There was weed present but it didn’t look too heavy. What I did notice straight away was the amount of fish activity on the surface, a great many carp cruising with their backs out of the water. I walked round to the Evening Pitch; it looked so different to when I was here in the winter, all grown up and looking splendid. I peered into the water and just then the water at my feet erupted causing three large bow waves to spread out across the pool. I walked on past Pitchford’s and up to Hilton’s, the shallows were alive with fish, some good ones too, both commons and mirrors.
Back at the dam I sat on the bench for a while just taking it al in, the atmosphere was magical. I continued on past the Willow Pitch and came to Kefford’s, the Pitch I fished back in February. Again the swim looked completely different, closed in on either side by new dense foliage. I arrived at the three islands and walked out on the last one, the scene of the capture of my winter twenty. There were groups of fish swimming past and I looked down to find a large common upending under my feet. This really was a dream visit, all alone wandering the banks taking pictures.
At 8pm I decided to build my house in the Evening pitch, as good a place as any to spend a summer’s night. Once the house was up I made tea and sat by the waters edge mesmerised by the pool’s magic, it was kind of weird not having the rods out, it didn’t bother me though, in fact it was almost better than actually fishing. Without the rods I was able to concentrate 100% on the pool, the atmosphere and the beautiful bird song ringing out from every tree and every hedgerow.
At 9:15pm I walked up to Hilton’s swallowing a dozen flies on the way and saw in the margin two beautiful linear mirrors, they were perfect. Both were around upper doubles with dark backs, golden flanks and a straight row on scales along the lateral line, Redmire’s jewels. I observed until dark and upon returning to the pitch I settled down to soak in my experience, in a way totally new to me, without rods. Blackbird at first followed by Robins and then Owls filled the night with sweet music, I had found my paradise.
I awoke at 7am to the sound of Woodpeckers tapping and fish leaping not two feet from the bank. I made tea and rambled along to the shallows. I spotted a few fish cruising but most of the activity was over on the opposite bank from the Willow pitch up along to the islands. I trotted past the dam and once again was gobsmacked by the sheer overwhelming beauty of the pool in its most wonderful form. Past the boathouse, where lay a shoal of huge Gudgeon. I came to the Willow, there and every other swim had red cloudy water just a rod length out. The sun was warming this side of the pool and fish were upending sending up sheets of bubbles all along the bank.
I studied fish for quite some time at very close quarters, linear mirrors, fully scaled and gorgeous bronze commons, some over twenty pounds. These fish were definitely feeding, sending up plumes of reddish brown silty mud as they foraged, tails waving at me as if to say “Good morning, bet you wish you had your rods with you!!”
Saturday started off a cooler day on my bank, the sun not yet above the trees behind me, although I knew that once the sun got high enough it would be another hot day. The prospect of a day spent clearing chopped Willow in the summer heat was a daunting one, but one I looked forward to having the privilege of helping with the upkeep of this historic pool. The gently rippled surface, bright yellow Iris and blue sky made for a backdrop of sheer tranquillity, the only thing to break the placid nature of the morning was the great carp crashing and rolling all around the pool.
View before the work
The work party arrived around mid morning and the plan of action was discussed. The task involved removing some fallen trees from the area between Greenbanks and Hilton’s. I was volunteered to be on Punt duty for the day, the journey from the boathouse to the shallows was quite some experience where the pool was seen in a totally different light. Throughout the day we all worked tirelessly although I quite often had one eye on the water watching carp cruise by. Logs were dragged from the pool by tractor and chainsaws chopped them into manageable chunks ready for stacking. At tea time trees had been removed along with all of our energy. The plan was to visit the Cider barn, eat, listen to the blues bands and, of course, drink some Cider. It was a very enjoyable evening.
View after the work
I rose early once again on that final morning of my stay, Sunday was forecast to be not so friendly but the sky was blue, dotted with the odd cloud and the gentle breeze was a warm one. As with the rest of the weekend the fish were all over, crashing through the night and still at it at breakfast. I had a quick wash and a coffee and decided to have one last lap of the pool, a lake with its guard down as if the fish had been told “The coast is clear”. All the way round I saw dark shapes, like Zeppelins, gliding through from one end to the other while splendid creatures leapt clear of the water only to splash back down resulting in a million ripples spreading across the pool.
At around 11am Ian arrived and between us we finished of the last few bits of tidying, cleaned out the Punt and visited the cottage to say our farewells to Les. Come October I will re-visit armed with rods, but I will certainly incorporate some of my findings of this trip into that one. I have learnt to enjoy, appreciating my surroundings without casting a line, and that will only bolster the relationship this pool and I form. To bond with something you must understand it, and understand it in different ways and from different perspectives. It almost feels as if the pool was warming to me during my stay, no spooky happenings in the Evening pitch, no capsizing in the punt, not even a splinter from the hard work, and above all, I got to marvel at some of the most sought after carp in the land with the place to myself!, now that’s special.