Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Lost Lake Found


Heaven knows where to start about the weekend I've just had, but I suppose the start's a pretty good place.

It was the place I first learnt to fish back in the late 70's, a hidden little pond, formerly a victorian glass dump in the middle of the marsh sandwiched between the Linconshire coast and the Wolds a few miles inland, just off a B road in the middle of nowhere.

My memories of the place are still some of my fondest; keep nets full of roach, perch and the occasional decent bream, fishing sound-tracked by Eric Riddell's steam fairground organ (Eric, a friend of my old mans, ran a steam museum a few hundred yards up the road), the chorus of wood pigeons, coots & moorhens and the utter wildness of the place. With hindsight I was spoilt. I spent most summer weekends at this place between 79-83 yet, even on the most balmy of days, we were rarely troubled by fellow anglers.

I often fished with my older next door neighbour, David 'Didds' Lycett, a rather rotund lad with a penchant for oxford bags, Brutus shirts & polyveldt shoes yet, even at 13, he had an amazing knowledge and aptitude for catching fish. He was was with me when I caught my first pike from an old drain in Ingoldmells, he helped me land my first carp from a pit just outside Addlethorpe & he taught me how to tempt wary roach from tiny cuts using light pole tackle. We spent days at this place catching and learning to love all angling had to offer.

In 1983 my folks moved about 30 miles inland and I lost touch with the place, instead my fishing came courtesy of the rivers & drains around Lincoln, yet as I drifted in and out of angling over the next 20 years I still often remembered this place I loved and learnt to fish. Often I would drift back recalling the catches, but mostly it would simply be a case of remembering the happy times I spent there with my old man and Didds.

In the past twenty years I'd made the odd intentional detour on days out to the coast to look at the place. After I left in '83 I'd heard rumours it had been bought up by an angling club, but by the early 90's the former entrance was blocked by the planting of a line of conifers suggesting that whoever now owned the place had no intention of continuing to run it as a fishery.

Yet, despite the dreaming and feeling that someday I needed to return, it never happened, that is, until this weekend.

Circumstance & fate meant I was within 10 miles of the place, in a caravan with my folks and the kids, and so I decided, after all these years, to return.

I really didn't know what to expect. Ordnance Survey confirmed the place was still there, but beyond that my expectations were muted. To be honest, I'd have been happy to simply see the pond again.

And so I set out, full of nerves, both about what I'd find and simply getting in there. I made 4 passes in the car, worried about the couple of houses that sat on the opposite side of the road, before deciding to park a mile or so away the other end of bridleway.

Armed only with a rod and Barbour pockets stuffed with a reel, a pack of hooks, a couple of floats & weights and a tin of corn I darted in under the conifers to be faced with a wall off twisted ivy, willow and bramble. It really was a case of crawling on hands & knees passing the odd familiar old tree before I came out and was able to view the pond which was sat, still as ever, sporting a huge floating raft of tree blossom.

Ostensibly the place hadn't changed, yet having obviously being unmanaged for the past 20 years or so former swims and paths had been consumed by the gradual creep of willow, nettle & reeds. On first inspection the place, although the absolute picture of the 'lost lake', looked unfishable. Yet, the old path around the lake was still vaguely navigable and I found my way around to one corner, still shaded by a recognisible pair of incongruous Scots Pine trees, from which I was able to fish.

A couple of handfuls of corn later and I was fishing. I've never felt such joy; nostaligia, without doubt, yet I was overjoyed to find the place still alive with fish after all these, neglected, years.

Ater an hour or so of my grain of corn being plucked by a succession of tiddlers (I was cursing I hadn't come armed with a pint of maggots), the float slowly slid under in a manner indicating something a bit bigger. A strike and I knew it was somthing a bit more substantial. An obliging bream of around 2lbs was happy to be beached (I'd come light, without a landing net). A second came a few minutes later followed by a decent-ish roach.

I'm glad I caught yet it really didn't matter. I'd returned to fish my memories and was simply happy to find the place still there, full of fish and even more untouched than I'd left it. Somehow I now feel complete; I'd be happy now never to return, although no doubt I surely will. Maybe next time I'll try and find an easier way in.