Caroline at Christmas - her December report

Here at Brick Farm Lakes I had a wonderful fishing outing the other day. I decided to debut a new fly I had discovered which was a black and white cat’s whisker. I know that fish see the colour white best over a long distance in the water and I also know that a trout’s eyes see black as a very clear silhouette in dark light and murky water so, I figured that putting the two together like this would be a good bet; sure to succeed.  I was tempted into buying a dozen but, when they arrived, they were like no other cat’s whisker I had ever seen before.  The bodies were either black, dark green or white and they were tied with an interesting arrangement of a soft, wing shaped feather on the top and vice versa on the bottom. They were quite fetching to look at and when, that morning, I twiddled one in the water in front of my swim, they moved in a strange, gliding, ethereal type of way. I could see at once that any trout worth its salt could potentially become fascinated and entranced with this thing wafting ghost-like in front their curious noses.  Almost certainly they would be tempted to take a closer look! I once knew someone who swore that if he ever saw a ghost he would quickly be able to recover from any initial shock and take to interviewing it about its past life, times gone by, cause of death etc.  When, however, this opportunity did actually present itself to him, he did what we all would have done in his shoes… he froze on the spot in speechless terror and mutely watched with his wife as it glided across the floor, disappearing through the bedroom wall. His opportunity to make a name for himself was lost forever! What would the trout do? Would they turn, fin and tail and flee in abject fear or would they be brave and foolish and investigate further? I was about to find out.

This fly I decided could be fished in two ways: left to drift slowly through the depths, fluttering softly in the water current and maybe hook up a curious trout on the drop, (boring!)  or cast the thing out as far as I could manage and  then rip it back as fast as I could like some sort of “electric hare” on a dog track. Hopefully I would catch any trout in the immediate vicinity by surprise and trigger a brave, aggressive, predatory strike. This was the option I chose. First cast: The effect was so instantaneous that I was caught napping as they say. A massive bow wave tore after my fly and I could not react fast enough. With a huge splash the fish veered to the side and was gone. “What the deuce was that?” I could almost hear it cry and if a fish could swear then I’m sure it would have said far worse, like me! My fellow anglers gave me the thumbs up and muttered “hard luck” with wry smiles. Aiming at a fresh strip of water, I readied myself for another go. Was the first cast just blind luck? A random moment; it surely happens. Second cast: a repeat of the first. This time I managed, by raising my arm high in the air and with (if I say it myself) some nifty retrieving, to hook my fish. It was an explosive take and seeing that bow wave chasing down my fly was a sight to behold.  If a trout could learn to surf then this one had a good stab at it! Water flew everywhere as it leapt, and belly flopped across the surface. The shattering of the peace and quiet did not go unnoticed. I was, apparently, the first to catch that morning and a few curious heads began to turn with shouts of “that was lucky”. Was it? Having dispatched a beautiful rainbow, I cast again… and repeat!! Well, as you can imagine my dozen flies did not last long as I happily handed them out with the wonderful spirit of camaraderie so unique to fly fishermen/women. I had a wonderful morning, in the end catching four hard fighting rainbows and was thrilled to bits with my fly’s performance. I must remember to order some more and next time try the drifting-softly-and-silently-to-the-bottom approach to see if this works as well!

At Brick Farm Lakes we are now throwing ourselves into the Christmas fun. The Lodge is looking all lovely and twinkly and we have been stocking the three lakes regularly with top quality fish and will continue to do so throughout the winter months. We have vouchers as presents to purchase for your loved ones; for fishing tickets, coaching sessions and rod hire. Please call the Lodge from the comfort of your armchair and we can post them to your front door! Simples!

We are happy to announce the Christmas Competition will be held on Sunday, 30th December. Open to all ages and abilities and at a cost of £40 for a three-fish ticket, Domino pizza lunch, tea and coffee with the classic mince pie and a huge charity raffle, what better way could there be to top up the ration of fresh air and convivial company whilst enjoying this wonderful sport? Again, please call the Lodge to book a space or just pop in.   

Tight lines now for December, a time for friends, family, fun and fishing. Annie and Caroline.

Caroline's latest missive .... well worth a read. Tight lines everyone

 

I had a dream last night; well it was more of a nightmare actually! I was alone at Brick Farm Lakes with dozens of children! They started arriving in large groups, with adults but none of them having fly fished before, all trying to hire rods, ask questions (without stopping to listen to the answer), eat picnics, play with kittens… as I say it was a nightmare! I was trying desperately to remain professional, keep calm and sort them out but it wasn’t working. All my training at Plumpton could not have prepared me for the circumstances I found myself in. No one wanted to pay any money for anything, no one had any glasses or hats and all the kids were dressed in flip-flops, shorts and short sleeved tops. I tried in vain to gather them together and sit them down quietly but they were screaming and running around! I was trying to talk Health and Safety to the adults and issue life vests but realizing we were woefully under equipped and when a large troupe of boy scouts arrived that was the final straw I’m afraid to say I flipped. I have to keep reminding myself it was JUST A DREAM. I went through every emotion you could think of and awoke utterly exhausted but at least I knew at once what to write about today!

CHILDREN… the little darlings! I know all about them, I am a Mum and have helped out at school with dinner lady, book reading and Christmas Grotto duties in my time… (I’m so sorry to mention the “C” word!) How to get them fly fishing is another matter altogether. Officially we are supposed to keep them SAFE, make it FUN and, if possible, just on a one-to-one basis with the adult present at all times. Without a doubt, the key thing is their age. I have found from years of experience that kids under the age of sixteen struggle with learning to cast. I have tried roll cast, overhead cast and the “tick-tock” methods and have found good and bad issues with each.  Kids tend to expect it to be an instant skill that they can master, losing focus, attention and interest very quickly when they realize what is involved. Going back to age, children under sixteen lack the coordination necessary.  We all know that fly fishing is not about being tall and strong. The little ones of say eight or nine struggle to even hold a rod (weighing a few ounces) for any length of time and toddlers anywhere around the lakes is a definite no-no! Having lived through another school holiday season I have now have set myself a new set of rules to which I MUST adhere. Children MUST be taught on a one -to-one basis.  When you have even two, as nice, polite and lovely as they are, they do not do what you are telling them! Just as I leave one to retrieve, “slowly with rod tip pointed to the water”, I go to spend time with the next child and within seconds the first has lifted the rod and is swinging it wildly around their head in an effort to cast, always resulting in hooking up in a tree or bush to be untangled! Then there is the problem of them constantly removing their eye protection. You start off with them equipped as they should be but within a matter of a few minutes you look up to see their glasses perched on top of their head to look cool with a glib response of “I can’t see with them on”. My next rule is that I will cast for them. I have realized that kids can learn more from watching someone than trying to cast for themselves and failing (as indeed is the case with some adults)! The FUN part is hooking a fish and this is the part the kids have come for after all. They expect results, (as indeed do some adults) so, to encourage them to stick with it into their old age, I MUST try my hardest to get them a fish and not concentrate too much on desperately teaching them to cast the line. They need to feel the weight of the line with a fish on it and I need to show them the dispatching… children need to realize this is a blood sport and where their food comes from.

There! My dream has re-focused my coaching of children rules. I have been very tempted at times this year to say “That’s it! No more kids”! I have sought the advice of other coaches only to be met with responses I cannot let go to print. So I know it is not “just me”. You do occasionally and very rarely, (it has happened only once for me), have a young one who has the knack and just simply get “IT”. They picked up the rod and right before my amazed eyes were quickly double hauling! You could have knocked me down with a wet copy of the informer!  I could have had a lesson from them! So, never assume anything! Young David Carden of the Eastbourne and District Fly Fishers Club learnt from a tireless and wonderful Grandma, Mary, from a very early age who had David at the water’s edge weekend after weekend, spending so much time encouraging him. He has recently won: the Casting trophy for time-limited casting into hoops, scoring five as to everyone else’s one or two… accuracy casting to a log with five casts beating  everyone by hundreds of centimeters… and … distance casting to his dad’s wallet, casting so far he was down to the backing and nearly in the oak tree! So, lesson… be patient… don’t ever give up on them! They are all worth it!

Ahh yes, I nearly forgot… Fishing at the Lakes here has taken off again with gusto! We are well into the wonderful autumn period when the nights are cool, the lakes are cold and fully stocked, the water levels are returning to normal, and the fish are hungry and hard fighting. The majority of anglers are catching a full bag and returning for a second ticket. Amazing arrays of flies have been fooling the trout so maybe it’s a good time to treat yourself to a six fish ticket!? Finishing work is continuing on the new lake and progress is good! We are back on schedule now to hopefully put the first fish in the first half of 2019 – water levels permitting.  We can’t wait!

Tight lines Annie and yours truly.

Apologies for absence of reports !!!!

Hi everyone

Annie here again! Most of you will probably have seen me and know that I broke my right arm (snapped my humerus) on 1 February and then very carelessly broke it again on 23 April !!! So I have been out of touch with you all due a complete aversion of typing with only one hand! I’m rubbish at it. But, although the arm is not completely healed (more news after 11 December) I can at least type with both hands - yipppppeeeeeee! Sanity returned. I will try to be a good girl from now on and post Caroline’s monthly news every month. At least the lakes are back to normal and fishing really well in the colder conditions. Aren’t the mornings fantastic at the moment?

The ‘boys’ are back to lay the topsoil around the fourth lake, ‘Spring Lake’, grass seed will go down and over the winter months we will be constructing all the swims. If nature gives us plenty of lovely rain this winter we hope to have a full lake and, if conditions allow, start to stock trout for you to fish for in late spring/early summer 2019. Like you I just can’t wait!!

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Results of the Christmas Competition 2017

30 competitors entered the Brick Farm Lakes Christmas Competition and it proved to be a really great day with many competitors catching full bags by mid morning!

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The eventual Senior Winner and the winner of the Heaviest Fish trophy was Keith Holford and the Junior Winner was Benjamin Munnik.  A delighted Simon Forster (!) was the proud winner of the Calvin Wallace award for the Lightest fish and took home his trophy to display on his mantlepiece!!  Thank you to all competitors for helping to make this a great day.  Looking forward to next year when hopefully we may be able to use the new lake for the competition.

Happy New Year to you all.  Tight lines!  Annie

Christmas Competition for all on Thursday 28 December !! Do come and join us!

If everyone will gather here between 7.30am and 8am we will get the Competition going by 8.30am and it will finish by 1pm just in time for some lovely hot soup, french bread and mince pies!!  There are trophies for the senior winner, junior winner, heaviest fish and the lightest fish.  It is open to all, it's fun and sociable.  A really good antidote to Christmas!!  Would love to see you here.  just call to book your place.

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Fourth lake progress (and a little bit of extra parking)

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As you can see the fourth lake excavation is almost complete and we will be installing a solar pump to help us try to fill the lake over the coming months but how long this will take is anyone's guess!!  This lake will make a really wonderful addition to our existing three lakes and is particularly deep (5.5 metres at its deepest points) which will be a real asset in the summer months.  This is a really exciting project and we hope it demonstrates our commitment to the future of this lovely stillwater.  To help everyone park more easily we are adding a few spaces off the main driveway just up the hill from the Fishing Lodge and also making more of the track leading to the top of the grassy hill where parking is abundant.  So come and see how we are doing!!!  All best wishes, Annie and Steven

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Caroline's December report

‘Tis the season to be jolly?

“Just exactly what is there to be jolly about?” I hear a few of you shout. Ahh well, that’s just it in a festive nut-shell is it not? The weather for one has taken a seasonal turn for the better, certainly in regards of the fishing conditions which is something to celebrate at last! The trout are extremely active and fighting hard in all of our three lakes which have been well stocked throughout the summer and autumn months. We have a good, healthy head of fish in various colours: rainbow, brown, golden and blue, with sizes up to 15lb! They are queuing up for the flies and many an angler is being a little caught out and having to come in for a second ticket or an up-grade which we now allow on three and four fish tickets all year round. Another reason to be jolly is the fantastic value five fish shared ticket if you come with a buddy. This allows two anglers to fish together and share a catch of five fish between them, good value and companionable fun.

The fourth, new lake is taking shape nicely and starting to fill already with recent rainfall (at last) and water from a discovered spring. This is excellent news and truly a reason to be jolly as it will, in times of hot weather, provide a source of pure, clear water there to keep the Lake to a good level for the comfort of the fish. We have compiled an information board in the lodge to keep all of you up-to-date with the progress.

A jolly good reason to be extremely jolly indeed is the prospect of some wonderful fare on offer in the Lodge for groups of angling buddies at Christmas. We can offer a bespoke menu to suit all tastes and pockets. What better way could there be to celebrate this time of year… the fishing at its best… wonderful company amongst friends… and a sumptuous spread in front of a roaring log fire! It’s not too late to call Annie at the Lodge (01323 832615) to book a day out for Christmas or even the New Year.

For those of you still pondering what pressy to buy the one you love, then you need look no further! We sell vouchers for fishing tickets and coaching sessions here at Brick Farm. These can be purchased over the phone from the comfort of your armchair and posted to your door. They make an excellent gift for men, women and children alike!

We are holding our annual JOLLY Christmas competition on Thursday, 28th December. At a cost of £35 for a three fish contest, including hot soup with French bread, tea, coffee and mince pies it is a wonderful way to clear away the Christmas cobwebs and meet up with fishing friends. Always a popular one this, so call or pop in to book a space ASAP!

Now a word about the seasons in general…

I hear tell that we are in for a harsh winter this year! I Know, I know! We hear this every year and normally is mild and wet, but indeed, every year since I can remember mum always had her winter store cupboard in place, “just in case”. From about September she diligently gathered cans of soup, dried milk powder, tinned meat, bags of flour and boxes of candles. She hoarded packets of rice and pasta and the freezer was full of mince and chops. She was determined not to get caught out! This no doubt stems from the experience of being trapped in the winter of 1962/3 at Pevensey Bay with her Mother and one year old twins! Many a time I heard the tale of her and Nanna’s efforts to dry 24 terry cotton nappies a day in-front of a dwindling coal fire! Popping down for Christmas turned out to be the understatement of that particular year for sure as she did not make it back to Eastbourne till March! It is almost a shame really but we never had a harsh enough winter to benefit from her hoarding. We spent the rest of the year using it all up until August, just in time for her to begin the pointless process once again. I must say that I’m glad we didn’t ever become trapped at Hubby’s father’s house. The contents of his “winter cupboard” consisted of eighteen jars of pickled onions, a catering box of mint imperials and what can only be described as a consignment of custard creams! When one day when there had been a slight frost and I became a tad anxious, I glimpsed into the freezer I found it full to the brim of bags of fresh tripe from the local kennels for the dog! Mum’s habit of winter hoarding is one I have come to realise recently that I have carried on, albeit in a subconscious manner. It is crazy as there are more 4x4’s in our village than you can shake a stick at and we live right next to the pub, an excellent place, if any to be marooned, just like the new Christmas Waitrose ad by chance! Deep down I wonder if there is a weird sort of desire for us to actually have a harsh, snowy winter for once. Do we miss the seasons? We always used to have a wet and windy spring, followed by a long, dry summer. Autumn was always damp and gloomy or bright and crisp and this was followed by cold, snowy weather in the winter. They often run into each other now, all muddled up together with no discernible difference.  What on earth are the trout supposed to do? Ah well, I guess we will have to make the best of it as us British are so acclimatised to doing and go fishing.

Over and out now for another month and YEAR! We would like to wish a very happy Christmas and New Year to all our wonderful customers from Annie and Caroline.

Caroline's November report

As you read this report in the middle of November please bear I mind that I am compiling it in the middle of October! A tad tricky at times it has to be said. Indeed, on more than one occasion I must admit to being well and truly caught out, as I’m sure a few eagle-eyed readers were quick to notice!  I am thinking in particular today about our wonderful British weather which has a habit of changing at the drop of a hat! Whether it is from…  mild south-westerlies to freezing north-easterlies overnight, dry, drought conditions to drenching monsoons in the blink of an eye or balmy tee shirt temperatures to thermal long johns and de-icing the car within 24 hours, it continues to catch out the traveller, gardener or fisherman with a harshness that beggars belief sometimes.  They say, “If you don’t like the weather in Britain just wait five minutes!” I myself think this time scale could, in reality, be considerably shortened! Many a time I have had to rush to fetch in the washing, scamper to hide with the dog under a hedgerow, panic to cover the runner beans or having made it as far as the front gate been forced to retreat to the house for a thick jumper! Now that we approach bonfire night I am filled with an unnerving amount of trepidation. We are at that time of the year where anything could and most certainly will happen! I recall in years gone by… standing round the fire to watch the fireworks in, snow and frost, ankle deep in liquid mud in horizontal rain and on other occasions, stripping off layer upon layer I was so hot! We have just narrowly missed the end of the hurricane/tropical storm that the poor folk of Ireland and Scotland have suffered but it could just as easily been us here in the South, remember 1987! It occurred to me that when we are hit by this seasonal “Let’s wait and see what’s chucked at us” changeable weather and mysterious metrological conditions, then what on Earth are the poor trout supposed to do/expect/think?  Are they expected to feed up frantically in all layers of the water for the winter, hide under the banks in the shade, shelter in the rushes from the wind? What manner of insect life is likely to be there for them? Is it warm enough for buzzers and damsels? Are Daddy Long Legs going to be blown across a choppy surface for them to chase? Should they take to the depths where the temperature is “just so” and await what drops down in front of them or hatches out from the bottom? All these conundrums for us and fish are decided by the weather! At least we humans have the benefit, albeit unreliable, of the weather forecast! Even then the BBC, ITV and Sky have wildly differing accounts and if you make the mistake of watching all three you are left none the wiser anyway! What more can I say, other than we are in the lap of the Gods.

Here at Brick Farm (at the moment) black is definitely back! Sedges are still catching on Well Lake! Blue and red damsels are thick in the air. Hatching buzzers and midges are annoying. Clouds of daddies are rising from the grass. Fry patterns are a must, particularly on Brick Lake. (STOP PRESS>>> a gentleman has just landed a lovely 5lb brown with a black and red Zonker!) The fish are up high and in a “chasing” mood on Stag and Well Lakes and down deep but snatching hard and tricky to hook up on Brick Lake! This may be a good time, (if there is one) to use an indicator! We have no fly or line restrictions here!

Dare I mention the dreaded (for some) Christmas! Sorry, but it fast approaching and we need to be ready, unless it is just to be the 24th, 25th and 26th of December bah humbug!! We have vouchers for your loved ones, over the phone if , and what better pressie could there be, other than a week in Barbados! (I am always grateful for a pair of gardening gloves). We can offer a bespoke festive menu throughout December for groups of angling buddies so why not book a day here and enjoy each other’s company, a tasty meal and your beloved sport all together.

Okay, over and out now for another month but a word in your shell-likes… One of our trusty regulars has just informed me, from the horses’ mouth so to speak that, according to a radio interview he heard at the start of this year we are in for a biblical winter, one on a par with 1962/3 in fact. All that this old chap predicted has come true so far i.e. a dry spring, a hot June, a summer of good day/bad day, a dry autumn…. Oh dear!!! On a positive note this is when the BIG fish come out to play!