I have some fond memories of Bewl the place and the people. I have not been for a couple of years now my last trip being to an Autumn AMFC which as I recall was as hard as rocking horse shit! When I arrived at the lodge it looked derelict, luckily a passing gent pointed me to the new fishing lodge down by the new fancy restaurant. Bewl looked stunning, overcast with light winds perfect conditions for fishing. I knew the fishing had been a little tough as the England qualifier the previous Sunday failed to produce even one bag limit. Still maybe it had picked up, after the feast that was Rutland was this to be the famine?
I was fishing with Adam Sinclair on the practice day a new recruit to the world of competition loch style fishing. He had enjoyed great success at Rutland in his first foray into this type of fishing. An experienced river angler he had many transferable skills. I had warned him that this would not be like Rutland and we would have to work fairly tough to get some sport. Undaunted we set sail to hit up some of my favourite drifts. It had been stocked the previous Tuesday so where better to start than canoe club corner. We were three boats and started off together, Adam managed one pull at distance. This should have been our first clue as to how high the fish were in the water. Not much doing in canoe club we headed over to Chingley wood. Adam proceeded to hook and land a fish on the floater again at distance. I could see Jimmy Bond and his partner Gaz take a fish to the boat. Maybe it was not going to be so tough.
A move for us over to Ferry point and Adam caught another fish this time he had switched to straight through nymphs removing all the bright lures from his cast. The fly that scored was a black cruncher. I was still to get a pull so it was time to stop checking the depths and try to get some fish. I had explained to Adam that I thought the fish were supper high in the water and was shortening everything up and switching to a floater. A couple of casts and I got a really good offer, it didn’t stick but I was pleased that my theory was good. The day was wearing on and it was time to nip in and see Dave Prince and Dave Norbury. Prince was a late starter and Norbs had been fishing alone he was finding it hard going like the rest of us. We all agreed that the fish were very high in the water and we should concentrate our efforts to that end. Back out for a few hours I hit up some familiar drifts even picking up the odd fish. The water was in a right state in places looking more akin to pea soup than a healthy environment for trout. Adam suggested that we should go and have a look at the opposite bank. The water colour here was terrible with the green algae only offering about 6” of visibility. I was just about to write it off as a bad job when I was bringing my flies back ready to start the engine a trout came from nowhere chasing after the blob. Let’s give it a couple of casts a fish locked on and was soon in the net another few follows. It was worth exploring further up. We moved up to where another boat was fishing away containing Graham Pearson and Mike Gunnel. They were getting into a few fish as well, it was hard to believe that they would be in this kind of water but there they were.
I was meeting David Froggat at 1700 so went to find the others to let them know to give that area a go. We met David who had travelled down from Northampton to support the Group 3 team. Usually the Spring match team is an easy fill, but not so when it’s on Bewl apparently! Anyway, David many thanks for your support and commitment. I gave David the abridged version of the day and told him to brace for a tough match day. We were staying in an Army reserve centre in Tumbridge it was quite an experience getting there during the rush hour! Adam and I managed to find the place and were soon tucking into some fish and chips for tea. When the guys eventually returned the story of the day was bleak. We all agreed that the fish were in the top couple of feet and that it was going to be a hard day at the office. Paul Calvert was on route from Grafham water where he had been competing in an England qualifier. Forty limits I know where I would rather have been fishing! I gave Paul the short version and I am sure a little part of him died inside.
In the morning, we were up bright and early ready to go, I thought to check that the rest of the boys were up and burst into the adjacent room only to not recognise the face that stared up at me. Whoops, it was early and it took me a moment to register that this was the RAF team who had just got right on it instead of fishing (good drills boys). A bit bleary eyed I eventually recognised Si Gaines, apologising I made a hasty retreat. It occurs to me now that finding the RAF in anything below four-star accommodation is somewhat unheard of, let alone sharing a room on cot beds in a room with no on suite…lol
My day was to be spent in the company of Graham Bodsworth from Invicta A. As Graham approached the boat he was happy enough to give me the engine. After a brief chat, it was obvious to me that we were both under no illusions about the day ahead. Graham had practiced the previous day and like us found it rather hard going. At the off I motored down Bewl Straight where I had most of my success the day before. I noted several of the local guys heading on down towards Tinkers and made a mental note to have a wee look there if it all went tits up! After nearly an hour with no encouragement from the fish it was time for a move. Down to Tinkers then as we moved into the area I noted Adrian Necci coming out and I shouted across to see how he was doing. The international sign for a donut was given and I immediately did the same with the boat spinning it in a circle and heading back up the reservoir. Graham and I both had fish the previous day on Ferry point so we opted to stop there. Some interest and at one point my rod buckled around but my excitement was short lived as it sprung back to a straight line. Encouraged we spent more time here than we should have.
Graham offered up Hook straight as an option he had some action up there the previous day, it sounded worth a punt so we headed up. When we got there a few boats were already up which surprised me a little, however where Graham wanted us to go was free. I got the boat into position and on my second cast as I straightened everything up a big boil behind my top dropper caught my attention. I broke into a fast figure of eight the line tightened up. The previous day the fish had not fought particularly hard despite their impressive size and condition. This one though went like a rocket and I was mightily relieved to get it in the net. Cracker 3lb 14oz it’s easy to remember because it was my last! What followed was the most frustrating afternoons fishing I have had in a long while. It was nearly half time most people had one or two or were blanking. My partner Graham had only one half of an offer. He spotted one of his team mates as we motored around, he’s done! Really, yes really, we got the winning tactic and enthused we got into the drift, nada, zip not even a sniff. Moral was low it was time to move on.
We got into Seven Pound Creek where I found two of my team mates one had five the other six, here we go then! An hour passed and no luck, I sensed Graham was broken and I know I was but we are both seasoned comp guys and knew even one fish can make a difference. We grafted till the end but ended up with just the one fish to the boat. A tough old day indeed. Many had struggled some had done exceptionally well Paul Calvert had found them a little deeper fishing on a DI5 and managed seven, good angling. I had said to Adam that you learn more from a bad day than a good day and what I learned was this – I should have gone to Rutland!
Fish numbers were low but fish size was impressive. I think it was probably a really fair match. The Soldier Palmers ended in polar opposite ends of the table, the team won group one and we were dead last in group three. A match that I will remember for the change I have seen in Bewl as a fishery. Some of the old faithful are still there and it was grand to see them in such good form. I hope it won’t be so long till our next meeting. Bewl has become an any method fishery, I understand it from a business point of view they need to generate income. Unfortunately, from a loch style perspective it’s a pain in the back side. I don’t think I would choose to go back for a pleasure day any time soon.