Angling: ‘Natural’ approach helps hook pleasure anglers

87-year-old angler Derek Raper.
87-year-old angler Derek Raper.
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Having been involved in the booking of matches and selling my fair share of day tickets over the years, I know fishery owners and managers don’t always get an easy ride from anglers.

Prices, facilities, and the quality of catches are always on the moan list, but the most common seems to be, where can I fish when a match is on?

This week I visited Kippax Park Fishery run by Leeds DASA. Two lakes – Osprey and Lapwing – were fully-pegged with one of the popular weekly open matches. But to my surprise the stunning Rainbow Lake had only a couple of anglers spread over two acres of water with both catching really good bags of tench, bream and carp, plus tales of wrestling with one or two of the large trout that give the lake its name.

Matches give fishery owners guaranteed revenue through all weathers, not just the warm days of summer used by most day-ticket pleasure anglers.

So it seems justified they will always take priority. But on checking, most of our local fisheries are giving or building new space for the ever-increasing pleasure and specimen angler.

Woodlands at Carlton Minniot, Thirsk, is probably the best-known. It is used by hundreds of Leeds anglers and I think it leads the way with a total of 13 lakes with five of them designated pleasure fishing only. The Oaks at Sessay is another favourite with Loiners, catered for by 10 lakes, three of them with a no-match rule.

Though Kippax Park is a much smaller complex with only four lakes and the need for match revenue desperate to cover rents and costs, the lads involved running the site are keen to provide that something a little bit different, and are fortunate to be able to offer Rainbow to do just that. The lake, unlike most other commercials or ‘snakes’, is natural looking with two islands, reed lined banks, weed beds, and gin-clear water due to the springs that feed it.

Traditional methods and baits are all that’s needed with the tried and trusted wag and mag catching more than its fair share with rod and reel versatility giving a better chance of landing the bigger carp and nutcase trout through the clear weedy water. The pole works well in clearer pegs and a fly rod wouldn’t be out of place on a calm evening looking for a rise to a dry fly or a pull to a buzzer.

The open match contested by some of the area’s top men using thousands of pounds worth of tackle was won by Durham’s Graham Skerry from Lapwing 8 with 56lb of quality carp caught at 16 metres in two foot of water with caster and maggot hookbaits. Second-placed Tony Hewson drew Osprey 23, his catch of 46lb comprised small carp and skimmers from down the edge with pellet. Weights on the day were well below expected but only a couple of pound separated second place to sixth.

With all the talent and expensive tackle on show, I still came away feeling that the real winners were Rainbow Lake and 87-year-old Derek Raper, who caught more than the stars using a 50p tin of meat and a pole worth a tenner.