Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A (cru) cut above the rest- Marsh Farm fish-in

In all honesty, my Summer fishing this year amounted to little more than a rather half-hearted exercise in  "messing about" with a fishing rod. A combination of work, family holidays and other commitments meant that I'd only fished three times since the Christian Anglers weekend away in June, and each of these trips had been a casual affair. I'd caught plenty of fish, but most had been tiddlers, with the biggest a carp of a wholly  unremarkable 8 pounds or so in weight caught while float fishing. I'd had fun, fishing once with some of the lads from the Thurnby Church club, once with my son and daughter and once on my own, but the first part of the year in which I'd caught some fine quality perch, and new personal bests of both pike and golden orfe seemed a long way away. The Christian Anglers fish-in at Marsh Farm had come at just the right time to shake me out of my angling lethargy.
Marsh Farm may not have acquired the mythical reputation of some waters, it lacks the "ancient history" and folklore that causes venues such as Redmire to be spoken of in awed and hushed whispers, but to those "in the know" it's viewed as the country's best crucian carp fishery, with genuine unhybridised crucians that grow large, and is the venue from which the current crucian record was caught, and thanks to my good friend and fellow Christian Anglers members Bill and Virginia Rushmer was the location for the Christian Anglers autumn fish-in.

 With ten anglers attending, travelling from Leicestershire, Avon, Oxfordshire, Yorkshire, Sussex and Surrey, for many of us the adventure started the day before the fish-in, when we met up at a Surrey Travelodge late on Sunday afternoon, and went out for an enjoyable evening meal. The anticipation was building nicely, and I, for one, dreamt of plump, round crucians as I slept that night in my hotel bed.
After a hearty cooked breakfast it was off to Marsh Farm, where we met in the clubhouse. Bill gave us all a brief introduction to the venue, and some tactical pointers, as well as speaking about his own Christian faith and voluntary work with Street Angels and the Salvation Army.

Then it was off to our swims to pit our wits against those of species Curassius carassius.

The lake (Harris Lake on the complex) was looking magnificent, the water was nicely coloured, meaning that float fishing was a viable, and in my opinion infinitely preferable, option and spirits and optimism were high. As it transpired, the fishing was to prove extremely challenging, with the fish reluctant to honour the great lengths some of us had travelled by gracing us with their bankside presence. Only four of the crucians for which the lake is famous made an appearance, with me the first to land one of the prized specimens. I had opted to fish peg 21, a classic float angler's swim with an enticing bed of lilly pads to drop a float next to. Using an ultra light dart float, requiring just 4 number 4 to dot it down, 4 pound mainline and an 18 hook on a 3 pound bottom and sweetcorn as hookbait I trickled sweetcorn and hemp in on a "little and often" basis, and after a couple of missed bites, about an hour after commencing fishing, I connected with a fine, plump crucian, a real old warrior, that tipped the scales at 1 pound 9 ounces. I admired the fish's plump, golden, rotundity and took a few photos before slipping her back gently.
As the day wore on news filtered down the lakeside grapevine of the odd capture, but the crucians proved to be in camera shy mood. Jez landed one small crucian, and Bill had a brace, comprising fish weighing in at 1 pound 6 ounces, and this fine specimen of 1 pound 12 ounces.

On a day when our party, and the few other anglers on Harris all struggled, tench were slightly more amenable than the crucians, but while Bill, Virginia, Roy, Greg (his fish is pictured below) and I all caught tench, we still only managed eight tincas between the ten of us who were fishing. Jez, Greg and Roger also managed  a few very small roach on maggots and casters, while Keith caught an unexpected bream of around 5 and a half pounds, but this was one of those days on which the lake wasn't of a mind to give up its treasures lightly.
However, the fact that the fishing was anything but easy failed to dampen the enjoyment of the day. In between hours of staring at floats that refused to dip and quiver tips that remained resolutely motionless, bank walking breaks were taken, good conversations enjoyed, and we admired the beauty of the lake, the majestic resident heron and Peter Bailey's stunning bamboo float tube, decorated with illustrations of stained glass windows featuring Izaak Walton and Bernard Venables.

The day concluded back in the clubhouse, with a raffle to raise money for the Salvation Army's work with the homeless. Roger walked off with the star prize of a Fox Warrior barbel rod, Jez won a baitcaster reel, Roy also won a rod and others went home with floats, feeders and other assorted prizes. Every angler received a "Goody bag", and all agreed that, despite the fact that this had to be chalked up as a victory for the crucians rather than the anglers, it had been a wonderful day. A quick prayer to end the day and we were off to do battle with the assorted motorways that had spirited us to Guildford, and to dream of November's predator fish-in on the Fens.


1 comment:

  1. A great write-up. Really good fish-in from start to finish. Oh, and I adore Peter's float tube!