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   Old Thread  #91 11 Dec 2016 at 2.51pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #90
I had only one rod with me; no rod rests or alarms or banksticks. I poked the rod out through the tiny hole I had made in the cover and lowered the hookbait to the gravel less than a foot from the bank in three feet of water. A few boilies followed with more hemp and groats and I returned my backside to the bucket!

The rod was on the deck with only the top three feet or less poking through the bracken. The line went straight down to the lead. The Abu's clutch was set lightly and I was not worried that I would miss a take through not having a buzzer as the ratchet on the Abu really shrieked when giving line. So there I sat, silent as the grave while the carp fed tantalisingly on the bait right under my feet.

15. This is how I set up to fish the bracken covered swim. You can just about make out the orange Tuttis on the bottom.

I had not been sitting there long when the Abu's clutch sang out. I grabbed the rod butt and forced the rest of it up through the bracken so I could play the fish over the top of it. I had cleared a very small landing area to the right of the swim so I could net a fish without too much difficulty and after a very angry confrontation I landed a nice near-leather of fifteen pounds.

16. The first fish to come from the Brackens Swim as we later called it.

That was one of countless carp Tat and I caught from that tucked away little spot and I cannot begin to describe the incredible excitement we felt when those grey shadows materialised out of the black depths to feed avidly on the bait we would provide for them.

17. Even when the bracken died down in winter and the cover was sparse those fish still came in for a bite to eat before bedtime! This is a sight that will gladden any stalker's heart.

I shall never forget one hot summer's day when Tat and I were fishing conventionally in The Bar swim. She said that she fancied a go in the Brackens, which was only about 75 yards away, so she wandered off with a bucket of bait, a single rod and landing net. I fished on through the hot afternoon and must have dozed off for I awoke with a start to hear her calling me. I dashed down to the Brackens and there was Tat with the rod in its full fighting curve as a big fish gave her grief. She played it like the old hand she was and eventually she landed a lovely old original of just over 24lb, a PB for Rashleigh and a very worthy capture. It was made all the more worthy by the fact that rats the size of cats kept running backwards and forwards over her feet as she sat like a statue on the bait bucket.

18. A lesser man or woman would have cleared out sharpish! Not my Tat!

Unfortunately we were sussed by a couple of mates who had been fishing the straight opposite and saw the commotion. They came around to witness Tat's fish which they knew by the name Big Vern. I have no idea why it was called that but it made no difference to he enjoyment of the moment. However, the word was out about the Brackens and in no time at all some bright spark had cut it all down to make room for a battery of three rods! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

19. Undaunted we kept one step ahead of the stop-having-too-much-fun brigade which seemed determined to turn the lake into a sterile wasteland where all the secret stalking places were deemed out of bounds. On any lake you will always find a few spots where nobody has thought of fishing and our decade or more of experience stalking at Rashleigh lead us to new areas to try, some good others no so good, but the magic of Wheal Rashleigh kept calling us back for more.

I'll come back to Rashleigh and the neighbouring pool Waldon next time.
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   Old Thread  #90 11 Dec 2016 at 2.44pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #89
9. Before the new rules were imposed we caught more than our share from the far treeline, not just from Long Chuck but all the way along the main bank where more tempting caves could be found.

Sadly still more rules were introduced to make stalking ever more difficult and most of the far bank treeline was deemed out of bounds, not just no fishing but no walking either! Thus fully 40% of the previously available fishing was lost, along with some of the best stalking we have ever experienced. The red line marks the out of bounds area.

10. Here are just a couple of the old originals caught in Long Chuck, both stalking them from the far bank or casting across using the bankstick method.

11. Not content with this, the committee then decided to make much of the area at the end of the small east bay out of bounds too! This was another of our favourite stalking spots, but it could also be fished conventionally from the swim called The Concrete shown by the purple dot in the photo below with the snags shown in red.

12. In a way this was understandable as the snags opposite the Concrete were long, thick and vicious but at the time nobody was stupid enough to cast into them as you would never get your gear back, let alone land a fish. The photo gives you some idea of just how wicked the snags are; what you can see here is only about a tenth of what you cannot.

13. This lively little common came from the swim marked with a yellow dot in the previous photo. It shows our most productive stalking spot on Rashleigh as it was not actually in a swim and most members didn't even know it was there. The swim, if you could call it that, lay well away from the snags in the east bay but right on the patrol route they took when entering or leaving the snags. It was the perfect ambush point!

The swim lay at the bottom of a long flight of steps that lead down from the top car park. 99.9% of the members continued walking when they came to the bottom of the steps. We didn't! The margin here was bright gravel, small stones and one of two larger rocks. The steep contours found elsewhere on the lake were nothing like so acute here and bait introduced right at your feet would stay put until the fish came along…which wasn't long!

14. The bed of the swim was hidden from view by a long, thick stand of bracken growing at the water's edge. By gently parting the bracken the bright gravel lake bed was revealed. It clearly got frequent visits as there was no weed or silt to be seen. It was crying out for a hookbait!

I had taken most of my gear back to the car and only had a tackle box and a bait box with me so I popped a bit of hempseed and groats in along with a handful of boilies and hoped they would disappear overnight for my visit the following day.

Returning at first light I crept into the swim and again parted the bracken, which I had returned to its original state before leaving the previous evening. Again I baited up with a blend of hempseed, groats and a few Tuttis and sat down on my bait bucket with the Polaroids in place to see if the fish would put in an appearance. If anybody has spotted me sitting there I was rumbled but I had the lake to myself. Somebody could stand right next to the bracken and never know there was bait right at their feet, and not only bait, there were a few fish too. To see then go straight down on that bait carpet was a magical sight but I was in no hurry to disturb their meal. After about and hour they drifted out of the area and I felt it was safe now to put a hookbait there and some more free stuff.
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   Old Thread  #89 11 Dec 2016 at 2.43pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #88
As the carping membership grew in the 80s and 90s work was done to 'tidy up' the far bank to try to prevent too many anglers from chucking baits and leads up the trees. The undergrowth was trimmed back making the cave a bit more accessible without totally removing the cover that the carp clearly liked so much. This worked up to a point but as advances in rod and reel design allowed heavier leads to be used and longer casts to be made there was always plenty of line left festooning the trees after a long summer! To give the Club its due, they did remove a lot of the line on a regular basis but still the lead-eating trees ate their share.

5. This more modern photo shows the swim in its late-80s guise.

Sadly the swim suffered again when a work party decided it would be a great idea to remove much of the woodwork that formed the cave in Long Chuck. The result neutered the swim making it sterile and unchallenging, a far cry from its former overgrown beauty. While they were at it they also cut back the Corner to such an extent that the previously voracious tackle-grabbing silver birches now stood alone, bare and stripped of all dignity. Now you could cast to the far bank with your eyes closed as there was nothing to get hung up on over there. It's carp fishing, Jim, but not as we knew it!

6. This photo from 2014 shows Long Chuck after it was 'tidied'.

By now the number of carp anglers joining the Club had increased a fair bit and pressure on Rashleigh and Waldon next door was increasing year on year. However, the call of the far end of the lake seemed hard to resist for many and they walked straight past LC and even The Bar. This left me free to indulge myself in the swims to my hearts content, as if there was nobody in them I now preferred to fish from the far bank rather than cast across.

Of course, this was clearly out of the question if there was anybody fishing the main bank, which happened with increasing frequency as the years went by. However, this did not stop me from having a whale of a time fishing single-rodded round the back, watching the carp as they fed, even seeing them pick up (and reject at times!) the hookbait. I fished like this when ever the opportunity presented itself, which was happening less and less now as carping became more popular with local anglers.

Then the Club decided to make the far bank out of bounds and this left little alternative but to cast across. Mind you, there was nothing in the rules to say we couldn't walk the far bank so we came up with a little wheeze that we had seen in use at Waveney in the early 80s. I am sure to most of you this will not be anything new, but I will describe it anyway.

How it worked was thus: I would cast a bare lead across to the far bank, deliberately aiming to put the lead in the trees. Putting the rod in the rests with the clutch lightly set I would go round with the lead and the baited rig along with a bankstick and a rubber band.

Once round the far side I would snag the line with the rod tip and yank the lead out of the trees. Then I would attach the hooklink and then drop the baited rig in the margins right up against the bank. Finally I pushed the bankstick into the ground, wound the rubber band several times around the top and then pulled the line off the reel and trapped a loop of it under the under the rubber band. So now the line came off the rod tip, across the lake to the far bankstick (no line in the water to spook them!) and then straight down to the lead lying a few feet off the margin.

So effective was this set up that on a few occasions, by the time I had got back to the swim after setting up the neat little snide I had already had a take. Luckily due to the angle from which the pressure was initially exerted, thanks to the resistance imparted by the rubber band, the fish tended to run away from the far bank into the deep water and away from the bankside snags. However, it was really taking too much of a risk so eventually we only practised this little snide when there were two of us fishing; one to guard the rods and one to go round with the end gear!

The only drawback to the trick was the Suicide Squad! The number of times we would get a take from one of these little blighters who would invariably get to the bait ahead of one of the originals was most frustrating, as it meant the whole process had to be repeated time and again only for a member of the Squad to frustrate one's ambitions. That said, the trick accounted for enough originals to keep us happy.

7. A typical member of the Suicide Squad from the mid 90s. If you look closely enough you will note that it is a near-perfect leather displaying all the distinctive genetic traits of its birthright, the curtailed, deformed dorsal with almost non-existent rays.

8. The Suicide Squad came from a weak strain of carp that found it hard to make ten pounds but they were pretty as a picture and could always be relied upon to get the pulse rate up on an otherwise quiet day. Here's Tat with a typical fully paid up member of the SS!

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   Old Thread  #88 11 Dec 2016 at 2.41pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #82
Meanwhile, back at Wheal Rashleigh, here is some more drivel just for you, Bradley2010.

One of the first new areas we fished was the swim that became known as Long Chuck. It acquired that name because even though the cast across was only some 20m longer at about 70m than the one we had been fishing previously, namely to the bar from the Bar Swim, that extra 20m was a long way given the rather limiting rods and reels we were using.

1. Here is an overhead. The swim itself is marked in red while the areas to which we cast are marked in blue.

Though I did not appreciate it at the time, the whole of the far bank comprised much of the carps' patrol route and in later years we found out that as long as you could get the baits - freebies and hookbaits - to stay at the top of the steep underwater slope, you were in with a chance. Of course, if you were prepared to risk life and limb by going round the back and fishing at your feet, then you could more or less guarantee a) to keep the baits in the correct places, and b) to get at take. Unfortunately it could be a bit dodgy underfoot and if it had been raining and the bank was slippery it was lethal, but it was worth the risk.

2. This pic is of a couple of Roche AC members in action after hooking a fish on a bait cast across to the far trees. The single spindly birch tree on the extreme left of the picture marks the corner overlooking the Long Chuck casting area, with the treeline stretching away further to the left.

There was a lovely overhang across on the far bank and we had already discovered how much the Rashleigh carp liked to patrol the full length of that bank, passing between the 'caves' formed by the gaps in the treeline. Though there was a very small cave in Long Chuck it was pretty hard to get the cast right but to begin with getting right deep into the cave was not essential, though it certainly helped to get as close to the treeline as possible on the cast. However, in order to reach it meant dropping down to 8lb main line, which in turn meant risking a lead in the trees and lots of line left behind in the event that you had to pull for a break.

That said, anglers being anglers we tried ever harder to put a bait right into the cave if conditions allowed, though the trees on the corner to the right of the cave and those on the far bank behind it would eat a carelessly cast lead for breakfast!

Risky? Yes, of course it was but bear in mind that tackle has advanced by leaps and bounds since those far off days when we first started fishing at Rashleigh and clipping up was unheard of as there were no line clips! It was possible to extricate line that got hung up by going round to the opposite corner, a feature of the far bank marked on the map with a black spot.

3. In this photo taken from the Bar swim you can see the cut back from the corner to the tree line itself in Long Chuck.

I mentioned the far corner opposite the swim last time I wrote about Rashleigh and though at that time we did not even consider fishing there, later on, when we started fishing 'round the back', we cleared a small area of the undergrowth on this corner which allowed us to fish directly down the edge into the treeline previously fished from Long Chuck…But I am getting ahead of myself as all that jungle creeping came a bit later on.

Clearly the carp had become a bit wary of feeding on or behind the bar. Yes, it continued to produce and until we started fishing Long Chuck the Bar Swim was still the hottest we had so far fished on the lake. However, the prospect of fishing the far treeline from Long Chuck opened up further possibilities and to prove that point the first time I fished it I caught dear old Busted Tail at nearly 20lb in weight.

4. Here's BT with the corner and the lead-eating trees and the far treeline clearly visible. You can also see the cave we tried so hard to cast into.

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   Old Thread  #87 30 Nov 2016 at 5.37pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #86
Another major flood of the Valency also occurred in 1958,where upon the local schoolmaster lost his life,as you rightly said it was a miracle no one lost their life this time..My brother lives where all the flooding happened,opposite the Riverside hotel...he lost virtually everything...

He was also a coastguard,and it affected him and the village greatly...

It will happen again down there,as there's been three similar incidents in living memory.
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   Old Thread  #86 30 Nov 2016 at 5.01pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #85
George arse!

Yes, Adam, the boat was named after the Boscastle river. Though that awful flooding took place over 12 years ago I can remember it as if it was yesterday. My mum was suffering full blown dementia at the time and she was convinced I had drowned in the floods, even though we lived on the south coat (Boscastle is on the north!) and there was no loss of life that day, a miracle in itself.
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   Old Thread  #85 29 Nov 2016 at 7.49pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
You really should bring a book out Ken, the ladies will love it with all those old photos with you looking like the thinking man's George Clooney
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   Old Thread  #84 29 Nov 2016 at 7.40pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
Thanks for sharing all this Ken,especially of interest is the Royalty piece,it was a place where I spent a lot of time in the 70s with my father...he caught a huge ,for that period barbel from the Royalty well over the 11lb mark in the early seventies' on bacon rind,he was in the angling press for it...

I can still remember the anticipation of going into Davis's tackle shop nearby...Also.....back in the eighties my father left Cornwall...never to return just to fish the Avon at Christchurch,he used to fish there regulary ,weekly until his passing..

Also the Valency,was she named after the trout stream in Boscastle,the river that destroyed the lower part of Boscastle along with the Jordan and Paradise streams which form the catchment into the flows under my mothers house...!!!!!
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   Old Thread  #83 27 Nov 2016 at 5.11am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
A very fine finnese history, love the pics of you at Keston . Thank you Ken an Tat for sharing your amazing well documented adventure.
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   Old Thread  #82 25 Nov 2016 at 3.21pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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40. Back in Fowey I had left John's boat and was now running a 32 foot crab boat called the Valency. Using the years of knowledge passed on by John I too started running angling trips but the call of carp fishing was persistent. I ran the boat for two seasons then went back with John as the money was better and I got more time off to go carping!

41. Meantime I enjoyed my free time fishing for carp at Rashleigh and Salamander, but John and I also spent time on the Rivers Fowey and Camel fishing for sea trout and salmon. This was then (and remains) my biggest salmon, a fish of 13lb from the Fowey at Lostwithiel.

42. John was never far away from a fishing rod and to relax after several days at sea he and I would often collect hard backed crabs and climb down to the end of Dodman Point to fish the deep gullies for ballan wrasse. This is a small ballan from one of our favourite (and secret!) marks.

Trev always liked to come fishing with John and me and when we went up to visit him and his missus in Hampshire he would always put us onto some good fishing. Sadly Trev died in the early 80s but his name lives on in the shape of his son Russell who is widely regarded as one of the finest big game crewmen in the world. Russ is as much in demand by marlin and sailfish hunters as any of the top skippers and I am sure he owes this to the part his dad played in his life, for Trev was a world champion marlin, shark and sailfish angler.

43. OK, this is not a huge tench but it came from a gorgeous lake in the grounds of a very exclusive golf club to which Trev had sole access.

44. I love bass fishing and while I have not been the greatest bass angler in history, I have had my share. I have never killed a bass, ever. They are far to precious a sport fish to kill. Though they are delicious to eat the farmed alternative is, for once, a perfectly acceptable substitute for the wild fish. Put them back!

45. I realise this must have been a crushing bore to some of you. If so, well done for getting to the end! However, I wanted to make the point that far from being a one dimensional, blinkered carp angler, in fact I have served my apprenticeship and cut my teeth on many other species and types of fishing. I hope therefore that reading this has done something to dispel the image you may have of me as some past-it old codger who doesn't know what he is talking about!

Back to carping soon!

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   Old Thread  #81 25 Nov 2016 at 3.17pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #80
33. Another big pollack is gaffed aboard. John is checking the echo sounder to see if we are over the wreck. All our wrecking was done on the drift, which is what made it such hard work. We would drift over the wreck, catch what we could, then reel in from s much as 50 fathoms so as to motor upwind to start another drift. The tide was forever pushing the boat around with the wind so it was vital to check the sounder every minute or so to confirm we were still on the mark

One day John told me as we were steaming out that, "Trevor's coming down at the weekend. He wants to go wrecking." OK, I though to myself. Must be somebody a bit special for John to take him out on his own. Turned that this was Trevor Housby, a long time friend of John and at the time one of the best coarse, sea and game anglers around, a prolific writer of angling books and magazine articles, I guess he was as famous in his day as Matt Hayes is today.

Trevor was a larger than life character on the angling scene in the 70s and 80s and was particularly well known for introducing to the fluff chucking fraternity the Dog Nobbler fly. Among other skills he was a great writer with a dozen or more titles to his name. He was also a fantastic angling photographer, to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Trev told me to widen my scope when out fishing. Trophy shots are all well and good, he told me, but the bread and butter ones are the shots that sell magazines and books. Anything to do with angling be it scenic, tactical, tackle, action shots, you name he said, and you shoot it. It was fantastic advice and it helped me tremendously in later years.

34 and 35. Knowing Trev opened many doors for me. He got me onto some of the best trout and salmon rivers in southern England where in the close season we could fish for the grayling and roach in rivers such as the Test and the Itchen. Trev took this photo of me fishing a small weirpool on a branch of the Test.

Incidentally, the rod in these pix is the Milbro Match Enterprise, which later became The Device!

36. He also got me interested in barbel fishing which in turn got me more deeply into carping later on. This is another of Trev's pix, which he used in one of his books called The Specimen Hunter's Handbook.

37. This is where it was caught from, the famous Railway Bridge swim on the Royalty at Christchurch.

38. By a strange coincidence Bill and Keith were also now well into both carping and barbel fishing. Keith had made the cover of Angling Times with a, then, stupendous carp of 43lb (Harrow). To my mind the comic usurped him rather by adding a caption saying "there's a bigger one inside!" for this was the week when Ritchie caught the North Lake fish at 45lb! Poor old Keith! Here's Bill and Keith on the Parlour Pool also on the Royalty.

Some of my finest barbel fishing was on The Compound, a very private swim at the very top of the Royalty. Through Trev I became friends with Fred Crouch, one of the most well known barbel anglers of that or any era and it was Fred I have to thank for getting me onto the exclusive Compound. Here I caught my biggest barbel and roach (11lb 1oz and 3lb 2oz) so I have a lot to thank him for.

39. This is the fishing hut in The Compound. You'll note several examples of the use of a centre pin reel in these photos, mainly Rapidex and Match Aerial. If you fished for barbel there was no other reel but a centre pin…oh, and studded green thigh waders were de rigueur too.

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   Old Thread  #80 25 Nov 2016 at 3.16pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #79
Keith's motor, by complete contrast was filled with something entirely different; mucky books! Keith was a rep for the then rapidly expanding empire of the two Daves, Gold and Sullivan (aka the Dildo Brothers the name they are known by among West Ham's disillusioned fans, of which I am one). The self-promoting tart Karen Brady was also a part of their business, which was sexy lingerie and top shelf magazines of the more 'esoteric' type. Keith had a bright yellow Ford estate car and as he sold direct to the shops out of the back of the car, it was always crammed with these magazines.

I remember one day when we got weathered off we decided to go on the lash in the Fisherman's Arms in Golant. The river Fowey is still tidal there and the rise and fall can be pretty extreme on big springs, as they were this particular day, and bits of the lower part of the village flood on big spring tides. I neglected to tell Keith about this as I didn't think we'd be there all that long, however, one pint turned to several, Keith wisely decided not to drive us back to Fowey, and we all piled into a taxi, leaving Keith's car parked on Water Lane, the road below the pub's garden wall. Blissfully unaware that the tide would come up and flood not only the road but also his car…twice, Keith crashed out and was not seen until noon the following day. We all jumped into Bill's car and went back to Golant to pick up the motor. Naturally the tide was way out and it wasn't until Keith opened the driver's door and a load of salt water poured out that we realised what had happened.

Keith's stock was soaked through so we laid it all out on the elevated pavement to hopefully dry out, before moving the car up the hill and then going mullet fishing along the railway line. We spend four or five hours happily and futilely throwing bread at these most frustrating of all fish, before wandering back towards the pub for Keith to see if his mucky mags had dried out, only to find they had all disappeared! Golant thereafter gained something of a shady reputation for the more extreme forms of sexual behaviour previously totally unheard of and unknown in the sleepy Cornish village. The wall is plain to see on Google maps; what isn't shown is the hundreds of top shelf mags that disappeared like zephyrs of breeze into the cottages of beautiful downtown Golant!

28. The elevated pavement at Water Lane, Golant.

29. Keith wondering where his top shelf mags went!

We spent interminable hours (trawling is the most boring occupation known to man) ploughing up an down the Channel off Devon and Cornwall fishing mainly for flat fish, but happy to catch whatever came along. In those days GPS was a hush-hush gizmo for the military's exclusive use so we had to depend on commercial fishing aids such as a Decca Navigator (on the right) and Chart Plotter (centre). Both were invaluable, as were the sounders we used. In those days these cost many hundreds of pounds, if not a thousand or two; nowadays you can buy the same technology with built in GPS for three or four hundred quid!

30. By modern comparison this wheelhouse is as ancient as the Hills, but at the time it was state of the art!

Wrecking with Bill and Keith was good for us but pretty exhausting for them I reckon. We didn't charge them to fish but they fished 'for the boat'. This mean we sold what they caught and they got free wrecking of the finest quality to be found anywhere along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, for John and I were perhaps the most well known wrecking crew within a 180 mile stretch of coastline. I can recall several days when the two of them were almost dead on their feet but we would not quit until the light went completely and the big shoals chased the bait fish right up in the water.

When fishing off the Channel Isles we would put into Alderney to land the catch and get a bit of kip before being up again at first light to get back out to the wrecks which lay mush closer to France than to the UK.

31. Tied up alongside in Alderney.

32. Bill with a huge pollack of around 20lb. These were two a penny back then. (Sorry for the gory pic.)

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   Old Thread  #79 25 Nov 2016 at 3.16pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #78
Back in the UK trips with the HDSAG continued including some sharking sessions off the Isle of Wight and winter cod fishing off Newhaven, but it was the trips to Devon and Cornwall fishing the deep water mid-Channel wrecks that really stiffened the sinews and summoned up the blood. I made several trips to Brixham to fish the wrecks from a commercial trawler, and I was lucky to catch caught some huge conger, ling and cod.

23. Off to the wrecks aboard the trawler.

I got really bitten by the wreck fishing bug and on a holiday to Cornwall with Tat in 1972 I met another guy who was to become a life long mate, John Affleck. John was running a 28 foot fishing boat called 'Rosa' taking anglers to the inshore reefs and on shark fishing trips. We got on well and I helped out on 'Rosa' whenever I could and after several trips with John after the sharks in he mentioned to me that he was looking for a crewman to help him go commercial wrecking (rod and line) through the winter. My job was boring the arse off me and Tat's likewise. We had nothing to loose so after thoughtful consideration of about a minute, we decided to chuck up the nine-to-five, the mortgage and the company cars and move to Cornwall.

24. Sharking with John (not a photo I am particularly proud off; today those sharks would all have gone back, but in the day they were numerous and were a sellable commodity on the fish markets).

We returned to Surrey to put the house up for rent (just in case things didn't work out) and set about moving our stuff and saying goodbye to our friends, who we knew we would see a great deal more of after they found out that we were moving to Cornwall and had two spare beds!

When I mentioned to Bill and his mate and fellow sea angler Keith (the tooth) O'Connor that me and Tat were moving to Cornwall where I would be working on a commercial wreck fishing boat their eyes lit up. "Lot's of good wrecks down there," they said.

To a large extent I had more or less given up angling in 1974, finding it difficult to combine fun fishing and commercial fishing the wrecks. There was little that the weather could throw at us that kept us in port so days off were few and far between. Commercial wrecking with rod and line is very hard work and many's the day we came back with 150 stone or more of ling, cod, pollack and coalies, caught between the two of us on Redgills, Eddystone Eels and huge home made pirks.

25. A trio of nice pollack on Redgills.

26. Cod like this were commonplace on the wrecks in those days, as were pollack, ling and coalies. There was a lifetime's living to be made at that time with no risk to the stock. Then the gill netters arrived and in less than five years the wrecks were finished.

Seeing the writing on the wall we gave up commercial wrecking - though we still took the odd angling party to sea to wrecks off the Channel Islands where there is too much tide for the gill netters to operate - and John decided to put some holes on the deck (a trawl net) but keep our options open by also taking out fishing parties to the mid-Channel wrecks that the netters had not yet plundered. Among our regulars on the wrecking trips were Bill and Keith who by now were confirmed and avid carpers. Though they enjoyed their wreck and general sea angling, for the most part when they came out with us all they could talk about was the carp fishing they were enjoying in Surrey.

27. John put some holes on the deck.

I remember Bill's van was full of sacks of what he called 'particles' but looked just like a load of old beans to me. The name on the sacks was John E. Haith, a name I was to become very familiar with as time passed.
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   Old Thread  #78 25 Nov 2016 at 3.15pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Bill, Bruce, Monkey and me shared some really great times together and having that boat at our disposal really opened up avenues we had never explored before. For instance in summer 1971 we spent three weeks in Eire, staying in a B&B near Fenit on the Tralee Peninsula. Naturally the boat and the van came along too and we were like two kids let loose in a sweet shop. We did every kind of sea fishing you can imagine; pollack and bass fishing off the rocks in Bantry Bay, beach casting on Inch's Strand for bass, wrasse fishing with peelers and hardback crabs in the countless gullies to be found all around that area, inshore boat fishing from Monkey, offshore sea angling from Brian Smith's Fenit-based 33-foot angling boat for shark, tope, pollack and angler fish (nasty things when riled!), and also fishing for the elusive grey mullet that lived under Fenit Pier and close inshore near to the rocky shoreline of the Bay.

16. Mullet off the rocks.

We walked for miles across Eire's green fields in order to get to the distant rock marks where pollack, bass and wrasse could be found in abundance. I don't know so much about the pollack, bass and mullet but we certainly found out pretty quickly about the angry bulls that took issue with us crossing their territory!

17. Pollack caught by spinning off the rocks.

Most days if we were not booked on the big boat Bill and I would motor out into Fenit Bay in Monkey to fish for tope and angler fish in the sandy gullies and for pollack and small cod on the rocky areas. This is a nice inshore pollack hooked on a Redgill artificial sandeel on a rocky mark in the Bay.

Whenever there was room Brian would let us come out on the big boat either to fish the deep waters near the steep drop off leading to the continental shelf or closer inshore where tope, shark and rays were plentiful.

18. Tope from Brian's boat. Bill about to perform the dentistry.

While Monkey was a pretty good sea boat for her size, the engine, a 10 h.p. petrol outboard, could be very pernickety, not to say recalcitrant. You could pull and pull on the lanyard until you were blue in the face but that old girl often refused to start.

19. You can pull all you like but I won't start!

I guess we were taking a big chance going further than a few hundred yards offshore, but one day she really took a chunk out of our arses. The bloody thing simply would not restart, and it would have to be on the day that we had ventured the best part of three miles across the bay to what we were told was a 'skate mark'. We never caught any skate or any other fish and when the motor wouldn't start we had to paddle all the way back to Fenit in the fading light, the tide against us and a rising, choppy sea. It took us hours and we were very glad to see the inside of Jack Godley's bar that evening.

20. The closest we came to a fish on that particular excursion. Bill offers his Guinness…

21. And a little bit later the relief really hits home!

On more sensible days we took the boat out only a couple of hundred years off the pier where there were dozens of nice sandy gullies. There we caught ray, tope and monkfish (angler fish to UK anglers) but thankfully the giant skate for which the Bay was famous, gave us and our little boat a swerve. I did however, hook a baby skate of 70lb from Brian's boat, which took forever to get off the bottom and then up through the water to the boat.

Bill and I shared two trips to Eire and both were simply fantastic. On our second trip we met an older guy who was on a four-month long holiday in the area, fishing, and from time to time, running Brian's second angling boat taking trips out to the big fish marks off the headlands. Bill had got well into carp fishing and he recognised the guy as well-known carper Bob Reynolds who was famous for catching five twenty pound carp in a week long session at Billing Aquadrome. Sadly, though we did not know it at the time, Bob was a nasty piece of work who spend his latter years in prison for sexual assault on a woman and a young girl, and was also suspected of the murder of a woman in County Sligo. Be that as it may, talking to Bob about carp fishing and listening to him and Bill talking about carp waters in the UK tweaked my dormant interest in the subject and I would soon take it up in earnest.

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   Old Thread  #77 25 Nov 2016 at 3.15pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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7. Tat started to accompany me while we were on holiday, fishing for anything we could catch off the rocks of south Devon, but it would be some time before I actually let her fish (just kidding!).

8. And this is how you tie on a hook!

I soon realised that match fishing was not for me, but quite by chance I spotted an advert in a local newspaper for the newly formed Hurst Deep Sea Angling Club, which was recruiting new members. Further chance introduced me to Bill, another new applicant to join HDSAG who became and has remained a lifelong mate. We had some great (and some of not-so-great) trips out of Newhaven, Lymington, Poole, and Littlehampton fishing specifically for black bream on light tackle.

9. Light tackle fishing for black bream off Littlehampton in about 1968.

10. Bill contemplates his dinner.

Bill was already an accomplished angler who enjoyed all aspects of fishing and meeting him opened many doors for me, as he introduced me to the pleasures not only of sea angling but also to coarse fishing on the lakes and rivers of southern England. Bill owned a really wrecked old Ford van, which he called Bruce, for some reason. Despite the dilapidated condition Bruce took us on trips here there and everywhere, often carrying Bill's small dinghy on the roof. For an equally obscure reason Bill named the boat Monkey and this fantastic combo opened even more doors for me.

11. Bruce the Van and Monkey the Boat.

For instance on public lakes and rivers we could simply turn up, chuck the boat in the water and take off to wherever took our fancy, mainly the River Thames and its locks and weirpools. We also fished lakes where one was allowed to use a boat and a particular lake that we really enjoyed was at Mytchett in Surrey. Mytchett Lake was a pads-strewn natural lake with a derelict (at the time) section of the Basingstoke Canal on one side and an army barracks (if I recall correctly) on the other. The lake was a tench, bream, roach and crucian carp angler's paradise and the advantages we gained from having the boat were substantial.

Though the Basingstoke Canal has now been restored to its former glory and Mytchett now boasts a proper canal boat landing quay, at the time we fished there it looked like this.

12. Mytchett Lake in about 1968-ish

You can just about see the pads on the far bank and the poles you can see marked the deeper channel that was once used by the canal boats. There were some big bream in the lake too and that umbrella is actually sheltering me as I often fished the towpath for the bream, casting a sliding float to the poles and beyond. I had bream to 8lb, which was pretty impressive for those days. However, by getting afloat we could get deep into the heart of the pads and we would rake a swim and bait it with a ghastly concoction comprising mashed bread, maggots, worms and dried blood. This evil powder is apparently hugely dangerous if inhaled being highly carcinogenic but at that time we neither knew nor cared; all we knew was it brought all types of coarse fish into the swim in droves.

13. A boat-caught net of Mytchett Lake tench. Bill's was even fuller than mine! (Please forgive the lack of tender loving care. At the time we knew no better.)

Most weekends we would drive to a different venue, but as Bill lived near Richmond more often than not we headed for a stretch of the Thames that had a boat slip. There we launched the boat, attached the engine and motored to the nearest weirpool, where we would fish for anything that came along. Trotting maggots and breadflake down the white water was brilliant sport and we caught big roach, chub, dace and bait fish. In those days the Thames was teeming with gudgeon and bleak, which we used as livebait for the pike and it was not unusual to catch half a dozen pike in a day from the turmoil below the weirs. Pike along with the odd perch or two provided the best sport of all. Trotted or ledgered worms in particular attracted the perch to I guess about 2 lb while live gudgeon caught us dozens of pike, well into double figures.

14. A perch on trotted worm.

15. A weir pool pike.

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