I met PC Tomlinson ten years ago, during a ´roadside incident`. We kept in touch & years later, he finally made it here. I´m sure the carp passing 60lbs were duly written down in his note book (do the police still carry note books?). When I got stopped here in France recently for a ´Controle`, le ´flic` took a photo of my driving licence & insurance cert with his smart phone. Then one minute later gave me the good to go, after they had been validated by the gendarmarie on line check-in centre. Oooff how things have moved on.
Was it worth the wait? – ask Neil, he landed three commons at 20.04, 27.02 & 23, a grassie at 38, one cat at 45, four mirrors going 43.01, 47.07, 32 & 53.08. The party of French veterans included Kev Sayer; one common of 15lb, one grassie of 40.02, one cat of 16lb & six mirrors of 26.08, 20, 40, 41.08, 41.02 & 34. For Steve Gill; a 26lb common, two mirrors of 27 & 34, plus & 6lb common in the stock pond on the cane rod & centre pin – nice. For Rob Eley, two commons at 31.08 & 33.09 with a mirror at 46.02.
The guys left on Saturday, I had Sheldon Starkey back for Sunday & Monday, a birthday session. On his birthday, we enjoyed a very pleasant bank side malt, then at around 8pm a run from nowhere, no sign of any feeding fish. The fish came straight towards the bank & I´m thinking grass carp – all hell is about to break loose. Then the rod hooped round & the slow click..click..click of a decent fish headed left. I didn´t realise the size of the common until I lifted it up onto the bank. This has taken some time in coming, but the first common here to take the scales over fifty pounds. 50lbs 10ozs, surprising for me, not one of the fish I expected to top fifty. Happy Birthday!
Third week of September & Devonians Roy, Chris, Les & Lady Ballantine pulled in through the gates again. Where ever I am around the lake, when this gang are here, I can usually here laughter. Thats what its´ all about isn´t it? The fish fed during the week, mostly up the shallows, but were clearly being very selective what they were eating. Hence, the fishing was difficult. Twelve fish in total were landed; six commons at 30, 32.04, 31.08, 34.07, 22.07 & 21.08. Six mirrors going 41.02, 42, 24.08, 17.10, 17 & 31.06.
Always nice when people haven´t been for a few years & come back. I am always intrigued to hear what they think of the changes, plus hopefully, the size of bigger fish. The Sargents came back, after a three year gap. John Catching six mirrors of 15.09, 51.10, 33.03, 38.13, 41.11 & 42.09. For Ian; five commons at 21, 35.08, 31.08, 26.08 & 6lb! One grassie causing havoc at 38.04. Six mirrors going; 47.08, 62, 39.12, 52.04, 30.10 & 22.08.
Third week of August & Danny Gordon came back for another go, with companion Sean. Six years since Danny was here last. More smaller fish coming out during this latter part of the year, the big ones coming out less. To date, seven of the big cats have been taken out, five or six left. Time will tell, the impact on the fishery.
Danny landed two commons at 32 & 47.01. Seven mirrors going 35.11, 33.12, 27.06, 26.07, 25.04, 52.04 & 21.09. For Sean; two nice mirrors of 40 & 49.04.
On 26th August I had my cycling buddy Sheldon Starkey here for a night session. What a night it turned out to be, four fish beneath almost constant lightening, a forty pound common picking the bait up, when the storm & rain was at its peak, right over head. The common going 40.05, three mirrors at 25.04, 43 & 53.02.
A roasting hot week for three new anglers to come here, down from the north west. Steve Lawrence took two commons at 27 & 37, two mirrors at 45.04 & 13lb. For Mark James; three fish of 21.09, 24.08 & 36. Party organiser Roy Adams took four fish; two commons at 25 & 37, a mirror of 52, then a mirror which really got me tingling, a post spawned fish at 68lb 2oz. Certainly one of the fish that is due to hit seventy pounds soon.
Third week of July in the hot summer sun for the Baker family; for Alex fish of 53.03, 35, 49 & a 69lb cat. There were new noises on the banks this year, a first for me, little baby noises, bivvied up quite snuggly with Mum Alice in bivvy camp Baker. Alice took one of the runs & brought in a fully scaled mirror of 36lbs (there are six completely fully scaled in here now). Father Baker, Gary, took one common at 45, four mirrors at 18, 23, 52 & 30lb. Three forties for sixteen year old Elley Baker; 47, 42.12 & 43.12. Travelling companion Keith Prowse took two fish, a 23.08 common & a small cat. That didn´t matter really, we enjoyed some delightful whiskey moments facing the evening sunsets.
Last week of May & into the first week of June, always a gamble with the spawning period. The carp were spawning when Roy & Lady Ballantine arrived, petering out mid week. The fishing wasn´t bad though in the end; Roy taking three commons of 8.12, 40.02 & 33.10, two mirrors of 45 & 38.04. One cat putting in an appearance, just to keep Roy´s muscles in tone, at 65.08. No record breakers (unusually) this time for Lady Ballantine, taking fish; two commons of 27 & 31, mirrors of 34.08, 38.08, 21.08 & 18.
Next its the annual four week post spawning shut down, the carp left alone for recovery.
What happened was certainly not textbook, early May can be prime time for a big catch, plus a big pre spawning heavy weight. Three guys from Stoke-on-Trent, who know this lake very well, after coming here since 2005, came to a lake which looked like it had no carp in it. During six days on the lake, one bubbler was spotted. Nothing rolling, leaping, or showing any sign of activity. One mirror was caught at 30lbs. Weather all over the place. Turned out to be the most difficult weeks fishing here since 2002.
Two weeks later & it had all changed. Three guys on. Interesting for me to see, most of the activity was on the north side of the great wall & one guy, Jason, decided to fish there. Fourteen carp in four nights. Most of the fish getting caught in the dark, as is the general rule fishing there. Commons at 12, 25, 25, 26, 26, 31, 36 & 38. Mirrors at 20, 36, 38, 45 & 56. Other fish getting caught included a 60lb cat, six twenty pound commons & a mirror at 42.
Second week in April, the wanderers from Wokingham returned, Richard & Phil´s third trip here. This time was a very different visit, still no real sign of the carp feeding with any vengance. The weather went from perishing to the mid twenties in just a few days, a real trigger for spawning, which is what started to happen on the Friday, continuing until Monday afternoon, when the temperature started to tumble again.
Fourteen carp going; 58lb, 62lb 8oz, four 20lb´s, 54lb 13oz, 42lb 8oz, 41lb 6oz, 18lb & 16lb, three of which were commons at 32lb, 38lb & 29lb.
Things progressing & looking good so far, despite the cool weather. Three different fish over sixty pounds so far, one topping the lake record, has to be good news for the rest of the year.
Following the long cold & very wet winter, I was intrigued to see what effect this had on the carp. First group of the year arrived on the 16th March, for the annual event Spring cleaning week + hopefully some carp. The perishing weather continuing made things very difficult, with the carp showing no real signs of any feeding activity with any gusto. The first night, the temperature went down to -6°C. Nathan Bridle, Keith Prowse & Gary Baker took a total of ten carp, four commons at; 28lb 14oz, 29lb 4oz, 26lb 10oz & 23lb. Six mirrors at; 43lb 9oz, 40lb, 34lb, 45lb 10oz, 48lb 8oz & 62lb 9oz.
The end of the month & the Clay´s were back, from Littleover. The weather improved a little, slowly starting to warm up but still below seasonal averages. Eight carp in the net, two commons at 37lb & 33lb, a linear at 20lb & five mirrors at 42lb, 42lb, 25lb, 46lb, plus one more upping the lake record to 69lb 3oz. Always interesting to see how things turn out, this time Steve had only been fishing for a few hours, when he landed the sixty. Matthew & I had not been in the house long, which was a blessing, enabling us to participate in the ceremonial weighing & photographing.
Martin Good back again for another visit, fishing buddy Steve unable to make it, due to a visit to hospital. Good fishing continues, Martin landing fifteen carp, catching fish every day apart from on the Thursday – his birthday. I was secretly hoping for a sixty on his 60th; another time Martin. The fish went; commons 34.8, 31, 20, 33, 30, 28.8, 28.8, 21.8. Mirrors at 33, 51.8, 24, 46, 42, 24 & 39. We both put the higher than usual number of commons down to the bait. Veggie, nutty baits are frequent catches of commons, fishy, oily baits for the mirrors.
The last visitors of the season arrived, for a mix of fishing & tree lopping. Gary Baker took six fish, three commons at 26.8, 31.2 & 25, three mirrors at 35.4, 40.5 & 57.9. First trip for Ollie Kennard, who seemed to spend most of his time high up in the poplars, an occupation not for the vertigo sufferers! Ollie took four fish, one common at 32lb & three mirrors at 44, 51.7 & 55.8. Stuart Hicks, fishing the first swim past the boathouse, had sixteen carp; Homer the Ghostie at 25.8, three commons at 26, 32 & 34.8, with a spectacular collection of mirrors going 36.12, 32, 37.8, 44.12, 41, 45.13, 57.1, 51.5, 50.14, 53.13 & joining the sixty pounder club with a fish of 62.12. Well done Stuart!
When the four Devonian´s rolled up again, the autumn feeding binge had started in earnest & continued throughout the week. The morning first light to 10am feeding period noticeably moving to the afternoon. Very few fish have been landed during the night this year, especially since the end of April. Roy, Chris, Les & Lady Ballantine (doing it again with a record cat for the lake at 73lbs) landed a total of twenty five carp + the one cat. For Roy; two commons at 19.14 & 29.12, four mirrors at 36.12, 41.12, 22.15 & 61lb. For Les; two commons at 24.7 & 20lb, six mirrors at 54.12, 33.7, 50.8, 50.4, 23.8 & 59.1. Three fish for Jill; the cat at 73lb, a mirror at 39.15 & the only resident leather at 42.8. Nine fish for Chris, fishing the south bank; one common at 30.2 & eight mirrors at 43.10, 38.4, 53.4, 49.12, 55, 59.12, 23.6 & 37.4.
Steve Godfrey & James Hampton came back for a second visit, for the third week of the month. Along with brother Rob this time. Brother Rob landed three fish; one common at 44.4, one mirror at 43.2 & one cat at 73.15. The 73lb cat was a lake record by a few ounces, but which lasted for just four days. Brother James, after an epic battle, which started during our evening Port break, lifted the lake record cat to 80lbs (Glad I was waterside to witness the event guys). James landed eleven carp; three commons at 34, 30 & 27.9. Eight mirrors going; 12, 48.12, 39.4, 38.4, 62.2, 60.2, 15 & 57.6. A big thing for me, which is a first here to date, was James landing the two sixties during the same week, just twelve hours apart. One of the sixties being a new fish moving into the sixty pound category. Father Godfrey took five fish; one cat at 64, three commons at 32.12, 28.6 & 23.2, one big mirror at 54.12. (In case anyone asks, no; they are not really monks).
After a cycling holiday down in the south of France, back to fishy business again, with the arrival of the Bakers. This second week in August turned out to be a difficult one. The fish were constantly active from first light until around 10am; rolling, bubbling & clouding up the bottom feeding. Casting to feeding fish here, usually within an hour, often within minutes, regularly provides a take. This time hook baits were constantly ignored. I had several goes myself, fishing to feeding fish, eventually catching an 18lb cat (taken out) & a 24lb common. For the Bakers; two commons at 26lb 4oz & 27lb 10oz, with four mirrors at 34lb 4oz, 44lb 8oz, 37lb & 49lb.
Six days later Steve & Rachel Clay arrived for their second visit. This week turned out to be a very different one, with the fish turned on. Eleven carp & four cats, the smallest fish going 31lbs, making this trip one of the best of the year. Four cats at 56, 54, 60 & 67, two commons at 31.12 & 31 (stalked on float fished worm up the shallows – I love it when people do this). Nine mirrors going 49, 43, 41, 37.12, 47.8, 31.4, 34.2, 56.4 & the big plated mirror showing its usual once a year appearance, this time at 55.8.
Doors open again for July, with another return visit for Jason Meigh, Tony Ashford & Kevin Heath from Stoke-on-Trent. For Tony, fishing opposite the larger of the islands; one cat at 50lb, a fully scaled home brew mirror at 18lb, one commons at 15lb & a second taking the lake record common to 47lb. Kevin fished close to the great wall, grass carp territory. The result, the most & the lake record landed in one trip. The grass carp went; two at 29lbs, two at 26lbs, the fifth at 42lb. Kevin took two commons at 33lb & 43lb.
Roy Williams & Jill Wilcox on the lake for another return visit, this time again earning her new pseudonym of Lady Ballantine, by raising the lake record again, I think for the third time. Roy took six carp & two cats, three commons at 25.2, 25.4, 23.4, three mirrors at 18.8 (fully scaled), 29.14 & 59.4. Two cats at 46 & 24. Jill´s fish went; two commons at 45.14 & 27, four mirrors at 40, 45.8, 52.6 & the new lake record at 66.4. For the regulars, this fish was the fish with a small patch of scales below the dorsal on the left flank, making a triangle.
End of the month before the gates close for June post spawning, I had a few sessions down the lake, some successful, some not. Mirrors which came along; 45lb 2oz, 30lb 4oz, 24lb 2oz, 24lb 4oz & 34lb, with one common rolling into the net at 22lb. Sheldon Starkey took three cats in three nights; 10lb, 67lb & 65lb.
First week of the month & the weather turned into Spring again. First timers here Kevin Merritt & Steve Ali were to profit from it. The carp were still lethargic but were feeding visibly more regularly now. The guys landed two cats at 50.8 & 18.8 (taken out) & eight carp, four commons at; 26.4, 23.12, 22.8 & 23.6, four mirrors at 34.6, 28.6, 53.8 & 62.8.
Last week of the month & the fish switched on. Phil & Richard took twenty two carp in total. They kept on the move to get the best from their week here but their efforts were rewarded. Noticeably, most of the big carp came in the last 36 hours. Clouds finally blotted out the dazzling sunshine & the barometer finally dropped. Twelve fish to Phil going; 9lb mirror, 29lb common, 2 doubles, 3 twenties, 11lb, + four better mirrors at 34, 38, 52 & a very honest 49.15. For Richard, ten fish; 22 fully scaled, 22 mirror, 36 mirror, another 36 mirror, 41.6 fully scaled, 45.8 mirror, 55.10 mirror, 43 commo, two more mirrors at 60lb & 54lb 10oz.
The first group of anglers arrived for the week 19th to 25th. The Brittany weather during March & April can swing from one extreme to another, for this group; it was a text book disaster. The week previous I had been working outside in shorts, after late morning. The guys arrived to lower temperatures, then a north easterly blew up & it just got colder. The day after they left, back in the shorts under glorious sunshine. The fishing was notoriously difficult, just three fish coming out at 23.2, 36.6 & 24.4. See what happens next time.