Stake Hill (7)
Arrival time: 18.00
Weather: Bright evening clouding over towards dusk, when the temperature dropped rapidly.
Swim: Far corner
Tackle: 12ft Greys’ Rova Float rod, Speedia centre pin reel with 3lb line, waggler, 14 hook.
Baits: Sweetcorn & bread flake.
Fish: Mixed bag of small bream, tench and roach, with a carp of about 2lbs.
A week’s holiday near Ilkley provided the opportunity to re-visit Stake Hill Fishery. I first went there in 2007, which I think was the year it opened. The fish have always been quite small but on light tackle provide a good evening’s sport. Although there were more people this time than on previous occasions, I don’t think the fish receive anywhere near the ‘feed’ that would be put into the water on a more popular commercial lake. This probably accounts for the fairly slow growth rate, plus average temperature in this ‘high’ lake is probably lower than in lowland areas.
There were three people on the lake when I arrived and another pair arrived shortly after me. I managed to get the corner spot that I’ve fished on previous occasions. As it’s the furthest point from the car park it seems less popular, although it’s only a 100 metres or so walk.
Things didn’t start off very well. I had packed my old Speedia centre pin and had forgotten that the fitting on this 50-odd year old reel doesn’t actually go into the reel holder fitting on my new ‘Rova’ rod. Some improvisation was therefore called for.
I wedged the front end of the reel shoe into the fitting and bound the back end with fishing line, then over-taped both ends with some surgical micro-porous tape from my first aid kit. That done I started float fishing with sweet corn, both as feed and on the hook. After a short while without a touch I changed to flake on the hook and soon had a bite that turned out to be a small tench. Almost immediately after I hooked a small carp of about 1½ - 2lb. Following a short tussle I lifted the landing net only for the net to fall away from the handle. I just caught it as it sunk into the lake.
Having netted the carp by holding the net without a handle, which was quite a challenge, and returned the fish, I investigated what had happened. The boss with the screw thread had separated from the shaft. It seemed as if it was just glued on, and the joint had failed. It was a cheap telescopic handle I had bought a couple of years ago. I refitted the boss to the handle and once again used the surgical tape, this time to secure the joint. What else could go wrong? Well, I sat on my glasses but fortunately was able to refit the lens that popped out!
Dramas over, I settled down to fish. Bread seemed more productive and I caught six small bream of between about 4oz and 12oz. I also added another small tench to the catch, although I should think that neither was more than about 4oz. After a number of missed bites a small roach was also landed, suggesting that roach were the culprits in respect of the missed bites.
As dusk approached I concentrated on the margin. I was running out of bread and tried hooking a piece of crust, but this came off. Shortly after a small carp grabbed it from the surface. This happened with a couple of more pieces of crust so I tried effectively dapping a piece by winding in the float and suspending the rod top over the marginal vegetation. Twice carp went for the bait presented like this, and twice I failed to make contact. It was now approaching 21.30 and as it had become quite cold I was ready to call it a day. However, another lunge at the crust resulted in a carp hooked and landed, a small common of probably no more than 2lb.
So ended three or so hours of sport. No big fish but on fairly light tackle it was good fun. And the location was of course superb, set among the Yorkshire hills.