JAA's Fishing Diary 2007

It rambles a bit...I took a notebook and wrote a lot of stuff down. Most of it is poor art, but it's surpising how it brings the day back to mind.

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2007 JAA's third year 2nd January 2007. Pitmans Pond. Three chubby out of season carp, welcome nonetheless. Back again on general principle really, the rain and grey of the Christmas week has broken and into wind and sun, but still at 10°C. I've gone for a 2BB goose quill on general principle and half a mussel having forgot the cockles. This is iffy, as the mussels are tinned and are very soft, making any casting a lottery. I throw in a handful of corn to stir up the mud. The last 2 days have been a bit cabin fever tainted and the whole house scratchy, so it's good to get out before the job descends tomorrow. Fish as well would be the cherry on the cake.

I deviated on the drive over, past Holme Bridge as I thought the river might be fishable, fat chance and with the water up over the banks and rushes, the prospects there are slender, with the fish mostly swept downstream to the wharf, now packed in alongside the crowds. A small inland sea is covering the fields toward the Priory, especially downstream of the bridge and the water has also formed small streams of shallow water inland of the reed beds, making approaching the river tricky, if not perilous. I suppose some of the side streams may hold some of the fish still around, but these are few and my ignorance of the Frome wins out over temptation and here I am.

So Pitman's over Breech with its hint of carp in this warm winter. Water is at 7°C with the air 3°C over that, so the slight wind will warm the water and that helps. I decide to give Peg 13 an hour or so and if blank, quit and move to Peg 3 on the deserted lake, which the wind is blowing towards, perhaps creating a warmer patch up by the lily roots there.

I swap the size 10 to a size 8, better for the mussel. Let's see then. I'm under the brolly, stuck low in the ground sitting on the unhooking mat and all in all very comfy. I'm now more interested than earlier, no reason. The quill is scooting around in the wind, an orange flame flickering in the breeze, but is anchored to the BB shot 3 feet down. If carp are around, then it's midday or nothing, with dusk and its sinking cold not the time. A warm day in winter, midday is a good time, as Izaac rightly told us. Rats. A gust of wind almost took the brolly off and the float has slid sideways under the water and with a concerned hand on the brolly pole, I struck and missed a nominal sitter. I collapse the big green distraction and try again. At least the feeding has started, but still a careless miss on what is likely the best chance. But, 30 minutes pass, 20 of them with bumps, twitches and small stealing movements contrary to the breeze and eventually the floating flame is extinguished, like the end of a candle stub self snuffed. I have acquired a sociable audience (I've had folk walk past me with a fish on here, without even pausing in their step) and for 10 of the 20 minutes of twitching, we swapped info on the lake and to my amazement the fish ignored him.

Consequently I find myself attached to a solid fish which dogs around for a good 10 minutes, a winter fight of weight and inertia, rather than speed and strength. My social companion and I both enjoy the battle and after some strong runs, although none further than 2/3 of the way across the lake, I get the net under a solid mirror, deep-bodied creamy yellow belly. A shade over 11 in the net, so perhaps a bit less than 10lb. Excellent and the obsession fades for the moment. The fish flicks from 'S' to mirrored 'S' in the net, not given up yet, then is on its way back to the underworld. Probably my best fish here, nothing yet over 10lb (not banked anyway), but my first carp landed on a home-made quill, which is nice. I award myself Christmas cake and coffee and my companion-in-cold, wanders around the lake to set up on peg 15.

Pitman's Pond The inevitable float Pitman's Pond 9lb mirror carp...almost a 'double' Pitman's Pond the meadow on the east of the pond, the Corfe River is at the far side

There is an element of ease here with carp falling to most baits - I've seen boilie/bolt guys with offerings nailed under the not so very distant far bank catch ten fish to my two.

I like to think that the margin fished Avon, pin and 6lb line makes the battle less one-sided. Best of all though, is the flat hinterland of the of the lake near to the south side of Pool harbour, which give the lake an isolated and wild feeling which is worth the trip, especially on the bank I'm on and with no one else around. The wind buffets your ears keen to find something to batter after its longish run across open ground and if you lie back on your unhooking mat, it hurtles over you head with muffled roars of frustration. Even on a cold day it would be easy to sleep listening to the vortices shedding over your head and in the treetops.

The sun has appeared, apologetically, as it's January and the air temperature has crept up to 7°C to draw level with the water. When the air temperature drops below the water, the wind will cool my end quite fast - and that may be the time to move to a spot in shelter of the wind, which will hold it's heat a little longer.

I wonder off for a chat with today's angler-in-arms as I need to move the blood and it's always good to trade information if you can find someone willing. I naughtily leave the bait in, with the reel hooked over the landing net handle and the ratchet on. After five minutes of pleasant time passing (my companion has had nothing so far), the reel music lures me back to my rod post haste and I find a 3lb leather most of the way across the lake. An undeserved fish, but welcome anyway. Despite the cooling wind, I elect to hang on here and celebrate with more Christmas cake and coffee. It's 3:20pm and the air has slipped away to 5°C.

At 4:00 the other angler gave in the struggle and stopped for a chat for 15 minutes. My float with two worms and a grain of corn under it, dithered. And went. A 4-5lb mirror surrendered in the manner some winter fish do. The social angler, a man who did not catch himself, but who was apparently the cause of fish in others, moved on. Weird. No car visible, perhaps parked behind the hummock at the end of the lake.

Pitman's Pond the meadow on the east of the pond, the Corfe River is at the far side Pitman's Pond an undeserved 3lb leather Pitman's Pond last gasp 5lb mirror Pitman's Pond just me and the moon

At 5:10pm, kept there by the prospect of one more, with the 3°C cold stealing the feeling from my toes, I call it a good day and ebb away myself...just a theory, but the three fish I caught were all rounder bodied mirrors, unlike the usual stamp, which is leaner. The rounder bodied fish would conserve heat a little better than their longer bodied cousins maybe (the minimum surface area of a volume is a sphere and they were nearer that shape)? No rudd today either.

2007 JAA's third year 7th January 2007. Silent Woman Lake. New water...could have done better. A new water a scant few miles from my house, a fluke discovery of a lake that's not advertised. No boilies, no bait boats, so far so good. A three acre oasis of reed mace enclosed peace with it's own island circled by 20 feet of water. There is pondweed all around the margins, especially on the west banks and clearing that requires an eight-yard cast into 4½ feet of water. I put an upside down goose quill on as the wind is strong and put the bulk shot under the float and a 2ft cast. 10lb through and the old carp rod, as I am told there are big fish here and a lot of weed, so some force perhaps justified. Set up, the float is heeling in the breeze, so I nip it down a touch on the next cast. I'm going for the usual hemp, corn and some cockles. The owner says worms work well, as the fish are not fed and anglers are few and far between. I wait.

At the north end there are shallows, which is good and there are areas where the high water, recent rain-swollen, laps over grass. The water is around 7.9°C with air at 13°C. Mild really and I chose the west bank for its shelter and the deep water in front of me. That's warm enough to feed these days, so I'll try two hours and try elsewhere if nothing stirs. It's an overcast day with a little drizzle and I've tucked myself under a small Eucalyptus tree and with the brolly plus the unhooking mat I'm sat on, I'm out of the worst. This is young water but well thought out with a few swims, which are marked only with 4 slabs of concrete set back from the water's edge. I look up to see my float has gone, too late. An hour later I've missed another bite but a slow one. Maybe small roach. But the longer I sit here the more confident I become. There have been a few bubbles in the pondweed, but I basically feel the time is right. At 12:45 a squall with shower passes over. A couple of float movements seem out of sync. with this. Another dip of the float but no follow up, but I'm quite interested now. Then I knock the penknife into the cockle jar, quite a clang. Idiot. Fishy feelings persist though, waiting is what we do.

In wind like this the float is always moving about and this one with the bulk under the float and a BB on a 2ft hook lengths wing with the breeze and dips if the gust move the weed the sunk line is resting on. The trick is to know when the movement is out of sync. Or even if it should have moved but doesn't.

Silent Woman Lake in winter Silent Woman Lake in winter

The bait in the interim, some 6½ft from this movement, buffered by the angle and trace length, is motionless. For larger fish and positive takes this works. For smaller fish you'd gut hook or miss. Carp need time to mouth and ponder and fiddle and diddle without alarm. So you watch the tip moving in the breeze and wait some more.

Even the branches on the umbrella help. They indicate the gust strength and give the brain a little more information to process and overlay. Wind vs. float. Does it look right?

An hour has passed and at 1:45 I get another slow bite and almost in exasperation hit it. A fish is on for about four seconds. But a fish! Two worms and two grains of corn. Staying here then. Took off the worms and after 15 minutes of calm a 3lb common follows, thudding into the pondweed, but overpowered, then even as I record it another at 2lb or so. There I was fixated on large carp by repute and then with long traces 10lb line and a 2lb t/c real carp rod, when I needed lighter tackle I didn't bring.

Around this time I stopped keeping notes. I realised that the few tweaks and dips that I was waiting to develop were small carp taking a quick bite and letting go. I missed another bite and shortened the trace to 8 inches or so and retied the float to stop it slipping and reset the depth, taking six inches off the depth. That ought to have sorted things out (I told myself), but I missed bites like this for the rest of the afternoon and failed to add to my tally. The heavier 2lb t/c carp rod is not best suited to fast striking and with the high wind and 10lb line casting, even Nottingham style was awkward, with a ratio of two casts to one success about average.

A smarter man would have switched to the Avon, 6-8lb line and a different rig, lighter float perhaps, maybe a size 10 hook, last shot a few inches from the hook and perhaps picked up a few more carp, but no, I plugged away. Happy with my two piles of knocked over coins from earlier on. The Avon was in the car anyway.

I like this water and as I squelched back up the field to my car, I reflected, like Mr. Ransom, that I had failed to catch my share today. It occurred to me also, that I might have done just as well fishing in a hole in the weed, with pondweed not the snag-fest that lily roots can be. Fixated with larger fish, on rumour and then seeing the weed had coloured my whole approach and stopped rational thought for a session. This happens (well, to some of us...) and fixation or obsessions are part of any carp fishing.

But I'd done the hard work, worked out where fish might be, in oxygen producing weed, bordering on the deep water out of the heavy chop of the water driven by the wind (I tell myself this) and having got them feeding, missed out on bagging three or four times that which I ended up with. Still, two carp in January is a win and they were decent looking fish - as you can see.

Silent Woman Lake small common carp Silent Woman Lake another small common carp

2007 JAA's third year 13th January 2007. Silent Woman Lake. Lots of small stuff, well comparatively...grey, drizzle and two hours in. I've had four carp to 3-4lb perhaps, two rudd. I've lost three with the hook hold going, these were Mustard hooks. Another carp at a 1lb maybe. The rain eases of at 1ish. I've got two swims on the go, repeating my location form the previous week. The water is only a yard deep and each carp held hard disturbs the swim. I've had fish on mixed corn and maggots left over from a go at the river a fortnight back. The wind and weed have left me with a coarsely set float depth, with the quill nearly flat on the water. I'm trying some (pickled) cockles in the swim but not a touch on a hook bait so far - but I am wondering about trying the small lake for a few hours.

I'm carrying the tail end of a stressful week - so I'm not as relaxed as I might be given a reasonable catch so far. Still nearly time for the rather excellent 'free range' Lincolnshire sausages and bread I've brought with me to trough. I've done well to resist this long. Quills are fine but some days they are not the optimum design and this wind is making that clear. SW @ 20mph, so I switch to 4×14 paste float 'bottom-end-only'. A 3lb carp and a missed bite follows. But the line is well sunk and the float is more stable than before and it easier to get it into the hole in the pondweed I'm fishing - and it stays put also.

Silent Woman Lake small common carp Silent Woman Lake another small common carp Silent Woman Lake yet another small common carp

I've picked the pen back up, as a lift bite just gave me something of a start at the end of the last sentence. It didn't develop mind. For now I'm sticking with maggot bunches, which have brought most of the fish to heel. The weather is unchanged but I'm NE of the brolly and in the lee of a small tree and quite comfortable. I'm wondering about a change of tactics for something larger. I'm not bored, but feel a bit restless and am certain a carp just lunged at fry in front of me. Hm. I bumped off a ½lb rudd an hour ago, which is bigger than I was led to believe, was in here. Re-reading the above I realise that creativity has abandoned me today! Cannot be poetic all the time I guess. The float dips and stops. Dips. Stops. A 1oz rudd on a size 10! Pah.

Silent Woman Lake Good Lord! A small common carp Silent Woman Lake Jam Jar Club membership

Still, at least I'm in the Jam Jar Club JJCAn idea from the 'Waterblog' forums, membership for which entailed catching those fish which would fit into the tradional jam-jar carried with a piece of string. . I try corn on the hook for an hour. Nothing. Back to maggots. Several small carp hurl themselves onto the live bait. Just have to stick with maggots then...

Silent Woman Lake small common carp Silent Woman Lake small common carp Silent Woman Lake small mirror carp Silent Woman Lake small common carp
Silent Woman Lake small mirror carp Silent Woman Lake small common carp Silent Woman Lake small purple carp? Silent Woman Lake small mirror carp

2007 JAA's third year 21st January 2007. Silent Woman Lake. Stap me, a grass carp. Back again. Why? Well, it seems I can pretty well guarantee to have the place to myself. For some reason no one is fishing it wintertime, but given the warm January everywhere is fishing uncharacteristically well. I've sat myself on the North bank in the sun of the 1-acre lake, which I have decided to try for a change, no other reason. I tried the SE corner for a while but after 20 minutes I thought it just wasn't right and moved to where I am now and my worms have already been nicked off me. No result, other than the confirmation of fish present though.

I've added another worm to the hook. In front of me are large clumps of marsh grass - and the very act of my next cast gets the attentions of a small rudd, which despite its 4oz, engulfs two worms on a size 10 Partridge No. 7 hook. 'One' then. Sun, tea, chocolate and a fish. Nearly perfect. Odd. I've decided to put my only 'Jack Hilton' size 12 onto a 6lb braid trace. If the fish are little I might as well go with it in the sun. Again the float has edged off and I find I'm attached to a larger fish with a solid but serpentine feel. It only takes a couple of minutes to get the net under a slender silver bar, not unlike a mullet, but which must be a grass carp. As these are supposed to fight to the death, I can only conclude this one was half dead when I hooked it. Glorious looking fish though. That's the odd bit and a first for JAA.

As I surmised the right spot. Another rudd. I move the 'tell-tale BB' and get an 8oz mirror. Delaying the small hook now. The quill on is made from a pheasant tail feather, which is straight, nicely tapered and looks good but takes little shot a BB at most. Another small common on a pickled cockle. A lull. Plenty of fry really - a light set up might have been more fun but I brought the Avon down and it's a tramp to the car for a float rod so I stay with what I have. Opposite me is an oak with its crinkled branches distinct from the ash trees behind it. A jay is chattering in this oak, 30 yards distant, which is too close for him but although agitated he's staying for now. There seem to be fewer jays around than I recall and they are shy at the best of times. This one watches me, dancing from claw to claw, not having yet decided if flight is right. An upturned rowing boat is at the foot of the tree, presumably for the lake owner's maintenance. Another carplet, but it shook the hook, which is not a great loss. Then the bites start to dry up, like a jay slipping away from branch to branch. I'm always a bit more interested then as the sudden disappearance of the small stuff will often foreshadow a larger fish. The wind over my head is leaving a patch of calm in front of me and dimples of hemp oil tell me something is about. I can wait. With the ash trees rushing in the overhead wind, right on cue the float cuts across the water and the tension and I pause and lean into a 4oz rudd. Oh well.

Silent Woman the grass carp, 'tick' Silent Woman the oak tree

Then goes quiet and time slows down, I look at my watch and it's hard to credit only thirty minutes have passed. Nevertheless I change the float to a small porcupine quill, a 6lb braid end with the size 12 'Jack Hilton' and 1× ×no.4 as the 'tell-tale'. I get a small common right off with the more sensitive rig, then miss a bite. The sun has gone and with the edge off the light the edge goes onto the wind so I pitch the brolley to keep the chill out. With a softest of tones a text arrives from my youngest daughter wishing me a good dangle. I reply. Some think that phone has no place on the bank, but with a young family peace of mind is worth something - in silent running mode though I hasten to add. Incoming calls only as well.

A group of fieldfares have leaked into the trees opposite as if by osmosis and their steady check-check-chatter is just audible with the wind toward them. In groups they leapfrog up the filed from tree to tree. A forward party announces food is found and the whole flock converges on the bearer, denuding the leafless victim. I tarried this morning with the rain on the windows putting me off - the forecast was better than it looked out of the window though and after tea and oatmeal (Mrs. JAA is working today) the clouds moved away and the sun fired me into getting some worms and out the door.

The fish now have fled with the sun it feels. I'm debating a large bunch of worms into the deeper water and a piece of silver foil. I'll see if after 40 minutes there is any change...of course the very word being written gets a bite, fast, which I inevitably miss. A 4oz carplet follows soon after. Almost an hour has passed with a couple of slow bites which I miss. A squall has blown up, but the sun has joined it robbing it of it's sting. The height of the squall signalled a bite and a ½lb common. I'm still hoping for something larger, but still waiting also. The sun is back which helps - I'm certain this is helping today.

Silent Woman common carplet Silent Woman another common carplet

The sun has gone for good today and the strong wind is now fish-tailing West/South-west. I missed a bite but waves are scudding through the float's position, making it harder to spot the movements that do not belong. A change to all corn hook bait for visibility yields a further ½lb common I can hear a magpie somewhere - except it's a squirrel squawking its alarm at something. Perhaps the wind in it's tree. Classic winter pattern for fishing, midday good, tailing off as the afternoon wears on. I leave the boat in its corner and the squirrel to its dudgeon - a good day for the time of year, but I'd nearly always catch fewer fish and larger, ungrateful that I am.

2007 JAA's third year 27th January 2007. River Frome. So that's what a sea-trout looks like. STThat's my third ever sea-trout. No, really.  The downside of fishing the Frome, if there is one, is that constant activity makes note taking practically impossible. In any event I took myself out on a clear and sunny day with a brisk breeze for a midday go at the grayling. I took my old float rod, which I hardly ever use and a 'pin with 4lb line and the usual river floats and maggots. I tried for while between the bridges, aiming for the swirls around the pillars thinking that might be a holding spot for something, but despite some nifty casting off-the-reel, all I gained was a parr from underneath the arches.

I moved up stream and tried above the bridge and fished out the swim, trotting the 40 yards back to the bridge in a variety of places, without so much as a bite. Oh well. A cup of tea and took a stroll up the river, past some reed beds, on the hunt of a fishable swim. I tried one of the reed fringed river loops and discovered the reeds snaffle hooks and that the current in the narrow stretch very hard to fish and not the best holding spot either. I kept going and got to a swim by the stile, where a broad bend sweep in towards the angler and a tree and curve in the bank make the water swirl around and suck at the bank under you feet. A good spot for a pike, but the incumbent, with a dead-bait had little luck and I moved on over the stile towards a swim that had shallow, a glide if you will, that looked good even from the pike swim.

River Frome. a 'glide' if you will... River Frome. the sea-trout River Frome. the Frome in January

I flung loose maggots and casting off-the-reel into the middle of the flow held the float back on the far side of the bar, until it swung around the end 20 yards distant. I reckon the best spot was as the bait swung around the corner and so it proved on the sixth trot down, when the float dipped and I hit a lively fish, which I took for a grayling of good size. A joy to play such a fish on the light tackle and pin and after some entertaining minutes, netted a sea-trout of over 2lbs. Not a coarse fish, but I rate the pleasure of catching all fish equally and this was no exception. Glorious looking, snapped and swiftly returned, presumably on its way to the sea to plunder the crustaceans, ready for the upstream haul.

I persisted with this swim for a few more casts then moved downstream a little to extend the trot under the tree from the previous swim. I was squelching in mud by then and after a while glancing down saw this fellow wriggling in the mud. I ported the rod and watched the small eel ferreting out shrimps for a few minutes and took these snaps. Eels are seldom seen, so a rarity.

River Frome. the eel hunting for shrimp River Frome. the eel hunting for shrimp

I had no further luck so drifted up to the feeder stream and fished in the confluence and in the stream itself with no further reward and then a further try in the pikey looking swim with a bunch of worms. Still no more to show for my efforts, so I tried for 30 minutes below the bridge where the river widens and had the last parr of the day. Worse days have been had. The sea-trout was a thing of beauty and the eel interesting. Never dull on the river. Roll on November.

2007 JAA's third year 31st January 2007. Reasons to be Orthodox. I set this site up in a reaction to my own disquiet with the type of fishing I'd almost slipped into and also as a response to the direction that much of the UK's coarse fishing has been heading. After a spell of prolonged 'work orientated lifestyle', when I only fished a few times a year and blindly took my pole along to whatever water was on the radar, I broke my pole (on a tree, helped by a carp), but it made me stop and think. I got out my carp rod, my Milward Black Spider braid and went back to a simpler method, derived from wild carp fishing and early fishing life - and in part due to 'Stillwater Angling' which I read in 1980 and every year since I think. So, I started to catch tench and occasional carp in this way and while I flirted with hair rigs for a while (three months or so), I then abandoned them and the bite alarm after only a few tries. Despite catching fish that way, it didn't seem as rewarding.

The commercialisation of fishing has long since overtaken what I believe to be the core values of the sport. Angling ought to be its own reward, with catching fish and solving the problems associated with that process also part of the deal. If you do not love nature and appreciate her many facets, then you ought to, if you are going to spend time by the waters edge. Like all liminal regions it has elements of both sides as well as being a world of its own. It saddens me to see many 'commercial' fisheries that are so full of fish it is well nigh impossible not to catch. What is the point? No problem to solve, no fish to find. Stock treated as a cash commodity, rather than animals. On many waters the patter of maggots or corn on the water will bring the fish scurrying, with even the smaller cyprinids hungry all the time as the natural food supply simply doesn't keep them all in fettle. And that's if the omnipresent head of carp haven't hoovered up all the available food leaving the rest scrabbling for a living.

Match fishing on these waters has been reduced completely to the mechanics - how fast can you get them out, but that is all. Use a net, save time. Or try winter river match fishing - you need your brain for that (too hard for me). I know first hand of three waters that once were great mixed fisheries, for all the seasonal and day-to-day variation, with many roach, rudd and perch, which after a few years of 'common carp' are reduced to shadows of their former eco-system selves. One near my house was an excellent perch and roach fishery of an acre at the most, a delight on light tackle or a slim pole, but now (five years later) has a number of carp in the thirty and upper twenty bracket (must have been introduced, one wonders about the legality), which are caught several times a year each. To what end, in a pond of that size? Ducks and barrels. I could fish there for £100 a year, but do not care to any more. Catching those would not make me a good carp angler, but many think differently.

There are venues (one near me) where the new ponds have selected stock of the venue's larger fish and stap me if the venue's 'special flavour boilies' don't catch these bigger fish many times a year. A cynical view would be that they feed the fish on them and then sell the 'special bait' to the angler who's odds of a 'twenty' of 'thirty'' have just climbed. But there's no fish to find, no bait or tactics to figure out. Fish so accustomed to human traffic that probably even the clumping set-up of bivvies and bite alarms loud enough to scare a smack-head burglar, wouldn't put them off. Add your 3-3½lb test curve tip action and 15-20lb mono, what's really in it for either party?

Even now, the attitude and reaction to pike is backward in many instances. There is a least one club near me who still exterminate pike on catching (quietly) as they are a 'pest' and 'ruin the fishing'. The same organisation pumps hundreds of small stockfish into the water and then blames the pike for eating some. That's a bit like showing a dog a steak and then kicking it for having a bite. Even one of my local (not so commercial) waters, has had folk complaining to the owner as pike 'ruined' their fishing. Why not just catch the pike and put it carefully back further up the bank. It'll take you 20 minutes, you might have some fun and the pike will skulk off for 24 hours leaving you free to 'enjoy' your fishing. It's only making a living after all. The same folk that complain about losing a small roach to a pike, will then cheerfully brag about being broken up by a carp on the same light tackle in the same spot. Oddly, that's not a nuisance...

What concerns me most is that some of the practices many of us have unwittingly adopted (it's perhaps all too easy to get sucked into thinking loads of fish all the time is good and what a great angler it makes you) leave the sport wide open to those who would ban us all from our tackle. Who would tend the waters then? It's not as unlikely as you might think. Ah well. Enjoy the site. If you disagree feel free to rant back. If you like it let me knowJAA. I've discovered there are more of us out here, which is heartening. Be Lucky.

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2007 JAA's third year 3rd February 2007. Tidal Piddle & Pitmans Pond. The Louisiana swamplands of Dorset...

Fired up by an 'APFA DVD' I resolve to do some river fishing and because the Holme Bridge Frome stretch is often well patronised, I head for the tidal Piddle. The first thing to note is that you need to make your way to the river through a mixture of low alders and lookalike Louisiana swamp plus a gruesome looking (and smelling) dyke, to which a fertile imagination could add the heaped bodies of the Viking invaders in 843AD. On reaching the river I find it's not technically unfishable. It's just very, very hard. I find a couple of acessible swims and spend 15 fishless minutes in each with grayling bobber'd maggots. In most other places the water has covered the banks so well I cannot get close to fishable water. After wandering up the dyke towards the town, I get to the bit where the levee turns at right angles; the marsh on the other side of it makes progress, well, awkward, OK impassable then (where the levee breaks left there's nowhere left to go). I head back for the car.

OK then, the 'oil works' stretch of the Frome. The gate is locked which is a pest as well - I leave a message with the secretary about that, but I've not heard anything since...

• ...onto Pitmans then.

Not a stress busting trip so far, but to make the best of things I head for Pitman's pond. In hindsight I should have gone (piking?) to Holme Bridge or home. But the sun is out and despite the gaggle of youths at the pond (noisy but otherwise social and enjoying their fishing), it's pleasant in the sun and I opt to drown my maggots with my float rod - I'm not optimistic, it's been almost freezing at night for a week and the cold water augers a blank.

The gaggle is converging on one of their band who is 'in'. I silently and unkindly root for the fish. A carp has topped to my right, but I opt to stick with the float rod and 4lb line, which will suffice for rudd and stuff. An hour passes and I have not so much as a twitch on the maggots and there is still some small carp movement. I switch to the Avon, cockles and worms - I remember some crushed hemp and make some hemp-and-corn balls to ground bait and lean back and watch my laissez-faire float from under the hat brim. The crowd have fallen silent and my world is reduced to the orange tip in the corner of my vision. There is a hint of spring, a false promise and it's 10°C in the sun, which is chilly, but by real winter standards, balmy.

A buzzard cry, distant with altitude, pierces the calm like a water drop on a millpond. High up hunting for supper, the first is joined by its mate and it occurs to me they can see my float better than I. Two crows go into attack mode at the lower buzzard, the cawing shattering the quiet, crazed glass, against the drop-in-a-millpond cry of the buzzards. The victim veers away radiating indifference and languidly retreats 50 feet higher up.

My quill is over indolent, even for me, so I move it an inch down the line and turn the windsock into a candle flame. Better. One of the gaggle has gone around to the other side of the lake to free his last hair-rig from a carelessly placed bush. Well, that's one interpretation anyway. At least he been up to his waist in mud and water for his trouble - it appears there is a fine line between dry land and flooded marsh. I switch to a semi-cocking quill (one of the copper foil bottomed pheasant quills made a few weeks ago) no reason, back to sunning myself and waiting.

An hour later I have one 'twitch' to show. I've added some more crushed hemp and water to corn to make lumps of ground bait. Worth a try but I suspect the antics of the gaggle have put the carp down even here where little seems to bother them. Still, a great day to be out in the sun - the sky is clear and the glare is in the corner of my right eye. As long as the sun is on the water I feel there is a good chance of a careless carp. But for now, the orange tip is lifeless without even the feel of a fish. Now there is a magpie chattering at the gaggle, or more likely warning other wildlife to keep away.

Classic. I was watching the black band on the float move with respect to the waterline and after a few minutes of this I had a darting bite. No result. Still it's a start. Something is moving; at least it feels like it. I'm sure there's a fish down there, going by the float the small fish I wanted when I turned up have finally arrived, lured by the ground hemp. Now, I'll wait for a take until dusk, but then decide to shrink the hook and I spend ten minutes catching a dozen rudd to 'unblank'. I switch the hook back and wait for the last half an hour of daylight for a carp. Not this time. Oh well, many worse ways to spend a day in the sun - last to leave as usual, the lights go out on their own.

2007 JAA's third year 17th February 2007. Pitmans Pond. Trust your instincts. A snap decision to get out for three hours has led me back to Pitmans, sheer laziness, but I have hemp and mussel in the freezer and worms in the box. As my 'platinum' 'pin's spool is off being fixed and the new one is empty I grab two spools of green Stren 6lb & 8lb and will decide when I get there. Peg 3 looks very inviting and I debate setting up there and then, with the shelter in the lee of the wind, but despite the pull on my instincts, I instead overrule, telling myself facing the wind is better and head off to the windward end.

I strolled around to Peg 13 as the wind is blowing directly towards it, which is usually good and set up a 1×BB porcupine quill, fresh off the production line (which is too say I just finished painting it). As I arrived and trundled through the already open gate the sun came out and I decided that Izaac was smiling on me, so I go for 8lb line. I set up and ignore the bleeper around the corner. There is then a flurry of swearing as one of them "is in" and then even more when the angler snags up. I'm afraid I smiled, schaddenfreude. Uncharitable I know, but I don't feel that way.

The wind is pushing hard left to right, as I face the water, which is not typical. There is a crack of snapping line from behind the trees. More schaddenfreude. I wait in the sun; the water is around 8°C and the air 11°C in the shade, more in the sun. I enjoy the birds misled into thinking spring might be here already and I take Earl Grey tea while I watch. The float just stabbed into the waves like a hoe jabbing under weeds, but there's no follow up. It's a start and the wind eases off in response, the float rising little in the calm, seemingly set fair.

A few flicks and trips have come and gone so some truffling is taking place. A fieldfare has arrived in the oak opposite, on it's own and is urging me to check-check-check-check-check. So I do, my mussel is mostly there, so some more loose feed and a gentle cast off the reel over my baited area and a draw back to sink the line.

Forty minutes have passed, another bait check and half a lobworm on the hook as well. This results in a flurry of false bites as small rudd pile after the worm. I take it off again. I then miss the first definite bite, with the float sinking fast, but I'm not convinced I missed a real fish. I recast and a lot continues to happen, which is pesty, but I'm curiously indifferent, believing it to be small fry. 3:30 and the float continues to twitch. The temperature has started its slide and is down to 9°C but water is unchanged at 8.4°C. If I get to 4:15 with nothing positive, I'll try peg 3 - I cannot get a feeling whether this is the right spot or not, which is in some ways worse than knowing you're in the wrong spot. I recheck and recast smoothly off the reel, pleasing but after another 20 minutes I back my instinct, which now says this is the wrong spot and head for peg 3.

Pitmans Pond a doorway of sorts Pitmans Pond a heap of brass washers

The water is a shade colder here at 7.5°C but carp are moving across the water and plenty of small stuff are moving as well. The cursing anglers of earlier are departing with their transport arriving, so I have the place to myself again. I chuck in plenty of hemp along with one of my last size 10 'Jack Hiltons' tied on a trace placed in the hemp box for a change of tactics that I hadn't followed through on. Fifteeen minutes later I pull out the bait for a check and recover my cast and hook, what are the odds? It's very quiet now, the sun is low and another carp has rolled on the orange water and I respond by laying a thin trial of hemp from my swim in front of me, to about two-thirds of the way across and halving four mussels and scattering them about the hook bait. The float after some trembling then just slid under with no fuss and I found myself with a dogged 4-5lb common with a full set of scales if not a full fund of fight, barely taking any line, but bending the rod hard under it's tip. Glorious looking fish and tally one for instinct.

I celebrate with the last of the tea and there is an odd pleasure in having a surfeit of tea in 3 hours, instead of eking it out over a day. Thanks to Izaac for the fish. The float continues to wander with the attentions of small rudd and the air and water temperatures have converged at 7.4°C. The trembling of the float is stilled suddenly, which can mean one of two things...I've settled with the water now, the carp having earthed last of the week's tension. All else is now a bonus. Long tailed tits are having a last flit in the gathering greyness, chipping and whirring in staccato flights. Roosting beckons and the sun is behind the castle now. No second bite as yet but fish are moving, but all the birds are in roosting song now, with blackbirds chipping good night all around - the wind has died, all the lake is flat calm and then a stabbing bite and a rocket run, I give line and then it's clear I have a fish, a minute or two later, a 1½lb tench overpowered, but putting the earlier pile of scales to shame with it's effort. All tench are good tench.

Pitmans Pond all tench are good tench Pitmans Pond dusk at Pitman's

5:40 and we're down to 5°C but the water uncooled as yet, still 7.5°C (a degree cooler than peg 13 though, the windward end warmer by a degree). Then, on recasting, there's a breath of cold air and the smell of tidal mud, which makes me turn, half expecting the sucking noises of an incoming flood tide - I'd not have been surprised to see an advancing wave. There is only the mist, rising faintly from the water-meadows. Then is just the 'chip' of the blackbirds and a distant tawny owl. And then there's just me.

A quick look at the tide tables at home tells me the tide turned at 5:50 in Wareham (earlier in Poole harbour) - a wave of sea air had rippled across the fields like an air pocket in a sheet being laid on a bed and passed over me where I sat. Odd.

2007 JAA's third year 25th February 2007. Silent Woman Lake. Half an hour has passed on the far west bank almost round back by the entrance gate - it's the only place out of the brisk west wind, but currently it doesn't fell fishy. Odd bits of reed have surfaced, three now but otherwise 30 minutes of a cockle got zippo and I've changed to a corn bait. If I feel no better in a bit I'll return to where I fished previously. This corn in under a half cocking pheasant quill in a bit over 18" of water. Size 10, 6lb line. With the wind getting at nearly all of the open water it's hard to guess where the fish might be, but the water temperature is 9°C and it 15°C on the bank, the sun is out though, you'd think water that warm in February would be swarming with fish.

A piece of pondweed had drifted into the float and it jabs under and I miss the strike to a sneaky bite. Recast. Another piece of reed has surfaced, poking up vertically for moment before subsiding. Still not terrible fishing, even so. Another hour then, half of it with a worm and live bait tends to do better here. A good fish has swirled to my left, five yards of maybe, I flick a few hemp and corn grains at the float. A small rudd appears in front of me and vanishes like the Cheshire cat, but without the smile.

A muted honk spreads over the water from one of the dozen geese in residence. There is some tension now and a blackbird feeds it with muted alarm chips. But nothing passes and I trust the instinct and return to the swim on Peg 4 where I've always done OK. The wind is now mostly on my back and the water is a shade warmer at 9°C, but that within the error of this thermometer. So a bit warmer here, perhaps the same dissolved oxygen. I'll try two hours and then something else. I take chocolate and tea and the wind drops. I'm not 'at one' with the water yet. Is this stress or fish not feeding? Small fish are moving here though, which is encouraging More Tea.

It's now 2pm and the water temp is up a degree from the wind, but not a twitch. Odd. Why no feelings on the matter. Where are the fish? Today now has the feel of a blank but I have no idea why. The water is warm enough but nothing is doing at this end of the lake either. Do I try the wind on my face in the deeper water or go back to where I started. Right now I really have no idea. So I starting fiddling about like you do. I put on a worm and dab it into a hold in the weed under my feet. I get a small carp right off. Hmm. I try further out and four feet down and get some bites on a worm I cannot hit. I winder about the bank trying likely holes and get a few tweaks. After 25 minutes of this and removing the blank I settle down again, a grain of corn and worm on the hook and elect for more tea. The float dips, the tip heels over and I have a feisty 2lb common. Hm. Now I get my tea? Then a 3lb brass coloured common and then right away another of about 1lb. Ok then.

Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman

The sun is setting and the water temperature is still over 10°C and I then get a few pulls and a swirl, spooked, then after a few more minutes of nothing a sharper bite and another 1lb fish (3:40pm now). There are some very big carp moving by the island and a few minutes after the first swirl over there, a large carp rolls again 15 yards away. In the distance a few starlings are chattering, perhaps 100 yards of, clustering in a bare oak, a squawking crop of ugli fruit.

Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman

Any more fish to come though? An odd day, but I'm satisfied with my 3pm flurry of fish. I get another bite and lose a solid fish in the weeds. Then with the air and water sinking under 10°C in unison the setting sun behind me sets the trees on fire, turning up the volume of the starlings, which then bolt elsewhere, en masse. I risk another 30 minutes but although there are plenty of tweaks on the float tip, I get nothing I can hit and spend the time watching the blaze on the treetops, until my last cup of tea cools enough to drink and then I make my way.

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2007 JAA's third year 1st March 2007. Upstream. Outside the window of this seminar is a thin strand of the Kennet winding through this small industrial estate, where there was once marsh and reed beds - I recall when it was like that. On the far bank of this small cut, not five yards from the pad I'm scribbling this hasty note on, is a pollarded willow, which has five slender trunks looking for all the world like an upturned left hand with the thumb towards me, a despairing clutch at the sky before sinking under the earth. The top joints of these haggard fingers are conical sprays of bare budding willow wands.

Old, dry twigs lie around the circle of bare earth at the base, below that, grass mingled with water making a green patch of couch-grass stalks. The wind is slipping across the grass on the far bank, rippling it like water, flipping the blades, waving strips of silver, strings of darning needles. The grass on the near bank, a few feet closer, is rippling grey and green streaks in the same wind.

Just upstream of this clump of water grass is a patch of clear water, blurred by the turbulence above it. A little grass is growing through this water's far-side surface, thinly spaced, a receding hairline. The angle of the light makes it hard to guess the depth but there is an opacity that hints at a holding place for a fish. There may only be six inches of water, but I know, as does the kingfisher that perches outside my old office window across the road, that fish make their way up here from the Kennet, only a few hundred yards distant.

The spring sun amplifies details through my narrow portal, alongside which, 'hyper threading' seems unreal. I would try for fish, even in this trickle, at a moments notice - then the breeze drops and the little pool shimmers to gun-barrel blue, suggesting depths, then a blaze of sun transforms the grey-shades into a gleaming invitation to fish.

With a short rod (those little solid fibre-glass children's rods are ideal for this type of thing) and light line, one no.4 shot, a needle-sharp size 16 and a small tin of worms, you can work such tiny pools, casting ahead of you into the stream's fish-holding places and tweaking the bait slowly back in front of the waiting fish, apparently under the power of the current. The line on your fingers will rattle with the bites of fingerling trout and you must whip them out quickly, as the combination of hard mouths and little weight to set the hook against, make hook-holds merely temporary things. A joyful way to fish, so little to carry. Bullheads are quarry also, but in small streams these are tiny, even size 16's are too large, but a fish is a fish. One fish per pool is par, each pool fished out becomes the launching pad for the next and you wade into the water flicking the bait ahead of you and rolling it back with your fingers, with the rod tip low.

Move upstream then, all sense of time slips away, the only passage the transition from one pool to the next. Cast, retrieve, 'rattle', strike. Cast, retrieve, 'rattle', strike. A quiet paddle or straddle across rocks, the bait flicked on ahead. Sounds of the world recede as you move on - it is quieter upstream. The water cuts a deeper, steeper gully now and the woods are thicker with ferns and green-damp moss. The sun is hazy through the trees and some of the insects clatter, larger and sharper, the trout are, feral, toothier. A blood-bead witness oozes from a fingertip.

Perhaps just one more pool - then a heavy 'thock' cracks open the thick silence - an old branch, near rotten, gives up the ghost from a heavy foot. The quiet spreads out from the sudden sound, like ripples around a rising fish. Passing through you, they carry the sudden realisation that there is something more troubling than the noise. And this is; some creature wise enough to know it's better to keep still after giving itself away is now silent, motionless and watching you.

Just a few worms in the box now and the sun is lower and redder. Time to withdraw downstream.

2007 JAA's third year 11th March 2007. Pitmans Pond. Buzzards and a very good rudd. Or two. A glorious sunny day, no clouds and a bit of a south-west wind. Busy here today, pegs 3, 4, 16 & 17 are occupied. Peg 13 is not though and it is something of a favourite of mine so I'm camped in the sun, chair flipped so I'm on the ground with a backrest and sat on the unhooking mat.

Lulled by the sun a stabbing bite develops from ten minutes of playful dips, is over struck and missed, with a suggestion of resistance the closest to a fish. I add some corn to the hook and the hemp and go again. The wind is warm today, like a soft brush on the back of the hands. The water is 10°C, warm also. In the sun the temperature is 20°C, but that not the shade temperature. Plenty of knocks but no fish. I wonder about larger bait. Size '8' hook currently and two grains of corn tipped with a cockle. A peacock butterfly wafts past and bird song but not a hint of green on the trees still skeletal from winter, mild though it is. A mob of dogs and ramblers pass - so much disruption on a peaceful day.

An hour passes with a lot of movement; both float and water but no carp. I've got a new trace ready; size '10', with 3 × no.6 shot in a piece of silicone sleeving to confound the false hemp bites. I will change the tackle and likely halve the false bites. I'll bottom end only the float as well to keep it from drifting. The empty-sky feeling is enhanced by a pair of buzzards, wheeling against the blue, their lonely cries near echoing. They circle each other and drift slowly away to the north as I watch.

Arriving with the buzz of a bee is the feeling that a fish is a distinct possibility. No reason, unless the floats sudden stillness is due to hastily vacating fry. A departing or moving angler swishes past all camo gear and 2oz bombs and a sweatshirt so pale you can see it 450 yards away. Doesn't ask how I've done or stop. I'm constantly amazed at this, as we all need as much information as we can get to improve the odds.

Pitmans Pond spring buzzard sky Pitmans Pond always welcome

Tackle changed. Something else has changed, it's fishier somehow. Fewer small fry about. Single cockle size '10' 'no.7'. I wait. Two more departing, 'wiff-waff' past omitting, as usual, a "How are you doing?", never mind any fishing talk. I award myself a cup of tea. Soon now, I think. Water is 10°C all morning. In the sunshine it's summer. Another departee, who offered he'd had a lone 3lb mirror. There's hope then, for both the fishing and sociability of fishing. I learn he tipped in his surplus corn bait two days ago to my left and right. Decent of him to say, faith is further restored.

Odd day. Things suddenly feel fishless so I take an hour out to catch rudd with some 4lb line and a size 16 and pole float. I catch 20 at least. I wonder about for a bit. 3:15. Still 10°C in the water but no sign of feeling that carp are about. If the two lads on peg 3 move I'll head over at 4:30 and give it a go in the lily roots. I've gone back to a size 8 JH and a porcy quill for the last bit. In for a penny' and all that. I've finally spotted the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, chak-chak-chak, tapping away in the oak 50 yards distant for the last hour. Perhaps a better zoom for the camera...

The sun sipping behind my grounded brolly reveals the true air temperature to be 12°C, still warm for March. The woodpecker is still going and two robins start with a 'chipping' match and this escalates to a pitched battle for territorial rights. A couple of carp have topped now 20 yards to my left on the far bank, air and water temperatures have met and dusk is coming. Perhaps my best bet now, but as the peg the lads clear I move there as soon as the pickup car has left. Fifteen minutes later I take a 9½lb mirror carp, which battles hard but with few long runs. I then get settled in and take eight rudd in quick succession, with the largest shown here, about a 1lb. None were less than ½lb. These are giants in this pond. All on double cockles. Rudd like seafood...

Pitmans Pond scardinius

The water temperature here is a good 2°C up on Peg 13, which is a decent difference for March. I get a slowish bite and am rewarded for my deliberate strike with a swirl. It's not over yet, although the wind has freshened and it's colder. The thermometer has packed up again, I think it dislikes the damp. Note to self, dismantle and damp-proof. Dusk arrives, not the best, but they're all good. As I decide to leave I get a sharp prod on the posterior and think it imagined until it's repeated. I stand and lift my unhooking mat and see a mole vanish suddenly...well that doesn't happen every day. Off home for tea.

2007 JAA's third year 13th March 2007. The Singular Perch

We've all had this experience on a long colourless day, almost pre-destined to be a blank. A small and sharp movement of the float, then a sudden dart under and there is that perch. It's often, but not always, around 1-3oz, with an over-sized gob and all Tod Sloan, which perch never usually are. This is a bit odd. But for that odd perch though you'd have blanked. Let's face it; the fine line between 'a blank' and 'not a blank' is often only a technicality and even so we've all blanked. But that single perch has saved me from a significant number of blanks and this has bothered me for some time.

One quiet grey day on Pike Pit the mystery perch saved me when I had poled up and got fishing while the sibling was still thinking about it. I may have overstated the value of being first in the water - well it would have been rude not to. I was almost driven from the bank by the fusillade of bets returned in response. The most fish. The biggest fish. The largest bag overall. The best specimen. The most different species. The first fish. Probably even the best-dressed fish. Each punt a pint of Tetley's Best, to be consumed that evening at The Chequers.

Tweak. Plunge. There was my 2oz perch, first cast, inevitably, amusingly, the first and last fish of the day. Never had an afternoon of watching a motionless float been more intereting. The brother of course claimed he extracted all the evening beer money from the fruit machine anyway, so it didn't cost him a penny. Of course mate, whatever you say.

Then there was the solitary 6oz perch one cold day in Cookham, the only fish either of us caught. The sole perch I had on a grim day on Long Lake. The single perch last September on Breech Pond, the only thing between me and a blank. The one and only perch caught on the Thames at Marlow when the line was freezing in the rod rings. The small and gobby perch, the total catch on a horizontally windy day at Trout Stream, when not even an eel could be pried out of the bed-stones. You've got other examples, I'm sure. I did an informal random survey (I asked Bob in the office) and it's happened to him too. There are simply way too many 'one perch' days and often when you'd swear that no fish were within a mile.

I remembered a distant beer-facilitated conversation and someone had mentioned the Wheeler-Feynman insight - this suggests that all the electrons in the universe may be viewed as one electron that is continually jagging back and forth in time as it weaves the fabric of cosmic life. You can't prove it isn't, but I suspect that with Richard Feynman's sense of humour, this may be the point.

What though, if there is just one perch, nipping back and forth in time around the Northern hemisphere, whose purpose is to alleviate those otherwise fishless days? Of course it couldn't do every blank day, even time is finite (eventually) and good company, pleasant weather or a really good cup of tea will redeem some blanks. But the first trips of small fisher-folk, those drawn out sombre days that sap the will to fish, they need assistance.

Is this the purpose of the mystery perch, to materialise briefly beside your worm or maggot, snatch at it and redeem the day? It would explain several things; the "What, again?" look that one-off perch have, the very definite (only) bite and also the odd way that solitary perch get 'slightly foxed' as they get bigger. My lonely perch on Long Lake took a single maggot and surrendered gently, a shade over 2lb and seemed to have an air of resignation as well as fins that had seen better days...

Of course, the peripatetic Perca might understand its fate, a near-eternity of passing baits and blurred skyward propelled journeys, on release, slipping out of existence then propelled along the weird of the Nornir, the three Disir fates; that-which-is, that-which-is-becoming, that-which-should-be; on towards the another depression in the fabric of space-time, a moribund angler hunched at the nadir.

Could it be aware of the relief it brings, making it content, while the world streams past? Or much worse, a cursed and wailing soul condemned to eternal impalation, the only sustenance for the journey placed on cruel steel hooks. Perhaps a punishment for some transgression against Njörd 1Njörd, the Norse god of fishermen, seafaring and storms had 10 daughters, three of which are the Nornir, the three Disir Fates of Norse myth known as Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld and representing the past, present and future; Urdhr (that-which-is), Verdhandi (that-which-is-becoming) and Skuld (that-which-should-be) who shape the turnings of Wyrd through the worlds. the Norse god of Storm and fishing, a slight to one of his ten daughters maybe, three of which now gleefully control destiny.

Todays the blank-saviour perch is less in demand; commercial fisheries have made fishless days a thing of the past, if they pain thee so much. Perhaps a good thing for the small spiny totem; the journey is wearying-long, however carefully managed. But there are, will and should be occasions where just one perch helps.

So just in case, slip that solitary perch back with care. For your prize it could be a small moment of satisfaction or a short period of blessed relief, but either way, it may yet have a long way to go and may again save your day.

Silly idea right? Here are some 'odd perch':

2007 JAA's third year 18th March 2007. Pitmans Pond. Lost fish, never good. Peg 13 fish-tail wind veering north, water 10½°C and 14°C out. Had a bite right off and missed it, maybe try a smaller hook. Just perfect March fishing in the sun and wind. Bite, big common almost reached the surface, fully scaled for sure. Hook pulled out, bu88er it. Very annoying. Worse than that. I sensed a fish there, watched more truffling, bubbles and twitches. But worse, a big fully scaled common. Arrgh. The day is mud-coloured already. Again! Thirty minutes in. Same fish or the twin of it, a double, on for ten minutes, never went five yards, then the hook pulled again. That's it for barbless. G7 with a snapped barb for now. At 2:35 I get a 5-6lb mirror carp. WNW wind now 9½°C / 11½°C and it stays that way, but I'm carrying a black cloud from the first two fish.

Pitmans Pond indolent float, choppy water Pitmans Pond consolation prize

Should have gone home then.

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

2007 JAA's third year 10th April 2007. Milton Abbey Lake. So much for the Doctor Fish. A short and unremarkable session, the water was an odd colour (it often is here, there is some mineral in the water perhaps, like pools in caves perhaps) but I did manage one tench, which gave a relatively poor account of itself but you can see why. Still, they're all good...and that's what I call a pike bite.

Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey That's what I call a bite. So much for the 'Doctor Fish'...

2007 JAA's third year 14th April 2007. Milton Abbey Lake. If at first you don't catch fish, move swim. Very odd kind of day, I sat at peg 7 for about 2¾ hours without so much as a twitch, so as twilight beckons, I think, "Sod that for a game of soldiers" and head around to Peg 13 for the last hour, perhaps a bit longer.

Milton Abbey Lake stock still Milton Abbey Lake that's got to hurt the eyes...

I lengthen the line and put my cockles out to my right, normally, I favour the left, no idea why, possible a "sighting eye" thing. I wait. I don't have to wait for long and I get a solid bite and a solid tench over the 4lb mark. I recast and not five minutes later get this chubby perch 1¼lb or so. Good-oh. I try again and time ticks a little, the sun droops and almost an hour passes in the cooling air before this guy dinks the float under, nearer 5lb than 4lb. Such a good change of swim.

Milton Abbey Lake all lined up and nowhere to go Milton Abbey Lake ...and waited Milton Abbey Lake tinca tinca Milton Abbey Lake Spike the perch says 'hi'.

I re-cast, perfectly content with my lot and listen to the owls and after about half-an-hour's hooting I get 'the buzz' which raises my awareness in time to stop the float sliding off. I hit into a lump which bores and pulls my Avon right around into a half circle and for a while makes the ratchet chatters like a magpie. One of the Milton Abbey leathers, 11lb or so. I take a last cast, honest, right away the right thumb tingles again and the resulting fish skitters about like a spinning plate and in the net is reduced to this little round thing of 3lb or so.

Milton Abbey Lake ...they're all good Milton Abbey Lake always a result Milton Abbey Lake odd shaped

This is why you should change the scenery when nothing happens.

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

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

Milton Abbey 1¾lb roach maybe... Milton Abbey fishing in the dark

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

Milton Abbey 5lb tinca Milton Abbey one good roach Milton Abbey a little tinca

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

2007 JAA's third year 27th April 2007. Milton Abbey. The Hatangler, some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.

Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and a roach Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and a perch Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and a tench Milton AbbeyNoodleangler and a perch

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

Milton Abbey Noodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch. Milton Abbey Noodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch. Milton Abbey Noodleangler and some roach, a very big sandwich and a perch.

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

split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

2007 JAA's third year 4th May 2007. Highbench. MarmiteAngler and crucians. The Marmitangler and JAA took a trip to Highbench to try out the light 9ft spinning rod bought specifically for the children. I'd rigged up some 4lb line on the smallest fixed spool and set up a small porcy quill and water knotted on 18" of 3lb platil and a size 14 barbless. Earlier I'd got a pint of mixed maggots, so I bunged in a few handfuls and set the Marmite fishing. I got a small roach while plumbing the depth.

Fishing toward the corner of lake, I left Marmite to it, while I set up some 4lb on the pin and tackled up my little used DAM Quickfire match with a small float I've only had 30 years or so. In the meantime a few more roach were swung in,making the setting up a longer process that usual. I nabbed a few roach on my own water-knotted 3lb trace. The evening sky was clear but being in the north east corner in the light-less lee of the trees the air was cool. There was little wind and as the evening proceeded the water lost almost all the ripple,until the only movement was fish taking the gnats off the surface.

Marmite had a bigger bite that usual and Dad netted her first crucian. Great stuff. Another followed soon after as well as a steady stream of roach and rudd, mostly in the 1-2oz bracket. I gave up on my little float as it became apparent that the bait needed to hit the bottom fast or get intercepted by smaller than usual fish. I went for the smallest paste float in the box (the ones with the eye whipped on the end). This allowed me to put a no.4, two inches from the hook. I tried to get more crucians with corn, but a single grain reduced the bites to non existent, barring one careless 4oz roach. I went back to the three maggots on the '14', while Marmite carried on with here tally, adding more roach and rudd. Then it went really quiet for almost an hour.

Highbench the MarmiteAngler... Highbench Dad's bronzie

During that hour refreshments were shared around - there were hot veggie sausages in a flask and cheese and cucumber sandwiches and a bit of a pork pie for the old man. Sport picked up slowly around 7:30ish and Marmiteangler had a another crucian or two and Dad had a couple and some 'snotties'. Much amusement at the name. At about 8pm I looked over my shoulded and saw a small roe deer making its way down the lake towards us. As we looked, it saw us, panicked and started looking for a hole in the hedge to escape. Darting to and fro, it gave up the hunt and made a hole even as I was reaching for the camera. It couldn't have been more than ten yards from us, a treat at any time but in the gathering dusk of a good evening's fishing with your daughter it was the cherry on the cake.

Highbench crucian Highbench crucian Highbench crucian

A short while later the Marmiteangle's float sailed way and on striking it kept going. I should mention that the reel while admirable in many respects, had a clutch that had adjacent settings that were too light and too heavy for the rod. What are the odds? The light setting was on. The fish bored on, with Twinkle unsure and I put the rod tip up and as I nipped around the other side of here to help, the fish kited right into the rush bed and despite my best effort it was too tangled in the stems and the hook length went. A real pity as it was very likely one of the elusive tench here, which are heard of but seldom seen.

Highbench crucian Highbench crucian Highbench crucian

We both caught steadily but more slowly until it was almost too dark to see and with ten minutes to go we swapped places as I was catching steadily and Marmite wasn't and I immediately got a very zippy bronze bream around ¾lb. Marmiteangler then had her last crucian and as it turned out her last fish. Tweny-one in all with five crucian's, all welcome at any time and a few perch to go with the roach and rudd. Top Evening.

HighbenchIn the evening

2007 JAA's third year 7th May 2007. Silent Woman Lake. Weed. More Weed. Dwarf Lilies. Rudd. It was high time to show Nempster this water so we toddled over late afternoon and parked ourselves around the back in the lee of the wind for no great reason, other than the weed there and comfort. The first thing to mention is that the weed has expanded twenty fold since I went in February and there are now large beds of miniature lilies in most of the places the winter resistant pondweed proliferated.

The awkward bit is getting to the fish on the other side of them. I tried for a bit fishing in a hole in the weeds but it was at the limit of my casting distance with the 'pin but I did get one dark carplet before I gave up and put on a fixed spool and cast a long paste float over the lilies to clear water. This was almost as frustrating, as the float then suffered a huge bombardment of nudges from smaller stuff and despite three smallish rudd, I gave in for a bit and set up the 'pin with the Fox Floater rod and a small pole float and baited a hole in the weeds by my feet.

I waited for 20 minutes and then, got a 'sliding away' bite, which was telegraphed by five minutes of nudges and tweaks. There was an explosion in the foot deep water and a lively tussle, then I banked a common around 2lb or so. Another half hour passed but I missed the next bite. Despite having a nice new stalking chair, the most comfortable thing I've ever fished on, I wasn't settled and with a growing sense of "it's not here" went up the bank to the next peg, which I paid a short visit to earlier. At the time I was quite sure this was a better spot, with a better sense of 'fishiness' and some movement in the water. However I talked myself out of moving right away to spend an hour margin fishing with a pole float.

I returned the 'pin to the Avon, put on a self cocking pheasant quill and then hid behind a good clump of reeds and yellow irises and baited up just over a bed of pond weed. I'm fishing around a foot over depth with a no.4 tell tale shot. Fish were about. Despite my earlier mood, which felt like there was a hard edge between me and Mother Nature, I relaxed here with growing certainty. Eventually the hard edges blurred together and mingled like blue ink swirls slowly mixing with water. The nudges didn't matter now I could see them for what they were. I waited and was rewarded with a gently sliding bite on my quill. A lively debate ensued with a 2½lb common, which was more or less rail-roaded by the Avon, despite getting it's nose stuck in the irises. I rebaited and waited some more.

Silent Woman Lake little common carp Silent Woman Lake the other side of the weed Silent Woman Lake little common carp

Another ten minutes ticked by and another sharper bite yielded, after a squabble, a glorious rudd, well over my expectation for the water. Fifteen minutes later another small common, a bit over a pound maybe. This was better - sometimes you just know when you are in the right place. Ten minutes later another rudd, a shade larger perhaps. Wow. Almost night, so I call it a day and head back for a tea with Nempster, who had about eight carp (lost several) and a good few rudd as well. He's sensibly stuck with a size 14 hook and 6lb line, making my 8lb through rig look hawser like...very good session - I realise how little I know about this water - the rudd are a bonus and while not completely amazed, they were almost twice the size of any I'd caught to date. Still no sign of larger fish - some are moving, but none on the hooks. Hmm. Good fruitcake though.

Silent Woman Lake one good rudd Silent Woman Lake little common carp Silent Woman Lake another good rudd

2007 JAA's third year 13th May 2007. Pitman's Pond. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.It has rained most of the weekend and so when the sky clears while walking the dog, it seems almost rude not to throw some hemp in a bait box and the last of the cockles and head off to Pitman's for a few hours. With the wet weather, there is always a good chance I'll have the place to myself and this is how it turns out, when I arrive around 4:30pm. The water seemed to be about right for margin carping and I elect to go for swim three on the basis the place was deserted and the rain was likely to return and carp were rolling here anyway. The lilies have grown since February and this patch is, in my limited experience here, a good bet if you sit quietly.

I tackle up a semi cocking pheasant quill and 8lb line (as I'm by the lilies) with a no.4 'tell-tale' some four inches from the hook and put two cockles on a size 10 'no.7'. I fed some hemp and sat on the unhooking mat and ten minutes later, despite the strong right-to-left drift had a sliding bite and skittered a ½lb rudd onto the bank, somewhat overpowered. Well it's a start. Another bite ten minutes later yields an eel of around ½lb, which resisted well, as eels do and I slide it onto the bank and tweak out the hook and let it slither back the way it had came. I've not bothering with taking notes today, wanting to focus on the fishing, which today is an easy feat. I almost reach for the pen when a carp breaks cover under the other bank, showing dorsal fin and tail top as it noses around in the brown water, mocking me from the far bank. I can wait.

The bait was being stolen off the hook every other cast by busy rudd, too small for my hook, mobbing the bait making the float twitch and skitter. Hard work, until you settle down. I get a sliding bite, which I lean into, only to get a bow wave rolling away from me towards the other bank with its generator. I have another two rudd, a little more than ½lb and then the rain comes back. I trudge back to get coat and brolly and while letting things settle, swap my pheasant float for a small goose quill which has greater buoyancy and put 2 BB's on the trace, one six inches from the hook and another four inches above that to counteract the strong flow and ripple. I swap the hook for a size 8 after the bow wave incident.

I pour a cup of tea. With the prevailing weather's sky hidden from view, the focus abruptly switches to the new float, one of those 'buzz' moments - obediently it bobbed and slid away and I struck up and across, avoiding the brolly and pulling the fish away from the lilies. A 2lb tench battles hard and is then overwhelmed. Tench are never a hardship for me, even if overpowered. I follow this with another rudd and then a further sliding bite turns into a sandbag that dogs about, hard on the bottom. I realise I have one of the larger common carp and I've lost a few of those after these wallowing fights, so I pile on the pressure, get a view of a long body and a full set of scales and winch (well nearly) the fish into the net.

Well I say 'winch', it took five or ten minutes and my arm was aching by the end. Relief. I needn't have worried the hook hold was good. Nice fish, which scaled 11¼lb. Not bad. I debated packing in with the mission accomplished, but the rain had eased so I dropped the brolly and carried on and took another rudd.

Pitman's Pond all tench are good tench Pitman's Pond ...could be Pitman's Pond bug eyed common aka 'Old Lippy'

Then a fast bite turns into a fast mirror carp of 9lb or so that makes it half way across the lake twice, with the brisk wind making the line sing its one note song, but thankfully it doesn't try for the lilies too often. The fishy feeling continues and I take what was to be my last Rudd this evening. The wind drops suddenly and the water acquires a flat calm, notching up the tension. Then a really positive take and this fish fights extraordinarily hard and for a few minutes I think I have another carp. It hugs the bottom despite the Avon and strong line and tries repeatedly for the lily patch. A very hard fighting 3lb tinca is brought grudgingly to the net. I'm surprised at its lack of size (my conclusion today, while jotting, is that it hasn't been caught before). I again debate leaving on a high note, but decide to hang on until 8pm, so I finish off my Earl Grey.

Pitman's Pond a 9lb leather Pitman's Pond very feisty tench Pitman's Pond iris and lilies, spring is sprung

A good decision in the end as the last bite is quickish and I strike on autopilot, thinking 'rudd' and a largish fish bolts into the lilies. I resort to 'last man standing' tactics to retrieve the fish, which means a lot of side pressure and a walk up the left bank. I free the fish, along with several lilies and then we descend into a battle of attrition with the fish trying to hide in the bank under my feet. Netted with one of the lilies, a small leather of around 7-8lb maybe, but heavy with spawn so returned more gently than usual. Job done, I head home for scrambled eggs on toast; free-range eggs, actual butter. I'll wait for a month before returning and let the fish spawn.

Pitman's Ponda smaller leather carp

On Sunday morning I woke early from a dream, which featured fishing. I was in a corner swim in a peg that was in hindsight recognisable as the peg for this evening jaunt. I could only manage to catch a turtle, which I had to release by cutting the trace to stop me getting my fingers snapped. Eventually I got a bait cast to a big carp and getting a good bite, found my rod and reel had changed to a reel of green whipping thread, which broke just as I was thinking I had a chance, as whipping thread is quite strong...OK a bit odd. Not even prescient really. Well it is my website...

2007 JAA's third year 19th May 2007. Highbench. The Bugangler and the 'Crucial' carp.

HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp...
HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp... HighbenchThe Bugangler and the 'crucial' carp...

2007 JAA's third year 25th May 2007. Highbench. The return of the Hatangler

2007 JAA's third year 28th May 2007. Revels. Tricky but pleasant. I like this water, it's tucked around the back of the complex, too far to walk and not very easy when you get there. It's got shallows, a deep end and enough carp to see, but today, not enough to catch. They were there, but whatever I did wasn't the right thing. That happens, nice spot though.

Revels, the 'Pike Lake'Lilies and stuff Revels, the 'Pike Lake'Lilies and stuff Revels, the 'Pike Lake'Lilies and stuff Revels, the 'Pike Lake'Lilies and stuff

2007 JAA's third year 31st May 2007. ...The Bugangler's Fishing Poem

Blue lakes still and calm,
Long reeds point to the sky,      }<('>
Fishes swim gently around,
Skylarks take off and fly.      <')>{

. . . }<(((((º>

Everything calm and still,
Blue sky above my head,      <')>{
Clouds silently drifting by,
No noise, quietness instead.      }<((((º>

By The Bugangler 8¾

. . . . . . }<((((º>

. . . . . . . . . }<((((º>

. . . . . . . . . . . . }<(((((º>

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

2007 JAA's third year 1st June 2007. Revels. Trickier still, but still pleasant.

Revels, the 'Pike Lake' Revels, the 'Pike Lake' Revels, the 'Pike Lake' Revels, the 'Pike Lake'

I nearly had one this time....I sat nearer the shallow end and watched a succession of fish scoot up and down the sun-lit lake, sub-surface but the closest I got to a take, sat scrunched and squelched in the cover from "the tree", was a small skippy thing, crucian-ish, which dolphined towards my float and when the latter bobbled under, I over reacted...of course.

2007 JAA's third year 8th June 2007. Arfleet. Eels. I managed two eels on cockles, wavy lines between me and a blank, distinguished by very large mouths for their modest size. Wide mouthed eels are real predators, feeding on fish, this backs up the stories of large eels in here and I'm wondering about having a go for one another time.

Surrounded as I am by tall grass and rushes, my hearing is tuned to the susurrations surrounding. Stealthy noises are coming from across the water and I watch as the noises and gentle movement of vegetation track the vixen that pokes its head out over the waters edge for an exploratory sniff. I reach for my camera, a short reach, but even that slow movement and the slight whirr of the lens extending cause a sudden retraction. I offer Isaac my next bite for a shot of the fox's head re-emerging. I get neither in the long run and the hunter slinks up the lake in the direction of the hurried ducks, marked only by slight movements in the tall ferns and occasional rustles. I stuck with it as the fishy feeling continued and I saw more carp cruising around that I've previously counted here. I'm certain I missed several fish spooked after a suck on my bait, going by the large swirls and clouds of bubbles.

Arfleet Mills Arfleet Pit, harder than a really hard thing Arfleet Mills Arfleet Pit, harder than a really hard thing

When dusk finally fell, I packed up and moved back out of the secluded corner, with a little more light as a result. Having packed all but my rod, as is my custom, I dropped the bait in a gap in the rushes and stood, not in hope of a fish, but to enjoy the deepening grey and the bats flitting past my head. I look down after a time and see a large light shape coast past in front of my barely visible float. Another big fish, over 20lb for sure. I wait another five minutes with the night birds calling it a day.

2007 JAA's third year 10th June 2007. Breech Pond. Beech Pond. More bream...

Breech Pond Small fry
Breech Pond Breech Pond, bream central Breech Pond Breech Pond, bream central
Breech Pond Breech Pond, bream central Breech Pond Breech Pond, bream central Breech Pond Breech Pond, bream central

...as noted elsewhere, you have to like bream here...and rudd, small, anglers for the amusement of.

2007 JAA's third year 16th June 2007. The Stour, Sturminster Mill. Early, very early. But the first day of the season. It's 4:30am and the Mill is emerging from it's cloak. After some wallowing in the grass we head upstream. I find a good swim, getting there ahead of my brother-in-tackle for the morning, but I'm much less encumbered with tackle. The lilies in my swim are almost a prerequisite and I've got my float rod and the 'pin loaded with 6lb Green Stren, but with a foot of 4lb water-knotted on and below that a foot of green 3lb Maxima. This passes for light gear for JAA...

While putting tackle together, a kingfisher cuts around the bank moving left to right and finding my rod, where previously there was no obstacle, does an aerial pas-de-deux while working out a course of action, then flicks over the rod and on upstream. I take this as a good omen. I see it streaking across the far bank a few minutes later.

Trying the depth at three feet under a pheasant quill, I bag three rudd, two roach and a small chub on four maggots on a '14', before tiring of the fry and checking the real depth, which is more like nine feet. There is a slight flow but I'm in the confluence of two branches of the river and the current passes me further out, curving around my calm patch. I rearrange things and get a largish perch of a bit over ½lb perhaps. Excellent. I get another bite ten minutes after, bob-and-pluck turning into a plunge and a fish of similar weight appears attached, then suddenly it gains weight, the float rod tip arcing down towards the lilies, then everything slackens off. I have lost my hook, the line parted. Odd. Pike maybe?

The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill

For the next 1½ hours I get a steady stream of small perch, roach, rudd and chub, then the swim all but dies. I switch the to a paste pole float for something to do and try worms, corn and maggots in various combinations. The fish appear to have fled with the rising sun, but it's glorious here anyway and I'm well equipped with tea and marmalade sandwiches (well it is breakfast time) and the sun is warming my back. My companion leaves his tackle next to me and slips off to walk his dogs at about 7am. I thinking of laying on three grains of corn on 6lb line - if I'm waiting it might as well be for a larger fish - but with bubbling in the lilies, I think I'll hang on a bit.

At 9:30 (my companion, having stayed up overnight, settled on his sofa for five minutes, woke up two hours later...) we decide that river was off the boil. The three other anglers arranged downstream from the Mill had long since gone according to my companion. I put on a quill and a bunch of worms for one upstream punt for a perch in a hole and first cast, snag a variation of cow parsley. I mutter rude things and pull for a 'retrieve' and the line parts losing the hook and worse, one of my best home made quills vanishes, never to be seen again. Arrgh. We pack up and head back to the mill bridge and I get nearly across the bridge when I see the chub. There were several cavorting in the stream below one of the sluices so I hopped the fence onto the concrete and unship my bag and throw some of the corn left in the tin.

They seem to like that, so I assemble the Avon, put on a piece of peacock quill and a '14', with a grain of corn and flick it over the water. I waited, the last two hours instantly forgotten. My phone buzzes then and in reaching for it I miss the first bite. I rebait and shortly afterward the quill slipped away and I hit a decent chub a bit over a pound and I had to have the net (forgotten in the rush) assembled for me. Still a result and I tried again and missed at least two pulls, before connecting with a second fish, smaller than the first but still ¾lb or so.

The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill The Stour, Sturminster Mill

As the short session went on the fish grow wary and I have to add two yards to my cast for the second fish, to that for the first. By the second fish they've dropped out of sight like chub do. Perhaps within range of a weighted float, but three inches of peacock quill weighs little...I call it a day, the chub dimming the memory of the two long fishless hours previously. A good way to start the season.

2007 JAA's third year 21st June 2007. Baron's Ponds. Two, count them, two 'pb's...OK 1½ then. What I know about these lakes is that the sign for them could be seen on my way to where I happened to be working this week. As 'permission to fish' at the weekend was unlikely, Thursday evening represented a chance to get out; so taking that chance seemed sensible. I called the number and got the impression the water might be over commercial for me, but I was committed. I head for the water at a bit after 5pm and getting there was slightly reassured to see a lot of trees and overhanging branches, always good. The other good thing is that there wasn't a scrap of litter anywhere in the place. There are two ponds, perhaps the lower of the two is an acre, the higher perhaps a tad over twice that.

I opt for the lower pond, no reason, but the corner I choose is the windward corner, furthest from the car park, with a border of scummy wind-drift. Fish cavort as I set up, which an excellent sign. I go for a pole float and a size 14 straight onto 6lb mono and go with the Avon, which makes it sound like a choice, but it's the travelling rod. The water is almost spot on three feet deep, which is the high side of the lake (as opposed to the damn side) so not a surprise. I put in some corn and a grain on the hook and start out catching from the off.

Bites seem slow to develop, with a lot of twitches between the actual float dipping away. I get several roach in the half-pound range, which is nice, then a monster gudgeon, easily my 'pb'. I'm greatly cheered by this, but the only other gudgeon I see falls of the hook later on. I get a solid lump after a bit which turns into this crucian, at least I assume this, although it has a little of the 'goldfish' about it. This is also a 'pb' as I've never caught one quite that big, but I decline to reduce it to a number and leave the scales in the bag. The evening is cool and overcast so I add a sweater to the shirt, but it's pleasant out here.

Baron's Ponds mostly goldfish, maybe some crucian Baron's Ponds Gobio Maximus

I get more good roach and then a very solid fish which I let run and after some drawn out play, a very good roach appears, which might be 1½lb. Another smaller roach follows and a few minutes later a smaller fish, then a very heavy fish that takes some getting in. Before it hoists its dark green colours, it's clearly a tinca. It looks around 4lb or a bit more and its mouth is scarred. I carry on with the roach and after a bit the bites dry up and around 7pm I stick on a pickled cockle (really), which gets an immediate run-away and I get a 2½lb tench. I stick with cockles for another 30 minutes, but not a twitch. I switch back to corn, get one more roach and then the bites vanish, metamorphosing into twitches that never turn into bites. Small things, maybe.

Baron's Ponds roach Baron's Ponds Yetanother tinca Baron's Ponds Yetanother tinca

At 8:30 I give in and move to the 'damn' side of the larger lake for the last hour or so. Sated with fish I am prepared to gamble for the fall of dusk. It's a grey evening and the odd scatter of rain has persisted. I check the depth, around nine feet and overfish six inches with corn, scatter a bit more for luck, sit back from the bank, sink into it and wait.

Carp have been moving in both lakes all evening and to my right, 20 minutes later, a large fish swirls on the top, dark backed, a good 'double'. Another lighter, olive almost, clears the water in the middle, crashing back into the silence, the ripples reaching me a little after, the wash of a passing ship. Seems to be the right place. Other fish suck the vegetation no the far bank. After a bit, bats appear, flying very close to me before swerving to one side. This is nice. I finish my tea, made with hot water blagged from our customer. I watch the water's ebb and flow, caused by a steady breeze running up the lake to where I'm sat, making the surface run. When the breeze drops the water relaxes back in the other direction. I adjust the rod tip to anchor the float against the flow, so my bait isn't edging around the bottom.

I can't shake off the feeling that I'm not alone and keep looking and wanting to look, over my left shoulder, thinking someone is standing in the shadow of the trees, seen perhaps out of the corner of my eye. On one occasion I see a rat hopping off down the path, but nothing else.

Baron's Ponds dusky float Baron's Ponds migraine fishing

Despite merging with the scenery, I get nothing approaching a bite on cockles or corn, until it's too dark to see. Ah well. I pack up deliberately, resisting the temptation to look up the bank into the inky gloom under the trees. The rain starts with grim intentions as I walk to the car, last one out. I'll come back and try the larger lake for a full evening later in the summer.

2007 JAA's third year 30th June 2007. Pitman's. Rain. Oh and some tench... ...and rain. More rain. Sudden cessation of the family so I'm off (in the rain). The plan: park by Peg 3 and fish in the gaps between showers. Peg 2 & 4 are occupied by those even sillier than I. Small fish make the fishing a bu88er so after a bit, I move to Peg 13 and the rain stops on cue. The float still dithers here but not insanely. Good.

The rain returns and I move back under the brolly and miss a sail-away. Oh well. Still, set up dry so all's well. I'm hoping that I don't get a fish right this minute, as I'd get drenched landing it. Peg's 2 & 4 are catching and Peg 2 has had a good lot of tench which is nice to know. Peg 4 has a carp on now, I assume from the stress involved. Bodes well. I listen to the wind gust and the patter of the water and elect to get my coat if I get another break nit he rain. That looks unlikely right now to be fair. Today I have no braid hook length and am using float stops for both the float and a BB (bored through with an 0.8mm turbo-shank). So 6lb line, one knot.

The rain just cranked up a notch and has also got lower in it's angle of attack, the car and coat look a long way off! I wait, but dusk looks a long journey in this. The float dips and slow and solid resistance tells me "common" and I pile on pressure and trick it into the net. Thirty seconds tops, lost too many here. "Old Lippytwice now" is returned looking bemused. If it's not the best common I've caught here it's the identical twinonce of it. "One". I'm fishing four feet from the small patch of lilies on the left here but have trailed the bait this far out to give me chance to keep the fish out, even though this is a dozen stems at most. The rain has paused, tea. Rudd are skipping the float but there are bigger fish about...I get a sharp knock which gets me a bow wave only. It happens. 4:15 now. The rain returns and I lunch on fresh yeasty bread and smoke sausage washed down with more Earl Grey. The other pegs are deserted, they've been here since dawn apparently - my float is never still but I've had no firm bite for 40 minutes and if I get to an hour I'll switch pitch. In the meantime I keep up my hemp and corn trail from the lilies to my bait. I miss a bite at five-past-five and I reduce the length under the float to try to change my luck...[the previous paragraphs are from my written diary, the following from memory]...

Wytch FarmWytch Farm Wytch FarmOld Lippy Wytch FarmWytch Farm Wytch FarmWytch Farm

...I stop writing to concentrate on missing bites. After missing another carp, assumed, as I get a large swirl on striking. I'm missing the point as well, so I switch to a 14 and alternating corn and worms catch about 20 rudd, one every cast until I tire of the game. I switch back to braid and size 10 JHJack Hilton carp hook and try again with cockles. The problem is still there as the small stuff just won't leave them alone. The last dry spell ends and the rain sets in again, this time for the day. I get a subtle sliding bite and my strike brings an eel almost to the bank before it lets go, perhaps ½lb.

Hmmm...I decide to try other baits. Corn has the same trouble; the rudd will not let it settle. I try pepperami, which they can't shift, which is something. I get a bite which turns into a hard fighter which I lose when the hook comes away, the point embedded in pepperami on retrieval. Arrgh. I decide that I should try sandwiches of pepperami and cockles. Still pestered and after a bit I get a large rudd and then a little later lose another carp near the bank, which never feels hooked. Not going well at all. I also have missed several sitter bites and it's clearly a 'no mojo' day. I'm using float stops today, I am sure some of the problems are those being attacked on a "you never know" basis.

I recheck the depth and find out that I'm again too far over depth, which is not going to help. I adjust the float and thinking on, decide I need a bait that is hard enough to resist the little ones and large enough to catch the bigger. If only I had something else...it's a good 30 minutes until I recall the other half of my smoked sausage... I try a cockle between to piece of the meat and a bite after catch a small tench. A start. All tench are good tench. I miss another bite, which I was anticipating; I'm finding myself leaning forward over my rod. Then the float is gone. I must have blinked only and it was gone. Another squabble from a tinca.

Wytch FarmWytch Farm tench Wytch FarmWytch Farm tench Wytch FarmWytch Farm tench Wytch FarmWytch Farm tench carp

Then everything lines up, like a high frequency wave falling into phase with a slower signal, a harmonic. Another miss. I start to think about packing it in, but the rain is an incentive to stay where I am. I persist with the meat and get another small tench. Aha. And then at the last gasp with the rain drumming me into submission I get this mirror which streaks halfway across the water before I get it under control. Well, I've done worse.

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

2007 JAA's third year 5th July 2007. Baron's Ponds. Rain, shortened session and a Wildie (among other things). I return, thinking in terms of targeting the carp I've seen in the top pond. I get here a little after 5pm having already assessed the prevailing wind and setting sun direction. I opt for the corner swim against the damn on the SE end. Someone else had the same plan and after an exchange of greetings, I gather the fish are just coming on. I take the next but one swim and loose feed some corn.

I put on a paste float, two float stops, a drilled BB, another float stop and a drilled no.4 about 4" from the size 8 JHJack Hilton carp hook on 8lb mono right through (no braid here). The water is around five feet deep and I opt for about a rod length out, under the branches to my right. The wind is in my face and flicking the float in takes a couple of goes and I get several bites, during and while I eat my bread-and-dip tea from a well known supermarket. A Kingfisher whips across right to left and settles in a tree out of sight to my right startling a large carp, which still has survival instincts from when it was fry. Never bad to see the King of Fishers.

I hit nothing and after half an hour of edgy but clear bites, I switch to a size 14 hook and a single grain of corn, to see what's up. I stay with 8lb line though and then a thin grey veil of rain patters across my swim. I get an 8oz rudd on the drop first cast. Good oh. I persist and in the next hour take four roach around that weight. My neighbour is catching as well, but what I cannot see. There is a steady procession of carp leaping to my left, some visible, some behind or under tree branches.

None huge, but all welcome. About 6pm with the rain settled well in and the wind strengthening, I get a bite like any other and something rockets 15 yards into the lake, with the reel playing merry music. A battle begins, with a not overly large, but spirited fish. After five minutes, my neighbour comes to see the commotion and I find out he has a tench to his credit. After several determined rushes to the tree on the left and several runs towards the centre, which shorten with passing time, I get a good carp to the net (which conspires to outsmart me by snagging on the bottom). It turns out to be a nice carp, looking fairly like a 'wildie'. Result.

Baron's Ponds A 'wildie'. Well, sort of. 'Feral' perhaps. Baron's Ponds Long lean leather carp

of wind cause five minutes worth of rain at a time to cascade onto my hat, chair and generally speaking, me. Bite indication is getting complicated, as the chop and drift on the water causes the float to slowly rise and fall. Now I'm looking for movements out of phase with waves and wind gusts, as opposed to the tip only dipping.

My neighbour packs up and slips away and I catch a couple more roach, both 8oz or so. A jay, emboldened by the rain perhaps, flits silently into the vacated swim and plunders some left over bait, before spotting me and shrieking, runs for it. At twenty-past-six I promise myself that if I catch another carp I'll leave at 7pm. I get wetter in increments, each cascade off the leaves a greater and further stage of dampness. I get two more 8oz roach, miss a bite or two, then another bite gets a hard run and another battle kicks off. This fish, of similar size, fights with shorter runs and hugs the bottom.

A 'leather' results and having had my request granted by Isaac (presumably), I call it a (wet) day and head to a dry car and eventually a large glass of Shiraz. I chat with a hardy soul by the carpark and his carefully chosen pitch, behind the bole of a large beech, makes his life dryer than mine of late. He's had a couple of carp and while we chat, his bleeper indicates what turns out to be a hybrid crucian of around 3lbs. Whatever it is, it's a fabulous looking fish, tempting me to re-tackle. But I wish him luck and head off. Short and sweet. Home.

2007 JAA's third year 8th July 2007. Silent Woman. Lots of small hungry carp, Nempster, Nempster's uncle and a startled deer. Good day.

Silent Woman Lakes The Lower Silent Woman Lake Silent Woman Lakes Deer me...
VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page) VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace

2007 JAA's third year 1st August 2007. Docklow Lakes, West End Farm, Leominster. A good carp, two scales and failure to catch my share of fish...the river Lugg, besides which we are lodging, being basically flooded, a 1 in 200 year event, I take a half day to trip over to Docklow Pools. There are other places I could go, staying near Leominster, but I went there once in the early eighties and decide to have another look at the place.

When I was there before"I lost", there were two lakes in a field. That was it and a farmhouse. The place has now turned a multi-lake complex with a lot of trees and well made swims, which are well trodden. I'm not sure I like it better, but here we are. I make my way to the far side of Micky lake, on the basic assumption that distance from the busy car park couldn't hurt. As I get further form the cars, I soften my tread and wind up in a swim at the far end of the lake where carp are cruising. I tackle up with corn and meat to tempt the fish. I try a '14' and a single grain of corn and get a bream and a roach and then at about 3:30 I switch back and forth with bait sizes and at 5ish, I try a '16' and small grains and bank a few more roach. A kingfisher plies his trade from the dead tree opposite. I start feeding meat and with a hasty strike causing the tackle to tangle terminally around the rod tip, switch to a small crystal, as the carp were spooking on seeing my float. The water is only two feet deep which doesn't help.

I discover a fellow angler around the corner and it's good to see someone else using a centre-pin. We exchange greetings and talk about the Hardy carp rod he has set up behind his swim. Glass I'd say, but a cracker. I return to fishing meat on an '8' JH'Jack Hilton'. I sit it out for a bit and then around 6pm get a bite that yileds only a huge bow wave . I get a scale on the hook the size of an old 50p piece. It rhymes with 'tugger bit'. I take the scale round to my broom-eye friend and discover he's nabbed a big chub out the swim in the lake behind him. Fair play. With renewed enthusiasm I tackle back up and miss another in the next five minutes.

I carry on, fishing about 8" over-depth and eventually hit this one. It didn't fight that hard and even on 6lb line (shot threaded onto the line, float stops to keep the shot in place) and the Avon, it seemed overpowered. My companion for the evening came to see the the fish, a pretty common in good nick. The kingfisher reappears and head around the corner with a chirp. I carried on but missed at least another two fish, bow waves showing my poor judgement, the sole reward being a further scale at new 50p size. My fisher-in-arms hooked a carp which threw the hook. That hurts.

Docklow Lakes Docklow, old memories Docklow Lakes Docklow, old memories

Dusk rolls in, pigeons cooing, a pair of squirrels hare across the tree behind me. I see my first bat at 8:45, flitting low over the water and steadily more appear until I loose sight of my float at 9:30. The angler round the corner drops by, packing up as well and we chat for while, about the louts-of-litter and how the best of times for fishing is dusk and cannot understand why so many fish only during the late morning to early evening, missing dawn and dusk, not only the best bits of the day but often the best fishing (barring today's self-inflicted incompetence).

I take leave, reluctantly.

2007 JAA's third year 3rd August 2007. The River Lugg, Bodenham. A Chub and membership to the Jam Jar club. As I'd cunningly booked a cottage on the banks of the Lugg I did think I might get some fishing in, but a 100 year event flood meant that on the day we arrived I could have fished on the lawn...and if the water hadn't stopped halfway across in the night we'd have skipped town. By about the middle of the second week the water had subsided enough to have a dart at the river and I spent two short evenings slipping on the muddy banks while trotting worms and maggots and on the second evening I did bag a few minnows and this small chub, which was all I had to show for my great 'Plan A'. Ah well. Some big mink running up and down the far bank though. I did at one point debate fishing in the meadow opposite as when we walked through on the footpath there was very definitely fish moving in the grass. Would have looked a bit odd but still...

The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham The River Lugg at Bodenham

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

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

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

Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey

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

Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey

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

Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey Milton Abbey

2007 JAA's third year 9th August 2007. Baron's Ponds. Another quiet evening, enlivened by tench. I'd stuck myself around on the far bank of the upper pond at around 5:30pm, and for a couple of hours fished about 10 feet out, nabbing a few nice roach to keep me interested.

Baron's Ponds Baron's Ponds, where things patter in the dusk Baron's Ponds Baron's Ponds, where things patter in the dusk Baron's Ponds Baron's Ponds, where things patter in the dusk
Baron's Ponds Baron's Ponds, where things patter in the dusk Baron's Ponds Baron's Ponds, where things patter in the dusk

I saw the bubbles on the inside track and switched my hemp to under the rod tip and then had four nice tench in 80 minutes by which time it was quite dark and I strolled casually along the causeway between the lakes deliberately not looking behind me, then I headed off down the A3 for a large glass of the liquid ruby.

2007 JAA's third year 12th August 2007. Pitman's Pond. A rudd, an eel and an evening sky. Which is all you need some days. A quick session - getting there at 7pm. Peg 3 as Peg 4 is taken. Small stuff and tench bubbles abound, I put two cockles on a JHJack Hilton carp hook size '8', there's a moderate southerly and it's sunny. All rather pleasant.

Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky

At the gate, a five-bar next to a small garden gate, silvered oak both, for some long lost garden, there was a smell of ferns and new brambles and an acapella of crickets vibrating to themselves...one carp has jumped at the far end, I stay here. Peg 13 was occupied by a chap parking up as I arrived, tackling up when I'd unloaded, so I skipped it. Fry jump, good. I move the rod to keep the tip close to the water to stop wind-drift. I overlap my hemp patch with the lilies, a rudd nips off with my cockle. A bite and I hand-line out a lily pad, the bubbles before the bite got me over excited. I put a second BB four inches from the tell-tale BB to stop drift. It works. The small bites go also, faster sinking bait I guess. I wait. A pull too persistent to ignore turns into this pesty eel, which slides back into the water, after dropping off the hook by itself. These also can provide bubbles.

Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky Pitman's Pond The rudd, the eel and the evening sky

I provide a discharge of sea food to keep things interesting but the chop is making it over-tricky to keep bait still, in the lee of the lilies better maybe? A steal of a bite and I pull the hook out of a tench. Pah. My neighbour has a fish, so maybe the tide has turned. I hold the float against the pads, more bubbles. I get one cracking rudd about half an hour later then lose a fish that gets through the few lily pads at the end of the patch before I can take stock. Huh. Oddly the line snapped rather suddenly, Stren Extra Strength green...hm.

...but it was all I needed today...

2007 JAA's third year 19th August 2007. Milton Abbey. Peg 11, no reason. It's grey, windy and I had a 1½lb bronze bream, setting the depth and as it happens, the tone...

Milton Abbey Day-bream Milton Abbey Bream, bream bream... Milton Abbey ...breeee-eeeam...
Milton Abbey ...a ream of bream... Milton Abbey a 'slime' of bream?

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

Milton Abbey Another bream. Yay. Milton Abbey Day-breaming at Milton Abbey
Milton Abbey Day-breaming at Milton Abbey Milton Abbey ..iiiiiii-it's a... bream. Milton Abbey A roach! Hah!

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

2007 JAA's third year 22nd August 2007. Pump Pool (Borden). I decided to try here for a change, an alternative to Barons's Ponds, as a quick look the previous week showed it in a flattering light, especially the smaller of the pools in which I saw a couple of decent commons patrolling the surface.

I rolled up with rain starting, so putting on my boots and hat I took a stroll round the larger pool with my blueberry supper. The only angler fishing was at the rear of the pool and as I got to his swim, I could hear the sound of a reel clutch. He had the rod up and a fish on, which was running and running - the clutch over light and a glance told me the line pointed unwaveringly into a large lily patch and the fish was, well, elsewhere and still running. I watched for a minute and having had experience of offering advice, asked about the depth (four to five feet), wished him luck and moved on. The surroundings are pleasant enough; open heath land and the lake itself has good rush growth and lily patches which is good. Every lily patch I saw had trembling leaves. I picked up a stainless steel knife and a pole float. Swims were marked with concrete slabs and the earth was trodden bare. Carp were moving all around the lake and I bumped into two lads packing up. I asked them about the lakes and they said the larger lake had the larger carp which were easier to catch. I then bumped into a bailiff and he pointed me to several swims on the larger lake and said the carp were generally easy to catch in the margins all around the lake. I took his advice and tried a swim the third one round from the entrance. The water was apparently two or three feet deep.

I threw in corn and carp started turning up, swirling in the dark water under my rod tip. The water was only a shade over two feet and the fish queued. I caught three, all scarred on the mouth from previous encounters. The peat-black water was impenetrable and all three fish were invisible under a foot of water. As the bailiff told me they were good fighters for their size.

Pump Pool, Borden 'one' Pump Pool, Borden 'two' Pump Pool, Borden 'three'

But as it was raining, I went home. Not my kind of fishing. I'll perhaps try the difficult pools if I return, which recent events make unlikely. Technically, three carp. Technically fishing, I suppose.

2007 JAA's third year 24th August 2007. Kimmeridge Bay. This is real fishing - on a picnic to Kimmeridge, one of the advantages of living locally is that you can pop down for a warm quite evening, when most everyone else has gone home. The picnic having been dispatched (food tastes even better by the sea, that by a lake or river) the crab fishing had commenced in earnest and wasn't going well. All three young anglers were baited up with pickled cockles in a bag and not a crab was in sight. You can catch crabs on pepperami, but it's not great and mackerel, which crabs fight to the death over, doesn't travel well. Pickled cockles on the other hand are tough (as old boots) and do not require special storage until you open the jar...

Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening

Blennies by the dozen surrounded the bags in star formation, so rigging a size '14' with a cockle and a small pike pilot float, I whipped out a good few to pop into buckets. There's a fine line between a blenny hanging onto your hook until it's over the bucket and it letting go before then...bye-the-bye, while blennies do not have sharp teeth, they are solid and they have a bite befitting a fish that make a living eating things with calcified shells. I had one with the hook firmly gripped crosswise in its teeth and couldn't get it out, until it let go.

Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect evening

were swelled by the careless fish that had made their way into the crab-fishing-friendly nets. Great fun, great evening.

2007 JAA's third year 25th August 2007. The Webley & Scott Super Avon. I picked this up for £10 in a junk shop Leominster while on holiday (see earlier this month). I wanted a softer rod for those fish that bounce of my Harrison's Avon t/c, especially Frome grayling, so I planned to restore the Webley & Scott for that. It spent the holiday lying a long shelf in the kitchinette of the holiday-let gving me time to contemplate how I might make it a 'user'.

It required quite a bit of 'restoring'...well, half of the rings were rusted and three of which were broken or bent beyond redemption. The female ferrule on the butt section was split, presumably by ramming it into the ground, as the plug of mud was still in there. The bottom end of the butt was mangled as well. I removed the damaged section of cork and shook out the mud. I cleaned the inside up and cut a piece of old carbon roach pole section to fit inside the broken counter, by dropping it through from the butt end.

Having got the right size, I roughed up the bit of pole, cleaned the inside of the counter with very fine emery, put araldite rapid on the inside of the counter with a bit of cane and dropped the pole section through, pulled it home, truing it a few times to smear the epoxy evenly around. I pulled it though enough to open the splits to get glue in them, and then pushed back a tad so they closed up. I then put a small cable tie on the piece of pole to stop it slipping down into the rod, and then used several small cable ties to bind the counter while the epoxy went off.

When the araldite had set, I cut the pole section off flush with the original counter end then shaved off the excess epoxy with a scalpel blade. I made a small cork plug for the counter's hole, glued it in place and cut it off flush with wet scalpel blade. I made a new butt-end with a champagne cork and glued it in. Interestingly, the butt was mostly aluminium tube - I didn't investigate how the tube and the fibre-glass were joined though. Keeping to the green-with-yellow edging whipping scheme and keeping all the logos and lot number intact, I replaced the rings with 'Fuji SICs' and varnished over the new whippings. It'll be interesting to see how it fishes. I wish I'd taken some before-and-after pictures now.

2007 JAA's third year 26th August 2007. Arfleet Lakes. Well I hooked one...I've been fishing for 1½ hours and finally relaxed, dibbled out twenty rudd'n'perch on worm and single grains of corn, 6lb line. A large spade tail, five minutes in made me hold my breath, it moved on, but occasional cloops float across the lake from somewhere close to my pitch. Have the lake to myself, worth the day-ticket Cannonball Run to Corfe this time - Bank Holiday w/end! I've tried hot dog and corn, had a slow take with 'eel' written all over it so have gone back to corn only for now, 6" of 8lb Merlin and a size '8' Jack Hilton, knotless, perhaps use the hair later if eels prove too pesky. First tea of the day. I get a gentle pull while taking a snap, not carp like. I slack line to reset the 'Canal Insert', 2 x no.4 on the float one on the trace, I wait.

In the car earlier, got a 'forgotten something' feeling, I got halfway here, ran through the 'list', aha unhooking mat, 'reeltree' unhooking it is. Float's slid off again, small things, but if they persist...I'll hair a larger bait. Again. Hmm. The sun has dipped below the treeline and this is not the shady spot I had in mind earlier today, bumble bees, plenty here, are dinking off the purple loosestrife and cow parsley heads.

Another dip with no result for it, Bubbles burst, but they tend to be eels so don't get too excited. I suspect there'll many false bites for one carp tonight. Longer hair bigger bait maybe? Swanage trains rattle by in the distance.

Arfleet Mills A migraine inducing shot of the far bank Arfleet Mills The north-end inlet

I'm trying a new trace, the float trembles, making me jump and wait - it then stays where it is. I break out oatcakes as rudd attacked the float on the basis of 'well, you never know'. 5:40pm. Put the fleece on to cover my arms and lob in some pieces of hotdog. The tip dithers and reverses course. The float trembles and dips the length of the tip. Then returns. I get another firm bite that strips the hook. I try a cockle and two grains of corn. The Kingfisher streaks right to left and then after a short while, returns. Good Omens. A carp leaps right in the far corner, as the ripples reach my float it move three inches to the right. It nips under five minutes later, but for nowt. I add sausage to the cockle on the hook. Another carp leaps and a crow caws behind me, the sound tracking the right. 6:15pm, after twenty minutes of bob and dips I switch to a big bit of sausage on the hair. A jay screeches agreement. If I had the juice I'd dribble it under the rod tip. More 85% chocolate and tea. This lake's downside is the rudd, perch and eels, not that I dislike them but to carp fish you need a big solid bait, ('boilies') I should try paste at the next opportunity, bread and hemp, there's still time. Bite, missed, quickish, no predictions, okay. Another quickish bite, no catch. Eels? I check the bait after another tweak, not a mark. The road is now a steady thrum of holidaymakers heading for wherever they came from. A carp jumps five feet to the right of my float, heart in mouth. Feeding and heading down, hand on rod...a few trembles and three bubbles between the float and...and then it was gone...

Arfleet Mills The float and the sneaky gap in the reeds Arfleet Mills The narrow south-end outlet and the evening sun

The fish charges straight out, weighty, but I turned it, then it canted hard right and so side-strain on to keep control - the end of the lake is a mire of broken wood - and the line broke right on the swivel. Gutted. Twice in two sessions, same line "Stren Extra Strength Green". I re-tie and test the mono knot hard. It holds. Bu88er. It's tempting to give up when this happens. But you may get the next one and all will be well. Nah. With the swim under curfew I strip the 8lb and put on 10lb, better. Stren in the bin, back to Maxima or "Stren Original". 7:20pm.

Very unhappy. To a non-angler this desolation is a mystery, to us free-rangers who consider two bites in a session is good, it's a disaster. The lake is quiet now, no leaping fish. No tweeks. Spoke too soon, a carp rises under the far bank. 7:30pm. Something's afoot. 7:40pm, I'm certain, 'bob', kingfisher goes s-t-pstarboard-to-port, 'chip', check line is not around reel handles, a slow dip, I pull in thinking 'eel'. Nothing. Too slow, recast. The breeze freshens, the onshore sea breeze of the cooling land. Last of the tea. Some bubbles and a twitch, hand on rod. I get a bite that was most un-carpy, but in response a carp leaps at the other end, twice, thrice. I shorten the hair by tying two knots in it. Knock, check bait, good. Breezier now. A distant rolling toll calls the faithful to evensong and a rabbit bounds out of the undergrowth behind me, no warning at all, making me jump. A bite and I overreact with the heart pumping from the lepus surprise. New baits. Pigeons clattering into roost and the massed twittering of martins overhead. Dusk, there are dozens of martins up there following some thermal of insects. The first owl, blackbirds roost, the skittering of small furry things in the undergrowth. 8:20pm a good time for a bite. A carp leaps in the middle of the lake, it not over yet and I hook the line over my finger...

[This was the penultimate time I ever used an 'anti-eject' rig.]

2007 JAA's third year 27th August 2007. Breech Pond. Slow day at Bream Central. So I took arty pictures. OK then, 'pictures'... alone in the house it's a short step to fishing so I've taken the left-over bait to peg 17 and trying out a 'new' Avon rod. Peg 16 was terribly inviting as you can see, but after an hour for one rudd which took a worm on the drop, I opted for a slider and switched from 4lb to 6lb with silkworm water knotted on (no real reason)...a carp angler opposite me has cast 50 yards to the island, that water cannot be more than two or three feet deep, perhaps more of an evening pitch? The only visible carp has just jumped to my left behind the bushes. I'll try for him one day. Coffee, need to be home by 2pm. There are clouds of water boatmen in the shade; you'd think the rudd would be after them. The float is half-cocked, laying on against a no.6 shot, which if lifted would all but sink the float.

Breech Pond A board level shot of the rod and float. Worked quite well. Breech Pond Looking south across the pond Breech Pond Towards the east end

I'll switch corn for cockles at 11:15am, carper has a fish on, 'rod 2', no bleep, not huge, but one more than I have. He loses his fish, a pity. Float rig no. 2, then lulled by the peace of the shade I miss a bite. 11:00am...

Breech Pond The 'Kingpin' with Webley & Scott Super Avon Breech Pond A board level shot of the east end Breech Pond The lonely bream

Coffee and 85% chocolate, very nearly a 'Class C' drug. It's one that doesn't give you mental health problems at least. I have a feeling a fish is imminent...one day I'm going to throw hemp under the overhanging bush and fish a big bit of sausage over the hemp. Cockle on the hook, a knock on the chop. Another and a re-casting, of course there are eels...a few ripples from the breeze give the float an interesting aspect, but that's all. I miss a sitter. Bother. Missed a few more knocks on cockles, a couple quite hittable, coffee. 11:45pm. A lot of dithering just got me a ¾lb bronzie. A start, miss another, so many twitches, so switch to a 4lb bottom and a 16 fine wire, worth a try. This nabs an 8oz rudd 'on the drop' and another bronzie about ½lb on the next cast. A snippet of cockle and a corn skin gets one more at 2:15am, another bronzie, ¾lb and switch to a long paste float. Of all things, two hares have just loped past in the woods behind me. Extraordinary. A kingfisher takes up station on the island and I take the tell-tale shot off the line and the twitches go. So do the bites. I have to go at 3pm and on cue I get a slow bite, which I, of course, miss.

2007 JAA's third year 31st August 2007. River Stour at Fiddleford. A decent perch and gudgeon, praise be...I've brought the recently restored Webley & Scott Super Avon rod - it required another 'test-fish', as the previous trip to Breech Pond yielded little to test it with...

I headed for Fiddleford as it's close to the office and although it was cloudy today, even dark enough to suggest rain once or twice, nothing came of it. It's spot of great beauty even when fish-less, hopefully not the case today. Bob had slipped down to join me for a bit in a non-fishing capacity and the company is always pleasant.

I started fishing on the weir pool itself, as I could and while it's not always the best place I persisted with maggots and a bobber well past the point where three-inch daces and the occasional roach satisfied. I'd gone with 4lb line through and a size 14, but I bent that on a rock and switched to a 16 on a water knotted trace of 3lb maxima, which helped hit the bites. An interesting turn of events followed when returning one such dace. A large bristly perch materialised out of the water under the sill and harried the dace into a gap in the stones, where it wisely stayed. The perch, despite wedging itself into the gap in the rocks, eventually slunk off back to it's ambush spot and I put on three good red maggots and a worm tail and first drop got a plunged bite and a lively tussle with the perch seeking the strong flow several times before eventually and grudgingly being netted. A bit over 1lb and a fine start - sadly none of it's school mates were available to follow. Naturally this occurred five minutes after Bob went on.

Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddelford perch Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddleford Mill Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddleford Mill chub

The main flow was a little over strong to fish directly and the side flow was back towards me in a series of whirls and I discovered that the fast bites right after casting were small dace as mentioned and the easier to hit bites after the bait settled were small roach of a few ounces. I tired of this in the end and head off downstream, where the river leaves the weir pool. On the gravel run where the water leaves was a shoal of roach, which was interesting and for a few minutes I trotted the narrow channel downstream of this, yielding a couple more fingerling dace.

I tried a few trots and skipped off a small dace and then gave in and put on a light stick, with the bottom stem shortened. I then caught several dace, then a small chub, ½lb perhaps. I then latched into some gudgeon and relaxed into this most fun of things catching at least a dozen, before the fun palled.

Several hours had now passed, so I wondered around the pool to where an angler with three cane rods was perched and exchanged information about his cane rods, besides which my 30 year old glass Avon seemed a little ordinary. We did the ritual comparison of quill floats. Honour satisfied, he latched into a big chub while I was there, 5¼lb at the net. Well worth the detour, a fabulous fish.

I wondered off upstream for a bit, with a couple more small dace, then returned to the pool, fishing the side of the weir stream for the pool edge, which necessitated a change of float to give casting range. I'm not sure how long I fished here, but got into a rhythm casting and following the fractal path of the float along the edge of the stream towards the weir and then back down the main stream. I tried maggots which yielded several roach to 4oz and many small dace. I swapped to corn and for 45 minutes had not a twitch. I discovered my arm was tiring, it's a fine rod, but heavy to hold for several hours. I pulled inshore for a long neglected cup of tea and discovered gudgeon here as well, smaller and after a refreshing cup or two, went though another dozen gudgeon or so before calling it a day.

Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddelford and gobbies Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddleford mill gudgeon Fiddleford Mill, The Stour Fiddleford mill gonks

I enjoyed that - but I think I might have enjoyed it more if I'd had a loaf of bread...

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

2007 JAA's third year 2nd September 2007. Milton Abbey. The Hatangler and a small carp.

Milton Abbey Hatanglers and carps Milton Abbey Hatanglers and carps Milton Abbey Hatanglers and carps

2007 JAA's third year 9th September 2007. Pitman's Pond. One of those days... A Glorious September day, a few clouds, a warm breeze and peg 12 is taken so I head for peg 20 after a full recce and thoughts of peg 13. Landed by a lily patch, some solitude and fish moving, crickets are non-stop, the man on peg 12 has a 10lb common as I walk back for my gear and back to my chosen pitch. Hemp and meat, a fish cloops opposite me and taking a picture I miss a take, tentative, on ¾" of hair rig and a piece of sausage under a quill which is now twitching and lies flat after. I wait and listen to the chirping of potential bait. Another tic from the pheasant float, only ten minutes in after all...

I miss a take, adjust the tell-tale, it's deeper here, (a little) and the water is like cocoa, my float should be thin, slender at best, but if I miss several I'll change tack. 10lb mono, 8lb 'Merlin', another carp flips a little over half the way across. My third try, shorter hair and smaller bait. Miss another and I'll move it back to regular hooking however pleasant the weather. Another miss...slow reaction playing with the camera. Ha. 4:50pm. One resident buzzard is making a terrific noise, another hour of frustration with aborted takes and panic swirls and a final tackle change. I ought to have three or four fish by now I switch to 8lb, a size 7, a canal crystal, do it the old fashioned way, hair a piece of hot dog and a piece of corn. I wait. The suns gone, another angler's turned up, peered in swims 16 and 17 and gone again.

Pitman's Pond 'pressured fish' my ar5e... Pitman's Pond 'pressured fish' my ar5e...

The sun, set, has muted the crickets, it's fallen oddly quiet. The float still twitches, that means little. Plenty of bubbles and movement, with the unmistakable lunge of predators from time to time. I speculate on large rudd. Didn't think there were perch in here, I struggle to recall catching one. I relax a bit and the float dips and stops. Hm. I get a sliding bite a 5-6lb fish which after a few moments kites right and throws the hook. I'm not convinced it wasn't foul hooked but still, one more go with the hair then I give in, cup of tea and walk and a thinner piece of meat. Another spooked take at 7pm. Still nothing to show and if I'd hooked everything I'd have had a score of fish it feels like. Might as well fish corn on the hook for all the difference it's made using 'anti-eject'. Ah well, a fair try and honesty, seeing how the fish are so twitchy I'm not sure I care for it.

Despite the use of 'anti-eject' rigs for a couple of hours, the fish were so twitchy following several consecutive Saturday matches, they were, nigh on impossible to catch and after a couple of hours of seeing the surface boil from the bolt, I called time on both the 'anti-eject', permanently and the water itself for the time being.'Pressured fish' is a self-deceiving euphemism for fish which have been hammered by greedy anglers.

The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page) Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream Thymallus Thymallusgrayling The Lady of the StreamThe Lady of the Stream Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus The Lady of the Streamgrayling Thymallus ThymallusThymallus Thymallus

2007 JAA's third year 13th March 2007. 'The buzz'

I've already discussed the sudden certaintly that a fish will strike. This seems at its strongest for carp but I've felt the same for crucians, roach, tench and bream.

It only happens when you are completely relaxed, if the myriad inconsequential worries of life get on top, the buzz won't come.

But when it comes, the world shrinks to the small area around the float and there is the faintest shimmer or buzz. The best description I can muster is; it's a concoction of the slight dizziness you epxerience from standing up too quickly and the distant thrum of the honey-bees that, for a few years, nested in our chimney.

It's weird, you just know.

Then you're angling.

just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

2007 JAA's third year 15th September 2007. River Stour, Hammoon. A proper chub, some smaller chub, a few roach and a good sunset. The bridge is in part a weir and the pool is inviting and unusual, although bypassed for two swims on the next major bend where I took a perch, four dace and two roach - the weir-pool appealed though and would draw me back. Even so, I linger and have a perch of 3oz first cast and several tiny dace, then a few fiveinch roach from an eyrie four feet up the bank. I'm after the small chub that flick the bread I throw, so move under a willow and take a dace and roach on bread flake on a '14'. I walk another 100 yards but the loop back on the river funnels the roar of weir pool and back I go...'Tis a good spot with a large eddy in front, I stick with a '14' with maggots, get dace and a chub of about 1lb. Bread gets a few dace and a few more roach. Heh. I catch more dace, roach and two more chub about the same size as the first one and keep switching between maggots and bread. I lose another chub in the tail of the pool.

River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chubbing River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chubbing River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chubbing
River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chubbing River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chubbing

Tea break. I'm using the Webley & Scott Avon, weighty, being glass and my fingers tingle a bit, relieved of the load. The fish seem to be following the sun, I switch to a size '10', trot to the tail of the pool and let the float run up under the bank towards and as the float stumbles, strike and something bores and exercises the old glass Avon hard. I'm thinking barbel but then I get a big brassy flank and it's exactly 5lb on the scales (it my diary it says: 7lb 2oz in the net. The scale reads '-5oz', so weight with net is 7/7, less 2/7 for the net head. Spot on). Bonus. Next cast after a piccy and with slightly shaking hands, get a 1½lb chub to add to it. One last tea and another session then I'm going to head off - river fishing, unlike lake fishing, seems to have a 'time out' - I can sit all day by a pool but four hours on a river and I've had enough usually. 6:15pm.

River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon - 5lb of chub, 'on the nose' River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chub River Stour, Hamoon Hamoon chub

The weir noise makes things harder, the senses are bombarded, perhaps the cause of a natural end here, more quickly than lake-side. The last run with maggots yields a 3oz roach and a dace. Just in time for the setting sun. Perfect.

2007 JAA's third year 28th September 2007. Milton Ponds. Carp, carp, F1. This looked nice on the webpage but of course the pictures were taken in high summer before it was trammelled - in the event a disappointing fishery with all the hall-marks of the worst sort of commercial water - I opted to fish the middle lake as far as I could get from the small resident crowd and using the W&SThe restored Webley & Scott Avon rod float fished bread flake on a pole float and 6lb line and managed a decent carp which was held hard in small space, it's not a bad rod it turns out and a smattering of roach and bream and one crucian lookalike, that was more goldfish than anything else. The Other One turned up midway and fished around the bank in an area that looked freshly dug and caught things on meat. I don't really recall what.

Milton Ponds Milton Ponds carp Milton Ponds Mostly goldfish

The B&B was odd, the landlady faded, if ever siren like and giving to walking around in a dishevelled state of unconscious undress, which would have been endearing in Marilyn Monroe, considerably less so in Miss Havisham. Breakfast was OK though.

2007 JAA's third year 29th September 2007. Pimlico Farm Ponds. Grump, carp and tench. So, here we are then after the traditional desperately passive 'trying not to make a decision as it's easier to bitch about it afterwards' game that I got bored with quite quickly. There are three ponds here, the top lake looked like a hole in a field and the middle more interesting, with trees and lilies and such, so we tried the top end for a bit, not unpleasant in the warm sun. There were plenty of small perch and roach to play with but it was only 18" deep...so we decamped to the 'dam' end and got there ahead of a kind of mini rush which saw half a dozen other anglers turn up and clatter about. I opted for the now almost traditional 'Four piece Harrison's Avon and Centre pin' and fishing slightly to my right toward a tree'd corner with an eddy of fallen leaves, fluked a carp and a tench on flake and then two more tench on cockles. Himself caught things, I think, but as he got increasingly snippy and bad tempered, I lost patience and when he deigned to have had enough, I endorsed this heartily and fished on by myself to dusk. It gets on one's nerves and as a 'game of soldiers' has little intrinsic value and I care nothing for it.

Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds
Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds
Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds Pimlico Farm Ponds

More odd landlady stuff (hint, leathery skin, short dressing gowns and staircases do not a settled breakfast make), I had breakfast, shook hands and bu88ered off to Gold Oak for some peaceful fishing without 'attitude'.

2007 JAA's third year 30th September 2007. Gold Oak Ponds. Carp & tench. Singular.

Almost on my way home. This looks pretty, leafy with lilies (always good) and although looking well used is litter free, if muddy. I've planted myself aside a patch of lilies on a platform (which I hate) and baited up the area and after a few bonks on the corn, opt for twenty minutes feeding a carp in the lilies and then will I opt for a crust on the hook, but then ten minutes in get a 'sail-away' bite and a very tough fight on 6lb line, ten minutes of additional doggedness yields a 9lb mirror. The carp in the lilies is back but my float remains unimpressed. The water is a good five feet deep here which is nice, I'll try a cockle for a bit before switching to a more sensitive float and a '16' and try 'fishing for bites'.

There is a party of two dads with assorted children at the end of the lake, with some beginners among them there are periodic cries of "got one" ...can you recall your first fish and how it felt?

It's all very pleasant and quiet. Another missed opportunity as the float dips and comes right back up. Hmm.

A worm'n'cockle yields a gagging one ounce perch. No change there then. Maybe I'll try bread again...I use the same worm and get another. Heh. Bread gives me bites I can't hit, the gentlest of nudges, back to corn. Most restful...a very gentle bite on corn, very small fish I think. The learning party has moved on although I cannot tell whether they've headed for home or one of the lower lakes. I can't hear them for sure, but I can hear the excited "I've got one, I've got one..." in my mind yet. A woodpecker silhouettes on the dead tree across the water and a carp sucks loudly at something under the far bank. The sun returns and the insects' hum starts up like a tape recorder winding up into life.

Gold Oak PondsGold Oak Gold Oak PondsGold Oak Gold Oak PondsGold Oak Gold Oak PondsGold Oak

I wait, still. The float twitches, a nudge only. Again., I make a bait box holder for the rod, bring the butt into easy reach for a lolling hand. Two hours up. Hot dog as well as corn on the hook got barely a nudge, then a big bite which I miss. OK. Two more perch on worm. I hemp up the area and switch to size '10' with two cockles. Might as well, two carp are stationed in the pads now and a 15lb fish has rolled in the middle. See if I can get its head down. More (Mc)coffee for the wait, 15:00pm. One hour to go, I've discovered (the owner calls around for the money) this pond is 30 years older the others, there are seven ponds in all. As I can see only three, this is interesting. Kingfisher has gone by, one of a pair, the other apparently a pile of blue feathers according to the owner. There are chub in the bottom pond and tench in the very small weedy pond just below this one. Sticky clay but I like it here. A nice winter water I expect. Tension in the air now, a tench has showed itself under the pads after the bread lying there, unusually. Float bobbled a bit but all the wrong frequencies, another tweak but with the right sort this time a strike at last but not right, too fast. Bubbles again for ten minutes, smaller ones leading to a take which ran off as the rod pulled way. Drat. One more last cast to go. "The buzzless common for tench..." suggested a fish was coming, a tench it was. Off home...

How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers? ?(and back to the top of the page) How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...? How can you not like perch bobbers...?How can you not like perch bobbers...?

2007 JAA's third year 6th October 2007. Spin reel, spin.

The dusk mists that rise and trickle down the Winterborne valley are finally running this evening, it's now 11:30pm and I'm sitting here with a glass of Shiraz and the 'pin on an old solid glass butt section, as I needed to strip the 6lb line off and rewind it. Honest.

I'd put it on in a hurry and the bulk of the line was piled in a hump in the middle of the spool. So I pulled it all off, glossed loops dropped on the floor, now devoid of dogs and children. It catches the light, false spider's web. With the line evenly re-laid for tomorrow's dabble, I idly flick the reel, watch Johnny Depp with a headless horseman and time the spool's run-down at 2 minutes 15 seconds. I spin it again and the slight air current made by the handles fans my face and I let my thumb touch the rim, a feather, no more, the gentlest of whispers.

And there, unfurling in front of my mind's eye was the autumn Frome, the frost-edged breeze in my face and the line gently pulled off the reel by a running float...

2007 JAA's third year 7th October 2007. Silent Woman Lake. Pike 'trouble' and a couple of fair carp - one of which came after dark.

Silent Woman Lakes Silent Woman Silent Woman Lakes Silent Woman Silent Woman Lakes That's a monster one
Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman

2007 JAA's third year 14th October 2007. Silent Woman. No pike, but some nice carp, all in a bunch at the end. And dirt bikes farting all afternoon in the next field. Lovely. I've been here since 1:30pm and have just managed, in the weeds near the gate, to extract a plump carp (it's gone 5pm now). There is motocross going on next door which is not exactly improving the stillness here. After several hours of nothing, with signs of pike I had tied on a quill and wire trace and the first cast with it gets a (pike) rise at the float like a porpoise. For a moment I think I have my fish but not to be. I persist with the size 4 and the 25lb wire for a bit longer and get a sliding bite on the far side of the reed bed that I assume is a pike but it's a common of 6lb or so, but the hook pulls, probably as it was never in properly - well 'BB Denys Watkins-Pitchford aka 'BB', the author of "Confessions of a Carp Fisher"' caught them on wire...

I start putting bread around the float to attract the rudd, in turn to attract the pike. Despite my float vanishing in various ways along with several promising lunges I get nothing so try some bottom fishing with worms under a 'spectre' just for fun...maybe the pike won't see the float...I feed the near swim anyway. Amazing. I get a 'run' and get a 4lb common. Rebait and recast, seconds later get a dark mirror of the same size, which I have to play 'fly fashion' as the spindle pulls out of my 3500GTe Shimano. Pah. You'd think that wire traces would stop you catching 'em...

Silent Woman Lakes Silent Woman Silent Woman Lakes Silent Woman Silent Woman Lakes Silent Woman

Back on the 'pin but further out...debate a heavier float and rifle through the box and miss a run. Bugger. More tea. The air temp. has dropped to 17°C in the last hour, the water is keeping at a constant 16.9°C more or less as it was when I got here. Sun now low and but lighting this end...bob-dip-bob and a better fish that heads out and circles right so I skip it across the weeds and right into the net, OK, not usually how it's done.

Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman Silent Woman LakesSilent Woman

Right then. The bikes have quit, "it's nice when it stops". More tea then waiting ensues. Calm descends like a settling bed spread. I remind myself the fish here are fairly wild more or less and simple is usually best. The float tweaks and here is number five, 6-7lb at the net maybe. Very decent but slow and it takes my five minutes to net after getting the fish in front of me, all slow lunges and wallowing. I extend the net handle three feet with one hand and trick it in the end. No. 'Six' is a 3lb common, promised more on the first run, miss a bite while trying to get hooks out of tub in the box. The next cast gets a large rudd, so switch to a size '8', the air has dropped to 3°C less than the water, a squirrel squawks alarm in the distance. Not a classic dusk sound, a perch bite next unless I miss-guess. Another bob and then a perfect bubble, tension mounts, more bubbles, check reel, hand on rod. Nothing happens for several minutes. Now I think about it, not seen a carp for a bit.

There were flaunting most of the afternoon in the weed both sides of the lake. Last cup of tea, a few more bubbles, last squeak out of the flask and check bait. 6pm, start to pack, enough today, even with dusk still only partly on the way.

2007 JAA's third year 28th October 2007. Just Trying to be Quiet. I've noticed a thread among some angling writers , that for some, angling has been a strong support during interesting times. I'm included. It's funny how things turn out (everyone says that but nobody laughs).

About five years ago I experienced what some call a "life changing event". Leaving out the details, it was one of those things that knocks you for six at the time. Then you think you're over it. But you're not. Grim (I'm fond of the word 'grim' - for me it's onomatopoeic). This coincided with a malicious redundancy (have you noticed when folk say "it's just business" it's almost always personal?). I was left with, shall we say, a certain amount of residual anger lashing around in my head. Like a live high voltage cable in a high wind. Not a good thing, especially for those nearby.

Eventually, I did what many have done in troubled circumstances. I got my hibernating rod out of its corner and went fishing. By a quiet Dorset lake on a bitter, grey, near-zero January day, four hours fishing in weak-tea coloured water brought to land a dozen roach, on or around the 1lb mark. Not a big deal, a fish every twenty minutes, but the pleasure it brought me held back the demons. Serendipitously, oddly, the in-parallel change of career allowed me to throw a lot of time into a website for a local cause, more of the current earthed, while achieving something worthwhile. It all helped and I picked up my rod more often and eased back into some sort of normality. With my new web design skills I started scribbling in the anonymity of the virtual world, letting off some steam on how angling had changed since I'd last fished in earnest. More stored charge drained away. It all helped.

When you're stuck on a cliff, there really is only one way to climb and that's up. I say this with some authority, as the younger version of me was winched of a cliff in Cyprus by the regular 'WhirlwindIt's a helicopter from the olden days. This one was bright yellow.' coastal patrol of the base. I received, shall we say, 'a firm lesson' on the perils and consequences of diddling about on cliffs that have long drops onto sharp rocks. I spent the next month in mortal fear of my parents finding out. If they did, they never said. So as I said, upwards is the only option, however painful and slow. Angling has been a firm support for me in the last few years and I've enjoyed Waterlog and its forum and a made a new friend or two, all of which remind me that there is plenty to enjoy and that 'being there' is the point. Eventually the mind quietens. Then, at the end of this fingertip scramble, unbidden, although not entirely unsought, is a return to the work I thought I'd left for good (accepting I have to work at all), with enough of the best aspects of previous employments rolled into one.

All this makes it sound like the fishing rod was my only salvation. Chaucer was not far wrong with: "What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing." (For some reason I thought Izaak Walton said this, but I stand corrected by 'google'.) I bet Izaak knew it though. 'Permission to fish', freely given is worth more than money. Does this mean fishing is now off the menu? I don't think so! I may have a little less time to fish in the next few years, but with a new appreciation, I'll take my opportunities more gratefully. I may even buy that piece of cane. Now, when I say 'may'...

Ocala, Florida. October 28th 2007

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2007 JAA's third year 10th November 2007. Eastmoors. I'm in the North corner, one arm of a horseshoe shaped lake on a cool day that's not as cold as I first thought, but with a head-full of cold that's not surprising. It's 9.5°C in the water and 15°C out. The swim has pads with a few late flowers. Twenty minutes in at 1pm, chocolate and tea. The water very weedy, 5ft deep and I'm 8" over that with corn on a size '6' on 8lb braid. I'll swap it for a cockle after an hour. My cold is jet-lag induced and fresh air won't do any harm.

There's a channel on this side of the lake which is presumably the old stream's course, which now feeds in at the end of this arm and out at the base of the "U" of the horseshoe. The depth drops off 3ft to 5ft about a rod-length out, the edge of the channel marked by the edge of lily pads and weed beds. If I get no touch at all in the two hours, I'll try the temperature around the lake and see if the water's warmer elsewhere.

I've heard the gate squeak and a quad bike but so far all Tod Sloane. I've taken six inches of the depth and put on cockles, corn having not so much as twitched. I'll give it a bit longer then take a recce with the thermometer. Gate again and I lean back into the wind. The money has been taken and I elect to wait 20 minutes after the owner leaves as a leaving body is often followed with a take.

Nothing comes to pass - but I learned from the not too chatty owner that he put 200 yearling carp in 12 months ago and the lake's original stock has carp (various sorts) and tench. He doesn't fish himself though. It's not feeling very fishy here, on reflection. A tree rat scuffles in the leaves across the water and then to confound me the float looks more interesting - it's lower in the water since I adjusted the depth and the ripples keep it moving all the time, but even so...

Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn

Blue sky overhead and muffled 12-bores shot in the distance and autumn colours. Not a bad day to be out, even with the breeze having hints of frost to come. I set off for a recce and check the temperature all round the lake and get barely a tenth of a degree difference all around the lake. The bottom end is clearer and there might be more colour in the arm of the horseshoe opposite me. It's in the face of the wind though and a shade of grey in the water isn't enough to get me sit in the sharp teeth.

On my stroll I found two cracking Fly Agaric. These are not so common (and not to be touched) but are at once suggestive of older times and are things of great beauty. Not a sign of a fish anywhere. Cockles again with a grain of corn. Six inches back on the depth and I pour more tea. I wait. I have worms and bread to try yet. I watch a Blue Tit pick it's way along a branch on the opposite bank, hunkered against the wind. A crow calls in the distance, one of my favourite sounds. Today feels like an old fashioned Autumn session, where just one fish would be good!

A little sun has lit my float up but it would still look better sinking. A few bubbles had appeared to my left which are now gone - I didn't see them arrive and I thought I heard a small cloop from the far bank. This has my attention but I can't pinpoint it. Drat, but promising. 3:30 and the air temp is down to 11°C. A crow has hopped down through the tree opposite and is rootling in the leaves which is unusual. It won't pose for a snap though. A Great Tit is foraging in the alder I'm under, but still no sign of a fish above or below. At 3:45 I switch to bread and flick pellets around the float and now there's bread on the hook. An actual fish went past - a real bow wave, but I didn't see the maker. There's been water devils about all day (which I sometimes like to think are the ghosts of long departed fish, free of the water's weight and indulging themselves..) but this was not one of those.

Then a bit later a fish may have nosed a leaf, causing widening rings in the calm spot on the far side of the lilies. Frenetic. New bait in ten minutes will see me through to dusk. I can hear a jay advertising it's roost, which is nice. Some more loose hemp and bread pills. The air and the water temperature have converged at 9.5°C. Clear sky, going to be cold later.

Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn Eastmoors in Autumn

Last ditch. 4:40pm. might be some movement but it's hard to tell - blackbirds are chipping their way to bed. There's always a chance. In the space of five minutes a couple of small fish rise symmetrically to my left and right. I seldom express it, but today had the feel of a still blank from the get-go. I've been wrong before. Not this time though.

2007 JAA's third year 24th November 2007. River Frome. Another Blank. Windy too.

Cold...hard to cast, 1½hrs fishing for grayling, so when I get a massive tangle with numb hands, give in a bit, put on a fly-spoon on a size 4 hook with a big bunch of worms to try for a pike. I spent some time running the float around this very cool eddy, nothing happened but in a nice and roughly circular way. Fishing seems fractured, bitty even, today. This happens.

Holmbridge, the River Frome The Frome, high, windy Holmbridge, the River Frome The Frome, high, windy

Coffee, before heading downstream to see if E. LuciusThat's 'Mr' Esox Lucius to you. is holed up under the undercut bank or in the weed bed over the river (just downstream from the Holme). I also have some excellent rubber sand-eels and try one, paternoster'd in the flow and I lean back and watch the rod tip from under a hooded brow and relax, in comfort for a while. I quietly resolve to catch pike this winter and to a snaffle a few Stour gudgeon for bait, 'when time allows'...that old problem. No pike, homewards then.

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2007 JAA's third year 1st December 2007. Pitmans. Pretty. Technically not a blank.

Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion...
Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... It rained. Of course it did. Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion...
Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion... Wytch Farm, witchy on occasion...

2007 JAA's third year 9th December 2007. Eastmoors. Flooded, wet and another Blank. 'SRS'Straight Rod Syndrome'. Strictly speaking this is not contagious, although it's just as well not to take any chances.' returns. But was it fun? Yep, oddly, I really enjoyed the day.

Eastmoors under waterFlooded Eastmoors, why would you fish in that? Eastmoors under waterFlooded Eastmoors, why would you fish in that? Eastmoors under waterFlooded Eastmoors, why would you fish in that? Eastmoors under waterFlooded Eastmoors, why would you fish in that?

2007 JAA's third year 22nd December 2007. Revels. Hard cold fishing, but good fun. The Nempster and I froze, caught many small things and I wheedled this carp out from the margin on pinch of bread and an old fibre-glass Webley & Scott Avon rod coupled with a Shimano 4000, an odd mix, but it worked well.

Revels Revels, cold cold cold... Revels Revels, cold cold cold... Revels Revels, cold cold cold...

We had the north wind in our faces, fished until sunset and only had 'slight exposure' at the end, but in a good way.

2007 JAA's third year 29th December 2007. Sweethedges Farm, Uppingham. Good winter day's fraternal fishing. A fine day at Sweethedges with the brother, a clear sunny day which started creakingly cold, warmed, cooled, rained in the order. Between us we did well on maggots catching small stuff on fine tackle to start with. After two gonks and a roach I switch to a 6lb rig and put a size 10 on a second rod. I alternate corn and worms and after an hour switch to bread. I miss a bite, get a 2lb bream and bro., switches to bread as well, bumps one off, as do I, then he took a 5lb mirror.

Sweethedges, Rutland Sweethedges, Rutland, winter Sweethedges, Rutland Sweethedges, Rutland, winter

The bites die away, I amuse myself by feeding the birds and we take a bacon sandwich. What's not to like? I diddle maggots into a gap in the reeds and in 40 minutes of fishing halfway down, get a score of fish, perch, roach, gudgeon, one of the roach almost 6oz. Woo. I jest, it was huge fun. The wind switches around SW to SE at about 2:30pm, chippy and damp now, fingers stiffening weather, kingfisher speeds past. We follow. Good day, plenty of fish, good company, good weather.

Sweethedges, RutlandSweethedges, Rutland, winter Sweethedges, RutlandSweethedges, Rutland, winter Sweethedges, RutlandSweethedges, Rutland, winter Sweethedges, RutlandSweethedges, Rutland, winter

...no snippy snappy grumpy git stuff. Nice surprise. Wasn't patronised much either.

2007 JAA's third year 30th December 2007. Barton's Court. Two dusky hours and one dusky 11lb common.

This was a pit stop on the way home and despite it being December-cold the sun was out and I'd rather angle than not. I went right around the back, in a swim behind one of the islands. I wanted to do this as in the first place it felt right for a fish, the open south bank didn't make me feel at all sure and secondly there were encampments on the other side of this back water...I've swapped the 8lb for 10lb on the 'pin as this is not so far from the place of the events recorded hereDrat, drat and double drat. 2:40pm. As yesterday, I regret my lack of hat-brim as the low sun angles into my eyes despite my eastern aspect.

A crow quill, 1x'BB' on the bed and 18" over depth. There's six or seven feet of water, a rod length out at most. Bread on a size '6', hemp and corn scattered. I've scared off a big rat, which scooted, so fish the next swim for a bit, until a 3oz lead thopped into the water the other side of the tree. I move back...today chasing after a moment in time and even then, the low sun and a distant plane nearly do it.

I know that six feet of water and four feet of bank make me invisible to any fish on the deck and there's already dibble of hemp oil puckering the surface. There's 'bleepersBleeping bleepers...' and radios over the way, but there nowhere else is handily placed two-third of the way home, except possibly Bishop's Green but that's another half an hour of non-fishing time down the road and I'm only going to get a couple of hours anyway with 4:30pm midwinter dusk. My expectation is kind of a blank but after a warm couple of days you never know. More coffee, the trees opposite are festively decorated with tackle, a happy Christmas to a boat owner. I'm always amazed how high up some of the stuff is. It's not like the trees are hard to see...The Costa Brothers' legal buzz kicks in and I wait...storm clouds threatened for a few minutes and after a flurry of droplets the weather and I settled down and watched a woodpecker scurrys about and knock on wood opposite and at one point a hare loped along the bank towards me, but scuttled before I could get the camera on her.

Barton's Court the float in the bole Barton's Court Might chuck it down. Might not. Barton's Court the bole in the sky - spot the Yaffle

Yesterday was a good day's fishing, midwinter helped by a dryish week and a little rain to colour the water. Although the temperature is dipping, I've bet on here as it's a largish body of water and will respond more slowly, than e.g. Bishop's Green or Pimlico (both on the way). Fish are rising and there are one or two suspicious ripples under the left bank. Other anglers report bites and if bream are feeding the carp will be. Even with 10lb line the Four-PieceFour piece Harrison's Avon seems kind of frail in this space. A chicken wanders past. Odd. Only lack of leaves and the low angle of the sun mark today different from early autumn.

I make some bread pellets and flick them off my knee. It doesn't yet feel as if there are carp in the swim, but I resolve to check the bread at 3:45pm. Bread-on-the-hook has a shelf life longer than one might think (with no tiddlers), 45 minutes is still a good check-point. A few hemp-dimples meet with the knee'd off bread trail that leads into the bushes opposite. A big rat watches from behind bramble-bars but declines to pose for a mug-shot, slipping back below bank leaves. I debate a bullet, but decide it's only earning a living, whatever we think of them. Besides a 'miss' would have spooked the fish...

Anticipation ensues, bread's gone at 3:30pm so rig up a popped up crust without complete confidence, it's hard to get right and needs an extra 'AAA' to sink it, I'll give this to 4pm then switch to corn or hard flake. More coffee, peace is creeping up behind me driving the anglers on the other bank away in bits-and-bobs, or so it seems. Bait is going in the water, boxes are knocked out. The piker is packing too. The still air has silvered the lake-top and I've always preferred a chop on the water for piking. No idea why but speculate the underside of the water reflects too true giving prey an even break and the pike skulk waiting for easier pickings. Or not.

Barton's Court ...and waited Barton's Court hare-less Barton's Court setting the scene Barton's Court ...and dusk

I hope, unkindly, for Mr. Radio to bu88er off soon. Big carp swirl in front of me. Oho. Twenty yards out but near enough. 3:45pm. My fingers say it's getting colder, going home time for Mr. Radio. Yippee. There is tiny but sure dimpling of the float. Maybe fish are finally about. Bait check. Slowly. My crust was there, but I put on two bits of corn and another big bit of flake, pinched around the shank and settle back into the best time. Packing up continues, fish know what departing footsteps mean. I'm not very keen on sky-lining clumpers but when they go it's worth paying extra attention. Roosting noises now from the blackbird, the robin and inevitable toff-chickens. Doesn't feel like a blank even now. Some days do right away, not this one. Fish are topping, small stuff and long tailed tits 'chip-chip' past me on their way to bed. Mr. Radio slogs away with more fishing stuff than I own. I've camped with less. Check the check, just me and the birds and the float dithers making me jump and so steal my hand down to the rod, even though I suspect surface activity not a bite. There is tension now. More chickens roosting. A field fare dives in to the bush opposite, blackbird like, 'chak-chak' and presumably nods off. The tension had ebbed, now it flows back with the smallest of dips. More long tailed chickens. A trick of the light, a small fish blip. A moorhen roosting, even their harsh shriek softened by the LTCLong tailed chicken, aka, toff-chicken, aka pheasants's clacking about. The tension pulls the float under, once, twice, hovers under and I lift hard into a good fish which bores left toward the trees, without running hard, hold it firm, switching the rod tip about and after five minutes perhaps, confuse and tire it into the net, played out even in the cold water. 11lb 6oz. NOT a blank. Result. I try for last fish, it seems right...

Ah now, some fish are so much sweeter than others. I recast, not expecting a thing, but enjoying the deepening grey and the memory of the fish I'd put back.

Barton's Court yes, I can really see that Barton's Court ...flying winter's colours

It never occurred to me I wouldn't catch one.

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05:36pm on 2017-12-17 JAA