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South West Memories.
10 Apr 2017 at 1.52pm
In reply to Post #155
There was only one other angler on the lake, a local policeman called Dave. He had been developing nicely as an angler and was also well and truly hooked on the idea and concept of quality bait. Dave was down at the outlet end of the lake and he reported lots of movement in front of him with fish puffing up the bottom. I wished him luck between gritted teeth. When they are clouding up like this the Salamander fish seem to loose all caution. This madness doesn’t last long, however, and you need to be on your toes to take advantage of it.
I had a good kip that first night, undisturbed by any carpy action whatsoever, but when I crept down to my left hand baited area the following morning I saw that all the bait had gone. The eels in Salamander were notorious bait robbers and any bait with milks in was asking for a visit. The resident swans too were not averse to wiping you out during the night. Undaunted I put a fresh (frozen) mix of The Bait into the swim and rebaited with the same bait as hookbaits, and at 10.00h that morning had a big old mirror we had nicknamed Gutbucket, with good reason, as you can see from the photo!
Now one fish per 24 hours is considered good going at Salamander so when I had two more before nightfall including another twenty, Jellybelly at 23lb 6oz, I thought things could not get any better. This is the relevant page from my diary on the 3rd October 1987 after a blank first night.
Things most certainly did get better…I had Big Daddy at noon the next day and persuaded Dave to give me a lift back home for more bait. His payment was a mix for himself. He used it well, opening his Salamander account with, unfortunately, the smallest fish in the lake! Here Daddy rests grudgingly in the landing net!
And here's the old girl going back.
And this is Dave the Plod with his first Salamander carp. The first is always the hardest to catch, so the folk lore has it. There must be some truth in that old adage as he went on to fill his boots in the subsequent years.
10 Apr 2017 at 1.46pm
In reply to Post #154
The rain continued to teem and the fish continued to feed. Three more twenties followed, a 23lb common and mirrors of 21lb 12oz and 20lb 2oz. This made it four twenties on the trot. Everything right was coming together at once, the bait, the hookbaits and the weather. Peering out into the lowering skies I saw a carp poke its head and shoulders out less than thirty yards out. It was shallow there…we waded past that spot to cast for heaven's sake. Still, if that’s where they want to feed, then that’s where I’ll put the baits! This is page two of the relevant diary entries.
I put in some more bait and added fresh hookbaits to the hairs and cast all three to the general area where I had seen the fish and then sat down to my first meal for over 24 hours. Somehow in all the excitement I had completely forgotten to eat! Then half way through my meal I had the fish we called the Near Leather. This was a comparatively rare capture during College's 'special years' as it was seldom caught.
The rain had long ago stopped but the midnight shipping gave gales on the way and falling pressure. I took advantage of the lull to clean the bivvy of accumulated mud and debris, some of which was clinging to the roof…How on earth did it get up there?
At one in the morning I had the most friendly carp in the lake, Two Scales at 18lb 6oz. It was widely thought that she had died after the peanut blitz as she had looked rough as rats on her last capture. I popped her in a sack to show Gra in the morning - he had now moved into the Swamp.
I then decided to part with the rest of my frozen bait and three fresh hookbaits. I had to be away by ten that morning and I never took any bait home with me. The final four mixes including all but half a dozen overloaded hookbaits went out onto the hole in the weed where the fish had showed. It was so close in and therefore shallow I could have put them in by hand if I’d had my chesties.
Graham, now in the Swamp, came up to the Ponderosa for a social so we shared a glass or three before tuning in. Two fish on at once came at 04.50, then a lull until a double figure common at 08.15. With only three hookbaits left I rebaited and chucked these out to the same area and within the hour had another big double on the bank. The fish were showing all over the baited area, though I doubt there was much bait left apart from the smell of the solubles and the rapidly dissolving and softening paste that had once been boiled bait. Further takes were a racing cert and they came half an hour apart at 09.20h and 09.50h, the final fish being an awesome half-linear mirror with a huge mouth, that went by the unlovely name of Big Gob! Gra did the pix and I packed up, thankful that I had managed to do so in the dry.
Well that was very nice I said to myself as I left the car park; five twenties and nine back ups! Must try to get back here soon as possible…But my plans to revisit College were thwarted by a car that adamantly refused to start…so I got a taxi to Salamander instead.
The generally low pressure that had been sweeping Cornwall for a couple of weeks showed no signs of moving on. Water temperatures hovered around the magical 50 degree mark (I say magical, as in my experience this is the optimum temperature for sustained feeding activity. I have been convinced of this fact ever since reading Carp Fever, in which KM draws similar conclusions. If they are good enough for him, then they are good enough for me.)
I went into the Lifebelt swim and fished with two rods away down along the left hand margins, heavily baited, and the other away along the right hand margins baited only with a stringer of mini baits to bring them onto the high attract Betaine Special hookbaits.
10 Apr 2017 at 1.46pm
In reply to Post #153
When I was first getting into bait both Tim and Keith set great store in freshness. Indeed, they was adamant that all my bait should be 'freezer fresh' as Tim put it. It seemed that freezing was the key to the bait as it never worked as well when it was introduced de-frosted or even freshly rolled. Something positive clearly happened to the bait while it was in the freezer and though I had no idea what, it was obviously significant in terms of attraction.
I used to take my bait down to College still frozen and store it in the freezer of The New Inn at Mabe Burnthouse, a nearby pub, which became a second home to many College anglers over the years! This gave me the perfect excuse to go down the boozer every day for fresh bait and naturally a pint or two followed. For Salamander, with the lake being so close to home, I had no excuse! Where possible I liked to introduce the bait while it was still frozen and would keep a couple of Thermos flasks of frozen bait in the car or the back of the bivvy if the car got too hot.
So now to the trips in question, which I will illustrate with photos of the relevant pages of my diary. Back in those days there was nothing like the number of active carpers around and midweek it was quite likely I would have the lake to myself. What bliss! To have the run of the place with time to chose the most suitable swim for the conditions without a frantic race from the car park or the threat of violence if you happened to get the ‘going’ swim.
In the case of College at the time there were two or three banker swims, all situated on the west bank where the shallower water could be found. These swims were the Swamp, the Ponderosa and the Beach and when I arrived I found myself spoilt for choice, all three being empty. In fact apart from Graham fishing the SE point I had the lake to myself.
The forecast gave falling pressure and increasing south west wind, which on the fact of it would indicate that the east bank might be a better propositions. However, I knew full well that the College fish were particularly supercilious in accepting human dictates and a large proportion of the College fish stubbornly refused to follow the wind…any wind! I therefore set up in the Ponderosa in the relative lee of the forest behind me. I wanted to get set up before the rain arrived and by seven in the evening the baits were out and three frozen mixes of The Bait had been scattered far and wide over the shallows in front of and to the side of the Ponderosa.
The first run, which came at 9.30 that evening produced a 19lb mirror and this was followed by a further three fish, all mirrors during the night. By now it was raining heavily but in a lull I managed to put out a further three mixes and change hookbaits. This is the first page in my diary that relates to those trips.
We had found that the hookbaits and the freebies bait seldom lasted more than 12 hours in the water before softening up considerably as they took on lake water as the bait broke down and maybe, just maybe, the enzymes worked as intended...a once in a thousand occurrence. It was quite usual to bring back empty hair and a lot of guesswork went on trying to find the optimum time to reel in…when it was pissing down definitely was not the optimum time, but it’s only rain…Can’t kill ‘ya!
However, it can kill a camera so when the next run scorched off at a ferocious pace at just after eight in the morning when the coffee cup was half way to my lips - it went everywhere - I thought to myself, if this isn’t a twenty it’s going back without a pic. Of course, it simply had to be a twenty and a common at that, so not wishing to get my camera gear drenched and ruined I set up the camera on its tripod and squeezed it into one corner of my bivvy. Cradling the common in my arms I crouched down in the opposite corner and fired off several shots using the bulb operated shutter release. Remember, this was in the days when digital cameras were a far off dream so there was no in-camera reviewing of shots taken to check that they are OK. You just had to wait until the film came back from the processors. The photo here is the best of a very bad lot. It does no justice whatsoever to a lovely fish and leaves me looking like some sheepish fish nicker caught in the act!
10 Apr 2017 at 1.44pm
In reply to Post #152
As you can see, Keith was a member of the famous (or perhaps infamous) Official Longfield Drinking Team, which was perhaps just a tad less esoteric than the Golden Scale Club, which was also around at the time. A am sorry but I have had to blank out some of the product references in the letter as these were then and are now closely guarded secrets…you'll note that one particular product was released commercially and it is still 'out there' in various (predominantly diluted!) guises.
Keith's correspondence contained way more information than I was capable of handling but all that brain power aimed my way was bound to have an effect, and even my tiny mind was open enough to accept that what he said made sense. Not only that, the proof of the pudding had most assuredly been in the eating, as I had enjoyed fishing beyond my wildest dreams using baits based on their ideas and concepts. This is some of the reading material that Keith sent me.
Given the amount of info that came my way via Tim and Keith it is small wonder I became hooked on the science of carp bait and to this day I remain hugely grateful to the pair of them. Many thanks, Keith and Tim.
The more I read and researched the more the concept of natural attraction sat easy with me, all the more so when Keith suggested a number of nutritional aspects of bait that had not really been covered to date. In addition his experiences in the Far East, working with koi rearers, suggested a positive response by carp to a number of what appeared to be natural feeding triggers among them certain amino acids one of which was betaine! Tim was also a fan and had used it I n his original HERNV recipe and Nutrabaits also took on the product. Nowadays there is more betaine in one for or another on the carp bait market to float a boat!
Keith put me onto a source of a crystalline, highly soluble betaine and I incorporated it into my baits right away. Almost immediately it started bearing fruit in my fishing and as my results soared it became clear to me that betaine was a very positive attractor or feeding trigger of some kind. Keith also suggested a couple of other naturally occurring substances that would also help, not so much as nutritional aids but more in the way of detection and attraction. One of these was citric acid, which I have used in just about every bait I have made since.
By now I had moved away from the pure milk protein-based HNV that had formed the basis of Tim’s concept and was now using a bait that was a cross between a milk protein HNV and a raw fishmeal bait. The recipe included the traditional milks – rennet casein, calcium caseinate, lactalbumin – as well as a blend of fishmeals, full fat soya, some Red Factor and a dab of Robin Red. In addition I was using 5g/lb of betaine in with the eggs, and a further 10g scattered over the cooling baits prior to freezing. This bait I rather unimaginatively called, ‘The Bait’. Finally to act as a label I used a combination of two essential oils at very low levels.
By now I had also grasped the concept of using boosted, high-attract alternative hookbaits thanks to input from Tim and Bill during Nutrabaits' formative years pre-1987 This was a two-egg mix containing additional Betaine and a new ingredient (to me) Green Lipped Mussel Extract (GLME), with elevated levels of the essential oil package. I called these hookbaits my Betaine Specials (more blistering originality there, Ken). Bill had waxed lyrical about the GLM extract as during testing in Kent it had proved to be the best of several extracts that were out on test at the time.
10 Apr 2017 at 1.43pm
Sorry if my random tales jump about in time somewhat but at my age (whisper it quietly…it's 70) I find it increasingly hard to concentrate on a timeline from then to now and subsequently describing what lies between the two points in any kind of structured manner! There are simply too many memories of the south west and elsewhere as so much has happened in my angling life, especially back in those halcyon days when carp fishing was full of uncertainties with none of the vids, TV shows and mags that make it comparatively 'easy' these days. Every trip was a flight into the unknown: new venues, new fish, new experiences, new triumphs and disasters. It seems to me that these days just about everything is handed to carpers on a plate, but that's probably the old fogie in me coming out.
It is inevitable that some memories get mixed up with others and that the repetition of some reminiscences will inevitably occur and possibly even in slightly different forms. Please bear with me! One tale that I think is worth telling recalls a few particularly eventful trips that took place in the late summer/early autumn of 1987.
I guess many of you will think that what follows is pretty nondescript, and I suppose by today's standards you could be right. Nowadays twenties are seemingly commonplace and hardly merit a passing mention in the news. Every youngster and newcomer to the sport has been weaned on a diet of 30s and 40s (and bigger) and they see it as a 'right' that they should land a thirty within ten minutes of their first ever trip! However, 30 years ago a twenty was not to be sniffed at and deservedly so, as they didn’t grow on trees, especially in darkest, deepest Cornwall!
At the time we are talking about I was mainly concentrating my fishing effort on two vastly different venues; College, the 40-acre reservoir near Penryn, and Salamander Lake, my name for a tiny little pond close to my home on the south coast of Cornwall. This first shot shows my Dave Barnes Aqua-Shed set up in The Beach in the autumn of 1987, about the time the events I am about to describe to you took place.
And this is the Lifebelt swim on Salamander, my favourite swim on the lake. You can just catch a glimpse of the lifebelt in the hole in the tree line behind the actual swim. Sadly it looks nothing like so 'carpy' today as the park has been 'tidied' by over zealous staff with too many power tools to hand!
I had been enjoying relative success on most of the lakes I had visited, thanks in no small part to the bait that Tim had put me on. The controversial theory of Nutritional Recognition had long been discussed by better brains than mine for several years and opinions were pretty divided back then as to whether it was a load of old hokum or not. (Pretty much the same as now, then!)
Starting a few years earlier I had by pure chance fallen under the influence of the two arguably greatest brains in the carp world at that time, Tim Paisley and Keith Sykes, and I had been enjoying a prolonged and somewhat confusing (on my part) correspondence for some time with them both. Keith's letters sometimes ran to 30 pages or more, starting off typed, but then as his brain ran away with him in longhand. I still keep that correspondence as the contents are as valid today as they were back then.
7 Apr 2017 at 11.22am
In reply to Post #150
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these as you pop them onto the forum.
Its a great way of spending your lunch hour
6 Apr 2017 at 8.47pm
In reply to Post #149
Seen a lot of thIs before, and it's great seeing it all again, brings back fond memeries of the past on Rac waters, happy times.
Keep it coming Ken, love it
6 Apr 2017 at 4.20pm
OK...More to come over the weekend. Thanks for the last three posts
6 Apr 2017 at 7.46am
I would like more Ken! I am slowly reading through them all
5 Apr 2017 at 8.23pm
In reply to Post #145
Ken - I'm definitely up for some more articles!
31 Mar 2017 at 10.51pm
In reply to Post #145
I would love to read your further ramblings Ken. A great read so far and takes me back to the good old pioneering days of carp fishing.
30 Mar 2017 at 11.12am
In reply to Post #144
So what with one thing and another Reg had College up to here and when the Cornwall Wildlife Trust expressed an interest in taking College off Peninsula’s hands, Reg jumped at the chance to get these moaning idiots off his back. Revenue was falling and belt tightening meant there was not enough money in the kitty to effect repairs, so the CWT was manna from heaven.
Mark, Steve and Gary and to a lesser extent Steve C, Nige and myself, mounted a fierce rearguard action to try to save the lake, but the damage was done and the lake was closed. In the winter of 1998/9 the lake was netted and the carp were transferred to Argal. In the passing years the great reservoir reverted to the overgrown jungle it was when, in 1982 Tat and I first set foot on its banks at the start of a carping journey that still winds on and on! In just 16 short years College had risen to become one of the top day ticket waters in the UK before falling into disrepair and neglect.
There are still some carp left in College. I know this because I heard from a little birdie or two that during the netting quite a few carp were “encouraged” to find their way under the foot rope and back into the lake. Whether they are still there today is debatable. The otter menace that has affected Cornwall like a plague since the early 90s probably has lead to many of those magnificent beasts being killed. I know that otters are attacking the old College fish up in Argal so perhaps it is no use crying over spilt milk. Here are the three last fish that I caught from College (NE Point swim in about 1994 or '5, a fitting way to end this, don’t you think)?
Just writing this has been hard for me. I miss College more than words can say. In 1998 College closed its doors to angling. Au Revoir College. It was the greatest fun while it lasted. This is one of my favourite views of the lake, taken from the top of the field behind the NE Point
That completes the story of our love affair with College. I will return to the lake from time to time as I recall further South West Memories, but for the moment though, I will move on.
27 Feb 2017 at 12.27pm
In reply to Post #143
Here is a photo of the weed that lay directly in front of the NE Point.
And this shot looks into the North Bay.
As you can see the main body of weed starts about 70m away and then grows quite strongly almost to the other side. I always liked to fish up to the weed, as opposed to in it, across it or over it, as I reckoned this gave me a better chance of a) stopping them from getting into the weed in the first place, and b) getting them out of the weed if they did manage to get in there. The weed was extensive during the summer months but it’s whereabouts told you a lot about the water. You see this weed would only grow in about five feet of water. Any deeper and for some reason it failed to grow properly. It also seemed to favour the more silty areas of the lakebed so if you took the weed as your starting point it was quite easy to find deeper, more gravely areas by fishing to the holes in the weed.
The weed showed me the most likely acres to fish and I welcomed it with open arms. Sadly there was a vociferous group of season ticket holders who felt quite the opposite, and they had the ear of new fishery manager, Reg England of Peninsula Coarse Fisheries. Reg found himself getting increasingly snowed under with complaints, mainly about the thickness of the weed, from a small group of sad losers who, instead of accepting College for the challenges it posed, accepting that the weed was not going to go away and coming to terms with it, niggled away with silly little irrelevant moans. They not only complained about the weed but also about access and the small head of fish! Small head of fish…What’s that all about? The lake contained at least 200 good sized carp in only 40 acres of water and many of them were now pushing thirty pounds with a few others now well into the thirties.
Then they complained about the boards, which it is true had fallen into disrepair in places. Hey guys! You should have seen it before the wooden walkways were built. It was like an assault course just getting to your swim! So now the boards were collapsed in a few places. So what? Get over it! Yes, the boards did for a time make walking around the ressy with a load on your back a lot easier, but hey, things that are worth working for are not necessarily going to be easy! These are the boards in question, photographed when we first started fishing College in the spring of 1984 when bluebells bordered the wooden walkways that for a time made access considerably easier. When a few lengths of these walkways fell into disrepair the moaners got their pens out again.
27 Feb 2017 at 12.17pm
In reply to Post #142
College was always a weedy water at the best of times but some years it was really bad. On the other hand some years the weed died a bit and though it was still challenging to fish, the weed was then comparatively easy to deal with. The problem weed was of course Canadian Pondweed and while this provided plenty of shelter, it wasn’t particularly rich and it seemed to choke off the much more productive water milfoil. However, the milfoil always made a speedy recovery when the Canadian was not so bad and then it provided ample food and shelter for the carp.
College has a pH of around 7.5 – 7.8, quite a high reading that accounts for its richness in natural food. The fish could get a feed more or less anywhere they chose just by sticking their heads down into the silt or by grazing in among the weeds. Obviously the weed was one of the keys to finding the fish but again they were very fussy about where and in which type of weed they would feed. Find milfoil on a hard bottom and you had a chance. The pondweed never produced much, even though the fish went in to seek shelter, and the marginal mares tails were not as productive as you might think.
All in all, the key to success was finding the hard patches in amongst the weed stems As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, the fish definitely had favourite feeding areas, so not only did you need to find the general area they favoured but also the spot within a spot where they fed more confidently. Once such area was off the point of the smaller island that could be fished from the Swamp. For obvious reasons this was one of the most popular swims on the lake, thanks in no small part to the thick weedbeds behind the island.
Though the weed was not what anyone could call a problem, there were some swims that were weedier than others…this was good for me! You see, very few of the new gang of anglers who had now started fishing College (this is the mid 90s now) seemed able to deal with weed so they tended to fish the less chocked swims in the deeper areas of the lake. Me! Well I just made a beeline for the swims with the thickest weed in front of them!
The North Bay was a particularly bad area (or good area depending on your point of view!) and fishing in either Mick’s Swim or on the North East Point swim at the mouth of the Cut put you right on top of the weedbeds, and therefore right on top of the carp!
27 Feb 2017 at 12.14pm
In reply to Post #141
I well recall one early summer’s morning when I had to leave early to get back home for work. As I walked down the dry footpath leading down to the car park by the dam, I noticed a trail of water leading across the boards and along the path. This gradually petered out beside one of the swims in the Cut. I was beginning to have my suspicions, so I stopped, put my gear down and had a good look around. At the water’s edge in the swim where the trail had started to falter, a big damp area soaked the grass and the path, and then once again the trail of water lead off again towards the dam wall.
This was worrying! Sure enough, as the trail dried out again, also alongside a swim, yet another big patch of water soaked the ground and the path and another trail of water lead across the dam and into the car park. There it stopped abruptly. It was clear that someone had been walking a sacked fish or two from his swim in the North Bay, back to the car park, stopping every now and then to get his breath back and to allow the fish a brief rest in the water, hence the large damp patches where the sack or sacks had been lifted out again.
I knew whose car had been parked there and it was gone, and so too I reckoned were the fish. I went back to the swim where matey had been fishing and noticed those familiar damp areas on the bankside again. I asked his mate who was fishing next to him in the same swim where the guy had gone. “Oh, he’s just popped down to the caff for some breakfast and to buy some fags,” he said. “That’s funny,” I said, “the caff isn’t open for another hour yet”. He flustered and stammered his way through one excuse or another so I said that I would wait with him until his mate got back.
Then I heard a guy walking up the path from the opposite direction. It was big Graham Orchard, season ticket holder and honorary bailiff. He had been walking around before starting fishing and as he came into the swim he saw I was not happy. I told him what I thought had happened, and Gra fronted up the guy about nicking fish. As he protested his innocence his mate returned and he was carrying two well wrung out carp sacks. Caught bang to rights. Graham took their tickets off them and tore them up, then kicked their rods up in the air and their banksticks out of the ground and told them to **** off and to tell all their mates from their home town that they were no longer welcome either.
So while that closed one loophole there was no doubt that other groups were still trying to nick fish. This lead a group of us to ask for a meeting with SWW with a view to about forming a syndicate on College. I think at the time we offered about £10,000 a year, which I am sure was more than they were getting in ticket money, but they refused. We then put a proposal to SWW that a RAC be allowed to put the ressy on their books and thereby increase visitor numbers and at the same time better police the water. This too was turned down. It was hugely frustrating, made even more so by the fact that a few weeks later Gra was admonished for his “heavy handed” approach! Can you believe it? We both resigned on the spot. The whole thing left a nasty taste in my mouth and this was not helped when I received a letter from Del Mills, the fishery manager at the time, telling me that I was banned from the water for 12 months for over-aggressive bailiffing! WTF?!
Well, as I said previously, I was falling out of love with College anyway and this just gave me the extra boost I needed to go travelling, both up-country, mainly to Savs, and across the pond, where there was plenty of virgin water to play with. The Chateau Lake was about to appear on my radar and a whole new set of adventures lay ahead.
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