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South West Memories.
14 Nov 2016 at 5.58pm
In reply to Post #72
These Rashliegh write ups are fantastic! Loving the pics of you,, Carole, Steve et al; & of course the lake!
Adam - there's been a few tincas out over the last couple of years, big ones & small ones,
13 Nov 2016 at 8.25pm
In reply to Post #71
Ps...i caught a very nice tench from the cave area...the only tinca i saw from Wheal Rashleigh...
13 Nov 2016 at 3.08pm
In reply to Post #70
The main characteristic of the lake was its depth. The lakebed sloped down alarmingly fast and even in the margins you could find six to eight feet of water. The other characteristic was that Rashleigh at the time was gin-clear for much of the year and you could see down perhaps twelve feet before the bottom (the slope to be more precise) was lost to view. In the caves and all the way along that bank the water sloped extremely fast from about four or five feet down to twelve or fourteen feet in a matter of a meter of so.
One midweek morning when the lake was empty of anglers I took a couple of kilos of ready mades and crept through the tangle of thorns and other biting, stinging things until I got to the water’s edge at the back of the first cave. Through the Polaroids I could see the way the gravel shelved away quite gently for a yard or so but then it fell away quickly until the bottom became blurred and lost to view. I chucked a handful of baits right at me feet and was not surprised to see them trundle slowly down the initial slope but then gather speed to roll quickly down the steeper slope until I lost sight of them.
I popped next door to the neighbouring cave and did the same thing and sure enough, down went the baits until they were lost from sight. Along the bank a bit more and another handful of bait, and yet again the same thing happened. The baits would roll down the steep slope out of sight and for all I knew right to the bottom of the 45 - 50 feet deep lake!
I returned the next day and again carried out the tests in the caves. It was a much brighter day and visibility was perfect. As I trickled the baits in I noticed that about 50% of them were not as I thought, rolling out of sight to the bottom of the lake, but seemed to hang up on a tiny ledge, perhaps no more than eight or ten inches wide. Not all of them came to rest and those that didn’t carried on down the slope and were lost to view. But a good amount remained lying on this tiny ledge. You’d never have found it in a million years with a marker float and even a sounder would have been hard pushed to pick it up.
What followed next made my fishing at Rashleigh much easier! As I watched three of four dark shapes appeared up the slope from the deeper water. Whether they had eaten any of the baits that had trickled down I don’t know, but as soon as they got to the ledge they all started feeding on the baits that were lodged there. More mayhem and greed!
Needless to say, I spent many a happy hour stalking those carp on that little shelf, behind the bar and inside the 'caves'. At one stage I think we caught just about every big fish in the lake from those small areas and at times I watched them feed like crazy, knocking each other out of the way and disturbing the baits on the shelf. It was easy fishing and at times they seemed to be queuing up for the baits.
Then it all went pear shaped. (I knew it was all too good to be true) as the Club committee in their wisdom banned all access to the far bank. Yes, it was probably a bit on the dangerous side but I thought it was going too far to stop anyone going round the back to stalk them. So it was that for the first time the dark hand of the 'stop-having-fun' brigade was felt and thus we lost some of the best swims on the lake.
Steve being the contrary bugger he was took no notice and he found a rather precarious way to get behind the snags in the south bay. The fish patrolled back and forth along the sandy slope and getting them to pick up a bait was easy. We both had some terrific catches from there but eventually we were reported to the committee and told to stop our jungle warfare fishing. While this curtailed most of our stalking fun, there were a couple of spots along the far back that were not deemed out of bounds and we at least managed to renew our friendship with a few of the old originals. Here's Tat with one of the originals, the only pure leather carp in the lake.
13 Nov 2016 at 3.06pm
In reply to Post #69
One day I managed to slip, fall, slide and crawl to the bank behind the bar. It was a true revelation. Everything we had assumed about the area was shown to be right. From my precarious perch I could see the bar just a few yards away, see it's contours left and right and also the relatively flat area behind the bar and the bank itself. The bottom was as polished as any gemstone, clearly kept clean by the feeding activity of the carp. Even as I sat and watched I saw about a dozen of the suicide squad come blasting through the swim like the hounds of hell were on their tail. There was no obvious sign that something was chasing them so I guessed they must be continuously tear arsing all over the lake trying to beat their brethren to a feed. In time their frantic activity would turn the gin clear water almost totally opaque but before that happened I had the chance to do what I love best, looking in on carp. This is Tat fishing in the swim round the back of the Bar.
It wasn't the comfiest of swims by any means but you could just about squeeze a couple of rods in. Mind you, great care was called for when hitting a take or landing the fish if you didn't want to end up sliding down the bank and into the lake. Stalking behind the bar was heart stopping stuff and it was amazing to watch those Rashleigh fish feed. The area from the corner down to the back of the bar was a stalker's paradise and we created several tiny swims where we could just about squeeze in a couple of rods.
Watching those carp feed at time left me speechless. I recall one day when I was not actually fishing but simply watching and saw two of the originals come to within touching distance under the overhang and eat a couple of kilos of boiled baits in about ten minutes. It was controlled mayhem and pure greed! They both just stuck their heads down and gulped three or four baits at a time into their mouths. Subtle it was not and for a while the fishing was dead easy.
13 Nov 2016 at 3.05pm
In reply to Post #68
The Bar swim was the gift that kept on giving. This is one of the old originals. Sadly these ancient old ladies were going backwards.
By now the three of us were catching fairly regularly from the Bar though they were now predominantly smaller fish, as the Club in its 'wisdom' had decided to introduce hundreds of smaller carp to supplement the originals that had been in the lake since forever. These stocked fish averaged about four pounds in weight and while they fought like crazy we much preferred to catch the bigger originals, and who wouldn't.
The underwater terrain around the bar was all over the place, with depths ranging from 5 to 50 feet. At the time I guess that at least 50% of all the baits we put in ended up rolling down into the depth and it wasn't until we started using chopped baits that we twigged in full the issues caused by deep water and the steeps slopes leading down to the lake bed.
The far bank was almost impossible to plumb properly, even though Steve owned a Depth O'Plug depth finder (as much use as a chocolate fireguard!), as the lead would just roll down the slope whenever you tried to get an idea of the depth and composition of the lake bed. To be honest we wouldn't have known what to do with that info in any case! Oh! for a nice flat bit of lake bed! It was time to do a bit of jungle work. Steve was far more adventurous than me and Tat and he had already scouted out a few different areas to try and it seemed that wherever there was an overhang you would find carp, and if it was close to snags so much the better. I guess a lot of this must sound so predictable and naïve to today's anglers but you have to remember that every day was a new step along the learning curve. Where there was an overhang, there you found carp, especially if there were snags nearby.
The far bank at Rashleigh is precipitously steep and few, if anybody ventured round there to fish. There was a path of sorts that ran part way along the west bank but after the corner near the caves in the swim that came to be known as Long Chuck (more of which in a minute), the path stopped and the undergrowth became almost impenetrable. On the other hand it made for some terrific stalking areas.
This is the jungle that was the far bank at Rashleigh showing the very obvious 'caves' in the undergrowth. With a pair of decent sunglasses we would invariably spot carp patrolling deep under the overhangs and if we could keep bait from rolling down the slope we could also see them feed and watch how they reacted to bait. The slope above the water line was a mass of tangled undergrowth and it must have been 1:1, very dodgy but a single rod stalking approach definitely worked way better than casting across, even if the 1:1 slope did continue under the water line which made for difficult baiting up in places.These are the 'caves' along the far bank.
13 Nov 2016 at 3.01pm
In reply to Post #67
As we progressed along the learning curve we became a bit more adventurous by putting baits all over the area covered from the Bar Swim; in front of the bar, off to the sides, mid way across in the deep water, even in the near margins, where the depth fell away very quickly, giving 20 feet just a couple of rod lengths out. Clearly the fish loved to patrol all over the area in front of the swim and hot spots were not limited to the far side of the bar or under the tree canopy. Tat was the master at margin fishing that particular swim and she it was who began to use chopped bait on the lake in an attempt to prevent our round boiled baits from rolling down the slope. Not rocket science for sure, but at the time such a trick never occurred to me and Steve. You could bait up with chops by hand, so close in did the carp venture.
Using this tactic she landed a hell of a lot of carp including many of the lake's oldest and biggest inhabitants, including Busted Tail, the lake record (if it felt so inclined and the fish was something of a yo-yo weight wise).
The tree lined far bank behind and to the left of the bar was obviously an area to be explored so we cleared the branches and overgrown bank side in an area next to the Bar swim. This not only gave us overhead casting clearance but also a cleared area to put the rods and from which to play fish, though it was pretty precarious as this pic of Steve adjusting his rods shows. It was really deep right under you feet so falling in would not have been a great idea! We had lots of fish from just a rod length ot two out where the depth was twenty feet or so. The carp loved to creep along that margins but the swim was best fished from next door where you could keep quiet as a mouse. The slightest footfall and they would vacate the area at the gallop.
13 Nov 2016 at 3.00pm
In reply to Post #66
My mind is jumping about all over the place; so many memories it's hard to know how best to get them into some sort of order. I think it's best if I just let my fingers wander and rely on my fading brain power to retrieve what is relevant. So forgive me if I return to the Roche AC venues for a while, concentrating on the lessons we leaned while fishing them. This shot is looking down the lake towards the far bay. You can clearly see the swim on the left; the bar is marked in red across the far side.
Rashleigh was our favourite Club venue at the time, simply because we were on a roll. Steve, Tat and myself had got the lake more or less sorted and having the hair and the Robin Red boiled bait was a massive advantage. If you have followed this account from the start you will know that by pure chance and the kindness of Tony Chipman, I had dropped onto arguably the hottest (at the time) swim on the lake, the Bar Swim.
For the most part the lake was characterised by its deep water. Being an old clay mine it had depths of up to fifty feet and in places the lake bed was dotted with steep slopes and contrasting shallow bars and plateaux. The deepest parts of the lake lay at the far (southern) end of the valley in which the lake lay. The south bay, particularly the western part, was also deep and tree lined with some really vicious snags in the far corner. The fish would congregate in these snags in numbers but fishing for them was truly perilous.
The swim that covered the bar had no name when we started fishing Rashleigh, we simply called it the Bar Swim, but as the lake became much more popular others began to name the swims and the Bar became the Lounge, or the Reception, or something equally silly. The cast to the top of the bar itself was some 50 yards. This side of the bar the depth quickly dropped away to 35-40 feet or so, while to the right as you looked at it, the slope was even steeper and the depth fell away to fifty feet or more.
However, it was the far side of the bar that was the most promising, as here the depth between the top of the bar and the far bank - a distance of no more than a dozen yards - was less than twenty feet. In addition the far bank was heavily tree lined, the overhanging branches creating a natural canopy under which the carp loved to patrol. As they did so they would often venture out onto the bar and at times you could even see them as dark shadows as they passed over the light, golden sand of the bar. The trees behind the bar and the bar itself formed a perfect ambush point to intercept patrolling carp and a bait positioned anywhere on top of or to the side of the bar would stand a chance. But the best chances came to baits cast just across to the back of the bar. I couldn't begin to tell you how many carp we caught from that swim. It must have been a hundred or more.
8 Nov 2016 at 3.01pm
In reply to Post #65
The Beach swim more or less became our second home for most of 1984. This was before the lake became well known and the competition for swims - especially the 'going' swims - became intense. Prior to the arrival of the hordes we could fish just about anywhere we liked as we had the run of the place. The lake opened to night fishing in 1984 and invariably Tat and I would make a beeline for the Beach. There seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of eager carp off The Beach and when nights were allowed we filled our boots!
Being allowed to do the nights also meant that we were on the lake at dawn, which was invariably a time for a run of three.Here's Tat away at first light in an early morning fog that has drifted in from the coast.
The Little Bench swim was largely ignored for some strange reason even after the invaders arrived. I have no idea why as the bars that formed such a feature next door (the Beach) continued right through the Little Bench and if carp were not in front one of the swims there were usually in front of the other. The fishing could be fantastic but it was a tight swim, no room for a bivvy, but as a day session swim it was fantastic. If you could get a rod in there at first light you could almost guarantee a take or two…or three. Strange it was so unpopular. I guess it was because it was such a restricted swim in terms of bivvy room and overhead clearance for casting. That leaves all the more scope for those who liked stalking them close in.
8 Nov 2016 at 2.59pm
In reply to Post #64
A group of Cornish mates, Graham Orchard, Tony Chipman, Steve Churchill and Nigel Britton started fishing College in about 1986/7. They were the first to use tigers properly on the water and they soon became known as the Tiger Nut Kids. Their technique was simplicity itself, using tigers very sparingly to catch a huge number of fish before eventually the tigers stopped working. They used no more than a pint of tigers for a long weekend session, placing them with great accuracy – often by hand - in holes in the weed, on the gravelly areas to the right and left of the Swamp, or on the shallow bars that could be found at the southern end of the lake. Tigers had an amazing run on the lake but did eventually stop working when a group of dickheads from up country filled the lake in with the stripeys. As anyone with any gumption will tell you, tigers, like peanuts should be used frugally. Without these idiots’ intervention I am certain that the T.N.Kids would have enjoyed even greater success, so effectively did they position their hookbaits and free offerings. Here's my old mate from Rashleigh, Steve Westbury, fishing the Ponderosa with Nigel Britton, of whom much more later, and Nige's springer spaniel.
Talking of bars, when we first started on College we had no idea of the underwater contours or features that lay in front of us. For the first four of five months, through the winter of 1983/4 we concentrated on the three main swims in the middle of the west bank. In fact it wasn't until Steve did a session on the NE Point, and caught well, that we managed to drag ourselves away from the west bank. I guess we figured that we had dropped on the mother lode as we always seems to catch in the Ponderosa, the Beach and the Little Bench. The Ponderosa is on the extreme left almost out of the picture, in this photo taken from the NE Point, but the Beach (towards the left) and the Little Bench (centre) are clearly visible.
What we didn't know was exactly what we were actually fishing to. Yes, we knew it was predominantly silty but we had no real idea about feature finding so any other features out there were largely a guessed-at mystery until they were revealed during the drought years. It was pure serendipity that we plonked ourselves down in the Beach on the west bank that very first time we fished there. It was not until I made another midnight swim that I discovered the gravelly areas the location of which we then marked on our reel lines - seriously advanced stuff for 1984! How did we do this? Simple: I took three baited rigs out with me in the middle of the night and dropped one on the close in bar, the second on the medium range bar, and the third on the long chuck bar. Then Tat tied a marker on the lines and also on the rods, so that we knew which rod was marked for which bar. Funnily enough, we caught more off the middle and far bars but if it was blowing a hoolie and waves were marching up the lake on a strong south or south west wind, the close in bar really produced fantastically well. Here you can see the bars in front of those three swims. Not surprising the carp liked it!
The long bar with the seagulls sitting on it is actually more in font of the Little Bench than the Beach, but if nobody was in the Little Bench (unlikely as for some reason it was not a popular swim) you could reach it from the Beach with a decent right to left breeze (or a decent pair of swimming fins!). The other smaller bars are not as far out - about 35-40 yards.
This photo shows the two swims to the right (south) of the beach. The Ponderosa is on the right while the Swamp is on the left with the large leaning tree trunk. The large area between the two where the gulls are swimming was one huge weed bed during the summer months, which the carp loved. On a sunny day you could see them plain as anything as they cruised lazily below, through or over the weed. In fact, watching their movements it was easy to locate and isolate their patrol routes and also note areas where they fed as opposed to areas where they did not.
All in all, the middle of the lake and the area within casting distance of the main swims on the west bank were a mass of features. It is small wonder that the carp loved to congregate in the middle, usually just out of our (then) casting range. It wasn't until the big chuckers like Gra Orchard and Gary Thomas showed us how to do proper long chucks that these previously 'safe' carp suddenly found they were not so safe after all.
8 Nov 2016 at 2.55pm
In reply to Post #63
Decades later I would write a series for Carpworld called Spot Fishing and to a large extent it was my experiences on College that gave me the confidence to write such technical pieces without getting laughed at! All in all, the key to success was finding the hard patches on the so-called bars, even though these were not proper bars as you would probably know them. Ours came up six inches to a foot at most and some were only a few feet long and maybe a foot or so wide.
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 only effectively be fished from the Swamp. For obvious reasons this was one of the most popular swims on the lake, not surprising when you consider the features in front of it.
The swim itself was not easy fishing as you had to wade out a fair bit to make the cast. The aim was to put the bait close to the tip of the island, though dropping short wasn't a disaster as there was a lovely little channel running down left to right along the island's margin. Another tactic was to wade out and drop the bait by hand at the foot of the abundant mares tails weed than grew along the margins to the right of the swim. By wading out and actually placing the bait by hand on the gravel in front of the mares tail you stood a very good chance of a pick up. The funny thing was that the bait had to be almost touching the weed stems. If it was say six inches away you would not get a pick up, even though it was clear that there were fish in the area by the way the mares tails used to sway and bump as the fish moved through them. That was why it was so important to place the bait by hand, as it were. Casting simply wasn’t accurate enough. A bait cast or placed in the channels also stood an excellent chance of being taken and the good thing about this area was that it was deep enough that the swans couldn’t reach the bait on the lakebed as it was just a foot or so too deep for them. This pretty fish fell to just such a tactic.
Of course the sneakiest way to fish the island was not in fact from the Swamp. No, the best swims was on the island itself. Though not allowed , if you put chesties on you could wade out with a bucket of bait and a net and a rob and fish right under your feet in the island's margins. Cheating, you may say, but if there was nobody around where's the harm.Here is am fishing the island opposite the Swamp. The channel we aimed to hit from there was a chuck of about 90 yards. Where I am fishing it was a chuck of two yards at most! You can see the mares tails across the lake and the weed clumps in the bay. If you were quiet and unobtrusive you could actually see the carp swimming by without a care in the world. It was magical fishing like no other I have ever experienced.
This gorgeous little common fell to a hookbait dropped in the edge while fishing the swim shown above. It is one of a dozen or more you could catch in a day if you kept quiet and didn't betray your presence, either to the fish or to the warden!
You will have heard how many anglers set great store in the strength and direction of the wind. Well let me tell you, those College fish were so set in their ways as far as feeding hot spots were concerned that even if it was blowing a hoolie from the south west with waves piling into the North Bay, the fish would hang resolutely around the islands at the tail of the wind, refusing to move however hard it blew. That was why so many visiting anglers came unstuck as they always assumed that the fish would follow the wind. They could never understand why we locals would be fishing the southern end of the lake when the wind was pushing hard up towards the other end.
8 Nov 2016 at 2.53pm
In reply to Post #62
We were still using The Device (see Peanuts section) to get the baits out but when we first started fishing the two swims at the southern end of the lake, trying to reach the gap in the two islands, we found ourselves well short of the required distance. Home made botch-jobs of throwing sticks were too heavy and cumbersome, but The Device could just about reach given a following wind from the east. Even so, we still fell well short with both the casts and the freebies if there was any west in the wind.
Then someone had the bright idea of going around to the other side of the lake in front of the swim that would become known as the Swamp, where the islands lay only a matter of 50-60 yards away. Here with the west wind behind us whoever was doing the baiting would stick them out ‘blind’ firing them over the top of the island’s trees and hopefully landing near or near about to the Gap. In this photo the rods are pointing at the Gap, though at this distance the actual gap itself is not really noticeable unless you know what you are looking for.
Later, as we got more effective at long-range casting using our updated rods and reels, we began to hit the Gap even with a westerly blowing. Mind you, the real casters at the time were Gary and Mark who could put their baits up the trees on the islands if they felt so inclined and even though such a cast was in reality a cock-up, when they hit the trees they did so with annoying smugness! Good technique and Armalite 3.0lb 13-footers doing the business for the guys.
I mentioned earlier how inept we actually were when we started serious carping on Ockenham, the Roche AC waters, Salamander Lake, and the SW ressies but necessity is the mother of invention and somehow we muddled by!
Even on College we really did not have much of a clue as to how to use a lead for ‘feeling’ the bottom. As for marker floats, what are they? How we managed to catch anything is beyond me. Just goes to show how huge an edge it was having the hair and Robin Red boiled baits in our, at the time, rather limited armoury.
I can recall when we first fished what later became the Swamp at College. At the time there wasn’t an actual swim there and so Steve and I created one, just a small area where you could squeeze in, hidden from the path, and chuck a couple of rods out towards the point of the island and to the channel that ran tight to the island margins. We had a clear idea in our heads as to why we were casting where we were casting, but to be honest, mostly it was guesswork. It was only after a few sessions (and a few years) that we actually managed to get a better idea of the lakebed that lay off the point of the island and the general area in front of the Swamp.
I had taken to doing the odd midnight swim, not to put bait out or to place baited hooks (that would come later!), but solely to try to get a better idea of what we were actually fishing on/to. As we had long suspected there was indeed a significant channel running close to the facing margins of the island. In addition there were loads of tiny gravel bars off the point while in between these little strips of gravel, that came up no more than a foot, the silt was deep and sweet-smelling. You can see some of the features and the channels in this photo, which was taken during 1991, one of the drought years. The scene looks out from the Clearing. The Swamp is in the middle of the photo on the opposite side of the lake.
The area from the Ponderosa down to the Swamp was often clogged with water milfoil, and it was clear that the carp just loved it in there; we knew they did coz we could see them! Though wading was supposedly strictly forbidden nobody said anything if you wanted to wade out to cast or bait up at longer range, or even if you wanted to drop a hookbait on a clear area. There used to be several tiny gravelly hot spots in the weed between the two swims and a bait and a few freebies carefully placed on one was almost certain to get a take. It was fishing these two swims that actually rammed home to me the importance of finding hot spots where the fish seemed to feel more relaxed and therefore more likely to feed and to get caught!
8 Nov 2016 at 12.14pm
In reply to Post #61
Fishing at College back in the early 80s put you on a very steep learning curve. When I think of how crudely we used to fish, it amazes me we ever caught a thing! The tackle we used, though ostensibly supposed to be top notch, was in reality a far cry from the carp tackle of today. Back then before the days of Nash, Fox, and Korda, we made most of our own tackle. Luckily Gardner had begun to offer decent bank side gear in the shape of tough ally banksticks and buzz bars, and reels were now coming out that were much more suitable for carping. However, eleven-foot so-called ‘casting’ rods, were actually nothing of the sort and while the Mitchell 300 was decent enough reel, it was not big enough to allow really big casts unless you compromised on the strength of your main line. We had a pair of 300s and the auto-flick bale arm Mitchell 330 but that was it, nothing else compared, unless you counted the old Intrepids, which were terrible.
Eventually we added a pair of Abu 155 reels to the mix – we couldn’t afford the much better 55 models – and these allowed us to cast a lot further. To be honest and with hindsight I am far from convinced it was necessary for the long chucks, but remember, this was our first big water and it never occurred to us to fish the margins in such a “huge” expanse of water.
The rods we used we built ourselves on 11 foot Sportex fibreglass blanks bought in 1978 from Going Bros in Southend, who also supplied all the rings, reel seats, whipping thread and so on. We also had two 1.75lb test Jim Gibbinson ‘Clooper’ long range (I wish) rods, and two 1.5lb test general-purpose carp rods. The Clooper had a very stiff action, whereas the lighter rod was a joy to play fish on.
A few years later when carbon fibre rods were becoming all the range with the early Sportex KM1 selling like hot cakes out of Simpson’s of Turnford’s shop, we changed over to carbons. What a difference! We were not taken by the KM1 and went instead for a pair of the 2lb test through action eleven footers. (I think these were the Sportex 3332 blanks but I am not sure.) Again we built the rods up from scratch using full cork handles for the first time. These were lovely rods with a nice through action but with power to spare in the butt. Tat loves them and we and we still have them to this day.
By 1986 we had realised the severe limitations of the gear we were using and had splashed out on a set of decent distance casting rods, I believe they were also Sportex blanks, but this time we bought them ready built from Jack Simpson. Later we augmented the first carbons with a set of Geoff Kemp rods, built by Vic Gillings if I remember rightly.
Thinking back to the way we were, it is astonishing to think of how far the tackle trade has come in just a few short years. For instance, carp sacks were none existent when I first started and we used Hessian sacks instead. Ghastly horrible things they were, and I am sure they didn’t do the carp much good. Mind you, I guess my old mate Big Daddy didn’t suffer any ill effects of his incarceration as he was still coming out of Salamander some 15 years later! Unhooking mats were also yet to be born. I used an old sack or the top of whatever waterproofs I had with me at the time. Still, at least they were better than this dreadful; horror story, a match angler's weighing basket. (Not mine by the way)
Rigs too were largely pretty crude, being mostly short nylon bolt rigs with a big hook (size 4, sometimes even a size 2) and a short hair tied with sewing cotton. I have already described our baits earlier in the thread, but in time we began to experiment with nuts and particles.
8 Nov 2016 at 12.05pm
In reply to Post #60
No doubt there will be sceptics who say that peanuts do no harm, and they are correct, provided they are used responsibly and also provided that not everybody on the lake is using them…and thereby comes the problem.
On a busy water it soon becomes apparent if one man is catching more than another and it doesn’t take long for the successful bait to be identified. Even though the original angler may only have been using a very conservative amount of peanuts, there is no guarantee that those who would emulate him will do the same. This soon has a knock-on and in next to no time the lake is being bombarded with peanuts.
So good though they may be, and though they do no harm if used in moderation, I still believe peanuts should be used very lightly. They should most definitely not be piled in, as can be the case with other pulses, beans or seeds. It is not rocket science: when used to excess peanuts cause serious problems and if you are looking for proof here are some sorry tales from College. The most tragic case involved the lake’s first thirty which I caught at a weight of 31lb 3oz in March 1985.
The late Baz Griffiths caught it in June 1985 at 26lb.
It came out again at 17lb in August and was never seen on the bank again. We are all certain that it died.
Next consider this most friendly of College carp, a fish we called Two Scales. This fish came out often and was everybody’s friend. Indeed, it was the second fish Tat and I caught on peanuts in the summer of ’84. It came out in the spring of 1985 to my mate Steve at 24lb 12oz.
I caught it in July of the same year at 23lb 4oz.
Now look at the poor old girl. This is the final photo ever taken of her when she weighed less than fifteen pounds. Soon after this pic was taken she was found dead.
Finally I ask you to look at this gorgeous fish. In its day this fish was known as Wembley because she was a real trophy of a fish.
Now look at her; riddled with disease and bloated beyond belief. Were peanuts the cause? Almost certainly.
Before I close I want to quote Tim Paisley again as he makes a point against those who would point at peanuts and say that the problems caused by their over-use contradicts the principle of nutritional recognition.
Tim wrote: "One final point on peanuts. As a rule a carp will stop feeding on a food source that is of little use to it, or which makes it ill - as with baits containing excessive flavour levels. But the metabolic processes involved in the vitamin E deficiency syndrome (caused by excessive consumption of peanuts) are apparently too complex for the carp’s system to cope with. Peanuts are not a natural part of the carp’s diet and their effect is unique. Mother Nature cannot have envisaged their availability, and She provided no defence mechanism in the carp’s system.”
Right or wrong, whatever the argument, the fact is that carp cannot take, and should never be given, an excessive amount of peanuts.
8 Nov 2016 at 12.04pm
In reply to Post #59
We should always examine the results of our actions. It may be that we think we are using the safest rig ever and that our baits do the fish nothing but good: certainly that they don't do them any harm. But do they? Having looked at the success Tat and I enjoyed using peanuts in the summer of 1984 we must also consider the other side of the coin and look at the repercussions of over use of any peanuts.
When Rod Hutchinson first made popular the use of what are now generally termed particle baits, anglers were then, as they are now, forever searching for a particular bait that would give them an ‘edge’. By the early 80s the secret bait was peanuts. Sadly it was not to remain secret for long and soon the world and his wife were piling peanuts into lakes all over the country, and with no consideration whatsoever about the long and short term consequences of such an oil-rich diet.
When the scare stories began: fish were going back in weight and some fish were actually dying, the finger of suspicion pointed at peanuts. The weeklies picked up on this and a few lurid exposes hit the streets, but they were ill informed and inconclusive. It wasn’t until first Fred Wilton and then Tim Paisley wrote in detail about the damage that peanuts could cause that carp anglers began to sit up and take notice. Tim and Fred pointed out that peanuts intended for use a bird food contains aflatoxins that were carcinogenic (cancer causing) and nobody in their right mind should be using them for carp fishing.
While at the time they were quite right, things have changed since then. These days the cancer-causing aflatoxins have been largely eradicated from peanuts intended for both human consumption and for birdfood thanks to a rigorous screening program. Nonetheless, I agree with Tim’s assertion that peanuts, regardless of whether they are intended for birds or humans, are dangerous if they become the sole source of food in a lake. When Tim wrote of his concerns back in 1990 I doubt even he could have imagined just how huge carp angling was to become, so nowadays the potential for these peanut-related problems to arise is even greater, as there are simply more carp anglers around than there was in 1990.
As Tim detailed, peanuts become a problem when they are the primary source of food whereby carp eat them almost to the exclusion of all other foods. Imagine what YOU would feel and look like if you ate peanuts for breakfast, lunch and super. Excess of any kind can be life threatening and in the case of peanuts the dangers are, as Tim pointed out, from vitamin E deficiency and excess fat build up, especially in the liver, kidneys, in the blood and in other vital organs (A similar situation arises when excess fish oils are used in boiled baits.)
Any food that is eaten to excess will cause problems as carp are simply not equipped with the mechanism to stop eating peanuts. In fact, there could even be a repeat of the oft-quoted human analogy whereby one asks oneself, “Could I eat a single peanut?” Answer is, “most definitely not”. (Apologies to those with nut allergies for bringing up temptation!).
Returning now to College. In the spring of 1985 we saw the first mass invasion of carp-starved anglers suffering withdrawal symptoms imposed by the then existing close season on lakes in the rest of England and Wales. Devon and Cornwall had no such restriction and so the invasion of College and other south west reservoirs and lakes was inevitable after the info about the carp in them first leaked onto the grapevine. We were invaded by hundreds of carpers all in search of their fishing 'fix' and with them came the first widespread use of peanuts.
I witnessed anglers introducing hundreds of kilos of peanuts, both cooked and uncooked, into a 40 acre lake. Our visitors had no idea of what the previous week’s anglers had introduced – invariably peanuts – and so a situation arose whereby the lakebed was covered in a blanket of nuts. Inevitably the carp ate their fill; many were captured, but worse, many subsequently lost weight and a few even died. Of course these problems only raised their ugly heads after the visitors had gone home, no doubt to repeat similar atrocities on their home waters after the close season ended.
8 Nov 2016 at 11.56am
In reply to Post #58
Anyway, that’s the story of a fantastic College summer of 1984. We concluded afterwards that we had over-baited with peanuts, hence the very noticeable slow down and eventual stop. Yes, they can be a great bait, as we discovered initially, but go in to heavy with them and they will stop dead. Peanuts in quantity can not only damage carp, they can kill them, so to temper this tale, read what followed at College 12 months later, after I tell you a strange but true story, the tale of the eleven o'clock carp.
In the early days, everything we experienced at College took us further along the learning curve. In particular we took great pains to try and establish the carp’s patrol routes. Steve was especially adept at this, as he seemed to possess a sixth sense that kept him totally clued in on where the carp were at any given point in the day. Tat and I, not as gifted as Steve, merely coat-tailed the guy and took his word as gospel. However, in time we too began to learn the tell tale signs of fish movement and began to establish their patrol routes. So good did we become that in time were actually able to anticipate with near-on perfect accuracy where the carp would be at any given time and weather conditions.
One trick we had put into practice very well was to leap-frog each other until one of us got a run – and yes, it was that kind of situation at that time; if you didn’t get a run you weren’t on fish. Don't forget, at the time I am talking about there was no night fishing so we were fishing days only.
After choosing a starting point we would set up in three different swims along the bank and after an hour or so the guy at one end would move past the other two and set up further along the bank…and so on and so on. I am sure you get the picture. Well, anyway, we had become so adept at following the fish around, especially along the west bank of the reservoir that we could virtually predict when a run might occur.
So one rather bleak early spring day, Tat and I went down for a day session. I fished in the Beach while Tat went down to the southern end of the lake some 600 yards or so to fish the Swamp, casting to the back of the island. All our previous experiences had lead us to believe that the fish would be off the Beach early on but would move down the lake to the right, gathering behind the island mid-morning, not moving out again until the afternoon, when they would make their way along the west bank, arriving in front of the Beach again around three in the afternoon.
So I am sitting there watching the world go by when along comes a mate of Steve’s who had been popping down to College for a look-see every now and again. His name was Stuart and being a sociable sort of guy I put the kettle on and made the tea and we talked about this and that. After a while I looked at my watch and then started winding my rods in.
“Going to put fresh baits on, then?” asked Stuart.
“No, mate,” I replied. “Just going down to help Tat in the Swamp.”
Stuart looked rather puzzled. “I didn’t hear a buzzer,” he said.
“No, nor did I,” I replied, “but the eleven o’clock fish will be along any moment and I want to get down there to give her a hand and do the photos."
Stuart gave me a look usually reserved for the sad, deluded or insane!
“Seriously” I said. “She’ll have a fish on by the time we get there.”
It was by now just coming up to the top of the hour and as we started the long walk down towards the Swamp the faint trill of an alarm could be heard. We both broke into a run and arrived in the Swamp to find Tat bent into a lively fish.
“Look your watch, ” I said to Stuart.
“Bugger me! He replied. “Bang on eleven o’clock!”
A strange story, but true!
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