Back in the Day

Long­field and ‘The Lady’

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Chris Ball

Chris con­tin­ues his se­ries of shorts with the story of The Lady, a carp that started life in the water of Long­field but fin­ished it, along with many other fa­mous fish of the time, within the depths of Hor­ton Church Lake fol­low­ing a con­tro­ver­sial move in 1990...

An an­gling re­port from Au­gust 1968 told how a young­ster had man­aged to land a whop­ping great 26½lb mir­ror carp from a lake near Staines, in Mid­dle­sex. This is a quote from that news re­port: “School­boy Jeremy Bond of Sun­bury-on-thames, Mid­dle­sex, was de­ter­mined to catch a big carp this year. With this ob­ject in mind, he fished a small lake at Staines ev­ery week­end since the sea­son be­gan. Re­sult... one cru­cian carp. Then last week he switched his at­ten­tions to a big­ger lake nearby and came up with a 26½lb mir­ror!”

Fif­teen-year-old Jeremy used float­ing crust to tempt his carp, the small­est of a shoal of six he spot­ted near the sur­face. He told a re­porter: “I cast the crust to them and the big­gest fish nosed it and turned away, in the swirl that fol­lowed the small­est fish came up and took the crust.”

Amaz­ingly, in 2010 at an an­gling show staged at Ard­ingly, in Sus­sex, I met this Jeremy Bond (now in his late 50s). He started talk­ing to me about a place he fished be­fore Tom Min­tram and Bill Quin­lan were around. It turned out, of course, to be Long­field. I’d vaguely re­mem­bered about the school­boy news re­port and of how my friend Len Ar­bery had cot­toned on to it and found out the lake’s lo­ca­tion. When I asked about a pic­ture, Jeremy told me he had one... I gave him my busi­ness card but sadly never heard from him. I’m still look­ing for this pic­ture of Jeremy’s Long­field big­gie.

How­ever, there were two other peo­ple who had in­ves­ti­gated Long­field and fished the place way be­fore Ar­bery, Min­tram and Quin­lan, or even Jeremy. They were hus­band and wife Gerry and Carol Pre­ston. The pair first fished at the venue as Houn­slow AC mem­bers around 1960. At that time, they thought Long­field only had around a cou­ple of dozen ‘wildies’ present that had been res­cued from an­other lake which Houn­slow AC leased. Af­ter catch­ing a few of these ‘wildies’ Gerry and Carol left Long­field alone.

Jump­ing for­ward a few years, they re­turned to have a look again around 1963 af­ter hear­ing that some mir­ror carp had been stocked. When Gerry and Carol were mar­ried in 1965 they bought their first house in Staines, with Long­field be­ing barely ten min­utes away. How­ever, they only fished there oc­ca­sion­ally. Nev­er­the­less, they caught the oc­ca­sional wildie, but rarely saw any sign of the elu­sive new ar­rivals. But later in 1965 Carol cap­tured a fish that be­came known in later years as The Lady.

The pair had fished the pre­vi­ous day with float-fished mag­gots. Although fish­less, Carol had seen a de­cent-sized mir­ror carp rolling in her swim and wanted to go back the next day af­ter pil­ing in more mag­gots. The fol­low­ing morn­ing saw her float slide away and the bat­tle started. In the weed-free swim, the carp con­tin­u­ally went round and round in the deep water, and no fran­tic runs oc­curred, yet the fish re­fused for some time to come any­where near the net. Al­most 15-min­utes went by be­fore Gerry slipped his hand­made, lam­i­nated-cane carp land­ing net un­der the fish. It was a good fish at the time and Carol’s largest carp – it weighed spot on 15lb.

Clearly some of the carp, both mir­rors and com­mons, grew at a fast pace, for come 1969, Len Ar­bery, along with friend Dave Short, had found out where Jeremy Bond’s fish had been caught. Len wrote the fol­low­ing some years back: “We thought there were a num­ber of fish over 30lb, and at least two com­mons that could break the record of Dick Walker’s 44-pounder.” This clearly in­di­cates that there were other carp present from a much ear­lier stock­ing, fish that had re­mained un­seen through the years, mak­ing Long­field a water to be reck­oned with in an era when 30, let alone 40-pounders, were ex­tremely thin on the ground.

When this author be­came in­ter­ested in Long­field, in the mid-1980s, there were a num­ber of very big known carp present. The ‘A-team’ con­sisted of Jack, the Koi, Heart Tail, Shoul­ders, the Par­rot and the Lady. I saw all of these fish, bar the Lady, on the bank, but it was caught from time to time. How­ever, one of Long­field’s most cel­e­brated an­glers, Ritchie Mcdon­ald, caught most of the big fish in Long­field ex­cept the Lady.

Ritchie’s chance fi­nally came when all of Long­field’s stock were net­ted and moved to the nearby Hor­ton Church Lake. In Ritchie’s ini­tial year at Hor­ton in 1991, one of the first runs he had was from the Lady at over 30lb – this fi­nally gave him a full house!

Long­field dur­ing the drain-down. It even­tu­ally re­vealed a hap­haz­ard col­lec­tion of mounds and troughs, some which had dan­ger­ous sharp ledges that stuck out. Most of those who saw the lake, at its low­est level, were com­pletely dumb­struck

Carol Pre­ston with her mag­got caught 15lb mir­ror – the fish was des­tined for big things as time went by

Ritchie Mcdon­ald com­pleted ‘The A-team’ with the cap­ture of The Lady at over 30lb in 1991

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.