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Author Topic: Sportfish / Hayward's Lake - 2.11.10  (Read 7152 times)
bracken
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« on: November 03, 2010, 11:44:06 AM »

The Venue:  Hayward’s Lake at the Sportfish site, Theale, Nr Reading.  This is a very scenic lake of around 14 acres or so, surprisingly based on the outskirts of an Industrial Estate and sandwiched on land bordered on one side  by the A4, and the main London railway line on the other. In reality, once you are on the site, (developed from an old gravel pit), one becomes blissfully unaware of the hustle and bustle in the close surrounding area. The lovely site is very adequately bordered by tall trees which screen both the sound and the industrial view. The lake is extremely well managed by its owner, (Sportfish lease it on Tuesdays), and the fish are of superb quality. The banks are nicely kept and attract a wide  variety of wildlife.

The fishermen:  A mixture of BFTA members and Sportfish guests, including a couple of obvious new float tubers who were more than adequately looked after by Simon Kidd from Snowbee – at one point Simon was seen towing a novice from one end of the lake to the other, dedication to duty or what!? Most of the BFTA chaps were types quite capable of catching fish on any water ranging from a puddle to the Ocean, so even at this end of the season it was unsurprising that they would ‘catch a few’ and actively expected that they would!  

A couple of the BFTA members had travelled down from Yorkshire and Manchester respectively, and other distance ranged from the Midlands to Bristol, S. Wales and the closest were three members who live within about 25 miles or so from the lake in Oxfordshire. Another Oxfordian abysmally failed to find the venue having done a fairly extensive tour of the surrounding area – mind you, if he put the Post Code, (supplied by someone Senior in the BFTA management), into his Sat Nav he would have ended up in Caversham half way up a hill.

It was nice to see Charles Jardine in attendance at a BFTA event again and, albeit briefly, have a chance to chat to him. Charles was one of the original sponsors and Patron of the Association.  Sadly, (because of his hectic schedule), he last managed to fish with us as a group around five years ago at Thrybergh if I remember correctly. It is a pity Charles had to spend his morning taking photographs for his forthcoming article on this event and was unable to join us on the water, he’s absolute magic to watch fishing in awkward corners,  and would be highly educative to newcomers. (I believe John Keeley inadvertently fished with him at Raygill a few weeks back, so Charles still gets into a tube when the occasion permits).

The competition: A totally new format this time. We were asked to fish catch and release until we caught a fish which we thought might win the day. We were only allowed to kill one fish, and this had to be weighed in before any member went to fish the small catch and release lake. We were allowed to continue fishing catch and release until the fishing finished at 4pm. This is undoubtedly a very tricky scenario to compete in, and it also relies on a good ability to estimate the weight of a trout. It undoubtedly preserves the stock levels of the water.

The fishing: After our two previous forays on this water, eager anticipation of  hooking some hard fighting and  nice quality fish was expected by those in the know. We were not disappointed! Martin was rewarded for his long trip by hooking and bringing to hand the first fish of the day. Within a short while, several rods were bent into good fish. We have previously been told that the stockies are put in at around 2lbs, but it was soon obvious that many of the fish being caught in the morning exceeded  3lbs, and the occasional fish bordering 4lbs was seen  being hustled to the tube.

Andre caught a ‘larger fish’ very early on in the contest, and against the advice of a wise elderly gentleman fishing next to him, returned it to the water! I think he later lived to regret this decision as I suspect the trout in question may have been a contender for the prize. Andre was also reported as later in the afternoon to have hooked a large fish which lurked on the bottom shaking its head and eventually breaking itself free.  We will never know whether this was one of the reputedly huge old brownies, seen feeding previously by the staff at Sportfish, or whether it was possibly a pike which may well have got into the water over the years. (I did overhear one of the guest members saying he had hooked a pike, but whether this was in jest or reality I do not know)! There are certainly a good head of perch in this lake, including some very sizeable specimens, which have been caught in the past by our lads, so a pike is not out of the question. There are also a couple of ornamental ghost carp in the lake which I saw last time we fished it in the summer.

Several members caught nice brown trout. Simon C. returned one he estimated at 5lbs plus in the morning – he wasn’t sure whether he could keep it or not, but like many of us was reluctant to kill it anyway. Kevin Bush also returned a brown trout he estimated at 4.1/2lbs in the morning. Either of these fish would have won the competition! Again, Andre also reported hooking a large brownie, but it was unusually quite thin and he estimated only weighed just over three pounds.

Flies: Just about anything that took your fancy would work here to a greater or lesser degree. Russ started off in his more refined fishing stance by trying gold head hares ears, small nymphs etc. He soon gave pfaffing about with those however, and succumbed to the” if you can’t beat them join them” group dragging damsel nymphs and the like through the water.  Kevin Bush was very successful with his kick-ass variation of a damsel nymph netting 22 fish and losing several more. What’s a kick-ass damsel? Well Andre tells me that it has about as much black rubber on it as a an S&M dominatrix and definitely commands attention – (I’m not sure what he’s talking about as I had a sheltered upbringing, but that old boy really does get into some funny places).

Cat’s whiskers were definitely the fly of the day, and accounted for a huge number of fish. However, as I’ve mentioned before, some Cat’s whiskers are not quite the same as others, and one or two of the home tied variation variety definitely had an edge on some of the shop bought versions. Mine are weighted to dive steeply when you stop pulling them slowly and could have a fritz body of varying hues, Andre and Stevie have versions with a bright orange head which effectively acts as a trigger for the fish to attack. On another day they may not work – but then you try your next concoction in the hope that it will win the day.

Did we catch many? The final total is impossible to state, but I asked six of those I knew had ‘caught a couple’, and their total well exceeded a hundred, Kevin P. had 28 fish, - Richard, Stevie, Kevin B. and John 22 or so,  and most fishermen were well into double figures despite a couple of us retiring early.  My guess would be in excess of 250 fish were brought to the tube, and a substantial number of others were lost on the way. It would be interesting to know the stock level of the fish in this water and perhaps gauge an idea of whether fish were being caught two or three times. A respectable number of 3lbs plus fish figured in the bags.

It was definitely noticeable that the fishing got much harder in the afternoon and less fish were caught than in the morning. This actually defied the local knowledge gained from the gentleman who verified the weigh-in, where he told some of us that the fishing had been picking up after lunch recently. Certainly in our two previous visits I had noticed that the bigger fish tended to become more apparent in the afternoon sessions – but this didn’t happen on this occasion.

The catch and release lake was fished by a small band after weighing in, and this also defied previous experience. Fishing a lure slowly on an intermediate line elicited no response. John K. and Stevie eventually sussed the method by putting on a floating line and pulling the flies fast just under the surface. Both Richard and Stevie had quite a lot of excitement with fish following poppers and wake flies. I understand that all three of these fishermen caught 10 plus trout apiece paddling around on this smaller pool. It also goes to show that the reported local knowledge of slowly fishing a Bob’s Bits, isn’t the only way a thinking fisherman catches fish.

The floating line or intermediate line debate will go on ad-infinitum. The truth is that both worked equally well here. I favoured a Cortland clear ‘slime’ line, similar to the one Jez used successfully at Kennick a few weeks ago. I find this particular line very good for exploring a range of depths and that it is more controllable than other intermediates I carry – but then again I use it more often. It must also be remembered that some of the floating line enthusiasts may be throwing a line with a 22 foot long leader on the end, so they will be fishing a substantially wider range of water than the more commonly used 10 or 12 foot long leaders. I’m guessing here, but my gut feeling is that the shorter leader worked better in the afternoon on a floating line, as I believe the fish were higher in the water than they were, certainly than in the early morning.

I can state with certainty that the winning 4lb 6oz fish came from not far off the bottom of the lake, and that two casts later, a similar sized trout was also landed and released having been hooked at the same depth and in the same area. For your interest, it is an area of the lake which I had noted on previous visits that tends to hold less fish, but in my limited experience better sized fish. I have often been asked by new members why some people catch fish and others don’t –part of the answer is by watching and learning about the water, and sometimes by being prepared to try something which is against conventional wisdom – and of course luck plays a huge part in any equation!

If anybody is interested, the winning fish was a very nicely proportioned specimen with good fins and a bright silver colour. It fought extremely hard, and was brought to the net four times before eventually being enmeshed. It was a cracking fighter and an exciting catch – in reality, it might well have keeled over if returned, due to the efforts it made trying to retain its previous freedom. The next fish, (the sixth of the morning and less than an hour into the session), of approximately the same size, was a more dour specimen which didn’t fight anywhere near as hard, darker in colour and generally ‘tattier’ looking. (I would have been happier knocking this second one rather than the first)!  Isn’t it odd that you can fish all day without catching a ‘big-un’ and then get a couple of similar ones in a couple of casts? When Simon E. won in June, he also had a closely matched pair of 4lb plus fish.

The results of the competition: Tony Parker (BFTA) won the first prize of a lovely Snowbee  6 piece #5 travel rod, together with matching new XS floating fly line.

Chris Gates a guest of Sportfish, (who I believe was new to fishing from a float tube), finished in second place with a fish of 4lbs 3ozs, winning a  Snowbee multi-variable landing net.

Only nine fish were killed by at least 22 people fishing from float tubes. This is a reflection of the difficulty of choosing a fish to take, rather than a lack of big fish. As reported above, bigger fish than those weighed in by the eventual winners, were undoubtedly caught and released.

Asides: Simon Kidd of Snowbee, was justly proud of the landing net awarded as second prize in the competition. So enthusiastic was he, that he gave a five minute ebullient demonstration, (resembling that of  the old US Quack Doctor selling a cure-all medicine), of its various combinations  and formats for use. I gained the impression that the device might be equally useful for catching butterflies, chickens and errant springer spaniels. Oh! And also for landing the occasional fish! It was a great demo Simon!

And now to Jez. It must be remembered here that Jez fished the lake last June and brought along Helen to watch and admire his prowess and style. (Such dedication again from the other half). We reckon that Jez could only have been a few hundred yards away from us at one point, but he failed to find the lake. Andre reckoned that he must have been AWOL when HM put on the map reading course – I couldn’t possibly tell you what else Andre said, but he is a lad isn’t he? Mind you I did enjoy the spare bacon breakfast roll we had been saving for when Jez finally got there. Jez apparently gave up and went home! I reckon that if you can find your way to Kennick you should be able to get anywhere!  If the bloke in charge of the roadworks and general traffic chaos on the A4 is reading this – please get a grip and sort out the traffic signing at the first roundabout down from the M4, it’s very confusing for doddery old men and old soldiers!

Acknowledgements: This was an exceptionally well organised day,  which started with a good breakfast roll at 9.00am and was broken at 12.30 for a substantial lunch. Our grateful thanks go to Tom Festing and the team at Sportfish, and also to the gentleman who again did a valiant job cooking for us.
 
We would also like to thank the owner of Hayward’s lake for his confidence in our ability to look after his fish under catch and release conditions, and allowing us the latitude to fish his water in our slightly unusual manner. We are very grateful.

We would  particularly like to thank Simon Kidd of Snowbee once again for his support and supplying prizes for the competition. Also for the loan of equipment and his unstinting help to some newcomers to this style of fishing.

Thanks go to Kevin P.  for his efforts in organising matters from the BFTA perspective.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 12:02:17 PM by bracken » Logged
John Dagnall
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 03:04:54 PM »

Well well. Another fine day I have missed. The only bite I have had deep here in the depths of Bangladesh is from an errant mosquito flying east from the mangrove swamps.

Another excellent report, reading that it felt like I had been there with you.

Andre,

Please tell me what you want on the banners and tee shirts etc. and send me an email with design.

Best wishes

John D
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ian gedney
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2010, 07:04:24 AM »

well; i really thought i am a member of a fishing club,but sadly i think we are rapidly turning into a hook a duck circus quiet happy to fish over stocked puddles with any line or fly you fancy in the name of sport.

Ian
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Russ
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2010, 04:53:36 PM »

It's nice to have a really easy days fishing once or twice a year, it is more about the day out than the fish catching!!!!!
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andre
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2010, 11:09:53 AM »

John,

Have sent an e-mail with details to your hotmail account, can you confirm if you have received it ok.

Andre.
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stevieN
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2010, 01:59:42 PM »


Can i just say thanks to all at Sportfish and Snowbee for another wonderful day.

Yes the fishing can be less challenging than some of the venues we fish, but you have to take into account the whole days experience.

 A good bunch of guys, some experienced tubers alongside some first timers. Good food, and good organisation as well as a super prize.

It is nice to see anglers with a bend in their rods at some point during the day.

Lets hope we get the chance to fish there again

Stevie N



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andre
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010, 07:19:22 PM »

It may only be a small venue but any publicity is good publicity. On two visits now we've had two magazines involved, one article published and Charles promised that he would submit something to Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, this can only be good. On the day I spoke to one or two of the non-members and encouraged them to join, one has downloaded the application form and will be joining in January and coming to meetings with us next season.

I have fished smaller venues than this to promote float tubing, not many are as well organised and welcoming, rather than a fishing challenge I think we should embrace initiatives like this to enhance our sport and make friends, something all of us that get involved with organisation have proven to be pretty good at over the years and that includes Ian who does a fantastic job with Rutland and Elinor.

Well done to Sportfish, Snowbee and Kev.

Andre.
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