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   Old Thread  #45 30 Oct 2016 at 6.56pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #44
Great post and photo...Trencrom,I used to hear a lot about this place,wonder what happened? Probably ottered,shut to the locals...or turned into a soulless place like Shillamill...aka Stonerush...
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   Old Thread  #43 30 Oct 2016 at 1.42pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Yeah - great stuff Ken, loving these write ups; especially the salamander & Roche stuff & it's great to see pics of of some "old friends"
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   Old Thread  #42 29 Oct 2016 at 10.38pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Agreed,its fantastic ,proper Cornish carp fishing history ..

I have seen these fish in their rightful place,i used to go to college not a million miles away from the lake..Although i could not drive back then i had a clay country mate who could and we used to go down and watch these submarines cruising around ....nice chap he was ,as he showed some other places locally as well...break times have never been the same since.... ............



also....now i`m remembering a few things.Ken wrote a really good article called `Rejuvenation at Rashleigh`or similar..well of course this fired me up and i especially wanted to catch `Busted tail`so i joined for the year Roche AC..

Anyway,i used to fish three rods ..long story short middle rod went off in the `long chuck`as it was known ,i got into a right ol mess ,chap up the bank came down to see what was happening and offered to land this carp for me plus all the other tangled rods etc.It went like this `think you`ve got ol busted tail on mate`....at this point what ever it was fell off..i still have bad dreams...and hence why i hate fishing three rods in tandem....always two plus one....

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   Old Thread  #41 29 Oct 2016 at 6.35pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
Ken this thread has lot of feelings , your history of fishing is immense well documented and to share it with us is outstanding and very generous.

Of course Carol your companion equally qualifys for the good angler award. As i doubt there were many ladies fishing for Carp back in the day **** bed chair or not 😒

I love these stories of yesteryear,

Thank you Ken
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   Old Thread  #40 29 Oct 2016 at 12.41pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #39
What followed piled disaster upon disaster. In 1993 the local council decided to de-silt the lake using heavy plant. The fish were netted and kept in the council's own pond while the diggers and bucket dredgers did their worst. Most of the swims were destroyed, the trees cut down, a stupid artificial island constructed. When they brought the fish back, with them came thousands of small roach and rudd to compete with the thirty 30 carp that were restocked (yes, I counted them all back again!).

The soul of the lake was lost completely, but as if this desecration was not enough, a well organised gang of thieves came down and netted the lake again only this time it wasn't for the council it was to line their own pockets. Saddest of all was the fact that the albeit rare offspring of those Salamander carp were as robust and eager to feed as their parents growing very quickly in the richness of the lake. Given the way their parents had thrived I am sure several of their kids would have gone on to make thirty. I watched this little beauty grow from 11lb to 19lb in just four years. Just imagine what a water Salamander could have become.



This is the last Salamander fish I caught. It weighs 17lb and as far as I know this was the only time it was ever landed. It too disappeared in the back of the thieves' lorry.



Daddy achieved a maximum weight just prior to the theft, caught by young Andrew, a very accomplished angler who in now an angling coach. Twenty years ago he was a mere slip of a lad, but he knew how to catch carp. Sadly Daddy had been damaged again, this time loosing the top lobe of his tail Poor old soul.



So that is the story of the jewel in Cornwall's crown, now merely a fading memory, a sad loss to the county's carping history. I like to dream that Daddy is alive and well and enjoying a well earned retirement. Sadly I know this not to be true, for I know he has lost loads of weight, most of his tail and he looks like he'd been dropped from a plane without a parachute. I also know who nicked him and where he lives and it's a turgid bog of a place with as much atmosphere as a the inside of a dustbin, a sad ending for such a magnificent fish.

I have so many happy memories of the lake and it's carp, as I am certain do others who have pioneered a lake, like Ian J. and I did back in the day when Salamander was such a precious gem. Big Daddy meant a lot to me so I am glad I caught him when he was whole again, full tail, lovely big body and the power of the man after whom he is named.



Finally: Throughout this I have referred to Big Daddy in the masculine when in fact he was a she as Lou Reed would say!
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   Old Thread  #39 29 Oct 2016 at 12.35pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #38
News about the little Cornish lake was gradually seeping out, and Big Daddy had acquired a rather unwanted status as a target for anglers in southern counties but we could hardly say we were overrun. Nevertheless, angling pressure took its toll and the fish were becoming spookier by the week. There were now three or four twenties in the lake as well as a very distinctive black mirror, which both Tat and I had seen but never caught. It looked like a coal barge in the water when swimming with the others, as black as your hat. I really wanted that fish, so was chuffed to bits when I finally caught it. Though not as (in)famous as the other Black Mirror of Colne Valley fame our lovely Cornish double was a real prize for us guys in Cornwall.



It was small wonder that up-country guys were appearing on the lake. We had some real beauties coming through, now that they were getting fed a decent diet. Here are a few of the other twenties that were in the lake in the mid-to late-80s. First a lovely sleek mirror that was something of a mystery. Neither me nor Tat recognised it when Ken Jones (pictured) caught it and to the best of my knowledge nobody else claimed it during that period either. I did catch what I thought was The Mystery a few years later but my pix were rubbish, taken, as they were by a passer-by, badly framed and out of focus, so I'll never be sure. Here's KJ with the lovely creature.



This is one of two twenties I caught in half an hour one summer's morning in about 1986.



This is the other:



And this is one I caught the following day. Three twenties in 24 hours was something very special in our parochial little world but your couldn't keep a capture like that quiet for very long and word was spreading on the grapevine like wildfire.



Early visitors came down from Pompey and Paul Hunt, later to become famously associated with Rainbow Lake, caught the prize fish at over thirty. By huge misfortune a journalist was there that day, a guy who did a short weekly angling column for the Cornish Guardian newspaper. His name was Gerry Savage, once a famous (some might say infamous) Kent carper, now sticking his nose in where it was not required in Cornwall. Gerry took some pix which he published in the Cornish Guardian. Worse still he named the venue. Floodgates opened and every Tom, Dick and Harry and their dogs came flocking to the lake in search of Cornwall's largest carp. (Unfortunately Mr Savage had a penchant for naming venues we were trying to keep secret. Thanks a bundle, Gerry.)

Sadly we had plenty of real numpty's join in the free for all too. I knew it was only a matter of time before all this was lost so I decided to have one last go for Big Daddy to try and catch him at thirty plus before I got crowded off the water once and for all. I succeeded and he weighed 33lb 8oz and do you know what? It was such an anti-climax, almost an insult to the old boy, that I didn't even take a trophy shot, just one on the mat. Somehow it didn't seem right.

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   Old Thread  #38 29 Oct 2016 at 12.18pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #37
So to the nub…

It's late May 1987 and I was at the lake looking for fish. I spotted a small group not far from the diner plate tight into the bank under one of the willows. Creeping into the shade I lowered the bait with a three-bait stringer tied to the hook down the edge with the float almost touching the bank. The fish were so close in I could have touched them with my rod tip. I kept my eyes glued on the hookbait and out of the corner of my eye saw Daddy waddling along so closet I swear he was rubbing his left flank along the bank. I saw his mouth open, he turned and bolted and that was when I realised he had picked up the bait. All hell broke loose. Line poured off the reel but then stopped. I pulled back but all was solid; he had weeded me up and in addition to that the line was also entangled in the overhanging branches of the willow!

By pure good fortune a guy who has just started fishing Salamander that year was walking the lake. I thrust the rod into his hand and started to strip off. I was down to my pants when Paul said that the fish was free again so I grabbed the rod off him and started playing the fish only for the line to catch in the branches of the willow again. I was shaking like one of the leaves on that bloody willow by now, convinced that I was going to loose the fish. In desperation I prepared to go in for him but then by pure luck the line pulled free and the fish wallowed on the surface. I reached out with the net and my heart stopped as this big lump slid over the cord. Phew! We laid the fish down in the long grass and I got out the scales, zeroed them with the wet sling on the hook and then hoisted Daddy up. It watched in amazement as the needle swung round into the purple sector, finally settling on 26lb 14oz at the time my second heaviest fish. I was chuffed to bits and chucked my weigh sling into the air…where it got caught in the same sodding willow. Did I care? Not care one jot!



By now there were several twenties in the lake as well as a thirty and Salamander was fast acquiring a country wide reputation and for the first time we began seeing 'strangers' on the lake. This was worrying! We are (still are) pretty hard done by for decent lakes with big fish in them and for one of our own to become known up-country was a concern.
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   Old Thread  #37 29 Oct 2016 at 12.12pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #36
The dinner plate was turning into a real hot spot for me that summer and I caught a fair few Salamander beauties from it. The tiny yellow baits seemed to blend in very well with the lake bed so possibly the carp were less suspicious of them. One thing is for sure; they clearly found something much to their linking in that spot.





Another area that Daddy liked to frequent was under Quasimodo's Bush. Quasimodo was my nickname for a most peculiar shaped carp with a very deformed spine, so much so that it only seemed able to swim in left-turning circles. This fish was in almost permanent residence under a set of bushes at the far and of the lake and the other fish seemed almost as if they were scared of the poor old creature as it was a real loner. The only fish I ever saw Quasi in company with was Big Daddy. Most odd. Odder still was the fact that no matter how often I fished to that area I never caught either fish from the bush, though both were was happy to oblige in other areas of the lake! This is Quasimodo's Bush.



Though we did more nights together now than was previously the case, when I fished on my own I still preferred stalking. After all stalking them and float fishing for them outnumbered those caught on the carp fishing method by 3:1.
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   Old Thread  #36 29 Oct 2016 at 11.22am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #35
I guess some folk on here may wonder about what seem to be repeat captures of a mug fish, but let me tell you, that carp was no mug. We were then, still are, starved of real target fish in Cornwall, so think of Big Daddy as our Black Mirror if you like, maybe that will put things in perspective for you. At the time I am writing about there was only one…yes ONE thirty in the whole of Cornwall. Though it may appear from these reminiscences that Daddy was a bit of a mug, but that is far from the truth. I would not even guess at the number of hours and days that I spent chasing that fish!

One peculiarity about the bait was that it seemed much better after it had been frozen. It was almost as if freezing was part of the process that kicked off a reaction. Personally I have no idea and only tripped over the freezing aspect by accident. All I can tell you is that I would always freeze the bait after cooling even if I wanted to use it the next day.

I knew that the fish were eating at least some of the bait, though the swans and ducks were stiff competition for it, so I was sure I could catch a few on it with only minimal pre-baiting. One particular area seemed to be receiving a lot of attention from the carp, so much so that they established a very distinctive 'dinner plate' in among the weed. The dinner plate was plain to see even in low light and I often saw fish feeding on it from the spotting tree.





Daddy was a regular at the 'restaurant' and could often be seen scoffing on the dinner plate. Here he takes a siesta with one of his mates after a particularly heavy meal!


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   Old Thread  #35 29 Oct 2016 at 11.13am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #34
I had one more close encounter with Big Daddy but lost him at the net. He lay there on the surface long enough for me to get a good look at him and even though I had caught him not that long before, he looked to have put on a bit of weight…He looked mid twenty at least, I thought. then I heard on the grapevine that someone had caught Daddy at nearly 25lb, so my guesstimate had not been far out.

The season opened up-country, and as we'd hoped the hordes departed Cornwall leaving behind a nasty legacy, which I'll touch on later, however, this meant we could reclaim our ressies so Salamander was put on the back burner till the following year. However, I heard on the grapevine that Big Daddy was up in weight at twenty-five pound plus.

The following year I decided to have another spell at Salamander as I felt I needed to catch Daddy one more time. Our love afir with the pool was cooling gradually but one futher encounter with the legendary (for Cornwall) carp was called for, if possible. Then, I promised him, I will leave you alone for good. So I started to bait the lake regularly with the frozen milk HNVs chopped into tiny pieces. I did this mainly after dark to defeat the ducks.

Tim's bait was the one he was writing about in Carp Fisher and Coarse Fisherman (if I recall) and he called it his HERVE or higher HNV. It contained a couple of ingredients that carried the protein-specific enzymes Bromelain and Trypsin and it was heavily reliant on rennet casein and NZ Lactalbumin with egg albumin to keep the boiling time to a minimum (no more than 50 seconds). This bait had already accounted for a whack of fish from College including my first thirty, which I'll tell you about later, so I was brim-full of confidence in it.

Initially we used Richworth Blue Cheese flavour but when we found a source of n-butyric acid this was used instead. To be honest I am sure the Richworth product contained a fair amount of N-BA anyway so perhaps there wasn't much point, other than it was a hell of a lot cheaper! Another attractor was Cajoler, then sold out of Bankside Tackle in Sheffield but later to join the Nutrabaits stable. This is a fantastic powdered sweetener and flavour that is still used to add attraction to calf milk supplements to make them more palatable.

One peculiarity about the bait was that it seemed much better after it had been frozen. It was almost as if freezing was part of the process that kicked off a reaction. Personally I have no idea but Tim seemed to think that freezing the bait helped no end, and it was his 'baby' after all: Who am I to quibble! All I can tell you is that I would always freeze the bait even if I wanted to use it the next day.Fifteen ml of both Minamino and Liquid Liver added yet more attraction and the way the carp wolfed this bait down it was clearly a winner. It was just a matter of getting Daddy to trip up on it…again!

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   Old Thread  #34 29 Oct 2016 at 10.52am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #33
I fished whenever I had the opportunity - which was usually when it was blowing a gale, but Tat was limited to doing weekends by her job. To be honest weekdays or weekend, it made not a scrap of difference as the park was busy for all the daylight hours with people feeding the ducks and the swans or just out for a stroll with the dog or the kids. The local school even brought classes of screaming kids down to go pond dipping. Such fun.

One thing I did notice, though. When the ducks were going ape on the surface, tiny bits of bread would get broken off and drift slowly downwards and in time the carp would cruise below the birds picking up bits of bread. In fact this became quite a popular method for a few years before the carp wised up to the fact that it wasn't always a good idea to eat the bread meant for the ducks. However it did not need to be bread; if it was edible they ate it when the ducks were churning the surface to foam and one day I picked up BD on a Robin Red boilie fished right underneath the ducks in all that commotion, slightly up in weight at 22lb.



Ever since those Ockenham days with Bill, I have always loved watching carp feed. Observing them in their natural environment, seeing how they react to various angling situations and to baits and rigs can be a real eye opener and you can learn more in an hour of watching than you can in a month of grinding it out at 100 yards plus behind a battery of rods. Salamander provided the perfect opportunity not only to watch them but to catch them too, for the carp would venture right into the edge a foot or so off the bank. Can you spot the tiny dot in the middle of this photo? That's my float, fishing for carp feeding right in the margins.



I caught the majority of the Salamander carp on the float, fishing for feeding fish just a yards at most from my feet. It was a tremendous experience, one I would not swap for the world. Here I am stalking at Salamander.



While limited in the amount of time she could spend by the water Tat was also catching a few and one particular fish, her first from the lake, was to become known as Carole's Pet, for it seemed that nearly every time she fished there she caught this fish (slight exaggeration but you get my drift). The fact that it took me several more years to catch the Pet made it all the more galling when she landed it yet again. This is Tat with her Pet first time of asking, a lovely black backed 18lber.

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   Old Thread  #33 29 Oct 2016 at 10.43am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #26
The next four years we spent chasing the Rashleigh fish again until we got lucky and tripped over College Reservoir down west in 1982. The story of College deserves a serious mention, as it played a very significant part in my angling and working life, but I'll come to that later.

Meanwhile, back at Salamander in 1985, the fish were getting on with life, largely untroubled by other carpers. Ian J. continued to fish there and so did one or two others, but considering there was at least one twenty in there - a rare thing for Cornwall - it was surprising that the lake was paid such scant attention, not that the few in the know were complaining!

The main reason I started fishing Salamander again was not down to Daddy, though obviously he was still a significant prize in the Cornish carp scene. However, by then College and the other reservoirs were loosing a bit of their glitter for us, mainly due to the influx of visitors from other parts of the UK that still had a Close Season. The region covered by South West Water allowed 12 month a year fishing on it's coarse fisheries, and with the growth in carping more and more evident, up country anglers were looking to Devon and Cornwall as places where they could get their carp fishing 'fix' during the shutdown on their local lakes. Our main carping reservoirs began to attract considerable interest, and at times it was impossible to get a swim on College. We guessed that the visitors would clear off once the close season ended and we could return to the ressies but in the meantime there was always Salamander. Luckily our visitors did not know about Salamander then.

Tat and I had done quite a few nights at College together an so it was natural that we started doing the same on Salamander. Though far from the peace and calm of College, being a busy park lake, after dark the locals left it to the rats and me and the missus. Naturally she got the cheapo-cheapo supermarket bedchair while I had the Rolls Royce of bedchair, the Lafuma 8-Leg!



We both thought that the lake, at a tad over two acres, was too small for six rods, though SWW actually allowed four per angler at the time, so we decided to fish just three between us. I think this worked to our advantage, as by now the carp in the lake knew what lines were and what they meant, so night fishing became much more productive.





Both of had been using a milk protein base mix on College that Tim had passed on to us. In effect this was the prototype of what would become Nutrabaits Hi-Nu-Val and the Addits, and a darn good bait it was (more later) so there was no reason not to carry on with it on Salamander. We'd had considerable success using really small baits so this is what we went in with on our return to Salamander. These are the 8mm baits we rolled using the then brand new Gardner Rolling Table. It took us half a lifetime!



Though the mini boilies worked well initially there was no sign of Daddy. However, I did catch a new fish and a twenty to boot that Tat rather un-glamorously named Gutbucket…Every lake has got one.


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   Old Thread  #27 23 Oct 2016 at 12.05pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #19
Great read, really enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing
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   Old Thread  #26 22 Oct 2016 at 4.45pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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I should perhaps make mention of the lack of an unhooking mat and the hessian sack that I used to sack the fish while I ran back home to get Tat to take a look and do the photos. I would never use such a horribly coarse sack these days, but you will have to forgive me; at the time I knew no better. Modern carpers don't know they are born, what with proper mats, slings and the like! As for proper scales…Try convincing others that you have had a thirty, or even a twenty and the first thing they'll do is question what colour the needle showed on the dial. Yes, there were a few anglers around - we called them 'ultra-cult' carpers! - with all the latest gear, but I wasn't one of them. Ultra cult my arse!



Some of you may not get the relevance of that, but back then the best scales were Avon 32lb that weighed in increments of eight pounds at a time. Each increment was indicated by a different colour on the dial, as the needle could go around the dial up to four times (4 x 8lb = 32lb). If the needle ever went round into the purple section that meant it was a possible thirty...a what? Unheard off down this way at the time.

Daddy was not the only fish I caught from Salamander the winter but following that November capture I did not see the fish for quite a while. However, I got to grips with Salamander more and more as the months passed and though I am not fond of this Billingsgate shot, I does show that my so-called skills were improving. Three on the bank in half an hour.Was I keen? Well the photo below was takena bout 5 hours after I came home from hospital, stitches still in my balls after my vasectomy!



The intermittent nature of my day job interfered seriously with my carping, as I know it does for most of you, and I even started throwing the odd sickie so I could pop down to Salamander for an hour or two. Sadly my mate John who was also my skipper knew full well the hold that carp fishing could take on a person and he soon found out where I was doing all the skiving! Mind you, as soon as he saw how avidly the fish were feeding on the 'new improved' boiled bait he couldn't wait to beg a rod off me. John was a carper of many years experience but he had drifted away from the sport in the early 60s to take up the banjo and guitar, playing in the London folk clubs with some of the best names in the business at the time. His work name then was Johnny Orange. It's unlikely you will have heard of him but you never know. John fished a lot around the Staines area and probably fished lakes that are well renowned nowadays but where unknown and unfished back then. I think Moor Lane was one of them



Once John had seen the size of some of the fish in Salamander he soon rediscovered the bug!



Later that year I saw Daddy looking decidedly the worse for wear. As far as I knew I was still only one of two or three anglers fishing Salamander and I knew Ian, the other guy on there, had not been down for a while. I wondered if the fish was ailing. The fish were pretty obvious to anyone who had eyes to see and really look for them (as opposed to look but not see, as was the case with the rest of the park users). Then one day I saw one of the local kids down there with, believe it or not, a bow and arrows and he seemed to be taking pot shots at the carp. I 'had a word' with him and though he said he had not even hit one, I couldn't help wondering if he hadn't wounded BD. I couldn't see any obvious signs of damage and when I tried to net the fish to take a closer look he shot off like a scalded cat. I guess he was OK. As turned out to be the case when that summer I landed the big bruiser at just over twenty one pounds. It would be the last time I saw the fish on the bank for four years! The reason for this was the call of Rashleigh returned as Steve, Tat and myself started fishing together again. Then a year later we discovered the reservoir 'down west' and things were about to change dramatically. Much larger carp were about to come our way!


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   Old Thread  #25 22 Oct 2016 at 4.44pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #9
Chatting to Tat later she wanted to know all about the capture and as I described the fatness of the carp she said that it sounded, "as big as Big Daddy", a well-known figure in wresting that was hugely popular on ITV on Saturday afternoons, and thus was the fish named.

Though I had vowed to return to the lake more often I still had to make a living and while the weather lasted and the sea remained relatively calm we spent as much time as possible doing the other kind of fishing, commercial fishing so it wasn't until the late autumn that I returned to the lake. By now thanks again to Bill I was privy to 'the great secret' of the Robin Red based boiled bait. The recipe was simplicity itself; eight ounces of Nectarblend and two of Robin Red with four ounces of muscovado sugar dissolved in the minimum of hot water and then added to the eggs. Flavour was one of young Mr Kemp's finest that Bill had been using up-country, the flowery Perfume Spray. This was another of the big secrets in carp fishing in those days as Kemp and SBS were the prime purveyors of quality essences to the carp fishing fraternity and the Perfume Spray was one of the best thanks, I was later informed, to the inclusion of the essential oil of geranium (needs confirmation! as wiki would say).

I was still not a fully fledged carper in the accepted sense of the word. No bivvy, bedchair or buzzers for me. I was strictly a stalking man using a float rather than a buzzer and a side hooked boilie to tempt them into the weed that had appeared in the time I had been away. From up the tree I could see the bright gravel of the lakebed in the holes in the weed and a few crumbled up boiled baits with pinches of break flake chucked around the float provided the additional temptation that I hoped would draw the carp into the swim. The tiny dot just off to the left of my rod tip is my float, under which is a boiled bait lowered into the hole in the weed that is clearly visible.



One such area I found at the northern end of the lake, where the weed was not quite a thick. I baited up most evenings and fished though till dark but had nothing. The lake seemed dead and lifeless, as if the falling temperatures had made the carp lethargic and unwilling to feed. But despite this I kept putting a few bait in when possible, and Tat did the same for me while I was away. Finally, come November of that year I actually saw the fish again. They were nosing around in the weed and appeared quite lively and my hearts skipped a beat when I saw Big Daddy scoffing the Robin Red boiled bait.

This was proper margin fishing. Rod on the deck, float dotted right down, with me standing back pretending to be a tree! It was great stuff and when I saw the weedbed quiver slightly as a fish nosed through, I thought my heart was going to explode.

Suddenly the float shot under and the line poured off the reel. Fish on! I grabbed onto the butt of my home made SS5 (a rod that had so much bend in it I am sure you could have put the tip to the butt had you tried hard enough without it breaking!) as the fish made off through the weed. Like most fights in weed, the fish soon got bogged down in the stuff and with its eyes covered gave up the fight. I eventually netted a great big bundle of weed and (hopefully) fish.

Laying the net on the grass (there were no unhooking mats in those days) I peeled back the weed to reveal an enormous fish. At the time I did not recognised Big Daddy (for it was he) and it was only when I had the photos developed that I compared the scale patterns and then all was revealed. Incidentally, you may wonder about the black and white photos? I can explain…I was taking a college course in photography part time through the winter - weather permitting - and it was considered very arty to be shooting in black and white. Hmmmm!

Up on the Avons in my rudimentary weigh sling that Tat had made for me and the needle went further into the green than I had ever seen it go before: twenty pounds twelve ounces. My first twenty! The pub beckoned!


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