I just returned from a pleasant weekend break in Staffordshire. My pal Ken had arranged for us to visit a small private trout fishery on Saturday afternoon on a well-run estate near to Checkley village in Staffs. It’s managed by a larger-than-life character called Ivor Beavis, who now runs corporate fishing and shooting days there, among other things. Ivor, whom I have known for many years, is head keeper on the estate. Thanks to him I’ve enjoyed some fantastic days shooting partridges and pheasants and he’s always had a ready smile and been full of infectious enthusiasm. I was looking forward to seeing him again, and also of course to the fishing! Last year, when we first fished the lake, I caught twenty or so rainbow trout, and found them to be extremely obliging – gobbling up my damsel nymph in short order!
This time the weather was sunny and the air full of daddy-longlegs, which, if they were careless enough to venture onto the windblown surface, would quickly disappear with a noisy splash! Naturally a floating ‘daddy’ was my first offering, but although they boiled at it several times, it obviously left something to be desired in the imitation/presentation department, as they wouldn’t take it. I tried a couple of ‘booby nymphs’ on a short leader and sinking line, but again this tactic was not overly successful, only producing a single fish after a prolonged effort. Meanwhile Ken had caught two fish, one of them a 5lb beauty, on his pheasant-tail nymph, and he’d had several other offers. I wanted to take a photo of his biggy, but Ken confidently predicted that we would get one far bigger!!
My next plan was casting a long line with a single ‘minky lure’ (what names we give our creations!), and ripping it back with a double-handed retrieve through the surface film. This proved a real winner with fish after fish pulling and tweaking at the fly. Sure enough the total quickly started to grow, ending up at an even dozen. One of the trout I hooked looked a good 5 to 6lbs, and I already had it earmarked for a picture when it escaped at the net… Blast! Meanwhile Ken had not managed to increase his score, so we took a quick snap of my last fish – probably the smallest one I’d caught.
Calling it a day we returned to the shoot cabin and enjoyed several large whiskies with Ivor, meaning that it was near to 10 o`clock when we made up our bedchairs in one of the log cabins, and retired for the night.
Next day I put three rods out into the Middle Pool, having first had a good walk around with Max, and set to with a large fried breakfast, which went down rather well. The weather was cold and rainy, and although there were seemingly many fish ‘fizzing’, only one solitary run occurred, this producing a magnificently conditioned mirror carp after a prolonged and dogged battle. It turned the scales to exactly 20 pounds – well worth the trip for this fish alone, in my view.
It was too wet to do any mowing (I usually cut the grass on Ken’s ride-on mower while I’m there), so we idled the day away listening to the football and drinking tea. Ken had been summoned home for the Sunday night, so I pulled in my rods, took to my bed at 8pm and slept for 12 hours!
Another good weekend at Ken’s, the only downside being that for the very first time my tame pike failed to show up – despite the presence of a perforated bait-can full of rudd to entice her in. Let’s hope it was just a blip and that she will be back next time.
Lastly, regarding the trout lake, I mentioned that Ivor offers corporate fishing and shooting days on the estate. These incorporate a morning’s clay-pigeon shooting followed by an afternoon trout fishing, and ending with a nice meal and drinks in the shoot cabin. For £70 per head this seems like unbelievable value. Anyone interested in such a day should give him a ring on 07970 063759.
Tight lines everyone!