The Lucky Dip Page

This page produces 25 Lucky Dip randomly selected diary entries (between May 2005 and January 2021) every time it is loaded. These are in random order, i.e. not in chronological order, so of course some of them are out of context...they are also filtered to remove the 'non-fishing' entries. Just because.

Each entry has an icon/bullet of a randomly selected pair of dice, because, 'you know', and this icon also hyperlinks to the original diary page entry. This last facilitates the location of the previously mentioned missing context...

In the spirit of the 'Lucky Dip' here is a randomrqNot 'random' in the true sense of the word, but a random pick from a selection of quotes that I quite like. There will be Pratchett. And Nietzsche. quote:

"Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris." ~~ (If Caesar was alive, you'd be chained to an oar.) ~~ 

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

Lucky Dip from 2011  6th May 2011. Tranquil Lake. A load of small tench and rudd, one large tench and a grass snake. Which I didn't catch.

Tranquill LakeThe pitch on the south west corner Tranquill LakeThe rather rather woody south end. Tranquill LakeThe grass snake making a break for it Tranquill LakeThe big tench Tranquill LakeAbout the best rudd

Lucky Dip from 2019  15th April 2019. Todber Manor.

I was itching to road-test the Old Carp rod and this, along with a requirement for some pole elastic, led me here as they have a commodious tackle shop and plenty of easy fishing. Plus, I have a free pass on the CAC ticket. I went for 'Hill View' as it was close to the car, although it was a tad wind-swept. Despite common sense suggesting that getting out of said wind was sensible, I fished windward as the waves were tearing up the bottom along the marginal reeds and fish like that. I nabbed a little over half a dozen carp to about 11lb or so in about an hour; the bites were sudden and hard to anticipate due to the float's lively rise-and-fall. I probably only hit half of the bites, but several fish headed for distant parts allowing me to work the rod over, which was nice. I'd put on a Cardinal 44x with 8lb mono, some 7lb braid and a size 8 'S3'. This last was opened up somewhat by a medium sized fish, so I swapped it for a size 10 'Korda B'. I congratulated myself for some elementary watercraft and strolled around the lake to warm up.

Todber ManorIt was choppier than it looks here. Todber ManorThe uninspiring windward pitch view. Todber Manor12lb? 13lb? Who knows exactly, didn't weigh it. The man who asked me what it weighed seemed disgusted I hadn't bothered to find out.

The leeward side seemed altogether more comfy so I pottered around, fish or no fish. It took me a while to sort out where to fish. The absolute margin was very shallow, the drop-off rather more sudden that on the west bank. I ended up fishing about two rod-lengths out, setting over-depth and drawing back until the float had the right amount of tip showing. Something stole a couple of mussels and when the float went positively again I found myself playing a ticking sandbag, which after what seemed like a long time was a carp the best part of 20lb, although scales are meaningless here. It went on like this, with a variety of carp large and small, another a bit like the first, another 'double', among others. When a fish started picking off the crusts I'd been dropping along the margin (it's practically compulsory), I took off the tell-tale, pinched on a piece of folded flake about the size of a 10p, added a second more 'old-50p' sized, walked up the bank and from two rod lengths back from the water, flipped the lot into the margin. A mo later, a solid fish materialised and mashed the whole lot, leaving the 10p sized bit eddy-whirling. Which it promptly took. Which was fun.

Todber ManorThe fat rod-testing sandbag. Todber ManorLeaner and almost as rod-testing. Todber ManorThe leeward pitch.
Todber ManorTwo rod lengths off... Todber ManorThe ''Carp are ten-a-penny, so might as well risk an arty shot of playing a fish'' picture. Todber ManorThe second biggest sandbag.

When a text reminded me I was providing quiz support for the off-spring, I packed in five then belted off down the lanes. Good rod, I'd forgotten quite how good. The thing with such waters is that they subtly flatter without you noticing. I automatically considered it smart thinking to fish in the face of the wind and the fish 'proved this', but the other bank was at least as good. The truth is; any pitch on the water would yield plenty of fish in all but the worst conditions. Confirmation bias, that's what it is. Tough little hook that size 10 mind.

Lucky Dip from 2017  3rd August 2017. The Fish in a Barrel. Part III. Good news. The fish are not up-side down this morning, so I bunged in the bit of gravel from the 'reserve fish-tank' and knapped out the bottom of a large cracked terracotta flower-pot for them to hide in.

Lucky Dip from 2016  22nd September 2016. Pimlico Farm Ponds. En route Hull-to-Dorset, I asked the ToSThane of Sussex, if he was near a computer, to be so kind as to text me some fisheries on my route. I tried two of said fisheries in the Newark area. The first provided all landing nets, cradles etc. and insisted on a carp care kit. As I'd got a rod, reel, unhooking mat landing net and the tackle I could put in my pockets, that didn't work out - on principle I never fish a water that requires me to buy extra gear off the owners, although to be fair if I'd read the website, I'd have known that. But it was a drop-in - I spoke to a pole-fisher in one swim and he was pleased to tell me he'd been broken twice by carp taking him into the lilies. He had carp-care kit though so that's fine. One can sling, cradle, mug-shot yourself and the carp until the poor bugger is brain-damaged, every week of the year - but we've 'carp-care kits' so it's all OK. The second place had let the lake in entirety to a group, so I wasted another 30 minutes of my day. I gave up on the third as I'd now used an extra hour on a five hour drive. Got in the car (again) wondering, honestly, whether the time had come for me to roll up this site and move on - most fishing isn't really fishing anymore, but I don't know what it is.

If I'd not tried for nearer fishing, could have been at Barton's Court for 5pm and fished for four hours. As it was I saw the Pimlico sign and remembered the ponds, so swung in, managing to be fishing by about 5:40pm, so had two hours at the windward (obviously) on a busy lake. Pricked a large one that swooshed off to the nether reaches, then this one which hard-felt fought on the 'pin and the four-piece. Not for the first time, the corks just south of the reel-seat moved when the rod was working. Hm.

Pimlico Farm PondsThe pitch Pimlico Farm PondsThe float Pimlico Farm PondsThe carp

I packed up when it was too dark to see the float and telling myself 'that's all right then', but I started the driving-technology with the nagging doubt that it's all gone too far.

Lucky Dip from 2006  5th December 2006. Smith's Lake, Bishops Green. A stressful day helping someone move house, I darted into Smiths Lake for a quick relax. With only a few hours to spare it was still better than 'not fishing', but with the temperature falling there'd need to be luck to get a carp. The carp here are mostly good fully scaled commons, although a little over fished in the summer, but nice fish for all that. Even so, as I bumped down the track, there was six magpies in the field on my left. Count them. Six. For 'gold' scales clearly. I reverted to optimism, pitched at the deep end with the wind in my face, set up a simple margin rig with corn and hemp. In the next three hours there were a few tweaks that might have been construed as bites and a lot of wierd movements caused by the slow end-to-end oscillation of the water, caused by the steady wind up the lake tailing off from time-to-time.

Smith's Lake, Bishops GreenSpot the peacock quill Smith's Lake, Bishops GreenDusk at Smith's
Smith's Lake, Bishops GreenSpot the porcy... Smith's Lake, Bishops GreenJust the moon and me, let it so be.

Despite a relaxing few hours, I never got the sense a carp was on the cards. Small fish started picking at the surface as the light withdrew, but nothing like the bigger swirls and thumps that so often precede carp feeding. Eventually, with the moon easing itself over the trees to my right and the cold stealing like a foot-pad out of the black-flooded trees behind me, I called it a day and headed home. The magpies lied, you can't trust them you know.

Lucky Dip from 2015  9th March 2015. Court Farm. Barton's Court closed, feels out-of-phase to not be beating its bounds with two halves of McBreakfast, one in each coat pocket. Still IFCItalian for, ah, you know is acceptable and this one has a grand view of a consumer giant (and lemon tarts). Court Farm then, but first, 'supplies'...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky Dip from 2011  15th September 2011. West Compton. Yes they still exist. I'm very very fortunate to have a place here, no gravel swims, nothing but the trees and the low number of carp, some tench (and a few roach and rudd). Amazing.

West ComptonThe lake West ComptonThe lake West ComptonThe lake

I probably should have chosen a spot with more thought but having found one I like and settle down to blip out rudd and roach with corn, a 15ft GTI and 6lb line, well you never know. I catch four rudd in the first 40 minutes, gill covers stained gold and then never see another but get a string of roach to 4oz or so and after a while, a small olive loaf and some farmhouse pate, a small dark carp about 2lb or so. That's my only carp today, but it bent the rod hard. The others roll here and there, keeping a good distance. Angler-shy still...I sip Lap-Sang and watch the fish roll on the lily patches' far sides, but not the one nearest me...

West Comptonthe float... West Compton...the carp... West Compton...and the lake again

As the light leaves (is it me or is it a shade darker earlier this year?) I amble to the head of the lake, pocketing a handful of haxel nuts en route and spend an hour standing under a small horse-chestnut, leaves already orange-rimmed, sweeping the ground, an autumn round-house. I watch a crust between pads until it's clear no-one is coming to play, except an owl and blackbirds chipping bed-time, bed-time. I'll be back for the autumn leaves.

Lucky Dip from 2009  21st February 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Classic February blank...

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool' Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, The 'Pump Pool'

Lucky Dip from 2015  21st March 2015. Woodfrys Farm, Melbury Abbas. I've had my eye on this lake and had been angling for a chance to drop in...and it's on my way home. Sort of.

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

The Saxon PondsOne side... The Saxon Ponds....and the other The Saxon PondsThe best shot of an egret I could manage at that distance.

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

Lucky Dip from 2015  25th September 2015. Pete's Lakes. This trip was over planned, I've never done very well here on the lakes, partly because I think I tend to go 'because I ought' rather than on the whim I mostly follow, but still, two pitches with the finest float in the world (probably) produced only fine rudd of a satisfying size. Pete's company made the day more enjoyable, but there were no crus. for either of us. Pete went on and so I wandered the upper lake finding nowhere which felt fishy, so in the end fished the top of the river arm and after 30 minutes of gentle hemp, I removed, while working through a forgotten flask of Earl Grey, perhaps a dozen-and-a-half roach the largest perhaps ¾lb, on pinches of bread. The moon was up by dusk and my hands chilly; autumn's arrived, in antiphase to the vanishing crucians.

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

Lucky Dip from 2012  9th December 2012. Luckfield. Potty maybe. But the lake is all mine, and not fished for a fortnight if the book is believed. I try peg 3, more of a recce. something swirls on my left while I tackle up the Adcock, GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment and whatever line is on the reel. An hour of observation under the grey sky, without bites pushes me to stroll with thermometer. 4.3°C at base, 3.9°C at peg 5 and then 4.3°C the rest. Peg 10 sees another lackadaisical swirl, as the first right under the bank. Funny thing, the water is bobbling in the corner and small roach are jostling under leaves, staining the water with clay, almost spawning. The thermometer tells me it's not water temperature. Funny. I decamp to Peg 1, it's a good spot at the marginally warmer end and today a bite will be a win (as I'm not supposed to fish where the roach are playing). Maggots fail for an hour, I try flake.

Luckfield LakeAnother great Luckfield blank Luckfield LakeAnother great Luckfield blank Luckfield LakeThe Very Small Sharp Knife, its means of maintenance and two foundling floats.

I suck two squares of 90% chocolate and sip coffee and the mingled flavours run me a quick peep show of winter sessions past. Maybe Wytch next time, a great spot for winterfish. A fish has actually rolled in the corner. Wonders never etc. etc. I take bread to see if the rockers in the corner are feeding, but not it seems. I debate the B&WThe Bruce & Walker MKIV 'G' s/u free-lined illegally in the corner, watch the float some more, try to snap a goldcrest, talk about a moving target. Back on flake a slow slow bite. Well then. 2:30pm, not over yet. Coffee, 90%.

Luckfield LakeAnother great Luckfield blank Luckfield LakeAnother great Luckfield blank Luckfield LakeAnother great Luckfield blank

The last two hours or so trickle by, the last hour punctuated with dragging bites from fish uniformly too small for a '14' draped in maggots or bread. I'm not sufficiently bothered about cracking a blank to slip a smaller hook on...I snap a tree creeper, not perfect but fun trying. The last drag under, hard not to imagine some small and determined fish with the line over one shoulder plodding across the bed, drags me off as well. Winter's days. Still good.

Lucky Dip from 2012  28th July 2012. Meadow Lake Fishery. I found this small farm pond, perhaps 1/3 acre with some small (but sharp witted) carp and a multitude of small roach. I nabbed two of the carp on pieces of bread, by disguising myself as a willow. A little idyll, so after just under three hours I moved on, lest I spoil it...

The Farm PondA proper farm pond carp The Farm PondAnother proper farm pond carp
The Farm PondA proper farm pond The Farm PondA proper farm pond The Farm PondA proper farm pond

I headed over to Upper Sharnhill, 'kind of' on the way home, a small pond day; this is still overrun with small carp, so proved entertaining and I also bagged a tench of 3oz, which was nice. All attempts to hook a larger one failed. Not dismally or anything.

Lucky Dip from 2005  14th October 2005. The Pike Pit aka 'Hordens Mere', Thatcham. Rat? Oh that rat. After some messing around with permits, I descended on Pike Pit (now known as 'Hordens Mere') for a days fishing, ahead of my brother joining me. The weather was still and overcast, with almost no wind.

The Pike PitThe north bank from the south The Pike PitThe north bank from the south

For October it's unreasonably warm, with temperature really not having dropped under 10°C at all yet. The lake has changed a lot since I was last here. The photos show more growth, better tended swims and although not obvious, the path around the back of the lake is now well kept. What hasn't changed? Well for a start they are still overrun with American signal crayfish. Dead ones in the bushes give you a clue. The sideways sidle of the float and occasional landing of one, another clue. I saw one and got the other.

There was a notice about the recent rat problem. Since 1994, judging by the rats when I was last there. And litter. <RANT>I HATE litter. How hard is it to take home? The odd bit is one thing, but carrier bags, dumped and stuffed in bushes? On a club water, it's simple enough. Walk round and ban a few people with littered swims. The message will get around. Zero tolerance on litter.</RANT>

I fished from 11 to 3:30 on the third swim on the south bank - this has a nice screen of growth around it now (as opposed to then). The water was still nine feet deep though. I baited two areas with sweetcorn and maggots and fished both on and off, float rigged on the bottom. I basically got not a touch in the whole time I was there, on either bait, that I would put down to a fish. I tried a popped up worm bait for three hours as well. Not even a jack pike. Zippo. Nada.

When brother turned up I moved around the back of the lake, purely for a change (I try not to move on every time I catch nothing, for one thing, you'd never stop moving) and even though carp continued to jump and roll, nothing...from 4-6:30pm the float never moved, not once, except for a crayfish. Extraordinary. Major blank. Saw a few rats on the other bank though. Now I know where they live.

btw I was trying out a 6lb Stren mono today - this line is very limp and while invisible in water, fluorescent blue in daylight. A bit odd, but - it's very easy to see what you line and tackle are doing, in those inevitable "line around the rod" moments and secondly, if you leave even a snippet on the ground it sticks out like a sore thumb. Which is a very good reason to use it. Sadly, the "no effing fish" thing, has made it tricky to judge the catching potential at this time...onto Saturday.

Lucky Dip from 2011  12th November 2011. Luckfield Lake. They were there. I was there. I blanked - but a glorious autumn-leaf blank, a day of soft winds, bare blackthorn and roe deer. Who needs fish? JAAMe, I need fish. 'Often' would be nice.

Luckfield Lakea shady pitch Luckfield Lakea shady bobber Luckfield Lake...very interesting...
Luckfield Lakeleave'd float Luckfield Lakethe fading lilies from the north end Luckfield Lakethe north west corner

Lucky Dip from 2013  3rd August 2013. Crooked Willows (or nothing). I should qualify that - I'd planned to fish at Turfcroft on the way back from a family picnic in the New Forest, but with it shutting at 7:30pm, I'd barely have got settled and the place across the road was shut. So, opted for here as it was the closest to 'on-the-way-home' that didn't need a day-ticket. It's a couple of years since I was here, it looked fabulous in lowering sunlight with thick clumps of lilies. However, the water looks better than the banks, bare mud on the lower side, which spoils it for me. I persisted on that side and 'fishing for bites', probably banked around a dozen bream and roach/bream hybrids to 3lb or so and another dozen 3-4oz carp and perhaps half that of roach and rudd. I briefly hooked one carp, it swirled under the tree to my left and I left a piece of bread near, then looking away for a second had the rod tip whumped and the line cracked almost at the same time. Never found the small pink tipped crow-quill, no idea where it went.

Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows
Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows Crooked WillowsCrooked Willows

This lake is now 25 years old, the new owner told me, I fished it once in about 1993More still-water chub, new lake in a field then, a poled-out net of chub for me. He's certainly put in a lot of work on the banks, but not denuded the swims, leaving tree-cover to go with the lilies. Apparently there are crucians to 3lb or so, but I would think they are half-and-half if stocked a score of years with carp alongside - speaking of which there seem many fewer of the latter, the slender stream alongside the pool an escape route for fish and predators alike perhaps. Still got the nonsensical hemp ban though, their priviledge.

Lucky Dip from 2006  22nd October 2006. Pitman's Pond. I win. This time. Kind of. Lying in bed listening to the patter of rain on the conservatory roof and the traffic on the main road, I am far too cosy to leave the marital bed to sit in the rain, even if it is my last chance of a go this weekend. It is relatively fine, as opposed to the forecast of 'heavy rain', but warm and dry wins. Things change at 10:30, when management announces she is taking the children to the local pool for a dunk, so as it's not raining 'right now', I stick the knapsack (Polish army surplus) in the car and a rod, some hemp, a few worms and mussels and go for a two hour try.

I head for Pitman's via a small lake I have unearthed and plan to check on the fishing there. It looks nice and a stroll round shows a path and some apparently well tended swims, but no sign of activity - no litter, fishing related or otherwise but the water is cloudy and disturbed, so something lives here. Another time...arriving, it's raining again, but I sit in the car (for 'some reason' the only angler out) and tackle up a quill, BB and a size '8' a foot from it, with 8lb line on the old Dowling 'pin. I have thought over the previous visits and have decide to lengthen the tail to ensure the float only moves when the take is definite and brought the 2lb t/c carp float rod as well. I elected to fish until I couldn't see the ridge next to Corfe Castle, which despite the rain is clearly visible and as it is 17°C still, it can't be that bad.

I decide to fish in the near corner as the wind is southerly and if nothing bites after half and hour move to the patch of lilies in peg 3 and if no action then the junction of the new lake and old. Not so pleasant, but the wind in your face is the best bet especially with the unseasonably warm weather. 'Phase 1' gets me wet and with only a suggestion of float movement to my 45°-angled green-tipped porcupine to show for it. My hat keeps water out OK, but the run-off soaks my legs and the result of sitting on the bank will have to be imagined for now. I spend the next 40 minutes listening to the rain on my hat and shoulders, which has a rhythm of it's own.

I move to peg 3. More hemp, a few mussels and 35 damp minutes later I get my bite, with the float traveling gently to my right through the raindrop circles and slowly lowering in the water. I wait until it's not visible and strike firmly and a large fish bolts toward the lily pads tip and steered hard away heads to the middle of the water. I think I have won the battle but the fish gets half way across, does a handbrake turn and belts into the lily patch at its furthermost point from the bank. Drat. I ease off the pressure a bit and the fish responds by keeping going until I can tells it's near the bank, despite my line, arrow straight, to the far end of the patch. I try to increase pressure and get a jerk and then slackness. Really annoying, especially as the float has gone as well - I put the eye on and re-varnished that one Friday. I squelch back to the car to re tackle with a smaller quill but the same end rig, pausing only to re-bait the swim. I use the unhooking mat to keep the water off the car seat.

The new quill sits almost flat on the water and it heels around like a waterborne windsock, moored by its single BB. Fifteen minutes later away it goes, just like the previous. I strike and pull away from the lilies in one movement. I hold the fish until it quits and heads to the middle of the water and I let it. I spend five minutes letting it run and then bully it into the net having seen by now the hook hold is a good one. One to me, even if it's a 'goldfish', at around 7-8lb.

I celebrate with the umbrella to keep the rain off my face and checking the end tackle, go again. I add a large lob-worm hooked once on the hook with the mussel, as it's raining. At 1:40 another very dithery bite that take five minutes to develop turns into a smaller fish, which does it's best but is outgunned by my 2lb t/c and 8lb maxima. This funny looking mirror has the same parentage of the longer bigger brothers (take a look at its tail), but is still odd for all that.

I vote myself a last cast at 1:50pm and opt for 2:30pm leaving and the ridge is looking grey and vague by now. 1:55pm the float lays flat, dips, lies flat again and slides off. Another battle to avoid the lilies commences. ("BB" is not wrong in his assertion that once a carp is into the lily roots you've had it.) I win and the remainder of the squabble goes on in a three yard patch of water to my right and while I net the fish easily it's not nearly worn down enough and even while in the net, makes frantic swimming motions for a bit, like a clockwork motor running down, then subsides enough for a snap, then straight back into the murk.

Pitman's Pond'one-all' Pitman's Pond'two-one' Pitman's Pond'three-one'

That's enough; I'm very wet, but not cold and pleased with a victory over the carp this time, on points at least.

Lucky Dip from 2010  28th March 2010. Upper Sharnhill. Another new water which I nipped onto for a couple of hour pre-work-party on Lower Sharnhill. It turns out there are plenty of small carp from 2oz-8oz as well as some larger, plus a few crucians. Nothing touched surface baits but after some time I was able to nab a few small ones off the bottom with bits of bread flake, worms and maggots.

Upper SharnhillStill not spring Upper SharnhillWinter tree

Any attempt at larger fish was defeated by the smaller, so a large hard bait required...then shifted a cwt of clay which left me on the stiff side on the morrow. Getting older's a bu88er.

Lucky Dip from 2010  31st October 2010. Nipped over to Kingsbridge. Again. One nice carp. [C: 1/1] [Ctotal: /]

KingsbridgeA nice double figure mirror, from 'Packhorse' KingsbridgeThe north end of the titular Tranquil KingsbridgeThe trap is set... Kingsbridge..but the quarry stayed in the reeds.

Lucky Dip from 2008  28th December 2008. The River Frome, Holme Bridge. The pursuit of the phantom grayling. So I blanked, but made no notes, so that's the whole story in the pictures.

The River Frome, HolmebridgeHolmbridge Snipe Hunt The River Frome, HolmebridgeHolmbridge Snipe Hunt The River Frome, HolmebridgeHolmbridge Snipe Hunt The River Frome, HolmebridgeHolmbridge Snipe Hunt

Lucky Dip from 2010  29th June 2010. Horton Lake.

The plan today was to try new water on the way home, so opted out of 'Ben's Lake' at Newbury as I had time to try Golden Pond near Stockbridge. This is pretty and small and I was completely ignored on arrival by the angler in the first swim and two gents chatting halfway along the bank soundly ignored a perfectly civil "Afternoon gents". Spotting the girlfriend on the lounger at the end of the lake clinched it, so and decided my money was better off elsewhere. MBIt's fair enough really to want peace and quiet when you're fishing but to park yourself in the swim that everyone who enters has to pass and then specially ignore perfectly civil (and quiet) greetings is just a bit naff. It's a bit like pretending to be a loner in the kitchen at a party. Sure you are.  I tried Riverside Lakes only to discover that floater fishing, especially with white bread, is banned. I mooched around the lake for a bit and then decide Horton Lake, a scant minute away would be more fun. Amazingly I have the whole place to myself and get as far as the lily patch nearest the car park where fish were tenting and clooping for England.

Horton Lakehellooooo mr carp Horton Lakenudge, nudge Horton Lake#1 Horton Lake...some more... Horton Lake...OK that's a rudd...

I sit on the grass and stick up the ESP, 12lb line, dink bread into a pad-gap and five minutes later have a 4-5lb fish, five minutes later, another. Normally at this point I mooch off for fresh pastures, but despite my best intentions, fresh fish keep turning up so I stay and, as I'd nothing since a coffee at 11am, alternate cups of tea with fish snatched, hauled & dragged out of the pads.

The biggest difficulty are rudd which demolish bread and mixers like piranhas falling on a careless rodent. I stick with the pads, lose one or two to hook-pulls, so try a few mixers further out, where larger shadows cruise. The pack-fish denude any bait cast out in minutes so I keep with the pads and get a couple on mixers, one fish even ventures a whole foot from the cover to snatch the bait.

At this point I perfect my bread technique, which consists of plonking it onto a pad, waiting for the fish to come by and tweaking it off onto its snoz. It's then mobbed by the ruddettes, pushed under a leaf and I wait for the line to pull...

Horton Lake10½lb Horton Lakeyetanothercarp Horton Lakea quartet of carp

Then, one longer cast floats untouched as the minutes tick by...this means the bait is being sized up by something the rudd are not keen on...so it proves and after a clomping take, walk the fish up the bank to keep it out of the trees and the pads. 10½lb. I start to spoon-feed the trees with mixers and once things are moving, fish bread between the trees, miss one, take two, then switch to the right, take one out of some drowned cow-parsley then one from under the bank ten yards up.

Horton Lakebit bigger Horton Lakethe two trees Horton Lakebit bigger

All too easy and I pack up with 45 minutes of fishing light left, thirteen fish to the good. It's now cool and the small technology starts with "Weathercock" as I drive into the coup de soleil's warm glow. Must go somewhere harder. [C: 13/1] [Ctotal: /]

Lucky Dip from 2014  4th July 2014. Luckfield Lake.

As I arrived the radio gifted WAM'sWolfgang Amadeus Mozart Laudate Dominum & Cecilia Bartoli, I turned off the engine, listened rapt, entranced, until the fade and tapped the volume off. Silence is all that can follow... I leaned my head on the steering wheel for a while. Wow.

Using up bait or was it the right sort of Cool Day? I'd taken the GHSRE and the Adcock's with 6lb, planning some medium cockling, at least until the witching hour, but it yelped carp especially at the lee-end, so, sole angler, I put up the big hex, sight-bobbed two mussels and nabbed a best part of 10lb of mirror twenty stealthy minutes later...

Luckfield Lake'one' Luckfield Lakeit positively reeked of carp... Luckfield Lakethe green sight-bob Luckfield Lakebunny, bunny

...the feeling ebbed away like autumn mist in the sun, I switched to a light float rig and for a solid ninety minutes got not a bite, although the gentlest of footpads behind turned out to be two learner conies. I swapped back to the Big Hex to work through a cup of EGEarl Grey and half way the bobber, again, wandered of with the studied insouciance of a guilty cartoon cat. Smaller fish, then barely twenty-and-a-second-cup later a similar bite resulted in a little green thunderbolt, although how it took two mussels on a size 4 is a mystery. A fourth bite, as deliberate as before resulted in a solid common, which I weighed. 4/4, going so well - then came the The Mole...Mole Power!

Luckfield Lakebunny Luckfield Lakebold or careless bunny from 6 feet... Luckfield Lakethe 6lb mirror Luckfield Lakethe unusual but very welcome tench Luckfield Lakeoak-tree umbrella
Luckfield Lakea tiny, if careless, perch Luckfield Lakethe 12lb common Luckfield Lakerain, rain, rain Luckfield Lakethe orange (and lost forever) sght-bob Luckfield Lakethe distracting mole

I'd heard the scrape, could have sworn the board moved...then it did, I waited, moved the board, and spent a good hour with a camera while Moley dug and scraped, scattering worms and gravel, while the rained dripped off my hat and I held the rod with my wrong hand - I'd have traded a good carp or too for a picture of the digger, but in practise I got soaked, missed one bite looking the wrong way, a second wrongly struck got a screaming 40-yard run and a hook pull, a fouler, and when I gave up on Moley, missed a sitter, blobs of rain on the 'bins', put the bobber in the oak-umbrella, where it stayed. I took a hook out of the hat, free lined with an elder twig as a bite indicator and finished the tea with the reserve oat cakes (the primary purpose of which is to remind you you're not really that hungry) while the twig-leaves twitched once only. Soaked through.

Lucky Dip from 2007  22nd April 2007. Milton Abbey. Mojo on holiday today. A good way to ease out of the weekend is a nice evening session in the warm, so I head for Peg 11 to discover Nempster in residence with his old mate, so opt for a cut in the tree a bit further on which I've always wanted to fish. I catch a 1¾lb roach (with a suspicion of abramis about it) more or less right away and this augers well. Unfortunately, I have left my mojo at home so only get two bites between then and 6pm and one of those when my ticket was being issued. I missed both of them, nominal sitters, by a mile.,

A carp spends the afternoon working the overhanging branches on the far side of the channel and I reckon to tempt it eventually and give it a trail of hemp to follow to my side. At 6pm or so I get a bite that I hit and after a lively squabble bank a 5lb on the nose tench. Cracking.

Milton Abbey1¾lb roach maybe... Milton Abbeyfishing in the dark

I then go into a totally 'out-of-phase' period and variously tangle line on the reel, round the rod tip and a tree, costing me a Jack Hilton Size 8 and miss about six bites which ought to have resulted in fish. You end up trying too hard when this happens and I did. I managed a 1lb roach, a 6oz'er and a small tench, 2½lb maybe and then with the light fading I missed my last bite, a sideways slider and got the large swirl of a well spooked carp I'd wanted all along. Bu88er.

Milton Abbey5lb tinca Milton Abbeyone good roach Milton Abbeya little tinca

In the meantime of course, Nempster and his mate banked a huge number of fish and the former had 10 tench to 5lb 2oz and at least six perch to 1¼lb plus other bits and bob. Fabulous bag. Annoying day, I missed more bites than I had last week and another day would have had ten good fish. It happens...but is never a totally rewarding experience.

Lucky Dip from 2011  19th August 2011. Kingsbridge. Another blank on the Welly, again missing a sound bite and then pulling bread away from a torpid carp I sneak to within three feet of. Bu88er. I sit on a Packhorse platform and fish bread onto 30-yard lilies and drag four fish out in pique, the biggest 12lb or so. The first one I thought lost on a pad stem at my feet and so lived for 30 minutes in the landing net, apparently OK with it.

Kingsbridge, Wellington then PackhorseThe float Kingsbridge, Wellington then Packhorsethe pitch Kingsbridge, Wellington then Packhorsethe float again Kingsbridge, Wellington then Packhorsethe dwarf lily

Lucky Dip from 2012  20th May 2012. Arfleet. Back for more. Two three-rodders packing up as I arrived (three rods each, 2¾lb test on this tiny pool, anyone see the problem there?). They'd had a few each and the wind, atypically, was blowing NE to SW. So I went the other side, on the basis that the wind and campsite would herd fish over there a bit, so set up shop in a swim that I'd fancied for the koi and put on a hook on one rod and a float rig on the MKIV B&W, 8lb to 'pin, fishing for bites, a bit stiff for that, but it's weedy, while decoying others onto the top and swap rods about. In the event, fish were edgy and after the float nipped under and I briefly connected with something which shed the hook, I aimed a crust ten yards down the bank into a small round patch of weeds where several fish were circling. Then a nice man turned up with his daughter and stood behind me pointing and generally waving his hands about. Just to make sure he spooked all the fish in my corner he walked to within ten feet of my bait and hoisted his girl up to make double sure all the fish had seen them. She then stood on a stump and pointed some more. Jeez. I'd peg that as "modern" behaviour, but nothing changes, although the easy fishing in water where fish are used to 'pointing' doesn't help. You can catch here if you clump about a bit in sight (at least early season). Trust me when I say, if you keep quiet and out of sight, you see twice as many fish. All this left me a tad irritable.

I, of course, missed the take after sitting and waiting out the disturbance, part of which informed me about the 16lb fish he'd caught last week. I decided to keep my fish catches to myself. Went back to the bottom rod and swapping between that and the top managed to waste (I say waste...) several hours without a fish. In the end, as I'd been feeding into the corner, I opted to slip a cork-ball on the line and crush some flake to sink, the double bluff...first cast the ball bobbled under and I had a feisty tinca. I felt better. My protégé from the previous week, who arrived meantime from the back pit (where his fish had been hand-waved into obscurity also) said he'd caught that very fish last week and also told me he's had four off-the-top during the week...thought he'd be an addict by now...

Arfleet MillsThe tench, more in here than you think Arfleet MillsThe 'new' pit from the south side Arfleet MillsAn odd goldy thing. Not see before (or since for that matter).

The tyro moved on and I got a belting run on the float which needed some hard hands to stop it gaining the far band of potamageton and when nominally subdued, was technically a carp, but I've never seen one that colour. After the hiatus, the larger fish were back, swirling cautiously in the little bay. Free baits were gently submerged, mine ignored. I edged up the bank to change the angle of the line to the bait and cut two 1cm crusts and fitted them back to back with no hook showing and thus got pole position to see a cautious common edge up to the bait from the opposite side to my line and down it in one, bread-and-cork-ball dipping as one. Some weed thrashing ensured and there was solid common. Hah. Much better.

Arfleet MillsThe first of the commons Arfleet MillsThe second of the eels, this one 'spooked, making a slither for it' Arfleet MillsAn Arfleet ghost, one of the good sort.

The float rod provided a dithering bite which squirmed onto the bank and slid back into the water. Good to see and while I float fished and fed, a transient ghost appeared, I repeated my long thin crust trick and it repeated the gentle sidle and sudden grab and then flailed about, trying for all weeds and finding none. I had another anguilla, this one snapped en route to the water. Three eels so far this year, my best for some time, good to know they're about. That, as they say was that, I stripped the float rod and relayed gear to the other bank and used the wind to drift crust against the island, seldom an option, but nothing came to play. Wiser now, on the top, the excellent hot cross floaters I'd carefully made at breakfast time were still in the fridge. Ah well, next time maybe.

Arfleet Millsthe JAA 'all-purpose' float and controller

Lucky Dip from 2006  14th October 2006. Pitman's Pond. Undergunned. I return and would have gone for Peg 3, but the chap in Peg 2 would rather I didn't (which was fair but mean-spirited) so rather that sit in a cloud of resentment, I took myself round to peg 13 which had been in my mind. The corner of the lake at Peg 13 is the boundary between the older part of the lake and the newer, and boundaries are features of a sort. The unseasonably warm autumn wind has drifted scum under the trees in the corner and this is also a good place for a carp. I put in a small float and a mussel on a size '8' over some hemp and corn, then spread the hemp out across the lake and also toward the corner to my right, to lay a trail. I fished up against the small patch of lilies, about eight leaves in all. This had the advantage of giving me an early warning if a carp came though from that way and also enabled the float to sit in the lee of the surface drift.

Twenty minutes went by and a chap with a gun went past, disturbing a scrawny 'woodie' from the tree opposite (one of this year's perhaps) and stopped for a chat about grass carp in his lake and mullet in the not too distance costal inlets. Ten minutes later two more anglers arrive at the lake and wandered past, not in least interested in any progress. I had a bite developing by then and expected the walk by to spook it, but as they rounded the corner of the lake the float slid sideways and I hit a fish which thumped into the few lilies and the hook came out. No interest from the walk-bys. Fifteen minutes later a smaller fish 'darted' (well, 'hurtled') inside the lilies and the hook-hold went again. By this time the sound of bleeping and setting up for the duration was coming for a swim out of sight around the corner. Oh good.

I stuck with the mussels & hemp and around 1pm got a bite I could hit. I got a solid lump for my trouble that didn't run and swirled around near my feet, so much so, I almost risked netting. Then the fish woke up a bit and trundled of to my right toward the branches of the sunken tree and I headed it off and dragged it back. And again, after which it wallows some more. This was a heavy fish and I'd seen enough flashes of brass peeking out of the brown soup to see it was a fully scaled metallic gold common, well over 10lb, perhaps 15lb. A cracker of a fish and after another solid run and retrieve I reckon I had it beaten and then another run straight out and as I turned it to bring it back the float pinged back over my shoulder. Another hook-hold gone. What is this?

An obsessive checking of hooks thing is going on now. Nothing wrong with it, sharp as a pin, no curled over point. Size '8' black nickel Partridge No.7. One of my favourite hooks. Must be me...1pm sees a fast run into the lilies and I hang in there while the fish runs on and then with line freeing suddenly I discover the fish has hit the lilies and doubled back to my right. Frantic winding and I'm still in touch. Several boring, bottom-hugging runs to the sunken tree and under the bank are held, mercifully so does the hook hold and another 'goldfish' hits the net. I get a repeat only 20 minutes later, perhaps a little smaller. My fingers ache as I cannot hold the rod with my index finger and keep the thumb on the reel, so have a three-fingered grip on the rod.

Pitman's PondAnother goldfish Pitman's PondYet another goldfish

The wind has picked up, although not cold and the water has acquired strands of clear water in the silty brown and I speculate that the wind has finally cooled the water to the point where it will not hold so much sediment. As I need to phone home, at 4pm I wonder around to Peg 3, now the grouch has gone, for a last hour at Peg 3, until the Chinese takeaway opens, (collecting tea on the way home). Calm descends like a blanket, with dusk coming. That and background drone of the refinery lulls the senses to the point where a heron screech startles me.

At 4:15 a 6lb golden tail gets right through the lily bed and I opt to slacken off and retrieve hard to get it back through. I almost make it, with three releases and retrieves gaining ground so that I can see a large half orange tail flapping in the lilies like Moby Dick's and my float clear of the water. Inevitably the hook gives way (again). At 4:40pm, I hook a train. At least it might as well have been. It takes of like a missile and a short attempt to hold it make it apparent that this is not an option and I give line at full bend (well over the 1½lb mark) and the fish barely slows, clears the lilies, make another five yards and the line breaks at the rig-ring.

The following day my fingers ache from the unaccustomed grip with the 'pin. War it is then. Carp rod and 8lb line next time. I've done some research into the hook-pulls. There are other folk who have had the same problem with barbless hooks. Continual turns by the fish move the hook point inside the hold, loosening it. The shallow water and lilies possibly exacerbate this, with a lot of twists and turns in a fight. If the option is there it will pay to let the fish run more and if conditions allow, hold the fish less hard. But - a micro-barb will apparently stop the problem, but these are banned here. I will change from a No.7 to a Raptor with a short shank reducing leverage. These have a slight sneck on them which may help. Stronger line 'optional'.

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

In Summary


There are 25 diary entries above. This page might very occasionally produce a result with less than 25 entries, as the page's 'engine' takes a fixed number of files and then removes the non-fishing ones, so the remainder could theoretically be less than 25. The odds of this actually happening are somewhere in the region of 1 in 1×1032. If this number (25) is less than 25, screen-shot it. You have more chance of winning the lottery than that happening. I might fix this theoretical possiblity later, I might not.

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In the ongoing spirit of the 'Lucky Dip' here is a random rfqNot 'random' in the true sense of the word, but a random pick from a selection of fishing related quotes that I quite like.  fishing quote:

"I shall stay no longer than to wish him a rainy day to read this...discourse; and that if he be an honest angler, the east wind may never blow when he goes a-fishing"IZOddly, I found this quote after writing this questionnaire, so either I read "The Compleat Angler" in my youth and completely forgot about it or, just possibly, some things don't change that much. Funny thing that. ~~ Izaac Walton ~~ 

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