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   Old Thread  #1  13 Oct 2016 at 11.40am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
I have had one or two PMs from members asking me to re-post some of my articles about fishing in the south west and abroad during what were the formative years of what is now modern carp fishing. It was a time of great excitement as each trip was a journey into the unknown, a journey of discovery, if you like. New venues, new tackle, new idea, new tactics, these all came to the fore when I was cutting my teeth on carping in general. I have been a keen angler since I was a kid so as well as my carpy reminiscences I will also take a look at the rest of my formative years as a coarse, fly and sea angler.

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   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.



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   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.
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   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, only for them to be greeted with a great deal of scepticism by the local anglers Then just to muddy the waters still further, the following winter I caught Jellybelly at a decent weight. I looked like a complete fool all over again.



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 shots of the drained lake.

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.
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   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.


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   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?

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   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…
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   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.



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   Old Thread  #404 23 Mar 2019 at 1.56pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #403
Later that year I switched to my first love bait wise, namely paste baits. They cannot be used everywhere but if you can get away with the bait not being destroyed by small fish then paste have many advantages over boiled bait. The HNV base mix created fantastic pastes and by cramming as much powder into the eggs and the liquid attractors as possible, I found I could create a paste that could be cast out under the float and still remain on the hair. I used a small bead at the end of the hair and this formed the base around which to mould the paste. You can just about make out the early use of my Drop-Down Rig in this pic. The paste has been flattened by the fish flapping on the mat.



I had been using float fishing tactics for stalking the Salamander carp for the past three or four years and felt it was time for a change. Certainly I had seen what appeared to be carp testing above the bait from the presence of line coming down from the float Sounds a bit hard to take in, eh? Yes, that's what I thought, but takes were getting harder to come by. It was then that the newly introduced Kryston Multi-Strand appeared on the market and, for a while, it solved completely my presentation problems.

I used two end rig set ups. One for stalking in close where I could see the fish I was after and another for casting into the holes in the weed. The latter was straightforward enough, being simple tubing, a three ounce drilled bullet and six inch Multi-Strand hooklink. It was the margin stalking arrangement that was a bit different.

Basically, it is an extra long Combi link with four feet of Multi-Strand, attached directly to the reel line. The set-up was fished free line style and the bait was moulded around the hook (no hair).

(Don't laugh! The method was then and remains to this day a fabulous stalking tactic and I thank my lucky stars I had the foresight to order half a dozen spool from The Tackle Box before Kryston was taken over in 2018).

Immediately after switching to freelined paste I went on a lovely run of captures from the lake. I had seven fish in as many early morning visits, fishing paste on the hook. In most cases, I actually watched as the carp picked up the bait. Invariably, the fish moved away slowly with the bait well into its mouth, looking for a further bait sample. I have no doubt that they did not know they had a hookbait in their mouths. Some of you may think that there would be a problem with the Multi-Strand as it is prone to form a loop off the bottom, but the material is so soft that the fish are not spooked by it. Many times I saw fish brushing against the long section of Multi-Strand without appearing alarmed in the slightest. I can see how they might become more cautious after repeated captures, but this should not occur for some time. Obviously, the method has its limitations, but given similar conditions and style of fishing, I cannot see why it should not work anywhere.

Salamander had, by now, established itself as one of the most difficult lakes I had fished. In order to catch on a regular basis, it was vital to keep thinking, thinking, thinking all the time and about every aspect of one's approach. It was one such radical departure from the norm that kept me on fish through a long, hot summer when the pool lay stagnant and torpid and the fish seemed to be similarly affected. Recalling my early days at the lake when maples had proved so successful we reverted to the particle approach with some success.



My mate Bill and I had talked at Savay the previous summer about trying the continental approach to carp fishing, namely using groundbait. While it failed miserably in The Valley (the bream hammered us) I was not discouraged and felt that Salamander would be an ideal place to revive the idea.

I experimented with a few assorted recipes but as distance was not a factor in the fishing at the pool, there was no need for great big match style balls that splashed down like a depth charge. No, I wanted a sloppy mix that I could introduce up by hand, putting bait into likely margin swims at the dam end of the lake. Eventually, I settled on a mix comprising equal parts of groats, crushed and whole hemp, maize meal and salmon fry crumb. This gave the groundbait its unique carp appeal and I have no hesitation in suggesting it to anyone thinking of trying a similar approach. Without salmon fry crumb, the groundbait is a goodie but with the addition of the strong smelling crumb, it takes on a whole new lease of life and will draw carp into a swim very effectively.


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   Old Thread  #403 23 Mar 2019 at 1.54pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #402
The lake was beginning to lose its originality and freshness for me and this coupled with the growing number of visiting anglers from all over the south, again led me to seek out pastures new for much of the summer of '88 but
Carole and I returned to the lake with a vengeance that autumn, taking six twenties in three visits. Carole set the ball rolling with, who else, but The Pet. This was followed by Big Daddy, Jellybelly, Gutbucket and finally Daddy yet again. More encouraging still were two 'new' carp we had not seen on the bank before, one a curious looking mirror with a very crooked back, which was christened Quasimodo.



The other new fish was also a mirror that Tat caught at a shade over eighteen pounds.



Tat ended a memorable spell with Goldie at 21lb 2oz, a gorgeous fish which I had first caught in the winter of '85 at 19lb. One of the most pleasing captures of the year was her a shade over twenty pounds. The fish had not been caught for seven years and was thought to be dead. Indeed, the circumstances of its "death" were well documented.

Apparently, a youngster had found the fish in the shallows apparently in some distress. Hoiking it out the kid took it home to show his Mum. She screamed in horror and told him to get rid of the now-dead carcass, so the youngster had returned the lifeless corpse to the lake where it promptly came back to life!

In the end we caught just about every fish in the lake on our HNV baits with essential oils, confirming that such baits are inherently attractive and can be fished as single hook baits, or with a light applications of free offerings. Others using pure attractor baits which contained high levels of commercial flavours did not fare so well.

By the start of the 1989 season, we were looking at perhaps seven or eight carp over twenty pounds in the lake; Daddy, Gutbucket, Jellybelly, Goldie, The Pet, Clover, and one other big fish that we had all spotted at various spots around the lake but had yet to put it on the bank. How a fish could do this had me beat, for some of the best carp anglers in the area were fishing the lake by now and most of the fish had been caught at one time or another.

It wasn't until Ken Jones arrived on the water, following successful seasons on Rashleigh and a local syndicate water, that the mystery of the uncaught fish was solved. He caught it within a couple of visits at 22lb 12oz a gorgeous fish that had definitely not been caught before and so acquired the nickname of The Mystery on the spot!



Most of the more successful anglers were on fairly high tech baits of one description or another but one of the most effective baits was dear old bread. You see the locals threw tons of the stuff at the resident swans and ducks and the carp could often be spotted underneath the feeding birds, picking up bits of bread that were missed by the squabbling wildlife.

The lake did not appeal to everyone. For a start it was a park lake with all that that entails. Night fishing could be a bit hairy as the lake was on the glide path from the pub to the council estate, and when you heard drunken laughter and riotous singing you kept your head down! My mate Nige hated the place as did a few other Rashleigh friends. In fact Nige's only fish from the lake was Daddy, caught on a free lined piece of bread flake underneath the ducks.

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   Old Thread  #402 23 Mar 2019 at 1.49pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #401
Playing around with Geranium EO we quickly found the optimum level to be 2ml per kilo. Clove EO seemed to be much stronger and 1ml per kilo was found to be ideal. It wasn't until we tried a combo of the two that we found what we thought then was a winning combo. First it was Daddy that took a shine to the milk HNV, falling to the clove and geranium oils mix. A string of other big fish followed and by the end of October every fish in the lake was on the lookout for our bait. Most of the biggies eventually tripped up on it and yet again Tat banked her 'Pet' a fish that seemed unable to resist her charms…A bit like me, in fact!



Throughout the summer the weed posed a few problems but it was nothing we couldn't cope with. It also had the effect of putting off the county's itinerant trophy hunters who were somewhat daunted by the weed. As if the weed beds were not enough, the council had also seen fit to introduce a silly little wooden platform moored by chains at all four corners, in the hope that a pair of swans that had made the lake their home would nest on it. The swans viewed the flimsy affair with disdain and nested downstream, but in the meantime the raft remained. It soon became a holding area but the carp usually managed to escape by bolting around the chains.



By the following year the news was out on the local grapevine about Daddy and his back up twenties, to say nothing of the dozen or so upper-doubles. Not unnaturally, quite a few new faces arrived on the scene. As the pressure increased still further, the fish got cuter and our previous success became harder to achieve. So cute had the fish become that it was common to watch carp spook off a carpet of bait. Indeed, they would even spook off single hookbaits. A few of the lads turned to particles, but with little or no success.

The lake was by now badly silted up, the winter silt being deposited at the shallower end, completely covering the original bar which John and I had fished in 1980 and reducing the depth over the silted area to less than a foot. So bad was it that a quarter of the lake became unfishable. You can see how shallow it was by the photo below. The overall depth in the rest of the lake was reduced to an average of less than three feet and with problems arising with ducks and swans picking up hookbaits and free offerings, the lake was becoming increasingly hard to fish.



Prebaiting was out of the question due to the bird life. Even at night the swans were capable of spotting and picking up baits and for most of the anglers regularly fishing the lake, pure attractor baits became the order of the day.
However, I couldn't help feeling that Hi-Nu-Val and the Addits (no longer a prototype but now a proprietary base mix following the launch of Nutrabaits in 1987) was an attractor bait in its own right. Match this magic base with an essential oil and you'd have a bait that was radically different from anything else the other anglers were using. Keeping free offerings to a minimum kept the birds off the baits, yet still provided a feeding stimulus that the carp found much to their liking.

The base mix also made surprisingly good pop-ups as we discovered one day when Tat decided to fry a handful in a light coating of sesame seed oil. At the time she was aiming at creating a slightly different 'smell' profile but that idea went out of the window when she found out that the bait all floated. Pop-ups were just beginning to find favour with the carp world in Cornwall, though the rest of the country had been onto them for a year or more. Until ready made pop-ups appeared on the market we used fried Ni-Nu-Val to make all our pop-ups. Adding a few mils of essential oil or neat flavour to the cooking oil also added still more attraction.


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   Old Thread  #401 23 Mar 2019 at 1.45pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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The bait that had done so well on College had not been used to any great extent on other venues so I began slipping a few kilos into the lake on a regular basis and in June '87 I finally got around to fishing there again. Carole and I spent hours making thousands of 8mm boiled baits using the smallest Gardner Rollaball. The bait was as follows:



7oz rennet casein
3oz egg albumin
2oz Lactalbumin
2oz Bengers
1oz Davina Body Build
2g Cajoler
0.5ml N-butyric acid
15ml Minamino
15ml Liquid Liver
6 size
2 eggs
scald for 15 seconds.

I suppose we must have made up about four dozen mixes with which to prebait the lake with the new HNV, which was introduced in just two areas; the Aquarium one of my favourite fish-watching spots, a swim beneath a drooping willow tree, close to the inlet at the opposite end of the lake. By the time I came to fish the lake at the end of June '87 it was clear that the fish were going ape over the baits. It seemed a strong possibility that the biggest fish in the lake would fall to my attack sooner rather than later, and so it proved one glorious summer's morning. This is the story…

I arrived at the lake around noon and I had the lake to myself. There was no one else fishing, but the weed looked to be almost insurmountable. In fact, only the two prebaited swims were still fishable and those only in the margins where you could see that the bait was in the clear. In the prebaited swims the fish had created dinner plates, patches of gravel, scoured clear of silt. These proved that the carp had cleaned up the baits I had been introducing and as I crept into the swim under the willows, I felt pretty confident.

A couple of handfuls of mini boilies went in and I sat back to watch events unfold. Eventually, a few fish came ghosting out of the thickest weed and quickly cleared up the free offerings. I hadn't cast in as yet, but now I got
the float gear ready and dropped it in the margins, the float right up against the bank, almost touching it. The hookbait, a string of mini-baits threaded on to sewing cotton and attached to the eye of the hook, was no more than four or five inches from the edge. There were no further introductions of freebies, all there was left in the swim was the hookbait. As I watched Daddy came into the swim, swam straight up to the hookbait and sucked it in. A hectic fight followed in which the fish snagged me twice. Twice I started to strip off to go in for it and twice the fish came free. Eventually, the fish slipped over the net cord and he was mine. He weighed 26lb l4oz and was at the time, my second heaviest fish.



The year continued to smile on us and a few samples of essential oils arrived from Tim and Bill Cottam, prior to the launch of Nutrabaits. These would produce a string of nice fish from Salamander before the end of the year. 8mm Hi-Nu-Val combined with the essential oils worked a treat and accounted for just about every carp in the lake that summer. Indeed, at one point we had them queuing up for more!


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   Old Thread  #400 23 Mar 2019 at 1.43pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #399
In the three to four years that followed, I spent less time at Salamander than before. College had become my number one venue and Salamander was relegated to become simply a water where I might while away the odd hour or two in the evening. College was definitely a session water and I didn't think that Salamander would respond to session fishing. However, it would not be long before I was proved wrong in this assumption.

My occasional forays to Salamander Lake, fitted in between work and two or three day trips to College, were rewarding enough but with disappointing success compared to the early days. A few guys had begun session fishing the lake on a regular basis, among them was Tony Chipman, a committee member of Roche A.C. who very kindly showed me his spots on Rashleigh on my first visit. It was Tony who stirred my interest in the lake again when he caught Daddy at over 24lb during his winter-long campaign. Here's Tony in action.



I had never given too much thought to my presentation. I was convinced that simple, six inch Dacron rigs, using the tag of hooklink material passed through the eye to form the hair were all that was needed.



However, that summer I began a fishing one specific area of the lake where the weed was thickets. Here the best tactic was to fish a single hookbait over a carpet of hemp. The swims I fished were shallow and the water still clear so it was very easy to observe carp and their reactions to baiting situations and to rigs in general. I was shocked when I watched the Salamander carp suck in and then reject my simple Dacron rigs without so much as a bleep or a rattle of the rod tip, I knew I had to put my thinking cap on again.

After a great deal of frustration messing about with tubes and silicone and other rig gizmos I realised that there was no rig better suited to margin fishing than the simple float fishing tactic I had used to fish in the edge on most of my earliest trips to the lake. My reliance on the dominant high-tech aspect of modern carp fishing had blinded me to the fact that simplicity usually brings its own rewards.



In 1987, 1 started using the high protein bait I had been using on College. It was a highly experimental bait, based on the milk protein HNV approach and was, in fact, the prototype of the enzyme-based bait that Tim Paisley had worked on over the years. Carole and I were the only carp anglers in the south west to be on the bait, though other anglers throughout the country were field testing the radical idea in preparation for a commercial launch of the base and the enzymes, along with a range of the then only whispered about essential oils and other enhancers, stimulators and amino acid preparations.

The bait I was using would become Hi-Nu-Val, the enzymes and other enhancers would be named the Addits. The bait, the additives and the essential oils Tim and Bill Cottam were playing with were set to change the way carp anglers think about flavour compounds for ever. Nutrabaits was still several years away, but the bait was one that Carole and I used to catch over two hundred College fish in both 1985 and 1986.



The summer of '87 saw me putting in the hours at Salamander for the first time. I'd been on College for the past four years and to be honest I was getting a bit fed up with the place. I felt like a new challenge and Salamander would do nicely.
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   Old Thread  #399 19 Mar 2019 at 3.47pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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However, there was a bait freak burgeoning inside me bursting to get out, so while we were on a roll, I changed the bait! (Yes, that makes a lot of sense, Ken!). I switched the Nectarblend for another Haith's product, P.T.X. and switched flavour from banana to cinnamon oil, which I bought from a local health food store. Apparently it was used as a calming vapour rub, or some such nonsense. I used it at 2ml per 500g and it reeked! The new bait worked equally as well and it didn't take a genius to figure out that it was the Robin Red and the lower flavour levels that were doing all the damage.

Throughout the year I divided my time between Rashleigh and Salamander, really piling in the Robin Red bait and reaping the rewards, In November, I caught Big Daddy again, this time at 201b 4oz, the first authentic capture of a twenty from the water. The big fish definitely had the taste for the Robin Red bait by now, for I caught him again a few months late, up in weight a fair bit. He obviously liked his boilies.



Most of the fish were growing steadily but were, at the same time, becoming more and more crafty. The next year was definitely The Year of the Floater. The duck problem was nothing like as bad as it is today, so I was able to get away with prebaiting and fishing with free offerings, in my book, virtually indispensable for successful floater fishing. The carp in Salamander quickly wised up to floaters and stopped taking them altogether after a couple of years but to start with they were just silly for them. The bait I favoured was Purina Dairy Dinner, a hoop shaped biscuit, coated in a lovely, sweet smelling, milky powder that the carp adored. Rig? Dead complicated; I threaded four on to the nylon hooklink greased with Mucilin, the stuff in the little round red tin. Here's Daddy (I think) snaffling down floaters, Chum Mixers in this case, a few years later.



At one stage, I thought I had caught every fish in the lake, but a subsequent comparison of photos with Ian showed that I had missed out on three that he had caught but I hadn't. However, as I'd had nineteen different fish we were able to revise upwards slightly our estimate of the number of fish in the pool. Two memorable sessions stand out in my mind. The first was the first day of a week off sick following an operation - the unkindest cut of all! - and with stitches still healing in a tender place, I spent a hectic evening at the pool, taking three fish in an hour off the top. One of the trio proved to be a right mug for floaters as I caught the fish four times during the year, each time on the same bait and presentation. Apologies for the Billingsgate shot.



The other capture that stands out in my memory involves the first ever capture of the fish that came to be known as Carole's Pet. I was building most of my own rods at the time on Sportex and North Western blanks. I had just finished the whippings on a new S.S.5 that I had been building and outside, the weather looked perfect for floater fishing, but I had no suitable light floater rods, having stripped down my entire collection for rebuilding. With the varnish still drying on the SS 5, I took it to Salamander and had The Pet on the bank within five minutes of arriving at the lake. Little did I know that I would not see that fish fall to my rod again for another seven years. In the meantime, Carole caught it over and over again, repeatedly stuffing the capture up my nose and earning the fish its well deserved nickname. My first encounter with the carp soon to become known as Carole's Pet.



More ancient history to come...
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   Old Thread  #398 19 Mar 2019 at 3.43pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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"I thought you said you were going to use toffee", said John, who had been putting a six egg mix in a day.
"Coffee, you prat!" I replied.

Coffee, Toffee, Schmoffee! They don't seem to care much either way, John joked as his bait was virtually taken on the drop! Soon one of my rods was away to a nice double. It was the first capture of Clover, the lovely near-pure leather with the clover leaf pattern on its flank. The fish weighed just over 18lb.



Unknown to us at the time, another carp man was fishing the lake, a guy called Ian Johnson. Ian lived close to the lake and every lunchtime he would stroll down to the lake and fish freelined bread flake to rest on the top of the weed. In fact, Ian had been fishing the lake since the fish first went in and had probably caught most of the lakes carp when they were mere babies. Now he was catching regularly on the most simple tactics.

We often bumped into each other and were able to compare catches and start building a more precise picture of the lake and its carp in our minds. Ian was keen to try the obviously successful rig and bait John and I had been using but, at the time, the rig was definitely still on the secret list and, much as I liked Ian, I wasn't about to give away my edge. I did give him the recipe for the bait however, and he caught a carp of just over nineteen pounds on a lump of freelined paste.

This fish was not Big Daddy but another fish that was destined for local fame and fortune, a fat, yet very pretty carp that we nicknamed Gutbucket. This meant that we now had two fish approaching twenty pounds in the pond and, judging from Ian's catches and those of John and myself, it looked as if there were perhaps eighteen to twenty sizeable fish in the lake.



With hindsight, it is obvious that our rather haphazard attitude to flavours and flavour levels would start to work against us in time, but we were way too inexperienced to realise this at the time. Sure enough, it wasn't long before the carp began to get rather wary of small red balls of food emitting a wide variety of unnatural pongs, and a return to a particle approach was only temporarily successful. It was time to find out more about bait and bait science in order to get more out of the obvious potential of boiled baits.

At the end of 1980, I pulled off Salamander in favour of a local club water, Wheal Rashleigh, belonging to Roche AC and it was on this water that I refined the basic bait and flavour. There was no doubt that Robin Red had considerable long-term pulling power and I enjoyed considerable success on the lake, still using a fairly simple recipe, but with a lower level of just two flavours, cinnamon and banana, both from Rod Hutchinson. The bait was a simple variation of the original with slightly elevated levels of Robin Red. It was 6oz Nectarblend, 2oz Robin Red, 2oz Gluten plus 3ml of the flavour blend and 5ml of Hermesetas. This bait was readily devoured in great quantity by the Rashleigh fish and it accounted for the largest mirror and the largest common in the lake on my first visit, both taken within half and hour of each other! This is the big mirror a fabled old warrior soon to be christened Busted Tail by the growing carp fishing fraternity in the Club.



Reading up about baits suggested that a dollop of a sophisticated milk protein would improve the bait no end, and one of the whispers suggested Casilan, a baby food. This was actually calcium caseinate, a refined variant of rennet casein. In for a penny…I bunged in four ounces of the stuff for good measure! Soon my little red balls became the going bait on both Rashleigh and Salamander.
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