One guy both me and my dad became friends with was a chap who was to have the most influence on my early carp fishing days other than my dad. His name was Simon Taylor and he was really helpful. Before I had a car he used to come and pick me up when we were fishing over at Horseshoe Lake in Lechlade which we used to fish a bit when we wanted a different water from Marlborough. Around that time another good friendship was made with another local lad the same age as Lee, Stuart Roper. These days Stuart still fishes although not exclusively for carp and he’s a bailiff on the linear site. Those Horseshoe Lake carp with still babies at the time being in the 4lb – 6lb range mainly. Look how they’ve grown!
Horseshoe lake early eighties hat trick of fully scaled
Because of my dads job at ARC we were also able to fish a couple of pits actually on the gravel workings which were full of even smaller carp (3lb – 5lb range). They looked almost identical to the Lechlade carp and I’m sure that was because Horseshoe was owned by ARC at the time that this was not a coincidence. When these pits on the ARC gravel workings were filled in they were actually moved to Linch Hill just down the road! Who knows we may have caught “Choco” and “Petals” when they were singles! (Although they could have come from Lechlade as a lot of those ones made it over to Linch as well believe it or not!) Just off of the Linch Hill site was a lake known as Browns Pit. This Pit was on the ARC social club ticket and my dad had spotted the odd decent carp in there. In 1983 this was another lake we started to target and we got tickets for Dave, Mark, Simon and his son Richard as well. There were only a certain amount of tickets my dad could get for non family members but somehow he managed to get hold of this amount! We all fished a few day sessions on Browns during the summer of 1983 and Simon and my dad were first to score with a couple of fish each if I remember rightly. I think my dad had the best one which was a mirror around 16lb.
Simon and me at Browns pit
Simon I remember had a double figure common which was something none of us had seen before. These were good fish as Marlborough was a good doubles water but maybe held one or two over 20lb at the right time of the year and Horseshoe had always been rumoured to have done big fish but we at that time had never even seen a double landed from there.
We didn’t know how many fish there were in Browns but it couldn’t have been many (it was a very small pit). It was in October I was to receive my first bite. I was doubled up with Richard in an unfancied area right at the top end of the pit. My dad and Simon were in the two swims which had produced fish for them before. I still remember the take, it was just a few bleeps and a gentle lift but I struck anyway and was into my first Browns carp. It wasn’t a great fight and Richard who was probably only about 10 years old at the time managed to net it for me. We just couldn’t believe the size of it and I remember thinking it must be way over 20lb! I ran down to get my dad and Simon and I’m sure they thought I was winding them up! We weighed her at 22lb 2oz which at the time was the biggest carp that any of us had landed and bigger than I had heard caught from Marlborough and Horseshoe! I was stunned!
My first 20 – 22lb 2oz Browns pit 1983
Amazingly a few weeks later my dad caught a stunning 20lb 3oz mirror from Browns (subsequently we were to find out that these were the biggest two carp in there and the 16 that my dad had was the third biggest as we only had repeated captures of the fish we caught over the first two years we fished Browns). An interesting side note to the Browns story was that the 20 my dad had was somehow moved down to Willow Pool on the Linch site sometime in the mid to late eighties and became known as “Blackspot” in there.
My Dad with browns pit other 20lb carp
We got into particle fishing over on Horseshoe around this time and caught lots of carp on Peanuts, Chick Peas and then the magic Tiger Nuts.
Horseshoe lake late eighties
Nice fish from Horseshoe
Horseshoe lake late eighties
one of my first ever fish from horseshoe lake
Simon with a nice brace from Horseshoe
The next few years were spent fishing the usual waters that I have spoken about and we also used to fish the little day ticket water across the road from Horseshoe which was “Roughgrounds” This water was stuffed with small carp and was even easier than Horseshoe.
From Roughgrounds in the early eighties
We also started to take day trips to other lakes a little further from home. One of those believe it or not was Savay Lake. You used to be able to just go and buy a day ticket from the news agent up the road in those days. We never caught anything from Savay but a few years later Mark Anderson did catch one when he had a day season ticket. It was to be 1987 before I caught my first “20” from Marlborough and that was the famous “Nelson” at 20lb 11oz.
Trio of fish caught from Marlborough pool including Nelson bottom left
Marlborough pool mid double late eighties
My dad at Marlborough pool
Marlborough pool winter late eighties shelter swim
Marlborough pool late eighties
It was that year that I first started concentrating on what you could call a really hard carp water. This water was “Vauxhall Lake” near to my home. It was the same year I passed my driving test so now I had a car to venture out with! Vauxhall was incredibly difficult with nobody that I can ever remember getting into double figures with captures for a season. I saw the biggest carp I had ever seen in my life though swimming around in Vauxhall. I did manage to catch one that September, only a 16 pounder but I was over the moon with this capture. There were genuine fish over 30lb in Vauxhall so it was an exciting time as they were big fish in the late eighties.
Vauxhall lake 1987
I remember the local B.C.S.G. regional organiser used to fish there, Jon Burrows and his fishing partner Andy Short. They even occasionally would allow me a brief glimpse at a picture of one of Vauxhalls jewels. They also organised local CAA or Carp Society (I can’t remember which) meetings over at Lechlade or Burford and they were great nights with some stunning slideshows. Unfortunately Jon was to be killed in a car crash in France some years later.
Paul recently joined Marlborough again for the winter ticket, a recent capture 19lb 6 16/04/15
Big thanks to Paul Harris look out for part three next week