Friday, 30 July 2021

Call Jeremy! We have a lake monster


I’m beginning to think we are going to have to call in Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame to Nether Wallop Mill as we have a monster rainbow all of our own.


Now, frankly, I have no idea where this ferox trout has come from. The lake at The Mill, as you probably well know, is used for teaching so we don’t put in fish of much more than three pounds for all the obvious reasons. But there is clearly a fish of many times that size. Its existence only became apparent last week.


Fishing guide, Mark Bedford- Russell was teaching on Thursday. A pretty normal day but from time to time he noticed the mother moorhen getting very agitated at sporadic intervals around her sole remaining chick, herding it to the safety of the reeds with much high-pitched, agitated conversation between them.



Are you feeling lucky, Mickey?


Then Mark’s elderly Labrador Eva, who we have sort of adopted as the fishing school mascot, disturbed a field mouse in the lake margin which chose to escape by throwing itself in the water. Eva is too long in the tooth to follow such an escape but oblivious to this the mouse swam for the safety of the opposite bank, a good 30 or 40 yards.


Halfway across, what we now call The Wallop Gulper appeared from beneath to swallow the mouse but missed the take. Clearly our mouse suspected something bad was happening, even if he knew not what, so as soon as he righted himself amongst the foaming ripples, he headed with yet more haste for the opposite bank. With Mark cheering our little guy on, and Eva looking on, he wound in the yards little by little. But to no avail. Back came The Gulper and the mouse was to disappear forever.


However, a mouse alone was not going to satisfy The Gulper for, by the end of the day, mother moorhen was chickless. Which might go to explain our year. We have had, I don’t exaggerate, hundreds of duck and moorhen chicks but hardly any have got beyond the first week of life. We’ve blamed the otters. We’ve blamed the kites. We haven’t blamed the fish as we don’t have any pike and didn’t imagine a trout might be taking them. But clearly, we were wrong.


I’m not quite sure ‘ferox’ is the right term for our trout as it usually refers to ones that live on a diet of other fish, but it will suffice as a descriptor for now. The next question is how (or should) we catch The Gulper? River Test history already records a monster trout, probably the largest wild chalkstream brown ever caught which was captured on a mouse.


This is sometime back in the 1800’s when Houghton Mill was still a working flour mill. At the tail of the mill race lived this monster trout that existed entirely on a diet of mice that fell into the race as they scurried backwards and forwards across the mill beams. Eventually it became too much for the lads at the mill who found a mouse, impaled it on a large hook and trotted it down the mill race. I believe the fish, somewhere around 15 lbs, is on display in a cabinet in the Houghton Club rooms.


Are we going to go after The Gulper? I suspect not though I’m sure the ducks and moorhens will he lobbying hard for its demise.



Frankel shortlisted for The Telegraph Best Sports Writing Award 2021


Two months ago, I received an email from my publishers William Collins. It was brief: You’ve been shortlisted for the 2021 Telegraph Sports Book Awards. Can you make the awards dinner in September? And PS Don’t tell anyone. Other than the fact I’ll have to cut short a fishing trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, well, yes.


Of course, the one thing the email failed to say, and frankly since as further news was embargoed until 28/July nobody seemed inclined to tell, what award was I up for or who the opposition were. I must admit I rather assumed I was in the running for either the biography award (frankly I deserve an award simply on the basis that the subject has never said or written anything …..) or a horse racing category. But Frankel is up for neither but I’ll take a Best Sports Writing nomination ahead of any of those. 



As this point I feel I should, with a nod to my bookmaking past, compile a list of the titles, authors and odds of the six shortlisted books in the Best Sports Writing category. Thinking of this I was reminded of my old friend Ron Pollard, now long dead, who was the first real PR man for betting. It was he who invented the novelty bet: snow on Christmas Day. Name of the Royal baby. Odds for the Booker Prize.


Now let me let you into two secrets. Firstly, novelty bets were (and still are) always PR stunts. Nobody cares about Royal baby names to the extent of risking good money. Bookies take more money on the first race at Crayford on a wet Tuesday morning than they ever do on festive snow. But it garners column inches and free TV time.


As for the Booker Prize I am not sure Ron, who made the odds himself, was ever guilty of reading book. He was an East End boy who scrapped his way up the Ladbrokes hierarchy when it was in its pomp, the largest betting corporation in the world. How did he rate the Booker shortlist? He read the first and last pages of each making the book he disliked least the favourite. I have a feeling he’d have disliked Frankel the least.


The Telegraph Sports Books Awards take place at the Kia Oval on Monday September the 20th. Click here for more details and tickets.



Video of the Week


This video from California is at least some comfort that we are not alone in having problems in sunny weather which creates a chemical reaction in lakes and rivers that brings on algal bloom or unpleasant scum that breaks off from the bed to float to the surface.


We sometimes have solutions but none quite like that of the Los Angeles Water Department who have covered the reservoir that supplies most of water to the city with 96 million black balls, each the size of a grapefruit.


The idea is that shading the water prevented the sunshine induced chemical reaction that was polluting the drinking water. Watch how the solution evolved. Not sure it would quite work on a fishing lake (!) but ingenious, nonetheless.



Los Angeles Reservoir



Special Offers


I am delighted to be able to bring you a selection of special offers from now through August that might work whether you are fishing alone, with a friend or want to get a group together.


Benham Estate - River Kennet

TWO-FOR-ONE & THIRD 1/2 PRICE Buy two Day Rods for the price of one and a third 1/2 price if you wish. Was £181/Rod. Now £90.50/Rod. Runs 1st-18th August.


Fisherton de la Mere - River Wylye

TWO-FOR-ONE Buy two Day Rods for the price of one with exclusive use. Was £130. Now £65 for two. Runs 4th-31st August.


Breach Farm - River Itchen

HALF PRICE Half price from today to end of August. Was £125/Rod. Now £62.50/Rod. This is a bank fishing beat. Book for one and you may be sharing with one other. Book for 2-4 for exclusive use.


Click on the links or go to the Special Offers page.



Benham Estate




The normal random collection of questions inspired by the date, events or topics in the Newsletter.


It is just for fun with answers at the bottom of the page.


1)    In what year was the Booker Prize first awarded?


2)    Who beat who and where on this day in 1966?


3)    Which is the UK’s smallest native mouse?


In case you are wondering where the July Hero vs. Villain debate has gone you'd be right to wonder. Charles and I are taking a brief summer break but will be back on Thursday August 26th at 6.30pm live from Nether Wallop Mill when we'll test our Zoom skills broadcasting from beside the lake as Charles brings you his 5 TOP TIPS FOR BETTER CASTING and we'll explore the best catch and release techniques.


Register here to take part. Click on Newsletter/Subscribe/Hero vs. Villain.


Have a good weekend.



Best wishes,



Simon Cooper

Founder & Managing




Quiz answers:


1)    1969

2)    England defeats West Germany to win the World Cup at Wembley Stadium

3)    Harvest mouse




Time is precious. Use it fishing



The Mill, Heathman Street, Nether Wallop,

Stockbridge, England SO20 8EW United Kingdom

01264 781988




Fishing Breaks | The Mill, Heathman Street, Nether Wallop,
STOCKBRIDGE, England SO20 8EW United Kingdom

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