Members Articles

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.

We continued 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.
Thus far we hadn't seen one angler and it came as a surprise when in our midst we had found one. It turned out to be Boyer Bailiff and Harefield veteran, John Meecham. He wasted no time in showing us some photos of the Fully Scaled he had the year before at 37lb! from there and I was hooked .After listening to a few more angling anecdotes we came away armed with a phone number for the Fishery Manager and a "Tell him you spoke to John Meecham" attachment. Pukka!

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
Base camp was set up and I was fishing into Slugs bay so it was time to get my new rods and reels in to action and the marker rod was set to work .The right hand rod was cast 80 yards towards an island and the bait placed between the island and a bar which was around two rod lengths from the island. I then started to bait up using the throwing stick but that just turned the sky into a scene plucked straight from Hitchcock’s "The Birds" with every squadron of seagulls in the Colne Valley being scrambled! I unleashed the spod to counteract the voracious white scavengers that were circling over my side of the lake and that had the required effect of actually getting my bait in the zone!
The middle rod was flicked 10 yards in front of me over a small bar and placed on the up slope with around half a kilo if 16 and 18mm baits, finally the left rod was cast out to around 110yards to a large gap between two islands and an area where two bars meet. All the rods had snowman set ups with an 18mm bottom bait and a 16mm pop up and these were fished on 8" Fox Mask 20lb combi links with size 8 Gardner Mugga hooks. Now that the fishing had commenced , Steve and I settled down to finish the remaining 30 cans of Stella and after a wokfull of chilli we chatted about the Harefield experience thus far and retired feeling pretty "relaxed" at around 11.30pm.

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!
I realised that as this was the middle rod and my other s were in danger of being caught up in this clash of the titans so I shouted several times to get the attention of Steve. He eventually stumbled into the swim and manned the other rods when required and it wasn't long before my quarry graced the net! HAULIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!!
To say I was pleased would have been putting it mildly and Steve being the good mate he is, congratulated me and we cracked the last two beers open but I couldn't help feeling that he must have been a tad gutted as he had spent four months on here without a fish. The usual protocols were then completed and the lovely looking linear weighed 20lb 10oz.It was sacked until the morning as I wanted to get some daylight shots of my first Harefield fish. I then re-baited the rod and flicked it back to the zone and I tried to stay up but the tiredness got the better of me and I was back in the land of nod. It felt like I had only just closed my eyes when suddenly I was being dragged from my slumber once again to do battle with another unseen leviathan.

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.
The next day passed uneventfully and the following morning Steve had to depart. I had one more night to do so I swapped my position to go where Steve had been and fish the open water. The day passed quickly and the late afternoon sun was was making the lake look gorgeous. I had observed some fish moving between the first and second bar so I re-cast the right hand rod to their location. I had some liners quite quickly which was encouraging then one of the other syndicate members came in to the swim and seemed aghast that i was fishing here as it was where he normally fished. "Oh well, better put my name on the rent book them mate",I said. He gave me his number so I could come and photograph HIS fish when he had one, then he departed!

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

It wasn't long before the nightly drudgery of work finally gave way to the eagerly awaited second session on the windswept behemoth that is Harefield Lake.
For those of you that don't know, Harefield Lake is controlled by Boyer Leisure and they have joint usage rights with a gravel company on site. Whilst there is no longer any gravel extraction at the lake, it is used by the gravel company as a washing facility for there aggregates. They siphon the water into their facility then the sediment heavy water is pumped back into the lake, creating a milky colour which gradually dissipates throughout the lakes entirety .
This continuous cycle has had a devastating effect on the "workings" bank and has caused five of the original swims to have become enveloped in a silt and sand lagoon rendering them unfishable to the point that there are trees and shrubs growing where there was once 8ft of water!
The lake has also had a reputation for the severity of its bars which were festooned with pea and zebra mussels and would cut monofilament like a surgical scalpel. I am pleased to say that they are no longer as perilous for the angler due to the gravel company skimming them a few years ago and their profiles have become softened and the mussels are no longer a problem.

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 itself varies considerably in depth from 5ft to 16ft in places and it is awash with features. Some of the bars are fully overgrown with trees effectively turning them into islands and goose bay is a maze of inlets, spits, islands humps and weed beds, most of which is very inaccessible. No prizes for guessing where the fish must spend a lot of their time!
The other monumental change to the lake these days has been the illegal introduction of crayfish. I had never seen these creatures until coming on here and my first introduction to them was when I came across the bailiff with four black dustbins of them on the back of his pick up which he had netted that morning. He told me that this was quite normal but they are getting slightly less each time!
I have since been told by the infamous Dougal Gray, that they have spread to Korda, where he nets them, and the 200 acre Broadwater next door, so these things are gradually getting up the valley. Each female can produce 900 eggs so you can imagine the population explosion which occur! The damage these things cause to the banks has to be seen to be believed as well. They burrow deeply in to the banks creating expansive networks of tunnels and this undermines the structural integrity of the soil causing large sections of the bank to collapse in to the lake like melting glaciers. This has led to several swims requiring scaffold board jetties to fish from, especially on the road bank where the problem seems to be very much worse.

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.
My previous two fish from here were both from this new stock and they were put in 7 months prior to my captures at around 14lb and had put on 6 and 8lb respectively!

The weather 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!
Once again I set off with the tackle all precariously loaded sky high on the barrow and made my way down to the Climbing Tree swim which would give me access to three important features, The end of the whale bone island/bar, Dougal’s Hump and various other bars running parallel to me at starting at around 100 yards and going out.Base camp was erected and it was time to get busy with the marker rod. this was infinity easier with a gale blowing directly behind and I had found the perfect spot for the right hand rod, right at the base of Dougal’s Hump to the left in 10ft of water and range was 90yards.the spod immediately despatched the freebies and on the to middle rod which was a single snowman set up as before and this was sent out to around 130 yards just past the second bar, then finally the left rod was sent to the edge of the whale bone island and the freebies spodded out there to around the 100 yard mark.........we're fishin'. The raging winds were accelerating in their intensity and I was a tad concerned at my proximity to some rather old looking trees , hoping that today was not going to be the day they crashed on top of my bivvy with me inside. The remainder of the day passed with a few fish crashing at 200 yards in front and way to the right of me but with only 5 anglers on, they shouldn't feel too pressured! but other than that no action at all, even the massive shoals of double figure bream were conspicuous by their absence.

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.

Whilst looking 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 had come to my favourite time of the evening, dinner time, and I set up the kitchen for a spot of bank side gastronomic pleasure and it wasn't long before my chicken fajitas were underway. I was gutted that I could only eat 6 tortillas and three chicken breasts worth, along with the mixed peppers and onion as I do hate to waste food! Now, feeling satisfied after my al fresco feast I retired to the Trakker Hotel where I enjoyed the remainder of an nice bottle of Pinot Grigio whilst listening to John Williams playing Cavatina on Classic FM, this is what carp fishing is all about.

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.
The deluge proved too much and I was getting flooded! I hastily grabbed some carp sacks and raised the front of the ground sheet to divert the torrent to the sides and away form my sleeping quarters but I was too late, the bivvy was like a muddy bog and with the door now closed, the clean up operation would begin.
Outside the rain led to thunder , then came the lightning which lit up the bivvy every so often. The next sound is one I won't forget as an almighty bang sounded, followed by the smashing of timber as something was crashing to the ground. my first thoughts were "gosh, I wonder what that could be" NOT!!!
I just froze in fear waiting for the bivvy to come crashing in top of me , then the noise above the rain stopped and I felt an enormous relief as it appeared that the tree hadn't fallen in my direction. The rain was still torrential and it was a couple of hours before it stopped. Naturally I was still awake and I unzipped the door to get my first view of the carnage. The site that greeted me was one of sheer amazement. A huge bough that had been creaking earlier some 20 yards away had been completely blasted of the main tree and was now lying across the path and into the lake! that was a scary moment and I felt so lucky. The winds were easing slightly ,so feeling tired I jumped in the bag for some well earned zzz's.
It was around 02:30am when I feel asleep and before I knew it, I was wide awake again staring at my middle rod. I initially thought it was the wind but then the succession of intermittent bleeps gave way to Delkims version of a one toner. I was out the bed in my boxers and t-shirt, standing in thick mud in my socks and playing a carp a long way out in front of me..........god I love this place!

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.
By now all I wanted to do was sack the fish up and get my feet cleaned and dry before the onset of trench foot. So with all the apres capture protocols taken care of, I got back in the bag and drifted off to sleep.

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 south bank.
The weather was very cold with a biting wind more reminiscent of the winters of old rather than the more temperate one of recent years and my choice of swim was dictated by my previous sessions sightings, as carp were flaunting their spectacular winter colours with acrobat displays in the area in front of this bank. The added bonus of this side was the large mound that ran the width of this bank to the rear of my position. It was a great wind break and offered enormous protection from the howling gales which seem to prevail across this pit. Although the lake itself is only approximately 4 acres, it is situated in some wide open flat land which only comes to an abrupt halt with a perfect flat horizon of a gargantuan reservoir to the west and the winds here seem to be exaggerated by to contours of the surrounding landscape with today being no exception.
I set about erecting the Trakker Hotel (Pioneer) and setting up the carp sticks but it wasn’t long before my fingers were frozen to the bone! I needed to pause for a cuppa before the actual task of fishing got underway and I was rapidly running out of time to get to bed before the daily onslaught of jet engines filled the air above me. I literally mean a few hundred feet above, as they were landing and taking off at a rate which has to be seen to be believed.
With my internals warmed again , I was ready for the marker rod to be launched into the cyprinid playground to find out what was so great about this spot, to make them want to leap out of the water with gay abandon.
Many theories have been put forward as to why carp breach themselves like their sea dwelling counterparts like whales, dolphins and sharks but one thing remains, it is a tremendous spectacle to behold, especially at this time of year, when many lakes are now void of all activity until the spring.
Despite the inhospitable weather, I found a nice clean gravel patch in 9ft of water, thirty yards out so that was the destination for the first rod. This was armed with a 12mm Active Bait Solutions Nutmix pop up and around thirty mixed freebies were loosely scattered around it. For the other rod I fancied the margins as they were reed lined and deep. I walked up the left margin towards the corner and found it to be clean gravel 5ft out from the bank, under the shelter of a small overhanging tree. I got the rod, baited with a Nutmix snowman set up and walked it to the chosen spot, then lowered it down with the magic maize foam rising to mark the exact location. I then put 10 freebies on top and about fifty freebies worth of crumb and chops to complete the carps gourmet feast. The hook baits had been soaking in their nutty oil glug since they were bought and they were leaking of loads of attraction. I remember thinking at the time that I hope the pilots don’t notice this slick on their approach for landing as it was beginning to look more like the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound during the late 80’s such was the oily membrane on the waters surface!………we’re fishin’

I hadn’t 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!
The hours drifted by with only myself for company and the occasional call from the missus to check that her little soldier was still alive. The kettle hardly got cold before the next brew was on and the obvious effects of this was the need for a wee. The more I drank, the more I wee’d and the constant exposure to the elements was not doing wonders for my sexual prowess as the old fella seemed to want to retreat inside with every outing!
With daylight being very limited, it wasn’t long before another of Dan Browns books was being read under torch light .I had seen a few fish roll and breach on the opposite bank which was bloody typical but no action had come my way all day, which is amazing considering there are approximately 350 fish in there according to the regulars.
I was alone on here and it was looking bleak. I was starting to wonder just what the hell I was doing here when the left hand rod burst into life. No warning bleeps just full tilt screaming from the Delkim.
I picked up the rod and the line was arcing out in to the lake,…….Don’t you just love winter fishin’!!
The fish fought well but I knew it wasn’t one of the much coveted thirties and after five minutes I scooped up my prize. It was a common and I thought it may be a twenty but it turned out to go 18lb 6oz, a result in this weather though. Now for the fun bit, the photos. I had only recently got my Canon Powershot Pro 1 and the reason for its purchase was the self take facility using the swivelling screen, but this would be the first time I used it at night and on my own! I need not have worried as it was simple, took a test shot for the position then just rolled off half a dozen shots and the results weren’t bad at all.
With the fish safely returned I re-baited with the same Nutmix set up and chops and decided to reel in the right hand rod and try something else. The fish were obviously very active on the far side of the lake and I thought a pineapple pop up fished on a Terry Hearn stiff rig might get me a take. I had some Solar Pineapple fluoro pop ups and one of these was attached and some magic maize( dissolving foam) was put around the hook. The Century FS was cocked and ready to fire and the bait was soon on its way to the far margin at 120 yards. Touchdown, straight in the zone ,and the rod was back on the rest with the Dinky Hot Heads glowing perfectly level at me as I sat in the foyer of the Trakker Hotel . I sat back happy, looking out at the inky darkness and “enjoying” the constant roar and flashing lights of the aviation disco in the sky!

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 only had my boxers and a t-shirt on as I hate sleeping with masses of clothes in a bag and on my feet were my fur lined moccasins (From M&S). These are comfortable to wear in bed and offer safe and dry footing during a night time take. What I hadn’t bargained for though was the onset of extreme cold during my all too brief slumber. I held the rod against the force of my unseen opponent and it was then the cold became all too apparent. The fish was hardly moving initially then it kited to my right and headed towards the margin, as it got there it came quickly towards my bank, closely hugging the profile of the reed fringed edge. I regained the line and it appeared to be going to plan, as it drew near to me I thought I had it beaten. How wrong I was, for nothing could have prepared me for the coming events.
It carried on past me then just literally tore line from the spool like there was no clutch there and charged to my left and back towards the other end of the lake.
I was shaking violently partially from the fight but mainly from the bitter cold and I was desperate to get some clothes on. I managed to get back to the bivvy with rod in hand and grab my hoody which had my phone in the pocket. I somehow got this on while playing the fish and looked at the time, 2:15am and I had been playing this leviathan for at least 10 minutes already. My legs were numb and my mind couldn’t fathom what the hell was going on! This thing on my line was doing whatever it liked and the only reason my spool hasn’t been emptied of line yet is because of the confines of this 120yard square lake, it literally had nowhere to go!

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.
Well I waited for a further five minutes and there wasn’t a single bleep to tell me the quarry was still on so I picked up the rod and set about retrieving the terminal tackle .I pulled in every possible angle and the snag refused to give up its latest addition. I finally faced away from the lake and walked in a straight line in the opposite direction cowering at the thought of a lead exiting the water with a death impending velocity. All of a sudden something gave and I wound in to find the pop up part of the Terry Hearn stiff rig had broken. The 15lb Korda IQ performed well considering the immense prolonged strain and I was glad to have only lost a hook.

I re-rigged 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!
I have spoken to well informed angling friends about this incident and they all said initially a big foul hooked carp could be the cause but then that theory changed to a big catfish. I enquired on the clubs forum about “cats” in the lake and the response from another angler with a virtually identical scenario gave further credence to my suspicion. I am convinced it was a big cat but who really knows what lies beneath?……….



Members visiting 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 used.
It’s a fact that most anglers love to spend every waking hour by their favourite water until the club calls a work party. Then, you never see them. Every excuse under the sun is found including burying their best friend’s late dead mother-in-law for the 23rd time. The truth is no-one likes working in the cold and especially when its raining and typically dirty.
One man, who we must all be thankful to, who seems to revel in these conditions is our own Fisheries Manager and Head Bailiff, Mick Rowan. Here you see him up to his neck once more in freezing water and sh** stuff and the reason he is there is to give you a better fishery and better sport as a member of Intertype. In fact, it’s thanks to Mick’s dedication that are fisheries are as good as they are today.
There are ways to try and encourage anglers out onto the bank and we have tried them. Mick has torn his hair out at AGMs asking, nay begging anglers to help, but it all falls on deaf ears most of the time. So we have come to the time when the club has to try a new tactic - the levy.
Most clubs now apply some sort of levy varying from £5 to £30, is the dearest I have heard of, but that was a very select club. The idea is that it is added to the cost of the normal annual senior subscription fee and if the member attends a work party then the next year he gets a discount equal to the value of the levy. In other words, if he attends a work party he doesn’t get charged next year. Clear so far?
Please note: I said “Senior”. Many clubs, and I agree with them, do not add this charge to juniors, senior citizens, ladies and disabled subscriptions. They are very welcome to take part, but no right thinking club would expect them to, so we are talking normal able-bodied people only. So you have a temporary problem be it medical or to do with work, but come on, wouldn’t it be worth it for you paying a tenner just to know that the other lads are doing your share?
Some will say- “It’s just another money making scam so that we fund the club with extra cash” - NO IT’S NOT!!! I am sure everyone would be happy if the club didn’t collect a single levy and so would Mick Rowan, he’d have more helpers than he would know what to do with. The money would pay for the hire of machinery to make the work easier for those who did attend.
Look at the pictures. These logs would require 10 blokes on ropes to drag them out and even then Heaven knows how long it would take. Put a digger in there with an experienced driver and it takes little time at all, but that costs money. It means though that on any given work party, more rubbish can be cleared, more swims dug, more ballast and gravel shifted. In all, it’s a damned sight more efficient and if there is any money left over it goes towards decent materials to build the swims with and hand tools to help those attending once again.
Just look for a moment at the membership form for “NEW” members (on this site). Yes it’s £10 more than an existing member will pay, why? Because you feel that your fees from previous years have built up the club’s waters into what they are today and that extra tenner is their contribution. In fact, it’s those that have attended work parties that have built the clubs facilities into what they are today. So why not charge every senior member the same, new or otherwise, and if they attend the work parties then they get it back next year.
And just for those who do attend, thank you lads!!!

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)




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.




“Do you think we’ll do it, Dad?”
“We’ll do it, Son. The lake’s turned right on. Can’t you feel it?”
“Dunno, really. I’m nervous, though. I hope I don’t mess it up. If I get a run, I mean.”
“You’ll be all right, mate. You know what to do and you’re miles better than I was at your age, that’s for sure.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t have bite alarms and Baitrunners and stuff, did you Dad?”
“Didn’t have a rod, most days, but I had something way better than any amount of fishing gear.”
What’s that then?”
“I had a dad who always made time to take me fishing. It was the best thing he could have given me, and that’s why I always try to do the same for you.”
“Yes, Son.”
“If I let you off taking me fishing, will you buy me a set of Delkims?”
“You little git!”
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’, then 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.

Carp fishing is what I do. It’s the loop-tape that autoplays in my head as soon as the real world backs off for more than a minute or two. I think serious bait thoughts when I’m in traffic jams, I ponder improvements to my long-chuck technique when I’m sorting out my expenses sheet, and I save all subjects from Active-8 to zig-rigs, for when I’m walking the dog and have the time to discuss such important matters - mostly with myself, as it happens. Never mind, I’m a happy carper, and that’s why I carry on carping.

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.

“Don’” Stephen’s teeth were gritted now, and I hoped that it was effort rather than pain from his broken finger that was the cause.
“Keep the pressure on, mate. Steady as you can, until you get it past the reeds. You can do it.”

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.

I was net man and by the time Stephen had the carp ready for landing, I was far more jumpy than he was. Brilliant, the carp, a bar of scaled bullion was wallowing a treat, now. “He’s yours, Dad.”, said Stephen, reversing the roles of master and pupil. “Don’t screw up now.”
“Oi!”, I hissed, as the carp’s top lip nuzzled the spreader block, “Don’t get leary, Sonny.”
“I did it, though, didn’t I, Dad?”
“You did it all right, Boy. You were pretty to watch. Reminded me of me, when I was your age, as a matter of fact.”
“Only better, ay, Dad?”
“Don’t push it, Son.”

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.

“How’s the finger?”
“Aches a bit. No big deal, Dad.”
“Glad we came fishing?”
“ ’Course. I’m well-happy. This is my best birthday ever. Apart from one thing.”
“What’s that, then?”
“Mum’s gonna seriously kill you when we get back home.”
“ Erm...there is that, I suppose.”

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.

Fingers heal, 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?
“What - apart from a new set of Delkims, you mean?”
“Shut up, Stephen, or I’ll break the other finger.”
“Cheers, Dad, you’re the best.”
“Never forget it, Son.”

He won’t, either, and even if he goes on to catch a shoal of 40-pounders, Stephen won’t ever forget his birthday carp.




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. 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.

Canadian fishing? You gotta do it. Ask Glen!


ENEMY AGENT by Terry Doe

I’ve just returned from a pleasant week-end’s bivvy-up at the Back Lake and, during the long hours between sleeping and eating, I handled some pop-ups that had been soaking in Hutchy’s Secret Agent carp attractor. This act has left my life is in turmoil. Or turmeric, or whatever it is that Secret bloody Agent reeks of. That innocent dabble in my mate’s hookbait tub has left me cursed. I am infected, infused and infested with Secret Agent and nothing I do will shake it.
As I say, the week-end was perfectly enjoyable but upon my return to the fold and even before I’d finished unloading the car, Herself began to interrogate me. Between fits of hawking, retching and theatrical nose-clamping, she expounded the theme of “For God-Almighty’s sake, man, what’s that rotten curry smell?” This was followed by the pointing of a loaded finger at my designer carpwear and the order, “Right, you can get that lot off straight away!” Obviously, I tried to de-fuse the moment by adopting my most alluring expression, twiddling my imaginary waxed moustache and saying “Steady-ON old girl” and “ding-DONG!” in my splendid rendition of the great Leslie Phillips. Sadly, even this failed to divert her. All I got was a “You absolutely be-luddy reek!” for my trouble and I was bundled toward the bath.
Half an hour of steeping in pretty much every dissolvable aroma left over from the usual deluge of uninspired Christmas presents, had me radiating essence-of-everything, after which I collapsed on the sofa to watch a promising selection of FA Cup football. Ten minutes after I’d found the right channel, in comes Herself and barks “You STILL stink of that stuff! Go and have another bath and don’t get out until it’s gone. You’ve made the whole house smell, you have!” Great.
Well, it’s too late to cut a long story short, but I re-bathed, then I soaked my fingers in bleach, then I took a pan scourer to them, and, as a last resort, I spent two hours grinding away my fingerprints via extreme force and Doctor Nazi’s Facial Scrub which had bits of abrasive muck mixed into it that appeared to be re-cycled razorblades. By the time I’d finished my purging regime, only an industrial grinder could have wreaked more havoc on my hands. There was so little flesh left, that, if I held them up to the light it was like looking at an x-ray - only pink.
I thought I’d executed the ‘Agent and then some, but the first visitor that crossed our threshold that evening said, “Bleed’nell! You bin eatin’ curry or wot?” Such cultured friends we have. Next day at work, some three baths hence, I was greeted with more of the same, plus a sprinkling of “What’s that smell?” and disgusted grimacing. Until now, three days after leaving the lake and the scene of Hutchy’s chemical crime, I still exude the least attractive human attractant known to man.
I must resign myself to the fact that Secret Agent is now part of me and I am merely a vessel for its distribution. No-one more than I, respects the life and works of Mr. Rod Hutchinson, innovator, thinker, communicator and purveyor of quality fishing goods, and one time carping chum of the living deity that is Lord Yatesy of Redmire. Yet, if I am honest, I am struggling to forgive the great man for turning me into an Airwick Solid.
Sadly, my state took an even sharper turn for the absolute worst, when I delved into the raw mechanics of the Secret Agent deal. Prepare your sympathy organs for overload, folks.
You see, the ‘root’ (keep that word to the forefront of your mind, please) of the problem is that everything touched by the hands that touched the Secret Agent, becomes a silo of chemical warfare. The main stench repositories, my fingers, have been nuked by bleach and facial grinding paste, but there’s a secondary storage unit that has, so far, received only a cursory cleansing. Think about it. What does one handle on a fairly regular basis during those long sessions of continual tea-drinking? What is it that requires a fair old bit of that handling to coax it into its primary function, when it would much rather stay cosy, snug and comically concertina’d within the manifold warmth of one’s thermal wear? Oh yes, THAT.
Please look back upon what was required to expunge my hands of Secret Agent. How many of you would fancy exposing any other part of your anatomy to such abuse, let alone THAT part? While I’m willing to anoint, daub and even scrub it to some extent, there’s no way on this earth that Doctor Nazi is ever going to get his abrasive little hands on THAT.
Thus, I am sentenced to life as a room de-freshener and general human odouriser, condemned to walk this earth smelling like Dodgy Patel’s outside lavvy. I’m tempted to reflect that the curse of the super-curry would be easier to bear if I’d used it on my baits and caught a whacker or two with it. As it turned out, I blanked, but the fact is I could have hauled a plethora of Heathers, a trio of Two-Tones and the blessed reincarnation of Mary himself, and I’d still rue the day I unscrewed the lid from that poisoned chalice. I fear, too late for me, that this is one ‘Secret’ that the noble Mr. Hutchinson should have kept to himself.




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?



A little while ago on 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!





The plans have been made for some time, and we are going to have a session after some of those fish at Colnbrook.

The obligatory trip to the bait shop has been made, and said bait has been purchased. Of course, the fishing would not have been possible without a couple of new floats, and some other odds and ends. We are like two kids in a sweet shop, and the excitement is fairly contagious, I am really looking forward to a day by the water in good company.

Disaster strikes at about seven in the evening, because the sandwich fillings are not what we really want, and so it’s thank heavens for the late shopping at Asda. They do quite well, because the diet goes out of the window, and we come out laden with chocolate biscuits, crisps, a big lump of cheese, and all the other things that are supposed to be bad for us. The sliced bread for bait has been changed to a fresh Tiger loaf, and of course the sweet corn really must be Jolly Green Giant, not the cheap tin that I purchased in Audi’s.

Next days plans are laid, and before you know it, the early night I planned, ready for an early start has gone the way of ‘’I shall only be gone for a couple of hours’’, and the time is really getting on. Everything is put ready to load into the car the next morning, and so getting loaded and setting off will be a smooth operation. Of course it is then vital that we get out on the lawn with a torch, looking for worms that don’t want to play, but we cannot do without. If they are ‘’on’’ to worms, we can’t have enough.

So it is off to bed, and try to get to sleep, with my mind in turmoil in case I have forgotten something, and a fair old time of me tossing and turning is made worse by the gentle snores coming from the spare bedroom. It’s all right for some I think.

The next thing that I know is the alarm going off at some unearthly hour, making me lunge for it so that the wife isn’t disturbed, and a voice comes from the spare room asking if it is time to get up yet. Curbing a disparaging remark, I confirm that it’s time to get ready, and he’s up and dressed, I have to ask how anyone can be so enthusiastic at this time of day. A quick cup of coffee, and a bit of cereal for breakfast, and then we need to quietly load the car. NOW the fun starts, as everything we move seems to have a life of it’s own, and the noise seems deafening.

Disaster strikes, because apparently we have woken the wife, and she needs to check our provisions to make sure we can last the day. All of a sudden, we are packed with ice blocks, cool bags, and sun block, and it feels like we are off to the seaside for a day or two. At last we are set free, and climb into the car ready to set off. Trying to shut the car doors quietly so as not to annoy the neighbours is sorted when we hold them shut, and slam them when we get up the road a bit, so that we can blame someone else. On goes the rock and roll on the radio, and the day is set.

The journey to Colnbrook is pretty uneventful, we have a chat and a laugh, and marvel at how many people are on the M4 at this time of the morning, the sun laying low is shining up the motorway, and that really helps my heavy eyes due to lack of sleep. The trouble is the enthusiasm bubbling from the next seat is absolutely infectious, and so we both hope for a good day.

My passenger opens the gate, and so I don’t really have to get out of the car. That is a bonus at this time of the morning. After getting parked, there is a great deal of discussion about swims, as those pads look really fishy, but we both know that the aireator swim can be devastating on it’s day. The only way to settle it is on the toss of a coin, and to stick with the result. This a serious thing, and is carried out very carefully. I know I am being scrutinised on every move so that I can’t cheat. Swims chosen fair and square, the car is unloaded, and all the tackle needed for a days fishing is taken out. A lot of things are left in the car, because they were brought in case, for instance, brolly’s, extra coats, jumpers, and everything that the wife could perceive as a disaster happening.

The rods are set up, depths checked, floats set and hooks baited. I feel quite confident, as the aireator swim has produced some really good fish consistently, and I watch the float with an eagle eye. ‘’I’m in’’ comes from the next swim, and a nice carp is netted and put to the unhooking mat, ready to be photographed, complete with the grin that only a nice fish can bring.

Consistently for the next couple of hours I am going round to the next swim, helping to net Carp, Tench, a small Bream, and numerous Roach. I just cannot believe that my swim is so dead, it’s as if he has put a curse on it. At last the float dips and I am in, or was because the fish found one of those snags that I didn’t know about, and left me empty handed, ‘’shame’’ was the smug comment from the swim with those lovely pads in.

The day passed quickly, as they do when the weather is great, and a few fish are being caught, I say a few, as the next swim seem to be heaving with fish, and my companion is having the time of his life. Most of the drink is gone, the sandwiches are scoffed, and we both have very red faces, because the sun block was still in the car. My wife will be impressed with that, and we will have to tell lies about how strong the sun was.

Regretfully we pack up, another day, and another adventure completed, we leave joking about who had the most fish, or the most weight, this is a long running regular thing, as apparently I am always being thrashed.

‘’I wonder if the bait we have left would be alright for Hitcham tomorrow‘’, comes a comment from the passenger seat, and there it is left, as he finds that auto suggestion works best, and by the time I get home, I will be convinced it was my idea.

Then the blinding comment from the innocent, ‘’I wonder what Nan has got us for dinner tonight’’