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A GRAND DAY OUT, PART ONE. BELVOIR CASTLE.

A GRAND DAY OUT

at

BELVOIR CASTLE, RUTLAND.

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Andrew Pollard from the Lure Society emailed me to invite team Piketrek to a day's fishing with their lads over a Belvoir Castle near Grantham. How could we refuse?

It would provide a chance for me to compare the results of two totally different disciplines of lure-fishing for pike. With a whole day's fishing and freedom of a single venue for the session, I could maybe assert by beliefs that fly fishing is a more effective style over winding plugs and spoons all day. More enjoyable and rewarding, too. Or so I thought.........

Andy Cheetham emailed an order to me demanding six Stealth Roach so I emailed back to see how he wanted them to be tied. He asked me when we were going fishing again: I have fished with Mr. Cheetham enough times to consider him a good friend now. As regular companion Will was seriously suffering with his recurrent back problem and was side-lined for the foreseeable future, I invited said Cheets to come down and share in the day's fortunes as a direct substitution! It pays to have good reserves!

He immediately agreed and travelled down the night before to sleep in his camper on the drive like he normally does......I don't argue, he's a big lad and can do what he likes!

I made him a bacon sandwhich in the morning and we set off in the early light to fetch Scalesy in Andy's rather fetching (and old.....get a new one Dude!) VW camper van. At about 50 miles an hour. As normal.

Still, it gave us plenty of time to carry on our conversation of the night before, that of how we were both excited of judging the effectiveness of flies over lures, or vice-versa as the case may yet prove to be........

After having Googled the area the evening before, the entrance to the fishery was easily found and the rather fiddly combination padlock on the gate was encountered for the first time that day.

After buggering about for a while I finally managed to unlock the thing, and after having been surprisingly (for me at least!) well-prepared for this task with the combination number correctly displayed in large type I was more than a little anxious as I could imagine the tone of conversation back in the camper. "F**king typical" and "Old C**t" spring to mind, together with all sorts of other stuff that's too rude to tell. Chomping at the bit, they were.

With our transport safely through the obstactle we pulled up in the car park where two cars were waiting. One had an angler standing next to it; it was our host for the day Andy Pollock wearing the smile and I noticed that his Pikesaber was leaning up against the tree next to his car. Fantastic.....another fly angler to help against the expected onslaught from big wooden and plastic things being chucked about all day!

The occupant of the other vehicle wandered over and asked for money.......shit, it was the bailiff with the tickets! Talk about keen! We'd only just got out for a stretch!

The absence of other anglers was a bit off-putting but Andy assured us that others were about to turn up. I looked at the time......bloody hell we were early! How did we manage that!

Dave and I had a bit of a chuck around with two of my rods which were rigged with new prototype fly lines; we had to sort out which one we liked best for future production and inclusion into our range. One stood out from the other so the decision was made and we wandered back to the car park. Still no other anglers had arrived so we collected Cheets and scurried back to the lake to begin the day's assualt on the pike population.

The three of us leap-frogged each other all the way along the Northern bank as far as the inflow at the top end without a sign of a pike or follow to our credit. Hmmm, things not going according to plan so we decided to have a go in the top lake where after a few chucks I had a half-hearted pull in the swim immediately behind the notice board. Despite a bit of concentrated effort from us all in the general area no further action was forthcoming so we returned to the bottom lake and began a slow wander along the Southern shore.

Sitting with Dave having an early sandwhich and a cup of tea from the flask whilst "Can't Stop" Cheetham carried on fishing, I noticed that there were now three anglers along the Northern side of the lake. As I watched them it suddenly dawned on me that all three were using fly rods, so where were all the lure anglers? With a wry smile I contemplated the fact that Belvoir had probably never seen this many fly fishermen on it's shores, if any at all? How the world is changing!

We continued fishing along the length of the Southern bank with the strong, blustery wind making life difficult but not impossible. Looking up I noticed that the others had returned to the car park for a well-earned fresh cup of something from Andy's camper so I wound in and made my way around to see what was occuring.

I was introduced to the other two Lure Society members and we had a good chin-wag about the rest of the day's prospects; it turned out that Andy Pollock had had a nice seven pounder from half way along the North bank. It was the only fish of the day so far but Andy assured us that things might change and sport would improve for the afternoon.....but I wasn't too sure about it, this had all the hallmarks of a tough day and a blank was definately on the cards.

Before starting fishing again, Andy asked Pete Felstead to get his fly-box out to show me what he'd been up to at the vice. I'm glad he did, for there before me were some of the most impressive "flies" that I'd ever seen. Pete went on to explain how, during the Summer months, he targeted big roach, rudd and other coarse species with his fly tackle. Take a look at the pictures above to see what these flies look like.......they are representations of small airborne, landborne and aquatic creatures made from tiny bits of balsa and other woods and various plastics. They were superb and it came as no surprise to learn that they are also highly effective and have caught some real "lumps" from all kinds of venues. This is one of the great things about fly fishing, you never stop learning and meeting people like this never ceases to amaze me. How people are doing things that you never even thought of, real ground-breaking stuff.

Chinwag over the assembled throng took up the task in hand again and returned to the fishing. A lot of the attention was concentrated on an area off the end of the dam wall where a carp angler had just left, leaving some unfished water to have a go at.

I noticed after a while that Andy Pollock had wandered off to the far side of the lake to the point I had reached before Lunch, a nice-looking area at the end of an island with a distinct back-channel that had looked rather pikey so I wound in and sauntered off to join him.

By the time I got there Pete had also arrived and was fishing, and Andy had just caught another pike....two up now then!

After having "wobbled" the fly into a likely-looking hole between the overhanging branches on the far side of the channel, I had only just begun to move the fly when it was taken with a quick pull and a lively fish of about six or seven pounds was quickly banked. Meantime Andy had another smaller fish so we had a joint photo with the spoils and returned them swiftly.

In the next hour Andy had one more and I had three, the pike were really stacked up in there after the fry that were also in residence. We fished hard in the vain hope of something bigger being there but our efforts on that front proved futile, but I was happy to have caught him up at the end. Three of my fish fell to a small bream (4" long) imitation and the other to a rudd pattern, also of four inches long. Andy's fish all fell to small-ish flies too proving a point......when they're hard on the fry, nothing else will do!

Back at the car park it transpired that Andy Cheetham had caught a pike also from his position on the dam wall where the carp angler had been earlier proving another point.......sometimes persistence pays off!

At a fiver a day Belvoir Castle is a good day out in pleasant surroundings with a pike or two on the cards for dead cheap money....simple as. I can't think that there are any monsters present as the lakes are so shallow, especially the top lake which is only inches deep for a large part, but I think that a big double would certainly be on the cards if you are lucky enough to catch it right. The bailiff we spoke to mentioned fish to over twenty pounds but was a bit vague when questioned about how long since.......and where have we heard that little diamond before?

I would certainly recommend a day there just for the scenery, it really is what English estate lakes are all about and I will definitely visit there to fly fish for the pike again.

 

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