A decade of dithering, dipping and drivel, or, 'Mr. AA's most efficacious Fishing Diary 2015'

No idea whether this has been going longer than most, or not, I suspect 'longer than most', but keep wondering why I do it, probably a habit now, despite consciously not letting the 'need to update' become the driving force, this 'tail-that-wags-the-dog' grips most bloggers at one point or another. It's also still enjoyable to look at the previous years. It started with the simplest coding, acquired galleries, spacers that change at random, a search box (it's got so large I need it to find my way about) and there are navigation aids built in.

Over the course of this decade, I've become less strident about the state of the fishing nation, but that's resignation, not change of opinion 4If I could make access to this site (and some others for that matter) conditional on having a rod license and Angling Trust membership, I would.  and I stick with a hook and bait on't in defiance of the 'industry' and its leashed-press. This site has made me friends, kept me sane when I've been on the other side of the world doing meaningless things for money and provided me with hours of harmless entertainment. It's a good thing, it's fun 1'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.' . I'll carry on, in another ten years this will require its own web-server, but by then this will be an afterthought on the Small Technology...

"En fleira er mönnum til hugganar en fébætur einar." 2There are more things to be thought of by men than money alone. ~ The Saga of Grettir the Strong, chapter 47.

"But ye gotta know where ye're just gonna rush in. Ye cannae just rush in anywhere. It looks bad, havin' to rush oout again straight awa'." ~ Feegle tactics (Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men)

If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news? - W. S. Maugham

I read a range of books 3I take issue with those who say "You cannot learn anything from books". These are the same folk who say things like "All those qualifications and no common sense.", "I've got a degree in life." and my favourite; "It never did me any harm.". A few rebuttals:
(1) Yes you can, or you wouldn't be reading this.
(2) Sure, that's a sound argument. Well done.
(3) So has everybody else.
(4) Keep telling yourself that.
.

Allons-y 4"Pretentious? Moi?" ...the search box below is for this site only.

KingfisherJAA's Diary for...

1961-74 / 1974-75 / 1975-79...2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017

You can use the 'month' links below to skip off down the page...

·•·January·•·February·•·March·•·April·•·May·•·June·•·July·•·August·•·September·•·October·•·November·•·December·•·
Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carpa very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.

• 28th December 2015. The Dead Tree at Revels.

Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'The pink tipped quill. It flickered a bit, if I fished with bread on the '14', but I swapped it fairly quickly for a cork-ball special and a size 16. For my own memory, I was fishing the LSHRE, the '44x, 6lb line and a fine braid hook-link. Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'The air temperature was about 10°C, but with a stiff breeze down the small lake in my face, as well as pushing the fish up here, got me very cold over the next 3½ hours. Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'During this time, I caught perhaps a dozen 'skimmers' to about 5oz, the same number of fingerling roach, cold to the hand and four carp, two of which were in the 2-3lb range, one about 6lb and one about 10lb. I nicked one more carp and lost something that felt much like a very big roach, but not having seen it I've no real idea. The highlight, if not the largest carp (which ran twenty yards, gingerly retrieved to keep the tiny-hook hold intact), were this series of gudgeon that came to the tiny flecks on bread on a 16. Revels, 'Dead Tree Lake'I moved at 3pm to a more sheltered spot, nearing exposure, even though the fish were still biting. Moved, on the next lake's leeward bank, to warm and drink tea, brought me a nicked carp, two more bream, one a small bronze and two more small roach. I spent the last 40 minutes working through half of the flask's 'Christmas Spice' tea and warming a little. Stiff and cold then, dammit, when did I get so creaky?

• 18th December 2015. Dairy House Lakes.

Dairy House LakesThe east end of 'specimen lake' - it's about 2' deep and despite fishing cockles over hemp/bread for an hour, I got no sense that fish were there - not even movement on the rest of the lake, in contrast fish were moving on both the other lakes. Dairy House LakesThe first pitch and its quill Dairy House LakesI capitulated and fished for an hour at the south end of the lowest (Park Lake) and nabbed three carp (the first three shown), one in the margin, 12'' from the bank, on two cockles, then two more fished about 6' from the bank, one on cockles and the curiously purple one on a piece of bread about the size of an old 50p piece. They were coming to the top, picking off the shreds of bread from my ground-bait, but I opted to fish under the fish. Dairy House LakesHaving bent a rod (the B&W MK IV G s/u, perhaps over gunned for carp to 5lb), decamped to Oak lake, this time at the west end, where I'd been steadily baiting this pitch. Nought happened for two hours, nothing stirred not even a mouse - well on that lake - despite the colour in the water. Dairy House LakesI went back to Park lake, fished with the wind in my face for 90 minutes, had some rudd, a tiny roach (scraps of bread on a size 14 got a bewildering variety of slow bites which would've needed finer tackle than I'd fish in a lake rammed with 4-5lb carp). Cockles under the trees didn't catch hoped-for perch - there were some decent fish to 8oz in bunches when last I fished, but all that came was one more carp.
Dairy House LakesDairy House Lakes, 'Oak' and 'Park'. It was a nice enough place when it was £7 for a day, but £10 a day is pricey for what it is and £12 for the tiny specimen lake is not for me, value for money - one used to be able to fish it with all-round tackle and it has roach and gudgeon, good even on a cold day but there's now a 10lb line and 40'' net rule.

• 13th December 2015. Bargain. A spot of breakfast with the LittleAnglers, a boot sale and some applied psychology and I have this fine thing for £8.

Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.Nice to have, probably won't actually use it... but you never know.

• 2nd December 2015. Piking on the Frome.

I got it into my head to essay a spot of piking on the Frome - taking only the 8ft, some braid and the strange contraptionous end tackle that is now the club's idea of sensible piking. Duh. The water was not nearly clear enough for good sport and despite fishing all nooks, eddies and crannies for upwards of four hours, I got not a snatch nor a snap. Bait-fishers were catching sporadically, where the pike were was entirely another matter. The blue tit (complete with ring'd leg) was just a good shot out of the man-cave window. No other reason.

Pike Rules and ringed foot The 8ft rod, the champagne cork float, the 35lb braid, the 1 meter of 35lb nylon, plus a pike trace of 'good quality'. I kid you not, those are 'the rules'. Plus, oh yes, don't forget TWO pairs of 18-inch forceps, an unhooking mat and a weighing sling to release the fish. Pike Rules and ringed foot Blue tit with ringed foot

There should be rules for a water, but sometimes it feels like rules are written up in a cosy pub for those who don't really know what the point of them is and will never actually enforce them anyway *However, even if the rules are silly, one keeps to them if ones fishes.
If you hate the rules that much don't fish there. Which is why my piking from this date on will be downstream of this club's waters.

• 1st December 2015. 'Reflections on Still Water'. I've just had my first glimpse of Peter Rolfe's new book and thought I would share it with you. Hope to see some of you at Shaftesbury Arts Centre on Saturday 5th for the book-launch and a signed copy.

'Reflections on Still Water' Reflections on Still Water - dust jacket 'Reflections on Still Water' Reflections on Still Water - Fishing Tales

Several things are happening on the day, including an auction of a copy of "The Net on the Garage Wall" (so I'll have to give it back first). Chris Yates has promised to pop in, as have Hugh Miles, Peter Wheat and Mark Wintle.

Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Carp? What addiction?a very subtil fish Carp? What addiction?Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Carp? What addiction?if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it.

• November 30th. Take deep breath. Well, that's one essay over and done with...

• November 19th. Some notes on what has become something of a routine. The shipping forecast has become my introduction to the world, starting three minutes after hitting the road and I switch to long wave for the softer tones and reassurance. Then I usually see lights of planes in-bound to Hern, hear about the farming world via the M27 in the New forest and 'Tweet of the day' as I pass Hedge End. As I get to Guildford, aro 7:45am, I generally switch to Classic FM, often, depressed by the current news on a loop, certainly saturated, so resist the bleak of it.

Today, I haven't booked parking, this is cheaper for part-days, paying only for that used, not in advance for what I might use. And so to the philosophy of science. And now we see.

• November 3rd. Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond.

Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond The non-car-park side of Belfry pond Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond The non-car-park side of Belfry pond
Belfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry PondBelfry Coarse Fishery, Belfry Pond

• November 2nd. Woodpecker Pool.

Woodpecker PoolThe first float, fished on the lift Woodpecker PoolThe first pitch Woodpecker PoolThe second float, a cork ball rigged after the aborted take. Woodpecker PoolThe late butterfly Woodpecker PoolThe second pitch, site of the second aborted take
Woodpecker PoolWoodpecker Pool
Woodpecker PoolThe dam-end leaf-drift Woodpecker PoolThe float amongst the bream bubbles Woodpecker PoolThe blank breaker Woodpecker PoolThe last gasp abramis
split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

• 26th October. 2:02, not the worst trip in, clocks went back, I wonder if this extra daylight helped. Took a deliberate decision to ease off a bit last week, knowing I had two extra days a week from this week and also with 'reading' and 'themed' weeks looming. As a result I feel 'different'. Somewhere between more relaxed and a foot back in the logic of the old world. Funny. Today and tomorrow I dive headlong back into the shades-of-grey, the new world now. But first, the espresso, eggs and sourdough. The breakfast of larks and loons.

• 22nd October: Leaving the house at O-five-hundred hours...the 'O' stands for 'Oh Great Scott it's early'. In fact up a bit in front of the alarm, left 6:50, less five for fuel, careless planning, still actual journey 2:01, two of the 'pinch-points' open today. Odd, not that big a difference. Still that and TMS's Second Test commentary make today an easy run with only the prospect of handing in a dissertation topic and a PM run to a book shop two spikes in the smooth. Coffee and the usual scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. I don't need the calories in truth. Anon.

More Kingston pictures The sun rising over Kingston at 7:30am from the top floor of the car-park - I prefer the top floor as (a) it's seldom busy, so fewer mystery dents in my car doors and (b) ten flight of stairs are good for me. Next up, Scrambled eggs on sorudough bread and double espresso. More Kingston pictures This is about a third of the chub shoal in the Hogsmill by the High Stree bridge. They've not missed a day yet and I've seen several well over 5lb. Always fun to watch, even at 'stupid o'clock'.

• 19th October: Weeeeee..... If you leave the house 20 minutes later then the journey takes another 20 minutes, which is that weird sliding scale of journey time as one nears the rush hour nadir.

Big news is, following my request to take a workshop online at home (freeing Tuesday for reading and in reality at least half of Wednesday), the lecturer did a fine thing and transferred me to Monday at 4pm, which means a longer day, a drive outside of the home-run nadir and a lot more time to work. Just cracking, I felt I was barely keeping up, in truth, down to poor physical condition and early mornings, but a big help nevertheless.

So today I watch the two magpies, where the A3 narrows at the A307 junction, with renewed interest - they stroll nonchalant about the near stationary traffic picking dead insects off the road, I like to see them there. Double espresso with hot water, scrambled eggs on sourdough. It's a good start, so stroll along the river, overtaken by a jogger, who's not a natural, head down, heavy tread and she's in turn overtaken by a slight lady in a coat carrying a handbag with the deft sprung step of a seriously good runner just a bit late for the office. A boat's chimney sprays smoke, someone's rising cuppa and I walk through the smoke for the scent, although it's of treated wood. Worth it anyway.

• 17th October: Bad Luckfield. I knew the lake had problems; but checked the website and headed off, thinking for a single carp or two even. The aerator running put the first nail in the fishing box, I persisted, tried around to 'peg 3', the water was low and for 45 minutes I watched, saw nothing attributable to a fish, any fish, you could see a foot down in the water, rare here, autumn-time anyway. A committee member turned up and we talked about the lake. I asked, at one point, how many carp he thought were in here - he thought no more than fifty. No more? Om my own experience of fishing here, the average weight might be almost 10lb, that's 500lb of carp in a lake under one acre with no inflow and precious little exposure to wind. Really? Then add in the eels, the roach, the perch, some tench (the old stocks are gone), re-stocked twice though to little avail. There's at least 600lb of fish in water which naturally might only support 300lb. Mystified by this service of the angler ahead of fish welfare and lake welfare, but he goes on, I find out they are taking down a dead oak by the gate, to deter cormorants (meh) and head for 'peg 5' which is as far away from the work party as I can and also the windward end.

Luckfield stock pond The 'peg 5' pitch, the north end. Looks nice... Luckfield stock pond The nearly inevitable cork-ball bobber Luckfield stock pond The robin on the MKIV 'G'

There are fish twitching the surface here, one carp crashes between me and the aerator but that was all and after two hours, the highlight being a robin bouncing on my B&W MKIV 'G', motionless water and bait made my mind up, packed up and passing a worthy, was asked "Giving up then?", "Oh yes" said I, barely pausing in my stride.

• 15th October: The old world, a 6004 day, a grey flat morning, prised apart by the wedge of red-eyed traffic up the A3...2:07 today, as good as it ever is, too early, I'm finding the haul in a bit much for the moment. Hotel rooms and restful trains are beckoning. On the grown-up BBC radio channel there was 'yet another' 'engineering skills crisis', finding myself in the old world, considering the whole idea of 'generating interest' in technical things at an early age, nothing more than the 'same old same old' i.e. a form of blame shifting. If you want a shortage of skills filled doesn't one pay more money? Always the talk in science and technology is of interest, which as we know doesn't pay mortgages and raise families. Here's a radical sodding idea. Make careers in science and enginnering more lucractive and with better career prospects, then quityerbitchin'. The whole 'make it interesting' thing is in itself a reflection of the attitude that somehow 'technical' people are only doing it because they're 'interested'. It's patronising, controlling and dumb.

Toastie, library, lecture in that order. That's the old world, it's a new world now.

• October 14th. Another nice journey - anything less than 2¼hr is nice - but today, changed to Patisserie Valerie, as the cakes look better - they are pricier though. The First Test against Pakistan today and TMS made the second half of the drive more bearable. The cherry frangipan is excellent, if overpriced.

At midday I opted for the other side of the river, to scope out swims and by way of a change. A bivvie was tucked into the end of the small mooring by the bridge, hunkered in the lee, I stopped, talked fishing, and discovered an engaging angler who was still fizzing from his 35lb river carp that morning, his first from the river. I'm not a bleeper fan (even though he was using Fox Micron's) but that's an achievement, extracted from under the prow of the nearest boat. He offered me a bucket to sit on while I ate and a cup of tea, so we passed an hour talking, as anglers do, of fishing and fishing things. Hat tip to him, quite the high point of the last three weeks.

OAU, as they say.

• 11th October: Sunset from Goschen Barn.

Sunset from Goschen Barn, panoramic shot with the New TechnologySunset from Goschen Barn, panoramic shot with the New Technology.

• 10th October, Packhorse: The "master's" is eating time and energy, but still thought to fish - but a 'whatever's in the freezer' day, the LHSRE, the Adcock (6lb) and the Kingpin (8lb) as an afterthought. Overcast, grey, a good perch day - foreshadowing the result if not the intention, so fetched myself to a lily bed nearer the West end than not, fished in the lea of it - and had a thumping boring perch of 1lb 6oz right away, then lost another on a hook pull. A roach, a rudd or two on the cockle, then switched to a red flashed nymph hook for the perca f. and had another, scissor-hooked and then had another hook pull to a fish which was twice the size, I felt that loss keenly, as they say. A few more roach, another 1lb 6oz fish, then a carp banged my 6lb line and it strung the trace around a lily before I'd got a grip and the hook knot parted. Pah. I put on drop-shot hook for the colour, the next bite was a common of 13lb or so which resulted in a titanic battle at short range, the rod's curve belying the thin line's capabilities but, nearing the net, the hook, fine wired, opened enough.

Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the first Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe windy pitch Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe float Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeA roach Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the second Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakePerch the third Kingsbridge, Packhorse Lake'parp'

Wasn't so upset as you might be, the swim was trashed, but I had one more carp, a mirror and by 4pm my swim was dead and I proved it, barring a couple of post-scripted roach, goers, but that's that trouble with too many carp. 'Parped'. Huh. Live-bait then?

• 6th October. Au crack sparrow en Kingston.

So this is Kingston-upon-ThamesLe Boulanger So this is Kingston-upon-ThamesThe espresso and the Tarte Citron So this is Kingston-upon-ThamesSome chub in the Hogsmill So this is Kingston-upon-ThamesAn optimistic heron with the chub

• 5th October: OK so not a 'logbook' day lbOne of the course modules requires that I keep a logbook of my thoughts after a lecture. , but a reset alarm (5:30am) and have time to spare, rain, light easing nearing town, biggest hold up Farnham, thirty minutes maybe, cut through past shops, along Thames. Not bad, A3 tomorrow. Espresso and tarte Normande. Bona. It's starting to feel like college days are the easy days, all Sunday studying, penalty for not knuckling down Wednesday, Friday last week.

• 3rd October. Dour Stour: having to drop 'the boy' at a cottage cleaning gig, so think to myself, "I'll try the Stour at Julian's bridge while the permit is current." I took the 'Leeds', the trotting reel de jour, the 15' GTI and fished a shallow run down from the bridge, I missed one bite across the river (I was stood half way across), then after a bit contacted a fish 35 yards down in the really shallow water which pulled hard, I enjoyed the brief head shaking battle even at range, with Fireline you feel connected, a dolpin leap confirmed my suspicion, a trout of perhaps a bit over 3lb, then the hook came away. I nicked a further bite and that was my lot - I fished on down the river, perhaps a mile in every run, glide and hole, at several (and varying) depths with bread and corn and got not a touch, except for a careless minnow.

River Stour, Julian's bridge.It was every bit as exciting as it looked.

Huh. I cut straight across the fields to the car, pondering the utter stupidity of a couple who were canoeing, themselves without safety gear, but worse had a four year old and a baby not even a year old sitting between legs, on a river with holes that would drowned me. Stupid beyond belief.

• 1st October. Masterful. A 9am start requires 5am on the road, two hours dead with the rising sun in my face and a ticket issued at the NCP, 15 minutes early for the coffee shop opening so take a turn around the town, then settle in a faux bolaungerie for a 'Parisienne', that is a double espresso and a pain au chocolate. It's OK, they change the blare of a local radio station to something smoother and Frencher, small mercies, but it's not the Brioche Dorée at Place de Columbier in Rennes, where an industrial sized pain au' and a double espresso was €1.50. Either the shop means to kid the good and well-heeled folk of Kingston-u-T. or an enterprising French boulanger has decided there is an easier way to make a living.

It occurs I'm travelling again, my whole life seems to be travelling in one way or another and this, the geographical part, is not worse or more arduous than the other journey I'm about to undertake...here we go then. Electronics just became something I used to do.

Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carpa very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.

• 25th September: Pete's Lakes. This trip was over planned, I've never done very well here on the lakes, partly because I think I tend to go 'because I ought' rather than on the whim I mostly follow, but still, two pitches with the finest float in the world (probably) produced only fine rudd of a satisfying size. Pete's company made the day more enjoyable, but there were no crus. for either of us. Pete went on and so wandered the upper lake finding nowhere which felt fishy, so in the end fished the top of the river arm and after 30 minutes of gentle hemp, I removed, while working through a forgotten flask of Earl Grey, perhaps a dozen-and-a-half roach the largest perhaps ¾lb, on pinches of bread. The moon was up by dusk and my hands chilly; autumn's arrived, in antiphase to the vanishing crucians.

Pete's Lakes The first pitch... Pete's Lakes ...breath ye not, or it will tremble in resonace Pete's Lakes The second pitch's float...
Pete's Lakes...and the second pitch Pete's LakesOne of the many fine rudd Pete's LakesOne of the river arm's roach Pete's LakesTime to go

• 28th September: Welcome to Kingston, have a nice day...

Fat carp, at Kingston-upon-ThmesI was, admittedly, slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at me in the morning lectures, also reeling from the 10:1 ratio of chapesses/chaps and if I had any concerns that I'd taken a wrong turn, contemplating the morning river-side, seeing this fat lad (15lb+) loitering presumably with duck-bread intent, was reassuring.

• 23rd September: Registration day...

the Old Father, at Kingston-upon-ThamesThe River Thames at Kingston, home from home

• 20th September: 'Pete's Ponds'

.
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A 'constellation' of crucians The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view of the Lower Pond from the the dam side of the 'Umbrella Pitch' (taken with the new 'Small Technology')
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'

• 12th September: 'Pete's Ponds'.

The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A very small porcupine quill very close to the edge, holding up a scrap of bread, the 'Weyfarer' method. The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A 'constellation' of crucians The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The lone and vegetarian perch The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The lone, late and very welcome tench
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' One of the scale perfect little crucians, small but not a hardship to fish for...'Little fish are sweet.' as 'Old Bob' used to day. The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' Another of the scale perfect (but humped for gape defence) little crucians
The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'The 'Saxon Ponds' - a panoramic view taken with the new 'Small Technology' of the lower Pond from the 'Umbrella Pitch'

• 6th September: Tackle Fair Weather. So, the Romsey Tackle Fair - Nobbyngton-Smythe and myself took a table to raise funds for Fishwives' Corner, but footfalls were not as large as yore we thought and certainly there were fewer exhibitors. But still a fixture and good fun, plus outrageous tiffin from Mrs Arthur2ShedsHat-Tip Emoticon. Managed to not to spend any money...

So to Headlands Farm. Long pondered, looks the sort of place but the rules are odd and ambiguous. So I went anyway on the way home, eschewing the specimen lake for its lack of shade and finding a cool spot on the lower lake with bushes to screen. All good in theory...the water is barely three feet deep and my first two ambushees bolted amid swirls of mud, so switched to a red bobber and fished 5" over depth with two no.8 shot spaced 2½" and 5" from the size '10' and its cockle.

This worked and after one small and surprised roach, nabbed a 5lb or so carp which gave up. Hm. Then 'some small perch', a goer roach, missed a swirler, then connected with one which swum about a lot, 10lb or so.

Headlands FarmThe pitch of the day. It was a nice warm day, but I had a screen of trees behind me and was in a cool and shady spot. Never bad. Headlands FarmThe second carp and the 'slime' of bream, all three of which leapt like tarpon when hooked, one of them twice, then of coruse they gave in right away. 'I could fight if I wanted to.' Yeah, course you could... Headlands FarmI had a quite a few small roach and perch and this was the pick of the perch by some margin. There were another three carp as well, but, well 'you know', all the same etc. Headlands FarmThis was the last carp and the last fish and it did a good thirty yards on the first run - the water is perhaps three feet and the bottom firm and gravelly - so the fish can only go 'along' and this one did, a lot (14lb).

I alternated cockles and corn for a steady stream of bream, roach, carp spooked by me/rod/tackle, another carp and one solid perch...fun though it was, I nominated a cast as the last, second 'last' got a slidy bite, struck right, felt weight then nothing, was just thinking "buggrit" when the rod curved off to the right as the fish, heading atypically with the pull, belted off down the pool obliging me to stand up in order to improve the sharp angle which otherwise would've kited the fish into the bank. Based on the 'cricket pitch' method it hove-to at a good thirty yards, of which I then retrieved ten...and this is how it went for ten hard minutes, the tuna-reel ratchet too loud for too long, so I clicked it off for the second half. 14lb on the mat, good old LHSRE and 6lb again, home, warm setting sun, Mrs. AA, red wine....

• 4th September: Revels, Pike & Match lakes.

Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeAt the end of 'Desperation Lake' 'all of the carp' were mooching and milling, so I stopped, threw mixers at them then watched a few being picked off. Debated shipping up a rod, but in the end, rather too easy...so hopped over the electric fence and plodded off up the field. Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe pick of the day's two pitches, a couple of decent roach, a very decent perch and one of several carp Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe first pitch on 'Pike Lake' which yielded a scattering of roach, rudd and perch. Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe wren. These are hard to 'capture' with their never ending movement, but this was one was locked in a 'battle of the song' with another on the other side of me, so obliging, sat still enough for half-a-dozen shots, of which these two are the pick. Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second snap of the battlesome wren. Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second pitch...on the 'Match Lake'. I was hoping for goldfish, there are some good uncoloured ones in here, but in the end just carp and one fine roach. I tottered off before it got dark.
Gobio GobioGobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page) GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobby GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GonkGobby Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GudgeonGudgeon GudgeonGudgeon Gobio GobioGobio Gobio

• 26th August: Binary Float setting. Not that it make a huge difference to one's life but here is how I set the depth. If you know approximately what depth the water is, plus or minus a couple of feet, set the depth to (say) three feet over depth. Let's pretend that's still too deep. Move the float down half of that distance (18"). Make the next adjustment half of the last one (9"). If it's still set too deep, move the float down 9". If it's set too shallow move it up 9". Make the next adjustment (whichever the direction) half of the previous (4½"), then 2¼", 11/8", etc...

From an initial guess of three feet over, you'll be within an inch of the right depth in seven adjustments or less, every time...if you know the depth reasonable well, set a little deeper than memory suggests (say 12") and using the halve-and-halve again method you'll be within an inch in about four adjustments (12", 6", 3" 1½", ¾").

Of course you don't need a ruler, you can use the rings on your rod to approximate a distance and half of it. 'Simples'.

• 24th August: Bear right. The real moral of "Goldilocks and the three bears" appears to be 'If you're blond and cute you can get away with burglary and theft'. But you won't fool the bears. Oh no.

• 21th August 2015 - Revels - 'Pike Lake'.

Revels - 'Pike Lake'So this is the first pitch. The weather was truly wet - on my immediate right there was a large alder, the rain was being driven across the lake from the right (south-west) by a strong wind and despite sitting here for two hours or so, listening to the rain whispering through the branches, I didn't get remotely damp, perfectly positioned in the vortex behind. Heh. Revels - 'Pike Lake'This is the carp which nipped the pink-tipped quill under (needed something a bit floaty as the waves right-to-left were high enough to require more than a cork-ball special) after spending some time hoovering up hemp and flicking the line often enough with various fins to let me know he was on the way. Politely he'd also rolled under the bank to let me know he was in the vicinity. Despite being a solid double there were no long runs, the water is five feet deep here and there was some wallowing, gently soaked up by the LHSRE. Revels - 'Pike Lake'The swim also produced a perch (traditionally), a bream of about ½lb or so and a solid roach in the same range. Then the dips and twitches of the float stopped and after a long stretch of complete inactivity, (the rain had stopped, the wind dropped) I opted to move up the bank to the inviting patch of lilies in the corner... Revels - 'Pike Lake'...and very inviting they look. The hemp I scattered brought forth bubbles in ones, twos and clumps, or so it seemed and I had a series of tiny bites that barely submerged a cork-ball dibber, the boldest of which, struck, yielded a sprat of a roach. Hm. And then even those bites faded away. I had started to form an idea something was snarking about when the float zipped down suddenly, obliging me to untangle the line from a sprig of blackthorn behind. Revels - 'Pike Lake'However, a few minutes later it bobbed twice, sharply, then vanished and the first 'run' was typical, very very fast and I was lucky to hang on and it took me a moment to realise what I'd hooked. Once out of the lily-stalks I had the upper hand, the fish clearly lip-hooked and simply not having the body-mass to win out. Took two goes to net the bu88er though. I'm starting to like the big eels, I've had three well over 3lb in the last 12 months and am pleased to see them. By golly they pull back though. Not another bite, although I sat poised until nearly dusk...pretty good.

• 21th August 2015 - Freya's day. The senior minion said it would rude not to eat here before I leave. The threads of the Disir Fates do perhaps fan out through space and time as Mrs AA's ST, timed to go off at 5am, was face down, no light to guide the fumbling, so took an waking age to find and quell. I sipped a conciliatory EG and peeked at the cobwebb'd dawn. Well, I'm up now, so threw the rod in the car for later and headed, herding the last grey strands, for breakfast, pausing after parking to chat with a tattered grey-winged crow stood on a rock. He angled his head at me, curious, smarter than the average bird. A decent coffee never hurts and bubble'n'squeak. Wyrd.

The Early Starter at the Granby DinerThe Early Starter at the Granby Diner

• 18th August 2015 - Today is a Big Day. So, 'electronics' is suddenly something I did...funny, not going to miss it.

• 15th August 2015 - Packhorse Lake. I needed a few hours behind a fishing rod to consider a big thing, so took one rod and pail of hemp to Kingsbridge - I recognised the signs, the lake becalmed, but scooted around the far side to fish by a reed bed in the face of a stiffish breeze. I nabbed a very decent carp twenty minutes in, but it capitulated too quickly, even on the LHSRE and 6lb line, so I suspected low oxygen levels. With a cockle on a size 10, I picked away at spasmodic bites and took a couple of small bream, a small rudd and a whopping 'mostly roach', the last giving up so easily it really rather confirmed my earlier suspicion. After 90 minutes the breeze died, the bites faded and after another hour I took the hint hand headed for the NW corner on the basis 'there be perch' and you never know...in the time remaining to dusk I had just one bite, yielding just one carp, not really fighting its weight either although a few carp were swirling as the light went. Huh. Good though. Got 100 yards down the track and realised I'd made my mind up...

Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe first pitch Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe first pitch Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe 15lb common Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe hugmungous 'roach' Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second pitch Kingsbridge, Packhorse LakeThe second pitch... Kingsbridge, Packhorse Lake...and the result of its sole bite

• 7th August 2015 - Highway Farm. It looked idyllic, both from far away and close up, but halfway down the hill I could see small carp converging on other anglers setting up and realised, with a slight sinking of the heart, what I was in for. I went for the bottom pond, no more than a porcy, two float bands and a size 12 tied right onto the Tuna Reel's 6lb line, then spent an hour extracting a colourful variety of small and slightly gaunt carp, mostly by virtue of dropping bread on the water, waiting until the myriad of small rudd/roach were making the water hiss like a fresh G&T, then dropping a scrap of bread on the competitive carp that followed the commotion. I nabbed a few more with a cockle on the bed, a swan shot required to get it through the fry with any regularity. An hour did for me, I checked the depth at the 'dam' end, nearly six feet and no masses of rudd...I confess to eyeing balefully those fry, with a view to live or dead-baiting for carnivorous carp or the inevitable anguilla. Had the B&W MKIV G been over my shoulder I'd have done that. I moved, set up, caught a few carp off the bottom, same size, all 1-2lb or so. A little hemp brought in 'all the fish' so after a few carplets off-the-bed, nipped out a few more on a heart shaped mixer I'd drilled a hole in with a perch hook, then amused myself by dangling bread just off the surface until the rudd fizzed, then the carp mobbed, then dropping the bait on the first carp that took my fancy. It took half-an-hour to get the one I really wanted, perhaps 3½lb, then I headed up the slope, pausing only to show the Tuna Reel to an interested party, although the admonishment to 'take it easy up the hill' a bit patronising. All done, home-drive to the disintegration of the Australian test team, 'The Ashes' back, for a few years anyway.

Highway Farm The upper pool Highway Farm The Lower pool Highway Farm The lower pool looking away from the dam.

A pretty fishery, nicely kept and decorated with live willow arches and handy seats, but such a shame to see the stocking and management as for a goldfish pond. A good place to take a 5 year old for their first carp. I doubt I'll ever return for myself though.

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

• 31st July 2015 - Clearwater Pool. This was a lucky dip and expecting muddy-puddle-mania, to my astonishment I found a nice clear pool, a small stock of carp (plus a very few small tench), a bailiff with an enlightened attitude (plus a few good stories of an area I knew almost as well as he), grassy, under mown banks, a harvest moon and peace. I blanked of course, properly and contentedly, convinced myself the camera was at home, so took a few ST snaps, then found the camera in the car...drat. I'll be back when the leaves start to turn.

Clearwater PoolThe net, the foot, the LHSRE, the pool... Clearwater Pool...the early evening sky... Clearwater Pool...the pool as the sun set... Clearwater Pool...then came the moonrise... Clearwater Pool...and the harvest moon

• 30th July 2015 - YKYMF. I had a plan yesterday to fire mixers across the main lake down which the wind, autumnal and brisk, was doubtless racing and then arc out some decent bits of bread on the LHSRE for wind-drift fishing. Thwarted, a pity for me there was a match organised...

...the next day, the 7:30am air smelt of autumn, I badly needed music on the ST that 'stepped lively', one of the little warning signs, like sitting on the edge of the bed long enough to think "Here we effing go again." The sun was bright, though seemed a month later in hue; I muse on the annual tread-mill slog-through, is it a programmed response to many house-moves during the upbringing, or some ghost of a migration instinct, just time to walk south for the winter? Is blackberry whiskey merely an echo of the harvest instinct after all that?

Desk-bound, the seasons are passing me by, which is why yesterday, realising I was the wrong sort of 'YKYMF', so took the afternoon off, office life just isn't real some days. JJC's "Oh Mary" shuffles on, I see a momentary image of dancing angels a lá Micheal and the song-writer laughing. This amuses me for a few miles...

At the gate, pausing to slip on the ID, I see a 'V' formation in the westward sky, so stop, watch them fly over, count ten heading east with the sounds only in-flight geese make, seems apposite.

Also, yesterday, I caught these fish (among others) and lent my scales to 'anotherangler', the only time they've been used.

Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
A very decent and feisty perch...1
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
The pitch...2
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
The very finest of the roach...3
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
A 'mould of bream'. The last one really pulled back I thought it was a tench....4
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
The lone tench and......5
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
...the prettiest rudd....6
Kingsbridge, Tranquil LakeKingsbridge, Tranquil Lake
The best shot of two deer before they spooked....7

• 26th July 2015 - Pete's Ponds.

Pete's Pond, Lower A cork-ball special fished under the branches and mostly under the water. Pete's Pond, Lower Down the path towards the dam from the 'umbrella pitch'.
Pete's Pond, Lower Looking down the barrel of the LHSRE, NW across the lake. Notice the 'impossible to forget' rod-rest. Drat, I'll lose it now for sure. Pete's Pond, Lower A handy vase, a boot sale find, now co-opted for those long useful things one collects when one makes floats.

• 8th July 2015 - Pond near Mayfield. It's a secret, club rules or something like.

Pond near MayfieldThis pond is very nicely set out - the is a path all around - gravel but hey ho, and plenty of boarded swims. It look idyllic on first glance, but the walk around gave me that 'don't quite know where to fish' feeling, which I've come to associate with 'not much of a chance'. The surface was a bit too clam and the water, despite depth seemed to me to lack colour. Never say never though. Pond near MayfieldThe morning zipped past but the only bite I had was on a worm for the almost inevitable small perch. At midday, I was thinking it was a 'Wheeler-Feynman' perch. 'The Thane' was trying to persuade a carp in the northern corner to take a surface bait, but at the point I thought to decamp, this hadn't worked. Pond near MayfieldI parked across the lake in a new pitch and tried again, on the basis that if one side and end was a dud, despite occasional carp leaping at range, the other might be a better bet 100% correct as it turned out. Pond near Mayfield'The Bag', twice the morning's. The rudd is stunning, if small and apologies for the state of the perch, but it twisted out of my hand, presumably trying to bite my arm off. I took my leave about four o'clock, I had a longish drive and I felt the fishing wasn't going to pick up any time soon, although I pondered a late dibble at the solid common mooching under the left hand lily pads, but it didn't seem like it's heart was in it. On the up-side, England were in the ascendency in the first test. so that's all right then...'The Thane' reported sport remained as was, a day or so later. Funny flat day, you get those.

• 7th July 2015 - Pond near Michelham Priory. One of the nicest places I've ever fished, the first of three days angling while chez ToS. A fine way to spend a few days.

Pond near Michelham PrioryThis is the pond from the 'dam' end, looking more or less west I'd say. It's overrun with dwarf lilies and disappointingly was barely 18'' deep anywhere. Pond near Michelham PrioryAll four of these floats were rescued waterlogged by the Thane and restored to usable, if not the original use. Pond near Michelham PrioryHalf-way up on the north side. It's about a foot deep and I nabbed a number of rudd and one careless small carp, while 'The Thane' had settled into the swim one up from the dam on the same bank and was bating surface baits and picking them off the top. All much the same 3-4lb though. Pond near Michelham PrioryThe 'bag' so far. I then wondered up to the reed bed at the top and nabbed another carp on a piece of bread fished under a quill and some surface freebies. Some interfacing with a tree was part of the landing process.
Pond near Michelham PrioryThe rest of the carp, all small and not in the best nick. The water was perhaps a foot lower than it ought to be, which can't be helping - but to be fair they all put up quite a scrap for their size. Pond near Michelham PrioryI moved, PM, between the ToS and the dam and fished in a gap. I tried for some time to extract gudgeon (none) with a size 16, swinging in a lot of little rudd, which I eyed up as eel-bait, then went back to a signal mussel nicked on a size 10. the carp signalled their intentions with nudged lilies and occasion puffs of clay and fine bubbles, but there were tense periods with singleton bubbles which made me speculate on the so far theoretical crucians. Pond near Michelham PrioryThe lake is wonderfully situated, with the bank behind me a rounded slope of bracken and brambles in bloom, the path was short grass rabbit-mown, all very chalk downland. All too pleasant for words really, the three notes of white noise from the wind in the tree, the reeds and the hedge drifted me into a near trance and twice I was startled by dogs popping around the corner during the afternoon stretch. Pond near Michelham PrioryThe Thane of Sussex, poised, pantherish, like a coiled spring, ready to strike. More or less.

• 6th July 2015 - Pond near Heathfield

Pond near HeathfieldSadly, this is the only view I took of the lake, I've not really done it justice - I was pretty much occupied by the fishing. I was sitting on the south bansk and the 'Thane of Sussex' was loitering at the east end, encouraging carp (with some success)to take mixers from under a tree or two Pond near HeathfieldThis is the first of half-a-dozen goldfish-influenced fish I caught fairly early on... Pond near Heathfield...and another shown with the well re-varnished cigar box I use as a temporary float holder. As in 'today's floats'. A 4lb or so carp also tripped up during the morning rush. Pond near HeathfieldThere is much to be said for fishing with the most basic of floats and tackle and it's surprising how often it makes no difference at all to the catch. There are days when fish will tow the biggest porcupine quill you've ever seen and a swan shot with an insolent insouciance. If you look closely at this picture, a lot of insects are there or thereabouts, a good hatch is under way.
Pond near HeathfieldNow you might think this is a bit of a crucian. There are several clues as to why it's not. The first two (shown), are the preceding fish which were very definitely goldfish...this fish, although humped like a crucian, has a lateral scale count of 30 (which is marked up for your convenience), which puts it firmly in the goldfish range and at best it's a cru/goldfish hybrid - the dorsal has a reasonable curve to it, but the caudal (not shown here) was markedly forked. I had a lot of fun though, with this guy and four or five of its brethren. Pond near HeathfieldThis is the first of half-a-dozen goldfish-influenced fish I caught fairly early on... Pond near HeathfieldThis carp which was about 5lb or so gave me a serious tussle and like a smaller carp earlier in the day, it was bubbling right under the bank, well inshore of my quill, and as before I stealthily reeled my bait over the bubbles and dropped it where I judged the eating end was. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-zzzzzzzzzzzzz..... Pond near HeathfieldThere was a quiet spell early afternoon, so while I was musing on the meaning of life, these guys lit on the same branch and it seemed two good a chance to miss. I then spent some time spooning bits of bread into the lake to try to draw the carp in a bit and one larger one started to pick off the bread, so I took the tell-tale shot off, removed the float and jammed a cork ball over the link-swivel, spun a small pile of line onto my knee and cast a floating flake. I'd been fishing perfectly well with 6lb line until then but the take I got snapped my line instantly somewhere above the cork-ball...I was using a soft rod and a pin, so I really have no idea why that happened. Slightly hollowed-out I re-tackled and went back to my pitch. Pond near HeathfieldThe last fish to turn up was this common, 10lb or so. The classic, dither, dither, dither, dither, bobble...the first run was impressive though and it took a good five minutes to get to the net. Nothing wrong with my LHSRE and line then...I ponder the likelihood of a weak spot introduced by moving float stops a bit too quickly.

• 4th July 2015 - The Path by the Water Great Gudgeon Snitching. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so....

Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThe roads were covered with gravel washed into the roads from the night's thunderstorms and sudden deluges, but I arrived in 1:59 dead, so was in the car park at 7:40am and was standing by the Driving Technology munching boiled egg sarnies with a cup of fresh brewed when 'DavyR' arrived, so fat was chewed with the sarnies while we watched the fizzing in the stock pond in front of us. Marmalade sandwiches are much nicer than you think. At 7am we 'ticketed' and 'DavyR' headed for 'Priory' for his beloved tench and I opted for 'Abbey' as having recently fished 'Priory', wanted more of a mixed day, perhaps to move on later. I pitched with the wind in my face, mostly, grey dawn, nice and cool, I was going to miss that later. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyIt is my custom to take a shot of the pitch and the float, which you can just see in the act of disappearance...and a small tench came out. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThis was the first of a throng of small tench, along with a couple of perch and various rudd. 'Standfast' arrived and immediately won the prize for the nattiest titfer. Not that there was one really. A prize that is. Lemington Lakes, Abbey'Nobbyngton-Smythe' arrived and hands were shaken and he headed up the bank with gudgeon in mind. I had my attention drawn to this chap, quite deliberately. He sat four feet away in the tree and made enough noise at maximum volume to ensure I'd noticed...I've seen quite tame chaffinches before, there were some on the Rye Dyke which would take bread out of your hand, so flicked corn onto the unhooking mat and took a payment with the camera. Sweet-corn was acceptable but it was soon clear he preferred hempseeds, makes sense really. From then on the 'tac-tac' of small claws on the mat became part of my day.
Lemington Lakes, AbbeyAnother shot of my new friend, then 'RedFin' arrived and set up the other side of 'Nobbyngton-Smythe' with a cane Avon made by himself and a quill float supporting a few maggots. This found him a welter of small perch and one in the 1¾lb range. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI couldn't resist another shot of the chaffinch, really a very handsome fellow. 'Nobbyngton-Smythe' headed for 'Priory', presumably fixated on monstrous gudgeon. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThere was a long near-fishless lunch-time of the soul, then this roach came along, a fine fish of well over a pound, that's my 'Harlow', the 'Tuna Reel' as RedFin christened it. It's six inches across. I was pleased enough with that to show RedFin, who was down the bank on the left and Standfast. There was a period with only a few bites, but these few bites brought good roach to the net in the ¾-1lb bracket and a couple of very good 'roach', which to be fair, had a measurable percentage of bream in them. Early afternoon there was a flurry (well, 'three') of carp under 1lb, which scampered... Lemington Lakes, Abbey...here are four of the best roach, if I recall correctly there were three biggish hybrids as well...and also a couple of carp in the 5lb range, all good fun on a sawn-off 9-11aftm Hexagraph salmon rod and 6lb line. Lemington Lakes, Abbey...then came this rather fine bronze bream. I'm not a big fan of abramis, but this fish looked so fine, EXACTLY like the books say they look like. It deserved a picture and was a good solid size as well.
Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI snapped this bronze bream and the next one as they were simply too good-looking and bore recording. I'm not a big fan of the bream, but these look the part and the last one leapt clear of the water when I struck, something else I've seen before. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyAll the while 'Standfast' extracted roach, tench and occasional nuisance carp. 'RedFin' volunteered to ensure there was enough curry and beer for the overnighters - stay for a beer next time mate. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyThe swim was still fizzing at almost packing up time and I did wander down to the end of the lake where carp were milling, some very large indeed. On principle, I thought I ought to catch one on floating bread and perched behind a handy bush and had a crust dangled over a sagging reed when Nobby and DavyR. went by...I missed a take (inevitably), free-lined a lump of flake under the loose offerings, missed that bite as well and then finally nabbed one about 7lb with a crust carefully lowered right under the rod tip, over the rushes in front of me. Heh. Lemington Lakes, AbbeyI went back to my pitch and probably caught some small tench. There were a lot of them...'DavyR' won the Gudgeon Trophy on some slight pretext but had extracted a large bag of nuisance tench, crucians and a few gudgeon from 'Priory'. Then there was a sudden clatter of disassembling tackle as 'Standfast' and I packed up and headed for beer, beer, curry and beer. In that order.

Lemington Lakes were immaculate and strife free as usual and produced superb fishing as ever. Sorry you couldn't get there GarryP, next time I hope. Hat tip Hat-Tip Emoticon to the 'Inn on the Marsh' for perfectly kept beers and friendly staff and the 'Hassan Balti' for excellent and 'non-standard' food (Lamb Kuchee, Akbari Khana & Jeera rice) produced at the end of what was cleary a very busy evening for them, only just past. Hat-Tip Emoticon Next round's on me 'Standfast'.

'The Path by the Water' Gudgeon Trophy 2015. Well done DavyR.
A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

• 29th June 2015 - The National Crucian Conservation Project

The National Crucian Conservation Project has produced a video to encourage angling clubs and fishery owners to develop crucian fishing.

It is so encouraging to see the work that is being done to bring the crucian back into favour amongst anglers. Martin Salter has driven forward the idea of crucian conservation through the Angling Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency, and Chris Turnbull's Facebook Association of Crucian Anglers is going from strength to strength.

Why not join in!

• June the 19th, 2015. Kingsbridge. A big wind down.

Back to the MKIV 'G' s/u, no (good) reason. I'd Tranquil in mind but the thin looking colour didn't ring any bells, then I realised Wellington was free. Aha. I tried a spot for a while, because I thought I ought, never a good reason. I snuck into place and fished a mussel over some potamageton and missed one sly bite completely, another I could have sworn I had something on briefly, then a third was 18" of eel, released involuntarily into the wild as I picked up the net. I pondered that over a cup of 'Earl Grey', so despite carps mooching in the opposite corner, the vibe was all wrong and so pottered back to Packhorse, pausing only to swap 10lb line for 8lb, then fished in the lilies.

PackhorseWellington, mine all mine... PackhorseLift? Dip? You choose. PackhorseSome fish PackhorseThe hard pulling perch PackhorseThe slab

It wasn't the same day as before, but nabbed a small mirror on the drop second cast (eh?), then missed a lot of dithering, had a couple of small bream and roach, then finally nabbed a slab and then another ferocious perch, perhaps the same one as a fortnight back. A solid common of perhaps 8lb took a mussel on the drop, then I pitched some bread on the edge of the right hand patch and waited...then it was 10pm, so aimed the DT at the crescent moon, the evening star and a glass of merlot, in that order.

• June the 17th, 2015. Pete's Lakes. A fading fish-wind, an electric fence and a hare.

Against better judgement, I sallied, gingerly, forth - motivation coming from a holiday day booked and a membership paid for. Hm.

Brach was denuded somewhat since my last visit, but a wind had gathered enough of a run-up to push ripples into the east corner and a dark shape or two piqued my interest. I'd only the MKIV 'G' s/u, but the skippy quill brought out a small dark carp after ten minutes, then a stream of bold gold rudd beaching themselves on a big-hooked mussel...

Pete's LakesThe scampering carp Pete's LakesThe skippy float Pete's LakesThe pitch... Pete's Lakes...the rudd... Pete's Lakes...and the evening hare

...but the wind died in diminishing stages, fish drifted off, so I wandered about Eelstage looking for somewhere I liked. The closest match was in the south-east corner where, over-tackled for crus, I endured small-rudd-nuisance for one bite after two long wheezy hours, the strike tying the whole end tackle around the rod. Teasing out one of the loops with thinning patience, I recalled suddenly, prompted by a sharp 'crack', the otter fence...I bit off the line and scooted. Halfway up the field was a hare, which lolloped a few yards and hunkered. Slowing the driving machine I took a snap through the window, the day's highlight.

• June the 16th, 2015. The Big Day. At 5am I stayed in the marital b., a good place to be sure, lay, listened to the dawn chorus until I was sure sleep was gone. It was a drive of wraiths, more than once visibility vanished into cloud without warning and a spectre or two remained on the top pond as I crossed the dam.

Pete's Pond, LowerThe top pond spectres Pete's Pond, LowerThe lower pond far to early in the morning Pete's Pond, LowerThe cork ball-bobber rides again Pete's Pond, LowerAn inevitable perch

Umbrella swim then (I just like it), some hemp ladling, then hard boiled eggs, ciabatta, zingy orange marmalade in buttered rolls - the last interrupted by the first two of a plundering of tench. Heh.

Corn to start, then a switch to shrimp brought crus interspersed, then both golden tench in successive casts, the morning streamed by punctuated by tiny lifts and slips, then P. arrived, 'on his rounds', about elevenses. We talk of this and that, P. went onto the lakes and after a quiet interval, livened by a foot long grass snake slipping onto shore and the bees over my head in the azalea, a continuous light drone with lower pitched bumblers fading in and out. I opted for lunch at, it transpired, noon. Breakfast was around 6:30am tho'.

Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...1
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...2
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...3
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...4
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...5
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...6
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...7
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...8
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...9
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
crucian#...10
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...1
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...2
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...3
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...4
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...5
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...6
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...7
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...8
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...9
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...10
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...11
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...12
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...13
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...14
Pete's Pond, LowerPete's Pond, Lower
tinca#...15

Sport tailed off after bread, olives tomato and Parma ham, during though, two outrageous lift bites on corn landed the smallest tinca so far and another 1lb of crucian. Ginger beer...feet up eyes closed...D. came by making me start, I'd drifted into a sleepy reverie playing a word game on the small technology, I had one bite after D. went on, a gentle lift yielding a single roach.

Pete's Pond, LowerThe 'umbrella pitch'.. Pete's Pond, Lower...and one of its lost blossoms Pete's Pond, LowerThe 'umbrella pitch' from the other side Pete's Pond, LowerDrifting off Pete's Pond, LowerThe post-script roach

...the big decision now is the cows, various, JAA for the braving of. Since I arrived the farmer flushed the herd into the gated meadow that I have to cross to leave. But when? And how avoid (a) fright [mine] and (b) letting any bullocks out at either end. Hm...

• June the 14th, 2015. Two days to go...

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

• May the 31st, 2015. Kingsbridge, Packhorse Lake. A late decision, bolstered by the thought to take the MKIV G S/U, satisfying in the hand plus a packet of mussels from the freezer. I tackled up by the car and a lad asked me what I was fishing for, and I said "Anything really." and then, unguarded, "If I catch too many carp on Packhorse I'll move to Tranquil." and he said, mystified "Too many carp?". Oops.

In the event the prevailing wind was scudding the water to the shallower east end and so parked in a swim almost encircled by lilies and stuck with the 8lb line threaded up the old glass rod. To keep a float above water in the strong chop needed a pheasant quill held down with two no. 1 shot, about 1" from the size-four-hooked single mussel (note: this 'size 4' is about the same size as a 'Jack Hilton size 8'). Large baits attract fish well enough but do not sort them, so was philosophical about the false dips and occasional spurious lifts and the first fish actually hooked was a curiously pale roach of just over 1lb, the second, on the next cast, a scrappy perch of about 8oz, then a fat bream. The next thing hooked pulled hard and came off and then one after that went hard and fast and the rod's tip got out of the way then - the second attempt got the long thick eel's tail in the net - a good fish of over 3lb. I was pleased with this and endeavoured to turn it on its back to 'calm it' and remove the hook. A wrestling match ensued with much potential for humour, my neighbour came to watch the entertainment. The books don't tell you eels don't want to lie on their back and as fast as one bit was turned over another bit made a break for it. After a minute or two of this, my visitor said, with admirable restraint, "Is that the hook in the net there...?"

Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe pink quill adrift... Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe bad tempered snig Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe very fine roach Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe perch with the horse-power of a carp

I took a picture or three, slipped the eel back and it, departing shot, cracked its tail, showering me with water. We chatted for a bit about fisheries and France, I learnt things, landed a proper looking roach, then a small carp and a bunch of 6-8oz roach, bream and hybrids of both. A tentative bite yielded a fish which pulled carp-hard, once even taking line of the firmly set clutch and when the fish came to the net, a fine perch, perhaps 2lb, I was a bit stunned, I've never had a perch pull back so hard. Two more large bream at wide intervals and with the temperature falling the dither-a-chuck dried up and with last-light on the way, I nominated the previous two casts to be last casts 'one' and 'two', the current cast to be the last, terminated by whatever bite I got, twenty minutes after that the float vanished without pre-amble and I worked the glass rod over hard, landing a 10lb common. Fair enough.

Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe curiously pale roach. Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe small but ever welcome perch Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 1 Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe small carp Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 2 Kingsbridge - WellingtonAbramis 3 Kingsbridge - WellingtonThe larger and last-cast carp

I packed up, discovering wind-stiffened fingers and toes, and strolled back to the car with a new respect for my MKIV G s/u. It bent 'enough' with perch and roach then with the 'snig' and the 10lb common, I had to deliver some serious 'short range humpty', it's not a bad rod at all, although I'd like an 11 foot version - as it is I now entertain desecration with with titanium rings and a screw reel seat... 12I bought this rod as a wreck, the female on the top section split, the corks on the butt end rotted away and 'threadbare' cork (if I'm kind) at the top of the handle. I had to replace the tip and butt rings plus three of the bells' rings, two rusted, one broke. So, it's not quite such a sacrilege to replace the corks entirely, add in a scavenged Cormoran reel-seat and put on a set of much lighter, finer rings. I will however, take the precaution of cancelling my 2015 Good Conduct Medal.

• May the 25th, 2015. Nightingale Pool. There's a curious pleasure to be had, from a drive that almost always takes three hours due to the sloths-in-the-road, taking two hours on the nose (without once exceeding the speed limit). The TOS hove into the trees and with a quick look at the cricket pitch that was properly of England, we threaded through the leafy lanes to a pool at the end of a long walk across a field. Perfectly bucolic.

The first pitch on the overgrown side looked fishy, as did others, but this one seemed better. I missed several slithery bites on a cockle, pricked something large, on-and-off, then once more, then a writhing eel, perhaps 12oz, which was off the hook in the net and returned without a snap even. Hm. I wondered about the first bump-off, a very fast streak to the bank, very eel like...I carried one with a good lot of bites proving hard to hit and I assumed there were rudd mobbing my cockles. After a bit I wondered up to see how The Thane was doing, just in time to hand him the landing net for a lively common. Heh.

I returned to my pitch, curiosity made me flick bread under the tree on the left and when a piece that had dropped short right under my feet disappeared as I watched with barely a ripple, I pinched flake around my hook and didn't have a long wait to put a small mirror on the bank. Heh. The Thane crossed by behind heading for a break-off, I heard slurping under the tree so fed...and dropped in another piece of flake on the deck, missed three sitters...The Thane came back, said it was a big one that snapped him off, then returned and extracted one. I'm going to have to take the blame for getting this obsession with fishing off the surface started...

Nightingale PoolThe morning pitch... Nightingale Pool...and its float... Nightingale Pool...and the view Nightingale PoolOne bread-nobbled carp

The PM pitch - even the fruitless activity had dried up by midday - so reversed banks and found disconcertingly shallow water (18"), but rather more in the way of fish. The first carp came to a cockle fished against a small lily patch after one stealthy bite, missed. With a fish moving around the shallow reaches of the island to the left, I'd started a trickle of Warburton using the spoon - with fish taking the bread, pinched on a large dollop, put the tell-tale shot on the hook and removed one quite quickly, although it worked hard in the shallow water, then missed one, then another which bow-waved off leaving the idea that I'd missed a big opportunity. The last carp was extracted at about the limit of the little sight-bob's underarm casting range. All very satisfying, the move homewards prompted by the second float-loss of the day, the cane stem snapping in the net mesh.

Nightingale PoolThe afternoon pitch... Nightingale Pool...and the cockle'd carp Nightingale Pool...and a bread'd carp Nightingale PoolThe last bread-nobbled carp

The LOSwas in the next pitch and was missing a series of sail-away bites, one of which, while I watched, didn't, the attached bolting hard under the tree on the left. The following passage bore a more than passing resemblance to that bit in "Caught in Time", where our hero tries to play a carp one handed while balancing on a tree branch over the edge of the water...I was torn momentarily between handing over the net and waiting for a splash...a nice common was 'steered' into the net though. I left The Thane some of my fading fast lobs, (mentally noting they needed releasing back into the wild). I beetled off across the meadow, a longish drive to come and the day had done its job for my blood pressure, many thanks J.

• May the 17th, 2015. Barton's Court. I absolutely wasn't buying anything this time. Nope. I told GP this, firmly, a mantra even. I spotted a cute little float tube (Bembridge Floatsafe in 'ivorine' - celluloid to you), GP then kindly pressed a lucky float on me for the new purchase, confiding he'd made them for CY and it was a 'lucky float' for certain. I promised to use it. I then weakened and bought a Cardinal 33 which I've been after for some time and a very the early 'Carp' (The Richard Walker Angling Library) by James A. Gibbinson. Good read that. I think next time my strategy will be "Have no cash in wallet".

I'd planned Lemington Lakes on the return journey, but weary, couldn't face a two hour drive home after fishing to near dusk, so split the journey and planted myself, the 'Allcock's Beastmaster', and the new 'lucky float' at the car-park end and drowned lob-worms for an hour, two of which were briskly stolen, the third of which enabled me to remove the rather stocky thief of 14lb or so, testing the portmanteau cane rod out quite hard and it dealt summarily with the miscreant with some power in reserve, but a 'pin might not be the best option next time. I could barely buy a bite from then on, a hare loped across the car park, too quick for the camera, omen or no, my worm was snatched, no result and then a kite wheeled and keened, vanished, then stunningly, silently cleared the fence across the water by a whisker, skimmed the car-park hard-core, snatched some rodent from the cut-swim, almost stationary mid-flight on-the-pounce, then heeled to my right while tearing a beak-full off the careless squeak. Amazing.

Barton's Court lake The 'Allcocks Beastmaster' Barton's Court lake The lucky float in 'unlucky mode'... Barton's Court lake ...and an unlucky carp.

I spent two hours crouched, hopeful for a second fish, but nothing came, I moved to the end for the same result and as the last two hours approached, the lake emptied of carpistas and a man arrived, admired the portmanteau cane, produced a MKIV and an Aerial, we talked about whippings and varnish, I gave him my bread, pointed him at my ground-bait, wished him well and hit the road.

• May the 16th, 2015. Lemington Lakes. When does a journey begin? For me 1p.m. Friday, an MOT, some brass rod (to slightly load reverse pheasant quill antennas), new navigation technology, IFC, some worms, then home to pack, then blend hemp-seeds with bread. Drugs have eased the discomfort that would have made 100 miles a hundred hours, so only a dawn start to go...which right now looks horribly early, this a.m. wrenching enough. Meh. What rods? What reels? What floats? (Just: 'a lot').

Before Lunch, Sunset Lake. I was tackled up and in the water, windward-end, fishing on the tip of a small scatter of fresh lilies that were creeping around from the lake's end, like a rampant side-burn. I nabbed four or five (I think) before N-S arrived at nearly 'lunch-time', technically. It wasn't easy fishing, the chop was variable and bites were coming in little clutches of two or three bites perhaps 30 minutes apart and I missed a few by virtue of having drifted off a bit in the interim. After N-S arrived I had a few more in the same kind of intervals, as did himself and I foul hooked two tench which made me think I'd latched into one of the larger ones. Racking my brain, I can recall ever having fouled a tench before - I was fishing barely 2" over depth. Odd. In the end the wind defeated the senses and N-S's reel, which I think was loaded with 'extra tangley' line. We opted for lunch and N-S produced a round of sausage, egg-mayo, bacon and tomato relish sandwiches which were stunning...

Lemington Lakes - SunsetA ruffled pitch... Lemington Lakes - Sunset...with a ruffled float Lemington Lakes - SunsetWhat is the collective noun for tench? Lemington Lakes - SunsetThe pick, 4lb or so

Priory Lake was, counter-intuitive, out of the wind, courtesy of the line of trees on the far side of the track - the tench however, were greedy and numerous.

If we fished until the only meal we could sensibly get at 9:30 was slow 'fast food', we could hardly be blamed, but luckily there was bottled 'Old Speckled Hen' to ease the pain.

Lemington Lakes - PriorySome of the mobs of tench that assailed Lemington Lakes - PrioryPerhaps the pick of the afternoon Lemington Lakes - PrioryA small stripey reason to stop using maggots Lemington Lakes - PrioryThe pitch Lemington Lakes - PrioryA fine piece of water mint Lemington Lakes - PrioryThe pick of the roach
Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #1 Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #2 Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #3 Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #4 Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #5 Lemington Lakes - PrioryPieces of six, #6

Much is written on-line about this fishery, a proportion of it negative. So straightening out the record out somewhat, this tightly run and beautifully presented fishery is a good example of how a commercial fishery ought to be managed. There are very few rules, but these rules are monitored and enforced and while this has no doubt caused 'issues' with those who think 'Rules only count if I like them', my view is:
(a) their rules are perfectly reasonable and
(b) a fishery owner can ask you to wear Hawaiian shirts every third Tuesday if he wishes and
(c) once you've bought a ticket you've agreed to be bound by said rules (one might even say a contract has been formed).
I'm rather sick of keeping to water rules and seeing them broken as a matter of course by those who think they're silly rules - it doesn't matter what you think about a rule, you've agreed to keep it and those who then break rules wilfully based on some flimsy egocentric self-justification are hypocrites of the first order and the fishery is better off without them. So is angling.

Lemington Lakes keep their grass cut and the lakes 100% litter and idiot free. That might mean they have fewer visitors than some waters, but if you bind yourself with the contract, you get in return a great tench lake (with only tench), a small pool with crucians, some very greedy tench and the odd specimen roach plus a general fishing lake with carp and 3lb roach and perch (plus the odd gudgeon). It's really all rather fine and if I lived only an hour up the road (as opposed to two-and-a-half) I'd visit Lemington Lakes very often. Hat-Tip Emoticon

• May the 4th, 2015. Tranquil Lake. 'Star Wars Day'. Il pleut. Squeezing in a quick worm-drowning, I managed two rudd and a very wet hat.

TranquilJust a fine spring sight TranquilTwo of these, both on a single lob... TranquilThe bucket/rodrest and the float-box TranquilThe rain
La Morinais carpa very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page) La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpa very subtil fish La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience

• April 24th 2015. Fort Rowner Moat

A grand TFF extravaganza, with Nobbyngton-Smythe et al. Hat tip to Rosie's Kitchen, opened a bit early for assorted old duffers (thanks Hat-Tip Emoticon to Bumble for that), fed the same with heart-hostile vittles. Rowner Moat is grand water, the fort an imposing piece of Victorian history, squat solid red brick with artillery deflecting earth banks, plus a very spooky tunnel...

I jacked the first swim seen, fine looking water to my mind, then was treated with complete indifference by an insouciant vixen not ten feet away. I nabbed a fat Abramis B. at thirty feet, then missed several bites trying to shutter-trap a pair of nesting/gathering jays. N-S landed something in the distance.

Fort Rowner Moat Yeah, I might be bold, but not daft... Fort Rowner Moat A millisecond from the most astonishing picture I'd probably ever take... Fort Rowner Moat Still not daft...

My swim flat-lined, unwisely I fished it for another ninety minutes. Wandered about to see N-S land a humongous tinca, so moved myself...

...'cleverly' picking a swim with a small sheer mud wall bored through-and-through by a squadron of what I took to be mason bees. They're amiable enough in my experience, so let them buzz about behind me, a fine soothing white noise. My float remained immobile despite changes rung, though worms removed three bright perchlets, N-S and I called it 'lunch and cake time'.

Fort Rowner Moat The 'colony'... Fort Rowner Moat One busy one... Fort Rowner Moat ...and a sealed burrow.

I socialised a bit (it's important not to overdo it...), opted to go 'untraditional' for the last part of the day, which didn't make a difference, N-S though might have had the best day of us all, with two very fine tench and two crucians among other fish, not bad at all, but then went bite-less for some hours. Hence he headed off, I remained, bite-less, until the rain...tea and extra cake, spacing out the time to a daughter's pick-up. Wonderful venue, thanks to Hat-Tip Emoticon SK for organising.

Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...1
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...2
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...3
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...4
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
The fat bream...5
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...6
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
An almost inevitable perch...7
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...8
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's moat...9
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
Fort Rowner's goats...10
Fort Rowner MoatFort Rowner Moat
The damp paraphenalia...11

• April 22nd 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #5. I have now whipped over all the top section iffy bits with white silk thread and varnished. It's a swine to pull though and cut without wisps of silk remaining...however...I finally cut the tip down 1", then assembling the rod in its bare state I measured the overall length at 10' 8" and cut the butt section at that length (allowing for ¼" wear on each ferrule). Once cut down, took it outside to play and the first proper waggle was a surprise. It's not as heavy as I expected and has 'the feel', very much so. Heh. Here carpy carpy...

The next job is to form the handle. I've opted for a champagne front cork (for fun), bevelled a little on the inside, then a section for the 'Lockfasts' some 12", which I'll glue on and sand down in isolation. Then I'll place cork over the rest of the butt, finishing the butt end with another champers cork. This amuses me, but also the cork is very good quality...

Here are the rings. The butt ring is a game guide, but the others are Pacbay titanium and a Fuji titanium tip ring. I did this as they look OK, they are very very light, not a bad thing and lastly, in the case of the tip ring which needed at least a 3.6mm tube diameter. It's a heavy piece of cane. The tip was 'gun smoke' when it turned up, I may have wire brushed it a bit to match the others better...

• April 18th 2015 - draining and dredging The Upper Pond'. An antidote to the asininity of office life. Hard graft, bushwork, lily root toting and planting, spreading lime...when did my back age ten years more than the rest of me?

• April 16th 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #4. Having decided to whip the rod in black thread, on a whim, I decided to use some green wire to give the ferrule whipping some muted bling. The whipping over the ferrule was done using a 'C' grade black thread, with an overlay of '0.16mm/0.006"/AWG 34' bobbin wire, with a green enamel coat. They're strictly decorative, which is to say, not there to add strength.

'Twas like this; cast the whipping on, after three turns put a 'pull through' loop under the thread and do three more turns, then flip the loop back out of the way and whip up to about six turns from the 'cast off' point, then whip a backward loop (facing the opposite way from the 'cast off' loop) for three of those turns and finish the whipping in the usual way. Keep the whipping turns tight together.

Then use the first loop to pull the end of the wire through to start it off. Whip the wire on top of the thread whipping following the grooves between the threads, the first turn is critical. When you get to the second loop, pull the wire through to finish. The line used for this needs to be stout - the wire is hard to pull through and using 6lb dyneema, the wire will break at the pull through as often as not (which is OK as long as it's tucked under OK).

Thinned varnish is then applied; make sure it soaks in between the wire turns. They'll get another coat or two of undiluted 'yacht' later. You can see a few places where the wire whipping varies a little, the thread itself varies slightly, there's not much to do about that, but it looks fine for one who is 'less than a perfectionist'.

You may have realised by now, that as a rod, this might be something of an animal...my original idea was to produce something like a 'MK III' but a shade longer than 10', but less than 11'. While on the face of it it would have made a nice 9' rod, I find that too short for practical general carp fishing and my experince of 11' cane rods is that they are mostly a little over long. Let's compare:

• April 10th 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #3. The top section had multiple deep nicks across the flats where every silk whipping had been cut off. Careless and crude. Resolving to put reinforcing over all the nicks along with the two areas where water damage showed and using a two part epoxy, a tack layer was applied between 5mm pencilled markers and then whipped over with 6lb dyneema, brushing more epoxy over the whipping. Horrible job and my first thought was it would be unmanageably lumpy (it's not really) and a tad ugly (it is). Unable to reconcile myself with this, it didn't look good or 'right', and taking RedFin's advice, ordered some white silk thread to re-do in silk. Once varnished the whippings will almost fade into the cane. So a happy hour cutting off the first go and scraping off the epoxy came ot pass, then the cane got a coat of thinned varnish, while the silk was in the post...

Also the ferrules; They came, fine solid things, the smaller pair fitted the cane almost to the mil, the larger needed some work...investigating the lathe at the work-shop it was clear the cane was 'too long' to build up and machine down. Both sections of cane needed some work, the bottom end of the Allcocks' needed just the corners off really and that barely (I took 4¼" inches off the bottom end, it was rough on the outer layers &173; although mighty tough to cut &173; and the nail holes from the original reel seat bothered me, those ought to be well inside the counter's brass embrace.

The handle section, the late not lamented Black Seal, needed work. Decided to use the same technique used for cutting cork handles down, i.e. 30mm plastic drainpipe sawed in half lengthways used as a sanding former. If this didn't work well, the duff bit could be cut off. By rotating the cane in my left hand at a steady rate and cutting in short strokes (stop it) back and forth at a constant rate with my other hand, while regularly offering it up to the female for size(I said stop it), it was quite easy to maintain a true and even cut. I discovered twisting the ferrule hard left black marks on the cane, so using this as ersatz 'engineer's black', worked steadily until a 'working fit' was achieved, then gave the cane a few a few gentle strokes (...come on!) with a finer grade. Time elapsed about 30 minutes. 'By eye' it's not possible to see if 'true' or not, so probably 'not'. Huh. Not so hard.

Repeating the sanding exercise, after cutting the lower end of the Allock's off, took only 10 minutes to fit the ferrule &173; this was very nearly a fit 'out of the box'. Again, 'true'. Measuring the total length with the rod laid out on the floor, with a 24" handle and an inch off the tip (Oi! Really...) &173; which was bevelled for the original tip ring &173; it comes in at 10' 8". The ferrules' feathered edges were removed with a jewellers file...so annoying when the whipping frays here...and then also coloured in the bright brass with a black indelible marker &173; with black thread over the top, there'll be not a glint.

One other thing. The butt section was hollow &173; sort of &173; perhaps eight inches deep, this was filled with epoxy and carbon rods.

• April 6th 2015. Packhorse...lured by a big swirl...

...I return with two lighter rods and tell myself I'll fish for perch and 'bites' in alternation. It's blue&173;sky sunny and clear. Hm. The mill-pond water is 9.9°C and remains that way for two hours, then a breeze whips up the surface and the temperature goes to 12.5°C in a trice and creeps up another half a degree during the afternoon. I get all sorts of bobs and bumps, so scale down to a scrap of cockle on a '16 and forth time lucky get a fine roach of 1lb 4oz. I persist, things go quiet, so fish under the tree for bites and at 5pm get another big roach, this one longer but also 1lb 4oz. Miss a few bobs and with the gorse shadows lengthening across my swim, I put on "The Last Cast" float with a big lob for perch, miss a couple of twitches then hit a fine solid bite, leading to a fine solid 1lb 6oz roach. For a brief period I fished both rods, missed bites on both rods, took the Avon down then fished an hour with the 'perch' rig, not a twitch. And that was that, had enough, even with an hour of daylight left.

Packhorsework work work... Packhorseroach the first 1lb 4oz Packhorseroach the second, 1lb 4oz PackhorseTree branches, several. Fishing under for the use of Packhorseroach the third, 1lb 6oz

• April 4th 2015. Packhorse. A grey day, perhaps the water's still chilly, I pick the windward, a reflex, stick on a worm, cane, pin, quill, cut up the rubbish in my pitch, pour coffee, put my feet on the boards and pretend not to watch the float.

9.8°C in the water 11.7°C out. Warm end, probably good. I flick bread pills under the tree on the left and around the float and wait....and try a change of side, a coffee later...then bread on the hook....I muse on a worm at half depth drifted down the lake...twice the quill, pink tipped with three black threaded bands, riding on two of them, has dipped to the very tip, then stopped, an ironic bow. Hm.

I went for a wander, learnt little and resumed under the tree, my heart leaping suddenly as a fat mirror head-and-shouldered between the float and the nearest branch, casual, as if thinking "Angler, yep, thought so..." I was obliged to put down the rod rest head I was carving out of a plastic bank-stick label. No bite came, so presently I switch to a sight bob and a lob. More coffee then.

A lob on the right then, time passed, the float travelled, its dip a surprise, a poor strike, the head shaking thump weighty enough to raise hopes but the rod is stiff for stripes and a big swirl saw freedom for one and disappointment for the other. Double drat.

I fished on, a little disappointed, alternating sides, bread and worm and when the small technology said 'time to go', I'd barely put the flask in the bag when the float vanished. Another head shaker, played on the ratchet, not the rod. Right on cue. Awa'.

Hard to shake off the feeling that carp was checking for a bank-side presence.

Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carpa very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.

• March 24th 2015. There be... 'Monster salamanders' found in fossilised mass grave. Now, read my theory. Funny thing.

• March 23th 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #2. I removed the corks, not so hard, found water damage, not serious, but this is why one might consider varnish before corks go on, discovered the reel-seat was plastic, tacked on through a box-wood cylinder, the lower cane still with its outer shell on. There's a big nick out of the cane just up from the reel seat. That's going to bug me, the rings are going on the opposite side to the old, so the nick is going to be on the underneath of the rod - it's unlike to matter much, but I'll epoxy/dyneema it anyway. A lot of careful scraping was required to get the mixture of glue, string and gunk of the section under the handle - which was rough in places.

The ferrule and counter came off easily enough, the female on the butt section cut off flush with the cane, then a steep spiral cut with a hacksaw - one must be careful doing this, the idea is to cut a gentle spiral up from the open end until the brass is paper thin - work around and up the ferrule until the cut is nearly at the 'cane end'. It pays to cover the last few inches of cane with gaffer tape first, so avoid damaging the cane if the saw catches. Optionally, gaffer tape your fingers as well...

Insert a flat blade screwdriver into the slot cut at the 'open' end and twist it gently, the brass should open up, tearing any last layer of brass - if you've cut it thin enough. With a pair of pliers, you can usually 'unwind' the ferrule until the last bit can be slid off. Be gentle, use the saw to ease open parts of the cut which are not quite deep enough. Next time I'll post pictures on how to do this...look at this - the cane under the female ferrule. You can just see where cane flats have been glued on and turned down. The counter end has been rounded as well, but is back to whole hex section cane before it gets to the ferrule 'exit', so no loss of cane at the critical points.

The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
'nick'...(1)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
'nick'...(2)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
glue line/water damage?...(3)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
glue line/water damage?...(4)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
'nick'...(5)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
'big nick'...(6)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
Reel seat pin hole - another on the other side...(7)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
Ferrule pin, to be filed flat...(8)
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
Ringstead beach on a nice March day...'just because'...(9)

I've cut away the varnish on either side of the logo to keep it on the cane. For the handle I've cut a two foot piece of cane from the butt of an old 'Black Seal' rod, a terrible thing (but cheap...). This is 15mm across the flats at the thick end, so will use it to make a butt section with a 'reverse' taper, not that I think it will bend at all. This will be strong, heavy enough and slender enough for me to get corks down to 20mm for 'Lockfast' reel bands...that's the plan.

The real shock was to find water damage on the top section just past the second ring. There were a few black marks under the varnish but one of them had the tell-tall black line along a joint and I despaired briefly. I gave the section a good bending and it was 'quiet' no creaks and 'tik-tik' noises, but nevertheless its existence gnaws away like a loft-mouse in the night, so I used a two-part epoxy and reinforced these areas with some grey 6lb dyneema and brushed a little more resin into the thread. I'm pondering black whippings, I like how the look on cane (since owning a sadly, un-straightenable Octofloat in black thread) with perhaps a few turns of green wire on the thick ones. Hm... Ferrules ordered from the truly helpful Ted Oliver, still the best quality.

Once the ferrules arrive I'll order cork, rings and thread.

• March 22nd 2015. Woodfrys Farm, Melbury Abbas. I've had my eye on this lake and had been angling for a chance to drop in - a morning 'emergency' netting on The Upper Pond provided me with such (a bottom board on the sluice had gone, bringing forward a planned netting, we relocated some 70 odd tench and probably 200lb of crucians, all is well). I levered open a caravan door, paid my seven squid, slipped down to the lake and found some carp, but they simply wouldn't play in 6" of water although the odd one took a mixer - as long as it didn't have a hook in it. There was a thick layer of decomposing sludge on the surface, the water warmed enough to start decomposition off again, in turn starting the algae, ahead of the daphnia hatch that should mop it up...the thick silt made bottom fishing over this sludge tricky, even with corn, must have seen a dozen fish spook off the line. I gave it a couple of hours and zipped off for fish'n'chips, creaking with cold once I decided to move, defeated by a handful of small carp in water that barely covered their backs.

I've wanted to come here since I saw the landscape on 'google maps' and it was in the end something of a disappointment. It's a nice looking place, but it has an air of decay that is barely dispelled by the neatly mown grass. 'Up' the valley, along which a clear stream runs, was a tumbled-down hatch pool, clearly to supply just-visible drowners in the grass, with warming water, but long since ruined. There is a mill leat along the south of the valley, cut clearly into the slope. With the odd shape of the lake and its square marsh with a ditch around it, it reeks of old water management, but left to nature far too long ago. The ditch is silted, the lake barely a foot deep anywhere, and for the most part barely 6". There might have been more fish than the few carp that mooched about, bellies skating the silt, but I saw no sign of them. There is tatty litter on the slopes, old corrugated iron in heads, scrap metal, old out-buildings - against one such a big old millstone is canted - a giveaway, glad I went, shall equally glad to drive past next time. If the place was for sale, I'd seriously consider giving it a go. But you'd need to spend some money to get nature back on its feet. Such a shame.

• March 18th 2015. The 'Allcock's Perfect' Project #1 I picked up Allcocks 'Perfect' (20 quid) a year back, it's dead straight, 9' on the nose a terrific honey colour. The butt ring is missing and the real seat is set well down the butt - an old salmon spinner. It was, Nobbyngton-Smythe reckons, Allcocks most expensive rod ever...

So...my plan is to strip it...make a butt section, something a bit like a Chapman's handle, 2 feet long dowel, or something fairly rigid, and turn it into a 10'6" or 10'8" carp rod... 10Fairly sure that I'm already not going to Heaven so I'll risk it.

The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
The tip...1
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...2
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...3
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...4
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...5
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...6
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...7
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...8
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
a middle bit...9
The Allcocks' PerfectThe Allcocks' Perfect
The butt...10

• March 11th 2015. Vale Farm

Cold when I got here, probably a bit before 8am or thereabouts, it was close to dawn, close enough to have grey light speared by shafts of thin sun, not enough sun to take the edge off the sharp wind. I strolled about sipping coffee, chatted a bit with a gent on the back-bank of the middle lake, nice chap. I went for 'Trout', the oldest of the three lakes as I fancied more fishing for bites 11To explain: 'fishing for anything wot comes along'. This is of course not what 'serious anglers' do, they fish for a 'target species'. I can't be ars*d with that most days so stick on 6lb line, a bendy rod and a fine braid hook-link and then can generally catch everything and deal with the nuisance carp as well. On this occasion though, went with 8lb line, as that was the line on t' 'pin. and so pitched at the windward end of the water, which was a nice colour and despite the nip in the air, the breeze, although numbing the fingers, was warming the even colder water by 2-3° or so. Nothing happened for a bit, then by maggots got snatched, twice, then a small perch materialised. I caught 'several' of these, the LOS arrived, he went for the middle lake enticed (I assume) by tales of Leviathan, then I put on a cockle and nabbed a carplet which put the previous day's lumps to shame, just wouldn't give in. OK then.

Vale FarmCold dawn at Vale Farm Vale Farm'Trout Lake' windward Vale FarmA fine green cork-ball special Vale Farm'Trout Lake' windward Vale FarmThere is always one, or today 'dozens'

I alternated baits, scattered cinnamon hemp, snapped the floats of the day, stuck artfully in the hemp and eventually settled on a lob nicked on a size 12. Several fish later I went to see how LOS was doing - some wrong 'uns and a nuisance of rudd, that's what. I repaired but move downwind of the small bush I was fishing under. Bubbles started, I cast a bit further and bream showed, not massive, but decent enough and I spent a happy post meridiem plucking them and more carp out of the blue-green.

Vale FarmDecisions, decisions... Vale FarmMore pretty fish, if similar Vale FarmThe particularly cute mirror Vale FarmBlasted light keeps changing Vale FarmA 'slimeball' of bream (new collective noun) Vale FarmA tree in dreech

Four-ish I upped sticks, no monster bream (alluded too by the nice chap), so camped by himself and fed a little hemp up the now deserted bank. While TSC wrestled with rudd, I nabbed four decent carp and two fine rudd by flicking a lob right under the bank and chuck hemp over it, two of them mid-doubles, one of those giving me a scare when it lumbered off. TSC finally connected with a carp the proper way on a borrowed lob, but his afternoon of baiting up with prawn had every rudd in the lake (and a couple of perch) under the bush we was fishing under...

Vale FarmLast two from 'Trout Lake', two larger nabbed from the center lake Vale FarmNice lean mirror taken on a marginalised 'lob' Vale FarmOne of the fine looking 'nuisance' rudd Vale FarmOne of the fine looking 'nuisance' rudd Vale FarmThe last one nabbed on a marginalised worm, with a careluss rudd

• March 10th 2015. Court Farm. Lucky start to the day, why so? Firstly I found a nylon spoon near my car, assumed I'd dropped it the previous day and it had got scuffed by being driven over. Not so, it was my missing second spoon, that I'd given up for lost a twelve-month past. Hah. Secondly, while getting the landing net pole out, the ferrule with the fork came off in my hand. This was lucky as (a) I carry waterproof cyanoacrylate so fixed it in a minute and (b) it could have happened with a fish in the net. Good Omens.

Court Farm The view from the room Court Farm Lake one, stretched out in the morning sun Court Farm Lake one, stretched out in the morning sun

Yesterday was grey, breezy and chilly. Today, the sun is out, it's windless, first thing Lake 1 was a mirror and barely ruffled day-long. So, the east end then, fished 'the roach rig' from the day before, with 8lb braid hook-link and a stout '14', presided over by a fine-tipped float. Relaxing in the warm spring sun, happy to nudge out whatever came by, I enjoyed a steady procession of roach, perhaps to 8oz, 'plus' a host of small perch, the intervals between fish short enough for fun. I put up a carp rod, tried it only a few times, lobs being mugged by small perch and flake by small roach. Oh well.

TSC carried on with his bait'n'switch and then slunk off down the west end for some jungle warfare. One fell to the man in the trees, I struck a tiny bite mid-afternoon, momentarily might as well have struck a sandbag...some lump mooched about, I kept it dragging 2-3lb for the duration, to keep the speed down occasionally more...I suspect it took over ten minutes to land, the small hook limiting, the Avon and 'pin doing a fine job, my thumb less so. But, having got assurance from the 'thunk' of the line over the dorsal that it was a good 'un', I was uncharacteristically relieved and pleased to net a fine mid-double mirror. Heh. I sat with it in the next for a minute, felt like proper fishing there.

Court FarmThere's always one...or 'twenty' even Court FarmThe first carp on the 'roach rig' Court FarmSome decent roach and two carp on the 'roach rig' Court FarmThe sun came up...the sun goes down

I thought I'd share my pleasure with the tree-monger and stood behind him watching some fine carp, no one of which was the size of a deuce there when he started, "...a foot across the back" says he, I believe it. For TSC, the yips had set in (happens to us all yer know). I spent a while sitting under a nearby tree with some bread and a hopeful outlook, but it felt like the wrong plan, despite occasional carp eyeing up the bread then thinking better of it, so I slipped back to the 'roach rod'.

This turned out to be one of my better ideas.

Court Farm An always welcome tinca Court Farm The last-light common @14½lb... Court Farm ...and the evening star.

A few roach came out as they started to prime, switched to a size-'12'-and-cockle, then had a big common that didn't push me as hard as the last, another fat mirror not ten minutes later, then a 'small carp' which evanesced into a tench completing my day, but for a nearly last-light fat common, scale-tipping at a little over 14lb, (for internal re-calibration). Another 'last cast' beckoned but replete now, so packed, keeping the LOS company while he tackled down by the light of the evening star.

Steak pie with proper vegetables and gravy at the Carpenter's Arms. Still good.

• March 9th 2015. Court Farm. Barton's Court closed, feels out-of-phase to not be beating its bounds with two halves of McBreakfast, one in each coat pocket. Still IFC is acceptable and this one has a grand view of a consumer giant (and lemon tarts). Court Farm then, but first, 'supplies'...

Court FarmTwo of the 'nuisance' carp Court FarmLake two from the cold-wind-in-my-face end Court FarmThe fished for roach, a couple at the 1lb, all 'goers' Court FarmGreen bobbing for roach Court FarmThe nasty break on the '44x

Hankering after 'fishing-for-bites' I took a spot on Lake 2 with a tree and scattered hemp and fished maggots keeping the mainline at 8lb with one eye on the tree, the other on the reeds. My first guess on the depth was well short, the float after hovering under the surface for a bit then vanished into the black and a small common turned up. Heh. Always plumb up with baited hook (a '14' with 4 maggots and a finer hook-link). Kerfuffle over, I discovered the water was nearer five feet deep so settled down to dithering bites which produced decent roach at regular intervals, a couple in the 1lb range (with a short break to capture for posterity the TSC's finest fish of the day.

At some point I spotted the bale arm on the '44x was chipped - I pulled it gently and a small split right to the screw opened and closed - confidence in that surviving a bitter battle evaporated instantly and I recalled the 'pin with yesterday's 8lb line at the bottom of the bag. A swift change ensued, finding myself comfortable with the four-piece Avon and 'pin, two years went by with this as my default rig and even with the Avon's brand new cork handle, this sat in the hand like a large Quinta Ruban someone else paid for. A small truculent mirror livened things up but by midday, roach or no, my hands were numb, so I sidled around to Lake 1 with a heavier rod.

Court FarmThe 'pin, replacing the broken '44x Court FarmChange of lake, change of float Court FarmWindward end, hiding behind the rushes and blackthorn... Court Farm...a good long 'porcy' standing guard over a big lob

I found a spot on the north bank, opposite TSC and flicked a large bait with a tiny float to the end of the branches in front of me and missed two bites of the 'now-you-see-it-now-you-don't' variety, one on two mussels, the other on a very big unshelled prawn. The BBB had a still frozen core of four or five solid lumps of left over seafood, corn, maize and 'other stuff', turfed out of the freezer for the trip, so hook-baits were 'lucky dip'. Hm. I noticed a tail up nearer me than the tree and then spend a while trying closer in, but got only line bites, then two visitors stood on the edge asking me what the fishing was like, so it went quiet for a bit. Thanks lads...

I eventually dropped a worm off the bank about two yards to my left and popped the float on the grass. Naturally the first time I looked away the end of my rod pinged...a second try waited half-an-hour, but my strike fouled a fine common on the pectoral. Pah. I gave in gracefully and headed to the east end and baited a spot next to a tree with a slightly foxed reed bed, for no other reason that it reminded me of the east end of Long Lake. Twice the long quill sat up and dived, collecting me Foxtrot Alpha, the third time got a scruffy familiar mirror that I suspected was around 15lb but TSC had it at 14lb 15oz on a prawn not two hours later. Ah well.

I decided, contra-instinctively, to adopt the LOS's tactics of baiting multiple swims and fishing them in turn, so by this expedient missed two crash-dive bites in the corner of the lake and a couple further down the bank then one odd incident in the original swim, where the strike appeared to flip a fish over and then I found myself attached to 3 feet of line with a snapped hook and I wonder if I didn't pull that out of a fish. Third time lucky in the corner swim, hooked a bottom hugging fish of some weight that figure-of-eight'd under the rod tip for a long while and was eventually the fine common shown here. That was nearly my lot, with a few missed twitches and a startled 4oz perch, which was briefly treated like a double-figure carp. Heh.

Court Farm Third lob unlucky Court Farm There's always one, or in this case, 'nine'. Court Farm ...and a careless common, also 'third lob unlucky'.

I should point out that the LOS in the meantime to all these high-jinks, banked a double figure number of carp...not that it's a competition...

• March 8th 2015. Bishop's Green

Bishop's GreenThe lake as it ever was Bishop's GreenThe lake as it ever was Bishop's GreenThe bob in the waves Bishop's GreenFour of the identikit carp... Bishop's Green...and a classic BG long ,lean one.
Bishop's GreenThe afternoon sun Bishop's GreenThe margin float... Bishop's Green...and the consequence... Bishop's Green...and the result
Gobio GobioGobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page) GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobby GonkGonk Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GonkGobby Gobio GobioGobio Gobio GudgeonGudgeon GudgeonGudgeon Gobio GobioGobio Gobio

• February 28th 2015. Milton Abbas

Milton AbbasThe Pump Pool and its blazing dogwood Milton AbbasFour of the eight Milton AbbasDecent, a goer Milton AbbasOver the pound Milton AbbasThe green sight bob in the blue Milton AbbasThe most welcome tench

• February 14th 2015. Pete's Ponds, The Nadder

Pete's Ponds The Lower Pond, denuded for winter Pete's Ponds The Lower Pond, denuded for winter
The NadderA nuisance of brownies The NadderA small stream roach The NadderThe small-stream pool of your dreams... The NadderThe respectable 3oz roach
Pete's Ponds Coffee on the dam wall Pete's Ponds The view from the dam Pete's Ponds The small-stream bobber waiting for the fish that never came...
A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

• January 24th 2015. Blasted Heath Lake. So worms, maggots, prawn, the bold perch hunter set forth, or 'slogged 500 yards through clay and muck' anyway. Peg One looked inviting, it's also the NE corner. After fifty minutes I missed a bite and was cold due to the wind in my face. After sixty, one 'parp', the float sinking slowly, the fish sluggish and after ninety called it a wrap, not even a steak slice and coffee inciting me to exposure. The 'top' perch swim was in the teeth of the ice-breeze so I negotiated myself and tackle in three relays through the flooded corner and went for a sheltered 'fourteen' where there is, today, eight feet of water. I put on a proper perch float and elect to fish for a bite then changed to a bit of a sliding rig to ease casting. Coffee and chicken pie for the look of the thing...

Heath LakeYes, it's blue. Get over it... Heath LakeThe NE corner in the sun Heath LakeThe second bite of the day Heath LakeThe proper perch float in the second pitch Heath LakeA view of the North end from the south bank

My strategy ('fish out of the wind') accomplished, the tactics were to trickle feed maggots, fish worms and prawns four inches off the bed. So I feed the robin and wait... after two hours and changes of float, depth and not even able to catch a bait fish on a single maggot on my 'bait-fish' rod, conclude that I might have picked the wrong place. Out of interest I check the water temperature, 4.4°C, the air a tenth of a degree higher. Hm. The robin is stuffed, I speculate that the red-breast is rather less to do with thorns and more to do with vast quantities of red maggots, so consider it worth freezing in the wind in my first pitch, returning with a couple of hours to go.

Out of interest, after baiting and casting in, I check the water temperature, at 5.7°C an insight into why the north-east corner is worth a try in the face of few other signs and half an hour later a chunky common reinforces my decision, although the fine-wire worm hook obliges me to be cautious. The sun sinks low, orange as a conventional float-tip and the wind falls away, leaving a few priming fish and a feeling that today the wind was my friend, if one that snapped at my fingers. I switch to a slight sight-bob and a finer size '8' for a bunch of reds and the light is just fading, when the float vanishes suddenly, then a fish zips off across the bay, the liveliest, but it's fundamental is higher than previously, so I know it's the smallest, but bright gold in the net. So home then, not a perch of any sort.

Heath LakeThe third bite of the day and possibly the finest. Heath LakeThe bay in the NE corner Heath LakeIt's still blue, but by now you're used to it, right? Heath LakeThe low winter sun Heath LakeThe last bite and the most shiniest

Seems 600 yards on the way back, but the walk warms up my toes.

• January 18th 2015. Clump hill Farm. After the perch.

I spent a steak-and-ale pie and coffee with ice in my face, sun on my back, 5.4°C water, wind a low 2.4°C, hands stinging, I reverse the wind and sun, not ideal perching but a big dying lily patch gives me hope, so do overhanging bushes and half a degree warmer water. I stick with mashed bread and prawns, with a prawn on the deck, enjoy sun and java. And wait.

The day wanders on, I miss a thin bite on a scrap of prawn, switch to a small worm and remove two of the culprits. I give a couple of '16s' and 18's to a chap who brought his lad - he'd nothing under '14' and from fifty yards off saw regularly hoisted fish twinkle. I nabbed a roach, a 4oz perch, watched a cormorant work up courage to land and wriggled my toes which were numbing down. Another hesitant bite produced a near 1lb roach. It went quiet for a bit, save for tiny nudges of the few dead lilies.

Clump Hill FarmThe winter sun view across the lake Clump Hill FarmThe very perchy looknig spot Clump Hill FarmA melange of smaller things Clump Hill FarmA 'goer' roach, always nice

With the sun scratching on the tree-tops I switch to a fine-wire with whole prawn and the second cast got a fine 1lb stripy. I returned it down the bank, anticipating, then the father of the lad, who'd bagged up on the small hooks (as I heard him tell his mother on the phone, which made me smile) brought me his leftover maggots a, favour repaid, his boy had taken a 1lb roach, a whopper for a small lad. I gratefully used them for loose feed and but nothing came until penultimate knockings, a reflex sideways strike after the world shrunk to the patch of water around my float, the pheasant quill vanishing without preamble, producing a tussle, languid and cold, a small feral looking carp. Ah well, a fish is a fish.

Clump Hill Farm It's a pounder honest (that reel is 5¼ inches across) Clump Hill Farm A small and quite feral looking carp Clump Hill Farm A larger and slightly less feral looking carp

At the very last, the float jittered off to the right, so so perchy, the first shakes of the head raising hopes and heart rate. The non-perch burned my finger on the tuna-reel-rim, in truth glad of something to warm my bones, long-played with care, the prawn hook is very fine wire. Heh. Home.

• January 11th 2015. Labour saving tools. "As you get on a bit," said Pete, "you employ tools to make things easier for you". "Like us?" I said...there were, of course, potatoes, we'll be kind and call them 'well done' and for myself, a selection of aching muscles to grace the following day, testament to brambles cleared, willows pollarded and whatever word one uses to describe razing sheaves of bamboo at ground level with a felling axe.

The Saxon PondsThe lower end of the Lower Pond, sunlit The Saxon PondsThe upper end of the Lower Pond The Saxon PondsThe top pond, a rather less flattering view of. The Saxon PondsThe fire, the pond and the clear patch

Still enjoyable for all that. Netting next...

• January 7th 2015. I was aiming at the horse. Arriving at the treadmill to the stirring theme of 'The Magnificent Seven' which ended, to the semi-quaver, as I swung the transport's grey nose into a parking slot, it occurred to me as I went through the morning 'grab-bag-put-on-pass-lock-car-door' dance that this was probably the least appropriate theme tune imaginable for the start of my day JBAlthough on reflection, the original "James Bond Theme" (from "Dr. No") would be even less appropriate. .

• January 1st 2015. Happy New Year. 2014 has slithered past, pausing only to look back over its shoulder in a smug way. Hah. It's been a good year, with no 'life experiences', something close to job satisfaction and most gratifying exam results for Littleanglers. I refer the reader(s) 6Extensive, in-depth research reveals the number of readers to be in the low double figures and rising 10% year-on-year.  also to the fishing expeditions mounted during the previous year. 7'To everyone all over the world that ever picked me (or even a leg or arm) up, I am always (although not always visibly) grateful and ready to do the same in return. As for the other kind: It's not working, is it? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!'
- Lemmy Kilmister

On the day, I slipped over to the Stour to receive a chub catching lesson (at least six fish to best-part-of 4lb) from the Woodsman and despite gallantly continuing on with maggots and worm, I wangled only this chap, which made me smile. Only a 'jam-jar sized' fish, but you don't see so many of them about. Luckily there was plenty of JAA's finest Christmas cake.

The upper Stour The pitch The upper Stour The tip in the sun... The upper Stour ...and the smallest thing between me and another Stour blank

For the coming year, may the twitches turn into firm bites, may you always get the timing exactly right when a monstrous perch mugs your bait after a long run-up, may your floats sit pretty in appearance (and otherwise), may your clutch never stick and above all, do something to make the world a better place.

Quae amissa salva 8What has been lost is safe

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2015's Books (so far...)

Raising Steam
By Terry Pratchett
The usual run of hilarity, sly digs and in-jokes as steam-power comes to Discworld.
Great fun and a good read and the Patrician out-thinks us all again.
My Outdoor Life
Ray Mears
A surprise birthday present - a very good read indeed with some great insights.
If you like it outdoors, you'll like this book.
The Idle Angler
Kevin Parr
Just read this, after keeping it 'on ice' since Christmas - on purpose - as a good read for a week-end away.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, my only complaint is that it was too short! Read cover to cover in one sitting
(a rare treat in itself) and was transported, enthralled, just fishing, just so.
...oh wait and it didn't fully explain where the best perch spots at Barton's Court are exactly... ;-)
The Whole Hog
Lyall Watson
Some stuff about the book
More stuff about the book
The Goddess and the Alphabet
Leonard Shlain
This book left me almost open-mouthed with its reach and implications. The idea that literacy and the
alphabet reinforces left-brained male traits to the point where literate societies were almost always
born in a welter of misogyny and blood, is carefully argued and beautifully spread out across the centuries
for you to take in.
The left brain's focus and the right brain's being has peculiar resonance with angling and my own
profession - an explanation as to why attention to detail is the obstacle to seeing the bigger picture
and vice versa (although most who think they are 'looking at the bigger picture' and are therefore smarter
than the detailers toiling away, are of course, let's be kind, misguided).
If I was to carp at all, it's that there is a hint of conformation bias (are there any major societies where
this didn't happen or the reverse occurred?). However, the rise of images as communication mediums, TV and
image based messaging services give one some hope that the world will change for the better. One, of course,
can't believe everything seen in pictures and videos - but not everything that is written
down is true either. Even this. You'll need to read the book for yourself.
The Death of Kings
Bernard Cornwell
It is unwise to pick a fight with a man who has two swords.
A Darker Domain
Val McDermid
A Song of Ice and Fire
George R. R. Martin
I've cracked and read it. It's true, nearly everyone dies, there's a lot of violence and the 'other stuff'.
Riveting. For a bit. Then you start thinking, 'get on with it' and midway through book two I lost interest...
just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

01:01am on 2017-10-21 JAA