Cinder Hill Trout Syndicate, Bewl Water - Lamberhurst TN3 8JH & Arlington Reservoir - Berwick BN26 6TF
IS THIS SPRING?
Hopefully this year we will get a period of spring weather, a time when colour returns to the countryside and when life blooms beneath the water’s surface. It’s my favourite time of year as I’ve said before, when the Trout are feeding hard and the water temperature is cool enough for them to be full of energy, what’s not to like?
I’ve been busy this month fitting trips into several different waters and what contrasting weather we’ve had, one moment it’s warm and bright followed suddenly by a blast of cold Northerly wind and showers of hail and sleet!
Cinder Hill Trout SyndicateMy first visit this month was to Cinder Hill a Trout syndicate which comprises of two venues at Cinder Hill and Piplye. Each location has three lakes, set on the edge of the Ashdown Forest in the 1,000 acre Cinder Hill Estate.
I was taken to Piplye by Clive Newington and his charming wife Brenda on a bright but chilly Sunday in mid-March. Clive gave me a “guided tour” of the three small lakes, Grubbero, Piplye and Roundwood before we started fishing. As we approached the middle lake we saw Pat Sweet hook into a lively Rainbow, Pat was using a large dry fly as an indicator to present his UV Buzzer, very clever.
Nice one Pat Sweet
I elected to fish the bottom lake in the series of pools as it looked a little less coloured, the previous week’s rain and storm force gales had reduced visibility somewhat. With the lakes being relatively shallow, 4 - 6ft I was informed, I decided to fish an indicator and suspended a Black UV Diawl Bach and an Olive Buzzer, set at 2ft and 4ft. I opted for one on the strategically positioned “casting fingers” that provided a large amount of water to be accessed without being obstructed by the trees that surround the lakes. Using the wind to drift my flies slowly around I was able to cover the far margin, one fly close to the surface while the other was in mid-water. Once the drift had finished I slowly retrieved my flies back into my margin which was where my first fish came from, result! The next fish fell to different tactic, as the drift finished I gave two long slow draws on the line lifting my flies towards the surface and then allowed them to sink back to their set depth but before they could the Buzzer was intercepted by another lively Rainbow. I explored a few other casting positions around the lake without further success and as I mooched around another fisherman offered me a hot drink which I readily accepted, it had turned hostile by now with flurries of hail and occasionally sleet.
I joined my now “best friend” and his companion on the middle lake, as I cuddled my hot drink we chatted about all things fishy, waters we’d fished, common acquaintances and so on. As we chatted I asked if they minded me fishing with them for a while as I was enjoying their company. Two fish later and one of my new friends decided he should take a little more notice of what I was using, “every dog has his day” I said as I departed to the top pool hoping I could catch there too.
Clive had been on this lake all morning and was getting lots of frustrating knocks that he couldn’t convert. This narrow lake again had some “casting fingers” and I took advantage of one vacated by Brenda who had to leave early to prepare Sunday lunch. Having had five takes and five fish so far I was brimming with confidence, surely I could extract fish from this lake too, wrong! What happened next left me totally confused, I had four takes in half an hour and missed them all, what was happening, I hadn’t felt a thing as I struck? I decided not to strike the next time my indicator moved but let it develop. The indicator bobbed and dipped as I slowly retrieved my flies, I somehow managed to resist striking and waited to see what would happen next? What happened was nothing, it didn’t develop and I was left scratching my head.
I was getting cold again so a food break was necessary and a re-think. I decided to return to the middle lake, my new companions had left by now leaving the lake deserted. I changed tactics and decided to start casting and retrieving using the “washing line” system to present my flies horizontally on my Rio 6ft Midge Tip, this line has a shorter intermediate sink tip than my favourite Lee Wulff Predator Tip which has a 12ft sink tip which is useful in deeper waters. My team of flies consisted of a buoyant top dropper and point fly with a Cormorant in the middle. First cast, after I’d straightened my line and leader and counted 15 seconds before starting my retrieve and immediately everything tightens up, fish on! Two casts later and it happens again, Clive has joined me now and has bagged a quick couple of fish too which seems a good time as any to finish. This gave us enough time, before the light failed to have a quick look at Cinder Hill a couple of miles away.
We drive around the lakes, the season hasn’t started here yet, and these lakes look a bit larger than those at Piplye. Again there are three lakes, Top Pool, Hurstwood and McArthurs Pool. Clive tells me they get good rises in the evenings and I can quite believe it with the surrounding reeds and marshy margins.
For anyone looking for a bolt hole, far from the hub bub of everyday life would do well to consider taking a season’s membership at Cinder Hill. Currently it costs £280 for 25 visits which seems a bargain to me, plus you get to enjoy the amazing locations. Taster days for prospective members are available by contacting. firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 07972 801914.
Bewl Water - Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JH [01892-890352]
The new season opened a few days before my visit, I’d heard the first few days had been nothing short of spectacular with limit bags being caught from all parts of the reservoir. Bank anglers had especially been enjoying themselves casting to fish that could be seen patrolling the margins.
A new era
The opening day saw the end of an era as Howard McKenzie greeted many old friends as they booked in before departing to fish. Opening day was one of Howard’s final tasks before starting his well-deserved retirement having managed the fishery during its transition from Southern Water into private ownership, first with Kent & Sussex Attractions and now Markerstudy Group. The baton has been passed to Phil Daley who is starting to make some impact with several promotions including the new Loyalty Scheme.
James Gardner and I were excited to be fishing Bewl again; we consider it to be our home water having fished it for over forty years. We’ve spent so much time on the water as we learnt our trade, I recon we’ve spent more than five hundred days fishing there!
So much for the history lesson but what about the fishing? Well our day started off very slowly as we anchored up on several good areas that should have held fish but didn’t. We first tried the Children’s Playground before moving onto Hook House, Bramble Point and finally Bryant’s Point before making the move towards Rosemary Lane. On our way along Bewl Straight we noticed a boat making very short drifts into the margins which suggested they had found fish and were catching! We positioned our boat several hundred yards further down the bank an area known as the Gorse Bushes.
Andy’s enjoying being back at Bewl
The water was crystal clear and we noticed small midges hatching sporadically throughout the day. We both started catching fish on completely different methods. I was using a Rio 6ft Midge Tip line with the “washing line” system, top dropper was a Fl. Red UV Diawl Bach, middle dropper was a Cormorant and my point fly was a FAB Blob. I was catching my fish on all three flies at about 4-5ft. James on the other hand was using a full floating line with an 18ft leader, top dropper was a Blob, middle dropper was a Black Marabou Diawl Bach and the point fly was a weighted Damsel nymph. All bar one on his fish were caught on the point fly at about 10ft! So we were catching fish at a similar rate for over three or four hours but at different depths, very strange. When the takes finally dried up I switched to the “indicator” and caught two bonus fish that had resisted my previous offerings, interestingly the successful fly was fishing at 3.5ft! James also switched to the “indicator” and again he caught his fish deeper.
A Bewl Buzzer muncher
The fishing was never easy, we had to stay focused and think each time the action slowed but by changing tactics and switching our retrieves speeds and styles we kept catching. It was important to fish each cast all the way back to the boat, including the “lift” and a long “hang”. I love catching these bonus fish in this manner, after such a super day we’re already planning our next trip.
Arlington Reservoir - Berwick, East Sussex BN26 6TF [01634-276310]
It was good to be back after missing out last year as the “heat wave” kicked in before I had a chance to visit this charming water. Nestling under the South Downs Arlington offers the opportunity to use “top of the water” tactics as it’s not unusual to see fish tracking up-wind taking emerging flies or terrestrials blown onto the water from the shrubs and wooded shoreline that surrounds the water.
My trip was a very sociable affair as it was “press day” and I was pleased to catch up with my old mate Peter Cockwill who had travelled up from his new home in Hampshire. There were several new faces in attendance, which was good as these guys were going to see and experience Arlington’s hard fighting silver Rainbows for the first time. The strong Southerly wind would energise the fish as it oxygenated the water. We couldn’t use the boats as the electric engines would struggle in these conditions so I reluctantly headed up-wind and fished off the dam seeking shelter rather than fish, I was hoping the wind would drop enough in the afternoon to let me go afloat. Peter Cockwill and a few other hardy anglers battled the conditions choosing to cast directly into the “teeth of the wind”, the fish were predictably here and Peter skilfully extracted his six fish limit in double quick time.
After lunch with no respite from the wind, so no boats, I reluctantly went into “home bay” and fished into the wind. By shortened my leader to 9ft and fishing a single fly, a Gold head Damsel, I was able to cast about 15-20 yards. Fortunately the fish were close to the bank and very near the surface so I was able to catch a few fish when a shoal came past as they patrolled the shoreline. By four o’clock with most of the invited guests gone I managed to persuade the rangers to let me out in a boat. The wind had dropped significantly, anchoring in “home bay” and casting back towards the bank was so much easier, no trees or bushes to catch my flies on the back cast.
“Happy days” Andy caught a few while bank fishing!
Surprisingly I struggled to find any obliging fish at first so I had to anchor in several different locations before I added to my tally. By now I was using my Rio 6ft Midge Tip line with a team of small Diawl Bach nymphs. As the light faded I decided to drift towards the reed bed in front of the fishing lodge, just down-wind from the jetty. A wind lane had formed here and I noticed a few fish working their way up-wind, in hast I’d forgotten to grab my drogue from the car when I grabbed my boat seat, what to do?
Afloat at last
I lowered the anchor on a short rope just shy of the bottom, tying it off to the rowlock, by doing this I was able to keep the boat broadside to the wind and slow the drift speed, genius. I spotted more fish sipping flies from the surface in the wind lane just to my left; my problem now was my “sink tip” was going to take my flies too deep, what could I do? I quickly tucked the rod under my arm and retrieved “roly poly” style, this continuous retrieve instantly caused a reaction with several fish chasing my flies across the surface. It took me four casts to catch my last fish, having missed three opportunities on the previous three casts!
Arlington rarely fails to impress and I will be back to enjoy an evening rise very soon.
Til’ next month “tight lines”.
For expert service and advice visit Andy’s shop The Friendly Fisherman in Tunbridge Wells [TN1 2PS] for a huge variety of freshwater, fly & lure tackle.