JAA's Diary for...1961-74 / 1974-75 / 1975-79...2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017
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"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self" LoD...for which excellent quote I am indebted to my Scottish correspondent. I trust you are well Dunbar? - Cyril Connolly
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
January 1st 2011. Happy New Year. Be lucky, be healthy and don't sweat the small stuff.
'Small Stuff' includes, but is not limited to: PB's, blanking, squeezing the toothpaste from the middle, anyone who says "If you think about it..." (I have. You're wrong.), what the neighbours think, carbon footprints, 'cane or carbon?', hoovering, 'reality TV', soap operas and tea that's not made with actual tea.
January 6th 2011. The Paradox of Enrichment:
The paradox of enrichment is a term from population ecology coined by Michael Rosenzweig in 1971. This described an effect in various predator-prey models wherein increasing the food available to the prey caused the predator's population to become unstable. For example if the food supply of a prey such as a rabbit is over abundant, its population will grow unbounded and cause the predator population (such as a lynx or fox) to grow un-sustainably large. This may result in a crash in the predators' populations possibly leading to local eradication or even species extinction.
What's that got to do with the price of fish?
There are more carp about than there ever were and they are in the main depressingly easy to catch, in some waters it's harder to avoid carp than to catch them. This is an artificially maintained surfeit of prey (carp). This has resulted in an increase in predator numbers (carp anglers) due in part to the ease of capturing prey. With positive experiences common and requiring little skill, there are many who fish for carp, who, 30 years ago would have given up quite quickly.
And so to the paradox - I suggest that this situation is inherently unstable, metastable even, which is a cool way of saying 'almost stable'. Metastability is characterised by a stable state which spirals rapidly out of control due to small changes. Consider the economy, the continuing situation with otter and cormorant predation and possibility of disease. If we were to get a 20% reduction in prey in a short time there'd be a big drop-off in catches, waters least affected would see an increase in pressure, driving down catches and increasing fish mortality further. Next the carp fishers that need easy fish would hang up their gear. Incomes drop, no money for fishery investment...
Speculation? Clearly. Impossible? It's never been more likely.
January 9th 2011. Wellington. A relocated match on Packhorse, a few minutes to think it over and then Wellington, why not? I go inside track of Tranquil, find two nice swims for warmer times and almost bump into a roe deer, nose in a ditch. I emerge nearer the west end than I thought, lots of interesting reeds for the butterfly chasing. I squelch around to east-end-in-the-sun going for the water most likely to warm the backs of any possible carp. Yep, I'm going to have a go, I put my odds at about 50-1. My swim, corner, also trails my shadow away behind me another bonus. I spot ripples by one tree root but they fade when sidled up to. I plumb 6' of water and with a thin float I fish maggots on a size 8, bacon grill, cockles for about 3 hours in the sun. Nothing even twitches the float, although the soft rushes by my feet wobble once. Two coots slink about, but keeping a distance which tells me they are wild enough and as the light dims a buzzard glides over my left should and reaching the end of the lake swings left out over the open heath beyond.
|Mirror mirror in the lake...||Still calm later on||..and then it's dusk|
The sun briefly ignites the kindling at the top of trees, then burnt out, settles to an orange glow. The Kingfisher blurs across me, moving right-to left and small Fish are moving and there are a few bubbles 15 yards out and I feel it's now if at all, but although I want to sit until the float skips in front of my eyes I'm cold, blood-thinned and I pack with ripples erupting on the right of my swim. I head along the marshy side by the river, thinking an error of judgement for a moment, but the path is well trodden and rounding the end, leaves crunch and the heath grass is crisp, my hands stinging by the car. Great afternoon, many great spots for the warmer times, reeds, fallen trees and places to stalk. I'll be back. "Moths" first up on the small technology. Not even dark, wuss.
15th January, Kingsbridge.
The gate was open for a shooting party start and I like that as I hate locked gates in the car, necessary evil though they are. I spent too long wondering around Packhorse, enjoying the grey-day stout breeze and head for the windward to scavenge, first thoughts being interested in a look, while second thoughts observed I was in no hurry to tackle up. Still, I headed for the boot, two controllers, a waggler and a roach pole top three to the good but getting there, three long term long-liners are covering ¾ of the lake and I avoid confrontation when I'm in a bad mood, so pass around to head back to Tranquil, then was seduced by a quiet corner, but it took me 45 minute to realise it was a foot deep in every direction. Tranquil then, with maggots and 6lb in the face of the soft wind, steep banked-bed Albert Buckley style. I cast a Hex with 8lb to raise the stakes and then try a few casts with maggots and 6lb into the reedy bit which is coloured, I miss a bite, lose a hook in the stiff-breeze-and-tree, loose a hand made float when the line snaps on a reed, the line catching on every damn thing. I give up, bu88er it. I'll watch my quill until the flask is empty and call it quits.
|Tranquility on the windward||The float and the black-and-grey waves|
But the quill, semi-cocked bouncing in the scudding waves diverts, entrances even and suddenly after some minutes of sipping the java-and-Morangie the world aligns with a snap and I watch and wait until the tip dances in the gloom, until small fish batter my float, ironic, if I'd not dismantled the float rod in pique, could have bagged a dozen. I stare until there is nothing to be seen but black-and-grey waves, convinced that the fish will come at any time. But it doesn't, hey ho.
27th January 2011, Straw Turkey. Four days away, two days of flying, Istanbul and Izmir. In turn, Turkey was wet, cold, hot and dry. A silly trip, cooked up by one who thinks JAFMYou know the sort of thing. People who think customers are there to listen to them talk...often endlessly and pant-grindly dully. that others are there in case a card trick is needed, a performing monkey mentality which sits poorly in most organisations at the best of times. It's four hours to Istanbul, an early start, a long flight and a rude passenger finished with a coffee in the airport and a cab to JAFH. The late dinner's highlight - stuffed anchovies the least western thing on the menu, that or the tea, 'çay'. I enjoy both.
So, cab-trips in the rain, a blur, dinner in a mall, ye gods pizza the best we can do? Armed guards present and then 4am to Izmir and a trip up the mountains where snow lay, at odds with what one first imagines of Turkey, then more heat, thankfully a Turkish factory café for lunch, how do they cook egg-plant so well? Turkish coffee, espresso and clay apparently, but I enjoyed it.
Back over the mountain, almost terminally bored, I fantasize worming up the stream that tumbles down the mountains we climb for the second time.
|çay pronounced chai...||unexpected snow||Turkish coffee, speed and clay in one cup...|
My affable Dutch colleague is writing "wake me if I snore" in my notebook, then another dull dinner, the factory café beating the Hilton faux nouvelle by a Turkish mile. I'm tired, my head aches with fatigue, not just the early mornings, wearied by the fast-forward hotels and airports. I wake to the adhãn in Izmir, a feature of Turkey these calls to prayer. I like it, no hardship to be reminded there is a higher calling. I share a taxi with a man who's flying his own Hawker Hunter to the middle east for an air-show and I discover ex-Lightning pilots are called 'WEWOLs' WEWOLWhen We Were On Lightnings... among other interesting things.
In Akortiri in 1974, the 56 Squadron English Electric Lightnings' scramble take-offs from the end of the runway 1½ miles from our house would shake the ground, walls and internal organs at about 3 on the Richter scale. You've no idea... This odd well-met, a man with probably one of the best hobbies ever, cheers me and the girl on the check-in is nice and moves me to an earlier plane for nothing.
Two hours in one airport is better than one hour in two and I wonder off for a coffee at Istanbul and passing a pastiche of the Old Bazaar, get my second big smile of the day. I visited the real Istanbul Old Bazaar in 1974, hashish, guns and looted antiquities alongside spices and stuff, you really had to see it to believe it. Time to pack this in, too much, too far, no more now. Turnpike Engineering becomes something I did somewhere over the Adriatic.
|early adhãn in Izmir|
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float|
7th February, Kingsbridge. A victory for bread paste. JAA...mostly breadpaste...this is what happens to the left-over white loaves after a day's floater fishing.
I walked about Packhorse and behind Tranquil and although my first thought was to fish at the end of the long lake with the wind in my face, in the end opted for the lee end of Tranquil, purely and for no other reason that I fancied a quite spell watching a float and I thought that on the smaller lake it was as likely as anywhere to be harbouring a carp. I'd got my carp head on, silly for March. I put on a pheasant quill-and-bamboo-tip antennae and fished a lump of bread paste about 4" over depth on 8lb line on the four-piece Avon ('Avon', hah. 'Carp rod' more like) plus some yellow enperil'ed hemp. For an empty hour, I scanned the reeds on my left and the shreds of rotting lilies for anything which might indicate a fish. I flicked mixers into corners. After, fish-less, I decided I'd give it 30 more minutes with cockles and try elsewhere.
|let's face it, dodos look livelier||'traditional' my arce||nowt nada zip zero bupkis|
I'd no sooner opted for Carbost'd coffee when the float, with no hint of early warning, vanished clean away. I picked the rod up and held a biggish thing wallowing under the rod for five minutes or so, conscious of the reeds and old pads and eventually brought a fishtailing mirror to the net, 16½lb or so, which is a good way to break the duck for the year. I, of course, opted for a bit longer and 25 minutes later missed a bite that had early warnings all over it and for another half-hour the float twitched and dithered, then at about 4pm it froze into immobility, at 4:30pm I decided to give in gracefully. Midday here then? Winter feeding pattern.
|...they don't fight that hard really||...too quiet||...commons fight harder, no question|
I pack and wander around Packhorse for the exercise as much as anything and flick bread into the corner, after 15 minutes a piece mid-water is porpoised by a carp that looms out of the builder's tea water. I have to put a rod back up and I feed a little and float one crust until it docks with the bank to no avail, while others are slurped away, I try again as the light falls, dusk is the floating bread fisher's friend and even as I watch the spot where the bread might be I feel the line firm up across the left fingers and after a better fight than earlier slip a common onto the bank, 8-9lb maybe. Now I'm going home.
11th February, Kingsbridge, Tranquil. I'd planned to try for a fish off the top on the long lake but nothing moved so I tramped around in the bluster and looked at Tranquil, opted for Wellington and stopping to talk to a hardier soul, opted in the end for Tranquil in the end but the opposite bank to last week, the wind in my face.
|OK, a bit of a blank then|
I again trusted the bread paste and a tiny lift float on the Hex. and sat for an hour in the dreech, got very damp and then two hours of brisk headwind sucked the heat out of me more efficiently than a vampire draining blood, in spite of my boosted coffee. The far-bank neighbour had one fish about 3ish, a carp. Through all of this the float only moved once, at 4ish, dipping and then floating gently up and down a few times. I struck, early, knew it as I did it and the bubbles that had materialised in my swim 10 minutes before faded to ripples. A fish rolled in the centre of the lake, then stiffened, cold to the core, I headed for the car heater. Once chance, missed it, that happens.
14th February 2011, Kingsbridge...and so after a walk and a natter I end up on the south bank of Tranquil for almost 20 minutes but it's just not right and so I head for the big welly boot and set up on the North bank in the sun which feels right, doubly so because I put up a big common as I pass the corner, a side-of-mail vanishing into a casual vortex, well over 20lb I'd have said. I spend an hour in the sun listening to the birds celebrating up the lengthening days in song, the Sherford sucking at it's banks behind me and the rumble of the traffic on the main road and then picking up my notebook, miss a bite, even though telegraphed by a few bubbles in the wavelets and two sharp, almost unnoticeable taps, again striking too soon.
Then the sun ebbs off behind clouds and the temperature drops and I pass the time with several cups of the braced java. I decide after perhaps two hours that it's now the wrong place and slip up the bank thinking go to the South side, but hesitating by a cutting in the bank at the thin end, I'm debating whether the thin shape I can see is an upended carp or not and my foot slips and I get another vortex of derision. This answers two questions at once, so I slip into the cut out and fish for 20 minutes before it occurs to me 6lb line is pushing it in an enclosed space so switch to 10lb and a lift float. A fish tops to my right and encouraged I focus on the orange blob for the next 90 minutes. A sparrow hawk swerves through the trees like a ghost and last fish surfaces to my left to break my concentration.
|right in the sun, wrong in the cloud||got to pay attention||more waiting||JAA's 'wireless bite alarm'||trees, sun, no fish|
This is all to no avail and in the end, the float pixellated in the gloom, I give in and nick-off the float, put on a size 4 and seeing the vacated bank in the setting sunlight and fish moving, wander down with a loaf for a try. There are several big fish swirling in front of my late swim so I try a long cast or two, ignored so slink around the back and drift crusts under the bank while fish swirl and porpoise in the black-and-white. The bread is nudged and bumped and the loudest thing in the dusk is my thudding heart but they're not really interested, even free bread is ignored. I dromedary-trudge to the car and it occurs to me I should have tried flake free-lined on the bottom and stayed on this bank. Ah well. I've learnt a little more about this lake though, but again missed my chances.
27th February 2011, Crooked Willows. Very cagey surface feeders here, even the bream.
There are two long-liners on the west bank on arrving and I determine that nothing is doing carp-wise. I amble around to the SE corner and in about thirty minutes nab a ghostie on a bit of slowly sinking bread. That proves to be my only easy ride on the top and although the fish will take, they batter all bait on the water until it sinks before touching it. I nab a smaller one a bit later, on a piece of flake crushed to just sink, a cork ball on the line whizzing under to provide a cue.
|The ghostie||the smaller one||The pitch...||...and the lie under the trees.|
I try for some time to get a fish from under the trees but I can't get the range right and on the one occasion I get a bait dangled in the right place it's sucked half a dozen times without taking. This dovetails with the silly number of controllers picked up here, I add two today and a quick tally comes to six bubble floats, five Drennan, a couple of ESP's and sundry wagglers and pole floats. I try 6lb line and mixers on a size 10 and another smaller carp, 2lb or so and then a fierce take produces a 3lb bream, then a smaller bream then a roach. I call it quits before the light fades. Not so bad, but was in the area anyhow, not really local for me - but if you can catch regularly off the top here you can do it anywhere. They're educated on that.
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
1st March 2011, River Sem. Teeny fish on a tiny river. This muddy (today anyway) stream is a mass of alders and pools and despite it's unprepossessing look harbours roach, dace, chub, perch, and I'm told by my host, the odd tench, carp and rudd. Oh and the inevitable eels. And about a million minnows. It's simple fishing with light river floats, light line and a short rod ideally and you just fish for bites on fine tackle and move from pool to glide as they 'fish out' or spook. The odd bonus chub to 8-10oz shows up, which give you a start after several 2-3oz roach. It's really quite busy fishing and totally absorbing, and I think (without counting) I had about four chub and perhaps a dozen-and-a-half roach, a couple of dace and a hat-full of minnows.
|they are in there||here chubby chubby chub||...but stuffed fulll of minnows|
I found an 11ft rod rather too long and intend to go next time with a re-built Milbro Tourist a 7' soft glass rod in four pieces. Wonderful fishing, the spirit of angling lives in these tiny overgrown streams.
3rd March 2011, Packhorse. Scratchy roach, a carp and a bream pretending.
I'd planned to be a lot more creative today, but in the end I 'settled' at the grey windward end and 'fished for bites' with the Avon, 6lb through the rings, a 4lb braid bottom and a size 14. This worked not, so I cast about for smaller fish with a fine hook-link and in the end nicked a few rudd on a single maggot mid-water or so and gradually as the afternoon stretched out I picked up more roach including a decent one and then as the stretch turned into a yawn, I switched back to the 4lb braid length and a big bit of bread-paste JAA...mostly breadpaste...this is what happens to the left-over white loaves after a day's floater fishing. nicked a carp, then after some false bites a bream pretending to be a carp.
|the grey windward end - yeah, I know not so pretty||all floats are good floats||muddy but nice||another gulled carp||ha, very funny|
A barn-owl glides across the lake and puts on the air brakes as it spots me at the last second then drop-stalls into the gorse behind me. Good enough.
7th March 2011, Bartons Court, The Kennet.
JH met me at the gate and I got a guided tour of the river complex here. It's a magnificent landscape of drowners and drainers and water meadows, idyllic. The bright sun didn't augur well for actual fish but JH certainly knows the place like the back of his hand, which augured well for later.
I tackle up by the car while JH wanders off back to his stashed rods and a well known angler pulls up beside me. I apologise profusely for my mostly carbon float rod and he instantly replies that he averted his head on arriving. I pop on my float, a clear stubby thing, the water is shallow and clear and the sun is bright, I feel no remorse for this, it's going to be tricky fishing.
I set up in the pool at the top of Parson's Ditch and head up the Upper Park Stream, try a few casts just for the feel of it. I follow Heron's Delight to it's confluence with the Willow Stream and Sharmans' Water and spend a while trying for fish in the sluice into the Heron's Delight, then a few casts on the wider expanse of Sharmans's above the sluice there, again for the feel of casting off-the-reel, rusty but like the proverbial bike riding.
I park at the top of the narrow sluice into the Willow Stream and drop my float against the far bank and steer it under brambles and into a niches in the bank. Second trot I miss a bite, third I hit a fish, not expecting the orange-tip dip to be a bite, which pulls and is gone. Several trots later I get this brownie, then lose a good grayling and then land another trout, perhaps a couple of pounds. Tapped out I spend an hour mucking about below the sluice on top of the canal arm....
|smaller is surprisingly, better||justanotherbrownie||I love these types of spots - the top of the 'Willow Stream'||More of the glorious Kennet - the top of the 'Canal Section'||More of the glorious Kennet - the top of the 'Canal Section'|
...with nothing resembling a bite and then make my way to where the Old River is fed from the Willow Stream and spent another 45 minutes trying to get one of the small perch out of the Willow Stream under the foot bridge. I hook one but it wriggles off.
I break out the coffee and steer my float through the maelstrom here, aiming to float my tackle over the gravel bar at the pool-end for a grayling. I lose a hook on a post and after 20 odd minutes of broadly speaking, circular trotting, the float buries in the whirlpool heart and I get a lively trout of a fair size which keeps me busy on my 3lb and light float rod. A fish is a fish. I debate feeding and trotting the calmer stretch which has a fine glide under the bank and JH appears and we vote for lunch, which in my case is several chunks of "Rocky Road" supplied by the 'Marmiteangler'.
|A whole bunch of stockie trout||is there a smaller one anywhere?||down the bright stream... - 'Heron's Delight'|
I re-start on the Heron's Delight run in the full sun and bag a trout, a tiny grayling and then a big trout which takes me more than a few minutes to get in as it's 15 yards downstream when I hit the stumbling float. I work my way down the river picking up more trout (and a disgorger) and even at the confluence of this stretch and the main river I can only get trout although I spot a lone perch of 1lb several times but my worms are not to the required standard I guess. I finish up with two trout caught at 40 yard on bread trotted along the bottom - a satisfying piece of trotting if nothing else. I give in and head for the perch swim with JH where we fishing out the last 90 minutes, he having (I think - correct me if I'm wrong please!) four perch to 2lb 2oz and I get one bite only but at 2lb 10oz - but I'm pretty pleased with my day. Two 'coarse' and a dozen 'mugfish'.
|2lb 10oz, big stripey. Well, for me anyway.|
Bangers and mash in the Carpenters Arms with fishing books and real beer. Proper finish.
8th March 2011, Bartons Court Lake.
We were robbed of a proper breakfast by a Newbury supermarket cafe's sneaky conversion into "Italian for Coffee" it's just not the same. Never mind, we provisioned up and headed for the fish. The day was again bright and idyllically calm and we opted for the west bank in the sunshine on the basis of 'first water warmed and longest'. A nice place to sit, as it turns out and also for a nap. We put up floats and waited, watched the kite, who's mewing accentuates the flat clam. I did get a reasonable snap over my shoulder, by a fluke of the shutter, then several pictures of a trio of pike (look hard) that doing the Prespawn Tango. But other fish we saw not, although the Nomes had been by...
|spot the fish||OK, 'a' float then||OK, not perfect but still pretty good||mating pike|
|mating pike||mating pike||They've got rod-rests too. Right?|
It was though, fabulous weather but JH was well under it so after a fishless and biteless few hours, I opted for a wander with bread and he for 'sleeping off the lurgy'. I tried a few likely spots and ended up sitting between the reeds in a swim on the east end and although nothing went for my bread, a spot of casual freelining gave a chance to spot a few rises among the waves at this end. Although dolrumic at the other end, by then a light breeze had pushed a chop to this end and when a tail flicked past the grass at my feet I'd made up my mind this end was a better bet.
My other plan for floating bread amongst the tree was also stymied by the brutal pruning of the brush which seems at odds with the worry about cormorants here, removing the fishes' refuges if nothing else. Ah well. Float fishing it is.
I went back for gear and JH had decided on a spot amongst the trees, which made sense a well so we diverged. I lobbed in the inevitable hemp and after about an hour JH gave it up for his sickbed and leaving me with best wishes and some prawns. I'd meanwhile put on 10lb mono and a crow quill and laid on a size 7 with a cockle and now a prawn. This is my favourite game and I watched the float in the chop for 30 minutes and it might have moved once and so I gave myself another 15 before changing to paste. All at once the float is subtly disobeying the waves and then flicking once, like the end a match extinguished in the fingers, it drops out of site and my strike was resisted by a lump which wondered off in a bemused way. I'd bent the rod over for a bit and after a minute or so I steered it inboard and nearing the net everything changed and my new attachment headed hard for the other bank getting 25 yards nearer it than me. I pulled back, pulled it out of a left hand kite twice with the line singing in the wind and then we did it all again. And again. And once more for luck, kite to the right this time and then we had 5 minutes of circular attrition in front of me and another run-off when sighting the net. Then a bit more circling, this time getting the fish up in the water and as it flips into the net, I think to myself, that'll be a 20lb then. So it proves, in fact 21lb, but what colours! Better than average.
|...the right spot||just perfect||the most stunning winter coat||21lb Mirror...and caught the proper way as well|
I get one more bite 25 minutes later and a much short battle yields this tench, which I'm inclined to weigh, 5½lb. That's also good, a blazing end to a long quiet day and I'm thinking "what's third?" and "Pity JH wasn't here" when the wind, chilling me for sure, but warming the water also, drops like a cut sail and it's suddenly flat calm and I wonder whether the warm water wedge will oscillate back to me before dusk, but it doesn't. Not bad, ironically the swim nearest the car-park. I can barely move my chilled-to-the-marrow hands.
|second prize isn't bad either||the fish went with wind...||...and didn't come back|
9th March 2011, Bartons Court, The Kennet.
A different day, not so bright and I'm now 'trouted out' so JH and I split and I wander down the Park Stream, picking out a trout in the pool below the house garden, big enough but another. Pah. No wonder they invented fly fishing to make it a bit tricky to catch them. I follow the Midge Cut to Gunters, a pool I saw on my guided tour on Monday but one also seen many times in my dreams. I park and feed the fish and drink coffee. I've put an oldish fluted Avon on (I pulled out the rusty eye and whipped on another) and trotted it round in circles and missed several sharp taps.
|The pool of my dreams...||...on the River Kennet||'both the near and far banks...' - it's a good swim you know|
After an hour and a chat with JH, who materialised like a wraith (or perhaps I was rapt in my pool) I wondered down Gunters and after some experimentation I ended up tripping tiny pieces of bread and single maggots under both the near and far banks and hitting every bump and flick for a time period that's lost to me even now, I pick out a score of roach to 2oz and half a dozen chublets, entrancing.
Eventually, tapped out, I was lured back to the pool and after a couple of runs down into the main water the float whipped of and I caught a small and very brown trout which somehow seemed more worthy that the bigger silver ones. A second trot and retrieve past a jut of rushes had a small pike slash at my bait and then also my float. Mulled it over and put on 6 inches of silicone over 6lb line and a bunch of worms, but to that lure he failed to respond.
I went back to a '16' and fine hook-length and plucked a chublet out of the swirl in front of me and then a grayling of 4oz. And so it went with chublets and after a period flicking corn into the main flow, I flicked the float out from the other side of the bricks and second cast had a silvery grayling of ¾lb maybe, then lost one twisting off the hook...and another and then it was dead so I went back to my swirl. And then it was 4pm, I've no idea where the time went.
|a Kennet grayling||...on the River Kennet|
I trudged back to JH 'on the perch', they rise up as the sun sets, where he's had a couple and watch him land another and then a pike and then a crayfish to much hilarity, at least on my part...and then it was dead until my float sloped off and the thump made me dream of monster stripes until this bream emerged. Drat.
As I'd forgotten my clear classes and then trod on my polaroids, I called it quits - and if you saw two old anglers tying knots in a roadside services cafe at 11pm then that was us...
I think I enjoyed today more than the others you know.
14th March 2011, Milton Abbey. Suckered in by the sight of the tench, managed a dozen good roach instead to 1lb. I've had worse days and felt better about it. Two more foundlings for the collection.
|the pump pool...||...the float...||...one of the roach||the main lake and the island||...the float...|
17th March 2011, Upper Sharnhill. I stopped counting at thirty, but nevertheless fishing a big quill and worms in the sun, is no hardship at all (4oz-2lb, four crucians and four of those purple mirror thingies).
|One of the 2lb'ers||...the reedy south end of the pond...||...the reedy north end of the pond|
|Might pay attention. Might not.||...the slanted quill...||...the pitch...||...the slanted quill|
|A little purple leather||A tiny crucian||a cross-section of 'the bag'|
Even this tiny pond yields two more floats for the jetsam collection.
24th March 2011, Kingsbridge. Six carp and a decent tench on bread and the odd bunch of worms. Not bad considering a three hour doldrums midday and some synchronised fishing scaring that bordered on Oscar winning.
I started by picking a carp out of the windward chop on Packhorse and then spotting the oddest ripple on the water, watch and then photograph a grass snake making it's way across from the far bank. I then nabbed a tench on the same hook, worm-bound, with a cork ball float and then a second snake appears making land five feet away then vanishing into leaves as I moved gently for the camera.
|started by picking a carp out of the windward chop...'one'||You knew they could swim, right? The old Enlgish name for them is 'water snake'.||...slither, pose, slither...|
Interesting. The occasional 'creak' of frogs in the reeds give me a clue about this spot's popularity. On the opposite corner I found two fish cruising, so hiding myself behind a bit of broom drifted a bait into the reeds and it was nipped under before it got there, the smaller of the two of course. This didn't surrender at once but wasn't so hard to land and went a shade over 10lb. The next bit of bread landed right against the reed-fringe 30 yards off and after 15 minutes was taken on the run like a cresting porpoise and this fish really battled, despite getting it away from the reeds it bored and clung to the bottom, stubborn to the last and took over five minutes to net. I'd have sworn it was 11-12lb, but the scales said 9lb. Baffling. I spent 35 minutes tricking a third out of the very corner and then wondering about 'laying-on' in the breeze for a bit, opted for a trudge around to Tranquil, pausing only to ask a fellow angler for a scale check. Nope mine are good. Odd. I suggested 'laying-on' at the windward reeds in all sincerity.
|then nabbed a tench...who needs a proper float?||...one more shake of the net and it'd be 9lb 15oz...||...well it fought very hard so it must be bigger||...another battler|
Tranquil; do some fishermen read nothing? How can there still be anglers fishing in white and sky blue shirts, who stand at the front of a swim on a 1 acre pool, waving their arms about and talking at the top of their voices? Amazing but true. It could only be worse if one of them had clumped all around behind me, 'skylined' himself and put my swim down. Oh wait, he did...and then the only way the short spell on Wellington could have been made worse was if some nit on a bike cycled all around the lake and stopped on the new swims, stood at the front of each one hands-on-hips ("...yeah, I'm a mighty fisherman") and put the few fish that had ventured out after the earthworks for the new "teaching swims" (...and that's pi$$ing on my head and saying it's raining, they're big flat camping swims for the long-liners, 'teaching' my ar$e), down again. Oh wait that happened as well. When Mr. Bikey scooted past me, sat on a swim-board with coffee on the go and a rod resting on the ground I hope he thought I couldn't fish and after he'd bu88ered off I had two more carp and had a hook-pull from one which took me 45 minutes to coax into taking three mixers, so quietly you'd never know if you hadn't been looking right at them when they slipped silently from sight...
|...smaller, charier||...even charier|
On reflection I'd add that irritating as this type of thing is on the day, were it not for the confounding silliness of the danglers and long-liners, I'd not catch half so many fish, so really guys, keep fishing and deporting like twats, I'm most grateful.
29th March 2011, Orchard Lakes, New Milton. This was a meet-up with pals and although they were fishing one of the lakes behind, this pitch looked a first class top-of-the-range set-up for a crust fisher...and so it proved.
|A cunch of barp||The all too attractive pitch||the best looking if not the largest|
|...coffin...(and back to the top of the page)||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...|
April 1st 2011. I wish these were jokes. It's a bit depressing really. The usual trash journalism in the Angling Times this week is enhanced by match anglers set to "defy the close season" and fish a match. In my patch, a weed filled local lake will be denuded, not really required, except by the fish who live, eat and shelter in it (mark my words the fish will dwindle and fall prey to the usual otters and cormorants and the safety of the weed will be long forgotten by those ranting for pest control) and another quiet corner has had three massive flat gravel fronted bays added, to ease the poor old long-liners. It's just far too much of 'me, me, me' in angling today, it's repetitive and frankly, sad, I'm reminded by a friend that the way to view such things and especially the Angling Times is in the same way that the much missed John Peel always kept a photo of Tony Blackburn on his desk, namely that it served JP as "a constant reminder of what can happen", which is all the Angling Times is good for. Let us remember that angling should be about integration with nature not the domination of nature.
Integration not domination.
I'm hoping for the match to go ahead and the EA to book the lot and prosecute them all. Why? Because it's not up to us to pick and chose what laws and rules suit us. You abide by them and lobby for change, everything else is just chaos. Grow up lads - join the Angling Trust and lobby for change. That's what grown-ups do; "defying the close season" is just kids throwing toys out of their prams and they're double mugs for doing the tackle industry's work for them. Hee-haw.
2nd April 2011: JAA's Serendipity Check, No. 23...we went to a supermarket today and I go to the deli for ham. Herself evaporates. I say, offhand, to the chap serving:
"Uh-oh, my wife's gone..."
"Is that good or bad?"
"Depends what she spends..."
"I know what you mean. On holiday in Singapore last month my wife came back from a trip with an HD Camcorder for $150."
"Not bad price that, but you might need more memory than it came with."
"Nah, it's 1000 pictures or 1 hour of HD video."
"That's a bargain then mate. Singapore's changed since I was there though."
"When was that?"
"1968-69, a bit back!"
"Yep, Dad in the RAF."
"My wife's late husband was stationed there, that's why we go back. Seletar? Changi?"
"Seletar, Dad was on the Bloodhounds. I went to the Primary school on the base"
"How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"
I told him. Pause.
"My stepdaughter's that age. You must have been in the same class."
I mean really, what are the frickin' odds?
4th April 2011: Silent Woman.
I'd anticipated a warm and grey day with a strong SW wind making the lake ideal for fishing crust at long range...at the last minute I put the Avon and bait bucket in the car a good call as it turned out. I went to the lee end but there were no fish moving and the wind was fishtailing around the island making it hard to fish how I'd planned. I put a small bamboo insert quill on and baited a small area only 10 feet from the bank, the idea being the fish's approach to this area would have reeds between us. I loaded a 14 with a worm-and-grain-of-corn and kicked back...when I got a few bobs put it down to rudd but when, after missing several dips I hit a fish which slowly got heavy on me and then produced, after a ping, a single 10p sized scale, I though better of it and paid more attention. 30 odd minutes later I hit the slide and after a lively battle landed this. A start. Somehow the 4lb hook-length was snapped by the swivel so I re-tied it and tried again.
|the pitch||the float in the pitch||the best looking mirror|
In the interim I'd seen a fish leap ahead of me and there was a fish cruising the surface, on and off, in the bay to my left so after a bit I put a heavier float rig on and snuck into the corner and spent an hour fishing a cockle and worms in two weedy spots, baiting quietly and continuously with chopped worms and half cockles. Nada. Without even a swirl for indication, I went for a stroll the other way in case I was missing something and then settled back on the Avon. I lost the '14 in a rush stem, when the braid broke so I switched to 6lb and a size 10. Three more came out in the next two warm sunny hours, despite pulling the hook out of the largest, all the while firing bread into the bay, where it was occasionally taken.
So at 6-ish I snuck back with a hook and the loaf and tried to get a take on crust from the back of the bay but after 40 minutes of having my bait ignored, even when it had drifted into the reeds, I snuck another 15 yards to some ripples behind a screen of old rushes, flicked a crust out, hooked the line over a dead rush and tweaked the bait until it was at the bottom of said rush. I expected to have to wait for 15 minutes, but 15 seconds was all I needed, ignoring the suck and waiting for the bow in the rush-to-rod line to lift 6" and that-was-more-or-less-that.
|Another cunch of barp||The view across the 'bay'||the best looking common, might have been the largest, can't really recally|
I went back to the Avon and with the light starting to grey-up nabbed another one on the float. My first thought on reaching the car was that it was nice to just fish in a regular way and catch. My second thought, a mile down the road was that it would have been so much nicer to have had a mixed bag rather than carpcarpcarp. My third thought on the matter over supper was that this is what so wrong with contemporary fishing. You've a job not to catch a carp - and they are easy to catch and so, worth very little, so even on a nice day, you get the feeling you're missing something...
12th April 2011: Lower Sharnhill. I've lost some heart on hearing the weed is to be 'cleared' as it's the weed that gives this odd pond its life and carp, but nevertheless I caught a zillion little ones (well, up to 1½lb) and after some high jinks, a nice fish nicked at 30 yards on the Hex avon and a bit of bread. And, proving a point, a 3lb fish caught on a dead-bait sprat. Really. The second sprat was battered to pieces by what I presume were smaller carp and the third edged quietly off to one side, but the strike got me nothing. Amazingly good light for photographs.
|the quill in the pitch||the view from the east end||The crust tricked common. Look at the length compared with girth. Long lean feral fish.|
|looking south-west||north-west at sunset||north-west at sunset|
20th April. Marsh Farm, Hill Pond: The Great Pure Piscator Gudgeon Match 'to the death'. Pity about the GOZO...the Grand Union Gobio Gobio Society, but a skipful of scrappy little tench, some egg sarnies, GOS's hat and lashings of ginger beer made up for it. Nearly.
|Hill Pond||JAA not catching gudgeon||Hill Pond||Hill Pond|
23th April 2011. Kingsbridge, Packhorse. A test run of the "Mystery Rod", a stout 9'8" of steely cane, the best guess a MARCO salmon wormer. Stripped of its crumbling corks and cracked black/gold jasper, then re-ringed in the 'old Bells' way it promises to be a margin rod of some poke. It's about the same at the tip as an LRH No.2, a shade thicker maybe, a steeper taper, more middle action. A surprised 4lb tench and three dogged carp to 10lb or so put nary a dint in it, so it's off for the bigger ones (at least that's the plan, certainty has no place in angling). No dragons about today, must be that St. George chappie.
|The surprised tench||dogged carp #1||The pitch of the day (on the south bank, west corner)||dogged carp #2||dogged carp #3|
27th April 2011. Arfleet Mills.
|the afternoon hatch||the 'downstream' end of the old clay-pit||a closer look at the insects|
|the float in situ||the 'upstream' end from the 'down stream' end||the pitch in the rushes|
29th April 2011. Triangle Pond. Small crucians, small tench, gudgeon and rudd. A few carp seen nosing in the weeds. A fine afternoon fishing for bites, some of the results of which are shown below.
|tinca||crucian||crucian||the pitch||dogged carp #3|
|crucian||crucian||tench||Triangle pond (one bit)|
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
3rd May 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Might tell you some more about the day later. Might not.
|A good carassius to start off with||The view from my second swim||The view from my second swim||a perfectly fine tinca|
|a considerably better than fine tinca||towards the end of the pond||the damn, anglers for the seating of||almost sunset on a fine fine days angling|
4th May 2011. Darts. I knocked these up for a pal who's eyesight isn't so good. They're literally dart flights glued into a cross-slot in the top of two porcupine quills and a plastic waggler. You can buy float tops to do this now...
|Dart-flight floats for the hard of fishing|
'Star Wars Day' also.
6th May 2011. Tranquill Lake. A load of small tench and rudd, one large tench and a grass snake. Which I didn't catch.
|The pitch on the south west corner||The rather rather woody south end.||The grass snake making a break for it||The big tench||About the best rudd|
10th May 2011. Arfleet.
I headed to Arfleet for the second time this year, finding the back pit still in a grump, with the water still barely coloured and the fish mooching about the bottom end. I know this game, when they're about like that you're usually doomed. A few fish did tease under the far bank in the sun and even perhaps sucked at some hot cross bun floaters, but in truth, after three hours, interrupted by a man with towed family and several poles, I couldn't raise a bite, off the top or off the margin-bottom, or the lake bed ¾ of the way across. Given it was warm and fairly still, that seemed apt and after a bit I tried for an hour at the other end, missing the casts I need for a take, although one piece was tugged experimentally. Couldn't buy a bite on corn even, from the rudd. Odd.
|Meh. Not hungry.||We scorn your bait and your presense||We swim up...||...we swim back...|
At 6ish I gave it up for a bad job (if at first you don't succeed try again by all means, but don't be an obsessive twit) and headed for the other lake planning to fish the margin with 6lb line and the '550 and a pole float and take whatever came along. The sole resident, I slotted onto a spot on the bank, like a jigsaw piece in the right place. I settled back and caught several small roach 1-2oz maybe, although I had to cut corn grains in half to hit them - there's 4" of 6lb braid on the end of 6lb mono and a size 14 'barbel', the back pit is that kind of water...and was to lazy to change it. After a scatter of the smaller ones I got one in the 8oz range which was nice, a 4oz fish and then switching to a single cockle which, obligingly bobbled off after about 30 minutes, giving me proper bend in my rod and was thankful of the 6lb line. A 5lb common, unable to overcome the bendy stick. I resumed corn, nabbed a few more bits then swapped back to cockle when peace returned. A tench whipped the float under almost on the drop, a bit over 2lb, but there are no bad ones. The lake then displayed one of it's quirks which was the emergence of shreds of mist of the surface, drifted across in the coaxing breeze which funnels through the castle's gap in the ridge, a sea breeze at birth. These spectres haunted the water while I waited for a last fish, which after a trip-and-duck turned into a roach well over a pound which, split finned, perhaps had spawned of late. I watched the tip until it jigged in front of me in the Castle lee's odd grey light and took my rods back to the car, the crust rod assembled but untouched. I doubt I saw four carp move all evening, two seasons back, it would have been ten times that.
|I got one in the 8oz range which was nice||A 5lb common, unable to overcome the bendy stick||The view from my second swim||A tench whipped the float under almost on the drop||turned into a roach well over a pound|
The near full moon-shadows track me back to the car and the black rabbit of the Wareham bypass was cropping grass, it, or descendants of it, have been marking the dusk here for at least five years and I like to see it, I like to see them all. The early warm days have sprung the lanes' verges to a snow-capped man's height and in the headlamps, tracks known from a hundred passages look subtly alien. The three-ways' yew looms sudden, unfamiliar and the thundercloud on the north skyline is so black I see myself driving to a different house at the base of a mountain. But then it's just the 'Red Post' and the A31.
13th May 2011. Silent Woman. Surprise, surprise, they're carp, but in 14" of water they averaged 35 yard runs. Good fun on a bendy bamboo. Remember fun anyone?
|..the inevitable hypnotic float picture||The pitch. All the water you can see is 14 inches deep||the first||the second|
|well, it's one way of dotting down the float||the third, 9lb on the nose||the fourth|
|the fifth, 9¼lb||the corner, even shallower||the sixth, surprise a mirror|
17th May 2011. Wytch Farm. I took the float rod for a day out and was told by someone actually float fishing for rudd on purpose that many carp were 'lost' earlier in the year and a few hours with no movement, backed that up. My source collected several cracking rudd from 1lb to 1¾lb while I, float rod to the fore, managed one at perhaps ½lb and three-score assorted roach and rudd. I pulled my size 14 out of a carp after a lumbered yard and then hooked one that I could do little with except hang on, finally pulling out the hook 15 yards down the bank as it was that, the rod tip or the brushwood in the margin. Felt like "Old Lippywhat again?" to me.
|the pitch...||...the float...||..the roach/rudd..||...and the view up the lake|
TTFN Wytch, it's been great.
19th May 2011. A Wetland PondPeter Rolfe's Wetlands. A fun fishing trip, disguised as a "stock re-distribution exercise". Proper job.
|Pond '5', teeming with small crucians and tench.||A small black tench. This fish had no eyes at all, just slight depressions in the skin where eyes would normally be. It was 100% fit and heathly.||A perfect small crucian||A perfect small crucian|
|A perfect small tench||A perfect small crucian||A perfect small crucian||The thin cane-tipped porcy, poised...||A bucket, one of several, of small tench and crucians|
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1st June 2011. JAA's new motto: "It is the duty of righteous men to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end." Primo Levi.
3rd June 2011. Edmondsham. I dropped an end-nicked mussel into the fizz, waited out the dithering amid the bubbles. After the float started to edge crabwise, in what I judged was a definite manner, I struck and something twanged left and then right and the hook came back with a twig. How do they do that? A curling spout of silt remained, taunting.
I fished outward a bit and when bubbles re-started, reeled my bait back, stealthy, no anti-reverse. I waited only a minute and the float dipped under. I whipped the rod up and a fish piled into the lilies and at the 3-feet-in mark it was hold-or-lose, the rod, locked, or as near as, couldn't get me out of the trouble the loose fold of line had got me into...the hook knot broke and I heard my float hit the leaves behind me somewhere. I sat for a while, contemplated self inflicted disaster. I wondered about my float and then realised I didn't care, it got stuck in a tree in France, was still hanging 12 months later, even re-varnished didn't hit the spot, a wreck-bob. I left it. The sun went behind the clouds. Well it would.
When I got here, two were already in, so I walked the sunny west bank, bottom weed, carp and tench equally visible. Onward to the narrow end, past the island two groups of good fish scoot by, neither so large as the big shovel-tail, put up under a swim-board. There's a shade more colour in the dire strait, so I picked a swim on the shady side opposite the spot I fancied (direct sun an anathema) which has a big patch of lilies on my right and the tail of the island, 25 feet ahead, trailing line snagging brambles. Putting a bait out, predictably, miss a bite as I scribble, then bubbles bisect the float and the bank. I'm dapple-shaded, cool and the bird-life's chasing each other up and down the trees behind me. A blackbird doesn't see me until it almost crash-lands my hat, distant pheasants give themselves away. All too pleasant and I'm amused by two goose-periscopes in the meadow behind the far bank. Then a big-paddled shadow ponders past my feet...
|double damsel, double float||Island's bank, hooklength's graveyard||thick, thick lilies and the meadow beyond||the small cane and balsa thing|
I put 10lb on, a small cane and balsa thing and carried on. The water was clear enough to see spectres gliding past along with several sharp changes of direction after a tweak of the float. Very clear water. Clear the water was. See-through you might say. Transparent, in the main.
The problem with the subconscious mind is at best, it can only drop hints, explanations reduced to 'ahem' and then, clarity. Aha. I dug out the dry markers, lengthened the tail to 8", moved the float up 12" and coloured the last two feet green and not-quite-random spots of black. I recast. I then caught a 3lb bream, a 5¼lb tench and a 9lb scarred common, technically, successive casts.
Aha. I then missed a bite for the biggest tench I've seen for some time. Rats. I retrieve the hook out of a hazel leaf and waited for some time before a half-chevron of five carp went through, the last two peel off, shedding vortices, the float zings under and I plant the hook into a stout branch where it remains, the recoiled float tip sticking through the arm on my padded shirt like a dart. Ow.
Thereafter, for two furnace-sun hours, despite tormentor fish I got neither hittable bite nor a real take of any kind, while my hat brim stuck on and sweat squeezed from the back of my hands. With commons of very scary size swerving past, giving me a longing for the big hex. rod, I packed up and head for the pick-up and a chip supper.
With a little hindsight and TMS'Test Match Special' you philistine. in the car, this is going to be tricky water - the stock density isn't over high but the fish are chary and there is a ban on braid and hooks over size 8 and floating baits, which does limit ones options. Nearly every swim has patches of thick lilies which necessitates strong tackle. I may yet plait some 3 or 4lb Maxima into traces to soften the hook-length and change it's colour - that's not as tricky as you think with a firm cushion and three small cotton reels. A few short links and a pop-up float might be a good way as well. Hmm.
|abramis brama, better than a blank||the nice big tench||a common old soldier|
6th June 2011. "Catching not fishing".
According to this week's
Angling Times comic there's an indoor fishery in Holland which leaves Keith Arthur, quite rightly, spluttering his cuppa. "Catching not fishing" is how he describes this, along with bivvie-sleeping 'carpers' and bait-boat-casters. Thank the Lord for a modicum of common sense, one of the very few diamonds in the nutty slack of the rag itself.
I note the silly match-baggin' squabble has reached the point where it is said that 50lb of fish crammed in a keep net three times a week in warm weather is not good for the fish nss"My word, that's most certainly not excrement Holmes!", Watson ejaculated. - and that fishery managers and match anglers don't understand that. Bless! Of course they understand it, they just don't give a rat's ar$e, as long as the money rolls in and the catchers get to "bag up". Big nets lads, nothing else matters. Right?
Freud is largely discredited these days, but I can't help but wonder 'big bulging nets', 'long poles', are you sure you're not, ahem, 'compensating' at all?
Splashy wagglers anyone?
6th June 2011. Snoorrrkk...yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip... snoooooorrrrrk...yap-yap-yap.... snooooooorrrrk...yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip... snooooorrrk...yip-yip-yip-yip-yap... the dog barking in her sleep. Makes me laugh every time.
9th June 2011. Edmondsham.
Late afternoon and the lake's all mine, a circuit tells me the same story as the last time. Today though the clouds are slate grey, a darker day, lower light, doldrums before a storm, with no storm in the offing. I try the same swim and fish in the colour and peripatetic bubbles, watching the odd fish mooch by but can't raise a bite, maybe the 12lb on the 'pin and 11lb hook-length, one of those thinner lines. I stand up after 90 minutes and realise the water's cleared, not a fish to be seen. Oh.
I can hear the fish moving at the other end, so scoot down with the gear and set up a second camp where the tench and carp are top-lallygagging deliberately, purposefully out of meaningful float-fishing range. They're not dining yet, so baiting a bit, I swap the 'pin for a '66, 12lb for 10lb with 8lb bottom, tie on a 14 and play with the rudd and several teeny tiny bream for a couple of hours and wait in the not quite-thundery torpor.
The surface patter-of-antics, interlaced with distant bubbles, are edging nearer in step with the angle of the sun, so extend my hemp-line to join their patch with mine, ten yards distant. I put a size 8 on and set over-depth and wait. The Kingfisher zips past, heading left. I miss a bite about 7:45 (two tiddler-wasted hours) and the recast sails, I get a bream, joy for some, reverse ducks-and-drakes for me. Again, at once my cockle and prawn is towed and I have a monumental struggle with a fish which has my rod past its t/c and me, reel-clutch screwed down, leaning over in my chair (and tearing my coat) and after a few brutal minutes with an assumed big carp, a fine tench came to heel. 5lb+, but really should have weighed it. Golly did it go, look at the thickness of it. All I could do to keep it out the pads on 8lb line and bendy 2lb carp rod. Wow.
|duck-and-drakes, it bounces across the water...||Thick as a Brick||Spot the float. No prize, but just try. Go on.|
I miss two bites in an hour, the first a bow-wave-special with clouds of silt and bubbles - the float tricky to spot, the sun making a late appearance opposite me and flaring through a tree. Ah well. Then I get a much easier tench, maybe 4lb, thinner, but as long as. Then two more misses, pure sloth on my part.
As the sun finally nips behind the bush, saving my desiccated retinas, two wolves howl behind me... oow...I hate it when that happens...
|'easier' = 'didn't fight like it was on PCP||See the same lake on the 3rd inst.||reverse ducks-and-drakes - 'cos it's skating across the surface. Do keep up.||headless, naturally|
Hang on. Hackles. Neck.
Check, Dorset. Check. Nope just huskies, just like the ones in "The Thing". Oh wait, that's not helping. Maybe I'll pack up...the float dips and the solid lump is fairly easily kept on the free side of the lily-fringe and netted is 9lb. Hello again. What are the odds? (...about 1/50). The howling forgotten, almost, I kneel and flick out a new cockle, without even returning to my seat, as the swim has erupted into effervescence and 30 seconds later I get my second brama-surfer. I miss one more sharp bite, waited unblinking for an age then looked away for an instant...how do they do that? By now it's damp-aired, sharp in the nose, cooling fast, spectres are processing across the lake toward me, dusk arrives like a walk along an old road through a thick wood. It'll be very dark here, not now anxious for those last 15 minutes. Hot steak pie beckons, I need little beckoning. Hackles.
13th June 2011. Bu88er. An hour to strip the broken rings and old varnish, four hours straightening the tip with a hot air gun, an hour whipping the rings on, just the tip to go, then varnish today, tomorrow, good for the 16th...and the arm of the tip ring snaps clean off. Rats. This Octofloat has been severely bent, the ferrules even seem to have a set. It's usable, but not without some rotation of the sections to offset the kinks. Perhaps a restoration too far. On the rack for now. OCT...where it remained. Even Nobbington-Smythe couldn't sort it out. Bent and twisted to heck. Sold on as a 'bare blank' to soemone who though they might be able to fix it. Good luck!
15th June 2011. Maggots, . Line on reel, . Hemp, . Corn, . Hooks, . Cake, . Pie, . Umbrella, . Float tube, . New season's floats, . Best of luck everyone, even Monty Dalrymple. .
16th June 2011. 'Pete's PondsThe Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.
The 16th, a ceremony day and one should, if at all possible, celebrate between lily pads with tench. This is of course something of a dream. This high-day's pond is untrammelled, uncivilised even, with no boards, scalpings or gravelcrunch, even the path around the lake is little more than shorter buttercups than those on either side, the whole enclosed in a small green valley. The main concession to mankind is the double sleeper that provides the bridge (and I dignify it) across the source of the ponds' life blood at the valley's tip.
N.'s nicked the first of the best fishable lily swims, quite right too, but made room for me to sashay by his spot. Making a space among the buttercups, I did no more than plonk a fine cane tipped porc. quill by the lilies and wait for something to happen. N. recommended bread so I started with that and a few thin hemp scatters. Very little happened for 20 minutes, except N. showing me a 1¾lb crucian, a wondrous gleaming treasure that didn't deserve so light a weight. I missed a twitch-bob and when P. turned up, doing the rounds, I got a firm, obliging bite and something bolted hard into the pads and pulled out the hook. I was reminded they go hard here.
|right hand patch||left hand patch||three perfect pitches|
After this I caught one, two, then three carassius all about 1lb, small tench plugging the gaps. This continued during the sun's patches, scudding clouds moving too fast for rain until late lunch, then we had the first of the showers that stropped down the valley like a haughty mezzo-soprano making the noise of tearing newspaper. Calm intervals are scented with wood-smoke and damp earth and have the expectancy of fish edging out from the pads' shelter. Crucian arrived in clumps of like size, some hand sized and two stunning fish that went 1½lb and 1lb 10oz. On top of these riches were tench that pulled very hard despite their lack of size, perhaps 1¾lb the largest. After several mini Sturm-und-Drangs, I missed a sitter, bumped another and then lose a fish in a massive swirl, near carp-like. No mudpigs here though.
|'4'||onemoretinca||'5'||yetanother tinca||one of the better ones|
|I love these shreds of mist after rain||expectant after the rain||'one half dozen'||'lucky number seven'||'8'|
|'9'||'10'||'11'||the pitch||the whole point, a whole dozen, this at 1lb 10oz|
The crucian fight is hard and fast, rattling up the line from the fast tail beat, the carp has a slower beat and a draught-horse pull, the tinca's softer muffled beat from the big flexible screws nature provides it. A big tinca then, or big for the pond, a reminder that seldom caught tench fight really hard, harder than 'king' carp pound for pound, as hard as a 'wildie'. Crucians are not be sneezed at, they have a sudden standing-start power and even a 1lb fish races across the swim and pushes hard into the pad-stalks. Roach, rudd and perch all slower off the mark and quicker to give in.
|reduced to a number ('13') at 1½lb||'forteen'||no bad ones...||rain, rain...||...do as you like I'm not going home.|
|the float||the float, the pads||'15' so handy in dominoes||'16', square||prime, '17'|
The swim fades and the last bite 40 minutes later gives up another 1lb gold-service plate, I realise that concentration is shredded after five hours of rapt attention to a needle-slim piece of bamboo. I take a stroll about, noting a flower not seen yet, tall, lightweight cow parsley like, mauve flower heads. This, I later find out is Valerian, once and still used as a sedative, possibly the last thing you'd need at this well in reality's surface. There are buttercup petals floating on the pond-surface, gently wavering from the under-squirm, so sated, pack away, stroll about the lower pond and head for some buttered-toast scrambled eggs.
|'18'||'19' prime again||a score, too good||seven three's are...||'22'|
|'23' annoyingly prime||one more little tinca||eight three's are...two dozen||square again, '25'|
|last but not least, '26'||pie and coffee break||threading the needle|
The best of 16th's, eclipsing a misty dawn on a Stour weir with grayling - I ramble on home along the lanes with Led Zeppelin II and a smile.
23th June 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' - 'The Top Pond'. Another great day's angling, slow for the first couple of hours, most of the fish coming in a 'rush' between 2 and 4 o'clock. Tiny frogs about the feet, some crucians topping, a water rat about the place. All terribly bucolic and peaceful. Really good...
|tichy tinca||very nearly 1lb of bullish tench||A 'netter', well technically.||teeny crucian, worth two in the water||small but beautifully marked tinca||the swim of the day||the Upper Pond looking fabulous as usual|
|the Upper Pond still looking fabulous as usual||Another technical 'netter'...||A 'netter', well technically.||1lb par for this course||1lb par for this course||1lb par for this course, they go in bunches you know.||bruiser at 2lb 4oz|
|at about 1lb...||Green Mint beetles...||How can you not like these?||A 'netter', well technically.||1lb 6oz, same orange spot as the 16th...||another fabulous carassius||the more or less traditional float picture|
...half as many fish it would still be good, better than a bare-banked lucky-dip.
28th June 2011. Wrong.
The Marmiteangler wanted to go to youth club, a lift required, requested, ok then.
"I know", thought I, "I'll pack a rod and kill two hours on the Crown Meadows".
"I know". Said Mrs Anotherangler, out loud, "You can do the supermarket run". Ah.
Well, as the idea is to reduce the shuttle journeys and hence throttle the ever more direct link between my cash and the fuel-tank, all's fair. Dropped, shopped, I munch olive-bread-and-corned-beef and then walk the meadow. I find, between the duckweed and reeds, I have the thing upside down.
|the reeds...||...and the duckweed||still waters||the haze of the low sun|
I didn't need two hours and a bag of tackle, all I needed was a 4 piece and the '55 with its sitting tenant 6lb and the hooks on my hat. And a net. That and a few slices out of the shopping and the long hour could have been a sunset-lit too short 90 minutes. A 4lb Satchmo ambled past in agreement, with that peculiar 'half crab' gait indicating the chosen holding spot is near and the fin-brake turn will bring it up behind some handy stem.
Drat. Next week.
29th June 2011. Canford Ponds.
I could wax lyrical about the day, but in short it was pretty, warm, a natter, rant, grumpy bu88ers chewing the fat, with breaks for casting and cursing a marauding jack that bisected our pitch. I shrunk the hook to pluck the silver thorns that tweaked my over sized baits. Nemp pushed off, while I tried on, offered a spinner-man a run through my pitch, had the satisfaction of seeing the jack jacked. Heh.
|the mangroves and lilies||the mangroves||today's first pitch||...the end of the spit|
Swim was flat then, I wander off, chat with one, once-met at Edmondsham and move to the end of the spit, extracting more breswan and roach, waiting for more but nothing tweaks, truffles, bumps lilies. Dusk beckons, I'm restless, walk off with rod-and-loaf, finding only a great willow and a bailiff. We 'waste time' with fish talk until it's quite dark-red, rabbits squeal and feed fox. Not a carp moved, next time perhaps.
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
5th July 2011. Bartons Court. Well no sign of the rain on arrival and after greetings, I bagged the willow and J. and G. pitched to my left. There are fish moving and after a bit I wander, try for one in spotted in the farthest corner by J., one of three, it deigns to ignore and I'm thinking 'nothing doing' and am more interested in the rat-cub plucking up courage to paddle past the monsters to snack my bread, when the most ignoring swings about and down it goes.
I'm late and despite the 12lb class tackle, the line is dragged hard over a crusted branch and parts. I huff back to my swim, perch bread over a thin willow branch, force of habit, and blow me if after 15 minutes of head butting rudd if it's not nabbed 'hook line and...'. Of course, I'm early on this one a double figure leather and the hook comes back after scuffle. 'Strike 2'. I float fish fitfully, changing the fine-tip-bob for a more buoyant one, the undertow causing all sorts of fun. Tiring of 'the dibbles', I knock the hook down to a 12 and then get a 1lb bream. J. comes by with a 16lb carp, doesn't count says he, foul hooked. Honest man. The allegedly 'light rain' starts so I edge under the willow bole, bung in a free-line on Capax InfinitiHolding the Infinite and make a bite indicator. Coffee time.
I watch my feather and fortified, later, I'm pulled back to the bank's reality by a clooping behind the rushes. Ripples radiate, I listen. I spoon-flick a few bits over the top and stealthily retrieve my hook. I stand up, ghost-like as 17st allows and drop a crust over the fringe, short of the basket-weave branches. Clear passage, but the take, sudden, so bold, leaves a foot of free line which gives the fish a crash dive opportunity, gratefully taken, which parts the hook knot like spider silk. Strike 3, rookie mistake. I stalk up the bank and sit with J. & G., fume awhile and trash the 12lb, no longer trusted, rightly or no.
|Capax Infiniti on a feather||the feather bite indicator||The corner shown-off mirror||Two for five. Now.|
Once cooled to temperate, I try again for the corner and while no-fish is visible, I dangle a crust and wait. 20 minutes was about right, a fish materialising under the bread, formed presumably from the ripples under the bush. Attached to carpio, a lunge has me attached to some long left bit of line which complicates things and I call J. to help, but he's out of ear-shot and I do net the fish in the end, a struggle. I notice long-liners across, watching, and having returned my shown-off mirror, I try a swim adjacent, on another handy twig. LL1 jogs a pod into place opposite my last pitch and 'whops' a fixed lead into the swim. That'll get them running. Away. His second lead rushes into the over hanging trees and his extreme rod bending release tactic has said lead thudded into his own tackle box. This is amusing, presumably they play chicken with the fast-train to London as well. I go back under my willow after a long wait with nothing to nudge for it.
After a bit a fish bumps the woodwork and I position a crust for a fast withdrawal and get a smaller one. 2-3. Feeling mollified I wait and flick and sip coffee, starting when J. shimmers into being behind me without a sound. He's had another which means all are not blank, although the weather is dreary in the extreme. Eventually another turns up to cloop and a repeat tactic but hard battle gets me this fat double. 3-3, a score draw. Honours are, as they say, even.
|the bigger mirror||bread in a willow basket, with an escape route...|
The highlight of the day? Chatting with J. & G., between fish, Hector junior appears. He loops over, scares himself off, but girding whatever hares have instead of loins, he lopes back and I get a dozen shots, the three best here. Quite wonderful and worth three carp on any water.
|the nervous Leveret||the flying hare today||Hare's ears and feet|
I spend the last 45 minutes staring at a crust-in-a-corner, willing it to sink. It doesn't. A damp post mortem in McDonalds...which has free WiFi, handy. It didn't rain all day, it just felt like it.
|Floating crust in a corner||the crust in a corner if you can see it||OK then, it did rain all day.|
6th July 2011. Bishops Green. It's just dawned on me that I've fished here on and off for 20 years, since it's inception, the trees are grown, the rushes have settled and it looks really very pleasant even if the fish are ravaged by part time camping-anglers, a fact borne out by the two broken 7aftm fly-rods in the bin, both shattered at the top joint. I scavenge the rings and two top-notch reel seats...
I'm ahead of J. & G., pick a spot between two trees out of the wind. I put up a "fishing for bites" rig, 6lb, 14, Avon, and nab a dozen small carp and roach to 10oz before a careless carp starts slurping the reeds at my feet. I give it a few mixers, bite off the float, tie on a 10 from my hat, cover it with a mixer and find myself attached to the fish in short order. J. & G. beam down beside me, good timing. Not massive but fun on bendy tackle. The noiseless twosome glide off for hemp and other supplies and I catch on until itchy feet intervene and slide down the bank to the east end, where it transpires fishes are playing atop, wind-herded into the 18 inch water. I sit down and flick bread and try, to no avail, to gull one. They move into the bank though so I put a size 10 back on and cover it with a mixer which gets me a fish, not 12 inches from the grass-on-the-edge. This scatters the others never to be seen again and I try the far end for a bit, nabbing one about 1½lb. Hm. The bait seekers return and set up on the open bank up from my floater pitch and I move my gear down as well. I resume my 'fishing for bites' and my first is a medium sized carp which throws the hook when almost beaten. My second, a bigger than average fish which covers 25 yards a couple of times and just when I think 'one of the better ones', again the little 14 comes out. Argh. I switch to a 12 and thereafter only manage 1lb carp and 10oz roach - while the wind increases and scuff the water and tangles line around rod, cow-parsley and anything else in range. After a bit, I snatch a gudgeon, they always used to be in here...oho. I put on an 18, pull the float down, dot it down and spend a happy hour catching the gonks at the edge. Why one goes...
|Carp the first||gudgeon porn||gudgeon porn|
I've been feeding a patch 10 feet in front of me and also a patch on the bank 8 feet right. I started this for the movements that weren't waves and barely visible spreading ripples superimposed on the scudding.
An hour of gonking later, I feel refreshed - it's 'hard work' fishing today. The float is bouncing in the waves, the water's not deep enough to fish a long antennae and small carp and roach are on the bait for a minute out of every two. Nevertheless I switch to the inside track and despite missing bites and still catching the smaller ones, start to catch the bigger ones after an hour and thereafter get a half dozen of the "good" ones.
|gudgeon porn||the second most photogenic carp||a cunch of barps||another cunch of barps|
An odd day, the wind made it hard work and the constant attention of the smaller fish intermingled with better fish made it impossible stop at any point. I didn't even look at the time until gone 5 and then not again until I needed the flash for the picture. Tiring, good fun, not as easy as all that. Not for the first time I wonder if I would have been better employed fishing a very large bait under the bank at the west end for the last hour. There were 4-5lb fish in here in 1990...and stupidly I forgot to take pictures of the lake.
7th July 2011. Court Farm.
If any hotel lives down to the acronym JAFHJust Another Feckin' Hotel it's Travelodge, but you get, as they say, what you pay for. Tesco's in Newbury now has Italian for Coffee instead of bacon-and-eggs but it's not the burger chain at Tot Hill and that improves its pull. Munching, I watch an effusively happy toddler helped by a marginally bigger sister. Today's spinning coin is a grey blur, I edge off for a loaf and biscuits, get a glare from a lady shopper who runs into me with her trolley. The grey darkens. An experiment for you: stand still in a busy shopping arcade and wait. It will not be long before someone walks into you then tells you to mind where you're going. The human race in cameo. I avoid the imperfect self-service till and queue behind a 1 year old in a trolley kicking her legs and smiling at the world. I've slipped into "traveller's limbo", old habits, but the grin with kicking legs flips the coin bright side up. The Small Technologyaka a Blackberry Bold 9780, one of the best phones of it's day with a standby time of more thna a week., somehow in tune, spits out "Turn the Page" then "The Cowboy Song"... It's as well that the light side was up, or my first look at Court Farm could have turned me around.
Lakes 1 and 2 inspired me not, but Lake 3, once the specimen lake, looked green and although it had dugouts, they were weathered and the grass grew through the cracks. It wasn't heavily fished, that was clear, so I about turned and collected the gear. It is the furthest from the car park, another point in favour.
Halfway up the lake there are two solid shapes idling in the potamageton. Sneak behind a tree, tie on a hook and mortar a few pieces over the bush with the spoon. See why a spoon is so handy? My first try is ignored/unseen for a long time so I flick the hook out and try much nearer the bank where a fish is browsing. I wait only a few ticks, the fish take the bread quite causally, confident, I bend the rod and a few clumps of the weed come away and I steer the fish to the next swim down, netting an 11lb fish. A good start sets up your whole day. I slide down the lake a bush-and-a-bag at a time and find my next fish at the most windward end of the lake, nosing in the bigger clumps...
While conning this fish, J. and G. arrived, disconcertingly, without a sound. They do that, I suspect them, Jeeves-like, of streaming soundlessly from spot A to spot C. The carp in question took its daily bread and the strike made it leap in the air and then swirl the gap in the potamageton into chaos. J. netted the 10lb fish and I settled down to rig a float while J. & G. departed for tackle.
|the 11lb starter||the gullible 10lb common carp||to the left of the pitch||to the right of the pitch|
I put on a small quill top-and-bottom, top covered to stop it anchoring in the potamageton and discovered 7 feet of water. Better and better. A size 5 barbel hook, 6 inches of 14lb braid and a swivel which sunk the float (I don't usually bother to note these details). I missed two bites from sheer surprise and then extracted a smaller fish and after J. & G. Arrived, a 15lb mirror with hardly a scale and an hour later a slender common which might have been almost 10lb. Still missing bites, so swapped for a lift float and shortened the hook-link to 2 inches.
|a small common||the 15lb mirror||the little porcupine float||a bigger common|
|a rapt J., pixellated to protect the innocent||one of several like this||the sunken float||another carp|
This made no difference and I had a couple of smaller ones, then changed the float to a quill with a thin long cane antennae to fish half-and-half lift-and-sink. This buried in short order for another nice common, then half an hour on another struck-bite announced itself with a thud as a fish buried itself in the bottom. A tug of war pulled it clear, then a solid fight with short ponderous runs and much wallowing and hugging of the lake bed, eventually produced this common, 24½lbs more or less.
|ridiculous picture, no idea how I took it||24½lbs more or less||today's pitch|
This set the pattern for the rest of the day and hunched into the breeze and munching ginger cookies to keep proper coffee company, I extract 16 fish in the end, several giving the Big Hexaka 'Capx Infinit' aka the 12' × 2lb t/c Hexagraph carp rod. the most severe road test I could have wished for, especially a 16¼lb common which put its larger sister to shame. As yesterday, I never even thought of time until 4pm, then fatigued with the windburn and concentration and even after a break and a couple more fish, gave in at 7pm, tired beyond reason for such a sedentary pastime.
I lost 3, imperfect hook-holds, one after playing to the edge of the net, one which took two mussels on the drop while I reached for some hemp, it almost took my arm as well, smacking into a clump of potamageton, before I'd got a grip, literally and figuratively, and out the hook came, said clump drifting off to the right. I'd seen a big fish nose shreds of bread a few minutes previously, double the size of the common nibbling under my feet - this one quite fly enough to only take scraps too small for even a size 14...
|the 16¼lb common||yetanother common||a proper common, burnished leather and moss|
I almost forgot, the last carp, what a colour, none of the red tail and pale scales, a real old dark strain, burnished leather and moss, wonderful. Best fish of the day. Good day, red-letter even, but you know, a few too many fish. I leave J. & G. to their bank-side idyll where they are catching steadily and wander back to the car where I find half a bag of liquorice allsorts I'd forgotten. Always good. Postmortem in McDonalds of course...
14th July 2011. Arfleet Mills. Moth-like I flutter by and the back pit has clear water, the bottom visible 4' down and fish cruising on the surface. I try fitfully to get a crust over my favourite bush, one such was ignored for an hour. Never seen that before. I tied on some 5lb and Domhoff'ed a 14 to it, slipped a small cork ball on the line and gulled a few small perch on scraps of prawn, but could not get a rudd on anything. Odd. I head for the other lake, a hour behind a rational decision.
|come on, if you think you're hard enough||Another stripey, no bad ones...||dog day haze||the favourite bush|
With the lake for myself, I slip in behind some reeds and fish a cockle-on-a-10, under a thin tipped quill in 5 feet of water. I miss a bite out of surprise and then get a tench, a big roach and the time slips by with another roach and tench and some missed tweaks. With two hours of dusk left, I opt for a size 7 (a bonus carp?) and after some dithering hit a fish that pulls hard and keeps down, then think I have the queen roach and then it's Anguilla, over 1lb, under 2.
|tinca!||JAA's wireless bite alarm||a very respectable roach north of 1lb||kinda get's your heart beating doesn't it?|
|tinca two||½lb of roach||anguilla anguilla||...see, you can put them back without killing them|
I wrap it in the net, roll upside down, tweak out the hook and let it find its way home. I get another roach, nothing carp-like and packing see the moon sneak over Challow Hill. The moon with the sky to itself hangs, eternal it seems, with an old-hill top in the way one can watch it move, so I watch it rise before leaving, worthwhile.
|½lb of roach||moonrise over Challow hill||moonrise over Challow hill||moon risen over Challow hill|
The Small TechnologyIt's a phone. has 'playlists', so I choose a lively one, am reminded that the third best rock intro of all time is "Again and Again" (of course the first is "Stay With Me" by the Faces) inAlso in the top ten are "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)", "Rock it"... . No badgers, hares, black bunnies. Things are getting so weird, I have to tell you everything I see... Yeah.
15th July. The Royalty. Talked into a hare-brained jaunt to the Royalty to shrimp-fish for salmon. No idea what I was doing. I'm fairly sure I had more idea that the other guy. Several salmon were seen, arcing up the river and I found two lying in a weed-gap and crawled into position and presented a shrimp. Which got the cold shoulder...probably just as well.
The thing about a 'quid pro quo' is that, ideally, favours should move in both directions. Just sayin'...
22nd July 2011. Nobby's Mystery Sussex hideaway. This tucked away spot yielded chub to 4lb, perch to 2½lb, Boris the Trespasser and mudpigs to 15lb or so. Really. I cannot recommend Nobby's Ghillie service highly enough (and the pizza was good as well).
|a lump around 15lb, gulled||the float and the water boatman||the lake of the day||the surprised 4lb chub||the mudpiggy flake-nabbed from the middle|
|Boris the trespassing horse gudgeon||a floater fished 3lb chavender||a floater fished mirror||another floater fished mirror||a distant ghillie contemplates JAA's next fish...|
|a bonus 2½lb stripey||a 3lb bottom fished satchmo||just a 'small' 1½lb 'sarge'|
First barbel I've ever caught.
26th July 2011. The 'Lower Lake'The Victorian Estate Lakes' - see 'Crock of Gold', the 'Upper Pond'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'. A guest trip to a place with properly good crucians which hid, although I gulled several golden rudd and then, stalking the river arm, ran into 'CY' coming the other way, also stalking, traditionally we'd have bumped floppy hats before seeing each other, but sadly for the small gods of silent comedies, we both were sufficiently wraith-like for this to be avoided. Although the sight of two bearded floppy-hatters approaching each other unawares on opposite side of the same spit, rods in one hand, nets in the other, has considerable comic potential. Neither of us caught one. My host had to run so I dropped into 'The Saxon Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'...
|the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||the Victorian Estate Lake (lower)||one of the blank avoiding golden rudd||stalking the carp that wasn't there|
...and managed to extract a couple of small crus. and a tench but it was tricky fishing, tiny bites far between. CY turned up again looking for his water bottle, apparently tossed into the bush behind me...giving in, with a chuckle he labelled my twitching rod hand a 'conditioned reflex' and headed for the lower, cadging cockles en passant. A try with bread on the drop gets a wild bite and a three pound tench launches porpoise like into the pads and leaving the hook on a pad stem. I give in, can take a hint then get mugged by a Jack Russell while watching CY's float for a while, one of my cockles extracting a roach, before heading home up the down.
|the Saxon Ponds (upper)||the Saxon Ponds (upper)||the Saxon Ponds (upper)||a small but perfectly formed one||a smaller but still perfectly formed one|
|...coffin...(and back to the top of the page)||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...|
3rd August 2011. Darnell Pools, Shropshire.
One of the nicer places this, picked at random from a roadside sign seen on another day. I find three pools and a jolly lady doing something unspeakable to some reluctant sheep, probably for their own good. We trade tropical disease stories and I fail to win the "bugs top trumps" with a jellyfish sting...I also find out that it's £5-a-rod-a-day and there is a match on the lower pool - there are three pools and I opt, after farewells, to walk about a bit. There are a over a dozen cars and six other anglers on the main lake and I chat with two chaps trying to catch carp off the top in one corner, but their 'persil' blue-and-white shirts may be affecting their chances...but being a tactful chap I suggest cinnamon bagels as a change bait.
I move on and chatting with a family on the top pool, the wonderfully named "Hackenchop Pool", I opt for the top end of the middle pool, clearly the windward and shallow end, seems obvious although as warm "anywhere and bait" would probably catch. However, I tromp off for bait and rod and sit amid tussocks and soft rushes. There's no bare earth here which is nice.
|the old 'nearly floating flake taken on the drop' gag, strikes again...||the lake from the North, windward and shallow end||a self cocking porcy out for a bob||JAA's complicated set up...|
I float fish for a bit, catch a bream and several rudd. I pay a lady the money and a rising carp changes my tactics and I nab this guy on flake in the end, cast to just float or just sink, pick one. I go back on the float after an attempt to catch a clooper in the end corner, but it won't play. Then it's seven o'clock and I have the place to myself. Amazing. I get a 12lb mirror, long lean and dark which fought like a dervish (four-piece Avon and 8lb line) and then three smaller one and a tench...but that's out of about 15 bites, fish spooking at the line, the bait and so on. The water is 18" deep and in the end I realise the right way here is either to fish lift with the bait under a vertical (and possible visible) line or fish at least a foot over-depth and wait for a real bite.
|the hard yards 12lb mirror||common mudpig||common with two passengers||a welcome and very decent tench with two more passengers|
Either way, with dusk approaching, I switch to one hook and the bread...I nab one to my right barely two feet from my feet (I admit to feeding along the edge with dry mixers for the last two hours) and then get another bigger fish from the other side of the clump on my left which takes a crust hanging vertically from my rod end, yanking the spare foot of line out of my fingers.
|Surprise! Another common...||the lake at dusk, the smudges are bats||Good Lord, another common carp...||A very decent common, 9-10lb maybe?|
With the light almost gone, I underhand a big bit over a clump 3 feet further left where a nettle and bramble have collapsed flat on the water. I can barely see the white smudge of bait and after the age, OK 15 minutes, a nosing fish launches at the bread and I strike at the sudden whirlpool, blind-hopeful.
The fish streaks off to my right, nice heavy tail-beats, across the lake and I recall Walker's advice to keep the rod high in the dark to gauge the fish's direction and then, right there I get my own moment in time, with the rod arc'd against the orange-and-indigo sky and the fish finally brought to a wallowing halt some 45 yards distant, only surface scintillations giving the position away. For an instant, fleeting, the world spins around this locus, past, present, future and the setting sun all converge on this point...then I remind myself that I've 8lb line and a long battle starts, with repeated runs shortening 5 yards a time and several hard bores left, which I counter by walking along the bank and a long time later (it seems) the fish is wallowing over the net and I have to guess a bit in the gloom to net my 18lb common.
|18lb common, a priceless moment in time|
I'd go back. Darnell Pools.
5th August 2011. The Corn Brook, Coreley. One of those tiny streamsI love these. Probably poaching though. at the end of the lane where we were holidaying. I blagged worms out of the garden of the rented cottage and tied some 3lb line to the tip ring of the top-three sections of the four-piece Avon. Much to my surprise I never even saw, let alone caught a fish. Odd.
|The Brooke, Knowle||The Brooke, Knowle||The Brooke, Knowle||The Brooke, Knowle|
Nice cottage. The dog mugged a rabbit out of a bush and thought that was just fine.
12th August 2011. Kingsbridge. Off to drown some bread and took little else except coffee and a sausage roll or three. Three from the Packhorse, I managed a couple of small carp extracted from lilies, then nicked a bigger one on a single mixer at some distance, using a 10" porcy quill, top and bottom as a controller. The next fish wolfed the mixer, power dived and snapped my 9lb leader like it was cotton. Bu88er. I went to the 'specimen lake' as it was uncharacteristically bivvie-less. I spent 45 minutes watching a crust. I moved it under the bank as a fish was there. It took it. I took it back. Bu88er. Went around the other side and stalked with outstanding stealth a fish browsing the shallows and gave it a crust which it took. I took it back. Bu88er. Went right around to the other end and put one hook in a tree opposite and spent an hour chucking half a loaf of bread into all the wrong spots, apparently having lost my ability to cast. I kicked my last coffee over and fell over my bag. Bu88er...went home. Mother-in-law was over for tea. Bu88er...self inflicted really.
|Carp the first||Carp the second||Carp the third||Wellington, the thin end.||One of the many paths by the water...|
The sausage rolls were good.
17th August 2011. Kingsbridge. Back to the scene of the crime (dropping the bait bucket and smashing the bottom) and evicting mice from the last loaf of bread. It's another torpid day with torpid carp which sidle off when I set the first trap, a floating one. Ignored. For an hour. I set another on-the-bed and this gets the same indifference as the first. I move to the other end. I set another deck-trap, which after an hour is stirred by a passing fish, then a bit later the thinnest of float-tips nips under and I put the bait in a tree for safekeeping. I retrieve it and a fish takes it on the drop, dragging the rod into a quarter under the tree to my right. I'm never convinced of landing the fish, so often the hook hold is iffy when it's taken that way...and as I dip the net am proved right, a solid mid double common sinking into the depths on its reprieve, after a fight that was sluggish the point of languid.
|Sneaking...||The mangrove end||Lo-tech bite indication.|
|The thin tipped float||The thin tipped float||Wellington, the thin end.|
Oddly, I'm not too gutted. And that was that, One further swirl and three hours later I essay a crust as the light falls, cast long into the bulrushes (real ones). Naturally a carp sucks at a loose piece under my feet while I do that...a few crusts tried on the larger lake on the way back to the car, barely visible, fished on the top with the line in my fingers, these are plucked at but not really taken. Odd day.
19th August 2011. Kingsbridge. Another blank on the Welly, again missing a sound bite and then pulling bread away from a torpid carp I sneak to within three feet of. Bu88er. I sit on a Packhorse platform and fish bread onto 30-yard lilies and drag four fish out in pique, the biggest 12lb or so. The first one I thought lost on a pad stem at my feet and so lived for 30 minutes in the landing net, apparently OK with it.
|The float||the pitch||the float again||the dwarf lily|
22nd August 2011. Today I regress, the morning walk, still dew-fresh, soaks my feet and I reach the entrance to the old road to Great Coll Wood, there's woodsmoke from the farmer's fire and I cut two forked rod-rest hazel sticks with fresh green-smell bark, sopping from the rains which turned the path into a stream bed. These carry me to the bench-on-the-bole of the great oak in the long garden at FiveIvy, alongside last night's oozing bonfire. Home, then raspberries on the wheaty-flakes, echoes of the long garden's canes and then re-touch the 'Opinel', even the shard of whetstone came from the hedge at the bottom of the long garden, a find for a 14 year old. A different country.
23nd August 2011. The Royalty. Moley and JAA went Snark hunting on the Avon. Might as well have been Snark. Certainly no barbel...to the causal observer it probably looked just like two old duffers with a pile of messy tackle. After the obligatory yarn with the tackle shop owner, I let Moley chose "Watersmeet" swim as I know stuff all about the barbel in general and the Royalty in particular and we settled down to eat some cake, sorry, roll meat for barbel. By 1:30 we'd finished the first cake supplied by The Mole and JAA had tried and completely failed to catch the gudgeon by his feet - although in my defence I caught 1,000 minnows and one chub that was almost 1dr.
Moley noted that his brethren were in evidence all along the a bank behind us so he felt right at home - his special "fishing hat" deserves a mention, although it spoke loudly for itself. On the upside it stopped anyone from talking to us. We had a few knocks from chub, but nothing connected and at 4:30pm we opted to delay cake number two until 5pm. We almost made it. Moley then decided it would be fun to answer a pigeon cooing across the river, which he did so well a dialogue ensued. This was amusing - I pointed out it would be less amusing if the pigeon came over and tried to shag Moley. Well, for Moley, for me, more amusing.
|The river||The Mole and the Mole's hat...and Leviathan which got away.|
Moley hooked a monster then, which got off, which meant that for the rest of the evening a small dark cloud hovered above his swim. I know how he felt. We ran out of light, still without barbel, and agreed, on the way back to the cars, that it had a been a three cake day, and we'd only brought two cakes. Careless, very careless...
24th August 2011. "All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind wake up in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." - T. E. Lawrence
I just liked that. Interesting chap.
25th August 2011. Widgeon. On a very odd bloom'd surface, I caught 3 wonderful carp which shone in the dappled shade and fought like tigers.
I arrived, sat on the bank watching the few fish morose about on the other side, poured a lap-sang, flicked a crust over the lily patch to my left and drew the bread back into the middle. I had a 'cup of tea' wait and a verdigris furrow appeared on the far side of the small path, a few leaves were rudely shouldered and with a 'pock' the bread vanished. The fish, below, perhaps 5lb, fought above it's weight, pulling line from the reel and bending the big hex over. Wild thing, you make my clutch sing...OK, I know.
|Mirror mirror in the net...||The Patch||The trap patch|
Another brew, silence reigned, so I went to the bottom corner where there was a large patch of lilies. I leaned on a hazel and underarmed a crust onto the edge of the patch. OK, I admit it, on the second try. If I'd had my cup, I'd have measured the time...it was a long wait and again a few barges aimed in the bread's direction gave me some warning and the fish obligingly headed for me at a fast clip. Then it whipped off on some longish pulls, again above its weight, which was above the last fish's weight. I really don't care if it's 9lb or 15lb, it fought hard and looks amazing.
|uncommonly pretty||It's the trap patch...||The winning bet|
I returned to my bag and unopened chair, drank tea and spooned bread and waited and after a bit noticed a branch floating under the tree on my left which had an up-sticking fork...too good to miss and I snuck over, placed my bet, laid the line over the fork and backed up to my flask and snapped over the bale and waited. This was a two cup wait at least and I was expecting a fish to come from under the trees, but in the event a decent fish mooched about for a bit and then picked off a few bits near the bank and then just took my bait without preamble. More whizzing clutches and another great looking fish. Then I missed one on my right with a bait laid almost on the bank but I was happy then, it wasn't a big deal.
|The Path in the Water...|
Too far off for the majority to walk, too small for the 'serious carpers' next door. Perfect for a wandering crust fisher.
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
2nd September 2011. Silent Woman SWThe 18th century rang and asked for their sexist joke back. .
Four mud-pigs off the bottom on a wonderful day, then joy, two fish flake-plucked off the top on a 5lb leader at 50 yards. Very hard to get them of the surface here, those two worth the previous four and then some. And the sunset was a doozy as well.
|A Silent common||Another Silent common||A silent float...|
The four fish shown here came to mussels on a float, margin fished at the windward end. There was a good chop when I started but it died away as the day went on - I missed 4 bites at least and also foul-hooked a good fish which isn't shown here, but was of course bigger than all of them. Then the weather just stopped to watch the sun set and the water went mirror silvered. That's when I started a few bits of flake going over...
|choppy at the start||A bigger common||and then it fell silent...||flake nabbed at long range|
I swapped the 8lb on the Avon for 6lb and put on a thin mono leader of just under 6lb and backed off the clutch and tied on a size 10 - this was completely buried in a golf ball piece of flake and cast the 50 odd yards to the wandering fish. I missed a couple of takes, the fish swirled around it and I had to watch the line on the surface to see if the bait was taken or merely encircled.
|...worth two on the float||wow|
I had two fish on distant bread, then the light left leaving me unable to see the line and finally, the bait. But the sunset was a 1 in 100. Amazing. Just Another good day on the path.
4th September 2011. It is time to introduce the virtual shed that is The Path by the Water'The Path...' as it's more commonly known. Grasshopper.. More or less working now...
5th September 2011. Canford Ponds. A quickie, not long enough to fish without first finding a fish. I find two. One is unreachable but big, porpoising in one foot waves in a windward corner, with lilies in the way and no access from the alders behind. With a longer session and a pint of hemp, this could be the right place for a float in the waves. I have a loaf and a small tin of corn.
|All we need are alligators...||A long-shot lily patch|
I try to spot a fish in the mangrove and then find a second fish second scooted around a lily patch on the opposite bank a longish cast, but the fish dallies-and-dillies but doesn't get to my long crust. Pah. Off.
8th September 2011. Golden Pond, Stockbridge. This was on the way home from meeting with a very old friend and looks nice, but one can never tell...
|Carp the first||The fisher king||Very possibly a humongeous crucian, that I barely noticed on the day (and caught off the surface with bread)||Pretty pond, as far from the car park as possible|
I fished right at the far end, as far away from the carp-ark as I could get. Float fishing caught stuff, but I was enticed into fishing bread on/just under/around a patch of lilies. This was sucessful, if hit-and-miss, but more fun that watching the float. It also landed me one of my largest crucians ever caught off-the-top.
Toward the end of the day, I essayed casts to the other side, found that loose bread brough fish out, but bread on the hook was treated 'with some care'. I put mixers on the hook and nabbed several. The msytery was explained at the end of the day when some fold turned up and covered the surface with bread and commenced fishing off the top with the same. Ah...
|Y.A.C.||A very decent roach||Y.A.C.||Y.A.C.|
I went on then.
14th September 2011. Kingsbridge, Packhorse. So the easy lake but I wanted to try out my Harrison's 15ft GTI - 70% built and a reputation for working for the small as well as the much larger. So it is I spend an hour trying to decoy a dark sub-surface lurker some 30 yards distant with a 5lb hook-link and it eventually falls for, of all things, a strip of Warburton's finest. I'm new to the rod, the link is fine, so I ease the fish about for a good 10 minutes until it's near enough to see the knot and eventually the tail of a fish still trying for the lake bed, 3 feet further down. This common, 12lb, the rod working well enough, finally a float rod with a progressive change from the tip to the backbone. Not so hard to make, but defeating most makes it seems. I fish under a pole float, switching to 6lb braid and a size 12 and catch skimmers for fun and then try for another top grazer, but succeed only in catching a ¾lb roach and a big bronze bream, both on floating mixers with a hidden hook.
The carp, wiser at the end of the summer swirl around the baits with disdain. I go back to bed under the pole float and get a sail away on a 12'ed cockle which hares off and I'm back to the start of the session with a big fish running out to the middle and back, copycat, a long ten minutes, although with 6lb through and a sound join I'm using more stick and less guidance and this one is 13lb. I get one more bite, the tip whipped under and expecting something larger I get the clutch tweaked and this 1½lb rudd, on which I failed to do justice with the camera. So, the rod passes the test.
My new favourite rod. At least until my next favourite rod.
15th September 2011. West Compton. Yes they still exist. I'm very very fortunate to have a place here, no gravel swims, nothing but the trees and the low number of carp and a some tench (and a few roach and rudd). Amazing.
|The lake||The lake||The lake|
I probably should have chosen a spot with more thought but having found one I like and settle down to blip out rudd and roach with corn, a 15ft GTI and 6lb line, well you never know. I catch 4 rudd in the first 40 minutes, gill covers stained gold and then never see another but get a string of roach to 4oz or so and after a while, a small olive loaf and some farmhouse pate, a small dark carp about 2lb or so. That's my only carp today, but it bent the rod hard. The others roll here and there, keeping a good distance. Angler-shy still...I sip Lap-Sang and watch the fish roll on the lily patches' far sides, but not the one nearest me...
|the float...||...the carp...||...and the lake again|
As the light leaves (is it me or is it a shade darker earlier this year?) I amble to the head of the lake, pocketing a handful of haxel nuts en route and spend an hour standing under a small horse-chestnut, leaves already orange-rimmed, sweeping the ground, an autumn round-house. I watch a crust between pads until it's clear no-one is coming to play, except an owl and blackbirds chipping bed-time, bed-time. I'll be back for the autumn leaves.
19th September 2011. Kingsbridge Wellington. A long, quiet, pleasant blank. Not even a bite.
|The rod, the float (6 feet deep there)||The float||Looking across the lake from the north-east corner.|
22nd September 2011. Triangle Pond. Myself and Nemp went over for a dibble and along with rudd, roach, one acrobatic abramis and a crucian, we bagged three chub off the top between us and put the world to rights...
|JAA's chub the first||JAA's chub the second|
27th September 2011. Bury Hill.
Met with Nobby on the way back from Gatwick (don't ask) and we tried hard on Milton Lake for the entire morning, with only one tench to show and practically no bites, I guess we picked the wrong side of the pond. And the tip ring fell off the GTI float rod. And 'sprinklers' to keep the lake from dying. Seems, well, 'not quite cricket'.
|The tench||The tench float|
After dinner from the very iffy looking cafe, we planted on the end of Old Bury Hill Lake, stricly speaking for social reasons, but it seemed carpy to me....in Nobby's words:
"So when JAA struck into a submarine in the margins yesterday (he said it was a carp, but carp don't have periscopes) and his rod came arcing back towards me in an alarming fashion...years of training told me what to do next.
I hit the deck, on all fours, sharpish!
About two seconds later the line parted with a bang and the rod did what rods do when the load is removed, right where my head had been.
Bob probably thought my maniacal laughter was aimed at his loss, but in truth, it was because I was so pleased to still have a mouth to do it with."
In my defence, at about 4pm I said: "Nobby, this is the right place for a carp..." and then, on reflection, added "....or we're in the right place to see me hook a carp and get completely smashed up".
Three mistakes then:
(1) Did not use my proper Big Hex rod
(2) Put on 12lb line not 14lb.
(3) Should not have tried to stop it...it was only a light snag, I think the sub would have smashed right through it.
|The scene of the crime...||...with it's suspicious bubbles||The view down the lake at the end of the day||...on the bright side the blackberry whiskey is looking very fine.|
P.S. bu88er, bu88er, bu88er....
P.P.S. you'll recall the 12lb line snapped...so today I change the line, and thinking it a bit thin for 12lb, mic'd it at 0.31mm...at both ends of the spool. It's supposed to be 0.33mm, just like the other spools on the rack actually are. Then I remembered that line off that bulk spool snapped twice at Barton's Court last year in circumstances which surprised me somewhat, but wrote off as 'poor handling'...I'm not saying 0.33mm line would have stopped the sub, but the line did break rather suddenly above the trace knot - so the motto is check everything...bu88eration.
30th September 2011. Milton Abbey. I thought I might get a late tench. I was wrong. A few roach and a feeling that the two feet down water is not currently at it's best...
|The pump pool||The pump pool|
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float|
4th October 2011. The Kennet, Barton's Court. The Laird of Dunbar and I were after a perch. Well, one of us was, the other was in the main happy to be entranced by the small brick edged pools, despite the low flow. The former, planted at the junction swim, had a good run of perch and a bream finishing with a challenge-leading perch and quite rightly. The latter despite a few hours up the junction remained perchless, but in various spots and eddies extracted with the 15ft GTI, five grayling, three edging the 1lb and a cornucopia of roach and dace and three chub, two of which also edged the 1lb. I even managed to only catch two trout, which is, frankly, a blessing.
|The first Lady of the day...||..the second Lady of the day...||The Midge Cut bridge|
|The Midge Cut bridge||...and a Lady of the Evening|
5th October 2011. Barton's Court Lake. A carp or three, a bream and the "Perch Magnet" extracts another 1½lb'er...
|the interesting drift of leaves...||...around the back of the lake||...and the flat-float which caught the bream|
|Yes. It's blue. I had this idea that blue would make a great float colour, so made some quills up with tranlucent tips, coloured with highlighter pens.||...and the blue actually was the most effective even at some range.|
|A fairly hooked one (spot the blue-tipped quill)||A fairly hooked one (spot the orange-tipped quill this time)||The last carp of the day|
2016: Five years have gone past - the real story of the day will now be told - after footling about the rear of the lake and removing a bream from under the leaf-drift shown, I headed to the car-park end and started with a carp. Then I fouled one. Then J. came down and then between us, foul-hooked at least a dozen fish, landing one each over twenty pounds. None of them 'counted' and by the end of the day we were out of our minds with frustration. The three shown were fairly hooked. Odd, maddening. It is that time, of which we never speak.
6th October 2011. Quills. As mentioned above. An experiment. Cleaned, coloured and varnished. Fished them with a single rubber on the bottom end. Pink was most visible, then light blue, then orange, then green. Yellow and dark blue tied for 'worst'.
|The flourescent quills|
12th October 2011. West Compton. It's the AGM, so I take the excuse given to pop over for the afternoon ahead on the assemblage. I sit on the dam in the sun and extract a steady stream of roach. When it's clear any moving carp are in the shallow end, slip into the trees on the paddock bank and lose a 4lb fish on a size 14 and a grain of corn, roaching while setting up the GHSREGreat Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment, the little hook pulling away when a dispute about the relative merits of a lily patch became critical and then later catch a small common which gave its all followed by, a sink of the sun later, by a small grass carp.
|The lake from the dam||the quill||the carp|
Then despite a growing feeling that the time was now, nothing else happened...except for the grass-snake which too-and-fro'd under my feet, until, gaining courage, crossed my line to make for better hunting.
|the flat float and the bubbles||the top of the lake||...and the oddly small grass-carp|
At the AGM, KP showed us the feather-and-boiling-water-trick then later on, a suggestion of a few chub to thin the small perch and roach was met with spluttering indignation from a member who didn't think river fish should be in a lake. Grass carp, not native to the country, thats fine...'all sorts'.
19th October 2011: Timsbury, The River Test. Nobbyngton-Smythe AWOL.
It's a bit autumny so I stuck "Heavy Horses" on the small technology and bowled happily down the road to the Test. This album is autumnal for me, probably because of the dewy autumn I nipped up and down the Basingstoke road to another temp. job propping up my student grant. I had maggots, corn, some amazing chocolate biccies and a Stollen. And coffee. I paid The Lady and after the shortest of recce's opted for the fast feeder, it looked more fun that the slow feeder, which for all its promises of roach and chub look shallow and sluggish.
I tried the pool at the bottom end, unconvinced, self fulfilling prophesy. The next pool occupied by a man with a fly rod and an orange line, had lost a trout he said and I watched him cast for a while, interested and went 50 yards on to a pool and riffle and keeping 10 yards from the water knelt upstream and ran the float through twice and third time is plucked and whipped sideways and I struck quickly but the heavy weight squirmed of. Bu88er. I tried again and stupidly lost three more before banking a brownie pest and then a small gray' of 4-5oz. I recall the little wrigglers have ebony mouths and need a firm strike and hold rather that a flick. The pool spooked out, I try the next one up and knock off another and then another trout, then I bank a half pounder, sliding myself downstream to avoid another loss from playing the recalcitrant against the flow. Hah. 'Two'. I get another brownie pest which goes polaris on me, so petulantly released, the swim is flat.
|the fast carrier||...the first gray'||...and the hatch-pool|
|another grayling||and another grayling||yet another grayling||Yep. A grayling||...the fluted Avon and the hatch-pool|
I mooch up to the bend where the water is enticing, but proves not to be and after a chat with a lady from Devon who admired my floats, I put on my favourite little fluted Avon and slipped into the hatch pool at the end of the feeder settle down to fish, sip coffee and eat "chunky chocolate shortcakes" in which the 'shortcake' portion appears only to provide structural integrity to the twice-as-thick chocolate. The sun comes out and warms my back. I run down the twisted rope of the main flow and knock off another lady and then bank a 6oz'er. Several more runs get nothing and I let one fall short, loop back up the pool to the triangle of gentle water between the main flow and the dead water on the near side and get a firm bite at the apex and get another Lady. This, biscuit, coffee, lady becomes a pattern and for at least 2 hours I pick out grayling (and one brown pest) steadily, exploring each crease and fold in the standing waves.
|...the fluted Avon and the hatch-pool||another grayling||and another grayling||yet another grayling||Yep. A grayling|
|another grayling||and another grayling||yet another grayling||The hatch-pool from the upstream end|
Time stood still...and then the clouds came over, the fish were gone and a scatter of icy rain drove me down the feeder and under a small chestnut. Despite my autumn umbrella, my hands are chilled and I wander down to the hut to use the veranda for shelter and coffee. When the rain eases and the sun peeks out (and then vanishes for the day) I try the small feeder for a while and catch minnows then wonder down to the second hut and serve myself tea and as a postscript catch several more minnows at the car-park end of the slow feeder and one 5oz perch a bonus fish to go with my 13 grayling and trio of spotted pests...I nick the two floats hanging off the tree and scuttle home to Tartit. Cracking day Gromit.
21st October 2011. The Frome, Woolbridge.
Another sunny day - the river is low, but there are still deep pools in places and I amble to a wide sweep of the river, a big back eddy perfect for roach and dace and manage the smallest grayling you've ever seen - ah well. I head to the far side of the same and manage only minnows despite my best efforts and after 30 minutes of watching my float circling, head upstream to a faster run which proves equally devoid of fish, except perhaps for one fast pull from the point where the deeper glides fan out over a gravel bar - I'm using a fluted Avon and 'pin with a 15ft rod and with little weight down the line, a micro swivel in fact, a gentle brake floats the whole lot up and over the gravel, a satisfying thing to do, and any bite whips the fluted float over sideways hard enough to bang the rod tip if you're not paying attention. This happened twice and try as I might I couldn't get a third time.
I rambled back down to a loop in the river, below my starting point and sat on a high bank on the outer sweep of the current and ran my float though the pool at my feet and onto the interesting stretches 20 yards downstream. A fish obligingly rose on those lower glides but this refused to entertain me further and I had stick with the coffee...then between sips, the float, dropped in literally 10' upstream of me, dipped 6' past my feet and my slightly optimistic -but firm- strike got an answering thump and a few moments later I had a glimpse of a wonderful fish, which had my heart in my mouth as I directed it outwards and upstream before drawing it over the net and letting the current sink it into the mesh. OK so 'only' 1lb 9oz but I'm really very chuffed. I wait for five minutes, the fish in the net, until it's the right way up and breathing steadily and it kicks on out of the net. This inspires me to another 20 minutes in this spot to no avail and I head down to the next bend...
|1lb 9oz, stunning fish||trotting the stream - sort of||another nice grayling||A nice 'Lady' of about 8oz|
...when I find I above a fast run broadening out over a 'V' shaped gravel bed with a clear pool on the near bank. I flick bait in and run the float down the middle (missing at least two vicious snatches) and then a gentle run down the side past (into) the eddy and get that stabbing bite and manage my third (OK the first was tiny but it counts) grayling. Encouraged I try again and miss another bite, get a 4 inch dace on the next trot and then miss another slash of the float on the gravel riffle. I decide it's going to be better to move down and I try for 20 minutes to locate a fish on the near bank, starting in the pool I was trotting down to...on arriving, a big bow wave announces something was lying up (pike was my first thought, but a chum's since had a 16lb carp out of this stretch, these are vermin in a river like this). After a dozen long trots I amuse myself by running the float around the eddy in front of my feet, where the water is 6' deep at least and barely finish my second cup before the float pops straight down and gets me my forth grayling of the day. Heh.
I walk to a gravel bar bare from the low water, the inside of a sweeping narrow channel under a cut-earth bank and fish it for its beauty as much as anything else. I nab a perfect 8oz wild-brown from the head of the rapids, lose another in the wild water 20 yards down, watching it leap off my hook. I then spend a good 30 minutes trotting a float down the rapids, veering the float of left to the slower reaches or right into the main current depending on my whim, enjoying the process, rather than the expectation of a fish, although a sudden dip in the shallow reaches get's me my fifth and final grayling, about 4oz or so. Suddenly, the water rushing in my ears is enough, I've had a fine day so wander off. Perfect river fishing.
|The River Frome||Pretty but should be under 3 feet of water by now||That's what I call a snag|
It's funny - river fishing calls 'time' on you, it's clear when enough is enough. Lakes keep you anchored past the point of no return. Funny business.
This "Hardy Brothers" advertising plate was nabbed at a boot sale for a tenner. It's not an antique or anything, but I liked it, so now it's on the study's wall.
31st October 2011. Luckfield Lake. Lured by the prospect of a late carp from the autumn leaves, I manage one around 14lb and miss two, the lucky recipients of poor striking. A really nice day in the late warmth.
|The pitch||The float||...across the lake||...and the unlucky common carp|
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1st November 2011. Luckfield Lake. Funny day, becalmed and soporific, but still wangled a common around 10lb out of a lily patch with a mussel-and-anchovy cocktail.
|a shady pitch||A shady float||The fish of the day|
2nd November 2011. Luckfield Lake.
An hour in Peg 5 and yesterday's torpor has been blown away by a stout South-East breeze, piling up small waves at my end and blustering in my face and edging all the windward lilies and branches in autumn colours. After a few minutes with a small pole float and reflecting on missed chances, I slip the float on the link swivel and wedge on a cork ball and colour it red with a permanent marker and take off the tell-tale. I've baited patches to the left, in a lily-patch bay and to the right under the bank, might as well as not and in response a small carp leaps to my right, autumn coloured itself. The cork-bob, looking very like a hawthorn berry, skipped away a bit later, but I think only something cheeky nicking the worm sandwiched between the two mussels. There is fish about now, there are bubbles appearing in between pads, odd nudges and swirls, this is the right end and I'll suck the sweat from my hat band if a fish doesn't appear under the jetsam before the end of the day. The moorhens appear, and I edge the catty to hand - I re-assign the bait, garnished with a half-anchovy, to the lily inlet with the small drift of circling leaves and wait...presently it slides towards the pads and there's something of a muted battle in the small area, more lunges than surges and a 9lb mirror graces the net. I take a stroll above to warm my breeze-stiffened legs and let the maelstrom settle. I ponder making some small cork-ball-and-toothpick floats.
|the short used pole float in the waves||the cork ball bobber in leaves||the wallowing mirror|
|the cork ball rosehip||another sight of the sight-bob||down the lake to the leaf-lee|
A fish crashes in a lee'd drift of leaves in the far corner and I ponder a change of sides, but I'm not sure that this corner's finished just yet. The red-blob is on the right and I suspect a size 8 and worms only will catch a stripey or three, but I've got my carp head on today so I leave things 'as is', with twitches and wonder about the sloes in the blackthorn behind for a last bottle of gin...and time stretches out and suddenly this corner's finished with me as the rain starts, then two fish roll in quick succession on the bank to my left, half-way down, the scene of Tuesday's carp. This coupled with the steadily increasing patter, propels me on to my second camp of the day, with sheltering trees. I throw hemp, set up another coffee and only halfway down the cup I spot fading lily pads wavering in just the right way and then after another gulp, stap me if I don't see a tail going past not 18" from the bank. Aha.
|the bay of oak leaves||the obvious 12lb common||Ah, it's raining...the wet spot on the bank|
I try dangling a few worms in front of the general direction of the fish. These are stolen by something smaller. Pah. I try again with a mussel and half an anchovy and after some swirling, the water rolls and a mussel tumbles into view then sinks, taking my hope with it. Re-bait and wait...I'm slightly surprised, in a good way, when after a few sharp bobs the little red dot stutters of to the left, diving as it goes. There's a short tussle in a 10 foot radius and the presumed owner of the tail poses for a picture, 12lb of autumn scales. It's raining, I re-bait, re-hemp, miss another take 20 minutes later...then after another coffee, a series of staccato dips and a final plunge, a fish leaps on the strike and then hares away from the bank and makes 15 yards before swinging left, kiting, branches looming, so I tighten it up and more pull than steer the fish back towards the net.
|The Last Common, 13lb|
I snap it, happy and sit down to check the hook-knot and realise I'm soaked - rapt as I was in the whole business - chair soaked, trousers sopping, shoulder damp through my coat. I amuse myself for a minute by steering water off my hat brim into the dry moss of the worm box and re-bait for the last coffee. I realise I'm cold wet and perfectly sated with 3 good fish for a warm autumn day. The small technology and "Neon Nights", 1980...nearly perfect.
4th November 2011. Luckfield Lake. Should have been three more but for an abandoned old bolt rig and a hook pull...and five but for two missed bites. So just the one then.
|Some stuff||The pitch and the 'big hex'||Luckfield from the south end||The south-west corner|
|Rain-drops dancing||Rain-drops dancing||Rain-drops dancing||Rain-drops dancing|
|Rain-drops dancing||Looking north across the lake in the rain||The 'bag'|
Amazing rain-drop dancing.
12th November 2011. Luckfield Lake. They were there. I was there. I blanked - but a glorious autumn-leaf blank, a day of soft winds, bare blackthorn and roe deer. Who needs fish? JAAMe, I need fish. 'Often' would be nice.
|a shady pitch||a shady bobber||...very interesting...|
|leave'd float||the fading lilies from the north end||the north west corner|
15th November 2011. No reason. 'Tis my custom when collecting Littleanglers from youthclub, to arrive a bit before time and wile away with the windows cracked and random tracks on the small technology. Tonight it threw out "Deep Dark Dungeon" and I steered the selection into "Shades" and whether it was this or the 5°C nip in the Autumn evening, or both, I was very much transported to my first year room, '85, grey-breeze inside and out, with Crazy Dave CDIn one of my very first lectures of the first degree, I sat next to a wild-eyed chap with thinning hair. "Dave" he said, by way of introduction "Do you want to see my radio in a matchbox?". I did. "I'm going to call you Crazy Dave" I said. ,'JJThat's J. J. Cale to you.', a bottle of Remy and a fresh pot of Java/Mocha blend on.
It's the right time of year, this habit, an enclave of chaos and calm in the first term, all blue-eyed ex-6th and at least two of us with extra years having made our own way, needed something slower and off-beat. There's a limit to how many 'Adrian Moles' you can stand in one day. Crazy Dave had a radio in matchbox. Hard not to like that, clue's in the name, once talked me through a VAX reboot from scratch over the phone though. Which was handy as I'd broken it. We nearly went halves on a 3.0 Litre Cortina with bullet proof glass and solid rubber tyres. In the end Crazy Dave got a Granada Coupé and I got a Scimitar SE5 GTE. Mine was better at going round corners...
18th November 2011. Wage Slave. Thursday's stiff gritty rising was a testament to years of not being immured to getting up before the sun. The drive was, as habitually, accompanied by random tracks from the small technology that this morning, with poor timing, it poked out a series of album tracks that did nothing for a mood that interlaced tiredness and disenchantment with weaving sisters' ease. The new trireme, the work place, admittedly on a two week acquaintance, is a terrible let down - I was as bushy-tailed as I ever am about working for a living, but the days of 'reading' while my new line-manager span around, the crisis manager-in-chief, while I sit reading has hardly been a great introduction. Bit rude also.
The week's nadir was the discovery that to order a few bits, I have to fill out a form which takes me longer than using my own RS account - and after that more man-time is still to be used to order the parts. This is not unusual and I'm constantly amazed at the companies who insist that R&D should be saddled with the production ordering system. Still, as I hit the main road, the sunrise is worthy, bars of purple cloud, back-lit orange to perfection. Finally the small t. spits out LZ's Communication Breakdown, thank the Lord. Friday, Catscratch Fever, Again and Again, Mandrake Root, My Sympathy, today's sunrise is a study in bonfire smoke lit with guttering candles. Cracking. (Crackling? Heh.) Of course, the leader is off-site at short notice. See if you can guess what happens next? Go on, guess....
...I resolved this idiot 'leader' and their employer could pay for the JAA Christmas and all it's trappings and I would leave, first thing January 2012...
19th November 2011. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. In autumn, so blanked obviously. But it was really pretty.
|Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond||Just a nice view of the lower pond|
|Just a nice view of the lower pond||The psycholgically suggestive path over the dam||Dusk over Donhead||The overly optimistic Harcork bobber|
I finished up worm-fishing against the damn wall for one of the perch. Nope, that didn't work either.
23rd November 2011. The Hoodie Crow next...? It came as a welcome surprise to discover Jack F.'s been down the lane in the night, the sun-rise sympathised with ochre streaked blue-ice, a box-seat view as the A35 aligns with the azimuth, together with Vivaldi's Concerto for 4 violins (F Major). This just works, then LZ's Tangerine easing me into the treadmill. Not quite a frost here, but my coffee-crossings from the portacabin lair to the kitchen are laced with a few deep breaths of cold air which flare the nostrils and cools the back of the throat like a drug.
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float|
3rd December 2011. Turfcroft and Redfin.
RedFin and JAA spent Saturday at the very pleasant Turfcroft. The most important thing was to establish whether enough supplies were available for the day. As Moley wasn't present we decided we would have enough....just.
|a brace of cakes...mwa ha ha, and no Moley...||A quiet Turfcroft|
Between the two of us, five species of fish were caught including some very nice perch, many small roach, a tench and even a true crucian, all falling to Redfin's bamboo. I caught a bronze bream that produced a passable impersonation of a marlin as it made a 20 yard run and breached out of the water in spectacular fashion.
|roach-bream hybrid?||carassius in the flash|
The day ended far too soon - despite me only seeming to be able to catch bream, about eleventy-seven, although there was one suspicious-looking, a bit silver or hybrid...a cracking day of fish and congenial company. Ta, RedFin.
10th December 2011. Old rings and a school of grayling. I'd really, really planned to go for a winter carp today - I'd put chilli flakes in the hemp, got tins of meat and bags of paste ready but even with the Frome low and grayling all but hurling themselves on the bank, I was moth-drawn to uncertain carp...OK, a bit mad. On reflection, looking at the ice blue through the cracked bedroom curtain, realised I needed to buy presents, order hams and other seasonal sundries, so opted for this, reluctantly, it has to be said.
|a grace of grayling||big roach and grayling|
The day mocked me, remaining clear and bright, but at least I was rewarded with a broken Black Seal rod with 8 agate rings for the stock-box and much better, in the Allen, packed into a pool, the best depth around in the low flow, this shoal of grayling and three 2lb+ roach. Trotting the bend below with a fibre glass float rod and an Abu 'closed face' was a lad too young for such old tackle - we discussed grayling and roach of course.
In 1979...some pub nor'west of Turville, deepest Chilterns, one room, barrels on a trestle, went there with a mate, his floozy and her mate, jeez. Ford Capri (not mine, too much like having pants on the outside of trousers, you've either got nothing or think it's everything, either way you are one), hurtling around pitchblack'd sunken lanes looking for a boozer and when we go in, if looks killed and silence condemned we'd've been spinning on a spit in the other place before reaching the bar. Anyhow you're in and you can't leave without a beer, that's running away, so we drink and wait for conversation to resume, it doesn't, we walk out, back muscles squirming. Did us a favour really.
At my house, mother takes one look at mate's intended and hisses at me en passant, vehement, "Who is that?", "Not with me" I reply. Odd evening. Years later, in the film, when the American tourists stumble into the Yorkshire moors pub and the silence falls so fast that a split second later you hear a dart hitting the wall, I knew exactly how that felt. Without being a werewolf. Obviously.
23rd December 2011. Long Black Honky-tonk car. Yesterday's sunset looked exactly like someone had splurged grey, white and light blue paint on a board then dragged a pasting brush through it. It looked for all the world like a technically better sunrise reflected in a ruffled pond. Not bad. Today, perhaps in sync with the old school-days habit of easing off at Christmas, the small-technology offers Black Velvet, When the Levee Breaks (the premier paradiddler himself at full bore) and then Break the Rules from the days when the 'Quo went right to up to '11', long gone. Few cars, the sun's prising open the clouds and shouldering its midwinter self through the gap. I know how it feels. That'll do for today, onto the backplane placement, a chore.
31st December 2011. That's that for 2011.
'Carp head' on, I head for Luckfield, well, it's mild and what I want to do, blank beckoning or not. I'm greeted by two roe, who pose and the camera obligingly focuses on them not the hedge, I feel I have my reward already. I trot around to peg 4 where fish are lying torpid in a few dropping lily leaves and quietly fling in hemp and bait a size four with mussels and a 6mm cork ball to assist what is a virtual free-line on the big Hex. It's grey, mild, some weak sun slotting through the clouds with a bit of a breeze blowing this way. I stretch back, open the flask and wait. Two hours glide by, with a couple of tweaks to mussel and bread-paste (mostly bread-paste), a jay and some fieldfares to keep me amused. So it is I decide to stretch the legs and walk about the place. Fish-wise nothing much stirs, there is a score of wild ducks scattered about the edges, but almost a full circuit brings me to the inlet, fishing barred, where the ramp into the brick-pit once was and three good fish roll out of sight, unhurried.
|an obliging roe deer||dead lilies, dead calm|
Hm. I return to my rod, opt for 30 minutes as a proof of swim, miss a sitter 20 minutes later, a mirror emerges silently 30 yards out, hangs a moment, cream-and-olive and slops into the water. I hang in for another 20 minutes, sure for a time, then abruptly the feeling passes and I decamp for peg 1, next the inlet, siren-called.
|the hole in the bank||flying winter colours||waxing quarter|
I drop the bait as close to the branches as possible, pour the penultimate brew, but for two baits nothing happens. Then I miss a bite, momentarily diverted by baiting a patch to my right which experience tells me will give me 20 minutes more float fishing light at dusk. I re-bait and barely settled, the bob er, bobs, founders and I pull a yawing fish out of the hole and into the net, no ceremony, 12½lb and with winter colours on the mast. I re-bait, re-wait, encouraged, but nothing else comes but the moon, framed for my camera, despite me sitting until the blackbirds cease chipping and I'm fishing with the line over my little finger. Home calls, but the temptation to stay on a warm, waxing quarter-lit evening, is stronger that usual.
|Split...(and back to the top of the page)||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot|
|medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...(and return to the top of the page)||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and one more time...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...got it?|
|01:00am on 2017-10-21|