Monday, 16 March 2015

Alver Valley Lake

Johnny mentioned Alver Valley lake, I’d never fished there before but wanted to after hearing about all the good work the fishery team had done to make not only a prolific venue, but also a lovely place to spend some time and a haven for wildlife. A few fish on a cold early spring day sounded like just the ticket, so Johnny and I were all set for Sunday morning.

I arrived at Johnny’s place soon after 8am, being Mother’s day I had to make sure Jessica had given her mum a present, and that breakfast was made before I could leave to go fishing. It was an overcast and decidedly chilly morning, and with the forecast predicting rain later, I didn’t envisage it getting much warmer either.

We made our way to the lake through heathland awash with the beautiful sound of skylarks, and as we approached the lake I suddenly realised how remote the place was, considering its location. I found myself among a delightful little haven, somewhere Johnny and I could see out the day, have a few laughs, drink some tea and, hopefully, to catch some of these hard fighting little carp. I was told the fish weren’t by any means large, with an 8lber being a really good fish with an average size of around 4lbs. Size of fish, however, was far removed from our minds, an enjoyable day waterside was what we sought, and a more peaceful venue would be hard to find.

I was really impressed by how the lake looked, there had obviously been some serious work gone into making it look the way it did, and I commend all those who have contributed towards it. Even only just out of winter, with spring still in its infancy the place looked awesome, made me wonder just how beautiful it could look in the summer and left me yearning to spend more time there, to watch it wake from its winter slumber and to witness summer unfold.

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We toured the lake looking at various spots, as always it was very exciting exploring somewhere new, and with every turn I was met with another lovely spot. Once we’d finished our tour we settled on fishing the second pitch along from the entrance, a double swim we could sit for the day and have a nice social session. We both began float fishing just a couple of rod lengths out, Johnny with a section of peacock quill and me with a small goose quill float.

It didn’t take long for the fun to begin, early on we realised that although Johnny had brought his brew kit, he’d forgotten his tea bags and sugar. We toyed with the idea of fetching it, but we were there and raring to get angling. As luck had it, guardians of the lake, Derek and Alan stopped by to do their rounds and shared their stash of tea bags and sugar with us. The fun and games continued with Johnny forgetting he’d put his spectacles on his chair, resulting in him sitting on them, bending the frames and popping the glass out. I didn’t laugh….much.

It continued further still, whist sharing a bag of Midget Gems his gold tooth fell out. It was a laugh a minute, and all the while we stared at motionless floats, but it didn’t really matter too much. Mid-morning Johnny’s float sat up and laid flat on the surface, he was thrilled to bits, although he missed the bite, it reminded him of the method he’d last fished as a boy on his local Kent pools. It was lovely to see such joy at a missed bite, that’s real fishing for you. Soon after he was rewarded with another identical bite, only this time he connected. It pulled hard that fish, this way and that it pulled him but finally he banked the monster. A fish neither of us will ever forget.

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Just as soon as we’d calmed down after the excitement of that capture, we settled back down and enjoyed some more float watching and some great laughs. Lunch was sausage rolls and more Midget Gems, washed down with more lovely tea. Soon after lunch something amazing happened, my float dipped, then disappeared from sight. I missed the bite, but it’s astonishing how much optimism a bite can bring after a very slow morning. It didn’t seem quite so cold any more either, and I watched that float tip for the next hour very intently indeed. We had a light shower, but luckily it passed quite quickly.

The rest of the afternoon whizzed by much the same as the morning. We enjoyed watching the wildlife around the lake, and agreed to take some reeds with us for float making before we left, and at 5pm we decided that we’d shortly pack away and call it a day. We began to tidy our swim and think about collecting those reeds. Whilst sat there seeing out the final five minutes I noticed the float dip quite violently, it dipped again then then went completely under. I paused for a split second, struck and shouted “I’ve only got one!!”

The Chapman 500 looked wonderful in full battle colours, the Altex sang sweetly as line was peeled from the spool. It was a very exciting moment, my first Alver carp was on, and after such a remarkably slow day Johnny ready for action and was poised by my side with the net and expertly scooped up a beautiful looking ghost carp, a fish we thought might well be quite a good one for the lake. It was very thick set and felt rather heavy when I lifted her out.

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We found a nice spot for the photographs, weighed her at 8lb 4oz and smiled at each other, it was a brilliant moment. In the next swim along we released the fish, but before we did Johnny took a few more snaps of the release. I think the lake was kind to us for sticking it out, paying her the respect she deserved. It’s a lovely lake, and I plan to spend many lovely hours there this year. I think it could well become one of my favourite places.

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