The bankside view at the Split Lake, YateleyAllan Stone, of 'Stoney and Friends, was at it again at the weekend - raising money for the Macmillan Nurses - ably assisted by Dave Green. Dave had been sponsored not to fish, the reason being that when he does, he is forever reeling in his rods 'to give you a hand,' Allan told me. Every year, Dave says that he won't fish, but always does. This time the intrepid, and cuddly (popularly and affectionately known as a fat, Northern b*****d - but I think it's time his image was changed) Mr. Green raised £180 all on his own for Macmillan - by not doing anything at all on the fishing front. Now, that's what I call a result! I'd quite willingly be sponsored not to do anything at all - I'd be good at it, too.
Fifty-five anglers took part in this marathon 'we're going to catch loadsa carp' session. They fished over the whole Yateley complex - apart from the North and Car-Park lakes, which are now syndicated. In The Pads, alone - a four acre water - there are reputedly fifty fish to an acre. They were bound to catch lots, weren't they?
Unfortunately, the anglers had reckoned without the weather and the fickleness of their quarry. Friday afternoon through to Saturday morning it rained solidly. Anglers and their equipment became covered in mud, and I know of at least two who were miserable and fishless. There was a damp and soulful phone call at ten p.m. on Friday night from number one son who wanted words of comfort and probably a bowl of hot gruel to cheer him up. He sounded so fed up that I spent a sleepless hour worrying about his welfare. I should have known better and related his mood to when he was a toddler and had just started school. 'Don't leave me in this terrible place,' he would cry, pitifully, as they dragged him off me and into the classroom. Only to discover, when I went to collect at lunch-time, that as soon as I had disappeared from view he had joined in enthusiastically with the rest of the more normal kids and was happy as Larry.
So, I shouldn't have been surprised when another call on Saturday morning, revealed all to be right with the world. This miraculous uplift in spirit seemed to have occurred because Elton had caught a 20 pound cat-fish, they had heard rumours of a twenty pound carp being landed and were confident that they would catch loads more creatures in the next twenty four hours, or so.
The Essex girl comes dressed for the occasion!
I found the lakes, on Sunday morning, thanks to a strange coincidence. On phoning the eldest for directions - the blind leading the blind - I'd been told to find Yateley Angling Centre and then phone again. 'It's only round the corner from there,' said David. Ruth, from Yateley Angling, happened to be the only living soul in sight when I desperately pulled over to ask for directions. 'I think I ought to know where it its,' she said. 'I work there and my Dad owns it!' She gave me detailed instructions of how to get to the lakes, but I had no idea to whom I was speaking until afterwards when my brain clicked into gear - sorry, Ruth, should have introduced myself but I was harassed and hopelessly lost.
By the time I arrived, I was flustered and not best pleased that the weather had turned out so hot and humid. Heat makes me irritable. 'Hardly dressed for it, Rosie,' said one burly angler, as I tottered round the lake in wedge heels, searching for my family and friends. Am I ever? Invariably, the serviceable wellies are left by the front door, where they've been carefully placed the night before, in readiness for the off. I cope, though. Years of conditioning coupled with regular lapses of memory have made me quite an expert in negotiating undergrowth and bumpy bits of terrain.
After Elton had made me a cup of coffee to restore my equilibrium, I began to wander along the bank and chat to a few of the anglers. Roger Sturt, of Camberley, Surrey, caught a 31lb 4 oz catfish - eventually. He told me that it had run him round the lake. 'They can swim backwards, you know,' he said. 'Makes your clutch completely redundant.' Can they? Does it? I had no idea! Hard to imagine a fish going into reverse - eels can do it, too, so they tell me. Allan told me, afterwards, that Roger was so inspired with the charity side of things that he has offered his services for future events. What a thoroughly nice bloke!
Elton's 4am 20lb catfish
Adrian Smith, from Guildford, a couple of swims down - on The Pads - was the captor of the rumoured carp. He'd managed to hook into a couple of tench before hitting the jackpot - a 22lb. 10oz mirror, which turned out to be the lake record. He did it again at 11.30 a.m. while I was looking the other way. While I was talking to someone else he went and caught an 18lb 14oz mirror and had just put it back as I reached his swim! Both fish were caught on Richworth Multiplex, by the way.
So, there were some fish caught and it seemed that the anglers had enjoyed a good weekend, despite the rain. The Split lake seems to have fished the best. Anthony Hawkins, from Reading, Berks., caught a 25lb and a 15lb common from the Split. Ryan Finkall, of Farnborough, Hants., netted a 22lb mirror. Dan Caller, also of Farnborough, managed a 13lb mirror while over on the Match lake, young Richard Thompson, of Thundersley, Essex, caught 10lb 7oz and 10lb 12oz commons and his father caught a 19lb 6 oz leather.
The raffle, held in the car-park after the event, was for an impressive array of prizes. I spotted a cute fluffy tiger, and a lion cub, which I hoped to win but wasn't holding my breath. I've never won anything in a raffle - or anywhere else, come to that. Elton bought me a handful of tickets. 'I bet yours will be first out,' he said. 'All those fishing goodies on offer and you'll waste it and go for the fluffy toy, won't you?' I could have chosen anything I wanted, so I did. I'm now the proud owner of a pair of Jungle cubs.
Roy Wheeler of The Tackle Box presents a cheque for £1200
Ever modest, Stoney puts the bulk of his successful fund-raising down to his 'friends.' Roy Wheeler, of The Tackle Box, Dartford, Kent raised £1200 through sponsorship from the shop's customers and his family and friends, which formed a sizeable chunk of the total but this event has, so far, netted £4,610.18p and continues to rise as late money is received. Since the first fish-in, in 1997, Stoney and Friends has given £23,000 to Macmillan, so that cancer sufferers and their families can receive counselling and care.
There will be a pike fish-in, details to be announced, in the New Year and another carp bash next September, courtesy of all the sponsors to this worthy cause. Let's try and make these events the biggest ever!Allan has, quite rightly, asked me to publish a list of the sponsors so here they are:
RMC Angling Nutrabaits Gardner Tackle
Tails-Up Yateley Angling Centre Fox International
Solar Tackle Carp Company Masterline
Kryston Relum / Rod Hutchinson NASA
Double T Big Fish Adventure Anglewise
Harris Angling Angling Publications J.W Young Reels
In The Frame Barbel Society Catfish Society
Original Video Production Co Carp Tech Gold Label Tackle
Catfish Conservation Group National Anguilla Club Orchid Lakes
ABU Garcia The Tackle Shop John Hofgartner
Neil Wayte Terry Hearn
Allan Stone and Dave Green with a cheque for £4610
Feel like getting involved? Potential sponsors can contact Allan Stone on 020 8788 9549 or visit http://www.stoneyandfriends.co.uk
Go on! I dare you!