2019 was a funny year, although I as write this I am not laughing. Not so much fishing; the broken back bowed me almost to the ground, but I can take a hint and have since lost 18lb 35lb 42lb with another 50lb 35lb 28lb (22.7kg 15.9kg 12.7kg) to go... I am getting used to my new lifestyle, although this is necessity, not good intention; the damage done to my spine some 30 years hence cannot be fixed, but I can reduce the load on it.
A few wise words to ponder; firstly:
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." ~~ Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History ~~
Secondly, for those who think everything is 'just an opinion':
"You don't need people's opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: Which number is bigger, 15 or 5? Do owls exist? Are there hats?" ~~ Steve Mnuchin ~~
Thirdly, for the magical thinkers:
"...that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens ~~
I cannot add, meaningfully, to these. The previous years of the 'Diary', such as it might be termed, can be reached via the below links.
This is the 2020 diary page, which displays in descending date order, i.e. with the earliest entry at the top.
You can use the 'month' links below to...
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
1st January 2020. Twenty Twenty. "Hindsight Year". There is an odd pleasure to be taken from adapting a piece of electronics in order that it will allow the detection of a signal of 0.1 µV. To put that in context; if you stand an AA battery on one end and let its height (5cm) represents its voltage, (1.5 V), then 0.1 µV would have a height of 3.3 nM (or: 0.0000000033 m). This, in context, is about the width of 16 silicon atoms. If you think a size 22 hook is tiny, the width of the wire is about 5,000,000 atoms wide...mind bogglingly tiny is 0.1 µV.
As we're 'doing technical', here is a relevant quote:
"Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail." ~~ Henry Petroski ~~
In order to rub along with the majority of the human race, it will on occasion be necessary to nod and apparently agree with a large variety of belief systems, almost all of which have no basis in truth.
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. ...the grave will supply plenty of time for silence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian ~~
Do meaningful things, try not to believe any idiocy and have a Happy New Year.
1st January 2020. Dorset Stillwater. The road across the ridge was so foggy I was obliged to drop my speed to half the limit and it was certainly colder here than chez JAA. Kingfisher Lake was becalmed, but I persisted, walking a worm about with the LBRLight Blue rod, aka the Other Mk.III and float-fishing lobs alternated with pinches on bread on the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment. A kingfisher was catching, but the worm-on-the-float only twitched a few times, once even moving down an inch, but that was that. After two hours, it felt like I had given it a proper go, so for this and other reasons, re-pitched on 'Blue Lake'. I need the walk to warm up; the mist, slight breeze and 4°C had sucked the life out of my hands.
|Flat flat flat...||...flat flat...did I mention how flat calm it was?||Unmoved, despite all exhortations.|
There were many rudd. Many many rudd. Using the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III, I extracted a few, then experimented with dropping a pinch of bread four feet straight down, using 3BB under a long quill; Blue Lake is deep, four or five feet off the bank and then rapidly falls away to over 10 feet or more in places, generating its titular colour. This method resulted in quite a few larger rudd, 6-8oz, and what appeared to be a 'choach'. Further experimentation with the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment showed that a bait fished deeper than 6ft wasn't touched and both lobs and bread fished anywhere else were quickly found and annihilated. Hm. I pottered about a bit to warm up - I had a tin of meat in the car and 1" cubes might be the way to try for one for the chub or 'anything but another rudd'. I CBHCan't Be Hedgehogged, but then recalled I'd had this problem before and dealt with it by rolling hard pills of bread around ½" in diameter and side hooking them.
|The 'choach'||The Blue Lake, one end of it anyway||One of very very many rudd|
I added a ¼" to this size, put 3×BB 2" from the hook, then fished under a long quill at about a fathom deep. This generated a considerable amount of spurious float movement, but no false bites, then after one new bait, the float rose up in the water and lay flat. The mystery ran about hard and dove deep and it was five minutes before I saw it, a fine common in the 10lb range. I awarded myself a cup of 'reinforced' BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon tea. Heh. I re-baited, thrice and then as the light evanesced, the whole tip shot under and this mystery was not as heavy, so I backed off the clutch a little and let it run, which it did twice and it materialised into a fine chub on a cold damp day. The silver-and-red dressing around the chub is simply the rudd that were under the net when I lifted it...
|The thoroughly welcome carp||The surprisingly large chub|
I fished on, packed the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III away, then all other non-essentials, then ran through two more cups of the RBEGCReinforced Black Earl Grey and Ceylon tea and hung on for a last fish, but nothing came.
6th January 2020. Pheasant Plucker. A nice pair of late season birds arrived today, more fat than I've seen on one for a while. They will make a fine game curry.
9th January 2020. The Small Technology.
It occurred the other day, as I extracted the sat-nav off the Bugangler, then hung a new 'Silva' compass on my fishing bag, that the 'handy', the Small Technology, the mobile phone that is, has made a raft of things obsolete and is bearing down on others...most smart phones replace:
•The Stand Alone GPS.
•The Alarm Clock.
•The MP3 or Music Player.
•Document and Business Card Scanners.
There are yet more things it is bearing down on...
•The Credit Card.
•The Personal Computer.
•The Telephone Land-Line
There is even an app that will make a passable Geiger counterThese results show that the devices can accurately determine the dose rate which a person is exposed to and that the phone is sensitive enough to detect radiation at levels which are significant in a radiological event... (for gamma and X-Rays) from some mobile phones.
For the vintage angler (I cut my technological teeth programming a 'Commodore Pet'), these things represent an extraordinary change in the world, not that I have any objection and I am as enmeshed as most people. But still...
The vigilant may care to note I still keep the Silva compass in my bag, along with an overly manly 'tactical' torch that can variously be used to (a) illuminate a float tip for 25 hours, or (b) to burn out the retinas of any sentient creature within 30 feet for a mere three hours or so.
13th January 2020. The Lane.
For divers reasons I haven't walked up to the Barn for some time, a twelve-month probably. It still has its poignant bygone red-brick and the Winterborne is running full and clear.
|A lost farm-stead||The Winterborne||The Winterborne|
31st January 2020. Bloke XGnP 9' 10wt 4-Piece Fly Rod.
Bought sort of on a whim as a 'kit', the price was good and the blank came with the reel-seat and a kit of (Pac-Bay) parts. There is a plan...
|All tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page)||There are no bad tench||All tench are good tench||There are no bad tench||Tinca tinca little star...|
1st February 2020. Darts. So: I found, when the Dabblers were setting fish refuges into the Lower Saxon Pond, the tip of a plastic float. So? It was about 6mm across and moulded into a cross-section of a 'cross' (sorry). This of course gives it high visibility and low resistance, which might be useful for sensitive bites. The piece of plastic was pocketed, but more pertinently, the idea took root.
I once made some very poor 'dart-flight' floats, something I didn't care to re-visit. Then, in part because the Bugangler (21¾) is learning to make violins, I discovered that good quality 'razor saws' can be had for under a tenner. The one shown is 0.35mm across the teeth, 0.25mm across the blade and, crucially, cuts on the draw stroke. Aha. I cut slots in the blunt end of four porcupine quills, long and deep enough so that a pair of plastic dart flights in an offensive pink colour left a few mm of protruding quill quarter-sections at the said blunt end. Hm. I didn't want the whole dart-flight. The idea wasn't to make a float that could be seen at 100 yards, but rather an easy sighter, with no attendant additional buoyancy or, worse, with the CoG CoGCentre of Gravity elevated towards the tip.
|The 'Razor' Saw, plus a spare blade.|
Mrs AA appeared and with that special sarcasm that comes as a free gift with every 25¼ years of marriage, asked if I was making darts. I put flights into the four quills, then threw them at the kitchen cork-board (the pointy ends are really very sharp). It turned out I have made some darts. I briefly considered penning a traditional angling murder-mystery that centred on a 'built-cane crossbow and porcupine-quill quarrel' incident. MM"Are you quite mad Sergeant? A true Traditionalist would never use plastic flights..."
Carefully, using a pair of braid scissors found some years ago, I cut one vane to a shallow curve. I folded it onto the next vane and cut around it. Repeated this twice and 'ta-daa', they all matched. So...I trimmed two pink sets, one orange and one translucent orange. I pared off the porcy-swarf, cleaned each slot with a piece of P150 sandpaper, coloured the cut quarters black with permanent pen, cyanoacrylate'd the flights in, then carefully ensured each 'quarter' was glued to its niche in the flights, then glued and compressed the protruding ends, using a few turns of thread.
I could have painted the 'quarters' but they'd probably not have kept their paint on, but I varnished over them and made sure the joints were sealed. A black stripe in the middle of the flights works well and a small colour band under the flights finishes the job. I expect the flights' colours to fade, but it'll be interesting to see how they fare on the water. It occurs to me, assuming they fish well at all, that iridescent dart flights in red or perhaps green will do very well for picking up torchlight or, for the latter, moon-light. Which is an idea.
They do look like darts though. At least they'll cast well.
|Orange||The floats - my camera is near the end of its natural life and its focussing is increasingly a bit 'off'||Pink|
I suspect that the 'flights' will end up being trimmed, so that the float has a 'sighter' only at the top half of the tip, something about 'half a set of dart-flights' size.
2nd February 2020. Palindrome Date Day.
5th February 2020. I Have Been a Bad Boy. Very bad. I took a perfectly good rod, no, more than that, a really good rod and cut it up to make a 'light tip' section for my Harrison's Four-Piece Avon. Yep. I really like the Four-Piece but its 1lb 10oz t/c is on the stout side for some fishing. So, for some time I have hankered after a really good quality 'light tip' section, ideally lowering the overall t/c down to about 1lb.
A previous attempt with an old incomplete multi-purpose avon rod (a pawn shop find), one of they with a dolly section and various other bits and bobs, wasn't a success. This was because the raw material's tip was thin-walled compared with the Four-Piece, so the transition from the tip to the third section was a bit abrupt. OK for 4oz roach; not so OK for 'surprise' 8lb carp.
The bad thing I did doesn't have this problem, in fact it seemed perfect. I planned to add a reinforcing whipping to the light tip's 'counter' area, with no-name uncoated green spectra braid and then coat it with a two-part epoxy that can be thinned with a little isopropyl alcohol, to the consistency of water. The notional plan was to whip onto a tacky coat of resin, mix a second batch, thin it, let it soak into the braid and leave it to go off. However 'comma' the internet says that this may weaken the resin a bit. Heat can also reduce the resin's viscosity (temporarily), but the surface its applied to would also need warming. Hm. I pondered and reached for the heat-gun. This, I reasoned, can be set to 65°C and if I used it to warm the resin...
...and then common sense kicked in. I had already carefully removed (¼" at a time) the lower portion of the 'light tip' section and of course it is far easier to make a reinforcing sleeve out of a piece of the off-cut. This cut-off also has the great advantage of having the same taper. I compared the length of the reinforced section on the Harrison's tip, 3", then carefully removed the same length of varnish from the 'light tip'. While it took some time to carefully cut such a sleeve, ¼" at a time until it was exactly right for the job - a loose 'working fit' as there needed to be space for epoxy - it was easy to fit and glue into place...
Some practical points concerning this process:
Cut carbon-fibre outdoors, do not breathe the dust and keep the dust off your hands.
I cut the blank down using a knife-edged jeweller's file. Not a hack-saw, it does far too much damage. I cut a groove in a piece of 1"× 1" timber as a former and then laid the blank in the groove. Using the flat end of the wooden former to align the file, I turned the blank, in place, until the cut-line was right around the blank. This ensured a flat square cut. I then rotated the blank and held the file in place until it was cut through. Don't use too much pressure here or the blank will delaminate a little.
The resulting sleeve was left a smidge overlong at the counter end and glued into place that way. I then gently rubbed back the 'overhang' with very fine emery wrapped around a lolly stick, until it was flush with the original section's end. As before, I did this outside and used a little water to keep the dust down. I used a piece of cork to bung up the counter end of the 'light tip' before gluing, as set epoxy in the hole is rather a nuisance to remove. I wrapped the other end of the sleeve in cling-film to stop any run off, then stood the whole thing on one end until it had set.
|The sleeved 'new' tip alongside the old 'light tip'||'The Tool'||The sleeved 'new' tip alongside the old 'light tip', I wondering if the sleeve isn't somewhat over engineered...|
The new section was a near perfect fit on the spiot of the Harrison's third section, but needed some work as it was would not seat fully 'home' and it had the slightest of 'knocks'. Secure in the knowledge that there is plenty of carbon in the new counter, I made a tool to bore it to fit. I rifled the stock-tube and dug out a length of carbon that had the same taper as the spigot. A micrometer is a very useful thing...the plan was to make a tool that extended only as far as the spigot would, but only ground the bottom two-thirds of the counter. This was because there was a gap visible between the spigot and the counter when they were mated.
The idea was to cut the tube so that the narrow end was a little less (think some tenths of a mm) than the desired fit (5.25mm) so that when a 5mm strip of 240 grit wet-and-dry was glued around this piece of tube, it would bore out to the desired 5.25mm at a 58mm depth into the counter. I marked the 58mm mark on the tool with a pen. Cyanoacrylate was used to coat the back of the wet'n'dry, it was bound it with string and left it in the 'contemporary orangerie' to set...
This worked perfectly, although it took three sets of grinding and very thorough 'de-dusting' operations, to get to a perfect fit. I removed the dust using strips of wet cleaning cloth.
I then needed to redistribute some rod rings - the original Harrison's tip's last two rings were tiny size 6's. Quite why I thought that was a good idea...so I removed them for re-deployment on the 'light tip', then whipped on two size 8 replacements. The new 'light tip' will not have to manage more than 6lb line and mostly will be dealing with 3-4lb, so the size 6's will be fine on this. Naturally, the 'light tip' is some 6" longer than the original Harrison's tip (there is no free lunch), so it requires one more ring. The bottom ring on the 'light tip' was spaced exactly as on the original tip. I then used 'excel' to work out spacing for the remaining four, which left the ring-spacing a little wider than it was on the original source rod. This was on purpose, as it will soften the action a little, which will not hurt. The extra length will be useful in any event.
|Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.||Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.||Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.|
|Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.||Top to bottom; the old 'light tip', the new 'light tip', the original tip.||A long shot to show the different lengths of the three tip-sections.|
Gremlins of orderliness...hopefully, when tested, the new section will fish OK...it waggles/flexes perfectly well, the rod's curve looks smooth.
I apologise for the rubbish pictures, my camera is struggling to maintain its focus and I cannot be mithered to sort out a diffuse light source. I will now move smoothly onto making a 'dolly section' to facilitate the use of the top two sections with the handle, to do service as a brook rod...probably. So, my Four-Piece Avon now is a 'Six Piece', with three tips, about ¾lb t/c, a smidgen over 1lb and 1lb 10oz. Useful.
All the rod needs now is a tip-section to make the rod up to a 2lb curve or a smidge more, then I'll have four rods in one short bag. I may have to explore fly rod blanks for that...something like the top section of a nine foot #10. I shall also have to get a T-shirt made with "Born to Fettle" on it. Or "Born to Fiddle". Pick one.
I have not forgotten the handle needs a proper repair...
13th February 2020. Hmm.
16th February 2020. Still JAFAPick one....
One thing clearly worse than short-haul flights is a short-haul flight in two legs. I have a mental image of such journeys, something akin to a deep-dive into a tunnel, an artefact of the shape of the plane and the topology of a road journey, in conjunction with the fugue state of travelling ennui. One sinks, the passing world blurs into passing artificial lights. Like a tunnel, there are niches and in these pools of shadow lurk the small demons of boredom, cramped legs, dehydration poor food and too much coffee.
Decanted in Manchester airport; a new experience for me (the place, not the decanting). Not at its best with holiday flight delays leaving the place full of short tempers and bad fashion. Only a little late landing, but the connecting flight has pushed out an hour. I took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart then, under the guise of looking out the window at the planes, I watched the in-reflection semi-chaos. A man on my right drives his spouse off by mocking her smart-phone use. Then he reads his paper, aggressively, as if daring it to have printed anything he didn't agree with, but leaning in close if the pictures involved a swimsuit. I finished my tea, then biffed off to a quiet corner to continue reading the excellent and empirical notes on fishing by the redoubtable Captain L. A. Parker.
Very bumpy touch-down at the other end, FurryBootsToon, not 'top-ten most harrowing', but still. Half-a-mile on shanks' p. to the JAFHJust another Feckin' Hotel, blown breathless by the winds of the airport approach, ten minutes too late to use the bar. Ah well.
|JAFH sunset||...took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart...||JAFH sunrise|
20th February 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, one more time. This is leaning in the corner, while I consider some greenish composite cork rings, an 18mm reel seat and possibly some new rings...
I'm looking at the long shank of corks rubbed down to 16mm o/d and wondering if the whole handle really needs replacing. This is a large job and I ponder overlaying the corks with plain purple shrink-tube. Then I recalled Sam's first rule (from that extraordinary film 'Ronin'); "If there is any doubt, then there is no doubt". Well perhaps not purple then.
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
2nd March 2020. This Fishing by Captain L. A. Parker.
This fine little book, printed in 1948, when chaps wore jackets and properly baggy trousers, even when fishing, has a great deal relevant to even the modern angler. A skilful angler, clearly, the author was also inventive and a great recorder of the kind of data that hardly anyone takes these days and in many waters today does not matter very much. In particular, the author notes that (winter) river water temperatures are critical and one will almost never catch at water temperatures of 40°F (4.4°C) or less but at water temperatures of 41-42°F (5-5.6°C) there are fish to be had. At 44-45°F (6.7-7.2°C) you may score very well, although the fish still have to be located.
This is but one example of his careful approach: others include the important of plumbing carefully and extensively, methods of shotting while avoiding damage to gut hook-links, something worth consideration even with nylon lines, ground-bait and its deployment and many other useful pieces of advice. All of these are distilled from experience, observation and experiment. Even his notes and methods for carp fishing are prescient. I was very taken with his method of long trotting dry-flies and there is much else in this little book to agree with, along with many more useful observations. A great deal could be learnt by careful study of this neat, accurate and entertaining book.
9th March 2020. Dark Estuary by 'BB'.
I was lucky enough to pick this up for a song, a first edition, complete with its dust-jacket and water-colour illustrations. This is a soulful read, BB's love of the wild places of the geese is, for this reader, stronger than the love of the geese themselves and for me, (also) a lover of winter, wild spaces and the smell of the salt-flats, it is richly evocative of place and also perhaps, of a more innocent time. It seems to me that the book is as much about men undertaking these activities without the modern malaise of second guessing what is 'right or 'correct', as it is about wild-fowling.
It is interesting to note that BB himself felt strongly about only shooting the edible and eating one's bag. He had no time for slaughter for only the sake of the act. There are echoes of the privileged upbringing of the author and his fellows, but if one is determined to be offended, something can always be found to rail against.
The (water) colour plates are appropriately 'landscape' and display the wide skies and horizons that are soulfully evoked by the text.
There is too much easily recalled to note it all; evenings thawing by the fire are as well drawn as the stumbling pains of rising before dawn in glacial conditions and then going outside; the perfectly described creeping panic that one sometime grips one's senses in wild lonely places, a distant echo of long evolved survival instincts; an interesting passing note on the sudden booms that are heard on the coast, described by the shore's inhabitants as "the sea calling the wind".
This is a fine evocative read and ought to appeal to anyone who loves the outdoors and especially the outdoors next the sea.
10th March 2020. Barbaric. I just read this, utterly deplorable, Dorset caravan park owner jailed for shooting otterWords fail me. I would normally never fish there again and urge others to follow suit, but I gather the place has been under new ownership since late 2019. Nevertheless its name has been removed from this site.
22nd March 2020. Coronavirus. Isolate, take this seriously, slow this thing down. It will be grim, but we can take the edge off it.
27th March 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, One More Time... So, I (carefully) ripped off the old reel seat and the corks.
I opted for green composite cork-rings, in two sorts, opened them up with a cone cutter to the 'across the flats' o/d of their relative positions on the blank and then used a mandrel, made with from an old piece of cane, to cut each ring's hole hexagonal-ish, then stacked them on the blank.
I numbered the cork rings, took them off again, carefully cut four 1.5mm pieces off opposite sides of all the rings, rendering them into a rough square, then glued them (epoxy-resin) back on in the same order, so the 'corners' of adjacent pieces were 45° from each other. I compressed the corks, 'manually', then by using a large 'penny washer' placed over the blank and against the last cork ring, then winding a thick solid cord, around the blank until it reached the washer and compressed the corks, then tied off until the glue had set. There is very little 'give' in these composite rings.
When the glue was off, using a very sharp wet knife, I cut the opposing corners off, leaving a rough round section then set to it with a piece of half-drainpipeIt is surpisingly how good this method is. and some P60 for the bulk of the sanding, moving to P100, then P120. I strapped the nozzle of the 'Henry' to the work-bench so that the resulting dust went striaght into the vacuum-cleaner as I worked.
When I was only a fraction off the required o/d (the same as the reel-seat, some 25.5mm ), I bored a champagne cork through the middle with a pillar drill, 3mm-6mm-8mm in that order, opened out the end with the cone-cutter, then bored it out with the mandrel as before. This was expoxy'd into place and compressed on using cord-and-washer as before. Then it was cut down to the same o/d as the existing corks, still a smidge proud of the reel seat o/d. I stuck four P60 grit patches on the end of the reel seat and rotated the seat, sanding the end of the champagne cork flush.
I nicked of the sandpaper bits (VSSKVery Small Sharp Knife (Opinel No.7)) and fitted the reel seat using cork tape to make up four arbours and a copious supply of epoxy. The seat was a working fit on the arbours and I coated those with epoxy, gave them 15 minutes for it to soak in a bit and then filled each gap in turn with epoxy as I pushed the seat home. I aligned it using the screw-lock locating groove on the top, which needed to be central to the flat opposite to the flat the rings are mounted on. Simples, one advantage of hexagonal sections.
I made a fore-grip with 2½ corks of the same sort (lest anyone think I quaff ruinous quantities of the fizzy stuff, these are mostly Prosecco corks, and my stock is the result of many years of quietly trousering 'cast off' corks of this type).
The fore-grip was swiftly cut to diameter, P60, P100, P120...
Couple of finishing touches: I polished all the corks, especially the last corks behind the reel-seat, with some P180 grit,. A wrap of cling-film and masking tape was used to protect the reel seat. I also had to gently remove the marks on the butt-end made during the handle shaping. I had planned to remove it and fit a new one, but it was barely marked, so I polished it with P180 and left in situ. There is a slight asymmetry to the foregrip, the result of some variation in the corks' densities, but it looks very fine otherwise.
I wiped the whole thing down with a damp cloth to remove dust and let it dry off in the lean-to (when we moved into our house there was a cheap greenhouse 'lean-to' at the back, which the surveyor described as 'a strictly temporary structure'. We immediately dubbed this 'the solarium'. When we installed a rather less temporary conservatory, it was immediately dubbed 'the lean-to'). The handle looks like this:
|Green composite cork rings, two sorts, plus one champagne cork. Plus the toe end of a 'shark' sockie.||The fore-grip. Two-and-one-half champagne corks|
I had planned some kind of tricky whipping scheme, but discovering Pac-Bay now have a full range of NCP theads, I have bought some nice colours. To be continued...
31st March 2020. The Situation. Keeping busy.
I am fortunate, in that we live in the sticks and my employer has formally furloughed me, so we are well placed to keep away from everyone and shop once a week, tramping around the expanse of the north down in the early morning for our daily dozen. We see more deer than people, even at the moment. To retain our sanity, we have resolved to do something constructive every day, as far as it is possible. As of today ('day four') so far:
The last few items were greatly eased by the new electric drill/screwdriver, a Bosch PSB18 Li-2. This very useful bit of kit has drill, screwdriver and 'hammer' drill setting and on one battery charge, I drilled three holes right through the garage wall and did all the above. Extraordinary piece of kit.
Stay safe and well.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||...a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
2nd April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.
If I wake early, I walk up the down, it is a very fine spot.
|The view from the top.||Another view from the top.|
Stay safe and well.
4th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.
I decided to sort out the garage door today; it was not properly fitted and needs a quarter inch off one edge...but my plane, an old 'Acorn' had also been dripped on, so the first order is a full strip, clean, sharpen and re-assembly. So back to the rotary stiff wire brush, although the blade and its support were better cleaned with a rotary linisher. I re-touched the blade on the Bugangler's whet-stone. I found some red 'Hammerite' under some spiders and used it to re-paint those bits that were painted. It took a few goes to get the frog in the right place and the adjustment knob jammed at the limits of its adjustment (which explains the pliers' marks on its rim). I screwed it onto its studding, put a turn of duct-tape around the thread, put that in the drill and re-profiled the inner edge of the brass with a flat jewellers file so it could not do that ever again.
One of the great things about Youtube is, not only can I find detailed guides on the setting up and assembly of a plane, I can find someone showing how to do it using exactly the same model I have.
Then I fixed an old round fence post (salvaged from the tree-house I made for the Littleanglers) to the flower bed sleepers (two angle-brackets, more stainless steel screws), to hand the bird feeder on. This was necessary, as the new PIR detector was tripped by the existing hanger, a hook under an extended garage roof timber. As I also had to remove an old wrought-iron bracket from the garage wall (to fit the previously mentioned light), I wire-brushed it to death, cold-forged a hook on the end, countersunk its screw holes, then gave it a coat of the green Hammerite; this was screwed to said post to use as a new hook for the feeder.
Stay safe and well.
5th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping busy.
I ('finally' some might say) re-sealed the back of the kitchen sink and made copper-wire 'anti-slug' devices for the horseradish roots. While the enterprising might consider connecting those wires to the mains, I cut the bottom out of several plastic flower pots, inverted them over the spouting roots and put two loops of copper wire over the pots. This seems to discourage the little blighters, giving the leaves a chance to get above ground level. I then ('finally' some might say) re-fixed the landing curtain-rail (the plaster around the existing rawl-plugs had crumbled).
That was after a dawn walk up to the top of the hill.
Stay safe and well.
6th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.
Today, we both set on the composters at the top of the garden. There are two and they are used occasionally and the bottom two-thirds of both were solid with years-old stuff. This involved a spade, a shovel, Mrs. AA, a wheelbarrow, an old trampoline cover used as a tarpaulin and a dozen or so trips up and down the garden, where some quite good compost was piled in a heap and the tarpaulin put over the top.
An amount of rotten heartwood from the doomed apple-tree was in one of the composters and breaking it up we fished out chrysalises, larvae and one or two dazed Lesser Stag Beetles (I gather this is the normal state for them). These had burrowed into the apple tree in some numbers and the life cycle of the larval stage is so long, it suggests that the apple tree was rotting from the inside out for 3-4 years. Huh.
We potted up tomatoes, peppers and chillies in the lean-to; we had to round up three small half-bags of compost stashed with the garage spiders for this and hopefully some ordered for delivery will arrive in a week or so. Beans will be potted in a few weeks, but there is no rush, the ground is too cold for them for a month at least and potting them too soon just means hard-to-transplant straggly bean plants, which never goes well.
|Crysalis||Lesser Stag Beetle|
Stay safe and well.
8th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.
I did a little less yesterday (although I stuck to the daily dozen). One of the house martins has moved into the garage to roost, so the door-work is postponed, as it is our custom to leave the door open for them. A few more security brackets for the top fence needed re-forming, so I did that and then I added a few side struts to the garden arch, strictly to keep the Himalayan blackberry under control. It is inclined towards world domination otherwise and but for secateurs and said struts the arch would be 'a bush' by the end of the summer. Having done that I was co-opted into using my day-job skills for something voluntary, which took up the rest of the day.
Stay safe and well.
10th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.
I re-made the reinforcing whipping on the Hex Avon, more on that later. I dismantled the towel-rail in the downstairs loo, rubbed the wood down with some fine grade sandpaper, wire-wooled it to the death, cleaned it with white sprit and then re-varnished it. The 'rail' part, a thickish dowel, was sanded down, cleaned with white sprit and then given tow coats of beeswax polish. It will get put back on the wall in a couple of days. I glued the new struts into an old wooden float winder (more on that later) and for good luck reviewed a chapter of a book a friend is writing. I dug out the Dutch onions along one side of the veggie plot, split them up, took out most of the mint (you never get it all) then replanted this side of the allium border. Found a massive perennial fennel root, so dug a big hole in a flower bed that used to be over-shaded by the Bramley tree, and re-planted it. In the background I am tinkering with this site, removing spelling errors and fixing a few long left annoyances. But it is technically a Bank Holiday so I feel fine about doing only these few things.
Stay safe and well.
12th April 2020. The Situation. Still Keeping Busy.
Yesterday and today I have been mostly reading an improving book by David CanterJust brilliant stuff; I have come to realise I know very little., well worth one's time. The remaining edges of the veggie bed have been dug out, then replanted with the Dutch onions and a very few springs of mint. The tomatoes and chillies are thus far un-sprouted, six days gone, but 10-12 is not unusual. The sun-flowers are sprouting though, which is good news for the goldfinches who have made their annual appearance in the front garden. The Hex Avon is on its last few bits, the counter whipping, the tip ring needs replacing and I want to whip over the reel seat hood, for funsies. The towel rail is back on the wall and very smart it looks. I think it was bought it in 1994.
Stay safe and well.
14th April 2020. Keeping busy. Winder. I have had one of those wooden float winders for some time now, extracted from a boot sale using the levers of reciprocity. It has hung on a hook above my desk, for no other reason than 'I just like it'.
|Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.|
...but. Coupla things. The rusted metal struts, hooks for the hooking of, were rusted and the wooden constituents themselves were loose, simply the shrinkage of the wood and glue over the years. Hm. The only thing holding the assembly together was 'said rusty pins, so all four were carefully cut through on both sides of the middle support. After this, it came apart quite easily.
|...part dismantled||...parts apart||...dis-assembled|
It is nicely made; machined and sawn for sure, even the cuts for the line appear to have been made with a razor saw of some sort. I used a safety razor-blade to clean out those slots, then resolved to re-glue it and replace the rusty struts with some brazing solder rod I had retained for some time, but which had far to much potential utility to throw away.
|...in bits||Interesting to see the dark patch where lead shot once rolled about.|
The existing wire struts came out with little difficulty. The pieces in the main body were plucked out with pliers, likewise the middle supports'. The pieces in the outer supports split 50-50, two coming away and two having rusted into the wood, so they had to be punched out using a small masonry nail with the end ground flat. All the holes in all the sections were bored out to the o/d of the rod, 1.8mm, using a pin-vice. The whole was then re-assembled and glued back together in stages using various clamps. Then it sat for two months under a pile of paper...
...brazing rod is slippery stuff, even using a small hacksaw with a new blade. The rod was fully seated into one position in the winder, a small knife was pressed onto the rod, flush with the wood, and then the rod was gently turned a couple of times. The rod was removed and clamped between two pieces of 2×1. The short piece of rod was cut off just inside this mark. Repeat × 3.
|...showing the four pieces of brazing rod.||...one pin-hole||...one pin-hole|
The small pieces of rods' ends were cleaned up with a flat jeweller's file. A little epoxy was put into one hole on the body, the new strut was inserted and a little more epoxy was used to glue the strut to the outer support. The slight indentation on the outer, where the strut was (purposefully) recessed a little was filled with epoxy. This was repeated for the other strut on the same side, any excess was removed using nail-varnish remover and the whole stood on its side while it went off. Rinsed and repeated for the other side. The tiny blobs of epoxy covering the strut recesses were smoothed over. By the by, such small amounts of epoxy cannot be practically mixed, so I used left-over glue from other jobs. Colour variation is due to different lighting and white level compensation. Tricky business.
Then it got a light rub down with wire wool. There. Fixed. This is what I did today.
|...the brass thingy is an old bullet mould I found in a junk-shop in Reading I think. Had it a while.||There. 'Fixed'.|
Stay safe and well.
16th April 2020. Keeping busy. Bits'n'bobs. I would not want anyone to think I have been idle...let us see; I have read about half of the excellent "Puswhisperer: A Year in the Life of an Infectious Disease Doctor", spread the compost over the veggie bed and dug it in, just in time for it to rain tomorrow and damp it well down. When the rain eases, the tarpaulin that was laid over the pile will be redeployed on the bed to keep weeds from sprouting until the beans are ready. I dug up quite a lot of 'random foxgloves' and made small plantation of them at the shady end of the nearest flower-bed. Well watered-in, they seem to be perfectly at home. If they self-seed there (as they have everywhere) they will make a nice stand. I did the same with even more random 'forget-me-knots', which grow in every nook and cranny, so I have made a border with them which should keep going for some years. Then restored a flower-bed brick-edge that was overshadowed by the now defunct Bramley tree and pulled up a sod of a lot of ivy...then it will be the root-killer for that. The Hex Avon is on its final vanishings.
|More-or-less at their best now||More-or-less at their best now||More-or-less at their best now|
Plus the daily dozen. Some mild cabin fever. The river below is engaging, but there is not a fish in it...
...stay safe and well.
|Looks lovely, the stones are bones by June.|
18th April 2020. 'Puswhisperer: A Year in the Life of an Infectious Disease Doctor' by Mark Crislip MD
I am something of a rational empiricist with a tinge of renaissance polymathy, so bought this on recommendation. It is really very good, a year's worth of daily 'blogs from the life of an Infectious Disease doctor in the USA. Being an 'ND' NDNot a Doctor. JAA is not a doctor, but in the book the term 'ND' is used pejoratively to describe: 'naturopaths', 'homeopaths', 'chiropractors' etc. etc....and all the other forms of petty charlatanism. Quack quack. does not preclude either learning a lot from this book, or enjoying it hugely or indeed, snickering at regular intervals. There is something on every page for ND's to take away, although it is certain that real medical doctors would learn and appreciate far more from this book than I. As an additional bonus, scorn and derision are heaped on quackery of every sort, and it is easy to infer the glaringly obvious problems that accompany health provision that is 'not free'. This is a particularly relevant message for the times; the UK has a fine National Health Service. Do not take it for granted.
Nothing to do with fishing. But still very much worth reading. Plus, what MRSA MRSAMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Obvs. stands for is now committed to memory. Sadly, not the spelling though.
21st April 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, One More Time, One More Time...
Black is cool on Hotblack Desiato's stunt ship (right up until the point it plunges into the sun), but on a fishing rod it is terribly dull, so I have added further colour with some Pacbay NCP thread in 'evergreen' and 'some purple'. I changed the butt-ring (stop it) to a fine grey 30mm lined Fuji MNSG. This replaced the 20mm previous incarnation, so all the existing rings shuffled up one space on the rod.
First though were those four places on the top section where the end of a carbon section showed after the paint came off. They will probably never move, but I have seen them now so; these need whipping over with epoxy. I have three spools of carp Dacron that I have kept for 'something' after a number of mysterious knot failures. I coloured a couple of yards of the 6lb black with an indelible pen, let it dry for a day or two (having first done an experiment to see if a couple of meters is enough). I cleaned up the offending areas, slightly buffed them with '000' emery and applied a thin cost of epoxy with a brush. When it was tacky (some two hour later) I put blackened 6lb dacron whippings over the tack resin, pulled the ends through and trimmed them up. I made up some more epoxy, warmed it with a heat gun until it was quite runny. I gently warmed the whipping to something less than 100°C (it all helps, painted each whipping in turn, put heat-shrink tubing over the top and shrunk it down to force the resin into the thread. Did the other three the same. Waited 24 hours and cut off the tubing and trimmed a few bits of resin off. There...
...were a couple of spots on the three smallest whippings with 'small fluffy bits', where the heat-shrink removal pulled a few fibres away. Possibly the heat-shrink tape I had previously used would be better...I do not like the end result, especially those done with clear heat-shrink tubing, which did not work as well as the thinner black heat-shrink on the lower whippings. I decided to remove them, cleaned up the rod and replaced them with black 6lb dyneema whipped over tacky epoxy resin. When this had gone off, I varnished them like any other whipping. Should have done that in the first place. Still, always good to learn something new...
|Tip Ring||Third Ring, plus 'obsessive whippings'||Fifth Ring, plus 'obsessive whipping'||Sixth Ring||'Ferrule' Whippings|
Next the rings were evergreen-wrapped and I added a small fly rod ring, recycled from the 'GudgeonatorCute, but a failed experiment' as a 'keeper'. This was mounted only just forward of the champers fore-grip. I do not fit winding-checks (I have no idea what the point of them is). The idea is that the 'keeper' is close enough to the fore-grip that there is very little chance of a flailing coil of line snagging on it. This avoids the whole 'Swooosh-crack... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . splot' related incident.
|Counter Whippings||Seventh Ring||Butt Ring||Keeper Ring||Reel-Seat Hood whipping.|
Over a week or so, I varnished the whippings to three coats, giving both sections of the rod sunlight-time in the lean-to during the day, to set the varnish a little quicker. There. Finished, as it has the right reel-seat, a perfect handle, a keeper that works and a decent mix of lined and light rings.
There, all done, nothing more needs doing to this rod. Probably...
22nd April 2020. Sit-Rep. Still Keeping Busy...
I decide to remove the escaped bamboo from behind the veggie bed, which required an axe and a firm state of mind, then recalling four bags of 'postcrete' and some gravel in the garage, decide to dig a hole and bed the three slabs displaced by the bamboo shoots onto that. This has the additional benefit of providing a barrier even bamboo cannot penetrate...by the time I had extracted all the ivy, the stump of a dead buddleia and its ivy, several errant bamboo shoots that had made it a yard across the lawn and shredded the whole lot for compost...
...in between times I re-fixed a bunch of fence slats; the original screws having rusted and loosened. A job, that without a power-screwdriver would have taken half a day, but with, half-an-hour. Gotta love power tools.
I also 'discovered' an old home-made steel rod-rest, which had been resting in the garage for some time - this, rusted, was found in a lake's undergrowth. I wire-brushed it clean, which revealed the brazed joint where the fork joined the upright and it appears to be patterned after one described in DMAL'Drop Me a Line'; still one of the finest fishing books ever.. I hammered the end few inches of the upright flat, to help it do a better job in the ground, then reshaped the fork, making the flare symmetrical (it was not), then added a slight curve to the fork. This proved tricky as different parts of the metal rod appeared to have different tempers. Still, done and 'hammerited' green, it needs only a little clear heat-shrink over the rod-bearing surface, if I have any.
Obviously I am going to lose it, what with the whole 'green' thing going on. So when the second coat of green has dried, I will add a short section of red hammerite.
Plus I have spent several hours trying to find out why inexpensive oxygen sensors are hard to source. The answer appears to be that no-one wishes to sell them cheaply nor has to. It is never good when it is 'better' business to sell a few high margin products, than to sell many more units at a lower profit margin, especially in health-care.
Stay safe and well.
23rd April 2020. Why Are There Dragons?
I have a hypothesis...I was looking up 'Four AshesOne of 'those' places...' in 2015 or so, after a too-and-fro with the LoD on 'those places' which give one the feeling one is being watched. Or something. It turns out 'Four Ashes' comes equipped with a tale of a worme or dragon The story of the Hughenden Dragon.... For me this beast had something of a salamander about it. I had seen, around the time of this first thought, a documentary on some very big carnivorous salamanders that hang out in China. It occurs that there once was, in times of yore, a giant salamander in Europe - they are not tropical animals per se - and a five-foot hissing, crying salamander would be, for your Dark-and-Middle ages person, a 'dragon'. It is instructive that such small dragons tended to emerge spontaneously from small pools and ponds...if I was the sort to take that further, it might be worth trying to work out if reports of dragons in mediaeval times coincided with unusually long dry spells of weather. You know, when water levels were below average...
Four Ashes has a small shadowy pond on the corner, a remnant of the old Rockhalls manor-house moat; I never liked passing it by, especially at night.
Even more persuasive is the fine book "The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent" by Isbell. This wonderful piece of consilience convincingly explores and expounds on why humans see so well and are so snake-adverse; fear of snakes is our most common phobia and the most easily induced. There is a special part of the human brain dedicated to detecting those patterns that look like 'snake-scales' and freezing us mid-step; this has happened to me; but for this tiny part of the mid-brain, I would have trodden flip-flop-shod on a sun-bathing Viper and you would not be reading this.
Lynne Isbell's fine piece of induction neatly dovetails with many strong age-long traditions of chaos, being that which is outside the circle or tree-canopy, and its representation by snakes and dragons of types too multitudinous to describe.
We have evolved to fear these predators, large and small, the monitors, the serpents and the crocodilians, while at the same time sharing an ancestral limbic cortex. The limbic system is the seat of base emotions; fight, flight, food, the primitive basic survival drives. Not for nothing is the limbic commonly referred to as the 'lizard brain'; this is all a lizard has.
It is hardly surprising that the dragons of the mind share space and characteristics with the dragons of the world and that civilised man is, by his very nature, both jousting with his own dragons and those of others. It would be more surprising if there were not dragons.
And then there are horse-eels...
24th April 2020. Chilli Sans Carne
Mrs. AA and the two-thirds of the Littleanglers have foresworn meat but not spices, so I worked up a vegetarian chilli. The below serves four, more-or-less. It is assumed the reader can cook a bit. Chilli Sans Carne takes about an hour to cook to completion.
Weigh out 100g of dried Textured Vegetable Protein and put it into a saucepan.
Put the following into a Pyrex jug: 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon powder, a teaspoon of Worcester sauce (not veggie this last, contains 'anchovies', so for completely vegetarian swap this out for mushroom ketchup), a tea-spoon of dark soy (for colour), a dessert spoon of HP sauce, one teaspoon of ground cumin and one of un-smoked paprika. Add about 1¼ pints of boiling water and stir well until the soluble stuff has dissolved and the powders are suspended. Pour this into the TVP, mix well and leave for a couple of hours. This will hydrate it and the flavours will be drawn into the otherwise anodyne TVP.
Wait two hours...also, find a large saucepan.
Cut up 2 large onions and fry in a little olive oil until translucent, a bit of a brown tinge will not hurt. When the onion is done, crush two cloves of garlic and add them to the pan, fry for 1 minute (only), stirring constantly. Burnt garlic is foul...then add 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons of un-smoked paprika, half a level teaspoon of ground black pepper and chilli to taste. I use chilli flakes, they are reliable, that is, one level teaspoon is exactly the heat we like. It is as well to remember that it is far easier to add a bit more chilli later, than to remove any excess.
Fry the spices for another minute or so, stirring constantly, then add two tins of tomatoes, two tins of drained kidney beans (save one tin's liquid) and put in the TVP. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
Optionally, cut 4-6 green and yellow peppers into chunks and add those along with a small tin of sweetcorn. Add a dessert-spoon of tomato puree. Simmer the whole lot until the peppers are soft. If any additional liquid is required, add some of the kidney bean liquid, but wait until the peppers are soft before adding any - the peppers liberate quite a bit of water as they cook...
Five minutes before serving add a tablespoon of lime juice and one square of 90% cocoa chocolate and stir until the latter has melted.
Serve with whatever you like - tortillas are good, as is rice. The Anotherangler household does not usually bother with either, we add the peppers to make it a complete meal, but a few rice-crackers on top are pretty good.
25th April 2020. Keeping Busy...
I finished the rod-rest previously mentioned, and very smart it looks. I sorted out the 'cotemporary orangerie' down-pipe - I previously added a new water butt to the two existing, hence the need to reposition the down-pipe, which involved 'some guttering', a hack-saw, an electric drill and a number of non-family appropriate words. I sieved out the soil removed for the setting of previously mentioned slabs then dug out one end of the flower bed so I can transplant two large foxgloves that had moved in next door to the horse-radish (which is growing nicely). I spread out a few of the liberated ubiquitous blue-bell and daffodil bulbs which we are blessed with. I dug out a massive ornamental grass thingy, think size of a basket-ball, shredded it (bloody things) and replanted 'said bulbs and some golden rod-roots that had been overwhelmed by 'said grass-like spawn of satan. I removed a few glazing bar end-caps from the orangerie and worked out I can make a retaining bracket out of steel and push all the roof segments back into place. Off to the internet to order said brackets and some s/steel no.10 × 35mm screws...
|Re-shaped and 'greened'...||...with its handy red stripe, I'll add some heat-shrink to the fork later.|
Bet I lose the rod-rest though.
27th April 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Keeping Busy...
Some small stuff. Some expanding foam around the central-heating pipes' egress from the ceiling in two rooms was removed flush, then a pipe clip that had come loose (or more probably, had never been put in properly) was removed, the hole filled, a new hole drilled and the clip replaced. I have a small book-shelf, surprisingly well made in a 1975 woodwork class. I resolved to put it on the wall over my desk. I drilled out three old rawlplugs from said area of wall then filled the holes. I opened out the book-shelf's screw holes and countersink a smidge then drilled new holes in the wall and loosely affixed the shelf. Yep, all good. I took it off, wire-wooled then bees-waxed it, left it in the 'contemporary orangerie' for an hour or two, buffed off the wax, then fixed it on the wall. A small digital inclinometer is a useful thing.
Stay safe and well.
29th April 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Keeping Busy...
The 28th was the single least productive day of the lock-down for me. No idea why; I ran out of jobs I fancied and did little more than pot up beans, squashes and a few errant maize seeds. The rain, which returned in earnest this morning, has soaked the veggie plot and flushed through and cleaned out the guttering I amended. I may yet have to tackle the loose backboard at the bottom of the stairs. It is an easy enough job but it is hard to access and requires emptying the cupboard under the stairs. Then the treadmill belt broke, so I've had to sort out a new one...
Stir Crazy? Me?
|There actually are fish in there....|
Stay safe and well.
|...and...wait for it...swivel ;-)...(and back to the top of the page)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)||...and...wait for it...swivel :-)|
5th May 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Keeping Busy...I have not been going mad at all. Oh no.
There were number of 'things' on this site which have been niggling at me for a bit. There are basically several page types that are not behaving as I would like, which for the sake of argument can be termed: 'subject', 'topic', tackle, and 'venue'. I needed to ensure they all worked in the same way...and the way was that every entry on each page hyperlinked back to its location in the relevant 'dairy' page. This took me a coupla days...three if you count all the diversions to edit old entries that had spelling mistakes and phrases that simply begged a re-write. Plus I remembered some other stuff I had nearly forgotten...anyway, all done. Phew. I'm reminded of the old joke about 'always working on a low maintenance garden'.
Meanwhile...I glued the rogue trim down on the lad's car, put a curtain rail up in the 'contemporary orangerie', dismantled the treadmill ready for its new belt (which I have ordered), removed two polycarbonate panels worth of glazing-bar end-caps and bits, cleaned out a not inconsiderable amount of 'stuff' and put them back on using the s/steel washers and screws that came Friday - this will ensure that the panels cannot slip down again. I must mention the 'screw-removing' pliers that arrived for this job, awsome things. Certainly do the job, 16 panels to go...and as the new oil tank went in today, I dug out all the surrounding bricks, stones and other geological ephemera, put an axe through a recalcitrant Bramley tree root and filled a large tub with ivy-roots. I wonder if we have any grass-seed?
Here is one of our regular visitors and the view from the very top of the hill. Stay safe and well.
|Front Garden Goldfinch|
|From the top of the hill - along with everything else I do this every day...|
7th May 2020. Sit-Rep: Still Keeping Busy...Sane as a plank here.
Today I opted to fix the loose backboard on the second stair...peasy eh? By the time I had emptied the cupboard under the stairs, hoovered up 2,762 spiders, their detritus and a lot of dust, crawled in (on my unhooking mat), measured the width of the step, wriggled out, cut a baton, drilled it and wriggled back in, screwed the baton to the step, which luckily was good solid ¼" timber (the plywood had punched off the panel pins originally used to fix it, so I opted to screw a baton over the top of what was quite ragged plywood). I then cut a support block out of 4" × 4" fence-post for the two central heating pipes that run through the cupboard. This was to stop the pipes being bounced by the stuff being lobbed into the cupboard. I then took off the door, cut a hole for a louvre, fitted it and re-hung the door...that was pretty much my day. Oh, I nearly forgot, before that I fixed a new grille to the downstairs loo extractor fan - the old one had 'flaps' and the sparrows had broken two of them and finding a handy one foot deep 4" pipe, started a nest, bit of which were all over the shelf in the 'said, loo. They then decided the three berth nest box not 10 feet away was better, so this is currently 33.3% occupied. Before that I checked every JAA database entry for 2005, and amended several from 1982 or thereabouts...
Stay safe and well.
8th May 2020. Catching Small Bass in a Tiny Spillway. Fishing 618 is well worth a watch. Although possibly at odds with UK techniques, the enthusiasm is infectious, the editing is nicely done, the soundtracks are well chosen and played at a 'background' volume. Plus, there is a fascinating array of fish and where else do you see folk catching turtles by mistake and having to avoid snakes?
In his own words: Fishing the ponds, lakes, rivers, and creeks from the midwest and beyond! You will find videos featuring gear from the lightest of ultra light to the heaviest of heavy. This channel is dedicated to fishing purely for the fun and excitement of fishing! Enjoy!"
10th May 2020. Restoration at Barton Court Estate trout fishery. Lovely little video about the start of the Kennet restoration project at Barton Court Estate. Work is under way to create a habitat that promotes a healthy head of wild trout, as well as creating a diverse and varied fishery for anglers.
I have fished here a few times and alway enjoyed the place and it is good to hear that the habitat is being restored 'first'. This is the approach taken at the ...an idyllic and very fine fishery that was the product of many years of careful managementSaxon Ponds: water and environment first, fish second, anglers third.
13th May 2020. Allowed Out. I set off with something of a buzz, as notwithstanding the 'lockdown' this would only be my second trip out in 2020. I was keen to try out the 'new' Four Piece Avon tip and was hopeful that the place would have retained a little warmth despite the recent cool snap.
The Wetland is at its best in Spring and is the greenest place I know of, but this didn't hide the clear clear waters...Pond '1' held a little colour, enough to obscure the corner chub, but '2'-'6' were as Bombay Sapphire. Ah. I pottered about, spotted a few tench promenading in '3' and a large chub and one large tench likewise in '4'. Pond '5' might have been bereft of life, for all I saw. Hm. Even the rudd were apparently hunkered down somewhere. I set up in '3' to fish for a random tench against the far trees, something which has worked in the past. Pete called and I vouchsafed that if I got even one bite I'd be above current expectations...
...can you say 'foreshadowing'? After an hour, sans tinca, I rootled out a few worms from under a rotting log and using the same float, cunningly weighted with two AAA shot, planted a worm in the gap in the willows in '2'. Two chub thought this was of passing interest, then the float slid along a bit, in that casual way that floats do when the fish do not see much fishing.
|The path by '3'||Pond '3' in leaf||The least chary chub|
This fine chub exercised my rod 'enough' to see it was basically good, although the spine' alignment might need re-checking. Despite my exaggerated stealth, the other chub took fright. I wandered up to the other end of '3' to try the same game with the small posse of tench - they obligingly swam past, over and around my bait for half an hour. Hm. I had a look around the other ponds, even the '4' chub had taken refuge somewhere, so I tried for another chub from '2' for 40 minutes, which they were not having, then snuck around to '1' and lobbed the same worm (figuratively) into 'chub corner'. Or today, 'chub-less corner'. As there was some colour in '1' I opted to spend an hour fishing for bites on the sunny side, while sipping tea and contemplating the infinite. When I started there was decent colour; an hour later my bait had materialised out of the murk and could be seen on the bed. At this time I remembered the 'half-a-boiled-fruit-cake', with added blackberry whisky, that was sitting on the side at home...
|The long quill on the far side of '3'||Looking down the rod||Waiting on '1'...|
(...In contrast with this time last year, the ponds all had some colour and I caught rudd, tench and carp without much trouble, I shall hope for a warm 10 days and try again...)
19th May 2020. Yahoos. I rose early and decided to head up the hill before the sun did the same. There seemed to be, shutting the front door, that there was a smell of burnt wood and a low haze of smoke across the fields. It turns out that a very large bit of Wareham Forest burnt out yesterday. It further turns out it was probably a bloody barbeque that started it. Too sad for any more words.
20th May 2020. Hooked. I had to take down the smallest apple tree, on account of it being quite lifeless. While I was at it, I decided to use my landing-net handle reed-cutting attachment to remove live mistletoe from the other trees, as the tree-surgeon who took down the Bramley advised me that the mistletoe would affect 'said other trees. Ah. I cut some, then the hooked blade pulled right out of its moulded plastic. Tat.
I mulled this over, possibly while muttering a few rude words. The blade, a nasty looking hooked thing, was reasonable steel. It took and held an edge, plus it had two 3mm holes in the blunt end, which were there so that the moulded plastic would grip the blade at all. I recalled I had some steel M8? M10? bolts retrieved from the dismantled tree-house.
First, find your bolt *...noises off, from garage...* the thread was re-cut to 3/8"BSF (I have both die & tap for 3/8"BSF). That worked. Hm. I resolved to cut the bolt down to the right length, cut a length-wise slot in it, drill two holes through, then rivet the blade in with cut-down galvanised nails 'of the right size'. Sounds simple.
I decided to put a 3/8"BSF brass nut onto the existing thread, screwed right to the end-stop as it were, then allow sufficient length for the blade's slot, plus a second nut. The bolt was cut to length, and then cleaned off by clamping it into the drill and running a file over it. The same file was then used to take about 0.25mm off the o/d at the unthreaded end, so that the die would fit.
A second thread was then cut at the 'other' end, the idea being that once the blade was in place, another nut would brace the open end of the slot. This rod was then clamped vertically in the vice, using the first brass nut, then using a hacksaw and some oil, a slot was cut to within 1mm of the nut clamped in the vice. Naturally the hooked-blade was about two hacksaw blades thick, so a second blade was added to the hacksaw and the slot opened out (I know, but it worked perfectly). Although cut completely 'by eye' the slot was 'true'. Heh.
The second nut was put onto the 'open end' of the rod, then both nuts were adjusted so that when the rod was clamped horizontally in the vice (across the flats of the nuts) and the hooked-blade was slid into the slot, the blade was flat and level on the top of the vice. Sneaky eh? The blade was gently tapped through the slot until half of both its holes were visible. By eye, the rod was punched to mark where the 'rivets' would be placed. The blade was removed, both holes were piloted through with a 2mm bit, then they were opened up to 3mm. The holes were de-burred and countersunk and the inside of the slot de-burred by running the 'double' hacksaw blade back through. The hooked-blade was offered up and, stap me, the holes were perfectly aligned. The plastic tub with galvanised nails was up-ended and two perfect fits were rooted out, cut to length (about 15mm). Then, using a small block of iron and a ball-peen, the blade was 'riveted' into placed.
The die was re-run over both threads along with a little oil, to clean them up and the sharp edges and residual burrs removed with some 400 grit and a fine wire brush. Finally the threads were cleaned with white spirit and both nuts were tightened into place with a good dollop of Loctite 263. There. All done. Rather pleased with that.
|The hooked blade||The hooked blade||Close-up of the 'rod' and its rivets.|
It is not going to break, is it?
22nd May 2020. Slashing. A one person work-party, to continue path-cutting for this year's '16th' with, this year, inclusive 'passing places'. There was a digger in the barn-yard moving a prodigious pile of hard-core, possible for a new dry-ski slope, so I had to spin the DT'Driving Technology' around and park in the field just off the beaten track.
It was sunny, 20°C in the shade, and even with the stiff breeze it was hot sticky work with frequent pauses to remove 'wildlife', both real and imaginary, from one's person. The light was very fine and even using the ST'Small Technology''s camera, the below pictures came out very well; it is nice to have some pictures of the path, rather than the water from the path.
|The First Pitch...||...the Second Pitch...||...the Third Pitch...||...the Fourth Pitch...|
|...the Bridge...||...the path from the Bridge...||...to the Trail Camera Pitch...||...from the Trail Camera Pitch to the corner...||...and around the corner...|
Plus, a rather nice panorama, taken from the dam.
|The Upper Saxon Pond|
22nd May 2020. The Wetland, one more time...
The plan was to fish the Wetland on the way home, although I was not convinced it would be alive with fish. It was certainly more alive that last week. Pottering up and down, there were plenty of chub moving in '1' and '2', with '1' clearer than last week and '2' with perhaps a tinge of colour, but not enough to hide the chub, especially those in the downstream corner enjoying the sun. There were several tench mooching about in '3', two fine chub and a large tench abroad in the still gin-clear '4' and in the sunny corner there was a pike of about 2lb bathing on the pond-bed.
Edging down to '5', which was also clear although weedy, I spent a while firing small crusts into the far trees and the accumulated flotsam in the NW corner and then waited...carp are too curious even if bread is new to them, but nothing stirred. Hm. The only signs of life were a few rudd and small crucians in the NW corner. In '6' a few rudd scooted about and I saw one pike laying up in the weeds; the swim helpfully cut at the end of the pond had been enveloped in floating catkins and fluff, so was not (today) an option.
I decided that I would fish the south end of '3' as the movement suggested that the fish might feed towards the end of the day, so I baited very lightly then enjoyed the sun, two scotch eggs and several tins of cool lemonade...a dog-fox made it halfway along the path alongside '2' before catching sight of me, and then only when I moved my head quickly to see if it noticed. It froze for a moment, then did that dog-like volte-face and trotted briskly back the other way, then darted up the path between the first two ponds and vanished. Heh. Pete'n'Pam came by en route to another venue, not that I had masses of fish to report or anything...but we talked of this and that, while at the proscribed seperation.
The afternoon stretched out and a few-score rudd and schools of tiny fish went back and forth, plus several 2-3lb tench which obligingly coasted around the float then hovered between me and it for most of the afternoon. Once or thrice the float was pulled in that determined way that suggests a small fish is doggedly tackling an overlarge bait. I debated slipping on a size 18 and fishing for the rudd, using scraps of cockle or nibs of bread, but really did not feel the need to overexert myself in the warm wind-blown sunshine.
|Descisions, decisions...||...but really did not feel the need to overexert myself in the warm wind-blown sunshine...||...the float was pulled in that determined way that suggests a small fish is doggedly tackling an overlarge bait.|
The fully grown swan passed through the pond, traversed '2' in furious half-flight and proceeded to violently assault the immature bird on pond '1'. It drove it out the water and down the path, then into the hedge and after some noises off, the mature bird emerged and made its serene way back down the ponds. Over an hour later the younger bird emerged from the hedge and made its way dejectedly along the path to within a few yards of me, pausing every so often to extend its neck and scan the water for the bully. It then appeared to decide that I represented some kind of sanctuary and settled down on the path and after a while ate a half-circle into the lush grass, then went to sleep.
Meanwhile, I thought my chances were improving by the minute. There were sporadic feeding signs, obviously taking place wherever my float was not located and this kept me, figuratively, on the edge of my seat until about 7pm. At this time, small fish started priming, zipping up from the bottom and zipping back after a small splash and it seemed to me that these were probably small crucians, although it is hard to be certain. For the next 30 minutes this kept me hopeful, although the float only twitched once or twice and although the water seemed quite alive, I decided that was enough for me. I woke the swan, which grudgingly moved along the path, reproachfully it must be said, but before it slipped into '2' and began drinking copiously I had seen both wings and feet were intact, so I diagnosed a seriously injured pride then headed home for some scrambled eggs. And possibly a 'Red Label' or two.
23rd May 2020. Handled. The revamped cutting blade was screwed into the landing net handle, viciously applied to the mistletoe, then further re-deployed on sedges, rushes and some crack-willow. After those exertions, I realised the clamp at the top of the pole had loosened the smallest amount. Hm. I have had this pole for over a decade, a 'well known tackle maker' one and it is very solidly made (probably a mistake on their part).
The only criticism I have of it, is that water gradually accumulates inside the pole. Both sections are thick-walled and the end ferrule ('3/8 BSF' naturally) is solid brass, although it came loose about four years back and I had effect a 'temporary' repair with water-proof cyanoacrylate. The screw-collar is a reasonable alloy and has not turned to white powder (this ruined the previous landing net handle). I decide to dismantle the whole thing and re-glue it, meaning the clamp and the ferrule had to be tapped off and the old glue removed. The butt-end cap was also tapped off and both pole-sections were leant against the kitchen window in the 'contemporary orangerie', until the plumes of condensation on the window, formed around the sections' ends, had dispersed and the poles were quite bone-dry.
Many years of fine silt was removed from various nooks and crannies, the required epoxy resin was applied, cling-film was wrapped around the screw-collar base and the whole left to set. To prevent future accumulation of rancid water, four clean 1.5mm holes were bored in the butt-end cap, which is made of a soft tough plastic so is otherwise unharmed. It was then popped back on with two tiny dabs of cyanoacrylate to keep it in place.
I then decide to add some purple and green whippings under the collar simply for fun and decoration - I had a reel end of some Gudebrod NCP green and some PacBay NCP Purple, which was altogether too purple for fishing rods. I covered up bits of shiny metal with a black permanent marker and re-varnished the screw-collar (which I had previously covered with cloth tape and varnished) and the ferrule.
I applied a little Vaseline to the plastic clasp's thread and worked the collar up and down it a few times to spread it out...there. Ready for mighty leviathans of the deeps. Or any 'netter' really.
|The collar whippings||The ferrule whipping|
In the above, it can be seen the original collar, which was very very shiny, was covered with cloth 'camo' tape and varnished over. It is a little frayed at the edges now, but I re-varnished it for good luck. Some slight damage to the ferrule whipping is already apparent, I have already used the handle, this too will be varnished over.
29th May 2020. The Wetland, another 'one more time'...
It was very very hot. I regretted turning up as early as 3pm, the '2' chub were sunning themselves under the south bank and I stalked to within two paces before they took flight, as did the rudd, also seemingly wild. I took a quick stroll then settled by the lilies at the north end of '3', expecting to have to wait until the sun lowered itself behind the hedge opposite...after 45 minutes I could feel my shirt sticking to me, so took the LBR'Little Blue Rod' aka the Other Mk.III and nicked out a few of the larger rudd from '5', which was fun and then spent some time under the trees there watching a couple of tench nose about the margin followed by three acolyte crucians, the largest perhaps 2oz. I stole up to the end of the pond and saw a large dark shape hanging in the water. I snuck around the tree and it was gone. From the gap between the ponds, I watched the extremely healthy rudd population in '6' scoot about while a pike of around 2lb evanesced into the weeds. For a pond full of pike, it has a lot of rudd.
I whipped a few of '6''s rudd out for good measure and then turned to face the other pond and spotted the same dark shape under the trees in the corner. Hm. Not a chub. Doesn't look or behave like a tench. Carp? I looked away, looked back and it was gone...
|So so gold...||Four of the rudd flotilla||The inevitable float|
I spent ten minutes eyeing up '5' or standing in the shade, pick one, while thinking a sensible idea would be to weed-drag a swim and fish in the shade, sat back in my chair for twenty minutes, then did the smart thing and took chair and tea to the totally leafed-over path at the top of the ponds and spent a sensible hour or so in cool shade, disturbed only by what appeared to be a pair of willow tits, which I have not seen here before. Two cups of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon; tea, JAA for the consumption of later and now with a normal body temperature, I edged back to my pitch which felt like the right spot, despite the lure of a dragged shady swim in'6'. So I fished...
...despite the right sort of bubbling, bites were absent, so I swapped shrimp for punched bread and almost immediately nabbed an 8oz tench on a bobbling lift-bite. Heh. Pete arrived just in time to miss this fish, but not a few more bites which yielded nothing. I told of the possible carp and other sightings, then Pete went on. I dropped the hook size, slipped on a fine antennae, but still went on to have one of those times, when they were there, I was there, the bait was there, but I could not quite put all three together.
|The Pond '3' Pitch with its Lilies||The Biggest Tench||The Smallest Tench|
I nabbed another rudd, pricked a couple of fish on the strike and finally nabbed a tiny tench, which is always fun. Then the sun was below the alders, the evening was wonderfully cool after the blast-furnace afternoon, and I was quite content with that.
|A panorama shot taken from between '3' and '4'|
|A panorama shot taken from between '4' and '5'|
|crucian...(and back to the top of the page)||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Carassius Carassius||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian|
5th June 2020. The Wetland, yet another 'one more time'...
It is cooler than of late and although it would be balmy day indeed for January, the breeze has rendered pond '1','2', '3' and '4' devoid of colour and although a few chub are visible (as they always are) in the first two ponds, no other fish are showing, barring a long-range view of one chub in '4'. Pond '5' is the most promising looking and it is fortunate that my plan was to drag a swim here and see what it held. Unlike the preceding pools it is heavily weeded, with colour in a few gaps, but although a few rudd, the odd crucian and a few larger tench have so far been spotted, the carp are still conspicuous in absentia.
A twisting squall rendered the weed-dragging a particularly wet affair, so after that and baiting the pitch I return to the DT'Driving Technology' for my coat and determined I would cut back the crack-willow that was laying across the path alongside '1', its branches now at about 'face height' for this angler.
I was glad of the coat...I start to catch rudd. The water is clear, even after the rake, so I relax and play with the easy fish. After nabbing a few using maggots on the hook, I wonder if it is possible to catch then on a bare hook painted red with a permanent marker. Yes it is. It is also possible to catch rudd on the same hook threaded with a ¼" piece of thin red silicone tubing. Showers, various, beetle past and I note several tench-like shadows scooting along the bed at the shady edges of my personal hole-in-the-weeds. Aha.
|The Pond '5' Pitch||The Second Biggest Tench|
I pop a BB ½" from the hook, re-set the depth and fish on the right-hand side of the gap, as close to the weed as I can get, immediately nabbing two tench, a fingerling and a 'two-fingerling', both falling to those 'dither-rise-dither-rise' bites that are typical of tiny tench in silt. After three or four such fish, with a smattering of extra rudd, naturellement, I nab a 6-8oz tench consistent with one of the longer shapes that I had noted earlier. A couple of rapt hours and a dozen tiny t.'s later, the largest fish of the day arrives, perhaps 1lb 10oz or so, putting a proper bend in the rod, but still smaller than one I had seen earlier...
|A panorama pitch picture|
|The Turmoil of Tiny Tench||The Biggest Tench|
...A few more fish come in the last hour, but no sign of a carp, although I was suspicious of one most carp-like bite, a eternity of trembling then a lightning take. Had I tied on an 'old-fashioned' size 18 baited with a single maggot, I suspect the tiny tinca count could have been doubled, but I was, with a stout 16, invested in larger tench and hoped for carp. Then, at 'just one last cast' time, another firm squall made a decision for me and I pack, swiftly, damply, and call it a fine day.
This is small beer for some, but for myself, these tiny ponds with their barely cut paths, wild fish and season-to-season and daily variations are more attractive than 'the same old carp' day in, day out, that is most of our fishing.
11th June 2020. The Pike Lake and the Rain.
I fancied the Pike Lake at Revels because it is a rare thing, an under-fished lake at a commercial fishery. I suspect this is due to a combination of its distance from the complex, a good 200 yard walk across a path that will not accommodate a barrow, plus its low, almost normal, stock levels. Nevertheless I had to walk past the Canal Lake which had signs of fish at every point; the lizard brain scampered about behind me like an excited puppy, "Mate, mate, mate, there's fish, mate, there's fish here mate, there's fish, loads of fish, look..." Shaddap. The corner swim with its lilies and high skyline has seldom looked more lush or inviting.
|The Pike Lake||The Pitch||The bubble'd float|
I throw in a few mussel halves, stick 12lb line on, a really strong size 8, both de rigueur for the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, for which even 10lb line might be a little light. The water under the float is almost four feet and no long rod is needed in this corner. I miss a couple of bobbly takes on the mussel nicked onto the tough little hook. I fold a small piece of bread over the same and extract several small bream, which explains the bubbles. A line of bubbles snakes across the swim and I replace the bread with a mussel and the float slips under, stops, and I pull into the anticipated eel, not for the first time here. This was a mere 2lb, perhaps a little more, easily enough netted, I roll it over and de-hook. Heh.
|Not the largest eel I've caught here.||One of several small bronze bream|
I re-bait and then it starts to rain properly...for the next two hours, until my trousers were sopping, rivulets of water ran off my hat-brim and everything not under my coat was soaked. I hang on, as my sense is that 'after rain' is often a fine time for carp...during this time the float never twitched, save for when struck end-on by a large drop, not even after a bigger line of bubbles writhes across the swim...I weaken then, as there is no break in the cloud, scoop up my tackle and wade back across the field. Save for one grass-carp-like dorsal, not a sign of a carp...
Naturally, as soon as I reach the trees and the gate the rain patters away and ten minutes later the sun emerges. I stop at the first pitch on the Canal Lake, feed bread to a couple of carp that emerged in response to said bread, then, lizard brain now sitting like a good dog with its tail twitching, I put up the seat, pausing only to replace the missing nut on one of the chair's bolts, nick on another mussel and fish against the weed-patch. Stretching out my wet legs might even dry them out a bit...then the float zips off and the thief puts the rod into a quarter circle and takes 15 ft off the reel, which is not trivial. For an 8-9lb carp, it punches above its weight somewhat but is netted after a bit. A 5lb carp comes a little later, then a real pounce turns out to be 'mostly' rudd, if not 1lb, big enough to be worth noting.
|The Canal Lake pitch||Mostly rudd. The carp are hardly worth picturing.|
It either went quiet or I got bored, as I wander all the way to the other end, spot a large dark shape in the reeds, sneak up on it, present it 'white toastie', which was immediately nicked by a smaller 'decoy' common. I try to pull it away from the reeds, the hook slips and the large interesting shape slips away...dammit. I park the chair, lob another mussel to the far bank and nab a couple more small carp, then decide that was all I need. I really should have gone back to eel corner...next time.
Today I dusted off the Shimano Nexave 4000R - this is a solid little reel and the spools are more solid for the epoxy used to fill the cavities inside them. It is a nice reel, but using it after a long break made me picky. It is not possible to reach the lip of the spool with the rod hand's fingers, which I find faintly annoying as I am in the habit of braking the spool on the strike. Plus the anti-reverse is silent, so one does not know if it is engaged or not...without checking. Small things, but they matter to this angler.
15th June 2020. The 15th.
Pork-and-black-pudding sausages cooked. Check. Buttered rolls. Check. Coffee pot ready to go. Check. Eggs hard-boiled. Check. Traces tied. Check. New 4lb line put on the 'pin. Check. Last season's tiny stones and mud removed from said 'pin. Check. Rods off the rack. Check. Bag emptied and re-packed for no good reason. Check. Be Lucky...
16th June 2020. Opening Day - The Upper Saxon Pond
Damn it's early; despite this and the soul jarring squawk of an unwisely selected alarm tone, right in the middle of a deep-sleep cycle, it is simply beautiful to walk across the field in the half-light and mists that open ahead of me as fast as they swallow the old straight track behind. The pond looks perfect at dawn, although I generally eschew getting up to see it. I perch in my pitch, tackle up, cut off last September's rod-tip tangle, then for over an hour the promising signs do little but engage anticipation while I sit in the grey and the silver and listen to the mist-muted dawn chorus...
|4:45am or so...|
...I recall my provisions and tuck into 'first breakfast', a pork-and-black-pudding sausage bap, a hard-boiled egg and a cup of 'brewed that morning coffee'. Ahh...when the float-tip lifts an inch it takes me by surprise, as does the solid weight of the cause, although it comes to the net rather more easily than it might, due probably to its on-board spawn. I scale the tench at 4lb 13oz, which is big for a small pond, carrying weight or no. The day under way.
|4lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca||crucian||2lb 14oz of fat tinca tinca|
Despite this fine start, it is hard going thereafter. The tiny float-tip, fished on a 1×no.8 'lift-or-sink', does little that is positive, and I miss half of the bites. I nab two roach in the next hour, the sun's first rays streak across the far corner of the dam, then, at 7am or so, I whip out a small crucian. This is cause for celebration so I take a second breakfast, a replica of the first. The sun burns off the last of the mist and the birds and sheep noises have risen reciprocally.
|6:15am. The sun eased its way into the ponds...|
I speculate the difficult fishing is a product of the vast continually midge hatches, a combination of busy fish feeding on the emergers and a host of fry joining in. Then there was a couple of roach, then a couple of crucians, slightly under hand-size but good sport, a couple of perch, a second tench a little under 3lb...and by this time some hours have slipped past. This is the day's pattern, fish seemingly arriving in pairs, with the rule something like "fish will arrive in pairs and no two consecutive fish will be taken on the same bait".
I alternate fishing off the bottom by the lilies at the front of the swim and the baited patch a rod length or more out, this regular changeover facilitated by using one of the silicone float stops as a top marker. I nab one or two fish on bread, another couple (and one of the perch) on a piece of shrimp, then catch a suspiciously familiar large tench, then more crucians and roach. The sun rises, beats down on the water, the temperature rises, and by the time Pete arrives I'd more-or-less had enough. It was tricky work, although there were enough fish to show that the pond was healthy, that there was minimal impact from the feared predation and also sufficient numbers for good fishing. Pete goes on, I nick out one more roach and a perch then tromp back up the track, now Mediterranean limestone cracking in the heat. Good enough.
|5lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca. Again.||A nice crucian||The rest of the 'bag'||A nice crucian|
|Mad dogs and Englishmen...||Mad hatchers|
[P.S. This all sounds idyllic. However...the first tench wrestled out the hook, cat-scratched it across my knuckles, embedded it in the net's mesh, then ripped it out, furling the hook-point. This I discovered when I 'bumped off' two crucians a little later. The hook-link then tangled to the extent I could not undo it, so was forced to cut and re-tie the hook. A little later the whole lot pinged around the rod tip...I realised it would be quicker to cut it all off and re-tie it, so reached for the VSSK...another strike later somehow put a turn of line around the rod between the third and forth rod-rings, something that is topologically possible, if not feasible...a little later I struck at a bite and the float was left in the water as the snap link had come undone...but barring this, idyllic. Sure.]
18th June 2020. Riddle me this.
How does one separate the live maggots from the assorted casters, dead maggots and foul clumps of maize? Faced with 1¼ pints of said detritus, I sorted through the various bait-boxes stacked in the dungeon dimension that is 'the garage' until I located a box with no matching lid. This 'one pint' box fitted neatly onto the top of the currently occupied 'two-pint' box. Aha. I put it flat on the work-bench, then using the EATElectric Auger Technology, bored a matrix of 3.9mm holes covering the entire base.
I emptied the contents of the 'two-pint box' into this riddle, threw in a handful of fresh oats into the original box, slotted the 'riddle' into the top, then put the whole lot into a bait bucket, as one cannot be too careful with maggotsReally indelible memory.... I returned at the end of the day. Well that worked. I had perhaps 200 fresh maggots, which were then decanted into a 4" × 4" box for tomorrow's crucian foray.
19th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond
Strangely quiet. I opted for the late afternoon and aimed to fish until dusk, thinking that it was worth finding out if the fish were feeding more in the evening than in the morning. As it was, the fishing was not unlike earlier in the week. I fished the other side of the lily-patch fished on opening day and it fished in much the same way. That is, few bites, half seemed impossible to connect with, there was one tench (which was lively work in this more confined swim), but despite crucians priming from 7pm onward and every signs of fish being in the swim, I struggled to make any headway, and I was loath to drop to a fine-wire size 18 in this pitch as even the larger crucians need firm handling. As previously, I fished under the near bank on occasion, contacting something solid in a patch of effervescence, but the hook pinged out and this, some smaller fish bumped off earlier and the previous day's mishaps were not an good advertisement for the brand; one more chance, then it's the 'sharps' container and I'll name and shame. I swapped back to an obsolete S3, perhaps a little larger, but I didn't drop another fish. No sign of perch though.
|Strangely subdued||The tench, a smidge under 3lb I'd say||Quiet...|
|One crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats||The rest of the catch, excepting one roach that fell off the hook, dropped onto my boot, then flipped into the water.||Another crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats|
Again, not easy fishing.
22nd June 2020. Where Green Roads Meet...and Time Stands Still: Dickie Straker's fascinating 'blog. Is it easy to like the writings of a self-confessed 'inveterate daydreamer, loafer and enthusiast of many things from Tunnocks Tea Cakes to collecting driftwood' especially someone who lists one of his many eclectic interests as "leaning on gates". You'll like it.
One of the marvels of the modern age is that I can read 'Where Green Roads Meet' while leaning on my own gate. Heh.
24th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Eight bites, four fish. Very very hot.
...which is why I didn't arrive until 4pm. Even so, I was counting off the minutes until the sun dipped below the dogwood on the left of the swim, and wondering if the umbrella pitch on the Lower Pond might not have been a better idea. I had a new hook to try, a proper '16' but strongish and went with my little loaded bobber and a single no.4 shot, ¼" from the hook. The first bite, a proper 'lift', yielded the first of four fish, but what a fish. It is not often one sees a roach of this size at all - never mind in a small pond - I was expecting a sluggish tench after a run or two, but a large roach was quite unexpected. This instantly explained the weighty swirls seen about the water, that were at once 'not tench', 'not crucians' and 'not Moby Dick as he's up the other end'. Aha.
"Well, that's me done." I said to myself, "I can go home now..."
I nabbed a decent 'netter' a little later and then had only two more bites until a good tench turned up then missed two more between that and the last tench at dusk...
|6-8oz, perfectly good 'netter'||Hot hot hot||Tench no.1||Tench no.2, last cast...|
|2lb 2oz||2lb 2oz|
Very little fish movement, no crucians priming at all, a few signs of spawning in the weeds in the middle, very few bubbles one might be certain were fish, still a lot of midges hatching when and where the sun was on the water and again, not easy fishing. But worth it.
P.S. It occurs, reviewing this, that I was using a 'hemp shaped' 'tell-tale' shot...might have re-visit the solder-wire coils then...*facepalms*
25th June 2020. The Wetland. How to deal with maggots on the turn...
...go fishing with them and use them up. This was Pete's plan, so having some not completely fresh maggots, I joined in. There were many many small tench in '3', many rudd likewise and Pete, overseen by Pam (who, being civilised, had brought gin and mixers), caught rudd and a chub from '2', the latter possibly the trickiest catch on these little ponds. They went on and I, not being so civilised, opened a flask of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon tea and chain-sipped it until I was merely dehydrated.
|One rudd, simply to show of its fine colours||Some of the more-than-a-score tench||One small toad...which hopped it before I could turn on the 'macro' setting.|
|At last; it was cool...||...and...wait...|
The light fades, the thin cane disappears into the shadows, so I swap it for a small translucent pink-tipped quill and using the OMT'Overly Manly Torch' on its 'dim' setting, I fish on, passing moths bursting in the beam like fireworks, until the water is still and the bites cease.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
2nd July 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Big Fat Smug Waxing Gibbous Moon.
|The plan was simply to fish. It was sunny/cloudy/windy as the mood took the Gods of weather. I didn't mind, and settled into the fish, which by now were up and about and there was a steady stream of small crucians, some small roach and one tiny tench. I spotted a rod-rest that looked familiar...||There was a flurry of interweb messages and it was agreed that in exchange for a quantity of maggots, 'cake' would be provided and eating the maggots was preferred in respect of any inducement or provision of instant noodles.||Pete arrived, I detailed the catch and activity to date, waved at Pam on the dam and no sooner had Pete vanished into the greenery, a big crucian turned up. Typical. A short while later, another, a few ounces lighter. That's good to see, all fish types present and correct and undamaged.|
|1lb 11oz||The pitch (I forgot the camera was in 'landscape mode', but these pictures look OK). Duncan arrived with ginger cake (always a good thing), but no landing net. Decently I refrained from negotiating a larger slice of cake for sharing mine...luckily he didn't need it...||1lb 8oz|
|A 'muscle of tench' turned up mid evening, which augers well for the pond's general health and a large fish rolled by the lilies with a flash of red fins. A swift commenced 'ciruits and bumps'.||It felt a little strange to fish until 10pm in good light, but we did, then caught up on the minutiae of lives, as we realised it had been well over a year. Huh. Fine evening.||There was, it must be stated, a big fat smug waxing gibbous moon.|
3rd July 2020. A Curiousity.
From memory I found this is a glory box of old floats at Redditch and did not have to pay much for it. I handed over the hard-earned out of pure curiosity – it has clearly been made by wrapping ‘cellotape’, or something very like it, in a spiral to form a hollow tube then a tip incorporated and glued in at the end. The 'eye' is simply a loop of monofilament trapped in the first few spiralled turns of the tape. The tip is some kind of insert, I guess a piece of wood. I can’t quite tell if the green tint is inside the body or out. In any event, it is ingeniously made and interesting.
|The whole float and a ruler||The 'eye'||The tip|
5th July 2020. The Saxon Ponds. Cool.
I had a quick look at the Lower Pond, thinking I might even take the Umbrella, but the water was very low and while the pond looks inviting, with colour in the gaps suggesting plenty of life, the low levels near the banks put me off, I dislike very shallow reaches. I've never seen potamageton growing here before, it looks quite nice.
|The view from the Umbrella Pitch||The east end of the Lower Pond|
I headed back 'up'...a day of fresh fish-tail winds made fishing tricky, it being a little too windy for fine-tipped floats and the water not quite deep enough for a true antennae. I alternated between a fine tip and small quill as the wind yawed and pitched, the former float sinking in stiff gusts, the latter not sensitive enough. Absorbing stuff. Mid-evening the breeze was sufficiently puckish that I retrieved my coat from the car while lamenting the omission of a tea-flask from my inventory. Nevertheless, I managed a decent run of smallish crucians, one well over a pound, a bunch of small roach and four tench, from hand-sized, through 8oz, to the finest, shown below, of perhaps a little over 3lb or so. This was the last 'last cast' of the day, by which time I was watching the float-tip in a torch-beam. Good fishing.
|The finest of the crucians, 1lb 11oz.||The last light tench, the phone did a better job of capturing this than the camera.|
6th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.
So, I thought to myself (after discovering I'd fished with 8lb mainline at Donhead, while for some reason thinking it 6lb) I will load some 6lb line onto a plastic spool, but first fill the holes in the moulding with epoxy to prevent the spool collapsing...I did the deed, two-thirds filled the spool with unfused braid - this, wound on levelly using the EAT'Electric Auger Technology', acts as both backing and as an arbour - and then wound on 100 yards of 6lb Stren...
(While we're on the subject, it used to be the received wisdom that one's reel must carry 200 yards of line, presumably just in case one hooks 'the fish of a lifetime' in a 200 yards across snag-free water. For general fishing this is clearly bunk. While the nagging doubt remains, its function, that is to ensure one buys more line that one needs, is negated by a permanent braid arbour. Most of my '44x and '66x spools have had the same 'braid arbour' for well over a decade.)
...or I nearly did, as the top of the spool, leaving with a 'pop', pinged off the radiator leaving behind a bird's nest of 6lb Stren. Well, dammit. I'm not entirely sure that the two parts of the spool were not made separately, as the break is very clean and it seems to me the surfaces have a film of oil on them. Hm. Be that as it may, I put the bits into a bag (you never know) and proceeded to remove the 20lb braid (previously loaded onto the second ally spool for last December's Wetland piking) and replaced it with said 6lb Stren. So far, so hoopy.
I also wanted to replace the 4lb, still loaded onto the original plastic spool that came with my '40, which had the line capacities of the spool printed on the front face. Damn me, if the new 4lb mono (100 yards) didn't part 'pop' the top off. I wound the line and its backing off onto a spare spool to re-use and ordered (with bad grace) three new alloy ones. Dammit. Perhaps the face of the original one can serve as an ornament, it being no actual use. Additionally annoying is that this spool came with a groove for a chenille, preventing finer monofilament slipping behind the spool, something that only happened with lines of less than 6lb b/s or so.
The plastic, like all plastics, has clearly aged and I take some consolation that any aging of the alloy spools with be considerably slower than the aging process of, for example, myself. Sobering thought. So below, here are the broken ones and the front plate with its line capacities.
|In an ideal world, this event would have been accompanied by the 'Sproi-oi-oi-oing' noise from any Fred Quimby 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon.||The latest spool to, barely figuratively, pop its clogs.||The original, with its capacities; see how regular un-stretched mono has not changed diameter since the late 1970's (300m = 328 yards; 4lb Stren Original has an o/d of 0.2mm, 10lb is 0.3mm)|
8th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.
The excellent alloy ones arrived on Tuesday from the reliable Les @ Classic Vintage Fishing TackleGood service, well worth using if you need Abu bits, among others, so I carried out the usual modifications. That is; I round off the lip of the spool and drill a 0.8mm hole in the rim, line for the poking through of. There was then a flurry of spooling up, which is made somewhat simpler with the AET'Electric Auger Technology' and an extra (plastic) spool. I now have 4lb, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb and 30lb braid, none of which should randomly explode. Probably.
My renewed interest in these fine little reels prompted a drag upgrade, fitting up to date carbon washers, which will help a smidge. The old ones are a little long in the tooth anyhow. This was instructive, one of the reels had clearly been fettled by self, the grease I use present in appropriate blobs. The second clearly had not, which surprised me a bit. I assume it wasn't broken so I didn't fix it (I admit this 'doesn't really sound like me'). Once I'd dismantled the drag knob and removed the drag-washer stack, I found two pieces of an old circlip/locking washer used to retain the connecting shaft to the main shaft. These bits of hard steel left by some previous fettler, were loose inside the reel, so that was a lucky escape. There was evidence of corrosion, so I cleaned up the parts I'd removed and roughly re-greased the reel, making a note to buy circlip pliers and to strip and completely clean this one when the nights draw in...
Nothing to see there mind. I did clean the mud off the reels, but, eh.
|Cool black and very very shiny...||'All of the line strengths'. It will be nice to get back to taking less gear and more making it up as I go along.|
I just realised Abu advertised the 44X as retrieving 84.5 cm of line per handle turn, and the 66X as 83cm...that doesn't seem right...hm.
10th July 2020. The Wetland. Hmm.
I had, some time back, carefully reinforced a small plastic tub to use for sea-food bait. Dropping it on the garage floor rendered it imminently recyclable. This omen was compounded by the excellent flask of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon I left on my den's chair and further by a gifted pint of maggots that overnight had become a pint of casters and 30 maggots.
Undeterred, I filched a chub from '2' with two mussels attached to a small red float, the whole flung to a few yards short of the far bank. I repeated this trick on '1', not before first missing the first bite. Both shoals vanished as if they had never existed at all, although I sat quietly for a long time...pond '5' then. I'd dragged a couple of pitches the previous day, but the water was clear, even the rudd were scarce and I debated fishing for bites in '2', which was nicely coloured...after an hour and a few rudd for the look of things, bubbles appeared of the tench type. Aha.
Then it started...I first lost the ability to cast. The float either went into the weeds or was too short of the weed to be in the feeding zone. I changed lines. I changed floats, about four times, tried two hook sizes, scaling up to fish with shrimp on the hook as small rudd further confounded any attempt to get the bait where it needed to be. After eternal comedy fishing punctuated with Anglo-Saxon, I hooked two tench in successive casts and both threw the hook. A short while after I struck at a perfect tench lift-bite which resulted in a large rudd 'for the pond'. I gave up, putting on a regular old porcupine quill, shotted conventionally with the bait just on the bottom and watched it twitch and dither until it was fading from sight.
|Pond '2' chub||Pond '1' chub|
|One rudd, simply to show of its fine colours||The pandemonium pitch||The parting shot|
I started last casts and over-armed a final shrimp into the gap. The white spot vanished almost immediately, a grudging 1lb male tench the result. The Naiad of the Ponds rudely stuck out her tongue, made an unladylike gesture, mock-curtsied and evanesced into the trees. It occurred to me that perhaps I should have eaten something in the previous 10 hours. I can take a hint. I recalled there was a mostly full bottle of Mr. Walker's efficacious straw-coloured mood restorer on the dining room table. Something for the drive? "Dennis is a menace, with his 'Anyone for tennis?'..."
14th July 2020. Mappowder Mapped Out.
The plan was to fish the field pond for last year's stocked crucians and tench. This plan foundered on the back of the rudd population, which, unchecked was now a mass of scraps of silver foil and a few larger ones. Any bait, even when plunged through surface layers, was pecked at until gone or replaced by a strip of silver paper...the target fish are small, so the problem seemed more-or-less insoluble in any meaningful way, so reluctantly I headed for Spring Lake, which looked 18" down on normal levels. I switched up to 6lb line and fished in a causal way for 'anything' with a size 12 and quartets of maggots. I caught small odds and ends, perch, roach, rudd, a gudgeon. I established territorial rights with a small gaggle of geese. A lurking carp lured me into setting a trap with piece of bread. This worked over the '44X's new clutch washers a little.
I went back to the bitsa's for a bit, saw a longer shape further out and threw it a piece of corner crust with an artfully spiralled presentation. The quill, left on the line, served as a marker and although this was no unusual fish, its resistance very much proved the value of the new drag washers, which ran smoother and quieter than they ever did. If I had any lingering doubts about the 'new' tip section, these too were dispelled. Heh. The hard fighting common, perhaps a little over 7lb, was decanted with a flip of the net and I wondered what to do next. The answer was 'what you've already done, all evening'. This was a poor answer and I decided I'd rather get home in time to walk on the down. So I did that.
|The rudd pond||I just like blue, ok?||Some rudd and a gonk|
It occurred to me, as I passed an interesting stream, that the fly rod and a couple of maggot flies might have been a good way to spend the last two hours...hmm; that's a good answer.
17th July 2020. The Cardinal 44X and 66X Retrieve Rates.
Abu advertised the '66X as retrieving 83cm per turn of the handle. "Ho", I thought as I listened to day two of the Second Test, "I wonder how this compares with the '44X?" I searched for the advertised figure of the '44X...which did not seem immediately available. I found a reference to 'almost a yard'. Hm.
So, using the quoted figure of 'line length per handle turn' for the '44 (73cm), I divided by its gear ratio (5.1) then multiplied by the gear ratio of the '44X (5.9). So for the 44X this is: (73/5.1)*5.9 = 84.5cm.
To validate this cacluation, I used the numbers for the '66 (1:3.3 and 53cm) and '66X (1:5.2 and 83cm): (53/3.3)*5.2 = 83.5cm. Close enough.
...But this means the '44X has a faster retrieve than the '66X. This is certainly counter-intuitive and a cynical view might be that this is why the number was not overtly advertised.
A pinch of measurement is worth a pound of pontification, so I measured it. I put a rod butt on the window-sill, stuck two blocks of solder on it, put the reel(s) in the seat and used a 2oz weight. I set the weight just on the floor with the handle(s) vertical, turned the handle(s) exactly once and measured the distance from the floor to the weight. It is tricky to be absolutely precise, vagaries of line lay and so on, so I took five measurements for each reel and averaged them. Both reels' spools were evenly filled to within 3mm of the lip.
Cardinal 66X retrieve (average 5 readings): 75.2cm
Cardinal 44X retrieve (average 5 readings): 76.5cm
22nd July 2020. The Wetland. Stocking.
"I shall have a pint of maggots delivered on Tuesday, if you fancy a socially distanced fish-in after that?" wrote Pete. Well, one shouldn't waste maggots...
Peter took one end of '3' and me the other. Pete caught considerably more fish than I did - I started with double-maggot, caught several nice rudd, which I carelessly put back, then started trying to catch rudd on purpose and utterly failed - even the tiniest hooks were missing 4/5 bites and the resulting fish were tiny. Ah well. While I did this, Pete took two buckets of rudd to '7' to which I added very few, one tench and a few scraps of reddish-gold. By the second bucket the tiny pond's pike appeared to have learnt to lurk for a free lunch. Pete removed two tench from the inlet filter, one small one minnow-sized, not the first this year, suggesting that stocks in '6' are rather better than they might look.
|...and me the other.||I started with double-maggot, caught several nice rudd...||A lot of these down here, among others.|
I snagged another small tench; it went mid-day blue-sky quiet then Pete and the South bank shade left, leaving me baking at about 150°C. I bumped off a small tench then caught one. Aha. A couple of tiny rudd followed then the swim flat-lined, so I went for a wander. I meant to scope out '2' for some long distance chub snitching, but Pete's swim (sans Pete) was swirls of silt...I caught two tench on the bounce, so shamelessly moved in and brought the net. In the next hour I nabbed a dozen or so, but time and the sun were moving on, so I took the tench-bucket to '7', putting up the expectant pike, then paused to watch the large tenchy patch of bubbles in '6'.
|Pete removed two tench, one small one minnow-sized, from the inlet filter...||One of the small fat tench||...so I took the tench-bucket to '7'...||...pausing only to watch the large tenchy patch of bubbles in '6'...|
I tarried by '2', put on a long quill, shortened the line to a free 12", cast it over and in front of the patrolling rudd, then waiting until the quill turned and followed the school before striking. In this way I nabbed three larger golden rudd for the fish-barrel. Hot though, very hot..."Perhaps we should move the pike from 7..." wrote Pete later on. Now, where did I put the Little Blue RodPike, for the removal of.?
26th July 2020. The Bloke XGnP 9' 10wt 4-Piece Fly Rod.
An extended furlough and a weather-change brought about this rod-build. This was something of a fiddle; the supplied thread, a nice dark blue matching the rod colour made it easy to produce neat looking whippings, but the blank's smooth glossy surface finish made it hard to cast on and awkward to hold the rings on for the job (many rubber bands were sacrificed). Having said that, it did not take that long, and I opted to mark the sections' overlaps with some orange whippings and add one of the few practical keeper rings in the stock, which I mounted on the 'top' of the rod, which I judged the least likely placement to snag line when casting. Ring spacing came with the kit, worked out on the handy (and free) 'Guide Calculator 4.2'.
The orange thread darkened nicely when varnished and looks fine against the dark-blue. There is a plan...
27th July 2020. Rubbish Hooks.
One of the petty annoyances in life is faulty or substandard goods. Even more annoying, is when you eventually think, "Perhaps I'll raise this with the manufacturer..." and just get asked to return the goods for inspection. Put yourself in the place of the complainant; they've made a reasonable complaint, the response is to give them work to do with an additional cost. At best this is unthinking and at worst, simply a 'buzz off'.
Not for the first time, I've checked a hook after use and found the point furled over. Some hooks do this, others do not. I've never had a Kamasan Animal or Sasame Wormer do this (for example). I recently bought some Korum Specialists in 16s and 14s as I rather liked the look of them. I tried a '16', first time out the hook point furled on the first fish (a tench). I resorted, not for the first time, to clamping the hook in the Spenser-Wells and honing the point back to true. Inevitably this results in a slightly shorter point which may not penetrate as well. I tried another from the same packet, which lasted two small crucians, then on a second trip I tried two size 14s, with similar results. How annoying is this?
It's almost as if someone somewhere is cutting corners on the hooks' steel or their treatment. What is wrong with good carbon steel, properly hardened? Too much to ask? I wrote to Korum. They responded at least, but as noted above the response was 'more work for me' plus the postage cost (about half the cost of packet of hooks). I don't think so.
'Sharps bin' it is.
Will I buy Korum hooks again? What do you think?
31st July 2020. 'Carp on the Fly' by Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus and John Berryman
I bought this on the back of a new whim for catching carp in a different way. It's written by American carp fly-anglers for American carp fly-anglers, but for all that, this is a very informative little book with much practical advice that folk in the UK, especially those who have fished for feral carp before the advent of stock pond carps, will recognise. It has a nice line in sly and self deprecating humour as well, something that far too little angling writing has.
Of course some of the fly-patterns described are modelled on the flora and fauna of the 'States, but the feeding habits of carp described will be instantly familiar to most who've only ever fished for them in the orthodox manner. So, I guess, while some of the fly-patterns and tactics will seem alien, a great deal is very recognisable. The carp are, after all, the same carp we have in the UK, descended from the same stock.
A neat informative little book, that reads well even for the general angling reader, a rare thing. Some of its advice will hopefully help this neophyte carp-fly-flinger.
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
3rd August 2020. New Look. While I'm far to far down the road to change to one of the many (and free) 'Content Management Systems', I did think it was time for a facelift...hence the background picture and semi-transparent body. The observant will notice this is an insert porcupine quill and there are a couple of photo-bombing water-boatmen.
Both regular readers will know that I have a not insignificant number of 'float in water' pictures, so expect occasional changes...I have to ensure everything is still visible and some colours might yet need fettling. Also, most of the 'engines' have been tweaked to speed them up a little.
Next I'm going to have to set the 'php' version to the latest...this should speed things up somewhat...once I've debugged all the 'non backward-compatible changes'.
5th August 2020. A Sussex Pond. To come...
|I'm collecting images for web-page backgrounds||I'm collecting images for web-page backgrounds|
|It was easy to stare at this view while the day drifted on past...|
19th August 2020. New Look Part II. "I know," I thought, "I'll switch up the HTML version to 'HMTL5' and clean things up..." It is a pity the site used such a lot of '<A NAME=""></A>' tags...that's a few hours of my life I won't get back, but at least everything is up to code, clean and consistent. If not perfectly sized (yet). Onward and upward...
20th August 2020. New Season. Nearly. Time to pick the blackberries, the hazel-nuts, the walnuts and buy some own-brand whisky for the steeping.
|Sloes. These look lovely of course, but are as bitter as a media studies graduate working in an egg-packing factory.|
26th August 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond
I opted to walk down from the gate, this has its own pleasure, and in this way I saw and followed some new but well worn tyre-tracks that led towards the dam, where the stile was no longer. In this way I also discovered that the lawn had been extended over the no-longer comfrey, to the edge of the rush-bed, save for one or two neat grass slip-ways leading to the water's edge.
Pete was stood in the Umbrella Pitch and informed me with some gravity that he had won his own bottle of wine (previously offered to all as a prize for catching something, anything, as 'proof of fish' in the low water). This proof was two small roach; I eschewed a rebuttal, stole some red-maggots and pottered up to the Upper Pond.
I threaded up the long rod, scattered the ground-bait libation, put on my favourite crucian float and removed a couple of careless roach. Pete arrived and booked into the adjoining swim. Then there were more roach for both of us, then I had a few chubby crucians, then the tip really curved over...
|The pitch||The lucky crucian float||Some chubby crucians|
...and I suggested to Pete that he might want to see this one...this was the last crucian of the day, did we but know it. The sun beamed, the wind swirled about in that fresh 'nearly autumn' way and we were treated to a magnificent aerobatics display by two-score house-martins, nevertheless the activity under the surface tailed off and so did the catching. Pete decided that the late midday slump was too long and headed for home. I opined that I'd fish until sevenish and if it was still slumped, then I'd atypically pack ahead of sunset. We agreed the Wetland ought to be fished before summer fled for the duration, as some pike still required relocation.
|Definitely a 'netter'||The meadow beyond the hedge||Roach|
The fish remained conspicuous by their a., although a few aperiodic stabbing bites yielded two 'netter' roach (with hindsight perhaps it is time to fish for roach). A hobby buzzed up the far bank and an Emperor dragonfly hovered in front of me, never still quite long enough to be photographed, several smaller brown dragonflies droned around and Moby Dick ambled about, as it does. This all harmonised with the cinnamon, orange and star anise notes of my 'winter spice' tea...
The big roach rolled as the sun sank, raising hopes, if not expectations and I discovered that I was chilly and with little prospect of a return to form, I packed and the walk back up the track didn't quite warm me through. But still, very fine.
|The rarest of the rare, a 1lb 15oz crucian|
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
1st September 2020. Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with a rattlesnake lure! Another great fishing video from 'NDYakAngler'.
NDYakAngler's channel has a multitude of first-class fishing videos. They're quiet, have no silly background music or overdone histrionics, just the sound of the water, the reel and the environment. Just a really good fisherman going about his fishing, with, it must be said, considerably more skill than most. Give 'em a go.
7th September 2020. Kingsbridge. To follow...
|Pitch the First||Weak tea coloured ennui. A bream. Apposite.||Pitch the Second|
9th September 2020. Email.
The email address at the bottom of each page has been broken since about the end of July and I've only just noticed...something something domain swap issue thingy...
All working now.
10th September 2020. The Path by the Water...(RIP)
The forum has passed on. It is FUBARFraked Up Beyond All Repair. It is an ex-forum. It is not 'just kipping'.
I'm pretty sure it was me upgrading the host account ‘php’ version to 7.1 that broke it, one of those things that 'shouldn't have caused any problems'. As a result of all this I also found out the 'jaa' email had been off-line for weeks, although that was the hosting people forgetting to change something or other.
It looks just like the forum code was sufficiently long in the tooth that several of the new 'php' changes tripped it flat on its virtual face. I tried rolling the code version back but that didn't seem to sort it out. At a guess, I suspect it was the changing or 'tightening' of the syntax on 'variable variables' that did it, this certainly caused 'anotherangler' a few problems.
'Tis a pity, but in truth traffic has been declining for some time and I certainly didn't help the situation by shutting the place overnight for a year or so, as the pressures of a dissertation were broadly incompatible with the motivation required to deal with squabbling. Overall though, I enjoyed the experience and have met and made friends. It has also been quite eye-opening. It is the case that 80% of people on forums manage to rub along without ever causing a problem or upsetting everyone ever. This is how one knows it can be done.
A small percentage like to play the ‘see where the line is and then step over it a bit’ game. When one is new and blue-eyed in the ways of forums, much time and effort is invested in trying to explain to those folk why their post is likely to cause offence and how it might be modified to remove this possibility, without losing the import of the message.
After a time, a pattern emerges. The pattern is; anyone who tries to engage in an argument about the potential for offending someone will always, but always, 100% of this class, go on to cause problems and end up being banned. There were no exceptions.
So the following process evolved for all such. A private message was sent to gently suggest a post might be subtle reworded ‘because of some thing’. If the answer was “Woops, I’ve changed that, my bad”, all will be well. If the answer is in any way framed as disputing your request or the reason for it, the reply is only to say there will be no discussion. The next transgression causes a ban. This saved me time. I preferred it to be honest. ‘Ask once, tell once, take away toy’. This was even written into the rules...
Having said that, one can of course end up banning oneself for offending oneself, to show oneself the error of one’s ways, so a little leeway is good. But, 80% of everyone never cause any problems. So.
But then...it turns out that some posters, through a medium of coordinated subtle remarks and back-of-house communications, had cost the forum several good and productive posters. This came to light post hoc, so little can be done, but the damage has been. To those of the 80% who named the same small cabal as a reason for their declining input, my apologies for not picking up on it and thanks for the heads-up.
To the 80%, very many thanks, it has been a pleasure, and anyone who wishes to stay in touch can always contact me via the email at the bottom of any page on this site. I'll certainly see some of ye when we're next allowed out.
11th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...laters...
|The pitch||A bunch of the 'fun-size' ones.||A very reasonable roach|
|A path by the water||Dotted down. It was that kind of a day.|
|The gate and the meadow|
14th September 2020. Word-of-the-Day: 'gongoozle'.
Gongoozle v. 1. To gaze at the activity on a canal; to leisurely watch the passage of boats, from the bank, lock or bridge. 2. To observe things idly.
17th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...laters...again...
|tinca tinca||1lb 15oz. Again. Twice now inconvenient witnesses have robbed me of 2lb crucians...||A constellation of crucians|
|Who doesn't like a mystery...?||Who doesn't like a mystery...?|
29th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...perch...
This was, despite the auspices of perch, one of those long still quiet afternoons that gently hummed past, with almost nothing one might ascribe to a fish, save for the protruding back of the mooching Moby Dick. At near-dark, one tiny dip-and-lift on a large lob-tail decorated with marker-maggots, provided this rather fine and feisty perch. And that was that...a few crucians were priming as I packed; having left my coat in the car I was chilled, and serenading me to a fine moon-rise over the farmyard were an entire parliament of owls. A fine autumn afternoon.
|The long rod was used to fish a lob-tail and a bunch of maggots...||Either (a) D. has forgotten his rod-rest or (b) we have nomes.||The LBR was attached to a proper boys perch float with a large worm suspended beneath. It never stirred...|
|The pointy end of a thirsty European hornet. The low drone announcing it made me hopeful of photographing one of the even more fearsome looking great wood wasps that mooch about the Ponds. Both are relatively amiable creatures, despite their fearsome appearance.||When I got these and opened the bag, the smell took me right back to the River Thames at Longbridge...||The hoped and fished-for perch. Reliable reports suggest this is about half the size of the largest.|
We were sat in the back garden this morning (second coffee) and for a moment I thought a heron was labouring past, realised the neck was straight, then as it neared, it positively loomed, then banked in the sun - unmistakeably a common crane! Hah! Don't see those very often here. Golly, they're large (6-7ft wing-span).
|a very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page)||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience|
2nd October 2020. The GHSRE Facelift II.
It is the case, that having planted an idea that the GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment. required a ring removing, it festered like a small deep thorn, until the only way to excise it was to act. I resolved to remove one ring from the tip section, reducing the overall number to 5 plus the tip-ring. This seemed easy enough...
...but no. I set up a spread-sheet guide calculator but couldn’t make it work out – I wanted to keep the tip-section’s bottom guide in place - this was 11” from the first guide on the middle section - then adjust the remainder. There was no linear or geometric spacing that did this job...
...eventually, after half an hour (normally this takes around 10 minutes, half of which is setting up the spreadsheet) I called it off. In fact, the original spacing was also decidedly ‘un-tapered’ with three of the ring spacing’s on the tip section being 7¾". I took a leaf from this book and set the new ring spacing to;
11" -- 11" -- 10" -- 9" -- 8".
Worst-case this will just lighten the tip a little, but hopefully will also soften its action a smidge.
Now, the real reason I’m fettling this rod (again). I decided, during rest-stops while making and moving of 12cwt of concrete rubble, to make up fixed reel seat handle from the original bottom section with minimal cork-grips. This was for no other reason than the handle with its gold-and-garnet livery, would look very fine.
I removed the original butt-cap and reel-seat for re-use, first checking that the relatively wide seat ‘worked’ with the most used reels. Putting it together was supposed to be an easy enough job...but boring champagne corks and fitting them, while made a great deal easier with the EAT'Electric Auger Technology' and a couple of hexagonal taper reamers, is still a dusty fiddly job...but the end result is rather pleasing on the eye. I resolved to go some easy stock-pond to try it out. When all the varnish has dried.
|The 'new' handle made from the original butt-section. The champers corks are not over-finished as it amuses me to be able to see where they came from...|
Anyhow, all finished now. Probably.
3rd October 2020. Il Pleut.
Autumn has finally pushed on through and it has rained fairly solidly for three days, reminding me of a blocked down-pipe and the failing seal at the bottom of the front door. This summer there has been a dozen lush tomato plants in the contemporary orangerie and I have many bags of skinned frozen tomatoes in the freezer from this year's bumper crop and I haven’t used any tinned tomatoes for weeks.
Although the plants will continue to grow and set fruit, it’s cool and the days are shorter, so they grow slowly, the tomatoes barely ripen and the pots keep a measure of damp in place; so this morning I cut them down for compost and filled two large baking bowls with tomatoes of various stages of ripeness.
In the meantime, I've picked my way through "Confessions of a Carp Fisher" (again); I have some pretty goose-quill-tipped-porcupine floats, a new crow-quill and a long raven-quill. The GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment has been carefully adjusted to fit into my dreams and in the garage there are autumn baits: maggots, worms, frozen mussels and SB2*. With this assemblage I will, this grey month, fish for bigger bites. If the rain stops.
* 'Secret Bait 2'. While I don’t subscribe to the ‘magic bait’ hypothesis, I do acknowledge that fish can be trained to avoid a bait, so until I’ve personally trained a kettle of fish, I’ll keep this to myself.
5th October 2020. Dammit.
Tranquil, just tranquil. I persisted for two hours, I could've put on a small hook and caught a score of rudd, but I persisted with big perch baits and in the end had nothing like a bite. I can take a hint...not that it wasn't a nice place to sit.
The promontory pitch was interesting but after an hour with nothing so much as a twitch - a lobworm is a fine barometer for fish, everything will have a go - I realised that with a cold westerly the leeward end was going to be better. I decamped in a literal minute, the joys of minimal gear, pottered along the bank then fished against a small lily-patch, which I gave up when I snagged a lily stalk and was obliged to pull it out by the root. I switched to the left-hand side with its, frankly, nicer looking reeds.
|The only reliable rod-rest|
I was nearly surprised when the float bobbed a couple of times and nipped along a bit. The fish was surprised by the strike and heads for the middle of the lake while I tighten the clutch. It makes half-way comfortably, then, hooping the rod it heads for the other end. I get as far across as possible and hold the rod right out for an angle to turn it before it hits the bank with the large, worryingly not as distant as I first thought, patch of lilies...I win this round, the carp capitulates in a heavy swirl and I have sight of a big paddle.
”Oho”, I think “one of the larger ones...”
The unbroken carp heads towards the centre...then back to the bank...and this goes on...and on...until the fish wallows but alarmingly, it's on the far side of the lily-patch, and I lack the angle to steer it out. I resolve to trust in tackle, let ‘Mr. Scrappy’ drift towards the bank then, pull it through where the lilies were thin, 2-3 pads next to the bank. Amazingly, I pull this off and suddenly the fish looms large in front of me; I lean back a little, reach for the net and with a tiny flat rattle of quill-on-metal, the hook zips over my shoulder...clucking bell.
This happens, I tell myself, inspecting the trace, hook (still pointy) and knots (good) and with slightly shaky hands, re-bait and flip the little quill back into place. After five minutes, I reason that a larger hook will be more effective with a big worm and re-tie, as I should have done in the first place...duckit.
I briefly foul another carp a little later, then after a solid half-hour, I missed a stabbing bite, then hit a bobbler and played out a solid common with little or no trouble. This mollified me somewhat. A bit. I popped the carp back, a scatter of cold pin-pricks raked my face, I looked at the dark clouds to the west and decided the job was done. I'll be back...
|Tranquil, to tranquil...||Fungus||...and played out a solid common...|
All this said, the GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment did well and the fault was mine for letting the fish run too far too fast...while the '44X is a fine reel, next time it will be the '66X & 10lb, the slightly slower retrieve not withstanding.
6th October 2020. Hah.
So, upgraded to 10lb, the '66X and a size 4 long-shank. So...I used the long hook to make the bait a little larger, and fished for almost two hours for a breamy roach, weathering a torrential squall that soaked my trews, chair and good humour. It blew out in 15 minutes, but everything was quite waterlogged and although I fished on, another such would have seen me off.
|The oddly breamy roach||Boy, did it come down...||The pitch|
|The sun then did its thing.|
It felt flat...then at 4ish, something changed. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but a couple of carp rose and there were a few foreshadowing bulges in the calmer spots. I focussed on the float and the first dithery bite barely troubled the scorers, as it were, some 7lb of half-scaled fish, the clutch barely squeaking. A start. I re-baited, waited some, then a heavy mailed shape swirled a third of the way across. A bit later the float dithered a little, then stilled, slow slow minutes ticked by; then the quill bobbled off, but I wasn’t fooled, the fish checked out the bait, then came back...
This fish was dragging heavy, but I got on top of it from the off; after a few self-respecting runs were pulled up before it got up to cruising speed, it retrenched to a dogged grudging fight inside a five yard radius. Solid fish, 19lb on the nose I just know it was the one that swirled earlier.
Felt like the one that got away yesterday, but it wasn’t that fish was longer. Good stuff. I fished on and at 5:30 decided to give it until six then head for a warm meal and dry clothes. The float twitched, a few minutes passed and then it zipped off, the fish heading for the middle but barely getting halfway there. After this first run, it gave in, caught too often perhaps and while it was a nice fish, perhaps 12lb, it seemed an anticlimax. But good enough for today, I feel back in the groove.
|19lb on the nose||Soem kinda double|
I loaded the wet gear into the DT'Driving Technology', then pottered about, finding several swims that were once NTCP'Nearest the Car Park'. Funny how these swims are always 'the best ones'., but are now FFTCP'Far From the Car Park'. Terrible swims, generally unfished. Except by me., and so now, ‘much more interesting’ to marginal angler.
9th October 2020. Autumn then.
10th October 2020. Now I Recall Why I don't Fish here on Saturdays.
I should have scoffed the small dinner and whipped down to the lake at 7am, but I tarried over the eggs and black Java, so arrived at almost 9am. ‘Some cars’ were there, a few, so I nicked one of the ‘hidden pitches’ spotted earlier in the week as it was (a) in the lee of the steady wind that was still finding its feet, and (b) was current bathed by the morning sun. These things, I reasoned would make it a good spot...
...there were a couple of solid swirls, once or twice the float twitched, one such leaving me with a tiny roach impaled by the tail. There’s no doubt that something went through the swim a couple of times. Once a patch of bubbles fizzed around the quill-tip and I leaned in, the second occurrence suggested this was not fish (at least not a live one) and the third outburst strongly suggested that I’d fished on a dead-spot for over an hour. By this time the sun had moved round, its light thinned by stratospheric clouds, and no fish were moving.
The window had closed, so I headed for the previous trip’s pitch, on the off chance the fish were already at what was now going to be the warm end...but apart from several fast twitchy bites, one of which produced a ‘broach’ (something I'd have caught several of, if I’d re-sized the hook to '12') that was that.
By now the carp-ark was rammed, as were the swims wide enough for a bivvie. Lunchtime.
14th October 1066. Godwinson, Harold, King of England. Died Fighting the Invader.
15th October 2020. My goal is to catch fish, so that I can describe what I do as 'fishing'...
|The windward Pitch||The first float||The view from here||The last float||Sunset|
...and in this respect, today at least, I failed.
The fishing however, was excellent.
18th October 2020. The Trouble ...with being stuck in the house (while roofers are on the tiles) is one looks hard at things which really don’t need changing. I looked hard at the LHSRE...
...a rookie mistake. The butt-ring was 20mm, as I'd initially planned to use the rod with centre-pin reels. I upped it to 25mm (from ‘stock’) and increased the next four rings’ sizes to suit. Then I recalled I have some fine purple NCP thread (Pacbay now have a good range) so I used this thread; now I have to do all the other whippings...
|The keeper||The butt-ring||The last ring on the bottom section.|
19th October 2020. Scratchy. I'd aimed to be bank-side by 2pm and then the outgoing SMPT server fell over, then someone rang me, blocking the call from the person I really wanted to talk to and by then, I'd stopped 'feeling it' and an hour was lost. I went anyway, which is seldom efficacious.
|The view from here||The float of the day|
The result of this was two small bream and a 40 minute spell watching carp mooch around my swim - if I'd had but three slices of white toastie I'd have had the lot. Probably.
P.S. I'd forgotten that, among the small baggies of useful things in the ruck-sack, is some white 'pop-up' foam. If only I'd recalled it and floated a worm...ah well.
22nd October 2020. Odd. I spent two hours in a middle swim and although a fish rolled in the margin, my bait remained immobile...
|There is something pleasing about fishing with a flat-float.||The GHSRE and the Cardinal 66x||The float-tip in the sun and the rod|
I went to the penrhyn swim, just because I like fishing deep margins and set up on the edge; the wind dropped, the sun sank and I switched from a quill to a cork-ball bobber...and it never moved once, even a smidgen. A few reeds twitched as the light eked out, but these were the twitches of small fish high up the reeds and although a carp or two rolled in the middle of the flat-calm, I went home without fish or a chance of a fish. Huh.
|The reed-bed in the setting sun||...that it never twitched, when an alighting damsel would sink it, says much for the fishing||The sun setting beneath the west bank|
Packing up, I recalled I'd brought two rods and reels and wondered why I'd not thought to suspend a worm among the reeds for a perch...
31st October 2020. Boo.
• • • • • • • • • • • • •
"Up until today you believed there was a line between myth and reality. Maybe a very fine line sometimes but at least there was a line. Those things out there are real. If they're real, what else is real? You know what lives in the shadows now. You may never get another night's sleep as long as you live." ~~ Megan ('Dog Soldiers') ~~
She had a point.
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
1st November 2020. Stormy. I made the mistake, last night, of turning in far too early. Consequently, I have slept too long for my own good and a combination of this, the rain of the last ten days, 50mph winds playing the chimney like an organ pipe and a niggling worry about the 99% complete new roof, yet festooned with scaffolding, conspire to keep me quite awake.
I read the first half of "Drop Me A LineStill very good.", then Mrs AA decamped to the marital b. with a sensible measure of this year’s blackberry whisky, so I switched to “Be Quiet and go a-Angling” which seem more suited to the weather and mood. I’ve been penned indoors for too many days and after some months of furlough I've completed all the DIY a reasonable man might be expected to do. This was followed by weeks of utterly joyless job-searching via third parties that are, in all but name, corrupt border guards collecting ‘taxes’ to ease one’s passage. I am, if not actually fed up, edging into ‘make my day’ territory.
However, the tail lash of the current storm is as nought compared with the winter of 1947Throughout January the highest recorded temperature in England and Wales was 14°C and the minimum was −21°C., as described by ‘B.B.’ in "Be Quiet...", which in turn was not as severe as that of 1939-40The winter of 1939-40 was the coldest for 45 years and contained one of the coldest months on record., so beautifully described by H.E.Bates. Both were eclipsed, if one might use the term, by the winter of 1962-63The 'Big Freeze' of 1963 was one of the coldest winters on record in the UK, when I can recall making a snow-man at Easter. The average temperature for January of this year was −2.1°C.
Bit of a breeze out. Meh.
More to the point; just where is Thorney Pond?
2nd November 2020. Harlows. Some time ago I added spacers between the reels’ feet and the body of the reel. This is because, for this angler at least, it is more comfortable and intuitive to be able to grip the rod-handle at the reel-seat. My home-made spacers were rough, but they did the job. However, ‘insert a shaggy dog story here’, I was lucky enough to know of “Watermole+” late of ‘The Path...’ and a craftsman of the highest order. I asked him if he might consider a small comission to make up some spacers that were of a finer quality than three sheets of 3mm Perspex? This was agreed and the reels were dismantled packed and posted.
Some time passed...
The reels came back. Making spacers to the supplied dimension was the original brief, but the master craftsman opted to make the spacer and reel-foot as one part. The lines are elegant, the dimensions are perfect and the performance cannot be bettered. I can hold the handle with a full grip behind the seat or a three-fingered grip in the same position for fine adjustment of the line when fishing ‘lift’ style.
Plus, they look very elegant.
|One reel with its new foot. The old foot and its Perspex are lying adjacent and in the top left corner the reel handles are just visible.||The other Harlow and its new foot. There is no telling them apart, although I wish I’d pushed the keyboard further back…|
Now, if the reels had an adjustable drag like my Snowbee and a check lever on the top of the reel-back, then they’d be perfect...
3rd November 2020. Owl. So. There were two orders of the day. The first was to try out the a new Harlow reel-feet spacer and second was to try and extract a perch from Spring Lake without getting ‘parped’. I thought the odds of either were about the same.
In the event, the highlight of a longish couple hours on the south end bay was a barn owl that glid around the end of the tree opposite me and slipped soundlessly between the poplars bordering the lake. The second-best highlight was the result of a short violent shower, a neat double rainbow. In between times I nabbed two tiny perch and fouled a small carp somewhere near the tail-root, which bent the rod hard and gave me a fine opportunity to see how well the new reel-foot worked. The answer, by the time the hook lost its hold and looped over my shoulder, was ‘really very well’.
|The small quill over the big worm||The hopeful pitch by the submerged branches||The double rainbow, if the first one leads to Vahalla, where does the second one lead?|
Once some chattering magpies had packed, I slipped around to a perchier swim and in between removing a crayfish and a 2oz perch, the barn owl rounded the bushes across the way and failing to see me in the gloom until it was 10 feet off, then pulled up in soundless alarm and wheeled about. Top notch.
|See? Eyes way bigger than stomach. 'Tis lucky they have no brain.||The flat-float in the promising reed-bed||Dusk|
Usefully, the not quite full lake and the high water table conspired to show me where two springs run into the lake, which is handy to know for when it's very cold and no-one comes here...
5th November 2020. Treason and Plot
11th November 2020.
16th November 2020. I chickened out. The plan was to trudge up to the ‘match’ lake and fish for perch in the dam bank deep water, but the wind was sharp and the main lake backwater looked perchy...it was. A bit. After missing a good few sliding bites I reduced my ‘massive worm bait’ to a sliver on a size 14. This resulted in a 2oz perch and two micro-perch. If I’d dropped the hook size again and fished for bites, I could have caught a small ‘something’ at regular intervals, but that wasn’t my plan.
Neither was being frozen to the core - despite the sheltered corner, the wind cut through me for a couple of hours, so to warm up I walked around the ponds. This turn about yielded three floats, two big fake corn grains and a rubber maggot. I pour scorn on such things, but rubber maggots have one very handy use and that’s holding a big worm on a barbless size 4. I kept that, dropped the plastic maize into the bag, sacrificed its hook to the naiad of the pool and threw away two of the floats.
It had warmed up a few degrees, the wind had softened, so after spotting a few fish, several of which appeared to be trying to escape some predator, I fished a large worm against some reeds, ground-baited with a few more and flicked a few bits of bread about for good measure. The float never moved but the wind, softer maybe but no less brisk, pushed all the scraps of bread into a line down the bank. After a while one vanished, the evidence radiating into the steady chop as a series of concentric dotted circles. Oho.
It took half an hour to draw the carp out from under its bush, but once it was emboldened, I nicked off my perch-hook, tied on a small size 8, replaced the float with a 12mm cork-ball, put two pinches of bread on the hook, flicked the lot into middle (by coiling line off the reel onto the unhooking mat) and let the wind drift my bait around into position. The first two takes were short, removing the bait from the hook. The third bait was a strip of crust I sewed the hook into and around. This struck neatly home.
|The pitch||The pitch||The small welcome carp|
Heh. Not massive, but a fun fish on a cold day. The light had gone, so I called it.
19th November 2020. I didn’t chicken out this time. The swim by the end of the reeds looked perchy. It was. After suffering ‘the kind of missed bites caused by a small perch lugging a lob-worm longer than itself’, I dropped to a size 12 dressed with an inch of worm, swapped the pretty goose-tipped porcy for a cork-ball antennae and proceeded to remove a swarm of small perch. It was no great hardship, the lake is pretty and the sun shone.
Twice there were starbursts of fry suggesting the swarm had a grandparent or two. I suspect live-bating a micro-perch might have worked for those, but I didn’t have the requisite hardness of heart to do it, plus it was instructive to let the bait sink, wait five minutes and draw it up again to prompt a bite – I’d spaced the float stops about 18” apart to make this easy and the depth here was some 60”. I pondered a dead-baited sprat. Hm.
|The pitch||The first float, the goose-tipped porcupine quill||The view across the lake|
|One of the swarm||The cork-ball antennae||A bright cold rudd|
This pool is high up its little valley and the wind was sharp enough for me to put a glove on my rod-hand. Even so, mid-afternoon arrived as if by magic, so I wandered about to warm my legs which catalysed a shivering fit. The walk over, I gulled more small perch and added a few rudd which nabbed grubs on their way down. Still chilly, I decided to try a speculative worm at the end of another pool that was on the way back; I’ve nabbed reasonable perch there and also, the walk would warm me up. Packing up I found a wire trace, old brass swivel beyond saving, tho’ it made me wonder if this pool has a pike or two? Interesting, although one must beware of drawing straight lines between two data points.
I walked, nabbed several more micro-perch. Hm. I trousered a nomadic antennae float, then wandered around to a reedy corner of the main lake and decided to fish out the last hour. This yielded another micro-perch (I sensed a theme developing) so I switched bait to bread-flake, making the antennae dip and stutter and when it vanished I connected briefly with something that curved the rod tip around the reeds and then spat out the hook. Huh. A little later I missed another, which generated the salutary bow-wave of a departing carp and finally as the light went, I contacted another, a little mirror-carp, perhaps 4lb, which was entertaining.
|The setting sun on the path|
The shivering returned so I strode off under the crescent moon.
|The crescent moon in the trees|
21st November 2020. Well, I went.
I could wax lyrical about the day, which in and of itself was cold, breezy and grey. However, I spent some hours at one end of the lake in a large eddy caused by wind-driven waves curling around a small promontory and then when this yielded not so much as a twitch on worm or bread-flake, I headed for the other end...and did the same for another few hours, until dusk fell.
|The attitude of the day||Today at the lake...||Purple brittle gills||Tawny funnel caps|
When one’s worm is not mugged by the small fry and one’s flake is not whittled in the slightest, it is fair to say they're not having it.
Nice purple brittle gill though and a few tawny funnel caps found under a small conifer.
23rd November 2020. The First Rule. If I was a great angling writer, as opposed to a workaday one, I could write up today’s trip with humorous overtones, add one or two insightful comments and it would still be really really (really) dull. Then it took me 90 minutes to drive home.
I'd post a picture, but would rather forget the whole experience. Anyhoo, I’ve modified Rule 1What's the First Rule?.
|Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of...(and back to the top of the page)||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.|
1st December 2020. Ho ho ho...*
*...now I have a machine gun.
12th December 2020. Wetland Pikes.
I've been talking about doing this for ten days but not managed a clear desk on a fine day. Today though...a bit up the lane, where the gnarled hedge curves back over the lane, two jays rose then secreted themselves in the holly. I don't know if two jays are significant or whether there is a rhyme for jays, but I decided on 'two for pike'.
It's chippy, the water and air are 5.5°C and the wind is sharp. I put up two rods with sprats, small corks and widely spaced float-stops. The methodology is; cast them out, let the bait sink, wait five or ten minutes, draw them in a few feet, then let the baits flutter down. This is lazy piking, but the day is bright and the water clear, so if anything is feeding, a couple of hours will draw it out. In the meantime, the elder of the four swans nips the legs of the young ones, a firm hint at independence.
|The base-camp pitch|
I sip a cup of RBEGCReinforced Black Earl Grey and Ceylon tea, which helps with the cold. Both baits are followed in the first hour, the left-hand fish detectable only by the swirl it leaves behind and the right-hand bait is followed to the lake-bed in front of me. I watch the pike, perhaps 2lb, heel about, line up on the sprat, flick its tail like a cat preparing to pounce, then simply disappear. Huh.
I have another cup, strictly to keep the wind at bay. Then the cheery red right-hand cork stabs once, dithers, trembles and edges off down the pond. I let it go about two yards and half-expecting a jack, bend the Old Carp Rod over. Not a jack. Not the finest account a pike's ever given of itself, but solid, something around 31" (7-8lb or so). I snap it quickly, pop it back, whereupon it sinks to the bed and sulks between the rods' tips for over an hour.
|...the cheery red right-hand cork...||The reel and the temperature||...whereupon it sinks to the bed and sulks between the rods' tips for over an hour.|
More fortified tea, then I take one rod to the head of the little pond and try a bait in amongst the reed-bed. Earlier, several fish showed here and now there's the scatter and swirl of a lunge. Pete arrives. We chat, at the currently acceptable distance, of ponds and crucians and a netting is planned for the New Year. I dislike winter nettings they are cold and hard on the fingers. Needs must. Pete goes on and 30 masochistically-cold minutes later it is clear my gambit has failed. I look at the low winter sun and its bank of clouds and think that dusk will be early. Hm.
The Mk. IIIThe Other Mk. III + ‘44x had been assembled earlier, so I creak back to the pitch, nip the trace off the second rod and attach it to the braid, mount a sprat and pull it through ‘6’ for a while, warming if nothing else. Merely an appetizer. I'd spotted a (hopefully) lone pike in '4' earlier, so took the net and bait and tried a few casts from the downstream end. Cast...one-elephant, two elephant, turn the handle...one-elephant, two elephant...
On the third cast something jerks the line, I strike and the fish puts its larger sister to shame, pulling off line at a steady fizz, clearing the water briefly, then shed the hook. Dammit. I mooch up to '3', shallow and clear, and put a bait into all four corners and down the length, but with nothing to show. I returned to '4', fish across the centre from the south side and third cast bait is unmistakeably clomped and after a lively scrap, I put the net under the last esox in '4' (we hope). ‘Phone-snapped then carried swiftly to '6' and released. Heh.
There is a pike in '5' but the weed is still too deep for sink'n'draw, so I essay half-a-dozen casts though '7' on the basis that one never knows - the thermometer en passant was now 7.5°C - then return to the reed-bed swim in '6' and flip a fresh sprat to the left, the braid drops worryingly close to the tree branches reaching across the swim. One elephant...half-way back the line goes solid, it feels like weed, then moves...so I strike hard and then have a devil of a job keeping the pike out of (a) ‘said tree and (b) the reeds. But I do. This one is a smidge longer than the last, 27" (4-5lb or so).
|...something around 31'' (7-8lb or so).||...24'', 3-4lb||...a smidge longer than the last, 27'' (4-5lb or so).|
I return to my chair, let the dead-bait fish itself, the tip an ersatz quiver, drink the last two cups while taking down the long rods and when one of the swans, which had fed unconcerned as sprats whistled about them, put its head under its wing and drifted gently reed-wards on the gold-flecked black water, I packed up, 2°C; cold now.
|- then return to the reed-bed swim in '6'...||...gold-flecked black water...|
Almost forgot I quite like pike-fishing. The Smoke Fairies’ 'Wild Winter' for the drive.
16th December 2020. Rain Chance.
Incessant rain is a good opportunity for some to whinge about the weather to anyone who carelessly lets their concentration slip. Often the complainant suggests that (a) this is 'Someone's Fault' and that 'Someone Should Do Something About It' and (b) that it is in some way surprising that winter is wet and cold. I find this annoying, so quite deliberately take the view that there is no ‘bad weather’, but simply ‘types of weather (seasonal)’.
So avoiding the literal rain clouds along with the metaphorical ones of the weather-cock doomsayers, I settle down to some vicarious fishing. Today this is realized by picking through oddments of pike-fishing end-tackle and variously, reconsolidating, unpicking and throwing away. 'Said end-tackle has for some years lived in a green Stewart tackle-box. This was once bolted inside a seat-boxSeemed like a good idea at the time... and being a softer plastic than some variants, survived 196lb of anotherangler for some years.
At some point I cut a slot in the square central compartment to facilitate the containment of cutters and pliers, wire traces for the fettling of. I took out all the ‘pop-up’ balsa wood (there was a time before pop-up foam) then cleaned out the I/V needle and syringe (used for injecting oils into dead-baits) and bagged them. I rounded up the large number and variety of dangerous looking single hooks, scattered in pockets around the place, then put them where they were intended to go and further consolidated a small collection of ‘VB’ double hooks.
Having done this (and awarded myself a fresh cup of Java Lava), I dug out an ABU lure box and put various soft lures into it along with one or two other pike related bits. For good luck I rifled through the ‘big box of stuff I can’t quite bring myself to chuck away’ and found a packet of ‘Ribbit’ frogs (purchased from a ‘Bass-Pro’ somewhere near Santa Clara) and two packets of jelly sand-eels and half a dozen jelly roach in two different sizes.
|...ribbit...||The Stewart box and its bits. Oh, OK then. Top-to-bottom, left-to-right: the top compartment has floats: a few loaded pencils and a couple of traditional ‘Gazette’ types, (with the peg replaced by a plastic tube). There's a long baiting needle hidden in there and the applicator for pop-up foam. The next compartment has a plastic tube containing the needle and syringe for injecting fish oils. The next has two small floats, a rubber roach, two small sand-eels, a small baiting needle, an off-the-shelf wire spinning trace, some pop-up foam and two floats made from champagne corks. The (white) compartment has various small jelly lures and a couple of drop-shot heads. In the next there’s several bite-indicator bobbins and a mackerel lure (don’t ask). The central compartment has four containers, two of which have VB doubles from sizes 10-2, one has a selection of useful single hooks and one has swivels, links and so on. The following compartment has two reels of plastic covered trace wire in 24lb and 32lb, a packet of single hooks and some crimp ferrules. The last row is two corks (OK one got used) and a piece of copper foil, the next is some handy drilled bullets in a bag, then a bottle-top container with snap links in, then some Quicksilver braid and a couple of traces made with it and finally a film canister of ‘baitholder’ hooks. There.||...ribbit...|
There, all sorted. Must try those frogs come the Spring.
17th December 2020. Canford. I’ve not been here for some time...but knowing of its native pike population I thought it worth re-visiting.
It was a pretty day, with low sun through the trees, clear water and one other dead-baiting angler. I'd barely started on the sink'n'draw when they nabbed a nice one, so I was emboldened and a little after, halfway up the main row of fishing-pitches, a bold swirl announced a strike at the bait. Two turns of the handle later, another, and then, within sight, a third, but inexplicably the pike missed. Perhaps 7-8lb, so I jiggled the bait with tiny movements of my fingers, but the moment had passed and the fish sheepishly sidled off.
|The low winter sun|
I persisted, but the water was in poor shape for the method. It’s quite shallow, the pondweed hadn’t quite died, there was a carpet of leaves and there are many submerged and half submerged trees. It was more ‘draw-pause-draw’ as even an ‘elephant of sink’ collected weeds and leaves. Still. I worked up and down the isthmus, trudged right around the back of the fishable area to the only one of the four advertised pitches that wasn’t overgrown by alders. This last was clear of weed and leaves and I worked over the entire area I could reach, until a too-casual left hand back-cast, intended to be short of a sunken tree some 30 yards off, got somehow overcooked and thunked the bait into solid white wood. I got a six-inch nail out of the bag, pulled for a break and the wire snapped below the head-hook. Dammit.
I yomped right around the other side to find none of these four advertised pitches were remotely fishable, so found a spot on the isthmus to fish a worm and wait for sun-set, but even dusk didn’t turn up any pike and the worm didn’t twitch in two hours. With the light tailing off, I cut a slot in a wine cork, slipped it over the braid above the wire and let it fish itself until it was barely a smudge in the black, by which time I was cold and packing up started a shivering fit. A fine winter's day.
|...the first worm-pitch...||...the second worm-pitch...||...and its float.|
I’ll return in a month, when hopefully the weed has flattened and the leaves are all down. It’s a nice ‘naturally stocked’ water, but it is now heavily predated and has resident otters (I’ve yet to see one in the wild, I should like to) and I don’t mind that, but the lack of interest from the controlling club is starkly evident in the overgrown paths and pitches and in the general clutter of branches in the water. One might speculate this is a factor of the inability to control the stock, as the pond is periodically overrun by the rising Stour. Perhaps not a venue for instant gratification but neglecting the place is a shame. Ah well.
19th December 2020. The Small Technology Marches On.
Not for the first time this year I was pondering getting a new camera. The current one is not quite doing the job it did, a consequence of fine scratches on the lens (caused by the sliding cover) and possibly the zoom-lens motors wearing. Something’s not right. I spent some time looking for an equivalent camera with a similar or better zoom range. This turned out to be harder to find than one might think – anything that cannot be found in ten minutes of diligent search engine use probably doesn’t exist in any practical sense.
I realised then, that one of my own predictions had come to pass. That is, the superseding of a dedicated digital camera with one embedded in a smart phone. For less than the cost of my existing camera (when new), I can have a three-camera mobile phone with an image size (or resolution) that is close to ten times that (@48MP) of the old 'dedicated' camera. Huh.
It turns out my next camera will be a smart-phone.
20th December 2020. The Fieldfares Are Well.
While I was sitting at my desk and tidying up a couple of old plastic floats to render them fit for sea fishing, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t seen the Mappowder fieldfares for some time. Not wanting to seem overly sentimental, I took a fishing rod or two with me.
Despite the recent clouds and rain, today starts with horizon-to-horizon blue-sky. The larger of the ponds is, as befits a reservoir, full to the brim and there is enough colour in the water to make it interesting. I sit on the south bank and take the temperature of water (8.5°C) and air (7.5°C) while a worm makes an exploratory foray into water which has more than a hint of polished turquoise about it.
The cooler air and the stout breeze on my back make this the right side of the lake, if there is one, and after the worm had remained immobile for a time, I stroll to take the water temperature around the pool. It hardly varied, although there was a distinct cooling along the windward bank. That said, I want a sheltered spot so nip along the bank to a kind of headland where the wind is impeded by a clump of dogwood, then re-launch the worm. As an experiment I put up the other Mk. III and plonk out a sprat on a large single hook, all under a large porcupine quill that once tricked a 15lb leather carp.
|The afternoon sun-lit view from the pitch.||The cork-ball bite indicator||The dogwoods and the silver birch.|
After 40 minutes the sprat float dibbles and darts firmly under, but is back before I can wind down to bonk the hook in. Huh. On inspection the sprat has barely a mark, but on one side there are two tiny holes about 1” apart. Odd. Hopefully, to solve the mystery, back it goes...
Meanwhile the worm is failing, so I swap to a big bit of bread-flake. Ten minutes later the float slips under the water's skin as smoothly as a hypodermic and I am attached to a small carp. Aha. After this I get a couple of semi-bites, so opt to change the size 4 (selected for the lob-worm) for a small short-shank size 8. A couple of jays start a squabble in the oaks over the pond and I recall this was a good omen for fish, if not for one of the jays.
Some time later I decide to take an arty photograph looking down the rod and having convinced myself the tiny movements of the float were down to the rod twitching to my heart-beat (it wouldn’t be the first time), the second photograph was of a patch of grey water, with a barely visible ring where the float used to be. I perform a comedy strike and ‘something’ zipped off. While it’s easy to overestimate how long it takes to play and land a fish, this one took a good ten minutes of hard graft, made harder by cold stiff fingers, but easier by the fine Watermole+ made reel-foot. At the same time this fish kindly re-introduces me to the pleasure of the Mk. IV ‘G’.
|The cork-ball bite indicator||Where the cork-ball bite-indicator was a moment ago...|
It is now mid-afternoon, perhaps 90 minutes from sunset and the temperature has started to drop, but it is still a fine day with fieldfares working the hedge behind me, cacophonic rooks in the distance and occasional guttural crows crossing the lake. In short, great. I carry on with the bread under the cork-ball special and catch more carps. It’s not hard fishing but satisfyingly sporadic and it is hardly the carps’ fault that they are the colour of the setting sun on the far bank.
|The finest carp of the day with its unusual bifurcated tail-fin.||Some carps, various||...it is hardly the carps’ fault that they are the colour of the setting sun on the far bank.|
By the time the idiot-birds announce their various roosts, it is almost too dark to see the float, but light enough to nab a penultimate patch of sunlight. I pack up the sprat-rod (with the mystery unresolved) then walk under the waxing crescent moon and paddle across the soggy meadow. I like it here – it feels like a place should feel in the midwinter. Cold, bright, wet and the sudden onset of evening. The Smoke Fairies for the drive, again, obviously.
|...then I walk under the waxing crescent moon...|
24th December 2020. Apple-Wood and Ale.
For the last 12 months I’ve ‘hardly touched a drop’, so tonight being The Eve, I put myself outside a couple of Old Speckled Hens, which is a very fine bottled brew, if a further nail in the pubs' coffins.
The mid-winter evening fire had dwindled so I go outside to get more Bramley-wood logs, a legacy left by our May-felled tree. Its copious quantities of lesser stag beetle larvae and pupae were symptoms of its rotten heartwood, a pity as the apples were good, but it is fine firewood, burning well without spitting and we have a lot of it.
Passing from warm and hops-scented good company into the frost-cold instantly invokes long past Christmas Eves spent in the congenial Red Lion. Arriving early, we played amiable card games and marked time with straight glasses of good bitter. In this small wall-to-wall reveller'd pub, the atmosphere was perfectly pitched at ‘goodwill to all’. After being ejected into the near-midnight cold - after a more generous than usual ‘drinking up time’ - the two mile walk home was at least as pleasurable as the evening preceding. From here, I miss the walk the most.
I lay logs along my forearm, like a waiter’s piled plates then, a little reluctantly, slip back into the warmth.
31st December 2020. All is Well.
|The tree and its moss||The variegated holly|
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
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