The Lucky Dip Page

This page produces 25 Lucky Dip randomly selected diary entries (between May 2005 and July 2020) every time it is loaded. These are in random order, i.e. not in chronological order, so of course some of them are out of context...they are also filtered to remove the 'non-fishing' entries. Just because.

Each entry has an icon/bullet of a randomly selected pair of dice, because, 'you know', and this icon also hyperlinks to the original diary page entry. This last facilitates the location of the previously mentioned missing context...

In the spirit of the 'Lucky Dip' here is a random rqNot 'random' in the true sense of the word, but a random pick from a selection of quotes that I quite like. There will be Pratchett. And Nietzsche.  quote:

"One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability." ~~ Karl Popper ~~ 

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

Lucky Dip from 2010  3rd May 2010. Arfleet. OK, a bit floater fixated again but an 11lb common on the float rod for a change.

Arfleet pretty Arfleet one off the bottom for a change Arfleet go on, go on, go on...
Arfleet the back pit #1 Arfleet the back pit #2

More work required on the top fish in this lake but they like one flavour more than the others for sure - pineapple (+ yellow) is good, but strawberry (+ red) scares them off. [C/1/1]

Lucky Dip from 2011  8th March 2011. Bartons Court Lake. We were robbed of a proper breakfast by a Newbury supermarket cafe's sneaky conversion into "Italian for Coffee", it's just not the same. Never mind, we provisioned up and headed for the fish. The day was again bright and idyllically calm and we opted for the west bank in the sunshine on the basis of 'first water warmed and longest'. A nice place to sit, as it turns out and also for a nap. We put up floats and waited, watched the kite, who's mewing accentuates the flat clam. I did get a reasonable snap over my shoulder, by a fluke of the shutter, then several pictures of a trio of pike (look hard) that doing the Prespawn Tango. But other fish we saw not, although the Nomes had been by...

Barton's Court Lakespot the fish Barton's Court LakeOK, 'a' float then Barton's Court LakeOK, not perfect but still pretty good Barton's Court Lakemating pike
Barton's Court Lake mating pike Barton's Court Lake mating pike Barton's Court Lake They've got rod-rests too. Right?

It was though, fabulous weather but JH was well under it so after a fishless and biteless few hours, I opted for a wander with bread and he for 'sleeping off the lurgy'. I tried a few likely spots and ended up sitting between the reeds in a swim on the east end and although nothing went for my bread, a spot of casual freelining gave a chance to spot a few rises among the waves at this end. Although doldrumic at the other end, by then a light breeze had pushed a chop to this end and when a tail flicked past the grass at my feet I'd made up my mind this end was a better bet. My other plan for floating bread amongst the tree was also stymied by the brutal pruning of the brush which seems at odds with the worry about cormorants here, removing the fishes' refuges if nothing else. Ah well. Float fishing it is.

I went back for gear and JH had decided on a spot amongst the trees, which made sense a well so we diverged. I lobbed in the inevitable hemp and after about an hour JH gave it up for his sickbed and leaving me with best wishes and some prawns. I'd meanwhile put on 10lb mono and a crow quill and laid on a size '7' with a cockle and now a prawn. This is my favourite game and I watched the float in the chop for 30 minutes and it might have moved once and so I gave myself another 15 before changing to paste. All at once the float is subtly disobeying the waves and then flicking once, like the end a match extinguished in the fingers, it drops out of sight and my strike was resisted by a lump which wondered off in a bemused way. I'd bent the rod over for a bit and after a minute or so I steered it inboard and nearing the net everything changed and my new attachment headed hard for the other bank getting 25 yards nearer it than me. I pulled back, pulled it out of a left hand kite twice with the line singing in the wind and then we did it all again. And again. And once more for luck, kite to the right this time and then we had five minutes of circular attrition in front of me and another run-off when sighting the net. Then a bit more circling, this time getting the fish up in the water and as it flips into the net, I think to myself, that'll be a 20lb then. So it proves, in fact 21lb, but what colours! Better than average.

Barton's Court Lake...the right spot Barton's Court Lakejust perfect Barton's Court Lakethe most stunning winter coat Barton's Court Lake21lb Mirror...and caught the proper way as well

I get one more bite 25 minutes later and a much short battle yields this tench, which I'm inclined to weigh, 5½lb. That's also good, a blazing end to a long quiet day and I'm thinking "what's third?" and "Pity JH wasn't here" when the wind, chilling me for sure, but warming the water also, drops like a cut sail and it's suddenly flat calm and I wonder whether the warm water wedge will oscillate back to me before dusk, but it doesn't. Not bad, ironically the swim nearest the car-park. I can barely move my chilled-to-the-marrow hands.

Barton's Court Lake second prize isn't bad either Barton's Court Lake the fish went with wind... Barton's Court Lake ...and didn't come back

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

Pitmans Pond indolent float, choppy water Pitmans Pond consolation prize

Should have gone home then.

Lucky Dip from 2009  18th January 2009. Crooked Willows. I last came here in about 1993 or thereaboutsIt was pretty much just a hole in a field at that time and to be honest hadn't realised it was the same place until I got there, I was just looking for a change of venue. I park myself at the far end of the lake (you know, 'furthest from the car park') and set up a small float and Avon-fished maggots for anything that came along.

Crooked Willows black and white kind of day Crooked Willows black and white but unwavering
Crooked Willowsnot really a January fish Crooked Willows...possibly a bit breamy Crooked Willowstechnically small fry Crooked Willowsoften a January fish

After an hour of motionless float watching I get a simple bite and a reasonable carp which wallows rather than runs. The swim starts to liven a bit after that and while nothing approaches the first fish, a good stream of roach, skimmers, bream and a small carp come to the net, despite the cold weather.

Crooked Willows slab-let Crooked Willows ..too black and white for the camera Crooked Willows snotty!

Nothing exceptional, but a good regular day's fishing, which often is what it's all about.

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

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

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

Silent Woman Lake in winter Silent Woman Lake in winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky Dip from 2009  11th June 2009. Gold Oak. This was supposed to be the first of two days put aside for relaxing fishing - but it started badly with a cane top section snapping getting out of the car, it caught briefly on the ceiling as I took out the rod bag - I felt really it was over fragile even for cane - I'd paid out some cash to have a second top section made for my Chapman 550, making a 10'6" rod with a t/c midway between the '550' and the '500'. It was nice as well, a lovely Avon like rod. And things were 'odd' (which I've since discovered was a side effect of the hay fever meds, tucked down at the bottom of the list of possible side effects is 'agitation'. Bloody right). Still between getting wound up by nothing at all, I managed to bluff a carp off the far bank with a piece of crumpet, then one out of the lilies by my feet.

Gold Oak Satisfying, lobbing a bait right under the far bank... Gold Oak Always good fun... Gold Oak Always good for a fish

Then, I got a nice common at 30 yards, under the willow branches, which I was especially pleased with as I waited 30 minutes for it, then something of a scamperer on bread bottom-fished. Lost another common when the hook pulled in the lilies and bagged half a dozen roach as well. So pretty good and Nemp had a carp, a tench and hat-full of other stuff.

Gold Oak I say 'under', think 'dangled'... Gold Oak Such a good place for a carp Gold Oak Funny little thing really

Threw the hay-fever-meds in the bin. 'Agitation'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I take leave, reluctantly.

Lucky Dip from 2012  12th August 2012. Around. Should have stayed at home, just not right. Breach pond was weedy, looked horrible and Arfleet had the stillness of the First Circle, should never have tackled up.

Arfleet Mills Looks nicer than it was... Arfleet Mills Looks nicer than it was... Arfleet Mills Looks nicer than it was...

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

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

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

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

Lucky Dip from 2012  11th February 2012. Heath Lake. Out on the Tundra. Made my own ice hole today, right around the back, where I thought it might be thinner, wrong, almost ½". Two maggots on a '14' barbel h. and 10lb braid/line, it's going to be that kind of a day. Not ideal for testing the B&WThe Bruce & Walker MKIV 'G' s/u but still, it's bendy and you need that for this kind of thing. Not as cold as it looks though, the water is 3.8°C and in the shade the air is 0.5°C. Fish are about, ripples in my pond giving them away - subtle differences between fish in the swim and those transmitted from across the lake. Two swans are 100 yards off and I can see their movements reflected in my pools a second or two later at most. When one of them scoots across to the far corner the bump it makes on landing, all dignity removed in a white flash, ruffles my swim barely a moment later - from 200 yards away. Nothing wants a maggot yet, even on a reinforced coffee sun-day. It's really rather nice out here, empty-sky crows and all, two deer are browsing in the sun on the far bank for good measure and I switch to bread.

Heath LakeThe swim... Heath Lake...the rod... Heath Lake...the float... Heath Lake...and the view.

I arrived, late coffee time, to ZZ's Viva Las Vegas and a gloriously green woodpecker crossed my path between the gates. I cut The King off, fumbling through two padlocks which stuck to my fingers and yomped to the lake, which at least meant I'd start and finish warm. The water, not a breath here in the shade, cling-films over and I catch a star. Really. Quite amazing.

Heath Lake The ice pitch again. It's cold, did I mention that? Heath Lake distant deer sun-trap Heath Lake ''Bream? Nah, never seen one mate.'' A roach-bream hybrid
Heath Lake...catch a forming star and...

I missed a bite then, I looked away and there it was, gone. The air's down to -0.5°C and the water re-filming over so I walk, opt for maggots, 20 later bagging a roachy thing, so not a blank. We're up to eight deer now but the cold's killed the camera so I've put spare batteries in my trouser pocket to warm. Then it gets interesting, the air's up to 0.1°C, then a dibble on the bread gets me a mad carp. Hah. 30 minutes on, a 'swim by raid' produces a hybrid, 8oz maybe. 0.2°C...0.3°C...0.4°C...balmy.

Heath LakeIt's a cork ball and a stick. Really. Heath LakeWell the water was 4.1°C... Heath Lake''Put me back mate I'm a hybrid. Honest.'' Heath LakeSunset over the pack-ice.
Heath Lake...and when he comes up for a pea, you kick him in the ice hole. Heath Lakebright little roach, smelled right for one as well Heath Lake...and then there were 12 Heath Lakethere were 21, but the light was all wrong

The day stretches itself and then settles into an easy jog towards the sunset and as the big hand passes four the slight heat of the day evaporates like a will'o'the wisp and by 5pm it's -2.7°C and my feet ache with cold, due in part to me spending the last 30 minutes, standing, having ¾ packed, snatching small roach which have come out to play, adding a half dozen to 4oz to the day's tally. By the point the toes warm, car in sight, a score of roe watch me, curious.

Perfect Day.

Lucky Dip from 2015  20th September 2015. 'Pete's Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''.

The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold'A tiny float and a pinch of bread 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 smaller of the golden tench The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' The 'Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold' one of the 'regular' tench

Lucky Dip from 2007  24th November 2007. River Frome. Another Blank. Windy too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky Dip from 2011  3rd June 2011. Edmondsham. I dropped an end-nicked mussel into the fizz, waited out the dithering amid the bubbles. After the float started to edge crabwise, in what I judged was a definite manner, I struck and something twanged left and then right and the hook came back with a twig. How do they do that? A curling spout of silt remained, taunting.

I fished outward a bit and when bubbles re-started, reeled my bait back, stealthy, no anti-reverse. I waited only a minute and the float dipped under. I whipped the rod up and a fish piled into the lilies and at the 3-feet-in mark it was hold-or-lose, the rod, locked, or as near as, couldn't get me out of the trouble the loose fold of line had got me into...the hook knot broke and I heard my float hit the leaves behind me somewhere. I sat for a while, contemplated self inflicted disaster. I wondered about my float and then realised I didn't care, it got stuck in a tree in France, was still hanging 12 months later, even re-varnished didn't hit the spot, a wreck-bob. I left it. The sun went behind the clouds. Well it would.

******************************

When I got here, two were already in, so I walked the sunny west bank, bottom weed, carp and tench equally visible. Onward to the narrow end, past the island two groups of good fish scoot by, neither so large as the big shovel-tail, put up under a swim-board. There's a shade more colour in the dire strait, so I picked a swim on the shady side opposite the spot I fancied (direct sun an anathema) which has a big patch of lilies on my right and the tail of the island, 25 feet ahead, trailing line snagging brambles. Putting a bait out, predictably, miss a bite as I scribble, then bubbles bisect the float and the bank. I'm dapple-shaded, cool and the bird-life's chasing each other up and down the trees behind me. A blackbird doesn't see me until it almost crash-lands my hat, distant pheasants give themselves away. All too pleasant and I'm amused by two goose-periscopes in the meadow behind the far bank. Then a big-paddled shadow ponders past my feet...

Edmonsham Smallbridgedouble damsel, double float Edmonsham SmallbridgeIsland's bank, hooklength's graveyard Edmonsham Smallbridgethick, thick lilies and the meadow beyond Edmonsham Smallbridgethe small cane and balsa thing

I put 10lb on, a small cane and balsa thing and carried on. The water was clear enough to see spectres gliding past along with several sharp changes of direction after a tweak of the float. Very clear water. Clear the water was. See-through you might say. Transparent, in the main. The problem with the subconscious mind is at best, it can only drop hints, explanations reduced to 'ahem' and then, clarity. Aha. I dug out the dry markers, lengthened the tail to 8", moved the float up 12" and coloured the last two feet green and not-quite-random spots of black. I recast. I then caught a 3lb bream, a 5¼lb tench and a 9lb scarred common, technically, successive casts.

Aha. I then missed a bite from the biggest tench I've seen for some time. Rats. I retrieve the hook out of a hazel leaf and waited for some time before a half-chevron of five carp went through, the last two peel off, shedding vortices, the float zings under and I plant the hook into a stout branch where it remains, the recoiled float tip sticking through the arm on my padded shirt like a dart. Ow. Thereafter, for two furnace-sun hours, despite tormentor fish I got neither hittable bite nor a real take of any kind, while my hat brim stuck on and sweat squeezed from the back of my hands. With commons of very scary size swerving past, giving me a longing for the big hex. rod, I packed up and head for the pick-up and a chip supper.

With a little hindsight and TMS'Test Match Special' you philistine. in the car, this is going to be tricky water - the stock density isn't over high but the fish are chary and there is a ban on braid and hooks over size '8' and floating baits, which does limit ones options. Nearly every swim has patches of thick lilies which necessitates strong tackle. I may yet plait some 3 or 4lb Maxima into traces to soften the hook-length and change it's colour - that's not as tricky as you think with a firm cushion and three small cotton reels. A few short links and a pop-up float might be a good way as well. Hmm.

Edmonsham Smallbridge abramis brama, better than a blank Edmonsham Smallbridge the nice big tench Edmonsham Smallbridge a common old soldier

Lucky Dip from 2014  21st December 2014. The Nadder/'The Ponds'The Saxon Ponds' - see 'Crock of Gold''. Midwinter mixed nuts.

The Nadder'Pond 1', The Wetland The NadderThe first swim The NadderA bunch of wild brownies, good sport all The NadderAn interesting but unproductive swim The NadderAlso interesting, but unproductive

A couple of hours on the Nadder prodcued these four spotties, the largest (top right) twice the size of it's fellows. They came to worms and bread, and I didn't get anything else. I ambled back across the (stock-free) field and parked just to the right of the 'Umbrella Swim' tree and caught steadily for the rest of the afternoon.

The Saxon PondsThe winter-view from the 'umbrella pitch' The Saxon PondsThere's a float in there somewhere The Saxon PondsThe rest, key-sized to 8oz The Saxon PondsEntry for the smallest perch of the year The Saxon PondsOne of this year's, fending for itself The Saxon PondsBig head shaking cannible ('big' for this pond)
The Saxon Ponds A find roach just over 1lb The Saxon Ponds A big brass-tinged roach, 24oz or so. The Saxon Ponds Midwinternight

Lucky Dip from 2014  2nd July 2014. The Bridge Pool, The Royalty.

The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.dace The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.Nobbyngton-Smythe The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.dace The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.downstream, toward the harbour The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.the castle
The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.downstream, toward the harbour The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.a silver tourist The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.chub The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.Nobbyngton-Smythe The Bridge Pool, the Royalty.perfect perch

Lucky Dip from 2012  22nd November 2012. Warmwell, Heron. Just because I had to, one time at least, apparently it was once a famous carp water. It felt cold in a 10°C wind and what little colour was in the back channel which I fished for two hours, then wondered about, returned to as the most likely. There was enough folk about to force a walk to the dry-ski-slope loos, passing by a deer that appeared to have no fear of people at all. Far too busy a place for the asocial.

Warmwell, the legendary and dull The swim, back channel of 'the' lake Warmwell, the legendary and dull The optimistic float
Warmwell, the legendary and dull The domesticated deer Warmwell, the legendary and dull Dusk up

A small dark carp rolled under the far bank but wouldn't play, but even as the light fell I felt confident. I had a couple of shove h'penny bites on plugs of bread...but nothing this time. Still, I've been there now, 'tick'.

Lucky Dip from 2013  3rd February 2013. Mappowder, 'Spring Lake'.

In the reedy corner, I broke with the norm, put up two rods, and I've a paternostered worm into the reeds, red hook, small flicker blades. To the left is a light Avon and over-laid flake, which has already once nipped off, no fish though. The plan is to flick pills of bread and chopped worm as appropriate and work through reinforced blackberry teaThat is, black ceylon tea with a double slug of blackberry whisky in the flask until it's dark. Sound plan. You might note that no fish are in the plan. An hour passes. It's not frantic....until 2:46pm when the Avon tip bangs over, for a sprightly 4-5lb common. I decide to pop braid on then, get a real sliding perca bite on the other rod, which I hit way too soon. I rebait, bubbles effervesce in front of me. Hm. Tea.

Mapperton 'Spring Lake' Mappowder scratching... Mapperton 'Spring Lake' Mappowder scratching... Mapperton 'Spring Lake' Mappowder scratching...
Mapperton 'Spring Lake'The phantom owl

A passer-by stops for information on the fishing, I pass this on, then ship in the perch rod, badly named. I try for a picture of the floating owl at range and just when I get a focus, it lifts off giving this odd pleasing picture. Not so bad. I focus on the flat quill and it slips away more times then I contact fish and after a common, I strike sideways as the float tips from flat and get a skittery thing which becomes a goldfish pretending to be a crucian hybrid. I connect with another and opt to try spotting the float by torchlight and get two more. Cold now, rain spotting in the beam, I squelch off.

Mapperton 'Spring Lake'Mappowder scratching... Mapperton 'Spring Lake'Mappowder scratching... Mapperton 'Spring Lake'Mappowder scratching... Mapperton 'Spring Lake'Mappowder scratching...

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

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

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

Lucky Dip from 2007  19th May 2007. Highbench. The Bugangler and the 'Crucial' carp.

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

Lucky Dip from 2012  2nd September 2012. Luckfield...after some time...grey, some breeze and fish are edgy in. Peg 5...funny day, several fish about very chary, simply not going for bread on the top, seen to much maybe. I bait two patches and opt to wait a while. I miss three fish off the top, too early twitchy, then watch the rats (new). I see fish on my right but fail to entice without spooking. I give in, as it were, and fish on the lift until I try the pads again, over-clooped and in the end my antennae darts a foot and I land this fish, not without a battle. Back on the lift then. 6:00ish. Tea, 'Ceylon' and 'Earl Grey', one bag each. Funny thing, no moorhens or ducks.

Luckfield Lake Luckfield Luckfield Lake Luckfield
Luckfield Lake Luckfield Luckfield Lake Luckfield Luckfield Lake Luckfield

The fish have vanished as well...every bait gets hacked by what are assumed to be more of the 3oz roach I nabbed on a size '5' earlier. Plenty of life. The King posed, I couldn't steady the camera, then the batteries failed. Good omen I take it to be. I swap swim-sides again. Exodus, last teacup, roosting woodies. Very still, wrong sort of. I turn out the lights...

Lucky Dip from 2006  7th May 2006. Turfcroft Farm Fishery, Burley. Quick session in a nice place. Stuck for ten minutes in the A31 traffic on the way home, prompted me to leave the road at Picket Post and headed to Turfcroft at Burley. I've been here a couple of times before and I fancied a couple of hours out of the grockle queue despite the throbbing head and raw throat. I rolled up around 12:30 and was tackled up by 1pm at the 3rd swim I passed, which was nicely screened with bamboo. Simple rig, pole float, a no.4 by the float, a no.8 about 3" from the hook, a size '10' on a 6lb feeder braid hook length, 6lb line and the Avon. One tin of sweetcorn, one grain on the hook. No subtlety...the depth was perhaps 2½ft, but the water was dark, coloured and the float 3" under the obsidian smooth surface was all but invisible.

I broke out the lunch I'd grazed from Tesco's and almost before I had a sandwich the float dipped and I missed one. Then I hooked one that felt solid enough, but it came straight off. Then a silver bream of about a 1lb, which fought so hard I thought I had a decent roach. The fourth bite hurtled right under the bamboo and almost to late I realised what I had. With light line it took me some time to bank a very feisty 10lb common, which made few long runs, but bored up and down with little inclination to come to the net. Good start.

Turfcroft Pond, Burley The pond... Turfcroft Pond, Burley ...and the 10lb carp

Over the next two hours I had a steady stream of bites and had another six bream of about the same size, which all ran and leapt like salmon. Odd. At around 2:30pm a solitary ancestor of all goldfish [crucian to you], leapt on my bait (in good condition, poor picture). A short while later another dogged bottom hugging lump showed itself to be a mirror around 9lb after being tricked into the net after ten minutes or so. One more tail-walking bream and at 3pm or so I packed up with the lurgy beating on the back on my eyeballs again. Not bad for a quick session though.

Turfcroft Pond, Burley many breams... Turfcroft Pond, Burley ...the crucian... Turfcroft Pond, Burley ...and the 9lb mirror

Very nice water this. OK, so it's a commercial lake, but the surroundings are better than nice and the place itself is litter free and there are, frankly, many a lot worse. But like so many waters now it flatters your ability. But good fun for all that.

Lucky Dip from 2019  20th October 2019. Mappowder.

It's a half-bright half-cloudy day and the first instinct was to try a quiet corner on the furthest and today, over-aptly named 'Pheasant Lake', as I selfishly want the place to myself. This is the case, but for several hundred toff-chucks and there are stands cut in the maize alongside the path that are handily labelled with names like "Keeper's Choice", "Hard of Shooting Point" and "Blunderbuss Corner" (OK, I made the second two up). I unpack in the south-east corner and a sink a cockle under a blue porcupine quill to see what happens. A kingfisher whirrs into the corner. I edge towards the iconograph and it whirrs off. A carp ambles past. It saunters back and sucks at the grassy slope, the pond being brim-full. I carefully inch the bait out without moving the rod and drop it on the carp. "One".

Mappowder The lake... Mappowder ...the pitch... Mappowder ...and the blue tipped quill.

A short while later I do this again with a piece of bread-flake, "two", then consider whether I care about tying on a size '18' to find out what was periodically trembling the float. I then knock over a cup of tea and so find myself wondering why I was fishing here and why I was out at all. Pah. I decamp for the Field Pond, en route swapping the Harlow for the '44x. The field pond has promise; I fish for a good hour in several feet of water that has just enough colour to encourage. Although I like it here, I fancy that a dibble on 'Spring' would improve the chances of a non-carp. I sally hence.

Mappowder The Field Pond... Mappowder ...and the Field Pond's green crow-quill.

I pointedly ignore the carp that swims past my foot, pinch tiny pieces of bread onto an '18' and manage three roach, one very fine, two gudgeon (hooray), a carp (boo) and a crayfish (boo, hiss). I muse on a decent collective noun for the gudgeon. A 'satisfaction'? An 'underappreciation'? By this time it's early evening and I carefully miss several bites while I try to snap the local brown mouse. While it seems unfazed by my wellies, the small movements required to operate the camera cause it to vanish so fast you'd swear it was never there at all. Still, it took bread for its tea, supper and breakfast too.

The pheasant are omnipresent, feckin' scores of them. Literally. Were I the grandchild of an old poacher, I might fish for birds...this unworthy thought crossed my mind. Slowly. Lingeringly, looking hopefully over its shoulder...I was grouchy on arriving today, but at some point during the field-pond leg my senses aligned with the surroundings, somewhere about the time a jay-screech, by said Field Pond, interrupted the location-calls of the new targets.

Thereafter for an hour I am absorbed by the sliver of cane over a pinch of bread. Heh. This is of course the whole point, including the brown mouse and latterly an upside down squirrel bowing a slender oak-branch to the ground for a few last acorns. The bites on bread ebb away...a pheasant almost ditches, I unkindly root for the pond. To amuse myself I flick crusts into the middle just to watch them disappear. They go, by dint of some long dark shapes that swim under the bread, two feet down, not quite showing themselves. Circle, nudge...I've seen these lake elders before, perhaps three or four fish. Hm. I cut some half-inch squares of crust and with the spoon flick two or three out , watch them quietly 'pock' from the surface as if they'd vanished into another dimension. I cut off the '18', re-tube the float, take the '18' out of my finger-tip, knot on a '10' then turn it once, twice through an identical crust...'pock'. Heh.

Mappowder The point... Mappowder ...the roach... Mappowder ...and the elder.

I would have listened to the regular birds roosting but you couldn't hear a .410 go off amongst this cacophony of game-birds. Which might be handy. Fish finger sandwiches, mayo and seedy mustard. The Sunday supper of the restored.

Lucky Dip from 2009  31st October 2009. Eastmoors. Pretty here in the Autumn, but there is no escaping the fact that in three sessions here, I have never even had a bite, although to be fair I did see a fish this time. Several carp made an appearance but I could not tempt any of them to feed of the bottom or the top.

Eastmoors Pretty, but gives you a headache Eastmoors Pretty, but gives you a headache Eastmoors Alway half expecting a Nome 'neath, smoking a pipe

I did snap this terrific Fly Agaric, still fascinating to me, as they were for my mother. Will I come back? What do you think? Home for pumpkin soup and a locked door.

Lucky Dip from 2011  20th April 2011. Marsh Farm, Hill Pond: The Great Pure Piscator Gudgeon Match 'to the death'. Pity about the GOZO...the Grand Union Gobio Gobio Society, but a skipful of scrappy little tench, some egg sarnies, GOS's hat and lashings of ginger beer made up for it. Nearly.

Marsh Farm, Hill PondHill Pond Marsh Farm, Hill PondJAA not catching gudgeon Marsh Farm, Hill PondHill Pond Marsh Farm, Hill PondHill Pond
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 A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

In Summary


There are 25 diary entries above. This page might very occasionally produce a result with less than 25 entries, as the page's 'engine' takes a fixed number of files and then removes the non-fishing ones, so the remainder could theoretically be less than 25. The odds of this actually happening are somewhere in the region of 1 in 1×1032. If this number (25) is less than 25, screen-shot it. You have more chance of winning the lottery than that happening. I might fix this theoretical possiblity later, I might not.

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In the ongoing spirit of the 'Lucky Dip' here is a random rfqNot 'random' in the true sense of the word, but a random pick from a selection of fishing related quotes that I quite like.  fishing quote:

"Fishing tournaments seem a little like playing tennis with living balls..." ~~ Jim Harrison, Just Before Dark, 1991 ~~ 

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
12:56am on 2020-07-06 JAA