JAA's Fishing Diary 2008

If some of this reads a bit off-kilter, then that's because some was back-filled from memory in 2010...and then again from scratchy old diaries in 2014. Some of the diary entries are recorded here verbatim (if I could read them) and I was obviously once compelled to record every little thing that happened for long periods of time, it's kind of interesting for me, but also kind of repetitive and probably a bit dull to the casual reader.

It's extraordinary how fast things change. When I wrote this page 'real time' in 2008, it was generally reckoned that any picture on web page needs to be 30kB or less and the page file size need to be under 100kB for any kind of decent loading speed. So, originally, most of the pictures were simply hyper-linked from the text to improve loading performance. This makes it a dull old page and by 2016, it made no difference really if all the in-page pictures were 70kB. So this page, like some of the others, is gradually becoming more 'front of house' illustrated, 'WICBAWhen I Can Be Hedgehogged' - it's a technical web-design term'.

KingfisherJAA's Diary for...

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Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

2008  5th January 2008. Revels. Nemp and myself decided to hit the commercial for a bit of fun and with a North wind right in our mushes wherever we went, we opted for the top of Desperation Lake with some laughable idea we might be out of the wind. Clearly the cold air had addled our brains. Nevertheless as we were already having fun we tackled up and fished against the far bank, Nemp with maggot and I went for a pinch of bread, no reason. I recall Nemp had a few bits and bobs but I lucked out and had three scarred carp and a skimmer that all hacked at a pinch of bread on a size 10, ignoring my 6lb braid hook-length.

Revels Revels, winter Revels Revels, winter
Revels Revels, winter Revels Revels, winter Revels Revels, winter

Yep, sensitive tackle again. When we got so cold we couldn't move much and when Sir Ranulph Fiennes went past pulling a sledge, we took the hint and ambled around to the end of the canal section where we could eventually feel our fingers, although that may have been sensory deprivation kicking it....Nemp got a couple of decent stripey's out form under a bush and I pretended to miss bites for an hour. Well, I say pretended. Ok, the zinc/copper alloy Simians were in the market for spot welding, but really good fun in a "We'll be glad when we stop having fun" kind of way.

2008  10th January 2008. Round Pond. It was decidedly odd, that the first customer trip out after the 'life changing event', the next week in fact, was to a 'hopeful', possibly grant-hunting, development idea not 400 yards from my old home in Hazlemere. Very strange. I looped back past Round Pond on the way back, not that it was really, but the pull of the familiar, doncha know? When I lived up the road from the pond there wasn't a "No Fishing" sign, I caught quite a few smallish roach and rudd, stunted tiddlers like most old ponds. This is the natural state of most unmanaged waters, and those were winkled out of winter-dark afternoons in the Christmas break. Pretty though...

Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath
Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath Round Pond, Cobham Heath

Slightly dodgy pictures, it was drizzling and the lens and rangefinder got wet-spotted and I didn't notice that until I'd got home.

2008  12th January 2008. Milton Abbey. Whatever was going through my mind when I thought "I know, I'll go to Milton Abbey", it was certainly not sound logic...still, never mind. I took a rebuilt Webley & Scott Avon along for the heck of it - a clear, bright (if parky) day with the waters' colours and everything else glowing in the sun. I've had worse.

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

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

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

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

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

2008  13th January 2008. No reason...

Tackle Box Some stuff for fishing with - and the odd server - the desk's ephemera

2008  17th January 2008. Milton Abbey. More fish for the glass Webley and Scott. Back in 'light rain'. Tea, bread and Peg 5 as it has colour (and Peg's 12 & 13 are taken). I have some coffee infused chocolate as well. It's OK I guess. I've rigged 4lb braid to 6lb mono on the W&SWebley and Scott Avon and a size 14 with some worms as an entreé. 14:00pm, at 14:30pm will try hemp paste. I've sat behind the platform to lower my profile and the birds are already back, among them a blackbird and the uber-cautious jay behind. I like this peg, always done OK here, but today will be hard, but may get a nibble. The float antenna is fully visible, self-cocked and a no.4 would sink it. It's laying on a little to give no resistance to the fish until they are happy. That's the plan anyway, fishing 20 feet to my left in the middle of the channel. Bubbles. A lot of ground clearance this winter, it look a bit much, but I know come the spring it'll look just fine.

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

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

P.S. No pictures, no idea why.

2008  31st January 2008. Chapman 500. An auction-site bargain with one loose ferrule (middle). £60 and straight as the proverbial arrow. There was ferrule knock, the female on the middle section was loose on the cane, the glue having given up the ghost. I eased the brass off, cleaned it and the cane up, put a few turn of thread on the cane to center the ferrule on the cane and then used epoxy-resin to re-set it. All good.

I replaced the rings with Fuji SICs and used the ring spacing for the CH550, which entailed adding an extra ring to the rod. I removed the old rings and all the other whippings, removed any loose varnish then used thinned yatch varnish to seal the edges of the old varnish and any other cracks and then put a couple of careful coats over the top of the repiared sections to 'level' the varnish up. I left it as it was after that, waterproof and sound and whipped the new rings in the appriate places, using a dark bottle-green thread and gave each whipping a light green border. How does it fish though, this is what I want to know.

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

2008  8th February 2008. Revels. The 'Match Lake'. Sitting at the windward side on the sun, there's five feet of water and for half an hour I dibbed for perch, after twenty minutes of 'loitering with inspect'. I get half-a-dozen or so in the ½oz range which lined up the day, then revert to the baited pitch with bread on the hook, taking chocolate and lying in the sun. If nothing happens I'll move to the lake behind me as one of the swims called to me as I went past. A smart angler would have chucked in some bait. After yesterday's internment, this is a much needed stretch, fish would be a bonus. I've got a 1g self-cocking paste float laid on against the breeze, 6lb line, 4lb braid and a size '14', four inches over depth and a 'no. 4' tell-tale. If the bread does badly then I'll try paste made with hemp as a bit is left over from two weeks back. I put down the rod and wait in the sun. This lake is under fished due to the walk and is used for summer matches. There are large bream and a good head of carp but neither visible today so far.

The water's cold, 7.6°C , a bit chilly. I'm on the sunny and windy side, so it will warm but perhaps not the best day even on a put-and-take pool. The day promises unbroken sun until dusk though and the pull of this sunshine competes with the darker chillier corner swim in the 'Pike Lake' below. A few small fish have jumped and nothing else has shown. A tree creeper or two whirr about the trees behind me and a yellowhammer is about the place. On some lakes, one maggot might be a tactic, but with the small perch, you'd be on the busy side here...a lull in the wind made the float move in an interesting way and a small fish jumps out in the middle. Swap to plain bread, 12:45pm, the wind swings SE to SW maybe, the water is warming a couple of tenths of a degree, 7.9°C. I go for a bit of a wander and apart from bagging a small float nowhere looks or feels any different. Tea's not the greatest, jasmine and lemon doesn't really work. Put up second rod three grains of corn. Will dib for perch on the other rod. 2:10pm, 8.1°C, yet more perch. The wind dies and a butterfly, of all things, wobbles past. I eat a slice of best white bread and drink tea...

Which is where the notebook ends...and there are no pictures.

2008  23rd February 2008. Milton Abbey. I name this rod...finally having made my Chapman 500 useable, the plan was to fish lightishly for any old thing to see how the rod felt. I alternated maggots, cockles, the odd maggot and threw hemp to pass the time between cups of coffee and pie. Not 'cups of pie' obviously, that would be silly. So...

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

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

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

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

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

A small carp circles the float, clockwise, then ambles into the middle with an air of feigned indifference. A jack pike, 1lb or so, surfaces five yards out and glides off. Bail-arm check, 2pm. Magpie behind me, distant, complains. The local hunt passes by on the other side of the valley and I re-bait and ground-bait. 12:25pm. Suspect the mass of hooves will put the fish down for thirty minutes, so lean back and have a square of chocolate. Distant horns, View Halloo 3  "Right, let's get the little red ba$tard."
*Ahem* "It's more usual Your Majesty, to cry, 'View Halloo'."
"Ah. Quite. Jolly Good. View Halloo. Right, now let's get the little red ba$tard"
and all that stuff. Very quiet but still the odd fish moving. Time to try cockles...

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

Milton Abbey Milton Abbey, winter Milton Abbey Milton Abbey, winter
Milton Abbey Milton Abbey, winter Milton Abbey Milton Abbey, winter Milton Abbey Milton Abbey, winter

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

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

2008  10th March 2008. Breach Pond. To be fair, a bit crackers. Peg 2, south-west end, stormy, blustery, matt, wind on my back. Fishing in ten feet of water, ten feet from the bank, I prefer the platform at the east end, but not withstanding the wind in one's mush on this occasion, the two-three foot chop on the water, gathered up by the eind and hurled down the length of the lake would have made it a very damp session, the breakers washing up over the platform and the bank - never mind a certain amount of difficulty in casting - at all. So, 4lb braid, and a plastic self-cocker with a long antennae, perhaps 4-5" over depth with corn on a '14' Kamasan, scattered hemp and corn loose feed, a new can opened as the frozen in the bucket is soft, hard to hook. Again. I toyed with the idea of Pitman's but it's flat ground and the wind is in the 40mph range. Rivers are flooded, In short here or Revels and preferring here, even with the shorter odds of a fish.

a welter of driving, booth assembly, long days on my feet talking with customers, prospects, suspects and actual, beers, food, bed, 7am up again, five times in a row, disassembly, loading, driving home, Sunday 'only just' am arrival...phew. A 'Wheeler-Feynman perchOne of those perch' day if ever there was one. Coffee and oat cakes.

Breach Pond, East Creech Breach Pond, East Creech Breach Pond, East Creech Breach Pond, East Creech Breach Pond, East Creech Breach Pond, East Creech

The float has dipped a couple of times and a large fish rose 20 yards off form the far bank. Hope springs...Nemp arrives with a chair to watch and/or laugh while I spend about three hours sitting in the blast and despite it, scratching out a score or so of small perch and rudd, all of which pecked at a couple of maggots. Really enjoyed myself.

2008  13th March 2008. Reasons to Use a Float

I'm a float tart. That is to say, I find floats hard to resist. Consequently, I have well over a hundred but no idea why or indeed what some of them are for. At least thirty are splayed in an old tankard atop a bookcase and at least another thirty are foundlings. In use, I recycle a few sorts and don't even use all the ones in the tackle-box, never mind the ones in my 'collection'. Sure, let's call it a collection.

For instance, one season I used insert-loaded crystals almost exclusively, which seemed like a good idea at the time. There was a spell of using pole floats with a carp rod for margin work. No reason. For the last three months I've angled almost exclusively with porcupine and goose quill floats of my own making. The sibling however, prefers to ledger, all other things being equal, and sat in identical and adjacent swims with the same conditions he'll ledger and I'll float-fish. He's a philstine of course.

I consider there are actually four principle reasons for using a float assuming that 'separating float tarts from their cash' does not count as a real reason, so here are the first three:

Everyone knows about the first two, although I've seen anglers clearly aware of (1) and not (2)...

(3) is why some use a float, but is that really all there is to it? The bobbin, tin foil or (whisper it) bleeper does the same thing, viz. letting one know there is a bite. Unless you're hair-rigged for self-hooking, then you're finding out you've missed it or hooked it already. Bad luck/well done.

There's more to it than just bite indication though and for me it's about focus and boundaries.

Floats generally move about a lot more than we give them credit for, even in still water. The water moves around a good bit as well and we are interested in the area above the bait. The float keeps us focussed on that. When things are truffling the float wibbles and dithers, often too slightly for us to notice in a conscious way, but the subconscious sees all and can tell something's afoot.

Sadly for 'Id', it only has the voice of a cotton-wool gagged otter, so can manage only a muffled "squeak", so all we get is a hint that a bite is coming without knowing exactly why. It might be the float moved out of sync with the passing wave front, perhaps it's leaning ever so slightly against the wind, maybe that the water around your float has gone a tad smoother, as something riffles the oil out of your hemp or luncheon meat. Likewise the slight curve on a crow quill is no bad thing. It'll tend to curve away from the wind - and when it isn't, it might just be more interesting to look at...

You'll not spot these things on your bleeper or if you're not looking for any reason. The float keeps your gaze where it needs to be.

Then there's the boundary thing. Mankind has long had a fascination for water and we've been chucking stuff (and some less fortunate folk) into water for a long time and there is some evidence that water was once seen as a boundary between two worlds. Certainly none of us really know what it's like living beneath the surface. Even if you don a tank and wet-suit, you're still breathing air. You can't feel sounds and subtle differences in temperature as the inhabitants do. It's a mystery still and from this side of the frontier, it's like looking at something on the far side of a frosted window - if you are up close you can see through pin holes of clear resolution and from a distance a vague overall picture, but never both at once.

A lake I know will go absolutely gin clear in winter-cold, when the fish stop feeding. The clear spring-water feed keeps it that way and then I'll take a whole afternoon to walk around, fixated on the never normally seen detail under the surface - subtle ledges, variations and clear trails in the leaf litter laid out on the bottom showing where the fish regularly pass. Those trails change little year to year and those small ledges in otherwise uniform patches of the bottom, perhaps etched by the same fish in successive years, give you better results come the spring even if they are nearer the bank than you thought would be best. It would be too good to be true for all waters to have that one clear-water day each year. A brief freshly-wiped window into the world below.

The rest of the time, the water's surface is a gateway into an existence we get glimpses and flashes of, through the shimmered looking glass. It connects the piscator to the elegant and mysterious world below. A keyhole though which we spy, with our float, in the hope of seeing something we otherwise would or should not.

This sense of mystery is why I and the similarly afflicted like deep waters better than the shallows. You can hide bigger monsters in the opaque depths. Knowing you have 15 feet of water under your feet generates more awe than 15 inches. It's why the saucer shaped commercial fisheries do not work for some of us. No depth, no variation, known stock, no enigma to unravel.

On a trip to Oxford with my family, we took lunch behind the botanical gardens, where a thread of the Cherwell curls around a corner on its way to Old Father Thames. Water in channels will run straight and true (for a bit - subject to chaos), but as soon as you get curves in the course, the water zig-zags, coursing from one bank to the other as the bends hurl the current back and forth, like passengers in a rollercoaster. The river was in spate and the water on the bank nearest us was a writhing muddy snake, spiralling as the water rebounded off the opposite bank from the last curve, before rebounding again by my feet, twisting up from the bottom and over by the bank, off the next curve and downstream. Opposite me was a small oasis of smooth stewed-tea coloured calm, sliding under a small overhanging bush and I watched that rolling glass table-top while eating a pasty, imagining a grayling-bobber skittering under the bush for an imagined chub. That image stayed, fixed, until on the point of sleep that evening, I imagined the cast and float gliding towards and under the bush and the bob and plunge pulling me through the surface, down into sleep...

The bob, that sudden dip and dart under the water, or even better, the slow but deliberate down-and-sideways slide of the float, is a moment quite on a par with the frisson from that moment in the evening when your companion lets you know you don't have to go home, when 'maybe' turns into 'yes'.

The float's movement is a thrown switch, the pulse of electricity on the line connecting you to the other rod-length distant world, normally only sensed. Then there is the pull of the possible monster on the other end. In that instant it could be anything, Grendel's mother even, still yet seeking revenge for her son.

This brings us to the fourth reason for using a float:

(4) It provides a way through the liminal place between this world and a more interesting and mysterious one.

2008  16th March 2008. Milton Abbey. The return of the chopstick fishing rod. "The Jammy Bender" earned a second trip to Milton Abbey. Peg 11 after going home for the landing net... LN  I hate it when that happens...did try Peg 7 well to one side. It didn't feel right so I moved to Peg 11 and there are fish here as W-- said. Plenty of colour. More carp and roach have been added as well which might be nice. I've got a cockle on a long point '14' and a 3×no.4 crystal with a long tip, faux wind-beater with 2×no.4 on the float itself and one on the 4lb silkworm bottom. Ten minutes in, grey day, it rained until 12pm but fresh now if wet round about. I'll try the cockle for thirty minutes then hemp paste. May go to 6lb braid as well, I'll see for now. Float's a little low in the water, which is at 10.3°C Warm enough for fish. Coffee. I debate hook size for the 6lb braid, '10', '12'? Smaller baits? I wait...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008  24th March 2008. Milton Abbey Popped out for a late afternoon dart at them, but I wouldn't call it a blank exactly. The water is at 10.3°C at 1pm. I'm plonked in Peg 11, Nemp has come by for a chat and at 5pm he goes on. The water is down to 9.9°C by 6pm. Maybe had a bite on paste. Maybe. Otherwise despite the fishing abounding (visible at least) it's oddly quiet, feels all wrong. The north-west wind doesn't help.

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

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

OK then, I blanked. Dammit.

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...

2008  13th April 2008. Chapman 550. Today my Chapman 550 blank arrived in the post. It's clean, unvarnished and a quick exchange of emails with 'John' established the guides are to wrapped on the same side as the ferrule punch-marks. OK then.

2008  21st April 2008. Milton Abbey. The water is a balmy 13.3°C. Two other anglers here, unusually, an east wind but warm, so occupying the east bank - atypical of me. Cloudy. Two rods today, the Avon, 6lb line and a waggler five yards out with worms plus the '550Chapman 550 to you' with 10lb, twenty yards out with a prawn. Some activity on the rear float, distant and too low in the water. Adjustment time. I tweak the prawn to see if the float rises. It doesn't. A lull in the wind over my left shoulder evens the latte coloured water. Woodland birdsong. I wait.

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

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

2008  26th April 2008. Arfleet Mills. The old pit, 5:30pm. Sunny, warm, calm, two rods. Large paste float on the carp rod, 10lb mono/8lb braid. On the Webley & Scott Avon worm 6lb/4lb fish around but nothing yet. Carp jumped opposite already and one in the corner on my right. There is a crow at the end of the lake sitting. I put corn on the 'light' rod, one grain. More hemp and birdsong. There's a patch of bubbles ten yards out to the left, I check the anti-reverse on the '66. It's on. Stuff rustles. Two pole floats, a 1g paste float self-cocking by my own hand 2" clear of the water two feet laying on bread-and-hemp 'cos of eels. Squawky jay over the way (is there any other sort?), I have tea and Lindt, and fish cockles for a bit, but they'll attract eels as well. A perfect April evening needing only the gentle sink of the float to complete it. Bubbles on the right between me and my pole float. It would be ironic to hook a carp on the Avon (but not ideal). Jay again, moan moan moan. Fishy...cup'o'tea would be good. Check paste at 6:30pm...paste float twitches.

Fish tops by the other float, brackets it, and moves on. Float bobs and a big swirl to the far left. OK then. I've never gone this long without a small fish here. Might try a cockle next. The small float pushed to the right by the breeze, suddenly dips. And stops. Line bite I suspect. More rustling on my left. A wren in the reeds edges closer. I debate fishing a worm high in the water and casting at rises. The wren bounces of the carp rod. Tea. More Tea. I get the tiniest tweak on a cockle fished a foot down. (bread failed). I go back to the bottom on the Avon and risk the eels. Still a nice evening for it. Another big dark cream bellied fish splashed at the far end. The cockle float dithers and I put my hand on the rod. It stops of course. If it does it again it's coming in (eels, I'm sure of it).

Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........ Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........ Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........ Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........ Arfleet MillsArfleet the first of a run of zerossssss........

It's gone tense with a big swirl to the right and the small float has twitched. Check paste soon, cockle dithered and stopped. A start. Something will happen soon. Rod down. A carp just surfaced a foot away and bolted sinking the float on the Avon. Hm. Ill check my bait...An odd bite on the paste fires me up but I hit nothing. I reset twice to get the float how I want. Don't feel I missed a fish but you never know. Might try paste on the Avon as cockles are not getting anything. Hemp time. More tea. A slider would be useful here, must knock one up.

Something nudged through the reeds at my feet and then later rippled out to my left. Fish nearer the edge maybe? I've bought both baits into the margins, fishing paste as that's my only real bite so far. A few pills of paste and hemp go in and I wait. Risky on the W&S Avon? The floats are flat in front of me, one three foot to me left, the other six feet to my right. Tea. On a whim I put the Avon back out with corn. No reason. Something squeaks and skitters past my feet. A fish swirls on the right, they're about for sure. I might simplify, one rod and put bait by the bank. Think about free-lining the paste and look for the foil. OK, the foil is on. A worm on the Avon. I wait. Might have to get some lead core, handy for free-lining close in. I tweak the line off the Avon and flick the paste almost over the lake. I put a cockle on the Avon and then get a real bite which I miss in surprise. 16.9°C water.

8:20pm I drop the probe two feet down. 16.5°C. Amazing difference, I must check that. The Avon will come down in a bit...dusk, still a good chance . Maybe plain bread on the freel-ine right under the tip for the last hour. Cockle or corns then? Penultimate tea. Roosting songs echo in the trees and the distant puff of the train. Good even without fish. Which was just as well.

...and that's it for the April Fool...

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

2008  1st May 2008. Milton Abbey. More tincas, more bamboo. Quiet, 10:30am, warm and sultry today, the weed has just drifted left-to-right across my once clear swim, bu88er. The pole float has sunk but is visible. Not a fish has moved since I arrived but the water is a balmy 11.7°C, warm enough despite the cool days and rain. Foil rigged paste to the right under the tree with a few inches of lead-core to sink the line and give casting weight. The float is lost now, not in a good way. Coffee. There are stones in the foil ring to counter the light breeze but no rustling as yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008  2nd May 2008. Arfleet.

Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills... Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills...

2008  4th May 2008. Arfleet. South corner, back pit, mini crystal waggler and a size '6' adorned with pasta, macaroni to be specific. I've aligned myself at an angle to the bank, the rod (the '550Chapman 550) pointing into the corner, laying on in eight feet, perhaps two of them over depth, one foot of that 'leadcore' for weight and to keep the line against the sloping bed. It's 5:10pm, 15.7°C (water), two others were here, one floater fishing, both gone on, one generously giving up the swim I coveted. I find a bit of G&B chocolate, finish it, drink tea and wait.

Fish are gently rising but are chary of the floaters (dog biccies) not taking the hooked one however hard my neighbour tries. The breeze rustles the new leaves, light green, and drifts bits into my corner. The floater man goes on. Good (no offense, but I like the place to myself). Carp are rising this end. All down the lake carp are public spiritedly clearing up the floaters left by the departing duo. I fancy a bait over the water just short of the reed bed there, a long flip for a light float set eight feet up the line. Slider or free line? Next time perhaps. The float flicks but it's indolently set and this is a one fingered gesture to the wind only. 5:30pm. If nothing by 7:30pm then freeline and hold the rod up and bait up over the water as well.

I'm drawn here. The last four carp attempts have yielded a hook pull, a break, a blank, rudd, perch and four missed bites. Drawn back to gaze in to the depths, like the brown eyes of an enigmatic woman. It remains to be seen whether I prosper here tonight or indeed any other. Tempted to try pump air into a slug on the surface. The ground is covered here which makes then good for a try. Float is interesting now. A big cloop from the middle, perhaps halfway down the lake. I add a libation of hemp and corn using a low held boilie 'pault, to avoid waving my arms around like a loon. A bumbler wobbles past, sunlight streaks through the trees and the wood break into birdsong. A jay breaks the peace into shards.

The float dips twice sharply which gets my attention but is small fish on the float. I re-bait my paste, put more offerings into the far bank swim with the twatapault. Having disturbed the peace I pour tea. Why does tea in the flask taste of coffee and vice versa? How does it do that? (The Hatangler knew at once. hat  "It tastes of both, but you don't notice when one when the other is in the flask" he said after the briefest of pauses. Bright lad.)  I wait. 6:10pm, 15.7°C. Rod on knee, miss a bite, get a scale as consolation. Ok then. Did and gone, no preamble, like Friday. Rod in hand it is then. 6:25pm 15.8°C. Five minutes later another fast take (I assume). Options? Cockles, free-line? Both? Hm. Another fast one missed. I rig a big maize bait with paste behind it. Rod across the knees again. A prowler visits en route to the other old pond, aiming for for eels pchr  Some would say he's a local poacher of ill repute, Some might even call him 'Don', a notorious poacher of eels and occasional potter of EA bailiffs. ...either way, he didn't see me until he was on top of me, that made him start. Heh. Kind of him to let me know his plans...spooked my swim though I expect. Cockles on the hook? Corn on the hook, dip and travel, no fish no paste. 15.8°C 7:10pm. Free-line I think. I try paste with a grain of maize and get a couple of trembles. I put four cockles on the hair after another fast bite on the paste. I'm going to take the lead core off and put the trace straight on the moon and add a BB. The old ways are the best and so on. More tea and Lindt. 7:45pm, still 15.8°C. 8:10, lead core off, 'number one' basic over fishing rig with paste. Why not, nothing else is working.

At 9pm I'll free-line, at 8:30pm there's another fluttering flirt. Nothing to show, I put corn on the hook with a blob of paste. Getting desperate, still 15.8°C. I think it's back to basics and a bigger bait for the very chary fish. Meat perhaps...sunset.

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2008  8th May 2008. Arfleet. I actually caught one, but for the old scratchy diary, I'd never have recalled how...too many planes and airports this month. Back with hemp, hemp-paste and sweet-corn, same spot. No sooner here than a passing visitor, so all spooked despite a line bite knock. They'll not nibble the corn off. I'll try two takes and then risk the dreaded hair. It's warm and sunny (again a cool breeze filtering through the trees, 6:40pm might have had a bite. A drifting branch and the breeze conspire to sink the float. But a sudden submergence had me striking, no bait left, recast. Tea. Lindt 90%. It occurs to me under my feet might work as well. Cockles as well. At least two carp, one dark common one ghost have materialised in front of me without a sound or a ripple. Plenty of bubbling but it's a gassy lake and one can read too much into that. A tweak, hard to shake off the feeling that these are not real bites.

Still, time will tell. Baiting the near swim as well now. Another ghost drifts by my float, I put a hand slowly on the rod. Might try bread next, another pull for nothing. Bait being ejected I think, a smaller ghost carp sweeps past my float radiating indifference. OK, two misses, one on the drop, so I beat up with five fat corn grains, next I'll go for 8lb, size '14' and one grain...of course nothing happens, then bites and bubbles gone by at 7:30.pm. Appropriately 'the margin', the pole float it is then. 7:45pm I strike at a bobbing float, all wrong again. Should have left it. Another pull no fish even on a hair, nothing I can hit. Nuts. I must just be bad at this.

Fish or work, but not both. 8:05pm I switch to a pole float four feet out, 18" over depth but laid down the slope of the bed. Convenience rather than expectation to be honest. If I can't hit 'em I might as well fish simple and enjoy the evening. I miss a bite even as I write...I hit my second bite get a dogged lump that bores hard for a good five minutes and giving me time to consider how nice cane can feel in the right situation, but then eased into the net is 10¼lb of perfect dark common. A start, the water it turned to stewed milky tea by the struggle. I celebrate with tea and Lindt. 8:35pm. That'll do.

Arfleet MillsFinally, one of the Arfleet common carp

2008  14th May 2008. East of Omaha. Ten-to-midnight on Wednesday when I pull into the M27 services, as five minutes previously the "Italian for coffee" from Terminal 2 had worn off and I prefer to be wide awake when I get home, rather than the alternative.

The car park is eerie, deserted, but I get my fix and stand in the middle of the park with the soft south west wind blowing in my face and drink half the coffee, relax and put the yellow lamps at the far end out of focus. I'm almost at the end of a welter of six hundred miles of driving, five short-haul flights and half a dozen discussions on workings and fine details of networks, OFDM and communications, all of which started at 3am Monday. Boarding my last flight tonight, I looked down the plane to see a row of dark suits on one side only, like the black pawns on a board. All trying to be the most important, all the same as a result. Not for the first time I'm glad not to wear the pin-stripes.

I draw in a long breath, shut my eyes and fill in the space in front of me with black water, ruffled by the warm wind. The eyelid-filtered flash of headlights, still on their way home, becomes the gentle flicker of a candle lamp, my night fishing guide, placed behind the bag, keeping even that feeble star from the curious fish. I lean back on the chair, rod across my knees and check the bale-arm and line by feel and listen to the foil rustle in time with the wind, waiting for an off-beat scratch or a pull on my fingers.

I drink more coffee, the only thing real in both worlds; listen to the water on the reeds, the wind in the trees and the occasional sucking of the carp. A few shadows ripple across the cane from the flame's light and I sink into the deep calm night. Eventually my heart speeds up again, a caffeine signal flare and I resurface to the grey asphalt and painful pale sodium lights, put the cup in the bin and get back in the car. Thursday.

On the road again. Turn the page.

2008  17th May 2008. Arfleet.

Arrived 6pm and it's grey and oppressive, a showery evening, more April than May. I gave up on the back pit and stomped over to the 'new' pit where I sidled in behind the rushes. 7:35pm, lost a clunky tench going by the slime on the trace. It rhymes with "ducking bell". Cockles and hemp, 'no change there then', then bagged a reasonable and startling rudd after a red-shirted angler and his cubs moved on...a 'meh' type of session. And it rained. Otherwise perfect in every way.

Arfleet MillsArfleet Mills
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2008  18th May 2008. Arfleet. A brighter and calmer evening, Ive picked a swim nearly opposite the path entrance, risky as every man and their (actual) dog wants to see how you're doing. I'm encouraged by the rod rest left by the previous addict, optimism tempered by water the colour of black tea, never a good sign here. There's a huge rise in front of me, chasing some jetsam floaters of to my right. Note to self: must get some flouro. It's now 18:25pm, I'm using a feather for a float and cockles on the pointy end. Bubbles only, so far. Paste next, 45 minutes pass with a twitch on the feather and a couple of folk, half of which have white 'T's, stop to scare the fish and ask about permits.

Fish are rising everywhere even so, some are even leaping which is encouraging. Should have brought the loaf. The feather darts forward and I pick up the rod. It stops. I wait and consider the paste and removing the 'BB' 'tell-tale'. At 7pm I opt for just that, plus a dry feather. Some depth adjustment required, feathers come in 'sizes, various'. I wait some more. Paste turns out to be too soft so revert to cockles, corn and another new (drier) feather, they soak up water and are especially poor after being 'clooped'...which keeps you on your toes. 7:45pm more hemp and at 9:00pm after only a few twitches, revert to free-lining a string of corn kernels and two cockles with foil over the line. Which is where it stays until I can't see it...

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I've got into a rut with Arfleet's clay pit - not thinking it through, more sort of hurling myself against an immovable object. So Just went here a lot and tried so many things - even using tiny feathers as floats (didn't work) - and ended up veering between missing bites like a novice and getting none at all. 'Obsession by JAAIt's a man-perfume scent and it smells like carp slime, stale bread and sweetcorn.'.

2008  23rd May 2008. Arfleet. Best part of two hours has glided past on another pleasant evening resulting in a 10lb fish that I've had before. After 1½ hours of 'feathered' paste, I switch to a pole float, one of the self-cocking paste ones and get a ¾lb rudd at 8:30pm, then the carp, dogged and slow. Cockles again, two fish this year both falling to cockles. So much for hemp paste - lots of interest, can't seem to hit a bite. At 8:50pm I miss a bite and at 9:20pm get a regular eel, wide mouthed, sullen, 1½lb maybe, which sheds the hook without help and pours itself over the lip of the bank back into the lake. I put paste on the hook for no good reason and let the night settle over me.

Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills, finally another fish Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills, finally another fish Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills, finally another fish

(I've caught this fish before, in April 2006Back again. Hasn't changed much, but seems to be getting by OK.)

2008  26th May 2008. Arfleet Mills. The rain eased off, the sky cleared and so took both sticks to the clay pit. I put in some hemp and corn (no change there then) nearest side only and put 6lb/4lb, pole float with size '16' 'thick-wire' on the light stick. A worm yields nothing and corn gets just a couple of blips which eventually morph into a proper bite, getting me this 3lb ghostly mirror which careered about the swim like a clown on a mini bike. Interesting. I switch, optimistically, to a 6lb bottom.

Some corn lobbed earlier lingered frozen floating; suddenly vanished in a rolling boil of water the float rode like a surfer. A hint. Another bite, pen in hand, I'm too slow. 4:10pm and I missed three or four pulls, then get a 4oz rudd, the metallic smell of which flings me to Whitehouse lake and it suddenly feels a little more eerie where I'm sitting. Two rudd, two jam sandwiches, two visitors. Tea, two cups then. One of the visitors was Nemp joining me for a natter and my second carp, a common, 8-9lb, proved a little hard to net, but it was one of those fish which signalled its presence for some thirty minutes ahead of the bite, without actually giving you anything you could use in a court-of-law to say it was there. Nemp and I spent that time leaned forward in our chairs with the expectation that comes from a lot of carp fishing, 'the buzz...that odd cross between mild tinnitus and the feeling you really can hear something...'

Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills, finally fish Arfleet Mills Arfleet Mills, finally fish

So persisting with float fishing the margin, although with limited success because I hadn't really thought it through. Having said that, this session did seem to turn a corner...the second fish made me think I'd cracked it, but of course, I hadn't...

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

2008  1st June 2008. Highbench. I very nearly had one of everything - rare with tench hardly ever showing - and having had perch (of course) roach, rudd, several bream and a crucian, then hooked a fish which charged into the rushes, surely a tinca for the full set, then the hook tranferred to a rush stem. Drat, so close.

HighbenchHighbench
Highbench...1
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Highbench...2
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Highbench...3
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Highbench...4
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Highbench...5
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Highbench...6
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Highbench...7
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Highbench...8

My notebook records:

Rurudd...10 off   ||||| |||||
Roroach...4 off to ¾lb   ||||
Crcrucians...1 off   |
tench, absent...
Pperch, rods or poles...7 off     ||||| ||
Bsbream, silver...2 off   ||
Bbbream, bronze...3 off, 2 at 1½lb   |||

2008  8th June 2008. East Creech Farm. The Hatangler goes camping and fishing, baked beans, carp, tomato soup by candle-lamp, sleep, fried egg sandwiches and more carp. The only way to fish here is to camp. That's a bit dull (and a little odd) all Tod Sloan so I brought the lad. Two man tent, well 'one-and- a-boy' and several tins, baked beans, soup, some bread and eggs for breakfast. Oh yes and a 9ft rod and the '500The Chapman 500. Tea, (beans, bread-and-butter) dispensed with we head for the series of three small lakes over the road. Carp, tench and roach we were told in the farmhouse, bread is a good bait. Isn't it always?

It was explained that the fish were sorted bottom to top by size. The top pond an old clay pit is dark and forbidding, the lad opted for the middle pond, the smallest. I put 6lb, a size 14 and a random quill on the spinning rod and pinch on the bread. Several misses and a bite later a 4oz carp emerges. And another. I make a similar rig up but the 6lb is for the rushes and the alleged tench. After we steps? Starts? And odd carp we settle in tandem on worms as the fish appear to want to bite your hand off for them. A few roach appear and after an hour of this dibbing over water like fizzy tea, the lad's rods gets a real bend to keep the tip down the rod taking lunches and the '66 grudgingly giving line once or twice. The net goes under a 2½lb fish this for the head size but a belter and the lad's biggest fish.

East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...1
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...2
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...3
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...4
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...5
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...6
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...7

Excellent, so the crisps are broken out...this is the pattern of the evening with probably fifty-odd fish to the lad and forty-odd to myself the 2½lb and a ¾4lb probably the best plus six crucians, two to the Hatangler...as he was so seldom seen without a peaked cap for several years. Once or twice during the afternoon I watched a larger fish amble out of the weeds in the lower pond, mooch about and drift back in. I was tempted. We retire to the tent and heat tomato soup with bread-and-butter. Sitting back in the candle lamp light I'm pleased to stay this evening, I suspect the Hatangler will not fish as he gets older but this is one more trip that my father ever made with me. The owls we could hear when fishing are not audible at the tent - but the cows are. Still, less noise than any urban setting.

East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...1
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...2
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...3
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...4
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...5
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...6
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...7
East Creech FarmEast Creech Farm
East Creech and the Hatangler...8

Time to turn in. So, morning, the top lake and fried-egg sarnies for breakfast...

2008  16th June 2008. Canford Ponds. I went for stroll around here just for fun, so many good looking swims, then around the far side, in the last but one swim, my breath was stolen by a common carp that swam past side-on, so far over the 'twenty', I was suddenly anticipating 'the 16th' rather more....

Canford PondsCanford Ponds
Canford Ponds...1
Canford PondsCanford Ponds
Canford Ponds...2
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Canford Ponds...4
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Canford Ponds...5
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Canford Ponds...6
Canford PondsCanford Ponds
Canford Ponds...7

2008  16th June 2008. The River Stour, Fiddleford Mill and Canford Ponds. The First Day, 7:10am now and I've been here since 4am, even so it's crowded. Tried briefly to fish in the main mill race, fumbling my way to the corner and tackling up a 'pin and a crow quill Avon, one of Mr Lawrence's. After forty minutes without a sniff I give in, if maggots won't catch even the small ones...(poor pitch and swimfeeders all over the place). Still I was there for dawn I slog upstream to a flat spot in the next field and trot maggots back on the '66 - the sun's just broken through, eight fish, perch dace, roach and a small chub before trying laid-on corn with the same pole float in nine feet of gently flowing water. I manage to bump off a bream so switch to a quill and 6lb through, lay some corn right in the marginal lilies and sit back in the long grass.

Fiddleford WeirFiddleford Weir
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Fiddleford Weir...2
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Fiddleford Weir...3
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Fiddleford Weir...4

There's a roar from the main road, a pigeon in the tree opposite, the sun is vey warm indeed, but so far no bite on the corn. So back on the indolent quill and I'll try a cockle next. Worse places to be, but a busy few days coming. Not really in the river mood; and I don't do early very well...tea. I try bread paste for twenty minutes; I switch to cockles more in the spirit of experimentation rather than expectation. The float gathers an air of permanence around it almost immediately I recast...and I nab a single small pike. Then sport ceased for the day, so headed for Canford Ponds, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Fiddleford WeirFiddleford Weir
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Fiddleford Weir...4
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Fiddleford Weir...5

'Canford Ponds', live-wire in my mind after the 14th, was a crushing disappointment. The central fishing area, tarmac'd for disabled access was home to half a dozen anglers, two of which soundly ignored greetings, all of which blocked the path. The last two swims around were taken and I fished, in the end, at the end of the spit, as far from everyone as I could get and (I thought) wouldn't suffer from bored-foot-traffic. I sat on the ground and fished seafood for several small and greedy bream while feeding a carp that was browsing under the tree to my left, the plan, to get it's head down and towards my float. Three times I was certain I had it there, when the same person (each time) thumped up behind me to ask how I was doing, shocking the gently rocking water into stillness. On the third time, I cracked a bit, said "Not now." shortly, over his head, he then proceeded to tell me it was harder fishing than it looked. Yeah, for you I don't doubt, for me, only when you're about. I packed.

2008  20th June 2008. L'Etang de La MorinaisMike's perfect French hideaway. So. A long story and a long trip around France which finished with a fish...

3:55pm almost an hour of fishing in the wind at the north end of the lake. I'm laying-on in Point Parfait, three-four feet of water a bit under one of the trees to the right. Mike showed me around and I agreed with his assessment, the windward end is the end to be, carp so often wind-herded, especially when the wind and water are warm. If I've had any action though I've missed it. There are fry in the margins with one or two larger fish about and there are very suspicious sucking noises from time to time from my far right. On cue a fish crashes on the opposite corner. I'd put a bit of corn behind the platform always worth a try and a crayfish sidled in about thirty minutes later ad made off with some of it. It's not returned since. More sucking and clooping behind which is good.

The sun and the wind are in my face (OK, I'm half tucked under a tree some shade but it's receding as the sun lowers. A small fish, perhaps ½Kg mMetric units, it's in France...  has jumped twice in line with my float perhaps fifteen meters further out. We'll see. I've not got my hopes up, you have to enjoy the waiting as well.

L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais

When I got here, via, Caen (a), Le Mans, Orleans (lovely little motel, terrific plat de jour, and a good red, still have the bottle, interesting customer), the 'FuturoscopeJust for the hotel you understand' near customer(b) (don't ask, regular hotel, if I recall, breakfast in a Casino) at Poitiers, then Rennes (and its 'interesting' traffic system), perhaps finally here by 2pm, I stood on Point De Chasse and took in the atmos. The 'small technology' rang. It was 'French Customer (a)', the TD of, who'd assembled his team and put me on speakerphone to give me a piece of his mind, as I'd advised French customer (b) that their design (designed unknown to me by 'French Customer (a)', was under par in several respects. Unwise to put me on speakerphone in front of his minions, it didn't go well for him. Then I turned the STsmall technology off. I went and got the left-over half-a-bottle of red from Poitiers.

I've got corn and cockles on and the maize supplied is too hard to side hook, being soaked only. I might rig up a hair later (a 'true' hair not an 'anti-eject') if I fancy trying some. My float dips fast and I pick the rod up. Nothing happens. Huh. A kingfisher flies over me and off to the left bank heading for the boathouse. Ok then. I put my hand on the rod and thirty seconds tick by then I strike and there's solid resistance for a moment giving the 2lb t/c and 12lb line something to hope for but it morphs into dogged tinca, 5lb 13oz in the net, so 3½lb. Not bad, never bad. Not the plan, but all tench are good.

L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais

So the kingfisher was right, I wait some more, not a blank then. The 1lb carp jumps again ten yards off the float, 4pm and the activity is still here. Something seems about to happen, no reason silly as it sounds. I mark the float's position against a crack in the edge of the platform in case. Another cloop from the far bank, still tense twenty minutes later. What looked like a small perch has just chased into the small fry lurking in the space behind the platform. With more time I'd fish generally at least once. A bigger fish just barrel rolled in front of me, I'll give it to 5:30pm and rig a mussel or two, for thirty minutes. I've quietly made a new trace up, I might not use it yet. Hard to shake off the fish feeling. A very big fish has just jumped to my left fifty yards out. A big double maybe. Aha. I re-bait for the forty-five minutes before tea. Big fish rolls under the trees five yards to my left...

L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisFishing in the waves at L'Etang de La Morinais L'Etang de La MorinaisJAA at L'Etang de La Morinais

Horrible early drive to the ferry and the new roads on the way didn't appear on the navigation technology, so it thought I was driving through fields...which was interesting.

2008  29th June 2008. Milton Abbey.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
Yet more Milton Abbey Tincaring...1
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
Yet more Milton Abbey Tincaring...2
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
Yet more Milton Abbey Tincaring...3
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
Yet more Milton Abbey Tincaring...4
Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
Yet more Milton Abbey Tincaring...5

No recollection save these fine fish...although that's the 'Jammy BenderMy Chapman 500 which did so well with a double figure carp first time out' all right.

small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...(and return to the top of the page) small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and one more time... small split shotmedium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...got it?

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

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

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

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

2008  11th July 2008. Arfleet. Arrgh. I recall this short go as being a very frustrating one with no result. I started float fishing in the South corner but after several missed bites, gave up and decamped to a swim with a small patch of dwarf lilies.

Arfleet Mills Arfleet frustration Arfleet Mills Arfleet frustration

I fished here without a bite for about an hour and then on a recast, a carp took the cockles on the drop and after a few minutes came off again, which was the closest I came to a fish this time. Still haven't got this one worked out. Rats.

2008  20th July 2008. Bartons Court. Never drive past a dead jay. I'd not had a great weekend. 'Plan A' had been to spend a day sorting out my late father's house, then to comb through the last of the effects and then to head off for a well deserved spot of siblings' carp snaffling. Due to monumental sickness, 'Plan B' turned out to be a solo effort on the house clearing and after a day and a half finishing off the bits and bobs, I'd earned some respite care during the drive back.

For some time now I've tried to take every opportunity to wet a line, that and never to drink instant coffee. Despite the pull of home and family yet 70 miles down the road, I took an opportunity in duplicate with a stop at 'Italian for Coffee' (have flask, will travel) and then at a gravel pit I know of, where, against the odds, the lake was very quiet so I found a calm spot around the back, which, although trammeled, is a good swim when deserted.

Fishing well and quietly here gives you a good chance of a fish and an outside chance of a leviathan. Not too easy, not too hard. I set up a quill-float rig on the carp rod, eased into the cover of a bush at the side of the no-mans-land which defined the swim and eased outside a large black freshly ground and ruminated in the setting sun. A sobering process to sift through the paper minutiae of your father's life and to discover more than you knew. It's also very wearing on the soul. For two-and-a-half restoring hours, the fish heroically, unsympathetically even, resisted the temptation of my various baits. I only had one movement you'd call a bite, the float sidling off with that determined angle that's usually caused by something small, line over one shoulder, trudging away in a determined way. You never know, so I struck anyway...

Bartons Court Barton's Court lake Bartons Court Just Another floAt

I have a carp rod. I should explain: I have several rods, but this one is the only one that's actually for carp. I bought it in 1982 when carbon was new and exciting and I'm reasonably sure it's got some glass it in. It's thick walled, with a 2lb t/c and an all-through action. I've just rebuilt it, as after 20 years it's perhaps due some new rings. I also changed the handle from a double gripped 'horizon cast' type to a sensible one with the reel seat under my hand with about 2" of the butt past my elbow, to give me best use of the 11 feet. This rod landed many 'wildies' when I first went carp fishing and while the new 'camo' whippings are strictly 'subverting the genre', the action is not.

So, no bites so far then. I took off the float, flicked out some pre-soaked kibble stolen from the dog (only the white bits, so if the hound develops a vitamin deficiency, I'm in big trouble) and put three feet of flouro on the end of the mono and a size '6'. And that was it. I watched the loose floaters for a bit but just when I was thinking, "Ah well...", a small dark hole opened up in the water to my left and a dog biscuit ran down it like wine curling into a glass. A scaly back rolled over, reminding me briefly of a Chinese dragon and the water closed with a soft 'thop'. Aha. I threaded two of the kibbles onto the hook and lobbed it in. I'd like to say I got a take. The erstwhile water-dragon mopped up the loose singles in a casual and knowing manner. It went quiet then. I waited.

The minutes ticked by, while the fish (I thought, I hoped) weighed up the risk as the bait slowly drifted nearer my rod tip. With the stealthiest of movements I kept the line in touch. The light faded. The two biscuits changed into a rotating carriage clock pendulum and then they vanished in a black flint swirl and pretty much all I had to do was lift the rod tip. Something solid charged under the tree to my left. I hauled it out. It did it again. I hauled it out again. It went out 15 yards and skulked in eight feet of water, then tried again for the tree. It almost made it. Then I had the net under a fish which might have been 9lbs.

My first carp on a floater, first fish on my old revamped carp rod. Joyful serendipity.

Bartons Court Not just another carp

Some days you don't mind too much if you fail to catch. On other days you really want a fish. Some days though, you really need a fish. This was one of those days...in my youth I stayed with my grandparents in Hampshire and one of the great treasures of the Otterbourne woods was a jay's blue feather, although you never found more than one at a time. One year I had four, found in two weeks. To discover this sapphire among the lesser jewels of the summer foliage was a wondrous thing to me then. It still is.

So it was that on my way home from an airport last week, near Stockbridge, I drove past a jay. It was on the grass verge, quite dead but its blue under-wing shone like an evening star. I should have stopped - I thought about it, twice, then again on the roundabout. I mean, when have you ever seen a dead jay? How often do you get the chance for a whole set of those blue feathers? I advise stopping whenever you get the chance.

2008  23rd July 2008. Athens. Three sales leads came in from around Athens... "Better go to Greece then" said the boss. Very very hot. Athens was over 30° in the shade. Blistering and my first appointment, in the middle of the city, was interesting but a bust, let's call it 'networking'. The receptionist, channelling Betty Arvaniti, was wearing clothes that appeared to be too sizes to small but looked cucumber-cool (no mean feat in this heat), walked me to the hotel they'd booked for me, which was kind. Even kinder was the fruit basket she'd arranged - that fruit was ice cold and I ate every piece...the morning gig was a small router company who didn't quite seem to 'get' the technology, although I saw fine views from the top of the tower and the last gig was more promising (although it came to nothing in the end). The owner of the last wouldn't hear of me eating alone in a hotel and insisted on taking me to a small fish restaurant 'somewhere by the sea' where we sat under a vined pergola, dined on red mullet and samphire, drank red wine and it felt to me like a meal of the Cyprus of my youth. Saw some fishing. No really. I yearned for the hand-lined wrasse of my younger self.

Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
...I can still taste that chilled fruit...1
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
If you don't recognise this I can't help you any more...2
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
I don't know what this is......3
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
The post prandial stroll...4
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
The post prandial stroll...5
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
The post prandial stroll...1
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
Told you there was fishing......2
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
..there are many worse ways to spend an evening...3
Athens and somewhere near the seaAthens and somewhere near the sea
Even managed a picture of a float......4

2008  27th July 2008. Arfleet. Well helloooo there 'fishing off the top'. Now, the thing is about today is that I decided to give the old floater fishing a bash. I'd stolen the dog's kibble, at least the whitish bits and soaked them and then patted them about with kitchen roll until I'd got more or less the spongy-and-floaty kind of consistency. I took them to Arfleet with a bag of dry bits to fire about, sat in the south corner and start pinging bait about. I used my old carp rod for this game and some 10lb line with a Partridge hook, which is long shanked but fine in the wire for its size. (since ditched as they tend to straighten out...)

The first thing that happened was that some of the dry mixers pinged of the catty handles and landed only a yard or three away. I was reasonably dumbfounded when a ghostie loomed out of the opaque, nabbed a couple and blurred off. I added two to the hook, dibbled it only eight feet way in hope not expectation, but stap me, back he came and the game was afoot with one quick slurp. The fight was on the one-sided side. But first blood and all that.

Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top' Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top' Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top'
Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top' Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top' Arfleet Mills Arfleet, 'off the top'

I spent some time feeding the far bank, there was a fish about as baits were popping out of sight in a reasonably regular way, so in the end I stuck two more on the hook and flung it about three yards short of the far bank, waited...and waited...and after what was about 15 minutes and a number of pokes, this too went under and there was a struggle going as it dove towards the rushes and also got attached to some other line draping the bottom, along with some old bubble float. Most odd, but in the end, in the net about 9lb maybe. Two in no time, unheard of riches here. Nothing further came to the top so I decamped to the other end and squeezing right into the corner where I fed dry ones and then spend an hour or so watching the rudd give a succession of floater baits a real kicking before the carp I knew was in there could get to it. I stuck with it, with the confidence of a chap two fish up and eventually as another mobbing started it ceased almost as suddenly and with a swirl of cream and a violent tug of war I had number three. So, this is surface fishing. I rather like it.

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2008  1st August 2008. Just AnotherAngler on the edgeI like puns, so sue me.

It's always been a source of amazement for me that some folk go fishing on a lake and immediately on arriving and tackling up, hurl the end bits to the far bank or as far across as they can manage. I've been on that far bank when stuff, some of it not out of place in a softening up bombardment on the Somme, 'thops' into the water in my swim. If the other bank looks so good why not walk around and fish from there? It seems there is something ingrained in some psyches about the bigger fish being further out. Bigger is better. Size matters. Something like that. 'Compensating', I call it.

The truth of the matter is that the fish go where the food is and where conditions are appropriate for consumption - in nearly every water you can think of, the banks on all sides are high on that list. I freely admit this marginal addiction is partly born out of a dislike of ledgering in general and fishing miles away in particular (I don't count free-lining as ledgering). So although I prefer to fish on my side and with a float or nothing else on the line at all, this is tempered with a healthy perspective on the advantages. In many waters the major source of natural food is from the bankside flora and fauna, fish know this. They also know that huge bipeds clumping about are a bad sign. So they hide, fading like the Cheshire cat but taking the grin with them, often with little indication they were ever there. Excepting of course those waters where 'natural food' is mostly angler supplied, leaving the insect life amazed they get about with so little trouble.

Actually margins are often a good source of non natural food - when evening arrives, many fisherfolk pack up before the best two or three hours (?) and chuck in their leftover bait. (I'm "careful with money", I refreeze mine). One lake I fished often for six months, often had the 'best swims' occupied (funny how they are usually the ones near the car park), until that hour or two before sunset and then abandoned. If I'd not had a bite for a bit and with the 'all-clear' sounded by the slamming of car doors and fading engine noise, I'd sidle round and catch several.

Amused am I (turning into Yoda am I), when visitors to a lake make a point of standing at the front of every swim, hands on hips, sky-lined and wearing spottable clothing, knowledgably scanning the far bank for life. And then go around the other side and repeat the exercise. Those of us who've snuck in, have only a few inches of rod tip poking through the edge-sward and are resolutely drab in appearance (some would say I don't need the fishing clothes for that) chuckle to ourselves or seethe when signal-shirt and wavy arms clumps up behind to ask if you have caught anything. Not now mate. Luckily, the die hard clumpers and peerers seldom seem interested in information from the actual anglers. I've had trolleyed up serious carp boys walk past me while I had a fish on without even breaking their chat. Amazing. I can't do that, even if I was just to watch. Still, I've experienced being told across the water I can't fish that swim as they've baited it, so it's theirs. Luckily there still are good uses for butt spears and .45" lead bullets (drilled or otherwise) that are not mentioned in "Still Water Angling". Although one of them is mentioned in "Drop me a Line".

I digress. The margins. I prefer them for many reasons. The fish tend to prefer them. I don't have to cast miles. I find it no hardship to keep still, avoid sudden movements, keep off the skyline and avoid things that cause waterborne vibration in general and I catch fish there regularly. It seems to work. By and large I fish over depth with small floats and braid hook-lengths and get sail-away bites for the most part (of course I fish a lake where I don't get positive bites, but I do catch the fish anyway). It all comes down to 'Still Water Angling', which impressed upon me the need to keep out of sight and sound. It also sold me on braid hook lengths which I started with in 1985, one foot lengths of 11lb Milward Black Spider, varnished and water knotted to the mono. I fished for wildies under my rod tip with a 2×no.4 crystal canal float in 10 feet of water with 1×BB on the trace and Size 8 hooks (which turned out to be a Jack Hilton) obtained when I went into a tackleshop in Newbury and asked for carp hooks. Oh yes and sweetcorn. It worked and I averaged two fish an evening, five evenings a week for five weeks, best 8lb 14oz, but by golly did they motor. And a 6lb tench and a lot of surprised roach at the 1lb mark. I had to train several of the visiting anglers to crouch, walk gently and speak softly and most did. I never did train the bailiff though, who wore size 12 army's and a white 'T' shirt. Many trembling floats he stilled.

lads, for sure.

The compulsion to fish by the edge remains and given freedom from the clumpers, the semaphore artists, the disinterested, their hulking barrows and the rod artillery, I find I can catch quite well. It's sobering to get the full rush of a big double picking up under your feet. So if you happen upon a drab-dressed sloucher with a rod barely over the edge and possibly a small float three feet out from the bank, crouch, walk softly, speak softy and you'll discover some of us are quite sociable. And if you sit long enough you may see why it works. And if you don't see a fish before you leave, someone leaving the bank will often encourage the really shy ones...so I'm never too sad when folk move on.

2008  6th August 2008. L'etang de La Morinais. We took the tent to France and pootled about looking at stuff and I occasionally fished in the lake, managing a grass-carp, a 18lb fish common and a great family holiday.

2008  8th August 2008. La Morinais. The spoon revelation...said the Bug-angler (aged 9 and 23/24ths) as I windmilled in some loose bait while we were trying for a tench or carp, "You know Dad, you could flick bait in with a spoon and it would be much easier." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...

2008  10th August 2008. La Morinais. The last day. On the last day's dawn I take my tea and wander down to the platform, Point de Chasse, to look at the water one last time, it's a still blue morning with the promise of sun but the air still has a cold streak running through it. I wander on and at the next platform spot a bubbler about 30 feet out to the left. I stand motionless for a bit then sidle backwards off the boards and set off to collect the 'old' carp rod, still made up on the veranda from the previous evening's unsucessful free-lining.

I collect corn, landing-net and the 'Hatangler', who was up, and we head back to the platform with a brief word of explanation. The ghillie waits with the net tucked by a convenient bush, I slither onto the boards, flick a few free offerings and cast. The bubbles stop. I wait...

The bubbles re-appear on the right of the swim, so I retrieve quietly, briefly consider the monograph on bubblers by the under-appreciated Mr. Sharman and cast to a yard in front of the new line's heading. I silently lay the rod down, sit on the grass next to the ghillie and we wait...and a few minutes later the line twitches, straightens and cuts across the water...

I take a long stride, pick up the rod, snap the bail and lift hard into hope, which responds with a swooshing leap in the shallow water, then runs 50 yards at full steam, pushing a roll of water in front. I request the services of the ghillie while the fish, now on a long line, heads harder right for a patch of lilies, obliging me to wind furiously to stay in touch...with disaster possible if not imminent, I whip the rod over to the right and pull hard and the fish, a good common, immediately changes direction and heads left. Then, more-or-less level with the platform fifteen yards out it capitulates. I loosen the clutch and pump the fish into the net via a few protesting lunges, the ghillie doing a fine job. A glorious common, 18½lb. The way to end a holiday. A snap, then off to re-tell the story and break fast, then the trail to the ferry, via the extraordinary Mont St. Michel.

L'Etang de la Morinais the early morning send-off L'Etang de la Morinais The quite extraordinary Mont St. Michel

2008  17th August 2008. Milton Abbey.

Milton AbbeyMilton Abbey
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2008  24th August 2008. Pallington.

Pallington Lakes Pallington, a wonderful evening Pallington Lakes Pallington, a wonderful evening

2008  29th August 2008. Clattercote Reservoir. Hideous place. The car park was piled with litter and it stank. I found a spot (first there) on the North boardwalk (I like this actually). The space behind is 'no fishing' too snaggy, the fish know of course. I AvonThat's 'Four Piece Harrison's Avon''d out four tench, one of which was missing the top of it's mouth, ugh (not pictured) and a carp, while forming a poor impression of many of the distant residents, as it looked just like they were getting pi$$ed and planning to sleep it off on the boards, with a fishing rod as justification.

The sibling nabbed a fine carp by feeding it out from under the boards and playing it around one of the posts, a tinge of comedy fishing...back at JAFHJust Another Fecking Hotel it turned out the Polish receptionist was from Ziolona GoraWhat are the odds? Probably not so large. so we talked about that, what are the odds? This probably helped with the full refund I claimed, due to the cockroach I stopped on my bedroom floor. I stay 'stopped' I of course mean 'flattened'...'trific.

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The following morning there were 'anglers' sprawled on the boards still sleeping, empty tins around, rods laid on the floor, if not pulled into the water. We fished for an hour on the south bank near the damn, deeper water, plenty of roach, then went to Butlers Hill. It'll be a long time before I return to Clattercote, South West Water you should be ashamed of this.

2008  30th August 2008. Butler's Hill Fishery. Seen worseReally OK, despite some of the clientele...what do I recall? There are three of them, the first had two bivvies blocking any access to the rear of the pond and the owners glared at us daring us to try, we were tempted on principle, we're not slender chaps. Bo££ocks to them tarring all anglers with their brush. The pond furthest from the cars seem nicest and I nabbed two carp in the first couple of hours.

The bivvie'd chap and his 'other half' (at the end of the pool) came around as they'd blanked and I gave him a handful of cockles for restoring my faith and he in turn gave me some tikka powder in a bag, which he used for rolling meat, it smelled good enough for myself. Later he offered to share a meat pie he'd heated up, it does your heart good to meet such nice folk. I spend the fading light trying for a fish off the top, failing and the sibling bagged a couple as well.

Butler's Hill FisheryButler's Hill Fishery
Butler's Pools...1
Butler's Hill FisheryButler's Hill Fishery
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Butler's Hill FisheryButler's Hill Fishery
Butler's Pools...6

The last two fish were the sibling's, I still keep that Tikka powder in the bait-box in the boot, still smells great, still use it...

2008  31st August 2008. Pallington. Eel. I'd spotted several carp right at the island end and a couple were surfacing and browsing right under the bank and as I prepared to tumble a bait off the grass into their path, a man appeared with a notebook, sneered "Obviously you're not going to be in the carp match" and clumped past, so that was the end of those carp and the beginning of the end of my membership. Such an ignorant man. I then nabbed a couple of bream on haricot beans and the eel took a mussel and three cockles, well it would. Hm.

Pallington LakesPallington Eel, no change there then Pallington LakesPallington, a good lake spoiled Pallington LakesPallington, a good lake spoiled Pallington LakesMilton Abbey tinca's again...
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2008  3rd September 2008. Turku, Finland. Missed opportunity.

2008  7th September 2008. Pallington. So close...but no banana. Or carp.

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I finally contacted a fish in the last swim on the north bank, seven feet of water and a stabbing bite to a mussle, a surge, a short run and slackness. So close. Drat, drat, drat.

2008  14th September 2008. Poole Quay, Dorset. Crabs, more crabs, a careless blenny, a pipefish and hot chocolates. Great fun had by all.

Pallington. Tricky place for fish, this. Some barbed noses as well.

Pallington Lakes The barbed nose syndicate Pallington Lakes The barbed nose syndicate Pallington Lakes The barbed nose syndicate

2008  21st September 2008. Kimmeridge Bay. Dorset. The custom in the 'Anotherangler' household is to have an evening picnic or two at Kimmeridge at the book-ends of the holiday season. By the evening the grockles have packed and left and you have the place almost to yourself. These are informal affairs involving, in no particular order, egg mayonnaise, bread rolls, 'Mrs AA', tuna mayo, grilled sausages, 'littleanglers', crab lines, various drinks, picnic rugs, fishing umbrellas, 'Cadge the dog', shrimp-nets and the occasional fishing rod.

sitting on the dark shale that is still radiating the soft heat of the west bound sun, we break out the better-for-being-outside finger food. Dining over, crabs are turfed out from under stones, gobies are coaxed into nets and the dog tries to steal any stray sausages as usual. Arming myself with cockles and an Avon (mea culpa, malice aforethought, I'd packed them), I wade thigh deep in the warm water and float-fish the gentle waves for Corkwing and Ballan Wrasse, the 'sergeants' of the sea. I'd have stayed until the water was up to my armpits, but after I snatch five, an "indignity of wrasse" perhaps, the air turns sharply cold, so we all head home.

Poole Quay Corkwing and Ballan Wrasse, the 'sergeants' of the sea

2008  22nd September 2008. Romsey Tackle Fair. A place where crusty anglers get their old tackle out. Resisted, thus bought only a few floats and Rod Hutchinson's "The Carp Strikes Back" for £4. Bargain.

2008  27th September 2008. Poole Quay, Dorset. One of our Sunday morning 'things' is crab fishing on Poole Quay. This morning I brought a pen rod (I'm a sucker for that kind of thing) and while the 'littleanglers' caught crabs, I used the mini rod and a quill to extract a dozen assorted gudgeon-like gobies and blennies plus one small ballan wrasse (I assume, bright green it was) to go in a bucket next to the crabs.

Poole Quay a dozen assorted gudgeon-like gobies and blennies plus one small ballan wrasse Poole Quay ...and the crabs

The Quay crabs have wised up in the last year and learning to drop off the bait when out of the water - without a landing net to catch them, pickings can be meagre. Still at least my landing net gets used this way...then off for hot chocolates and black coffee all round. Brilliant fun.

2008  28th September 2008. Pallington. Well, with the aid of black-eye beans, I got a lot of twitches and missed my only real bite.

Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes
Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes
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2008  5th October 2008. Pallington. Really nice afternoon. Rumbled it now. Got to hit the twitches...pole floats and holding the rod it is. See, here's the thing - I've seen no one using a float, no one using only one rod and certainly no one using bait actually on a hook, in six sessions. However, I've not spent more than at 24 hours fishing here, unlike one or two 'three day session blanks' I've spoken with.

Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes - the barbed nose syndicate Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes - the barbed nose syndicate Pallington Lakes Pallington Lakes - the barbed nose syndicate

I had a good few roach on baits aimed at carp this evening and the rod rest in the pictures in four feet long. That's deep water tha' knows. I stayed until dusk was three hours past with a candle lamp for company and on the way out chatted with a fellow, who unlike some here, was thoroughly pleasant and amiable, he nearly changed my mind. Nearly.

2008  17th October 2008. not a million miles from L'etang de Morinais. Saturday, I get up with the sun and take bacon sandwiches and fresh coffee (have pot will travel) and sit at the lake's East end with the sun rising over my shoulder and watch the island loom out of the mist ahead, a personal Marie Celeste. I've a float-fishing rod to hand for the roach, carp in absentia and catch one of 8oz. As the mist clears, I find myself focussed on the orange tip piercing the dark water, which trembles a fraction as the float starts, the ripples frozen for an instant, the point-of-impact pattern on a piece of dark flint, ineptly struck.

L'Etang De Morinais ...the sun rising over my shoulder L'Etang De Morinais and watch the island loom out of the mist ahead L'Etang De Morinais As the mist clears... L'Etang De Morinais focussed on the orange tip

I've tried twice to make flint tools and both attempts left me with no more than lacerations and a strong memory of the fire-smell from badly struck stone. The first attempt, in Norfolk, ended with cut fingers and dark shards linked in my mind with Wickenpond. These days I'd 'google it', finding out how in a minute or two, or even buy arrowheads on ebay. Men's oldest tools, traded on men's newest. Ha. The float, becalmed by sunshine, switches sideways a quarter of an inch causing another nest of ripples in the smooth surface and I get a sudden insight. Space-time ripples are linked to mass but also to magnetism. Simply, if you moved an electromagnet with an alternating current in a coil, the mass is moving, so there must be ripples in space-time. Gravity to you. Aha.

The float sinks to the tip, the strike begets a short tearing run of five heart-in-mouth yards, a Morinais monster on the light gear, oh my word, no sooner the fear crystallised, it melts into the sinuous sandbag of an eel, which takes a little subduing, somewhere between 2-3lbs. I roll it in the folds of the landing net, lay it on its back, tweak out the hook, take a picture and then let it wend back into the water for another ten years. I chuckle to myself in the dappling sunlight and write it all down. Grasshopper mind. I get little else (a few 6-8oz roach) to stir my baits despite watching until and the sunset.

L'Etang De Morinais ...sinuous sandbag of an eel L'Etang De Morinais despite watching the sunset L'Etang De Morinais As the mist clears...

The following morning, I've a couple of hours before I lope off up the road for the ferry, so park on Point De Chasse and enjoy the autumn sun. The once or twice the foil rattles about making me start, only autumn roach chasing bait that's only small enough for their large eyes. No carp, but three glorious days of tranquility. The other thing I've realised this year is why some anglers wear the hat with the wide brim. When it's raining crap, the hat helps to keep it off.

L'Etang De Morinais ...so park on Point De Chasse L'Etang De Morinais 'the hat helps to keep it off' L'Etang De Morinais to next Autumn...

Here's to next Autumn.

2008  22nd October 2008. Ziolona Gora Ephiphany. I'm sitting in an odd little hotel-room in the middle of Poland on one of the strangest trips to date, although my second here. The hotel receptionist needs calling to open the hotel, thankfully the 'driver' did the talking. I say 'driver', heavily built, crewcut, fit looking, 'well cut' jacket and the casual confidence that characterises ex-servicemen. Behind the desk she had a black eye and a snot nosed boy-child clinging, peering fearfully at me from behind an over-thin jean leg. Hmm. I've got six or seven hours to kill with only biscuits and a kettle and half-way though a mountain of email, with runs down the stairs to the only wireless spot in the "dining room". I suddenly realise the club water I've joined is just wrong for me. I'm not sure why I did it, it's been a tough year, but I've been worn down by the impossibility of quiet when every other angler goes past you twice (or on one occasion four times) with barrows of gear. When the angler that cast to within 10 yards of me with at least 2oz of lead for the other bank shrugged and carried on when I said "Do you mind?" The fish that are not wind herded but lured by the sound of boiles fired, that have forgotten there are other foods. Where your rod is judged on the basis of it not having two matched triplets? Sod that.

I met some pleasant folk I should say, the floater fishing guy who always had a chat, the gent in a bivve that just enjoyed the surroundings and offered me a brew as often as not (I note he was well away from the main thoroughfares) and the man who turned up at sunset one evening with the full pod to be sure, but lightly tackled and softly spoken and was there for the dusk and the bats whatever rig was on the end of his line. The bank-side gun emplacement rows of bivvies. Even if it cost me the yearly fee I resolved right there to never go again. It didn't, generously, grudgingly, but that wouldn't have changed my mind. They even had a carp match. I once chatted with a decamping carper and he'd spent three days in the same spot without a fish. Did he not think to move? The same gent showed me his fly rod, nothing heavy, but with a fluffy imitation dog biscuit. The irony of catching carp conditioned to eat totally unnatural dog biscuits by then using an artificial imitation, makes me smile.

In the morning the hotel didn't take credit cards, or the now seedy male receptionist didn't, despite the booking promise and I have to pay in Euros. I'm sure the driver could have 'sorted it', but I don't mind keeping the cards out of sight. Car hire companies won't let you hire cars in Germany and drive to Poland. So you have your customer hire a car and driver, then you pay them to drive you through miles of dark forests with thin tracks and wooden towers at the end and snatches of moss red brickwork, you imagine grim history, see first hand the grinding poverty of many of the smaller towns and villages, patched roofs, rusting cars and subsistence vegetable plots. It's not all plumbers. I trudge from the hotel to the customers', half a mile, cutting through a pine tree copse to avoid the drizzle, thinking of Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs.

2008  28th October 2008. Silent Woman. A very odd blank, with Nempster scratching out one rudd. Bizarre.

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2008  2nd November 2008. Dairy Farm. New, windswept, missed several strange bites on bread.

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It was very nearly dusk when I tried pinches of bread fished on the bed, and then missed several slow, almost sly, bites. Odd.

2008  6th November 2008. Bridges.

I travelled a lot this Autumn, most weeks flying to Europe, usually failing to get any fishing in, but on one sunny day in early November had a two hour drive, a simple meeting with the benefit of little preparation required which is as close to a relaxing visit as I ever get.

I habitually put aside more time for a journey than I am likely to need, but having a good run up and finding time to spare, I take a spin around the back roads of the younger self and admire the gold of the beech trees around Bradenham which are, clich├ęd, the colours of a good wild carp. Autumn is an odd time, I like it, but it's beauty reminds one of the passing of time, much like meeting an old friend (unexpectedly, past midnight, in Terminal 1 at Heathrow, this really happened), fair in youth, still fair 20 years on, but the passing of time is interwoven with the beauty of the present, a softening of the edges, pale marble veined with gold, if you like.

Business complete, I find myself in Winchester, en passant a conference call with Germany and the USA. I often visit Winchester on the way past, a place I have a long association with and in autumn there are enough trees to make the paths rustle and gleam. Why I keep returning is hard to say, one of those "simply reflecting changes in the patterns of the sky, or does the weather heed the twinkle in your eye?" things. I am though, very fond of knapped-flint faced walls.

I find a good coffee and take it to one of the many bridges. I can easily think of a dozen and two of my favourites are the Watermill bridge at the end of the High Street and a footbridge in Abbey Gardens (opposite the statue of Alfred the Great), where I was once entranced by thick, dark eel slinking along the bed and vanishing under my feet. I skip both of these in favour of one of the footbridges over the river on Eastgate street and watch for a grayling. Did you know this bit of the river is free fishing? I let the water draw the job away and contemplate the passing of the season. My diary notes many blanks this year, which tells you I spent more time carping than 'just fishing'. Bright highlights are there also, glimpsed through sinuous ripples behind the coffee cup, temporarily at least.

2008  8th November 2008. Silent Woman II. Top lake still otherwordly, so I caught lots of small ones in the bottom lake.

Silent Woman Lake Very very Silent Woman Silent Woman Lake Very very Silent Woman

2008  15th November 2008. Dairy Farm. A nice common, a small perch, some signs of life and a returning mojo. This was my second go here and despite the first go's blank, I persisted and after about an hour on the west bank of the lower lake a solitary fish leapt once to my right and I responded with a couple of cockles and a big lobworm on my '550Chapman 550 and after twenty minutes ticked off, some wobbles of the quill turned into a 'sail off' bite and a pleasant fight on the new bamboo. Well, that's a good start...but that's all it was, as for the next hour nothing happened at all...and I've long since learned to take the hint when I feel sure I'm on a 'hiding to'.

Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...1
Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...2
Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...3
Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...4
Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...5
Dairy FarmDairy Farm
Dairy Farm...6

I decamped to the middle lake and tried a spot on the south bank where there is a screen of rushes and bunged in the same float and a big worm-and-cockle. Thirty minutes later the float skipped a beat in the waves, taking my heart with it and then nipped under and my strike met with a small but determined perch of about 2oz...which was it for the day, but it put a smile on my face.

2008  23rd November 2008. Dairy Farm. Another cold and horizontal day, with hail, Nemp's first blank for 21 years and another Wheeler-Feynman perchA single perch, again. It's uncanny..

Dairy Farm Dairy Farm, the lone perch again... Dairy Farm Dairy Farm, the lone perch again...

The perch, sadly not recorded, came to an inevitable worm that I took on a born-of-boredom tour of the topmost lake...they all count.

All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page) There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchAll tench are good tench There are no bad tenchThere are no bad tench All tench are good tenchTinca tinca little star...

2008  1st December 2008. Turfcroft. Frosted grass all day. This was a day planned, an escape from work pressure and while I don't often go all the way over here, midweek it's usually quiet and the environment is it's own reward. It was a cold sunlit day but the grass-frosting never left and I tried three spots on the lake, first trying a corner at the east end with no result, then switching my '500, 'pin and 4lb line further around the lake where the sun played on the water and here on the double tikka maggot I started to pull in fish often if not regularly and although most were a few ounces, roach and perch, I had two good perch, one very good 1¾lb and a cracking cold water roach at 1½lb, perhaps twenty fish in all.

TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day.

Eventually, what with the days as short as they can be, more or less and the sun dipping somewhere warmer, throwing long cold fingers across my side of the pool, I went around to face the sunset and for a change, upped to rod to a '550 and laid on a big bunch of cockles almost to the island where fish unseasonably rolled. I was briefly distracted by the starlings whirring past in formation and then after missing two good bites with numbed fingers, connected with something that for a second felt carp like then capitulated to this bream, 5lb+ maybe. Not a bad days fishing at all and I sat in the gloom hoping my tea-cup would thaw my fingers enough to pull the rod apart. It didn't and the brass ferrules burned even more than the tea.

TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day. TurfcroftTurfcroft, sub-zero all day.

2008  7th December 2008. Wytch Farm. Ice fishing, of a sort. I've no idea what possessed me to decide to try for a carp at Wytch, I've caught them here when the water's been 3°C, but in truth it's been more like -3°C for a few days and I wasn't expecting clear water. Or a bite. I did get clear blues skies and sunshine, the winter sort, a gesture, a reminder, of warmth, rather than warmth itself.

Wytch FarmWytch Farm ice Wytch FarmFrozen Pitman's Wytch FarmWytch Farm ice Wytch FarmFrozen Pitman's

What I found was end-to-end ice with one small fishable spot in the south corner, kept that way by the seep of water into this spot from a ditch that most don't spot and is hidden in the trees. I threw in hemp, whipped out my '550 and decided it could be a lot worse, as the sun was out and the wind was slight...so I stuck to it for about 3½ hours and went through a flask and several bits of chicken and ham pie while the iced-breeze pecked at my fingers and face

Wytch Farm Wytch Farm ice Wytch Farm Frozen Pitman's Wytch Farm Wytch Farm ice

Once or twice I got 'the buzzkeeps happening', the floated wavered, the water under the ice rocked slowly, but in the end my reward for the day was the blackbirds' roosting songs and the wonderful sunset behind the trees. Top afternoon.

2008  14th December 2008. Breach Pond. My gosh, this was a flat grey day to end all flat grey days. Three hours without a ripple, a bite, a twitch. I'd write more but honestly nothing appeared to happen, at all, for hours. Zippo. Blank. Nought. Nada. Rien.

Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
Breach Pond in pastels...1
Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
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Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
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Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
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Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
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Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
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Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
Breach Pond in pastels...7
Breach Pond, East Creech.Breach Pond, East Creech.
Breach Pond in pastels...8

2008  19th December 2008. Barton's Court.

This was one of those 'meet in middle' trips with the b'other one and I tried to float fish in the lagoon around the back and lost one of my self-cocking  GCC2 The disputed '1936 Amendment' of the Geneva Comedy Convention of 1887 - encourages the slightest pauses after the word 'cocking', in the order of ¼s, before continuing the sentence as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.  paste floats to a tree in the first ten minutes, which was annoying. After spending about two hours waiting for a bite in the next swim over, no reason, but I've had fish before here, I sat next to himself, who managed not to catch a single pike...

Barton's Court Lake Looking south across the lake Barton's Court Lake Early morning winter-sun

As the only visible movement was occasional dimples on the flat-top, I decided to ship out the '500The much missed Chapman 500, fit a small self-cocker, a size '14' with two maggots and blat it at the rises. I caught about twenty or so small roach in this way and after an hour declared the day "not a blank". Well, for at least one of us.

Barton's Court Lake Float fishing by the island right around the back on the pit. Barton's Court Lake The Chapman 550 lying in wait Barton's Court Lake The amazing oak, which you can walk past and not even notice.

With a complete lack of fish otherwise, himself opted to head for the hills, so I slipped into the swim by the car park with the '550 and some curried cockles to wait for dusk with the roosting pheasants and to admire the great oak. No carp but an amazing tree.

2008  21st December 2008. Wytch Farm. Home of the now twitchy fish. Could have caught, didn't. This was the day which marked, for me at least, a change in the character of this water. Up until this point I'd been able to catch the carp by fishing about 6-8" over-depth and waiting for the carp to finish fiddling with the bait and stroll off with it. However, match-battering this year has reduced the fish to the kind of nervous prodding which renders conventionally fished baits something of a lottery.

Wytch FarmWytch Farm windy day Wytch FarmWytch Farm windy day Wytch FarmWytch Farm windy day Wytch FarmWytch Farm windy day

Even in this kind of choppy water and scuddy cloud weather, the thaw since early December would have, twelve months ago, given me a chance of a fish, but today the cockles-and-mussels only got twitches followed by a spooked swirl of muddied water as the fish scared itself off to some other spot. A great pity. Of course now we must use 'modern methods' to catch the poor bu88ers when they poke nervously at their food. Natch to that.

2008  23rd December 2008. South Drain. Piking without actual pike. A hare-brained and pre-conceived trip, which saw me up with the frozen lark and dibbling sprats under a float in the South Drain. I put 12lb line on a Kingpin and was using an LRH No.3 which is quite pike-like and despite the early morning frost and mist, which is supposed to foreshadow great piking, didn't get a run as such. The South Drain looks the part with said frost, ground mist and the flat reclaimed mini-fen behind.

This is where the resemblance ended and despite trying my luck in every swim I could reach and eventually trotting the Frome at Redcliff, where I'd parked, after three hours it was clear I was not destined for a traditional pike. Or any kind of pike, come to that.

The south Drain, WarehamThe south Drain, Wareham
Southdrain Pike Hunt...1
The south Drain, WarehamThe south Drain, Wareham
Southdrain Pike Hunt...2
The south Drain, WarehamThe south Drain, Wareham
Southdrain Pike Hunt...3
The south Drain, WarehamThe south Drain, Wareham
Southdrain Pike Hunt...4
The south Drain, WarehamThe south Drain, Wareham
Southdrain Pike Hunt...5

As it was barely coffee time I headed over to Holme Bridge and spent a further couple of hours trying out odd holes and a big eddy upstream of the bridge...and then tried under the bank downstream of the bridge...none of which got me a snatch  GCC1 Another ruling from the Geneva Comedy Convention of 1887 - when using the word 'snatch', a bit of a leer is encouraged as well as a slight pause, less than ¾s, more than ¼s, before the next word. The disputed '1936 Amendment' also makes provision for a double waggle of the eyebrows, the so called 'Groucho' amendment.. Ah well...really good fun though.

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

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

2008  31st December 2008. Gold Oak. Ice fishing. Today, Nemp and me thought we'd get out if at all possible, cobwebs frozen in the cold blast and then brushed away. We went to Whitemoors. Frozen solid all round, although we collected some nice floats. Crooked Willows was likewise, artic and in the end we headed for Gold Oak on the basis we'd be sheltered from the bright edged wind and maybe there was a hole in the ice. In the event, we had to make our own holes on the top pond, accomplished with a log we found on a pile of other ground clearings and a landing net. Some might say we were a bit mad, but we persisted with relatively light tackle, which was properly light in Nemp's case and 6lb through in mine. There was an inevitable begging robin.

Gold Oak petrified flotsam Gold Oak big enough, good enough? Gold Oak spare us a maggot guv?

Nevertheless we both winkled out numerous roach and perch for the best part of three hours and I had, most unreasonably, a good, stunning winter-gilded common in the 7-8lb bracket which would have troubled 2lb line in an ice-hole but with 6lb was less trouble that you'd think as well as a ringing endorsement for curried maggots. Toes frozen and hands numb we creaked and shuffled back up the rime-track to the car, congratulating ourselves on a great day.

Gold Oak ah go on, it's freezing! Gold Oak thanks, very grateful, mmpf, nom, nom... Gold Oak there's always a chance
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
05:34pm on 2017-12-17 JAA