When your childhood officially ends

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Fentiger01
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When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Mon Jun 10 2019 22:30

A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in some 27 years I revisited a water that is incredibly special to me, a venue that I first cast my eyes on almost 40 years ago as an 8 year old nipper. Back then, the waters were deep, clear and fully vibrant with plenty of aquatic life. The Roach could be clearly seen dancing in and around the generous weeds and some grew to a good size. The crystal clear waters were also home to an abundance of Pike, ranging from miniature monsters of a few inches in length to veritable monsters of probably a few pounds or so. Birds, huge Dragon-flies and many happy kids traversed the banks of this place, over the years wearing down paths around its two ponds as we ran round chasing each other in childish games when bored of the fishing, or stalked round looking for Jack Pike sitting motionless in the margins.

Though it seems like a long time since I last visited and to be honest things weren't looking too good then as I recall, in truth the time has passed pretty quickly. I don't mind saying that the state of the place now is more than a little heart-wrenching. I don't know why the Ponds have died, I can surmise that perhaps the increase in the area's population over the last 30 years or so, has maybe contributed. As I can remember, there were a couple of trickles like miniature streams which used to fall down the hill into each pond when I was little. Perhaps more recent housing developments have affected drainage in the area, or have maybe affected the source of those arteries which in decades past, ensured the two Ponds were joined as one and supported a diverse and healthy wildlife population.

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I did wonder as I reached the entrance I'd trodden a thousand times only a lifetime ago, if perhaps the foreboding sign now nailed to the tree was actually a warning, that nostalgia has no place here. I recall often marvelling as a nipper on a blue skied sunny day, at just how beautiful the entrance to these ponds were as I passed the tree and dropped down the steep banks to the water.

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This was the point near where the ponds were joined (top left of the picture), a railway sleeper which was often two foot under the water acted as a bridge. The large stone towards the top, middle of the picture was a couple of feet under water when I was very young. I recall one of my very first ever trips fishing, whereupon three very large Roach entered the crystal clear water on top of that stone and my first reaction was one of complete panic, I yanked my rig out of the water so fast it tangled so badly that I had to go home as I had no spare hooks or anything with me. I must have been about 9 years old. Once I learned, I'd catch the Roach using squeezed bread.

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This was the smaller of the two ponds but deep and the far right area we christened the Pike graveyard, I can only assume someone found a dead Pike here but I can't remember that one. Right in the corner under an overgrown tree although it was known by it's moniker, back in the day this used to be a very good spot to find a Pike or two sitting.

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Most upsetting of all, this was quite a decent sized Pond which held the bigger Pike and a good head of Roach.

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Reduced to this. My mate and I found a set-line on this water circa about 1981, set right across the width of it, a barbaric device with huge single barbed hooks baited with rancid fish long gone off, so we knew then that people other than us knew it held fish.

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This area used to be a deeper bay where the legendary 'Whitelips' used to live. My mate (a current forum member) hooked and lost Whitelips after an epic battle one afternoon. The Pike was clearly seen some time later basking in the clear water, with what must have been a bit of scar tissue hanging from his jaws and the legend was born.

I've not named this now overgrown and dying venue but I do know that there are one or two forum members who like me and my mates, enjoyed their childhood time fishing these ponds and some a decade or more before we found them. As I cut round their hallowed banks for probably the very last time, I just couldn't help but smile as I wondered how many of our laughs and joyful shouts had reverberated around their banks those decades ago, as we spent almost every free day we had as kids fishing there and in the summer, swimming when we were done. Certainly the venue looks like it could do with some love now.
Last edited by Fentiger01 on Mon Jun 10 2019 22:57, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Freako » Mon Jun 10 2019 22:44

Such a shame and unfortunately many other waters like this have met the same fate.

I have recently had a new Grandchild and I often wonder what the World will be like when he is my age.I dread to think.
Mick.

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Mon Jun 10 2019 22:54

You're not wrong Freako, it was an incredibly sad sight to see what was once a beautiful venue reduced to a sludgy puddle.

Sadly, my son will never get to feast his eyes on what we saw and revelled in during our childhood mate.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Shiv » Tue Jun 11 2019 06:26

Beautifully written Dave, So Sad, I remember our days very fondly, we were so fortunate to have such a special little place where we could witness all four seasons as kids, witnessing all the beautiful wildlife that we were very fortunate to see, learning all our watercraft, many many great times fishing with my friends, special friendships and memories made, cycling up the dusty, rods tied to the crossbars on our bikes, really special days mate, it's such a shame that such a beautiful place that we all remember so fondly has virtually disappeared, I too would have loved to take my children there to let them see where I used to spend all my summer holidays, don't think I could bear going there now I've seen your photographs, we may have lost the water, but we'll never loose the memories.

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by GAVIN H » Tue Jun 11 2019 19:20

Fen, i,ve just seen this post mate and i feel sorry for you . I did a similar thing to you and went back to the place where i caught my first fish . It was at a place on the Thames that i last fished in around 1980. It had changed very little but bloody hell Fen, it didn,t half make me feel old!

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by davelumb » Tue Jun 11 2019 19:28

A very sad and touching tale.

I'm not sure if these ponds' fate is worse than a couple round here where the village kids used to fish which were filled in to have houses built on them.

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Tue Jun 11 2019 21:04

I appreciate your comments Chaps, I've been hankering after visiting that pond for a good few years now but in all honesty, I knew in my heart what I was going to find.

Interestingly and as a positive, the 2nd picture where I mention the three Roach visiting, a year or two later and with a 'little' more experience under my belt, the three big Roach visited my swim again one day and I caught two of them. Two of them were very distinctive, with milky white spot's on their heads but despite this, they certainly didn't look diseased or anything like that, more like a genetic reaction truth be told but I managed to catch two of them under that stone on breadflake as the third slipped away into the reeds. One weighed 1lb 5oz and the other 1lb 14oz. I've equalled 1lb 14oz the one time since with a fish from a brick pond only 2 or 3 miles away, but I've never beaten it and in all honesty although I do love catching Roach, I hope I never do.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Tiercel » Tue Jun 11 2019 21:45

I gotta say Dave, THAT is one of, infact THE best post I've read in a long time.

Full of memories, which no doubt came flooding back to you, and sadly tinged with a great deal of sadness, but that as they say is life


(Many thanks for sharing face).
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by suffolk si » Wed Jun 12 2019 09:33

very sad Dave, have a couple of ponds near me that suffered a similar fate, gravel pits, big rivers and commercial carp puddles are all we will have left soon that will be worth fishing i fear....

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Wed Jun 12 2019 19:49

Cheers Dale, Si, I appreciate your sentiments Gentlemen - you both know me from here, this is close to my heart for sure.

As mentioned in the post and by my mate Shivvy too, we literally spent every available hour fishing those ponds when we were kids. I look back to my late teens, 20's and much of my 30's when I was too busy with other stuff to give the place a second thought. Now in my late 40's and with life calming down a tad, I find myself a bit more reflective and with two more youngsters around the age I was when I started visiting this particular venue, I feel a tinge of sadness that they will never get to drop down that path on a sunny day in amongst a sea of Pine trees, to a water as clear as any bottle of Evian and brimming with life.

This was a water where on any Spring or Summer's day, you could walk round until at some point you'd find the most fin perfect Pike sat near the side watching the Roach, it may have been 2 inches or 2 foot long depending on how lucky you were. I've always thought myself really fortunate to have enjoyed 20/20 vision whereas my younger brother and sister have worn glasses for some years now. It's actually a bit of a family joke my suggestion to them both, that had they spent the amount of time in childhood searching the water for the very well camouflaged Pike in this venue, they'd have eyes like mine too!

Not a million miles from East Anglia neither. :wink:

Kind regards,
Dave
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Will Smith » Wed Jun 12 2019 20:27

Very sad storey Dave, I think the most of us have similar stories to tell of waters we have fished in the long distant past as kiddies and how they have now changed but, I doubt many of us could portray them as eloquently as you have done.
Nicely written :thumbs: .

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by martin(rockape) » Wed Jun 12 2019 20:56

Hi Dave. Thanks for the PM ref this post.

One of those waters was a blue colour if i remember correctly and that railway sleeper was probably there when we visited it.

There is another lake not too far from there which my brother-in-law told me recently is almost empty of water it used to be full of carp and roach. I reckon you know it, its about half a mile from the village on the road to town on the right hand side, think you'll suss where I mean.

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Thu Jun 13 2019 18:14

Hi Martin,

Yes I think I know the pond you mention, it is in very close proximity to the road. I only fished it the once about 35 years ago but I knew it was full of Roach.

A lot of the other ponds in those woods held Carp, there was one favourite we used to visit back in the day which we called the 'Roach Pond' which was a very good bet for catching Roach but the season after we got on there, we started to see almost purple-black shadows like submarines which could often be viewed lazily moving around a foot or two under the water surface and which we found to be Carp. There were small Mirrors and Commons to be caught and I caught my first ever Carp in 1981, on three maggots float-fished a foot deep and cast to half a dozen cruising Carp. I caught the smallest of the bunch and while I don't have a picture, it was a 4oz absolute mini-replica of any Lake Cassien 75lber :grin: . That was in summer 1981. By 1985 we were catching all sorts of weird and wonderful Carp in a multitude of golden / mixed colours - I don't know how the Carp came to be in those ponds, especially the golden ones which were very common. I never saw another angler fishing those ponds other than us lot but there was another pond which we found in around 1983 which had totally dried out by 1986, it also held some lovely little Common Carp and goldfish too.

I did notice, that those ponds which held the Carp were the ones we'd get caught fishing pretty much every time we visited. The gamekeeper used to tip up with his rifle, give us a stern warning and tell us all to leave. Although I never once encountered a gamekeeper in the very first ponds pictured above.

Great days they were, if I hadn't went through them I doubt I'd be fishing now. :thumbs:
Last edited by Fentiger01 on Thu Jun 13 2019 18:22, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Thu Jun 13 2019 18:18

Will Smith wrote:
Very sad storey Dave, I think the most of us have similar stories to tell of waters we have fished in the long distant past as kiddies and how they have now changed but, I doubt many of us could portray them as eloquently as you have done.
Nicely written :thumbs: .

Will.
Cheers Will, that's very kind mate.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by martin(rockape) » Thu Jun 13 2019 20:19

Yes you got it thats the one, it dried up in 76 so there might be hope yet hopefully it will rejuvenate for the next generation of young fishermen.

Regards

Martin

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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by Fentiger01 » Thu Jun 13 2019 21:42

Interesting Martin, at 5 I was a little too young to be out and about during the drought of 76 but by the end of the decade, the Fig was in very fine fettle. Deep, clear and with luxurious weedgrowth and fishlife in abundance.
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Re: When your childhood officially ends

Post by martin(rockape) » Thu Jun 13 2019 22:28

Fentiger01 wrote:
Interesting Martin, at 5 I was a little too young to be out and about during the drought of 76 but by the end of the decade, the Fig was in very fine fettle. Deep, clear and with luxurious weedgrowth and fishlife in abundance.
Sorry Dave, wires crossed here. The lake that dried up in 76 was the one just outside the village next to the road.

Regards

Martin

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