I’ve been lucky enough for a good while now to have been able to fish one of the most stunning fisheries I’ve ever had the pleasure to cast my float into. If it dips then great, if it doesn’t, then there is no better place to pack away empty handed. Over the past year or so I had shared my experiences, captures and photos with a group of friends on the TFF (Traditional Fisherman’s Forum), who very strongly expressed a wish to cast a line there themselves someday.
So, with this in mind I asked the question. Mark, Iain, and the rest of the gang told me they’d see what they could do, and came up trumps when they said they could help. So the date was set, with 5 club members each signing two guests each the opportunity was there for 10 TFF members to attend, and as you can imagine, filling those 10 places was never going to be an issue. Saturday 13th September was the date with a 7am meet for breakfast followed by an 8am brief at the moat before a day’s angling amongst beautiful surroundings.
By 7:15 am most of us were outside the pub waiting for them to open, but it was obvious they weren’t going to. Slightly disgruntled we left the pub car park and ended up dining at MacDonald’s just down the road. Not quite the full English we were hoping for, but our bellies were filled and the chit chat had begun. Whilst there the remaining two members arrived, so with breakfast done and everyone present we headed in convoy moat bound.
After getting through security we headed inside the moat to the clubhouse where we were met by Iain, he gave the guys a brief which included some history of the moat, likely areas and some do’s and don’ts. Mark, Paul and Dean arrived also and once all the forms and ticket money were sorted we headed off for a tour of the moat and to pick where we were going to fish. With everyone settled I carted my kit into Peg 13, probably my favourite peg, but unfortunately it wasn’t so kind to me this time around.
I fished with a light float just before the pads, a long rod would have reached enabling me to fish directly above the float and gain total control, but with my 10ft rod I had a few feet of line between the tip and pads, and with the left to right tow and breeze the float was being dragged a foot from the pads too quickly. I really needed to be up close, the bubbles began appearing and they were within inches from them, but I wasn’t. I gave it an hour and moved on in search of more still water.
I arrived at peg 21 (I think) just left of the fence. The pads to my left looked a nice place for some crucians to be hiding, so after plumbing and baiting I began angling in the hope of meeting something ancient. I fished for half an hour with just one missed bite and once again was on my travels, opting to try peg 27 next, another favourite pitch of mine. I had similar luck in there too, missing the one bite I had in half an hour of watching the float tip, so after a bite to eat (pork pies with English mustard) I opted for a change of plan and some carp stalking.
There had been some carp seen between 27 and 30, and with pegs 1 and 37 also known to hold a few I was all set. With Mark IV, bucket of mixers and a few other essentials I began my tour of those likely holding areas in the hope of finding something hungry to cast at. I did almost two full laps of the moat but only spotted two fish that swan through quickly and weren’t stopping for anything. Eventually I settled into peg between 37 and 36 and chose to see out the rest of the afternoon targeting the crucians once again.
After a scotch egg and some juice I began working the swim close to the pads, trickling in small pellets, small cubes of meat and some grains of corn little and often. After around an hour the bubbles started, the float was dipping and dancing but I couldn’t seem to make contact with anything, typical crucian fishing. I rooted through the manure bin behind me and found a dozen wriggly little worms. With the perfect bait to make shy biting fish less shy biting I made a cast, the float buried and up came a wriggle little perch. 6 perch later I abandoned to worm idea.
Soon after returning to sweetcorn I caught a couple of roach, followed by two large bream and then something that felt so much better. The swim had started to come alive, it was getting on for teatime, just when I thought it might start to produce. Trying my best to steer the fish away from the pads I was convinced before I saw it that I was connected to a tench, and sure enough a lovely dark, yet oddly shaped tench of around 3lbs was brought to the net. It was an old warrior, and quite a character too.
Danny, fishing next door came to see the tench, and Jeff who was passing helped out with the photos. I was thrilled to have finally caught one of the moats true characters, all the moat fish are special, but to connect with one of the old ones is truly delightful. News had also come of Bumble catching a couple of crucians and a tench, some nice bream showing up, a first ever crucian to Paul and a 15lb common to Luke. Things were going extremely well with all attendees enjoying themselves immensely.
I fished on mindful I’d have just shy of an hour left. Still those impossible bites occurred, I tried various things, changes in shotting, depth, baits and finally hit another bite which gently slid off towards the pads. Initially I thought it to be another tench and turned around to grab the net, but when I looked back I saw a good crucian break surface and panic set in. A classic jagged fight ensued and my prayers were answered when I finally watched it glide into the awaiting net. I called to Danny, who was just as awestruck as me, it was the most perfect fish, dark, old and quite a good size too.
I weighed the fish at 1lb 10oz and after some photos thanked the incredible creature for making my weekend. Funnily enough the bites and bubbling dried up after that fish. Perhaps there was just the one fish down there all that time and I eventually caught it. Anyhow, after another half hour I packed away, loaded the car and visited all those who were still in attendance, thanking them for coming and bidding them farewell and a safe onward journey.
I have to give a massive thank you to Iain and Mark for all their very much appreciated help in making this happen, and to Dean, Paul and everyone else who helped out and who contribute towards maintaining my favourite place. More great news is that it looks good for another visit next year.