That was an extraordinary 12 months, I hope you found your way through OK. The coming year will be marked by the maelstroms of the 'new normal'. These useful observations may help:
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."~~ Maya Angelou ~~
"Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right"~~ Ricky Gervais ~~
In other news 'operation thinnerangler' is going well and the goal, that is, to be ~ ¾ of 'anotherangler', is within sight. There may be subsiduary goals after this...
Remember also; "This too shall pass".
The previous years of the 'Diary', such as it might be termed, can be reached via the below links.
This is the 2021 diary page, which displays in descending date order, i.e. with the earliest entry at the top.
If you'd like to support my float & espresso addictions in a small way, by all means 'buymeacoffeeI promise to try and not spend it on another float.' or 'buymeanotherfloatIt'll be a float, we both know it.'. Many thanks.
It'll be a float, we both know it. Probably.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1st January 2021. Twenty Twenty-One. 600pV signal detection. Really. Impressive eh? And you think a size 20 hook is small.
Here is something to ponder as we head back out into the light:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."~~ Upton Sinclair ~~
Do meaningful things, keep thinking critically, catch fish and have a Happy New Year.
2nd January 2021. The Last Floats...of 2020.
Top to bottom:
Pheasant quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over white paint, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent orange painted tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over white paint, black 6/0 thread banding
Pheasant quill, fluorescent orange painted tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent pink highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
Seagull quill, fluorescent orange highlighter over translucent tip, black 6/0 thread banding
It's a ruler, obviously
Crow quill, fluorescent orange painted tip
Raven quill, fluorescent orange painted tip
Reed-Mace stick float, fluorescent orange painted tip.
|Quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, ruler, quill, quill, stick.|
The tip colours flare a bit in the photo as I failed to work out how to keep the overall light level good while avoiding the slight over-exposure on the tips. Still, that is their job. I might even use a couple of these, although while I like the raven quill float a lot, I've no idea where (around here) I might find a use for it.
8th January 2021. Still Allowed Out...
Well, at least we can still go fishing; Covid-19 Statement from the Angling Trust: Update January 7th 2021.
25th January 2021. The Weather Dog.
It is often the case that knowing the state of the weather is useful information. However, to actually go outside in the weather is often at the bottom of one’s list of priorities, at least until the state of clemency is ascertained.
What to do?
I give you 'The Weather Dog'. The ideal weather dog is slow moving and likes to play outside. One opens the door, propels the weather dog into the weather, shuts the door and waits. Interpretation is key:
Dog immediately wants to come in, dog very wet: raining hard.
Dog immediately wants to come in, dog dry: null; dog playing ‘inny-outy’.
Dog spends some time outside, comes in damp: light rain.
Dog spends some time outside, returns dry, with cold ears: cold and dry.
Dog spends some time outside, returns with snow on head: snowing.
Dog returns with ears inside out: very windy.
Dog goes to back door, sneaks back to the hall and smugly nudges your leg: dog outsmarted owner.
Dog returns looking pleased with herself: watch where you walk.
Today, sadly, the weather dog had to be put on The Long Black Train. This is an experience I don’t endorse. Buggrit. All very subdued here today.
27th January 2021. Warm. Relatively.
I needed to get out and today the wind warmed, the rain was light so I parked at the lee end of the lake, even though I knew in my heart it was the wrong end. I spent a couple of hours waiting and watching the reeds occasionally being shoved rudely aside, so thought there was a chance. Mid afternoon I checked the water temperature at 4.9°C and the air at 11°C so thought, as nearly all the others had gone, I’d try the warm end. Here the water was a balmy 5.6°C. Not that this made much difference. Once the float slid under, exactly when I was trying to get dead maggots out of a bag to embellish the hook. What are the odds? I kept the bread on the hook and with the light fading, the water boiled downwind of the float, which kept me interested right up to the end, even though the rain, steadily dampened hat, trews, rod-bag, rucksack and made my rod-hand pale blue. Nearly had one...
|One of those days when orange worked best||Wet, cold...|
29th January 2021. The First Floats...of 2021.
For no good reason I decided to add a few small quills to my already over-full float tubes. This was in part due to the use one such short quill got at the expense of many others and in part due to the difficulty of finding ‘said quill. So I made some 4” and 5” crow-quills, based on primary wing-feathers gleaned from a field of wheat-stubble several years back, then stripped and stored in a 'Laphroaig' whisky tube.
These are perhaps 3mm at the tip, so carry little weight. Their main use will be for margin fishing, letting me know if a fish has taken the bait and run away. For this purpose, that is for larger baits and shy biting fish (a shy bite being one which is inhibited by resistance) they are ideal. They also have a buoyancy that is rather better than the cork-ball bobbers, these latter being fine floats but less effective in turbulent water.
The less causal reader will know that I often chose a windward swim in all but the coldest weather, i.e. when the air is colder than the water. As my blood thins with increasing years, I may yet give up suffering the cold for the sake of a few more fish. Still.
|Ruler, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill, quill.|
Four are 4”, two are 5” and the tips are translucent, created with orange and pink highlighters. The eyes are simple loops of 20lb ‘Alasticum’, the back banding on the tips is 6/0 black thread. Of course, the other advantage they have over cork-ball bobbers is that they are far prettier.
|medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...(and return to the top of the page)||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and one more time...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...got it?|
22nd February 2021. Treadmill. Short sentence. Perhaps time off for good behaviour? First offence Lord (Plank is God).
25th February 2021. Treadmill. Arriving on Monday I recognised the junction, although the new buildings were 'new'. Today, before the day’s work rose, I slotted my coffee into the DT'Driving Technology'’s cup-holder to cool, then took a stroll. Past the old stables, the keeper's cottage, down the road and around the corner was the building I recalled, the one with the big white dishes. Aha. A quick calculation, probably 1998. Funny how familiar places keep coming round.
28th February 2021. Pond. One.
I arrive early; it's a habit. I have no respect for those who habitually arrive barely on time (or late) in an attention grabbing flurry of self importance. The trick to being on time is setting out to be, then to have things one can do with the inevitable spare time resulting. Here, a walk around the site and look at the several dew-ponds is a good way to get one’s daily exercise. The relentless exhortations for us to be more active are dreamt up by those who, nine-to-five wedded, actually have jobs with security and can leave on time without censure. For the great majority this is not the case. Still, walking where it's feasible.
One of these ponds, actual dew ponds gathering water from the slope, has added goldfish and a common carp of about 6lb which mooches clockwise around the perimeter. Today it's cloudy, there's a fresh breeze and after strolling I lean on the DT, pour coffee and position the cup so I can breathe the scent and write this. Tomorrow I'll be early again, and walking weather failing as was Jeeves’ wont, I'll maybe read an improving book. (Note: pack an improving book).
|'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'|
9th March 2021. The Treadmill Pond. There is a small dew-pond behind the lab, there are a couple more about the place as well. This one has a few goldfish, but also five nice common carp, three of which were sunbathing at lunchtime.
|Carp enjoying the sun.|
10th March 2021. Hemp Saga. Three entire sacks of hemp. Sack one, provenance forgotten, simply didn’t split very well although I persisted with it and crushed/liquidised the cooked grains to add to the mix. After a year I gave up and bought sack two. This was worse. I very gently suggested to the vendor I’d not buy it again, although it was hardly his fault, because only about 20% of the grains split, whatever I did with it. Soaked, boiled etc.. He decently and swiftly replaced it with another vendor’s. This was no better, and although he assured me he wasn’t out of pocket, I didn’t really want to dampen his enthusiasm for ‘above and beyond’ customer service, so I cooked/crushed/liquidised for a period. This year, tired of this, I bought a well known make’s hempseed ‘especially for fishing’, something I’d hitherto thought priced for reassuring expense. Put a pint in a flask, un-soaked, boiling water for five minutes, drained it, refilled using a fresh kettle and left overnight. Result; beautifully split shiny black hempseed, 70-80% split. Perfect. Smelled lovely. Ah well, gotta pay more I guess.
|Hempseed. Carp for the attraction of.|
13th March 2021. The Saxon Ponds
This was well meant but possibly ill-conceived. I took some maggots and hemp to the top pond, thinking it might have warmed enough. In this I was incorrect. On arriving the air was a balmy 8°C, the water on the south bank the same. I tackled up, hope over expectation. The wind swung around and the temperature dropped to 4°C and my core temperature, addled by a vaccination, followed suit. To warm up, I went around taking the temperature of the water and nowhere was as warm as my spot on the south bank which is odd, but notable. I dug in for three hours and although the sun came out aperiodically, it was for the most part cloudy with thin needling showers, several of which, being ice, rattled through the dogwoods and pattered off my coat. Hm. After three hours, I’d had enough, too cold to enjoy even the thinnest chance of sport. I packed up.
|When the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite nice||The bait of the day. I used a little loose hemp as well.||The float of the day.|
|When the clouds cleared out the way it looked quite nice||The back end of the four-piece and the Cardinal 44x||I was forced to improvise a rod-rest. I say 'forced'...|
|The Saxon Ponds' inlet stream||The Saxon Ponds' inlet stream|
The last two shots are of the feeder stream the head of the pond, in principle a silt trap, although currently it has 5½ feet of silt in it.
19th March 2021. Mappowder
I wanted to fish for bites, but lacking the resolve to try a ‘commercial’ or possibly the resolve to drive that far, I head here and circle Spring Lake once (pocketing a surface controller, odd for a venue where surface baits are banned) then decide I like the look of the reedy corner. Although the water is only two feet deep I keep it simple, cockles over hemp, and await events. A couple of events start nudging the reeds opposite, so I pluck off the tell-tale, pinch flake onto the hook and coiling line on the unhooking mat, lob it to the reeds. The float barely cocks...so not a blank. I return to the hemp-bed, two more carp come along, but with more float movements than I could exchange for fish, I drop both the hook-link and the hook-size to ‘tiny’, evict the robin I’d invited to wallow in my maggot box, then fish out a rudd and a gudgeon. I decide to fish for gudgeon.
|The pitch||Fishing for bites||Fishing for bites|
The afternoon trots along pleasantly enough, it seemed as if each time the sun broke through a skylark sang in the field next door, a trick, it was there all the time, and a woodpecker did its thing on some distant hollow bough. Properly bucolic. Despite adding a no.4 half-an-inch from the hook, to zip past the rudd and get the bait down with the gonks, I run out with 18 nuisance rudd, 3 nuisance roach, 3 nuisance perch, 1 nuisance bream, 1 nuisance roach-bream hybrid of about 2lb, 5 nuisance carp and 12 gudgeon. Heh.
|The blank breaking carp||The cork-ball special||The surprisingly unexploded robin|
|Representative perch||The roach-bream hybrid||Representative rudd|
|Gudgeon||Gonk, a very fat gonk.||Gobby||gobio gobio||Gudgeon|
|Gonk||Gobby||gobio gobio||Gudgeon||Gonk||gobio gobio (that's 11, one escaped while being photographed...)|
I start to pack, poke a goose that’d detected a ‘packing up food source’, put the maggot box a few feet away and robin waded back in. A solid rise by the reeds incentivised me to change the hook, add a pinch of flake and lob it over as before and I whip out a couple more small carp for the fun of it. I tip the casters and the few remaining maggots onto the path, poke the geese again, left the robin to eat itself silly and head off to the strains of "Rappalachia".
|Late afternoon. Evenings are starting to draw out now.|
23rd March 2021. Word-of-the-Day: 'ilunga'.
ilunga n. A Bantu word meaning 'a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time'.
I just love that any culture at all has a word for that.
30th March 2021. The Saxon Ponds. The plan was to try and catch something (anything) at the tail end of the season. Pete had tried manfully, if not fruitfully, to catch from the lower pond, something he'd abandoned in favour of lunch by the time I pootle up. There is little evidence of fish in the lower pond and it is too weedy to net, so it looks as if opening the sluice and catching the fish en passant might be the only option. Hm. We talk of this and that; at least 'lockdown' has eased so we might have an actual work-party, as opposed to 'work-pairs'.
Pete opts to have another go and I opt for the sun on the South bank, a triumph of optimism and warm weather over common sense. Maggots, hemp-seed, a size 16 and a mere 10mm of thin cane peeking from the surface tension; I had expected it to be slow. It is...
...although I recover from my own idée fixe in time to tweak the hook into a roach which obligingly nips of with two red maggots. Aha. Honour satisfied I take stock of the surroundings and a few pictures, and in this way miss a bite that results in a solid nick. This feels larger but one cannot know for sure...
...after some time passes I change the maggots for a pinch of bread. Sensibly (I know...) I hold the rod, and as a result, the sudden subsidence of the tip didn't catch me unaware, well not completely; something solid beetles about in a manner that might have been awkward in the summers' lilies, but today is a pleasing minor inconvenience. A crucian, a surprise, but no less welcome for that...
|Pretty, even with the ropes||The answer to the question, ''How good is my new camera's zoom?'' is ''Pretty good.''||Ah go on...|
...I was still clutching said rod when Pete arrived at 4pm-ish, and he having met with the same success as in his pre-prandial session opted, in view of the evidence, to fish a little along the bank. Thus we both spend the next 90 minutes catching nothing at the same time...interrupted by the stockman arriving to return some errant sheep from the yard back into the meadow...the sun shines, things buzz pleasantly by, startled awake bumblebees mooch about and a convention of toads in the left-hand reed bed generate fish-like ripples and a continual series of convivial 'quark-quark' sounds. In our favour insects are hatching, occasional bursts of 4-5 emergers which hint at the warming water (9.4°C) and lengthening days, all of which suggests fish are well advised to be abroad.
Sometime around 6ish, Pete starts 'last casts' and my float tip starts on a long series of tiny movements which results in several optimistic strikes and exactly no fish. Naturally, as Pete's valedictory car clears the gate, my float zips under. Naturally I miss. The next hour is punctuated by a roach that took the bait 'on the drop', a crow chasing a squirrel with predatory intent (the crow finally foxed when the quarry ran vertically down an ivy'd oak-trunk) and a series of bites that barely qualified as such. Rum.
|Because it's perfect||The ephemera of the slow day||Roaches|
The distant church bells announce '7', I nick off another roach, then a second, then catch two in quick succession, which is why after the next strike when the rod yanks hard around, I realise my fingers had stiffened with cold. The cause gallops off under the left-hand ropes and then, chastened by the warming effect of the reel-rim on my thumb, decides it prefers the dogwood branches, obliging me to stand and move hard right. Ms. Tench now zips off the other way. This repeats for a few diminishing cycles, and so I net a fine lean tench. Heh.
Now nearing half-light and the air smells of the damp descending the little valley, so I commence last casts and land a nice roach, an actual 'netter', then 'call it' when the first bat swerves to investigate my mid-cast float. Chilly by now, my fingers could do with loosening somewhat to tackle down.
|The lone crucian, 1lb 14oz. For a moment I thought I'd caught my third 1lb 15oz'er||The 4lb destroyer of swims - somewhat hampered in its efforts by there being no lily patches to bolt into.|
I've had worst days mid-summer. I put on some 'Good Times Bad Times' and, dodging a barn owl at the bottom of Donhead Hollow, pootle back.
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
1st April 2021. Packhorse. I have maggots to use up and it’s warm. In the sun it was warm, in the wind it was not, so I nipped back to the DT'Driving Technology' for the beanie. The thermometer in the water started at 11°C and is now 11.3°C, the float has flicked once, and there are signs of 'drive bys' sudden calms, odd large ripples radiating out against the chop and carp have rolled. At this point I was optimistic, but the carp faded, the float never moved and in the last hour of three I added maggots and bread to a size 10, a search for data, and neither was marked despite the water reaching 11.7°C (with some strange sudden vacillations of 0.5°C).
|Spring stuff||Spring stuff||Margin fishing|
I decamp for the corner, on the basis that it will be warmer and sinking flake against the reeds often does well at dusk. Here the water is 12.2°C and although initially optimistic, this too stretches into a dull tan experience, the float never moving, so I muse on the excellent “Immoderate Greatness” and resolve to write something about it. Another angler comes by and we talk of mullet in Weymouth harbour, of eels and of various lakes about the place. Because of this chat, covering bait, water temperature and DO'Dissolved Oxygen', I realize I’ve fished Widgeon twice but only recorded it once, so have to fix that now.
The fisherman over the lake packs up and after a while I realise it's taken him 45 minutes. Immediately he (finally) departs a pair of magpies descend on his pitch driving off a pair of loitering black-headed gulls, then pick off the scattered bait on the bank.
|One of the new floats||One of the new floats||There was a pair, but they brought me no joy of fishes; I shall file a complaint.|
I decide to pack when the water and air temperature converge; there's still hope and I'm enjoying the fishing. In the end I packed (in 4-5 minutes) and left ahead of this convergence, before last-light and after the third time the carpistas from the other side walk behind me to ground-bait ‘their’ swims on this bank.
It occurs, as I walk myself warm, that in my mind this is a reliable fishery for getting one’s string pulled, but recent forays do not bear this out at all. Blasted data getting in the way of ‘knowing’ there...dammit I miss Arfleet...
4th April 2021. Swallows. Sure, one doesn't make a summer, or even two, but they were back perched on the wires this morning, and now flying in and out of the garage.
11th April 2021. Holtwood Pools. Tench and crucian.
I arrived as a squall dumped wrinkled bolts of ice everywhere, as if 10p sized pieces of ice had been scraped from a giant wind-screen then swept onto the ground. Huh. The sun threatened and eventually chiselled through, but I tackled up with ice bouncing of my fingers and eliciting soft metallic noises from the reel. Sparingly baiting a small patch by some marginally dead weeds, I was slightly surprised by small perch and roach, perhaps a little more by the first tench – the water was 9°C and quite clear, if dark. The next 90 minutes brought tenches, roaches and a few more swivel-eyed small perch. Quite cold though so I strolled to the car and back to warm the blood. After I returned the sun beamed solidly for the next two hours, the water hit 10°C and even a crucian appeared. After this balmy period, when the bank was a fine warm place to sit, the evening stole the heat, more tench came along although the average size dropped as dusk approached, which is interesting.
|The pitch||Across the pond, where spring is happening right this instant||There's always one. In fact, 'five'.|
|The finest tench||The sole crucian|
|Four of the best||Just a really nice colour||Nine of the best|
Slightly ahead of sunset and chilly again, I gave in and looking into the sun, headed west. As I crossed the Roman Road (well, one of them) a hare loped along in front of me for 50 yards, not especially rushed at 30mph. I like that.
Kinda feel that I missed out on the crucians and that I might have set the float more carefully to that end. Next time.
12th April 2021. Dearie Dearie Me.
I was perusing the new-fangled DTV's program schedules and came across a programme description which included the question; "Plus, is the human-wolf hybrid spreading across the US?"
No. It is not.
*shakes head despairingly*
15th April 2021. Holtwood. Tenches. A bad day for ducklings.
I descended on Millers thinking ‘tench’, but it was flat. Although the water was warmer (10.4°C) than 'Shambles' a few days ago, it produced only two tiny nudges and a 3lb tench to a piece of flake. The other excitement came from an aggressive gander who ambushed a mother-duck with 12 ducklings. Despite the mother’s best efforts - twice she snatched a duckling from the gander’s beak - it split the brood and picked one off, shaking and drowning it. At least this gave the remainder time to re-group on the corner-bank, whereupon a sparrowhawk neatly paraglided through the trees and took another, heading down the pond with its quarry. Not easy being a duckling.
|Float the first||Waiting...with the 'tuna reel'||Float the second - the light changed and I needed the hollow tip to see anything at all|
At 6pm or so, I ‘called it’ and headed for 'Shambles' on the basis I might as well try a different spot for the last two hours. This, despite sticking to my 7lb trace (the last of my 7lb carp silk – I note that all hook-link braids of <10lb b/s have vanished from the market) although I’d dropped from a size 8 (for cockles) to a size 12. I swapped the 4" quill for a tiny porcupine float, perhaps ¼" of orange on the tip and an old copper eyelet I'd simply varnished over. Sometimes that's exactly the right float. Despite the otherwise dredger-like gear, I caught tench steadily for the best part of two hours and the pick is below, including, last gasp, this little gold tinca. Cute. Here's a few of them:
|The only tench from 'Millers'||Just one of the nicer looking ones||The golden tench|
Quite nice to fish with the original Four Piece Avon; even with the little tench it was ‘soft enough’. Must use it a bit more often.
17th April 2021. A Tenner.
|There are no flies on m- ...oh, wait...||One day I may actually use them. Probably.||Bonus points to anyone who can name any of them.|
23rd April 2021. Wedgehill. One.
To the Upper Pond with just a rod, reel and some breads; I fancy the far corner simply because it looks the part and I wasn’t convinced by the sunny side. The wind, shredded by the trees, keeps the float moving; during one of the lulls I was thinking “...that’s funny those lilies are moving..” when the float vanishes like a punched panel pin.
|The first pitch||The wind, shredded by the trees, keeps the float moving...|
I untangle the 12lb braid from the budding alder on the right and re-cast. After the right amount of time, the float slips under again and while I untangle the 12lb braid from the budding alder I consider whether I’m a little rusty. I fish on for another 30 minutes then abruptly this feels like the wrong place. I head back around the sunny side for a ponder. Three carp were loitering, good ones. Aha.
|I slip quietly behind a small birch and a clump of dry grass and fish about three feet out.||Almost got a much better picture of this combative wren.|
I slip quietly behind a small birch and a clump of dry grass and fish about three feet out. Because it’s a good idea, I scatter a few crusts right in the margin and after ‘some time’ one is mouthed by a decent fish, although perhaps not the largest on show. Two of the carp have now taken up station towards the hazel on the left, looking just as if they are sun-bathing. A crust on the right margin vanishes in a dark swirl. Aha. I stealthily retrieve, pick off the ‘tell-tale’ and dangle a couple of squares of white crust over a handy clump of soft rush, resting the rod on my toes. I had to wait a longish while, nerves jingling a bit as carp mosey about. A dark shape rounds the soft-rush clump, edges up the bait, nudges it experimentally, then reverses, gently pulling it down, then decides all is well; a few flecks of white swirl in the water and I lift the rod sharply...
...a few self-respecting lunges gradually lengthen into some quite long runs with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment doing a very good job – certainly still had something in reserve, which was not needed today - and fish gave a decent account of itself. The hook was very firmly embedded, not for the first time when using this rod.
|A very fine common carp. That'll do.|
This did for the swim, so I wander back up the bank to find a pod sunbathing in the corner. I sit behind a tree, curve a crust over and a fish inspects it, approaching from underneath, mouths the bait carefully once, twice, then reverses quietly away. Interesting.
I decamp again, decide on a sun-bathed dam-end lily-gap where fish are moving; I pop the tell-tale back on, sit on the unhooking mat and flick a few pills of wholemeal into the swim. Barely ten minutes have passed when I look behind at some small-furry-thing rustle and a tiny tug on my finger suggests looking back; the float had moved five feet and as I watch a carp bolts through the lilies, its alarm taking the others in its wake. I sit in the sun for another hour, just very pleasant, and although a few carp go back and forth, that is my lot.
On the way back to the DT'Driving Technology' I pass the middle pond, with anglers ranged along the leeward bank, and amusingly 'all the pond's carp' are fanned out on the opposite and sunny side of the island, taking no notice. Heh.
|'All the pond's carp' - out of shot were more than twice this number.|
There are dragons yet...
27th April 2021. Pond. One.
The plan for long term is to arrive early and get a twenty minute constitutional in before sipping a small strong black reviver. This has the double usefulness of missing the worst of the school-run pantechnicons and decompressing my crumbling infrastructure. Today, by way of a change, I circle out to the entrance where there is a fine white-painted wrought-iron gate, guarding an older long overgrown entrance, then back along the drive and around to the pond...
It's a fine pond, held in place on the slope by a long-standing bank and probably filled from one of several springs on this slope; I suspect a perched aquifer or the like. The water at the reedy end trembles and I watch for a while, slip around to the other end, disturb a dark bolt from right under the bank and at the next gap pick out a large ghost. There is no likelihood of fishing here, although it's nearly perfect looking. I head back up the slope through an old wide knotted hedge that forms a dark tunnel over mysterious looking stone steps with something classical at the top.
|Pond from one end||The Pond from the other end||...that forms a dark tunnel over mysterious looking stone steps...|
Pretty though, you have to admit.
28th April 2021. Circle. This wonderful feature is on a 1940 OS map, but I can't find it on earlier maps. It seems to filter sound quite well, once inside the circle there is certainly a muting of the M27's endless rumble. This might be a ‘wavelength of low frequency sound’ thing (for a three-foot gap between the tress, there could well be attenuation of all frequencies under 300Hz). Or not. Still. It's cool.
|The tree circle from the outside|
|The tree circle from the inside|
29th April 2021. The Secret Carp. (Again).
I finished it (for the third time) this evening. Tucked between pages 136 & 137 was a business card of the employer of the moment, dating my last foray through the precise reasons some of us fish at all to around 2011 at the latest. A decade.
For this angler, many of its views and observations sound deep although I’m fully unable to say whether my views are my own entirely or formed in part by previous readings. It matters not. I, although without the author’s fine angling pedigree, fish for many of the same reasons and I’ll keep doing it. Probably without the built-cane though.
As I write this, a good friend emails news of a thirty pound carp caught the proper way, fishing from a punt in a lily'd pond, hair-less and 'boilie' free. Still can be done. I didn’t need this excellent news to put my carp head on; I already have fresh hooks fanned out on my desk and the HSSRE is leaning in its bag ready for an evening diversion from a westward-bound return from the treadmill.
|A carp loitering on the sunny side.|
I may even use three grains of sweetcorn on a size 8.
30th April 2021. Tomkins Pool, which luckily for me is on the way home.
So; I’d planned to fish the swim in the NE corner, because I like the look of it. On the way around I spotted a large pike, its back end poking out from a layer of flotsam; as I watched from the sluice’s timber bridge, it reversed slowly out revealing an unfortunate bream crossways in the maw, its tail flapping weakly. A rare sight, so I gently lowered the mat/rod/net and reached for my camera...but EL pottered off. Huh.
A swan was nesting on the narrow bank between the pools, it being asleep I slipped past on soft feet, abandoned the intended swim that was rather too near to this nest for a peaceful evening and took the second pitch on the east bank. There the water was a fathom, so I scattered loose hemp, a few grains of corn and laid a size 8 trap over the top...
...I could stop here – a carp rolled under the tree an hour later, another towards the middle a little afterwards then as the light faded a tench rolled at the front of the pitch, briefly raising expectations. The first bat careered past at about 8:45 and a little later it was nearly too dark to see and by this time I was glad of the thermal trews and the espresso flask pressed into service as a ’tea-flask’.
|The pitch and the HSSRE. I started with 12lb line, thought 14lb was better but had to go get it from the DT.||The inevitable float picture...||The view from here.|
Mid-evening the field mice and bank voles relaxed enough to scamper and dart, so I laid out their yellow supper; a field mouse ate three nibs and presumably went off to sleep somewhere. Another one, curious under the net, trapped itself and poinged up and down in panic until I gently lifted the net; a bank vole almost burrowed under the grass to get to its supper, scotching photo opportunities.
|The well fed field mouse, in the process of becoming well fed.||The remains of the day.||...when this float is hard to see at two yards, it might be supper-time.|
I unclipped the float and tell-tale, threaded the hook back through the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment's rings, wound the hook-link around the spool, popped the hook over the bail, tightened the line and stowed the '66x carefully in the bag for the next time. No fish today, they’re few in this pool, but I like it here.
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float||Another proper float||Another proper float|
4th May 2021. Happy 'Star Wars Day'.
6th May 2021. Spring. Back.
It’s funny – this place, amongst the trees, has the same feel. The dark soil is pocked with chert-pebbles, the leaf mould, the ferns and the trees are the same - as the crow flies this is barely three miles from Old Bob’s place; the geology is the same, the flora is the same, the familiar smell of ferns mixed with green-oaks, bird-songs have a familiar cadence, same filters maybe. It’s...strange, oddly evocative, could easily be before breakfast in the woods at the top of the long-garden.
7th May 2021. Crowe Pool. The traffic was appalling and it took 40 minutes to get to the freeway and just over an hour to get here. I circled Tomkins at a clip, clearly a bust, gin-clear, last weeks pitch was a patch of clear gravel and this week I could count the stones. I checked the sluice end of Crowe, a few roach, a wobble on the surface and last week’s pike midway down, or I'll eat my hat. Corner swim then. It's probably a bust, I know it, but as it’s taken an hour to get here I'll lay a trap as the setting sun brings the odd wanderer around into this thicket of branches. Sun's out, if setting, the birds are singing for spring, all in all I'll take it. Plus there are bank voles. I slip 'mostly cockles' onto the hook. Sunset is at 8:38. I wait...
The sun went down, small fish primed, once a gold-tinged fish flickered by the float, a heavy fish swirled in the reflected sunset; weighty ripples emerged from the thickets across the pitch once, twice. The first bats flickered about and a large fish, the dorsal more tench than carp, rolled under the far bank. I laid out corn for the bank voles and two sat companionably side-by-side eating a grain each until they'd faded to grey blobs in the grass.
|Sun's out, if setting, the birds are singing for spring, all in all I'll take it.||That duck has the right idea.||...a heavy fish swirled in the reflected sunset;|
Night-works on the way home, the detour took another quarter-hour from my span. There are days when the auspices are unmatched and the stars align with a near audible snap. Today wasn't one of them.
14th May 2021. Wainsford. I managed to thread through the various lanes and turns between the main road and the lake, not an immediately obvious route...the lake looked perfect so I nabbed a dam swim, opting to take the B&WThe Bruce & Walker Mk.IV 'G' s/u and a Harlow, along with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment – the idea was to fish for bites until dusk and then try for a carp. Despite a perfectly pleasant evening, not a single carp showed (excepting those carp rolling in the reeds far down the lake) and my fishing for bites rig was set too coarse – even a size 12 missed bites; the B&W s/uThe Bruce & Walker Mk.IV 'G' s/u is a fine rod but overly stout for less than 8lb line and I completely forgot about the 'lazy pole' rig tucked into the bottom of my bag...
Nevertheless, I nabbed a perch, a couple of rudd, a roach, a bream and a snig. So 'not a blank'. At sunset I put up the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, tied on an overly manly size 8 and despite decoy crusts, some of which were nabbed by a bold rat, no carp came and when the float was lost in the gloom I dismantled the old glass carp rod, put a crust on the size 8 and fished it until it was invisible...
|...and relax...||The float and the evening hatch||Most of 'the bag'.|
All very pleasant, an evening of sublime flow state. Next time I'll bring the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and 6lb line...and catch a lot of small fish. Probably. The drive home was long and winding, a consequence of the night-works on the normal route, so 'Hello Meteor', so kinda enjoyed it.
|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 June 2021. Songline. It's a score of years since I last went to this industrial park. The M4 junction on the way always recalls an ATM traffic management IC ('RCMP'?), doubtless reviewing it for some 'important meeting'; the broad sweeping right-hand curve down towards Yate is pleasing and familiar. Coffee-stopped at Yate shopping centre, and if anyone is wondering where the 1970's are, they are holed up in this arcade's concrete brutalism.
Returning; past the 'Toll Gate', the scene of many fine cake-stops, then turned right onto a new road; that is, 'new to me', one never travelled, a small pleasure for a turnpike nomad, a road not so familiar even the potholes are memorised. With 'google streetview' a journey can now be travelled in advance; mimicking my own navigation sense, I pre-view junctions, new tracks instantly familiar.
I recently read a paper that evaluated the efficacy of Aboriginal 'Songlines' 1 as a memorisation technique, a 'method of loci' system more useful than the 'memory palace' - this latter I've found to be of limited use, requiring over-frequent refreshing, the practicality not living up to the hype. Songlines though, are explicit paths to implicit memories, small wonder they work so well. It's possibly an innate navigational skill makes them work so well for me - I've used 'journey-lines' to great effect for exams, but, and it's a big 'but' (I like big buts...), these too are temporary unless regularly re-traced and then, eventually, the data remains and the track fades. Hm.
Anyway, songlines are a fine way of encoding information that dovetails with our pre-historic evolution – it makes sense that we are good at such; to be able to find the place with the good food at the right time would have survival value. That it seems the best also makes sense, but as a colleague of mine said "How do you know there isn't a better method?", which begs the question, "What would that look like?"
I arrive at the Park'n'Ride, find the 'stroll across the field' is sufficiently inclined to need steps and damp enough to cake my shoes with clay...good exercise. Pizza with the grown-up Marmiteangler, top notch evening. Two espresso drive home.
1. Reser D, Simmons M, Johns E, Ghaly A, Quayle M, Dordevic AL, et al. (2021) Australian Aboriginal techniques for memorization: Translation into a medical and allied health education setting.
12th June 2021. Brew. A quick Saturday morning dibble, The Woodsman having the tea brewed as I arrived. Quite right too. There are fish about, carp and tench, it’s bright, sunny, hot, we found some shade and fished for a couple of hours, hoping one of the carp would pass by, which they did, but they didn’t tarry. One of them was large enough to set the pulses racing. We chewed fat then pottered off in different d.’s. I tried Tomkins for a while, a spell in well-down water in the day’s highest heat. Predictably carp-less I wondered back, put up a pike of a foot or so, re-chatted with TWStill 'The Woodsman' for a bit, he opting for a look-see at Spinnaker and I opting to stroll down to Edwards’ for the same, passing by a far larger pike, which reminded me of the soft roach lure and wire coiled in the bag’s depths...the walk down to the far pool was worthwhile as it happened. I’ll be back.
|The corner pitch and the two rods.||Flowers. Nature innit.|
|Crowe Pool||The HSSRE and the '66x, poised. Well 'resting' then.||Crowe Pool|
15th June 2021. 'The 16th' Eve. Coffee pot ready to go. Check. Just got back from 220 miles round trip in blistering heat. Tired. Eyes hurt. 4lb line on the 'pin. Check. Put float-stops and mini-link-swivel on 'said 4lb line and tied on a small sharp hook. Maggots kept fresh by rotated freezer packs still alive, or at least 'not dead'. Check. Currently doubting wisdom of 4am start...be lucky.
16th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Obviously.
The alarm clock hurt somewhat, frakking early, heat under the coffee pot, ate toast, not because I wanted it but because lunch was half a day away, then drove through thick mist, under 40mph, fog-lights and wipers. Strands of the same mist hung about the blue-grey pond, then there were roach, then perch and then crucians, one whomping but oddly subdued tench, then the sun was up. By "Pete's Rounds" I'd had a score or more or hand-sized cru's and a few larger ones.The aide memoire of the man himself recalled Pete's prong was broken yet, mending is now tomorrow's task.
|Strands of the same mist hung about the blue-grey pond...||...then the sun was up.|
There seemed to me to be a lack of wildlife – swallows seem sparse this year, the garage birds are absent, none grace the water today and I've yet to see a kingfisher or sparrowhawk today, although a woodpecker drummed further up the valley. Possibly the increased landscaping/human activity here has changed the dynamic.
|...one whomping but oddly subdued tench...||Just one of the prettier ones.||Highbacked 1lb 13oz|
|1lb-ish||longer but 'only' 1lb 10oz.||The path home...|
I fished on, drank more coffee, hooked a good tench, the hook-hold losing the battle to keep it out of the oddly reduced lily patch. Crucians arrived at regular intervals and as I hit the road and the sun hit the overhead, they were still biting. But enough; 'Tangerine Dream', a cup of tea, snatched back an hour of sacrificed sleep, planted some beans before the rains came and wondered if I'm perhaps too old for this stuff.*
Good fishing mind you.
* Just kidding. Of course I'm not. Ridiculous notion. *snorts derisively*
18th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds.
I picked a north bank swim, new-cut, as I liked the look of it but more critically, it provided shelter from the prevailing weather, a lot of which was wet and slanted. I picked up small cru’s steadily, a couple of roach, inevitable small perch, a porpoising tench, lost another which pulled the hook (grr...), took a large crucian, a few more small then opted, after another hook-pull - a large crucian - to change the hook up one size and fish some cockles.
The last two hours were slow, not slow enough to avoid losing another two large fish to hook-pulls and by then, fairly sure the portmanteau tip of the four-piece was not doing its job, I put the original tip back on; then lost another in the same way. I was becoming obsessive regarding the sharpness of the hook-point, so it wasn’t that.
WTFI am not entirely cognisant of the circumstances relevant to the current situation.?
|64oz right on the nose||Four of the best||1lb 10oz, where are those 2lb cru's?|
|The view across the pond - really awful job the camera did on this view, sawing off the light background with a blunt knife, it looks like.|
I decided to drink some tea and fish massive bunches of maggots on a small quill. This still caught small cru's. Annoying. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this tip was not setting the hook. I chatted with NR, who'd caught several tench but oddly no crucians and he‘d lost a few to hook pulls as well; so I'm now wondering if the lift method which works well for the most part, is not ideal for the larger cru’s with a larger bait. I pondered on the wisdom of a small quill, a 'BB', two inches over-depth and fresh cockles over pure hemp for next time.
Plus I'll do some test curve measurements on the portmanteau 4-piece. And I’ll fish either the GTI or the LHSRE instead. Probably.
20th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Phalanx*. I returned with the Harlow, new 6lb line, the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment, plain hemp, cockles, ‘SB3’** and whatever else was in the bait bucket. I was ‘loaded for tench’ and as luck would have it was a heavy sultry kind of evening that you'd consider to be perfect tench fishing weather...
|The swim...||...the path by the water...||...the first and least effective float...||...and the gear.|
...to my surprise, I then caught two perch and two small crucians on some fat fresh cockles. Hm. Still. On a whim I put on a piece of SB3. Then it got interesting...
Also; it turns out the LHSRE and the Harlow is a great tenching combo.
* This is my new collective noun for tench.
** It's not that secret, but it's a small pond and I'd prefer to educate the tench myself.
25th June 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Curate's Egg.*
|...on arrival...one of these evenings I'm going to fish from the dam|
Another sultry tench evening – but different to last week. A cool breeze kept the fish from feeding until 7:30 or so, then the swim went nuts with priming and bubbles, a weaker angler would have tied on a size 16 and cleaned up, but I stuck to my tench-plan... which was, possibly due to education and the frenzied activity of the hand-sized, only mildly successful; I had one fat tinca and a scare from Moby Dick, who briefly tailed-up near the float...but to compensate, the goddess of small ponds granted me two fine crucians among a clutch of smaller greedier fish, the last of which came at near-last light, the camera failing and I couldn’t be hedgehogged to set up the flash. The church clock struck ten, I counted the chimes. That’ll do.
|The small porcupine quill and the lilies||The small porcupine quill and the midges||...and a scare from Moby Dick...|
|Some small greedy crucians||The single tench||A compensatory crucian|
|The church clock then struck 10pm, I counted the chimes.||Blurry, but warm in the hand even this late in the evening.|
Packed the gear into the DT'Driving Technology' - a colleague recently observed that I didn't seem like the sort of person that drives this make of DT. Clearly, I need to work on my image. and realised I'd picked up the wrong Harlow. I thought casting was trickier this evening - it has 8lb line.
* In this instance the implication is that it was literally good for the most part.
|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 July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Home Turf.
An 'it’s been along week' session, and I opted for 'Jim’s Swim', which, targeting the tench with larger baits, yielded not a single bite in 90 minutes, then one; which I missed. As small cru’s abounded, I dropped a hook size, put on small bites, and caught a dozen crucians and a lone tench of perhaps 8oz. I switched back to large baits to wait for larger tenches and drank small cups of tea in the meantime. Despite the sultry overcast evening, some might say 'good for tenches', no other tenches came.
|Jim's Pitch||The quill and the ripples||The path back to the dam|
|One of thirteen||Minature tench|
A fine evening; I yard-and-barn packed with the sheep’s bleats in the background, so to ease back into real life I select “Animals’, skip forward to ‘Sheep’, somewhere near Compton Abbas this overruns into “Wish You Were Here”. Never did find out which one was ‘Pink’.
3rd July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Dam, Rod. So; I spent an hour on the damn'd dam wall, the wind blew the line into tangles around the ‘pin, the float never twitched and it dawned on me, slowly, that slumping on a wall is for younger bodies. I headed for the south bank which luckily had a chair.
|the dam pitch||Easy chair fishing pitch|
This was a different and more copiously loaded proverbial kettle – I used the tiniest porcupine quill, second-hand with a tip of perhaps a centimetre of faded orange and then rapt on the tiny lifts and dips of this, caught cru’s steadily and forgot all about why I’d actually come up this evening.*
|A pyrites of crucians||A pyrites of crucians||A pyrites of crucians|
Things slowed a little as the light fell, a wood wasp droned about, it got to the time when I could barely see the spike of the float and bats were swerving at my casts. Then a white spectre floated up the centre of the pond, veered right through the gap next' the pine, glanced over its shoulder, as if to check I was watching, then wheeled left up the meadow. All in complete silence but for the water shushing in the culvert under the dam. The spike stabbed into the black and I caught a fine roach; last cast then.
|A decent roach, perhaps 1lb.|
‘Hello Meteor’ for the road home.
* I'd re-modified (‘shortened’ as engineers would say ) the 'light tip' of the four piece Avon by removing 3", which made far more difference than one might expect; this brought the t/c up to something like 1lb 4oz. It's still a little soft in the tip, thinner carbon maybe, another inch off might not hurt, but is was a joy to fish with, but I'd like to get into a large tench or two to test it properly.
7th July 2021. It's Spinning Fast...
10th July 2021. Raining, Dammit.
11th July 2021. Still Raining. Dammit.
15th July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. The Prong Goes Home. The prong (the kind of multi-tined pitchfork usually seen outside a rouge scientist’s gothic laboratory, being brandished by an enraged villager carrying a flaming torch) had made a number of round-trips to The Ponds and it was good to hand it back, mended.
Fishing was a little slow to get moving, although Pete had several fish, including the pick of the evening’s cru’s, before I opened any kind of account. This is good fishing, though it seems that once the hand-sized fish arrive, the chance of a large crucian shrinks rapidly, as do the odds of a large tench – as previously noted, catching the tench requires fishing in such a way as to exclude small crucians – but I had a fine evening with a score of cru’s, one solid well-muscled 3lb+ tench, a perch and a small perfect roach.
|cru'||The usual pitch||cru'|
Moby Dick wandered up and down ‘as usual’, perch strikes are becoming a regular occurrence, Golden-Ringed Dragonflies darted about, all in all, just another fine evening’s sport. A privilege, that’s what it is.
|It landed there. So I snapped it and popped it back.||Not the finest picture of a fine tench|
Pete went on before dusk, I stayed until the church-bell pealed 10 and in the last half-hour the float never moved. Along the ridge the crescent moon kept pace with the DT'Driving Technology' and ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’, an illusion. But a good one.
|Cleverly, it has the wing on the paint side folded, otherwise it would be very visible (a Mottled Beauty I think).|
This is just a well camouflaged moth on the door-frame, kinda liked it.
17th July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Lastlight.
Saturday night, I felt the fever grow, had to fish, hot day ameliorated by a persistent north breeze, Martin and Martin's parasol occupied 'Land’s End', I opted for the perfectly pleasant shade of Jim’s Oak. The fish were feeding well, I bumped off a small tench on the pondweed, caught small cru’s steadily, lost a big tench when the hook, required to stop a headlong rush into the lilies, turned out to be lily-livered.
|The Pitch||Some Fishes||The Pitch|
I removed three crayfish (worrying trend), dropped a hook size and despite missing many bites, enjoyed myself. I worked through a small flask of tea, a water vole scrabbled through the reeds, I listened to something crunching through a crayfish supper; the light fell, Martin appeared valedictorially, I was blessed by a small tench – the fish were moving steadily further from the bank, I was casting at the end of the lilies by now - the owls were on call and response. When the 10 o’clock peal was imminent, a last cast and last bite brought one of the finer ones. Yep.
|Last Light||Last Crucian|
As I cleared the dam, the barn owl glid across, barely past the front of the bonnet, then another, in the middle of a red-eyed dream, crossed my path on the high road.
19th July 2021. I'm All Right, Jack. On a winding down whim today, I tried Hoe Lane. It cuts almost a mile of the annoying last leg to the treadmill, but is no quicker, being one of those lanes with ‘passing places’. Still. I’m glad I did it, Jack-in-the-Green is down there, sitting quietly under oaks and old hedges, and there are two red-brick houses with blue-slate roofs, something I like to see. As it happened, it was the last of these journeys due to monumentally ‘interesting’ commercial management, so I did it again on the way home. Motorways and powerlines, Jack’s still here. Heh.
20th July 2021. Not Raining. Dammit, I wish it would.
21st July 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Bullfinch.
A hot and sticky evening, the fish were capricious and my hopes for the tench, initially raised by a small one followed by a solid crucian, were then dashed by a pestilence of small crucians that toyed with the float and occasionally impaled themselves on the hook not meant for them.
|They were there, I was there...||The evening's pitch||A wood-pecker mounted an assault on the dying ash across the pond.|
The evening's highlight was a bull-finch that appeared from the bush a few feet away, nodded as if to say “Oh, hello.” then hopped unhurriedly back. A wood-pecker mounted an assault on the dying ash across the pond. Tench burbled through the swim at annoyingly frequent intervals; I went through every sort of bait in the bucket and by dusk had conceded it was a ‘fishing is good, catching is bad’ evening. One of those. I hooked pinches of white-sliced and batted for my average.
The moon rose through the ash, I lit the float-tip with a subtly collimated torch beam and somewhere between the fourth and fifth chime of ten, the tip winked out of sight and there was the last crucian.
|The moon rose through the ash...||...and there was the last crucian.|
24th July 2021.
"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering."~~ Freeman Dyson ~~
28th July 2021. Hot, Black and Strong. Coffee.
I've created a 'buymeacoffeeI promise to try and not spend it on another float.' thingy, so on the off-chance the three regular readers want to subsidise the hosting costs, they can now do so.
I'm still figuring out how it works and how to integrate this place with this site in a sensible way, so the odd button and such will appear as I work out an 'unobtrusive but easy to spot' way of doing stuff. In the meantime, both kingfishers at the top of the page link to the begging bowl, as does the fellow under this paragraph.
I'm not expecting to become super rich and retire. In my wildest dreams I might cover the cost of the site security certificate :-).
|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 August 2021. "Along Fisherman's Paths" by Mike Winters.
I've bought more fishing books than I've read; those not read through are 'recycled'. There is no need for regret on finding any book to be less than riveting, but it can feel a little heelish to take the same view on an auto-biographical fishing book, possibly because they have so much of the author amongst the pages. Sadly, success in one sphere of competence often correlates little with competence in any other.
Possibly this is because being even half-way good at angling is far more a function of desire than of talent. Never mind the modern names' works that could have been written by a drones – machine learning will soon be doing a far better job.
"Along Fisherman's Paths" is not one of those books by any stretch of the imagination.
The ThaneThe Thane of Sussex had suggested there was much to enjoy in "Along Fisherman's Paths", and he was entirely correct. While my desire to fish is a faint echo of the author's, I very much liked his atmospheric tales of margin fishing, monstrous carp, thick writhing eels and his enjoyment of small pools and streams. His great love of the Dorset Stour and the Hampshire Avon shines brightly through.
He is gently scathing about the needless, destructive knee-jerk introduction of carp 'just about everywhere' and the thoughtless uni-dimensional fishing that follows on and with its heels. I entirely agree with him and take some pleasure in knowing that at least one other angler has never used a boilie.
This book's great charm was undoubtedly helped by my familiarity with some waters he describes, that our margin fishing set-ups have much in common (I've carried plasticine for some time, though have a nagging irrational doubt about leaving it behind) and that his fishing bag's contents were surprisingly similar to my own, or more correctly, vice versa. I confess to preferring an old Intrepid 'Challenger' to his Elite, not that it is often used. And then there's the Mk.III...
This is a lovely book, it repaid attentive reading and I shall read it again. Meanwhile, I'm off to feed the bank voles (again) and I simply must bend the Mk.III this year.
2nd August 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Weed.
I spent a ‘happy’ smelly 90 odd minutes dragging weed from the lower pond in preparation for the great draining, a couple of crucians amongst the weed, no cray’s but a blister on my index finger and silt ground into the hands’ crevices.
This done, I parked in the usual swim and fished a few hours ‘for bites’ enjoying a sequence of plump hand sized cru’s. Pete came by and fed the other cru’s then left me to my porcupine quill and with the last hour approaching I decided a larger bait and hook for a chance of a tench was the right approach. So for an hour of daylight and half-an-hour of torch-lit float-tip, I caught exactly no tench.
|The pitch||The float and autumn lily|
4th August 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Weed Two.
So, more weed-pulling, this time four slow crucians, an unlucky crayfish and two growing piles of weed. If quietly watched, these crept with life. I’d changed the rake’s rope for a thicker one to avoid further hand denudation, with limited success. Pete arrived and we wedged open a board on the sluice, an exercise of Heath Robinson ingenuity, involving hooked withies and string. This done, a bit of fishing was only polite as I was there anyway.
‘Jim's Swim’ then, where I planned to fish large baits far off for tench or possibly, roach. Rob arrived, we spoke of crucians and the Wetland, then I left Rob to catch a cru. while I worked through a flask of much needed BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon tea; ironically, dragging wet soggy clumps of weed gives one a raging thirst.
|The pitch||The float||Even now, I see a woodie, work out the elevation and think 'supper time...'|
I caught ‘a’ crucian, a determined fish that engulfed a large piece of sea-food, then hooked a tench which lilied itself, leaving me attached to the fish via a turn-of-line around a pad stem, but out of reach of the landing net. I slackened off and re-tightened a few times to see if the stem would cut, then Rob was kind enough to bring a net with a longer handle, but his mere presence sufficed and the fish came away. In the net the hook was caught by a pectoral, I fancy it started fair-hooked, but landed, foul. Here it is anyway. Rob and I talked of the Wetlands then he went on.
|The gobby cru.||The foul'd tench|
I’d carelessly left the EMIT'Excessively Bright Illumination Technology'. The Overly Manly torch. on my desk, so the end of the light was the end of my fishing, this time at least.
6th August 2021. Marsh Farm. Tench Mire.
This is the most convenient (and possibly nearest) day-ticket water to the S.&H.’s digs. So I left early and took a rod. Harris Lake was free of match, and I like windward fishing, so parked and fished for a while. No bites came for a long hour, so I mused on a stroll. Immediately the float vanished. With one hand gathering tackle, this I missed...
|The first windward pitch||The barely adequate float for the conditons||The second windward pitch|
The wander, wonder and ponder didn’t help, the other end seemed devoid of fish, so I circled the whole place ending up in the next-door swim to the starting-block. The in-my-face wind, squally rain and sun alternated, and the next few hours dissolved into a pattern of grey, silver and deep blue. I missed a bite at some point, then hooked a thick tench an ounce over 4lb then with five minutes to go, missed a sitter.
|The pitch and the boots||The heavy for its length tench||...into a pattern of grey, silver and deep blue.|
So four bites, one fish. Slightly under par, but good. Guildford then.
12th August 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Double Dip. Pete and I took Semley bank pitches, mine between the willows and Pete in the last cut swim. For most of this season I’ve been fishing simply, eschewing my usual ‘sensitive lift’’ rigs and fine hook-links, but the fish appear to be learning and it’s August, so I set up today with a finer hook-link than usual and a cork-ball antennae float, all 2½” of which, bar the top ¼”, was submerged by the single no.8 shot placed a ¼” from the hook.
|The view from the gap between the trees||The float and the hatch||The decently sized tench|
We both nabbed fish steadily, and I had perhaps ten or so and a fighty tench of about 1lb, I suspect Pete caught rather more steadily than I and my sport tailed off, possibly a tench induced fright. It also rained steadily and in this way we discovered my swim was considerably better shelter than Pete’s. When Pete announced he’d had enough and headed off for lunch (and to dry out) I waited an hour, bite-less, then decided to give Pete’s pitch an hour then head off myself.
|Looking along the rod.||Neat view of the thin banded antennae|
|Even small tench are good||Took this one a moment or two to realise it was in the water||Just an amazing colour|
So it was I spent the next three hours catching a crucian every ten minutes or so, with a few small perch and a small tench thrown in (as it were). At 5 peals I realised I’d not eaten or drunk anything since about 7am - I hadn’t planned to stay out so long...so went on if not ‘faint with hunger’ certainly seriously considering vittles...just another fine few hours on the Upper Pond.
17th August 2021. Snake on the Glass.
Carp Avoidance Club, EGM. So convened, the TOSThane of Sussex arrived on time at 7am, I arrived with apologies for lateness, a heavy sleeping period, but left home before that time then stopped by Chichester for fuel, DT'Driving Technology'’s and the owner’s: coffee, Serrano ham and olive-rolls, cakes for the journée. Another half-an-hour lost behind a tractor that barely made 30mph, but getting there and the good-meet with The Thane was long overdue. After some pottering and what ho-ing, I settled onto a perfectly fine spot along the dam from himself, and just fished.
|Burton Mill Pond, at elevenses||Burton Mill Pond, at elevenses|
|The champagne-cork pike-float||One of the many many rudd||The result of the champagne-cork pike-float|
There were many rudd. Many many rudd. I caught enough to be restless about it and switched to a 1g (2½×BB) tungsten olivette to plummet the bait through the upper layer, which resulted in fewer rudd and a few larger. The other tormenter of the rudd, signaled by eruptions of gilt refugees, nudged me back to the car for the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and a rig-bin of wires and points. Probably took a quarter of an hour, then a frantic starburst accompanied the vanishing cork. Small pike are good sport and have the demeanor of a dog tricked into getting its lead and then finding no walkies forthcoming.
|A beetle I liked||Another of the larger rudd||The float in the glass||The actual grass snake|
The day cantered past, pleasantly cool, mostly overcast, a slight onshore breeze. People ambled along the road behind us, asking after the fishing and generally being civilised. The Thane took two very fine tench (which I much envied), ledgering on the edge of distant lilies, that looked exactly how an old pond tench should look. Deep bodied, solid, the colour of old polished brown leather. There were small bakewell tarts’s, a banana cake and others, hardly health food, but they seem apposite for fishing fare.
Late in the day there was a massive explosion of bubbles at the corner of the near rush-bed, I was tempted to a longer firmer rod for the possible carp, but was far too comfortable. A water-snake, having telegraphed its activity along the edge of the dam, glided past and back into the rushes on the far side of the Thane. Of the two hurried snaps, this was the best, although I had a fine view of it from a yard.
|Burton Mill Pond, the sunlit bullrushes||Burton Mill Pond, the far away hills|
A succession of murmurets circled, then diffused into in the distant sun-lit rush-beds, building a promise of a fine murmuration later on. As the evening drew in, I grew steadily more rapt on the float; then suddenly it was time to go. I don’t know where all of the very fine day went. We wended in our different directions, carp successfully avoided. Glorious venue.
Until the next committee meeting.
19th August 2021. The Saxon Ponds. The Rain fell mostly on the Angler. So the Thane donated some maggots and I needed to use them up (chestnut, one, old, roasting for the use of). I aim for early afternoon, plan to fish to end of day and Pete was just leaving as I turned up, he’d been feeding the fish...oh good, you don't want them too easy to catch...
...I popped into last week's Semly bank swim, it’s a nice spot, today suffused with the smell of the crushed water-mint. Although it was warm grey and overcast, usually good, the water had warmed and I scratched for several long hours, always a slow day when I start trying to photograph the wild-life. A sparrow-hawk took up station in the dying tree over the lake and was immediately harried away by a triptych of crows. Lots of hawker dragonflies droning about and a few blue damsel flies also, one settling on my rod for a while.
|One of the many blue damsel flies. They do look odd.||A mint beetle on the march||The mint and its flower, many bees around as well|
|The tip of the lift||The pitch|
For the last two hours it rained fine steady dreich and I got slowly dampened down. I managed a couple each of perch, roach and crucians and many tiny fiddly bites that I couldn’t hit, and I was just thinking to myself, “I’ve nearly had enough fun now” and the rain stopped at a little after 6 peals. And the fish woke up.
I nabbed a fish every ten minutes, the light lift rig doing its familiar dip-lift-fish thing. Along with a bunch of chubby 6-8oz crucians were several more perch and a small roach. At 8 peals, still quite sodden, I called it. It’s funny how quickly a good hour overshadows a poor preceding three. Still, Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You and home for a hot shower and some fresh French beans.
|One of the perches||One of the crucians||Another of the crucians|
21st August 2021. Of Esox & ObservationsYou'll never make a difference by being the same as everyone else: In his own words: "An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!"
A nice fishing and nature blog and well worth a look.
29th August 2021. The Saxon Ponds. It Stopped Right There.
|The pitch at midday||The tiny lifter, trembling...||The Manager|
|One landing net of fishes||Another landing net of fishes|
|A small perfect one||The pitch in the setting sun|
30th August 2021. Blackberries.
|It's that time of the year.|
|'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'|
6th September 2021. Ibsley. "Snake! Snake! Aah! Brrr! Gin!..." The plan was to fish the stream and then try for a carp on Edwards. The stream was low, but I nabbed a sensible number of small dace and chub, 'some minnows' plus one Jack-Russell aggressive bullhead from the stream-next-the-stream. I worked my way all the way down to the main river and it was hot, sticky, hard access. Waders and I’d have more than doubled the tally (next time...), but still nice to get the ‘pin running in a current. I whipped a few rudd out of Edwards' just for fun. On the way down I’d marked a shoal of handy chub in the stream-next-the-stream, so I sneaked back and dropped a pinch of flake in and the leader boldly snatched it. Heh.
River rod still assembled, curious, I wondered along Crowe, nabbed several fish from two different shoals to see if they were rudd or roach (roach), spotted two pike and three carp. Interesting.
|small stream change||The pitch and the net||The pitch and the rod|
South-end pitch, nearly shady, I inhaled two cups of much needed BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon tea and fed loose hemp and fished various sea-food items over the top. I caught 'some inevitable rudd'.
The sun eventually sank enough to stop hounding my senses, a slow wander of the float morphed into solid undulating resistance and I knew it to be eely. The sun eventually sank enough to stop hounding my senses, a slow wander of the float morphed into solid undulating resistance and I knew it to be eely. Tough though it was, the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment is tougher and in the end I was obliged (you know that thing about turning an eel upside down so they go quiet? It turns out they don’t want to do that...) to hold the line in one pair of forceps and tweak the hook out with the other, the braid rasping off teeth I was keen to avoid. The photo lacks context but it was the best part of a yard long and as thick as my wrist behind its head. Out-and-out predator. I reconsidered what I’d thought were pike-strikes on the rudd.
|The pitch and its float||Fine far off sky||Snake! Snake! Aah! Brrr! Gin!...|
I fished on, enjoying the cool shade of the low sun, there was a suicidal rudd or two, but no carps were seen or sensed. Had to leave before dark, early start. Nice Spot. I shall return.
10th September 2021. Word-of-the-Day: 'yut'.
yut v. To agree with a judgment on a single example, but to reject the broader sentiment, narrative or ideology it is used to support.
[cf. 'yes, but...']
From the continually interesting Everything Studies.
13th September 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Owls. Opted for the 'dug-out' pitch, then really scratched. The day was warm, nicely overcast and I optimistically thought that it might be a good tench day. In the end I snitched perhaps a dozen small perch, several small roach and four crucians. One of the cru's was a larger one (I think the bigger ones have lost weight), which was nice although it seemed sluggish, perhaps the oxygen levels are down? S. arrived a little after me and fished Jim's Swim for several hours for three missed bites. Despite being mid-September it's now fishing like mid-August.
|The busy bee. One of them, there were many.||The tip of iceberg||The underweight crucian; 1lb 10oz.|
Good fishing, nearly hard catching. I did see two tawny owls though - the bats were out, I had the collimator on the EMIT'Excessively Bright Illumination Technology'. The Overly Manly torch.* and said owls both flew down the middle of the pond, the nearer calling, then evanescing into the trees over the dam, the further veering into the dead ash on the opposite bank, then after a few minutes floating into a pine tree further up the bank. Naturally it was too dark to photograph either. Made my day.
* This has two settings: (1) burns out retinas at 100 paces and (2) hardly burns out retinas at all. This second setting, which can be maintained for over 20 hours, used in conjunction with a wide focus and a collimator made with black ‘duplon’, is perfect for illuminating a float-tip.
16th September 2021. 7am, mid-September mists, magnesium-flare sun, Hello Meteor's 'Dusk Aquarium', silver linings.
17th September 2021. Ibsley. Boldly, the Mighty Carp Hunter Set Forth. Smeary warm sun, 20°C, little corner swim, a channel in the reeds. Four feet deep, coloured, a jay is about somewhere behind, the breeze is just sussurating the reeds. I wait...
It took over an hour to get here, nose-to-tail wheels. I moor the sight-bob with most of a mini salami. Reeds & leaves sway, twitch and flicker from myriad rudd, there is a full flask of BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon tea and no other pressing business; my world is now the yard circle marked by the orange buoy.
Already a small smear of needle bubbles has my hand hovering like a western hero, collar up, hat brim down...but the moment passes...so I re-jig the rest and bait-bucket for fast-draw. A cup and 90 minutes slide past, along with very many southern migrant hawker and golden-ringed dragonflies, which clatter off reeds and hover in the sightline. I replace the meat with seafood...it's cooler, the sun's hid, the breeze a little fresher. Still feels a good night for it...
...then it’s just an orange stick, so pour a cup, get a rudd-rod and nab several rudd to hand-size. It turn out that 2BB was the magic plummet rate to sink the bait without interference...then there are bubbles...so back on the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment...the sort of bubbles that are not just bubbles...
|The pitch, a really carpy one.||Buoyed with optimism|
|...the sort of bubbles that are not just bubbles...||...so I re-jig the rest and bucket for fast-draw.||A redder finned rudd I've yet to see|
|Sky-shot||The moon and the evening star|
The last hour of light feels probable, reeds twitch, pads wobble, bubbles appear...twice, streaks of bubbles mark some predator’s lunge. Then it’s too dark to even guess when the float moves...so I pack to the autumnal skirl of geese overhead. At the gate the air smells of damp smouldering leaves, the bonfire of the equinox. Yeah, seems right.
27th September 2021. Word-of-the-Day: 'uhtceare'.
uhtceare a. An Old English word describing the experience of waking before dawn, then not being able to get back to sleep because you’re worrying about something.
[cf. The word is a joining (kenning?) of two words; 'uht' meaning 'the hour before sunrise' and 'ceare' meaning 'care or worry'.]
From the fascinating Wordfoolery.
29th September 2021. Narked.
|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.|
2nd October 2021. Philandering Angler by Arthur Applin.
It's a rain-drowned day, 5” fell this morning, one squall so hard that the fishes' barrel overflowed though the mesh cover and I feared, briefly, for its denizens. I had planned to take the strangely flexible powerful GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment to sop some bread, but this scratched I instead sanded the rod's rear corks then, over two cups of very black, finished this fine book, which H-- had recommended barely a week since.
Mr. Applin has a fine turn of phrase (a man with a blind dog on a string described as 'reversing the usual order of things', a vicar's chaste daughters described as 'so mature a vintage as to be quite unmarketable') and an obvious love of all nature's facets. His description of Hallsands, at the turn of the century while it was yet a working village, must be near-unique, in particular the perilous landing of the fishing boats lives long in the memory.
It does not need the help of BB's inimitable engravings, but they are welcome. One might infer the two met; the author certainly met Captain Parker, (p.69) who wrote another fine fishing book. Intriguing to note that Mr. Applin's advice on flies (p.59) echoes that of Mr. Walker's (DMAL p.76), or perhaps, given the former was published in 1948 and the latter in 1953, vice versa. Mr. Applin adds a stern injunction to carry all listed flies in multiple sizes. His fondness for '3X' gut had me looking up its modern equivalent (about 4lb b/s nylon).
The book leads the reader through a succession of (mostly) fishing tales and trips, dotted with lifelike portraits of those met along the way and with plentiful hints at an unconventional life for the times. I was drawn further in by knowing some of the places; I've walked through Hallsands, know the spot where he poached the King's perch (I've run around Virginia Water many times) and his tale's end is Brambridge on Kiln Lane, a place I walked with Old Bob (below stairs the 'Old Barge' was known as the 'Scratchin').
This is a fine, warm, well-written fire-light book, redolent with genial, informal and commonplace hospitality, if there ever was such. For those who fish to go fishing, it is a delightful read.
There are other books nestled in that curious between-the-wars dream-time, describing ember-lit village inns with fine ales, well-met hosts and sumptuous food. I'm fond of such books, although it seems to me the authors are often lettered, well-connected and one begins to consider if such hospitality was, for a well-to-do visitor, an invisible smoothing of the path in front of them. Better reads perhaps, for their otherworldly feel.
3rd October 2021. Todber Manor (I know).
Just to get outside, bend the rod and I've a free-pass here on a club ticket. 'Firs' was free, other lakes matched up. Cold wind, rain forecast, low expectations. There's a big hatch of crane flies. I tuck myself into this corner, screen out everything else, pretend I'm on some field-pond. Fishing crude, size 8, big pinch of flake, Harlow, 8lb, GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment; catch three small carp, an F1, then devolve to missing and nicking far more fish than I catch. After a couple of 'whoosh-dammit' hours, I re-set the hook one size smaller, plumb the depth accurately and fish on the tell-tail, strike as the float sinks and catch five on the bounce. Forgot that these places' fishes are very very skittish. I try corn, catch another, try two surfaced fished crane flies, nothing even looks at them or any of the others blown onto the water, even fished them as bait on the bottom, not a twitch. Huh. I'm picking them out of my ears every five minutes; it's almost as if the fish have forgotten what they normally eat.
The last hour approaches, I realise the place is deserted, damp from small hard squalls, shivering, fingers lost some feeling, but the fish start to rise and so I swap the float for a cork-ball, push it up the line, spend the last 90 minutes trying to gull stockies off the top – there's something they're interested in, perhaps the other angler's floating pellets (he's departed, was float-fishing under the far bank with some skill and thought 20lb of roach was worth more than 100lb of carp). I get a small one, then womp into a larger fish which comes right off, change the hook up one size and after a few lunges and swirls trick the one in the picture, seen better days. Twice I watch a crust near the bank sink downward and disappear as if by magic, not a fish to be seen...I then miss a double figure ghostie (twice) and as the light starts to thin out, nab a clean leather of about 8lb or so on sinking flake amongst floating pieces. Fun, especially on a 'pin; the fun is all in the ruse, if I could flick an 'unhook switch' after the trick, I would.
|...pretend I'm on some field-pond.||The inevitable float picture||...seen better days.|
Cold cold cold now. Home, GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment flexed. Get to Hammoon and realise that I should have packed the fly rod...and a pocket of mixers. Hm. A few miles further on I remember the GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment is a fly rod, so pack the fly reel perhaps...
10th October 2021. Barton's Court. You Can't Roll Cast a Dead Budgie.
Barton's Court. A drive-by pike-fly fishing trip. The plan was to walk around and try for a pike; I'd put the BlokeBloke XGnP 9' 10wt 4-Piece Fly Rod on the parcel-shelf, assembled a tippet and a couple of rude wire traces. Chickened out of checking the occupancy before buying a ticket, so just bought a ticket. The sky and water were clear, the light was amazing, the lake looked very good. The first problem; I'd accidentally tied the tippet at about 12ft. Muttering, I shortened it to 8ft. The second problem; I was casting as if offended by the lake itself. I essayed around the north bank, hardly catching any trees and reaching the west bank, sat on the edge to contemplate and cast. Almost at once, the penny dropped, as in endeavouring to avoid catching 'some nettles', I suddenly realised the rod wasn't 'working' until 20 feet of line was out – it's a #10 rod with a #9 line. Ahhh...*slaps head*
|Wonderful light||One of several dead budgies||Sunset over the maize|
...which explains why once the line was out, although the 'fly' pecked the water's surface on the forward, the last throw mostly sprung out as it should. This resolved, I cycled though three or four budgies and pondered how I might remove the crimped loop in the wire trace, thinking that perhaps an Albright might work for mono to plastic coated wire, although a 'snell' around the wire might work, then I think a stopper knot in the wire would help, then think doubling the wire would help and then I'm back to an Albright...
...the last carper's gone, I have the fine sunset-lit south bank to myself and spend the last half hour absorbed with casting, avoiding trees, retrieving...
|The remains of the day||Last light at Barton's Court|
Never had a take. Should have put up the #8/9 rod...the A4 is jammed, today it's a diversion for a section of motorway, so I thread back through the Kintbury's and Ball Hill's lanes to Tot Hill, then point the DT'Driving Technology''s nose south for the long lope home.
Pondering, match the rod and line (duh), keep the tippet to about 7ft for pike, it is not quite possible to roll-cast a pike-fly, I'd prefer to tie the tippet to the trace wire, need a WF10F line, and possibly a reel for that...more tackle.
11th October 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Blackberries and Perches.
Setting off was delayed by a 'phone call, the fishing by a chat on the dam. I took a circuit of the pond, gleaning 2lb of blackberries (whisky for the steeping of) then put on my lucky perch float and fished a lob just off the bottom. This, although appealing among the autumn sun-lit leaves, only twitched once or twice, the only full-on bite naturally occurring while I was pouring tea.
|...put on my lucky perch float...||The usual pitch, opposite the pine tree|
I switched to a thin crow-quill, a size 4 Gamatsu wormer, fished a lob-worm on the bottom, now and then baiting with a broken worm. This yielded two small perch, against the odds taking a bait the same length as themselves, then one pulled back hard and rolled into the net after an anxious moment or two. I knew they’d grown fat.
|gotta love 'em||30oz of annoyed perch||gotta love 'em|
I fished on, missed the odd bite, extracted several small perches, enjoying myself, nothing more fundamental than worm-fishing for perches. The light fell, the temperature dropped and I worked through my BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Ceylon tea. Nearly dusk and another wandering bite curled the end of the rod over and thumped the line and I got quite excited for a moment, although the result was ‘disappointingly olive’. But still, good.
|Not a perch. Which is fine.|
I put the OMT'Overly Manly Torch'. The Excessively Bright Illumination Technology.'s muted beam on the float tip (hollow-tipped quills illuminate nicely), a tawny owl slipped into the pine-tree opposite, called, answers came from Lower Pond's woods and up the valley. The owl then floated into the dam's corner-oak. I missed a bite, caught two more small ones, re-baited by torch-light, missed a slow lift-bite, so tangling the end-tackle around the rod. Awkward even in daylight, so I called it a day, packed up to a song of owls, 8°C, fingers tingling, feels like autumn.
16th October 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Perches.
|The left-hand path||Close enough...||The right-hand path|
|A representative perch||The nearly obligatory tench||Grey wagtail, there are a few up here this year|
18th October 2021. The Lower Itchen Fishery. Graylings.
|The Lower Itchen Fishery||The Lower Itchen Fishery||The Lower Itchen Fishery|
The rain got harder, I got wetter, the reel slowed by water in-between the spool and the backplate. Despite my water-trance, I started to edge off; I was gasping for the tea-flask left in the car, it felt like getting off my feet was a sound idea. It seemed further on the way back...I dropped my gear under the motorway bridge, trotted a pair of reds from the bridge to the sluice, thinking of the chub spotted on arrival. Third trot down the tip ducked and I hit something solid enough to make me think "Chub by Jove!"
It is long for a chub, square tailed, kype-jawed, it twists, lunges hard. It runs across the small pool several times, I nip over the rail, the line will not survive the concrete edge of the sluice. I can't see the 4lb link standing the salmon for long but I hold on and it simply ploughs upstream along the bottom through the streamer weed as if it was clear water. I wrestle it back, it does it again, the rod-tip bows as far as my courage and 4lb line permit and I dare to hope, saving the salmon being well over twice the width of my net...we yaw and buck around the pool a few more times, my heart now back up to speed, cold fingers banished. I fancy now the head is coming up...
...then the float flicks over my shoulder. Castor and fecking Pollux. I run through a few ungentlemanly words. The hook is still attached, open a shade, no more.
Dammit to heck.
I fetched the flask, dumped extraneous wet gear, ate a cherry bakewell or two, sat under the bridge and drank tea. I messaged N--, the rain was steady now. He arrived, I told him of the battle, he commiserated as only an angler can. We slipped below the sluice for a few more casts and first trot N-- had a roach of 1lb 10oz, superb. My float twitched twice, then we called it.
Hindsight - should have taken the backing off the ‘450 before putting the 'Fireline' on, it bedded in a little. I thought the maggots’ oats transferred from my hand was slowing the reel, but it was simply the viscosity of rain-water on the rim, dried off, it spun for 100 seconds. I ought to have used my own grayling floats and fished un-weighted line through the shallow runs. Float bands made from bait-pault elastic were cut by the braid on striking. Should have taken one rod, reel and a flask and left the rest of the gear in the car.
Really really good day. Next adventure then...
24th October 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Roaches.
|A slightly washed out crucian||The pitch, covered with flood debris||Silver|
|Grey still autumn day.||A very fine pond-roach, perhaps 16oz.||Representative perches and roaches.|
|The same grey still autumn day.||A fine old float||The seemingly obligatory single tench, 45oz.|
|A very fine pond-roach, perhaps 16oz.||Dusk on the Upper Pond|
|Autumn dusk sky|
30th October 2021. The Handle Repair of Sanity. It was time to fix the Four-Piece Avon's Handle Repair of InsanityI know, but it lasted five years. The corks cracked off earlier this year, pro tem I'd cut them away, added cork tape and heat-shrunk over it. Rough, but I'm loath to take my 'go-to' rod, used some 213 times to date, out of service.
I retrieved a nice real seat from the 'big box of fishing stuff' under the desk, cut away the repair, cut off another two inches of grubby cork, slit the reel seat, broke off the fore-grip, removed the fine pretty bobbin-wire whippings, the inertia to a full repair. Scraped off the detritus, VSSKVery Small Sharp Knife (Opinel No.5), then used pieces of glass paper, to square off the end of the old cork...explained half-way down this linked entry..
|The 'check winding' wire whipping...||...the spiral intermediate...||...and the spigot wire whipping.|
There. I wanted to move the real-seat back from its original position. This was a thought catalysed by the butt-end in a coat pocket a few weeks back and a chat about long trotting rods - my 15' GTI weighs in at 8oz. The four-piece is 9oz, probably as it's got extra material for its joints and because I'd over-corked the handle. I've long since revised any notion that a long handle that sticks out behind the elbow is in any way useful. For the four-piece (sorry) this meant re-siting the reel-seat some 3" nearer the butt-end and shortening the fore-grip.
I cut off the requisite length of cork handle and using cork tape to fill the gap, fitted it on the handle with a fast setting epoxy, 'clamping' it by winding thick cord down the blank to the end of the new cork to compress it against the old cork, then tied it off until it had set.
Twenty minutes later, removed said cord, built cork tape arbours for the reel-seat (screw fitting towards the top of the rod*) and fitted that with more fast-setting epoxy. Because I had to empty the dishwasher and hang out the washing this got 30 minutes. I filled the gap in the top of the reel-seat with hot glue, cut this off flush, used a cyanoacrylate glue to put four small square of glass paper on it and then used that to cut out an inset in the fore-grip corks. This done, I stripped off the glasspaper pieces and used more fast setting epoxy to fit the fore-grip. All done.
I added whippings to make the butt section look 'less black', three 1" ('dark purple'/'evergreen') against the cork, a 5" gap, a 1" dark purple whipping by the spigot. This finishes 2" from the first whipping on the second section. Yes, this is deliberate. It's a kind of ruler.
|Just because I like those colours||Just because I like those colours||The 4 Piece Avon handle, re-vamped.|
Top tips: clean the epoxy off the corks with a little nail varnish remover and kitchen roll - do this before it sets, use cling-film to protect corks and reel-seat from blobs of glue.
* This is the correct way. Three reasons: (1) the reel is always in the same position on the rod irrespective of the reel-foot's size (2) any pull on the line jams the reel-foot against the screw-fitting locking it and (3) holding the rod in the right hand does not tend to undo the screw fitting.
31st October 2021. By the Pricking of my Thumbs...*
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
"" ~~ ~~
*...Something wicked this way comes.
~ Macbeth, Act 4, Scene I
|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...|
5th November 2021.
5th November 2021. FLE Fishery. 'It was on the Way to the Station' *.
So I picked a winter-sun-lit corner, float-fished bread (one carp), missed one, spotted they were cruising just below the surface and spent a happy three hours catching them off-the-top with bread, 6lb line and a centre-pin. This was fun, but when the sun went in, takes ceased, so I nicked off the fine braid hook-link and takes resumed. Huh. Three hours later I really wanted 'not a carp', so I retired to the dark end and fished by the piles of the last peg, from the last but one peg. I was immediately parped. Ten minutes later the float twitched, bobbled and pottered off in a manner reminiscent of a perch lugging a worm. Said 4oz perch let go of the worm and dropped back into the water. Dammit, my only non-carp. I fished on, enjoying the familiar autumnal oaks and distant jays until the float was a memory.
|The cork-ball bobber. How green is that water? Not good.||A representative carp.||The quill that was so nearly a perch quill.|
Good test of the re-built Avon handle. I took the tackle to the car and shook the water from the landing net and the brass ferrule came apart. What looked like a piece of machined brass was in fact a brass tube with a soft-soldered threaded insert. Huh. Annoying, I like this short handle, made from the butt section of a 15' fly-rod. At least it didn't cost me a fish.
* I feel this should be said in the same way James Coburn said "I was aiming at the horse.".
8th November 2021. The Frome. Grayling. Singular.
|The opening straight - this is comfortably longer than 10× its width, suggesting this stretch at least was 'encouraged' into its position.||A nice lie. I ran the float right under the far bank several times. Not a twitch.||A nice pool, The near bank run is very deep and although I searched out near run and the shallows on the far side, I managed only a single trout by getting the float right under the far bank at the bottom of this stretch. The float can be seen suspended as I'd tucked the rod under my arm to take the picture.|
|Looks lovely, searched near and far not even a bite.||The only and diminutive grayling||Some trouts. These were snapped in the net, unhooked then immediately put back, held in the net until they swum off under their own steam.|
11th November 2021.
19th November 2021. Clump Hill Farm. Clump.
|The light and the water quite nicely sum this day up.||The light and the water quite nicely sum this day up.|
21st November 2021. The Saxon Ponds. Two Dozen Perches. Cold.
|Autumn leaves||The pitch, fringed with the same||The jigsaw-puzzle of insanity|
|The small pink float on the edge||The pitch's jetsam||The small pink float in the perch attracting waves|
|A representative perch.||Another representative perch.||A representative roach.|
|The Low winter Sunset|
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
1st December 2021. Ho. Ho. Ho.
Here, at JAA Towers, there is a unilateral ban on pre-December Christmas decorations. The punishments for transgression are swift, merciless and just.
6th December 2021. 'Carp' by James A. Gibbinson.
I bought a copy at the spring 2015 Redditch Tackle Fair, read it, wrote nothing down. I've just re-read it - quite why carp are on the brain during a December cold-snap I cannot say... this book, written in 1968 when carp fishing was new, is really very good. It covers that period when built-cane was giving way to glass-fibre and carp were starting to appear in and be discovered in waters other than those described by the CCC in the early '50s.
The book is evocative, thoughtful and carefully written. It compares types of rods and their relative merits for different styles of fishing, then discusses baits, end-tackle, long-range fishing, 'twitchers', cold and warm water fishing and much more. It's interesting to note that winter carping was fully developed for the author long before it seems 'accepted' in the mid '70's.
While I'd be the first to agree that methods and tackle have changed, improved for the most part, much of what the author sets out is still valid. There are many more carp around nowadays and catching them is easier than ever. Even so, their behaviours with respect to weather, water conditions and baits has changed little (excepting those waters where shop-baits are considered natural food by the fish and nervous feeding is ingrained).
This is a book that repays study (even note-taking), with a good share of carp-angling 'history' and it's instructive to compare its effective pragmatism with other more romantic carp writings about that period. If I'd heard of the author at the time, I'd have probably fished rather differently and more effectively.
Today there is still much for the orthodox angler to learn from and agree with, but as with other books re-read after a period, I cannot say whether my views were formed by my first reading or are my own.
Tricks of memory notwithstanding, I heartily recommend 'Carp' to my fellows.
13th December 2021. 'Ivan Marks on Match Fishing' by Ivan Marks and John Goodwin.
While re-reading 'Carp' I noted reference to and endorsement of this book, so ordered a copy at less-than-ruinous expense. It is worth stating that I am not, never have been and am very unlikely* to become a match angler. I am even less likely to fish a match, except possibly the odd crucian match 'to the death' with D.
This said, it's a great read. In the 1960's and 1970's Ivan Marks was a household name and was the last word in match-fishing both as an individual and as part of the great Leicester Angling Society teams of the age (for more background, 'google is your friend', and this is a nice video of Ivan fishing at Cuttle Mill). Everything in the book is beautifully explained and drawn and it is worth reading just for the explanations of the float-fishing techniques that made Mr. Marks' name. For myself, it's an enjoyable insight into the mentality of the man himself, especially his careful estimation of the odds for his performance, that took into account the venue, the draw, plus the actions, method and expertise of those drawn alongside him.
The exposition of tackle is excellent and sets out the rationale behind the almost exclusive use of fine lines with small hooks and how his float rod was matched to these. The common sense point is made that fine lines present a bait in the most natural way, not as many anthropomorphically think, 'thicker lines being more visible to fish'.
His attitude was refreshingly modest and humble, with the common decency to treat people politely and to be mindful that fame carries a responsibility to set an example and that fame is a product of fans; "...the top anglers have a duty to spectators in big matches because lots of them have come a long way in the hope of seeing their heroes do well." (p.204)
Also discussed is the huge amount of preparation that went into individual and team wins. Venues were checked out, practised on, information gathered, the whole team produced 'gozzers' (the preferred hook-baits), so that the hit-and-miss breeding process ensured everyone got some of the preferred hook-bait on the day, with casters, bread and worms the other main-stays. This sheer hard graft undermines any belief there is some 'magic formula' leading to success, unless extensive meticulous preparation is a 'magic formula'.
Lastly I note there is the strong endorsement to change something if not getting bites or are getting bites but not catching. Adjust, adjust, adjust. There is so much good advice in this book, even for the orthodox match-less angler, so take my advice and get a copy. You won't be sorry.
* Think in the order of 1 in 50 million. I did once fish a club Christmas match and I'll eat my floppy h. if it was a complete fluke when all the 'match types' drew pegs on the same pool, which coincidently had more fish in it. One wonders about the self-identity of those who really need to win a social and take the regular rods' money.
20th December 2021. Wedgehill. Reality. Check.
I read the news. That is, I read both sides and infer that if all parties report something it's probably true. I admit this approach is only practical if (a) there is time and (b) the internet. This can wear one down somewhat, so I went fishing instead and was pleased to see a jay scurry across the approach road. I don't believe in omens, but it's a good one even so. I choose the top pond as it's harder than most and as a result less frequented. I amble around to the SWSouth West corner to be out of the stiff chilling breeze and also because it's a nice tree-lined pitch with one of the several fading lily patches. I spend the next 90 minutes watching a grey wagtail balancing on lily-pads, the thin static cane and the complete lack of movement that might suggest fish-life, saving a small flash-of-rolled-gold carp under the north bank.
|Pitch the first||The float - odd that each pill of bait released bubbles which sat immobile in a surface film for some time.|
One of the advantages of travelling light is the ease of re-deployment. On a small pond, if it's not the SWSouth West corner then it's probably 'north-something' or 'nothing feeding', one of those. I slide diagonally across, the major disadvantage of which is the exposure to the breeze, barely 7°C, numbing even so. Unusually, I glove the rod hand, a windproof fleece affair, which has the top joints of the thumb and forefinger removed and hemmed over. While balancing the old carp rod on my toes, I fortify the inner angler with Inner Hebrides and blackberry-scented black tea...
...it's the right decision, the water moves sullenly by itself, tiny movements out of sync. with the wind, dying and sinking pads ring as their stems are gently struck. The float-tip sinks half-way. Stops. Returns. Slips quietly under. Wallowing fight, the old carp rod is good for this kind of thing, but I have to remove the glove with my teeth to control the reel. The fish is a little worn, but glows gold and I'm pleased to see it. I rummage, retrieve and work through some chocolate covered rice-cakes while re-baiting the swim with pills of bread*, resume fishing. A new red-fronted friend appears and runs through a repertoire of food-inducing behaviours; muted singing, plaintive looks, pecking wistfully at the ground, sitting on the rod then my arm...I feed it.
|The second pitch||The move-proofing carp||The well versed robin|
This passes an hour, the last half of which is marked by a larger carp rolling some 20 yards off, then by the same water-movements and tics as before. The nearest pad pulses, becoming the centre of a set of widening rings. The float twitches once, centre of its own ring, and then gently founders (but I was already ready). This fish is more obdurate, it twists and turns, each time the line twangs off the fish I think the hook will come away...
...but I win, the hook is firmly home. A luminous fine looking fish. Heh.
|The last enchantment|
Feet are numb, hands are stiff, so with the near-longest night nearing, I slip to the bottom of the middle pond, nip off the tell-tale and make a long cast with three big pinches of flake, then work through the rest of autumn-tea.
* Winter carp are still suckers for bread-flake and evaporated milk.
22nd December 2021. The Old Carp Rod Tweak.
Using it recently, it seemed to me that there are too many rings on the tip-section and the last two size 8's are too small...currently cannot be hedgehogged to re-build the whole rod, so, despite Fuji BMNAG's going out of production, I ordered a couple of size 10's and swapped them over.
Two rings, four whippings. Took me an hour. The first ring was a faff, I resorted to using a poor whipping to anchor the ring, which the usual rubber band would not hold, the whipping just pushing the ring up the rod. I whipped the thin leg easily enough, then having checked the alignment, replaced the first whipping. Which looked OK but it was 'fluffy' some blemish in the dark-purple NCP. Annoying. I did it again...
The second ring was worse, as the even rod's even smaller diameter near the tip barely anchored the ring at all and after two failed attempts, I used some scrap dacron* to sacrificially whip the thick leg, then set the alignment, whipped the thin leg, then took off the sacrificial and re-did the other end. It took eight whippings overall to get two rings on. Annoying.
* A well known tackle brand's 'Carp Dacron' which kept mysteriously breaking for no good reason, something that had also happened to others. Bin and/or string bag.
24th December 2021. The NPTR
So, I was pondering an ideal centre-pin for river fishing. I’m against in principle multi-hundred pound reels, which seem more ‘reassuringly expensive’ than actually better, especially as one can see functional ‘pin’s for £20 and very reasonable ones for £40. Paying for such, seems the trotting equivalent of buying a massively expensive bat with a star’s endorsement, instead of buying a functional bat and learning to play straight with it. But still.
Quick definition. In the below I use the term 'spool' to mean the entire spool of the centrepin, the going round bit that fixes to the back-plate. I use the term 'drum' to mean the inner surface of the spool that the line sits on. I find it annoying that people still describe centre pins as 4.5", when what really matters is the drum diameter in respect of that. For example I had an old Stanton that looks bigger as the spool is of a larger diameter than the Kingpin 450, but in fact the drum of the Stanton has a smaller diameter than the Kingpin's, making it far less useful.
The nearest I’ve got to ideal so far is the Leeds. It is simply made but mostly has what such a reel actually needs, to whit:
I'd say it could be better:
That'd do it for me, I'd never need another 'pin for the river then.
31st December 2021. The Centrepin Braid Arbor Knot. I've long used this for tying braid line to centrepins that have arbors consisting of pins set between the two sides of the spool. While the below appears convoluted it has two advantages: (1) the knot strength is very high, due to friction of the second set of turns and (2) no knot appears on the outside of the arbor, so it's not necessary to carefully position the knot, then wind line over the tag end to avoid line catching on either.
If the intention is to use fused floating braid (this is my intention), I load 150 yards, as half seems too short and if one loses a few yards per trip this rapidly becomes too short by half. Start with 150 yards is my advice and change it out when you've used a third to a half of it.
While I scorn the notion that 200 yards of line are needed for regular fishing, trotting even the Frome will often whip off 50 yards of line and if one was to encounter a large sea trout or salmon at this range and the fish wisely headed downstream, you may well be glad of (a) some 30 extra yards of line providing time to give chase and (b) a resolute fastening at the end of the line...
Here's the sequence of events:
|Take the tag end of the line thrice around one of the reel-drum's pins...||...then feed it though the opposite side of the drum.||...then grinner-knot the tag end around the standing part, easier to do this with it outside of the drum...||Now pull the tag end from the other side of the reel until this knot is tight.||work the line around the three turns on the first pin until the line through the middle of the drum is taut and the turns around the pin are snug.||...the Leeds loaded with some 80 yards of 8lb fused floating braid...note the line through an 0.8mm hole, bored for the purpose.|
Start with the reel and the line to hand. Pick out whichever butt-section of rod you put the reel on for this job. I use the bottom half of the Other Mk.III as it's short with just a butt-ring. Thread the line through the rod ring, pull through a good long tag-end say 24" or so. Don't put the reel on the rod yet.
Take the tag end of the line thrice around one of the arbor pins.
Now feed the tag-end between this pin and the next, then fettle it through to the opposite side of the drum. This is tricky, can be made easier with tweezers or a very long needle or 'something'. Plan ahead. The spool's hub will prevent a straight run to the opposite side of the reel so it can be easier to use a pin not exactly opposite the first.
Take the line around this opposite pin, say twice, then grinner-knot the tag end around the standing part, easier to do this with it outside of the drum, then gently tighten it (almost) up. Trim the tag end, then pull the line from the other side of the drum, turning the knot around the pin, back inside the drum. Then work the knot over to one side of the drum or the other. I usually put it on the 'inside', that is the side towards the back-plate, as when I fish the line tends to drift to the other side.
Now pull the line from the other side of the reel, until this knot is tight. It won't ever be right against the pin, as the pin's diameter is greater than that of the line. That's fine as long as the barrel of the grinner is snug.
Using the end of the line (which is of course threaded through the rod-ring...it's not? Oh dear...) work the line around the three turns on the first pin until the line through the middle of the drum is taut and the turns around the pin are snug.
The friction of the three turns around the pin take the strain off the anchor knot, and it's worth fettling them so the turns are laid alongside each other, rather than crossing; as before, I work those turns over to the inside of the drum.
Put the reel on the rod, and wind on the requisite amount of line - do put the line's spool over a pencil or similar so the line is taken off its spool without acquiring kinks...
The final picture above is the Leeds loaded with some 80 yards of 8lb fused floating braid, nearly at 'end of life'.
"Circumference = π × diameter" is your friend, as is being able to count up to 400 or so, depending on the arbor's diameter.
|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.|
This << way to the2020 diary.
|'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'|