Caroline's Report for May

We did have a laugh the other day! One of our wonderful regulars, Mr. Peter Clare arrived to fish. I should make clear at this point that we do not make a habit of laughing at our customers, with them all the time yes, but not laughing at them! This particular day however was an exception! He arrived in the middle of the April “heatwave” in thick mustard coloured corduroy trousers, a heavy and apparently ancient Irish fishing/sailing jumper and deerstalker. We did not dwell at the time on the age or suitability of his underwear but suffice to say he looked a tad warm and if he had been unfortunate enough to fall in he would never have surfaced again! He declared to all the amused spectators that he was going to have a “retro day” and proceeded to set up his seventy year old, split-cane, Hardy rod. He was using a forty year old reel (the oldest he possessed) complete with its original line and used nylon leader. His only nod to the new century was a tippet of fluorocarbon which the gathered crowd could see he was feeling sorry and even guilty about, but, in his defence there was no trace of a polystyrene indicator or any carbon fibre anywhere. He was going to use traditional flies, no blobs or boobies for him, no holographic tinsel or coloured firefly hothead beads, no synthetic cock, (jungle I mean)! There was to be no sign of any uni-French tinsel or anti-tarnish bead chain, no micro flash ice straggle cactus chenille or suspender balls! Epoxy and silly legs were out for the day! (I hope you can see and are suitably impressed that I have done my research!) When he was ready he strolled up the hill to Well Lake to, as he put it “have a bit of a play” and we wished him well. A little while later he returned to the Lodge for a quick coffee having had a “lot of fun” using his old rod, which took some getting used to by all accounts. He handed it to yours truly to feel the weight and I must say I very nearly dropped it! It weighed a ton in comparison to the modern, light-weight carbon fibre ones and I was shocked. I would not have been able to cast for more than ten minutes or more, if at all! No wonder he needed a cuppa and a break and I congratulated him for sticking with it. I was beginning to see that this “retro day” was more serious than I imagined first off. Now, a funny turn of events was just beginning to emerge. Just before he joined me for his drink a large fish had launched itself from the water in Brick Lake, next to the disabled platform in front of the Lodge, where the aerator was bubbling away. Although I didn’t actually see it with my own eyes it had landed with such a smack and a belly flop that the ripples and bow waves spread out across the whole of the bottom half of the Lake. Peter had, coincidently decided to change Lakes and have a go at Brick Lake and I told him “A whopper has just jumped out right there” and I pointed him in the rough direction of whence it had flown. “Ok” he pronounced, “I’ll try there for a wee while” and off he trotted, heaving his rod onto his shoulder. He wandered round to the far side on the Rive-gauche and began to cast, I watched with interest and admiration. Well now the funny turn of events was just about to become a whole lot funnier, he immediately hooked into a fish and I decided it would be a nice idea to capture the moment for posterity and of course the Informer so I grabbed my “device”, which regular readers will remember I purchased for just such occasions a year or so ago, and tottered down to the disabled platform in my sling backs to gain a good view across the water of him playing his fish and click off a few pictures. He was smiling deservedly from ear to ear and enjoying the moment but the fish was staying down deep. “Is that a good fish by any chance?” I enquired, that strange tingle of suspicion, and anticipation was starting to run up and down the back of my neck! “I think it may be” Peter replied the smile was wavering slightly, “my arm is really starting to hurt” he groaned. The rod which bent through its entire length was looking like it was about to snap in two as he was starting to use a lot of side strain to stop the line tangling in the pipe of the bubbler. “Is your net handy?” I called over to him and I saw him glance anxiously to his left, it was in fact a little way off. “Hang on, I’m on my way” I called not waiting for an answer. I ran as quickly as my sandals would go around to help him, passing him his net. We had, up to this point, not set eyes on the fish yet and suddenly it realised it was hooked and decided to make a break for it leaping into the air. Peter fortunately is a very good angler and held on, keeping it under control and he played it perfectly while I snapped away. He eventually netted it successfully, after a couple of near misses and breath-holding moments and dragged ashore a whopping 8lb. 4oz. beautiful rainbow! With shaking hands he dispatched it quickly with a hefty priest borrowed from another angler and glanced up at me. “Well you couldn’t have written your “retro day” any better than that” I told him, “I love it when a plan comes together!” It surely was the big fish I had heard a couple of minutes earlier and “what fly?” I hear you all shout… well, it was a tiny black Pennell and if anyone deserved a big fish that day it was him! It just goes to show that the old ways and tackle still work, if you can be bothered, skilled and dedicated enough to try. Keeping things “simples” in the words of another of my heroes, Alexander, is sound advice.

Now for a few items of late news…

The plans for our new fourth lake have been submitted to Wealden Council! We will keep you updated on the progress as we hear any news. This new lake, if it gets the go ahead, will add another 16 or so swims giving us approximately 50 in total! It will be sited down in the dip of the land below Stag Lake and will be sheltered, (from the North winds in particular) and enjoy a lovely vista down the valley. Even on a busy day there will be plenty of room for all of our anglers, opening up another range of possibilities for “just the right spot” in any conditions. While the diggers are here we hope, weather permitting, to re-dig the shallow end of Stag Lake as well! Giving the Lake a more even depth will make for a better angling experience and help the fish in the hot weather to find cool water.

We held a marvellous, fun, Easter Competition on Sunday, 9th April, the hottest day of the year so far! Twelve anglers of all ages competed for a four fish bag and the trophy was won by Roy Plumbley , with John Whitlock a close second. The heaviest fish was caught by Mike Carden and the lightest by Ron Townsend.  £50 was raised in the chocolate egg raffle and this is to go to our chosen charity: Mastersport and Play.

The largest fish to be caught this month was a whopping 14lb 8oz Rainbow. Caught on Brick Lake (peg one) by Mr. Fan, on a Cat’s Whisker and only about six feet from the bank. We are stocking some large fish in all three Lakes so don’t forget to use a 6/8lb leader to stand a chance of landing one of these monsters. We stock blue, brown and golden trout as well as the rainbows and have no fly restrictions here but we do insist every fish is landed and killed and that the returns book is completed, even if you are unfortunate enough not to catch.

Over and out now … we have set up an information black board outside the Lodge for the latest suggestions for flies, current insect life and records of any good catches. Tight lines the coming month and watch out on our website for up-to-date news this year’s hatch of Mayfly, expected any day now!