We join Jerry on a cool, grey, late October morning. Jerry, a key member of the local Mohmar match team, is well known in these parts for his pole and waggler expertise on canals such as the Trent and Mersey. But with team commitments over for a while, he’s free to enjoy himself and experiment with new venues like Cudmore.
With its seven pools catering for coarse pleasure anglers, matchmen and game anglers, Cudmore is an ambitious project. Fisheries consultant Cyril Brewster treating the 1991-92 season as a dry run. All being well the full official opening is set for June 16th 1992.
If bagging potential’s anything to go by, Cudmore should succeed. Jerry came here the previous week and after taking 40lb (18kg) of small carp, he followed up a few days later with a staggering 70lb (32kg) haul. Today he has chosen his favourite spot – a peg close by the brick run-off on the Milo Carp Pool.
Like all the pools here, Milo is man-made. The depth of Jerry’s swim is around 2.4-2.7m (8-9ft). Although you don’t have to fish a slider here, it’s a technique Jerry enjoys and one that helps him to connect with the shy-biting Cudmore carp. Because of a nearby pylon, poles are not allowed at the fishery.
Correct shotting is the key to tangle-free slider-fishing and Jerry uses a simple rule to position his shot. He puts the bulk – two AAAs and a BB – about 1.5m (5ft) from the hook. Just below halfway between the bulk and hook, he puts two no.8s, and just below halfway between the no.8s and the hook he puts a no. 10.
While other anglers tend to favour the margins, Jerry finds that he catches best at about 4/2 rod lengths (about 18m/60ft) from the bank which, with a 13ft (3.95m) rod, puts his bait just past the run-off. The range at which he intends to fish, and the slight breeze blowing in from the right, influence his choice of float. A two and a half AAA semi-loaded waggler with a small balsa body and a straight peacock stem should be heavy enough to reach the feed area comfortably. The straight (rather than inserted) stem makes it stable enough to ride the light ripples. ‘I’ll give ‘em a taste of things to come,’ says Jerry as he catapults three pouches of bronze maggots into the feed area. Having plumbed up and set his stop knot so that it allows about 15cm (6in) of line to rest on the bottom, Jerry adds an extra no. 8 to the bulk to trim the float right down. Now he’s ready to go! ‘In the early stages I like to keep that feed going in all the time – it’s more important than catching,’ says Jerry. Feeding about 15-20 maggots per pouch, Jerry reckons that you need to keep bait falling through the water all the time – enough to attract fish, but without overdoing it.
No sign of any carp yet, so he winds in and rebaits with a single bronze maggot. ‘I don’t like leaving it out there too long,’ says Jerry as he flicks the slider out. The black tip sinks low in the grey water and comes to rest – a dot on the surface. When it vanishes Jerry strikes straight up. The rod tip bounces and shudders as a carp digs deep. ‘They’re only around ten ounces but they fight hard,’ he says, easing the chunky little Cudmore mirror towards his landing net. It’s a fishery rule that all fish must be netted, not swung. Keepnets are banned, but because Cyril wants to inspect some of the stock, he’s given Jerry special dispensation today.
To Jerry’s left, his son Andrew is showing Dad how it’s done – he has just caught his third fish from the margins!
After a couple more perfectly formed mini-carp, Jerry’s in again. This time it turns out to be a little tench. He pops it in the net, feeds and recasts. Brass loading in the bottom of his slider makes the float follow the bulk shot faithfully through the air. The float partially cocks and the line starts to run through the eye. Says Jerry: ‘I get more bites by varying the rate at which the bait falls through the water.’ Leaving open the bail on his reel allows line to flow freely from the spool, causing the bait to fall quickly through the water. But if Jerry closes the bail then the float runs slowly towards him as it chases up the line towards the stop knot. This causes the bait to fall more slowly – which can work well. ‘You just have to keep casting – keep it working,’ says Jerry. ‘Some of the bites are coming on the drop but they seem to be feeding on the bottom today with it being colder.’
A quiet spell gives us the chance to have a word with Cyril. Cudmore, owned by the Mainwaring family, is sited on the grounds of scenic Whitmore estate. Cyril aims to landscape the fishery to blend in with its surroundings. Although things look barren at the moment, lilies, reeds and wild flowers have been planted, and in a year or two the fishery should be a picture.
Each pool will take on its own distinctive character. The mirrors and commons in Milo are to be graded out until the fish range from 5lb (2.3kg) up to respectable double-figures – although there won’t be any real specimens. For the benefit of pleasure anglers, small carp will be transferred into a large, heavily stocked pool where the average weight will be about ½ lb (340g), with occasional fish around the 5-6lb (2.3-2.7kg) mark.
The largest pool – Tara – is to serve matchmen and pleasure anglers, with space for up to 50 pegs. Stocked with 4lb (1.8kg) bream, crucians around lKlb (0.6kg) and barbel from the Severn-Trent Water Authority, it should prove to be an interesting venue. Although there are plans to lay on catering, Cyril stresses that he doesn’t want to over-commercialize. As he says: ‘The key to running a good fishery is to look after the fish.’
Meanwhile, how’s Jerry doing? ‘Terrible!’ he says, shaking his head. ‘I’ve caught two and lost one. The few anglers who are catching seem to be doing so close in. I can’t think why it’s so bad – the fish shouldn’t be shoaled up.’
Stepping up the amount of feed, he recasts and watches the float settle. As each shot registers, the slim peacock sinks lower and continues to do so – right out of sight! ‘That was a lovely bite,’ says Jerry, as his rod bends into a solid fish. ‘The slider is a brilliant method. You can’t feel the float, only the fish – people don’t realise that it can really help you. You can even tell when there is a stickleback on the end.’
Vigorously flapping its tail and spinning in circles, the gold-coloured /4lb (225g) com- mon stoutly resists all attempts to raise it. ‘They fight just like little crucians,’ says Jerry, as he finally coaxes it over the net.
After breaking his hooklength on a snag, Jerry has tackled up again. The breeze has dropped so he changes to a slider with a thin sarkandas insert. Shy on-the-drop bites have been coming more frequently and the insert should help him to see them better. ‘There are loads of fish blowing out there,’ says Jerry, as he casts. ‘I hope they come in and have a go.’
After three fish in as many minutes it looks as though the change has worked. ‘They seem to have it in the last part of the drop,’ says Jerry, as he pops another little tench in the net. Next to take the bronze maggot is a small chub. Slowly but surely things are picking up.
Jerry is into a better fish but it isn’t until he leans into it that the rod really starts to bend as the carp bores deep to the left. Jerry eases it back in front of him, gaining line by winding very slowly. The float appears and then plunges again as the carp dashes for the brick run-off. Jerry smoothly gives line without jerking the rod, making the fish fight for every inch. The float surfaces in the middle of the swim – the stop knot farther out of the water now that the fish is tiring.
Jerry brings its head up and uses the rod to keep its mouth out of the water as he guides it to the net. At around 31/2 lb (1.6kg) the tubby mirror is no specimen but it helps to bump up Jeffs weight.
Although finicky, the fish continue to feed through the last hour. There’s no doubt that Jeffs slider approach gives him the edge over other anglers, many of whom are suffering the frustrations of missed bites and lost fish. The carp haven’t fed as voraciously as they did in the previous week, but well enough for Jerry to put together some 25lb (11.3kg) of fish.
Andrew has enjoyed himself too and continues to fish on while Jerry packs up. In fact, if it weren’t for his Dad’s constant chivvying he’d probably still be there at midnight!