Milton Abbey

I started fishing here in 2001, pre-diary, or there would be a lot more entries - it was one of the few venues around my neck of the woods where the water is not permanently the colour of milky tea and every second fish is not a carp. If I had to speculate, it has suffered some eutrophication in recent years, but of course the weed growth there might be due to something else entirely. In any event it is a fine place to spend a few hours and listening to the owls hooting back-and-forth at dusk is a good a way to end a day as any.

Sadly, it closed to day-ticket anglers in early 2018I did hear the day-ticket fishery was 'more trouble than it was worth' or some such.. No idea why. Pity.

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

2001 Lured1st December 2001. Milton Abbey.

The first time I ever fished here. It was chuffing cold and still, not freezing exactly, but that cold damp stillness that leeches the heat from your bones and fingers. I took the pole and the light 'top-three' to Peg 1, way up towards the little area of backwaters. The water was coloured enough so the shallowness didn't put me off and I fished for four hours with 2lb hook-links and managed a fine roach every twenty minutes, from 8oz to the best part of 1lb. Bites at that kind of intervals are exactly right for fun and concentration and at dusk I took myself off home (for the first time) numb but a more relaxed parent than before.

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

2002 LuredJune 2002. Milton Abbey. I took the pole to Peg 7, The 'Pump Pool' and recall little but for 'some roach' and one tench of 5lb or so which, hooked on the light 'top-three' simply swam around the pool until exhausted, as the pole lacked the power to end the fight. This put me off the pole.

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

2004 Lured3rd June 2004. Milton Abbey.

The pole phase over, I had decided to return to basics so got the Old Carp Rod rod out (still sporting its Fuji BNHG's with green shock rings & green araldite impregnated whippings), spooled up with 8lb line, made some 11lb 'Black Spider' traces and went for the three grains of corn on a 'JH' size 8 under a loaded crystal waggler. In swim 11, where I had caught a few fish previously, I baited and fished as simply as I had done for a long while and on a warm evening caught tench after tench, not discommoded by the seemingly heavy tackle. This was (at the time of setting down in 2014) my best 'bag' of tench ever and my only regret is that I didn't take a raft of pictures.

The day ticketThe Day Ticket

I ended up with thirteen tench to 3½lb, two bream and two roach. If I'd needed a nudge towards orthodox angling, this was the firm shove in the small of the back and I've not looked back.

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

2005 look here13th May 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. First time for everything. The first diary entry for 'JAA'. Luckily I finish work early on Fridays, so I took my new Harrison's Four-Piece Avon out for an airing. The rod's acquisition story is a 'shaggy dog', as it was ordered in January and the first try turned up with cork handle in March (I prefer the black foam stuff) and it had to go back and then I had to whip rings on and varnish it. No reflection on the shop though, who were decent about it and gave me a good-will discount on the rings. Hopefully the rod will be worth the pain...

I went to Milton Abbey Lake, as summer-time (well alright, 'late spring' then) it's my current favourite water. The weather was warm and sunny, ideal really.

The Avon, an un-ground Harrison's blank with a 1lb 10oz test curve was chosen to do the job my old carp rod has done, but is lighter, both in the fishing and absolute weight sense. I went to Peg 12 (no reason - it's got a decent depth of water, which this time of the year is mostly all coloured, enough weed to cover fish, but enough clear water to catch them) and baited up some sweet-corn with a 2BB crystal antennae, 8lb main line, 8lb soft braid hook length and a size 10 Raptor. On two previous visits, within twenty minutes of casting in, I have lost a carp that headed hard to my right before the hook pulled out, so I was wondering if a slightly softer rod would help if I was to get a repeat. Or I could pay attention and strike at the right time...

I bait and cast only ten feet from the bank to my right. So it is that after about fifteen minutes I get a positive bite and hitting it, feel the now familiar run to the right. I dig in and turn the fish out toward the middle of the lake and after a shortish tussle with a lot of curve on the rod net a common of about 11lb. What are the odds?

It is perhaps a good omen that the first fish on the new rod is a good carp and I fish the afternoon out and end up with seven tench and couple of 1lb roach, plus one more carp. This second carp took some landing - it took three times the effort to bank and made several long runs heading out to the middle of the lake, boring along the bed and collecting weed in huge clumps on the line. Again the rod was well up to the task. The fish itself was 6½lb and I may be wrong but it seems to me that all the hardest fights I have had from carp have been from fish around that mark.

Maybe it's the optimum power to weight ratio for carp? So the final tally is two carp, seven tench and two roach, which is a good christening for the new four-piece. Not a bad days fishing at all (bit is a way short of my best tench bag on this water, which the previous summer was thirteen tench to 3½lb, two bream and two roach, in a four hour session one evening. Lucky pick on Peg 11...)

2005 look here20th May 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. From first to last cast. An unremarkable day for weather, windy with showers. Choosing Peg 1, with a chestnut tree behind me on the basis that my wife would be able to see me when dropping by (which is to say the peg was visible from the car park. Not a smart way to choose a swim, but the method for the day. The wind was behind me (mostly, with gusts from the left) and a steady stream of chestnut blossom clouting me and my tackle on a regular basis. Five Canadian geese and about a dozen goslings grazed the bank some 30 yards on my right. Drat.

I decided to fish in the direction of the island, some 15 yards out and baited up with a few handfuls of sweetcorn - put on the weighted crystal antennae, bottom end only (did I mention the wind left to right) and an 18" braided trace of 10lb b/s, a size '8' hook, three grains of corn on the hook and set to plumb the depth - first cast, I got a hard take while reeling in - and after a few interesting seconds with the clutch let off a bit, found myself attached to a ¾lb jack-pike, which has snatched at the moving bait...well not a 'blank' then. Depth was about 2½ feet in the end. I settled for about 4" over-depth with a no.6 shot 3" from the hook, with another by the float and fished about halfway to the island that is to say about 20 feet away.

Onward and upward. Half an hour later, my better (and some say better looking) half and No. 1 son visited for a bit (still no more fish). The boy pinched one of my apples. He even drank some of my green tea (on principle really, he can't possible like it, it's not fizzy for a start). Then I was left to myself again and briefly contemplated moving to one of my preferred swims, but decided, mainly out of idleness, to stay put (one eye on the clouds and occasionally spots of rain).

The next 2½ hours went more or less as follows. Loose feed, check bait, recast, wait. Pour cup of tea. Remove chestnut blossom from tea. Drink Tea. Spit out overlooked bit of blossom. Repeat every thirty minutes. There were bubbles that might have been feeding, but as the float never budged I twiddled with the over depth setting and the shot position (well you never know). I took a break at 5:30 to eat my remaining apple. It didn't actually rain and a kestrel was making hunting flights from a tree just behind me. That plus the attentions of a water rat kept me amused. I enjoyed myself.

At 6:15pm I had a bite (which I missed, of course). Then the geese started a decoy action with one of pair of swans. The pair of swans here are aggressive and not the brightest of birds (no change there then). Last year they systematically stalked and drowned a whole brood of goslings. One went to harry one of the earlier mentioned geese - which allowed itself to be chased well away from the goslings. When a good distance away it spread its wings and the swan would head back to the bank, where 'decoy no. two' was already in the water. Repeat chase, 'decoy no. one' circles back round. See the plan? This was kept up for an hour... I like geese better and swans less now.

In the meantime I had two more (to be fair) tentative bites. Plenty of feeding bubbles. However with only a small pike (4.5 hours ago), I had set myself a 'packing up time' of 8pm. So clearly it was planned when I hit the bite I got at 7:59, which was not tentative. The attached fish belted towards the bank on my right and under the small willow there and I could do no more than keep the line tight - by the time I had a decent curve on the rod I had the tree in the way and ended up with the rod parallel to the water, a foot above and at right angles to the bank - I should mention the 1lb 10oz Avon rod at this point - which was pretty much in best 'battle curve' mode. Assuming I was going to loss the fish if I didn't get it out of the tree, I tightened the clutch, stopped the fish and leaned back and after a few seconds of (anxious on my part) head shaking out it came. You really have to watch that sprint start...

It took me another five minutes or so to net the (as it turned out) common carp, by which time my children had telephoned twice to bid me goodnight [my pocket was vibrating and while I like catching fish it's not that much ;-) ]. I do not always weigh fish, but this one dropped the scales round to just over 11lb with the net, which makes it a shade over 10lb. 'Quit while you are ahead'. Two fish, first and last cast. Packed up and went home. Good day.

2005 look here27th May 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. Bream on.

Today was cloudy and warm with little wind. I went for Peg 11 on the basis that 8 and 12 were taken, (which represents crowded here) and also while walking round I spotted a school of what looked to be bronze bream under an alder to one side of the swim (I fancied my chances of getting them feeding), this coupled with good colour on the water (which is only two-three feet deep here) made it an easy decision. Peg 11 faces a small open area of water where three arms of the lake converge and on some days there is a distinct flow to the water, caused in part by the water flowing into the lake from the top and in part by wind currents. I always feel more confident when there is a slight flow in the water, no reason. Today there was a slight movement, right to left

Moving like a ghost lest I disturb the bream, I invoked the well known 'inverse noise rule', which broadly speaking means that the quieter you are trying to be, the harder it is to keep you balance while loaded with tackle, unpack without rattling anything, or avoid dropping anything on the ground. Maybe, the fish are hard to spook I told myself as the flask, carefully and gently placed behind my tackle box, fell over.

I went with the usual small crystal antennae, bottom end only and an 18' braided trace of 10lb b/s, a size 8 hook, three grains of corn on the hook. I baited the swim, to my left (and towards the, no doubt still resident, bream...not so confident now). I fished about five yards out, the plan being that the vegetation on my left would give some cover. The water was smooth, as this swim is well sheltered on three sides by mature trees, but covered in the little bits of fluff that come off the alders and today it was like a gentle continuous snowfall, with a flurry on every gust of the breeze. Poetic eh?

The 'inverse noise rule' continued to follow my every move. Putting the rod onto the rest, I knocked the butt on my chair which cause the tip to hit the water. The chair frame suddenly relaxed half an inch. I dropped the can opener into the tackle box.

Nevertheless, despite my best efforts to scare any fish that might be near me, after about 45 minutes I got a 'dither, wobble, lift, wobble dither, plunge' type of bite. Which turned out to be a bronze bream of about 2½lb. This for some reason cancelled out the 'inverse noise rule' and I found that was easily concentrating on the float, with that sort of 'buzz' you get sometimes when you are completely focused on the fishing. In the next four hours I caught seven bream to 3½lb, all in cracking condition, no missing scales or split fins. I am not a bream fan, but I enjoyed these - they justified their name, the derivation of which is said to be the old Saxon word 'breswan' which means 'to glitter'. Wonderful. I also had a tench about 2½lb and lost another when the hook came out (an ill fated experiment with a size '10' rather than size '8' Raptor hook, I returned to a size '8'), plus a roach about ½lb and 'bumped off' another. Then suddenly at 5pm or so the 'buzz' went and after another half an hour with nary so much as a twitch I decided to call it a day. It felt like the fish had packed up and gone home, so I followed suit.

The other point of note was a little problem with the braid. I am a fan of the 'Palomar' knot, but twice on this trip the outside threads on the brad snapped exposing the core. My theory is that I use some less that sharp cutters to cut the braid and pulled some of the fibres through, hence making them tighter than the others. I have used the 10lb braid for some time now with no problems and have had a couple of double figure carp with no problems (and no easy fight either), so will be watching (and checking my traces). I still have half a spool of 11lb BS 'Black Spider' after all....

2005 look here17th June 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. Warm.

Very muggy and hot today - when I opened the door of the car the warm air enveloped me like a damp blanket. Still, must be good for fishing? Right? I decided on peg 8 which has the advantage (for me anyway) of not facing the setting sun. While it's not a great reason for choosing a swim (likelihood of catching fish being a better reason), I cannot stand the sun in my eyes, which goes past mere discomfort - even with shades and a hat, I often have to move on. Still, a beautiful evening, if close. I managed to take a good 45 minutes to get into the water and get fishing for real. This was a combination of problems with braid trace (see last diary entry, one more time and the Drennan braid goes in the bin) and discovering after the first cast, that the line around the reel area was quite roughed up - I had assumed a coating of slime or scum from the last trip out, but actually the line was abraded. Nuisance. Odd.

So down with the tackle, check all the rings on the rod (no problems, last time it was a cracked ceramic rod ring), back up with tackle and cast in. Now 6:45pm. Nowt. Zip. Nothing doing. Quiet. I should mention the 4×no.4 antennae and braided hook length, no. '8'' raptor barbless. Sweetcorn. I was fishing about four inches over depth in a little over three feet of water. By 8pm I'd had one twitch. At 8:10 pm I had a classic lift bite. Bob-lifffffffft-bob and was rewarded with a bronze bream of about 3½lb. Which is OK. Perhaps not in as good nick as the previous weeks, but a nice start nevertheless.

Between then and 9:30 I had a few twitches but nothing more. Very odd, given that there was plenty of fish activity, many rudd around the surface, which just HAVE to have a nibble of the shot near the float (well you never know, they might be food). After a bit you learn these are not bites, well, most of the time. You can catch these quite easily with a small worm, but today I didn't have any with me...had I that foresight, I could probably have caught the pike or perch that scattered these rudd on a regular basis, admittedly a bit away from where I was fishing. Next time - I usually carry a few worms, they are free and every fish in the water will eat them. This is the another advantage of a braid hook length - if you stick on a bunch of worms to move a pike on, you are not going to lose your end tackle to "dental erosion". Maybe too warm to feed? Or a pike in the swim...

For completeness a water vole went past. This always seems to happen. Certainly here, where there is a good population of them. Gratifying and worth taking the time to tell the difference between a water vole and a basic rat. (Clue: don't hit the water vole with a bank-stick. Don't feed the rats by leaving bait and litter behind). I also had a visit from a shrew of some sort, which was new to me, normally they are so shy you only ever hear the 'rustle' as they go about their business. At 9:30 I have a quick bite, which revealed a roach of about ½lb and at 9:55pm, with the light fading fast, I could see enough of the float to hit a bite which turned into a 3lb tench, in very good condition. At 10:10pm I couldn't see the float and went home, after toying with the idea of free lining the bait, with a hand as a bite indicator.

Three good fish, I've had worse days. So have you. Mental note: get new "beta" light floats, as the old ones are too dim to fish with (well I've had them 16 years - since ordered two new beta lights in blue, on the basis that most fish are better at seeing red. And I like blue better).

2005 look here26th June 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. One, two, three...

Warm day, (25°C), some sun some cloud. Peg 11, because there's a lot of fish hereabouts, the water is very clear and flotillas of roach are patrolling the margins. With hindsight the water was too clear - but baited up to the right (where some colour was in the water, with s/corn and chopped luncheon meat (really). Watched the roach and varied the hook bait, (hung under a 2×no.4 antenna) from one to the other of the loose offerings. Added worms to both hook baits. After two hours with the sun in my face (despite my Oxford waxed wide-brimmed hat, excellent Father's Day pressie...), with one 'tweak' to my credit (and that probably a curious roach butting the float), I decide enough is enough. It just doesn't feel right. Even loose worms are ignored by the roach and that can't be good.

I wander around to Peg 7 where the water is cloudy and the sun is on my back. More baiting up. More coffee. Two hours go by, sat in amongst the purple loosestrife and mint, marked only by a shrew running across my foot and a small group of geese, all seemingly guarding the two remaining goslings. Not even a nudge. There are hordes of roach patrolling this edge as well and a lot of splashing under the trees. A swift recce shows the roach are in full-on spawning mode and this explains the complete indifference to any bait, loose of otherwise, as well as the huge splashy commotion under several trees both on my side and on the opposite bank. After two more hours of this, I decide I may as well lob a bunch of worms over to the trees to see if there are any perch (or even pike) around. I change the float for a 2BB antenna, which has a bit more weight and off we go...

Searching from right to left, I reach the far left on the fourth cast and get a hit, which results in a decent 5-6oz perch. Always good. Sadly, this promise is not matched by any further fish, although some other float appeared on the right, about four yards from the tree line, then after dithering about for a bit, vanished again. Odd. Fish loose with someone's float. Not good.

Being alone on the water, I wandered around to pegs 8, 9 & 10 to try my luck with the worms and after 15 minutes of this without a sniff of any other perch, I returned to my seat at about ten-past-six, to try sweet-corn hook baits for another ten minutes.

Re-setting the depth (slider-knot braid float attachment, markers on the rod, it's a good system), I cast in. Five minutes in, off went the float and in came a 2½lb bream. OK, so another ten minutes then...five minutes later, a sharp bob, a 60 second pause and another. Another longer 60 seconds then the float vanished. I hit it and small bag of sand hurtled off to my right. It made about 15 yards on that run and with the rod bent right over, headed off into he trees to my right, boring hard along the bottom. Not a bream then. For a few minutes the 'to-and-fro' went on with no sight of the fish and I was beginning to think I had a very big tench on. 'Alas' on first sight, the bag of sand had transmuted into a common carp, which took another five minutes to net. Leaving the net in the water I whipped out the hook, whipped off the handle and put the scales on the net. A few seconds to drain and less the net, 11½lb, not a bad fish at all (fish out of the water less than 15 seconds, mental note: start packing camera).

It is noticeable that when carp are around, they'll often have a few experimental pulls at a bait, sometimes spreading those pulls over 20 minutes. This can look like small stuff messing about, especially when you have a largish (three-four grains on a size '8') type of hook-bait. Tench can shove a bait around a good bit as well, but the float tends to move around when this happens and adjusting the length of the line from the last shot to the bait will often sort this out and get you more positive takes. I have watched carp circle a bait (or a float for that matter) several times, often higher in the water, before descending. They give every appearance of checking it out. I digress.

6:35pm, things to do, tea to cook...called it a day, despite the deep suspicion that the swim I have so carefully baited for two hours was starting to come alive. Not a bad day's fishing dayOh, come on - we've all had days when we'd have sold our souls for a 5oz perch, a 2½lb bream and an 11½lb Carp. On some days just one of those would have done it, but as I packed up, it seemed that I had caught fish in spite of the way I'd fished, not because of it. It's like that sometimes. The Drennan braid earned a reprieve. Must get a rig bin for braided hook lengths.

2005 look here8th July 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset. Drowsy.

Onto peg 5, which is nicely tucked away from the main body of the water which had several anglers on it, ('crowded' today). The water here is a little under four feet, where I was fishing and the water had plenty of colour, which compared with some other swims on the lake was a bonus. Just under the line of the pictures I regularly saw carp swim past, in no hurry. A good reason to keep still.

The plan here was to stay on until dusk to use the new blue Beta lights. Just as well really, as the first three hours yielded a only couple of knocks. Very frustrating, as there were fish moving all day and feeding as well, around the float, beside it, surprised they weren't on top of it. I varied the hook length, the hook size, the bait, the size of bait. Nada. It's good for the soul to be reminded occasionally that you are not as good a fisherman as you think...I told myself, as another tench bubbled past the float. I've skipped the usual description, for pictures. Well it's easier and nicer to look at.

Milton Abbey...still water...Milton Abbey...go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey bream #1

Nevertheless I persisted. Well it wasn't dark yet. About 9:30 I had a bite which I missed in astonishment and then in the next half an hour had a bream (1½lb), a tench (2½lb) and a roach (½lb) in quick succession. Good oh. Then someone dropped by for a chat and killed the swim stone dead. I changed to a beta light and after an hour (including that annoying 20-30 minutes when it's too light for the beta light and too dark for a regular float), I had another bream and another tench. Got used to the beta-light after a while. It seems to be easier to see if you don't look right at it. But that might be my eyes. At 11:30 or so, with it quite dark I called it a night.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tench #1Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tench #2Milton AbbeyIt was dark and that's what the float looked like. It's a tiny white dot in the bottom left quadrant. It is. Really.

The saga of the braid comes to an end. After tying and testing (with scales) about six traces, during the afternoon and getting one good one the Drennan braid goes in the bin. The black thread/outer sheath seems to go quite often. It's as if the braid has a mix of fibres, some of which stretch a different amount to others. More research needed, but PowerPro looks good. Any feedback gratefully received...

2005 look here18th September 2005. Milton Abbey Lake, Dorset

So back to Peg 11. Chosen today for its depth of water and tendency to produce carp (I've had several here). I set out to catch carp and tackled up with: the carp rod, a 10lb-through-rig, a 10lb b/s Kryston braid trace, a size '6' hook (mental note must get some 4's and 2's), luncheon meat and a small pole float (2 × no.6 in theory, but a big bit of meat provides all the weight needed) to provide bite indication. iiiThe three uses of a float are:
(1) Presentation of the bait.
(2) Bite indication.
(3) Giving you something to look at while you wait for the fish.
(3) is a big one for me.
I don't count separating 'float tarts' from their cash as a real use.
I put a no.6 by the float, another about 6" from the hook and fished about 8" over depth.

The weather was calm and started off sunny, as the picture shows, but clouded over early in the afternoon, which I prefer. Fishing was slow (and has been hard here lately, high pressure weather), but I was treated to a dragon-fly spectacular, which I totally failed to capture on camera, best effort below-centre. There was a kingfisher about, which is nice. The non-fishing highlight of the day was it streaking right to left (in the picture) just in from the far bank. A large school of rudd scattered in a line under the blue streak, making it look as if they had been strafed. I'd have paid money to get a good picture of that.

Milton AbbeyHazy drowsey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey...go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on...or not.

My bet with myself at the start of the day was that I would get three bites if I was lucky. I wasn't far wrong. I started at about 11am and plumbed and baited up. I had a bump on the float at 12ish and another about 1pm. And that was it until just before 3pm when the float bobbed and vanished. I may have hit the bite a little over hard. Well I'd been waiting a long time.

I only needed a few seconds to know I might have the carp that I hoped for - I have to say no great fight (for a carp), it kind of barrelled about with no great length of run and made little attempt to get into the weeds or round the corner. After a shortish tussle, I slid the (new) net under, putting the recently acquired unhooking mat to first use. On the scales 13¼lb, my largest for this water.

Milton Abbey...very still water...Milton AbbeyThis for the picture of the dragon-flyMilton Abbey13¼lb, my largest for this water

Far more pleasing is the setting out to catch and then catching. I was going to call it a day at 3pm, but decided to give it a bit longer (yeah, well). I had another bite about ten past four, which I missed. Very annoying. I called it a day at five, with children to roast and a chicken to bath. Or something like that. I've had worse days. Haven't we all?

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2005 look here28th December 2005. Milton Abbey Lake. Esox Carpio. A very cold (-2°C) day and the forecast was clear but cold for the whole day. Nevertheless I was determined to get out even if exposure was an option and having dyed and flavoured my sweet-corn (red, turmeric), I took the usual flask and also another with hot food and set out.

Arriving at the water around 10am, I wondered around to peg twelve thinking that where three channels of the water met might be worth a try, if for no other reason that there is always some flow which will carry the bait scent a good way. I set up both the four-piece Avon and the old carp rod and bunged spam on the carp rod and a red sweet-corn/pepperami cocktail on the Avon. Both sets of tackle on hair rigs and a simple 2SSG shot running ledger (no bolt rigs!). I put on a couple of bite alarms, which allows me to keep hands in pockets or gloves. These are 'Fox Microns', which are good, but have a silly battery size and are WAY TOO LOUD. Even with the LOWEST VOLUME AND PITCH settings. So a happy hour (at home) saw them to bits and the back of the speakers covered with self adhesive foam and also a layer over the holes on the outside of the casing and the sockets on the bottom. Better. I may even put a 'scope on them and modify the speaker drive...or perhaps not.

Sixty minutes later there was not even a sign of a fish and I went for a wonder with the 'shades on to enjoy the clarity of the water - I took the opportunity to scope out the features on the bottom - the most interesting part of which were the clear trails in the leaves on the bottom, showing regular routes for the fish. I spotted pike and perch in the main (and off limits) lake and after following the far bank opposite swim 11, spotted both carp (certainly 15lb+ some of them) and a bunch of good tench (4lb+) under the trees. Both schools hanging mid water motionless. I also spotted one of the larger 'ghosties' having a wander which was encouraging. As fishing from that bank is verboten, I moved to swim 11 and opted to fish each rod about half-way across, working on the basis that late afternoon would see some movement, if there was any. It was that or worms and stalking pike (which I hadn't seen any of on this lake). A nice shiny 'popped up' sprat might have been useful though.

Until one o'clock the sun was out and warmed things through (relatively speaking) and while the temperature did not move over freezing, it was out of the slightest of winds. Even so, the line froze to the rod rings and I needed to tweak the line too-and-fro every ½ hour or so to ensure it was free. Frost hung on all the vegetation, even in the weak sun. I made friends with a 'starving' robin, who could barely fly once stuffed with spam slivers and maggots. The best of uses for old maggots.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey wintering Milton AbbeyEveryone's winter pal...

Nothing could have tasted quite so good as the hot beans and sausages in the second flask, even better than Christmas dinner. The afternoon passed and despite small roach 'topping' in the middle and one big swirl under the trees with the carp (the red branches in the picture below, tench are out of shot to the right), nothing happened. About 3pm the slightest of tweaks on the Avon made me jump, but nothing developed. To wile way the time I broke spam up into lumps and put it in with the sweet-corn and making it RED (tackle tip - ONLY a few drops of red food colouring are needed for two tins of sweet-corn. NOT a teaspoon full). At 3:15pm I re-baited both rods and added a worm to each bait for luck. More loose feed.

At 4:15, with frost forming on the tackle box and rods, I poured the last cup of coffee and stood up to rock on my heels and warm up a bit before tackling down. While slurping, I noticed the end of the carp rod had taken a strong set to the right. No bleep. Odd. Clucking bell, the line's frozen to the rod. Coffee down, rod up.

Something exploded on the surface of the water and headed fast for the tree on the right. I put on a lot of side strain but it still made 5 yards, but once round the corner, thing gets awkward. Back it came, straight out into the middle, more strain. Back to the right and more side strain. Not huge but feisty The fish took off to the left, went under the other line briefly (bleep!) and then suddenly under the net, a pike, 6lb maybe, hooked right in the scissors. That's red spam and a worm for you. I weighed it in the net and snapped it and put it back. A cracking pike, 6¼lb beautiful colour and condition, more like a river fish. And a longer fight than you normally get. As an aside...the picture shows a hair rig tied (myself) with 10lb Kryston Merlin and a size '8' Raptor and although hooked in the scissors, the braid above the hook is roughened and the hair link, which was inside the mouth when I unhooked it, definitely shows a cut. While I am sure braid has a place in pike fishing, this type of soft braid is clearly not the way to go. (I have in a the past used Milbro 'Black Spider' in 11lb and 15lb b/s without any problems, admittedly only worming for jack pike. aerYep that's an 'anti-eject rig'. I did try them for a bit, but have now abandoned them for good. JAA 2008.

Milton AbbeyA fish is a fish... Milton Abbeywell knashered...

Still, a fish is a fish and not a blank...I'm going to start coming for the last hour only I think, as that's when I seem to catch all my fish this winter. Still at -2°C when back at the car. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, 2nd Movement. Just right.

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

2006 JAA19th February 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Almost a blank. Might have rained. Who on earth would spend all day in the cold rain? It's not often I do for sure. Having missed out for a couple of weekends due to weather and circumstances, I was very determined to get out today, whatever the weather. In the event, it was raining, and 6°C, but as this represented a warming up compared with previous weeks and there had been enough rain to perhaps put some colour in the water, I went for the normally hard winter water.

I had planned to check both the water temperature and the air/rain temperature as I went along, but the thermometer (a handy freezer one with a sensor on the body and a second at the end of a long bit of wire) decided it wouldn't work any more. I decided that the pole and a single maggot with some bread cloud-bait would catch stand a good chance (Plan 'A') and arriving, I uncharacteristically trudged round the lake with the umbrella up to see what was what. Despite the rain most of the lake had little colour with the most likely looking swim nearest the car park, where the bottom showed signs of stirring. Everywhere else I could see the bottom well enough to convince me they were not the spots. So Peg 1 then.

I screwed the umbrella post into a handy hole in the sleepers that marked the swim. Tackling up in thick mud and fine cold rain is hard enough, but sorting out a pole without getting mud on the joints and the wet elastic down the fourth section is a trying thing. After succeeding, I popped on a 3×no.8 shot bottom end only float and fished two maggots on a '16', about 12 feet out in three feet of water at most. I loose fed a few maggots, but keep the bread-crumb in the dry for now. After 15 tricky minutes, I noted a few rising fish, and after a minute or so of odd float movements, got a bite and a small roach of about 6oz. Not a blank then.

Milton Abbey LakeSee? I said it rained. Milton Abbey Lake'Improved' i.e. 'rained harder'. Rain, rain. Bu88er off.

The rain 'improved'. Which is to say it got heavier and windier. I abandoned the pole after half-an-hour as the weather was making control awkward if not unpleasant. I switched to ledgered baits, on the basis I could stay dry and as fish were moving still I had a good chance. I set up a left hand rod with a bunch of maggots on a ring and hair rig, with a size 8 'raptor'. I put this on a simple running ledger with a ¼oz Arlesey Bomb. I fired small amounts of maggots over an area about 10 yards out. The right hand rod was baited up with a similar rig, but with red sweet-corn and pepperami, and a light scattering of free offerings put against the small island slightly under 10 yards out to the right.

In the next hour or so I got regular twitches on the maggots, but nothing more. Probably smaller stuff. After two hours of coffee and twitches, I switched the left hand bait for luncheon meat. I spent the next four hours with the rain dripping of the edge of the umbrella, and despite fish continuing to move and roll, and colour in the water remaining, I didn't get a take. That's how it goes. I imagine if I'd fished a maggot or two on a small hook, I could have caught some smaller stuff. But with weather being how it was, I lacked the enthusiasm for continually changing rigs and squishing in the mud and rain for a few small roach (much as I like them). That and being essentially dry and wanting to keep that way. I hung on until the light started to fail (last cast fish...?), but on this occasion none materialised and with hypothermia setting in I called it quits. Odd though. I had the right spot, fish moving, fish not taking. Wish I'd had some worms...

2006 JAA19th March 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Here pike. Off a-piking we go. There are a few pike in this lake and they are neither huge (a few doubles) nor fished for. Accordingly I took some sprats, 'joey' mackerel, sand-eels and some fish sauce and oils. It's bright and sunny but colder than you think with the air temp being 3°C, but with no thermometer still, I cannot tell you the water temp. Putting on the Polaroids I take a walk around the lake, spotting carp and tench on the back pool, but seeing no sign of the roach at this point, which would be better for my purposes. There are a small few patches of coloured water, but not many, and eventually I opt to try a couple of baits in the back pool on Peg 13 and work around the far side of the lake. This plan is based on the most sightings of pike in the lake and also where the most natural cover for a pike can be found.

I put a couple of baits out - float fishing one to the right to try and drift in into the channel there (where pike lay up) an popping the other up off the bottom with a piece of cork to the left. My plan is to cover most of this pool in a couple of hours - which I do with nothing remotely resembling a take. I try to work the baits to the edges (aided by the stiff breeze) where last summer's reeds and rushes are collapsed on the water, good cover for a lurking esox. As the sun is out and the water clear I am constantly looking for signs of the prey, but none so far. Just because you cannot see them doesn't mean there are not there. I move to Peg 11 after a couple of hours.

While moving swims I spot a pike, about 8lbs, under the fallen tree in the aforementioned channel. I'll try anything for a fish, but this one had its head between the fork of a fallen tree. I could have got a bait to it (just), but I'd would simply never have got it out - even with the 7' rod, which I'd put in the car on a whim. I tried to tempt it into a better position over the next three hours or so, with worms and a small sprat. Nothing doing, it was still there four hours later when I packed up with my free nosh still on the bottom about 4" from it's head. I've seen this before...annoying isn't it? You can get fish like this to snap at a bait jigged carefully in front of it, but with the woodwork the chances of then landing the fish were about zero.

Milton Abbey LakeI like this's round the back, I think it's 'peg 14'' Milton Abbey LakeLooks good for pike. 'looks'...

It defied all attempts to photograph it, as the camera doesn't have a handy polarising lens feature. I fished out both Pegs 10 & 8, changing the baits to half a mackerel and ended up 90 minutes or so later on Peg 7. I spotted while moving swims the elusive roach giving me some cause for optimism. As before both baits out and after half and hour there was a large disturbance about 15 feet from my float, the real lunge of a feeding fish. I re-cast (a bit further out) and 15 minutes later another lunge and swirl. Promising.

About 10 minutes later a starburst of roach almost opposite me suggested more predator activity, but after another 15 minutes nothing was forthcoming, although I did spot my second pike of the day, a half pounder in the wintered rotted rushes near my swim. While packing up and getting into the car, a further three or four firework scatters of roach made me think seriously about a quick dart in the gloom with a sink and draw sprat, but Sunday evening beckons...

So Rule 2'Catching pike is not that difficult'. Sure, let's say that. not working today, Rule 3'Finding pike can be very very difficult, especially big ones' -- 'check' countered and Rule 21'Any of the rules can be wrong at any time', rules. That's pike fishing. Wish I could have tempted the one in the trees to turn round though...

2006 JAA19th May 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 1½ anglers in the rain and some roach. After a couple of strolls around the water with No. 1 Son in previous weeks, he requested a fishing trip. So this week a pickup from school and down to the water. The weather looked iffy and grey, but as it was fine when we set off we went for it. I packed jam sandwiches (essential nutrition for a small boy) and a flask of Lemon tea and some juice, plus a few maggots. You have to get your priorities right you know.

Despite advice to try peg 1, I went for 14 on the basis it had good room for 1½ fishermen and some shelter from the prevailing weather. I set up a golf ball sized bit of spam on the 'Trek, five yards to my right, free-lined on 12lb braid/mono and then equipped the lad with the Avon and a '2×no.4' crystal to fish immediately off the reeds (under the tip). I loose fed the maggots, caught a roach about ¾lb setting the float depth and another getting it just right and then handed the rod over. It started to rain so up with the brolly and a quick move round of all the stuff to keep us both dry.

Milton Abbey LakeYet more rainMilton Abbey LakeFirst of the tenMilton Abbey Lakethe float of the 'hatangler'

Roach were spawning in the trees to the left, so we had a constant splashing and thrashing to listen too, but it didn't seem to affect the catch rate, unlike a similar period last year. I should mention the offspring's liking of lemon, so I only got about half of my tea...with loose feed the roach bit freely all afternoon, but despite the lack of practise ten roach were banked, and probably another ten came off but that's not too bad. All were between ½-1lb (just), so a good stamp of fish.

Milton Abbey Lakethe 'hatangler' under the brolly Milton Abbey LakeThe 'hatanglers' largest roach

Nothing even tweaked the spam, until about 6:50pm when the bobbin leapt, giving me a minor scare, but despite further bumps for 15 minutes it became apparent whatever it was was too small for the lump I'd put on, which was underlined on retrieval as one end had been nibbled away. Oh well. 'The Hatangler' declared he had a target of ten fish and as the tenth hit the net, we opted to go on home. The rain had been steady all afternoon, but we had kept dry and busy, so we splatted our way back to the car. Good fun.

2006 JAA28th May 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 'Marmiteangler' and more roach. So 'Just' and 'Marmiteangler' headed for Milton Abbey for a few hours in the May sun. I went for peg 12 for the same reason as the previous week, based on the ease of sitting alongside and assisting the junior angler. Again I went for the Avon and margin fished maggot bait and in similar fashion roach showed themselves quite early on (at about 11:30am in fact).

Milton Abbey Lake'Marmiteangler'Milton Abbey LakeThe swimMilton Abbey LakeThe firstest roach

The day was overcast but when the sun broke through it got warm enough to be down to T-shirts and the fish kept nipping. A little before 1pm I broke out the lunch rations, and taking charge of the rod for a minute or two struck at 'yet another roach', only to find a find a perch of just over 1lb on the end, which is always a nice surprise. The roach were mostly half a pound of so upward, with a couple nudging the 1lb mark which is a great stamp of fish by any standards.

Milton Abbey LakeRoach the secondMilton Abbey LakeThe perchMilton Abbey LakeRoach the thirdMilton Abbey LakeRoach the forth

Water temperature was a warm and constant 13°C for all of the day, with the air temperature around 22°C most of the day and a constant shower of catkin fluff from the surrounding willows descended in a steady stream onto the water, and gradually as the day wore on, the patch of the water to our left, which was covered in the bits and pieces extended towards us. Also with the advancing angle of the sun, the frequency of the bites waned, which prompted a change to sweetcorn and this gave us harder to hit bites, but by feeding both and alternating hook baits we kept the roach coming and around 6pm or so, a grain of corn produced a tench around 2lbs which was a good bonus fish.

Milton Abbey Lake'Roach the fifth'Milton Abbey LakeThe tenchMilton Abbey LakeThe 'Marmiteangler's' float

We had a further roach and in the last hour or so as the sun dipped below the trees causing the temperature to descend to a rather cooler 12°C, we took our cue to head off and called it an evening...all in all we have about 20 roach between us with 'Marmite' notching up 13, with the balance to myself caught during sustenance breaks and setting the depth, with a couple of roach taking the bait during some optimistic casting to a passing school of rudd. Well it was worth a try. Top day.

2006 JAA2nd June 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. Roach and fluff and stuff. Warm and June so off to peg 7. It looks idyllic on turning up, still, with a slight breeze. There are carp rolling all over the place, so I assemble the four-piece Avon, add a pole float, (3×no.6) to 8lb mono, 8lb feeder-braid hook-length and a size 8 hook ("You'll never get bites with that tackle..."). Baiting up an area only a few yards from the bank, I put several corn-grains on the 'raptor', set the depth and 'bump-off' a bigger than average fish. Half-an-hour on, two further lost 6-8oz roach have me check the hook-point - which is slightly curled...I hone it back into shape. Huh. It might seem as if I'm fishing a little close in, but clear winter water had revealed a slight gully six feet from the bank, perhaps only 6" deeper than the rest, so that's where the float is.

I add bread pills to the ground-bait, bank a small roach on three grains, so switch to one grain on the bend - a lot of hook shows, but it'll often turn missed bites and 'bumps' into hooked fish. A couple more come to hand on bread flake, the last one a solid 1lb, weighed to re-sync estimates. I should mention the willow-fluff, which is reaching epidemic proportions. A lot of roach are now visible, so I add hemp to the corn and bait with both. The next fish, which takes a single grain of corn, feels like a lively bream as it hacks off hard right, but on netting, it's an enormous roach, scaled at 2lb 2oz, there are not so many of these, I feel my day is already complete.

Milton Abbey LakeWhat a 2lb 2oz Roach looks like

It's only 4:30pm so I crack on. I catch several more roach at 1lb, then a bit after 5pm another belter at 1lb 12oz. Whoopee. At 5:30pm I lose one at the net around 1½lb, then 'bump' a fish at around 6pm that looked bigger than the earlier 2lb'er; although through a foot of murky water it's hard to be sure. Arrgh. The willow-fluff has now covered the swim, fishing increasingly hard with blobs of damp cotton wool sticking to the line and float, impeding casting, damping the strike and taking five minutes to clear after every second cast. Double arrgh. Hard work. I spend the next hour-and-a-half missing bites at a quite extraordinary rate. I change the hook for a regular fine wire specimen. No change. More and more fluff...I consider packing up, then get a tench about 3lb which makes me reconsider. More missed bites. Vary the shot pattern. No change. Then - a brainwave. 'Tell-tale' shot by the hook and loose fed hemp...aha.

Milton Abbey Lake1lb roachMilton Abbey LakeAnother 1lb roachMilton Abbey LakeThe 1¾lb roachMilton Abbey LakeYet another 1lb roachMilton Abbey LakeOne of the 'small' ones

The tell-tale removed, the un-hittable bites fade away and the evening rights itself, two more fine roach, another tench, a 2lb maybe. Another roach. A bream, another tench 1½lbish, another roach, a blood coloured tench around 3lb and a final 6oz roach. I give in then as the float is invisible and the willow-fluff has driven me potty. Owls hooting, bats flitting...five tench, a shining breswan, fifteen or so roach, several at a 1lb, and a 1¾lb and 2lb 2oz. Can't be bad. With hindsight, I might have tried a small stop-bead or shot as a bait...

Milton Abbey Lake1½lb tenchMilton Abbey LakeA 3lb tenchMilton Abbey LakeAnother 1½lb tenchMilton Abbey LakeA very shiny breamMilton Abbey LakeAnother 3lb tenchMilton Abbey LakeA 2lb tench

2006 JAA11th June 2006. Milton Abbey Lake. 'Bugangler', golden rudd and a flotilla of to Milton Abbey with the 'Bugangler' for a dangle. Peg 7 was picked as it has shade, and with the temperature in the 22-24°C region, shade and hats were the order of the day. I went again for the Avon and simple maggot rig, and as before when neophyte fishing, put a 'chuck and chance' rig of luncheon meat out to the right. Well you never know.

Milton AbbeyThe Bugfloat

The depth here, as intimated previously, is around 3' in the narrow depression nearer the bank. Setting up a 2 × No 4 crystal and a 6lb rig (tench...) I plumbed the depth and following the pattern of the previous weeks caught a couple of roach doing that. I then handed the rod to the learner, with a couple of rod rests to take the weight. Contrary to expectation the sun remained resolutely behind a cloud for the session, which was a good thing. With some loose fed maggots we had a steady stream of bites, which over the next three hours, four sandwiches, a cereal bar and a banana produced a dozen roach at least, 2 × 8oz perch and two small handsome golden rudd, a rare treat.

Ratty put in an appearance as well, and good to see him. The mink haven't made it here yet, thankfully. Around 12:45 my 'chancer' bite alarm bleeps loud, but if a true run, the hook missed its mark. The bites are tailing off a bit, and what with the 'Bugangler' not doing 'sitting still' we have little wander around to see if we can't catch one of the stick-like small pike that are lurking in the shallows with the roach and rudd around the far side of the spit. In this we fail (although several are spotted and fade quietly into the murky water when spotted, although do add another roach to the bag. Another missed opportunity but for the worms I hadn't dug and taken. But a good bag - piccies of 'Bugangler's Bag' below. We pootle home at 2:00pm to return the fished out 'Bugangler'.

Milton Abbeythe 'Bugangler's Bag'Milton AbbeyRatty out for a paddleMilton Abbeythe 'Bugangler's Bag' (plus two tench I caught later on)

Two rounds of sandwiches later I return for a go at Pitch 13, as I saw several VERY large roach there from the earlier wander around. I bait hemp and corn mixed with crushed hemp and maggot with some crushed hemp for luck. Although there are plenty of fish visible, nothing happens, except I get the sun in the mush and on my arms, as the clouds had cleared while I was home, this left me sitting in the blazing afternoon sun. I stick it out against the time it dips below the tree line, but even so with only one missed bite between then and 6:15 I considered returning to the swim of the morning's triumph...but another bite and a half pound roach keeps me going.

As the sun dips, it cools, but the real swim killer is the pike. This female in the picture, with it's back out of the water was circling the pool, with three hopeful male fish in close attendance for a couple of hours - which might have a bearing on the lack of fish. Some pictures of the odd procession...worth a closer look at this, zoom right in. Not something you see every day.

Milton AbbeyAmorous pikeMilton AbbeyAmorous pikeMilton AbbeyAmorous pikeMilton AbbeyAmorous pike
Milton AbbeyAmorous pike - worth a closer look at this one Milton AbbeyAmorous pike

Anyhoo, I stuck out the increasingly fishy feeling and with another roach to keep me interested, spotted the tench slipping into my swim and had a fast bite at 7:05pm from a tail I could just see in the murk, which turned out to be a tench at 3½lb (ish) and other at 7:20, at 4lb on the scales. I have one more roach in the next hour and a last tench, 3½lb more or less, at 8:00pm with a roach at 8:10 and headed home. Odd, but another tench fisher around in peg 1, also had a very quiet session, so the morning with the 'Bug' was the pick of the day. You'll not want to see another tench. Oh go on then.

Milton AbbeyThe best of the tench, at 4lb. Never bad.'

2006 JAA9th July 2006. Milton Abbey. Olive beauties. Back again on Peg 12, for some tench, at least this was the plan. I baited with hemp and some corn. Why do I mix them? So something is visible to the fish - corn is very visible and hemp well, isn't. The corn gets ignored mostly when the hemp is discovered though. I started with bread paste mixed with crushed hemp on the hook at around 3:30pm. It was sunny and warm with little evidence of the rain of the past day or two.

Milton AbbeyPeg 12, looking like an oil painting

Nothing came to the paste in an hour so I swapped to corn on the hook, three grains threaded to cover the whole size 8 hook bar the point. These hooks are part of a batch bought years ago (Jack Hilton's) and while they are 'old', I find they hook better than some of the newer thicker wire hooks. While on end-tackle, I have the usual 6lb silkworm hook-length and the Avon rod, plus a long antenna pole float, with all the shot under the float and over-fished by about 4", the hook-length. No shot near the hook, it's too much like hemp. There were a couple of nudges on corn but nothing developed, until at 5:10 I had a sharp bite and after a short tussle involving an over-hanging willow, banked a tench around 3lb.

Despite my expectations, nothing else happened, except a few nibbles, until about 7pm when another sharp bite yielded a 4lb tench. The sun had lowered itself behind the trees and the evening was now calm and balmy, which went well with my pole float and I had no trouble keeping my attention on the long red remote bite alarm. I switched hook baits to the hempen paste and had another fish about 10 minutes later. Then despite a lot of feeding bubbles I had no clear bites until after 8pm or so when I had another fish around 3lbs, then after a recast, one about 2lb more or less 'on-the-drop'. I also get a bite and contact briefly another fish which comes straight off. The feeding bubbles tailed off, but despite less apparent activity, three more fish of 2-3lb come to the net between 8-9pm, all on paste.

Milton AbbeyTench the firstMilton AbbeyTench the secondMilton AbbeyTench the third
Milton AbbeyTench the forthMilton AbbeyTench the fifthMilton AbbeyTench the sixthMilton AbbeyTench the seventh

The crushed hemp bread paste was a try out, and I have to say the fish like it. The bites I had were deliberate and the fish seem to want to hang onto it. The other advantage is that if mixed nice and sticky (but not too soft) you can press plenty of hemp seed into the paste as well. I had hoped for a carp towards the end of the evening, but several went round the float and floated off. I'm going to have to find an invisible float or 'free-line'. They are clearly suspicious of the float. The other oddity, is that despite a lot of roach being around, many big enough to take the bait, I didn't have one - and missed only three bites all evening, two of those on corn.

JAA's favourite fish. Well, joint favourite with the gudgeon. gonkIzaak Walton in 1653 wrote of the Gudgeon: "The GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very wholesome: he is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in the year, and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of excellent nourishment: the Germans call him Groundling, by reason of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself in sharp streams, and on the gravel. He and the barbel both feed so, and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do: he is a most excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red-worm, on or near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost off from the hook if he be once strucken.
They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer; but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour and rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deep parts of the water, and are to be fished for there with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork; but many will fish for the Gudgeon by hand, with a running-line upon the ground, without a cork, as a trout is fished for; and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod and as gentle a hand."

2006 JAA30th August 2006. Milton Abbey. Things that go bump in the evening. A short session at my current favourite water. I went for Peg 3 and set up a small, 3×no.8, crystal and fished right under the bush to my right. There is no wind to speak of and I am able to cast past the bush and reel back in under it. Having slipped up to the swim quietly all should be well. I've gone for corn and hemp and giant maize for hook bait and hemp bread paste.

Giant maize on a size four gets trembles only, so I switch to a '14' thick wire and a single grain. I get several small roach (6oz), bump one off and then about 40 minutes in a 1½lb fish into the net. Top notch. I spook the fish sorting it out, as the swim is then dead for 20 minutes. I swap the float for a small pole one, as the crystal has started to sink (eh?), and bump off a large slow fish, that felt like a bream. Argh. Another smaller roach (6oz) a lost tench, several missed bites, and then I bump off another tench. Arrrgh.

Milton AbbeyThe good roach

Another small roach around ¾lb and then with the light fading, I put an LED torch beam on the float and miss a sideways sitter and 30 seconds later latch into a carp (large, straight run for five yards), then hook pulled out. Arrrrrrrrgh. One more roach and it's time to move. Short but very frustrating. But for being off my game I'd have had a fab bag for 2½ hours. Drat. Double drat. Who says fishing is always relaxing?

2006 JAA8th September 2006. Milton Abbey. A bit less than magical...a short session on Peg 4, which is rapidly becoming known as the 'Nemesis Peg'. I set up a peacock quill for lift bites, and baited with hemp and used paste made with crushed hemp on the hook. I started around 5pm, but then had to go home for the landing net "V", which didn't improve my mood. Moral; "Don't use landing nets for apple picking." Weather was fine calm and grey with temperatures around 13°C.

Milton Abbeycoupla blurry roach Milton Abbeynight fishing

I had a few fiddles on the quill but nothing I could hit so at about 7:30 put on a small pole float (with one eye on the dark hour, when it would show better in torch light. I caught a 6oz roach then, and despite swapping baits (tried mussels) and changing hook and bait sizes, had two more similar fish by 10pm, and only missed one bite. Even the usual twilight magic didn't really improve on the bag nor my mood. Not a great return on the 4½ hours. Grumped off home.

2006 JAA18th November 2006. Milton Abbey. Madness enhanced by carelessness. One might have thought by now that I would know better than to try for a carp in near-freezing temperatures, but had got the bug in the head, so Saturday afternoon took off with some mussels, hemp and few worms then went down for a go. As I ought to have guessed, the water was fining down, clear, even on Peg 12 where the best chances might be - fish were moving but not feeding, although the summer weed was still here. I baited up. Flat calm water, the sky was clear and even with the nip in the air I would much rather be outdoors.

A few tench are lurking and there's plenty of roach about. On 10lb line I strung a piece of peacock quill, a long tail from the 'tell-tale' BB, then set up about around 6" over-depth, terminated with a size '6' Jack Hilton, a lob-worm and large mussel. I would have bet on my only real chance being in the last hour, but as it turns out that was not so, but in the end the lack of fish was self-inflicted (so often the case).

The afternoon wore on pleasantly enough, even too pleasantly. The sun hid early on, which took it out of my eyes, but still no wind while a better fisher than I streaked back and forth, fishing opposite and to the right. After an hour came a bleeping from the main lake. Oh good. A large lead hit the water 100 yards off, which made more noise than the 40 yards distant kingfisher hitting the water from fifteen feet up. The late autumn colours are excelling themselves, the red of the bushes on the far bank nicely setting off the overstaying leaves and patches of green weed. It's like an oil painting today.

Milton AbbeyTold you it looked like an oil painting

A movement near my feet and the float twitched and a big swirl of mud announced a spooked fish. I don't recall moving but maybe I did. I'm joined by small flock of long tailed tits in the tree to my right and notice an orange blob near the kingfishers spot on the far bank. I muse on the lost tackle and resolve to collect it later. I wonder why I'm not interested in changing tackle and trying for the tench or the roach and then a 4lb jack-pike materialises from the depths, a spectral torpedo, gently breaks the surface 6 feet from me after some imaginary prey and receded back into the mirror with hardly a ripple. Five minutes later a big twitch on the quill and a huge cloud of needle bubbles gets my interest but it turns out to be an ejected bait and another a spooked fish. Late in a long season maybe? I remove the float and switch to free lining with (wait for it) silver foil and coil or two of line on the unhooking mat. Well I know it's a cliché but a surprising effective one and my intent is to remove the vertical line that might be brushing the fish off.

More dithering from the king of fishers but not nearly enough for a picture and at 4pm with the cold gathering itself for the twilight, I wander round to pick up what turn out to a large plastic pike float and I find a small cruise missile on the way, but according to the writing on the side it's a carp float of some sort. If I had a crossbow I could bring down small game with it. Warmed by the walk, I return gently to the penultimate coffee and re-cast, flick the line off the rod and the foil jerks, which make me jerk and after waiting five minutes, check the bait to find the tail gone from the worm. I replace it and settle back. Owls have started up now, a feature of this hollow place I quite like and then another huge explosion of bubbles and a twitch of the rod-tip signals another spooked fish.

Milton AbbeyFive minutes later a big twitch on the quill and a huge cloud of needle bubbles... Milton AbbeyI resolve to enjoy the twilight and the last cup...

Hmm. I resolve to enjoy the twilight and the last cup, despite the toes numbing a bit. I watch the light fading over the trees opposite, turning the view black-and-white and listen to the owls calling back and forth. Then a twitch of the foil, another cloud of bubbles but despite sitting until 5:15 there is nothing I might call a bite. I pack up and it occurs, dullard, it might have been better had I sat back from the edge of the water, keeping the rod from poking out over the clear water. Sometimes it's as if you're not trying hard enough for a fish.

hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook

2007 JAA's third year10th April 2007. Milton Abbey Lake. So much for the Doctor Fish. Self imposed exile over and after a five hour stint behind the wheel, the April sun lures me to the lake for its tench. I packed poorly: two floats, no float tube, no ‘BB’ shot, no torch, no spare spool. Oh well.

Peg 12 makes sense and the tench bubbles trick me and for a long hour I watched and change baits for a mere twitch. I start with a short tail and a 2 × no. 4 quill (the only one in the box). After 30 minutes of nerve wracking bubbling I switch to a 4 × 14 paste-float and a 12” tail, two nibs of corn and a cockle. Still only the one ‘twitch’. The sun though is glorious and the water is 14°C, warm enough. I can wait. Geese honk behind as a father and son move from here to there. A few roach and perch, a good day for them. The slightest of twitches on the float. A small pike slithers further up the reeds. More needle bubbles add to the low sun’s torment.

Milton AbbeyThe float and the weed-raftMilton AbbeyThe pitch, Peg 12.Milton AbbeyThat's what I call a bite. So much for the 'Doctor Fish'...

The sun highlights rough line by the reel; I strip five yards. Cockles were nibbled though (stop it). A trip to the car yields 8lb Stren, no torch. Pah. Worm, cockle, corn; on we go. So far, slow but nice. Odd the worm has not attracted even a perch. But a tench has shown and a carp, just patches of dark olive in the light water. The rudd return, 6:20pm. Air 18°C, water 15°C as the sun edges towards the trees.

I planned to fish past dusk but the left behind torch has crimped this. Another carp swirls in the reeds and the float twitches a couple of times. Stiller and stiller. A coolness has appeared on the edge of the breeze and there’s a faint aroma of ramson. Very nice, but no fish! The evening chorus is in full swing. Only one thing missing...the float potters into the reed margin, lays almost flat, sits up and dips and stops. Hm. A school of rudd is about and a dark shape has detached from the weed and sinks Cheshire cat-like into the water. There are some bubbles. A twitch or two. Maybe. Bubbles spread around the float, it runs away and I miss! Clean hook, buggrit. It’s a start. Cockles and off we go again, a few loose cockles added as an incentive.

...I had one tench shortly afterwards, which gave a relatively poor account of itself but you can see why. Still, they're all good...and that's what I call a pike bite.

P.S. My original notes, typed up in April 2021, ended here. I suspect that the absent torch made further note-taking awkward if not impossible. Or I couldn’t be hedgehogged. One of those.

2007 JAA's third year14th April 2007. Milton Abbey Lake. If at first you don't catch fish, move swim.

Very warm; Peg 7; 2:40pm ; hemp, sweetcorn, semi-self-cocker. A few bubbles and a bit of colour. A slight bite. I notice the landing net rivets are rusting through already, I'll cut it off and whip it then. A slow bite, which I miss. Hints of small fishes, 20 minutes tick by with no repeat. I change the trace to green braid, add a black Jack Hilton hook, then recast. Needle bubbles by the float, and a large patch to the right. Some movement then. I flick corn by the float and a carp rolls five yards off. The alders here are budding, the sky is clear blue, there are distant crows and echoing light plane noises. A honey-bee ambles around my foot. A woodpecker's 'thok-thok-thok' echoes across the little lake, then the bee drones off to somewhere more promising. Perfect.

I switch to a size 14 and one sweetcorn nib, after missing a bite on three nibs. I nab two 4oz roach, then it goes quiet again. 4:05pm. Then nothing. A tench drifts by mid water; I settle back for a cup of I was writing "tea" a positive bite yields an 8oz roach. I've not checked the temperature but I imagine things will improve as the sun sets. 4:25pm. Four hours to go, the best four hours. The geese are honking back and forth somewhere behind me, to be fair this is not a pretty noise.

A 6lb common carp just moseyed past. For a moment I thought it was going to do a 'Cheshire Cat' by the float but it kept going. Promising though. I chuck in two free cockles as promise for later. Then it's dusk and I revert to a size 8 hook, impale cockles and put in more loose hemp. Another tench slides in form the right and swims towards the float. Better. A big leather carp follows it, veers towards the float then spooks, vanishing in the flick of a tail. Odd; I've not moved a muscle. Something's about. Stillness and a few dips of the float – small clues.

The first owl calls, 5:10pm. A visitor comes by and despite my misgivings about a less than drab shirt, he keeps low, back and quiet and we exchange notes and pleasantries. The float twitches away. The visitor potters off to harass his own fish, hopefully. Two slices of gala pie and two chicken tikka samosa's didn't change the odds, but I feel a better about them. Fabulous. The float dips briefly as if to agree. No wind at all now. It's time to move or stay until sunset.

The slightest of breezes has reversed now blowing from the left, the float is alive. Another owl calls and is answered from across the valley. Two hours left maybe. I can smell honeysuckle on the new breeze. A big shoal of roach pass through, channelling along the bank at my feet, 8-12oz stamp, good fish. I flick them a worm and they bolt. 6pm. It's the wrong spot now, no reason, it just is.

Milton Abbey Lakestock stillMilton Abbey Lakethat's got to hurt the eyes...Milton Abbey LakePeg 11; all lined up and nowhere to go

I move to peg 11, lengthen the line and put cockles out on the right, normally I favour the left, no idea why, possible a "sighting eye" thing. Sitting high in the chair I wait and watch the needle bubbles. Bite, big tench surges off for ten yards. Battle on; five minutes later a 5lb tench, 'on the nose'. I recast and almost before the floats cocks it's off and I get a perch of 1lb. Heh. Good move. More bubbles, I add half a lob to the hook, which I'd retied as the knot got mangled by the forceps. Tea break. The moment has passed but bubbles remain to taunt. Carp are about. Plenty of needle bubbles still. Rod down, the moment passes but the best hour remains.

Milton Abbey Lake5lb of tinca tincaMilton Abbey Lake...and waitedMilton Abbey LakeSpike the perch says 'hi'.

A 5lb tench is not the best here, that's apparently 9lb...not that I've seen a tench remotely that size in this water... The sun has gone behind a tree, now looking more like a 60W bulb. No wind or ripples. Even the moorhens are quiet. A pigeon, a dove, gentle sounds Even the crows are muted. Cup of tea and the dithering of the last quarter of an hour turns into another solid tench, not as sprightly, perhaps a shade smaller than the first. Nice. A chaffinch appears and I scatter hemp seeds, which it crunches, they're surprisingly tame and not nearly as common as they were. Still the float jitters; last cup of tea. Geese have crash-landed in the Pump Pool, so it might be over for the evening, last scattering of free bait, finish the last cup, then home for wine.

Nearly at the last light, re-cast, perfectly content with my lot and listen to the owls and after about half-an-hour's hooting I get 'the buzz' which raises my awareness in time to strike a hard stabbing bite. This is followed by the whoosh as a carp picks up and pulls the Avon into a half-circle making the '450's ratchet clatter like a magpie. It's mostly attritional after that, but tough going for five minutes; one of the Milton Abbey leathers, 11¼lb. I take a last re-cast, honest, straight away the right thumb tingles again and the resulting fish skitters about like a spinning plate, tough scrap, no long runs. In the net reduced to this little round thing of 3-4lb or so. Well.

Milton Abbey Lakealmost 5lb of tinca tincaMilton Abbey of the Milton Abbey leathers, 11½lb.Milton Abbey Lake...skitters about like a spinning plate...

Not bad. This is why you should change the scenery when nothing happens.

P.S. Typed up in April 2021 from notes made on the day.

2007 JAA's third year22nd 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 tincaMilton Abbeyone good roachMilton 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.

2007 JAA's third year27th April 2007. Milton Abbey. The Hatangler, some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.

Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and a roachMilton AbbeyNoodleangler and a perchMilton AbbeyNoodleangler and a tenchMilton AbbeyNoodleangler and a perch

All in all, a nice quiet trip out, with several good fish for father and son, food was eaten, fish were counted...

Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.

OK then, the sandwich was Nempster's. The Hatangler was impressed.

2007 JAA's third year5th August 2007. Milton Abbey. Quack. Hot (and there's a match on Pitmans's) so I head for Peg 12 in so far as it looks fishable, weed and colour wise. Peg 1,2 & 7 look good as well, but the swim by the car park never appeals even when fish are there. I'll give this an hour though at least - I pass the time in trimming some swan primary quills which will make fine pike floats. A few patches of bubbles have gone past keeping me alert. The float with it's cargo of cockles and a worm is unmoved. It feels fishy though and I have hemp paste as well if nothing happens by 6pm (it's 5:50 already). It's still warm and there's no breeze to speak of.

A walk around on arrival did find a few carp sunning themselves on pegs 4 & 5 and a small group of 5-6lb fish on peg 10 under a newly fallen tree. The water is weeded for the most part but quite clear, which highlights the colour of any feeding spots. Roach are all about and some, large enough for a size 8, vanish occasionally by the float...did I mention it's hot? 24°C on the shade and I'm not in the shade. Very hot. An hour to fish time I suspect.

I flick paste into the water in preparation for a swap at 6ish. Another apple and Nempster's come and gone and I've had a 1lb roach but that's the only fish by 7:30, fish are about tench, bream and roach not head down yet. The sun has dipped under the tree line and it's cooling now, the quiet noise of the wildlife off to bed. After 20 minutes the paste has gone so I switch corn and cockles. There's a bob, nothing, re-cast, then untangle the tree, re-cast and get a 1lb roach right away. OK then. 8:05, A tench cruises past, I get a 1lb perch which gives a good account of itself, taking several yards when it felt the hook. Better. More tea.

Milton AbbeyThe Pump PoolMilton AbbeyThe Four-Piece poised for action, JAA likewise. More or less.Milton AbbeyThe Pump Pool

Encouraging. A crow jeers from a distant tree. Hah! Hah! Hah! Nyaah! There's a big tench right in front of me 4lb+ and I slide a hand onto the rod butt and air tightens around me. A distant owl, lonely. 'Bobble'. Bubbles. A distant quack. The float dips and stops and I have a good tench on which mires me in the weed, so I drag it through into the net, the prize announced by an owl call. The tension vanished, I miss a fast bite. Drat. A large tench surfaces, mills about and then ambles off. A carp potters past the float then a pike of about 3lb. 9:04pm. Dusk and things rustle in the bushes.

Milton AbbeyOne of the fine roachesMilton AbbeyAnother of the fine roachesMilton AbbeyA good perchMilton AbbeyOne of the many fine tench hereMilton AbbeyAnother of the many fine tench here

There's an owl calling behind me and a jackdaw in the distance. Perfect. A mouse scuttles across the front of my feet and I feel it hit my rod. Another tench passes by and small roach are still about, vague flake shapes. Another tench by my float and the tension rises again, two sharp bobs and then I have a small one a bit under 2lb perhaps. Last of the tea is taken and the float is dancing in the gloom. Nearly time. And then with the light going the float evaporates, apparently and after a lively tussle and some lump of weed, this tench, right on the bell. Home.

Milton AbbeyThe Pump Pool as the sun sets Milton AbbeyAnd one more of the many fine tench here

2007 JAA's third year19th August 2007. Milton Abbey. Peg 11, no reason. It's grey, windy and I catch a 1½lb bronze bream, setting the depth and as it happens, the tone...

Milton AbbeyDay-breamMilton AbbeyBream, bream bream...Milton Abbey...breeee-eeeam...
Milton Abbey...a ream of bream... Milton Abbeya 'slime' of bream?

There is as much colour here as elsewhere, but I'm already considering Peg 7 or 6 (where I saw a lone carp and some colour). I swap from 'Drennan Dacron' to 'Silkworm' after the former broke like cotton on knotting, even after stripping another two feet from the spool. Another 'Drennan experience'...I have several more bream (for 'several' read 'six'), the kingfisher goes by, then two swans, which kills the swim quite nicely, followed by a left-to-right breeze which ripples the water and chills my hands, even in August.

Milton AbbeyAnother bream. Yay. Milton AbbeyDay-breaming at Milton Abbey
Milton AbbeyDay-breaming at Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey...iiiiiii-it's a...bream. Yay.Milton AbbeyA roach! Hah!

I miss a 'sailaway' at 8pm-ish, then have a fine roach, a carp rose, then came the first owl call and I take it as an invitation to go...

2007 JAA's third year2nd September 2007. Milton Abbey. The Hatangler and a small carp.

Milton AbbeyHatanglers and carpsMilton AbbeyHatanglers and carpsMilton AbbeyHatanglers and carps
I like porcupine quill floats...I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page) I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats...

200812th January 2008. Milton Abbey. Whatever was going through my mind when I thought "I know, I'll go to Milton Abbey", it was certainly not sound logic...still, never mind. I took a rebuilt Webley & Scott Avon along for the heck of it - a clear, bright (if parky) day with the waters' colours and everything else glowing in the sun. I've had worse.

I'd been thinking of here or Silent Woman but with a loaf in the freezer 'here' wins out. Peg 11 has fish moving although the lake has good colour everywhere, I opt for '11' as it seems better. Peg 7 also pulls, perhaps first to get the sun. I try some hemp and corn then after 30 minutes with nothing, sink a coffee and switch to bread. The sun is bright, bucking the light rain forecast. Water is 10.5°C. A small fish just got chased past my float. Peg 13 calls with deep colour and sun on the water. 12:30pm and go...

'Peg Thirteen' then. The rushes are high giving me cover so I fish ten feet out with a red worm starter. Fish are topping here as well. An hour ticks by with nothing to show, but there are bubbles. I try corn for the look of it and set up an 8lb rig on the '550Chapman 500 for a popped up crust. The pike fisher on the main lake has had nothing either. I make hemp-paste in response to the flow of bubbles and bait up with it. The kingfisher is about, which is nice to see and occasionally 'pocks' into the water, marking his pitch. There's a bump, the float dropping half and inch and then rising. It's a start. A wren is in the rushes wondering about coming out and the floats dips, dithers, I drop my pen and get a 6oz roach. Aha. Hemp paste then. 'One'. I replace the paste, recast and get a dither on the drop, which turns into a big slow tench going 4¾lb. Well. In January. It's not right. More coffee.

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, winterMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, winterMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, winter Tinca, 'Webley & Scott' Avon and the '44xMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey, winter

More bubbles add to an expectant air and small float movements prompt a change of bait. The kingfisher streaks right to left, a good sign, another fish 'tops' two thirds of the way across. Very still now the sun has gone. The '8lb rig' is forgotten for now. A lone crow. Not 3pm yet but some of the still of twilight has leaked forward in time to now. A carp rises a third across, to my left. A flock of long-tailed tits animate a dead tree across the lake. Odd looking spreading ripples tell me another carp has gently topped and my float curtseys in reply and resumes its work. The carp edges nearer, quarter of the way across now, to starboard. A pike angler ambles past on the way to the syndicate lake, stilling a gently moving float. The carp is now to port, same cautious radius. The net at my feet shimmers, bubbles to the right of my float. Another bunch of bubbles has me dropping my hand to the rod but nothing happens. Rises, bobs, Stops. Bubble. For 20 minutes I'm glued to the float but eventually I check the paste, a bit left, so I freshen, slowly, drawing the float away. A bit more hemp, some paste balls and round two starts. The float lifts gently ten minutes later but fails to continue its downward movement. Plenty of movement now - thinking switch to crust of the other rod. I'm getting interest but no takes. Next fruitless twitch gets carp rig. I switch to paste and flake popped up for the last leg. All or nothing really. My flake surfaces on its own. Drat. Rebait. Coffee, still plenty of activity. Next time...

I have exactly the same feeling I had at Barton's Court, which is to say 'game on'. I wait...

200817th January 2008. Milton Abbey. More fish for the glass Webley and Scott. Back in 'light rain'. Tea, bread and Peg 5 as it has colour (and Peg's 12 & 13 are taken). I have some coffee infused chocolate as well. It's OK I guess. I've rigged 4lb braid to 6lb mono on the W&SWebley and Scott Avon and a size 14 with some worms as an entreé. 14:00pm, at 14:30pm will try hemp paste. I've sat behind the platform to lower my profile and the birds are already back, among them a blackbird and the uber-cautious jay behind. I like this peg, always done OK here, but today will be hard, but may get a nibble. The float antenna is fully visible, self-cocked and a no.4 would sink it. It's laying on a little to give no resistance to the fish until they are happy. That's the plan anyway, fishing 20 feet to my left in the middle of the channel. Bubbles. A lot of ground clearance this winter, it look a bit much, but I know come the spring it'll look just fine.

Something rustles cautiously behind, kind of like that. No water temperature, fishing here as it had the best colour around and I'm fishing anyway. Small fish top, well they're here then. Tea, mint. Not great, an accident of sorts, still, it's hot. Float's gone the 'curse of the brew'. Bu88er. Well chewed worm the only result. It's a start. More care, bites at a premium. Another small fish rises, I sharply hit a dithering bite and get a slow determined movement which pulls out the hook after three yards, interesting. Very solid fish that. Never good but never felt mine either, ponderous. More tea. The wind is fish-tailing a bit so I move nearer the tree. I get a bite 'on the mend' and miss it. OK then. Good though. I hit another bite and get a 4oz roach. Aha. A start, then miss a 'maybe' bite and vote to try paste in fifteen minutes.

One of the smaller ghost carp just floated past RtLfrom right to left under the far bank. Interesting. More hemp, from bank to bank, if that hadn't been the 'ghost' I doubt I'd have seen it, which raises interesting questions. The 'ghost' comes back, goes around my float, then vanishes. I sit still for fifteen long minutes then a track of bubbles gets me excited and also a 2lb bream preceded by a sliding bite and more fight than you'd expect. Swap the float for a smaller one given the shy bites. A few small dips turns into a big one and I have a small carp that gets twenty yards on the first run and then dodges the net twice. Cracking. Strike three for worms. Smaller float paid off as well, I put out another worm. 4:10pm and the light is blueing a bit. Chance of one more perhaps as roosting banter starts up, a bit spring like. Magpie then blackbird. I whip out a 4oz roach at 4:30 and a 4oz perch at 4:40pm, both on worms. And then it's too dark in this corner.

P.S. No pictures, no idea why.

200823rd February 2008. Milton Abbey. I name this rod...finally having made my Chapman 500 useable, the plan was to fish lightish for any old thing to see how the rod felt. I alternated maggots, cockles, the odd maggot and threw hemp to pass the time between cups of coffee and pie. Not 'cups of pie' obviously, that would be silly. So...

Quiet. Slight colour in the water everywhere, but the most colour is in 'Peg 1' which I really don't like, so went for Peg 11 again. Pole float and worms on a '14', 4lb bottom, 6lb main, '44x and the '500The newly acquired and fixed Chapman 500'. I wait. It's cool and cloudy, 12.2°C in the water. A small jack appears two yards out. Aha. I strike too soon at a nibble, so miss. Sans worms. Recast. Wait. Average coffee due to a stocking issue, some regular bulked out with some de-caff and instant. maSaid in the same way Morticia Addams said "All that I could forgive. But Debbie... pastels?" Blech. De-caff coffee and alcohol-free beer. Pray, what is the point? I re-adjust the rod rest to get the tip down, the front is a rolled up towel, the rear is the flask. Another tweak foreshadowed by my own movements. 12:50pm a tweak-dip, big lift and then a roach, ¾lb or so, cracking. A tench tops ten feet the other side of my float, a bit odd, but diving after being half out of the water, a tench dives into the sound of water, tension mounting...

...I took a second to mend the line and 'wallop', a carp for sure. No choice but to stretch the cane to its utmost to keep the fish out of the weed and tree. As this was my first go on a thinnish bit of bamboo I was a tad nervous when the carp decided to play 'pull the line into the tree', but I backed the maker, or my Maker, or something and let the rod work very hard and eventually it scampered out, it has to be said, with considerable bad grace. It then sulked up and down the bottom kicking up clouds of silt before doing the decent thing. Landed about 10lb of weed as well, not bad at all, not a set in the rod, I see why some people swear by cane. Where did the tench go? Phew. Odd thing, often had good results when Christening new items; 11lb 3oz after the net weight is calculated, the stunning colours lending credence to those who claim winter carp look their best.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winterMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winterMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winter
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winter carp. Awesome.

Another fish tops out to the left, I can wait now. Another and I'll switch to 6lb braid! Hard to relax now, I get a size '10' and 6lb braid out. I have cockles as well. Another large and gentle rise to the RHSright hand side ten yards away, a bell tolls at the abbey and the sound fades away. I go back to the Polaroid’s, it's not that bright but there are enough fishing moving to make the clarity desirable. I opt to check the paste in a bit, more bells, a peal this time. Practise! Another plop to the LHSleft hand side, 20 yards, float dithers momentarily, wedding peals now. Float gone, thumping on the line good fish boring hard into weeds in front and under the bank. Big tench fights enough to put the carp to shame, not for the first time, still netted after a few weedy plunges. 4lb 1oz. Not bad, cast. Rod first class so far, 6lb braid beckons. Coffee, more bells, February fishing at its finest.

Under the tolling, it's still and calm, birdsong, not a breath of wind. Another gentle surfacing LHS, ten yards, not a sound this time. Slight breeze, a distant plane over the bells. A dark shape materialises briefly behind the float and melts. Slightest of dithers. Bells have stopped, I wonder how the bait is ("Hello bait, how are you?", "Not bad mate, mustn't complain..."). Another top, smaller RHS, fifteen yards further. A distant shot and crows complain en masse. I consider the 6lb line and the float sinks 3mm. Hand on rod, big slurp RHS a good length delivery away.

A small carp circles the float, clockwise, then ambles into the middle with an air of feigned indifference. A jack pike, 1lb or so, surfaces five yards out and glides off. Bail-arm check, 2pm. Magpie behind me, distant, complains. The local hunt passes by on the other side of the valley and I re-bait and ground-bait. 12:25pm. Suspect the mass of hooves will put the fish down for thirty minutes, so lean back and have a square of chocolate. Distant horns, View Halloo vh  "Right, let's get the little red ba$tard."
*Ahem* "It's more usual Your Majesty, to cry, 'View Halloo'."
"Ah. Quite. Jolly Good. View Halloo. Right, now let's get the little red ba$tard"
and all that stuff. Very quiet but still the odd fish moving. Time to try cockles...

At this point my day was made so I kept on with the maggots-&-hemp and along with occasional roach and a small perch or two picked up these five tincas. In February, not that I mind. Two went well over 4lb and one had been recently scragged by a pike, but otherwise was in good health.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winter Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winter
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winterMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winterMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey, winter

Two of the five took the bait on the drop, which is interesting. So all in all, I christen this rod "The Jammy Bender" and let's face it, that's not a bad February day's fishing.

200816th March 2008. Milton Abbey. The return of the chopstick fishing rod. "The Jammy Bender" earned a second trip to Milton Abbey. Peg 11 after going home for the landing net...LN  I hate it when that happens...did try Peg 7 well to one side. It didn't feel right so I moved to Peg 11 and there are fish here as W-- said. Plenty of colour. More carp and roach have been added as well which might be nice. I've got a cockle on a long point '14' and a 3×no.4 crystal with a long tip, faux wind-beater with 2×no.4 on the float itself and one on the 4lb silkworm bottom. Ten minutes in, grey day, it rained until 12pm but fresh now if wet round about. I'll try the cockle for thirty minutes then hemp paste. May go to 6lb braid as well, I'll see for now. Float's a little low in the water, which is at 10.3°C Warm enough for fish. Coffee. I debate hook size for the 6lb braid, '10', '12'? Smaller baits? I wait...

After a few spots of rain, but a threat only, it's brightening up. A big dark dorsal fin has surfaced three yards from the float and vanished. Not sure whether tench or carp but nice to see. I watch the float more closely. Big tench if it was one. If carp then 6lb or 8lb may pay. I slip on the shades in case I see more clues. There is a soup of mud by my feet, but luckily hard gravel underneath. Ten minutes of the thirty minutes to paste. A bit more loose feed, 9.6°C in the air, wet fingers can feel the cold but OK otherwise. Another great rise to the left, level with my float. Coffee. Tench topped again, right of float five feet further out maybe. Dark fish, 4lb maybe. A dip and a rise then nothing, a start.

I'll give it to 5pm and then re-bait. Dip, lift, travel to the right. Dip, lift, dip bubbles (again). Re-bait re-cast, check depth, move float 3" and 1" off between no.4 shot and hook. Dip, zip and a roach. 4lb 3oz with the net (2lb 8oz) so 1lb 9oz. Fine fine fish. Coffee. More bubbles. Here's to the year of paste and cane. Water still 10.3°C in the rushes anyway. Hands a bit stiff now, so I put up the screw in type brolly spike, nice to have the mitts out of the draught. Two carp jump in the middle-left of the lake. Still a good spot then. Re-bait, more paste, cockles next. No sign of rain but still a grey dark day, I've opted out of the 6lb braid, the water is clear enough. The fish seem picky today plenty of movement and bubbles for little result really. Perhaps a larger bait - something just pelted out the pitch and a long long path of bubbles tracks the bolt. Ah well. I put on a longer trace of 6lb braid, a no. '12' tied to 18" of home camo'ed silkworm. Note to self, need new pens for colouring braid. Coffee and loose feed. Note though, the paste was still on after the bolt, line scare maybe?

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...

A big fish rolls by the far bank. Perhaps should targeted carp today? The wind has roared in the brake over the way all afternoon. Somewhere it's windy. Here it's breezy. Float dips a little and I put my hand out and a carp rolls by the float and departs. 16:35pm. Well twitchy today. Two more dips, hand on rod. They like the bread and hemp. I wait. More bubbles. 16:55pm, three hours to go, worth a try. Bit of a bippity one yields a 1½lb(ish) roach on worms. I stick with worms, well you would wouldn't you? 17:05pm. I've had worse days, more dippity-dip and a fine 4lb tinca. Sorted for the day. Worms! I wonder whether its bottom feeding preoccupation and worms are close enough to blood worm or leeches). Still a result, the '550 is a cracking tench rod as well. Chopped worms loose feed. Still time for another. Maybe.

Dusk approaches, hurried by the wind in the trees. Daydreaming, missed a sitter. I tweak the float a foot towards me after waiting five minutes and then checking the bait. Which is fine. Dusk. 17:35pm rooks rooking in the distance . Two crows return the call back and forth somewhere behind me. A coot makes a quiet noise, more of a stage whisper. A tench appears briefly topping towards the float so I pick up the rod. Minutes tick by with no result, although fish are moving all around. I consider a cockle, there's a symphony of splashes. I chop some worms and refresh the bait with a half and nip the end off at the hook, scent being more important when the lights fading. A knock, a fast bite...missed...

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...

I pick up a tench as the light skipped off behind the hill and was sufficiently interested to hang on until dusk spread out over the valley, waking the owls that hoot back and forth here. Three bites, three fish. But what fish. A trio of winterfish. Wonderful.

200824th March 2008. Milton Abbey Popped out for a late afternoon dart at them, but I wouldn't call it a blank exactly. The water is at 10.3°C at 1pm. I'm plonked in Peg 11, Nemp has come by for a chat and at 5pm he goes on. The water is down to 9.9°C by 6pm. Maybe had a bite on paste. Maybe. Otherwise despite the fishing abounding (visible at least) it's oddly quiet, feels all wrong. The north-west wind doesn't help.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey - nothing doing Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey - nothing doing

A tench has just risen some ten yards out to the left of my float, but I'm not raising my hopes with it. I shall pack up in daylight as this rate. It'll be a month before I get back on the water due to work commitments (JABOFAJust Another Bunch of Feckin' Aeroplanes). Ah well. It'll be different without the hands stiff with cold...

OK then, I blanked. Dammit.

200821st April 2008. Milton Abbey. The water is a balmy 13.3°C. Two other anglers here, unusually, an east wind but warm, so occupying the east bank - atypical of me. Cloudy. Two rods today, the Avon, 6lb line and a waggler five yards out with worms plus the '550Chapman 550 to you' with 10lb, twenty yards out with a prawn. Some activity on the rear float, distant and too low in the water. Adjustment time. I tweak the prawn to see if the float rises. It doesn't. A lull in the wind over my left shoulder evens the latte coloured water. Woodland birdsong. I wait.

2:30pm. Activity, but no bites. I try a scrap of worm on the 6lb under a pole float for twenty minutes. Nada. 3:20pm, move to SWSouth West corner, prawn out, pole float in the weeds, still with worm, I chuck a bit of hemp at the pole float. It rains, as the wind is still ENEEast-North-East, keep up this is in my face rather (now) water temp is much the same at 12.9°C or a shade under perhaps. A bit more hemp, then a cup of tea. The rain eases off, brolly down, put the pole float four feet from the bank. It's worked before. If nothing by 4:30pm, I'll ship a rod down. I'd thought of Arfleet today, cool but sheltered there. Next time maybe. Two days off next week. Joy. Chocolate (90%) and tea.

In ten minutes the water's up to 13.7°C, odd, actually a feature of the water. A big fish crashes 100 yards off to my right. Aha. 3:46pm 14.1°C, 3:54pm 14.4°. Man across the lake has a carp, 10lb maybe. 4:20pm, 14:5°C. Might have had a tweak on the prawn fifteen minutes back. I've re-tackled the Avon, size 10, cockle with a worm. Nothing. Half a prawn and worm on the other rod then 5pm...and we move again then. Odd day, a blank, no pictures, no record of the pitch, no idea why...

20081st May 2008. Milton Abbey. More tincas, more bamboo. Quiet, 10:30am, warm and sultry today, the weed has just drifted left-to-right across my once clear swim, bu88er. The pole float has sunk but is visible. Not a fish has moved since I arrived but the water is a balmy 11.7°C, warm enough despite the cool days and rain. Foil rigged paste to the right under the tree with a few inches of lead-core to sink the line and give casting weight. The float is lost now, not in a good way. Coffee. There are stones in the foil ring to counter the light breeze but no rustling as yet.

A stroll round shows life in 'Peg 8', colour and a few shadows under the tree to the left. The weed is drifting back again a demarcation line almost level with me. A fish shows itself fifty feet away to my left. It's a start, 11.9°C. I'll give the paste an hour then cockles, a big bunch. I'll try worms as well on the '500. A proper rise dead ahead, twenty yards. Another and I'll cast free line to it. I wait. I munch a well-known retail outlet's "finest" cookie and find my attention drawn by a break in the ripples radiating from the channel to the right. Where my paste is. Hm. The fish dead ahead rises again. Interesting. 12°C. Breeze gets up which is good for the DODissolved Oxygen. Big rise to the right only a few yards out. A few maggots go into the swim and the birds go about their business, chippy like. I try bread on the float for a change. Nice bread too. Another small rise twenty yards dead ahead.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...

A failed attempt to reach the rise with a worm and back on corn and maggots on the '500. 12.2°C. Change the '550 bait to cockles and crab-stick? Worth a go. The weed is all over the far side now but there is RtLRight to Left flow near the back end of the lake moving odd bits. I suspect fish will be along in a bit so wait with pie (ham and chicken). Full hooks of cockles now on the '550 and the '500. Strike that, 4lb and 16/18 fine single maggot. A pike about 6lb slips past five yards off , heading towards me veering left. Be just my luck to get it with the 'chopstick'.

A carp cloops on the bank where the free-line is. 12.3°C. I've seen three carp (12:45pm or so) and now needle bubbles, so switch to free-lining in front, with paste and the '500 to one side. Bubbles under the bait now. I watch the line where it enters the water. The sun returns telling me the water has more colour now and a small carp rises twenty yards ahead and another pike drifts by RtL only fifteen feet off. I watch the line some more. More needles five yards out level with the bait but six feet farther out. The sun shows me two tench and a carp, the latter heading this way. The tench dithering. The sun having imparted this information, leaves, I remember to breathe and watch the line. 13°C, 1:15pm. Fish are here for sure, with tails and tench flitting about with inevitable needles bubbles. I put braid back on the '500 and a '14' decorated with a cockle and re-cast, both rods in front of me now. Good. A carp, 10lb or so, comes right level with the float and vanishes into the cloudy water, then two lines of bubble appear near the free lined bait. I've put in chopped black pudding as well...a gust of wind sinks the float. I mend the line and more bubbles appear 12" away.

Another big carp repeats the move and after a wait, retrieve the '500's free-lined cockles and cast at the 'entry' point. Hard to control today. 13.2°C, 13:50pm. More bubbles and small roach, then two pike moving RtL, 1½lb perhaps. A shoal of rudd appears, I consider maggots. An owl hoots, odd, second time today. Odd, back to 'Plan A'. The 'other one' arrives. Oh good.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey again, I know but I keep catching stuff...

The sibling's gone, was here about four hours, long enough for appearances, not long enough for sincerity. It's not 7:40pm. I've had two tench, 5lb 6oz, 5lb 3oz, missed one, bumped one. Hopeful in the light of the sunset, for one more. The weed drift is still a pest and the barring the banked, bites have been tentative. Odd day. Pike pre-spawning in progress. Tried worms, but the pike are not interested. The wild garlic scent's rising in time with the setting sun, not as nice as it sounds.

A six-foot round mat of weed blocks my swim, so drop the bait at my feet and wait for the clear water to arrive. The swim under the tree to the right now has a resident. Roosting songs and distant crows. No change there then, Our afternoon friend, a hopeful looking robin mops up the maggot box escapees. Float flicks. Tea would nice. More flicks. The moment passes. Another twitch ten minutes on, take off the Polaroid's, damp air, still water. The tench moment has passed I fear. Change the no.6 for a no.4 to see if it helps sink the bait through the sediment.

I toss the free-line at the swim and a cloud of bubbles erupts on the left of the float which twenty seconds later flicks five-past-one to twelve fifty-five. 8:35pm, quiet. A few bubbles and tweaks. A bob. Still again. I put the '500 down and listen to the blackbird chipping to bed and the blue tits likewise, across the lake. Slow ten hours, five bites, two fish. 13.1°C. good day, not easy, never dull.

200829th June 2008. Milton Abbey.

...forty-five minutes fishing and I’ve upgraded the '500 to the '550 and 6lb-8lb; too many carp and tench about and a lot of weed to boot. Big paste bait goes in after a big tench which dallied, but I pull the hook out of this fish, then snag a branch. I cut the branch off to cut my losses. Hot sunny and perfect least 6 carp to 15lb and 3-4 tench have shown themselves, so it looks fair, I alternate cockle, paste and corn then see (and wait...) 4:45pm. Sunshine, distant pigeons and planes droning. Humpy mirror carp of about 8lb nips past the float. As a result of its coming I wait too long on a bite, fretting about ‘liners’ and so miss. The carp exits. Pah. But paste is good. 5:25pm.

I switch to cockle. Two misses is careless. A 3lb tench loiters for a bit and the water’s more opaque than of late. I predict I’ll get some action later if not sooner. Tea maybe. I munch the seedy crisp-bread that is my evening meal and well, wait. A raft of weed runs down the float, forcing a recast. Tench are around, a 5lb and a 3lb fish, hoping I hadn't spooked them setting up.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey; tincaring on the Pump Pool Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey; tincaring on the Pump Pool

Tea stratagem...I get a dibble, hit it with one hand, on the lean, and after a tussle on the RHS the hook comes away. Drat. Small tench I’d say. 5:45pm...5:50pm, a big bait, a bite and a long silver corkscrew comes off. Grass carp? I change hooks, I can’t see the problem but there is one.

Steady bite at 6:30 which I hit hard, this is a 4lb tench, ‘one’. Good, then I switch to paste, no reason. The unrelenting steady clockwise drift bows the line and I need to account for it when striking. Recast due to drifting weed, back on cockles, perhaps too over-depth also. Tea. Still annoying; four tench is par, seven is exceptional; 7:15pm dusk coming and odd tench keeps scooting by. No carp for some time though. I munch oatcakes and consider options, but as I’m pretty much getting a bite every 40 minutes, seems little point in changing.

Milton AbbeyA Milton Abbey tinca, the Cardinal 44x and the Chapman 550Milton AbbeyAnother Milton Abbey tinca, the Cardinal 44x and the Chapman 550Milton AbbeyYet another Milton Abbey tinca, the Cardinal 44x and the Chapman 550

7:30pm; 6lb+ tench, after five minutes the hook pulls out again. Must be me. Odd. 7:35pm, 3lb tench landed, overpowered. 8:10pm, a 5lb tench. Three swam by just after I change to paste, so I flick a bit of hemp in and that was that. 8:15pm lose another 3lb tench on paste. Arrgh...time to go home...

20086th July 2008. Milton Abbey. A typically drowsy Milton Abbey lake summer's day, with insects swarming and the sun beating the water flat. I did manage four great tench at least two of which were over 4lb, but the really annoying thing about this is that having set up in Peg 13 with the '550Chapman 500 and the usual float-fished cockles-&-hemp and having banked four fish, I've got to tell you I lost six, all to hook pulls and two of those fish were over 6lb because I saw them...

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...

I've no idea why I couldn't get the hook set, whether it was the rod or my incompetence. You ought, on a warm and happy day, to be pleased with four such tench even if spread over five hours, but to level with you I went home fairly pi$$ed off, which I admit must appear petulant and ungrateful but there you are.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey tinca's again...

200817th August 2008. Milton Abbey. Warm, sultry and dead calm.

I've weed-dragged Peg 12, but nothing happened for the next two hours, so I'm now in Peg 7 where fish are passing. Fishing corn and a cockle on the Four-Piece Avon rig, I pull the size 14 out of a 3lb(ish) tench. Hm. With constant carp, I've switched to cockles and corn free-lined on the Old Carp Rod.

The bigger 'ghostie' is abroad but nothing's paused yet; 5pm, no improvement on the roach front, that is to say, there aren't any, although there are carp feeding 35yds to the left, which refuse to take any bait offered. It's very quiet, it can be hard here and I'm tempted to try another swim by the car park, so potter off coffee in hand to take a look; there is a small whirligig of tench and silt by the outflow where a new swim has been cut in the rush-bed. I fish in it and an hour later actually get my first bite, a 2lb tench; 6:01pm. Bizarre. Tried all baits and no better result. Odd day for fish and I feel a quarter-wavelength out of phase myself. I don't get another bite. 7pm. Carp and tench have visited but not stayed and I've put out free-lined giant maize in hope rather than expectation. If 8pm brings no fish I'll call it quits. I can't quite settle today - I've spent five hours straight without moving for three bites, but today that's not working for me. This swim was grey with silt two hours ago, that colour has faded to the bottom except a swirl about ten yards out 30 minutes ago. I've put in some floaters, again, not in expectation. A distant owl. A few patches of bubbles appear.

Perhaps time to fish with one rod, simplify things, lets see what this week brings.

Milton AbbeyLooking across the very green Pump PoolMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey Peg 7Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey Peg 7

I've accidentally 'moved on' a pike by casting across it, of course the swim is dead now, I'm past moving again though, I'll fish it out 'till 8pm or so. Another owl. The float flickers a bit and stops. The ghostie turns up five yards off on my left, steers into the margin and glides under the rod, takin' the mick. Owl three. The ghost has a shadow, 5lb of mirror carp, perhaps a food taster? The owl is getting into its stride now, a kingfisher joins me on the end of the willow and I prop the free-line rod on a rest to keep it free of the rushes. You never know. The kingfisher wings it up the lake. Twice now the float has twitched and the ghostie appears. Perhaps I'll a put cockle on a free-line.

I put a cockle on a free-line and wait. Money is on 'zero' or the ghost's shadow! If it comes back...dusk now and more than a hint of autumn in the air making me wish for a hard winter.

Milton AbbeyHeadache inducing reflections Milton AbbeyThe catch of the day, one tinca tinca

Note to self: barometric pressure could affect dissolved oxygen (DO), which would tally with the belief that low pressure is poor for fishing and a rising barometer is good. However, 980-1020 mBar is only a 2% variation in pressure. Fourteen feet depth of water is 1 Bar (1000 mBar) of pressure; 2% of 14ft is 0.28ft or 3.25", so it hardly seem likely that pressure is the direct cause of change in fish behaviour, although there may be a correlation.

A small lone tench has slipped into the top of the swim and the ghost is under the rod. Again. A few rain drops scatter across the swim, the float flickers and the ghost turns up (again) after a bit. I wait. I resolve, as it goes by again, to lay a trial of bait. This I do, adding another cockle to the free-lined hook, in place of the corn, and scatter a few loose ones in a line. This is worth the still hours of the afternoon.

The foil twitches; 8:10pm; a leather carp slips by, almost invisible, a grey on grey glide. There another patter of patter of rain and hemp-seed. An eternity passes but it's now only 8:15pm. I feel the moment has slipped away, but I've been wrong before, the foil rustles but it's the breeze...more loose rain-drops and a rat appears on the left, I flick my finger at it and it bolts...

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 :-)

200921st February 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Classic February blank...

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

200915th March 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. One of those grey still days matching the water here, often a blue-grey. Despite the lack of colour in the water I scratch out two tench on paste-cane-and-centrepin then miss a third. A small roach makes a last minute appearance at dusk, so pretty quiet, but there are no bad tench.

Milton Abbey Lake'What a grey day' as Larry Grayson might have said.Milton Abbey LakeOne of those grey still days...Milton Abbey LakeOho, a proper quill!
Milton Abbey Laketench the first Milton Abbey Laketench the second

200910th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. Trudged around to the pump pool, peg 13, thinking I might break the new old Mk.IV in with a few tench. I spent about three hours battling with drifting weed and willow-fluff, managing a tench, but it was a day when tench kept passing through but I couldn't seem to get them to take a bait. If felt wrong, so 7pm, I mentally shrug, throw the tackle into the bag and go and sit on Peg 2 by the car park to finish the flask and take a metaphorical early bath...

Milton Abbey LakeTrudged around to the pump poolMilton Abbey LakeI spent about three hours battling with drifting weed...Milton Abbey Lakemanaging a tench

The water is covered with debris here, although there is more colour, more than when I walked around at 2:30pm. I bait to my left with hemp and after 45 minutes this feels wrong and while sipping tea, I spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me and to my right and eventually follow with my fourth float of the day, which I hadn't taken off since the walkabout. Fishing here requires constant line-mending as the scum oscillates to and fro, due to wind dying away in fits and starts. Then a few bubbles, a 'buzz' and the float pops out of existence in a matter of fact way an autopilot strike and a good fish bores under the trees and I don't let it, which goes on for a minute or two. This develops into a battle of attrition with the old Mk.IV showing why it can be a good rod for playing fish, even on 6lb line, as I couldn't give an inch under the trees. Eventually the fish turns sideways and I net a shade over 10lb of leather(?) and about 3lb of weed.

Forty-five minutes later, I have a smaller one of 5lb, that took off with the bait and the line was already tightening when I struck. This fight was shorter, as the fish was half the weight and not as well streamlined. But two carp are two carp.

Milton Abbey LakeI bait to my left...Milton Abbey LakeI spoon cockles into the tree ahead of me...Milton Abbey Lakea shade over 10lb of leatherMilton Abbey Lakea smaller one of 5lb

For a time, while draining the flask and dodging the bats, I listen to the birds going off to bed, then pack and leave.

200925th May 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. As it's a Bank Holiday, a warm stuffy day, Nemp and myself tried for a tench. I'd write a long account of a long day trying to find feeding fish, but that would be to perpetuate the day itself. The lake wore a poker face, we scratched and moved looking for a 'tell' and I, in the end realising the game was up, took down my rods. Some days I'll relish the hunt for the fish, but today, mentally set for tench and finding clear water, just watched whileNemp managed to catch a dozen fish by fishing a single maggot 2' under a pole float in 4' of water, including two chub which we didn't even know were in there. One tench fell to his 'sleeper rod' and a cockle.

Milton Abbey LakeThe lake wore a poker face...Milton Abbey Lakelooking for a 'tell'Milton Abbey Lakethe flat feeling from the water

I admit the flat feeling from the water might as been as much inside my head as outside, but the water's form has faltered of late. I wonder, whether some change in the inflow has altered the insect life balance, as even now when the water is warm, it's clear and in a water where three feet is about average, this suggests little bottom feeding is taking place. Still, that's angling.

200915th November 2009. Milton Abbey Lake. I wasn't going out today, this weekend even, as there was a threat of rain, but as the Buglangler was going to a party at Milton Abbey and going back and forth twice would barely have made any sense, I bunged the 550Chapman 550, a half-loaf and a tin of corn into the car and popped in for a couple of hours. The car park manifested several anglers so I headed for the pump pool.

First thing to say is that the lake is choked with weed. It's been an issue on-and-off for a year or two and I didn't see a clear swim, although there were a few with gaps. Weed rake next time. I set up a simple float rig and baited a gap in the weeds and spent two hours watching an immobile float. Kingfishers in a pair skimming in formation crossed the pool and occasional fish showed themselves further out with gentle swirls.

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey Lake

Just once a vortex near my feet snitched on a passing carp, but bread left for its next circuit never moved. Everything stayed mill-pond flat, until dusk crept and my float drifted slowly left, dipping a shade, stopped, went the other way, sunk slightly, came up and then came to rest. And that was that for the day. I went and got the Bugangler as the bats came out to play.

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

2010 carp14th February 2010. Milton Abbey. Receding weed (I hope) and some roach to 1lb, and two tench which came off the hook. Well, I wasn't quite expecting them.

Milton AbbeyThe Pump Pool and its weed.Milton AbbeyThe dogwoodMilton AbbeyThe second best roachMilton AbbeyThe best roach
Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carp...a very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.

2011: crucian14th March 2011. Milton Abbey. Suckered in by the sight of the tench, managed a dozen good roach instead to 1lb. I've had worse days and felt better about it. Two more foundlings for the collection.

Milton Abbeythe pump pool...Milton Abbey...the float...Milton of the roachMilton Abbeythe main lake and the islandMilton Abbey...the float...

2011: crucian30th September 2011. Milton Abbey. I thought I might get a late tench. I was wrong. A few roach and a feeling that the two feet down water is not currently at its best...

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

201223rd December 2012. Milton Abbey. All very odd. I'd planned to go to Mappowder, but thought of roach as I passed the gate to Milton Abbey, turned the car around at the next wide spot. The lake was sumptuously weeded, some kind of pondweed, not unlike Canadian, thick wall-to-wall carpets. In fact, without a weed rake, only one swim was truly fishable, around the back of the island, the gaps were uniformly the colour of milky tea. I could have taken the water temperature, but didn't think it necessary to catch fish, but now wished I had, it would have been interesting to see if the water temp. was unseasonally high.

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey midwinter oddMilton Abbey Lakestill-water porcyMilton Abbey Lakebetter than average roachMilton Abbey Lakethe tench on the drop

I had been thinking of a water with a head of reasonable carp to 10lb+ so had only packed the GHSRE and a 'pin with 6lb line, but 'made the most of' with a fine antennae and a fine 6lb braid to a size 14. I caught a roach about 4oz right away, a lift bite from the mini swivel joining things up, good-oh, then bumped three off. The hook seemed sharp, sticking in the ridges in my thumb OK, but the stone revealed, by touch, that the end was furled over, almost imperceptibly. I re-ground a tiny cutting point which worked OK, the remaining roach coming in with the hook properly embedded.

The day itself was black-and-white and I felt I was sitting in a funnel web spider's hole, no wind to speak of, occasional movement as a fish wandered past, unseen in the three feet of opaque water. A starburst of bubbles to my left under the far bank was undoubtedly a fish and the two surreptitious cloops to my right in the middle of thick nest of pondweed, had me flicking Toastie crusts at the small holes, where they lay untouched until vanishing in the gloom. My float sank slowly and a check revealed the thin cane had split, no longer sea-worthy. I replaced it, will repair later, it's one of those happy fusions of bits which just works, a favourite float.

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey midwinter roachMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey midwinter roachMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey midwinter roachMilton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey - the clown on a mini bike

I wasn't surprised to catch a tench on the drop, it's happened before, so I pondered once more whether deliberately fishing 6" off the bottom might be a winter tench tactic. The carp wasn't a surprise, although it was small and skittered about like the high-backs do and then it was one more roach and time to slide up the hill to the gate. Back wheel drive not good for that. By the way, blackberry whisky and Assam tea, winning combination.

I like porcupine quill floats...I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page) I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats...

2014 - A nice handy little tin2nd January 2014. Milton Abbey. I was wandering through the diary bringing it up to date (there are still missing entries in 2008, among others) and mused at the wonderful fish and vistas here from previous trips. Which kind of settled it, so I crossed my fingers for the return trip up the muddy slope from the gates and took my sliced loaf and bag of breadcrumbs around the back of lake - the Pump Pool weeded, next swim around I went.

Very high water today, I've never seen it so high and a tree down by the car-park bore witness to the recent high winds. I was hoping to try out the LSRE'Light Salmon Rod Experiment' with some smallish fish and the roach here may fit the bill. I proved that by catching one first cast, losing another and then pulling the hook out of a small common. Hm. I mentally retrained myself to strike at bites, something that had slipped away of late. I slipped into an easy pattern of casting, striking fiddly bites and half-trotting the steady right-to-left flow and had four carp (all around 3-4lb) and as many roach in the first two hours.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey winteringMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey winteringMilton AbbeyMilton Abbey winteringMilton AbbeyAnother Angler at Milton Abbey

There was a lull midday so I went for a stroll, more of a squelch, then returned to my grown-ups' hot chocolateOne pot fresh coffee, one square 90% chocolate, one double Aberlour, shake well.. The roach picked up in size, one of which was nearly a pound. I probably finished with a score of roach, the LSRE'Light Salmon Rod Experiment' dealt with carp and roach alike with aplomb and I left as the owls started up - I'd forgotten about the's a bunch of carp with a melange of roach...

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey wintering Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey wintering

Happy New Year.

2014 - A nice handy little tin18th April 2014. Milton Abbey.

8:30am and the sun's on the new green and I'm lounging with the LRH No2, eighteen feet back from a cockle and three feet above it. The birds are springy, blackbirds, a thrush, a yellowhammer and a great tit all at once, pigeon and rook under the chorus. A sneaky cloop on my left, under the carpet near the tree. Hm. I flick bread pellets off a carefully ramped knee.

A cast with bread, get a bump or two, so I try a pinch which goes untampered. I pour a Java, take a turn around then go back to cockles, although peg 13 had a fish, tenchy. Mid water. Water is a little clearer that you might first think. A raft of weed detaches and makes my swim untenable, so '13' it is. I nab an 8oz roach, something makes several large fish bolt under the trees opposite and I go for the third cup.

A bite and I lose a fat tench to a hook pull. Pah. Coffee. I switch hooks, put a braid link on for the shy biters. Not really tackled for this, the plan was to play with the pasties at Mappowder on the LRH, it's short and stout for this, especially with a ' among the blooming blackthorn, there is the hum of a thousand bees, if you watch the trees' skyline you can see them, busy busy busy. A tench glides by an half-an-hour later, then some time after a facsimile bite, the float sinking to its tip, then as I tighten my fingers, rises to fly full colours....then stops...

Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey doldrum'd not for the first time...Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey doldrum'd not for the first time...Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey doldrum'd not for the first time...Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey doldrum'd not for the first time...Milton Abbey LakeMilton Abbey doldrum'd not for the first time...

Welcome back to Milton Abbey - abruptly, the fishy sensation drains away, I persist for another half-an-hour (you never know) and noting the water has cleared a little, head around to a fallen tree by the carp park, where there is proper water colour. I get twenty minutes before a man with a saw arrives to remove it, so wander off to Peg 1 and spend a while mooching about the shallow end, spotting two fine chub (which also spotted me) three jacks, one of which almost took a piece of twitched bread, and so headed home.

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

201528th February 2015. Milton Abbas

Milton AbbasThe Pump Pool and its blazing dogwoodMilton AbbasFour of the eightMilton AbbasDecent, a goer
Milton AbbasOver the poundMilton AbbasThe green sight bob in the blueMilton AbbasThe most welcome tench
Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page) Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook Safety Pin HookSafety Pin Hook

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

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

A summary of sorts. The newly revamped all-singing-and-dancing '' can now be used to extract handy information from the various diary entries. The species of any fish caught are recorded and so is the number of said fish, if it was noted. When I didn't keep count for any reason, the entry simply notes (for example) 'some perch'. Or, suprisingly often, 'no fish at all'. In the case of the latter I can't help feeling my own website is sniggering at me. Moving on.

I fished Milton Abbey from 2001 or so to the last visit on February 20th 2018, somewhere around 51 times. Over the course of these trips I was caught by and recorded: 72 roach, 71 tench, 21 bronze bream, 17 carp, seven perch and two pike.

I'm not a fanatical recorder of fish and weights, or of anything really. I often note that I've caught 'some fish' by species. So there were also: 12 occasions when bunches of roach were caught, two occasions when bunches of perch were caught, one occasion when a bunch of rudd was caught and one occasion when a bunch of tench was caught.

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