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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 is Tat's twenty a soon-to-be favourite called Two Scales.



Another from the same session.



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



Nice doubles...





And this is the manic fish, which later in life became one of College's first 30lb carp 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.



This pic looks across the lake at the sec tion leading down to the dam. The SE Point is on the right, the NE Point on the left.



For ages nobody fished in the Cut itself, preferring the shallow, richer water in the main body 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 fish-eye lens shot of the Beach taken in about 1988. 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!



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.



Swamp in about 1987.My drying sacks are a bit of a giveaway


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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!



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. (UPDATE: College is once again open to fishing. I have not heard of any great catches and the fishing zones are restricted. Otters are rife on the two ressies.)

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. 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 twenty-five fish obtained from Thames Water’s fish hatchery. These were mainly large but plump Italian strain fish and though not the prettiest fish in the world they grew well in the flooded, silt-rich lakebed.



A year or so later a further stocking of approximately 190 English-bred, prettier carp between five and twelve pounds in weight took place and further stocks were introduced in 1979 and 1980 to bring the head of carp up to about 250.


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   Old Thread  #124 9 Feb 2017 at 3.35pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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This pic is of College Reservoir looking down on the lake from the village of Mabe Burnthouse showing the east bank, the Cut, and a bit of the North Bay on the left. This photo was taken before the Penryn bypass, the Asda supermarket and the roundabouts below Mabe Burnthouse were built.



As well as the main lake, two smaller reservoirs were also constructed to hold reserves that were used to operate some of the machinery in the pump houses. These quickly fell into disrepair as the wonders of more modern forms of power took the place of water power! However, the small reservoir known as College 4 was also stocked with carp, primarily to be used as a stock pond to re-supply the main lake, and as far as I know the fish are still there. Tat and I were allowed to fish College 4 on rare occasions and we caught some very pretty carp, which were moved into the main lake. This is Tat fishing the only fishable bank on College 4, which meant fishing over the wall!



This is one of the fish we moved up the lane for College 4. It later made in past the 20lb mark…well past!



The lake runs roughly southwest to northeast. To the west of the lake lies a heavily wooded strip of trees with a winding footpath giving access to the lake. To the east the steep rolling hills of the nearby farms curve down towards the lake. It is roughly oblong in shape, with a narrow arm, known as the Cut, running down to the dam. At the southern end lie two islands while to the northern end of the lake you will find a large bay of about 18 acres.

The prevailing wind is a south westerly, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the two swims at the mouth of the Cut and the whole of the North Bay would be the hot spots. Well to an extent they were, but regardless of the strength or direction of the wind there were always a hard core of unmoveable carp that always hung around the islands. Here you see a gale of wind from the south west hacking up the lake towards the NE Point swim.

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   Old Thread  #123 9 Feb 2017 at 3.32pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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In the distance we could see the dam and slowly but surely we were making progress towards that distant feature, looking forward to getting back in the car and having a coffee, when we were shouted at (there is no other way to describe it) by a short, pugnacious older man who was waving his arms about like an idiot telling us to "stop right there!" Given the blokes belligerence we were not inclined to comply but as we were heading in his direction and had no desire to reverse our path all the way back to the car park, we carried on. At last we came up to him:

"What the flying f**k do you think you are doing?" he screamed at us, taking no notice of the fact that my missus was stood right next to me. We explained that we were not fishing but merely plumbing the lake bed ready for a future visit to fish for carp. "There're no f**king carp in here, you idiots," he ranted. "This is Argal Reservoir, a trout fishery, and what's more it's out of season." He insisted on checking the gear and finding no evidence of a hook or bait asked us what the hell were we doing! He was obviously unaware that carpers use only a rod and line with a lead when plumbing. He even made us turn out our pockets! Satisfied, eventually, that we were not poaching his precious trout, he eventually got around to telling us that we were on the wrong f**king reservoir and that we should be checking out College, the reservoir down the valley below the dam. This rather bumptious tw@ was apparently the lake warden, a man with whom I had one or two run ins over the course of the next few years! By now we were only a couple of hundred yards from the dam where the wind was really kicking up a storm.



The conditions looked so carpy…if only this had been the right reservoir we thought to ourselves, what a brilliant one it would make. Little did we know that Argal would indeed become just such a fishery some 18 years later. The rain was coming down in bucket loads by now and thoroughly disheartened we called it a day and left, not even bothering to look at the reservoir down the valley. It would be another twelve months or so before we did so!

We returned to the old familiar stamping grounds and carried on where we'd left off, catching a few here and a few there. It was all becoming almost too easy, what with the hair, boiled baits, Nectarblend and Robin Red and so on. I wrote back to Bill thanking him for the info and telling him about our run-in with the warden. I asked him to keep in touch, told him about the Carp Society (we had become the regional organisers for the Devon & Cornwall area) and put the thought of fishing such a huge water to the back of my mind. College, at 40+ acres was three times bigger than anywhere we had fished before; perhaps we weren't yet 'meant' to fish there…Who knows?

A year passed and a fellow RAC member, Steve Westbury, who I have mentioned previously asked us if we knew anything about College, as he had a mate at work, a non-angler, who had heard that there was supposed to be a reservoir down west that held carp. Knowing Steve was a carper he happened to mention the name College in passing. There was that name again. I told him about Bill's letter and our futile walk around Argal, and we looked at each other before kicking ourselves. How stupid could we get? Why had we not gone down there sooner, immediately after Bill's first letter? After all, the warden for the reservoirs had already told us that College held carp so why hadn't we listened? We told Steve about our encounter with the guy and so we made plans to visit the ressie in the coming autumn. Then another letter came from Bill telling us about another big fish. This was the kick up the arse we needed and so plans were made to get down there a.s.a.p.

College Reservoir lies in a quiet valley in the southwest of Cornwall, not far from Falmouth and is one of two large reservoirs that supply water to Falmouth and the surrounding area. It was created when the then South West Water Board decided to dam the river that ran down the valley thus flooding the flat farmlands that lay beside the river. Work started on the dam in 1901 and it was eventually finished in 1906. It was commissioned the same year when the pump house below the dam was finished and the sluices were closed to allow the reservoir to form.
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   Old Thread  #122 9 Feb 2017 at 3.26pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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COLLEGE RESERVOIR - Nirvana Found.

This was the signpost to the kind of carp fishing we could only dream of prior to finding College Reservoir.



Over the next few years Tat and I plus our mates enjoyed success after success. Who'd have ever thought it was possible?



You might think that some tuppenny-ha'penny reservoir stuck way down in the depths of darkest Cornwall would play little or no part in carp fishing’s history, but you’d be wrong! In the 1980s and ‘90s the lake played host to many of the country’s top anglers and it was certainly a major breeding ground of carp fishing in the southwest with plenty of anglers turning to carp fishing for the first time as the news about the rewards in College spread. My own history as a carp angler and later as a writer is inescapably tied to the history of the lake, as it was here that I cut my teeth as a carp angler. In its day College Reservoir was probably one of the most significant day ticket carp waters in the country. Sadly the lake is now largely lost to angling thanks almost entirely to a group of sad sacks who could find nothing positive to say about the lake and who lived only to moan incessantly about trifles. You ruined what was probably one of the finest open-to-all carp waters in the country. Thanks a lot!



It's the early 80s and we are happily doing our thing on the RAC waters, Salamander and on the occasional holiday at Waveney Valley Lakes. Life was good! We had a county that was almost devoid of carp anglers yet one that had some nice venues for those that practised the gentle art. Then one day in 1981 a letter came from a guy called Bill Allsbury, a Carp Society member who lived down west in Falmouth. Bill wrote to share the news that he had just caught a 28lb mirror from "a very large lake nearby". How big! That would make the fish a country record. We had to know more.

A look on the OS map showed two large bits of blue close to Falmouth and another in the middle of the peninsula north west of the town. All three were water supply reservoirs belonging to the South West Water Authority. I wrote back to Bill asking or more details but didn't hear back, so we kept an eye on the local press and the angling weeklies thinking that Bill might have publicised his capture, but at the same time rather hoping he hadn't! We wanted to find this lake and quick!

A good starting point was one of the two big ressies that lay close to the coast and using a research method known as 'the blind leading the blind' Tat and I drove down west one wet November weekend with a plumbing rod each and a few leads in our pockets. As I recall it was a horrible day and as we pulled into the rough and ready parking area overlooking the lake, the sight of the wind-whipped white horses marching towards us from the south west almost persuaded us to return to the warmth of the fireside at home with our feet up and a nice bottle of red. However, undaunted we set off, making our way along a very slippery path that ran along the right hand (west) bank of the lake.



We walked right up to the far end of the lake - it seemed to take forever - scrambled through thick undergrowth, marsh and bog across the top of the lake, and then made our way down the opposite bank, all the time casting a lead to feel the bottom an judge the depths. It seemed like a very interesting lake bed and deep in places too. Unfortunately it seemed to be pretty snaggy as we lost several leads and quite a few yards of line where it had rubbed over rocks or boulders. The eastern bank featured small bays and promontories and again the bed of the lake seemed very 'carpy'. And all the time the wind hacked in from the south west blowing straight up the lake. Still, at least it stopped raining.
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   Old Thread  #121 27 Jan 2017 at 2.29pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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At one time during its brief heyday there were probably a hundred or more carp in Treesmill when Steve, Nige, myself and two or three others were fishing it regularly. It was Steve and Nige who were primarily responsible for making the lake what it was by the careful introduction of new stockfish to compliment the old originals that once ghosted through the gin-clear depths; now most of their hard work was gone, destroyed by the otter plague. To be fair to the Club, they have at last taken steps to return the lake to its former glory by putting up an otter-proof fence. Only time will tell if the horse has already bolted.



To us - the rare few that fished it back in the halcyon days - the Treesmill fish were more than just carp, they were special gifts from the fishing gods. We named them, yes, like most carp fishermen do, but that seemed to make them all the more precious, so when we found any marks or tattered tail fins they were always carefully dressed and in some case stitched up…I kid you not!

There was this one fish that Steve caught, a good near leather of just over twenty pounds. It was in a very sad state when Steve caught it, as a cormorant had stabbed it and pierced a large wound in its flank. Through the wound you could see the fish’s gut, which was actually part protruding through the hole. Steve is no vet, and though tempted to put the poor creature out of its misery, he decided to poke the bits and pieces back into the hole and then stitch the gaping wound together using a needle and very fine sewing thread that at the time we used as hair material. Dressing the wound with anti septic Steve slipped the fish back with fingers firmly crossed. We never expected to see it again, at least, not alive, so it was greatly satisfying when I caught the fish four years later, almost completely healed with just a scar to show for its trouble. Here she is, the scar plain to see as a hole-shaped patch.



Before the otters arrived the lake was actually showing signs of becoming one of the finest lakes in the south west, and there was even evidence of natural stock recruitment in the shape of several small heavily scaled mirrors that had previously never been caught before. These were undoubtedly the progeny of those old stalwarts that had lived in the lake all their lives.



I would love to think that Pinky, Big Scale, Our Mate, the twin twenty pound commons, the Stitched-Up Leather and all the rest of those fantastic carp are still in there, but somehow I doubt it and because of this I will not return. Perhaps I need another kick up the arse like I needed all those years ago when I fled one lake that was suffering the sort of abuse you wouldn’t read about, only to find heaven at Treesmill.

Those few years of always-happy sessions at Treesmill with Nige, Steve and a few other reprobates remain to this day some of my most treasured memories, memories that the otters have slowly eroded with every bite they took out of our historic fish.

"Preserve your memories; they're all that's left you." Paul Simon.

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   Old Thread  #120 27 Jan 2017 at 2.20pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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We were happy for the guy and happy for ourselves. Sometimes carp fishing just makes you feel that way. We did a load of photos and had a beer and generally celebrated the capture of what was possibly the oldest carp in the county.

The session wound its way to a close early Monday morning. We all had to be at work in a few hours but we left that lake with some great photos, some even better memories and top of the pile a fish that in all likelihood was older than I was at the time.

Treesmill held a very special place in our hearts and still does for some of us but things changed. None of us fish there any more; indeed we have not been back for several years. You might ask why? Well suddenly the lake became very famous when it produced a fish of close to 40lb - some say forty pounds plus. It was a known fish that we had all caught at mid to upper twenty pounds and I think Steve caught it for the first capture over thirty. It was a real bruiser of a mirror that I called Pinky for obvious reasons. Later to confuse the issue it became more widely known as Benny by the newcomers who descended on the lake following the capture. Don't ask me why Benny: for me she was Pinky so here she is in all her Pinky glory.



Trying to keep news of a fish like that is hard anywhere but down here it is downright impossible! The big mirror was huge news and the lake went from empty to packed out in seconds flat. Suddenly ‘our’ swims were no longer ours. I suppose it had to happen some time or other but it kind off hurt when eventually the lake achieved the reputation it had always deserved.

For some time the lake hosted some of the Club's best carpers who all reaped the rewards that Treesmill had to offer. I found it hard to accept that my idyll was over, my ‘secret’ discovered. I would love to put the clock back to recapture those days, but that’s only dreaming. The otters that had started to chew their way through virtually every carp lake in the county eventually found Treesmill.
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   Old Thread  #119 27 Jan 2017 at 2.12pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Can you imagine in this day and age going to a lake knowing that your favourite swim would be free, even if there were a few other anglers on the water? That's the kind of lake Treesmill was back then, and that's the sort of friendship and happy co-operation that can be built up between carpers.

Harry came down to join us one bright and sunny day. We had decided to make a weekend of it, have a bit of a barbie and a few tins. Steve offered his swim, Alcatraz, to our Clawford mate as the fish were used to seeing bait in that area and it could generally be relied upon for a take or two. Harry like the rest of us was using Trigga so in effect Steve had been baiting up for him…not that anybody saw it that way.

So we left Harry to settle into Alcatraz and went off to set up ourselves, myself in the Trellis and Nige and Steve sharing the two dugouts at the back of the islands. Treesmill can be a funny place. You get nothing for a couple of weeks, and then several fish come out at once in the space of a weekend session. Maybe this would be one such weekend!

The first few hours passed uneventfully enough so we adjourned to the local hostelry for a few beers and a curry before making our way back to the lake. The evening was almost upon us and the bats had come out to play, swapping places with the sand martins that played all day over the lake, their homes being a huge sand barrow beside the lake. Alcatraz looks along the barrow with deep water right in close. We sat with Harry for a while and had a final beer as he put this rods out. The baits landed spot on, so spot on that he had a take almost on the drop to the rod cast along the burrow. Sadly it chucked the hook after a few minutes but was pretty encouraging. However, that take was the only action for Harry and the rest of us that night and this continued for most of the following day.

So we enter the second day of the so far fishless session. It was late afternoon, the sun just kissing the tops of the trees on the eastern bank as it set in a fiery blaze behind the hills. We had prepared a barbecue in Alcatraz and were enjoying the social when Harry’s right hand rod was away. It was a blistering run that left him breathless as line sped from the reel. We hadn’t told him how hard the Treesmill fish could fight and he was visibly shaking as the run just kept going and going. At last the fish stopped running and a dour fight that lasted fifteen minutes got underway. Eventually the fish neared the bank where Nige waited with the net while I took loads of photos of the scrap. It was clear that the fish was one of the big ones. In the water it looked like it was a rarely caught ex-Billberry fish, one of the oldest fish in the lake, well over 40 years old, a long grey heavily scaled mirror. Here Harry plays the fish as it tries to pull his arms off.



Harry was beaming as the scales read close to 25lb. Yes, it was the old grey Billberry mirror, now his first Treesmill fish and one of the prize captures that we all aspired to. As far as we knew this was the oldest fish still alive in the pool, probably in the whole of the county. As Harry said when we told him we though it was at least forty years old, "Blimey, it's almost as old as I am!"

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   Old Thread  #118 27 Jan 2017 at 2.05pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #117
They were really most obliging fish and the two areas produced at least half of the fish I caught from Treesmill over the years. It was not uncommon to catch several in an afternoon - though I gather it is nothing like that now! Here's one from the Slope.




Another one from the Shallows that same afternoon.

.

One of the other lakes we had started to fish was Tanners Lake on the Clawford Vineyard estate, and it was here that we met Harry, the Vineyard’s fishery manager and a bloody good angler to boot, something he proved to me every time I went there and found myself blanking while taking photos of his bloody fish!

Harry was keen to have a try for the Treesmill carp so we managed to get him into the club. Though living not far away he had a family to bring up and his full time job at Clawford didn’t leave him much time for fishing so when he did manage to get down to Treesmill we went out of our way for the guy. After all, he had been so helpful towards us up at the Devon lake so it was only right that we repaid the favour when he came down to Cornwall.

At this time it was in effect just an handful of members fishing the lake, as nobody else fancied it, saying it was too hard and not worthy of a proper effort. We were not about to dispel that image and for two or three years we had the lake almost entirely to ourselves! In fact it was common for the three of us to fish our own swims and we would not jump into another’s swim even if it were free. For instance, one of the swims on the lake known as Alcatraz was regarded as Steve’s while other swims were similarly respected. This is Steve's swim in the far centre-left of the photo where it looks like a dark cave.



My swim was the Trellis which featured a hot area on a long chuck to the back of one of the islands.



Nige made his home in one of the two swims he and Steve had dug out for themselves that gave access to other areas of the island margins that could not previously be reached. Smart move on their part as the fish often patrolled the margins of the islands. Here's Nige with Our Mate from his swim.

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   Old Thread  #117 25 Jan 2017 at 3.59pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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On the same trip I also had a twenty pound common (one of two in the lake), and my success continued in the same vein for several months. Where once I could buy a take, now they were crawling up the rods!



One of my favourite areas was called the Shallows and at times just about every fish in the lake could be found sunning themselves here. It was not popular at the time, but I kind of fancied it. One day I remember I shinned up a handy climbing tree and could not believe my eyes. Clouds of ‘smoke’ billowing up from the bottom as the Treesmill carp tried to rip it to shreds. This was all the encouragement I needed and for the next few days I put plenty of bait in to make sure they came back each afternoon.



The fish seemed always to be in an obliging mood on the shallows and you could set your watch by them whenever the sun hit the water in that top corner. They would arrive by noon and stay there all afternoon as long as nothing came along to disturb them. There was no better spot on earth that summer that to be sat behind the rods fishing the shallows at Treesmill. Sheer bliss!

I recall the time I first took what would later become Trigga up there; I had eleven fish in an afternoon! This was previously unheard of and it seemed to confirm something I had been turning over in my mind for quite some time, namely that certain ingredients when incorporated into a carp bait and placed in a suitable area will have the uncanny knack of sorting out the better fish in the lake, often in an extraordinarily short period of time. So it was when I first put the prototype Trigga into Treesmill, experiencing action that was fast and furious.



Another area that I found very productive was a swim I called the Slope, which appeared to lie on the patrol route they took when heading for the Shallows. The first couple of meters out from the bank the depth was only 2-3m or so, but thereafter the depth plunged down to ten meters or more. However, when the carp came through at the top of the Slope you could see them clearly in the gin-clear water and watch as they fed. I caught quite a few fish by stalking them on both the Shallows and on the Slope, alternating between the two…Catch a fish from the Shallows; move up to the Slope. Catch a fish on the Slope; move back to the Shallows…and so on.

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   Old Thread  #116 25 Jan 2017 at 3.58pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Thankfully the relatively light angling pressure allowed the Treesmill inhabitants to grow slowly but surely to decent weights, which I will come to soon. Among the club’s other lakes was Billberry, a lake that supposedly held the oldest carp in the county, said by some to be over 40 years old. The lake was originally gin clear, so given their age and the clear water they too were as crafty as bog house rats. This is the old mirror known as Cod Dorsal at 18lb. I saw the fish under the trees that lined the west bank but she would have none of my clumsy attempts to fool her. Eventually I caught her on a freelined floating Mixer draping the reel line across a tree branch so that only the Mixer touched the surface...That fooled her, alright!



Then calamity…The lake became polluted by clay waste when a contractor started to excavate sand and clay using the lake water to wash the clay away leaving behind the valuable sand. The result was that the lake turned a horrible chalky white colour, and while it apparently did not cause any distress to the fish, the anglers hated it and stopped fishing it, so a few carp were removed and placed into Treesmill. These were venerable fish having been stocked many moons earlier.

Time passed…Now with the Rashleigh reaching its prime thanks to the de-stocking policy quite a few fish surpassed the twenty pound mark and a few topped thirty. Largely because of the regeneration of Rashleigh the Club's other waters were now almost totally ignored and interest in Treesmill, for instance, largely disappeared…apart that is from a handful of members who were fishing it more or less on their own and having a whale of a time! Though a few of the originals had reached old age and passed on plenty remained, battle scarred old warriors that had grown particularly crafty in the now gin clear water of the lake. Quite a few of the fish reached respectable weights in the low to mid twenties range with one or two going a tad bigger. But they were largely ignored, much to the delight of Nige and Steve who were quietly getting on with the business of having a few!

Initially my own track record at Treesmill was not so good and if truth be known I failed miserably at the lake when I first tried my hand there. In fact, I remained resolutely a blanker and even with Steve and Nige’s help I couldn’t even buy a fish there and felt totally defeated by the place. The underwater topography just blew me away and how the pair managed to catch was beyond me! I returned to other waters where I could catch a few and turned my back on Treesmill, joining the other members who though it was too hard.

Then came the day when suddenly I felt that carping was loosing its allure. Problems had started to occur with distressing regularity at Rashleigh and Waldon where idiots were giving the lake the sort of abuse you wouldn't want to read about. Salamander was now firmly on the 'circuit', even College had (temporarily) lost its appeal. I needed a new challenge so I went in search of pastures new and decided at last to join Steve and Nige on Treesmill in a more serious attempt at catching a few of those Treesmill biggies.

For some strange reason my second stint on Treesmill was met with almost instant success, and first trip up there I had two twenties out in 24 hours, a mirror and a common. The mirror it turned out was a bit of a mug – which accounts for why I caught it. Steve and Nige knew the fish as Our Mate…says it all really! …


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   Old Thread  #115 25 Jan 2017 at 3.57pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Eventually the mining company decided they had no further use for the pit and Treesmill was closed down and allowed to flood. The area being a mass of springs it took no time to hide all the ugly evidence of the lakes former history under millions of gallons of fresh clear water.

Strangely enough the history of carp fishing in the south west is closely linked to the Walker era as quite a few lakes in Cornwall and Devon were stocked with fish from that time, including old farm ponds, quarries and pits that received Leney-strain fish. Our lake, Treesmill, was one such lake, and as the popularity of coarse fishing grew in the County, Treesmill was taken over by a local angling club. The lake was as bare as a badger’s arse to begin with but nature quickly took a hold and soon the scars of the lake’s industrial past were softened by Mother Nature’s richness. Dwarf Lilies appeared in the margins and small clumps of water milfoil grew on the shallows.



Treesmill is an interesting lake being very deep in places and relatively shallow in others, and the in-between areas are up and down like a yo-yo. There are islands and weed beds and sheer drop-offs and gentle slopes; you could say that as a carp lake it has everything not least some highly elusive carp. In fact back in the day the Club was instrumental in the development of carp fishing having stocked carp not just into Treesmill but into all their other lakes. Careful fishery management meant that no one lake was allowed to become the dominant carp fishery within the Club.

However, back in around 1970 an injudicious decision by the then committee resulted in a massive over stocking of carp into Rashleigh (some say upwards of 3,000 were introduced to the ten-acre lake). The few originals in there, all good sizes, began to suffer as competition for the available food dragged them down. Something had to be done so a subsequent committee took the obvious and sensible decision to dramatically de-stock the lake of the smaller carp, hoping that this would allow the big old originals to grow on properly. Consequently fish were moved from the out from that overstocked lake and into other lakes on the clubs books, Treesmill among them.

As I mentioned, Treesmill already had a few carp in it, but they were not in the full flush of youth and were consequently too damn clever and had a tendency to disappear into the myriad of features on the lakebed whenever anyone tried to fish for them. So it was hoped that by moving some of the smaller fish into Treesmill, sport for the carp anglers would improve. Sadly the lake lay almost completely ignored for many years, the fish being allowed to get on with their lives in peace and quiet.


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