It must now be well over thirty years ago when on a Thursday evening Kevin Dickinson and myself found ourselves at the two main ponds at Wild Boar Farm. According to Kevin the ponds hadn’t been fished for years and off we wandered to tempt the farmer with promises of cash.

The promised cash was to paid on the Saturday morning and so very early that morning with the promise of virgin waters in mind, Bob Wilby joined me in trying to determine exactly what we were paying the rent for.

We decided to fish with our backs to the farm and the overhanging hawthorns to our right with three rods apiece and at about 5.30 am the first set of baits hit the water and we both started to set up our second rod.

By the time we managed to rig them up we already had at least 8 or 9 fish apiece! It was incredible!

Anything ‘decent’ (6 ounce plus are decent in any small pond) on Bob’s side tried to get well under the hawthorns whilst on my side they made an immediate bee line for the extensive weedbed.

By the time 9am came around we had well in excess of 30 lb of bream, roach and tench. It had been a magic few hours and I felt just that little bit guilty as I cheerfully handed over the negotiated ‘bargain basement’ rent….

As a postscript, I would mention that we fished 90% of the time with one rod apiece as it had been impossible to fish the two purely and simply because of the non stop action. Wild Boar was one of those waters where you could look at your watch knowing that the tench action – I had them to over 3.5lbs – would start dead on 8am. There were huge numbers of very pretty 3 to 4 inch tench very close in. Seemingly the tench have all but disappeared. In those days we never saw any evidence of carp. They have obviously been more recently introduced. Perhaps that plus the annihilation of the giant weedbed has completely altered the eco system. In my opinion the members may have gained a few carp but lost magic moments forever.

In those days Bob and myself had some good sessions and whilst ‘Watto’ – (John used to be a Civil Servant and member of our society before transferring to Norwich for better fishing) – was knocking out some good sized eels from Staining and Stanley Park lake, we explored ponds over Wyre and nearer to Singleton. The pits we fished always had millions of ‘bits’ and after quickly catching a few we would settle down to deadbaiting for those evil looking, pin eyed, slimy lengths of pure solid muscle. We never failed to catch 2 to 3lb plus fish between dusk and the early hours.

You just cannot afford to give largish eels any leeway in a pit surrounded by hawthorns above and below water. The strength and determination of a good sized eel cannot be imagined until you actually catch one yourself.

Against all the odds and customary practice, surprisingly, my personal best actually came from a secluded pond at Esprick one gloriously warm sunny afternoon when fishing was truly the very last thing on my mind…. It certainly scared the shit out of Paula and put paid to my otherwise devious plans for the rest of that afternoon!

It wasn’t just eels that we fished for though. Once the cold icy weather arrived we would be on the River Wyre after chub and hopefully 2 lb roach. Oh! Those were cold sessions in January and February having to break off new deposits of ice from the top ring that seemingly formed every twenty yards or so of line retrieved.

….and then there was the pike fishing that always commenced on a Friday with a trip to Carleton to get a bucketful of livebaits.

On the way back from Arnside one day, Bob accompanied by Dave Armstrong discovered Haweswater, a small tarn, at Challon Hall Farm, Silverdale stuffed with pike and rudd. It wasn’t long before Bob and myself had made a few very successful trips borrowing one of the farm’s two boats. The better of the two rode about 6 inches proud of the water and didn’t leak as much as the other! I was to learn later that Jim Lee, another of our members and Regional Organiser for the P.A.C. in the early 70’s, had spent some considerable time a couple of years earlier repairing them.

At about the same time we ventured up to Esthwaite after the Pike and as usual the biggest would always make for Bob’s bait. This was also a water that Jim Lee frequented but seemingly more for the large rudd that often succumbed to his bread flake. I think the society’s record for rudd which was actually caught at Whinfell Tarn is the most longstanding. (Perhaps our Chairman or Secretary can produce the Society’s Specimen Fish list for inclusion on these web pages.)

Well, at last I have made the connection with Esthwaite, but, before I continue I want to place on record my appreciation of fishing with Bob Wilby.

So where do I fish these days?

Well, when I am in France its most likely to be the River Charente, but, when I am here its undoubtably going to be Esthwaite where I can park alongside the lake and Dave, the fishery manager and a true gentleman, kindly gives me every assistance.

Being a member of Hawkshead Angling Club I have full access. Various day tickets etc. are available to one and all from the fishery office. I enjoy the scenery, the solitude, the birdlife and above all the opportunity of quality fish in peak condition.

I fish Esthwaite as frequently as my health allows. Every visit knocks me for six and it takes me several days to recover. With Rainbows to 16 lb 4ozs, Brownies to 10 lb 13 ozs, Pike to 39 lb 8 ozs, Perch to 4 lb 2 ozs, Rudd to 3lb, Roach to 3 lb 10 ozs and Eels to 7 lb 1 ozs you can see the attraction of this all year round fishery.

My very best wishes to you all for 2012.


Postscript: The Society kept a clinker built rowing boat on Esthwaite in the 1950s. It was kept in a boathouse which had a leaky roof. One winter the rowing boat partially filled with rain and when it froze it expanded and buckled the overlapping planks.