"Having laid out your rods
( you may as well use two while you are about it,
with a different bait on each )
you are at liberty to smoke, meditate, read, and I think, sleep...
You and the rods and the floats gradually grow into the landscape and become part of it.
It is like life in the isle of the lotus."
The build up to a journey to the most fabled of Carp pools, Redmire, is an almost religious experience to me. It is something you get, and embrace fully or do not, and never will.
Just to get a couple of days on the worlds most famous lake is, to me, not only exciting but, an honour.
To tread in the same footsteps as Walker, Hilton, Pitchford, Taylor, Yates, Hutchinson, Maddocks to name, but a few, you can't help but feel their presence, an aura of history having been made. To think, this small farm lake produced the first British 30, 40 and 50 pound Carp and all being different fish from that first Leney stocking...A stock that still has an uncorrupted legacy at the pool, for every one of its inhabitants are related to those original 50 Galicians stocked in March 1934 (NB..since writing this, new information has come to light, and it now appears that there is the possibility that another 49 were stocked a year later).
Part and parcel of a trip to the pool are the many personal traditions, for instance, I always grow a beard. I'd attempted 'The Full Springate' this year, in reality it was more akin to a Redmire era Len Arbery.
There we were then, over the cattle grid, down the drive, turn right, stop at the cottage of the ever effervescent Les Bamford, exchange pleasantries and on through the gate to catch you first glimpse of the water. Down the track, always freewheeled, engine off in the days of The Carp Catchers, alas, modern power steering makes this decidedly dodgy.
Once on the pool itself, after the obligatory circumnavigation, one has the most stressful part of the trip, swim choice...this can take some time, usually deliberating on the bench at the dam wall. We eventually settled for Mick in 'Stumps', Malc in 'Evening Pitch'..he knew it was haunted and embraced it with opened arms. These two being on their first trip had first choice, leaving Tony to choose 'The Stile' and myself 'In Willow'.
It is only once the task of choosing swim and setting up base is completed that you leave all things behind and enter another realm. First things first...tea. The first one always has to be boiled on the Kelly kettle.
Of course, you can't have tea without cake........
The next few hours are spent in an almost meditative state, drinking in the surroundings, the total assault from nature on every sense...You know where you are, but you still can't quite believe it.
The pool now has four Swans, an adult and three large cygnets, we'd heard that many had been having problems with their antics, but we were welcomed by them, it was their home we respected that at all times.
Also on display were the usual coots, mallards and dabchicks ( loveable little birds, who happily scoffed as many maggots as I could give them.)
Tony and I ate in 'Climos' along with a tankard of Wells' Bombardier from my local brewery. The rods were positioned and darkness soon blanketed the pool, although the moon was fat, but not completely full.
I won't lie, it's difficult to sleep, such is the excitement and anticipation, the sound of the owls up in the Oaks makes way to a quietness I have yet to witness anywhere else.....a fish crashes up in the shallows a moorehen shrieks...then dead quiet again. There is no wind, no rippled surface...just peace, eventually one slips into a fragmented sleep.......I really was dreaming of holding one of the lakes prizes, when......a noise, a modern day, electronic noise...my alarms ?....No......my phone..It was dark still !!..The caller was Tony, this could only mean one thing, answering confirmed he did indeed have a fish in the net...I was elated.
I was by his side within 30 seconds as he lifted his prize on to the unhooking mat..a common, his first fish in three visits, he shook with adrenaline, I knew the feeling, immense satisfaction and not a little relief. He was no longer a member of 'The Pitchford Group' and could now call himself a Redmire Carp Catcher.
As he released the fish, he held her a while, as she regained her wits, a special time, as special as the catch, is the release...she waddled off to perhaps fulfil another future Carp angler's ambitions.
We celebrated with tea as the dawn chorus piped up, Twinings of course, if it's good enough for Her Majesty, then it's good enough for us !
Dawn broke at ' In Willow' the swans took a shine to Malc and paid many a visit to 'The Evening Pitch'.
I waited a good few hours before finally relenting to "Full English Breakfast o'clock"....Venison sausages, bacon, eggs etc. and English Breakfast Tea....
Our friend the Swan was soon over to see if we were sharing....
.....we weren't !!
With a full belly, I made off to Bramble Island, just to see if the water in 'The Shallows' had a few carpy visitors, scaling the climbing tree for a better view.
The area seemed fish free, this isn't usually the case, fish are normally active in the area, throwing up huge clouds of the red silt that gives the pool its name. It was decided that in the absence of a morning stalking opportunity that Tony and I would float fish with maggot from 'The DamWall'.
To sit and spend a couple (or three) hours,having seen all the photos of the greats at this very spot was a true pleasure, we weren't chasing fish, just having fun, relaxing, that is the true essence of Redmire.
After three and a half hours without so much as a sucked maggot, of course we put the kettle on and then had something very special, the good Lady Sarah had baked me a "Redmire Cake",we knew it was called that because it said so on the tin!
It was given a huge thumbs up all round and was sniffed out from some distance by Malc who seemed to appreciate the alcoholic content, note that his eyes never left the water as he ate...This will definitely become a new tradition for us.
Time was called and I sneaked up to 'Greenbanks' with a stalking rod baited with two mini boilies, the area was full of Carp which seemed to have quite predictable patrol routes around the weed beds, the water was incredibly coloured and patience was needed to get rig and free offerings in place.
I was truly in tune with my surroundings, laying on the unhooking mat, watching the line for twitches.Many fish in front of me, two twenty pound fish came within four feet of me, it was wonderful and the overwhelming sensation was one of optimism...It was so relaxing that I found myself nodding off. The serenity of the pool at times like this weaves a spell upon you, it is like no other place I know, time passes in the blink of an eye, I had been there a good few blissful hours in which I'd become so part of the surroundings that a squirrel actually walked over my legs before Tony led the search party to see if I'd fallen in or not.
I reeled in and we walked down further towards the shallows, past the Swans.
Arriving at 'Hiltons' we happened upon a resting Carp no more than six feet away..I love the opportunity to view fish behaviour and I said I'd throw some pellet and watch its response.
About ten small pellets were thrown around five feet in front of the fish, it watched them all fall to the bottom and moved forward about a foot, as if to have a little look. It looked for some twenty seconds, pondering the situation, before moving slowly off into the lake with no panic at all....clever fish.
Back at 'In Willow' I was doing a bit of pondering myself..."Should I move to the shallows ?" "Should I stay at the deeper end"...I gave it some serious thought, the fact was , I didn't want to get stressed chasing fish around, I didn't move, 'Piscator non solum Piscatur'.
The Evenings menu was as follows, another tradition....Redmire Rissotto....you will need :-
One can Chilli Con Carne (Stagg)
One can of Minced Beef and Onions
One Can of Irish Stew
Some Boiled Rice
Basically mix the whole lot together and heat slowly in a large pot. The result is incredibly splendid.
This, of course is to be washed down with a nice Claret and followed by Water biscuits and Stilton cheese.
It was around this time that Ricky Richardson, one of the estate owners arrived and he immediately recognised us from a previous visit, an incredibly likeable fellow who, not for the first time, exclaimed that "one should sing to fish if one wishes to meet them"...as darkness fell we had a nightcap of hot chocolate and brandy before singing across the lake to the carp.
I drifted off to sleep my mind buzzing with the days events, a most splendid day, I wanted for nothing. I had lived like a king, I was living the dream.
Then,suddenly, another electronic modern day noise, my alarm?...Oh yes!..single tone, I was having some of that. I leapt out, struck, my heart thumping so hard, I felt 'thud-thud' through the rod then something seemed to give, and all went slack, hook pull??, My whole body sank and I wound in, then 'thud-thud', the fish was indeed still on and now tanking up towards 'Climo's', I played it very softly, knowing that so many fish are lost to hook pulls, and eventually coaxed her slowly but surely towards me, after around ten minutes she was in the net, I had a sneaky peak and couldn't believe my eyes, laying in the net was probably one of the most beautiful fish in the lake, I called Tony, who was soon with me. I didn't want to sack the fish so photo quality was sacrificed for fish safety...What a stunner.
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