This section is for fishing related articles written by members which they feel may be of interest to fellow club members.The views expressed in these articles are not necessarily held by Intertype Angling Society.
Harefield Carpin’ (Part 1) by Carphunter
It was September 2004 and I had been beaten up badly in a fishing sense on Tolpits and my mate Steve suggested coming on to Harefield for a different angling experience. I didn't know what to expect because naturally like many other carp angler I had only read about it in the hallowed pages of angling legends books such as Rob Maylin and Martin Clarke.
We met up on a beautiful sunny autumnal afternoon and after the initial gasp at the size of the place (nearly 50 acres) and it wasn't long before the guided tour of this carping mecca began. You could almost sense the magic walking round it, knowing what fish were here and also the fact the you have trodden the same dirt as most of carp anglings Hall of Fame. It wasn't long before we were at the most famous swim on Harefield, "The Point", and this was made famous by Rob Maylin and Stuart Gillam after being immortalised in their Harefield Haulin' videos. This swim gives a very good panoramic view of most of the lake and you can revel in the historic captures that have come from here
Now there is something wonderful about the ambient light , late in the afternoon, at this twilight part of the year because no matter how forbodding a lake may look usually, the sun cutting a low swathe through an autumnal sky turns everywhere in to a carping Valhalla where you can really believe that dreams can come true. At that moment in time, looking out from the point , that sentiment was echoed to eternity.
our travels and it wasn't long before we reached Clarke's Corner, where
Martin Clarke had a massive hit of fish one winter, something that has
never been matched since. As we headed up the road bank, to our right
lay Korda lake, the jewel in the crown of the BCSG and no chance of
a ticket. This place is stunning with mature trees and bays surrounding
this 17 acre anglers paradise.
I got my winter
ticket about a week later and it wasn't long before I was wheezing my
way down the Broadwater bank to rendevous with my pal Steve who had
secured The Point swim for us. After negotiating the narrow twisting
and undulating "path" I had arrived with my carp porter creaking
under the strain of a mountain of provisions. Well there is absolutely
no point in going hungry or thirsty is there
I fell asleep
quickly and was suddenly woken from my lager induced coma by the sound
of a wailing banshee, funny I thought, that’s sounds more like
my bite alarm...........The middle rod was tearing off at a rate of
knots and once I dragged my subconscious from whatever depraved thoughts
it was in, I sprang from my slumber and pulled into a carp!
This time it was the left hand rod that was being wrenched from my grasp as the much bigger carp made attempts to regain its freedom by heading between the islands. I was struggling to get it to play the game and eventually it started to relinquish its position and I was gaining the upper hand. The fight had been going on for around five minutes by now and I was shaking from head to toe with excitement as the darkness started to give way to light. Another couple of minutes passed and I had the fish at around 40 yards but it still hadn't surfaced, it made some very powerful runs and the final one was unstoppable I had to let the clutch give line as it powered back out to the islands.I started to feel the line grate on the bars and was now panicking at the thought of losing this one.Then came the sickening slack line that told me the fish had gone.I dropped the rod and felt sick as I tried to fathom out what had happened.I reeled in the line and the rig and lead were all present, the hook was sharp and not mis-shapen, I had troble trying to work out what had gone wrong.
I woke Steve
to tell him of my recent dilemma and he sounded as gutted as me and
after kicking the scenario about between us it was concluded that maybe
the hook hold wasn't a good as I first thought. This is an aspect of
carp angling we can hope is spot on but some times fails through no
fault other that bad luck.
Well he hadn't got back to his swim before his phone was ringing for a request to come and photograph MY fish! Just a few minutes after he left I had a drop back on the recently cast right hand rod and I now had a lovely mirror in the net after another spirited fight. As he came in to my swim in disbelief my pal Steve turned up to see how I was getting on and I told him what had just occurred .What happened next defied belief but the other member just said, "Now your mates here I will get back to my swim"!!!! He didn't want to know anything about the fish or even look at it, some people must be born tossers!
Anyway my mate done a pukka job with the photos and it weighed 22lb 12oz and was my second Harefield carp on my first session. I was so pleased and the fish, and although not originals, they are nice lookers and have the potential to put on lots of weight in there with all those cray fish to feast on. There was to be one more fish from there before the weather turned in to proper winter but that’s another story......
Harefield Carpin’ (Part 2) by Carphunter
During the halcyon
days when messrs Maylin and co were treading the boards here, when they
got a take, they literally had to get up sets of step ladders with their
rods held as high as possible to keep the line from cutting on the bars!
The lake once held a really good head of thirties and forties but there was a big theft of fish from there in the late 90's and many of the old warriors vanished. I was told they were taken from the spawning bay and 4 wheel drive tracks were discovered down to the waters edge where they were netted in the shallows during spawning.
There are still
some stunning fish left in there but with estimates currently running
at maybe 70-80 carp maximum, it is far from easy when you think of all
the things going against you. The main target for me was the Willow
Common, it goes around 39-43lb now and it is a scale perfect specimen
which to my mind is unrivalled for its sheer beauty. There are some
really nice big mirrors as well and at the moment there are three forties
in there after the death of one in 2005.The name of which escapes me
for the moment. They have recently put in around 20 fish from another
Boyer facility and apart from a couple of losses, their weight gains
since stocking have been nothing short of amazing as they have found
the crayfish to be a particular delicacy. I believe that when the crayfish
shed there old shells, their new ones are very soft and that’s
when they are at their most vulnerable, happy days for the carp.
for this session had forecast strong southerly winds with the potential
for gales and squally downpours, which is nice! So I had a dilemma facing
me, do I opt for the comfort of the road bank with the Trakker Hotel
behind the shelter of the trees and out of the wind or go hardcore and
face the tempest head on , over on the Broadwater bank, and hope the
bivvy remains intact. Upon glancing over to the Broadwater bank I was
greeted by the sight of Mr. Personality and his pals and their flotilla
of baitboats, so that’s was it, sheltered side for me!
Before darkness finally spread its cloak over the horizon I re-baited for the night but this time I armoured the baits with "cray proof" shrink tube which you simply cut and steam over the boilies. This was necessary because the voracious critters had all but demolished my previous presentations with ther constant picking and scraping at the baits. This was now going to be the norm for fishing here and the road bank was absolutely overrun with them.
out over the water I was constantly being distracted from my viewing
by the never ending cracking and creaking of the ancient boughs of great
trees behind me and my nerves were beginning to fray. The night was
still young and the winds were relentless in their intensity, I had
awful visions of shattered carbon, twisted stainless , battered bivvy
and a crushed angler! if one of these timber giants finally succumbed
to the pressure of mother nature. Still, I am not moving now, I thought.
It was around
11pm and I had just finished reading for the night .I thought the winds
couldn't get any worse and had got used to the leaves flying around
in the air, small branches dropping through the ever spartan canopies
and the groaning of the trees as they struggled to maintain their hold
in the soil when the weather took a marked turn for the worse. Rain!
not just a spitting shower but a horizontal impenetratable wall of water
that battered my indicators setting my delkims off every couple of seconds
and worse, making my rods and pod dirty with liquid mud that was being
splashed everywhere! When the ground could absorb no more water, it
started to build up on the surface and makes its way down the slight
incline to my foyer of my Trakker Hotel.
My first attempts
to extract it from it sanctuary between the bars were woefully inadequate
as it held its ground. All I could do was keep the rod up high and hopefully
it would find its own way over. The pressure finally got too much for
my adversary and it started to come my way. I soon had it ploughing
around in my deep margin and after ten minutes the fish was safely ensconced
in the confines of the net. Once again, the carp gods had tested my
resolve by making me sit through the worst weather I have ever encountered
fishing ,only to reward me with yet another prize.
Morning had arrived and an air of serenity had returned to the lake and I called my mate Steve to come and do the pictures. He arrived about half an hour later and was dumbstruck about the tree carnage to my left and had a quick chat about the nights events over a cuppa. We got the fish out and it was another stocky but it was a beautiful mirror that went 24lb 12oz on the scales and I was chuffed to bits. Harefield carp number three and still another night to go! The day and passed without event and the next morning just before I reeled in for the last time, I had my first double figure bream that went 10lb 4oz.That was a nice surprise to end my two night stint and I left the lake feeling both lucky to have survived the tempest and overjoyed at banking yet another Harefield carp.
Mysteries of the Back Lake…………What Lies Beneath? by Carphunter
It was 8th November
2005 and I had arrived at the lake at around 4.00am and as is usual
for this place mid-week, it was deserted all bar a few coots and moorhens
being spooked from their marginal abodes as I made my way round to the
been asleep long when the roar of the planes was too much for my subconscious
and the brain forced me to wake prematurely. I managed 4 hours slumber
and it was now 9.30am and the indicators only movement was caused by
the gusting arctic wind. It is times like this ,when only one thing
is on my mind in the stark bleakness of winter carping………..a
monster fatboy breakfast! At least when you belly is full, you can face
the weather with your inner fires burning so I turned mine in to a blazing
inferno with the prodigious portion I ate!
Dan Browns latest
addition to my collection, Deception Point, was being consumed rapidly
and it wasn’t long before the tiredness had given me no choice
but to get in to the bag for some well needed sleep. It was around 10pm
and the planes would be stopping in an hour, thank god. I didn’t
wait for them to stop before I fell asleep and it felt only as if I
had blinked before waking to get near retinal burns from the blue Delkim
as the right hand rod was screaming off!
I just kept
going through the motions of playing it, regaining line, letting it
take line and so on, and this was how things went for a further twenty
minutes ! I had been playing an unseen, unyielding adversary for half
an hour and I felt no closer to landing it now than I did at the start.
What have I hooked here?. Events were now about to take a cataclysmic
turn for the worst and after around ten more minutes of constant pressure
and powerful lunges I had the worst feeling in the world as all went
solid. I could clearly make out the angle of the line coming off the
tip eye it appeared to be 50-60yards out in an area I had previously
markered in and found nothing!. I was at a loss as to what do next then
decided to put the rod back on the rest an clip on the bobbins and fire
up the Delkim. If this elusive leviathan was on the move then I would
soon Know. I took this opportunity to get some proper clothing on as
the effects of the cold were beginning to take hold and I felt grim
to say the least.
and baited the rod as before and cast once more in to the abyss. Whatever
had done battle with me might fancy another one of the lovely pineapple
pop up……………..but I doubt it!
THE LEVY by J.WOODHOUSE
the forum recently will have seen a thread on the application of a levy
for those not attending work parties. You are welcome to express your
views on this, but what I’d like to do here is explain not only
how I would like to see one applied but how the money raised could be
Picture 1 - Mick enjoying the more glamorous side to being Head Bailiff.
Picture 2 - Quick - get me a Specimen Claim Form.
J.Woodhouse (15th April 2004)
THE HOTEL SWIM by ANON
Firstly, I must apologise to you, dear reader, for remaining anonymous, but the story I am about to relate could place my very long marriage to a trusting and devoted wife in jeopardy. The reason I am confessing this now is, I suppose, part of a soul-cleansing exercise on my part and also in the hope that some of you who may have enjoyed a similar experience will be able to offer advice on how I should deal with it. I can only hope that in reading this you find it as enjoyable in your imagination as the reality was for me and for any ladies reading it, I ask you to be understanding and to appreciate my helpless position.
The main story itself has little to do with fishing except that is where it begins. It was a typical autumn evening when I commenced fishing with my usual method of luncheon meat pursuing the barbel of my favourite river. I am privileged to enjoy a private spot off the lawns of a local hotel where quests often pass by and spend a little time chatting. However, most sane people on this particular evening were indoors with a warm drink.
I thought I had taken everything I needed with me, a comfortable padded chair, a flask of coffee, a fleece top and waterproof jacket to cut the chill out of the breeze if nothing else. What I had left behind was my over-trousers and it seemed inappropriate to be wearing thermal long-johns just yet. The evening turned quickly into night and I was on about the fourth cast with a large feeder of hemp and the aforementioned luncheon meat hair-rigged on a size 4 hook, but still nothing was making any violent attacks on my bait. The only feeling I had through the rod tip was of a slight pluck-pluck of a suspected chub gingerly mouthing the morsel.
I remembered that a blind friend of mine once said that when you loose your eyesight your other senses do make up for it. So after the fifth cast I picked up the spare line with my fingers until it was tight to the feeder and closed my eyes and settled myself back in the chair. Sure enough the pluck-pluck and every other ripple and judder of the line seemed exaggerated and each told its own story. This day had been long, though, and after laying a concrete path in the afternoon I was feeling very tired and at times felt myself drifting away into micro-sleep (40 winks, as you might say).
My legs were getting colder and I was beginning to think of packing up and going home when a voice from behind asked had I caught anything. I replied “No.” as I turned to see who had asked the question only to be greeted by a very elegant looking woman in her very early forties, I supposed, fairish hair and wearing a dress of printed chiffon just below the knee. She didn’t have a skinny physique either, but more what the newspapers, especially The Star, would term voluptuous. Very nice, I thought and the outline of all this could clearly be seen in silhouette through her dress against one of the security lights in the background. In fact, I was scared of drawing her attention to this phenomenon as I was enjoying the view so much.
Whilst struggling with the image in my mind I tried to find answers to her other questions such a spending much time there and catching many fish etc. until she asked if I too was feeling the cold night air. I confessed that it did seem to be colder than I had anticipated and that the old legs were getting a little stiff (not to mention certain other parts!) She asked if a warming drink would be welcome and as she was going back to her warm room offered me the choice from her hotel drinks cabinet. Well, of course it would be welcome and then she pointed out that her bedroom was at ground level in the hotel’s new extension and she suggested that I join her by climbing over the small balcony.
By now I was imagining all manner of possibilities and I felt that I was being drawn in like a moth to a candle. I gratefully accepted thinking that if things got completely out of hand I could always extricate myself before it all got too hot. She said she would return to her bedroom by the usual entrance door and then open the balcony door to allow me in, then she disappeared. I packed away my rod, chair, landing net, shoulder bag and walked over to the car, just beyond what would be her bedroom, and threw everything in. As I came back the light was on in her bedroom and her balcony door had been opened as she promised and she was beckoning from inside.
I clambered over the railing and walked into the warm atmosphere afforded by the central heating. This was the first time in two hours that I’d felt warm and I voluntarily removed my shoes, to avoid dirtying the beige carpet, along with my jacket and fleece. She delved into the drinks cabinet to find two miniatures of Cointreau (a sexy drink if ever there was one) and poured them into two small tumblers adding a little ice. The drink had an immediate effect on me as she explained that it may have been silly to have ventured outside on such a cold evening, but meeting someone “attractive” like me was a real reward. I was indeed flattered by her remark, coming from a lady who appeared even more beautiful in the subdued light of her bedroom than she had outside.
She explained that she was from Leeds, a place I knew reasonably well as I had worked there briefly some years ago, and she had been attending a course on marketing at a nearby college. The talk was general with little hints here and there of a flirtatious nature, nothing stark, but enough to leave little to the imagination. I guessed she was probably married, but feeling a little lonely and because of the opportunity, more than a little daring. I suddenly felt as if I knew what was coming next, but by this time I really no longer cared too much. She was really good looking, warm, very sensual and at my time of life you don’t look gift horses in the mouth.
I finished my drink and got up to leave in an honourable exit, but before I could make it to the door she moved towards me, begged me not to leave and pressed her body against mine. She then asked the inevitable question, did I want to make love to her? My mind was in turmoil. I knew I shouldn’t, but then those unstoppable emotions were stirring within me and I felt that I just couldn’t resist any longer, it was futile. She placed her hand around my waist and drew me even closer towards her until my head was buried in her neck, my nostrils filled with the heady perfume exuding from behind her small and delicate ear. Women know the exact spots where to put perfume and I was hooked!
She said she was going to the bathroom to prepare herself and I agreed not to run off. I could have lied to her and made a bolt for the door nevertheless, but these opportunities come along only once in a lifetime to chaps like me and I felt that this was one I had to see through. When she reappeared she was wearing nothing but a pair of white briefs and her bra, her hair looked immaculate as it rested on her shoulders.
Again she approached me and placed her arms around me only this time much slower than before, more deliberate and far more caressing. We kissed and she started to undo the buttons of my shirt and the belt from my trousers, both eventually fell to the floor. We stood there for a while kissing and holding each other’s semi-naked forms and I could see she was getting warmer by a reddish blotchiness on her chest as many women get when they are sexually aroused in this way. I popped the hooks on the back of her bra and it joined my shirt and trousers. There was definitely no turning back now.
I felt her round, ripe fullness pressing against me as she started pulling me over to the king sized double bed and as our legs touched the edge she forced me to join her in the final fall towards the sheets. It seemed to take forever for our joined bodies to travel that short distance through the air, but just at that precise point of landing I fell off my bloody chair and woke up!
This article was first published on the "Fishingmagic" website and is re-produced with their kind permission.
THE FOREVER CARP by Terry Doe
think we’ll do it, Dad?”
Stephen is the youngest of my three sons and it was his 11th. birthday. I’d nudged him awake half an hour before first light, having rashly promised him a double-figure carp for his birthday. Parents do stupid stuff like this all the time, usually in moments of weakness, or to impress others with our parenting skills. Nonetheless, that promise had to be delivered and I was just the parent to deliver it.
Taking Stephen fishing had been absolutely, totally, irreversibly forbidden a mere two days before his birthday and by no less an authority than a pukka orthopedic surgeon. He was squinting at X-rays of Stephen’s left hand at the time, tracing the break in my boy’s little finger with his biro. My wife was squinting at the X-ray, too, although her squint kept giving way to a sneer every time she thought about me. Earlier that day, Stephen had tripped on his laces during a productive little hit-and-run session at our local lake and kept telling me that his hand ‘well-hurt’. I’d caught a twenty, so I ignored him for hours, as you would.
Anyway, the result of Stephen’s tumble was a fractured pinkie and a fishing ban. I represented him at his appeal, but his mother had the right hump with both of us, especially me, and rejected my plea for leniency. We were definitely not going fishing on Stephen’s birthday. No way. Not a chance. Don’t even think about it, or there’ll be an almighty bloody row.
So, as we sat behind the buzzers on his birthday, with a red sky in the morning as Terry’s warning, I knew that I was in for some unrelenting grief when we got back home. Well, that would be a first, then. Imagine, my obsession with carp causing a ruck with the missus. Whatever next?
Consequences don’t frighten me much while I’m on the water, because carp fishing has a reality-displacement quality about it. No matter what’s going on outside it, my world of carp is immune from payback. When I’m carping, I don’t have a mortgage, there are no deadlines to meet and even the leak in the shed roof becomes magically plugged for the duration. Tragically, the passage of time seems to accelerate three-fold. No sooner am I lobbing out the first rod on Friday evening, than I’m tying it into its quiver on Sunday afternoon. Each glance at the watch seems to eat half a day when I’m fishing. It really is the living proof that ‘time flies when you’re having fun.’ It is also said that, ‘God doesn’t deduct from a man’s allotted span, the time he spends fishing.’ We know that’s cobblers, yeah? I believe it when I’m fishing, though.
A single bleep from the red Delkim snapped us from our silence. Stephen, his broken finger forgotten, flashed an anxious look at me, seeking direction. I shook my head, “Liner. Shows they’re on it, mate. It’ll go, don’t worry.”
Stephen sat back in slow motion, glaring at the buzzer, willing the middle rod to scream off, as every carp angler has done so many, many times. It’s a sign of the times that my 11 year-old son is resentful that his personal best fish is a ‘mere’ 10 pounds. At his age I’d have been shouldered around the village on a chair if I’d bagged a double.
Our preparations for this session had been spot-on, I thought. Three rods out, all to the far margins where the carp liked to retreat during daylight. Three rods, with three Nashbaits Whisky & Squid snowmen sitting perky and promising, surrounded by 10mm freebies and a pouchful of pellets. All lines backleaded, alarms set on sensitive and the coots out of harm’s way on the far side of the lake, beating the crap out of a new moorhen on the block. Perfect.
Chris Yates, for my money the finest fishing writer that ever jotted a musing, reckons it’s possible to feel when something is about to happen at the lakeside. He’s right. The water was talking to me that morning, which was a bloody sight more than my wife would be doing, and truth to tell, the water’s words were all I needed. I’d promised my boy that I’d find him a carp, bigger than his best, and now I knew that between us, the lake and I were not about to let him down.
Still we waited, Stephen gnawing on his bottom lip as he watched the coots continue to bully that wretched moorhen. The coots on this lake seem hell-bent on putting the ‘foul’ in waterfowl. Once, after watching a gang of coots kill a shy little water rail with a non-stop assault, I turned one of them into a white-beaked marker float, when my four-ounce Korda Distance lead landed smack on top of it at 130 yards. Ok, it was a fluke, and yes, I was aiming at some willows 25 yards to the left, but it still counts.
In contrast to the thuggish coot posse, the resident kingfishers are decidedly friendly types. I always imagine that they’re humming to themselves as they skim across the surface of the lake between their vantage points. On this morning, a particularly handsome kingfisher did what I’ve always wanted one to do, and landed on my rod. There he sat, a true natural gem, glistening confidently among the Gearbox Butts and SiCs of my AK47s. I love those rods, but even Yately Angling Centre’s finest look ordinary when compared so directly to nature’s own fishing machine.
“Must be off. Gotta fish to catch. Hmmmmmmmmm...” said the kingfisher (probably) before arrowing away and providing Stephen and I with a few bars from the Delkim symphony orchestra, as the rods jiggled farewell. I shook my head in silent admiration of the kingfisher. Stephen scratched his head in frustration that the buzzers hadn’t sounded for real. He’ll learn.
I know. I’ll tidy the tackle box. That’s bound to force a take. With a ton of hooks, leads, boilie-stops and baiting needles on my lap, perhaps the carp gods could be tempted into mischief. Nope. I even tied a Terry Hearn stiff rig afterwards, and still the alarms refused to sing.
I was just scowling at a distant coot, who was loitering with intent, just waiting to have a dig at a juvenile grebe (you get to know what coots are thinking after a while) when the left-hand rod lashed sideways and set all three Delkims shrieking like the Bee-Gees on Helium. “Huuuuruuuumph!”, grunted Stephen, as he panicked slightly and lifted into his birthday carp. Only it was a long way from being ‘his’, yet, especially as it was steaming full-ahead for the tungsten stems of a distant reedbed. My little boy cast his broken finger to the breeze, as he clamped his plastered hand around the 8010’s handle, cranking hard to force the carp from its intended path.
Stephen’s teeth were gritted now, and I hoped that it was effort
rather than pain from his broken finger that was the cause.
He did it, too, and an impressive swirl in open water confirmed that the carp had been denied sanctuary among the snags. Silent prayer time, now. ‘Please, Lord, don’t let it fall off now. Let him land it, Lord, and I’ll be your best friend for ever. Go on, Lord, be a pal.’, and similar pathetic pleas tripped from my brain as Stephen had the sense to do something far more practical and loosened the Baitrunner’s drag to defend any late lunges.
Stephen’s birthday carp was a perfectly conditioned common which elevated his personal best to 14 pounds four ounces. After the weighing, photos and release ceremony, we spent an hour reliving every turn of the reel handle. Stephen basked in his triumph, smiling his victorious smile and glowing visibly with the thrill of it all.
And she did. She went raving mad at me and so did my own mum. We took Stephen for a birthday visit to his grandparents, and I was mauled by a couple of she-bears in defence of their cub. My dad didn’t say much, possibly because he’s wise enough to keep his head down when the women are at full snarl, but he knew why catching that carp and keeping my promise to my son mattered more than normal folks could ever understand. He knew because he’d done the same thing for me when I was a boy. Like father like son, and I hope, like grandson.
bones mend and rows are forgotten in no time at all, but when Stephen
caught his carp, he hooked a memory that will live with him forever.
What better birthday present could anyone have, or give?
either, and even if he goes on to catch a shoal of 40-pounders, Stephen
won’t ever forget his birthday carp.
REMEMBERING RICE LAKE by Terry Doe
Back in the 1980’s I worked for Air Canada, which, while providing me with zero by way of stimulation, job satisfaction and sense of fulfillment, did bung 10 free airline tickets my way every year. As a further sweetener, all AC staff (my how we teased the male flight attendants about being ‘DC’ as well as ‘AC’ - such wit) also received huge discounts on car hire and accommodation. Thus, before fallopian roulette shot us all in the wallet and children appeared like so much unshakable excess baggage, instead of doing our weekly grocery shopping at Brent Cross or the nearest Arnedale - we’d knob-off to Toronto, Montreal or the West Edmonton Mall, which is like a shopping continent under glass. Anyway, the abundance of freeby tickets and discounted travel made week-long Canadian fishing trips easier to do than your average three-day bivvy-up on your very average club water.
A mate of mine did the initial sorting out of the fishing trips and came up with the Rice Lake resort, going mainly on a novel method of research which entailed phoning the Rice Lake complex, asking to be put through to ‘cabin number 12’, or whatever, then interrogating the occupants as to what the place was like. It worked for us, Rice lake turned out to be Nirvana, Valhalla and Shangri-La all rolled into one - with no trace of Milton Keynes or Benidorm what so ever.
Despite its near 35 miles of shoreline, Rice Lake hardly rates a mention on the map of Canada. This country is so vast that it never fails to stagger my English country boy’s sense of proportion. One way to get a bit of a handle on it, is to realise that after leaving Heathrow and flying for seven hours in a 400+ mph 747, as you cross the tip of Canada over Newfoundland - you’re still closer to Heathrow than you are to the other side of Canada. Anyway, geography lesson over, me and the lads - there were six of us on that first trip - arrived at the lakeside all full of gleeful anticipation , plus around a gallon of Molsen Export each and the shared contents of my litre of duty free Southern Comfort. ‘Twas a fine start to any fishing campaign.
What made it finer, was the ‘little log cabin’ we’d rented. Oh my. Oh my, oh my - and plenty more where they came from. For ‘little cabin built of wood’ read ‘bloody great chalet knicked from Hollywood’. We are talking split-level floor plan, fully fitted kitchen, stone fireplace the size of the N.E.C., comfy chairs all over the gaff, airy duveted bedrooms (5 of ) and the interior totally tricked-out in knotty pine and brass fittings. Oh yes, and a double-headed axe like you see in the movies, for laying into the log pile with, when the N.E.C. sized fireplace needed feeding again.
Add three boats, our own private dock, a monster bar-b-que, Rice Lake a‘thrash with gamefish - and ...I’m afraid you’ve still only scratched the surface of the place. By the way chaps, don’t go thinking that I approved of such opulence. Oh no. I wanted to tough it out under a rude shelter of birch twigs and moss and heat my strips of beef jerky over a caribou-dung fire - that’s what I wanted. Tragically, my girly mates just wouldn’t fish properly. So....er...I reluctantly gave in after a commendable 27-second protest.
Next morning, I hit the lake at first light, accompanied by Mike who was the only one of our lot to have fished Canada before. We’d geared-up with a pair Mike’s US made 6-foot spinning rods, he had a mini-baitcaster and 6lb. line, while I went for 8lb. line and a neat little fixed-spool I’d had for ages but can’t remember the brand name of. During the drive down from Toronto airport, we’d stopped at a fishing store and loaded up on lures, including dozens of rubber worms, rubber frogs, rubber fish and just for a laugh, a rubber cricket with a smiley face. We also bought some spoons for jigging, a mega-box of longshank hooks - with barbs on the shanks to secure the rubber worms - and a mix’n match selection of general tackle and bits.
Rigs were dead simple, just 18” of 15lb. trace, with a snap-fit terminal swivel to make lure-changing easier, a tapered worm-weight and the longshank hook, upon which was threaded a spangly worm with a wiggly flat tail. Hope I’m not being too technical for you guys. To keep the worm as weedless as possible, only the very point of the hook was showing and we relied on the ferocity of the takes to expose the hookpoint proper. We were rarely let down by the bass in Rice Lake.
Mike was gunning the outboard (see how I’m dropping into outdoor writer-guy-speak, now?) toward a distant acreage of lilies he’d spotted and we’d been going for around 20 minutes when I told him to stop the boat and nose it into a small bay to our left. Mike thought there was something wrong and asked me why I wanted to stop. I told him that I thought there would be bass in the tiny bay and his face was a picture. I knew exactly what he was thinking. ‘How the **** would you know where bass might be hanging out, when you’ve never even seen a ***kin’ bass in your ***kin’ life.’ But he was little and I was determinedly enormous, so we drifted into ‘my’ bay for a cast or two.
Three lobs in, I connected with a fiesty little bass of 3 pounds or so, which smashed into my worm as I twitched it past a clump of submerged tree roots. My first smallmouth bass tailwalked like a marlin, threw its head back to howl at the moon - and threw the hook while I watched its gymnastics open mouthed. The bass was open mouthed, too - that’s how it threw the hook. Lesson learned. Half an hour and seven bass later, Mike and I resumed our journey to the lilypads.
He asked me how I’d known that there would be bass in the bay. I told him that I’d spent half my life hunting fish, animals and birds, and that like all dedicated hunters, I’d developed a sense of where animals ‘should’ be. The fact that I was hunting on the other side of the world made no difference at all. The bay looked right and several places within it seemed right to be holding fish. In the old days, I’d be hunting them with a bow, spear or snare, but before I could catch them, I had to locate them - so that’s all I was doing now. I’d given up hunting long before that fishing trip, but the lessons and instincts remained, as they do to this day.
By the time Mike and I were half-way through that first expedition, our roles were clearly defined. He was the technical expert, in charge of rigs, methods and tactics, while my job was to put us on fish. We stuck together for the first two days, fishing dawn to dark and recording a success rate that Mike said was way above anything he was used to. With so much shoreline to cover in search of bass and pike, plus the depths of the midwater to plumb for walleye, our week was never going to be long enough for us to do everything and try everything we wanted. Mike loved to go after the walleye and dreamed of hooking into a musky, while I just loved to hunt bass by sight, firing lures at their lairs and hotspots until infuriating them into launching an attack.
With Mike intending to devote the third day to his pursuit of big pike and walleye, I threw my lurebox into the boat and took off for an untried area, some three miles away on the far side of the lake. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. I caught 18 bass, to five pounds plus a 12 pound pike that gave itself up by leaping into the boat with me, throwing the hook and all but leaping out again. After the last bass was landed, I realised I was tired and lay back on my life jacket for a doze in the afternoon sunshine.
I awoke from my wave-rocked slumbers, to the sound of an osprey diving onto a bass, not 20 yards from where I lay in the boat. The big bird missed with his first dive but must have damaged his prey because as soon as he’d made sufficient height to mount another raid, he angled his wings and boomed into the same spot - this time hauling a very nice bass into the air before the spray had settled. Utterly magnificent and a privilege to witness. During that one week, I saw a family of raccoons visit the water’s edge, walking Indian-file behind their parent, I caught a bullfrog the size of my head (beeg mutha of a frawg) by jiggling a rubber worm over the lily it was lying on, and watched a five-pound bass leap two feet from the water to take a swinging lure that I’d wrapped around an overhanging branch. Superb stuff - and I’m definitely going back there to do it all again one day.
Before I close this one, I’ve got to tell you about one of the fishing party, and how I nearly frightened him to death. Be aware, gentlemen, that not a word of exaggeration is used in this tale.
Glen, a blonde, skinny and unfairly spotty 22 year-old, was, so he told us, a huntin’, shootin’, fishin’, type, who loved nothing more than to be in the great outdoors. Wrong. Glen was a mummy’s boy and terrified of anything that squeaked, rustled or crapped in the woods, not to mention being phobic about fish. Yes, fish. He managed to catch a tiny bass one day, which threw the hook as it came over the boat, dropping into the rainwater that had collected in the gunwales. Well, the wee bass splished its way toward Glenn and all but had him climbing into the lake in terror. Oh dear, Glen. Oh very, very, dear, Glen. For now, you are fair game.
After being almost raped by the crazed bass, Glen gave up lure fishing altogether and concentrated instead on catching what the locals call ‘panfish’, mainly bluegills and perch as far as I remember. This involved nothing more than dangling a handline over the side of the boat, with a barbless hook, using a freelined piece of corn as bait. Glen, it turned out, was also afraid of worms, so corn was his hookbait of choice, while anything he caught would be jiggled about on the handline until it unhooked itself and fell off. No amount of cajoling would force Glen to touch any fish without it first being deep fried in a batter coating, so we eventually left him to it. Until the day I damn near killed him.
On that day, Glen and I were fishing quite close together and he’d already had palpitations when he disturbed a beaver, which plunged into the lake with a most impressive smack of its tail before diving beneath Glen’s boat. Clutching his heart and staggering around in the boat, Glen gasped over to me, ‘Fort it was a f***kin’ bear or somefin’, mush! Fort I’d ‘ad then, mush, straight up. F*** me I was frightened, mush!’
If I’d had one of those curly moustaches so beloved of silent film villains, I would have been twiddling it at that point, my eyes a’gleam with evil intent. Glen had to have some. It was my duty as a true friend - and heartless bastard.
Now, in an effort to be more ‘at-one’ with the glory of Rice Lake, and to facilitate un-tethering of fish, I always had a snorkel, flippers and mask with me in my boat. With Glen settled to his pan-fishing once more and staring intently into the depths at his piece of corn, I donned my sub-aqua gear and slipped silently over the side of my boat. You know what’s coming, don’t you?
I reached Glen’s boat in seconds and, taking the deepest breath I could, sank beneath the water. I was an experienced swimmer in those days and fit enough to hold my breath for quite a while, so it was no bother to dive to the bottom, pull up some fronds of elodea and head toward the hull of Glen’s boat. I deliberately slammed into the hull and rocked it as hard as I could for quite a while, before exploding onto the surface while holding the weed in front of me and screaming through my snorkel. Gentlemen - the effect was remarkable.
Glenn was shrieking in terror from the second he felt the boat struck from below. He’d looked over at my boat for help, only to find that whatever was attacking him had already got me and was moving in for the kill. Glen told me later that, when I erupted from the water, festooned with pondweed and trumpeting like a maniac, he thought I was ‘That f***in’ Jason-geezer from Friday the f***kin’ Firteenf, mush.’ I am extremely proud to report, that Glen pissed himself when I broke the surface of Rice Lake, and to his entire credit, had the courage to admit as much when we got back to our chalet. One or two of us nearly did the same, each time Glen related the tale to the lads as they came off the lake.
You gotta do it. Ask Glen!
ENEMY AGENT by Terry Doe
BURNING ISSUE by Terry Doe
Like most middle-aged men, I need my toys. Due to my forced co-operation in a reckless breeding program which resulted in three teenagers, I have no money for sports cars, boats, or similar vehicles of indulgence. The addition of a Morris-shaped bull terrier to my financial burden means that most months I can barely afford my counseling costs but, by now I’m too far gone to mind so I make do. I’ve still managed to wangle a new toy, though.
Herself has bought me a chimera, or a chiminea, depending upon which pretentious garden centre you buy it from. To the handful of unenlightened readers, a chimera/chiminea is a sort of freestanding, pot-bellied fire of Mexican origin, usually made of clay and designed to provide outdoor warmth and crude cooking opportunities for those that prefer to ignore perfectly serviceable kitchens. There’s more to a chimera/chiminea than that, though – especially when you have one that lives in the same bit of world as Morris.
Mine isn’t any old chimera/chiminea, either. It’s a cast iron one that can’t be shattered when knocked about as Morris charges around the garden. It also won’t be frost-bitten or, more to the point, Morris-bitten. It burns logs, charcoal, coke that looks like donkey poo, and pretty much anything else I can sneak into it when Herself’s out and I want to experiment with fire like I did when I was a kid. Having a chimera/chiminea entitles me to a log pile and (glory of glories) an axe with which to chop firewood.
Morris and I now spend hours sprawled before our chimera/chiminea, he enjoying the concrete comfort of the patio slabs, me on my favourite garden chair, glass of red wine in hand and stockinged feet tucked under Morris’s fat bod while my mind melds with the flames. Morris doesn’t have a mind in the recognized sense, so he’s allowed to chew logs and sniff around the log pile for non-existent mice while I prod the fire with a stick to change the channel on flame TV. Only the truly in-flamed can know the glory of independent fire worship.
Morris thinks he co-owns the chimera/chiminea and cocks his leg against it on a regular basis to confirm this fact. I don’t bother because I’ve got the receipt. So, my dalliance with al-fresco fire is always enjoyed in tandem with Morris. When the log-splitting season rolls around and I’m happily flailing away with the axe, it makes sense for Morris to be safely locked up. Axes are expensive after all, and if I axe-idently (geddit?) hit Morris with my new one, it could certainly break. And no, Ms. Bonkerslady from Brighton that writes me those strange letters – I didn’t mean that really.
Locking up Morris whilst I enjoy chimera/chiminea-realated activities within earshot of him doesn’t work on all sorts of levels. As the willing axe chomps into each log, Morris throws himself merrily at the patio doors in that way that only brain-dead bull terriers can. He looks surprised each time the toughened glass bounces him back and obviously believes that persistence will be its own reward. So he keeps on colliding, increasing his terminal velocity in line with the stubbornness of the patio door. This can only end in tears, and they’ll be mine, so I shift Morris to his run while I finish my essential chopping.
No good. Morris can hear every thunk of the axe and now turns his attentions to the door that’s keeping him from chimera/chiminea heaven. When the door fails to implode, Morris just stands there and barks. Then he barks a bit more. Then he really barks, until I’ve had enough and the neighbours are tutting in that outraged manner that Surrey residents have made their own. So I have to stop chopping logs and start lighting the chimera/chiminea. At the first whiff of woodsmoke, Morris knows I’m indulging in fire-fun without him and the barking starts again. Such not fun.
You see, as with everything else in my life, I have to consider Morris’s stance on my chimera/chiminea inspired doings. It’s not fair. I had to surrender my strimmer because Morris certainly would have snuck up and poked his stupid face in it while it was flaying weeds. My jet-wash had to go just because Morris hated it. He saw my jetwash as a vile, vomiting hoover and gnawed its wand into oblivion one day when Herself and I were considering a mechanical mulcher. We then decided against the mulcher on the grounds that somehow, some way, Morris would plunge his head into it while it was turned on. He spoils all my fun, Morris does.
By some sort of miracle, Morris has yet to leap into the fiery belly of the chimera/chiminea. Truth to tell, he’s not even peed up it when it’s still hot, so there’s hope for a fried Morris-free future as we speak. I’m being all sorts of staunch about my chimera/chiminea and there’s no way I’m getting rid of it. Total supervision and perhaps an electric cattle-prod may well be required to keep Morris from disappearing up the chimera/chimimea – shaddup Ms. Bonkerslady – but I’ll do whatever it takes to hang on to it. For, in the burning building that Morris has made of my life – I really do need a fire escape.
DRIP AHOY! by Terry Doe
When you take your normal pet for a dip at a dog-friendly seaside, you bring an extra towel. When I take Morris, I need an offshore powerboat, a lasso and a Thick Mutt Importation Licence, in case the boat and rope let me down. You see, although Morris is without doubt, the strongest, most determined swimmer in canine history, the sad fact is - he can only do it in one direction.
Morris can’t manouvre - fact. The dopey dog’s not for turning. He can’t come about, tack to starboard, or do anything navigational on the windward side, port bow or leeward wossname. Once into his stroke, Morris ploughs an arrow-straight, water-furrow until his keel hits something solid. On a lake or river, that will usually turn out to be the opposite bank. In the sea, I could well be looking at Madagascar.
This is not a restful situation for me. You see, as with everything Morris, there’s no easy solution to his unilateral bathing policy and a day at the seaside is a most fraughtsome trial. Oh I know what you’re thinking. ‘If, when the Does are disporting themselves on Brighton beach and Morris happens to strike out for Europe in general, why doesn’t that useless writer-bloke simply pop into the surf and point poor Morris back toward Blighty.’ That’s it, isn’t it? Well, it’s not ‘it’ or anything like ‘it’, as a matter of fact. It isn’t even ‘it’ish’, if you really want to know.
You see, once his doggy-paddle rhythm is established, Morris can outpace the average marlin. Flipper himself would be knackered trying to keep up with the water-borne version of my dog and a team of wild seahorses couldn’t turn him back to his point of origin. Trust me, folks, Morris is the one who put the ‘bark;’ in embarkation. The only chance I have, lies with early interception. If I can get Morris in a headlock before those paddle-wheel feet accelerate to full-ahead, I can reclaim him without H. M. Customs getting involved. Should my attention wander for the time it takes Morris’s engine room to power-up his pistoning pads - it’s time to call the Coastguard.
Perhaps the less Morris-acquainted among you may harbour (‘harbour’ - geddit? keep the maritime motif going, Tel-boy) the notion that he’d eventually become fed-up with being a salty seadog and return to the ones that love him so dear? Nope, won’t happen. I’ve already tested this one, and it was pretty scary. There was nothing pretty about it, actually, it was just scary. Morris went for a dip in a three-acre lake, surged to the opposite bank like a pink-testicled torpedo, then, with his chest against a gravel outcrop and his feet treading water, he swam on the spot for three-quarters of an hour. I sat on the bank, timing him, my dismay and wonder gathering compound interest by the minute.
Morris didn’t stop swimming. I stopped him. Left to his own devices, he’d have spent the night paddling his stationary paddle, while his permanently stationary brain told him to carry on until winter set in and the lake froze. I presume he would have then hibernated until the spring thaw, whereupon the new risen sun would have re-energised him and he’d take up where he left off. This prediction is far more realistic than the possibility of Morris angling his fat bum a tad to one side and swimming toward a shallow spot. He wouldn’t even deviate from his 180-degree course when I dislodged him with the elongated walking stick I carry whenever I walk him close to water.
Every time I prodded him off the promontory with my rubber-tipped boat hook, he re-docked at precisely the same position, chin on dry land, legs robotically churning, tail rudder set for straight ahead. Eventually, I could stand it no longer and I hooked the handle of my stick through his collar and hoiked him out. He simply did one of those shudder-shakes that hopeless dogs think (wrongly) will rid them of excess water, and bounded off as though he’d just paddled through a deep’ish puddle. Silently, my arms spread wide, I looked toward heaven, a venue at which I’ve enquired so many times before, begging the Almighty to at least give me a clue. Sadly, He was out and, like my dog, I remain clueless.
So, not only do I have the normal worries associated with owning a dog, and a dog which happens to be a bull terrier, and a bull terrier which happens to have done a brain-swap with a fruit fly called Dopey, I also have the stress of knowing that my particular dog is a shipping hazard. While the rest of you can sort out a cosy insurance scheme with ‘Doggyrisk’ or ‘Puppy Plan’, I’ve got to sit around a table with a gang of suits from Lloyds Of London in case Morris collides with a supertanker. He’s a buoy, that Morris, ay?
THE BACK LAKE
A little while ago on Fishingmagic.com I mentioned that I still had to catch a carp over twenty pounds. One of the responses was from ‘Big Rik’ who said “Come with me.”
Now I thought he had some secret lake in mind where a 20 would be easy, but after a long exchange of Emails he wanted me to catch one on our lake, Colnbrook’s back lake. So I got him a guest ticket and we organised a Wednesday when few other anglers would be there. Rik (Bellinger) is quite a carp expert having caught lots of 30s and one or two 40s, albeit some from French waters, and to cash in on his knowledge was a real boon.
The weather forecast promised thunderstorms, which is not what you want for a pleasant days fishing. However, when we arrived it was quite dry and remained like that for most of the day except for a couple of heavy showers in the morning. The promised thunderstorm finally arrived as we were packing up, thus ensuring that we were soaking wet through by the time we got back to the vehicles.
Rik had a look at the back lake and we decided to fish the bank with our backs against the stream where I had fished the previous Saturday / Sunday and caught a couple of nice fish. As we were passing by the swim I had used then I just got a hunch that maybe fish would still be visiting the area I had put a big bed of particles in along with a kilo or so of pellets. There was no method in this choice, it was just instinct and Rik then fished in the next slot along.
He decided, with no-one fishing the rest of the bank to put a bait into the edge of the reeds on the bottom bank and pre-bait with a bucket of dampened pellets, betaine groundbait and maize. His other rod would be on a clean gravel patch he found and would include bags of loose feed. He said that if he had known the water he would probably have put out as much as 10 kilos of loose feed, which I though a bit excessive, but he assured me that if a number of carp move in on the area they would soon clean that amount up.
Anyway, we started and I put one in one the reeds on my side with floater tied to the hook with PVA string. The idea being, when the string dissolved I can put some more pellets and feed directly where it popped up. I would give that 1 hour and the other rod would go 30 yards out in line with a tree and right on the spot where I’d put the feed out the weekend before.
It wasn’t too long before I got a take on the 30 yard out boilie, a Monster Tiger Nut Boilie from Dynamite. Regrettably it didn’t stay on and after 40 seconds or so we parted company. Still, it proved my first theory right in that fish were visiting that area from the weekend. So the margin rod was baited with a Halibut Pellet Boily, again from Dynamite, and put out to join the other.
Nothing happened, the rain fell, but we stayed dry. Rik passed on a lot of tips and explained how some of his ‘gadgets’ worked and showed me his glug pots, some sweet smelling, many not so. Another member came around and talked for a while and just as he was about to leave the halibut rod went creaming off. The tussle lasted only a few minutes and the fish, a short one, didn’t look as if it would be a twenty until we brought it out.
On the bank we were puzzling, it could be. It was fat, very fat. So out came my scales and they registered 22 or so pounds (Rik wouldn’t let me see), but that was with the mat/sling. So he got his very accurate scales out and a lightweight net sling, zeroed them and we weighed the fish again. Eventually he let me see the disappointing result, 19 lbs 13 ozs. Three ounces short!
That, sadly, was the only fish for the rest of the day. The reeds on bottom bank didn’t pay off for Rik although fish were moving against them by the time we were packing up. Had we stayed overnight (if we could) it may well have produced something, but it was a good day and Rik has promised me another day sometime on a water he is more familiar with. As for Colnbrook, it’s only a matter of time now and I will crack that twenty!