To me, fishing is all about getting away from it all and enjoying my surroundings (as well as catching a few fish). Whilst catching fish is obviously the main aim of the day, it doesn’t matter how many fish I can catch at a venue – if it isn’t a nice place to be I just don’t see the point of sitting there. To me fishing isn’t all about catching the fish – it’s more than that, and for my coarse fishing in particular, I want to be relaxing in picturesque, quiet surrounds, away from the crowds.
That said, I decided to fish Upham farm with the kids today. The reason for highlighting my wider reasons for fishing may be to do with my memories of this place. I haven’t fished at Upham farm for a long time! Last time I fished there I got the impression that it was a relatively new venue, quite open and barren with very little in the way of bankside vegetation or features. A bit like fishing in a field. I can’t recall what I caught and don’t remember much about the venue other than it was quite barren and uninviting. Suffice to say, despite being one of the nearest coarse fishing venues to me, I hadn’t returned…. until now, probably a gap of some 10 years. It’s not like I recall having a bad time, or that I’d forgotten it existed – I just always go elsewhere…. I think it must of been the sub-conscious thought of sitting in an open field, fishing that put me off.
Quite a few years have passed since that fist visit, and on our return to Upham we were greeted by the sight of several quite attractive and inviting ponds before us. Everything was well maintained, clean and just looked really fishy!. The banksides were practically manicured, and surrounded by mature trees with the ponds lined with reeds. All very nice looking and obviously cared for.
The Upham Farm Website had, as is the norm with all venues nowadays majored on carp, however what caught my eye was that pond 3 was listed as containing tench and the website boasted of “some of the best Tench fishing around”. Now, I can go to any of the ponds or lakes in the south west and catch carp – The thought of catching tench however did wet my appetite. We therefore headed straight to Pond 3 – past all the other ponds that were to be fair, pretty busy with serious looking anglers either kitted out with full specimen carp hunting set ups or looking like they were ready to represent England on the match fishing circuit. Seemed odd that we had pond 3 to ourselves… perhaps no-one else likes tench and that carp really are the only fish that any self respecting anger should fish for? As if to ram home that thought, we saw a number of carp being landed as we walked past. Wow! we thought – this is looking very promising! Full of optimism, we started to set up our gear at pond 3, not quite believing our luck at having it to ourselves. upon plumbing the depth, I found that it was about 2 foot deep wherever I plumbed. Not very encouraging.
We float fished maggot then tried luncheon meat. No bites. the pond looked like it should be heaving with fish, and on top of that, everyone else on the other ponds were catching carp. We persevered, and loose fed regularly until we eventually started pulling out small carp each chuck on double maggot. These looked recently stocked, judging by their regularity of size and abundance. Fishing luncheon meat kept the little carp at bay, but on the flip side lead to no bites at all.. After chatting to the chap collecting the money, who mentioned that this pond “wasn’t fishing that well at the moment”, we moved up to try pond 1 at his suggestion.
Pond 1 is quite small, and again we had this place to ourselves – Maybe this should of raised my suspicions given that all the other ponds had a number of people fishing them.
Straight away we started to get bites. Bites that were really hard to hit…. I eventually hooked and landed a small carp that put up a spirited fight, before loosing a bigger one at the net. The girls than proceeded to catch a couple of skimmers before I finished of by taking more baby carp and some roach. Not an impressive haul by any means but ok for a couple of hours.
The above appraisal may sound negative, but we caught plenty of fish and had fun. Our failure to excel was probably more down to my own skill, luck, judgement, approach to the venue – call it what you will. The venue is certainly nowadays an attractive and welcoming place and I can see myself returning with more regularity to try to learn it’s nuances. My one big gripe however, as is the case with all the coarse fishing lakes in the South West is the over emphasis on carp. Why when there are 7 lakes like here at Upham Farm, do the people running the place feel the need to stock each and every lake with carp? Why not try something radical and have at least one lake, maybe more with no carp? No carp at all. I’m not against carp as such, as I like catching them when I fell like it. It’s just there seems to be no choice. Every pond has carp in in, and they seem to out-compete all other fish to get to the baits. It’s the lack of choice that feels somewhat frustrating. Anyway, that’s possibly a rant to be had in another blog someday. For now, I need a lie down as I feel all carped out…