Then daytime arrives and although all I can hear are Finches and Sparrows; the Owls and Bats are still out there somewhere, but no matter how many times I walk those woods, no matter how much I strain my neck looking up amongst the deepest darkest branches I have yet to see them. The transformation between night time and daytime is complete, like two different worlds.
It’s the same whilst fishing; anglers get to experience this almost Jeckle and Hyde land where they are visited regularly by day yet haunted at night by the unseen. After nights their ears are trained to pick out each one, scurrying, rustling and hunting. There are also the sounds of the pool, great fish leaping and crashing, usually at the other end of the pool to where I am fishing, but sometimes close by, and it is at this time that I become alert, optimistic, ready to be acquainted with some creature from another world. For it is this other underwater world we become addicted to, yearning to unlock it’s secrets, longing to make contact with its residents, deep, dark and mysterious, a puzzle we try so hard to solve.
Sat in the grounds of the country lodge the sun shone upon my neck as I contemplate, pen in hand, of where I really want to be. The challenge of a new season and a new water beckons. I closed my eyes, felt the warmth on my neck and pictured myself sitting by that pool, secluded, quiet, waiting in anticipation of connecting with my first fish from that most intimate of pools. The stories from long ago are fresh in my mind having read the tales of adventures past. My mind’s thoughts move onto such things as pitch shall I choose, will I find fish among snaggy bays and under overhanging trees, can I implement my favourite method and catch them from the surface. These things I considered everyday leading up to my maiden voyage to a place previously explored yet so new to me. Will I be as successful as the legends that have passed before me and emerged victorious, conquerors of a place once thought impossible, true masters of the gentle art of angling. Sadly some of the monsters of the deep have retired, gone to swim happily in another place but the survivors, growing in both size and cunning are the legends of the future, and hopefully the prizes of the next chapter in my quest.
As I sit here and write of a place I have yet to see through my own eyes the news comes through of a friends triumph. So they are real, they are catchable! Confidence and enthusiasm heightens and I build a picture of a paradise yet to be discovered, where every fishless hour will be like catching a twenty on some other, less beautiful pool such is the passion I already feel.
On the way home from
Nottingham, whilst watching Buzzards and Red Kites the phone rang, I looked at the screen and saw it was my Mum, I asked her to call if a letter came through the door with CEMEX stamped on it. She confirmed that it was indeed my ticket and I quite positively gleamed. All the way home my mind was on one thing alone, Yateley!! What swim, what bait I should take, all these thoughts were making me dizzy. When I got home I gathered the kit from the shed, loaded the car and left for the motorway via the shop for supplies. A quick stop at Yateley angling centre for a few bits and it was on to the lake.
I pulled into the car park to find quite a few cars already there. I crossed the little bridge across the river and there it was, The Match Lake!! The first part I came to was a bay with a fair few anglers camped around it. A bit further on and I came to the out of bounds area they call the jungle, and I could see why. The swim to its right, The Birches, was one I’d like to have got into but it was occupied, I suppose that’s the problem with arriving on Saturday afternoon. I did a quick circuit of the lake and the area I liked the look of was opposite a long island, an area called the Canopy Swims.
I barrowed the gear round to the swim and got the marker rod out but after getting hooked up on countless underwater obstacles I decided on a swim a few along called First canopy. In front of me was a large sunken tree in the water off the island with clear spots either side, two Sausage Oil baits were cast into these spots and the other rod down along the right hand margin.
A couple of views of my swim
I set the house up and lay on the bed taking in the atmosphere of this wonderful place wondering what fate has in store for me.
There were a few Geese and Ducks in front of me but they left me well alone. I brought with me the water rules which came with my ticket and I had just started to read them when my left hand rod screamed off. I ran out in my socks and struck into what felt like a Turbocharged snag!! After ripping a good fifty yards of line off I started to gain some back ever so gradually. The fight was immense and after 15 or 20 minutes I saw a Catfish tail slap the surface. Just as I thought it was beat and I reached for the net it found a sudden burst of energy and went on another 30 yard sprint. Eventually after quite some tugging and pulling with tired arms I netted the beast. It was very well behaved on the mat and posed beautifully for the self takes. What a fight and at 33lb 8oz it was my first Yateley fish and a new PB Catfish!!!
I got the rod back on the spot and after pulting out a few freebies I sat back to watch the sun set, I sat there and with a big smile on my face I said to myself “I think I’m going to like it here!!”
At 8:15pm the sun had almost set, the temperature started to drop and the first Bats made an appearance. I could hear Ducks, Geese and a distant Peacock. Dusk was beautiful and I could think of no place I’d rather be. The evening brought the odd liner and I drifted off to sleep, quite contented at around midnight.
At 2:15am I woke to the sound of my alarm, the left hand rod was once again away; I sprang up from my bed and struck into another hugely powerful fish. Obviously another catfish but this one tore off even more line and its charges even faster. After around half an hour of holding on for dear life I gradually gained whatever line it let me until I had it quite close in and then slipped the net under what looked like another PB. This one weighed 47lb 12oz and although well mannered on the matt, it did make the self takes somewhat difficult, as you can see from my facial expressions!!
So, 2 fish for 80lbs, not a bad start, although I was longing for a Carp. I didn’t think my arms could cope with another Moggi, not tonight anyway!! I got the rod back out as best I could in the dark and hit the sack.
I woke up at around 7am on Sunday, the bird life was noisy and planes queued up overhead ready for their decent into Heathrow. Apart from a few liners the rods remained quiet. The sky was grey and I was in need of an extra layer. By 9am the sky had cleared and there were bright sunny spells appearing, it looked like it would be a lovely spring day. The cold breeze coming from the east came and went, gaining pace then subsiding, then only to gain pace again. All through the afternoon the rods only sounded when a twig or some weed drifted into my lines.
At 5:30pm, whilst listening to the FA Cup Semi Final on the radio I had a slow lift on the bobbin of my left hand rod, I ran out and hovered but it just slowly fell back to its original position. Just as I sat back down I heard my alarm tear off so I turned round only to find that it was in fact my middle rod this time. I struck and could feel that it wasn’t a Cat this time, I steered the fish towards me but it kited to the left and into the bay. I applied pressure and persuaded the fish to head back out into open water in front of me, then I saw its dorsal fin break surface and a dark back, a Carp at last!!! I netted my prize and admired a definite 20lb Mirror. On the scales she went 23lb 5oz, Result! I took a few self take, released her and got the rods back into position.
An hour later, football over and it was sadly time to get packed away. It was time to call an end to
this wonderful session. I bid farewell to the marvellous lake and prayed that she be as kind to me on my return visit.