This is the page for The Saxon PondsPete's Ponds, on 'www.crucians.org' one of 'Pete's Waters'.
In 2010 or so, I was searching for background information about 'Luckfield Lake...as I was still trying get to grips with it...' and stumbled across an image of a page from Peter Rolfe's book "The Net on the Garage WallIf you have a copy of this, you should treasure it.", which had a reference to Luckfield Lake. Shortly after this, in one of those instances of striking serendipity that cause even the most rational of empiricists to pause for a moment and consider the odds, a contributor to "Crock of Gold"If you're puzzled why crucians from different waters don't always look the same; or why stocking with crucian carp can be such a gamble - why they sometimes disappear for years or, at the other extreme, why they sometimes run riot and take over a pond - then read on"" asked for my opinion on a related matter. So swiftly putting two-and-two together and arriving at a result greater than 'four' (as is my wont) I contacted Peter to see if he might tell me anything about Luckfield Lake. As it happened, Pete was considering putting together a websiteThe website of the 'Crucian Crusader' for all things crucian.
Some months and some correspondence passed and I became the 'webmaster' for www.crucians.org and following on from that, I became a lucky member of the Saxon Pond Dabblers. Below are JAA's diary entries for The Saxon Ponds in chronological order, since my first trip here in 2011 to the present day in March 2021. Here is a map:
There are a few figures at the bottom of this page, should that sort of thing be of interest.
It is funny how things work out.
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
3rd May 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Might tell you some more about the day later. Might not.
|A good carassius to start off with||The view from my second swim||The view from my second swim||a perfectly fine tinca|
|a considerably better than fine tinca||towards the end of the pond||the dam, anglers for the seating of||almost sunset on a fine fine days angling|
Oh all right then. This was a gift day for the newly appointed webmaster, to see what the ponds were like in person and presumably to get some measure of the person in person. We fished the north bank and I managed a few fish by the simple expedient of fishing a signal maggot under the bank. Thankfully a crucian resulted, that is the point after all, then a couple of tench that reacted like marlin, streaking off in the shallow water. Inevitable, it turns out, there were many sprat-sized roach. We fished most of the bright warm day, Pete vanishing midway to provide some lunch-time provender as neither of us had brought anything. This is not unusual for me, but nevertheless I gratefully received some tomato soup and some rolls. This was an excellent foreshadowing.
16th June 2011. 'Pete's PondsThe Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. The 16th, a ceremony day and one should, if at all possible, celebrate between lily pads with tench. This is of course something of a dream. This high-day's pond is untrammelled, uncivilised even, with no boards, scalpings or gravelcrunch, even the path around the lake is little more than shorter buttercups than those on either side, the whole enclosed in a small green valley. The main concession to mankind is the double sleeper that provides the bridge (and I dignify it) across the source of the ponds' life blood at the valley's tip.
N.'s nicked the first of the best fishable lily swims, quite right too, but made room for me to sashay by his spot. Making a space among the buttercups, I did no more than plonk a fine cane tipped porc. quill by the lilies and wait for something to happen. N. recommended bread so I started with that and a few thin hemp scatters. Very little happened for 20 minutes, except N. showing me a 1¾lb crucian, a wondrous gleaming treasure that didn't deserve so light a weight. I missed a twitch-bob and when P. turned up, doing the rounds, I got a firm, obliging bite and something bolted hard into the pads and pulled out the hook. I was reminded they go hard here.
|right hand patch||left hand patch||three perfect pitches|
After this I caught one, two, then three carassius all about 1lb, small tench plugging the gaps. This continued during the sun's patches, scudding clouds moving too fast for rain until late lunch, then we had the first of the showers that stropped down the valley like a haughty mezzo-soprano making the noise of tearing newspaper. Calm intervals are scented with wood-smoke and damp earth and have the expectancy of fish edging out from the pads' shelter. Crucian arrived in clumps of like size, some hand sized and two stunning fish that went 1½lb and 1lb 10oz. On top of these riches were tench that pulled very hard despite their lack of size, perhaps 1¾lb the largest. After several mini Sturm-und-Drangs, I missed a sitter, bumped another and then lose a fish in a massive swirl, near carp-like. No mudpigs here though.
|'4'||onemoretinca||'5'||yetanother tinca||one of the better ones|
|I love these shreds of mist after rain||expectant after the rain||'one half dozen'||'lucky number seven'||'8'|
|'9'||'10'||'11'||the pitch||the whole point, a whole dozen, this at 1lb 10oz|
The crucian fight is hard and fast, rattling up the line from the fast tail beat, the carp has a slower beat and a draught-horse pull, the tinca's softer muffled beat from the big flexible screws nature provides it. A big tinca then, or big for the pond, a reminder that seldom caught tench fight really hard, harder than 'king' carp pound for pound, as hard as a 'wildie'. Crucians are not be sneezed at, they have a sudden standing-start power and even a 1lb fish races across the swim and pushes hard into the pad-stalks. Roach, rudd and perch all slower off the mark and quicker to give in.
|reduced to a number ('13') at 1½lb||'forteen'||no bad ones...||rain, rain...||...do as you like I'm not going home.|
|the float||the float, the pads||'15' so handy in dominoes||'16', square||prime, '17'|
The swim fades and the last bite 40 minutes later gives up another 1lb gold-service plate, I realise that concentration is shredded after five hours of rapt attention to a needle-slim piece of bamboo. I take a stroll about, noting a flower not seen yet, tall, lightweight cow parsley like, mauve flower heads. This, I later find out is Valerian, once and still used as a sedative, possibly the last thing you'd need at this well in reality's surface. There are buttercup petals floating on the pond-surface, gently wavering from the under-squirm, so sated, pack away, stroll about the lower pond and head for some buttered-toast scrambled eggs.
|'18'||'19' prime again||a score, too good||seven three's are...||'22'|
|'23' annoyingly prime||one more little tinca||eight three's are...two dozen||square again, '25'|
|last but not least, '26'||pie and coffee break||threading the needle|
The best of 16th's, eclipsing a misty dawn on a Stour weir with grayling - I ramble on home along the lanes with Led Zeppelin II and a smile.
23rd June 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' - 'The Top Pond'. Another great day's angling, slow for the first couple of hours, most of the fish coming in a 'rush' between 2 and 4 o'clock. Tiny frogs about the feet, some crucians topping, a water rat about the place. All terribly bucolic and peaceful. Really good...
|tichy tinca||very nearly 1lb of bullish tench||A 'netter', well technically.||teeny crucian, worth two in the water||small but beautifully marked tinca||the swim of the day||the Upper Pond looking fabulous as usual|
|the Upper Pond still looking fabulous as usual||Another technical 'netter'...||A 'netter', well technically.||1lb par for this course||1lb par for this course||1lb par for this course, they go in bunches you know.||bruiser at 2lb 4oz|
|at about 1lb...||Green Mint beetles...||How can you not like these?||A 'netter', well technically.||1lb 6oz, same orange spot as the 16th...||another fabulous carassius||the more or less traditional float picture|
...half as many fish it would still be good, better than a bare-banked lucky-dip.
26th July 2011. The 'Lower Lake'The Victorian Estate Lakes' - see 'Crock of Gold', the 'Upper Pond'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'. A guest trip to a place with properly good crucians which hid, although I gulled several golden rudd and then, stalking the river arm, ran into C- coming the other way, also stalking, traditionally we'd have bumped floppy hats before seeing each other, but sadly for the small gods of silent comedies, we both were sufficiently wraith-like for this to be avoided. Although the sight of two bearded floppy-hatters approaching each other unawares on opposite side of the same spit, rods in one hand, nets in the other, has considerable comic potential. Neither of us caught one. My host had to run so I dropped into 'The Saxon Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'...
|the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||one of the blank avoiding golden rudd||stalking the carp that wasn't there|
...and managed to extract a couple of small crus. and a tench but it was tricky fishing, tiny bites far between. C- turned up again looking for his water bottle, apparently tossed into the bush behind me...giving in, with a chuckle he labelled my twitching rod hand a 'conditioned reflex' and headed for the lower, cadging cockles en passant. A try with bread on the drop gets a wild bite and a three pound tench launches porpoise like into the pads and leaving the hook on a pad stem. I give in, can take a hint then get mugged by a Jack Russell while watching C-'s float for a while, one of my cockles extracting a roach, before heading home up the down.
|the Saxon Ponds (upper)||the Saxon Ponds (upper)||the Saxon Ponds (upper)||a small but perfectly formed one||a smaller but still perfectly formed one|
19th November 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Pretty Autumn.
Some three hours have passed in the late autumn sunshine, the first two passed, sitting on the damn wall, extracting small roach in the 4" range with scraps of bread, the bait which worked most consistently, corn getting hardly a bump and worms ignored. After enough of these, a score perhaps, I switch from my thin pole float, a shop-made with a homemade cane antennae, and a size 18, I switch to a size 10 hook and some bread paste made by grinding hempseed to a pulp in a bait-box and adding breadcrumbs until I have an elastic dough. This I lay on under a tiny Harcork float, hoping for a larger roach or maybe even a late tench, you never know. This will need checking every 20 minutes or so what with the surfeit of sprats on the lake bed. So it is I write and wait.
The sun is low all day, lighting the scene quite nicely and some larger fish are rising in open water and I've been flicking these some small crusts to see what happens. This raises the rises, but not so much I think about a switch of tactics, although a small self-cocker and a handful of white maggots might have been fun.
|Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond|
It would be all too easy to recall this as a quiet afternoon in the slanting sun; if I had it would have been because I'd tuned out the overflow producing a steady torrent of sound, with a slight variance on a 20 minutes cycle, the acrobat in the light plane, the crows picking the dung in the field for grubs and chakking in the sun. It's all rather pleasant.
A good roach would be nice; my paste is a rather lazy long shot. The far bank seems a better bet to me, but I chose this spot for the odd pleasure there is in sitting on a solid structure that has been there long enough to be part of the landscape. That and the initial thought that an entire circuit of the lake and its precipitous south bank path in the dark was not something for the unwary - although I now recall there is another route up the far meadow. P. drops by then and we chat of this and that, then P. heads off.
|Just a nice view of the lower pond||The psycholgically suggestive path over the dam||Dusk over Donhead||The overly optimistic Harcork bobber|
Dusk then slid down the valley, the water becalmed, occasional dimples and curled-leaf boats only and I listened to the back-and-forth 'chik' of roosting blackbirds and the occasional raucous pheasant. The air took on the slight metallic taint that augers a colder night with a dew-fall. My tiny float twitched occasionally as if to keep my hopes up and with the light streaming through the overflow, the kingfisher I'd heard strike earlier downstream then sped through from under my right eye with its shrill ‘keee’, raising my hopes further. One of the few carp dabbled at something under the willow herb further up the bank and then, despite weaving my head this way and that, the float I'd placed against the dam-wall for a perch slipped away, perchless, into the gathering gloom. I did likewise.
|Just another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page)||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||It's a space. Accept it and move on.||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook||Just another fish-hook|
24th March 2012. The Upper Saxon Pond. The sunlit dam-wall is perfect, so I sit on it, promise myself an hour to take a fish, accompanied by a really rather fine honey, almond and lemon cake and two bottles of the best icy cold ginger beer ever (not due to the brand, I'd not had a drink for seven hours hence, three of them up to my nicky-nacky-noos in water and pulling nets of fish). Now, if your answer to the truly complex question "What float should I use?" is "My favourite one" then you're in good company.
|all in all||lashings of ginger beer||...not a bad cake as it happens (Moley)|
A lady appears behind me with a small dog and tells me I'm well camouflaged, "It's a trick" I say. It occurs to me later I never heard the gate screech. I hate it when that happens.
|from the dam wall, looking south||misty, sort of||a golden host of blah blah...|
Crock that I am, too old to wall-sit like a boy, I ache when the hour is up, so decamp to the south bank in the lee of a small host, ease my bones onto the chair and swap the float over to another favourite, thinner. Starboard Ratty is radiating ripples and a carp rolls noisily under the willow at the top end. Flat calm.
|the lone tinca||flat calm||dead calm|
Crows, cockerels, bees, church bells and the sweet edge of silage from the shed. Not too shabby. A fish moves on my left, one of the grass carp unless I miss my guess, they have the turning circle of a blimp, so I feed it as part of a longer ploy. I look back as the float blips and the reel rattles briefly as I pick up the rod and let a tench play itself out and pose. Always good. The tussel tips my last lap-sang over, hey ho.
Dogs bark in the distance (why is that a good sound?), the cold and damp roll down the little valley as the light dips, briefly smelling like the Thames of my childhood, rush beds and mist. I listen to the sluice and rattling ratty. Once then, my float sinks slowly and returns, the bread now silty. Then the owls are calling and it's time to go.
31st March 2012. Stuck in the mudThe great upper pond netting. Well, greensand clay as it happens. Wader stuck so firmly in the claybottom of the upper pond I had to abandon them for the rest of the morning. Pah. Moved very many fine fish to the lower pond which augers well for the 16th...but naturally I can't move a limb without some protesting muscle complaining. Whatever happened to the fitness of my youth? (It is, of course, stored around the midriff of my middle age, dammit.)
The upper pond south bank, from the dam wall....1
The south bank and the inlet end...2
The inlet end...3
The north bank and the inlet end...4
The upper pond north bank, from the dam wall....5
16th June 2012. The Big Day, Pete's Ponds. The season started well enough, myself and The Woodsman bagged the place (well, no one else was there). I got there first and popped myself on the south bank by an overhanging tree. I threw in some hemp and with my old Octofloat and 'pin loaded with 4lb line, plumbed the depth with a 'BB' shot on the '14' hook. The float settled and then obligingly bobbled off to one side; I pulled it back in rather than striking, assuming some kind of line-bite. Things went rather solid and wallowy and I suspect me and the fish realised at once what was going on; the carp whipped off to the right under the sunken tree, which swayed alarmingly. I watched the fish arrow into the lower part of the pond, the line angled under a branch, assumed a fouler and that all was lost.
I made my way left, widening the angle enough to free the line from the tree and then dipping the rod into the water up to the first ferrule it plucked (alarmingly) free, leaving me attached to the still moving carp, some thirty-odd yards off. I can't claim so much skill; I assumed an inevitable 'sudden slackness' so played the fish fairly firmly, the Octofloat bent into quite the quarter-circle most of the time. I gained a few yards at a time until the fish was wallowing on the right side of the tree - it almost fitted in the net. I was surprised to find the hook firmly in the top lip and it went just over 15lb on the scales.
|the 15lb pound shot-eater...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...|
|the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...|
|the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||the 16th tba...||some grey-beard bloke on the 16th...|
I spent the rest of the day catching tench and crus at regular intervals, but mid-afternoon it dried up completely - The Woodsman nabbed a couple of roach from under a tree by the dam and then he decamped to the upper pond for some fun with some smaller crucians and tench - where I left him at about 5ish, happily nipping them out.
13th July 2012. The Saxon Ponds. ...I risked a drive-by to the Lower Saxon Pond and had one tench before the Heavens opened, so drenched I squelched back to the car.
|...the lone tench...||...the 'umbrella pitch' and its tree.|
21st July 2012. Pete's Pond. Nobby came out to play and we caught fish, bent cane, ate sausage sandwiches and generally behaved like big kids. Great funNobby's Nirvana - boys will be boys.
My day is in the pictures below...for Nobby's follow the link above.
|a rare picture of JAA doing his thing||An upper Saxon pond crucian||A Saxon pond tenchlet|
|An upper Saxon pond crucian||The upper pond pitch||Nobbyngton-Smythe|
|The umbrella pitch||The umbrella pitch's tree||a lower pond crucian|
18th August 2012. The Lower Saxon Pond. So, fishing delayed in turn by hoping for Bairstow's century and some escaped maggots in the boot. Buggrit, must get the lids back on the right boxes. Very very warm...I 'don't do hot and sunny' so remain on the shady side, contra instinct, fishing to all outward appearance, pre-baiting for dusk in reality. Long thin porcupine, no.4 laid on, the opposite of fishing delicately, a tactic worth a try. Just in case I feed the island and the bush to my left and listen to dumbledores and oddly autumnal bird chirps.
An hour slides past and I swap my maggot swaddled '14' for a pinch of bread, there are signs of fish, faint dimples, odd tiny bubbles. No pogrom so far! Clang of a gate. Visitors? Second tea-time, nothing like a bite in any pitch, although the feeling persists that fish are passing by from time to time. A dab-chick, fluffy ping-pong ball threaded, edge-of-panic, past my feet, too fleet for my camera. It's tempting to fish the top pond, easy pickings for small fry, but today, I'd rather wait, even with blanking a real threat. Having said that, if I don't get a few sun-down I'll be surprised...
|Looking across the pond from the umberella pitch||West of the island in the sunshine||The path towards the dam||LTT|
Tea three, light muzzied, still not a sniff. Might have done better to bait up and fish for bites in the top for a few hours. Cockle on the hook, but the sun's dipping now, and I've had many worse Saturdays. I could be clothes shopping at Castle Point...for example. A small bunch of long tailed tits pass over and around me, like draught pieces in continual jumps, I get a few good shots from about 10ft. Always a good thing, still nothing approaching a bite. I confess, that if my float is unwaveringly cocked at dusk-fall, I'll head for some stir-fry, pleasant though this is.
|LTT||LTT||LTT||The left-hand path up the lake, I often think someone is there, even when there isn't|
Sun-set, not a twitch. For a slightly overstocked lake lightly fished it's quite bizarre. Still, not over yet...a few fish topping, but the. Bees in the late blackberry flowers over my head have taken an early night. A few bubbles. A bite would be nice. At the point my float flickers in half light, punctuated by a lone bat, I head off, and along one of the lanes a big hare stepped out of the hedge, looked at me, and as casually as you like turned round and stepped back. I look in the mirror, imagining it sitting, infinitely patient, for a clear road.Her loyalty is not to me, but to the stars above. Two hares now, one in the fields ten days back, first one I've seen on the North Down, they run towards the fire you know.
|It's not going to move...||damsel||The distant hare on the evocative track|
|a very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page)||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience|
21st June 2013. The Lower PondYes, those ponds.
|Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond|
|Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond|
|Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond||Pete's Lower Pond|
24th June 2013. The Lower PondYes, those ponds.
|More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...|
|'More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||'We have a barn owl|
1st July 2013. The Lower PondYes, those ponds again.
I'd like to take some credit for great skill and application for today, but in truth is was down to a very early start, on the bank at 5:45am, a stealthy approach and fish feeding in my favourite swim from the off. I fished a very small porcy with a 4" long antenna made of 1mm cane and this fished as a lift float allows a tell-tale of 1 x no.6, which I placed some 1½" from the hook. Bait was for the most part either a grain of corn or a small gilt tail worm nicked once through the head with a size 14. Some bites were sail-aways but many were classic lift bites and the crus. in particular bit exactly as the rig was designed - a tiny dip follow by a lift, with a strike at the top of the lift getting the fish every time. Bites tailed off towards late morning, even so I had a tench at 12:45pm and packed up a tad later.
|The Lower Pond||roach#1||roach#2||cru #1||roach#3|
|roach#6||cru#4||roach#7||The Umbrella swim||roach#8|
|cru#10||roach#9||the Lone Perch||tinca#2||tinca#3|
Nine roach to 1lb 4oz, ten crucians to 1lb 8oz, three tench at 2lb 12oz, 3lb 6oz, 3lb 10oz, 1 perch. I lost 4 fish to hook pulls and missed a dozen bites. Looking at the fins on the roach and crucians they'd both spawned and there's already small shoals of fry on the pond. Mid-morning I saw a carp mooching about that I'd put around 17lb - but when I reached for my camera it faded like the Cheshire C. It seldom gets better than this.
8th July 2013. The Lower PondYes, those ponds.
|More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...|
|'The Woodsman' with crucian...||'The Woodsman' with another crucian...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...||More of the Lower Saxon Pond...|
13th July 2013. Pete's PondsYes, those ponds. The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages).
|Nobbyngton-Smythe moves to full alertness at The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)|
|The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)|
|The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt teaboy gets on with cooking the added sausages||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt teaboy gets on with cooking the added sausages|
|The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)||The Great Lower Pond Crucian hunt (with added sausages)|
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float||Another proper float||Another proper float|
18th May 2014. 'The Saxon Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. The plan being to clear the paths around the ponds a 'first cut' for the opening day and some minor 'test fishing'. The fish in the Lower Ponds were willing and The Woodsman had five crus, one of which was over 1lb. The other were spawned out and rather too eager to feed, there was a surfeit of small perch, looks like the few fish put in two years ago have spawned. Hm. Weed slashing (mostly comfrey) done, top and bottom ponds both, pollarded a poplar, a brew and then some test fishing, which yielded one cru, a large tench and a small one.
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...1
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...2
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...3
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...4
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...5
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...6
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...7
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...8
The Woodsman turned up and knocked out eight or nine tench and one more cru before wandering off to try a different swim for more crus (which failed to appear). I nabbed a couple more small tinc's and then it died a bit. The Woodsman went off with the buckets (but without his fleece) and of course then I had a run of fish, three crus, three more 1½lb tench and lost a big one which kept out of the lilies first go, roared off toward the middle leaving my hook behind and tangled on the rod tip. Drat. Good enough.
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(1)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(2)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(3)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(4)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(5)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(6)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(7)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(8)
Cutting paths, testing the fishing...(9)
26th May 2014. The Saxon Ponds. Popped in to collect some pike-bait...
16th June 2014. 'The Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Long anticipated, but the three-week wake of 'a bit of a cold' left me a 4am shadow of myself, but nevertheless, arrived slightly ahead of the sun and fished 'the usual spot' for a plethora of sprats, three clonking tench and a few atypical perch - a cake break brought the news that The Woodsman had managed a baker's dozen of crus plus three tench. Then an hour on corn (not a bite), an hour snatching bait-fish. TW lit a fire for welcome bacon'n'eggs and then I slipped off for Wetland pike...
|roach||tench||roach||roach||The lower pond looking west from the 'umbrella pitch'|
|looking east along the bank on the Lower Pond||north view across the Lower Pond from the 'umbrella pitch'||roach, caught accidentally while dibbing for live-bait||the Upper Pond from the dam wall|
29th June 2014. 'The Saxon Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.
19th October 2014. 'The Saxon Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Fishing slow internally and out, so loll on the mat as the float lolls under an alder. I nabbed a roach on half a lob at its second time of priming, requiring a cast to the riser. Heh. It's proper autumn, blustery, leaves on the water, green-floats-and-worms day. Except the light here works best on orange...I have decided that the water not driven by the wind is the thing and will trickle corn and chopped worms and wait...
|the float of the day||up through the umbrella pitch||wind-piled leaves||a perch||a laid-back view up the Lower Pond|
I just about finish my tin-cup and the little orange bob is off...perch, always good.
On the road in, were a host of big cars attending church, (those who 'Old Bob' would call 'the great and the good' but he didn't mean it as a complement), a mass of expensively clothed, who would argue with the Man himself about exactly what the good book meant. The uncharitable half of me hopes they get the chance...although I should have apologies to make myself in this event.
I miss a 'sitter' for an imagined foot-fall, then switch to a '14', nab two more roach, the first twice the size of the second. I'd seen the pimples on the surface, so was expectant. Tiny worms then accounted for two tiny perch. Heh. I put on a '12', was so busy snapping a yaffle at range I pricked a bigger fish, then miss-timed a strike and lost something quite solid, then redeemed myself with another nice roach. Not so slow.
|two micro perch||nine of the best||nearly autumn across the lower pond|
|a long-range yaffle||a perfect roach||the biggest of the day, with a brass tint on the shoulder|
This last fish signals the pace is picking up, so it is, I nab a further half-a-dozen, the pick of them the last, needing the flash, which accentuates the brass of the scales. I debate a torch on the float and then consider it a good day if ended here.
21st December 2014. The Nadder/'The Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Midwinter mixed nuts.
|'Pond 1', The Wetland||The first swim||A bunch of wild brownies, good sport all||An interesting but unproductive swim||Also interesting, but unproductive|
A couple of hours on the Nadder prodcued these four spotties, the largest (top right) twice the size of it's fellows. They came to worms and bread, and I didn't get anything else. I ambled back across the (stock-free) field and parked just to the right of the 'Umbrella Swim' tree and caught steadily for the rest of the afternoon.
|The winter-view from the 'umbrella pitch'||There's a float in there somewhere||The rest, key-sized to 8oz||Entry for the smallest perch of the year||One of this year's, fending for itself||Big head shaking cannible ('big' for this pond)|
|A find roach just over 1lb||A big brass-tinged roach, 24oz or so.||Midwinternight|
|Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of...(and back to the top of the page)||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.||Hook, eyed, fishing for the use of.|
11th January 2015. Labour saving tools. "As you get on a bit," said Pete, "you employ tools to make things easier for you". "Like us?" I said...there were, of course, potatoes, we'll be kind and call them 'well done' and for myself, a selection of aching muscles to grace the following day, testament to brambles cleared, willows pollarded and whatever word one uses to describe razing sheaves of bamboo at ground level with a felling axe.
|The lower end of the Lower Pond, sunlit||The upper end of the Lower Pond||The top pond, a rather less flattering view of.||The fire, the pond and the clear patch|
Still enjoyable for all that. Netting next...
14th February 2015. The Nadder, Pete's Ponds.
|The Lower Pond, denuded for winter||The Lower Pond, denuded for winter|
|A nuisance of brownies||A small stream roach||The small-stream pool of your dreams...||The respectable 3oz roach|
|Coffee on the dam wall||The view from the dam||The small-stream bobber waiting for the fish that never came...|
21st March 2015. A morning 'emergency' netting on The Upper PondThose ponds... (a bottom board on the sluice had gone, bringing forward a planned netting, we relocated some 70 odd tench and probably 200lb of crucians, all is well).
|The upper pond from the dam||The lower pond's hollow tree||The lower pond looking towards the dam|
18th April 2015. 'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'. An antidote to the asininity of office life. Hard graft, bushwork, lily root toting and planting, spreading lime...when did my back age ten years more than the rest of me?
|the upper pond, drained and dredged||the upper pond, drained and dredged|
|one of the bunds and silt||the upper pond, drained and dredged|
To the Wetland then, for a 'rest'...
16th June 2015. The Big Day. At 5am I stayed in the marital b., a good place to be sure, lay, listened to the dawn chorus until I was sure sleep was gone. It was a drive of wraiths, more than once visibility vanished into cloud without warning and a spectre or two remained on the top pond as I crossed the dam.
|The top pond spectres||The lower pond far to early in the morning||The cork ball-bobber rides again||An inevitable perch|
Umbrella swim then (I just like it), some hemp ladling, then hard boiled eggs, ciabatta, zingy orange marmalade in buttered rolls - the last interrupted by the first two of a plundering of tench. Heh.
Corn to start, then a switch to shrimp brought crus interspersed, then both golden tench in successive casts, the morning streamed by punctuated by tiny lifts and slips, then P. arrived, 'on his rounds', about elevenses. We talk of this and that, P. went onto the lakes and after a quiet interval, livened by a foot long grass snake slipping onto shore and the bees over my head in the azalea, a continuous light drone with lower pitched bumblers fading in and out. I opted for lunch at, it transpired, noon. Breakfast was around 6:30am tho'.
Sport tailed off after bread, olives tomato and Parma ham, during though, two outrageous lift bites on corn landed the smallest tinca so far and another 1lb of crucian. Ginger beer...feet up eyes closed...D. came by making me start, I'd drifted into a sleepy reverie playing a word game on the small technology, I had one bite after D. went on, a gentle lift yielding a single roach.
|The 'umbrella pitch'..||...and one of its lost blossoms||The 'umbrella pitch' from the other side||Drifting off||The post-script roach|
...the big decision now is the cows, various, JAA for the braving of. Since I arrived the farmer flushed the herd into the gated meadow that I have to cross to leave. But when? And how avoid (a) fright [mine] and (b) letting any bullocks out at either end. Hm...
19th July 2015. Pete's Ponds.
|A cork-ball special fished under the branches and mostly under the water.||Down the path towards the dam from the 'umbrella pitch'.|
|Looking down the barrel of the LHSRE, NW across the lake. Notice the 'impossible to forget' rod-rest. Drat, I'll lose it now for sure.||A handy vase, a boot sale find, now co-opted for those long useful things one collects when one makes floats.|
12th September 2015. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.
|A very small porcupine quill very close to the edge, holding up a scrap of bread, the 'Weyfarer' method.||A 'constellation' of crucians||The lone and vegetarian perch||The lone, late and very welcome tench|
|One of the scale perfect little crucians, small but not a hardship to fish for...'Little fish are sweet.' as 'Old Bob' used to day.||Another of the scale perfect (but humped for gape defence) little crucians|
|The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view taken with the new 'Small Technology' of the lower Pond from the 'Umbrella Pitch'|
20th September 2015. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.
|A tiny float and a pinch of bread||A 'constellation' of crucians|
|The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view of the Lower Pond from the the dam side of the 'Umbrella Pitch' (taken with the new 'Small Technology')|
|the smaller of the golden tench||one of the 'regular' tench|
|All tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page)||There are no bad tench||All tench are good tench||There are no bad tench||Tinca tinca little star...|
8th May 2016. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.
|Just an interesting sky||The Lower Pond from the 'umbrella pitch'||This is what the float did for about four hours.||It's the grass carp. Honest it is.|
|You wouldn't think it was spring, would you? Heh, you can see the float.|
29th May 2016. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''
Today's plan for the 'Saxon Pond Dabblers' DDIncluding today, but not limited to: 'JAA', 'Dave', Garry' and 'Pete'. was to fish for crus of less than 6" in length and redistribute, then to cut the bankside paths out, a simple and satisfying job, levelling a yard-wide swathe through the spring greenery. It's not so much a path as a 'rough guide on where to walk if you want to avoid sliding into the pond'.
My plan was to fish from 8am or so, try for the six-inchers and see who turned up and when. The 'umbrella pitch' was all 'toil and trouble', so little further incentive or walking were required. Although the first fish was a tench, there were seven crucians in the bucket before another body arrived. I was all set for some slashing, but was firmly instructed to keep catching. "Oh, all right then" I thought to myself...as luck would have it, the tench were spawning for the most part, so absent and the crucians were very busy indeed. From 8am to 1pm a serendipitously constant stream of bites kept me amused and by the time I'd had enough, was forty odd crucians to the good, with the largest at 1lb 14oz and half a dozen more well over 1lb.
Dave, inspired, picked up his rod, fished alongside for the last two hours or so, and neither people on the bank nor path-clearing put the fish off in the slightest. Dave further padded out the six-incher crucian tally, bracketing them with several tench, some larger crus and a couple of greedy but reasonably sized perch (which took bread and corn). A fine effort considering Garry and myself did our best to trash his swim by cutting down some substantial willows on the other side of the rhododendron. All-in-all 27 six-inchers were bucketed and of course none of the fish count as it's still the close season. Just as well I didn't enjoy it at all then.
The Lower Pond from the 'Umbrella Pitch'...(1)
The first tench...(2)
The second tench...(4)
Tench 3, the destroyer of swims...(7)
The four best pictures, including a rather fine 1lb 14oz crucian. That's probably the most crucians I've taken in a session and suspect it will remain that way for some time.
16th June 2016. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Opening day in the right place.
14th August 2016. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Catching to order.
|The pitch. Arriving at 9:30 the window of opportunity was closing rapidly, not that this was apparent at the time - although this is entirely consistent with August fishing on the Lower Pond.||The best of the three crucians I managed. I had one of a few inches more-or-less on arriving, then this larger one, perhaps 8oz, then a smaller one, which went in the keep-net for transfer (managing to contribute two fish to the ten Pete and Dave manged between them). I missed a couple of bites for good luck, but that was it for the day.||A picture of a float awaiting a crucian, that of course is far better than anything else I've taken this season.||The path leading to the dam. If you care to compare it with other pictures of the same, the damage done by the adjoining herd of cows when a careless person left the gate open can be inferred.|
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
4th June 2017. Mystery Pictures
I found these (in 2021) on a 'MicroSD' card that I was giving to the youngest; I have no idea what I was doing at Donhead on the day, probably pre-season path-clearing. Anyhoo.
|The Style Pitch||Looking across to the Semley bank||The heeling pine||Looking west from the style|
25th June 2017. Erstaz opening day. Busy with stuff, I eschewed the 16th, a rare thing, but the mind was elsewhere, plus the Saxon Ponds are unusually busy this year. Nevertheless, I got my usual shady swim and fished from early afternoon through to dusk and managed four small perch and the same number of tench, the last coming as the light left. Small perch and roach made bread and shrimp fishing twitchy work, but for my size '11', I could've plucked a fish every cast albeit a tiny one. I lost a couple of fish to hook-pulls, one weight zipping under the tree after the float slid off 'on-the-drop', I suspect a 'fouler' and the second, a tench, headed straight out and the hook simply slipped.
|Looking up the pond||Looking across the pond||Tench I|
|Tench II||The path leading to the dam||The float, poised.|
|Tench III||Tench IV and a few of the perch.|
Plenty of roach priming and perhaps one or two crucians at the end topped in their skittery way. Nice day out (but you knew that).
6th July 2017. Weed. The top pond is over-grown with pond-weed, so three-and-a-half of us rolled up and threw weed-rakes around for an hour to try to thin the stuff out a bit. It makes fishing awkward, gives the fish cover almost everywhere making location tricky, and lastly and more significantly, it sucks the oxygen out of the water at night and can occasionally cause fish problems because of it. It's also wet and silty...
I admit I was tempted to fish an upper pond swim I'd weed-dragged in the south-west corner by the dam, it looked nice, but I chickened out and headed for the rhododendrons on the lower pond. My plan was to fish until past dark and I'd brought star-lights and floats for them, but intended to fish with an LED torch on the float to see how it worked. I've modified a small LED torch with a piece of plastic tube pushed over the end and lined the inside with a piece of duplon, the idea being to produce a narrow beam of light.
While it was still light, fishing lift style, I had a clutch of perch and one tench and watched 'the' carp amble past and then turn to give my float a good hard stare before thinking better of it. I missed several really big lift-bites, which with hindsight, I should have left until the float sank again...
...I had one more of those lift bites after I focussed the torch on the thin cane, then swapped it for a small translucent tipped quill, which lit very nicely. Dusk came and despite tench bubbles all over the place I didn't get another tench-bite, although I was literally on the edge of my seat for an hour. A bit after dark the little quill bobbled flat and I thought for a moment it was a crucian, 'alas' a decent roach. Then all becalmed and for the next hour the float didn't stir a millimetre, so I packed up at 11:30 or so.
|''Hello sky'', as Madelaine Basset might have said.||The orginal custom porcy-quill-and-cane antennae, crucians for the use of.|
|Across the pond and the JW Avon||One of the multitudenous swagger of perch||The late roach|
|The tench of the day||Just a comma butterfly in the 'lean-to', just liked it.|
As for my last trip here, plenty of roach priming and a few skippy crucians topping at dusk. Feels odd to be out that late and not feel cold.
13th July 2017. The Saxon Ponds. A day awarded to myself to 'blood' the Mk.IIIAs described down the page a bit... and see what the small stuff was composed of blI cut up a piece of old mono, the usual way by winding it around my fingers and then cutting the hank through twice with the very sharp small knife. I cleverly sliced a flap of skin on my forefinger and although I'm not remotely superstitious or anything, I wiped the blood onto the handle of the new corks... . A leg-dangling tiddler-bash. I parked on the dam and mucked about with the renovation, a small porcy and a size 16, simple stuff. Said simple stuff removed a flurry of small roach, mostly by fishing off the bottom. A few perch showed and I discovered that dragging the bait a few feet would pick up one such as likely as not. The thin springy tip of the Blue Rod worked neatly for tiddler snatching. It also flicked the quill and its single no.6 shot 10 yards with little effort, so for fun I pulled a few more perch from in-range nooks and dropped a selection into a landing net for a photo.
|The other Mk.III and the dam wall||Looking up the pond||A few of the tiddlers|
|The fishing of day-dreams. Well, for me anyway.|
I decided to try the top pond for a bit, with a few shrimp and some bread. My first thought was the swim nearest the dam, but it was so shallow I tarried only to plumb the depth. I'm never very confident in such shallow swims, so I moved up the pond to between two patches of lilies. Four hours there drove me nuts. There were fish present continuously but try as I might (and I tried) I conjured only two bites (on bread) in the first two hours and missed them both. I then hooked a crucian which rolled under my feet and nicked the hook onto some hornwort. I'm not saying how big that was. I missed another bite, then hooked another which I netted sharpish, after a tussle it must be said. Here it is. It's not a bad one. I missed another bite and by now large crus were rolling with the small, but nearing insanity, I edged off.
|The pitch||The float||The dam wall from the south bank|
|Not bad though...|
2nd September 2017. The Saxon Ponds. So, the plan was to potter about the Lower Pond and try a bit of 'drop-shotting' for perch with the MKIII. That is to say, I tied a no. 4 hook on, put three swan-shot on the tag end of the line and bumped a hook full of maggots across the pond-bed. This yielded a number of small indignant perch that found little about a size 4 hook that impeded them in any way. Heh. I slipped on a small quill and removed more small perch at one-per-cast until I thought I'd had enough fun and so headed for the top pond...
|The MKIII||An indignance of smal perch||The small blue poised porcupine quill...|
...I decided on the last swim by the willows before the bridge and it was a nice enough evening, if overcast.
|The Upper Pond in the evening|
I'll try to capture the spirit of the evening here; stare at this float for four hours, drinking a cup tea every half-an-hour.
|The motionless float|
There you go, that was my evening. The moon was rising over the cowshed and the camera, for once, took it like it was, blurry with autumnal mist and cloud.
|The sacred moon overhead|
18th September 2017. The Lower Saxon PondPete's Ponds. Crucians are in here, catching them on the other hand....The ponds were uncharacteristically busy and I manfully tried to catch something on sweetcorn. I had a bite about 20 minutes in which caught me by surprise and after a couple of lunges which made me think 'crucian' it belted under the tree and skillfully nicked the hook onto a root, much like tench do...drat. Garry arrived on the tail of this mild incompetance and witnessed a series of probable bites, which immediately ceased when he left. After a while I gave up and worked out how many small perch it is possible to catch on pieces of a single lobworm (answer: 37) and it would have been more if the last piece of the unfortunate worm had not slipped the hook. Jim, meanwhile, was even more manfully trying to Christen an old rod that meant a great deal to him. Despite heroic and some might say sarcastic fish-rolling in front of him, he also struggled with all but the small perch. I finally took a small roach on corn, then a last bite on flake excited me until the undoubted specimen crucian that took it morphed into a 1oz perch...then the barn-owl floated across the gap in the trees over the pond and wafted up the meadow. Jim and I gave in and headed for the cars.
|The usual pitch||The useful blue quill|
|The bucket, some floats...||...and the token roach|
There was, 'top ponders' included, a considerable gaggle of dabblers, so in the gloom we stood, drank tea, ate fine cheesy crucian-shaped biscuits and made disparaging remarks about relative expertise in the useage of storm kettles. A fine ending.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||...a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
7th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. A slash and burn party, bank clearing and bonfires of previous clearings. All good fun, even the charred potatoes.
|The smaller of the two bonfires, nearing its nadir.||The large land drain in the corner of the Lower Pond||The view across the drained Lower Pond, the dam wall, the sluice and the other bonfire.|
|Looking up the pond on the north side of the island|
14th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. One of several work parties, as we prepare the ponds for dedging and some landscaping. I was helping Pete clearing a patch of rhododendrons where the ground was boggy and the path, defined by a fallen tree on the uphill side, is a quagmire even with two drains run under and a timber'd walkway.
After some lopping, it was clear that there was one primary source of water, a spring perhaps, and that the fallen tree, in form, but in reality a loose collection of rotten wood held together by a shell of bark, had simply dammed the natural path of the water and turned the area behind into a small bog. It was immensely satisfying to cut a new channel from the welling spring next' the fence, to the pipe sunk under one of the paths' timbers. This involved, variously, pulling out rooted rhododendrons, clumps of matted roots, digging out some grey-and-greenish clay and finally cutting a gap in the fallen tree, achieved with only a shovel, so loosely was the rotten wood bound by its bark.
The 'bog' drained before our eyes and two further trickles of water, under sleepers and through gravel, dwindled to nothing in less than an hour. A slick of silt drifted down the shallow water left in the pond itself, but the spring-water, after the initial rush, ran clear. Why this was all quite so satisfying I can't tell you. But it was. It's an engineer thing. It's been fixed, that's what it is.
|The view across the meadow on the south side of the Lower Pond|
On the way home, rattling along the top road, I was flashed at by a man in white van who was making 'slow down' gestures. I assumed, assigning low integrity to said driver, a speed-trap, primed by the 'white van' and its popular notoriety. Around the bend was a lady struggling with a horse. I wasn't exactly pelting along, so slowed, stopped, to give her time to get the fairly panicky mount under control and off the road, achieved in the end, by dismounting and leading it off. This is how assumptions can get you into trouble...
|The resident livestock, and although I for one do not like cows, I've grown used to these woolly faces watching me wrestle with wellingtons, and to the warn sweet smell of the silage and hay.|
16th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. At 4am, I wasn't overly mithered, but did it anyway. Coffee (pre-loaded pot), eggs (fried) and toast, front-door, car-door. I wasn't first, Garry was already tackling up on the north bank and we quietly shouted greetings. I tackled up with my lucky crucian float and the soft-tipped GTI float rod, built a twelve-month back and racked since. I caught a crucian ten minutes later, then a couple more, this burst of auspiciousness correctly predicting the day's course and I continued to catch steadily in the grey light, mud-coloured water and occasional patches of bubbles. The first four fish helped me to understand I'd missed a ring on the top section, so I was obliged to unclip the float, re-thread...you know the drill.
|The Upper Pond in the grey dawn light (5:19am)||The Upper Pond in the grey dawn light||The lucky crucian float, gathering itself for the long day ahead|
A very solid crucian in the 'a bit less than 2lb' category came to hand, really testing the rod's fine tip. Ten minutes later one of the long lean 2½lb swim trashing machines came out, not without some entertaining moments. I nipped out another small one, watched the apologetic sun rise then had another nerve and weed-shredding big crucian. I opted to amble around, via a fine foxglove, to see how Garry was faring.
|One of the big crucians||One of the Upper Pond's long lean hard-fighting tench||Another of the big crucians|
|It's just a nice tree||'The Pitch' in the early sunlight||The sun comes up...||The fine foxglove|
Garry was good enough to lend me his 'guest seat' and while he'd had activity, even a bite as I watched, his day was thus far slower than mine. Jim turned up at 8:45am (ish) and was rebuked for his sloth. Hands were shaken, Jim went off to fish and I left Garry to it shortly thereafter and returned to my seat. Sport remained steady, with two large tench mid-morning and another thumping crucian, perhaps a shade larger than the previous. 'Steady'; that is, as I said to Pete when he arrived with a bucket for any spare roach and small crus; "The right rate to ensure you become tired from fishing before you are tired of the fish." Peter went on, pausing only to move a few crus and roach to the bottom pond (sprat-sized roach were ever-present).
|Many crucians||Many many crucians||Many more cucians|
|Tinca tinca two||Tinca tinca three|
At noon (ish) Jim called 'lunch-time' and he, Garry and I drank kettle-tea and munched shortbread biscuits. We quickly worked out Garry's cunning scheme, to wit, bringing a 'half-kettle' capacity mug, so to ensure tea for all, his cup was filled last...all had caught so all was well and good.
I pondered calling it a day, grimy eyes, the hay-fever medication wearing off, 4am is feckin' early. However, despite looking less active the swim produced another string of crucians, another large one, then another, the last arriving as Jim came by, pour encourager les pécheurs.
|A very fine crucian||Another very fine crucian|
|Perfect crucians||Perfect crucians||Perfect crucians|
This last 'biggun', determined to visit all four corners at full pelt, trashed the swim somewhat, so I wandered up to chat with Jim and we fixed many of the world's problems (you should see some improvement by Tuesday lunch-time). Garry went on around that time and although I fished for a little longer, my concentration had fled. So I bade Jim farewell and pottered off for an apposite fish-finger sandwich and a Talisker. And sleep.
Fine place, fine company, fine day. Very fine.
24th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Back Upper for the evening. I cannot be mithered with sitting in the midday sun, mad dogs and Englishmen notwithstanding. So I arrived in the late afternoon and having the place to myself, choose the opening day swim as it's (a) handy and (b) well coloured.
I opted for the hollow tip on Sunday's rod, reasoning that the tench pushed me rather hard. The lucky crucian float was swapped for a cork-ball special with the tiniest of pre-loadings, a wrap of solder wire, then fished lift-style. I nabbed a couple of roach, then the orange-tip darted under with no warning, providing me with one of the good ones. Heh. I had another shortly after, same 'bite' and the stouter rod-tip made sense. There was a flurry of small crus, some more roach, then an hour had passed and the low sun had sunk far enough to pull me into shade, for which I was thankful. Then came another brace of very fine fish, followed by Pete and Pam.
|One of the finer fish||The fine pitch on a fine warm day||Another of the finer fish|
The Manager and the Manager's Manager moved into the next swim along and I was immediately promoted to 'stock catcher' and fortunately had a flurry, a dozen or so, of small crus plus more small roach which the Manager re-homed. Presently, another syndicate member arrived and was immediately challenged for his permit. One cannot be too careful, but on this occasion the bona fides were in order. The confirmed non-poacher announced his intention to fish for tench and took the next pitch along from the Managers'.
Thing settled down and for a couple of hours, fishing went on in amiable cool calm, punctuated by occasional fish, bucketed and otherwise, and one allegedly monstrous tench. Despite the midday heat, the lengthening evening brought the slightest of chills and Pete'n'Pam departed leaving the pair of us in the settling dusk. I remembered my flask of black tea, EG and Assam, so I reached for it.
|Another of the finer fish||A constellation of some crucians||Another of the finer fish||Another of the finer fish|
It's been some time since I fished the evening and it was heartening to be sat in the cool damp air laced with the smell of the pond and its water mint. I listened to the sluice water's white noise and worked through a couple of cups while I sat and thought, but without the thought. Thereafter the swim's activity steadily increased, but the number of bites decreased in counterpoint, so after a time I sat with the tench-fisher while we swapped fishing titbits and reviewed the notion that his rod-in-use was 'the same rod' despite being basically new, although built on the original 1950's handle. So, much like my university cricket bat which went through two new handles and three blades; or the 'ship of Theseus' for the philosophically inclined. We further agreed this would make would make a fine spot for watching the Perseids in August.
|The green path by the water||The moon and a planet||Another of the finer fish|
I slipped back to my chair, changed the float for a small hollow-tipped quill, put a collimator on an LED torch, and then fished the dark. This worked, in so much as I caught several small crucians, but bites were infrequent, despite crucians wilfully cavorting over my landing net. At some point it was too dark to fish, at least for those of us with a Monday a.m. day-job; so we made farewells and ambled off, although I tarried to try and capture the moon, stupidly forgetting that the Small Technology's idiot-proof camera makes a better job of this kind of thing. I cast about for a while try to find some of the hoped for glow-worms, alas not this time, leaving me with the dust and the quietness of the cows.
There is a simple pleasure to be had from driving up the track, so much of the year it's rutted, muddy, slick and wet, traps all. Tonight it's dry, hard, with tall moon-lit straw-coloured grass and the open gate at the top of the field is another small pleasure at the end of a fine evening.
29th June 2018. The Saxon Ponds for the evening. Steve was set up on the south bank, it was good to see him again after an interval of three years or so. I intended to try for a tench and in place of the usual Elysian waffle, I'll just say it was a fine evening with a few crucians, but no intended tench.
|The view from the north bank||Another angler||A quill dancing among the bubbles|
|One of the finer fish, another was 'involuntarily released into the wild'||The rod, the reel, the bag||One of a clutch of suicidal small crus that somehow managed three cockles on a size 8|
7th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. My plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond then with the shadows lengthening, switch to tench fishing. During three hours at 27°C, I managed seven small roach, one of which got dropped into the water...so I put the remainder in the rather sad looking lower pond and returned to my pitch to see it fizzing. Aha. I put on a grain of corn and after a bit the float bobbled off leftwards. I struck, pulled the tackle out of the tree, cut off the scored mono, re-tied the hook-link and recast. The float repeated itself, as did I. As did the tree. With a mere suggestion of peevishness, I retied the cast etc., etc....
Next time I remembered to strike upwards and found myself on the interesting end of a circling olive thunderbolt. Heh. I recast and only a few minutes later took a larger tench which gave little quarter and hard stretched the long float rod. I had brief visions of a figurative net of tench, but that was that and despite occasional bobbles, bubbles and increasing crucian signs, that was all I took for my troubles. I didn't get another bite.
|The Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shade||The hopeful roach float||The lonesome pine. It's a nice tree and I was sat under it in fine light.|
|The meadow behind the pond and its tree||...returned to my pitch to see it fizzing|
|The first and smaller of the two tench||The second tench|
The church sounded ten o'clock; chiming away, the moments that round off a fine day. I put on 'Nightwish' for the home run through the lamp-lit sun-bleached lanes. Music for epic battles at the end of time, although one must lighten the right foot when driving to such a soundtrack.
14th July 2018. The Saxon Ponds. Not for the first time the plan was to spend three hours or so catching small fish for relocation in the lower pond. I nabbed a small roach or two, then a very large one, then three fine crucians. "Oho!", I thought to myself, but then for ninety long minutes the swim died utterly and after scratching out five small roach, I transferred them to the lower pond. I stowed the bucket then recommenced...
|The Upper Pond pitch, chosen for its shade||The bobbing cork-ball bobber.||The very fine roach. I picked out a few small roach for the bucket and the next bite turned out to be this chap, one of the finer roach.|
|A fine crucian||Another fine crucian||Yet another fine crucian||And another fine crucian|
|A fine crucian||Another fine crucian||Yet another fine crucian||And another fine crucian|
|Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian|
|A very fine crucian||Another very fine crucian. This came to the net (grudgingly) a little after the clock chimed for nine. The next bite resulted in the end tackle becoming neatly tied around the rod-tip; I took the opportunity to reflect for a moment and decided to call it a day as the fish shown here plus a score of smaller crucians, was surely enough for anyone.|
|it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page)||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p||it's lead free, honest||it's lead free, so a bit cr*p|
17th February 2019. Fishing Test. Pete said; "I know you're a bit worried about your back. Why not bring your rod instead on Sunday? Any info about the fish in the top pond would be useful."
|The highly strung upper pond||Dogwood in the spring light||Dogwood in the spring light|
|You'd think this was the scene immediately before a bite...||The Lower Pond, the Umberella Pitch fish refuge||Looking across the Lower Pond at a roofed-over fish refuge|
|Lower Pond snow-drops||Lower Pond snow-drops|
Even by the standards of the great Claude Shannon, where 'no information' is in itself 'information', regret have no info. about the top-pond fish to offer.
16th June 2019. Opening Daze. The glorious started at 4:30am with the patter of rain on the lean-to roof and the rhythmic thudding of larger drops from the eaves, the latter signifying 'more than a passing shower'. I went back to sleep...and at 6:30 the sounds were the same and at 7:30, but headed for a sausage sandwich and some coffee anyway. I could watch the cricket highlights if it was still raining...I pootle off around 9:30, grey, damp skies and a fine drizzle. I'm going anyway...the late hour (late? Hah!) re-setting the flask from coffee to tea.
I popped 'Rumours' on the DTDriving Technology's built in jukebox and 'Gold Dust Woman' was fading out as I crossed the dam. Spot on. GP was there already, since 4am, impressive given that it was cloudy, rainy, the wind was fishtailing about the pond in gusts and it was quite cool for the time of year. Sadly for both of us he'd not caught, although I winkled out a few roach in the next swim using the bait of charlatans and mountebanks (a.k.a. maggots). Even those roach, nice fish of a hand's size, pulled tentatively on the thinnest sliver of cane and after the first couple, I switched the hook down to 16(ish) fine wire with a single maggot, as it seemed like a scratching day.
Nevertheless, as if enlivened by the talismanic arrival of Pete, a solid crucian of over 1lb took the bait. I presciently noted I wouldn't be surprised if it was the only one. GP offered around his very very fine chocolate-chip-and-banana cake. Pete went on. Jim turned up and wisely went further up the bank. Another gentle dip of the float led to a good tench and I briefly engaging in a violent squabble, in which the hook, called upon to arbitrate, found in favour of the tench. The fish left, stage right, in a furious cloud of bubbles lined into the lilies. Damn.
|Pitch the First||The Lone Crucian||The float rod and '450|
|The second float||The third float||The Last Pitch|
GP caught a fine roach and after another hour I 'called it' and decamped for my tea and a trip around the pond. Jim had a small crucian and was getting bites, so hypothesising the shallow water was perhaps warmer I set up camp. For me, this didn't work...in the end with evening on the horizon, I cleared a middle swim of reed mace and flag iris using a vicious curved knife on a landing net handle (sorry Jim!) and fished the last two hours out in as fine as swim as one might wish for.
Not that the float even twitched for those two hours...I followed on GP's heels, wishing Jim more luck than we'd had to date. "In Through the Out Door" for the road home, fish pie, new potatoes and a ridiculous chocolate cake waiting chez Anotherangler. Pretty good for the ritual day.
21st June 2019. Sheepish. After making like a shepherd and 'getting the flock into the field', it was good to catch up with the normally faraway Steve"This Blog is a record of my love of the countryside, all things in it, especially old tractors, growing good food, drinking good tea and taking time out to enjoy life!", although he'd not had a touch. I set up in the next swim and in the next two hours had three bites and three crucians, all fine fish. But oddly still and quiet for all that. I strolled about, drank ginger beer, ate steak-and-kidney pie, looked in on the Bottom Pond, talked myself out of fishing it and so spent the next three hours or so watching an immobile float, save for one sly bite (missed) and several odd tiny dips and lifts. Three small crucians primed about 9pm, one even landed on the float...odd.
|The Pitch||The float and the damsel fly||The '450 and the hand of the angler||The unwavering cane|
|1lb 4oz||1lb 11oz||1lb 11oz|
Nevertheless, as I pottered across the Compton Abbas high-road towards the orange-framed faraway hills to the sounds-track of 'In the Evening' (from the DTDriving Technology's jukebox), I thought it a fine day.
29th June 2019. The plan is to capture the carp. At 4pm it's still 30°C in the shade and I tackle-up behind a handy bush, as the quarry was lurking not 10 yards from the dam. By the time I'd done, it had scooted off to some lilies against the dam wall. I sneak round and lower bread. This fails and it mooches further down the wall. I cast over the fish and it obligingly sidles up and sucks at the bread; when I strike the bread remains...the fish pops up further out, in no hurry...so I sit quietly on the wall for some time, with sweat running down my back, waiting fruitlessly for another opportunity.
I head for one of the lily-pad swims, wait for the carp to arrive and when it does, a vortex on the far side of this patch, I cast over, see the big tangle and move too much to deal with it; that was that.
I muse on this and decide to fish the fizzing swim for crucians, put on 6lb line, feed pills of bread and fish flake on the hook. For ninety sticky minutes the float ignores the bubbles, then a breeze springs up, blows across the pond in my face and almost at once I start catching fish. Despite the stout rod and the clutch set as light as it would go, I am utterly lost in the black-and-white ripples and fish until I can barely see the little yellow porcupine quill.
|The pitch||The green path||The first and soon abandoned float|
|One of the small ones||A bunch of crucians||Another of the small ones|
|Probably over 1lb, but it was dark...||The last crucian|
I thread back between the shadows to the car and go through a familiar re-stowing routine. The lizard-brain doesn't like the barn's sepulchral creaks and groans and urges me to shine a light into the dark shadows at the back. The more evolved brain knows it's sheep scratching themselves on the far side. I consign the barn-sprites to the pit of rationalism, but muscles on my back crawl as I get into the car. Outside the double-gates I slip the boots off, consider the sounds options, pull "Bat Out of Hell" from the DT'Driving Technology' a.k.a. the car's jukebox and it's suddenly 1981.
This work-of-art passed me by, until I got a lift home from 'The Three Horseshoes' from a girl with an MG and a mass of dark hair. Whipping through dark Chiltern lanes set the music in my mind, I'd have driven round and listened to it all. I can't recall her name, whose friend she was, or her face and she said only two words; "See you". On recalling this, I transpose for Debs, of slender hips, black hair, mean game of darts and dark green eyes, like a cat. She was a mystery to all of us. Still; walking up Cryers Hill at 2am, the titular tune prowled around my mind.
I drive up Donhead Hollow a little faster than is strictly necessary, but I am old and wise and so know about sudden curves and see them early...
...then there was Andy; lodging with his grandmother, he had the run of a huge bungalow with glass frontage onto a wild corner of Naphill woods. He'd light the fire, put unfeasibly large speakers in the corners of the huge front room, then we'd sit before the fire with good beer and listen to the album through, often two or three times, while the wood-sprites scraped at the windows.
Well, it is a hot summer night.
|Hot Summer Night|
4th July 2019. The plan, again, is to capture the carp which pottered about in the heat, oblivious to free offerings and at one point I spent 20 minutes not six feet from it, peering motionless through tree-branches, while it studiously took no notice of free bread. Hm...
The Mk.III was then leaned against a handy tree and I broke out a slender Avon rod and 'pin then fished for crucians until such time as I could hear free bread being 'clooped'. This is what I told Pete when he came by on his way to the lower pond to 'test fish' for the roach. Once the temperature dropped the carp vanished...I caught crucians spasmodically, tiny bites, continual bubbling, Pete came back roach-less, I'd yet to hear a 'cloop'. Pete went on and I stayed until gone 10pm with one ear pricked, catching occasional crus while being buzzed by bats, which passed so closely I could hear their soft wing-beats. A lot of bats this year, which is good.
|The pitch||The Mk.III waiting...||The float on the gold-dusted water|
|One of four pretty fish||One of four pretty fish|
|One of four pretty fish||One of four pretty fish|
At least I had a cast with the Mk.III. It's a start. "Passion and the Opera, 'Nightwish', night-drive.
21st July 2019. The Saxon Ponds. I really really meant to fish the top pond for a couple of hours, then fish pre-baited swims on the lower pond to see if I could winkle out a fish. I was on my way out the door at 1:30pm, honest I was... "Daaa-aaad..." ...so I managed to bait the swims and settle down for a couple of hours on the top pond by about 4:30pm or so...
The trouble was the tench. I lost a thunderbolt, the size 16 having opened 'just enough', then I had a nice little one and spaced around this were three fat crucians, two at 1lb 10oz and one at 1lb 11oz. Even thus far I was resolute on my lower pond sortie, even with that last perfect butter-coloured, even after the 10oz'er that glowed. Right up to a quarter to eight...but this thunderbolt was held, barely, with a one-size-larger hook. I checked my scales when I got home. 4lb 7oz. No wonder they're getting hard to stop...so thus lured I hoped for another...which never came.
|The inevitable pitch||The inevitable float|
|Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian||Just another tench|
|Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian||Just another fine crucian|
|They are getting larger|
But I meant to fish the Lower Pond. Honest.
27th July 2019. The Saxon Ponds.
An attempt for the tench, I managed '1' and a bunch of reckless 'nuisance' crucians. Need bigger firmer baits for tinca tinca I think.
|The pitch||'The' tinca||A reckless crucian|
|Just another path by the water||I'm constant amazed at how well some of the crus have survived the wounds they had when we netted them.|
2nd August 2019. The Saxon Ponds. The plan was to rake a swim and fish for tench using baits calculated to avoid swarming mini-crucians, to wit, three cockles or a small cube of meat. This was about 50% successful, as I only caught three of said crucians. However, rapt though I sat, I neither caught, nor had bites from, nor saw sign of the tench. Normally, I'll sit until the light has gone and I need a torch to find my way along the bank, but at 9:30 the flask was empty and it was clear tinca tinca wasn't coming out to play, so I pottered off.
|See? Perfect raked out tench swim. Perfect.|
|How this fellow got three cockles on a size 12 in there I have no idea.||One of those nice 1½lb-ish crucians.||A nice fish of about 10oz that somehow wolfed a chunk of meat|
...which was a perfectly fine evening, but it was then off-coloured by the ill-fated barn owl that swept low over a hedge and careened off the DT's offside door pillar, leaving a ghostly windscreen wing-print and a few swirling white feathers. Dammit.
11th August 2019. The Saxon Ponds. The plan was to catch as many crus under 8" as possible and relocate them to the bottom pond to boost the numbers there. I moved a fair few and used my old keep-net for the second time in about 25 years. I had a few that were too big for moving home, but oddly, not a single fish over 1lb, plus one small tench and six even smaller roach.
|The tiny tinca||One of several too big to move||One of several too big to move|
|A net of crucians||A net of crucians||A net of crucians|
Swifts. There was a pair of swifts doing 'circuit-and-bumps' up the middle of the Upper Pond. Nice to see.
18th August 2019. The Saxon Ponds. Further, but less successful, fish re-location.
|The pitch and the keep-net||The crucian that went back||The small pink float|
|I just like duck-weed, a good cover of it hides mystery.||The loosestrife under the umbrella tree|
|A small tench, the bigger one pulled off the hook||It threw it down, by the time I realised I should have got my coat I was soaked, water running off my hat and down my back.||One of the roach, they're not big but they are perfect.|
No swallows to be seen. Autumn is inbound is it not?
20th September 2019. The Saxon Ponds. I tried the sun-lit Semly bank for an hour, but the sandy dry slope was too much for my chair and more pertinently, my back. After an hour I gave in and went south. Even in the perma-shade (which, to my analgesic riddled self, felt cold), there were bubbles. Which was all there was for some time, although I was soundly startled by what I later identified as a giant wood wasp. Massive thing, 1¼", scared the life out of me. But the light was very fine, the air smelt of crushed mint, the cool wind ruffled the trees, so I leant back, rod in the one hand, tea in the other and the afternoon cantered past.
Despite 'said bubbles, the float was unmoved for the most part, twitched once in the last hour, rose a ¼" a little later, surprising me somewhat. Then it sidled into the lilies, submerging as it went, the strike yielding nought. When, a little later the float trembled a bit and sank to a black dot, I felt obliged to strike (a bit). This, shown, was my entire return as the next cast tangled the hook-link around the rod tip, a knot that would have required Alexander's solution in broad daylight. I pushed off.
|The first pitch||The Path by the Water|
|The first and back-lit float.||The tremble-less float|
|An ironically highlighted crucian|
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
22nd May 2020. Slashing. A one person work-party, to continue path-cutting for this year's '16th' with, this year, inclusive 'passing places'. There was a digger in the barn-yard moving a prodigious pile of hard-core, possible for a new dry-ski slope, so I had to spin the DT'Driving Technology' around and park in the field just off the beaten track.
It was sunny, 20°C in the shade, and even with the stiff breeze it was hot sticky work with frequent pauses to remove 'wildlife', both real and imaginary, from one's person. The light was very fine and even using the ST'Small Technology''s camera, the below pictures came out very well; it is nice to have some pictures of the path, rather than the water from the path.
|The First Pitch...||...the Second Pitch...||...the Third Pitch...||...the Fourth Pitch...|
|...the Bridge...||...the path from the Bridge...||...to the Trail Camera Pitch...||...from the Trail Camera Pitch to the corner...||...and around the corner...|
Plus, a rather nice panorama, taken from the dam.
|The Upper Saxon Pond|
16th June 2020. Opening Day - The Upper Saxon Pond
Damn it's early; despite this and the soul jarring squawk of an unwisely selected alarm tone, right in the middle of a deep-sleep cycle, it is simply beautiful to walk across the field in the half-light and mists that open ahead of me as fast as they swallow the old straight track behind. The pond looks perfect at dawn, although I generally eschew getting up to see it. I perch in my pitch, tackle up, cut off last September's rod-tip tangle, then for over an hour the promising signs do little but engage anticipation while I sit in the grey and the silver and listen to the mist-muted dawn chorus...
|4:45am or so...|
...I recall my provisions and tuck into 'first breakfast', a pork-and-black-pudding sausage bap, a hard-boiled egg and a cup of 'brewed that morning coffee'. Ahh...when the float-tip lifts an inch it takes me by surprise, as does the solid weight of the cause, although it comes to the net rather more easily than it might, due probably to its on-board spawn. I scale the tench at 4lb 13oz, which is big for a small pond, carrying weight or no. The day under way.
|4lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca||crucian||2lb 14oz of fat tinca tinca|
Despite this fine start, it is hard going thereafter. The tiny float-tip, fished on a 1×no.8 'lift-or-sink', does little that is positive, and I miss half of the bites. I nab two roach in the next hour, the sun's first rays streak across the far corner of the dam, then, at 7am or so, I whip out a small crucian. This is cause for celebration so I take a second breakfast, a replica of the first. The sun burns off the last of the mist and the birds and sheep noises have risen reciprocally.
|6:15am. The sun eased its way into the ponds...|
I speculate the difficult fishing is a product of the vast continually midge hatches, a combination of busy fish feeding on the emergers and a host of fry joining in. Then there was a couple of roach, then a couple of crucians, slightly under hand-size but good sport, a couple of perch, a second tench a little under 3lb...and by this time some hours have slipped past. This is the day's pattern, fish seemingly arriving in pairs, with the rule something like "fish will arrive in pairs and no two consecutive fish will be taken on the same bait".
I alternate fishing off the bottom by the lilies at the front of the swim and the baited patch a rod length or more out, this regular changeover facilitated by using one of the silicone float stops as a top marker. I nab one or two fish on bread, another couple (and one of the perch) on a piece of shrimp, then catch a suspiciously familiar large tench, then more crucians and roach. The sun rises, beats down on the water, the temperature rises, and by the time Pete arrives I'd more-or-less had enough. It was tricky work, although there were enough fish to show that the pond was healthy, that there was minimal impact from the feared predation and also sufficient numbers for good fishing. Pete goes on, I nick out one more roach and a perch then tromp back up the track, now Mediterranean limestone cracking in the heat. Good enough.
|5lb 13oz of fat tinca tinca. Again.||A nice crucian||The rest of the 'bag'||A nice crucian|
|Mad dogs and Englishmen...||Mad hatchers|
[P.S. This all sounds idyllic. However...the first tench wrestled out the hook, cat-scratched it across my knuckles, embedded it in the net's mesh, then ripped it out, furling the hook-point. This I discovered when I 'bumped off' two crucians a little later. The hook-link then tangled to the extent I could not undo it, so was forced to cut and re-tie the hook. A little later the whole lot pinged around the rod tip...I realised it would be quicker to cut it all off and re-tie it, so reached for the VSSK...another strike later somehow put a turn of line around the rod between the third and forth rod-rings, something that is topologically possible, if not feasible...a little later I struck at a bite and the float was left in the water as the snap link had come undone...but barring this, idyllic. Sure.]
19th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond
Strangely quiet. I opted for the late afternoon and aimed to fish until dusk, thinking that it was worth finding out if the fish were feeding more in the evening than in the morning. As it was, the fishing was not unlike earlier in the week. I fished the other side of the lily-patch fished on opening day and it fished in much the same way. That is, few bites, half seemed impossible to connect with, there was one tench (which was lively work in this more confined swim), but despite crucians priming from 7pm onward and every signs of fish being in the swim, I struggled to make any headway, and I was loath to drop to a fine-wire size 18 in this pitch as even the larger crucians need firm handling. As previously, I fished under the near bank on occasion, contacting something solid in a patch of effervescence, but the hook pinged out and this, some smaller fish bumped off earlier and the previous day's mishaps were not an good advertisement for the brand; one more chance, then it's the 'sharps' container and I'll name and shame. I swapped back to an obsolete S3, perhaps a little larger, but I didn't drop another fish. No sign of perch though.
|Strangely subdued||The tench, a smidge under 3lb I'd say||Quiet...|
|One crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats||The rest of the catch, excepting one roach that fell off the hook, dropped onto my boot, then flipped into the water.||Another crucian, the spadge-tub's lid, the VSSK and some reserve floats|
Again, not easy fishing.
24th June 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Eight bites, four fish. Very very hot.
...which is why I didn't arrive until 4pm. Even so, I was counting off the minutes until the sun dipped below the dogwood on the left of the swim, and wondering if the umbrella pitch on the Lower Pond might not have been a better idea. I had a new hook to try, a proper '16' but strongish and went with my little loaded bobber and a single no.4 shot, ¼" from the hook. The first bite, a proper 'lift', yielded the first of four fish, but what a fish. It is not often one sees a roach of this size at all - never mind in a small pond - I was expecting a sluggish tench after a run or two, but a large roach was quite unexpected. This instantly explained the weighty swirls seen about the water, that were at once 'not tench', 'not crucians' and 'not Moby Dick as he's up the other end'. Aha.
"Well, that's me done." I said to myself, "I can go home now..."
I nabbed a decent 'netter' a little later and then had only two more bites until a good tench turned up then missed two more between that and the last tench at dusk...
|6-8oz, perfectly good 'netter'||Hot hot hot||Tench no.1||Tench no.2, last cast...|
|2lb 2oz||2lb 2oz|
Very little fish movement, no crucians priming at all, a few signs of spawning in the weeds in the middle, very few bubbles one might be certain were fish, still a lot of midges hatching when and where the sun was on the water and again, not easy fishing. But worth it.
P.S. It occurs, reviewing this, that I was using a 'hemp shaped' 'tell-tale' shot...might have re-visit the solder-wire coils then...*facepalms*
2nd July 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond. Big Fat Smug Waxing Gibbous Moon.
|The plan was simply to fish. It was sunny/cloudy/windy as the mood took the Gods of weather. I didn't mind, and settled into the fish, which by now were up and about and there was a steady stream of small crucians, some small roach and one tiny tench. I spotted a rod-rest that looked familiar...||There was a flurry of interweb messages and it was agreed that in exchange for a quantity of maggots, 'cake' would be provided and eating the maggots was preferred in respect of any inducement or provision of instant noodles.||Pete arrived, I detailed the catch and activity to date, waved at Pam on the dam and no sooner had Pete vanished into the greenery, a big crucian turned up. Typical. A short while later, another, a few ounces lighter. That's good to see, all fish types present and correct and undamaged.|
|1lb 11oz||The pitch (I forgot the camera was in 'landscape mode', but these pictures look OK). Duncan arrived with ginger cake (always a good thing), but no landing net. Decently I refrained from negotiating a larger slice of cake for sharing mine...luckily he didn't need it...||1lb 8oz|
|A 'muscle of tench' turned up mid evening, which augers well for the pond's general health and a large fish rolled by the lilies with a flash of red fins. A swift commenced 'ciruits and bumps'.||It felt a little strange to fish until 10pm in good light, but we did, then caught up on the minutiae of lives, as we realised it had been well over a year. Huh. Fine evening.||There was, it must be stated, a big fat smug waxing gibbous moon.|
5th July 2020. The Saxon Ponds. Cool.
I had a quick look at the Lower Pond, thinking I might even take the Umbrella, but the water was very low and while the pond looks inviting, with colour in the gaps suggesting plenty of life, the low levels near the banks put me off, I dislike very shallow reaches. I've never seen potamageton growing here before, it looks quite nice.
|The view from the Umbrella Pitch||The east end of the Lower Pond|
I headed back 'up'...a day of fresh fish-tail winds made fishing tricky, it being a little too windy for fine-tipped floats and the water not quite deep enough for a true antennae. I alternated between a fine tip and small quill as the wind yawed and pitched, the former float sinking in stiff gusts, the latter not sensitive enough. Absorbing stuff. Mid-evening the breeze was sufficiently puckish that I retrieved my coat from the car while lamenting the omission of a tea-flask from my inventory. Nevertheless, I managed a decent run of smallish crucians, one well over a pound, a bunch of small roach and four tench, from hand-sized, through 8oz, to the finest, shown below, of perhaps a little over 3lb or so. This was the last 'last cast' of the day, by which time I was watching the float-tip in a torch-beam. Good fishing.
|The finest of the crucians, 1lb 11oz.||The last light tench, the phone did a better job of capturing this than the camera.|
26th August 2020. The Upper Saxon Pond
I opted to walk down from the gate, this has its own pleasure, and in this way I saw and followed some new but well worn tyre-tracks that led towards the dam, where the stile was no longer. In this way I also discovered that the lawn had been extended over the no-longer comfrey, to the edge of the rush-bed, save for one or two neat grass slip-ways leading to the water's edge.
Pete was stood in the Umbrella Pitch and informed me with some gravity that he had won his own bottle of wine (previously offered to all as a prize for catching something, anything, as 'proof of fish' in the low water). This proof was two small roach; I eschewed a rebuttal, stole some red-maggots and pottered up to the Upper Pond.
I threaded up the long rod, scattered the ground-bait libation, put on my favourite crucian float and removed a couple of careless roach. Pete arrived and booked into the adjoining swim. Then there were more roach for both of us, then I had a few chubby crucians, then the tip really curved over...
|The pitch||The lucky crucian float||Some chubby crucians|
...and I suggested to Pete that he might want to see this one...this was the last crucian of the day, did we but know it. The sun beamed, the wind swirled about in that fresh 'nearly autumn' way and we were treated to a magnificent aerobatics display by two-score house-martins, nevertheless the activity under the surface tailed off and so did the catching. Pete decided that the late midday slump was too long and headed for home. I opined that I'd fish until sevenish and if it was still slumped, then I'd atypically pack ahead of sunset. We agreed the Wetland ought to be fished before summer fled for the duration, as some pike still required relocation.
|Definitely a 'netter'||The meadow beyond the hedge||Roach|
The fish remained conspicuous by their a., although a few aperiodic stabbing bites yielded two 'netter' roach (with hindsight perhaps it is time to fish for roach). A hobby buzzed up the far bank and an Emperor dragonfly hovered in front of me, never still quite long enough to be photographed, several smaller brown dragonflies droned around and Moby Dick ambled about, as it does. This all harmonised with the cinnamon, orange and star anise notes of my 'winter spice' tea...
The big roach rolled as the sun sank, raising hopes, if not expectations and I discovered that I was chilly and with little prospect of a return to form, I packed and the walk back up the track didn't quite warm me through. But still, very fine.
|The rarest of the rare, a 1lb 15oz crucian|
11th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...laters...
|The pitch||A bunch of the 'fun-size' ones.||A very reasonable roach|
|A path by the water||Dotted down. It was that kind of a day.|
|The gate and the meadow|
17th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...laters...again...
|tinca tinca||1lb 15oz. Again. Twice now inconvenient witnesses have robbed me of 2lb crucians...||A constellation of crucians|
|Who doesn't like a mystery...?||Who doesn't like a mystery...?|
29th September 2020. The Saxon Ponds...perch...
This was, despite the auspices of perch, one of those long still quiet afternoons that gently hummed past, with almost nothing one might ascribe to a fish, save for the protruding back of the mooching Moby Dick. At near-dark, one tiny dip-and-lift on a large lob-tail decorated with marker-maggots, provided this rather fine and feisty perch. And that was that...a few crucians were priming as I packed; having left my coat in the car I was chilled, and serenading me to a fine moon-rise over the farmyard were an entire parliament of owls. A fine autumn afternoon.
|The long rod was used to fish a lob-tail and a bunch of maggots...||Either (a) D. has forgotten his rod-rest or (b) we have nomes.||The LBR was attached to a proper boys perch float with a large worm suspended beneath. It never stirred...|
|The pointy end of a thirsty European hornet. The low drone announcing it made me hopeful of photographing one of the even more fearsome looking great wood wasps that mooch about the Ponds. Both are relatively amiable creatures, despite their fearsome appearance.||When I got these and opened the bag, the smell took me right back to the River Thames at Longbridge...||The hoped and fished-for perch. Reliable reports suggest this is about half the size of the largest.|
We were sat in the back garden this morning (second coffee) and for a moment I thought a heron was labouring past, realised the neck was straight, then as it neared, it positively loomed, then banked in the sun - unmistakeably a common crane! Hah! Don't see those very often here. Golly, they're large (6-7ft wing-span).
|Safety Pin Hook (and return to the top of the page)||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook||Safety Pin Hook|
|A bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page)||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box||A bunch of hooks found in my pike box|
You have reached the bottom of the page and the last trip to "the Saxon Ponds", which was on the September 29th 2020. Because this is a 'single venue page' and as I have the capability to extract all sorts of bits of information with a "criteria engine", here are some summary details.
There are 69 entries on this page, 60 of which involved fishing. There are many work-parties that went unrecorded, at least by me. During some of these visits I have nabbed at least: 598 crucians, 97 roach, 77 tench, 12 perch, eight brown trout, three golden tench and one carp. This seems like an improbable number of crucians, but this is a total much dominated by several rod-and-line stock re-location expeditions targeting the small ones. The trout, along with a few pleasing roach, were caught on the couple of occasions I fished the River Nadder, which adjoins the pasture.
In addition there were times when I either caught too many fish to count (which seems unlikely) or did not bother to count them (which seems more likely), so there were: 11 occasions when bunches of roach were caught, eight occasions when bunches of perch were caught, three occasions when bunches of crucians were caught, two occasions when bunches of tench were caught and one occasion when a bunch of rudd was caught.
|crucian...(and back to the top of the page)||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Carassius Carassius||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian||Crucial crucian||crucian||Carassius Carassius||Crucial crucian|