Month: <span>March 2022</span>

Once upon a time, because all good stories begin that way, there was a small lake on the edge of town, which belonged to an angling club.  Not many people fished there because you had to walk to it but those that did caught some splendid fish, carp, eels, crucians, silverfish, all sorts really. Then came progress, houses were built and a by-pass constructed and part of the lake was taken for development. The main road bordered one side of the lake and traffic thundered past, the lake was no longer the tranquil location it had been and people slowly stopped visiting it. The swims and the access paths became overgrown and weed choked the lake. In bad years blue-green algae grew and the lake was out of bounds. Drivers glancing at the lake as they passed by would have seen a sorry sight, occasionally illuminated by the odd angler or hopeful heron but for all intents and purposes the lake was an unloved wasteland. 

It’s a bit overgrown, you can’t see the bank!

Time passed, the Angling Club got new blood and began to work with the Environment Agency, the lake was recognised as being in need of urban renewal or some such buzz word, funds were forthcoming, plans were laid. Then came Covid and everything was put on hold but with the easing of restrictions things started to happen. The first thing that was needed was to clear the access to the lake and so a work party was formed. People turned up for various reasons, they lived near or they had fished the lake in their younger days and were nostalgic. Brambles were cut, trees marked for trimming and by the end of the first day you could see the difference! The work party went home thinking that they had made a good start. Then came a delay, summer came and the odd person began to fish the lake which was full of small fish, tench and various species of carp, nothing bigger than your hand. Then the weed got too thick and it was impossible to fish, when the weed died down in the winter the fish had gone to sleep and fishing was hard.

Clearing the Undergrowth!

During the winter several more work parties were held. One of the members used a chain saw to cut brushwood and trim the trees. A contractor dug out and levelled paths and removed some larger trees. By the time spring came the lake was looking much better with an open aspect and half a dozen swims, it looked like the place was being cared for but there was still a lot of weed to cope with. The club had a plan and the first stage was to use their newly purchased weed rake to try and remove some of it and so a working party was called for again. When the guys had remembered how the rake fitted together a happy morning was spent dredging the waters. Lots came up, mostly silt with oak leaves, weed, sticks and branches and a few fish which were carefully removed and placed in a bucket to be returned later. By the end of the session tons of stuff had been removed and the helpers were thoroughly splattered! All the guys stood round saying what a good job they had done and how the lake could now be fished properly. One of the helpers said that he would come back in the morning and give it a try but that is a story for another day! Everyone went home feeling satisfied with their efforts and with what could be done when people set their minds to it! 

The new access path
Some of the silt we raked up
The weed rake being floated out for another pull opposite one of the remodelled swims


It wasn’t meant to be a short session, it just turned out that way! For various reasons I hadn’t been fishing for a while so decided to take one last trip to the river before the season ended. It was mild and sunny as I drove to my usual spot, which I haven’t fished for several months as I wasn’t catching, but I decided to give it another go and see what happened. The first thing I had to do was to clear fallen branches from the bank to make room to set up my gear and try not to tread on the clump of snowdrops that were growing, although they were past their best. The first rod in was the feeder and before I could get the float rod set up there were twitches on the tip but nothing there, I put it down to minnows and decided not to continue with it. Trotting the float down a fairly slow moving stream with some colour I soon had a bite, a minnow! Followed by another one and another one and so on. The best part of the morning was seeing a kingfisher zooming along the river in a bright blue flash.

Getting fed up with this I had a look round and saw that a fence which stopped you walking upstream had fallen down so I decided to go for a look. The first problem was a small stream which I had to cross. I reckoned that I could jump it and put one foot next to the bank only for it to sink in the mud nearly up to the top of my boot! After a short struggle I retrieved it and crossed a bit further up where it was firmer. Then I had to find my way through the undergrowth and follow the river. My club does have fishing rights here but it is clear that no-one ever goes there. I followed the river along and found a couple of places that looked promising but couldn’t get too close as I was conscious of the sun behind me causing my shadow to fall on the water. Then there was movement and a decent sized fish of about a foot shot from my side of the river to the other. A bit further along and there was a shoal of fish jumping around in their haste to get away from me. These fish seemed very shy and I wonder whether the fact that I saw a cormorant in the river a while back had made them nervous! Then I found a swim which I could fish, it had some grass instead of jungle and a nice deep pool to fish. I decided to pack up and return to try my luck here.

Getting back to my gear was a trial, I found a large fallen tree across the stream and crawled across it looking very undignified for my years! I had just begun to pack up when I got a text message from my wife saying that the bank had been calling about unauthorised activity on our account and could I come home. Fortunately I was only about ten minutes away from home and as I walked through the door she handed me her phone saying that it was the bank. The voice on the other end was very well spoken and explained that they had detected a suspicious payment to Harvey Nicks for £700 odd and had we authorised it? He then asked if we had internet banking and when I said that we had, asked us to log on and check whether we had been debited for any payments we hadn’t made. While I was doing this he said that he had to check with his manager and while the phone was quiet I asked my wife if she was sure that this was the bank and he overheard this and came back with several reasons why they were including that he had not asked for any details of our account.

He then said that as our account security had been compromised they would have to open a new account with level three security and said that we would have to transfer our money to the new account. It was then that I got really suspicious as I reckoned that the bank could do all that from their end if they wanted to. When he asked us to open the tab to make a payment I had had enough and told him that he was a dishonest person and hung up! Even then he phoned back a couple of times, needless to say we didn’t answer!

Next we phoned the bank to check that our account was secure and after waiting for ages and getting fed up with being told how important our call was to them (though not important enough to answer the phone!) we finally got through and had a chat with a very nice lady who assured us that they hadn’t phoned us and it was a scam. She cancelled my wife’s debit card, which funnily enough had been used to try and make a purchase at Harvey Nicks and assured us that our account was safe. She then put us through to their fraud department and while we were waiting we had lunch, and a cup of tea and thought that they must be dealing with a lot of fraud when finally someone answered. He gave his name as Vladimir which made us wonder whether our call has been re-routed to the Kremlin but by what he said it soon became clear that he knew more about banking than invading a neighbouring country so we relaxed. Basically he repeated what the first lady had said and asked us if we had given the scammer any information or loaded any apps onto our tablet then gave us some advice on how to stay safe online. A bit of a waste of time really but I suppose it will get recorded somewhere and help someone improve things.

By now it was mid-afternoon and rather late to go back to the river so I didn’t. I was hardly in the right frame of mind anyway as these scammers are very clever. They know that you are all emotionally wound up at the prospect of losing money and in my case got me just as I walked into the house before I had a chance to talk to the missus, so you are vulnerable and then they sound so plausible that you go along with what they say. In the cold light of day you may think that you would never fall for it but these people are very, very good at what they do!

Still, it wasn’t all bad, I found a new swim to fish, even if I will have to wait three months to fish it and my wife has to have a new debit card so she won’t be able to spend any money until the new one comes!  So, all’s well that ends well. Although I didn’t get to do much fishing our bank account was safe and no-one died. So that is it really, fishing lakes for the next three months including a new one that the club has just taken on so that is something to look forward to. Now, I think I had better just check the balance in our account!

Sorry, this was the best I could do!


Saturday came with a bump after a manic working week. Agreed to meet Ricky at the car park near the station for 10. the journey up seemed quicker than usual, maybe where I haven’t been on a train for a bit everything feels quicker? Who knows? I arrived with blurry eyes but eager to see Ricky after such a long time (used to see him every other day when I worked in Crayford) 2 Americano’s in hand I stepped out of the station and towards the agreed car park. Looking down I suddenly realised my walking pattern means coffee all down my legs… “Great !” I thought, “is this going to be a sign of the day to come?”

Ricky arrived shortly after and to his amusement coffee wise we set off down into the town centre following the river out towards the Thames. This was our first spot a brackish bit of water which could be hiding some nice perch & pike. After flicking a jig head about for a while and Ricky ledgering with maggots it became clear that the fish weren’t there or at least wasn’t interested in what we were offering…

With Ricky being the local man in the know we headed back into town and through into a local parkland area that was recently cleaned up and cut back. It was busy with people milling about and enjoying the clear Saturday weather and we was told there’s nothing in here river wise. Undeterred we both changed up to light ledgering with 3/4 maggots on small 8 specimen hooks just wanting to grab a bite of something… please something! Ricky was in first pulling a beautiful chub out from under an overhanging bush, shortly followed by me with a smaller but still beautiful specimen. “Quids in!” We thought might have found a spot for a few hours but then after a greedy roach the swim died, no movement not even a sign, this winter fishing malarkey is a nightmare sometimes! We continued upstream hitting a few other spots but with no luck. 

We had walked past a nice deep curve in the river on the way up and spotted some bream cruising about on the far bank and decided to go back to see what was happening. Luckily they were still there glistening in the winter sunlight. With this boost in our confidence we cast out, setting a trap on both sides of the curve, stepping back from the bank and watched these fish swim past both our baits! Confused and a little windswept we re-cast just in front of their noses, maybe this time they will find our baits ? Still nothing …. maybe they just wasn’t turned on by the maggots? A classic winter bait but clearly the fish of Dartford had different ideas. Our hearts sinking a little at the sight of these fish cruising past us we began to think about calling it a day, maybe it just wasn’t our day but as I was reeling in I had a sudden pull ! Gently striking into it a large shape plopped to the surface! It was a beautiful river bream and a lot bigger than what we thought when we saw them !! Ricky was there in a flash with the net we were not going to let this one escape!  Bringing it onto the bank we were both over the moon! This was a fish to be proud of on such a tough day! A few photos later and this beautiful but moody bream was released back to its lair ready for another day.

With this cold but beautiful high we decided to call it a day, packing up and realising I was covered in mud and smelling like a fishmonger I sat on this Thameslink home feeling content but very aware that people could smell me.

Until next time,