2018 - 'The Fourteenth'

Well now. What to do? Crossroads.

"Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."~~ Voltaire ~~

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."~~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~~

"I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts."~~ Hans Eysenck ~~

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

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

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

January 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st January 2018. Shortly before realising I wasn't watching comedy, but a stylised diatribe, a 'comedian' declared with the utterly erroneous belief of the fleeting-famous, "You can't change an old person's mind". Point of fact you can, as I've decided that particular funny-man is not funny, so will in future avoid the ill-informed twit. There. Two birds etc.

"It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it."~~ Sir Terry Pratchett (of course) ~~

Happy New Year.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. A slash and burn party, bank clearing and bonfires of previous clearings. All good fun, even the charred potatoes.

The Saxon PondsThe smaller of the two bonfires, nearing its nadir.The Saxon PondsThe large land drain in the corner of the Lower PondThe Saxon PondsThe view across the drained Lower Pond, the dam wall, the sluice and the other bonfire.
The Saxon PondsLooking up the pond on the north side of the island

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th January 2018. "The Navy Lark; Johnson's Diet". Sub-Lt. Phillips speaking of Wren Chasen;
"She's making a fuss about her pom-pom."
Which is funny, but not nearly as funny as Heather Chasen corpsing and Jon Pertwee 'in character' pulling her leg. Still great.
"Left hand down a bit..."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. One of several work parties, as we prepare the ponds for dedging and some landscaping. I was helping Pete clearing a patch of rhododendrons from a patch of boggy ground where the path, defined by a fallen tree on the uphill side, is a quagmire even with two drains run under and a timber'd walkway.

After some lopping, it was clear that there was one primary source of water, a spring, and that the fallen tree, in form, but in reality a loose collection of rotten wood held together by a shell of bark, had simply dammed the natural path of the water and turned the area behind into a small bog. It was immensely satisfying to cut a new channel from the welling spring next' the fence, to the pipe sunk under one of the paths' timbers. This involved, variously, pulling out rooted rhododendrons, clumps of matted roots, digging out some grey-and-greenish clay and finally cutting a gap in the fallen tree, achieved with only a shovel, so loosely was the rotten wood bound by its bark.

The 'bog' drained before our eyes and two further trickles of water, under sleepers and through gravel, dwindled to nothing in less than an hour. A slick of silt drifted down the shallow water left in the pond itself, but the spring-water, after the initial rush, ran clear. Why this was all quite so satisfying I can't tell you. But it was. It's an engineer thing. It's been fixed, that's what it is.

The Saxon Ponds and its meadowThe view across the meadow on the south side of the Lower Pond

On the way home, rattling along the top road, I was flashed at by a man in white van who was making 'slow down' gestures. I assumed, assigning low integrity to said driver, a speed-trap, primed by the 'white van' and its popular notoriety. Around the bend was a lady struggling with a horse. I wasn't exactly pelting along, so slowed, stopped, to give her time to get the fairly panicky mount under control and off the road, achieved in the end, by dismounting and leading it off. This is how assumptions can get you into trouble...

The Saxon Ponds' cowsThe resident livestock, and although I for one do not like cows, I've grown used to these woolly faces watching me wrestle with wellingtons, and to the warm sweet smell of the silage and hay.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th January 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part I.

A tube arrived today with a cane rod-blank in it...I've always dreamed of owning an actual 'Mk.III'. That is, the Richard Walker double-built cane carp rod, a 10 foot two-piece compound of two straight tapers. In his own words "Of course it was designed for fish of 10lb and upwards..." ('Drop Me A Line' p.198). I always fancied, notwithstanding 'the narrative', that this rod was the more likely conqueror of the 44lb record, although I can't substantiate that. But it has always intrigued and over the course of a long set of sporadic emails, the idea was born and an offer was made. The tapers for this rod are on Page 27 of 'Drop Me a Line', and these technically, make the rod 'compound taper', the top and bottom sections having different tapers. On the opposite page (p.26) there is a ring spacing, which I may or may not use. Here it is:

The Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodThe whole blank in the string
The Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodThe thick end of the butt section, showcasing the double-built caneThe Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodThe TapersThe Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodThe thin end of the butt section and the thick end of the tip section, the double-built cane clearly visible.
The Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodA wider shot of the blank's ends The Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodA wider shot of the blank's ends

The blank itself has a slightest odour of charring, perhaps a slight smell of treacle, and on the ends the double-build can clearly be seen. The tip section has been left a trifle longer than 60" to allow for the fitting of a tip ring. The first order of the day is to lay it on a flat surface to work out which face the rings will end up on. Once marked (pencil), I'll then varnish it once to seal the cane, while I seek out a good quality reinforced ferrule. Once the ferrule is on, and a little time has passed, then I will give the whole thing a waggle or two and consider my next move. I have no set date for completion - it will be built bit by bit and if it's not ready until September, then it's not. But where to try it out? Now that is a question.

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February 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st February 2018. I've been occupied of late with the search for gainful employment. Nothing wrong with that of course. There is however, a problem; it is almost impossible to find potential employers. Leaving aside the unnecessary details regarding the type of post I am looking for, it is the case that typing "job title" and "county" into google generates literally scores of pages of advertised positions that apparently match my criteria. However, all of said positions or posts are being advertised by employment agencies.

"Oho," I thought to myself, "what I need to do is create a custom search string which excludes all those result that are listed by agencies." My next discovery was that google allow a maximum of 32 words in a search string. OK. So after some diligent cutting-and-pasting, I arrived at a search string that excluded the first 29 employment agencies that appeared in my original search. Even then, the first five pages yielded a lone 'No Agency' web-site and one direct vacancy advertisement. The other several hundred results were, you've guessed it, 'agencies'.

Working from my own data, the first twenty-odd agencies were all advertising duplicate positions. Any employer trying to maintain a sensible working relationship with twenty agencies would find themselves rapidly swamped by the process and keeping those twenty on, e.g., a retainer is barely worth discussing.

I suspect potential employers may be frustrated by this; their own vacancies on their own websites are virtually invisible to the job-seeker. Unless the job-seeker already knows of the company, they simply won't be able to find the advertisement. In consequence only agencies are able to provide a steady stream of potential candidates, which costs said potential employer, a handsome four-figure sum of money for each candidate they employ. They barely have a choice.

In addition, and I am in a position to know, the front-line employment agency staff barely understand the roles they are collecting CV's for. I've yet to have any dealings with someone with the professional qualifications or experience that aligns with the roles I'm seeking. Yet, these folk are gate-keeping CV's, that they'd barely understand even if they read them. One might have more respect for such an agency if it, e.g., carried out some kind of psychometric testing, or in fact any objective selection process at all, as justification for its four-figure fee.

Some might consider this the 'blind leading the sighted'. It's certainly hard to see how the prospective employer benefits, never mind the beleaguered professional who would like to discuss a role with someone who understands it, even a bit would be nice, before passing on their CV.

This situation and process has the outward appearance of a group of apparently independent suppliers, whose goal is to increase collective profits by means of limiting supply or by other restrictions.

This is a cartel, is it not?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th February 2018. Phew, finished. There's a few small tweaks to do and 'all the pagesIt's a site-map.' are listed here. I need to spend some time riffling through the entries and standardising variable names. Plus a bit of editing, something I've resisted while coding.

In other news (I swear this is true), an employment agent who had sent my CV into a potential employer called me to give me some feedback - this in itself is welcome, if rare, but I'd not got an interview, "...but it was probably because your CV didn't read very well. But I did change it a bit before I sent it to the client."

JAA; "Pity, these things happen, I would have liked a shot at that role."
JAA (inside voice); "So, in summary, you changed my CV without discussing it with me, fecked up the opportunity and are blaming me? You utter dipstick."

2018 ''Crossroads'' February 2018. De-Flashing.

One of my bug-bears is the incredible shininess of some items of fishing tackle and I have a particular dislike of very shiny rod-rings and other rod fittings. I have sorted out a way of dealing with chromed surfaces that does a reasonable job. Firstly, you rough up the surface of the metal. Use '000' grade wet'n'dry perhaps, although toothpaste or wire wool might work. Once mildly roughed up, colour over the offending metal with a dark grey indelible pen, more than once if you like. Black works well also, but green tends to produce a finish that is a smidgen too Christmassy for me. This is surprisingly durable, and can be easily re-applied. However if you really wish, varnish over the colour, matt varnish obviously.

You can remove most indelible pen using nail varnish remover on a piece of kitchen-roll, but take care not to get it on the rod itself or glue, varnish, etc. As with all fettles, it is wise to do a tiny experiment somewhere where it will not show, otherwise you can end up with a tip-ring that looks like a Christmas-tree bauble, to give a random example.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th February 2018. A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas.star rating

Nothing to do with fishing of course, but still worth mentioning. I've had this book sitting on the 'to read' stack for a year or so. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up, started reading, then pretty much read it through, barring coffee collection intervals. Well written cricket book are not as rare as (say) well written fishing books, but are still uncommon. 'A Beautiful Game' is a joy to read, and author's love for the game radiates from every page. If you like cricket, you'll like this, if you love cricket, you'll love this.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 17th February 2018. Mappowder. Three halves of an afternoon. It was too nice a day to resist, so I rooted through the fly-fishing bag to transfer over those bits that are part of both kits then nabbed some frozen bread and cockles. You can almost guarantee having Mappowder to yourself winter-time, plus being in the middle of nowhere it's good for the wildlife. Thus it proved.

I ambled over to 'Pheasant', walked the lake, annoying the voluble geese, then set up in a casual way, float-banding a quill, tying on a hook, pinning a cockle, and lobbing the whole into the margin while I thought about fishing. I watched the geese then turned my bag out to see what was inside. Meanwhile, the flat-float twitched twice but otherwise didn't move. I located the relevant bits, removed the 'porcy', slipped on float-stops and a mini-swivel. I located some fine 8lb hook-link braid and threaded on what looked like a size '10'. I loosely furled the last two inches of the braid, then combi-knotted it to the mono., so the hook-link was about 3" of looped furled braid. I clipped on a blue pole-float, a fettled foundling, 2 × no.4 shot then fished bread-flake for a time. As the rucksack-rifle had turned up the thermometer, I checked the water temperature. I didn't really need the thermometer to tell me the air was 7°C warmer than the water and that the ripple-patch on the opposite bank was a better bet. So, de-camped.

Mappowder LakesThe thinking pitch and the distant and more productive ripplesMappowder LakesThe flat-floatMappowder LakesFishing properly nowMappowder LakesThe second pitch
Mappowder LakesThe view of the afternoon's first half

The bank was too steep for the chair, so I sat on the un-hooking mat. I cheerfully fished laid-on bread, the little blue float pleasingly set at the same angle as the waves. The sun was warm, the wind necessitated a coat-zipper and carp came along at respectable intervals, not so often it was a nuisance but often enough to keep you watching the float. I was glad of the decision to fish the Mk.IV 'G' with 8lb on the 'pin, the 2-3lb fish could be removed smartly, although several 5-6lb fish bent the rod somewhat. I re-resolved to make a long handled disgorger, so I can poke the hook out without faffing about with the net. A raven appeared in a tree behind me, and ran through the oddest sequence of guttural utterances along with clicks and glottal stops. Fun though this was, I slithered down the bank to check out the interesting pool in the stream, made some mental notes, then re-decamped.

Mappowder LakesThe blue float in the wavesMappowder LakesThe Mk.IV 'G', the Kingpin and the tiny float-box Mappowder LakesThe largest carp. It was dark, looked feral and frankly, underfed.

I squelched back to, then around Spring Lake and reconnoitred the pond at the bottom of the spinney. I cut the loop of braid near the knot and carefully retrieving the hook from the wet grass, snelled on a new hook that looked like a '14' and clipped on a little orange cork-ball bobber. For information purposes I fished for an hour using a few pills of bread and a couple of cockles and though the water twice moved in an interesting way, nothing came of it. I'll be back when it warms, there's something in this pool.

Mappowder LakesThe pool behind the spinney Mappowder LakesThe little orange float next to the rotting rushes

I'd planned to head home, but passing one of the last swims in 'Spring', I recalled several brown goldfish caught during a cold evening a few years ago. Hm. I flicked a few bread pellets in and carefully plumbed the depth, setting one no.6 at the top of the hook-link and the other 1" from the hook. A robin arrived to beg bread. I gave it a piece and while I waited, used a wooden ruler to flick crusts into the middle of the lake, to see if the carp would come up to play; which they did, but merely toyed with said bread. The little float sunk 1" then rose 1½". I struck, untangled the hook-and-line from a hazel branch, and re-cast. Some time passed and there was much dithering then a gentle submergence and the result was, disappointingly, a slender honey-coloured common of 3lb of so. I knelt on the wet ground, drew it to the edge and tweaked out the hook, saving the net. I recast and listened to a pheasant's short surprised squawk, followed by the sound of a thudding wing-beat slowly fading with its owner; whether a fox, mink or stoat got the bird I couldn't say. See, 'good for wildlife'. Blackbirds cautiously picked up their evening song and the float bobbled a bit and went under. This was a small humpy common also about 3lb, so I spared the net again, and decided that was good enough. Plus I couldn't feel my finger-tips.

Mappowder LakesThe view from Peg 1 at 'blackbird' time Mappowder LakesThe little orange float waiting in vain for a brown goldfish.

It occurs to me that the two 'lakes' are 'ponds' and the 'pond' is really a lake. Heh. Cool day.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th February 2018. Fossils. Being something of a collector of unconsidered trifles, it's singular that a decade after I last picked up a fossilised echinoid or sea urchin, I find two in the space of a week. Consider these are at least 70 million years old and that the one on the right, the 'poorer' of the two specimens, has been deformed after its initial deposition by forces as unimaginable as its age.

Fossilised EchoidsThe first and more complete, found in a field. Fossilised EchoidsThe second, crushed by pressures beyond belief, found in my front garden of all places.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th February 2018. Milton Abbey. Gone. On the way to Mappowder a few days back, on a whim I was taken with the idea of fishing at Milton AbbeyAll JAA's Milton Abbey days. However, there was a sign on the gate that said the 'day-ticket fishery' was closed. I've since found out that's a permanent closure, which is a damn shame. There are few enough places where one doesn't have to continually second-guess for carp. I shall miss it, although not enough to consider the annual fee for the syndicate. Ah well.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 28th February 2018. I started these off in February 2017, but then hid all the fettling stuff to stop me from being distracted by them, a strategy which had only limited success. I recalled these a few days ago and got them out of hiding. I'd got as far as creating the basic float in the following way: I halved a number of goose quills, cutting diagonally with a knife-edged needle file, and then fiddled about until I found three pairs in which, the smaller quill slid perfectly into the larger. I chamfered the outside 'lip' of the larger quill (to tidy the whipping over this join), then carefully cut the bottom end of the smaller and cut pieces of porcupine quill to make the bottom end 'stem', having first matched them for size. The porcy pieces were then glued into their place in the smaller quill section with copious waterproof cyanoacrylate then when it had set overnight, the two goose quill halves were cyanoacrylated together.

Double goose-quill floatsThe porcupine quill insert stems Double goose-quill floatsThe joins in the middles

In hindsight, I should have cut the smaller quill at an angle where the porcupine quill was inserted, to improve the look and I suspect the whipping over the diagonal cut might add some strength. As it was, chamfering the end of the quill made whipping over it quite easy. When the glue had set, I whipped on a 20lb Alasticum wire eye and continued the whipping up over the bottom half of the float. It's a personal thing, but I prefer only a few dark colours for this, dark green, garnet and black. I find most other colours don't look quite right. One coat of 'fresh tin' yacht-varnish to seal the lower half, then another coat over the tip section and a third coat over the lower half.

Double goose-quill floatsGlued up Double goose-quill floatsWhipped, varnished, painted, marked up for the tips.

So...three days later I opted for painted tips, one orange, one pink and one blue. These are longish buoyant floats and it seems unlikely they will be fished nearby or in circumstances where a delicate touch is required. So I made the tips over an inch long, with the plan to colour them according to the JAA magic ratio scheme, thus:

JAA's float-tip schemeThe pink-tipped quill is highlighter over white paint. The trick is to put one coat of colour on every day for a week. Use even strokes (fnarr fnarr) and when you've got the depth of colour you want, put a coat of varnish carefully over the top of the colour without encroaching no the white band, which is best left matt. The blue (Humbrol Blue Florescent) was sprayed on using cling-film as a mask, but it didn't quite work for the tip, so I sprayed a little into the can's cap and brushed the rest, for the orange I used Testors' 'Racing Red', also brushed on. For all three, I then carefully drew on two fine black bands about 0.5mm apart on the boundary between the white and the colour, and the colour and the bare quill. Once they'd dried, I filled the gap using a black 'Sharpie'. I left them a day and added another 'coat'.

There's one float in the picture that is a 'basic quill'. This was a disposable stret-pegger, one of a pair. I literally cut the quill scraped it, drew on the tip with a red marker-pen and fished them using two float bands. To prove my point I lost one in a sunken tree. The other hung about until I thought it needed little other than varnish and an eye, so I twisted a 20lb Alasticum eye up. You do this by turning the wire twice around a handy 'former', say the shank of a drill bit, then twist the ends of the wire together with pliers until the eye is perfect and the wire is neatly twisted. Cut off the dog ends. You can use any wire for this, brass is OK, but take care not to over-twist and snap it.

I made a hole in the bottom end of the quill with a small broach and inserted the eye with waterproof cyanoacrylate, then whipped over it with enough tension to just compress the quill at that point, then slackened it off a bit as I went up the stem. I left the red marker-pen tip, added some layers of flouro pink and strengthened the black bands using a black sharpie and varnished over the whole lot.

Double goose-quill floatsThe finished articles

Start to finish these took a year to complete. I've no idea when I might use them - they'd make decent trotting floats, but wonder if the joint of the 'double quills' will take a hard strike when fixed top-and-bottom, but if nothing else they're easy on the eye.

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March 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd March 2018. Snow. I ignored the snow and went for my constitutional anyway, and it was of course a glorious day to be out and if I could have driven somewhere I don't doubt I'd have fished. In any event, here is my proxy for said fishing.

Anderson Parish under the snowAcross the field to the one-horse townAnderson Parish under the snowup the track onto the downAnderson Parish under the snowup the track onto the down
Anderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north downAnderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north downAnderson Parish under the snowThe track to the north downAnderson Parish under the snowThe lee-side bank with its sheltering birds.

On the 'lee' side of the hollow track, where it sinks below a steep bank, for every three of my steps some bird whirred out of the dry grass and ivy, blackbirds, robins, thrushes and fieldfares, all no doubt tucked in out of the wind and driven-snow - and a set of fox-paws bordered the bank with occasional forays into the bank itself, for presumably, the same birds.

Anderson Parish under the snowLife goes on...Anderson Parish under the snowOnly the pheasant wanders about the place eschewing shelter.Anderson Parish under the snowDown the up-trackAnderson Parish under the snowThe view across the fields from almost the top.
Anderson Parish under the snowOne end of one Winterborne holding pond...Anderson Parish under the snow...and the other endAnderson Parish under the snowThe Winterborne itself, cold clear and here.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th March 2018. The Half Drain-pipe method. I've mentioned this from time to time. This is it. Get a piece of plastic 35mm (o/d) pipe about 5-6" long. Cut it in half lengthways. Smooth off all the edges and round the corners.

To smooth any round cork handle, one simply puts a few wraps of sand-paper around it, following the curve of the plastic inside and out and then use it as a 'sanding block'. The technique is to rest the handle on some firm surface, simply to make a stroke (stop it) then turn the handle with the other hand. The idea is to keep the sanding even and light. Good quality P60 sandpaper will remove cork so fast it's alarming. P100/120 is about right for the 'coarse cut', unless you're removing a LOT of cork. P180 is fine for the final rub down and then move onto a finer grade for finishing.

You can do surprisingly good jobs using this simple technique. As with everything, practise is never wasted, and it's as well to remember that it's easier to take a bit more off than to put some back...so if you are, for example, fitting reel bands, try them every 'once around the rod'. Remember that if they are a very tight fit, you've still to smooth with the finer grade papers. There is no rule that say the cork's finish must be super smooth, but a smoother surface picks up less grime and dirt and is easier to clean.

This is an 'outside job', the dust is horrible, and also, it's worth using a sheet of newspaper to collect a decent quantity of the dust up and keep it in a handy container. It's perfect for mixing cork filler - this works best with small amount of cascamite by volume, mix 6:1 or a bit more. The more cork you mix in, the better the dried result will be. Below is the 'tool' - note the chamfered corners; this is so they don't gouge your corks. The other picture just shows the paper around the pipe.

If sanding a section of cork with nothing at the end, e.g. a fore-grip, to avoid tapering the end of the cork, cut a strip of sand-paper about 1½" wide and wrap that around the pipe - this will ensure that only the section of cork under your hand is being sanded. Otherwise, there's a tendency to cut away the end more than the middle, as the back-end of the half-pipe will bear harder on the end of the cork. If working a section to a high accuracy, for a specific reel-band say, it's worth adding sacrificial cork rings at both ends of the section. These are then removed when the job is completed.

That's it.

The Half Drain-pipeThe half-pipe The Half Drain-pipeThe half-pipe with sandpaper

2018 ''Crossroads'' 12th March 2018. The Adaptable Fly-Fisher (Wild Trout and Coarse Fish on Fly) by Lou Stevens.star rating

I picked up this little gem last week in the back-room of a Beverly mini-arcade. It's down-to-earth and full of practical advice on: casting, what fly patterns one actually needs, tying them, when and where they are needed and sound advice on fly-fishing for wild trout and coarse fish. I thoroughly recommend it.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 23rd March 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part II. Post. Two things arrived in the post today. Firstly, a set of finest bronzed reinforced barrel ferrules for the Mk.III project. These, after some too-ing and fro-ing with the always helpful Ted Oliver, turned out to be a spot-on fit. Item two, my Harlow Reel number two. Yeah...

The Mk.III rod's ferrulesThe perfectly proper bronzed reinforced barrel ferrule for the Mk.III.
Harlow centre PinMy second Harlow...now I need a spacer for the reel-seat...
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April 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th April 2018. Some things worth bearing in mind when rod building. As much as anything, this is to remind me not to 'make that mistake again'...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 28th April 2018. Hiatus. My regular readers, all half-a-dozen of you, may be wandering whether I've given up the rod, left the country or gone into hiding to avoid: the wrath of traditional fishermen, sundry other folk who believe in the validity of an appeal to ignorance, or those who don't see the point of falsifiability. mldAnd don't get me started on those who conflate "It's possible!" with "Hah, I'm right!". Everything is possible. But everything isn't likely. For instance, the odds of a J.J.Cale song featuring a laid back instrumental style are roughly speaking 'one'. In comparison the odds of a large hairy new-to-science anthropoid living in the wilds of North America are roughly 'feck-all'. I'll concede the latter is marginally more likely that all the molecules in the hostess's underwear simultaneously jumping three feet to the right. Well, it's none of those, although my chances of a 'Good Conduct Medal' are rapidly diminishing. I've just been back at work and being an apprentice codger, I've been too bolloxed by Friday to go fishing...which reminds me I must book the 16th June as a holiday. Pip Pip!

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

May 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 9th May 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part III. So, after making the counter a good working fit to the cane, some inertia crept in. Or work related ennui after long office days, for which I am out of practise. Or something. I've opted to seal the blank in its tube with a 250g bag of silica gel to draw any residual moisture out after the long damp spring. Once it's been in there a few days, I'll remove it and give both sections a quick coat of varnish to seal the cane and then I'll start gluing on the brass bits. Must order some fittings...

(I'll scrape the varnish back where the ferrules and handle are glued on).

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th May 2018. Word-of-the-Day: 'stravaig'.

Stravaig v. To wander about aimlessly, or without sure purpose, viz. "...stravaiging about the roads".

2018 ''Crossroads'' 26th May 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part IV. Decisions, decisions...I've dithered on the matter of the fittings for and the fitting of the Mk.III. I'm not sure why, I've had a couple of notions then put them aside, something about spoiling a dream with a less-than-perfect reality, or not being able to get EXACTLY what I wanted. I can get titanium intermediate rings in grey but only if I order from Pacbay directly and I can get a titanium tip-ring but only if it's very shiny (why are so many fittings so damned garish?) and I wanted to fit the really good Bruce & Walker sliding reel-bands as they seemed fitting, but don't quite trust myself to do that job with only half a piece of plastic drainpipe and a lathe is an investment I'm unwilling to make at present.

And so on and so forth. The thing is, the rod is perfect right up until the moment I put something, anything, on the cane, which has stayed swaying on hooks since I varnished it a month ago and then varnished again today. My prevarications are defended by desires for unattainable perfection, although fears of splintered bamboo and sad sets haunt like the shapeless terrors of M. R. James.

I gave myself a stern talking to; after all the rod is there to be used, I can dream while it's in hand. Even a self-declared rational-empiricist cannot always vie against human nature, so I shall feed my inner archetypes in short spells, while hunched over a mythical rod, while next an intimate, old and deep pool. All you Jungians out there can make what you like of that.

So; I'd fitted regular Pacbay TT4XGs to a previous cane 'project' and they looked fine, admitted further defeat and got a Fuji BCMNAT tip as it was about the only one readily available with a 4.5mm tube and with a gun-smoke finish (although I'll swap it out for a lighter one when such are back in stock), then further marred perfection with a 30mm Seymo 243S-BC for the butt-ring, as the alternatives are either black or look wrong. I'll dull down the stupidly flashy chrome before I whip it on. I'm going to fit a screw-lock reel seat, as plastic would be against nature, so a matt 'gun-smoke' ALPS reel-seat. There, all decided and ordered before I change my mind. Again. I'll use black thread, then build it just like this:

The Richard Walker Mk.III Carp RodYep. Just like this.

Finally, one traditionally inscribes on some aphoristic Latin motto, but I'll go with "Oh Whistle and I'll Come for You...". What's the worst that can happen?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 27th May 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part V. The Day of the Ferrule. The counter is closed-end, so I bored a 0.8mm hole through to vent any trapped air during gluing. The inside of the ferrule and the cane were cleaned with white spirit then dried for quarter-of-an-hour in a patch of sun. The ferrule was then fitted 'to the hilt' and, with a pencil, the cane was marked at the point the ferrule 'ended'.

I mixed some 'regular' Araldite (top tip; weigh it out in the right ratio for best results) and applied it generously to the inside of the ferrule. I did the same with the cane and then put the ferrule on the cane and pushed if firmly into pace, right up to the marked line. The excess adhesive on the bottom of the ferrule was removed, then, using the string the blank came tied with, the tangs of the ferrule were bound firmly into place and the whole hung up to set. The female is a tad loose on the butt-section, so I smeared a little left-over araldite onto the cane and left that to set also. I'll glue the female on tomorrow.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th May 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part VI. The Day of the Other Ferrule. The coat of araldite applied yesterday had reduced the slight play in the ferrule, although it was still there. I bound the tag-ends of the ferrule to see if that would stabilise it, but unconvinced, I opted for another thin coat of epoxy first...

...a treadmill-day later, epoxy generously spread on cane, placed a large blob on the end of the cane before putting the ferrule on and then drop a little into the top of the tube to run into any gaps, plus provide a seal against water ingress at a later date. This was my plan. As previously, I'd carefully marked on the cane where the bottom of the ferrule should end up, by comparing it with the length of the counter. Once in place, I bound the ferrule tangs down and the ferrule in place with the remaining delivery string and stood it vertically to set. Cunningly cunOne of my best line-managers used to say, after any particularly snide piece of politicking, "He is a man of much cun, that's for sure." We knew what he meant., I shone a torch inside the ferrule and, using a piece of cane dowel, dropped a blob of epoxy right on the end of the cane before leaving it to go off. I shall now wait a whole week before doing anything else. I can use this time to admire the fittings and to worry about the ferrules not being on straight or the rod breaking.

Wild and Feral Carp...wild...(and back to the top of the page) Wild and Feral Carps...feral... Wild and Feral Carps...wild... Wild and Feral Carps...feral... Wild and Feral Carps...wild... Wild and Feral Carps...feral...

June 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st June 2018. Pimlico Farm Ponds. En route Dorset-to-Hull; again.

I planned, with malice aforethought, to fish some Yorkshire ponds close to the JAFH as a crow might travel but six miles by battered saloon. The traffic of the day was the perfect storm of end-of-term nonsense and occasional shunts; in reaching a third of the way in the time it would normally take to get half-way, drink coffee and be 40 minutes further on, as a game of soldiers the appeal had diminished somewhat. Test Match Special made this marginally more tolerable, but I knew of some ponds...twice before visited, once with the bother distantly recalled, then once again, homeward bound from this same mission.

It was hot, bright and a departing angler suggested I might qualify for senior rates. Un-amused, but politely not thrashing him to within an inch of his life with his own rod, I walked the middle pond searching for shade and deeper water; at the rear of the pond, an overhanging tree cast humid shade that harboured a pod of carp. I stood, pondered and two fish broke away, came to me anticipating food, albeit food à la risk. Hm. I went to the meadow lake, found more shade and float-fished bread on a 'double-bluff rig' suspended from the Mk.IV ‘G’ and in this way learned that flake was dismantled in short order by hordes of roach (small) and that carp were in the right-hand tree-branches.

Pimlico Farm PondsThe middle lake and the Mk.IV 'G' Pimlico Farm PondsThe hatch, the rise and the cork-ball special

So; after 30 minutes I flicked crusts into branches, under-armed two big pieces of flake (less the tell-tale shot) to within an inch of a thin branch and watched the bait through a hole in the reeds...'thock' I piled the rod over and netted, after some disagreement, something around 8lb or so which was unhooked in the net, released and then I float-fished a while longer. Opting, presently, to repeat the trick the rabbit was almost out of the hat when the hook came away...

Pimlico Farm PondsThe carp in the tree Pimlico Farm PondsThe ennui of the midges

I marked, with the occasional introspection of the orthodox carper, that this didn’t concern me in the slightest. I sat down, re-baited, cast and faced facts; I was bored; so packed and re-hit the slow road, not fishing even two hours. Perhaps a new hobby is needed? Or a new mystery? Or something.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 5th June 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part VII (a). The Next Stage. Below are the ferrules with their black thread whippings applied since the last entry, then given two coats of best 'yacht'. Below is the picture of the piece of cork 'cascamited' to the bottom of the butt-section and rubbed down (using the 'half section of 32mm plastic pipe' method) to accept the pictured half-composite cork-butt which will also be 'cascamited' on. When that's set, I'll trim it back flush and offer up the next 6" of cork handle to ensure I get a good join between the two - inevitably, nothing 'off the shelf' is perfectly true .

The Richard Walker Mk.IIIThe counter The Richard Walker Mk.IIIThe female
The Richard Walker Mk.IIIThe rubbed-down cork The Richard Walker Mk.IIIThe butt-end

Before more handle-fitting, the next step will be; polish the ferrule to fit and give the blank a proper waggle...I admit to being a tad apprehensive.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 6th June 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part VII (b). The Waggle. I polished the counter and took the rod up the garden and gave it a serious serious waggle, getting it into a full quarter circle and whipping it back t'other way for a few minutes. Mrs. AA held the tip for me (stop it) and I pulled the rod into a quarter circle on all the six planes and nothing went 'crack', 'creak' or 'ping'. As a result it has the slightest of 'sets' in the tip section, but that was expected and in fact wanted, as I need to know where the rings will be mounted. Phew. And yay.

The rest of the handle goes on now and a ring or two. Exciting.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 8th June 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part VIII. Rings. I decided to put a few rings on the tip section; it's a good job for tired eyes on a Friday. I marked off the measurements shown in the diagram and using rubber bands, placed the rings. Hm. You know, it didn't look right. Odd. I went back to the measurements:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 10½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 6" –––¦ F

So, the first thing, is that doesn't add up to 60", but 57", making the ferrule three inches. The other thing, which you notice after a moment of really looking at this spacing, is that the differences between the rings' spacings are:

1 <–––> 2 = ½"
2 <–––> 3 = 2"
3 <–––> 4 = ½"
4 <–––> 5 = 2"

See? Odd. With a linear taper you'd expect the rings to be spaced in a linear pattern. Well I would. It struck me that if I made the '2 <–––> 3' spacing 9½" it would give:

1 <–––> 2 = ½"
2 <–––> 3 = 1"
3 <–––> 4 = 1½"
4 <–––> 5 = 2"
5 <–––¦ F = 10" (end of ferrule)

...making the ring spacing:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 9½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 10" –––¦ F

That seems better. The whole rod then:

T ¦––– 8" ––– 8½" ––– 9½" ––– 11" ––– 13" ––– 10" ––F –– 5½" ––– 18½" ––– ¦B

A mistake by Mr. Walker? He did say it didn't much matter where the rings were, which is more-or-less the case. Nevertheless, I whipped the rings on using these modified spacings. Once one half of the whippings were done I assembled the rod and gave it another waggle. Steely. Has heft. Hmmm...*potters off and orders single malt's*

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th June 2018. The Wetland. A trip put off for diverse reasons, 'rain' comes to mind. An old fashioned fishing for fun and bites kind of thing and Pete suggested I try Pond '1' for a while and he headed off for Pond '3'. My bait failed to entice a roving shoal of tench, crucians and small chub to get their heads down. After a while, Pete came by and there was obligingly, a scuffle of silt and a tench fell victim to some white-sliced. It was a lively and 14oz kind of fish and the entertainment put paid to any potential hemp-frenzy. Still, a fish is a fish. A short time later a chub, one of the score that had been edging nearer and nearer the bait, nabbed another piece of flake and did what chub do, which is bolt hard and then kind of give up a bit. Stunning fish mind.

The WetlandPond '1'...The Wetland...and its float The WetlandThe Pond 1 tenchThe WetlandThe chub

This final hurrah saw the fish cowering in the far corner of the gin-clear pond. Hm. I went to the 'swim' on Pond '2'. I say 'swim', it's a less narrow spot in the narrow path. I flung some bait, to add to some of Pete's previous, then settled down to hardly catch anything; one small tench plus a sly fishless bite.

By this time, Pete had several small tench and many rudd to his credit, the rudd were to be moved to Pond '4'. Pete pottered off for a bit and in passing suggested fishing further out and I took the opportunity to keep his maggot stock rotated by using a few. This turned on a figurative tap and I spent the next couple of hours catching three varieties of tench, broadly speaking 2oz, 4oz and 8oz, 'on the drop' as often as not. A few rudd joined in and one crucian. I pricked rather too many fish plus the swim was doing cruciany things , so became suspicious of the hook. Despite a few careful touches with a stone, matters didn't completely improve and like a lazy angler, I didn't put on a fresh one. This didn't stop me landing well over a score of small tench which was fine fun.

The WetlandPond '2'... The Wetland...and its float
The WetlandTiny tincaThe WetlandMore tiny tincasThe WetlandOne of the numerous golden ruddThe WetlandThe lone crucian

1pm was a long as either of us, both preferring to freeze to death than roast to the same, could stand. We pottered off, a pity for me what I mistook for hay-fever amongst the long lush grass, was, dammit, a nasty three day cold. Pah.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. At 4am, I wasn't overly mithered, but did it anyway. Coffee (pre-loaded pot), eggs (fried) and toast, front-door, car-door. I wasn't first, Garry was already tackling up on the north bank and we quietly shouted greetings. I tackled up with my lucky crucian float and the soft-tipped GTI float rod, built a twelve-month back and racked since. I caught a crucian ten minutes later, then a couple more, this burst of auspiciousness correctly predicting the day's course and I continued to catch steadily in the grey light, mud-coloured water and occasional patches of bubbles. The first four fish helped me to understand I'd missed a ring on the top section, so I was obliged to unclip the float, re-thread...you know the drill.

The Saxon PondsThe Upper Pond in the grey dawn light (5:19am)The Saxon PondsThe Upper Pond in the grey dawn lightThe Saxon PondsThe lucky crucian float, gathering itself for the long day ahead

A very solid crucian in the 'a bit less than 2lb' category came to hand, really testing the rod's fine tip. Ten minutes later one of the long lean 2½lb swim trashing machines came out, not without some entertaining moments. I nipped out another small one, watched the apologetic sun rise then had another nerve and weed-shredding big crucian. I opted to amble around, via a fine foxglove, to see how Garry was faring.

The Saxon PondsOne of the big cruciansThe Saxon PondsOne of the Upper Pond's long lean hard-fighting tenchThe Saxon PondsAnother of the big crucians
The Saxon PondsIt's just a nice treeThe Saxon Ponds'The Pitch' in the early sunlightThe Saxon PondsThe sun comes up...The Saxon PondsThe fine foxglove

Garry was good enough to lend me his 'guest seat' and while he'd had activity, even a bite as I watched, his day was thus far slower than mine. Jim turned up at 8:45am (ish) and was rebuked for his sloth. Hands were shaken, Jim went off to fish and I left Garry to it shortly thereafter and returned to my seat. Sport remained steady, with two large tench mid-morning and another thumping crucian, perhaps a shade larger than the previous. 'Steady'; that is, as I said to Pete when he arrived with a bucket for any spare roach and small crus; "The right rate to ensure you become tired from fishing before you are tired of the fish." Peter went on, pausing only to move a few crus and roach to the bottom pond (sprat-sized roach were ever-present).

The Saxon PondsMany cruciansThe Saxon PondsMany many cruciansThe Saxon PondsMany more cucians
The Saxon PondsTinca tinca two The Saxon PondsTinca tinca three

At noon (ish) Jim called 'lunch-time' and he, Garry and I drank kettle-tea and munched shortbread biscuits. We quickly worked out Garry's cunning scheme, to wit, bringing a 'half-kettle' capacity mug, so to ensure tea for all, his cup was filled last...all had caught so all was well and good.

I pondered calling it a day, grimy eyes, the hay-fever medication wearing off, 4am is feckin' early. However, despite looking less active the swim produced another string of crucians, another large one, then another, the last arriving as Jim came by, pour encourager les pécheurs.

The Saxon PondsA very fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnother very fine crucian
The Saxon PondsPerfect cruciansThe Saxon PondsPerfect cruciansThe Saxon PondsPerfect crucians

This last 'biggun', determined to visit all four corners at full pelt, trashed the swim somewhat, so I wandered up to chat with Jim and we fixed many of the world's problems (you should see some improvement by Tuesday lunch-time). Garry went on around that time and although I fished for a little longer, my concentration had fled. So I bade Jim farewell and pottered off for an apposite fish-finger sandwich and a Talisker. And sleep.

Fine place, fine company, fine day. Very fine.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 24th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Back Upper for the evening. I cannot be mithered with sitting in the midday sun, mad dogs and Englishmen notwithstanding. So I arrived in the late afternoon and having the place to myself, choose the opening day swim as it's (a) handy and (b) well coloured.

I opted for the hollow tip on Sunday's rod, reasoning that the tench pushed me rather hard. The lucky crucian float was swapped for a cork-ball special with the tiniest of pre-loadings, a wrap of solder wire, then fished lift-style. I nabbed a couple of roach, then the orange-tip darted under with no warning, providing me with one of the good ones. Heh. I had another shortly after, same 'bite' and the stouter rod-tip made sense. There was a flurry of small crus, some more roach, then an hour had passed and the low sun had sunk far enough to pull me into shade, for which I was thankful. Then came another brace of very fine fish, followed by Pete and Pam.

The Saxon PondsOne of the finer fishThe Saxon PondsThe fine pitch on a fine warm dayThe Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish

The Manager and the Manager's Manager moved into the next swim along and I was immediately promoted to 'stock catcher' and fortunately had a flurry, a dozen or so, of small crus plus more small roach which the Manager re-homed. Presently, another syndicate member arrived and was immediately challenged for his permit. One cannot be too careful, but on this occasion the bona fides were in order. The confirmed non-poacher announced his intention to fish for tench and took the next pitch along from the Managers'.

Thing settled down and for a couple of hours, fishing went on in amiable cool calm, punctuated by occasional fish, bucketed and otherwise, and one allegedly monstrous tench. Despite the midday heat, the lengthening evening brought the slightest of chills and Pete'n'Pam departed leaving the pair of us in the settling dusk. I remembered my flask of black tea, EG and Assam, so I reached for it.

The Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fishThe Saxon PondsA constellation of some cruciansThe Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fishThe Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish

It's been some time since I fished the evening and it was heartening to be sat in the cool damp air laced with the smell of the pond and its water mint. I listened to the sluice water's white noise and worked through a couple of cups while I sat and thought, but without the thought. Thereafter the swim's activity steadily increased, but the number of bites decreased in counterpoint, so after a time I sat with the tench-fisher while we swapped fishing titbits and reviewed the notion that his rod-in-use was 'the same rod' despite being basically new, although built on the original 1950's handle. So, much like my university cricket bat which went through two new handles and three blades; or the 'ship of Theseus' for the philosophically inclined. We further agreed this would make would make a fine spot for watching the Perseids in August.

The Saxon PondsThe green path by the waterThe Saxon PondsThe moon and a planetThe Saxon PondsAnother of the finer fish

I slipped back to my chair, changed the float for a small hollow-tipped quill, put a collimator on an LED torch, and then fished the dark. This worked, in so much as I caught several small crucians, but bites were infrequent, despite crucians wilfully cavorting over my landing net. At some point it was too dark to fish, at least for those of us with a Monday a.m. day-job; so we made farewells and ambled off, although I tarried to try and capture the moon, stupidly forgetting that the Small Technology's idiot-proof camera makes a better job of this kind of thing. I cast about for a while try to find some of the hoped for glow-worms, alas not this time, leaving me with the dust and the quietness of the cows.

There is a simple pleasure to be had from driving up the track, so much of the year it's rutted, muddy, slick and wet, traps all. Tonight it's dry, hard, with tall moon-lit straw-coloured grass and the open gate at the top of the field is another small pleasure at the end of a fine evening.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds for the evening. Steve was set up on the south bank, it was good to see him again after an interval of three years or so. I intended to try for a tench and in place of the usual Elysian waffle, I'll just say it was a fine evening with a few crucians, but no intended tench.

The Saxon PondsThe view from the north bankThe Saxon PondsAnother anglerThe Saxon PondsA quill dancing among the bubbles
The Saxon PondsOne of the finer fish, another was 'involuntarily released into the wild'The Saxon PondsThe rod, the reel, the bagThe Saxon PondsOne of a clutch of suicidal small crus that somehow managed three cockles on a size 8
Gobio GobioGobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page) GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobby GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GonkGobby Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GudgeonGudgeon GudgeonGudgeon Gobio GobioGobio Gobio

July 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 6th July 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part IX. Seat. Having thrown myself at the mercy of the panel'The Path by Water', it was suggested by the maker of the cane that I glue cork sheet to the cane and then sand it down to round. Of course...*slaps own head*

Pausing only to completely fail to buy the epoxy recommend by the same panel, I duly mixed some Araldite, painted the cork sheet and the cane with it, then carefully wrapped (carefully measured and cut) cork sheet around the cane and bound it on with good old fashioned string. The following day I trimmed off the excess epoxy with the VSSK and then using the 'half-drainpipe' method and some P60 sandpaper, cut the cork back down to a tight working fit for the Alps reel seat. I did the whole job with the coarse grit, reasoning this would leave a better surface for the glue to 'key' onto. At this point I had to put on a reel and give the rod another waggle...

The Richard Walker Mk.IIIThe cork sheet, glued and rubbed down... The Richard Walker Mk.III...with the reel seat fitted over it.

My first thought was to put the reel-seat right against the already fitted corks, but on reflection, I'll leave a gap of about 3mm and glue a strip of cork-sheet in the hole and then carefully whip over it in green enamelled wire, just for funsies.

I glued the tip-ring on the top section with the leftover epoxy. Irritatingly, the tip-ring's frame is not quite aligned with the eye, so I've ended up with a slight misalignment; by 'slight', I mean "I know it's there but you'd never notice". Annoying, but not so annoying that I'll take it off and glue it on again.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. My plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond then with the shadows lengthening, switch to tench fishing. During three hours at 27°C, I managed seven small roach, one of which got dropped into the water...so I put the remainder in the rather sad looking lower pond and returned to my pitch to see it fizzing. Aha. I put on a grain of corn and after a bit the float bobbled off leftwards. I struck, pulled the tackle out of the tree, cut off the scored mono, re-tied the hook-link and recast. The float repeated itself, as did I. As did the tree. With a mere suggestion of peevishness, I retied the cast etc., etc....

Next time I remembered to strike upwards and found myself on the interesting end of a circling olive thunderbolt. Heh. I recast and only a few minutes later took a larger tench which gave little quarter and hard stretched the long float rod. I had brief visions of a figurative net of tench, but that was that and despite occasional bobbles, bubbles and increasing crucian signs, that was all I took for my troubles. I didn't get another bite.

The Saxon PondsThe Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shadeThe Saxon PondsThe hopeful roach floatThe Saxon PondsThe lonesome pine. It's a nice tree and I was sat under it in fine light.
The Saxon PondsThe meadow behind the pond and its tree The Saxon Ponds...returned to my pitch to see it fizzing
The Saxon PondsThe first and smaller of the two tench The Saxon PondsThe second tench

The church sounded ten o'clock; chiming away, the moments that round off a fine day. I put on 'Nightwish' for the home run through the lamp-lit sun-bleached lanes. Music for epic battles at the end of time, although one must lighten the right foot when driving to such a soundtrack.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Not for the first time the plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond. I nabbed a small roach or two, then a very large one, then three fine crucians. "Oho!", I thought to myself, but then for ninety long minutes the swim died utterly and after scratching out five small roach, I transferred them to the lower pond. I stowed the bucket then recommenced...

The Saxon PondsThe Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shadeThe Saxon PondsThe bobbing cork-ball bobber.The Saxon PondsThe very fine roach. I picked out a few small roach for the bucket and the next bite turned out to be this chap, one of the finer roach.
The Saxon PondsA fine crucianThe Saxon PondsAnother fine crucianThe Saxon PondsYet another fine crucianThe Saxon PondsAnd another fine crucian
The Saxon PondsA fine crucianThe Saxon PondsAnother fine crucianThe Saxon PondsYet another fine crucianThe Saxon PondsAnd another fine crucian
The Saxon PondsJust another fine crucianThe Saxon PondsJust another fine crucianThe Saxon PondsJust another fine crucian
The Saxon PondsA very fine crucian The Saxon PondsAnother very fine crucian. This came to the net (grudgingly) a little after the clock chimed for nine. The next bite resulted in the end tackle becoming neatly tied around the rod-tip; I took the opportunity to reflect for a moment and decided to call it a day as the fish shown here plus a score of smaller crucians, was surely enough for anyone.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th July 2018. The 'Mk.III'; Part X. Glue. The Mk.III has taken some time to complete. This is in part due to each thread and cork representing some delta away from perfection, but is also in part due to evening weariness brought on by the day-job. Nietzsche said; "What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure - as a mere automaton of duty?"

He wasn't wrong. Nevertheless the rod has a handle and the butt section has rings. I modified the original spacing slightly to increase the distance between the reel and the butt-ring, not that any distance casting is in the rod's stars.

On Friday last, I was cross with myself for an elementary error. I fitted the fore-grip with epoxy and carefully cling-filmed the corks and the reel-seat thread to prevent excess glue running off. The original plan had been to recess the reel-seat a little into the fore-grip, but the relative difference in outer diameters would have left a thin shell of cork indeed, so I opted simply to chamfer the inside of the shive and so epoxy'd the cane and the cork and slid the fore-grip into place.

One of the issues with using pre-formed corks on a hexagonal rod is that in general, one is left with a gap between the rod's 'flats' and the cork's inner surface. Thus, I stood the rod on its handle-end, used a rubber band around the angle-poise clamped to the side of the desk to hold the butt-section vertical and then over a period, I gently prodded and worked surplus epoxy into these gaps using a fine broach.

Once as much air as was going to rise out of the glue had risen, I detached the rod then, using a cleaning cloth, wiped the surplus glue off and then using a second clean cloth dipped in nail-varnish remover, I carefully wiped off all traces of the epoxy. The top end of the fore-grip now, of course, looked perfect.

I then removed the cling-film and repeated this simple cleaning exercise at the reel seat end...except that I forgot about it for an hour or two, an elementary error, so naturally glue got under the film...despite my best efforts with a 240 grit custom nail-board to remove epoxy and then filling in several small cracks caused by removing said epoxy, it just isn't perfect. Another crack between perfection and reality, through which, more and more light is seeping. Dammit.

Stupidity aside, I'd planned to make a winding check from a fine copper washer, but in the end opted to double whip the last inch of cane in front of the fore-grip and add a decorative wire whipping, probably in garnet.

This is, as they say, to be continued...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th July 2018. On the way to the treadmill this morning, the slightest shred of cool air produced in my early morning mind a vision of a cool wind down a long lake; I saw myself pull my long coat around my shirt then breathe in the September breeze, with its promise of one proper carp.

Then, while passing over a minor tributary of the Frome, I thought that a walk around the field with the gun over my arm would do the same job and provide me with a supper.

My other insight-of-the-day, is that the fishermen who would catch until they drop, venerating their prey while hammering it mercilessly, are not at peace with their hunting instincts.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 21st July 2018. It's 2am; not a great deal keeps me awake and I put tonight down to a surfeit of chilli and/or its generous measure of spices. I open the front door and listen to the first real rain for weeks patter through the red acer, the sole cricket's chirp and the gentle bleating of the sheep in the next field. It's cool, and the smell of the warm damp earth is a fine night-cap, so after ten minutes or so, I give it another go.

Wainsford Lake then: I sat on the dam for three hot hours of 'fishing for bites', managing a carp and a surfeit of rudd, perch, roach and bream. So far, so hoopy. At six-ish, I decided to lie back and put my hat over my face before I poured the tea. I swear this was only for ten minutes...but when I took off the hat, it was a different sky. The first cup of tea couldn't have hit the spot better than it did and I resumed, but now there was clooping on my left. I can barely fish without flicking bits of bread into likely places and while continuing to harass the hordes, I flicked bread and drew a fish into view, its presence inferred from the radiating rings emanating from unseen overhangs. This fish rose vertically from the depths and pecked at the offerings, signs of caution. I carefully retrieved my line, removed the shot and put on a piece of bread, then laid it over a piece of reed. The carp, obligingly, eventually, picked off two other pieces before snatching at mine, coming short and...then something happened, I'm not sure exactly what, the rod tip banged over, the fish vanished, the hook was jerked slightly open-gape and I was left contemplating a rolling boil of water. Huh.

I re-tied a stouter hook and re-tried. This time, with much cunning I laid a large piece of flake on the bed alongside the bushes and waited...

...something took a run-up at bait, flickered the float out of sight and I struck purely on instinct. The Mk.IV S/U doubled over, 'something' headed up the lake for thirty yards, burning my finger on the spool rim, causing me to reach for the clutch with the other hand...then the line slackened, jerked hard and that was that. But for the two scales the size of a matchbox left impaled on the hook. OK then. Now I have to come back: and I'm going to need a bigger rod.

Wainsford LakeI sat on the dam for three hot hours...Wainsford LakeThe careless carpWainsford Lake'Hordes'. Sort of.
Wainsford Lake...and there it was, a different sky. Wainsford LakeThe finest cup of tea known to mankind. At least it was this afternoon.
Wainsford LakeWeird, alien and quite fascinating Wainsford LakeThe quill, on the loll.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th July 2018. Look Ye Also"The Wonder of the World, The Beauty and the Power, The Shapes of Things, Their Colours Lights and Shades, These I Saw, Look Ye Also While Life Lasts." - Denys Watkins-Pitchford: The author writes: "This Blog is a record of my love of the countryside, all things in it, especially old tractors, growing good food, drinking good tea and taking time out to enjoy life!"

This is a lovely, gentle and honest 'blog. Do take a look.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 31st July 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Third. The 'Mk.III'; Part XI. Bodges. I thought to do two things last night: (1) I'd glue a strip of cork sheet in the gap I optimistically left in the Mk.III handle, for wire decoration, and (2) use the left-over epoxy to put a couple of reinforced whipping on the HSSRE top section, using 6lb green dyneema. Simples.

Dawn light (OK, 7 am then) showed me the cork sheet was too friable a material for this job and also that the epoxy on the dyneema was still tacky so I concluded this dyneema has something about it that messes with the epoxy, as that's the second two-part resin that won't go off on the stuff. Grouchy way to start the day. I've left the terrible cork filler, as I know from experience, that leaving a mistake a decent interval, gives one a clearer head when dealing with it. This evening I stripped the tacky whippings off and scraped back the epoxy and will do it again, with 'something else'. But not today. The HSSRE is proving to be a bit of a bu88er.

link swivelinter...(and back to the top of the page) link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked link swivelinter... link swivel...linked

August 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st August 2018. There seemed to be a tinge of autumn in the air this morning, although I know it isn't yet. On the other hand, the swallows didn't seem certain.

August swallowsSuch a chattering as well. You'd swear they were having a conversation (51, in shot, there were at least twice that number).

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd August 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Forth. Bl**dy nuisance, the shower packed in today. Clonk and then 'not quite right'. I 'flexed' off after a moment's thought, and set-to descaling the boiler unit, and you can infer what you like from my detestation of all things DIY and my willingness to dismantle a shower unit. Apart from the discovery that the plumbers that fitted it did a rank job with two of the wall screws not fully home and a blanking plug missing...and the strong suggestion they not so much 'fitted a new shower' as 'fitted the boiler from the new unit in the old unit', this left me with 30 minutes gaps in my day while things descaled and dried. What to do? The fence panels were 'out' as they're too wet to lift, so I took the half-drainpipe to the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment and its wonky reel seat arbours. It came out OK - I cling-filmed the corks and used a piece of 180 grit about 1½" wide, so that I didn't end up with a taper at the open end of the arbours. The reel seat is a 'working fit' and I'll glue it on. When I've fitted a new damned shower unit...

Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod ExperimentAll smoothed off, the glue left between the arbour can be seen, patterned by the cling-film I used to stop it running all over the place. Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod ExperimentThe reel-seat in situ, I've added a locking band to this reel-seat. I expect to be hanging onto the rod for grim death, so I don't want to find it a bit loose at any point.

Graphite arbours? I'll give them a miss in future. They're so friable that without a lathe it's nearly impossible to ream them out centrally and the dust they give off is quite foul. I'll stick to cork sheet next time or duct-tape and plastic melt. Random Fish

2018 ''Crossroads'' 11th August 2018. "Always Summer" by Peter Rolfe & Michael Pickford. Old friends Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford fished together for many years, then Michael emigrated to New Zealand. Occasionally, he re-visited the UK and they yarned and fished again, but their main contact was through correspondence, first by long-distance letters, and then by e-mail. Their fishing is very different. Peter's is mostly confined to the small local ponds and lakes he restored and managed, tiny environments from which he has learned so much. In contrast, Michael usually fishes for big trout in the wild waters of New Zealand, including legendary Lake Taupo; but, against all odds, he has discovered coarse fishing of high quality close to his home in the North Island.

This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

A book launch will be held at Shaftesbury Arts Centre, SP7 8AR, Saturday 25th August, 11am to 2pm. All are welcome. Please let Peter knowThe Crucian Crusader himself if you are coming to the event - books can be paid for in advance and signed and picked up on the day. Refreshments available.

'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round! 'Always Summer' by Peter Rolfe and Michael Pickford This delightful book is the result of a friendship lasting 55 years but is focused on just 12 months, covering a fishing year in two very different places - where summer can be found all year round!

It'll be convivial event, so do please pop along. You can buy a copy on the day or order a copy from the Medlar PressPurveyors of fine fishing books..

2018 ''Crossroads'' 18th August 2018. Willow Warbler. One of a pair, snapped in the front garden; I'm indebted to the Thane of Sussex for their identification.

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

September 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 9th September 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Fifth. I had, in the course of putting on some rings, noticed two nicks in the top section, one minor, one not so minor. If those had been spotted when the rod arrived it would have gone back, but there you are. I resolved to add some reinforcing whippings using braid and epoxy. However, it took several sticky aborted attempts to get the methodology right.

The final method was this; I used some old Drennan feeder braid for the whipping after first removing as much of the coating as I could using nail varnish remover and a piece of cleaning cloth. I pulled a length of the braid through the cloth soaked with a little nail-varnish remover until no green colour was left on the cloth. When the braid was dry I tested its strength...

All good. I mixed two-part epoxy (using digital scales to get it exactly right) and worked a thin coat into the surface of the rod with a cheap plastic brush. The coat needs to be very thin - you want enough resin to stick the thread and get into the fibres, but not so much that a bead of epoxy builds up under the whipping as it progresses, obscuring the whipping - if this occurs, gaps and crossed threads result.

Once cast off (use fine coated braid for this and tie it in a loop, it needs pulling through quite hard), use the brush to stipple more epoxy into the whipping and brush it smooth(ish) and leave it for 15 minutes or so. Repeat. Remove the excess with a finger (wear a glove if you wish) and ensure there's a little epoxy against the ends of the whippings. There. Let it set, obviously. I did two of these on the butt section and a group of them just above the ferrule on the top section. The painted was quite chipped there and a lot of strain is thrown onto that section. Just a 'peace of mind' fix, probably.

To splint the nicks I cut a section of tubular carbon fibre to the right length (from an old rod section) and scraped off the paint. I flattened it with a rubber hammer, breaking it into several pieces, then hit the pieces until I had 'splints' of the right width. I rubbed the concave side of said 'splints' on fine emery until they was completely flat, pointed the ends and chamfered the top, to assist with whipping over them. More epoxy used to glue the splints to the flats of the rod, then roughly whipped over them until set. Twenty-four hours later I removed the braid, carefully scraped off the excess epoxy and then rubbed the top surface down with more 000 grade stuck to a lolly stick. The whole thing was then whipped over with braid and epoxy as above. Yay.

But would it take the strain? See the bottom picture. Now I believe it won't break. Whether this is a good fishing rod remains to be seen.

The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 1The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 1The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 2The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Splint 2
The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE)Probably past its 'test curve'. I took it to very nearly a half circle.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th September 2018. Barton's Court Drive-By. My plan was based on an early start from the return leg of the annual migration of the eldest to academe. It all went to plan until I arrived. The lake was low, green and packed. I plodded to the only quiet corner, rendered less quiet by the overnighter who'd taken his children. I was bothered further by the chap who took two lots of gear past me, dumping the first batch directly behind me and then doing it again. Why there? Literally anywhere else on the lake would have been better. There were two folk over the lake from my first pitch, they knew each other, and I swear for an hour neither of them sat and fished for more than about two minutes. Up, down, up, down, shout, shout, up, down... When the wind sprang up and blew towards the car park, I followed it after a twitch-less hour, and essayed a hopeful bait into six feet of water which was developing an undertow. The chap in the next swim recast his float every five minutes during this time, which was just bearable, but when he switched to a big swim-feeder (ba-doosh, ba-doosh...) and the third load was nearer me than him, I gave up. I can take 'no fish with peace' and 'peace with no fish' but both at once erodes one's enthusiasm. I swung by Vale Farm, barely out of my way, and seeing a dozen cars along the fence, circled the NDTNew Driving Technology's nose around and set it into a fast lope home, which is what I should have done when I first saw the low green water.

Barton's Court ennuiBarton's Court ennuiBarton's Court ennuiBarton's Court ennuiBarton's Court ennuiBarton's Court ennui - and a nice orange hollow-tipped quill flaot.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 18th September 2018. Word-of-the-Day: 'grok'.

Grok v. (informal) To understand something intuitively or by empathy; to establish a rapport.

For example; to grok a fishing venue, viz. to instinctively know when and where fish can be found for a given set of conditions, without needing to think about it or resort to any kind of analysis.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th September 2018. Beliefs.

"Well, you know, some people believe that they're Napoleon. That's fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don't share them like they're the truth."~~ Bill Hicks ('True', 2002, p. 44.) ~~

2018 ''Crossroads'' 24th September 2018. Wedgehill Ponds. Finally outside the cabin. A new venue, on the CAC ticket. I was attracted by a carp free pond, a middling carp pond and a sparsely populated pond. The first was ideal for a spell of cabin fever breaking 'fishing for bites' and the second, I hoped, would provide some opportunity to blood the HSSRE and perhaps evaluate it in a meaningful way.

The lower pond appeared to fish well, the usual hemp being followed by much fizzing. Exciting as ever, but I struggled to turn the twitches into fish. After a couple of vague nudges, I missed a decent bite on bread, and then striking a 1cm lift landed a solid roach. Huh. I tried fishing on the bottom, off the bottom, on the drop, bread-flake, punched-bread, corn and finally scraps of mussel which proved the most popular. I set up a lift rig with a size 16 and a no.4 shot ¼" from the hook then in short order nabbed two roach, a 2lb bronze bream and lost a crucian hybrid.

Wedgehill PondsWedgehill PondsWedgehill PondsWedgehill Ponds
Wedgehill PondsThe Lower of the three ponds Wedgehill PondsJust looked nice...

Having cracked today's code, I lost a modicum of interest and headed for the middle pond, although the sparsely stocked upper pond pulled at my instincts. This pull was overruled in favour of a rod test, especially as there were plenty of carp moving about. Pausing only to pocket two surface fishing floats and a 'Gazette' bung(?), I resolved to test my latest project. I strung the rod with 12lb line, stuck a cork-ball on and dropped a few crusts into assorted margins, reeds and lily pads. I pinched a big bit of bread onto the size 6 'S3', and when this bobbled off, the strike resulted in a doubled rod and a yelping clutch, then just when I thought I'd won 'things went slack'. The S3 was an 'ex-hook' and had more in common with a needle. I replaced it with size 6 Owner CT4 and balanced a crust over a lily seed-stalk. There were cautious swirls and then I got slammed again and this fish went for the far lily patch and I incautiously tied to brake it with a finger...and 'things went slack'. I removed the second straightened hook of the day. I wiped the blood off my burnt and cut finger.

Hmm. 'Ow'.

I rummaged around for the Korda B 'X' hooks and put on a size 6. I switched to the other side of the semi-trashed swim and bottom-fished flake and the next bite saw me attached to a 5lb common fouled somewhere near the vent. This certainly proved the rod was tough enough for the job and I slipped the hook out of the fish while it was still in the water and turned the net over. They're skittish and they bolt. Hm.

Long story short I then accumulated four fairly hooked carp to about 6lb, using about every surface trick in the book and they had little chance once firmly hooked. The rod is very powerful but gives steadily. I suspect that it's a rod that puts more force on a fish that longer stiffer rods and 12lb line and stout thickish hooks will have to be used for the most part. It wasn't too bendy with a fish on, which was my main worry. It occurs, as I pack for the far too early 'before sunset' curfew, that such a rod might be better off partnered with my Shimano 4000, much as I love my 66x's. I wonder where I put it...?

2018 ''Crossroads'' 29th September 2018. Wainsford. Two out of three ain't bad. I hunted for the Shimano 4000. I found it and one of three spools. I mused on the potential of tightly wound 12lb line on a plastic spool and decided a better plan was to use the '66x. I whipped off the side plate, loosened the clutch right off and put a drop of sewing machine oil into the clutch washer stack (including the extra-curricular carbon washer) and spun the spool to distribute the oil and then tightened it back up and rotated the spool some more, to ensure all was smooth. OK then.

The dam then; there are shadier spots; the shady swims are pretty but terrible shallow and I wasn't convinced this would work out. I was sure that my first two hours would be merely waiting for the next three hours. I baited and waited to my left, until the low sun's reflection made this impossible, then switched to the right, which I'd cunningly baited up as well. The wait was improved by a sidling but positive bite around 4pm. This pulled hard, yelped a few feet off the reel and even then I thought it was large bream and then I saw the spines. Well now. As I'd tackled up with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, a 12lb rig and two large whelks on a size 6 in anticipation of searing runs from near unstoppable carp, it wasn't altogether a fair fight, but I've yet to consider any fish a nuisance, never mind a 2lb perch.

I recast and a little while later I saw a tail heading vaguely in the direction of the float. This, obligingly, after an eternity of 120 seconds or so, dithered, dipped, twitched and then neatly popped out of sight. I untangled the hook length from the bush on my left and re-baited with the two more fat whelks. It's possible these were then studiously ignored.

WainsfordWainsford from the dam on a perfect early autumn dayWainsfordThe large and perchy reed bedWainsfordSubtly deceived with a size 6 hook and 12lb line.
WainsfordThe perfect float for fishing into the setting sun. WainsfordLichen and old wood

As the sun had subsided far enough west, I switched back to the right-hand side of the swim and then saw a near three-foot ghost slip along the bank under my feet. Aha. It mucked about a bit, I switched the float to a scarlet-tipped cork-ball special which was rocked, twitched and wobbled. The quarry appeared four feet out, mopped up some decoy crusts, then did the Cheshire cat thing, without the grin. Hm. I switched from over-depth and no 'tell-tale', to 2" over, 1 × no.1 and a big fat flake bait. All this took a nerve jangling 40 odd minutes and every move I made was measured and slow. At about quarter to six the float bowed twice and nipped firmly under. And off went my ghost, which pulled hard, repeatedly, fizzed the clutch and bored into the deeper water, but was always pulled up by the rod's backbone. Nevertheless, it fought hard and even though the rod had reserves, it was never a foregone conclusion, with the first attempted netting providing the incentive for another wild run into the deeper water. I'll take one of these over six stew-pond clones any day.

The HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment is one of my better ideas. It's a rod for short-range larger fish and appears to do the job rather well.

WainsfordThirty inches of sunset feral carp. And the HSSRE is a big hit. WainsfordAnnoying to have to leave half an hour before sunset. Why?

Time to go home. This is why I keep going fishing. Days like these.

Another Crucian Carpcrucian...(and back to the top of the page) Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Crucian Carpcrucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Another Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian

October 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 6th October 2018. Clump Farm. The idea, for the overdue AGM of the "JAA and TOSThane of Sussex Carp Avoidance Club", was to spend the day at Wainsford. Plans were laid, B&B's were booked, worms were organised...

...the foreshadowing worms didn't turn up, so passing by a different tackle shop to deplete their stock of lobs I discover en passant, CACChristchurch Angling Club sensibly closed their waters due to a local KHV outbreak. The TOSThane of Sussex arrived in Lyndhurst amidst the rain and tourists and we discussed the options, got a very good coffee cake and using the miracle of WiFi with the everyday phone ascertained Clump Farm was open and we went there hoping for, well, anything really. No rain would be a start.

Cold day at Clump FarmLooking to the westCold day at Clump FarmThe hopeful perch floatCold day at Clump FarmFacing the north wind
Cold day at Clump FarmThe under-bank float Cold day at Clump FarmThe fish

Which we got. No rain that is. The cold north wind however, persisted right through my outer layers. I essayed for perch, not a nibble and giving in a bit enticed a carp into view with sporadic lumps of white-sliced and then tricked it with a piece of the same anchored with a BB shot. The TOS had one from a different patch of lilies. It was just nice to be fishing, wind or no. As the day palled, we edged towards the entry-corner and I tried for a second fish that was occasional sucking the sprigs right on the bank. I got a take on a piece of bottom fished bread, the result of which was a size 6 Mustad X4 wedged in an oak branch. On retrieval it was less hook-like than before and the float had been reduced to two sticks and a long coil of unravelled varnished thread. Ah well. We elected to reconvene at a civilised (post cooked breakfast) hour on the morrow.

This we did.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th October 2018. Clump Farm. Sunday, news travels, it was as busy as I've ever seen here.

Cold day at Clump FarmThe blue-quill in the marginsCold day at Clump FarmThe blue-quill in the marginsCold day at Clump FarmThe blue-quill in the margins
Cold day at Clump FarmThe carefully played carp Cold day at Clump FarmThe fish that took on-the-run

2018 ''Crossroads'' 24th October 2018. Spools. I'd planned to fish, fixated on autumn leaves and gentle carping, but the waters that offer this are closed, reasonable precautions after a local KHV outbreak. I muse on 'the list', ponder Dairy Farm, then for no good reason decide, possibly a decision back-stopped by tomorrow's ground-works on The PondsPete's Ponds., to strip and clean my '66X's.Abu Cardinal 66X

It is my habit to place a label on the back of the spools inscribed with the line's b/s and installation date. None of the six (6lb/8lb/10lb/12lb/14lb/17lb) were newer than January 2016. Ah. The 12lb was dated 2014. Huh.

I strip miles of line, cut it into 3" pieces, then clean the spools with nail-varnish remover. I carefully hone a bradawl to an excessive sharpness and inscribe the lines' breaking strains on the back of the spools. I take the opportunity to re-polish the rims with fine wire wool, a job accomplished with the assistance of a spare Cardinal 66 spindle and an electric screwdriver.

The three lightest lines' spools have a braid 'arbor'. This is easier to come by than a genuine arbor, plus if I ever hook Leviathan on a 200 yard wide water, I'll be in good shape. The lay of the braid is so poor I strip them by hand then re-lay them (electric screwdriver again) to level them up. I refill all the spools using the same method and using a permanent black marker-pen, write the date on the back on the spools. There. Good for another two years.

Some remedial servicing; they are of course very fine reels, but I've noted some play in the bale-arms and the spool itself has play along the axis of the spindle, caused (inside the reel) by play in the arm from the driving gear to the spindle. I shimmed the drive arm at the drive-gear end with three 0.1mm × M4 washers and replace the circlip with a new one. I eye up the spindle clip for another day. This keeps the drive arm from skewing and reduces the play along the spindle's axis by about half. I then shim the bale arm, 0.2mm × 12mm × M6 on the line-roller side and 0.1mm × 12mm × M6 on the other. This is so that the gap between the plastic and the spool casing isn't 'just the right size' for line to get trapped behind. Everything cleaned and re-greased for good luck.

With the anti-reverse off the reels are now virtually silent. One final thing, which has bugged me for some time, is the excessive flash of the handles and the bale-arm screws. I carefully (after first removing them from the reel) rubbed them with fine emery until the flash was reduced to a gun-metal like finish, a little less gaudy.

Not bad for over 30 years old.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 26th October 2018. The Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment (HSSRE), Part the Sixth. The rod has performed well during a limited test program. I have nabbed about ten carp including several low doubles, most being wrestled out of confined spaces without very much trouble. Despite its slow action it is a strong rod and on its first run out, holding fairly modest fish straightened two hooks. So this is a rod to use with stout hooks; nothing under a size 8, and thick wire at that.

I had built the rod with the original ringing pattern (the original Hexagraph fly rod) using 'Pacbay Minimas' except for the butt and tip rings which were Fuji BNHG's. The tip was a little stiffer than I would like, at least in the first moments of a tussle, so to soften it a smidgen I resolved to remove one ring from the top section. As it will mostly be used with 12lb or 14lb line, lined guides might also be an improvement. Using Excel, I worked out a pattern that would remove one ring from the top section, leaving the butt-ring in situ and only moving the second ring up an inch. The stock draw still has the original BNHG's I took off the Old Carp RodMy first 'proper' rod, so I used those for the re-ringing. The second ring is now on top of one of the reinforcing whippings, but the varnish seems to have gone off OK. A couple of those whippings do not seem to have quite set; I must have stuffed up the epoxy mix, so those will be re-done.

Anyway, all done and a smidgen softer in the tip, but the backbone is unchanged and its test curve is 3lb...during the lunchtime constitutional at the treadmill, it occurred to me that what the rod really needed was a slender tip section of perhaps 6", something like a solid carbon tip to facilitate flicking light baits, but that would play no part in a serious engagement; then I thought, might as well get it up to a little over 11" and extend the butt 6" and stiffen the rod under the handle to give little better leverage and a little lock in extremis, perhaps by overlaying some flat tapered strips of carbon over the existing flats...and then I realised what I had done...

Still, I now know what my next project is...

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

November 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th November 2018. This, This is True.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."~~ Maya Angelou ~~

2018 ''Crossroads'' 25th November 2018. Holtwood Ponds. Sometimes when arriving at a water the first impression is one of, if not doom, of very low expectations. The venue is delightful, but today, grey-winter having crested the hill, the water of all three ponds is clear and dark. With two of the ponds given over to tench and crucians, the choice becomes one-of-three and a slow circuit uncovers a smooth corner that yields the only signs of fish movement, small fry maybe, but fish.

I face the north wind and resolve to fish two maggots on a tiny fine-wire 'wormer' hook and steadily extract small rudd and the odd roach, ranging from the size of my little finger to perhaps the palm of my hand. This wiles away an hour or two as my body temperature drops, unhindered by the hot contents of my flask. It occurs to me, as the North Wind's teeth denudes me of body heat, that it was perhaps time to replace the thermal long-johns shrunk in a 'laundry related incident' and then to actually wear the same.

This conclusion reached, I replace the hook with one larger, swap the thin-tipped float for a quill that would support at least half a lob-worm, then spend an hour pottering around the pond trying likely looking spots for a perch; the float didn't stir until I was almost back at my starting pitch. I tuck the rod underneath my arm to thaw reel-fingers in one of the coat's many pockets, then the float bibbled a bit, in the way floats attached to large worm do when small and persistent fish try to mug the aforementioned worm. Then it drags swiftly off to one side and my reaction obliges me to untangle the line from a branch, then the rod- tip.

Holtwood PondsThe promising pitch Holtwood Pondsbig boy's hot chocolate
Holtwood PondsThe hopeful quill Holtwood PondsPart of the afternoon's entertainment

There is no repeat, so I settle back in the chair for dusk and hopefully fish a worm until the priming rudds' swirls are so substantial that I pull the float down and catch a fat hand-sized one on half a lob, probably the biggest fish of the day.

Then it's too dark to see and I'm quite chilly. Or hypothermic. Pick one. I'll be back for the tench in May though.

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

December 2018

2018 ''Crossroads'' 2nd December 2018. Ibsley Pools. Another new water, or more correctly 'venue'. I liked the wild appearance of Edward's Pool, however, the water's clarity did not auger well although the warmish wind provided a glimmer of hope for the chance of a hoped-for perch.

I picked a windward spot in reach of the straggly autumn reeds and fished a worm on the bottom for a time, but it was clear that the pond-bed was covered in a carpet of fine green weed, as were several retrieved worms. I decided to re-tie the hook with a 12" tail, put a single AAA on the end and put on a small perch-bob to hold the worm a little off the bottom. It occurred to me that when the static method palled, which looked likely I might remove the float and bump a worm around a bit. Or remove the shot and drift the worm about the place. Thus plotted and planned, I poured a cup of coffee to see what might happen next.

This turned out to be a fine honey-colour common carp that leapt vertically out of the water in front of me. Three times. I watched my suspended worm with considerable interest, although it didn't seem a likely target of a charier fish. But you never know...

I retrieved the worm after a tense period of inactivity and slipped back to the car for some bread and the B&W Mk.IV and some 8lb line. Thus re-armed I fished purposefully for Mr. Carp. To no avail, although I knew it was there. After an hour or so I cast a third flake bait, which had the ill fortune to land on the feeding or dozing carp, the fleeing fish signposted by a cloud of fine bubbles and a disdainful swirl. Drat. I gave it 30-40 more plus another cup of coffee, but I could feel the moment had fled.

Ibsley Pools...a windward spot in reach of the straggly autumn reeds...Ibsley Pools...and fished a worm on the bottom for a time...Ibsley PoolsNice spot, will try it again.

I retreated to the car, re-kitted for some light trotting in the mill stream which didn't work well although I winkled out the smallest gudgeon in the world and was harassed by numerous minnows as the confluence of the stream with grand parent. I amused myself for a while by fishing in the eddies caused by this meeting of streams.

This fun over, the light was fading so I opted for putting my coat over a damp, if otherwise fine, old bench, sitting on the coat, drinking the last of the coffee and watching my float until it vanished in the gloom. Technically, not a blank. Nice day in fact and the thermal long-johns were a fine idea.

Ibsley PoolsTechnically, not a blank. Ibsley Pools...old bench, sitting on the coat, drinking the last of the coffee and watching my float until it vanished in the gloom...

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th December 2018. Hucklesbrook. Another new water. I could wax lyrical about the day, but that would be, at best, disingenuous. I arrived at about 10am, walked the flat grey water with a thermometer, establishing the entire lake was at 5.9°C. Hm. I chatted with a couple of carpers, run-less, and in the end opted for the north-east corner on the basis that any light might just pull in a fish or two. I didn't see a fish move in the next three hours. I worked through the flask and a chunky Kit-Kat or two. After two hours, the wind started up and I was optimistic, as the air was 2°C warmer that the water, which meant I was at the 'warm' end. Unfortunately for me, barely had the thermometer registered a 0.2°C water temperature rise, the rain came in hard on the heels of the wind and after 30 minutes of 'fortitude' I was quite soaked. Back in the car by 3pm.

Didn't hate it.

Hucklesbrook11am. Really.HucklesbrookThe PitchHucklesbrookThe Float
HucklesbrookThe Island. HucklesbrookThe Island.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 20th December 2018. The Wetland. "The WetlandPete's Wetland." I thought to myself, "would be ideal place to spend a few hours." This is partly because it's a pleasant place to be and also because there are as yet pike, where pike are surplus to requirements. Plus, pike fishing is traditional at this time of year, although I'm not really sure why.

Thus it was arranged and I arrived around coffee-time, put out float-fished sprats in ponds '4' and in '5' for 'said surplus pike and sat where I could see both floats. After a while I moved the '4' float, as a pike had started slashing at the rudd that were pottering around the sun-lit gin-clear water. The relocated bait remained un-toothed, so I gently retrieved it for a recast and a fat little 2-3lb pike followed it all the way home and then ignored it, somewhat haughtily I thought. Before I could carefully provide it with a ball of worms, it mooched off to terrorise the rudd. Pete arrived then whipped off to change the memory card in the trail camera. I put up the JW Avon, threaded a small quill onto the 4lb line, stop-shotted it with a no.4 and christened my Cardinal 33 with a succession of bright gold-and-silver rudd, which was fun.

The Wetland11am, nearly mid-winterThe WetlandThe pitch in pond '4'The WetlandThe slightly psychedelic pike-corkThe WetlandA sparkle of rudd

It seemed the right time to decamp to '6' to try for a perch last seen in the warmer months. Pete re-arrived, then nipped off to do something remedial to a fallen willow between ponds '3' and '4' so I slid down to '7', threading rod and net through various newly prone crack-willows. Nothing took the sprat at either end of this tiny pond, or when it was stealthily pulled along the length. Pete arrived with the big saw and helpfully cut me a line of retreat, making egress rather easier than the ingress.

Returning to pond 6's reed-bed chair I nabbed a 2lb pike after some careful sink-and-draw with the float, while Pete continued to cut willow. Pete came by, went-on and I half packed and I determined to try for a chub in '1' with a free-lined lob, fancying that a solid take would result if the worm were cast without spooking them. So, replacing the JW Avon's size 16 with a size 6 fine-wire worm-hook, I headed for the first pond.

I was arrested by the sight of a large pike in the last pitch on pond '3', where Pete was fairly sure there wasn't a pike. Fish and fisherman stared at each other for a few moments and the fish flicked its tail and vanished into muddy water. I set up my pitch, cast a dead-bait up the side of the pond, put a lob-worm onto the big-fine-wire gobby-chub hook, and flicked it, with its 5" quill, into the margin, more to provide something to look at, than in expectation. Presently the quill was enveloped in a burst of bubbles and the quill darted forward and vanished. To my surprise this was a fine tench, fine for any water, for this little 20 × 20 yard pool, a giant, and probably the first tench I've ever caught in mid-winter. Huh.

The WetlandThe pond '6' pickerel The WetlandThe pond '3' tench

The pike however, was still noticeable by its absence, so I left the gear where it was and took worms and net to '1', where the chub were obligingly obvious in their favourite north-east corner. Aha. It took me three casts to get the worm in the right place, then the shoal broke, but not before one chub pounced. Heh. I caught another by waiting until the circulating fish showed themselves and casting a worm at one, then after a longish wait, a third also by casting to a visible fish. This last was the proverbial straw for the shoal which vanished for the day. As chub do. All three were pristine and bright if not, as always, the shoals' largest fish.

The WetlandChub...The Wetland...chevin...The Wetland...or chavender

Going back to the chair, I flung out another worm then re-cast the dead-bait to the back of the little pool, periodically drawing the float-fished sprat back a couple of feet and letting it fall. So it was that the cork ended up level with the languishing quill, where it 'cloomped' under. A careful strike caused the pike to nip off right under the quill, obliging me to open the bale-arm of the little Cardinal 33 with one hand while playing the pike with the other...

The WetlandThe pond '3' Leviathan The Wetlandsundown

Hm. This was the only alarm and despite a few self-respecting attempts to get into the water-cress clumps, the fish was netted with the usual bad grace. I dropped it into '6' to commune with its fellows, possibly to the detriment of the smaller ones, packed up the pike tackle then loitered around pond '1' for a while, enjoying the winter dusk and half-hoping for a sight of another chub, which never came.

The Wetlandcold moon rise

2018 ''Crossroads'' 22nd December 2018. The Harlow Spacers. Having got a second Harlow, I needed a second reel-foot spacer...hm. I didn't really want to bodge something metal with a hacksaw and files. Well I did, but thought better of it. I had the bright notion that something might be made out of layered Perspex, so ordered some small sheets of 3mm Perspex in dark green and purple.

I cut out three pieces of each colour out, using the existing metal spacer as a template. I then 'spotted' and drilled the mounting holes in each of the six pieces separately. The surfaces were roughened to 'key' the applied epoxy resin, then M4 bolts were used to clamp them together into two sets of three layers, alternating the colours. So one was green-purple-green and the other was purple-green-purple. No reason.

These, when the glue had set, were rounded them off with a coarse file, then some fine-grade sand-paper and finally some 000 wet-and-dry. The M4 screws were removed and they were fitted to the reels. They're a little rough but hardly need to be works of art. There you go.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 28th December 2018. Wedghill Ponds. Perching was the plan, and initially I fished the Top Pond as the Middle seemed too busy. I might have caught, something was around, I had a tearaway carp-bite on a bunch of maggots that was 'resting' while I fiddled with something. This didn't stick, just as well, as the bow wave through the wilting lily patch firmly suggested the line would have not stood the strain. A little later I got one darting bite on a bunch of worms fished against said lilies, then, after slipping on a smaller float, a bite, the gentle reply to which left the end-tackle tangled around the rod tip. Despite these signs of life, I felt this was just the wrong place so headed for the Middle Pond, where I knew at least two of the previous business had departed.

I was almost immediately 'parped' PPparp n. 1. Supposedly comical noise made by clown or clowns' props, punctuating a prat-fall or gag, for the purpose of indicating when the audience should laugh. This never works, as clowns are not funny. 2. Slang term for breaking wind. 3. A carp that takes a bait intended for perch [f. JAA, 'perch-carp']
parped a. To be afflicted with, or attached to, a parp, while attempting to catch a perch.
by a small carp on a bunch of maggots. Luckily I'd put the LHSRE'Light Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment', obvs. up with 8lb main line and a fine 7lb braid hook-link - so it gave little trouble. Don't they ever stop feeding? I missed another bite a little later and I watched two magpies check out a swim vacated across the lake, one of which must have been twice the size of the other. While thinking "Two for joy", I was aware of the float's disappearance at the edge of my peripheral vision (it takes years to learn this skill). The rod bent enough and the other end went jag, jag, jag. Oh good.

I tied on a larger hook, lobs for the fishing of, and missed another bibbling bite a bit later, my strike clipping something, but no resulting bow-wave, so no parp. I went on until dusk, my last bite producing a scrappy perch 8-10oz or so, but that's never a hardship.

Wedgehill PondsThe Top Pond pitchWedgehill PondsThe Top Pond pitchWedgehill PondsThe Top Pond pitch's floatWedgehill PondsThe Middle Pond Pitch
Wedgehill PondsThe 'parp'Wedgehill PondsA fine perchWedgehill PondsA slighter, equally fine perch
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