After leaving Broggy in 1993 the decision was made to settle back down on the sand pit, regular baiting proceeded in a handful of swims throughout the complex for a good period of time and into the following season. It was this 94/95 season that really kicked my thoughts and efforts in after I managed to catch the first ever thirty to come from the lakes with a fish aptly named 'the pig' at 32lb in late September.
The red trousers and yellow Shirt were no more
Myself and a few other regulars/mates fished right through that winter all working together, to be fair we did manage to get amongst the better Carp. All too soon they started to receive names after the repeat captures from us all over a period of time with a certain few standing out more than most.
1994 also turned out to be the year that would see me venture across to France for the first time to 'Lac Des Settons' on a drive and survive trip for a week of unknown on a fairly large expanse of water with good friend 'Shaky Lee'. The wives (mine at the time) also travelled with us, staying in a lovely little cottage that overlooked the lake while me and Shake took to the bivvy's for four nights angling.
Twenty two fish between us my diary is saying with four fish over the thirty pound mark and the biggest going 37lbs. This trip was probably my most memorable ever for overseas angling, I think it was just the unknown side of it that made it just that little more exciting.
'Good times' from the unknown
The winter picture below shows just how mad we were back then, this was actually a session to celebrate my 24th Birthday in mid November and if I remember correctly the temperatures dropped to -12, no shelters just good old fashioned army sleeping bags. A bottle or two of Merrydown cider was all we had to keep us warm while we talked about the stars and rocket ships etc, which at the time were really playing mind games with us, that night between three anglers and six rods we caught bugger all but I had a good birthday even if it was a tad on the cool side!!
If I had rocket
During the close season of 1995 I became a member of the C.C.G (catfish conservation group) and not long after I had joined there were a few places left for a trip to Schnackensee in Germany so up went my hand and soon enough I was joining ten other hairy arsed Cat anglers on a 14 hour road trip in a clapped out mini bus to the other side of Germany and that I can tell you was an experience on its own!!
There were a good bunch of lads on the trip and most of them I am still in contact with today and most of them are still as daft as they were back then. One of my main memories from the trip was that of the arrival, we pulled up at the site next to four big skips, on stepping foot out of the bus our nasals were instantly hit with the pong of rotting fish and as it turned out this was to be were would have to pitch our digs for the week as night fishing was not allowed, next we were greeted by a short but bearded little German fella that I can no longer remember the name of, it was raining heavily and he offered to walk us around the venue. Now bearing in mind the lake was boasting Cats up to and around 170lbs just to see such a beast would have been an experience on its own, Our first sighting of a Cat was literally five minutes in to our stroll with the beardy man, a mid double wrapped in wet grass and lying on the bank waiting for a trip home for the table and that evenings dinner!! Any Carp, Cats or the like that weren't above a certain size had to be knocked on the head and slung in our neighbouring skips, hence the whiff!!
Us English anglers were not going to be involved in any of that shenanigans, I know its their country and their rules but the looks on their faces when we were seen slipping fish back in to their watery homes was a picture and probably just as well we couldn't understand a bloody word they were saying/shouting in our direction.
The weather in this particular week was a typical May week for Germany,heavy rain as stated on arrival but also during our five day stay we experienced, hard frosts, sleet and also snow! Not ideal Catfishing weather to state the obvious but we tried our hardest and one of the lads Jason Stambridge dragged in a six footer that took the scales round to a creditable 125 pounds. Another big fish was banked by a German lad that was guesstimated at 160 pounds but it was foul hooked and after he had wiped the whole lake out in the hour and a half that it took him to get it to the net not a lot happened for the rest of the day after that incident.
Unfortunately I banked a total of Zero Cats but did manage to bag a few Carp on the coldest of days, and in fact my 25lb 8oz mirror was the biggest out of the lake for the week, a few grass carp also dropped my way, nothing of outstanding sizes but good fun when on the bank!
Big fish and any fish come to think of it were celebrated with small shot bottles which burnt our throats as it travelled through on its way to warming our bellies. A grand total of three Cats were landed by our party, one small, one medium which if I recall was also foul hooked and one extra large. Ken Bishop aka Butler the bus driver manage to hook and land a 35 pound Marble carp, you know the one with the upside down heads? So in general we had an eventful week, one where friends were made.