2019 was a funny year, although I as write this I'm not laughing. Not so much fishing; the broken back bowed me almost to the ground, but I can take a hint and have since lost 18lb with another 50lb (22.7kg) to go (yes '50'). I'm getting used to my new lifestyle, although this is necessity, not good intention; the damage done to my spine some 30 years hence cannot be fixed, but I can reduce the load on it.
A few wise words to ponder; firstly, for the 'woke':
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." ~~ Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History ~~
Secondly, for those who think everything is 'just an opinion':
"You don't need people's opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: Which number is bigger, 15 or 5? Do owls exist? Are there hats?" ~~ Steve Mnuchin ~~
Thirdly, for the magical thinkers:
"...that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens ~~
I can't add, meaningfully, to those. The previous years of the 'Diary', such as it might be termed, can be reached via the below links.
This is the 2020 'blog page, which displays in reverse date order, i.e. with the latest entry at the top. The 2020 diary page, i.e. with the earliest entry at the top is here.
JAA's Diary for...
You can use the 'month' links below to...
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27th March 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, One More Time... So, I (carefully) ripped off the old reel seat and the corks.
I opted for green composite cork-rings, in two sorts, opened them up with a cone cutter to the 'across the flats' o/d of their relative positions on the blank and then used a mandrel, made with from an old piece of cane, to cut each ring's hole hexagonal-ish, then stacked them on the blank.
I numbered the cork rings, took them off again, carefully cut four 1.5mm pieces off opposite sides of all the rings, rendering them into a rough square, then glued them (epoxy-resin) back on in the same order, so the 'corners' of adjacent pieces were 45° from each other. I compressed the corks, 'manually', then by using a large 'penny washer' placed over the blank and against the last cork ring, then winding a thick solid cord, around the blank until it reached the washer and compressed the corks, then tied off until the glue had set. There is very little 'give' in these composite rings.
When the glue was off, using a very sharp wet knife, I cut the opposing corners off, leaving a rough round section then set to it with a piece of half-drainpipeIt is surpisingly how good this method is. and some P60 for the bulk of the sanding, moving to P100, then P120. I strapped the nozzle of the 'Henry' to the work-bench so that the resulting dust went striaght into the vacuum-cleaner as I worked.
When I was only a fraction off the required o/d (the same as the reel-seat, some 25.5mm ), I bored a champagne cork through the middle with a pillar drill, 3mm-6mm-8mm in that order, opened out the end with the cone-cutter, then bored it out with the mandrel as before. This was expoxy'd into place and compressed on using cord-and-washer as before. Then it was cut down to the same o/d as the existing corks, still a smidge proud of the reel seat o/d. I stuck four P60 grit patches on the end of the reel seat and rotated the seat, sanding the end of the champagne cork flush.
I nicked of the sandpaper bits (VSSKVery Small Sharp Knife (Opinel No.7)) and fitted the reel seat using cork tape to make up four arbours and a copious supply of epoxy. The seat was a working fit on the arbours and I coated those with epoxy, gave them 15 minutes for it to soak in a bit and then filled each gap in turn with epoxy as I pushed the seat home. I aligned it using the screw-lock locating groove on the top, which needed to be central to the flat opposite to the flat the rings are mounted on. Simples, one advantage of hexagonal sections.
I made a fore-grip with 2½ corks of the same sort (lest anyone think I quaff ruinous quantities of the fizzy stuff, these are mostly Prosecco corks, and my stock is the result of many years of quietly trousering 'cast off' corks of this type).
The fore-grip was swiftly cut to diameter, P60, P100, P120...
Couple of finishing touches: I polished all the corks, especially the last corks behind the reel-seat, with some P180 grit,. A wrap of cling-film and masking tape was used to protect the reel seat. I also had to gently remove the marks on the butt-end made during the handle shaping. I had planned to remove it and fit a new one, but it was barely marked, so I polished it with P180 and left in situ. There is a slight asymmetry to the foregrip, the result of some variation in the corks' densities, but it looks very fine otherwise.
I wiped the whole thing down with a damp cloth to remove dust and let it dry off in the lean-to (when we moved into our house there was a cheap greenhouse 'lean-to' at the back, which the surveyor described as 'a strictly temporary structure'. We immediately dubbed this 'the solarium'. When we installed a rather less temporary conservatory, it was immediately dubbed 'the lean-to'). The handle looks like this:
|Green composite cork rings, two sorts, plus one champagne cork. Plus the toe end of a 'shark' sockie.||The fore-grip. Two-and-one-half champagne corks|
I had planned some kind of tricky whipping scheme, but discovering Pac-Bay now have a full range of NCP theads, I have bought some nice colours. To be continued...
22nd March 2020. Coronavirus. Isolate, take this seriously, slow this thing down. It will be grim, but we can take the edge off it.
10th March 2020. Barbaric. I just read this, utterly deplorable, Dorset caravan park owner jailed for shooting otterWords fail me. I would normally never fish there again and urge others to follow suit, but I gather the place has been under new ownership since late 2019. Nevertheless its name has been removed from this site.
9th March 2020. Dark Estuary by 'BB'.
I was lucky enough to pick this up for a song, a first edition, complete with its dust-jacket and water-colour illustrations. This is a soulful read, BB's love of the wild places of the geese is, for this reader, stronger than the love of the geese themselves and for me, (also) a lover of winter, wild spaces and the smell of the salt-flats, it is richly evocative of place and also perhaps, of a more innocent time. It seems to me that the book is as much about men undertaking these activities without the modern malaise of second guessing what is 'right or 'correct', as it is about wild-fowling.
It is interesting to note that BB himself felt strongly about only shooting the edible and eating one's bag. He had no time for slaughter for only the sake of the act. There are echoes of the privileged upbringing of the author and his fellows, but if one is determined to be offended, something can always be found to rail against.
The (water) colour plates are appropriately 'landscape' and display the wide skies and horizons that are soulfully evoked by the text.
There is too much easily recalled to note it all; evenings thawing by the fire are as well drawn as the stumbling pains of rising before dawn in glacial conditions and then going outside; the perfectly described creeping panic that one sometime grips one's senses in wild lonely places, a distant echo of long evolved survival instincts; an interesting passing note on the sudden booms that are heard on the coast, described by the shore's inhabitants as "the sea calling the wind".
This is a fine evocative read and ought to appeal to anyone who loves the outdoors and especially the outdoors next the sea.
2nd March 2020. This Fishing by Captain L. A. Parker.
This fine little book, printed in 1948, when chaps wore jackets and properly baggy trousers, even when fishing, has a great deal relevant to even the modern angler. A skilful angler, clearly, the author was also inventive and a great recorder of the kind of data that hardly anyone takes these days and in many waters today does not matter very much. In particular, the author notes that (winter) river water temperatures are critical and one will almost never catch at water temperatures of 40°F (4.4°C) or less but at water temperatures of 41-42°F (5-5.6°C) there are fish to be had. At 44-45°F (6.7-7.2°C) you may score very well, although the fish still have to be located.
This is but one example of his careful approach: others include the important of plumbing carefully and extensively, methods of shotting while avoiding damage to gut hook-links, something worth consideration even with nylon lines, ground-bait and its deployment and many other useful pieces of advice. All of these are distilled from experience, observation and experiment. Even his notes and methods for carp fishing are prescient. I was very taken with his method of long trotting dry-flies and there is much else in this little book to agree with, along with many more useful observations. A great deal could be learnt by careful study of this neat, accurate and entertaining book.
|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.|
20th February 2020. The Hexagraph Avon, one more time. This is leaning in the corner, while I consider some greenish composite cork rings, an 18mm reel seat and possibly some new rings...
I'm looking at the long shank of corks rubbed down to 16mm o/d and wondering if the whole handle really needs replacing. That's a large job and I pondered overlaying the corks with plain purple shrink-tube. Then I recalled the Sam's first rule (from that extraordinary film 'Ronin'); "If there is any doubt, then there is no doubt". Well perhaps not purple then.
16th February 2020. Still JAFAPick one....
One thing clearly worse than short-haul flights is a short-haul flight in two legs. I have a mental image of such journeys, something akin to a deep-dive into a tunnel, an artefact of the shape of the plane and the topology of a road journey, in conjunction with the fugue state of travelling ennui. One sinks, the passing world blurs into passing artificial lights. Like a tunnel, there are niches and in these pools of shadow lurk the small demons of boredom, cramped legs, dehydration poor food and too much coffee.
Decanted in Manchester airport; a new experience for me (the place, not the decanting). Not at its best with holiday flight delays leaving the place full of short tempers and bad fashion. Only a little late landing, but the connecting flight has pushed out an hour. I took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart then, under the guise of looking out the window at the planes, I watched the in-reflection semi-chaos. A man on my right drives his spouse off by mocking her smart-phone use. Then he reads his paper, aggressively, as if daring it to have printed anything he didn't agree with, but leaning in close if the pictures involved a swimsuit. I finished my tea, then biffed off to a quiet corner to continue reading the excellent and empirical notes on fishing by the redoubtable Captain L. A. Parker.
Very bumpy touch-down at the other end, FurryBootsToon, not 'top-ten most harrowing', but still. Half-a-mile on shanks' p. to the JAFHJust another Feckin' Hotel, blown breathless by the winds of the airport approach, ten minutes too late to use the bar. Ah well.
|JAFH sunset||...took on some Earl Grey and a lemon tart...||JAFH sunrise|
13th February 2020. Hmm.
5th February 2020. I've Been a Bad Boy. I've been very bad. I took a perfectly good rod, no, more than that, a really good rod and cut it up to make a 'light tip' section for my Harrison's Four-Piece Avon. Yep. I really like the Four-Piece but its 1lb 10oz t/c is on the stout side for some fishing. So, for some time I've hankered after a really good quality 'light tip' section, ideally lowering the overall t/c down to about 1lb.
A previous attempt with an old incomplete multi-purpose avon rod (a pawn shop find), one of they with a dolly section and various other bits and bobs, wasn't a success. This was because the raw material's tip was thin-walled compared with the Four-Piece, so the transition from the tip to the third section was a bit abrupt. OK for 4oz roach; not so OK for 'surprise' 8lb carp.
The bad thing I did doesn't have this problem, in fact it seemed perfect. I planned to add a reinforcing whipping to the light tip's 'counter' area, with no-name uncoated green spectra braid and then coat it with a two-part epoxy that can be thinned with a little isopropyl alcohol, to the consistency of water. The notional plan was to whip onto a tacky coat of resin, mix a second batch, thin it, let it soak into the braid and leave it to go off. However 'comma' the internet says that this may weaken the resin a bit. Heat can also reduce the resin's viscosity (temporarily), but the surface its applied to would also need warming. Hm. I pondered and reached for the heat-gun. This, I reasoned, can be set to 65°C and if I used it to warm the resin...
...and then common sense kicked in. I'd already carefully removed (¼" at a time) the lower portion of the 'light tip' section and of course it is far easier to make a reinforcing sleeve out of a piece of the off-cut. This cut-off also has the great advantage of having the same taper. I compared the length of the reinforced section on the Harrison's tip, 3", then carefully removed the same length of varnish from the 'light tip'. While it took some time to carefully cut such a sleeve, ¼" at a time until it was exactly right for the job - a loose 'working fit' as there needed to be space for epoxy - it was easy to fit and glue into place...
Some practical points concerning this process:
Cut carbon-fibre outdoors, don't breathe the dust and keep the dust off your hands.
I cut the blank down using a knife-edged jeweller's file. Not a hack-saw, it does far too much damage. I cut a groove in a piece of 1"× 1" timber as a former and then laid the blank in the groove. Using the flat end of the wooden former to align the file, I turned the blank, in place, until the cut-line was right around the blank. This ensured a flat square cut. I then rotated the blank and held the file in place until it was cut through. Don't use too much pressure here or the blank will delaminate a little.
The resulting sleeve was left a smidge overlong at the counter end and glued into place that way. I then gently rubbed back the 'overhang' with very fine emery wrapped around a lolly stick, until it was flush with the original section's end. As before, I did this outside and used a little water to keep the dust down. I used a piece of cork to bung up the counter end of the 'light tip' before gluing, as set epoxy in the hole is rather a nuisance to remove. I wrapped the other end of the sleeve in cling-film to stop any run off, then stood the whole thing on one end until it had set.
I then needed to redistribute some rod rings - the original Harrison's tip's last two rings were tiny size 6's. Quite why I thought that was a good idea...so I removed them for re-deployment on the 'light tip', then whipped on two size 8 replacements. The new 'light tip' will not have to manage more than 6lb line and mostly will be dealing with 3-4lb, so the size 6's will be fine on this. Naturally, the 'light tip' is some 6" longer than the original Harrison's tip (there is no free lunch), so it requires one more ring. The bottom ring on the 'light tip' was spaced exactly as on the original tip. I then used 'excel' to work out spacing for the remaining four, which left the ring-spacing a little wider than it was on the original source rod. This was on purpose, as it will soften the action a little, which won't hurt. The extra length will be useful in any event.
Gremlins of orderliness.
While I'm at it, I changed the bottle green spiral on the Harrison's middle section, which, like the wings of a dragon-fly, only catches the light at a certain angle, for NCP green. I may hate it. I may not. But I'll now move smoothly onto a few inches of 'dolly section' to facilitate the use of the top two sections with the handle, to do service as a brook rod...probably.
So, my Four-Piece Avon now is a 'Six Piece', with three tips, about ¾lb t/c, a smidgen over 1lb and 1lb 10oz. Useful.
All the rod needs now is a tip-section to make the rod up to a 2lb curve or a smidge more, then I'll have three rods in one short bag. I may have to explore fly rod blanks for that...soemthing like the top section of a nine foot #10. I shall also have to get a T-shirt made with 'Born to Fettle' on it.
2nd February 2020. Palindrome Date Day.
1st February 2020. Darts. So: I found, when the Dabblers were setting fish refuges into the Lower Saxon Pond, the tip of a plastic float. So? It was about 6mm across and moulded into a cross-section of a 'cross' (sorry). This of course gives it high visibility and low resistance, which might be useful for sensitive bites. The piece of plastic was pocketed, but more pertinently, the idea took root.
I once made some very poor 'dart-flight' floats, something I didn't care to re-visit. Then, in part because the Bugangler (21¾) is learning to make violins, I discovered that good quality 'razor saws' can be had for under a tenner. The one shown is 0.35mm across the teeth, 0.25mm across the blade and, crucially, cuts on the draw stroke. Aha. I cut slots in the blunt end of four porcupine quills, long and deep enough so that a pair of plastic dart flights in an offensive pink colour left a few mm of protruding quill quarter-sections at the said blunt end. Hm. I didn't want the whole dart-flight. The idea wasn't to make a float that could be seen at 100 yards, but rather an easy sighter, with no attendant additional buoyancy or, worse, with the CoG CoGCentre of Gravity elevated towards the tip.
|The 'Razor' Saw, plus a spare blade.|
Mrs AA appeared and with that special sarcasm that comes as a free gift with every 25¼ years of marriage, asked if I was making darts. I put flights into the four quills, then threw them at the kitchen cork-board (the pointy ends are really very sharp). It turned out I have made some darts. I briefly considered penning a traditional angling murder-mystery that centred on a 'built-cane crossbow and porcupine-quill quarrel' incident. MM"Are you quite mad Sergeant? A true Traditionalist would never use plastic flights..."
Carefully, using a pair of braid scissors found some years ago, I cut one vane to a shallow curve. I folded it onto the next vane and cut around it. Repeated this twice and 'ta-daa', they all matched. So...I trimmed two pink sets, one orange and one translucent orange. I pared off the porcy-swarf, cleaned each slot with a piece of P150 sandpaper, coloured the cut quarters black with permanent pen, cyanoacrylate'd the flights in, then carefully ensured each 'quarter' was glued to its niche in the flights, then glued and compressed the protruding ends, using a few turns of thread.
I could have painted the 'quarters' but they'd probably not have kept their paint on, but I varnished over them and made sure the joints were sealed. A black stripe in the middle of the flights works well and a small colour band under the flights finishes the job. I expect the flights' colours to fade, but it'll be interesting to see how they fare on the water. It occurs to me, assuming they fish well at all, that iridescent dart flights in red or perhaps green will do very well for picking up torchlight or, for the latter, moon-light. Which is an idea.
They do look like darts though. At least they'll cast well.
|Orange||The floats - my camera is near the end of its natural life and its focussing is increasingly a bit 'off'||Pink|
I suspect that the 'flights' will end up being trimmed, so that the float has a 'sighter' only at the top half of the tip, something about 'half a set of dart-flights' size.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
13th January 2020. The Lane.
For divers reasons I haven't walked up to the Barn for some time, a twelve-month probably. It still has its poignant bygone red-brick and the Winterborne is running full and clear.
|A lost farm-stead||The Winterborne||The Winterborne|
9th January 2020. The Small Technology.
It occurred the other day, as I extracted the sat-nav off the Bugangler, then hung a new 'Silva' compass on my fishing bag, that the 'handy', the Small Technology, the mobile phone that is, has made a raft of things obsolete and is bearing down on others...most smart phones replace:
•The Stand Alone GPS.
•The Alarm Clock.
•The MP3 or Music Player.
•Document and Business Card Scanners.
There are yet more things it is bearing down on...
•The Credit Card.
•The Personal Computer.
•The Telephone Land-Line
For the vintage angler (I cut my technological teeth programming a 'Commodore Pet'), these things represent an extraordinary change in the world, not that I have any objection and I am as enmeshed as most people. But still...
The vigilant may care to note I still keep the Silva compass in my bag, along with an overly manly 'tactical' torch that can variously be used to (a) illuminate a float tip for 25 hours, or (b) to burn out the retinas of any sentient creature within 30 feet for a mere three hours or so.
6th January 2020. Pheasant Plucker. A nice pair of late season birds arrived today, more fat than I've seen on one for a while. They will make a fine game curry.
1st January 2020. Dorset Stillwater. The road across the ridge was so foggy I was obliged to drop my speed to half the limit and it was certainly colder here than chez JAA. Kingfisher Lake was becalmed, but I persisted, walking a worm about with the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III and float-fishing lobs alternated with pinches on bread on the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment. A kingfisher was catching, but the worm-on-the-float only twitched a few times, once even moving down an inch, but that was that. After two hours, it felt like I'd given it a proper go, so for this and other reasons, re-pitched on 'Blue Lake'. I need the walk to warm up; the mist, slight breeze and 4°C had sucked the life out of my hands.
|Flat flat flat...||...flat flat...did I mention how flat calm it was?||Unmoved, despite all exhortations.|
There were many rudd. Many many rudd. Using the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III, I extracted a few, then experimented with dropping a pinch of bread four feet straight down, using 3BB under a long quill; Blue Lake is deep, four or five feet off the bank and then rapidly falls away to over 10 feet or more in places, generating its titular colour. This method resulted in quite a few larger rudd, 6-8oz, and what appeared to be a 'choach'. Further experimentation with the LHSRELight Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment showed that a bait fished deeper than 6ft wasn't touched and both lobs and bread fished anywhere else were quickly found and annihilated. Hm. I pottered about a bit to warm up - I had a tin of meat in the car and 1" cubes might be the way to try for one for the chub or 'anything but another rudd'. I CBHCan't Be Hedgehogged, but then recalled I'd had this problem before and dealt with it by rolling hard pills of bread around ½" in diameter and side hooking them.
|The 'choach'||The Blue Lake, one end of it anyway||One of very very many rudd|
I added a ¼" to this size, put 3×BB 2" from the hook, then fished under a long quill at about a fathom deep. This generated a considerable amount of spurious float movement, but no false bites, then after one new bait, the float rose up in the water and lay flat. The mystery ran about hard and dove deep and it was five minutes before I saw it, a fine common in the 10lb range. I awarded myself a cup of 'reinforced' BEGCBlack Earl Grey and Cylon tea. Heh. I re-baited, thrice and then as the light evanesced, the whole tip shot under and this mystery was not as heavy, so I backed off the clutch a little and let it run, which it did twice and it materialised into a fine chub on a cold damp day. The silver-and-red dressing around the chub is simply the rudd that were under the net when I lifted it...
|The thoroughly welcome carp||The surprisingly large chub|
I fished on, packed the LBRLight BLue rod, aka the Other Mk.III away, then all other non-essentials, then ran through two more cups of the RBEGCReinforced Black Earl Grey and Cylon tea and hung on for a last fish, but nothing came.
1st January 2020. Twenty Twenty. "Hindsight Year". There is an odd pleasure to be taken from adapting a piece of electronics in order that it will allow the detection of a signal of 0.1 µV. To put that in context; if you stand an AA battery on one end and let its height (5cm) represents its voltage, (1.5 V), then 0.1 µV would have a height of 3.3 nM (or: 0.0000000033 m). This, in context, is about the width of 16 silicon atoms. If you think a size 22 hook is tiny, the width of the wire is about 5,000,000 atoms wide...mind bogglingly tiny is 0.1 µV.
As we're 'doing technical', here is a relevant quote:
"Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail." ~~ Henry Petroski ~~
In order to rub along with the majority of the human race, it will on occasion be necessary to nod and apparently agree with a large variety of belief systems, almost all of which have no basis in truth.
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. ...the grave will supply plenty of time for silence." ~~ Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian ~~
Do meaningful things, try not to believe any idiocy and have a Happy New Year.
|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|
|02:03am on 2020-04-07|