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   Old Thread  #139 27 Feb 2017 at 11.06am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #138
By now the word was out about College and we began to see more and more anglers from far and wide visiting the lake and the fishing was definitely getting harder as a result. I hoped that all of Tim’s claims for his bait would come true and was not to be disappointed. Tat and I started putting the bait in and after a slow start began to catch fish on it catching the lakes first thirty and countless other fish to boot. By late winter the bait was established and our results had begun to show exactly the pattern Tim had suggested it would, namely that his bait began to out fish every other bait on the lake.



I was very honoured to be chosen by Tim (and as it turned out, by Bill Cottam, who was working with Tim on a product line up for the soon to be born Nutrabaits giant). The bait was an out and out milk HNV (or HERNV – higher nutritional value, as Tim called it) and some of the powders I was given to try were the prototypes of the Addit range. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, all I knew was that if it was good enough for those northern monkeys it was good enough for me.

In fact I almost ruined the bait right from the start by over zealous use of the suggested flavour. Tim had suggested Richworth Blue Cheese at 2ml/lb. I was still stuck on my high attract kick so I ignored this advice and used four times that amount. The bait caught from the off! I wrote to Tim suggesting his level was too low. Back came a furious reply calling me every name under the sun and telling me I was risking ruining his experiments by deviating from the suggested level. Tail between my legs I reverted to the original 2ml and sent a grovelling ‘sorry’ letter to Tim!

Tat and I were first anglers in the southwest to try out Tim's HERVN (higher HNV) recipe and I make no bones about the fact that it was entirely down to the bait that we caught so many carp. Truth be told our fishing skills left a lot to be desired but that just shows you the power of a good food bait. Even a couple of relative novices like us can catch!





The icing on the cake was the capture of the lake's first thirty. I had written to Tim to give a progress report and he wrote back saying that if things continued in the same vein we would sooner rather than later catch the biggest fish in the lake. Was the man psychic?



Tat and I enjoyed amazing success at College and in 1985 alone we caught over 200 doubles and twenty twenties using Tim’s HERNV recipe. In fact I got so carried away by College that I fell a victim to the numbers game, skived off, lost my job and generally messed up my life for a while. I was caught on the numbers game roundabout and couldn’t get off.

Tim’s HERNV with the prototype Addits was a brilliant bait that we used almost unchanged for seven years. In those years Tat and I caught over 1500 fish from College and to be honest I don’t think anyone has come even close to that (unless you know better) and some of our multiple hits were amazing. I can recall several occasions in the early 80s when we had twenty fish in a weekend session.

This is my 1,000th carp from College.



But the bait world was changing and down in darkest Kent a plot was hatching to take over the carp world. Yes, the Prems were about to hit College!

I have mentioned the Premier Baits gang earlier and College had been chosen as one of their testing waters for their revolutionary fishmeal-based bait. Towards the end of the 80s these guys started showing up at College with monotonous regularity. Not only that, they kicked our arses for us with their Peach, Garlic and Nodd Oil fishmeals. The milks that had been so effective previously got shoved aside as the oils slicks grew and the fishmeals piled in. They were just awesome and fished every other bait out of sight.

I continued using Tim’s bait and to try to combat the effectiveness of the Prems I even went to extremes going right down in size to 8mm baits. I used the smallest Gardner rolling table and you can imagine how long it took doing a pound of bait and turning it into 1500 or so tiny boilies! Rolling that amount of 8mm boilies was bloody hard work! We used these at Salamander to great effect and for a while they worked well on College, but there was no escaping the fact that the Prems were ruling the roost.


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   Old Thread  #138 22 Feb 2017 at 4.13pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #136
As I have mentioned previously, I was not the bait man I am today back then. While it was true that I had a decent birdfood bait under my belt, thanks to my Ockenham days with Speedy Bill, in truth my knowledge of what constituted a good carp bait was pretty sketchy. When we first started on College was used a simple soya/semolina boilie heavily flavoured and sweetened with Liquid Hermesetas (aspartame). A pretty poor bait nutritionally but it worked like a charm right from the off. With hindsight I now know that our success was more down to the attractors we used (Geoff Kemp and Hutchy flavours) than to the composition of the base mix! Here's a common from October 1983 when Tat and I were using the soya/semo/brown sugar recipe.



However, as carp fishing popularity blossomed the bait world was coming of age and Steve in particular began to get caught up in the spider’s web woven by the mystique of nutritional recognition, milk proteins, amino acids and other strange potions. Tat and I stuck to the 50/50 mix as it was still catching and we saw no reason to change. Steve meanwhile was following a much more complex path using a milk protein and fishmeals base mix. While he caught one or two we still felt that our pretty basic mix was doing the business.

Steve and I had a few disagreements about the direction he was going with bait so we agreed to go our separate ways. If one bait started catching more than another we would then all go onto the more successful bait. For a while the more successful bait was the 50/50 mix Tat and I were using, as Steve's largely experimental bait had not performed as expected so we teamed up again, albeit briefly.

The early winter months of 1983/4 were significantly more productive that anything we’d previously experienced as the carp seemed to be queuing up off the Beach and the Little Bench, just waiting for a feed. I’ve already mentioned Steve’s Christmas Eve hit and throughout the winter we experienced some of the best winter fishing we had ever enjoyed. What Steve neglected to tell us was that for his big Christmas Eve hit he had reverted to his milk protein HNV while we plugged away on the 50/50 mix.

Tat and I caught reasonably well in 1984 but it was clear to see that our results on the highly flavoured soya/semo bait was starting to fall off while Steve's results just got better and better. It appeared that our flavour levels were excessive, though we didn’t realise this at the time. Consequently we enjoyed brief periods of action followed by a fairly rapid tapering off in our catches. Steve on the other hand, was producing consistent results on his HNV, which was very lightly flavoured. Here's Steve in action in the East Bank Swamp as his bait started to pull away steadily.




Though we were fishing as a team, and despite Steve’s seemingly better bait and strategy, I was still not at all convinced that Steve’s milk protein-based approach was all he cracked it up to be, so I began corresponding with Tim Paisley. At the time Tim was the thinking man’s thinking man. What he wrote about bait was ground breaking stuff and his early submissions to the Carp Society’s and NASA’s early mags were required reading if you wanted to get a better understanding about carp bait. To be honest I didn’t know if Tim would reply, as I felt sure my views on bait, as espoused in my first letter to him, would not sit easily with him. However, back came a long letter from Tim explaining his views and giving me a recipe that he had been working on with some of the top carp anglers in the north and in Kent. As far as I know it was the first recipe to use enzymes and other complex chemicals to trigger bait recognition.
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   Old Thread  #137 22 Feb 2017 at 4.08pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #136
The week after I caught Two Scales Tat and I went down for another day trip. There was not another soul on the lake, pretty normal at that time, so having done well on the SE Point we went in there again. Long story short: fishing two rods each we caught 14 carp in seven hours fishing, including a mirror of 29lb 3oz. At the time the fish was a Cornish record, though we didn’t shout about it as we were keeping the place well and truly to ourselves. The fish was another of the big Italian mirrors. It was my PB at the time and while it was not particularly pretty but it was significant in that I would catch it again a year or so later when it became my first thirty. Here she is in all her glory'.



At the time night fishing was not allowed and given that we thought we had discovered the El Dorado of carp lakes, we did not wish to risk our tickets by flouting that rule. The venue was far to good to put our fishing at risk simply to fish a night or two. Accordingly every session involved a hundred mile round trip from home to the lake and back, and we would take it in turns driving. I could tell you some tales about Steve’s driving but he may be reading this and I don’t want to make the guy blush. Suffice it to say, his sense of direction left a lot to be desired! As did the state of his old Ford Cortina; you could see the road going past under your feet through the holes in the floor pan! So given that it was days only – God only knows how many we’d have caught if we had been able to do nights – it came as a very welcome surprise when Stuart Bray gave us, as well and Mick and Bill, permission to night fish. Now we’d see some action!



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   Old Thread  #136 22 Feb 2017 at 4.07pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #135
In later years we experienced some pretty severe drought conditions and the low water exposed several elevated strips of light gravel between the silt beds. Locating these afterwards became a priority as the presentation was that much better on the slightly harder bottom.

Now it would be wrong to call these strips of gravel bars exactly as they came up only a foot at most out of the surrounding silt, but we thought that probably they were formed by underwater currents that washed the silt away from the tops of the strips. Right or wrong, we were convinced that finding these strips of less silty gravel was the answer.

Bars or not, we thought finding them was the key to success. This photo, taken from the SE Point shows the tops of the gravel strips that run across in front of the Beach (on the far left) and the Little Bench swims and they are between thirty and ninety yards out.



You can see from this next photo why was usually made a beeline for the Beach regardless of conditions, as the fish had found the bait to their liking and were visiting the area regularly. As quickly as we put bait in, they came along and mopped it up! We thought it was the bait that was responsible for the fish visiting the area but I guess the lakebed may have had something to do with it too!



Good though the fishing was in the Beach we knew that sooner or later we would have to drag ourselves away from the west bank. Steve had created the new west banks swim, the Ponderosa, and Tat and I had cleared some undergrowth and a few trees to create the Swamp from which we started fishing the back of the islands and to the point of the smaller one. While the fishing in both these newly opened swims was excellent, the fact remained that we needed to expand our knowledge of the rest of the ressie. In the end Steve bit the bullet and started fishing the east bank, starting to explore the area off the SE Point swim. He told us that there was nothing very special about the area in general other than the fact that there were always fish in between the two points at the mouth of the Cut.

Piling the bait in, Steve began to catch off the two points. Then, just before Christmas that year and he too started catching regularly Tat and I fished the SE Point for the first time, while Steve reverted to the Beach again, just in time to record his (at the time) historic catch on Christmas Eve 1983.

Meanwhile Tat and I really took a liking to the swim Steve had developed on the SE Point. Clearly there were more carp in College than we had imagined and they were spread out all around the lake, or so it seemed. Certainly the SE Point was very kind to us. This is one of the rare Italian mirrors that had been stocked into the ressie originally. The fish would become an old friend (Two Scales) and if truth be told she was a bit of a mug. She made many a SW carper a happy chappy as she was a PB for quite a few who fished the ressie until she died following the peanut blitz referred to earlier. As far as I know this was the first capture of the old girl at 22lb 6oz in February 1984.


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   Old Thread  #135 22 Feb 2017 at 4.04pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #134
When we started fishing College we were green as grass as far as big waters were concerned, and we didn’t really know too much about fishing deep silt either. So every trip we were on quite a steep learning curve. As outlines earlier in this thread, the bait was nothing special at the time – though it improved considerably not long after we started – and the rigs we used were straight forward four inch long nylon bolt rigs with a short hair. We used doctored Drennan Super Specialist hooks, size 4 and the lead was usually a 3-ounce Zipp, which we thought of at the time as the absolute bees knees.

I should perhaps explain the ‘doctored’ reference above. In my early years I had been a big fan of Au Lion d’Or spade end hooks. OK they weren’t the sharpest hooks in the business, but they worked. These became hard to obtain at one stage so I switched to the eyed versions, which were much thinner in the wire and to be honest not very good! Scratching around for an alternative we stumbled across and article in (I think) the first copy of carp Fisher in which the author was singing the praises of the Drennan Super Specialist hooks. Well, at first we hated them but then Steve came up with the idea of taking a pair of pliers to them. You see, straight out of the packet the SS are straight-shanked straight-point hooks, but we found that they were much more effective if you gave the point a tweak with the pliers so that it was offset; much like the Au Lion d’Ors. Steve also came up with the idea of making the eye down turned, again using pliers to achieve the desired effect. These next two pix show what I mean:





As for reel line, well, we were big Sylcast fans then and used the 11lb b.s. fished straight through to the running lead. We were already experimenting with trying to incite the carp’s natural curiosity so the stopper bead we used to protect the knot was 10mm and bright green luminous! This was one of Steve's ideas…he said it worked for flounder in the river so why not for carp? Steve was full of off-the-wall ideas like this and nine times out of ten they actually worked.

The line was fished bar taught in the new adjustable Gardner line clips that were just becoming available. These were whipped to the butt section just above the reel seat and then screwed down tight for maximum bolt effect.



You can just about see the clip – here it is a white version – on the rod in this pic.



Using these clips you could get the line so tight you could play tunes on it! And I am sure this had something to do with the blistering runs we would get. Of course, this crude state of affairs did not last long and we soon found it necessary to try a bit more subtlety in our approach.

One thing that was funny: We had no idea about fishing in silt and the associated problems, nor did we know anything much about plumbing the depth or dragging a lead over the bottom, so it was more a matter of blind faith that saw us chucking those three ounce bullets as far as we could cast them.

In fact the silt in front of the Beach was up to a foot deep but we only found that out a year or so later when I went out for a midnight swim. Putting my feet down to find the bottom I felt my legs sink into the silt. It came up to my knees! This meant that at the time, when we were unaware of the silt, in all probability the lead, and most likely the hooklink, hook and hookbait, were all buried nicely in the soft silt. It didn’t seem to matter; we still got blistering takes, even though it was quite probable that the fish were sticking their heads deep into the silt to get at the hookbait!
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   Old Thread  #134 21 Feb 2017 at 4.06pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #133
One of the most successful partnerships to fish the lake was Gary Thomas, Steve Beard and Mark England. These guys bailiffed the lake in the 90s and were heavily involved in trying to save College as a fishery when the threat of closure loomed. They caught a huge number of carp from the lake, and the photo shown here cannot even begin to tell the story of their successes.

Mark England (on the right) and Steve Beard, who with Gary Thomas formed a very successful group of College anglers in the 90s.



This shows Gary on the right on a French trip with his missus Alison on the left. With them is Dutch writer and photographer Cor de Man and his missus.



One time tackle shop (The Bait Bunker) owner Marcus Watts was one of the most successful anglers in the southwest and his catches on College were the stuff of legends. He holds the lake record with a mirror of 34lb and he added a 31lb mirror on the same overnighter, College’s first brace of thirties and a record that may even stand to this day (unless someone wants to tell me differently!). Marcus's other claim to fame is The Source, the Dynamite Baits base mix. Marcus developed the recipe specially for the Cornish Reservoirs - originally it was called The Reservoir Special. Marcus worked as product development manager for Dynamite for several years, allowing them to release the recipe as the Source. He now owns Future Baits and his company rolls several tonnes of bait a week from the new factory in Wadebridge…He's come a long way since his tiny little tackle shop in the town! Here he is with a College thirty.



Other anglers worthy of a mention on College’s roll of honour include Martin Cox, Dave Billet, and of course, the amazing Gert Louster.

Roy Williams from Portsmouth was a regular visitor and it was Roy who made history at the lake by catching what was at the time the biggest common ever caught in Cornwall, a fish of 29lb + and this capture featured in an advert for Renmill Proteins. Alan White, Terry Smith, Mike Kavanagh, Paul Willis, Vic Cranfield, Nige Cobham and Ian Chilcott visited the lake, as did several of the north Devon Mafia, the Newton Abbot crowd and loads of guys from the Bristol area.

I should also mention the Premier boys, as College was one of the major field testing sites for the fledgling bait firm Premier Baits and all the firm’s field testers and directors came down to the lake during the late 1980s. In fact for a long while Prems ruled the roost on the lake, putting every other bait in the shade. Quite a few of the locals switched from what they were using at the time the Prems to ride the coat tails of the success shown by the early visitors from Kent and Essex. If you can recall an article I did for Carpworld back in the late 80s called 'It's a Nightmare' that was all about the first time I came up against the Kent boys and their fishmeals. Prems rule, OK!



For a time it was very hard competing with the overwhelming number of Prems going in and even though I had thought my own bait (the Tim Paisley/Nutrabaits recipe) was going to carry on as before, I was noticing a slow drop off in my catch rate. However, the good old milk HNV still put one or two on the bank, but it has to be said, the visitors from up country really showed us a clean pair of heels. It was time for Nutrabaits to bring out a fishmeal base mix. Call for Dave Moore! Tat and I had to grin and bear it through the frustrating months when Prems were all-conquering, but we still managed to put a few on the bank, even in the face of the onslaught by the Premier boys.




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   Old Thread  #133 21 Feb 2017 at 4.05pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #132
This quartet of anglers really does deserve a special mention for some of their exploits. In particular Gra, Tony, Steve and Nige did very well after they switched to fishmeals working together with Steve W. to put together a very effective bait. (This was well before the Premier boys came down.) While Tat and I were still using Tim Paisley’s recipe with the prototype Addits, the Kids went off at a tangent to build on the recipe Steve had been using from Day 1. They had seen how a well-applied food bait could score, especially when it was heavily baited and the four of them quickly reaped the rewards of heavy and consistent baiting. They called their bait The 5-3-1 and even to this day I have no idea what was in it.

As you know if you have read this little tale from the beginning, Steve and Nige were the driving force in developing Treesmill as Roach AC's prime carp venue but they also spread their wings far and wide and caught more or less everywhere they went, jammy buggers. This is Nige with a real forty pound plus chunk on tigers from a French lake.



And this is Steve Churchill with another forty also on tigers from a French lake.



Graham Orchard was a very successful angler and bailiff. It was Graham who showed us the effectiveness of high attract single hookbaits, in about 1988, when I don’t think anyone had mentioned the tactic in print before. I remember turning up in the Beach one day just as Gra was pulling off. He’d had something like 20 fish in his session on single hookbaits at extreme range. He told me what he’d been using and where but I poo-poo’d the tactics, claiming that big beds of bait would be much more successful. I followed him into the Beach and had two on big beds of bait and twelve on single hookbaits! Say no more. He was also a prodigious caster, able to chuck a bait at least thirty yards past any of the rest of us…perhaps this accounted for his successful development of ultra-high attract single hookbaits, now I think of it.

(Graham too passed away some time ago. He was a bailiff on College who stood for no nonsense, was Chairman of Roche AC for several years and did much to develop carp fishing in the local area. He would have found a fond welcome in the Official Longfield Drinking Team, had he ever been invited, as he had hollow legs. Gra was one of those larger-than-life characters, a rough diamond with a heart of gold. I can remember countless acts of really outstanding generosity on his part. He was a real gent and fantastic company. R.I.P Graham.)

Nige Britton was amazingly successful on College taking the biggest fish in the lake quite a few times at big weights. Sadly Nige never caught a thirty out of College but his run of twenty pound plus carp from College is, I believe, unmatched by anyone who fished the lake. Nige, like myself and most of the other original College anglers have not and will not fish Argal. Nige and Steve Churchill now do their own thing and are consistently successful from Cornwall to Kent and also across the pond.

This is Nige and Steve Westbury plus Nige’s Springer in the Ponderosa in about 1985/6.


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   Old Thread  #132 21 Feb 2017 at 4.01pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #131
The Brummie Lads arrived in force during the close season of ’85 and the predominant accent around the lake was pure Birmingham. Rob Hales, in his pre Telly Tubbies days, was a frequent visitor and quite a few of the faces from the Midlands made College their close season home.

As you have probably gathered by now, while a close season was in force in the rest of the UK, Devon and Cornwall were unique in allowing coarse fishing for twelve months of the year and of course College, among other SW lakes, became a Mecca for up-country anglers. As a consequence the lake was plagued with visitors from 15th March till 15th June. I remember one Whitsun weekend when 54 anglers were on the lake, some queuing up behind anglers already fishing. “When are you leaving, mate?” became a commonly heard phrase!

This sudden influx of anglers (many of whom it has to be said, didn’t care two hoots about the fish; after all, they were on holiday in Cornwall FFS!) had quite a dramatic impact on the fish and the fishing. We started to see some horrendous mouth damage and other evidence of general mishandling and abuse. In fact, many of us started moving the most badly damaged fish out of College into Argal, many years before the official transfer of College’s stock of carp was moved to Argal. This sort of damage became more and more common…



…and then it actually got even worse if that were possible. This fish was in a shocking state, as you can see. To give her a rest I took her up to Argal… I hope she managed to have a nice life after her move but with a mouth like that who knows.



We began to suffer fish losses and started to witness some gross looking fish coming out. At the time peanuts were all the range and many of the up-country anglers came down with sacks of the bloody things, which they piled in with gay abandon. Naturally the fish didn’t think it was so gay and they quickly lost condition and weight. The locals experienced several weeks of very poor fishing after the blitz finally finished and the ‘foreigners’ went home. This bloated fish was one of the peanut-affected victims.



And take a look at this poor old bugger, skinny as a rake after the close season invasion and the peanut blitz. This is Two Scales…compare her to a previous pic a couple of posts back where she is being held by Steve Westbury. Not long after this capture the poor old girl was found dead.



Many of the country’s great and good came to College in the 80s and early 90s but thankfully from a parochial point of view it was decided to abolish the UK close season on lakes in about 1990-ish and we no longer had such a barrage of visitors. That was manna from heaven I can tell you! Once the close season was abolished in the rest of the UK, College began to loose its popularity with up-country anglers. However, as their numbers dropped so more and more local anglers came in to take their place.

A group of four Cornish anglers from the St Austell area, Roche AC members Graham Orchard, Tony Chipman, Steve Churchill and Nige Britton started fishing the lake in about 1986/7. They were the first to use tigers properly on the water and they soon became known as the Tiger Nut Kids. Their technique was simplicity itself; using tigers very sparingly to catch a huge number of fish before eventually the tigers stopped working. They then switched to their own fishmeal recipe – the first people to use fishmeals on the lake – to carry on where the tigers had left off.
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   Old Thread  #131 21 Feb 2017 at 3.59pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #130
At times it seemed just about every fish in the lake gathered off the Ponderosa, the prime time being between first light and mid-day. After that they seemed to drift across to the eastern side of the lake. However, if you didn't mind the quiet time in between, you could almost set your watch for the returning shoal just after dark. Steve had plotted the carps' movement from the back of the small island up the lake towards the Ponderosa and had even isolated a particular feeding area off the Swamp where the fish could be guaranteed to feed around mid morning (see story earlier about the eleven o'clock fish). Here I am returning a fish at dawn in the Ponderosa.



As 1985 arrived so we continued to reap the benefits of having such a sensational venue more or less to ourselves. Mick Thorncroft and Bill Allsbury were the only others fishing the lake at that time but all that was about to change, more of which in a minute.

As we expanded our knowledge of the lake so we began to reap the rewards. New feeding areas were discovered more or less every visit and while Tat and I did our share of exploring, I have to admit it was Steve who really put in the hard yards, pioneering the fishing along the length of the ressies from the SE Pint down to the Bench and the Gap swims..



As I said, things were about to change at College. Word was beginning to leak out from Cornwall and among the earliest visitors were the late Barry Griffiths and Greg Fletcher. Baz caught Tat and I bang to rights on the water one summer when he was down on holiday with the family. He didn’t have the rods with him at the time but it was very unfortunate that he chose a midweek day when Tat and I had the lake to ourselves to take a speculative walk around the reservoir. Baz couldn’t believe it when he saw a pair of carp anglers on the bank and when Tat caught a nice little double figure mirror his eyes lit up. Why did she have to go and catch when an up-country angler was walking past: And why did that person have to be Baz!



We were, of course, trying to keep the place quiet and we begged Baz not to say a word about the place. He swore he wouldn’t tell a soul, but remember, three people can keep a secret only if two of them are dead! Someone who will remain nameless told the world and its wife and in next to no time the word was out, big style. There was even a rumour going around that a someone had pinned a map of the lake to a notice board in a pub used by BAA members, giving full details of location, where to get tickets and so on. They had even marked the hot swims with bright red empty milk crates. How kind of them…NOT! Though the milk crates were plain to see, the map may have been apocryphal, but our first unwelcome 'visitors' were all Brummies. Was it a coincidence that Baz came from Birmingham! I think you know the answer! Here's Baz with a College lump.



(Baz recently passed away and I am sure he will be greatly missed by the carp anglers of Birmingham and the Midlands. He was a founder member of the Carp Society, a Regional Organiser, a stalwart of the junior fish-ins and a member of the Frampton Syndicate. He could talk for England mind you, but was a really nice guy, and an accomplished carp angler. R.I.P. Baz.)
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   Old Thread  #130 21 Feb 2017 at 3.55pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #128
Cheers for your post, Andy. Glad you like my memories. I doubt that a book is likely to be a reality, though!

As you will see in the previous post, though the College fish were not the biggest in the land, they were certainly some of the prettiest.

In its early days some of the best anglers in the south west visited College and no mention of the ressie would be complete without mentioning the name Steve Westbury. Steve was one of the original pioneers of the lake and he fished with Tat and myself from 1982 –1985 before teaming up with Nige Britton. Steve now lives in Canada but he pops over to France occasionally to fish with his old mates from the College days. This is Steve with a proper French lump. To be honest he could catch carp from a puddle!



Before emigrating Steve enjoyed great success on College and several other southwest carp waters. I doubt if we would have done half as well in those first couple of years when Tat and I fished with Steve, for his ability to put himself in a carp's head was uncanny. Steve's watercraft was amazing and together we discovered so much about the lake and its inhabitants. Steve was also a hugely inventive carp angler and many of his ideas I still use today. He was a tremendous guy to fish with and his enthusiasm and skill helped unlock College’s secrets in the early days.

One of Steve’s many accomplishments occurred on Christmas Eve 1984 when he caught five twenties to 29lb plus in an afternoon in the Beach. This was unheard of in those days and would have made headlines in the weeklies without a doubt. Steve, however, played his cards very close to his chest and apart from Tat and I nobody had an inkling of what he had accomplished that day. Steve’s biggest fish was one of the Italians, and would a few months later become the first Cornish thirty. Steve and I had some truly amazing sessions on College and in the weeks following my capture of the thirty Steve himself made his own bit of history by landing another amazing hit of twenties including the large Italian that we came to know as Two Scales.



We had devoted most of our efforts into extending our knowledge of the west bank swims, of which there were only two initially, The Beach and The Swamp. However, we all spent time fishing other areas along that sun-kissed bank and the area in front of a swim we called Little Bench was very productive. Tat and I did very well in there as did Steve and Bill. Heading further northwards along the west bank took us into the North Bay and there were one or two features close in that became real hot spots in a big SW wind. Bill and Mick fished the north Bay a fair bit and their results were pretty special.

However, Steve's eye was caught by a seemingly featureless expanse of water to the left of the Swamp. There were no actual swims at all between the Swamp and The Beach but Steve decided to create one on a small corner of the path through the woods and his exploration of the lakebed from the swim eventually paid off in spades for all of us. This is Steve fishing in the swim he created, which we called the Ponderosa.



The swim itself seemed at first to be nothing special but it was clear that the fish loved to patrol all over the large area off the Swamp and leading northwards up the lake towards the Beach. Thus the Ponderosa became a perfect interception point as it gave access to the flatlands that dominated the south western end of the reservoir. This photo, looking down the lake from the corner of the North Bay shows the general area of the west bank. In the distance is the flat area in front of the Ponderosa during a drought year The pic particularly shows how apparently featureless the area between the Ponderosa and the Swamp was, yet the silt was alive with natural food and the fish would always get in there for a feed as long as there was enough water to cover their backs. The rocks on the right caused much mirth and jollity when we got swamped by up-country angler during the close season. First thing they invariably did was don the chesties and go out for a scout around. Looking on from the opposite bank we saw many a visitor go tits up on the rocks. The point of the small island is marked with a red dot while the green dot marks the position of the Swamp.




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   Old Thread  #129 20 Feb 2017 at 8.43am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
I hadn't popped in here for a while...... Great stuff Ken. I'm sure there's a bloody good book in there. Don't know if there's any prospect of that, but it would be nice to see one published.
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   Old Thread  #128 9 Feb 2017 at 3.47pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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The two swims at the mouth of the Cut were also very productive at times. These were known, not surprisingly, the Southeast Point and the Northeast Point. In the right conditions these swims could be red hot.

Another superb swim was the Holly Bush. The area in front of the swim was just one giant field of silt, some of it two feet or more deep. However, it was so hugely rich in natural food that at times just about every fish in the lake would gather there to feed on naturals. If you happened to be there at the same time as they were, boy, could you fill your boots. This open water swim, situated close to the Southeast Point, is another swim that holds dear memories for Tat and myself. In April 1984 we caught 47 fish in 36 hours from the Holly Bush, a previously unheard of feat in Cornish carp fishing. The session was all the more memorable for producing Tat's first College twenty and for a manic fish that nearly took my rod in. Here are a few nice doubles from that session.











And this is the manic fish, which later in life became one of College's first 30s and also, after it went up the road into Argal one of Argal's biggest carp. Here is weighs a meagre (!) 18lb. As you can tell by the soaking clothing, I did a swan dive into the lake to grab the rod butt before it disappeared.



And this is Tat's first College twenty.



Tat does the breakfast in the Holly Bush on that memorable weekend. I am surprised we found any time to actually eat!



For ages nobody ever fished in the Cut itself, preferring the shallow water in the main part of the lake. It wasn’t until my mate Bill came down for his first visit that I even considered it. Bill and I were walking up the Cut for a look-see at the main part of the lake before choosing somewhere to fish. “Does anyone fish in here?” he said, pointing to the Cut. “Nah. Waste of time!” I replied. “Very much doubt that, mate,” said Bill, which was how we came to fish the Cut for the first time. If memory serves me well we had something like 30 fish out in two nights!
This is a nicely scaled mirror caught from the foot of the dam wall in the Cut.


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   Old Thread  #127 9 Feb 2017 at 3.40pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Perhaps the swim with the most history and personal significance was the Beach. It was from here that Steve, Tat and I became the first anglers to really bag up on College when we started fishing it in 1983. It was also the spot where Steve twice broke the then lake record in 1983 and early ’84. At first when we first started on College there were no true swims and as we expanded our frontiers on the lake we opened up other areas of bank but it took us ages to drag ourselves away from the Beach simply because the fishing there was so extraordinarily good.

Initially we called the Beach, THE SWIM, simply because it was THE swim to fish back then. It later became known as the Beach, for obvious reasons. This is The Swim in about 1984



This is a very wide angle shot of the Beach taken in the mid-80s. It was almost a second home to us!



However, we realised that sooner rather than later we would have to spread our wings a bit more, and fish other spots on the lake. The thing was, at the time there were only about half a dozen what you might call ‘swims’ on the whole lake and if you fancied fishing an area and there wasn’t a swim there, then you just had to make one. To give you an idea of the pressure College came under over the years take a look at these two photos.

In this first one you can just about see Tat set up in a swim that we cut out especially to cover the point of one of the islands. It didn’t have a name at the time, but it was a lovely swim to fish. Nice and dry, you could fish it in your everyday shoes!



18. A few years on and the place became a mud bath. Where Tat's feet are in the pic above became so downtrodden that the lake flooded the whole area and your everyday shoes would have been lost in a couple of feet of mud! Thus the swim soon became known as The Swamp.



The Swamp became arguably the lake's most popular swim as it covered a lot of water and was also one of the most remote. It was this very popularity that accounted for it becoming something of a wasteland! Swamp though it may have been, it was usually the hottest swim on the lake.


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   Old Thread  #126 9 Feb 2017 at 3.37pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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The carp thrived and by the time the word got out about the lake it held several twenties to close to thirty pounds, predominantly the Italian fish. However, one or two of the Leneys also started pushing twenty and by the time carp fishing as we know it started in 1982/3 the lake held an estimated thirty to forty twenties.

I think I am right in saying that up until the time the reservoir was closed to fishing the lake record was 34lb, and this fish was caught by well-known local angler, Marcus Watts (creator of the Source recipe), who at the time owned a very popular tackle shop, the Bait Bunker in Wadebridge. In addition several other fish passed the thirty pound mark including a gorgeous silver common, which was only caught a few times at up to 36lb. This is Marcus with a lovely College thirty. Both Carole and I caught this fish at big weights but never at 30lb plus!


13. In the mid 80s the then fishery manager Del Mills stocked the lake with pike from a Midlands trout reservoir. These went in at over 30lb in weight but once the word got out and the bounty hunters descended on the place, the pike got hammered and most of them died due to over fishing.



There were plenty of other species in College including roach to 2lb, bream to 12lb and a few perch to over 4lb in weight. In addition the lake once held some massive eels and these became the target for quite a few specimen hunters in the mid 80s. The heaviest eel caught in 1998 was eight pounds in weight. For all I know they may still be in there and if so they must be massive by now.

The lake was closed to fishing in 1998 and a program of netting took place. About 150 carp were netted and transferred to Argal. The fish that were not netted remain in the lake, undisturbed now for the past twelve or so years.

Like most water supply reservoirs, College always suffered from fluctuating water levels and when the water was down you could fish just about anywhere on the lake. However, for the majority of the year while the lake held its maximum level you could only fish from certain swims. Eventually these became spread around 80% of the bankside with only a small area behind the islands remaining unfishable, but when we first started there were very few actual 'swims' as such

The most famous swims were all awarded names and the Bench, the Gap, the Swamp, the Little Bench and the Ponderosa were legendary. Then there was Mick’s Swim the only swim ever to become properly established in the North Bay, and named after Mick Thorncroft, carp catcher extraordinaire and stroke-puller par excellence!

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   Old Thread  #125 9 Feb 2017 at 3.36pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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For the most part College is fairly shallow, the deepest water being found near the dam at the end of the Cut. Here the lake plunges down to about twenty feet. Elsewhere in the main part of the lake, the depth varies between two to seven feet. College is a weedy water, and it was this weed that in part lead to its demise as a carp fishery. We’ll come to that later on. Water milfoil, some potomagetons and a thick stand of mares tails behind the island, are the dominant types of weed. From time to time Canadian Pondweed takes a hold, but as is usually the case with this species, it grows in cycles and while one year the Canadian Pondweed might be thick and almost unfishable, the next year it will practically disappear. The water milfoil holds a vast larder of natural food but when the Canadian Pondweed is bad the milfoil misses out and is choked off. However, it always makes a speedy recovery when it provides ample food and shelter for the carp.

The lakebed is very silty with up to 3ft of silt in places. Elsewhere the lake is dotted with slight contour differences of no more than a foot at the most. You could hardly call these bars as such but they were the key towards successful fishing at the lake. This view taken on the SE Point looks across to the west bank and shows the features in front of the swim that came to be known as the Beach (left) and the Little Bench (centre). The bypass is now built and you can see a bit of it on the right of the picture.



Gravelly areas are few and far between at College but if you could find the silt over gravel you would also find the fish. The silt itself is sweet and rich in food so the fish could get a feed just about anywhere on the lake. There is so much natural food in the lake that establishing a bait was pretty difficult but most of the top baits have held sway over the years, thanks to diligent application and presentation.

The lake has an excellent pH of between 7.5-7.8, which accounts for its richness. All the usual foodstuffs are present including freshwater snails and shrimps, mussels (swan, zebra and pea varieties), bloodworm, daphnia and other insects, as well as leeches and small crayfish.



College was not used as a fishery until after WW2 when the water board allowed limited access for coarse fishing. The lake was not actually stocked with coarse fish but over time natural stocking had occurred via the streams and rivers that enter the lake. However, in 1960 another reservoir was proposed higher upon the valley from College and as the dam took shape it was decided to take advantage of the situation by creating a brace of trout fisheries at College and the soon to be completed 65-acre Argal reservoir.

When Argal was finally commissioned in 1965 it and College were stocked with rainbows and a few brownies to provide put-and-take trout fishing. However, the nature of College with its thick forest and steep banks did not lend itself to fly fishing, and the fishery was not widely used. It was therefore decided to make Argal the trout fishery and turn College into a general coarse fishery.

The man who had the vision for these two lakes was Stuart Bray, Fishery manager for South West Water. In 1978 Stuart decided to stock carp and other coarse fish into College and the initial stocking comprised of about 2twenty-five fish obtained from Thames Water’s fish hatchery. These were Italian strain fish and though not the prettiest fish in the world they grew well in the flooded, silt-rich lakebed.



11. A year or so later a further stocking of approximately 190 Leney-looking carp between five and twelve pounds in weight was made. Further stocks were introduced in 1979 and 1980 to bring the head of coarse fish up to about 250 fish. This fully scaled mirror of 22lb has Donald Leney heritage, or so I was advised by Chris Ball


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