Hello again to you all, I hope this year continues to be kind to you and that you have had many pleasant trips down to the Society's waters enjoying the sport which is on offer. As promised in the last club magazine this will actually find your door mats before the Annual General Meeting scheduled for the 18th April 2001, details of which can be found later in this magazine. I am pleased to announce that I have the rare opportunity of almost being in a position of having too much information for this February issue of the magazine, such has been the response to my previous request for information, articles, pictures etc. I would like to express a very big thank you to Mr B Bean (sorry don't know your first name!!) who has supplied me with some wonderful articles which I am sure you will find both informative and enjoyable. Thanks again to Ian and Andrew Kempster for their ongoing support to the magazine. Please don't dry up with your articles, I need more more MORE!!! All I need now is to get Steve Jenner to put pen to paper again, as we have surely missed his wit and zany fishing experiences in the last couple of issues of the magazine, so Steve, got any articles for me? It should be noted however, that it should not be down to the hard working few to supply me articles, so once again, a request to all you members old and new alike (that includes members of the Committee!!!!!!!) - please, please, please, find ten or so minutes to scribble something down and send it to me for the magazine - no subject is taboo - if you have a view on your favourite pastime tell the club about it, you never know you may find some others who share your wacky views! If you have any photos of fish you have caught from the Society's waters, send them in as I can scan them and print them in the next issue of the magazine. I promise to send back any letters, articles or photos to you as soon as I have finished with them. I thought it would be a good idea to give our magazine a title which would be much more fitting to the sport we enjoy. To this end I am asking you for suggestions for a "catchy" (no pun intended) name for future issues of our mag. Anything goes (within reason) but it must have some bearing on either our club, our waters, or our sport etc. Some suggestions to consider for a potential name are as follows 'Catch' 'Angle' 'Society News' "Tight lines' 'Throb' 'Whopper' 'Solitude' etc etc, I think you get the picture so let me have your thoughts.
In the last issue of the magazine I wrote an article on my quest for the 'Biggun', as I was after catching a Bream of over 11lbs and a Tench over 8lbs. My season started well and I managed to get a few reasonable sized Tench to 6-9 and some monster Bream to 9-16 (my best for the lake) but I did not reach my ultimate goal as my quest was cut short as I had my tackle stolen (again). It is still too bitter an experience to write about, as it not only affected me this time, but also close friends as well on the eve of an annual fishing trip (well that's the original excuse) to Ireland for a weeks fishing. When I can eventually get round to seeing the funny side of it, I will tell all Suffice to say my quest for the Biggun had a slight pause. Now that I have replaced the majority of what was lost, I am going to try again to reach my goal I will let you know how I get on in later issues of the mag. I now have another toy to mess around with - a very nifty compact digital camera which I have had a great deal of success with. All of the images in this mag and on the cover were taken using it. Hope you enjoy the quality. If you see some nosy git poking around the lake taking surprise pictures of you fishing you will know why. I am very pleased to announce that the Harrow Angling Society will soon have its very own Website, which can be found on address www.harrowangling.co.uk. Vince Sutton has spent a lot of time and effort in getting together a basic and presentable Website. Further details of the website can be found in this mag. It is worth noting that Vince intends to put all the past and future issues of the magazine on the web, so anyone with something to say, will soon be able to be read by anyone!! We have lots of good ideas to make the site more enjoyable and these will come on stream in the future. If you have any ideas for improving the website we would be very glad to hear them. I sincerely hope that you continue to have a cracking season with the Harrow Angling Society and spread the word to your friends and family on the excellent fishing which is on offer in our fisheries.
All the best, and tight lines.
This water was well fished throughout the season, with many regulars enjoying successful bags of fish. Many of the carp introduced over the last couple of seasons are reaching the double figure mark. At the time of going to press the lake is currently fishing well for Pike for those keen (mad) anglers who persist in the cold weather. Rumours of a 231b pike have been reported, but so far this has not been substantiated. The Committee has also been informed of a disturbing rumour that the Carp which have been caught out of Pit No 1 have been illegally transferred into the Canal. HAS would like to point out and enforce that this is against the club rules and NRA policy. Anyone found transferring fish without permission from any of the society's waters will be expelled from the HAS indefinitely. A recent visit was made to the waters with representatives of HAS and our Landlords to discuss the current condition of the trees which mark the boundary of our lake and Harefield Moor / Marina. It is believed that many of the trees are in a very poor state and could topple over at any point and as such constitute a safety issue. The Fishery Management team have received quotes for the work and the bill runs into the thousands!! HAS is looking towards Hillingdon in either paying all or part of the bill. As soon as this issue has been resolved work will begin. Many of you who fish the water regularly, will have noticed the very poor condition of the car park area. Plans have been put in place to address this and improve the parking area. It is proposed to place lorry loads of crushed Tarmac which will then be laid and spread out over the entire area. There is little point in doing it now as it will just disappear into the mud!! As soon as the conditions are right the fishery management team will put their plans into action.
Following on from the last magazine, the fishing was so bad that we decided to do Working Parties during the weekends until the fishing picked up . First job, Railway Bank: Hot day, rods in, saws out. From the dip tank right up to the log swim we stripped the path, cleared dead trees, reopened swims, built a jetty just for Warren. Now you can walk up the bank without getting stung or caught on brambles. Top end of railway, in April, the telegraph wires should be taken away. This will make that area safe for fishing. Dews Farm Bank: Paths cleared and widened. Peat Bank: Trees cut to reopen swims. Two swims remade, path cleared wide from car park end right down to last swim. Road Bank and Pylon: Swims cleared, fallen trees in water pulled out by hand and GT's car. After the recent floods a lot of damage to swim fronts. Work for next year, swim fronts. Two new jetties front of pylon and mid peat bank swim. Dews Lane Track and Car Park: Due to tractors going down lane, the track has been churned up so bad it is very difficult to get down there unless you have a 'Squire's Mobile'. Hopefully, next year this will be sorted out. Since I have been in this Club, Lake No. 2 has been the best I have seen it. This would not have been possible, but for the help of the lads who bring their rods in to help. Many thanks to the Bonfire Brothers - Dave (I catch more than anyone) Hambo, Old Dave and the Squire from Dibley.
On the fishing front, the Bream went berserk, probably 40 - 50 Bream out this year. Majority on boilies many in the 9 - 12 lb bracket, thanks to GTs and Hambo's fishmeal. One Bream of 11-2 on conventional methods. Bream coming all over the lake for near in to right out 100 yards plus. Not many Tench, best 5 - 6 lb bracket. Carp not as good as last year. Could be due to weed out in the middle. Probably 70 - 80 fish out, majority around 18 - 22 lbs mark. One of the originals left came out at 30-2. Great celebration that night, Hambo caught the most again, and how he keeps telling us. Not many fishing it, just the usual faces. Congrats to Ralph Mouth who caught his first Carp from No2 at 29-12. Our regular bailiff Turnip still waiting for his first Carp. Next year if you are using markers floats during the day when the boats are out, they have every right to go near them, so common sense will have to prevail. Night fishing ticket is a total success. No problems whatsoever. Again, if anyone casts up trees accidentally, please get hold of me and I will sort it out. Not many fishing for Pike. Best to date I know one of 15 - 16 lbs which had a set of trebles in it. Luckily we managed to get them out and they were barbless. So that's it. Lake reports up to date. Any problems or suggestions, please give me a bell. Christmas Social went down well - Warren will tell you all about it! Just after I wrote this on December 31st, I had a 25-14 common when there was snow on the bank and three quarters of the lake was frozen. Pristine condition these fish in winter.
All the Best - Les & Turnip
The end of October saw the worst weather since the great storm of October 1987. The volume of water flowing into the lake proved too much for the partially blocked outflow and the waters backed up as far as Rowley Farm causing considerable flooding. With nowhere to go the water found the lowest point of the dam and over it went a veritable 'mini Niagara. From the video footage that John Whitby took, had he and his brother Steve not happened upon the scene, the lake would surely have burst through at this point, with unthinkable consequences. At subsequent meetings, with the Whitby's and our landlords, we have agreed to remove the grill from the outflow and install it across the stream below the falls. In addition, we have constructed a small dam below the grill. The theory being that should fish go over the out flow, and they most certainly do. Any further progress downstream will be halted by the grill. However, should they be washed beyond this, the slack water pool created by the dam will provide a temporary holding area until they can be re-caught and return to the lake. I would ask that you do not tamper with the dam and only remove the grill to clear it of leaves and other debris as required. Any fish that you find in the stream should be caught and returned to the lake if possible, alternatively, give Paul Collyer or myself a call. With winter upon us, and the associated die-back of vegetation, any litter hidden away in the summer becomes abundantly clear. Please pick up any you see, even if it is not yours. As we all should know, LITTER LOSES FISHING, and we do not want our beautiful lake to become such a casualty. At the time of writing, Carp, Tench, and Bream continue to be caught. Maybe a spell of really cold weather will knock this on the head. Small Roach and foraging Pike also in evidence in and around the snags. A worrying newcomer appeared this summer Canadian Pondweed. Thankfully, the heavily coloured water, due to the regular rainfall, has kept it at bay. Hopefully it won't rain so much next summer and also, hopefully, the weed will bugger off. Not wishing to be accused of droning on, I too, will bugger off.
All the best for 2001
The HAS web site has arrived! It has been something I have been considering over the past year or so, the trouble was that I did not know how to do it, if you are an experienced web site designer you may still say that I don't! The website address is www.harrowangling.co.uk, and the Committee are very excited about it. I have put loads of stuff on the site for your use and enjoyment. There is an online membership form if you lose yours, just print it out and send it off to Terry. Also an up to date copy of the rules. The site is for existing and potential members, so if you know anybody who is an angler and interested in the net, give them our web address to check out. There are details of our waters along with photographs. There will be a list of HAS records from the fisheries, and updated fish reports as you send them in. You can continue to send in your reports by post to Lee Winter as you do now, but now there is the e-fishing report for you to use. Please send in regular reports and I will endeavour to update the site so that you can see how the lakes are fishing. There are details of night and visitor ticket procedures and forms for you to print off where necessary. There is a diary of events to remind you when the working parties, members meetings and other important events will be held.
There is a page for current and past magazine articles, so you can obtain issues online. So far I have made available articles from 13 magazines going back to issue 64 first published in autumn 1991. I will be looking to go back to the inception of the Society and publish all the magazines that I can lay my hands on. This is a slow process as I will have to type them up, so please check regularly and explore the history of the Society. Having begun this it is an amazing experience, the articles reveal the stocking of our fisheries, trophy winners and important events along with poems, letters, and amusing and serious articles from you the membership. The site as you will see it now is hopefully just the beginning, over the last month or so I have learnt much about websites and their design, and there is so much more to learn to make the site better. I have tried to make the site quick to download and have used only a few pictures and fancy graphical images. The core of the site is there, but I will endeavour to improve it in the future. I hope you like it and feel it is of use to you. If you are not on line now then hopefully the emergence of the HAS website will spur you into action and get you online. I welcome your feedback on the site, your general comments, what you like and what you don't, along with what you would like added etc. Comments by post or e-mail would be most appreciated, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org There is a facility on this year's membership form for you to tell us about your e-mail address, so either mail it to me or complete the section of the form, and we can keep you informed of development by e-mail as well as by the magazine and website.
On the 9th December I attended a xmas party on Harefield pit 2 with the nutters (Les, Ian, David, Andrew and Jamie) who regularly fish for the elusive Carp. Not knowing quite what to expect I arrived early afternoon down the lake to pitch up my bivvie and set up my fishing gear. I took my two young boys along who are more often than not a great help but sometimes they can be a pair of little imps. Laurence decided to be a little imp! Within 10 mins of arriving at the lake he had strayed too close the edge and fell in the water, right under he went! What a blooming start. After taking him home I arrived back at the lake to continue my preparations for a nights fishing and a social. As is the norm for this time of year, darkness descended swiftly and once I had all my gear set up I went along to see Les and Jamie who were looking after what can only be described as errr 'base camp'. Somehow the lads had fashioned up a marvellous temporary shelter with a few old fence panels and a bit of plastic awning. With table neatly laid out and crystal chandeliers (well lamps hanging from a branch), starters were already on the table waiting for the other dinner guests to arrive (I recall at this point Andrew was fast a kip in his bivvie, something about being up all night partying). Well I cracked open a tinnie and could only admire the amount of effort the lads had put in to create something rather special. Ian and David were back at home busily preparing the roast turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, roasted onions and all sorts of lovely bits, they even managed to cook a veggie roll for me. Les gets a call saying what time the 'roast bits" will be ready and cooks the prepared vegetables accompaniments. Well Ian and David did eventually turn up and then after a series of mad exchanges of plates, trays, glasses, tins, forks, knives... Well you get the picture. Eventually everyone has a bit of scoff and the crackers come out to commence the evenings entertainment. Les decided to take pity on me just because I was the "veggie" and loaded my plate up with a mountain of mash potato and surrounded this mountain with a ton of vegetables!! If you look closely in the foreground of the picture, you can see this 'meal' before I attempt it. Well there was one more surprise awaiting us as we sat down for our little feast, Dave unveiled some rather dapper looking gear! I was bleeding gobsmacked, what a utter nutter, I just had to get another photo for the magazine. So now you know just what kind of nutters fish Pit 2 - absolutely certified! After the meal was over, Les showed us just how adept he was in the kitchen by "dumping" 2 cheesecakes on the table - no fuss no bother, just dive in with yer sticky mits and grab a bit.
With drinks refreshed it was time for the after dinner entertainment (no this was not watching Dave turn green smoking some "smokes") but something just as much fun. Can't remember exactly where Dave got this game, but it basically consists of a board depicting an aerial view of a lake, complete with snags, weed, islands etc etc. All over the board are small squares which represent a Carp of some sort. You don't know what each card is until you turn the squares over, and that is only once you have landed the intended quarry. Well the idea of the game is to roll the dice, pick a spot to fish from, roll the dice to cast, hook a fish and roll a dice to see how far the fish runs. To make the game interesting a pack of cards determine the fate of your hooked fish. Excellent game (especially when one is drunk!) Despite some very underhand tactics by Jamie and even worse from Andrew - never quite sure why he got the cards to read in favour of himself each time. Can't remember how the winner was to be decided but I think it was on fish weight. Well the game was almost over before it began. Dave managed to hook the biggest carp in the game (funny that) and had a further couple of good fish which meant the rest of us were always chasing the game. Jamie had a good number of foul hooked fish (nothing new there then) Ian managed to catch the most in numbers, Andrew was high as a kite so ready did not have a bloody clue, Les was catching the roach and the less said about my contribution the better - think I will stick to the Tench fishing in pit 2, it feels a lot easier! Well must say thanks again for a wonderful evening - cheers lads, just hope I get an invite to next years Xmas bash just a shame there were no fish caught!
I would like to express thanks on behalf of the Committee to John Barnes and his family for their continued support to the Harrow Angling Society in allowing the regular Committee meetings to be held in their wonderful home. The Coffee and biscuits are always readily at hand!!
The Committee has decided that this year, each application made for a 2001/02 HAS membership shall require proof of attendance at the scheduled working parties or a donation in lieu of working party will be required. Membership forms have therefore been revised to accept a "stamp" from the Fishery Manager, that must be obtained on completion of the working party. On arrival at the start of the working party, please ensure you submit your membership application form to the Fishery Manager present. Once the form has been stamped at the end of the working party, the form can then sent to the Membership Secretary along with the relevant fee / payment in the normal fashion. Members are required to attend two working parties unless proof of their disability to attend a working party be provided. Members, who opt out of attending a working party, will have to pay the Donation in Lieu of Working party fee. This year the fee has been set this year at £9 per working party omitted. If both working parties are not attended then the total Donation in Lieu of Working Party fee shall be £ 18. Please DON'T forget to take your completed membership application form along to the working party for stamping!!
Working parties have been arranged for all members to attend on the dates / venues listed below. Any Member not wishing to attend a working party will have to pay the "Donation in Lieu of Working Party" unless proof their disability to attend a working party can be provided.
The price for a Day ticket for fishing Harefield pits 1 or 2 is only going to increase in the 2001/02 season to £4. Tickets can be obtained from the Membership secretary by post or from "The Fisherman's Cabin" Eastcote, but remember to take your HAS permit along for identification. Day/Night tickets are also now available at a cost of £10.
The Night Season Ticket will again be on offer in the 2001/02 season after a successful trial year. 26 members took advantage this season of this additional scheme bringing in an additional £780 revenue for the club. Application for the Night Season Ticket can be made on the membership renewal form, a reminder of the rules for its use is as follows: The scheme is essentially a night ticket issued for the complete season (for a maximum of 72 hours for each visit) thus removing the need to apply for individual night tickets for each session as is the current practice. Members who hold a Night Season Ticket and wish to fish longer than the 72 hours will still have to apply to the Membership Secretary for a regular night ticket. The existing night ticket application process will continue to run in parallel to this scheme, so any member without the Night Season Ticket can still apply for a regular night ticket in the normal fashion. Each Night Season Ticket issued, will cost an additional £30 and is only open to HAS 'Full' members, but sadly not to "Junior" members. This scheme is for use on Harefield No2 only, so is not valid for Harefield No 1 or Rowley. There will be no limit to the number of members who wish to apply and who will subsequently receive the ticket. Any abuse of the Night Season Ticket (i.e. "Swim hogging" or "fishing rotas" ) will see the scheme being withdrawn. Common sense shall apply to the use of this ticket and the bailiffs will be aware of anyone misusing the privilege of the Night Season Ticket. C
The committee has been considering the fishing of Harefield pit No 1 during the close season. The Landlords have indicated that they would require another third more in rent so this would naturally mean an increase in club membership fees. The Committee would like to know your views to try an identify how many people would actually fish Pit Nol during the close season. This topic will on the agenda for the Annual General Meeting scheduled for the 18th April 2001.
A Questionnaire has been sent out with this issue of the magazine, covering close season fishing and other questions which will help the committee provide better sport and facilities for you. Could you please take the time to fill in the questionnaire and return it to us along with your membership renewal form.
A large Rowing boat has been kindly donated by the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Center and this will become very handy for use during working parties and ongoing fishery management. To comply with safety rules, a nominated list of authorised users will be supplied to the HOAC management.
If you want any further information on the club, look up the club Website on www.harrowangling.co.uk which has all the information you could ever need about the Harrow Angling Society. Alternatively pass any questions you may have to me via my details on page 1 of the mag or via e-mail using email@example.com
HAS Cups - Not many fish reports have been sent in and therefore there is not at present many candidates for the awards of the HAS trophies and cups. Last year some trophy's were not awarded as there was a lack of entries from the Membership. If you are holding onto any of your fish reports which are eligible for the cups, can you please ensure you get them off to the Curator Lee Winter within 2 weeks following the close of the 2000/01 fishing season. The cups and trophies up for grabs are as follows:
Special Tackle Auction - Following the special tackle auction, which took place at the September 2000 Members meeting in memory of the late Roy Wilde. I am pleased to inform you that the tackle auction raised a total sum of £504 which was donated to the Meadow House Hospice. The committee would like to thank all those who took part, which turned out to be a highly successful event. Mrs Edna Wildey wrote to Terry Skelton thanking the club for the proceeds of the auction and to let us know that it went to a good cause. Mrs Wildey, also sent a copy of the letter she received from the hospice which read as follows:
Thank you so much for your generous donation totalling £504 made to the Meadow house in memory of your late husband, Roy Wildey, which you raised from an auction of his fishing tackle collection at the Harrow Fishing Club AGM, how kind of you to think of us. We do so appreciate your support and your kind words about us and the energy you put into raising this money in such an ingenious way. Your donation will go towards our particular project at the moment, the Day Hospice, which relies totally on voluntary contributions. It is open from Tuesday to Thursday and allows patients from the community and the inpatients to meet up, have lunch together and take part in activities such as art therapy, day trips and music sessions. We are hoping to open for four days a week in the future.
Thank you again for your support.
Maria Brennan MBE (Patient Services Manager)
Not being the type to do too many mid week nights, catching on a Tuesday night made this fish a little special plus a couple of other reasons. As usual the mad rush to get down the lake after work starts at ten to five when I'm closing down the PC and watching the door ready to get out. Nearly five and that's good enough for me I'm off like a shot screaming down the country lanes I have to drive to get home. In the door change, grab some food, bait and my gear and head to the lake. As usual those others that are doing the night are either walking around looking for the fish or grouped up having a chat. I pull into the workings car park and bump into young Dave and old Les. First question as always is 'What have you seen', 'fish everywhere up here' came the reply. With Les not doing the night I turned to Dave 'Where'd you fancy' 'either in here on the workings or the one next door' 'Yeah I was thinking the same before I even got down here' I said. 'Well I ain't made up my mind yet plus all the canoes are out so I'll leave it a while' said Dave.
I start setting up the rods with new rigs and leads, and chatting with the others. Dave wander's off and comes back saying the one down from the fox looks a good bet as well so he's now very undecided where to go. With time getting on I announce it's time I want to get a bait out and ask where Dave fancies. Now with him being the top nod (or rod) that he is he used all his water craft and angling knowledge to make a decision where to fish it went a little like this. 'Ip, dip dog sh*t you are not it o.u.t. spells out and out you must go' or was it 'eany meany miny mo' brilliant if choosing a swim was this easy I'd be doing all the time. Anyway with this fool proof method Dave ended up in the one down from the fox and with his blessings I went in the workings. When we make bait not all the bait comes out perfect and you always get a couple at each end that go really wrong, these I usually hand roll into some right big donkey chokers (usually to break up in p.v.a. bags or when fishing over/with chopped baits). In for a penny in for a pound as I pull one out the bag and put it on the hair (got to try something different). By now the canoes have gone in and the base is closing down (half eightish). A short underarm chuck with the big baited rod to the right of the swim followed by 25-30 freebies and at last I'm fishing (it's only taken me 3 hours to get a bait in the water). The left hand rod again was a short chuck to the left into a clear spot and again followed by 25-30 freebies. Nice night so no need for a bivvie. Just the bed next to the rods. Time to relax get the book out and open a can of golden neck charmer.
Around nine fifteen the left hand rod screams into life, I'm on the rod in a flash and strike. This was a lump and the rod was taking on a lovely bend. Ian on the canal bank saw what was going on and reels in to come round and offer any help that was needed Dave as usual was asleep and took a while to arrive moaning as he did. Ian had already mentioned something about me stepping in something this week (after my 21lb capture two days ago) and I think the fish knew it. Some really nasty snags lay just to the right of where my baits were placed but this fish being very understanding decided to swim straight into open water. A short lively scrap took place but soon she was in the net and mine. On the mat this fish looked huge and as soon as Ian saw it he informed me that it was a fish known as 'Big Tail' and it was one of the few remaining originals. On the scales she went 241b plus but what made it a little special was that this being an original fish it was probably forty years old, and that means it's through and through British. With it being early in the evening I must admit I did think about packing up and going home for a good nights sleep but thought better of it as there may be more fish in the area. Woke up after no more action but I couldn't complain I had a right result. Thinking about the previous evenings capture along with my 20 from Rowley a few days back I worked out my last four Harrow fish have all been over twenty pounds. So things may be going slow and I'm not catching in quantity but at least there quality, lets look after these fish.
I have caught some nice sized Rudd from our Harefield No1 fishery, and never cease to marvel at their beautiful colouring. Surely one of nature's masterpieces. The Rudd takes its name from the Anglo Saxon word meaning 'redness'. A Rudd of 2 lbs is a fine specimen and a most handsome fish. A 3 lbs Rudd is a glass case specimen! Looking at my own more modest catches, I was given to wondering what very large Rudd must look like. Being interested in Angling dignitaries and glories past, the thought of large Rudd reminded me of a fish caught many years ago. The year was 1933 and the place Ring Mere, Wretham near Thetford in the county of Norfolk, always noted for its fine Rudd fishing. The fish in question, a record breaking Rudd weighing a stunning 4 lbs - 8 ozs caught by the late Reverend E C Alston. There is no doubt that Edward Alston, who died in 1977 aged 82 years was a fine angler. What must this great fish have looked like? I understand it was cased by 'Coopers of London', which seemed to be the custom of the day with outstanding fish, at least among the more affluent anglers. The Reverend gentleman also caught 30 Rudd from 2 lbs up to 4 lbs, culminating in his record breaking fish. All these fine fish were taken from Ring Mere in its halcyon days, in the same session. Obviously, over the intervening years up to today, many large Rudd have been landed and admired, but I doubt very much if any will ever be as famous or enduring as EC's great fish. Of the Rudd, an anonymous old time writer once wrote an apt couplet thus: "A kind of Roach all tinged with gold, strong, bold and thick, most lovely to behold."
Well, these Rudd were a hard act to follow, but this was not the end of the story at Ring Mere. EC also took a magnificent Tench of exactly 7 lbs - 0 ozs among others, which in 1933 was an outstanding fish (it still is today as far as I am concerned), and a new shared record with a fish caught in 1882 at Weston Super Mare. As the Mere's fame soon spread, anglers came from far and wide to fish it. Although some fine fish were taken, inevitably the fishing deteriorated. Sadly, the Mere dried up during a sever drought, although some fish were rescued and transferred elsewhere. So, that was it at Ring Mere for a while, and as far as I am concerned, never to be repeated. Edward Alston was also a very fine pike fisherman, and his list of fish, especially from Ireland is very impressive. To me however, the mention of EC Alston will always be associated with that wonderful Rudd. I think it fitting that both are now part of angling history. In passing, I think it would be great if our own Harefield No. 1 could produce some large specimens of this marvellous specie, who knows what the future may hold. I think it is worth noting that where ideal conditions exist for these fish, they do tend to overpopulate, thereby the growth rate will inevitably be impeded. Well, that's it then, more past than present. Why not have a go at these fine fish. Remember somebody once remarked that, 'Fishing is worth no more that its pleasure'.
I had been at the lake for about 24 hours now and was full of confidence. The conditions were getting better and better and fish were showing as fish should jumping clear of the water in vast sprays and re-entering with loud crashes. Tuesday it had blown South Westerly quite well, Wednesday from the same but stronger (and I lost a fish) and Thursday even stronger South / South Easterly. It was now Friday 18th August 2000 and I had managed to keep my record up of taking a few days off work when I thought it may be possible to bank a few and catching! I had managed to find a spot on Wednesday evening at a range of about 70yards, all the water between my plot and this mark being chock-a-b1ock with weed, reaching the surface in places. It was from this mark that I had a fast take on Friday morning at 7.30am. As I have said the weed was quite bad so it took me nearly 90 minutes of tension fraught playing before the fish eventually rolled over the cord of the net. Weighed and photographed the fish was duly returned to it's watery home.
I had just re-baited the rod well back from the waters edge and was chatting to Les when we saw something black dart under the rocks at the waters edge. We looked closer and saw it was a big black mink. Having the camera to hand from the recently photographed fish I lifted the camera to eye level the mink shot off into the water. I thought the chance had gone, but 10 seconds later the mink was back hiding under the rock, this time with a six inch Tench in it's jaws. I crept down towards it's hiding position as the mink started to chew on the Tench's head. I got myself into a position where I thought I might get a good photo and managed to reef off a couple of shots before the mink scurried off into the water, leaving the now dead Tench behind under the rock. I went down and got the limp body of the Tench and took a couple of pictures of the damage done to it by the minks jaws, not a pretty sight. I then placed the Tench back under the rock to see if the mink would come back for it's dinner. After a quick chat and cup of coffee with Les I decided it was high time to get my rod cast out so went down to the waters edge and gave it the old heave ho. I was just setting the buzzer when out of the comer of my eye I saw the now familiar black shape dart across the top of the bank behind me. I grabbed the camera again, having left it by the edge of the swim in case of it's return, and tried to see it through the viewfinder. At this stage the cheeky bugger ran out of my bivvy and around the back and into the water, me chasing it around like a nut case! I looked in the direction it had taken and there was no sign of it. I then looked towards the rock and it's head poked through the gap where it entered last time. This time it had another chew on the Tench, again I tried to get a decent photo, before taking it's victim off to be consumed elsewhere. So that was that, I thought, the mink really taking the michael running me about.
Everyone who turned up during the day heard the story of how I was trying to get a photo of this bloody mink how amazed I was at it's lack of fear etc. It was now about 4.30pm and I had another take on the long rod, again the fight was a very drawn out affair with the fish weeding me. I left the rod on the buzzer, I gave it really slack line, I laid into the rod, I did-everything but to no avail, eventually pulling for a break at 7.15pm after no indication of anything on the end for over an hour. It was as I was re-tackling the rod whilst chatting to Les and Andy that you know who re-appeared. This time he came through the same hole under the rocks and then just ran across the swim my rod-pod and off up the bank towards the barge dock I looked in amazement at it's bravery and it's brazenness as Andy took pictures of it's route away from us, before it eventually went out of sight in the undergrowth. Now it seems that this is not a first. Earlier in the season Les and Dave had seen a younger mink bounding along the Peat Bank towards them with a similar sized Tench in it's mouth. We have seen them on other occasions over the last couple of seasons around the pit and have heard that they seem to be around all the lakes in the valley. As nice as these creatures look they are vermin that will damage all fisheries that they inhabit. A dead fish that had been spotted floating in the water miraculously appeared on the bank a day later chewed and disfigured. Nothing unusual with that, apart from this fish was in the 18 - 20lb bracket! It has been known for mink to try attacking fish of this size in the water What with cormorants raping our waters of our fish stocks and the increasing number of mink in the area, it makes you think are we lucky to be able to angle at all?
With the traditional Pike season almost upon us, my mind was focused on the capture of large pike, past and present. Being interested in angling history and past glories, I was browsing through Fred Buller's 'Doomsday Book of Mammoth Pike' first published in 1979. This remarkable book which took 15 years of research, records pike of 35 1bs and upward caught in the UK or Ireland. It is without doubt a truly exceptional piece of angling literature. A great read and a must for all anglers interested in pike fishing. Totally absorbing and fascinating to say the least. Among the various accounts of great fish caught over the years, my attention was drawn to the exploits of a Mr Alfred Jardine, who died in l9l0 at the age of 82. In angling circles, Alfred Jardine is still to day recognised as one of the great pike anglers of yesteryear. The last of outstanding pike catches, credited to him over the years certainly bear testimony to this and can only be acclaimed. Sometime in the late 1800s, stories were circulating the angling grapevine (what's new), that our own local Ruislip reservoir contained some monster pike. This was in the days before it became a Lido, mainly for water skiers. To substantiate this revelation, a fine fish of 35lbs was captured by an angler resident in nearby Harrow. This anonymous angler and others at that time, were said to be aware of the presence in the reservoir of a much larger fish. Alfred Jardine was one of the others and decided to have a try for this rumoured monster. He later related to a friend how he hooked a very, very, large fish on one of his subsequent visits to the reservoir. This great fish tore off 150 yards of line before snapping it like cotton. 'I never even had a chance to turn him.' Said a disconsolate, Alfred to his friend.
Sadly, sometime later, due to a very severe drought, the reservoir was drained to help replenish the local canal, not much consideration being given to the waters fish stocks. Among the decaying mass of dead fish left, was a monster pike estimated-to weight at least 50 lbs. This was undoubtab1ey the fish 7ardine had hooked and lost. It was interesting to note that had Alfred Jardine successfully landed this huge fish, it would have made him the English Record Holder, even to this day. Although these events took place many years ago, in fact over 100, I must admit to being somewhat surprised that Ruislip could produce such a mammoth fish. Living fairly locally to the water for many years I have never actually fished it. It remains something of an unknown quantity to me. I cannot recollect every seeing it mentioned in the Angling Press, past or present. I have heard stories in recent years, to the effect that how water levels have been a problem, due to leakages. Be that as it may, I have no idea what the situation is a present. Perhaps one of our current members may be able to enlighten us. Looking generally at big pike, it was interesting to note that some very big fish of 35lbs plus, were recorded in Fred's book taken from relatively small waters. This led me to wonder about our own expansive Harefield No2. Could it, with the benefit of its great size, produce such fish. I have Heard over the years from reliable sources, that some exceptionally large fish have been hooked and lost. I suppose one must treat such stories with an element of caution when you look back at our records and see a great fish of 28-6, witnessed by Steve Jenner, who knows what the future may hold Well that's it then, it only remains for me to wish all our pike anglers a very successful season. p. s. In passing, this is the same legendary Alfred Jardine who designed and gave his name to the famous snap tackle we still use today.
Twas a cold winters afternoon .. No that's crap really isn't it, we haven't experienced anything like a winter cold spell yet have we? One cold snap between Christmas and New Year with all the pretty white stuff (good for fish photos, can't wait to see them nod) apart from that I can count the nights of frosts on the fingers of my hands. So I'll start again. I arrived at Rowley Lake at midday on the 3rd January 2001 looking forward to 4 days solid fishing. I had been granted this time off work only the previous day, given as reward for working two of my holiday days over the Christmas period, a quick call to Mr Gibson explaining the situation had a ticket in my hand a smile on my face and a plan in my mind. So it was that I arrived at the lake that day. The weather was mild and the sun was poking through every now and then from behind the clouds that were scurrying across the sky being blown by a slight westerly wind good catching weather me thinks! After the two trips down the path and across the quagmire where the cows cross to my chosen pitch I was well and truly knackered . Quick fag and slurp of drink and I was ready for the task of setting up tackle and house. Now to the plan. I had been thinking about all the advice offered on winter fishing, light baiting, scaled down tactics etc. This might apply to some waters but not to a hungry water like Rowley surely? So I went the opposite direction, loads of bait, all of which could be eaten by most fish living in the lake and big hookbaits, and I do mean BIG. The baits for feeding with were hemp, dissolving pellet, various boilies and a small amount of the trout pellet that had served so well in the summer, in total nearly 10kg of bait, this being mostly hemp. The swim I had chosen was the middle swim on the car park bank often referred to as the double. The reason for fishing this swim is the amount of water on offer in front of you. There are snags to fish to at varying distances and different depths of water, also different bottoms to choose from, gravel, silt etc. I had fished this swim the weekend before Christmas and seen a Carp do a dolphin impression at about 30 yards range, sticking half its body out of the water 7 or 8 times in the space of 30 seconds, so this was where the bait was going to be put. I put out a marker float and had a feel around and decided to pop it up where the lead didn't seem so bogged down, not so silty as and the area around it. I then went into assault mode and gave it loads with the spod rocket, putting in 4kg of the hemp in an area around the float about the size of half a tennis court, 1kg of the dissolving pellet, 1kg of chopped and whole boilies and 10 pouchfuls of the trout pellets.
Satisfied that I had scared every fish within the lake I then thought about where to fish. It was now 1.30pm and I knew nothing would be on the baited area for a while so, seeing no one else was on the water, I punched a highly flavoured pop-up out towards the tree on the island that has fallen into the water the other rod was chucked in the edge with a big bait on, this being a home made 30mm plus boilie. Over the course of the next three hours I received 5 bites from the island rod landing all successfully, these being 3 tench and 2 bream. I have nothing against catching these fish, when using the appropriate tackle, but it wasn't what I was after and didn't fancy a night of constantly getting up to reel in one or the other half way across the lake. I decided to bring this rod in and place it to the right of the swim, l0 yards out under the tree with a pop-up bait on. The other rod was reeled in and given a fresh bait and put out to the marked area. After a bite to eat and a few coffees I decided an early night was in order. I had been lying in bed for about 2 hours listening to the radio, watching the water and having regular coffee intakes when at 10.20 pm I had a take on the rod on the baited area. The bobbin lifted to the rod and held. Out of bed and on the rod in a flash, click the bait runner off and strike, it was nice to see the rod tip bend further and further over, something it had not done for the last three months. The fight was un-spectacular, the fish very docile and came straight towards me with hardly a kick in anger I shipped the net under the fish and let out a huge sigh of relief. The plan of big baits over a big bed of bait had worked!! The honours were quickly done, the fish weighed in at 17-7, after a quick photo of it on the unhooking mat it was returned none the worse for its bank-side visit.
The rod was rebaited and cast back at the same tree marker on the horizon, waiting until the marker knot clicked through the rings before Stopping the line and letting the lead land with a gentle splash. Back in to bed full of confidence, a few fags and coffees were had by way of celebration before I eventually dropped off to sleep about 1.00 am to the patter of rain on top of the brolly. So rudely awakened by the screaming tone of the baited area rod again, out of the bag, on with boots, hit the run and then dive back under the brolly as its is hammering down. A quick grab and feel under the bed produces the required water proof jacket which I slip into whilst trying to play the fish. This one was a bit more annoyed about making a mistake and was trying desperately to get as much distance between itself and me. A little bit of to-ing and fro-ing and the fish is in the net within five minutes, I'm totally soaked! A quick look at the watch tells me it is 7.10 am, it's still pitch black so I put the head torch on and sort out the mat, sling and scales while the fish is in the net. Up on the scales the fish goes 15-0, well pleased, but how did it get the bait in it's mouth? A quick photo on the mat and the fish swims away strongly when returned. As it now morning I decide to put the kettle on and have the first coffee and fag of the day to wake myself up, as if I'm not awake enough after the adrenaline charged soaking I've just had! As it gets lighter I look out across the now flat lake and notice bubbles rising off the area with all the bait, something obviously still getting stuck in so I'm hopeful of a take still. Not bad I thought to myself, not even 24 hours into the session and already two in the bag. The fact that the two fish were taken from the baited area and on big baits was more than pleasing. I could do with a fish on the other rod though so decided to have this moving about for the day, trying to pick off fish that may be laid up somewhere. This I did, re-casting every hour or so, between 8.00 am and 2.00 pm to different areas, just breaking the hourly recast once while I was spodding out a 2kg mixture to the baited area.
After no success with the roving approach a new area was needed I eventually decided to put the bait just to my left at about 10 yards range, at the edge of where the old lily pads were in the summer where there is gravel on the bottom to see if I could Pick up anything there with a light baiting of (10) boilies. Happy that all things were looking good I sat out on my seat by the rods, the rain having ceased about midday. Kettle on and brewed up, I picked up the book I had with me and started reading. Less than five pages were read before the recently cast rod tore off at an impressive rate of knots. Book and mug were dumped in the mud as I sprang up and hit the rod, which was being bent around to the left in the direction in which the fish was running. Back winding giving line, trying to put pressure on the fish to slow it down was no good, this fish was supercharged. It tore off up towards the dam outlet, I had to dip the tip as far out as I could to prevent it going through the submerged tree branches to the left of my swim, but I was having no joy here. Drastic action was called for and I had foreseen this problem in advance. The rod was put back on the buzzer with the baitrunner on and I quickly kicked off my boots and jumped into my chesties (sorry John). With the waders on I was able to walkout the l0 yards from the bank to enable me to get a direct line to the fish which was luckily still on in open water and not sulking in a bush somewhere. After another 5 minutes or so I was able to walk back to the bank and direct the fish into the waiting net. I screamed in pleasure across the empty lake at my joy of landing this one, it made even better by the impressively wide back I was looking down onto in the net. With the net pegged down I climbed back onto terra firma and sorted out the weighing equipment and also the camera on the pod for some self portraits. On the scales one of the nicest looking fish I've caught from Rowley spun the dial around to 22-10. A quick photo session and the fish was returned in the next swim along so as not to spook any fish that may have been in the area. Well impressed I phoned around my usual companions to pass on the news, all offering congratulations and a few choice words about my anatomy!
I recast to the same spot and sat down waiting again for the rod to fly off. And I waited, and waited, had some dinner, a few cans of alcoholic beverage, cup a soups, coffees and still nothing. Enough was enough so at 9. 00pm I got into bed and soon drifted off to the land of mega sized Carp in beautiful lakes that didn't have boats on! There that sound again I thought as the feet were automatically swung from the bed into the boots before I was even semi-conscious. It wasn't raining this time as I hit the rod. Again it was a take from the baited area and if the first fish was supercharged this one had a rocket up it's a**e! Three times this fish flattened my rod making me let go of the reel handle as it headed out left towards the island. I managed to get my thoughts together and set about trying to retrieve the unseen monster from the distant place it had taken me to. I leant into the rod and didn't give line and in the moonlight could see a tail slapping the water virtually in front of the island I managed to turn the fish and get it coming towards me but it took another ten minutes of heaving and giving line before the fish kissed the spreader block. A quick look with the head torch confirmed that my visions of it being foul hooked were unfounded, there hanging below it's bottom lip was another of my special hookbaits. Result, this looks bigger than the last!! Again the usual sorting out took up a couple of minutes, giving the fish a bit of a breather in the net. Into the weighsling this beauty took the dial past the last setting around to 24-4. Another one falls to the bait, this being the cream of the crop. I tried to get some self-portrait piccies, but after two attempts where the fish went mental as I tried picking it up decided a photo on the mat would suffice. Released the next swim down again I started tidying up and stuck the kettle on. A look at the watch revealed the time was 12.45am. (Funny, it was so quiet I would have thought it later than that. I recast and propped myself up on the seat and pondered my chances of another before daybreak. It could happen I reasoned given the previous night so got my head down soon after, this fishing wears you out despite what people say about sitting there doing nothing the whole time.
I had arranged to phone Andrew at 8.30am to sort out a few bits so when the alarm clock woke me at 7.30am I thought I'd have just 5 more minutes. So it was a mere three and a half hours later that I came to feeling rather parched and in need of some liquid. I'd just got the kettle on when a voice behind me asked if I'd had any joy. I turned around and had a chat with the owner of the voice, telling him of the way the previous 48 hours or so had passed. He himself told me that he'd caught one tench and was hopeful of something from the swim he was fishing. After a while matey walked back to his own swim and I got on the blower to Andrew. After the usual mickey taking about my sleeping prowess I told him of the fish from last night. More congratulations and the promise of burger and chips that evening when he and David would come over to see me. At around midday the last of the hemp and 50 or so boilies were put out to the baited area. A quick rebait of both rods and I could worry not for the rest of the day. Food consumed I sat out in the glorious Friday afternoon sun thinking of most people gruelling away at work wishing it was 5 o'clock, Around 7.00pm David, Karen and Andrew turned up bringing with them promised food and cards and presents for my birthday which was the following day. After eating, a few drinks were consumed and tales told of the captures before the cold got to my companions and they departed for the warmth of the fire at home. After a fishless night I packed up a day earlier than planned more than pleased with my results. The plan had worked well but I do not think I would have used that much bait if I was only fishing for a short period. I wondered as I drove off towards Harefield Pit 2 for a birthday social with the usual suspects if this strategy would work on the bigger pit I was now heading to. Only time will tell.....
One of the interesting aspects of angling, to me at least, is its uncertainties. That luck or fate plays a part in fishing, as in life itself, is undeniable. I think the series of events I am about to unfold in this short tale concerning the exploits of a certain Mr Wilfred Cutting in the early years of the last century, help to give evidence to this thinking, as you will no doubt judge for yourself. Hornsey Mere is situated near Beverley on the East Yorkshire coast, in the plain of Holderness. At 450 acres, it is one of Yorkshire's largest waters. During the period of this tale, the Mere was famous for the high quality of its pike fishing, when some fine specimens were taken. The fishing rights on the Mere were given exclusively to a group of twenty five anglers. I think that amounts to 18 acres per angler, no shortage of space here. The fishing was entirely conducted from boats and was supervised and controlled by a Mr James Holmes, who made sure that all the rules were strictly observed. Live baiting for the Mere's pike was the most popular method in those far off days. This was deemed wholly acceptable at that time, rightly or wrongly, and not surrounded by controversy from anti-angling groups as it is today. It also appears that Mr Holmes supplied small roach as livebaits to members, as required on fishing days. Apparently lots of small Roach could be caught on bread or maggot during this period.
To continue, Wilfred Cutting arrived on the Mere one day in early August 1915 only to find that his expected supply of livebaits were not available. No explanation was given for this situation. Undeterred, he decided to search around or some form of natural bait, presumably to catch a few livebaits for himself. The only natural baits he could find were a number of large lobworms, under some wooden sleepers. Whatever Mr Cuttings true intentions were on that fateful day, he commenced fishing using his newly found whole lobworms in deep water near an island. He may have been after some bait sized Perch, surprisingly he immediately contacted very, very large roach. Such was the spirit in angling in those days that Wilfred subsequently informed the other members of the group. Following Wilfred's revelations, what followed was an astonishing train of events. The Mere was subjected to intense roach fishing by the group's members and their guests. All following Wilfred's example. Huge catches of roach were made that year , with fish up to 2-15, and many at 2-0 recorded in bags of up to 401bs. Incredibly, all these fine fish were caught on whole lobworms between 7- 8" long, fished on float tackle terminating in single size 6 hooks. A far cry from traditional roach tackle as we know it today. The big catches went on until probably peaking in 1917. To return to our old friend Wilfred, who on the 8th August, 1915 caught 18 roach to a total of 43lbs, reputedly containing two threepounders, and a wonderful fish of 3-4, some catch. But the story does not end here, because late in the afternoon of 5th August, 1917 Wilfred was fishing the Mere with his wife, when the only bite of the session produced a stunning record breaking roach of 3-10, to make angling history. This huge fish was destined to hold the British Roach record for over 20 years, before Mr Bill Penny's giant 3-14 fish from Lambeth Reservoir, Molesly, was caught in September 1938 and replaced it. I think it fitting that Mr Cutting, who originally discovered the Mere's big roach potential should have achieved his just rewards with his outstanding fish.
Well, what can one say of these remarkable happenings. There is no doubt that obviously large roach were present in Hornsea Mere for many years and went undiscovered. Conventional methods using the usually successful bread or maggot approach had resulted only in small fish, ideal for livebaiting. The discovery of large roach in the Mere can almost be put down to a fluke, fate or luck call it what you will, but interestingly all the fish, as previously mentioned were taken on large, whole lobworms presentedon big hooks: - the right method, the right bait, at the right time and place. The days on Hornsea Mere were between 1915 and 1936, some 21 years, during which the roach fishing was unsurpassed, anywhere in these isles. Today, we all know of authenticated reports of large roach being taken on big baits, presented on heavy tackle, intended for carp, giving lie to the ultra-light approach always being essential One has to treat each situation on merit and not be too dogmatic, as in all fishing. Over the years, I have heard of some good sized roach coming from our Harefield No2 Pit, who knows what the future may bring. Sadly in these Carp oriented days, not many anglers have a go at them. You never know we may have another Hornsea Mere situation on our hands only Year 2000 style. These events have long since faded into the pages of angling history, but are still relevant today. I know some of the dyed-in-the-wool high tech carp anglers of today may well scoff at the humble roach, but let me add here that the late, great R. Walker, a legend in angling circles and probably the most innovative anger of this day once remarked, 'that were he able to fish for one species only, it would be the Roach'- say no more.
Wilfred Cuttings best fish from a choice of many:
I began fishing in 1954 when I was 10 years old, the river was the Thames at Dorney, the tackle a tank aerial, centre pin reel with ratchet like a football rattle, balsa float, 4lb line to a 14 hook. Bait: bread paste mixed with custard powder and aniseed, 'DEADLY'. It was so deadly that I fished for 6 weeks, the whole of the school holiday before catching my first fish, a Roach of 6ozs. Still, I was hooked and have been ever since. So, like progressed, the tackle got better as the wages got better. Own transport now, so other rivers could be visited, bigger and better fish were caught and so it went on for another 43 years! Then fate took a hand, whilst out walking my dogs across Rowley Farm, I saw the impossible, 'A ROD TIP. I stood in amazement and sure enough there it was again. There couldn't be a lake there, after all I had lived for more than 15 years only a drive and a three wood from the very spot. So off to investigate, dogs at a gallop (they are only Dachshunds after all), through the gate along the path, round the lake to find some half crazed angler fishing for Carp in mid January, temperature about 3 degrees. "Get in touch with Terry Gibson," was his reply to "How do you join?" So I did, and my new love affair with lake fishing had begun.
June 16th, 1999 saw me making my way to the dam at Rowley, float rod in one hand, a 'Mickey Mouse' carp rod in the other, bait, a box of maggots and a few lumps of luncheon meat. I left the dam 15 hours later, my haul for the day, ONE TENCH at 07:00!!!! Undeterred, I returned the following day, 17 hours later I left, my haul for the day, ONE BREAM but wait for it!! - 115 Roach - none larger than 2ozs. "Are you sure you want to do this", I asked myself, "perhaps the rivers aren't so bad after all. No, I definitely do", so onward and upward. Two or three weeks went by still no change, then enter "Mick one morning in July, "How are you doing then?" "B*****Y awful!" "What bait are you using?" "Luncheon meat on a 6 hook", I replied. "Nah, you want Salmon pellets and a Hair RiJ. "What the hell is a Hair Rig? And what do Salmon pellets look like?" I was about to encounter my first taste of HAS friendliness and ever useful advice. "Have one of my rigs and a couple handfuls of pellets, I'll tie it on for you and attach the bait." This done, the bait was cast with the words, "I guarantee you a Bream within half an hour". Well, Mick was wrong, because in half an hour I had caught 2 Bream and 1 Tench. After that, the summer was so much better, sorry I don't know your other name Mick, but thanks for making an old man very happy.
My next encounter was with Keith the Bailiff, who encouraged me to forget about the Bream and Tench and go catch a 'Proper Fish' the mighty Carp. "Nah, I'm okay", after all, the only Carp fishermen I had met could just about manage a grunt to the question, "How are you doing?" before sliding deeper into the sleeping bag intent on some more Egyptian P.T!!! Still, he did start me thinking and one day when I found the recognised Carp swim empty, I thought 'Go for it'. The bait, the ever trusty Salmon pellet cast it under the bush far side just where Keith said. In my first cast, still don't know how I haven't managed it since, put the Mickey Mouse rod on the rest, wait 15 minutes then BANG, the rod goes flying, I make a wild lunge grab it and 'Yes', its on. I have never experienced such power from a fish; up, down, in, out until 20 minutes later its on the unhooking mat. A fine Mirror 15 lbs 5 oz almost doubling my previous best, an 8 lb Barbel on the Hampshire Avon in 1964. I took it along to show Keith, I may have even kissed him, I can't remember, but he did pat me on the head and said, "Well Done Lad". So again, I was hooked, I caught two more Carp that year, a Mirror 14 Ibs and a Commom 12 Ibs. In the meantime, I lost a few thanks to the Mickey Mouse rod, so flushed with success I raided the piggy bank bought two carp rods and a second hand pod. I like to feel that after one year, I can describe myself as a carp fisherman. With the new gear, I at least look like one, all I have to do now is to practice my Grunt!!! These were only two Club Members that I met that year, there were many more always happy to offer advice on swims, baits, tackle etc. Thank you to all of you, whoever you may be. Again, you have made an old man very happy.
"Throw a Sprat on the bottom and the Pike will give themselves up". This was the advice of one member, so I did and they did just that. My first session yielded 4 Pike in 20 minutes biggest 12 lbs smallest 7 lbs. I never had a session where I failed to catch the largest, being long sleek 15 pounder in magnificent condition. Sadly March came all too quickly and it was time to stop for another year, but what a year! My chance walk in January had brought me pleasures beyond my wildest fishing dreams, it was like starting all over again as a 10 year old. I suppose it will never be quite the same, but up to the time of writing, I have had another wonderful summer made all the better by being retired. Even on the blank days I have been fortunate to spend my time with the swans, kingfishers, herons, the family of long tailed tits, the grass snake winding his way across the lake, perhaps to catch the fieldmouse that just ran across my foot. HappyDays!!!
All my Pike fishing these days is carried out using static deadbaits. Though I have virtually adopted a one method approach, with occasional diversions to sink and draw techniques, I am happy to do so. Most of my baits are selected from various sea fish, some large, some small. Over the years I have had a fair measure of success using smelts, but I must admit to having very little knowledge of them, other than they make excellent bait. I decided it would be interesting to find out something of the origin and lifestyle of this small fish. For anybody interested, this is what I discovered: The smelt is a member of the 'salmonlike' family and is primarily a marine fish. It is known as the smelt or sparling (osemerus, esperlanus) and surprisingly highly valued as a food fish. It is one of the most delicate in flavour of all fish, whether in salt or fresh water. It is one of the few fish which posses a strong peculiar and decided flavour. They have a particular scent from whence is derived one of their English names smelt i.e. smell it. That of 'sparling', which is used in Wales and the North of England is taken from the French word 'eperlan'. There is some disagreement in the opinion of people in respect to the odour of this fish, some assert it smells of violets, others compare it to the cucumber. I tend to follow the latter. Although the smelt is a pearly, fragile looking fish, it is veracious in its habits. Shrimp and small fish in quantity have been found in its stomach. Generally the smelt inhabits fresh water from August to May. They spawn in March and April and about this time descend to the sea.
As a single specie they exist from Northern Siberia, westward through the Baltic and North Sea to Northern Spain. Closely related species occur in Siberia and North America. Non migratory, landlocked variety can reach up to 8" (20 cm) long and weigh up to (1.4 kg) although smaller fish of 4" to 6" (10 to 15 cm) are far more common. The sea going variety occasionally reach a length of 12" (30 cm). In some parts of Sweden, smelts are found in lakes with a sandy bottom, all year round. In the spring they leave the deep water and pass in thousands to the shallower shores of the rivers, where they are caught in large numbers. Experiments have been conducted where the smelt has been retained in a pond, cut off from the sea for 4 years, with no adverse effects in flavour or quality. As a British fish, it is almost exclusively confined to the Eastern and Western coasts. Abundant in Scotland, not so common in Ireland where it is localised. No smelts have been recognised along the shores of England from the Thames westward to Lands End. The smelt is found in the Tay, Firth of Forth and Yorkshire's River Ure. Large quantities are taken by nets in the Humber, in the Yare of Norfolk, where they grow to a large size, the Thames Estuary and the Medway. On the western coasts they are found in the Solway Firth, Mersey, Dee, the Conway and Dublin Bay. The finest smelts are said to come from the Conway where they grow to 10" or even 12" long, though much smaller specimens are usually on sale in the fish shops. They formally abounded in the Thames from Wandsworth to Putney Bridge and from there to Hammersmith Bridge. Some 30 to 40 fishing boats could be seen working this stretch many years ago. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Some may still be present below Woolwich, but the angler would scarcely try his luck there today, among the smelts.
As previously mentioned, the smelt is said to be highly valued as a food fish. In support of this opinion, I did come across a recipe which may be of interest to some of our members who regularly practice their culinary skills on the bank of No. 2. This may be the opportunity to test their gourmet instincts by sampling smelts with almonds. What follows is supposedly sufficient for b persons, though I doubt it. The smelt is at its best between January and March, shallow or deep fried. The cooking time is approximately 10 minutes. The necessary ingredients are as follows: 18 smelts 3 fluid ozs single cream 3 ozs unsalted butter 1 table spoon olive oil 4 ozs flaked almonds seasoned flour To prepare the smelts, lightly wash in cold water, cut off the heads and squeeze out the entrails (sounds revolting). Dry and clean the smelts on a clean cloth. Dip them in the cream, and roll them in the flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add all the olive oil and gently fry the smelts for 4 mins on each side. Remove them from the pan and keep them warm. Increase the heat slightly and fry the flaked almonds in the same fat until they turn light brown. Sprinkle the smelts with the almonds and pour over the butter. Simply serve with thin slices of buttered brown bread and the best of luck. There it is then, if you can't catch them, at least you can always eat them. That concludes this broad outline of the smelt. Small, insignificant maybe, but still valuable to us Pike men.
p.s. I have since discovered that simply fried smelts and Roast Grouse is a dish 'par excellence!'
Over the years thousands of words have been written in the quest for Carp, up to today's high tech scene. Some of the sports most famous names have penned their thoughts on the subject of catching Carp. The swelling amount of literature available in books, periodicals, newspapers and more recently, beautifully made videos, is readily available to anyone interested in Carp fishing. Though not indigenous to this country, Carp have been present in some of our waters for over 600 years. They were originally introduced as food fish sometime between 1051 - 1486. The probable and generally accepted country of origin being Persia as it was then known. The Playwright William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) even mentions the Carp in his production of 'As You Like It' (Act V, Scene 2). Growing to great size when conditions suit them, they are to us anglers a worthy quarry. Not being a specialist Carp angler myself, my summer carping consists mainly of fun fishing on well stocked commercial fisheries, where small to medium size Carp are caught without much difficulty. This set me thinking of how the Carp score, and attitudes to Carp fishing have changed drastically over the years. Between the two World Wars, the Carp scene was very different. Although the Carp was not as widespread and numerous as it is today, some small and medium size fish were occasionally caught amid much publicity. The real giants however, often seen comatose, suspended in the upper layers of the water, basking in the warm sunshine, were decidedly not. These great fish were deemed to be totally uncatchable. Since night fishing was very rarely practised in those far off days, this was probably true.
It was said they possessed a high level of intelligence, easily the equal of mans or at least they had a great capacity for suspicion. It was said they could spot an approaching angler two fields away. It was thought to be a total waste of time to fish for them. Anybody foolhardy enough to set out to catch these goliaths was either stupid or not in full possession of their faculties. To even think that these great fish could be caught was totally absurd. This was the general feeling among anglers at the time. Although today we may well laugh at this line of thought, at that time it was very real and sincere, however misguided. In 1930, this line of thinking was to be given a severe jolt and Carp fishing would never be quite the same again. Mapperly Lake is a beautiful spot lying just inside the borders of Derbyshire, it lies in a valley with the village of Mapperly on one side and the old Shipley Hall and grounds on the other. The town of Heanor lies about two miles away. The water boasting an area of 29 acres was once owned by the late squire Munday of Shipley. Its waters were used for industrial purposes by nearby collieries. Pink rhododendron bushes surrounded the lake and the nearby woods and made a beautiful sight in summer. It was a very exciting place to fish. A small group of friends were fortunate enough to be allowed the privilege of fishing the lake. Among this small group were Mr Albert Buckley and his father. The lake was noted for its excellent pike fishing and Albert and his dad had landed some very fine fish, one specimen weighing over 22 lbs.
Whilst out piking one day early in the 1930 season, Albert witnessed a companion fishing for Roach nearby, hook and lose a succession of large fish of unknown species. For over an hour a great fish was played and ultimately lost. Renewed tackle was promptly broken. Albert, conscious of the legend that big Carp were present in the water, decided to mount a campaign to catch them. Having never seen a Carp caught before, Albert read up all he could on the subject of Carp fishing, which in those days was probably very basic. Hope springs eternal, and some days later Buckley set forth on his first ever Carp fishing trip. Astonishingly, he was successful beyond his wildest dreams. He banked a brace of Carp weighing 14 lbs and 16 lbs respectively. However, what was to follow one day in July was more astonishing.
On the fateful day in question, July 24th 1930, Buckley arrived unaccompanied on the water at 9:30am. Heavy overnight rain had given the normally clear water a slightly muddy tinge. He set up his totally inadequate tackle, being little more than stepped up Roach gear, a common Roach rod, 250 yards of 3 lbs B.S. line, 4X gut bottom size 10 hook, crowquill float carrying one small slot, just sufficient to tip the quill into a vertical position. Bait was to be a pellet of brown bread, honey flavoured, the size of a swelled pea. Buckley decided to fish his favourite swim at the foot of an embankment, sloping very steeply down to the water, ultimately to a depth of thirty feet. In the face of a strong to gale force wind, Buckley was only able to cast his tackle about 2 yards into the margin, due to the steepness of the slope, into about 15 ft of water. Fortunately, the swim was snag free. The tackle was allowed to settle and so began one of the most astonishing angling sessions ever recorded at this time in Carp fishing history. What followed was to write the name of Albert Buckley into the pages of angling history. A virtual novice at Carp fishing, he was to land four Carp weighing 15 lbs (one hour to land), 11 lbs and a midget of 9 lbs followed by his giant, breath taking fish of 26 lbs (one and a half hours to land), which was to stun the angling world and easily become a new long standing British Record. This was the final fish of Albert Buckley's red letter day, all those years ago. To this day a remarkable feat, his first fish had come after just 5 minutes. Sceptics at this time had their say 'a lucky one off', 'the large fish would never be bettered' and so on. Well up to and including the Second World War, no major changes occurred in the Carp world. Buckley's great fish still held pride of place in the record list, as the doubters said it would.
After World War Two, Carp fishing was to be revolutionised. A new generation of anglers had come on the scene without the hindrance of the old dogmas. Determined to prove big Carps could be caught regularly, they set about their task with great enthusiasm. Indepth studies of Carp behaviour were made and analysed to great effect. New thinking was evolved, new tackle developed, new techniques experimented with and by no means least, new baits. New venues had been created by the insatiable demand for gravel to satisfy a post war building boom. Angling clubs were not slow to take advantage of the opportunities the new pits offered and set about acquiring them as their needs dictated. The Carp Catchers Club had been newly set up and was at the centre of most new thinking. Among its members were some very successful fishermen, determined to show that exceptionally large Carp could be caught regularly. However, the new approach practised by the new generation was not without its critics. Charges of unethical tackle and unfair methods being employed were levelled at its participants. These criticisms were either refuted or mostly ignored. The best answer to these accusations was undeniably the fact that some large Carp were being taken, although not yet as regularly as hoped for. Then on one memorable day, September 12th, 1952 the late great, legendary Richard Walker was to land a massive record breaking Carp of 44 lbs from the then little known Redmire Pool. This great fish made Buckley's original record, for so long considered impregnable, look positively puny. Well, this really set the angling world alight. Here was irrefutable evidence that Walker's teachings were right. Club Committees eager to please their Carp minded members stocked their fisheries with the in fish, to satisfy this demand. New Carp fisheries were thus being created all over the country up to today's scene.
Well, what can one say about today' scene? Large Carp are caught with such regularity, as to be commonplace. Some with nicknames caught over and over again. Even matchmen get in on the act, taking large bags of Carp on the pole. Newcomers to the sport can purchase new high tech gear and if they pick the right venue, can reasonably expect to catch a Carp the same day. A far cry from Albert Buckley's day. I suppose one can still make ones Carp fishing, as easy or as difficult as one wish and rightly so. Arguably, I personally think these days its easier to catch a 20 lb Carp than a 20 lb Pike. Much of the mystique of Carp fishing that our forefathers enjoyed has gone forever. I think sadly to our loss. What does the future hold for Carp fishing, who knows? It would not surprise me if the cat-fish became number one target. I have not tried to write a history of Carp fishing, I couldn't. But it is interesting to me at least, how attitudes to Carp fishing have changed over the years.
p.s. "Hops and Turkeys, Carps and Beer came to England all in a year" - Sir Richard Baker Chronicle.