Sunday, 25 August 2013

Broken Rods

Oh Dear!   I have two J.W. Young barbel travel rods.    I use them for tench, crucians, bream, roach and so on.   I have long doubted their ability to cope with barbel, but am still prepared to give them a good go... sometime!   They have nevertheless been excellent for tench, fishing a light legering set up, or with a float.  A few carp, none of them huge, have fallen to these rods, whilst fishing for other species, and the rods have coped well to date.   They are a very nice rod to use. And at 50 quid each, none too pricey.

They are, however accident prone.   A few weeks ago I found one had a broken tip section, a clean snap, a few inches from the tip ring.   I have no idea how it happened, but my clumsiness and devil may care attitude to my tackle probably had some input.   So I contacted J.W. Young to ask for a replacement tip:   The price, including postage was about £38 quid.   Hardly seems worth it when a complete new rod, complete with hard case, would be about £50, just a few pounds more than the price for one spare section ( the rods are each of five sections in total, plus a spare tip).

And so I chose to try and mend the broken section.  Quite a fine tube at the tip of the rod, and so I straightened a paper clip and glued it inside the two sections, and added a two inch length of thin copper tube ( sourced from an old central heating boiler thermocouple) to encase the outside of the join.  With copious amounts of super-glue, this repair is now lasting well, and looks as if it will do the job both adequately and permanently. It has not, so far, noticeably affected the performance of the rod.

Yesterday I was again fishing, one rod for tench, the other for roach, on yet another new water.  I was fishing a light-ish method feeder with breadflake.  Three fish were lost on the previous day, to hookpulls, a couple of tench and a carp.  The second day produced a couple of roach, both nearing a pound.  I was using six pound line, and figured that, with the barbel rods, nothing I could possibly do using that line would overstress the rods.   However this was not to be the case.

Anglers of experience naturally seem to know, instinctively, just how much ooomph you can give a rod when casting a particular weight. It is a good way to fish, knowing that you will not damage the rod casting, yet you can also play a fish well and hard.  But thinking that nothing can be done with just 6 pound line to cause damage was a mistake.  It is true to say that playing a fish is unlikely to cause such damage, because the curve that the rod takes up is designed for such a situation, and the bend gets progressively further down the rod as pressure is applied.

But I decided that I wanted to gain a little extra distance on the cast.   With the rods not being designed for heaving a feeder at the horizon, this was a mistake.  It is possible to wind up a rod, even with 6 pound line in such a way that the rod breaks. It can break in two, midway down the middle section.  I know now!    The curve that the rod takes up under such circumstances is very different from the curve when playing a fish. A rod is a complicated form of lever, and during my cast the middle section of the rod especially was subjected to a massive moment ( in simple terms a force at right angles to the length of the rod). When playing a fish the middle section does not usually see forces applied in such a combination of direction and strength.   Part way through the cast it buckled and broke.  I had applied too great a moment to the rod.  This is sometimes heard referred to as a bending moment.   I don't propose to explain this in more detail. Those of you with some physics knowledge will be able to work it out for yourselves.  Those without such knowledge probably couldn't care less.

 So a second attempt to repair the rod is under way.  Hardly a professional repair, I have filled the broken area of the rod with short lengths of wooden barbecue kebab skewers, added the remains of the super-glue, and crossed my fingers.   If it works, fine and dandy.  If not I will have to replace the rod.   Wish me luck...and remind me not to be so damned stupid in future.

P.S.  The rod has now been used, and with a fair old bend applied, in dragging some carp around the two pound mark, out of some heavy weed into which they had dived.   Quite a strain on the rod, but the repair coped well.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Newton: and Why I Weigh Exactly the Same as the Earth.

As promised in my profile, the odd article will have nothing to do with fishing or wildlife: this is one such.  Feel free to stop reading now if you so wish.  I won't send out the gendarmes to arrest you and escort you to the guillotine.  Reading any of my drivel is as much optional as it is a waste of your time.

We all know that  Isaac Newton was a genius of his day, the best scientist of his times by some margin.  But I suspect that his true genius can only be seen by those who actually go and look at what he achieved.  To this end I decided to try and read his Principia Mathematica or PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica to give it the full name from the title page. Of course this treatise was written entirely in Latin, and my schoolboy Latin, somewhat loosely remembered from a long time ago, is now totally unable to extract any useful grains of intelligence from the text.  Even in its heyday, I suspect my Latin would have been totally inadequate to perform even a fraction of the task.  And the GCE examiner certainly agreed with me all those years ago.  But I found a translated text of the book, one which has striven to maintain the convoluted and complex use of words that characterized the original text.  In short, it is still damned difficult to understand.  Every sentence seems twisted, and you need to be a crossword fanatic to understand much of it.  A good challenge for an idiot like me therefore.

On opening the first few pages, it quickly became apparent to me that old Isaac, way back in 1687 had indeed produced a work of absolute genius and insight. From the very start of the book, his precision in describing the fundamental quantities, mass, weight speed, velocity etc., impressed me greatly. So precise, so detailed.  The reading is hard work, and progresses slowly, but it was not long before one keen piece of insight knocked me sideways.  In effect, and to transcribe it into modern English: one of the corollaries of his law "action and reaction are equal and opposite" can be applied to weight.  What he is saying is that my weight, as seen by the earth, is exactly the same as the earth's weight, as seen by me.  In effect the earth weighs the same as I do.   I have here added my own thought experiment to this, as a way of explaining more simply what Newton said.

If I place the bathroom scales outside, on the patio, and the scales record my weight, then you as an observer, in a generous mood, might say I weigh 200 pounds.  I now turn the scales upside down, and once again stand on them.  You, as an observer, must now stand on your head in order to read the scales.  They still read 200 pounds. What you are now seeing is that the scales have been placed on my feet, with the earth placed on top of the scales.  So you would now see that the scales are indeed weighing, not me, but the entire Earth. You might even photograph the event.  The two scale readings are the same.   So one could say that the earth, in this experiment, weighs exactly the same as I do.  The scales prove it.  Logically, to the man in the street, this seems utter rubbish, but it is not. It  serves admirably to demonstrate the difference between mass and weight.    Mass, as Newton himself defines in Principia, is a quantity of matter.   Weight is a force, a force due to the existence of gravity.   My weight is the force, exerted on my mass, by the mass of the earth.    The Earth's weight is the force exerted on the mass of the Earth, by MY mass. And Newton's laws give credence to this,  in that a force, in action on one body from another, causes an equal, and opposite force on the other body.    And that law applies to gravity, which is the phenomenon that produces the force that we know as weight.  Weight is relative;  its value for a particular mass varies according to  the mass and position of another object, that object from which you are making the measurement.   If my wife does the scales experiment she will record the Earth as weighing less that the value I saw.   If I stand on top of Everest, then the earth ( and myself) will weigh a little less.

In all my school and university days, I have never seen the difference between mass and weight expressed so clearly to me, as it has just been by Mr. Newton.   My thanks to him.   And I must now read on to see what other eye-opening statements I can find. For anyone to have written this, more than 300 years ago is astonishing...and I have barely opened the book.

Reference:  : Newton's Principia  Translated

Saturday, 17 August 2013

More Buses

I live on the busy A6, between Stockport and Manchester.  Apparently it has the most frequent bus service in the UK,  approximately one every three minutes.  And this would appear to be true, and is very convenient for those of us fortunate enough to have free bus passes.   Unfortunately I cannot use the pass on weekdays before 9.30AM, which makes it a bit useless for fishing.   The "one every three minutes" is of course an average, and sometimes I may wait ten minutes.  To compensate, there are many times when two come at once, and the record that I have observed was no less than FIVE 192 buses, nose to tail. The old adage about buses is indeed accurate.

But it is not only buses that can come in such strangely timed fashion, fish can do exactly the same.   Before my 30 odd year break from fishing, it was unheard of for carp to be caught in UK rivers.  The one exception was the Electricity Cut on the River Nene, near Peterborough, which was famous for its big, hard to catch carp.  So, on my return to angling, I had never seen a river carp, and certainly had no expectations of ever catching one.   But, on the Trent last season, two came along at once,  two mirror carp in successive casts,  landed within five minutes of each other.  Had I been in Liverpool, I would have been gobsmacked, but in the more gentile Midlands, I was very surprised. Not many weeks later I had a third, from a local spate river, a common of maybe ten pounds or so, hooked whilst fishing for gudgeon on three pound line, with the river going like a train.  Quite a fight ensued before I landed hand, as I had not considered a landing net to be needed for gudgeon.   Silly me.    

Today, I was warned by the wife that I have to "do something" with the compost heap.  For some inexplicable reason she wants to use some of the soil it has generated over the last couple of years for planting flowers.  Not wanting to miss out on fishing altogether, I decided to have a couple of early morning hours on the "Sunday Challenge Pond". And yes: I know it is Saturday, not Sunday, but the only other option was the flooded river, or a 25 mile trip to one or another tench water. So I arrived at the pond, with minimal tackle, rod, folding stool, three slices of bread, the packet of hooks that my wallet always contains, a float, shot, and a small bucket of groundbait I had left in the car for a couple of sun-warmed days.   Being already moist, the groundbait was fermenting badly and the smell in the car was quite unpleasant, even by my standards for a fishing car.  I also took an empty bucket, as I wanted to see if I could catch another crucian carp or two for the garden pond.  Didn't bother with the landing net, instead left it in the car, as I know the pond to contain small tench to maybe 3 oz, carp, mainly under 12 ounces, small roach, rudd and perch.  There are a few carp around five pounds but, in the small, yard wide gaps between thick Elodea Canadensis weedbeds, they are uncatchable on crucian carp gear,  they bolt  irretrievably into the weeds within a second or so of being hooked.  Nothing you can do. So my mainline was set at 5 pounds breaking strain, and a small float, capped with a starlight was thrown out at what I hope would be a gap in the weeds, at about half past four.  A couple of handfuls of sloppy boozy groundbait was added to the mix and thrown at the float. Set at about 2 foot 6, the float was a fair bit overdepth in this uniformly very shallow pond, and the light atop the float was soon seen to be moving sideways along the surface, as a rudd of a couple of ounces took the breadflake.  That is a good rudd for this water.   The next cast produced nothing, until I reeled in to find a fish attached.   A crucian carp of five or six ounces.   Ideal for the pond it went into the bucket, along with water and a pile of fish calming weed.   Crucians are not shy biters, but they have a habit of not moving off with a bait, leading to little or no movement of the float.  Maybe, had I waited, I should have seen a bite, but then again, possibly not.   Daylight now, and the next cast hooks into something far bigger.   It made the thick banks of weed fairly quickly, and the light tackle did not allow me to stop it.   Another carp lost in the weeds.   I think that is the third I have lost in such fashion over the last dozen trips to the water.  But I was not fishing for carp, and to use suitable tackle for them would probably put off the crucians.   The water is so weedy that even half pound carp usually get tangled up in the weed, and I often pull in a ball of weed, and then search it to find the carp, or the small tench that it contains.     However I did nip back to the car for the landing net.  Who knows, maybe one of the carp might behave itself and swim around in small circles for me.   Fat chance!   
A roach of 4 ounces is the next visitor, once again, a good fish for the water.  No tench today, which is a shame for I love the little, hand sized tincas that the pond holds. Next up was a bream, always a surprise in this shallow clear pond.   At 6 ounces it was no monster but still seems to be out of place in this water, long ago abandoned by the club that owned it, as being a waste of time.  They were unable to control the poachers, both kids and adults, who thronged around it, dropping litter by the bucketful.    Today, unusually,  it seemed to be litter free, and I know that one or two conscientious locals do clean it up occasionally, as do I.    The pond also holds perch which is the main attraction for the kids., Small, with pretty stripes, red fins and easy to catch, I have never caught a perch here myself, but a few minutes with a maggot baited hook would soon solve that one.   Rumours abound of a few chub being present, which is reasonable considering the proximity of the pond to a local river. With anglers there is always someone wants such and such a fish in such and such a water.
The next bite was a sail away and I hooked a decent sized fish,  which scrapped a bit, but not like one of the carp.   In the still poor light I could see it was a chub, and quite a good one too.  But as it struggled and came nearer the net, that which I had luckily recovered from the car, it looked odd.   Was it.....surely not...but yes, it was a grass carp!  Bloody hell!   I had never before even seen a grass carp.    All I really knew of them was that they were introduced into the Lincolnshire drains round about 1970, in order to keep down the weed growth, and help control flooding. I have no idea how well that plan worked.  It was believed at the time that they would never actually take an angler's bait, and so would never be caught.  Obviously a theory put about by the same guy who said cane toads would only eat the pest species in the Australian Maize fields.  I was equally amaized by my catch.  I'm sorry, honest I am!    Interesting and good looking fish, the grass carp,  fights very much like a chub, if mine was typical of the species. Visually it looked very much like what I imagine a chub/wild carp hybrid might look like, with maybe a touch of grey mullet about the lips. I was wearing just the detachable lining of my fishing jacket, and as I keep a number of things in the main jacket pockets I was unable to weigh the fish.  So I decided to wrap the fish in a mass of weed, and leave it in the landing net, in the water, and hoped that another angler, with scales, would arrive soon.  

Another roach was landed, again about four ounces.  Good looking roach these, the clear water means that the fish are very colourful, and an inexperienced angler could have easily mistaken this fish for one of the rudd that are also present in the pond.  Another bite, and another good fish is hooked. To my utter, jaw-dropping amazement, it was another grass carp. Two in the landing net now, together with a mass of weed. I could hardly have been more surprised had a hippo strolled out of the woods opposite, and sauntered into the pond.

 Photographs, camera phone: too casual a trip to have brought the SLR.  But as I took the picture I realised that the pocket, in which I keep my scales, is in the jacket liner, and not the main fishing jacket.  The two 192 bus route grassies weighed 5-8 and 4-12.  I put them carefully back, pack up, and am home by eight AM.

I wonder whether the rumours, of chub in the pond, have been created by people who have seen these grass carp swimming around in the shallow water, and mis-identified them as chub?    Might I have done the same, had I seen them? The grass carp certainly did not come from the river though!  And no-one to whom I have spoken, has ever mentioned grass carp.  Where were they from? Another mystery.  But surprises like this are a lot to do with why I enjoy my fishing so much.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Too Many Fish?

I don't like my angling to be too easy.  The idea of fish after fish is always unappealing as I make my way to the water, and actually becomes boring during their capture. I learned this very early on, when I caught over 30 bream one night for my first ton up bag. Every fish was identical in size, its bite was predictably like the last, and the fight was similar.  And I knew what result the next cast would bring.  Oh, sure enough it was exciting as the fish were first seen to roll at dusk, a hundred yards away, and still more thrilling as they gradually approached the baited area, but once on the feed, as fish repeatedly came to the net, the experience soon palled.  I didn't go back for a second night. I like a challenge... but there are exceptions. Gudgeon fishing should always be easy. It is traditional for them to come freely to the hook, and it would just seem wrong to have to struggle to catch gudgeon. I still enjoy the odd trip to catch the gudgeon under the bridge that crosses the local river.
The other exception to my rule is the crucian carp. They are such pretty, cuddly things for one. But they are also always a challenge on a fish by fish basis.   Every one can present a problem.  And so, although I ended up with over 30 of them yesterday, in a 7 hour session, every fish in the net was a delight to catch. And they did give me  a few problems to solve. 
I have always viewed bread as my ultimate crucian bait,  most of my crucians, big or small, have been taken on Warburton's Bread, or before Warburton's, on Mother's Pride sliced bread.  Mother's Pride disappeared from shelves locally some years ago, and I have occasionally wondered whether their factory became Warburton's. The texture of both loaves is so very similar.  Bread has been a favourite of mine for a number of species, and many years ago I  fished with it to catch some very large rudd and roach.   I always liked a big hook for bread flake, and those roach and rudd were mainly taken on a size 2 Sundridge Specimen hook. Quite intentionally on a size 2.   But yesterday I arrived at the lake with my rod still set up from a previous fishing session, in which I was using maggots, and the tackle was armed with a size 14 round bend hook.  The swim was about 12 feet deep, and with very clear water, and so, knowing crucians to be my quarry, I again set up the float gear, lift method, with just a single AAA shot to take the bait down and cock the float.  It would take a while, each cast, for the bait to sink to the bottom, and for the float to cock,  sometimes needing a wee bit of tension from the rod to set the float vertical, if the depth was a couple of inches or so less than it had been at the spot where the bait rested on the previous cast. But once the bait had reached bottom, I rarely had to wait very long before the first tentative bobs of the float.   The rain was, all this time, coming down sufficiently hard as to prevent any chance of much play on day five of the third Ashes test, and, as I had only taken an ordinary gentleman's umbrella, it did make both keeping dry and fishing a little awkward.  Nothing a seasoned drowned rat like myself could not manage though.
The bites were typical of those from British Standard crucians, and at start of play, the first over or two, I was missing three quarters of them.  But some fish were being hooked and landed.  Others were coming off as I played them, and I was losing about one in three hooked fish.   I noticed that many of those landed were hooked by the most delicate of hook holds, and suspected the losses were due to the hook pulling through that ever so slight fold of lip on the bend of the hook.   I put it down to the crucians, and their oft infuriating habit of playing with their food. A situation such as this is a prime opportunity to experiment though, and after a couple of hours it seemed logical that I had to try something different.  That was as far as logic went: logic would have maybe suggested that, for shy biting fish, I should reduce their food portion size and drop a couple of hook sizes.   I chose to do the opposite, bearing in mind my bread experiences from forty years ago.   I upped the hook to a size 10.
Up until that moment I had about 15 fish on the tally board, landed and released, none having been hooked other than in the lip, several very delicately so, and with maybe seven or eight other fish lost.  The hook change had an immediate effect.  I was then hitting three quarters of the bites, and three from the first four fish were hooked just inside the mouth: a far more secure hook hold.  I figured that the smaller hook must have been skating out of the crucians' mouths, securing those tenuous hook holds as the hook was leaving.   If my theory was correct, the larger hook was not skating out in the same way.  So, rather than it being a case of shy bites, it was more a case of poor hook choice.  I continued to catch at a much higher rate, with less missed bites, and only one other fish dropped off, until I chose to leave. The final tally was well over 30 crucians, the best couple being something over a pound and a half,  plus one crucian/goldfish hybrid and a solitary F1, carp/crucian hybrid.  I have only had a couple of F1s before, both being only a few ounces in weight.  This one was maybe four pounds and put up a good scrap.   The F1 seems to be quite severely compressed side to side, in a bream like fashion, but has a very prominent and well defined scale pattern.  This fish had four barbules, but they were very small, especially the upper pair, which were miniscule.  I was a little surprised, as I had read that F1s had just two barbules.  Maybe they didn't search hard enough to see the second pair?
A bread fishing lesson re-learned, and applied to a different species.  No photographs.  The small umbrella, rain, and a minimal tackle trip had rendered it impractical to take the camera.  However on my return home there was a male bullfinch, together with three of his youngsters from this year's brood, on and around the feeders, so the camera did see some action.   So here a picture of a male bullfinch, and a youngster of the same species.  Bullfinches are not popular with fruit tree farmers, but they provide quite a splash of colour if you are lucky enough to have them in your garden.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Identified Flying Machines.

Another day, another night and one more go at the tench, with a carp capture as a possible side dish.   That was the plan.

I walked from the car park towards the lake for an initial look, and heard the shrill "cree","cree" of a bird.  I guessed it was a buzzard and raised up my eyes and camera to the heavens. But I could see nothing.  But my senses were confusing me.   Humans, like many of the larger mammals, have always had no need to look for danger in the sky, there being no sufficiently large flying predators.  The human ear invented stereo millions of years before the record industry, and its primary use was then was purely to determine a direction.  And this raptor was straight ahead. The ears are a flat earth application, not designed for noises from the sky, and as long as the head remains level, the auditory system and brain directs the eyes to look for lions and other predators at ground level. However, throw the odd morsel of intelligence into the equation, and things can go wildly wrong.  I heard a bird, accepted the direction my ears gave me, and mentally added 45 degrees of vertical, so searched the skies for the buzzard.  My mind was over-riding what my senses were telling me. I failed to see the bird, because it was exactly where my ears were telling me it was, low down in a tree, 30 yards in front of me, not where I thought it to be, and by the time I had seen it and got the camera ready, the bird had flown.

On arrival at my chosen swim however the water had broken, full of algae, it was still green, and, if anything, it looked a little greener than it had a couple of weeks ago.   I had hoped that the gin clarity of the water would have returned.  The Cheshire Meres used to be famous for breaking, and turning both green and unfishable. But any clear water venue, especially the larger ones can at times, given suitable weather, be
An Inch Of Water With Algal Rods
blighted by this problem.  The water itself  remained clear, but was full of tiny thin 1/4" long rods of green plant material, which is, I guess, broken up silkweed, or some other sort of filamentacious algae.   I took a bait bucketful of water and you will see the tiny structures in my photograph.     But I reasoned that the water has been like this for at least a month, and, even if not fully used to it by now, the fish must have resumed feeding.   So I stayed and fished.

Again very few fish were topping, but I put some bait into a tight area nonetheless. It took a while but at about 9PM, the dough bobbin on the right hand rod twitched about six inches and fell back. A line bite, thought I.  But it did it again, and picking the rod up, there was solid resistance, and a tench a little over five pounds was landed a short time later.  It was an odd shade of pale green, not as pretty as the tench here usually are, and I can only assume that the skin of the fish has reacted to the persistent lower light conditions under the algae.   Whilst I was unhooking the fish, there was an odd sounding aero engine noise, and I looked up to see quite a large biplane crossing the far end of the lake.   I have no idea what model of make it was, but considerably bigger, I think, than a tiger moth.

Night dawned. Fishing was a little slow overnight but two carp took the bait,  One of about seven pounds, the other about nine.   Two mirror carp, and although I am none too keen on carp these days, these, like
Pretty Tough Carp
other carp I have caught from this lake were actually very good looking carp.  Solidly built, no flabby stomachs, and both fought as if they thought there was an Eastern European at the spot where the fool is supposed to be.   On five pound line they took a while to subdue, and made some long, very fast runs.  I have had about seven carp from the lake now, none over ten pounds, and with few exceptions I suspect they don't go much bigger, but all seem to be fine conditioned fish.  And over half of them have taken simple maggot baits.

Dawn broke, and the rain had mainly held off overnight.  I noticed the bucket full of algae had changed.  Overnight the green algal rods has coalesced into a single mass, some mechanism had attracted them all towards each other.  I think the process is called flocculation.  In the main body of the lake this would never happen, too much movement in the water
Flocculated Algae...Clumped Together.
column keeping things well mixed, but in my bait bucket things were different.   You can see a similar effect yourself, if you make a cup of orange squash with very hot water.   The squash particles assemble themselves into mini galaxies, in a manner that might finally resolve some of Stephen Hawking's unsolved mysteries of astrophysics.  Another similar effect can be seen if you liquidize a sea sponge.  Various TV wildlife programmes tell us than the animal will reassemble into a living sponge.  When I get home and head for the bath, I might take the wife's kitchen mixer and liquidize her loofah.

With full daylight any signs of fish and especially of feeding fish disappeared, and so I started to pack up my gear.  After stowing the camera I heard the noise of another aero engine, and was quite astonished when a yellow autogyro flew past.  It looked very similar to "Little Nell" the Wallis autogyro from the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice", but on reading some autogyro history, it may well have been more different than simply lacking the rockets and machine guns.   I was surprised at how many types of autogyros there have been.   But they all have an unpowered helicopter style rotor to provide lift, together with a powered propeller to give the forward motion.  Good to see one, and indeed, I was surprised and pleased that some remain flying today.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Splashing, Jumping, Dunkings and One Large Thud.

Yesterday I really felt the need to fish for some crucian carp.  Inexplicable but it was something I  just had to do, they were one of my quarry fish as a teenager.   No true crucians have fallen to my rod so far this year, yet they remain one of my favourite little fish, and I needed a change from tench.  So I searched the club's waters list, and chose a small sand or maybe gravel pit that I had never seen before.  I was a little concerned that the water was described as holding crucians, carp, tench and uncoloured goldfish. The prospect of more ugly crucian hybrids was a threat to be considered.   Described by the booklet as being something of a hole in the ground, the water was actually rather nicer than that, once the Satnav dropped me into the car park.  It was tree lined, mainly with oaks and alders, and  obviously was quite deep, and I chose my swim based purely on its lack of proximity to the four carp anglers' bivvies that were already set up.  They had probably been there all night, and not knowing the water I chose to arrive with good light, and reached my chosen spot at about 5am. The steeps steps down to the swim confirmed the need for good light.
There were quite a number of small to middling carp already cruising and pushing themselves half out of the water, as carp are often wont to do.   I rigged up a float rod, on a paternoster type set-up, so as to make casting a little easier.  The swim was about 14 feet deep, and I did not fancy using a sliding float. Crucians are notorious for playing with a bait, the float displaying niggling little dips, wobbles and bobs, but rarely giving a solid bite indication.   Unless of course it is rigged for lift method.  I have found that crucians are not particularly shy, but they do like to mess about.  With a sizeable shot (I used an AAA) about an inch and a half from the float, and depth set such that the shot is just resting on the bottom, most bites from crucians will sooner or later give a lift or even a flat float bite.   And such bites are within striking reach, at least 50% of the time. They can be hit. A pinch of flake provided the final touch, a bait I have found to be excellent for crucians of all sizes.  The cast was made, about three rod lengths out, and I was immediately plagued with some young mallards, all of whom seemed to want to eat my float, some getting it part way down their throats before shaking it out again.   They tried again and again for over 30 minutes, and simply would not leave the float alone.   Never seen such thick and blatantly stupid mallards.   Eventually though they went, and I was able to fish without having ducks make my bait dance about on the lake bottom.  
The carp continued to cruise and splash, and the crucians ignored me.  Until, that is, I threw in a small handful of micro pellets around my float.   Within minutes my float started to dither, and crucians started to jump, all of them very near to my float.  It was most odd, the way they were apparently coming up from fourteen feet, pretty near vertically, to splash on the surface.   Quite a few of them actually cleared the water.  This was the only spot on the lake where there was any significant crucian movement, and the activity was very obviously associated with feeding on the pellets. The effect on their swim bladders, moving through fourteen feet of water must have been significant, and I am surprised they did not feel enough discomfort to
deter their playfulness.  It was not long before the float lay flat and I was into a crucian of maybe five or six ounces, the rod vibrating as it tried to get away.  It was, I am sure, a true crucian, and in typical fashion, it curled its tail around my hand, as I unhooked it.    Crucians will often actually tremble in your hand, a quite bizarre sensation. They are the nearest thing that you can get to a teddy bear with fins.
Shortly after my first fish, a pigeon, determined to show that the mallards do not have a monopoly on stupidity, sort of dunked itself into the lake in front of me.   I have no idea what it was doing: splash, dunk, waited a couple of seconds and then it flew off.   Later in the day a dragonfly did exactly the same: a sort of slam dunk, or crash landing into the lake, and immediately took off again.  Was it drinking?  It seemed a totally intentional act, and it entered the water at some speed, as if trying to make a big splash. So I think it was more to do with cleaning, washing and dislodging dust rather than drinking.  Dragonflies are such masters of the air and, had it been drinking, I am sure the process would have been very delicately and precisely achieved.    A few days ago, during the really hot weather a third creature also dunked itself.   This one made a quite deliberate approach, rather like a swallow and it was obviously drinking.   This was a bat.  In daylight.   The second time I have seen a bat drink in daylight, the other time being in very hot weather too,  way back in the hot summer of '76....75?....74? I suspect that only during really hot weather, and then rarely, does a bat need to drink during daylight.
Meanwhile the crucians continued to jump and splash, and rarely was my float completely still.  Within a couple of hours or three, about forty crucians flattened the float, and more than twenty were hooked and landed. None very big, all being 4 to 10 ounces. And all were, in my opinion, true crucians.  They just looked right. 

So, that has dealt with the splashings, the jumping and the dunkings.   But what of the thud?
Nina's Photo of Sparrowhawk and Dove
I didn't hear the thud.   It happened whilst I was fishing but back at home.  My wife Nina was sitting in the lounge when she was disturbed by a loud bang on the double glazed lounge window.   As she looked around, a collared dove was slowly sliding down the window, whilst being mantled by a sparrowhawk.

A cloud of dislodged small feathers fluttered down around them. The hawk then, with its prey, moved onto the patio, where, much to the chagrin of Nina, a very tidy person, it removed the rest of the feathers, scattering them around, whilst the dove
A Well Plucked Collared Dove
still struggled in its claws.   Nina is a bit of a NIMBY when it come to nature being inevitably red in tooth and claw, and thinks it is all fine as long as it takes place out of her sight. And definitely NOT on her patio. But she did grab my camera and took a few photos.    I really must give her some basic instruction in the use of an SLR though.  Just four shots, taken through rain splashed double glazing with the flash enabled, were not going to produce the superb photographs that she could so easily have taken. 
In Hiding: Awaiting Lunch to be Served
A collared dove is quite a big meal for a sparrowhawk, and after eating just a little of it in our apple tree, it flew off, carrying the rest of the carcase in its long yellow claws.   It must have a nest of young somewhere near, for, only a couple of hours later, it reappeared and took a young goldfinch from near the bird feeders, once again hitting the window with its prey. So our local hawk is back, after an absence of probably three months or more. It is still around today, and I managed a distant shot at the limits of my 300mm lens, as it hid in the sycamore tree at the bottom of the garden.