Category Archives: Event Reports

Event Reports

Lake fishing at Albury Park Lake – 16.03.13

Despite cold driving rain all morning, an excellent day out was enjoyed by all at Albury Park Lake, home of the Albury Park Syndicate last Saturday .

I couldn’t do any better than hand over to John ‘Mad Dog’ Hayman for a captivating account of the day’s proceedings…………..

WHAT A START TO THE DAY AT ALBURY THE WEATHER WAS MAD WHEN WE ARRIVED THE SLOP JOCKEYS AND BREW MONKEYS WERE NO WHERE TO BE SEEN AND THE TROOPS WERE HANK MARVIN AND GAGGIN FOR A HOT BREW, SUDDENLY JUST AFTER 08.00HRS THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR TONY HERN ARRIVED, THERE HE WAS BIG GRIN AND THE WORDS WE LOVE TO HEAR ON A WET MISERABLE DAY’ MORNIN LADS ANYONE FOR A BREW ‘ LIKE GREASE LIGHTNING THE BREWS WERE MADE AND SUDDENLY A GRILL BAR B Q APPEARED WITH A COUPLE OF GILLY VOLUNTEER SLOP JOCKEYS WHO SWUNG INTO ACTION AND BACON BAPS SOON STARTED BEING COOKED AND CONSUMED AT A FAST RATE AND AFTER WHICH WE WAS KICKED OUT THE TROFF SHED TO GO FACE BATTLE ARMED WITH ONLY A FLY ROD AND POOR LICKLE FLY TO TAKE ON THE DEMON TROUT LURKING IN THE ESTATE WATERS,THE BATTLE WAS FIERCE THE TROUT WERE HOLDING THEIR OWN UNTIL SUDDENLY THE YELL OF YEEESSS GOT ONE WAS HEARD FROM YOUNG
RUSS ROBERTS A RECRUIT BROUGHT IN FOR HIS FIRST EVER TROUT BATTLE SEEING THE TACTIC RUSS USED SPURRED THE COMBINED FORCES INTO ACTION THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DAYS BATTLE COMMODORE BONES USED HIS NAVAL EXPERIENCE AND BOMBARDED THE TROUT WITH CONTINUOUS SALVOS AND SUCEEDED IN TAKIN A FEW OUT,GUARDSMAN BILL CARRYING OUT A RIGHT FLANK ATTACK THEN STRUCK A DEADLY BLOW TO THE TROUT NUMBERS,SUDDENLY STEVE PARSONS DEALT MORE DAMAGE AND TOOK A FEW TARGETS OUT WITH A BIG GRIN ON HIS FACE THEN SAM AND TONY DOUBLE TEAMED A FEW MORE,THINGS GOT TOUGH SO ALLIED FORCES CALLED A CEASE FIRE AND CONFERENCE AT THE TROFF SHED WITH LOADS OF INTER SERVICES BANTER AND LAUGHTER AND CONSUMING MANY PORTIONS EACH OF EXCELLENT SHEPHERDS PIE AND VEGETABLES FOLLOWED BY GEORGEOUS TRIFLE AND A BREW THE BATTLE PLAN WAS DRAWN AND A SUDDEN ADVANCE AND GAINING GROUND THE LAKES WERE SURROUNDED FROM ALL SIDES AND BATTLE COMMENCED AND THE TROUT NUMBERS DWINDLED AND THEY TOOK HEAVY LOSSES FROM ALL SIDES,RUSS TOOK OUT A COUPLE MORE FOLLOWED BY TONY SCOUSE GIZ A CIGGY LETFORD
THEN THE KINGS TROOP DECIDED TO SWING INTO ACTION WITH YOUNG JOSH HITTING 2 FOLLOWED BY COMMANDO PAUL WITH A COUPLE MORE AND DOG THOUGHT HE BETTER HELP HIS COMRADES IN ARMS WHICH HE DID IN QUICK TIME TAKIN A COUPLE OUT,PARA FRANK COMPLETED HIS MISSION AND CONTAINED THE TROUT IN A SMALL BATTLE AREA THROUGHOUT THE DAY, REALISING THIS THE TROUT DECIDED TO RETREAT OUT OF FIRING RANGE THERE NUMBERS DWINDLED AND ACCEPTING DEFEAT FROM A SMALLER FORCE OF DETERMINED TROOPS WHO I MUST HASTEN TO ADD ARE ALL INJURED FROM PAST CONFLICTS FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY,WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE NON BATTLING LOGISTIC SUPPORT FROM FISHABILITY UK AND STAFF FOR KEEPING THE TROOPS WELL FED AND BREWED UP THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO OUR NEXT CALL TO BATTLE THE DEMON TROUT.

Wherwell Estate – Grayling Fishing on the River Test – 15.02.13

At last some decent weather for flyfishing. Since our last outing at Bewl Water in November, the winter has been cold and long. January’s trip was cancelled due to flooded banks on the Itchen, although we did get some casting instruction conducted in Winchester before the mere 3c temperatures got the better of us.

Today was fab. Up to 12c, a bright and sunny day on a Hampshire chalkstream, fishing for grayling on the fabled River Test at the kind invitation of Lord Camden on the Wherwell Estate.

6 veterans and 5 guides gathered at 9am  for bacon butties and a briefing from Robbie Loseby, waterkeeper on the Estate. Following a full winter’s rain, and then some, the Test is currently flowing clear and very, very high. Some of the banks are leveed, and the surfeit of water coming down the valley is simply pouring over the sides, through gateways and into neighbouring fields.

Wherwell Estate’s fishery comprises a number of beats on the river, together with a beautiful secluded lake, but with the river so high, the fishery appeared to be almost totally awash, with a few forgiving islands where lake bank anglers could fish from, just enough room to park, and a very welcome fishing hut generating meals and some warmth to take the chill off an early frost.

Grayling are not easy to catch. Whilst they are quite free rising, they are an extremely choosy and shy fish, and current thinking on patterns takes you down through the sizes to between 16 and 22 as the most likely. A bit of tungsten weighting, perhaps under an indicator is the most productive method, whilst dries will also catch, but again in very small sizes. Barbless only.

The guys split into two bretheren. Those that tackled the grayling head-on, and those that were just as happy chasing the lake rainbows. Either way, it was a glorious venue at which to fish, whilst Robbie’s welcome and expert guidance, really enhanced the Wherwell experience.

Our guides – Chris, Steve, Mike and John – gave very valuable advice on casting techniques, fly selection, and fishing styles, especially on the river; there were also some England hopefuls fishing alongside us, practicing for an eliminator to be fished tomorrow. To those boys, it was looking like it was going ot be a 20G day – ie 20 grayling. “Somedays, we might get up to 150G”, commented hopeful competitor, Paul. Just one would be nice today!

Fishing achievements today.

Pride of place has to go to Alan Auckland, a newcomer to flyfishing, and a quick learner, who took  his first fish –  a rainbow –  from the lake soon after lunch, kindly assisted by Chris Howitt.   

Dog extracted 7 rainbows from the lake, whilst Josh landed a brace, and 1 to Big Al; all fish fought ferociously well, all were returned.

The grayling had the last laugh. Their currency has improved a thousand fold from the 34 years ago when I worked on this river. The lady of the stream is held in high reverence, when back in the old days, they were just considered verminous, forming the greater part of the electrofishing haul each winter.

In a generation, radical fishing foresight has created a new fishery for anglers to enjoy, and we look forward to a return to these spellbinding waters again in the not too distant future.

Next up for Fly trips with FishabilityUK:

Sat 16 March – Albury Park Lake, Albury Estate, near Guildford.

Sat 13 April – Farmoor Reservoir, near Oxford.

1st of December at MBK Leisure’s Coloured Ponds

1st December and myself and Dave Milton are out working with Fishability UK, a charity for ex forces personel. We are out teaching some of them to fish and having a bit of a giggle.

We were meant to be at Carthegena Lock but the weather had other ideas and it was cancelled on the Friday morning. MBK Leisure in Hampshire were kind enough to offer their venue at this extremely short notice for the guys to go and fish.

A 2 hour trot around the M25 and down the A3 and we found the venue situated in lovely peaceful countryside. Turning in we followed the pathway down to the far lake and found a group of guys far far too eager to get going who had turned up over an hour early.

Introductions were done with organiser Roger Sharp and the 13 guys attending and the typical banter of forces personel was running rife and giving everyone a good laugh. Continue reading

Bewl Water 17-11-12

The November flyfishing trip for Fishability UK took us to Kent, and the largest lake in South East England, Bewl Water.

Bewl has had a steadily improving year after a near disastrous start – there was only 40% of the reservoir full at springtime, a legacy of two dry winters – but fishing picked up brilliantly after the heavens opened at the end of March, and it hasn’t really stopped raining since.

And they’re off, as boats leave the dock from 9am.

For a mid November day, we were blessed with superb weather, given that the BBC forecast was particularly gloomy. Light south westerlies, mostly cloud, the odd spot of rain, but critically mild at 13c, gave us great conditions for the time of year.

 

Continue reading

Test Valley

13th October 2012

Excellent day out for the lads at a very secluded lake location in the Test Valley at the weekend.

Six veterans fished on a day of sunshine and showers, with plenty of rainbows on show in crystal clear water, but the fish weren’t giving themselves up too easily.

9 fish caught on the day, best at 3lb 4oz to Sam Bridger, Black daddylonglegs. The choosiest fish responded to tiny imitations of some micro midge hatching off. Continue reading

A Secret Location in Surrey

Alan Tomkins. My day with Fishability UK

As a fishing instructor & guide I get many different fishing related requests, among these enquiries from potential anglers who have come here from abroad and want to catch and eat fish like tench, roach and dace and ask if they can bring a barbecue with them. In another instance I was asked to coach 6 or 7 Arabs who had never fished, but were on holiday in the UK and had just watched ‘Salmon fishing in the Yemen’ and wanted to have a go. More recently I was contacted by Roger Sharp asking if I would be interested in helping out on one of the days that his organisation, Fishability UK had organised.

To quote from their website, “the aim of FISHABILITY UK is to use fishing as a support mechanism for ex-forces personnel finding difficulty in rehabilitating back into mainstream activities. By finding some peace and solitude, and a focus for quiet contemplation, whilst making new friends, those seeking valuable space and time will then be able to regroup and move forward.”

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Of course I was delighted to help out in such a worthwhile cause and a bright sunny morning in late September saw me heading for the meeting place, a very secret location in the “home counties”. I guess some people at this point will make the connection of “secret” and “military”, but that wasn’t the reason for the secrecy. With poaching and fish stealing by some of the east European immigrants recently arrived in the UK rife in many areas, some angling clubs are very sensitive about giving out information about their waters. Sad, but true. Continue reading

Clandon Park

The September flyfishing outing for  Fishability UK took us to Clandon Park near Guildford, by the very kind invitation of Lord Onslow.

Chris Brown the keeper had set the day up very nicely for us, giving us free reign over the lowest of the three lakes on this fishery, which is run as a syndicate on a Full or Half Rod basis. This is also prime duck country, with shoot hides around the lake.

Casting practice on the field for the newcomers today

Casting practice

Our mission, on a swelteringly hot day – peaking at 28c – was to extract up to 20 fish, generously donated by the fishery. Rainbows had been stocked a few days prior to our fishing, so prospects were promising inspite of the challenging forecast. Continue reading

River Itchen

Chalkstream Fishing at St Cross, Winchester on the River Itchen

Following the cancellation of the July fly meet on the 28th- as it clashed with the Men’s Olympic cycle race – and effectively gridlocked the road to Clandon lakes! – it was a treat to get fishing again last week, and in such stunning surroundings………

…….Fishability UK had been invited down on to one of the most fabled rivers in the land – the River Itchen at Winchester – to cast a fly at some of the wily brownies that reside there.

 Steve, Trevor and Tony (all Level 2 Instructors) took seven veterans under their wings for a day of upstream dryfly sport – nymph fishing is permitted but definitely frowned upon in these parts, and as much as a mere suggestion of a Goldhead Daddy sends most anglers heading for the exit.

The river at St Cross is quite beautiful. It braids into several carriers before rejoining as it heads down to pass under the famous brick viaduct and M3 crossing at Hockley.

The roadside burger van was our rendezvous point, with the bacon bap ladies Lucy and Ali doing a fine job in getting everyone stoked up for the day.

One or two had trouble targeting the van, and then another got lost between there and the anglers car-park, but eventually we were all assembled and ready to go.

We split into groups and headed for the beats.

This was a first venture for Fishability UK onto a chalkstream, so the extra casting skills we have been working on over the months really came in handy.

Catching lake trout is all very nice, but now we are targeting individual fish and lining (scaring)a fish is all too easy, as they hold station between weed fronds of ranunculus and mare’s tail.

The keepers suggested a few useful flies for the day – to include Klinkhammer, Adams, Beacon Beige, Cinnamon Sedge – but parachute flies were certainly favourite.

Bill was quickly into a brace of browns, lovely buttery coloured fish at around the 1lb 8oz mark. One kept, one slid back. Klinkhammer was certainly a good shout. One or two grayling were returned by others, but taking fish were proving fairly elusive. Plenty on show, but proving very finicky – perhaps the falling barometer was to blame. We were blessed with a very reasonable morning, having been promised a stinker by the weather girls, but rain did intervene after lunch; so at least we got some dry sport in. The rain was patchy though, and didn’t deter anybody, so we just fished on through.

The guys are reasonably well practised at fly casting now, so there is a certain swagger accompanying delivery as lines are eased down carefully onto the water, and no short amount of banter too, as a critical eye develops.

The veterans dined at lunchtime on barbecued glazed sausages and marinated chicken, washed down with Millionaires Shortbread, and copious amounts of tea.

Afternoon sport progressed through the rain, and one or two more trout came to the net.

As Test Match Special may have suggested, an early cream tea was taken, before the evening rise was tackled. “It doesn’t really happen around here”, said Peter the keeper. Hatches tend to come off at 11, 2 and 5, but evenings are often very quiet.

We drew stumps at 7.30pm, everybody having been absolutely enthralled by the excellent day’s sport we had enjoyed.

The drive home was a long one for some – Porlock, Worthing, Chelmsford – but a very satisfied feeling that fishing doesn’t really get any better than that!

A huge thanks to all those that made this excellent day possible, it means so much to those that were fishing.

MBK Coloured Ponds

Day at MBK Coloured Ponds – Rake, West Sussex

The Coloured Ponds at Rake in West Sussex on the Hampshire borders is a venue I had heard of but never ventured to.   So, when I was asked if I could help out at one of Fishability’s  hugely worthwhile days at the venue by Roger Sharp  –  the co- founder and coarse fishing co-ordinator of Fishability  –  I was eager to do so.  Roger had approached me as a level 2 ADB angling coach to see if I was able to provide some assistance to the charity and, I suspect, like a lot of people who see news daily of our troops in combat, I wanted to be able to do something but, have never been able to identify anything practical to do!  So, when the chance help out with ex servicemen (and to fish!) came along, it was an opportunity I really could not turn down. 

Part of a much larger fishery portfolio owned by MBK Leisure, the coloured ponds are essentially a string of 5-6 match type ponds and one “specimen” pond.  The match ponds are stuffed with a variety of species with carp being the predominant force!   It was easy to see where the venue had got its name from as the water was a strange dark brown – almost gravy like colour!  This presumably was because of the mineral content within the surrounding landscape.

On my arrival, Roger, in a very nice campervan – which served as both the “HQ” and field catering van for the day!  –  had already begun the most important preparations – firing up the kettle! 

Two of the lads were set up with pole tackle on the far bank of pond number 4 – our designated pond for the day – and others (more shrewdly it turned out!)  were setting up rod and reel tackle on the near bank.  Going down to the water I was made to feel incredibly welcome by everyone and I was at ease straight away.  After arming myself with one of several cups of tea that day, I popped over to see Bill Noble who was setting up with pellet waggler in a nice looking swim and Rocky who next door was using a more standard carp set up with boilies. 

In truth, my services as a coach were barely needed as all the lads had a good angling knowledge.  Bill’s previous angling had however been in the field of fly fishing for trout so one or two minor tweaks to his set up were in order.  Fish were topping and swirling all over the lake and two light coloured ghosties caught the eye frequently as they swam in tandem around the pond.  I tackled up next to Bill and recognising that carp were probably to be caught very close in, set up with a 10ft float rod, a light 2BB waggler and a size 18 hook.  With only 2 ½ feet of water two rod lengths out next to some lilies,  I introduced a bit of fishmeal ground bait, some 4mm pellets, a few maggots and started catching a rudd or roach every chuck.

Putting in some more feed including some 6mm pellets, I left the swim to go round with some tea and to see how others were faring   –  encountering a brown grass snake on the walkway separating pond 4 from pond 3  –  on the way!  Everyone it seemed was catching which was great to see with “Dog” and Tony in corner swims doing particularly well. 

After a lovely buffet meal prepared by Roger (which put paid to any weight loss I had managed in one foul swoop!) the fishing, if anything, improved and slightly better carp were regularly coming to the net.  I shallowed up my float rig, fishing an 8mm pellet on a size 16 carp Bandit hook just 10 inches under my float and introducing two 8mm pellets over my float every 10 seconds or so started catching carp up to 6 or 7lbs regularly  –  as did Bill, I am delighted to say next door.  He had a right old tussle with one that – eventually – was netted and proved to be the best of the day – a good mid double common.  He also had the honour of catching one of the ghosties!  His last fish of the day and, a fish (I suspect) everyone had secret hankerings to catch for themselves?!

Thanks to Roger’s efforts, an absolutely lovely day was had all round – improved even more for me – by the company I was in.  There is no question in my mind that such work and the efforts of Roger and others involved in FISHABILITY is hugely beneficial.

I will definitely be going back for more – provided of course I am invited!!

 Alwyn Royans

Angling Chance Fishing Coaching

EVERYONE deserves an Angling Chance!

Tyrwhitt House

Fishability UK visited Tyrwhitt House, Leatherhead, Surrey headquarters of the Combat Stress charity.
We held a fly casting workshop and fly dressing demonstration, with a powerpoint presentation sandwich in the middle on how our charity functions.