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South West Memories.
17 Jan 2019 at 5.30am
Cracking thread Ken - slowly working my way through it.
Regarding the SW scene. I have a few mates living down that neck of the woods and i have ventured around the Exeter Canal and also Upper and Lower Tamar (beautiful lakes and the canal having massive potential for all species)
Did you spend much time on these waters, I know Pete Gregory had a 40+ out of the Exeter Canal way back and also the Upper Tamar held a few gooduns...no doubt some of this may well be contained in this thread and i'll come to it along the way.
So much untapped potential in the SW waters (think it was called Peninsula Fisheries).....shame that the lakes are adjoined or near to Tarka and his mates...
13 Jan 2019 at 3.01pm
In reply to Post #359
Before we started fishing we had a look in the club house where Pascal the owner of the lake showed us around. I found the bar particularly interesting especially when he opened a bottle of champagne. The showers and toilets were pristine and in the bar there were several table comfy chars in which to relax while sipping a beer or two. It looked like bliss as far as I was concerned!
From outside in the car park came a wheezing and a hissing as Liam's Range Rover, now relieved of its horsebox pulled up. I think the journey down had taken it out of the vehicle, which was steaming gently in the April sunshine. Water dribbled from the front of the car and there was a distinct smell of hot metal and boiling water. It would be glad of a rest!
Andy and Liam set to with a vengeance, gear of all kinds started to spill from the back of the car; tripods, cameras, battery packs. Blimey! Liam wasn't doing things by half. Pascal looked on in puzzled amusement!
Liam wanted to do some scene-setting shots of the lake so I was called into action as a model. My early bald spot put in its first appearance. It wasn't until Liam was doing the editing that he pointed it out to me. How kind of him. Until then I had no idea it was there. In my late forties, I had to accept that age was creeping up on me!
Mike and Paul's plan for their swim was to fish at varying depths, baiting several areas of clear gravel in between weed beds that could be inspected at regular intervals to see if the bait had been eaten. Bill and I were somewhat restricted in our choice of swims, due to the constraints that filming and writing scripts would impose upon us. We both fancied the long bay down from where Mike and Paul were to fish, where a nice wide sandy area looked big enough to house us both. This would have been, I guess, what is now swim 12. However, the filming and recording the sound track demands easy access to the participants and Liam wanted at least a couple of us to be within easy access of the Range Rover.
The bay in front of the clubhouse looked tasty and Dave had been fishing the area with some success. He was in a corner swim - swim 4 is not fished these days - and he offered to move out of his swim to let Bill in. However, I think he rather fancied a swim mid way along the bank between the corner and swim 1. I think this would be swim 3 today but if that is the case then it is now usually left vacant so as not to interfere with anglers in swims 2 or 5. Besides, Dave was clearly on carp and we needed fish for the film. So what with one thing and another Bill ended up in 3 while I went into swim2. Thruster pitched up in swim 1. This shows the bay and the position of the four swims we were going to fish.
They like you to pair up at Rainbow or at least fish adjacent closely neighbouring swims as they reckon most of the playing of fish is done from a boat so someone needs to stay in the swim in case another rod goes off. The ones we would fish were ideally suited. The Dutch lads were in what are now 18 & 19 with Mike and Paul in 11, a swim they called the Black Beach after the dark almost black sand therein. Before Bill and I went off to at last set up and start fishing I did a group shot of the assorted players. Here l-r are: Dave, Pascal, Liam doing his 'I'm the director' bit, yours truly, Andy the cameraman and Bill.
While Bill went off for a walk round, I dug out the sounder, jumped into the boats and had a quick row around the bay in front of the area in front of our swims. It was so full of features I had no idea where to start. The area in front of our swims appeared to be tailor-made for the sort of long-range fishing I enjoy most. About 130 yards away, a small island poked its head above the surface. It was decorated by a solitary tree, a pine, its trunk burnt and twisted, leaning out over the water at a steep and crazy angle. You know what it’s like when you see something like that, don’t you? Regardless of what the underwater terrain is like, you automatically think to yourself, that looks tasty. Silly really, but I bet more than a few of you have felt the same at times. It’s like a sign saying, ‘fish here’! Incidentally, one of the shooting hides can just about be seen in the extreme middle left of this photo. This is now swim 5 and is one of the most productive swims on modern Rainbow lake.
12 Jan 2019 at 12.14pm
In reply to Post #358
This is a fairly typical landscape at Rainbow. It's mind boggling the first time you see it! I am not sure where the guys are standing. I think they are on a small island behind the channels that lie behind swims 1, 2 and 5. They are certainly not on the swim that is now called The Island Swim.
The Bristol pair had brought their own fibreglass dinghy with them, as well as an echo sounder and these were to prove invaluable as the week went by. Soon, the two West Countrymen were afloat, off into the jungle of features in the general direction of the north west corner, into which the wind was blowing steadily. It took them six or seven hours looking around the area before they eventually picked on a spot where they could intercept fish moving along the channels in front of them and into the bay that opened up beyond. It was mind numbingly beautiful.
12 Jan 2019 at 12.13pm
In reply to Post #357
I think we were all taken aback at the complexity of the lake, its numerous islands, gullies and bays. In fact there are so many features on the lake that each swim it totally different to the one next to it and should be fished almost as if it were a different lake! In places there are depths approaching twenty feet and less that a boats length is shelves up to three feet. The proverbial egg-box only more so. There are also shallow bars, plateaux, tiny islands, and some of the bars are so steep they reach up fifteen to twenty feet in an almost sheer slope.
By mid morning it was decided. Mike was going to fish with Paul while I would fish with Bill. They like you to pair up at Rainbow as they reckon most of the playing of fish is done from a boat so someone needs to stay in the swim in case another rod goes off. John Moth said he would drop in next to wherever Bill and I ended up.
The Dutch lads were installed in a couple of swims that are now identified as 18 & 19, while Mike and Paul set up on the opposite side of the lake on an area of black sand which they called the Black Beach. This is now swim 11 I believe. Finally Bill and I set up in a couple of swims in the bay closest to the clubhouse swims 2 & 3 nowadays, though 3 no longer exists. John set up in the first swim no known believe it or not as swim 1, astonishingly enough!
Other fish had come out to Dave before we had got there, including a thirty and a big twenty, as well as a few sturgeon. The Dutch lads in particular had been plagued with these prehistoric looking fish, but they had failed to make contact with any of them. A sturgeon’s mouth is deeply under slung, rather like a shark’s and as it chews its food with the tooth plates on its lips, it does not pass the food back into its throat to bite on it, hence standard hair set ups are a bit hit and miss - mostly miss. Often, you get a screaming run, only to be met with nil resistance, for when you go to pull into the fish you pull the bait out of its mouth at the same time. Either that or it simply drops the bait!
A nice beach area, looking out to a long, steep sided island, held Mick Paine and his friends from a large Dutch tackle shop, Dion and Cass. They had arrived three days earlier but so far had been frustrated by losing sturgeon after sturgeon on their shelfies. It appeared that the sturgeon liked boilies, and no mistake. In typical Dutch fashion, a case of beer lay cooling in the water and Mick insisted that we partake…and why not? Mick seemed to think that the sturgeon had moved out, as their swim had been much quieter that night, though Cass had lost what had felt like a very big carp during the night.
Bill and I took a slow wander around the perimeter of the lake. Rainbow Lake is supposed to be 100 acres. It's a very big hundred acres in my opinion and the stroll took the best part of the morning. By the time we got back to the caravan, Paul and Mike had joined us, after looking closely at all the bays and many of the gullies. But if there were loads of features to look at from the bank, there were three times as many to investigate from the boat. As far as the eye could see, small islands and weed beds dotted the surface. I have never seen so many features in my life. Just look at these small islands that partially hide a small bay. They mark the start of a series of channels that run up into the bay. Carpy or what!
These are actually situated in from of swims 14 & 16 (there is no swim 15), and nowadays they are well known for producing some of Rainbow's monsters.
11 Jan 2019 at 3.37pm
In reply to Post #356
Another, less bulky, shape loomed out of the night. “What’s all this row about?” It was Dave Watson, carp angler of the old school and now apparently the UK agent for the lake. We shook hands and explained the situation, but first we wanted to know if the lake was fishing.
“Any good?” we asked.
“Got a nice fish in the sack for the morning and I’ve just lost another into the snags. Now piss off to the chalet we've booked for you and let’s get back to sleep.”
Following Swampers we drove the six or seven kilometers into the nearby village where a nice comfy holiday chalet had been put at our disposal for the duration. I had scripts to write on a daily basis and there was room for a rough editing suite. It looked pretty good all in all. The kitchen supplied Bill his final coffee charge of the day before we slumped down on the beds and went out like a light...for about two hours
Deep in the land of nod and kicking up zeds galore we were rudely awakened when all hell broke loose as Liam and the horsebox arrived. It was pointless trying to sleep further so we leapt up with all the speed of a sloth on Valium, made coffee and breakfast and then headed back to the lake.
What greeted us was breathtaking. A mass of tree-covered islands, little humps and tussocks sticking out of the water, features everywhere. The sky gave a promise of good, settled weather. Dawn was breaking and the birds were giving out a full and glorious dawn chorus. It was magic.
Mike and Paul emerged from the bivvy and then Liam arrived with Thruster and the film crew. They started to film immediately. In a swim in the corner of the bay which I believe was once swim 4 but is now no longer used, Dave and Swampers were weighing and photographing Dave's overnight fish, a 27lb mirror that looked absolutely beautiful in the morning light.
Everything about Rainbow Lake looked good! Had we arrived at Heaven on Earth? Only time would tell but first impressions were very encouraging.
The first day at Rainbow was one of to-ing and fro-ing. We were introduced to the Dutch anglers who were also taking part in the filming. They had been there a few day already but had taken the time to try to get to know the swims better so had not really put too much effort into the fishing. Meanwhile Mike and Paul went for a stroll around the lake before choosing a swim.
11 Jan 2019 at 3.36pm
In reply to Post #355
The journey down through northern France was tedious in the extreme and having been held up leaving Le Harvre Bill and I were convinced Liam, horsebox and all, were ahead of us on the road somewhere. At every stop Bill leant out of the window and asked, “Excuse me! Have you seen a horse box?” The bemused French passers-by would have been hard pushed to make sense of all that if it had been asked in French; the fact that Bill was speaking the broad Yorkshire dialect that passes for the English language up there had them completely stumped.
I will just mention this in passing for any motor racing fans reading this... Bill was driving; I was dozing in the passenger seat. We’d passed Le Mans and were heading south on the N 138 towards Tours. The road ran arrow straight through thickly wooded countryside. There was a brow of a hill about half way down this long straight; you could see it miles off. Strange I thought to myself, “what’s this Armco crash barrier doing here lining both sides of the road?”
Then it came to me. We were tootling down the famous Mulsane Straight, the fastest part of the Le Mans 24-hour race circuit. I remembered the film 'Le Mans' starring the late Steve McQueen, which featured real life racing cars from the mid 70’s. There are some spectacular sequences in the film of the Mulsane Straight, taken by on-car cameras mounted on some of the
quickest racing cars ever to race at Le Mans. I glanced across at the speedo. We were doing 50 mph: the Gulf-Ford GT4O’s and Porsche 917’s used to clock up over 250 mph down this very same stretch of road. Five times faster than we were traveling. As a lifelong motor racing fan, this brief, first hand experience put Le Mans into perspective for me a little bit. Those guys needs their heads examined!
We arrived at Rainbow Lake at about two in the morning, to be greeted by a locked gate. In the thin beam of the headlights we could see Mike and Paul in their Volvo estate down the lane beyond the gate. Clearly that had made better time than us and it looked like they were setting up a bivvy to kip in. We could just about catch a glimpse of the glistening lake through the pine trees. The gate was locked and it was the middle of the night. We didn’t want to cause a disturbance so we sat and waited like a pair of lemons until a huge hulking shape detached itself from the shadows and ambled slowly towards the gate.
A bearded apparition stood in the glare of the headlights, looking fierce. “Who’s that?” it demanded.
Now, not unnaturally, Bill and I were feeling a bit teasy after the long drive. “Laurel and Hardy. Who the **** do you think!” exclaimed Bill. “Now open the sodding gate.”
“Is that the Yeti (Mark Westenberg)?", I asked Bill. "More like some sort of Swamp Monster”, he replied as the hulk opened the padlock to let us in. Here's the S.M. in typical pose taken later during the session.
It seemed that Paul and Mike had arrived ten minutes ahead of us. Of the horsebox and Liam there was no sign. Bill and I were fit to drop; all we wanted was to get our heads down somewhere. A big mobile home parked beside the lake looked ideal.
“You can’t sleep in there”, said Swampers importantly. “That’s for Liam and the crew.”
“You won’t see them for a few hours yet”, we told him. “The guy’s got a horsebox to contend with!”
11 Jan 2019 at 3.33pm
In reply to Post #354
The sound of plates being laid out and cutlery distributed drew us to a small parlour: “You can’t come in here yet”, Ted told us. “Breakfast isn’t until six thirty. Go away!”
Bill growled. “I only want a cup of coffee”, he argued.
“Not until six thirty”, insisted Ted.
Bill was ready to kill. Eventually, we all managed to gather around the two tables set out for us in the tiny breakfast room. Bill and I were joined by a small, quiet guy and the big mooning bugger from the previous night. He introduced himself as John Moth and his nickname, so he told us, was Thruster Mothballs. You will hear more of thus guy later. Paul from Bristol was into Ted from the off.
“So you’re the kiddy on the high seas are you Ted?”
Ted jumped in with both feet. “Do you want to see one of my videos?” Needing no further prompting Ted slipped a video into the VCR. Liam, one of the most prolific makers of films on any subject you care to mention, groaned as the telly showed a shaky film of Ted going through his routine. He wasn’t the only one groaning.
“Very impressive, Ted”, we all told him. “Good stuff eh, Liam?” Liam kept his counsel.
Ted needed no encouragement to boast. Soon he was giving us chapter and verse about how to go wreck fishing out of Pompey. I hadn’t the heart to tell him that I’d been doing that and similar for many years. The video showed a small ling coming aboard. Now in my humble opinion ling taste absolutely awful even though some say it is better than cod. I expressed my opinion knowing it would cause a storm:
“You haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about”, Ted exploded. “How many ling does a carp fisherman ever catch?”
Liam was clearly fed up with the despotic Ted. He wasn’t having any more of this so he explained, in no uncertain terms, how I used to make a living.
“Oh, you worked on the trawlers did you?” he said. “I had a trawler once, you know!”
“Of course you did, said Bill.
It was an interesting breakfast to say the least, especially when the little guy, (it turned out that this was Andy the cameraman), was confronted by Ted over the alleged theft of the sugar spoon! "Why the **** would I want to do that?" he asked. Ted was adamant. Andy was just confused!
“Give him his spoon back, Andy”, said Thruster joining in the wind up. Ted was obviously getting pretty worked up about this bloody spoon. How we got out of there without the police being called in I have no idea. I hope Ted’s found it by now. He was convinced one of us had stolen it. It was only a teaspoon, for Christ’s sake!
Incidentally, much as I’d like to allow readers to experience the delights of Ted’s Shangri La, out of kindness to Ted, his real name and that of his pleasure dome have been changed to protect their identities. (And to protect anyone from suffering as much as we did.)
Breakfast over, it was time to head for the ferry. We hitched up the horse box and the Range Rover let out a soft cry of distress as we set off through the already crowded, winding back streets of Portsmouth in search of the ferry port. Next stop, Bordeaux...with any luck.
Bill and I were pulled over at customs before we could board the ferry. A wide-eyed customs officer regarded the chaotic tangle of gear, bait and other assorted junk with a bemused gasp.
“What’s all this lot in aid off, then?” he demanded.
We explained that we were going to the south of France to make a video about carp fishing. I could tell the customs guy was placing us in the 'Bull*****rs' category. “Anyone else in the party?” he asked. I leant out of the window and pointed to the perspiring Range Rover and horsebox slowly crossing the car park towards the ferry.
“See the guy with the horse box? He’s the producer and director of the film. Don’t ask him about Shergar!”
We rolled through the huge stern doors onto the ferry. A last we were on our way. Now the trip can begin. (OK. I know this is not Portsmouth, nor is a P&O ship, but it's the best I can do to help break up post after post of dialogue with no pix.)
The crossing was smooth and as boring as they all are when you can’t have a beer because you’re driving on the other side. It was enlivened slightly by Liam doing his “I’m the Director” act, flying about the ship filming just about everything that moved. It was Andy’s first trip to France. Suddenly, he bolted from his seat to point at the cliffs of Le Havre looming up through the mist.
“There’s France!” he shouted excitedly.
11 Jan 2019 at 3.31pm
In reply to Post #353
It was clear that Ted was one of those guys who just had to have been there, done it, seen it, tried it, written the book, become an expert at, anything you cared to mention.
“I’m going hang-gliding next week,” I mentioned as we trudged up yet another flight of stairs.
“Well, that’s pretty easy after you’ve been an airline pilot”, said Ted.
I swear I could hear Bill screaming silently with laughter inside.
The twin bedded room was clean and neat but it was, well, basic. I suppose that would be the right word to call it. There was a telly but no satellite and only the basic channels, no movies, no sport and the colour was diabolical and the hand control was knackered. It would have been at home on the Ark but as far as we were concerned it was a waste of space in the tiny room.
It was all academic anyway, as. No telly. No en suite, no kettle. Bugger all, in fact. We trudged downstairs to find Ted. He wanted to know all about us. Where were we going? Down near Bordeaux we told him.
“Oh, Bordeaux, eh? I go fishing, you know. I make films too, videos in fact. Actually I’m pretty famous around here. I’m one of the top sea anglers in this part of the world.”
“Of course you are!” said Bill, who had not taken to our Ted. He was not alone.
“Where can we eat locally?” we asked.
Ted pointed out a nice looking pub just down the road. At least he got that right. The beer was clear and the food was good. We sampled lots of both and while we were eating, Mike and Paul arrived. They too had not been too impressed by Ted’s place! I’d not met either of them before but, of course, knew Mike’s reputation as one of the best captors of big carp in this country. Yet he was quiet and unassuming with a lively sense of humour; altogether far too likable for one of the UK’s most successful carp anglers!
The ice was quickly broken and we shared several beers, talking the hours away in anticipation of what lay ahead in the forthcoming week at Rainbow.
We left at closing time and walked back to Ted’s place. From what Paul and Mike told us, it seemed that we were actually in one of the better rooms.
We turned in but a loud commotion outside drew us to the window. Outside in the street Liam’s Range Rover clicked and ticked as the engine cooled and the car steamed quietly in the cooling night air. The car had obviously been subjected to a fair amount of abuse while a dull and dirty horsebox lay on sagging springs behind the exhausted motor. A horsebox? Liam looked up at Bill and I hanging from the bedroom window laughing our heads off.
“It was all I could get at such short notice”, he complained.” Look what it’s doing to my car!”
Three others got out of the vehicle. One was (very) obviously Sue, the sound engineer and another was probably Andy, the cameraman, but who was the great lump with them? We would find out.
The horse box was man-handled into the narrow alley along with Paul’s estate car, our Transit and Liam’s Range Rover. Bill and I were still in our room as Ted showed them to their rooms. As they passed our door, Bill leaned out to welcome Liam and crew. The mysterious big guy mooned at him! Strange way to introduce yourself, we thought. We bid them a jovial welcome.
“Quiet!” said Ted. “There are other people in the rooms, trying to sleep.”
“You wish!” said someone.
The alarm clock woke us at five-thirty the next morning. I made it down the corridor to the shower in the freezing cold of a March dawn, to be greeted by a minuscule shower stall with a pathetic drip of tepid water from the leaky showerhead. It was better than nowt, but only just.
“You’ll be impressed with the shower”, I told Bill when I got back.
I could not imagine him even fitting into the shower stall, let alone actually getting a shower. Downstairs, Ted was preparing breakfast in the kitchen adjoining the dining room. It smelled good. We went in and sat down at a nicely laid table. Bill was after his coffee fix.
11 Jan 2019 at 3.29pm
In reply to Post #348
I was a bit worried about leaving the van, loaded with thousands of pounds worth of tackle and bait, in an open hotel car park or worse, in the street overnight, but Liam had assured us there was a commodious car park attached to the luxury hotel.
“There’ll be plenty of room in the secure parking area”, he said.
Sound! We arrived in Portsmouth at about six in the evening. Liam’s map wasn’t as helpful as it could have been, so we drove around looking at some impressive examples of south coast luxury hotels scattered along the sea front. Sadly the Hotel Splendide was not one of them. Getting ever more lost by the minute, we turned up one wrong road after another and if it hadn’t been for a house fire somewhere in the wilds of Fratton I doubt we’d ever have found the elusive place. As it was, the police car attending the fire contained two rather bored policemen who gave us instructions.
The Hotel Splendide was not on the sea front nor was it in any way, shape or form as splendid as its name suggested. In fact it was a small commercial guest house tucked away up a dark and dingy side street. To call it a hotel would be pushing it. To call it Splendide would be lying through your teeth!
The receptionist (owner, chef, cleaner, parking instructor) was a guy called Ted. I could write a book about Ted, so completely did he fill our first twelve hours of the trip. Far from living up to its name, Ted’s place was clearly aimed at the lower end of the market and that’s putting it nicely! Putting it bluntly, it was a dump!
The place was clearly devoid of other guests (frankly, I’m not surprised) but you could see that Ted was looking forward to having a house full for the night. He impressed Bill straight away.
“You can park the van down there”, he said, pointing to a narrow alley at the side of the house. “It’ll be safe down there.”
I wondered how safe. Carefully, Bill backed up the van, Ted barking instructions like a mad sergeant-major. “Left hand down a bit...No! That’s too far... Straighten up... Go right... RIGHT! Oh forget it... I give up!”
Bill was slowly loosing his sense of humour as he was doing fine without all Ted’s histrionics. It was quickly becoming clear that patience was not Ted’s long suit. He stood to one side and watched as Bill managed, perfectly easily, to back the van up to the far wall.
It was then that I realised just why the van’s contents would be safe for the night. Bill was stuck inside the van, for the doors would only open an inch or two due to the walls of the alley that boxed the van in on either side. In the end, while the ever more bad tempered Ted stood and watched, Bill managed to climb out of the driver's side window, a task that was under his breath.
with some difficulty for Bill is a big guy. Ted sucked his teeth and shook his head, making his feelings pretty obvious. My mate was not impressed and Ted was now in imminent danger of feeling the painful end of Bill’s fist. It was not a good start and more was to come. We picked up our bags and headed for the front door. Ted was waiting by the phone.
“I’ve just had a phone call from someone called Liam”, he told us. “His trailer’s broken an axle. He’ll be late, as he‘s got to pick up a replacement. Now, I’ll show you to your room.”
On the way upstairs he drew from me the fact that we were off to the south of France to make a film about carp fishing. He had been to France, he told us. Oh yeah?
“Carp fishing?” we asked.
“Of course not, Ted exclaimed grumpily. “For the dogs.”
“Don’t ask him about his dogs”, Bill muttered, “We’ll be here all bloody night.” Too late, the words had already left my lips.
“What kind of a dog have you got?”
“Bill keeps Great Danes”, I told him.
“Shut UP!” whispered Bill in exasperation.
“I used to do that, of course”, said Ted. “Labradors are more of a challenge.”
“Naturally”, said Bill sarcastically. He is touchy about his dogs.
11 Jan 2019 at 12.54pm
In reply to Post #347
11 Jan 2019 at 12.50pm
In reply to Post #349
looking forward to it ken always a good read
11 Jan 2019 at 12.50pm
In reply to Post #349
looking forward to it ken always a good read
10 Jan 2019 at 3.51pm
In reply to Post #348
Liam Dale had been contracted by John Stent and Dave Watson of the company Euro Carping to make a video about the new lake they had acquired for which they would be doing the bookings and the publicity. Bill and I had worked with Liam before when we made a bait video for Nutrabaits.
Hyperactive Films Ltd and its proprietor and film maker Liam was well known as a prolific producer of fishing vids, having previously done several about carp fishing that featured Kevin Maddocks, Alan Taylor and others. Sadly the Nutrabaits vid never saw the light of day but the one on Rainbow certainly did.
As you can tell by the hyperbole on the blurb for the sleeve, Liam had set himself some pretty high goals, which to a large extent I think he and the crew achieved.
If the anticipated fun and frolics that had accompanied me and Bill's hilarious attempts at making the Nutrabaits vid were anything to go by, this trip should be a laugh if nothing else.
10 Jan 2019 at 3.44pm
In reply to Post #347
The cast list changed frequently in the weeks prior to departure. Kevin was coming; Kevin wasn’t coming, Kevin P. was coming, Kevin P wasn't coming, John Stent was coming…no he wasn't. You get the picture? Other assorted 'faces were supposed to be coming. Alan Taylor, The Yeti, Andy Little, they were all supposed to be coming along at one time or another but, in the end, the cast list worked out as follows: Bill and me, Mike Willmott accompanied by Paul Dicks from Bristol Angling Center, the Hyperactive crew of Liam Dale (Director), Sue (sound engineer), Andy (cameraman) and John Moth alias Thruster the Forester, who seemed to be simply along for the ride, but who might have been there to provide the muscle as he’s a big lad. Also on board was Dave Watson (yes, the Dave Watson Carp Society fame). Dave was part of the management of the company Euro Carping, which had arranged a tie-in with the owners to take parties and do the bookings.
Other assorted bodies would crop up from time to time including a party from Holland led by Mick Payne who would be making a parallel video for the Dutch market, killing two birds with one stone. Also from Holland would come the Dutch Sensas team, now with Cor de Man as its bait consultant, due later in the week on a brief recce trip. In addition, we were told there would be sundry other journalists and helpers popping in from time to time, as well as a quartet of paying guests from the UK who had booked the first two weeks of the season. It sounded interesting and if they all turned up it would be crowded to say the last!
The question of who was using what tackle and bait was eventually sorted out completely amicably. There were various commercial interests to be taken into consideration behind the scenes what with two bait firm moguls on board and a third (Kevin) part-financing the whole shebang, but once Liam discovered that he wasn’t dealing with mega egos and he didn’t need to massage anyone’s feelings in order to get maximum co-operation it all seemed to go well. We just needed Mick to behave himself on camera!
Departure day, 20th March - my birthday loomed. We were due to sail from Portsmouth to Le Havre on the 8.00 am. sailing. A bit of a struggle that. It meant having to leave Cornwall in the early hours of the morning to get to Portsmouth in time to catch the ferry. Bill too would need to be an early bird. We twisted Liam’s arm a touch and he eventually relented.
“I’ve booked you and Bill a nice en-suite room with all the trimmings at the Hotel Splendide, a very nice hotel near to the ferry port. That way you can get a decent night’s sleep and be up as fresh as a daisy in good time to catch the boat.”
Fresh as a daisy? He don’t know us too well, do 'e? I’m never at my best in the mornings, while Bill is positively comatose until he’s had at least a gallon of coffee. Add a previous night in the pub and we need an alarm clock the size of Big Ben to rouse us.
Liam continued. “The others are going to stay overnight as well, as will the film crew and myself, so we’ll be able to have a quiet little drink and get an early night.”
Carole drove me up to Ringwood on the 19th for I’d arranged to meet Bill about 3.00pm in the afternoon. It snowed as we travelled up the A35 and I wondered about the wisdom of visiting France so early in the year. Bill ran into the snow around Birmingham and eventually turned up at about four o’clock. We loaded my gear into the van then set off for the apparently super-posh, mighty-plush hotel. I was looking forward to a bucket of coffee, followed by a long hot bath, a change of clothes, a beer or two, then a decent meal and a G & T to round off the evening.
10 Jan 2019 at 3.41pm
RAINBOW LAKE - or EXCUSE ME BUT HAVE YOU SEEN A HORSE BOX? – April 1995
Rainbow Lake! The very name sends shivers down the spines of carp anglers across the world and with good reason. In fact, it has been hard to keep the name of Rainbow Lake out of the news over the past few years, what with the great and the good of carp fishing beating a path to its door, photo after photo of the lake's fabled monsters appearing online and in the press, in articles and videos. Indeed the Kevin Ellis vids have revealed much of the wonder of the lake. There are probably more carp over sixty pounds in weight in Rainbow than in any other lake in the world. No wonder getting a booking on there is harder than getting **** from a rocking horse!
Some of you may well have been lucky enough to go there, while others will sit with fingers crossed in the hope that they will get a swim one day. My own history with this super-lake is nothing like as well blessed with monster carp as that of others, but in some small way I believe I was among those who were responsible for putting the lake on the map.
But first a little back tracking…Tat and I had been on a tour of south west France looking for likely lakes, rivers and gites and after stopping at several likely looking spots we eventually found ourselves on the terrace of a nice restaurant overlooking a large lake that lay in the valley below us.
A decent meal was on the cards and as we sat in the sunshine looking down on the lake, we noticed the odd splash or two disturbing the surface. I asked the guy behind the bar if there were carp in the lake and he told me that there were a few but they were not fished for as the lake was more widely known for its predator fishing. I filed the lake away as a 'maybe' and that was that!
We move forward to the early autumn of 1994. After a nightmare few days moving from venue to venue looking for the sun, we found ourselves once again at the restaurant overlooking the lake, this time not so much for a nosebag - that might come later - but more to fish the lake for a week or maybe two if all went well.
Ha! As if…
When we got there we found that the lake had been drained and there was no fishing. Apparently the local authorities were fed up with cleaning the lakeside of litter and excrement left behind by so-called anglers after the name of the lake became well known on the circuit. This was the lake where Liam Dale of Hyperactive Films had done a video called Half a Ton of carp, featuring Kevin Maddocks and friends and following the video's release the world and his wife had beaten a path to the lake's door. Their resulting mess was the reason for the lake's eventual closure. Apparently the carp had been sold to stock a private lake south of Bordeaux called Lac du Curton. The lake's name was changed to Rainbow Lake later that year when it became a commercial venue and the rest is history...
We skip forward now to the winter of 1995. The phone rang as I looked out on a dreary Cornish winter, wet and miserable, with summer carp fishing just a memory. “How do you fancy a trip to France in March then, youth?” said Big Bill.
“Nah! Sorry but I doubt if I could afford it.” I replied.
“It’s free!” came the voice on the other end of the telephone.
“I’m on!” I said.
“Right. The good news is that Liam has been asked to do a video of Rainbow Lake, but he wants to combine this with an hour or so of how-to-do-it filming, focusing on the nuts and bolts of fishing in France."
I’d met Liam before when he filmed a promo video for Nutrabaits, which never saw the light of day and found him to be a good laugh so if that was the good news what was the bad? I asked Bill. “Mike Willmott’s coming.” Ah! "The bugger will probably empty the place," I said to Bill.
“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry though, you won't have much time for fishing. You’re not only acting as Liam’s personal technical advisor during the making of the video - and don’t go thinking that means anything because it doesn’t - you’re also writing the script. As if that ain’t enough, you and me are acting as consultants to Liam and the crew.
“No wonder it’s free then," I said. "Will there be a chance of a beer or two?"
"I expect so," said Bill!
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