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South West Memories.
22 Oct 2016 at 4.45pm
In reply to Post #9
I should perhaps make mention of the lack of an unhooking mat and the hessian sack that I used to sack the fish while I ran back home to get Tat to take a look and do the photos. I would never use such a horribly coarse sack these days, but you will have to forgive me; at the time I knew no better. Modern carpers don't know they are born, what with proper mats, slings and the like! As for proper scales…Try convincing others that you have had a thirty, or even a twenty and the first thing they'll do is question what colour the needle showed on the dial. Yes, there were a few anglers around - we called them 'ultra-cult' carpers! - with all the latest gear, but I wasn't one of them. Ultra cult my arse!
Some of you may not get the relevance of that, but back then the best scales were Avon 32lb that weighed in increments of eight pounds at a time. Each increment was indicated by a different colour on the dial, as the needle could go around the dial up to four times (4 x 8lb = 32lb). If the needle ever went round into the purple section that meant it was a possible thirty...a what? Unheard off down this way at the time.
Daddy was not the only fish I caught from Salamander the winter but following that November capture I did not see the fish for quite a while. However, I got to grips with Salamander more and more as the months passed and though I am not fond of this Billingsgate shot, I does show that my so-called skills were improving. Three on the bank in half an hour.Was I keen? Well the photo below was takena bout 5 hours after I came home from hospital, stitches still in my balls after my vasectomy!
The intermittent nature of my day job interfered seriously with my carping, as I know it does for most of you, and I even started throwing the odd sickie so I could pop down to Salamander for an hour or two. Sadly my mate John who was also my skipper knew full well the hold that carp fishing could take on a person and he soon found out where I was doing all the skiving! Mind you, as soon as he saw how avidly the fish were feeding on the 'new improved' boiled bait he couldn't wait to beg a rod off me. John was a carper of many years experience but he had drifted away from the sport in the early 60s to take up the banjo and guitar, playing in the London folk clubs with some of the best names in the business at the time. His work name then was Johnny Orange. It's unlikely you will have heard of him but you never know. John fished a lot around the Staines area and probably fished lakes that are well renowned nowadays but where unknown and unfished back then. I think Moor Lane was one of them
Once John had seen the size of some of the fish in Salamander he soon rediscovered the bug!
Later that year I saw Daddy looking decidedly the worse for wear. As far as I knew I was still only one of two or three anglers fishing Salamander and I knew Ian, the other guy on there, had not been down for a while. I wondered if the fish was ailing. The fish were pretty obvious to anyone who had eyes to see and really look for them (as opposed to look but not see, as was the case with the rest of the park users). Then one day I saw one of the local kids down there with, believe it or not, a bow and arrows and he seemed to be taking pot shots at the carp. I 'had a word' with him and though he said he had not even hit one, I couldn't help wondering if he hadn't wounded BD. I couldn't see any obvious signs of damage and when I tried to net the fish to take a closer look he shot off like a scalded cat. I guess he was OK. As turned out to be the case when that summer I landed the big bruiser at just over twenty one pounds. It would be the last time I saw the fish on the bank for four years! The reason for this was the call of Rashleigh returned as Steve, Tat and myself started fishing together again. Then a year later we discovered the reservoir 'down west' and things were about to change dramatically. Much larger carp were about to come our way!
22 Oct 2016 at 4.44pm
In reply to Post #9
Chatting to Tat later she wanted to know all about the capture and as I described the fatness of the carp she said that it sounded, "as big as Big Daddy", a well-known figure in wresting that was hugely popular on ITV on Saturday afternoons, and thus was the fish named.
Though I had vowed to return to the lake more often I still had to make a living and while the weather lasted and the sea remained relatively calm we spent as much time as possible doing the other kind of fishing, commercial fishing so it wasn't until the late autumn that I returned to the lake. By now thanks again to Bill I was privy to 'the great secret' of the Robin Red based boiled bait. The recipe was simplicity itself; eight ounces of Nectarblend and two of Robin Red with four ounces of muscovado sugar dissolved in the minimum of hot water and then added to the eggs. Flavour was one of young Mr Kemp's finest that Bill had been using up-country, the flowery Perfume Spray. This was another of the big secrets in carp fishing in those days as Kemp and SBS were the prime purveyors of quality essences to the carp fishing fraternity and the Perfume Spray was one of the best thanks, I was later informed, to the inclusion of the essential oil of geranium (needs confirmation! as wiki would say).
I was still not a fully fledged carper in the accepted sense of the word. No bivvy, bedchair or buzzers for me. I was strictly a stalking man using a float rather than a buzzer and a side hooked boilie to tempt them into the weed that had appeared in the time I had been away. From up the tree I could see the bright gravel of the lakebed in the holes in the weed and a few crumbled up boiled baits with pinches of break flake chucked around the float provided the additional temptation that I hoped would draw the carp into the swim. The tiny dot just off to the left of my rod tip is my float, under which is a boiled bait lowered into the hole in the weed that is clearly visible.
One such area I found at the northern end of the lake, where the weed was not quite a thick. I baited up most evenings and fished though till dark but had nothing. The lake seemed dead and lifeless, as if the falling temperatures had made the carp lethargic and unwilling to feed. But despite this I kept putting a few bait in when possible, and Tat did the same for me while I was away. Finally, come November of that year I actually saw the fish again. They were nosing around in the weed and appeared quite lively and my hearts skipped a beat when I saw Big Daddy scoffing the Robin Red boiled bait.
This was proper margin fishing. Rod on the deck, float dotted right down, with me standing back pretending to be a tree! It was great stuff and when I saw the weedbed quiver slightly as a fish nosed through, I thought my heart was going to explode.
Suddenly the float shot under and the line poured off the reel. Fish on! I grabbed onto the butt of my home made SS5 (a rod that had so much bend in it I am sure you could have put the tip to the butt had you tried hard enough without it breaking!) as the fish made off through the weed. Like most fights in weed, the fish soon got bogged down in the stuff and with its eyes covered gave up the fight. I eventually netted a great big bundle of weed and (hopefully) fish.
Laying the net on the grass (there were no unhooking mats in those days) I peeled back the weed to reveal an enormous fish. At the time I did not recognised Big Daddy (for it was he) and it was only when I had the photos developed that I compared the scale patterns and then all was revealed. Incidentally, you may wonder about the black and white photos? I can explain…I was taking a college course in photography part time through the winter - weather permitting - and it was considered very arty to be shooting in black and white. Hmmmm!
Up on the Avons in my rudimentary weigh sling that Tat had made for me and the needle went further into the green than I had ever seen it go before: twenty pounds twelve ounces. My first twenty! The pub beckoned!
22 Oct 2016 at 4.42pm
In reply to Post #9
As mentioned previously Bill and I were both fishing side hooked black eyed beans at Ockenham, and having great success with them so it seemed like an obvious starting point for the start of my attempts to catch the Salamander Lake fish. I have touched on my initial days on the lake in a previous post but I hope you don't mind if I go into a bit more detail now.
One day in early autumn of 1978. I wandered down to the lake with a stalking rod and my trusty centrepin reel loaded with 8lb line and a bag of blackies. I walked around the lake and spotted a few fish here and there, but they seemed to be interested only in basking in the sunlight. Then on my second tour around I found a group of four fish really close to the bank. Despite this I decided to have a chuck and using a swan shot link ledger I cast a single blackie side hooked mounted on a size 4 Au Lion d'Or hook towards the area where the group was mooching about rather aimlessly, I thought. Still, you never know…
I dropped a bait in a few feet away from the group, not wishing to spook them with the splash, and then chucked a few freebies in on top of the hookbait. I crouched down, hoping to hide myself from the fish.
(I fished that lake on and off for nearly twenty years and would always try to keep myself as unobtrusive as possible. I don't know why. Often a dog walker, pedestrian or mum with a pram would stand right next to me and talk in a loud voice that I felt sure would spook the fish. It never did, not even when a council worker in a bright orange boiler suit came and stood right next to me as I stalked a huge humpy-backed fish only a foot or so from the bank. "Caught anything me 'ansome?" he asked in a loud Cornish brogue. Willing him to please go away (or words to that effect) I whispered that I'd had nothing so far and was unlikely to do so while he stood there in his garish garb and with his booming voice. The fish meanwhile took no notice but it was clearly not in a feeding mood as eventually it waddled off and I did not see it again for weeks.)
Meanwhile, back at the lake...
I was still trying to disguise myself as a bush when the rod hooped over and the reel screeched as a fish grabbed the bait and legged it. A brief scrap followed and eventually a perfect leather carp came to the net. Leather, pure leathers I mean, are as rare as hen's teeth in the UK so this was doubly rewarding. The fish weighed eight pounds, and I was delighted! It was my very first fish from Salamander.
The fight had spooked the rest of the group from the area and as they fled a huge swirl showed just a yard or so out, not where the group had been showing. Was this the biggie and I hadn't noticed it in the edge? Had I blown my chance for good?
I had no more chances that day but returned a day later. As before there was a group of four fish in virtually the same place as before. Searching a bit more closely I noticed a large indistinct shadow a few feet closer in, lying in the shadow of a small bush. Again the side hooked blackies were lowered in, followed by a dozen or so freebies and I saw the shadow slowly move off. I left the bait in place in the hope that one of the group might move further in towards the bank and take it, but they seemed oblivious to its allure!
Suddenly the rod was almost wrenched from my hands and the handles of the 'pin nearly broke my knuckles! A big bow wave showed on the surface as a good fish bolted from the margins where the bait had been lying. Was it the biggie? Damn right it was! The scales went round once, twice and then well into the green to settle on 18lb 8oz, my biggest carp to date!
I was so chuffed I packed up immediately and headed back across the bridge and up the hill to the local pub where one pint followed another and I meandered home in a beer fuelled haze. I would be back!
22 Oct 2016 at 4.42pm
This is the story of Salamander Lake and of Big Daddy , the Pride of Cornwall, and this is the road to paradise!
I had been fishing at Ockenham in the late 70s and had enjoyed wonderful fishing, and quite a few great socials with Bill, and had leaned the secrets of particle bait fishing using pulses such as black eyed beans, kidney beans and so on. Bill was a fantastic guy to share ideas with and in the many years I have known him he has put me onto a wealth of good ideas, venues, baits and tactics. I owe the guy a lot!
It was coming towards the end of the 70s when heard about a tiny park lake less than a mile of my home that was rumoured to hold carp. At first sight the two-acre lake was not all that inspiring and though there was a guy who fished there from time to time, when I tried to chat him up about the carp he wasn't very forthcoming about the place (and in hindsight I didn't blame him!).
One day I was walking around the lake, idly watching the world go by and not really taking a lot of interest in the lake, when some gulls came sweeping down to scoff some of the bread that was being thrown in by dog walkers, mums with kids in gaudy prams, always it seemed with at least one wheel that squeaked abominably, old folk on zimmer frames and in wheelchairs; you name it, they were there!
They were there to feed the hundreds of ducks that lived on the lake and in the surrounding marshland, and believe me, those ducks got thrown so much bread that they would even stop eating it at times. This left quite a bit to float on the surface or drift down through to the lake bed and the floating stuff attracted the gulls. As they shrieked and screamed at each other in aggression over the bits of bread, they swooped down on the surface and as they did so they spooked several large fish that were also showing a interest in the floating food. So there were carp in there after all!
I was too busy fishing Rashleigh and Ockenham at the time but I filed the nearby lake away for a rainy day, knowing that at least it held carp and judging by the swirls of the spooked fish, pretty big ones too. Even while I was fishing other venues my curiosity kept drawing me back to the park lake and further investigation seemed warranted.
Chatting to an old boy who walked his dog round the lake each day, the story was that a local collector of exotic amphibious creatures had released his pet salamanders into the lake when he could no longer look after them - don't ask me why…it could all be rubbish. Whatever, I called the venue Salamander Lake, a name that stuck with the place for many years. That little lake became a major part of my early angling life and just walking over the bridge over the stream that feeds Salamander was enough to get my pulse racing in the years to come. Later it became a hotspot for anglers from all over the county, then the south west and finally even up country, more of which later. This is a view of the lake from about 1977 or '78
Fishing Ockenham with Bill had shown me the benefits of getting up a tree for a better view of the lake and one day I was perched in the branches of a rather flimsy willow when three or four shadows ghosted across my field of vision. They were lead by a fish that looked to my inexperienced eye to be enormous, and it was not alone! There were several others that while slightly smaller that their leader were still pretty impressive. It was all the encouragement I needed to start fishing there.
21 Oct 2016 at 2.36pm
In reply to Post #19
Can you re-post the old articles from the old South West Memories thread of a few years ago? I loved reading about College Lake and could read through all that again.
20 Oct 2016 at 1.34pm
Lots more to come. Just writing the material and scanning some more old pix for this thread. Be patient and I'll be back a.s.a.p.
18 Oct 2016 at 9.29am
In reply to Post #2
That was a great read Ken, thanks.
Like a few others of late it seems, I haven't been present on these forums for a couple of years (or the bank for that matter, no matter how much you say that you'll still go fishing through having young children! )
Anyway, it's great to see a couple of years on that you are as always adding great content to the forum. Please keep it going.
16 Oct 2016 at 11.36am
a great read Ken, brought back many memories of the early years, how it got from what we did then to what it is now is truly amazing, BTW I spotted the ABU 155 the same as I use to use, they were the dogs.... then, look forward to more of the same
15 Oct 2016 at 6.41pm
In reply to Post #9
Just had the pleasure of reading this. Absolutley brilliant
So many people at it nowadays I'm sure when we look back it just won't have the nostalgia as you have captured here Ken. Brilliant
So many happy times I guess
The old ones are the best
15 Oct 2016 at 12.39pm
In reply to Post #10
Cracking stuff Ken - great read & I'm loving the nostalgic pics - especially of the Roche waters,
& talking of Tony C - I'm fishing with him tomorrow!!
15 Oct 2016 at 8.41am
, Miss pete pembertons storys. Different character ! enjoyed reading yours , thanks Ken
14 Oct 2016 at 8.44pm
Great read Ken, keep it up.
14 Oct 2016 at 12.34pm
In reply to Post #9
14 Oct 2016 at 8.46am
In reply to Post #10
Awesome read Ken
13 Oct 2016 at 9.21pm
Ken ,this is awesome reading,keep it up...I can remember Tony Chipman very well and i also recall Bodmin sports trophy shop which i believe was owned by Tonys dad...
I wonder if Peter Mohan was integral to the stocking of Alder quarry and Stone farm both on the old A30...There is of course Stowford Grange another quarry nearby with an interesting back story...
And Beechmere ....well,thats the `Pinnacle`for me,nothing will ever come close except for Tredidon Barton manor and the feral commons.........
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