Dipper Reacquaints Himself With The Charms Of The Farm Pool

There are many things that affect our fishing…..the ever changing seasons, weather patterns be it favourable or as is often the case not so, of course there’s the ever present restrictions of time and even though we’re loathed to admit it laziness can sometimes play a part in where and what we fish for. These everyday challenges are commonplace enough but even those in possession of a crystal ball could not have seen the global events of the last year coming, and although fishing was initially banished while we were rightly confined to quarters the restrictions eventually were lifted.

Being allowed to fish again the first thoughts to cross my mind were not only where was close, but also where would be quiet and safe? Im not far from the upper reaches of the river but as the length on the ticket I hold is near a town the banks can at times get busy with dog walkers as well as anglers, I needed somewhere off the beaten track, secluded, even private.

The Farm Pool

On discussing this predicament with a friend the subject of the farm pond cropped up, a lovely intimate little place I’d not been to for a number of years. From memory the only sizeable fish I had caught there in amongst the hoards of small Rudd were two large Eels which had the pulse racing momentarily before the line started zig zagging in that tell tale fashion. There were however stories of Tench and Carp that I remembered hearing, Hmmm……. perhaps it was worth making an enquiry?

It would definitely be quiet with only a friend of the farmers father fishing it occasionally, “honest Dave”…I recall he’d said he once caught a 19lb mirror Carp from there but his propensity to be less than frugal with the truth made us discount most of the nonsense he came out with. Fast forward a week a so and plans had been made, permission sought and granted, bait purchased and tackle readied.

The big day dawned and although I was keen to finally be next to water again and reacquaint myself with the pond it was a fairly leisurely mid morning start, I met my fishing buddy Chris at the gate which was closed and locked after the cars were parked in the exceptionally long grass.

We walked (two metres apart) down the slope full of hopes for this visit and memories of our last, as we chatted the view across Gloucestershire was interrupted by a dense hedge, then as we neared the second gate, through the trees water came in to view, closing the second gate quietly we stood by the dead tree and looked from the sharp, shallow end past the bramble strewn island and rickety bridge down to the the wider deeper water along the dam, the surface was sparkling in the harsh sunlight, ruffled nicely by the light south westerly that accompanied the fine weather we’d been enjoying. After a quick look round and with no obvious sign of anything but Rudd we both decided to fish the dam end in hope that the deeper water would be home to something bigger.

I set up a light float rod and proceeded to fish sweetcorn on the drop under a float, it wasn’t long before the Rudd showed up and were competitively darting about taking the bait before the float had chance to settle, don’t get me wrong I do love a good Rudd but these palm sized assasins were relentless! It was a bite a Chuck which was great to start with but soon I was in need of more resistance felt through the rod, I moved some of the bulk shot to half depth to hopefully get the corn past the golden ninja’s then fall slowly in the last foot or two of the 6ft of water I was fishing. On the very next cast the float settled, slowly sank to leave 10mm of the crimson tip showing before dipping then sailing away positively, a swift lifting of the rod set the hook into something un Rudd-like, the fine tip of the rod bent nicely and after a short spirited fight a small common Carp came to the net, a Carp?! not a Rudd…. but A CARP!!!

Ok, it was only slightly bigger than the Rudd but still it was progress. I took in every detail of this little golden jewel, an absolutely perfect example, not a mark or scale out of place and I’m sure he had never been caught before, bristling with attitude he zipped out of my hand and shot through the reeds even before being fully submerged, things were looking up! 

I baited my hook with renewed enthusiasm, swung the float over my head and cast it back into position before firing another pouchful of corn around its tip. I sat there, with a half grin on my face, hand hovering over the rod, daring the float to dip, which to my amazement it did!….. the excitement soon dissipated as a four ounce Rudd came skittering in across the surface, I placed him back in the margins and slid the remaining shot to half depth to join the rest.

Out again with the float, a sprinkling of golden grains and this time the tip dipped, reappeared, briefly grew taller then sank away slowly and slightly sideways before disappearing from sight, lifting the rod swiftly I connected with what can only be described as a suitcase full with tins of beans, the substantial curve in the light rod increased quickly until it was fully compressed as the suitcase grew fins, it rattled the bail arm off my fingers and shot fifteen yards to the left….then right!

There was little I could do but keep the rod at its maximum bend and hang on for the next ten minutes while the fish did as it pleased, the tension was huge, on the rod, line and my nerves but eventually, and thankfully the fish did start to slow down and just before I thought my arm was going to drop off the fish suddenly and without warning bobbed up in front of me. I grabbed the net and snaffled him quick & smart before he had a chance to realise what was happening, as I scooped him up in the net he did his best to try and drag it out of my hands.

I lifted him out and rested him on the mat in the long grass, a cracking common Carp of around six pounds, really not what the light rod was meant for but a triumph and confirmation that the little one I caught earlier wasn’t the only Carp in there, and they were getting BIGGER!

What A Fish – An Immaculate Farm Pool Common

The fish took off like the proverbial scalded cat as soon as it touched the water and Chris, who had joined me for moral support during the fight, both stood enthused, making assumptions and storylines as to what else might be in waiting?

Now before carrying on a decision had to be made, whether to fish on with the light rod and risk losing a fish (and/or having a heart attack) or swap it for something with a little more back bone? I fired out some corn and thought for a second, then put two grains on the hook and cast out again, if I hooked a good fish on this cast I would change rod, if not I would carry on enjoying the smaller fish.

Maybe ten seconds past and the float vanished, I didn’t see it sink away it just vanished. I lifted the rod into a weighty adversary, “should’ve changed the rod” I muttered to myself shaking my head, when trying to turn the fish I was powerless as it took off and sped thirty yards to the left, out of the deeper water and into a shallow corner where it ploughed deep into the reeds, this is where we parted company. Chris shouted something unrepeatable and I was left feeling more the fool.

I placed the light rod in the bushes behind me and set about putting up a MKIV Avon plus Delmatic and 8lb line, as I sinched the rings onto the reel foot and threaded the line through the rings I became aware that I was whistling the music heard in the scene from JAWS where chief Brody, Hooper and Quint are assembling and making preparations for the “anti-Shark-cage”, a good omen surely? Unless I was playing Quint! 

By now the clear sky had clouded over and the temperature had dropped a degree or two, I put on my Barbour jacket, pulted another pouch of corn and finished tying the hook, a larger gauge size 8 this time. As there was no good reason to change I mirrored the float setup I had on the light rod, baited the hook and cast out, the float flying a little awkwardly through the air on the heavier line. It sat there motionless for a minute or two and I wondered if I had missed my chance?

The commotion of the long fight of the first fish and losing the second one couldn’t of helped matters! I picked up the catapult, placed half a dozen or so of the green giants finest in the pouch and began to stretch the elastic, then…. just as I was about to ease the grip on the pouch the float bobbed, I quickly shot the corn around the float, dropped the catapult down to my left and before it hit the ground my right hand was hovering over the cane, “Go on…..go on……” (isn’t it amazing how high pitched your voice can become when a fish is around and nosing at your bait?). Once again the float bobbed, then, like the mast of a sinking ship it oh so slowly slid from sight, I swiftly lifted the rod which immediately hooped over into its fighting curve, the somewhat hit and miss clutch of the Delmatic screeched its discomfort to what was obviously a good fish – the Carp steamed off in the opposite direction to me, straight towards the island! I used my left index finger to slow the rotation of the spool and piled on as much pressure as I dared, I had to stop the fish before it reached the island’s overhanging branches and brambles or I’d lose it for sure.

Three Yards From A Thorny Sanctuary

The fish couldn’t have been more than three yards from thorny sanctuary when it started to kite to my left, by this time Chris, on seeing the acute bend in the rod had run round to help, he picked up the net as I walked along to my left trying to keep a straight line on the fish, which was now heading straight for the same shallow snaggy area as the Carp I lost earlier, perhaps it was the same fish?

Over the years I’ve found the best way to dissuade a fish from danger is to try and pull the fish towards it, fish generally pull in the opposite direction and thankfully this one was no different, with the Carp now heading back out into deeper water I could now catch my breath and enjoy the encounter, well almost. The Carp seemed to slow down, no doubt happier in the deeper water where it repeatedly tried to bury itself in the weed that in places covers the lake bed, luckily it’s only soft and although the sensation of bogging down was a little disconcerting it wasn’t too difficult to keep the fish moving.

After what seemed like an age he began to tire and soon rose in the water where we got our first sightings – a nice common Carp, not as big as the intense battle had suggested but certainly a good deal bigger than the earlier six pounder. Time and time again I thought I had the upper hand before that big tail caused the reel to screech as the fish made a dive for the lake bed leaving a big oily boil on the surface, soon though the runs were less determined and the bend in the cane less severe, after one last boil Chris was ready with the submerged net as the long dorsal neared cutting through the surface. I kept his head up, walked backwards and drew him over the mesh as Chris lifted the net, YES!

With a sigh of relief we both peered into the net, and there sat a near perfect Carp, wonderful tones of bronze, copper and cream, a thick set fish and completely scale perfect, it looked like it belonged in a reference book. Of course we had to give it a number and the balance settled at thirteen, not a monster by any means but all things are relative and such a fish from a small farm pond had us grinning ear to ear, and quickly also wondering what else may be offered? After a couple of quick photos I lowered the rim of the net and we watched as he slipped out of the net and with a flick of the tail disappeared into the depths, feeling somewhat drained as well as elated we both agreed it was time to put the kettle on.

We fished on till late evening but other than more Rudd and a couple of palm sized carp it passed uneventfully, to be honest the day had been more than enough. A return visit was planned and soon! 

A Well Earned Cuppa On The Way

Return we did, many times, in fact the little pond became a safe heaven over the last year, somewhere the awful situation the world had found itself in could be forgotten about entirely, being replaced with a much needed calming sense of normality. We fished through the Summer and into Autumn, even my dad started joining us such was the appeal of the place.

We all caught good fish with the better Carp all being around the ten pound mark, we even found some Tench although these seemed to be struggling to compete with the Carp and rarely made it above three pounds, to date the thirteen pounder is still the best Carp we’ve managed, although a couple of “unstoppable monsters” have had us wondering all over again what else the pool has hidden?

The only Mirror Carp we caught were hand sized, and very few and far between, they must have parents though surely?! Perhaps Honest Dave was telling the truth for once after all?

Only time will tell,

To be continued …

All Writing & Images Dipper – Gloucestershire 2021