large and small, on the hook - and I would swear there was not the slightest indication a fish had taken the bait. Not a flicker.
Happy crucian fishing.
|three of the best, '1'||three of the best, '2'||three of the best, '3'|
The observant will have noticed that the above is concerned with catching crucians. Finding them is another matter entirely...
23rd July 2017. The Wetland. This was the day of the big fish-in. Naturally it rained. I arrived a little after 8am, as I fancied a quiet couple of hours on pond '6' to see if there was anything in it...well, there is, but little has been caught for a while. I carried on in this vein for a couple of hours, pausing only to drink coffee and take pictures of a particularly bold sedge warbler. A couple of rudd came by, I nabbed those, then Jim dropped in, then after Pete showed me the swirling mud in the hole-in-the-weed in '5' I decamped. I immediately removed a tench and then a swarm of rudd...a few of the latter were taken to meet the pike in pond '7'. The first hole in the weed there yielded nothing and I hacked up the bank to the second hole near the fallen balsam poplar branch. Jim came by and we muttered dark things about modern angling, until a pike-like shape drifted deliberately across the hole in the weed. This totally failed to take the bait for a period which was several times longer than the period for which I can hold my breath.
|The path behind '6'||Looking across pond '6'||The floats of the day and their tube||The orange tip on the water|
|The bold sedge-warbler||The bold sedge-warbler|
We sopping six coalesced on the bank of '3' where the Kelly Kettle was and there was a flurry of cakes, hot drinks, pork pies, mustard (I like a man who plans ahead) and biscuits, some of which were chocolate. Jim appeared to be trying to beat the chub in '2' to death with piece of wet string. Duncan and Harry were nicely wet and had a few small tench from '4' and...some rudd. We awarded Harry the prize for the most fish, a small bundle of floats which he immediately started swapping with his dad's. I gave a few others away as a reward for coming and taking a stand-up bath...the sensible people headed for somewhere drier. I decided to wait under some handy trees near pond '5' and give the rain until 2pm to shove off. Dave came by and we chatted about fish and things, then, being a man of high intelligence he took the sensible option.
|Then it rained for two hours...the view up '5' to '4' in the near distance.|
|The hole in the weed in pond '5'||The blue float in the hole in the weed in pond '5'||Two rudd from each of pond '5' and '6'|
|The first of the brace of tench from '5'||The second of the brace of tench from '5'|
The rain stopped on the point of my deadline, that was close, so I sat back down on my wet chair in my wet clothes. I caught a few rudd to warm up (figuratively speaking) and then fished corn for 40 minutes, at which point another tench showed up...after another fifteen minutes watching the motionless blue peril, I stood up to warm myself and saw the colour in this corner, ubiquitous earlier, had gone, with corn and white maggots visible in the silt. Ah. Home then. Squelch squelch squelch...
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
1st August 2017. The Fish in a Barrel. Part I.
I've long had two water barrels in a chain, garden for the watering of, and it occurred that an open top and a few minor modifications would turn one into a fine goldfish pond. Of a sort. I cut the top out and glued in a grille, made roll of fine mesh chicken-wire into the inflow and egress pipes (no fish in the soakaway please) and then popped a solar aerator into the mix.
The aerator is 'over-powered' for the size of the barrel, but no matter. It's battery 'backed up' and there's a single rechargeable LI battery inside the unit. I can replace that no-trouble if required. The solar panel is probably 'not quite' enough for the job, these things never are, but it'll do for now. I have another somewhere and if push comes to shove, I'll put a DVM on the output and buy a bigger one with the same output voltage.
The tube for aerator were stuff through a hole in the top rim, so removing the lid didn't entail dismantling the air-lines and like most air-stone they float a bit. Because the barrel is deep and narrow I decide to put both stones on the bottom. Mrs AA recalled that we had plenty of hag-stones around the drive, so I bagged a couple, put the tubes through the holes and re-attached the air-stones. Done. The solar panel is a little low - it blocks a little sun-light to the barrel, which has little enough light. I set it to 35 (the optimum nagle for a due south PV panel in the UK. I'll raise the height of it down the week, I'd prefer it well clear of the top. The pump itself, seen strapped to the connecting pipe is 'IP44' rated. In theory. I'll make a cover out of an old plastic box next week and mount it so I can see the status light though the lean-to window.
|The-two butt system...plus clutter||The lid, cut out and with grille hot-melt glued in||The solar panel and the pump, temporary mounting|
|The two aerator tubes||Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and barrel bubble||A newt eye (attached to the newt) and a frog's toe (attached to the frog) are not out of the question|
Tomorrow, two goldfish will be put in a bag of water and dangled in the barrel to equalise the temperature and released into the wild. As it were. These fish were captured in the ditch alongside the WetlandThe two goldest ones were re-homed in the Littleangler's fish tank, and being 'regular' goldfish, I think will be hardy enough.
For the moment, this is an ersatz fish tank, but the longer term plan is to establish a more natural habitat with the addition of some pond silt, water snails, plus daphnia. At the end of the summer the goldfish will be re-tanked and the plan is to introduce a few small crucians to the barrel, and tough blighters that they are, they'll be fine I don't doubt. No pike though. Oh no. They'd swim up the drain-pipe and colonise the pond next door.
2nd August 2017. The Fish in a Barrel. Part II.
The fish are in the barrel...they're in bags for 10-20 minutes or so to reduce any thermal shock from the nice warm tank in the house and the quite fresh barrel. It's rained hard for the last few hours and while the water running in is probably high in oxygen it'll be colder than the tank by some margin. The tank will remain on standby...'in case'.
|Bagged gold-fish.||Free as a bird...oh wait...|
3rd August 2017. The Fish in a Barrel. Part III. Good news. The fish are not up-side down this morning, so I bunged in the bit of gravel from the 'reserve fish-tank' and knapped out the bottom of a large cracked terracotta flower-pot for them to hide in.
6th August 2017. the Wetland. This stock relocation exercise was far too much fun...the plan was to move small tench, now showing at pre 'Operation P' levels, from pond '3' to pond '2'. The promised bucket wasn't there, so I put a few of the early fish into the landing net and dropped them into '2' as I went along. Pete arrived with a bucket once I was eight or so to the good, although for some reason Pete didn't contact any tench at all. About a score got moved over and one solid fish of over a pound went back. Midday, the tench bites tailed off, the usual slump but rudd kept appearing to brighten things up, plus the kingfisher obligingly perched opposite, probably at the limit of the camera zoom but still.
|View to the left||The mind bendingly green pitch||View to the right|
|The fairly blue porcupine quill||Most of the tincas||A few of the rudd, which are doing rather well|
|Read..steady..||'How to suspend a sprat', Part I.|
Pete went on and I spent an hour or two trying to extract a pike from '6' and '7' but this for the most part involved watching an unmoving float with a sprat under it, while no part involved catching a pike. Top day.
19th August 2017. Kingsbridge. In the final phase of the studies, I threw a wheel, thought, "Damn it, where's the nearest fishing?", so made a casserole, did another two hours and threw stuff in the car and headed off.
There was a smidge of grouchiness about, and I chose the swim I like, sadly. Sadly because the fine lily beds I thought merely late to grow have been denuded for some insane reason, rendering the swim merely good, rather than wonderful. Still at the choppy end, still 6' deep a rod length out, 8' half-a-rod further. I chipped at frozen bucket with the pointy end of the rod-rest and threw stuff, stuck on a quill and cockle and five minutes later it zipped into the depths for this wild thing, which jagged, ran and made the clutch sing. It was a perch long before I broached the surface with it. Heh.
|The lily-less pitch, not efficacious in any way||The quill|
|The fine perch|
The next hour was scratchy, roach, broaches, bream and just at the point I was thinking to try something else I got the feeling something was slipping along the bank to my left. One rustle too many and I looked a red deer right in the eye from about 12 feet. To my amazement it didn't move while I got the camera...there were three adults, the first and the boldest, carrying a late fawn perhaps, two other does and three well set fawns. They simply paid no attention to me and wondered about, ate grass and did what deer did. I flattened the battery, put in another and eventually they ambled off. Huh.
|Red deer||Red deer|
|Red deer||Red deer|
|Red deer||Red deer|
That is better than mere fish. However;
The incidence of deer ticks in the area is so bad a GP actually issued a warning in a local free paper. I check my legs and arms after every trip and 'other places'. I got 'ticked' on the back of the knee at Arfleet about a decade back and with hindsight, there's little doubt I had Lyme disease. I subsequently had a variety of complaints 'in the groin area' and at least four courses of antibiotics in a three year period, which were prescribed for the problems presented, not for Lyme.
When I made the connection (via Ray Mears' excellent autobiography) and brought it up with 'the' doctor (no such thing as 'my doctor' in the local surgery) he opined it was likely but that the ton of antibiotics I'd taken probably did for it...probably. Mrs AA concurs and I still have days where I wake up feeling like I've had a kicking and it's not just advancing years.
Now I've told you, look it up, check for bites and go see the doctor if you get one...
...meanwhile...I tied on a size '16', fished scraps of bread under the rod-tip, wobbled out a lot more bream, a couple in the 2lb range, a fat hybrid, a neat dark little carp and a fat gonk. Then I swapped to a size 8, a BB, a small fat quill and fished 50p sized pieces of flake (more bream) until nearly dusk when the float, bobbling for the millionth time, zipped under...I, now 'in the zone' struck without being conscious of striking and 'something' streaked 22 yards to the right curling the ex-fly rod into the perfect parabola...
It wasn't as big as I'd first thought, but the dark common had something of Old Arfleet about it, they were put in here after all. Not bad. Should have just brought the bread. Warmed, the casserole was very fine...
|The small carp, the gonk, a fat hybrid (which jumped several times), the dark zippy common.|
P.S. The goldfish are still alive and kicking (figuratively).
|a very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page)||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience|
1st September 2017. Words-of-the-Day: 'mono no aware'.
mono no aware; A Japanese term for the awareness of transience or impermanence of things, and also a transient wistfulness or gentle sadness at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being life’s reality, a kind of melancholic resignation. As I recall, this is often represented by the short-lived beauty of cherry blossom.
I know that's not actually a word. But, you know, 'my website'.
2nd September 2017. The Saxon Ponds. So, the plan was to potter about the Lower Pond and try a bit of 'drop-shotting' for perch with the MKIII. That is to say, I tied a no. 4 hook on, put three swan-shot on the tag end of the line and bumped a hook full of maggots across the pond-bed. This yielded a number of small indignant perch that found little about a size 4 hook that impeded them in any way. Heh. I slipped on a small quill and removed more small perch at one-per-cast until I thought I'd had enough fun and so headed for the top pond...
|The MKIII||An indignance of smal perch||The small blue poised porcupine quill...|
...I decided on the last swim by the willows before the bridge and it was a nice enough evening, if overcast.
|The Upper Pond in the evening|
I'll try to capture the spirit of the evening here; stare at this float for four hours, drinking a cup tea every half-an-hour.
|The motionless float|
There you go, that was my evening. The moon was rising over the cowshed and the camera, for once, took it like it was, blurry with autumnal mist and cloud.
|The sacred moon overhead|
16th September 2017. Too many things, Penryhn, Anglesey, Woodbines' at al. The end of a passage towards the strange, forming the neurons into novel shapes. Still 'tis done and with hindsight 'twas better if had been done quickly. I could have walked the Hogsmill, oogled at the chub, bought Thai lunch from the market or sat on the bank of the Old Father. Two-score dawn-break trips to Kingston allowed me to potter unfettered about the town center's back ways and alleys, of which I now have considerable knowledge...nah, straight back to the driving technology, did not pass 'go'. Just outside the car-park I happened upon a crow . It was bowed to the ground, head on one side, drinking from a pool of spilled hot chocolate. It sat up and eyed me carefully, well, you never know. I put my head to one side, it did the same. It straightened its head, stared right at me as if to say "What, can't a crow like hot chocolate?" and having decided I was friendly, or at least not a crow-murdering loon, it re-commenced its odd sipping. I got in the car, paid, pressed play on the STSmall Technology and first up was "I'm a King Bee" by the Chocolate Watch Band. What are the odds? (1 in 27).
18th September 2017. The Lower Saxon PondPete's Ponds. Crucians are in here, catching them on the other hand....The ponds were uncharacteristically busy and I manfully tried to catch something on sweetcorn. I had a bite about 20 minutes in which caught me by surprise and after a couple of lunges which made me think 'crucian' it belted under the tree and skillfully nicked the hook onto a root, much like tench do...drat. Garry arrived on the tail of this mild incompetance and witnessed a series of probable bites, which immediately ceased when he left. After a while I gave up and worked out how many small perch it is possible to catch on pieces of a single lobworm (answer: 37) and it would have been more if the last piece of the unfortunate worm had not slipped the hook. Jim, meanwhile, was even more manfully trying to Christen an old rod that meant a great deal to him. Despite heroic and some might say sarcastic fish-rolling in front of him, he also struggled with all but the small perch. I finally took a small roach on corn, then a last bite on flake excited me until the undoubted specimen crucian that took it morphed into a 1oz perch...then the barn-owl floated across the gap in the trees over the pond and wafted up the meadow. Jim and I gave in and headed for the cars.
|The usual pitch||The useful blue quill|
|The bucket, some floats...||...and the token roach|
There was, 'top ponders' included, a considerable gaggle of dabblers, so in the gloom we stood, drank tea, ate fine cheesy crucian-shaped biscuits and made disparaging remarks about relative expertise in the useage of storm kettles. A fine ending.
20th September 2017. Clump Hill Farm, Mannington. It looked perchy and it was. This water has produced 4lb fish and recently a 5lb'er. So I spent two hour trying to catch a perch from under the edge of the big lily patch. For this endeavour I was rewarded with two 'twitches' and a 'bob'. For light relief I assembled the B&W MKIV 'G' and dropped some bread at the edge of lilies to my right (into which, with the aid of the breeze, I had been trickling mixers) tricking out a small common of 5lb or so. Heh.
|The view across to the island||The bob and the lilies||The last flower|
I moved around the bank and spent a further three hours fishing for perch with both rods. The lobs suspended next the lilies dived once or twice, for which I received 'no perch' and the other lob, carefully laid on the bottom by some rushes under my 'lucky perch float', produced only a rudd-bream hybrid of about 1½lb or so. Well then. Perchless again.
|Sun-set on a grey perch day||The lucky float. We can call it that.|
23rd September 2017. Barton's Court. Was on the way home, so I bought cockles and prawns, then fished under a bit of tree. Not withstanding a drive to Hull and back, I had a dreadful stomach bug, so wondered how long I was going to last. A walk round had given me the strong feeling that no-where was very enticing - the water was very low and the inlet stream dry. Hm. After 40 minutes I got a stabbing bite and the perch of the day, perhaps 8oz. This set me for fair sailing, but the next two-and-a-half hours produced one more stabbing bite, which I missed, then a sliding one, ditto. It didn't help that every twenty minutes, pigeons scooting along the bank were pulling up in front of me with the avian equivalent of a hand-brake turn. Nearing the end, a kingfisher whirred onto the tree, a glimpse of orange waistcoat and lancet-beak and as I inched for the camera it whirred off, the vacated branch vibrating in time with its wings. I hobbled up the bank to the car, pondering the wisdom of stopping at all.
|Today at Barton's Court lake||The cunningly positioned float||The lone perch rides again|
...wait. One perch. Again.
28th September 2017. Edmonsham. It's a nice day and thwarted by rain yesterday, 'Clearwater Pool' was the plan, today's sun saw me here, clear water in memory, tea-coloured now. Meh. One or two rod emplacements, a regular angler who was doing well on maggots, roach mostly, a tiny tench as we spoke. A ghostie ambled about; two chub scurried along the far bank, interesting. The narrow end contained another ghost carp on the mooch and I chose the east bank at the north tip of the island for shade, and distance from the heavy lead lines criss-crossing the other end.
|The pitch with the island||I've a fondness for decaying structures and this mossy board elegantly fits that description.|
|The float...||..and its rod|
A no. 8 hook, I think, a few inchs of braid, a tiny float for two feet of water with a few scrubby lily patches. Ambush fishing, a trap for patrollers. I crumble a mussel or two and scatter bread pills and miss a bobbly bite which wraps my float around some tall nettles. Ah. Some time later ripples advance from the right and I get a bit of a buzz...
...I lean slowly forward to break a mussel up and under the right bank a swirl erupts leaving behind a vacillating diminishing eddy. Oops. I swap the float for a cork-ball, swap sides and fish over the bread-pill patch and wait...and eventually the cork-ball edges forward, stops, a swirl, zips off and under, for which I get no resistance and a bow wave. Clucking bell. You'd think that was that, but I missed another take. Then, foreshadowing, I took all the paraphernalia off the unhooking mat, let the third take tighten to the rod tip and the water exploded when I picked up the rod. Heh.
|The cork ball||The third time lucky carp|
I fish on for an hour but it's flat now so I mosey about looking for fish and deeper water. Some bream were bubbling near the monk, but even there the water was perhaps only 2" more than everywhere else. Hm...lacking the great lily beds this pool used to have, I pitched 50-odd yards down to where an overhanging beech bush on the right hand side with scrubby lilies and rushes on the other, offered something like a normal pitch. So, bait and wait. I can do both of those. I ate a slice of white extra-thick and pondered the meaning of the universe. The cockle-bearing blue quill skipped a beat and dipped, then as my hand touched the rod, stilled. Aha. It looks fine in the low sun so I loll and see what the evening brings. I toss crusts into the overhanging beech and then, drifting, I see a bundle of rushes jerk, shoulder-barged.
|The blue quill in the setting sun||The nice looking pitch across the lake|
I suddenly realise mud is swirling off the bottom around my float, then miss an unmissable bite. I swap to bread flake and there is now clooping under the tree and two ghostly shapes in the rushes around the float. I gently extract the bait, remove the tell-tale shot, put on a floaty bit of flake and have several attempts at dropping it in front of the now very mobile carp. After an eternity of this game, a gentle placement sees the flake sink obligingly in front of a cruising ghost...and it takes off like the scalded cat, managing about 20 yards with the old MKIV SU 'G'Bruce & Walker MKIV SU 'G' for 'glass' hooped over. I get it most of the way back, see the fish as it stutters off again, perhaps 10lb and at the end of that run the rod straightens without warning. Oh. Rats.
I rebait, replace the tell-tale, drop the flake into the muddy swirl now, prima facie, fish-less. Continued clooping under the tree suggests otherwise. I miss one bite, then hook the next which darts under my feet and heads hard left for the tree, turned at some risk to the rod tip, then it hurtles off like the last fish but this time the hook holds and after one long run and some determined circling, I net a decent ghost carp. Heh. Snapped, rebaited, off again...
The next strike also hits home and a powerful fish slams up the channel for some 20 yards, then tries, kites, for the bushes under the near bank, obliging me to step to the edge and to pull outwards as much as possible, this seems to work and it arcs back across the channel, added a dozen feet to the distance between us, stops, reverses and swims parallel to the far bank at full power, I have to reel hard to keep pressure on the fish. At the end of the channel it makes a break for the open water, managing another five yards or so, then starts to wallow, so I take charge and almost have it at the net, but it dives, wraps the mesh around the line, cue interesting frantic one-handed net manoeuvres, then freed it tears off again to the right...good grief. I pull it up fifteen yards off and it then hurtles straight back and barely keeping in touch, get the net out the way at the last moment, hold it out of the tree with some nervous side-strain, the rod-handle bowing a little, then the carp fell to dogged circling, nearing the surface all the while. A very solid double-figure ghost carp, a big tail longer than the first and considerably wider across the shoulders. I need a sit-down.
|The first ghost||The nearly indomitable ghost carp|
It's tempting to keep going when the frenzy is under your feet, but I'd had enough, put the rod across my knees and necked my second ginger beer, then as the light fell I took off the shot and tried floating crust for a last-light surface fish, one of which flicked the float upwards as it nabbed the bread, but I was too slow. Or fast. Or something. Kinda feels back to normal.
|...coffin...(and back to the top of the page)||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...|
5th October 2017. Ludlay Pool. A day of three halves. This is a fabulous place, an old brick-clay pit, sewn with oaks, hazel and so much water-mint the scent rolls in as you open the car-door. Jays abound, drawn perhaps by the autumn acorns. The banks are grassed, the paths dry, mossy and leafy.
We strolled around, a guided tour for the newcomer, then the ToSThe 'Thane of Sussex' stalks off, I opt for a windward swim against a small reed-bed and 'fish for bites', getting a run of such, some missed, some small roach. All the while I'm feeding crusts into the reeds and presently, slurping makes me consider upping the hook size. I put the rod across my knees, start to re-tie and a movement on the unfocussed far side of fumbling catches my eye. A carp is nosing barely three feet away. I mentally shrug, tie and adjust and finally done I pinch on some flake, flick in a couple of extra bits for its diversion. Then I untangle the line from two brambles...and find the carp unconcerned, picking off the last offerings. By hand I swing the bait into its path.
The strike, such as it was, involved swinging the rod off my knees, winding like a dingbat and tightening up hard. Amazingly, this worked. The carp sped off, braked by more than a full test-curve and although it never got up to full speed it dogged and dogged, bored off and stayed low for ten rod-circling minutes. Heh. I carried on with the 'bite-fishing' for more small roach. The ToSThe 'Thane of Sussex' meanwhile had arrived back at base, one carp to the good. He announced a trip to the coffee hut over the road and returned with a plum tart that could start small wars. Wow. I weakened and wandered off to the coffee hut, grabbing an Earl Grey to go with my plum tart, which is surely the food of the gods, it's a wonder the tart existed in the face of so many plums.
|The pool from the south end|
|The view across the pool||The view up the pool||The poor early light, before the sun came out|
|There were a lot of these...||The carp gulled on the light Avon|
The day had moved on, so on to the second half. I fancied a 'stalk', so put up the ESP ESPThis is my 12' ESP float rod and put 1" of braid on the end of some 10lb line, adding a 10mm cork-ball for indication. So rigged, I sit around the corner on the other side of my reed bed and watch carp sally too-and-fro with apparently no interest in bread, sub or surface, although I achieve a couple of disdainful sniffs. Hm. I move around to the end swim, by the (dry) inlet and try a bait on the edge of a weed-mat, which is treated with equal contempt. Hm. I make my way round to a small bay with another weed-mat and drop bread (on the second attempt) in a hole in said mat and lean against a twisted tree for some while. This, amazingly, works and the eventually the cork ball darts forward and I strike, hardly whacking the rod on the trees at all. The carp, lugged net-wards, has a wodge-of-weed head-dress, so surrenders without a struggle, but like such fish is too lively for the mat, so I snap it in the net then slip it back. I work around to a small bay where the ToS is trying for carp in another of the many weed mats and I join in. Presently he moves on and I sit on the water-mint for a long while, trying tricks and dodges, various, receiving much indifference.
|The carp suckered out from a big weed patch|
The third half; the sun is slipping away, so I wander around, leap-frogging the Thane, learning, en passant about a wild looking apple tree and its fine fruit. He suggests a worm perhaps on the floating weed-mats, which has me mentally slapping my forehead, of course. I take a swim around the corner; the sun is setting on the left. The cork-ball is on a link-swivel, so I swap it for a float, fish flake on the bottom by a lily patch and flick bread pills. It feels like a good spot and a few rudd prove it. I ponder the problem of the rudd and the bread, so hit upon the idea of rolling a compact pellet of bread, perhaps the size of a large acorn, then side-hooking it. I drop a few similar around the float; get a few bites but nothing to show for them. The sun reaches some critical angle, the wind falls away and the water is suddenly burnished to a fine gloss, reflecting the sky in perfect detail and it is a joy to watch the float-in-the-sky. So entranced am I, that an hour slips by...odd single bubbles appear and I start to think 'Crucian by Jove!' and although the air tingles, the light fades out before that loop is closed. Hm.
|The final pitch at dusk||...and the sky cleared...|
|...the wind fell away...||...and it looked amazing for a moment in time.|
We adjourned to the Yew Tree Inn in Arlington for a top-notch repast of Steak and Kidney pie, roast potatoes and vegetables. A fine end to a fine day.
6th October 2017. The Old River (Ouse). The "Old River" is kind of an incised oxbow. It is incised for sure, but the railway embankment created the incision. It is perhaps ¾ of a mile of reed-lined water and if it's hard to find fish it's also a naturally stocked water. The ToSThe 'Thane of Sussex' potters off to stalk wary and unwary carp, while my first pitch is dreadfully shallow and too sunny, enough to remove my coat. Knowing it's 'wrong' I decamp a mere 50 yards for the cover of a lily bed, a little shade and 18" of extra depth. We shall see. It doesn't feel like a 'lots of fish' day, autumn cooling and shorter days have stalled feeding, but it's fine and bright with the soothing sound of the wind-rush in the reed-beds.
|A view of the Old River Ouse||A view of the Old River Ouse||The second pitch|
So I wait...
Now in the shade, I slip my coat back on. I bait hemp to the left, seafood and worm to the right. Hedging. Small fish are on the left, a few, but I'm ignoring them for now. Periodically fry star-burst from vicious swirls. There be pike. Ah-ha! The blue-tip flicks, twitches, dips and I have a fine perch of 10oz maybe that pulls the Avon tip over in a pleasing way. That'll do, one of those every 20 minutes please. I ponder hitching the worm a few inches off the bottom...the light changes, I change the float to an orange-tip.
|The second pitch and its quill||A path by the water||The perch of the rising hopes, thence dashed...|
The midday doldrums stretch me out to ennui (hindsight informs me that I usually have a couple of strong coffees a.m., but today, no such), I tune into the buzz of the miner bees in the bare earth bank behind, then spend too long capturing a dragonfly and finally resolve to remove the pike in the woodpile. I spend an hour catching rudd, fishing scraps of cockle on a size 16, dropping rudd and roach in the landing net, re-purposed as 'keep'. No wire trace. Hm. I ponder this and make up a trace of four strands of 10lb braid, tied such that each strand is not quite the same length, if one braid is nicked the next will take the strain and so on. I tie this bundle of braids to a link swivel and put a size 4 hook on the link. I dig out a small cork from the bag, a neat little float the size of a ping-pong ball, the shape of a 'gazette' bung (which came in a glory-box of bits, made well with the insertion of a plastic tube through the frayed cork and two coats of varnish). There, all done. I put 8lb line on the Avon and swing this rig into the space between two lily pad patches...
...and continue to watch the intricate aerobatics of at least six varieties of dragon and damsel fly...
...where the float drifts too-and-fro before vanishing with a swirl and fairly audible 'thuck'. I wait one whole 'elephant', heave the rod and for a few minutes debate the relative merits of water and grass with a small pike. Said fish is obligingly scissor hooked, so I pop it back and rebait. The ToSThe 'Thane of Sussex' comes by and we exchange virtual fishes, then he stalks, literally, towards the other end for the evening rise. I get another 'thuck' and after playing this fish for a bit, the rod straightens. Drat.
|A Scarlet Darter (male) as far as I can tell||Small, gullible and good fun. Unless you're a small rudd.|
Eying up the other end, where the water is deeper (apparently), I trot along and again fish for perch by a few lilies, a quill weighted with a worm, the end of which was laying on the bottom. I spend a pleasant two hours watching the tiny movements of my float caused by the wriggling worm, but somewhat to my surprise, the float even when sunset-lit, didn't move faster than that. The ToSThe 'Thane of Sussex' also lucked out although he was teased mightily by a few carp.
|The reflected sunset||The reflected sunset (again). Well, it looks great.||Sun down, day done.|
|Why, sometimes, a translucent tipped quill is best...|
I envy those that have this venue on their doorstep. There is little like it in Dorset, and I miss piking for 'regular' pike, mostly small, it's fine sport. I'll take sprats next time.
9th October 2017. 53%
14th October 2017. 1066. Harold Godwinson, King of England. Died fighting the invader.
30th October 2017. Luckfield Lake. I wanted to take advantage of the sun, so throw the rod and bag in the car, grab a loaf of bread and a pack of cockles and sally forth. The lake has been 'improved'. That is to say, most of the swims have nice crunchy 20mm gravel and there's an aerator (which was on) to keep the increased stock alive. I go to the second swim to wile away, fishing bread and cockles in rotation, with only gentle movements of the float to reward me. I could have knocked the '14' down to an '18' and caught, but wasn't mithered. Despite the sun and autumn leaves, it's clear this is a dead-duck (figuratively) so I head round to the most northerly swim for the second half. Not much happens here for the first hour, a few tiny bumps perhaps. The ripples from the aerator, striping the lake with bands of light and dark, are washing silt from the bank to my left. Huh. A robin very boldly snatches bread-crusts from my unhooking mat. I wait. Then the aerator stops...
|Looking away from the infernal machine||...please tell us why, You had to hide away for so long...||Stripes of light and dark|
|This used to be a great tangle of tree branches and lilies. It's been 'improved'. Pity.||The new float.|
...it was as if the white noise of the infernal machine had held the normal sounds of the world at bay, and these flood back into the senses, blackbirds, autumn-song robins, the odd pheasant, distant crows, the squeaks and scurries of some furry thing in the ivy behind me. Oh, that is better. The ripples last a little longer, reflecting back to some epicentre and then out again in a diminuendo. When near calm is reached, a massive patch of bubbles erupts on my right, fish start to 'top' and lilies start to nudge. I feel prospects have improved, although it takes until near dusk, when I laid the rod on my foot to take a picture of the sky-in-the-water with the STSmall Technology but you knew that, right? (the camera had packed in and the spare battery was dodo like). Naturally, as I take the aforesaid from my pocket, the float goes down...and then up, a polite curtsy. Dammit.
A bit after that, with the moon just showing through the trees, the float flicks twice, zips left and I think for a moment, with the rod curving nicely, 'carp', but it fights like a tench and indeed looks just like one...I recast, shifting my spot slightly to get the last of the light and as I'd being doing, throw in half a dozen pills of bread and the float barely settles and it vanishes...this also fights like a tench, but harder, but is smaller than the first. Not that I mind. I try again, but the light is foul and although the moon is bright and the owls vocal, it is, summer-clad as I am, time for me to warm up by moving off.
|The sun-set sky in the water||Quite the out of season fish|
|The second out of season fish||The moonrise through the trees, the sort of scene the Small Technology captures rather better than the camera.|
31st October 2017. Upper Sharnhill. Back to the field pond which, as I arrive is being vacated by two anglers who, according to the book, fished for the four previous hours for no result. Not a good sign, but my 'usual swim' is free; the back-drop to it is now a morass of brambles, so it's tucked evermore in the green. I put on bread-and-quill, flick crust into the end-of-term lilies and fish. Crusts audibly vanish, the float bobbles and dithers but remains the right side up. Hm. A wren nips about the rushes in a series of whirring noises and truncated rustles. I shrink the hook and the float. Around a size '14' nabs a couple of small crucians. I experiment with float and shot and determine, by the way of more crucians, that I need a smaller hook and a smaller float. I cut the trace off, thread on a small porcupine one with float rubbers, put on something more like a '16', perhaps smaller, fine-wired, then add one tiny shot 1" from the hook.
|I know it's overrun with small crucians (and hybrids) but it's a nice place...||classic crucian bubbles||Westward ho|
|A few of the conflagration||A few of the conflagration|
This works better, more crucians, but further experimentation leads to me fishing about 1" off the bottom, then I add a further refinement of rolling bread into tiny pills the size of a no.1 shot and side hooking them. This final adjustment catches a score of fish on consecutive casts. I say casts, more like 'dips', I get used to the tail-buzz as I swing them in and slip them back. Heh. One can over indulge, so I award myself many fun points, remove the end-tackle, put on a cork-ball and a size '12' tied to 1" of braid and set about catching carp off-the-top.
|Not smart but good fun||Not smart but good fun||Not smart but good fun|
This takes longer than expected...the carp in the lilies are fly and I end up chasing them, which never works. I decide to pop a big piece of flake to the right, where two or three others have drifted. One such vanishes a short while later and after another while, a fish appears, goes right up to my bait then turns tail with a swirl. Huh. I leave things as they are, one never knows, and when the fish re-appears a few minutes later and simply cloops the bait down without so much as a by-your-leave, I'm as surprised as the carp is, which latter bolts up the pond for a bit...it's lively sport,, 6lb line, Harlow, soft rod, and the fish, large for the place, is probably not quite 8lb. I tromp up the bank and slip it back. I persist with loose crusts pinged about with the spoon and prick a fish under the far bank, then miss one under the rushes the other side of the lily bed, then nab two fish around 5lb from the same spot and by this time the light is fading, the whole afternoon ebbed. I try for one more fish, then pack up when I realise I'm using car headlights from the lane to locate the bait...
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1st November 2017. "66%"...and done.
5th November 2017.
11th November 2017.
15th November 2017. Mappowder, Pheasant Lake. The great fly rod extravaganza.
My plan was simple. Spend a couple of hours feeding mixers and fishing fry-patterns to see if there was any perch in the lake and then with carpio feeding freely near dusk, bag a couple of careless ones on 'mixer-flies' to break the rod in. Sound plan. If there are any perch (unknown, I've never caught one here), I failed to locate them on a variety of things that were meant to look like small fish. The occasionally visible carp rudely declined to feed freely and for the most part mooched, occasionally cowered and sipped at the odd mixer as if at a 'mixer tasting evening', where actual consumption wasn't required.
|It looks like a really good perch fishing day.||It looks like it, that's for sure|
|See, look a fly rod. That proves it.||It went that far, honest.|
On the upside, I got some exercise, discovered it's easier to cast from the surface of water than my drive or a field, learned to roll-cast tolerably well and was outdoors. Next time yer varmints.
November 2017. So. It dragged out a bit, but 'tis done and 'twas done well. A friend said to me, on reading some of the padding one is obliged to insert, that it seems as if you are building a very tall wall, and then, once the whole edifice is balanced precariously, with a cry of "Ta-daaah!", you then slip your own tiny brick on the top. There is some truth in that observation. Then, anyone who wishes to add another brick is obliged to build the whole wall again. Quite why this is necessary is beyond a mere technical sort. It it as if one were to write a short paper on some small electro-magnetic effect one would have to quote, Volta, Maxwell et al, before one deigned to connect a battery to the circuit. Every time you do an experiment.
It's a system that probably made sense at some time. Someone told me (a staff member), that in general, they decided what they wanted to say, and then looked for supporting papers - for the dirge at the front-end, or indeed the whole thing. I confess the trudge through the front of my final work reduced me to listless ennui. I was interested in the idea, but 3000 words on why I wanted to do it was a waste in comparison with the effort I could have put into the experiment's design and measures, even if I accept it's value as a teaching exercise. I was then suddenly, silently enraged by a last minute 'confirmation' of a change of format - it being beyond academic and administration staff to put all the information in the same place at the same bloody time and instead of dawdling on the 'discussion' for the full time left, I decided to get the bloody thing done two weeks early and go fishing.
I literally wrote 4000 words in 4 days, by the expedient of formulating an argument while tromping around the cut-corn in the evening, looking for supporting papers the next morning then writing in the afternoon. Some of it was quite insightful (I gather). A psychology student ought to know all about confirmation and 'myside' biases. If one has an idea, the very process of searching through 'the entire world's psychology', at least half of which is below average, will inevitable find much that supports one's notions. Some might consider that this is system which (a) wastes much research time building a wall (again) to put another brick on top, (b) is a massive spur for confirmation bias, and (c) is a complete turn-off for those who would simply like to find something out.
But did I learn stuff? Oh my word, yes. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. Truthfully I probably learnt as much watching the re-doubtable Jordan Peterson's lectures after the exams, as from the lectures before the exams and certainly, I benefitted massively from spinning myself off into the realms of rhetoric, critical thinking, Jung and latterly back into individual differences. During term-time we breezed past Jung and Freud, dismissed with a wave of the hand as 'unverified and unverifiable' but they made great inroads into the first working models of minds and, crucially, you are allowed to read them critically and take the good and leave that which has since been advanced.
Now I have a nice set of letters that may or may not be used; but at my age, to tackle such an intellectual left-turn and do well, is not something to be sneezed at. Plus, I know why we all go fishing. But that's my secret.
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22nd December 2017. Mappowder, Spring Lake. Too quiet. I kind of talked myself into going out and in my mind I wanted a gentle 'fish for bites' type of session. I had a wander about and went down to the field pond below Spring Lake and it looks clear and lifeless, although I know it has a lot of rudd. I pitched on the north side of Spring and stuck on the usual 6lb through type of rig and in the first hour picked up a couple of carp on pinches of bread. Then, curious about bites I couldn't get hold of, scaled down to an '18' and extracted cold roach and gudgeon. After another hour, this palled a little, although carp were now appearing, even the few bread pills and cockles enough to get them mooching over. Hm. The water was flat calm, there wasn't a breath of wind, the bank was soft and so I ran an experiment. I raised myself a few inches of my seat and dropped back. A ripple spread across the lake. I stamped one wellington firmly. More ripples. I stamp the same wellington gently. Even then, I could see ripples emanating from my pitch. For the last experiment I stood up and walked quietly behind the tree, waited a few minutes and walked 'normally' to my chair. Yep. Ripples. See, they can hear you...
|The inevitable float with occasional bubbles.||Some of the catch|
|That's as flat a water surface as you'll see|
I re-commenced fishing, nabbed a couple more roach and then realised I was a bit bored with the place's near domination of small carp, so packed. I will try the field-pond at tench-time though, just to be sure.
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