It is raining today, was raining yesterday and is due to rain tomorrow. Yesterday also saw a couple of painful hailstorms arrive, leaving me rather wet and stung by their ferocity, and in between we had a brief moment of springlike weather. I had been cutting down the weeping willow on the end of the spit at the top end of the lake and took a moments breather, sitting on the bank edge in my chesties with a large willow branch draped over my legs. The sun burst out from the heavy cloud cover and for around 10 minutes I could feel its warmth on my back, the birds were singing and to top it all there was a huge patch of fizzing no more than 30m from where I sat. The carp were feeding in grand fashion and as i watched the patch of bubbles started to separate into individual lines of bubbles as the carp spread out. I would estimate that there were around half a dozen good fish feeding in an area that was no more than a couple of feet deep. A happy interlude that came to an abrupt end when another band of rain swept across the lake, dousing the sunlight and encouraging me to start work once more.
The willow had to be felled due to the bark being completely eaten all round the lower part of the trunk by coypu. With no bark to carry nutrients up the tree it just withers and dies so our only choice was to cut it down to ground level and hope it will spring anew from the roots upwards. Sad really as this was one of the tree’s that we planted when we first purchased the fishery in winter of 2005 and it also looks like the weeping willow on the island may have to be removed as well, for the same reasons. We have trapped 9 coypu and a handful of muskies in recent weeks and will continue trapping all year to hopefully avoid any further tree damage.
This week has seen Lottie and i toiling away with the task of clearing all the scrub and ailing tree’s adjacent to the ‘stalking spit’ up in the shallows and with several good size tree’s already being downed by last years storms there was plenty to cut up, burn or stack, leaving the area far more open than you regulars will be used to. You will now be able to see all the way through to the new channels that we have dug this winter. One thing that we are noticing is that when you have an area completely overhung with tree’s the lake bottom soon gets clogged up with dead leaves making it pretty unattractive to insect life as well as the carp. We are gradually reducing the tree population all round the lake and with the removal of the old, past their best, tree’s so that we then can replant with a wider selection of more interesting ones.
A bad note was that whilst I was cutting back the undergrowth with a metal bladed brushcutter I exposed a couple of beer bottles that some kind angler had disposed of. If I had hit the bottles with the brushcutter the glass would have exploded outwards and possible given me a nasty injury. It makes my blood boil thinking that we still have the occasional guest that abuses the place in that way !! Although we are lucky in as much that the type of angler we attract is generally the ‘best sort’ who respects the carp, the wildlife and the fishery we still get objectionable things occurring. Last year we had a nice chap and his son fishing ‘Deliverance’ on a self catering basis and also another of the party was fishing the adjacent swim, ‘Island’. On the Saturday after they had left I took the newly arrived anglers for the customary walk round, in this case they were some old friends that are real country lovers. My dog Kai took an unhealthy interest in the undergrowth around ‘Deliverance’ and on investigation I was shocked to find an enormous amount of discarded food including chicken bones, chop bones and an assortment of other food items. I imagine the bin bag was full so it easy option is to feed the rats instead of asking for a replacement !! On ‘Island’ we filled a small bucket up with discarded cigarette buts (and similar !) that had just been thrown onto the gravel ! We also had a nice ‘gentleman’ that spent a week up at Poppy’s Lake without once being seen to visit the toilet block. Yes, you’ve guessed right – he used the lakeside as his own private ‘convenience’ ! A lovely discovery for Sophie when her dog found and rolled in one particular pile.
Anyway, less of the moaning and lets look forward to the coming season. I am off for a week now but on my return will be hard at it to ensure all is ship shape for our first anglers. Jimmy has been working on the cottage for a few months now so his time around the lake has been limited. We still have plenty to do but I feel sure that all will be well when the first lads arrive. The carp have had a quiet winter, without being disturbed by all the catfish and pike that have now been removed, and we have fed them (in Etang du Mee) less than in previous winters. This is in the hope that they will have made significant inroads into the natural food stocks by the time spring arrives and will be keen on some extra nutrition in the form of anglers bait. From the start of March we will be feeding our pellet and boilies into both lakes to encourage the carp to treat them as a natural food source however I would suggest that one rod is fished with a few grains of maize in the early weeks. I am also in the process of purchasing some of the Cotswold Graviers XL cradles which are just about the best around for carp care. With the size of our carp it is essential that we ensure handling is as comfortable and safe as possible for the fish and I feel that the addition of such quality cradles will help in that. One rule addition for this year is that all pictures of carp must be taken with the angler having at least one knee on the ground at all times. The fashionable ‘crouching’ position will no longer be allowed.
Poppy’s Lake is starting to come to life now with the higher stocking density meaning that the carp are more dependent on the food we put in. We see plenty of bubbling here and it is evident that the fish will move onto the food within minutes of application. Hungry fish ! The feeding regime here is now moving over more to pellet to ensure that the carp are in top condition for the start of the season and we are quite excited to see how weights are panning out this year. It is a funny thought that Poppy’s is much like the main lake was in our early days. It would be nice to see the carp prosper and grow in the same way that they have in Etang du Mee. An exciting season ahead methinks.
I will not be posting now for around 10 days when I will update you on all happenings at Le Moulin du Mee.