Far Bank Too late at classic fishery...
Have you ever arrived at a classic fishery too late for the party? Regardless of the present, it never hurts to dream, says Dom Garnett
WHAT is it with anglers and past glories? For whatever reason, the fishing is inevitably never as good as it was 20 years ago.
Whether it’s overfishing, cormorants or immigrants (basically, delete as applicable), everything appears to be going downhill. And yet the stories, along with our hopes, survive.
There is always a keen sense of ‘what if?’ surrounding any water that appears in the history books. Such is the case with Castle Howard, which produced a British record pike of over 40lb back in 1988. Locals will tell you it is a desolate shadow of its former self – but they always do, don’t they?
I had been on the road recently to attend a kayaking event and, in spite of the usual reports, had felt a genuine excitement to cast at the castle and meet up with pike expert Steve Rowley – a pleasure in itself.
It’s not every day you get to fish a vast country estate, complete with bleeding great mansion. To this day on such waters I half expect to hear a warning shot or approaching dogs at any moment.
The place is insanely decadent, to put it mildly. Amid the hordes of tourists taking selfies are Greek statues, gushing fountains, and follies that look like they were made by the Illuminati.
And then there is the legendary lake. It is weedy, beautiful and these days available only to those using the camp site.
The stocks of fancy trout and the vast bream shoals are gone. And yet both Steve and I had that twitching sort of excitement usually reserved for small children and dogs. Could there still be a monster in the lake? Only one way to find out.
It was the sort of place you would fish just for the hell of it, even if you knew it only held jacks. But there we were, throwing lures, comparing notes and giving way to wild speculation. Because water does this to anglers, even those as experienced as Steve Rowley.
The pike in our minds were very different to those willing to hit our lures, admittedly.
Steve had three jacks that went airborne and gave us that magical anticipation – the one that tried to demolish my lure wasn’t 43 centimetres, let alone 43 pounds. But in that moment of contact, the mind races.
Needless to say, we didn’t bank a new record. But places such as Castle Howard do lead me to think we should expect a little less and dream a little more. Because below the surface, so little of our fishing is truly about landing monsters or writing history.
The dream itself is the thing, even where fact trumps fantasy.
Casting in hope at Castle Howard.
No records today, but fish seldom simply disappear... or so we like to imagine.