CarpForum - Fishing Forum
  Already registered? [Log-In]  New user? [Register]

Want 11,000+ anglers a day to see your product or service?  Click HERE to see how
Home Who's Online Member List Gallery Downloads Fish Ins Weather
Rules / Usage Help / FAQs Search Articles The Carp Shop
  New Posts: 0
   South West Memories.
 [Log-In]  [Register] 
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #427 20 Jan 2020 at 12.53pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #426
Some of my fondest SW memories are of the Carp Society meetings we held all over the area. When the Society was formed in 1981 I knew nothing about it. Then by chance I dropped into Tackle Up, a tackle shop in Ash Vale, and saw on the counter a small pile of Carp Fisher magazines, the first such mag published by the Carp Society. The magazine - the one with Mike Wilson with an amazing Savay mirror on the cover - drew me in an held me in awe. What a carp, what a photo! I got talking to the shop owner, Colin Chandler, who was taking new members on behalf of the Society. I signed up straight away. My number was 1066 (significant or otherwise? I have often asked myself that!).



So began a long association with the CS and at the first meeting Tim Paisley asked Tat and I to be the Regional Organisers for the Devon and Cornwall branch. I had started a tentative (pen) friendship with Tim when I wrote to him about bait. Tim's expansive letter drew me deep into the carp bait world, though to date I am still to figure out much of it! However, my connection with Tim, who was the Society's first Secretary, opened doors and getting hold of top flight speakers for our meetings was a piece of cake (I suspect Tim did a lot of arm twisting on our behalf!). You can read more about my naive forays into the bait world in my Haith's Baits Blogs:

Link 1...

Link 2...

So it was the we held our very first regional meeting at the Exeter Court Hotel on the A38 at the foot of Haldon Hill. Tim was once of the speakers, Ritchie the other. Rod was supposed to come down too but in the end he couldn't make it. Ritchie more than made up for Rod's absence. Anyone who has been fortunate to hear one of Ritchie's talks will know what I mean!



And that was just the first of many. In order to attract the very best speakers we decided to hold our meetings a little closer to what many might call civilisation so we moved venues to The Shrubbery Hotel, Ilminster (now a Best Western).



Being that bit closer to the Home Counties meant that we could attract the cream of the top anglers for the area and over the years our guest list read like a Who's Who of carp fishing. We had Tim, Ritchie, Andy Little, Bob Baker, Albert Romp, Chris Yates, Bob James, Clive and Malc, Rod (eventually!), Mike Wilson and many other famous names.

We always tried to do that little bit more for the guests and attendees. We offered good hotel rooms meals, a buffet or two, space to bivvy up if required (it often was!). Thus we always managed to get great attendances for our meeting and we treated our guests like royalty. Another thing: we noticed that many of the regions up country had loads more members than little old Devon and Cornwall and their meetings attracted many members and non-members alike, often well into the hundreds strong. Invariably the meetings held in these highly populated regions took place in the evenings, often in midweek. Me and Tat knew this would not work for us as both members and speakers would have a long trips each end of the meeting. We therefore decided to hold ours on a Saturday afternoon and evening, usually laying on a meal at half time, and a decent raffle at the whistle. This was Tat's brainwave and as a result we always had full houses and eventually the demand was such that we had to restrict numbers, the meetings being ticket-only affairs.
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #426 17 Jan 2020 at 3.56pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #425
What neither of us knew was that Bill had other plans for the pre-dig fishmeal for he and Lee Walton were putting together the early trial versions of Trigga. Trigga was eventually launched in the spring of 2001 and it soon became Nutrabaits' top seller. It followed the increasingly popular tendency towards totally natural ingredients and attractors and the base mix contained no artificial ingredients. Key to its success was in my opinion the same blend of hydrolysed marine meals that Bill had sent me to try out on the Big Fish Mix. In addition Trigga contained low fat organic marine proteins, milk and whey proteins and the key secret (yes, truly) ingredient Trigga Powder. The latter had been touted to Bill buy a guy who worked in the cat food industry. The powder was added to tinned feeds to make them more attractive and at the same time easier to digest Knowing a good thing when he saw one Bill bit the guy's hand off but not before gaining an assurance that the Powder would not be touted to any other bait firm. At the time of the launch nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knew what the Powder was or where it came from. This well guarded secret lasted about 18 months before the beans were spilled! In the meanwhile we had a field day.



There's a funny story behind the development of Trigga prior to its release. When I was first given the bait for field testing it came in ready rolled frozen form. I had no idea what the base mix consisted of or what liquid attractors were included. I was simply sent 20kg of 15mm baits and told to get on with it! Little did I know but all the other Nutrabaits field testers had been treated the same way but each one of them had a different version of the bait. As luck would have it I was sent a batch of bait that didn’t work too well. Thinking that all the testers were experiencing similar results I got in touch with Bill and told him I thought the bait was rubbish! A few weeks later Bill told me what he'd been doing. Each of the testers had received a batch of the bait, each one containing a different level of pre-dig and Trigga powder. When the results came in (both good and bad) Bill was able to refine the base mix with the optimum levels of each ingredient. The next batch he sent me took me to another dimension on Tanners!



I have long had a passion for paste baits, always being aware that they are short term as small fry will readily attack and paste be it a freebie or a hookbait. If you can live with this and accept that you have to rebait frequently then there is no better bait than a nice amino-oozing fish meal paste. I used both the Stage 2 BFM and Trigga in paste form to great effect on Tanners, and while messing about with them one day I came up with an idea for mounting a double paste bait on the hair. This is it:



The stocking mesh-wrapped baits were mounted cross wise through a small bait band…I guess I had inadvertently invented the Bollox Rig some dozen years or so before it became more widely used at Rainbow Lake!
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #425 17 Jan 2020 at 3.51pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #424
I didn't take me long to fall in love with Tanners. It was my kind of carp water, small, intimate and very beautiful.



Not easy, though, as I quickly discovered. It was not some sit, bait and wait type of water and I needed to think about my fishing to get the best from the lake. I eventually achieved a modicum of success at the lake over the years but Tanners came under a fair amount of pressure once the word spread about the quality of the fishing and the carp definitely wised up. The Tanners carp were not stupid and they were not fooled for long by what soon became the standard tactics on such a small lake, namely mini baits, light line tiny hookbaits, etc. I had looked at the ‘standard’ approach of most of the regulars on Tanners and found it wanting. True, it had worked for a while but it didn't seem to be doing the business. I felt a bit of a swerve from the tried & trusted was called for.

I was not much of a rig changer back in the day (same as these days in fact) but I had seen most of the rigs others were using at the time and they were invariably long, supple hooklinks and tiny hooks, the thinking being that if they couldn't see of feel the hooklink they (the carp) would trip up. That's all well and good but if the fish are feeding warily, as I was sure the carp in Tanners were, then these ultra long hooklinks also gave the fish plenty of opportunity to spit out the hook and hookbait. I thought if I went to the opposite end of the scale, big leads, stiff hooklink material and big hooks I might get a few on the bank. Thus I came up with this set up which comprises a 4oz lead and four inch 25lb Quicksilver hooklink to a size 2 hook. The hookbait itself was 20-25mm in diameter!



From the mid 90s onwards the trend on the lake had been for a really delicate approach using ultra light running leads, flying back leads, lead core behind the lead, etc. etc. Baits were invariably tiny 8-10mm boilies fished on long critically balanced confidence rigs over a small carpet of pellet or ground bait or simply a PVA bag of the same. Tactics were always to cast to the margins of the islands with a tiny hook bait put as tight to the island as possible. Six inches off was regarded as too far out! I followed this doctrine for a while but it soon became obvious to me that the carp were getting wise to the approach as loads of the anglers were reporting aborted runs, stuttery pick ups and fish bow waving off the bait carpet. Fishing open water seemed to me to be the ideal switch tactic, though I will admit I would always keep one rod tight to the margins.



All in all this switch in tactics worked well for me and continued to do so throughout my years on the complex.



Does anyone remember the heatwave summer of 2003? I went up a few times that summer but the heat was crippling. I remember fishing on the hottest day of the year, when the temperature reached 38.5 degrees. It was impossible to stay in the bivvy after 11.00h; it was like an oven. The sun was relentless that summer but nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely, thanks in no small part to the bar and Wanda's grub. I used to bait the open water quite heavily with freebies and was pretty happy with the sessions as a whole given the conditions. In three 36-hour trips in August I landed eleven fish including seven twenties including a beautiful common. At the same time other guests were struggling. This was my swim on Tanners when the heatwave struck.



I don't want this thread to turn into some boring old 'how to do it' one but if I can give just one piece of advice to anglers who are struggling on their lake it would be to consider the size of their hookbaits and freebies. For instance, go into your local tackle shop or chat to the peeps visiting the conferences. Ask them what size (and shape) baits they are using. I am sure that the consensus would be in favour of medium sized freebies and hookbaits. Ask your tackle dealer which is the most popular size shelfie he sells. I'll take a bet he'll say 15mm! So first off try something different. If everyone’s using 15mm baits why don’t you try larger or smaller than the norm? For Tanners, while everybody was on crumb sized 'bits' I got busy in the kitchen with the bait gun and made up some giant baits of about 25mm. This totally flew in the face of the accepted wisdom at the lake but it worked a treat, and not just on Tanners. It has been a tactic that has worked for me on many waters.



Baitwise back then I was firmly in the Nutrabaits camp (as I had been since the mid-80s, so using their premier mixes was a given. I had been testing a version of Big Fish Mix that contained a pre-digested fishmeal which I called Stage Two Big Fish Mix. This was in the early days of hydrolysed (enzyme treated) feeds and liquids but it became clear to all Bill that there was something in them. I had passed on my theories and ideas to Bill who was also working along the same lines. The BFM Stage 2 was also in use by others in the Nutrabaits came such as Paul Selman, though neither of use knew that the other was working along similar lines!


KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #424 6 Jan 2020 at 4.55pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #423
We jump ahead several years and as predicted Clawford became something of a hot spot for the west country's coarse anglers. The two carp lakes, Tanner's and Major John's, had been stocked with some decent carp from several reliable sources and these were now doing well. In addition our mate Harry ('H') had been appointed fishery manager and he told us that the lakes were producing some decent fish up to mid twenties. The complex had also been extended and now there were seven lakes on site. Of these two were designated as specimen carp lakes, the others being mixed species fun lakes. This shot was taken (I am guessing here) in about 2002.



I went up a few times for a few winter sessions and renewed my association with the Clawford bar and restaurant. John and Wanda's hospitality had, if anything, got even more expansive and it was a hard place to leave on a wet and windy winter's night in order to return to a damp, smelly bivvy. But you won't catch anything in the bar, or so the story goes! (Though that assertion was often a bit wide of the mark in 'certain' Home Counties venues...cough!) This is a typical winter scenic on Tanners, icy cold, indicators frozen on their mounts and the line frozen in the rod rings, reels frozen almost solid!







It took me a couple of visits to get to grips with Tanners, the lake I fished almost exclusively throughout the Clawford years. It has to be one of the most challenging and frustrating waters I have ever fished. Whenever I fished it I knew full well that I had fish in front of me but at times I couldn't buy a take. Fish showed over the bait on and off throughout the day and night but pick ups (for me at least) were few and far between. You could see them and hear them at night they were the most elusive of carp.



I really wish I could understand carp…Maybe then I’ll catch a bit better! Mind you, that first winter campaign I did up there was a bitter one, which made leaving the warmth and comfort of the bar and the hotel all the harder. Indeed, I will freely confess to staying a pint too long on the odd occasion and being offered a bed for the night thanks to Wanda's kindness. This is a view of Fletcher's from my bedroom window. Nice innit! (The stakes you can see on the hillside opposite are the supports for the vines after which the complex is named.)




Tanner's had the Indian sign on me and no mistake and my good nature was not improved by having to net several of the lake's biggies for H, who often fished the nights on Tanner's.



Way back in 1981 when the Carp Society was formed, Tat & I took on the job of Regional Organisers for the Devon & Cornwall area. We did two stints as ROs first when Tim was at the helm and again, later, when Tim managed to oust the disastrous committee that had come close to destroying the Society. We had some lively and exciting regional meetings at venues all around the south west, attracting some of the top speakers of the day, however, none were so much fun as those we held at Clawford. There are a couple of famous faces here (and one or two infamous ones too!).



By now quite a few of my mates from Cornwall had joined the Clawford Syndicate, which was rapidly gaining a decent reputation for itself. Nige and Steve (from Roche AC's committee) joined as did a fair few of the Devon Mafia and it soon became a lively and jovial syndicate with much emphasis being put upon time away from the lake, if you get my meaning. Having a pub so nearby can be very distracting.
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #423 6 Jan 2020 at 4.51pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #422
It was a lovely warm day when I arrived at Clawford. What a venue…78 acres of rolling hills with the River Claw running through the valley. At the time there were only three lakes on the complex, Fletcher's, a small two acre lake in front of the farmhouse, and down the valley JR's Lake and Tanner's. These had just been dug and were not ready to receive fish stocks at that time, however, the latter would become a favourite carp lake for myself and a few of my mates in the coming years. In this shot, taken later that year on a winter visit, Tanners is on the right as you look down the valley.



After John had filled me in on the lake I was going to fish, Fletcher's, and advised me of the best spot to fish I set up in a quite corner by the inlet stream. John had told me that Fletcher's Lake held mainly ghosties and some golden tench as well as plenty of newly stocked carp between two and ten kilos. This was somewhat disappointing as I had hoped for bigger fish, but lets not run before we can walk. This is Fletcher's Lake as it looked in 1995 (the photo in the previous post shows the lake after it had been extended in about 2010).



I won't linger too much on the fishing that first day: suffice it to say I did not cover myself in glory. Yes, I did catch but my biggest carp, a ghostie, went about 5lb.



A couple of other anglers lake had some slightly bigger carp, including this lively double for a young visitor.





…and this low double for another visiting angler.



John and his Polish wife Wanda were fantastic hosts. Nothing was too much trouble and John's barbeque performed sterling service. This is John and his missus in 1995.



And here Jerry and I enjoy one of Wanda's famous Full English breakfasts on a bench beside the lake.



I left the lake knowing that the future looked really good for Clawford and if John's ambitious plans truly came to fruition this would be a venue to cherish in a few years time and if the hosts continued to enjoy a party with their guests I could think of several mates who would happily make the trip up to North Devon to enjoy this hospitality. Those two really know how to party!


KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #422 6 Jan 2020 at 4.44pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
I doubt if I'll again experience a trip like that first one to the Chateau Lake in 1996, but never say never, eh? I made many trips to the Chat in the years that followed and I will return to some of the most significant as the memories resurface in what remains of my old, decaying brain matter. For the time being let's continue looking at the years in the mid-to late 1990s and past the dawn of the new millennium. This brought not the widely predicted chaos, but instead a widening of my horizons both home and abroad.

In fact my first experience at Clawford Vineyard came in 1995 when I got a phone call from John Ray, owner of the complex. I was writing the regional weekly fishing summary for Devon and Cornwall in Carp Talk at the time and John rang to invite me down to his newly-opened fishery in north Devon. John explained that he had big plans for the venue, with new lakes planned and extensions to the grounds and accommodation were well advanced. It sounded pretty exciting so we arranged that I would come up to Clawford a.s.a.p.



John and Wanda took strong precautions against infection, insisting that all visitor use their net and boot dip.



For anyone who has visited Clawford for a holiday or for a fishing trip in the past decade you may be shocked to see what the accommodation was like back in the mid-90s. Here owner John Ray stands by his beloved barbeque in front of the lovely old farm house that formed the sole B&B aspect of the complex.



Look at it a few years later…And this is just a small part of the overall development of the Vineyard.



In addition to extending the main house to add eight more bedrooms, Clawford also added three self-contained holiday houses on the site of the old car park.



In fact the extensive development now entails 17 fishing lakes, 24 self-catering units, eight B&B rooms, a six-bed farmhouse, as well as large bar and restaurant area. It is situated three miles south of Holsworthy, north-west Devon and the site is set in 78 acres of wonderful, peaceful countryside in the valley of the River Claw.



(2020 Update: Clawford site is now in new hands, John and Wanda having moved on into happy retirement. We wish them well, albeit somewhat wistfully as we and our mates enjoyed some epic times at Clawford, as you will see in later posts.)
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #421 4 Jan 2020 at 1.06pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
Big thanks to Cam the Mod for tidying this thread...

Moving on I want to stay in the south west at a couple of venues that linger fondly in the memory bank, namely Clawford Vineyard and Emperor Lake Syndicate (ELS) so all you Devon anglers keep an eye out for my next reminiscences.
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #420 29 Dec 2019 at 4.57pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #419
I think I have managed to recover all the photos that became unavailable after TinyPic shut down. The thread should now be more or less intact.

I have to be honest, I have not really felt up to the challenge of writing this thread since April 2019 when I last posted to it. But I have realised that there are a lot more happy (and not so happy) memories I could share with you, so I will get around to writing again in the new Year. In the meantime, Tat and I would like to wish you all a Happy and Successful New Year with plenty of these



KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #411 8 Apr 2019 at 3.28pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #410
The years went by and the big carp continued to thrive. Andrew Endean caught Daddy at 34lb plus and I know a couple more came out at high twenties but time and old age caught up with them. Carp are easy to spot in the lake and it's hard to see any these days. Then there is the threat from otters, which have decimated all the lakes along the valley. Once again Salamander is heavily silted and is infested with ducks, Canada geese and the resident swans. Rats run riot around the lake and any magic the lake once held has gone. So sad. This is the last known capture of Big Daddy when he came out at a few ounces over thirty-four pounds.



I used Salamander a great deal over the year as a testing ground for various rig and bait ideas. I know I was the first to use the hair and Robin Red on the lake and the advantages these gave me were immeasurable. And over the years I went on to experiment with various seed and particle baits. I also developed the use of boilie crumb there. It was amazing to see the carp ghosting out of the weed onto the baited patch, where they were clear to see for those who had the ability to actually look!



I also did a fair bit of rig experimentation on Salamander, developing and refining my Drop Down Rig (top) as well as an early version of what was later to become a popular modern rig (bottom).





However, it was when testing liquid attractor that I had the most fun. One little experiment involved squirting neat Minamino over groups of fish that were basking in the sunshine. I used a syringe to send a spray of liquid attraction on top of their heads and the reaction was astonishing. They seemed to almost go into a frenzy, clearly 'smelling' the attraction but finding nothing concrete to eat. It was this that lead me to start messing about with a baiting trick that I called at the time Boilie Soup.

The idea was to create a powerful source of attraction on the lake bed and up through the water column using neat fishmeal and Robin Red base mix with GLME, Betaine, Salmon oil, flavour and a tub of lumpfish eggs. The idea should be self explanatory.









The carp in Salamander couldn't get enough of the soup, charging around like mad creatures scouring the lake bed for every tantalising item of food. The only things big enough to be called tangible food were the tiny fish eggs but even after every single one of those had gone, the fish continued to mooch around looking for more!



So that was then, this is now. Salamander is no more, It rests in peace as do its original carp, fish that gave a few lucky anglers the experience of a lifetime.



KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #410 8 Apr 2019 at 3.23pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #409
The years have passed and Salamander lives on. Without many of my favourite fish, the lake became a shadow of its former self. The improvements effected when the lake was emptied to allow the silt to be removed certainly changed the character of the lake but the drastic pruning of the covering willows and the creation of an island at the inlet end have done nothing to improve its looks. The silt that was removed in 1993 was back by 1994 and is as big a problem now as it was then. Why the council did not install a silt trap when they had the chance baffles me. They will certainly need to undertake further dredging and cleaning in future years, for already the lake is as badly silted now as it was before the dredger arrived. The spillway has certainly improved the look of the outlet end and the fluctuation in water level that occurred before, should now be a thing of the past.

But what of the fish?

Well, back in 1994 after the fish went back there was probably more pressure on the lake than ever before despite the fact than many of its best fish were gone. Naturally, Big Daddy was the target everyone was after and in November '94 he showed how much he enjoyed the comfort of the reduced pressure for the available food in the lake by coming out at 32lb l2oz for Steve and 33lb plus for me the following spring. At the same time the other carp were also growing well. The Phoenix of Salamander Lake was emerging from the ashes of the fish loss.

The sadness of the loss of so many lovely fish is, to a certain extent, balanced by the knowledge that reduced competition for food allowed the remaining carp in the lake to gain weight, when it seemed that most, if not all, had reached their ceiling weights but I still think wistfully of what the lake would have been like if all the original biggies were still there.

The lake continued to be an open target for anyone who wanted to help himself to a few fish. Why the council never made an effort to control the fishing on the lake is beyond me. Perhaps they don't care. Whatever...The fact remains that the lake was among the more famous in the south west corner of England. It was only a matter of time before the remaining biggies went missing yet again as the temptation to remove Daddy and his friends for a few quid in the back pocket proved too irresistible.

Well before the theft I had a long, rather drink sozzled chat on the banks of Salamander with the late Graham Orchard, a great carp fishing character here in the south west. "You ought to have these fish away you know, Ken", Graham told me.

"I can't do that, Graham, " I said. "It would simply go against everything I stand for in carp fishing."

"Look mate" said my friend, "I know how much these fish mean to you, how much you love the lake and the carp in it, but one day you're going to come down here and some little toerag will have nicked all the fish. Then how will you feel? If we don't move em and keep them local, somewhere private, then someone will come and have them away up country."

"I realise that, Graham, but simply cannot think of it, let alone do it or condone it," I said. Yet I knew in my heart of hearts that he had a point.

"The thing is, Graham, if I, or any of us stoop that low, we are no better than they are. It would be theft full stop. If we destroy this place by taking the fish and putting them into another lake what would we have achieved? Nothing! We'd simply have crossed off another worthwhile lake on the pitifully small list of those we have available to us to fish."

I look back now on that conversation and, even with the benefit of hindsight, I still say I was right and could sleep with a clear conscience is clear. The trouble is others were not so righteous and once again the wreckers moved in and dumped on the place from a great height.

Prior to the theft there were possibly as many as ten twenty pound plus fish at at least one thirty present in the lake in the summer of 1990. These lived their days in a blissful environment feeding on the bloodworm-rich silt augmented by anglers' baits and as much bread as they could eat. Happy days gone but not forgotten.

O.K., you may be saying to yourself. So the guy has had some fish nicked. Shame, but it happens. It's just some tuppence ha'penny lake in some God forsaken outpost of the carp fishing world...Small beer... What's all the fuss about? Well, I just hope and pray that a lake and its fish that you hold as dear to your heart as I held Salamander is not given a similar treatment. Perhaps then you'll know what small beer is and what it isn't.
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #409 8 Apr 2019 at 3.15pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #408
I was of the firm opinion that fish were missing from the lake and I made my feelings clear, and finally I was proved right: in the late winter of 1993 the local authority emptied the lake in to remove the silt, at the same time creating a breeding island for the swans, ducks and coots and rebuilding the spillway. A netting team from the NRA was called in to remove the carp to a holding pond while the work was done. The dam was then breached and as the levels fell seventeen carp were netted and removed from the lake; one was missed by the netting party and, sadly, it died. Eighteen fish in total. I have an album of photographs covering the last fifteen years of my carp fishing at Salamander. I have photographs thirty five different fish. If the theft never took place, where were the missing fish?
Here are a few pix of the lake when it was empty. This is the main bowl, the deepest part, albeit it only about three feet deep when full. You can see the troublesome swan's nesting island in the middle of the photo.



This is at the inlet end of the lake where the island was under construction. It was severely silted up at the time, as can clearly be seen in this photo. Despite this no effort was made to create a silt trap, which would have alleviated the need for any further work to de-silt the lake.



While the lake was empty the council decided it would be a good idea to do some landscaping. In affect this mean cutting down all the trees and bushes around the lake's perimeter. Take a look at these before and after photos and tell me that the 'landscaping' worked! This is the outlet end of the lake prior to the work.



And this is what it looked like after they had done their worst.



I was on good terms with the local branch of the NRA having been commissioned to write a ten thousand word report for the Agency which was published as 'A Comprehensive Coarse Fishing Fish Strategy for the South-West'. A right mouthful and no mistake! Parts of the report covered public access lakes and river and Salamander Lake featured prominently in this section.

So having first contacted the head of fisheries at Exeter to put him in the picture, I then rang my contact at the NRA in Bodmin to ascertain when or if the carp would be returned to the lake. I was told that they were planning on moving the carp back to the lake in late March or early April. So it was that just before the Easter 1993 I stood on the banks of Salamander waiting for the fish transporter to arrive. With me was a reporter from the Western Morning News, officials of the local park authority, the netsmen from the NRA and officials of the Water Authority.

The carp were returned in two batches, so as to prevent overcrowding on the short journey. Seventeen fish were returned, the same number that had been taken out. I got a fairly good look at each of them and took pictures of as many as I could. I was overjoyed to see that Big Daddy was one that went back. Of the other twenties, Carole's Pet and Jellybelly were the only ones that were returned, but happily the upper doubles, Goldie, Walnut, and Mystery were also among the returnees. These fish were not weighed but it they all seemed to do well after the cleaning of the lake bed. For instance, Carole's Pet had dropped a couple of pounds when she want back but later that same year she came out at over 25lb.
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #408 8 Apr 2019 at 3.14pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #407
Then, when Daddy was caught a few weeks later the story started going around that I had made up the story to blind anglers to the fact that there were such good fish in the tiny park lake. The knives were out for me in a big way but I was certain something was wrong with the pool. The news that Daddy was still in the lake, in all probability still accompanied by all his usual friends (said the sceptics), rekindled old passions in many carp fisherman's hearts, mine included and for a while, the hordes descended on the lake in search of the fabled carp of Salamander Lake. I got a lot of stick from people but there was no way I could prove that the netting had taken place and my uneasy fears for the place cut little ice with others. Meanwhile I managed to catch one of the remaining residents the fat old girl we called Gutbucket, an unlovely name for a lovely carp, and this capture was taken as a sign that I was talking through my arse!



However following Daddy's initial capture the only other big fish to make an appearance were Gutbucket and Carole's Pet, a rare capture for me as this honour is traditionally reserved for our lass, hence the carp's nickname.



All in all the fishing at Salamander was very poor at what had always been a traditionally productive time of the year and the longer the other well known carp in the lake remained uncaught, the more worrying their continued absence became. I fished the lake hard for the rest of the year and right through the winter when we were ashore for bad weather but failed miserably to land a single carp, but, Sod's Law was about to intervene and confuse the issue still further.

There was no doubt that all the fish in the lake were by now well known by local anglers, their rough weights known as well. Yet suddenly rumours began to circulate of big fish, twenties, coming out and these captures seemed to add weight to the tale that the whole thing was a blind. On the other hand the Salamander regulars thought that even if these rumours were true the reported weights were simply new weights for old fish.

So here was the dilemma: had there, in fact, actually been netting? If not, what had happened to the well-known fish, at least some of which should have come out in the ensuing months; and if there had been a netting, was it official, or was it illegal? Was the whole thing one gigantic wind-up?

But I knew my Salamander Lake and I was convinced that there were fish missing; perhaps not all the bigger fish, but certainly many of them. My association with the lake went back further than all bar that of Ian Johnson who had actually stopped fishing the lake in the mid-80's. In effect asking me about the history and the inhabitants like asking Mike Wilson about Savay, or Kevin Clifford about Redmire.

Among the diehards Dave the policeman continued to fish it as 'part of my investigation' as he explained it to his sergeant! Nice one, Dave! Sadly he had not been able to take the matter any further. The account of the youngster who had actually witnessed the theft was getting shakier with the passing of time and in the end he'd been told to wind down his enquiries. Still, at least he was probably the only copper in the country who, for a time, was actually paid to go carp fishing!



Of those still fishing the lake, and they were few and getting fewer, nobody knew as much about the place as me. I had even compiled a photo album of the carp in the lake, fish caught not only by myself but by many of the other guys that fished there.


KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #407 8 Apr 2019 at 3.12pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #406
There are a few sad evil-minded individuals who will swear blind that I invented the story of the fish theft from Salamander Lake in the summer in order to put off the growing band of visiting anglers. That is the most arrant nonsense I have ever heard. Will you guys get a life! The fact is that the lake is frighteningly vulnerable to thieves with main roads all around it and a car park within feet of the bank; anyone who wanted to steal fish from the lake would find it laughingly easy. Sadly, someone decided to help themselves to the fish in Salamander and that is fact, not fiction.

I chased the Salamander carp half heartedly during the early part of 1990, but when Savay opened its call was too strong to resist. I spent most of the early part of the season either driving to the lake, fishing the lake, or returning from the lake and had little time to spend on other venues closer to home. I still had a job at sea and had to make a crust so Salamander was quietly forgotten.

I was on the Toads and even though we were first rota on that year work had kept me away from Savs so I missed the first three months. But I had some leave saved up so I managed to get up to the Valley in mid September, cursing that bloody boat with every mile that passed.



By all accounts the opening week had been brilliant and the fishing had been pretty goof the following two or three rota weeks. Bill had caught a few…in fact, everybody had caught a few, so I had missed out in a big way. Still absence makes the heart grow fonder and in Savay's case fonder doesn't even begin to describe it so I was chaffing at the bit when I drove into the car park to meet Bill. We could not set up until later that day so we adjourned to the Barge to catch up on events so far. Bill had enjoyed a blistering start to the season and he told me that the lake was still on form with fish showing towards the far end by the Gate swim down as far as the Sluices. On the Colne Bank he told me that he had seen fish in the Daisies and most of the other swims facing the Long Island.

While we were in the Barge I rang Carole to check all was well and to tell her I had arrived safely. (She worries about me driving on the M25 as both of us hate it with a passion. I reckon my heart rate trebles the minute I get onto that accursed road. What is it with drives in the south-east? Don't you know how to drives safely and slowly?).

So once the reassuring was done I asked her how things were going at home. "I've had a call from Dave the policeman who has heard a rumour that Salamander has been netted," she said, "There was only one witness, a young lad who isn't a fisherman," she continued. "Apparently they have taken some carp away". The story told of a blue van, men in bright orange overalls, a beach seine, holding tanks and everything needed to make a quick sweep of the lake and bugger off sharpish before people got too curious. The lad who had witnessed the netting challenged the men who fobbed him off with a story that they were legally removing the carp on behalf of the council, an unlikely story but the youngster wasn't about to challenge it.

According to the very young witness, the netsmen had apparently made one sweep of the outfall end of the lake and had netted what was variously described as, 'every fish in the lake', down to, 'one or two big carp'. The story was vague but somebody reported the strange goings on to the police, who took only passing interest; it was only a few smelly old fish for heaven's sake. The news played on my mind throughout my week on Savay and when I got home Carole filled me in on further developments.

The rumour mill had been in overdrive as the news spread throughout the county. There were wild allegations about who had done it, about the location of the stolen carp, but nobody really had any concrete evidence. By chance one of the guys who fished the lake was Dave the a copper and when he told his inspector that the netted fish were worth thousands of pounds the police were forced to take a greater interest. Nothing came of it and in the end it fell to Dave to do his best with limited time and opportunity at his disposal. The uncertainty and young age of the witness meant that there was always going to be a seed of doubt about the whole story; had the theft actually taken place?

KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #406 23 Mar 2019 at 2.00pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #405
I was on a roll at the lake and more to satisfy my enquiring mind I switched tactics completely. The groundbait idea had sparked off the old brain cells to experiment further and it was at Salamander that I first used and refined the idea of crumbing. I wrote about the method in an old Nutrabaits magazine and while I cannot claim to have invented the method, I am certain that I was the first to go into print with it. If you haven't tried crumb on your lake I suggest you give it a try. It really gets them steamed up! This one dates back to the dark ages when the use of crumb was almost unknown. It's a bit different now!



I spent much of the year spreading my wings, fishing new waters, including Savay, where I spent the remainder of the summer. We also took our first tentative trip abroad where we enjoyed the new sensation of catching a few French fish for a change. Though Carole and I had our share of French biggies Salamander remained our jewel in the crown.

When we first started on Salamander in 1979 the fish had been woefully easy to catch thanks to the hair and boiled bait approach but, by 1989, they were as crafty a bunch as you'd wish to meet. As described previously, I stopped fishing Salamander for no other reason than I was bored with the place. I had caught every fish in the lake (or so I thought) and with more and more anglers now coming down from up country in search of a close season twenty the place had lost its magic.

And so we come to the fish theft…
KenTownley is not surfing CarpForum at the moment
View the profile of KenTownley (Ken)
Contact details supplied to MODs
KenTownley
Posts: 29906
   Old Thread  #405 23 Mar 2019 at 1.58pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #404
The swim I chose to fish was bordered by two overhanging trees and a fringe of rushes, but rather than fish it from its own bank, I decided to set up on a corner not far way and cast across to the bank, going round afterwards to tie on the baits and drop them in the edge, with a generous dollop of groundbait on top to disguise the hooklink and hookbait. Mind you, I was in something of a dilemma over hookbaits.

Let me explain...I'd already chosen the base mix and the smell that I wanted to use. The milk protein mix had no need to prove itself any further, nor did the essential oil that I had been using since the start of the summer. It was about now that pop-ups became all the rage after featuring in several magazine. I had not, up till then, been keen on pop-ups or critically balanced bottom baits, but I felt that perhaps now was the time to experiment. I have always had misgivings about ultra-critical balancing of both pop-ups and bottom baits. I firmly believe that they draw attention to their status as a hookbait as much, if not more so, than a standard bottom bait. It just isn't natural for a hookbait to waft around all over the place, simply because a carp swims by. For all that, there had been plenty of fish caught throughout the country to show that perhaps the method had something going for it.

Mind you, not all the carp that had fallen to the trick were as cautious as the Salamander fish but perhaps they too would fall for it. It was worth a try. It's all very well having misgivings, but the trouble is that you can't prove or disprove that they are well founded until you've seen proof, or otherwise. So it wasn't until I watched the Salamander carp spook off these ultra-critically balanced baits that I decided that the time and trouble I had been taking in getting a bait to sink ridiculously slowly might not be worth all the effort.

However, back to the groundbait...

The plan called for me to bait up with two buckets of groundbait into just the one swim for three nights, starting fishing on the fourth night and emptying the lake! While the prebaiting was carried out I made up some very buoyant Black Pepper EO and Cranberry hookbaits, using polyballs from a bean bag and these were balanced to the 'nth degree in the bath at home. By the fourth night I was ready to drag 'em!

Oh, the best laid plans...I sat up for most of the night as disillusion caused by silent buzzers and motionless indicators set in. By first light I was devastated; all that planning and hard work had come to naught. I peered into the swim and could not believe my eyes. all the groundbait was gone! All that remained were the two hookbaits, still wafting around in the light currents caused as a few small roach rooted among the last crumbs that remained after the carp had demolished the best part of eight or nine kilos of groundbait during the night.

I was annoyed with myself for succumbing to the temptation to try something in which I was not fully confident, so off came the critically balanced hookbaits and on went bottom baits, balanced with nothing more than a sliver of rig foam to counteract the weight of the hook.



The following night all was ready once more and as the light went, I slopped the groundbait into the margins, placed the two hookbaits in the swim and then retreated to the bivvy to await the coming night. The bottom baits worked like a charm and my confidence in buoyant hookbait disappeared overnight, not to return for perhaps twenty years when I started using bespoke hookbaits.

Among the captures was a hump backed mirror I had not caught before. It came as a bit of a surprise as I thought I knew and had caught every fish in the lake by now.



Page: 3.66666666666667 of 30  
  
  © Copyright 2002-2021  -  www.CarpForum.co.uk contact : webmaster@carpforum.co.uk