This page will be regularly updated with latest news from the fishery and our consultancy work, whether it's catches, wildlife sightings, a new project or anything else of interest.
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Added at 13:47 on Monday 09th September 2019
Last year, three anglers raised over £6,000 in an auction to support Ebonie, a young girl with a rare form of childhood leukaemia. Ebonie was Keith Jenkins' granddaughter and the auction prize was a two night session at Ashmead with my friends Terry Hearn and Chris Yates for company. Keith came along and I joined them for a night myself, whilst hosting the event.
The visit was made more poignant by the fact that Ebonie died in June, after years of fighting for her health, with the support of her remarkable and loving family. Ebs was just six years old. The funds raised will now go to support other sick children and to support cancer care, in a fitting tribute to the short life of a young lady who touched a lot of people with her bravery.
The anglers were Cully and Andy, who are Ashmead regulars and Tom, who had never been to the wetland before.
I phoned Tel a month ago to check he had the dates in his diary and he said he not only had them outlined in red pen, he wondered if he could get down early to tune in and find some carp.
I also phoned Chris at the same time and he had forgotten all about it. So I phoned him again three weeks ago and he had forgotten again. I phoned him for a third time on Monday and he said “Oh hell! Is it this week?” He cleared the deadline for Fallon’s Angler and arrived on Wednesday evening to find Tel and the three anglers settled in and fishing….
We cooked at the hut and had a brilliant evening before Chris came back to the house and we talked over a bottle of red until the small hours: Leney, Redmire, the Bishop, The Golden Scale Club, barbel and the significance of dreams….
Chris was brilliant with my son Alistair and they compared perch fishing notes (Alistair’s 3lb 7oz best is better than Chris’ best by some ounces!).
Chris and I went down to the wetland at the crack of eleven the following morning and we had a lovely day. Cully had lost a big common at dawn but that had been the only action.
Martin and Sharron brought a peregrine, a barn owl and an American kestrel over to meet everyone and we spent the afternoon fishing for perch and rudd. At one point Chris had to reel in because a big carp swirled over his patch of corn and he thought he was going to snap Mr Green’s rod, just a year after Edward Barder had restored it for him…. (Mr Green gave the rod to Chris when he first started fishing and it had lain broken and forgotten in a corner for years).
As Martin arrived Tel had a take and he landed a lovely 19lb mirror from Tom's. It was one of the young Ashmead babies that are growing through in the wetland and a fish that I’ve never seen before: We named it Ebonie.
Shona excelled herself with soups, lasagne, Somerset Pork and more cake than we could have eaten in a month! Each evening we ate at the hut, drank wine and chatted until dusk called us back to our swims. I fished on the last night and by the time the party broke up, it was dark and I headed for Three Ways, where I knew I could lower the baits onto a couple of good spots. I really wanted to be on the Old North where I had found a dozen good fish but the swim needed a lot of subtle weed removal to be fishable and it was just too dark.
In the morning the phone went and it was Tom, who had caught “a good common” from Wilson’s. Jenks came round to me and as I lifted my rig from the Three Ways margin a big bow wave lifted the water and headed off up the channel. I had been close!
I congratulated Tom and went on to get Tel for some photos. Tel was in Tom’s and I knew when I got there that he was in the zone. “I can’t come just now mate! They’re all over me…” he said, so I suggested we could hold onto the fish for a bit while he packed down and hoped for a last chance.
I walked back to Wilson’s and shared a brew with Tom and Jenks. Ten minutes later Tel appeared with a huge grin on his face and I knew he’d caught one. He didn’t say a word as we weighed and photographed the common for Tom (just shy of 34). The fish had two hook marks in her mouth; it was the common Cully had lost the previous morning in the Hut Bay!
Just after Tom slipped the common, back Tel said “Well, I’ve got one to show you too…. I’ve got JC in the net!” Everyone met for the photographs and the perfect session drew to a perfect close.
Chris and Tel were fantastic as they always are; not just giving their time to the charity event but giving of themselves to the three anglers. The conversations were funny, deep, and thoughtful in equal measure and the atmosphere was completely relaxed. It was just a bunch of anglers sharing time on the bank.
As for the three anglers, they raised a huge amount for a great cause and I think they enjoyed the wetland and time with two former record holders. You can’t get much more special than that.
Added at 10:03 on Wednesday 31st July 2019
Ashmead is so rich in natural food and there are so many places for the carp to hide that every year there are a few surprises caught, in the form of previously unknown carp. Some, like this nineteen pound mirror caught last week by Dave Miller, have grown to be quite large carp before they are landed for the first time. I have a large number of photographs of carp that have only ever been landed once or twice in their lives and others that have gone up to fifteen years between captures. For me, this reflects the rich natural environment of the wetland and the fact that the carp are not dependent in any way on angler's baits. As an angler, I love the sense of mystery this gives and the chance of the unexpected!
Added at 15:21 on Saturday 29th June 2019
Some good carp have been caught in the first three weeks of the summer, including The Long Common to Matt Minter and this brace of thirties landed by Ben Jefferys. I even managed a short session myself and landed Moonscale in fine condition. I love this time of year, when the carp are so visible and you can track their movements through the weed and plan to intercept them with a carefully placed bait. The carp are tuned in to their environment though and stalking can be tricky and frustrating, as they quietly melt away because of a careless shadow or footstep.... Enjoy your summer, wherever you are fishing.
Added at 15:15 on Friday 17th May 2019
We are closed now for spawning but the final week of our spring period ended on a real high with success for Ashmead regular Dan Proctor and his friends. Dan has fished with us ever since our first year of booking Ashmead for fishing and it was fantastic see him land Single Scale at over fifty-five pounds on the very last day of the spring season. His group landed commons to well over thirty pounds too. Always a pleasure to share Ashmead with our regular guests and friends.
Added at 10:24 on Monday 29th April 2019
The spring awakening continues at Ashmead. Amongst the fine carp landed this week are some classic Ashmead commons; not the largest commons in the wetland but fish that are growing through to join them. A lovely common to Keith Wheeler that surpassed the thirty bound barrier for the first time and was stalked from the edge on freelined corn and a centrepin, a lovely common at a new biggest weight of of 33lb 8oz and a previously unknown twenty-pounder to Cully... Only a couple of weeks to go before we close until June!
Added at 20:14 on Sunday 14th April 2019
Creatures of habit? Or just coincidence? I caught these two Ashmead commons as a brace, over two nights five years ago.
They were both landed last week at over thirty pounds and were the only two fish caught. Neither carp is caught more than once a year normally.
Is it something in their diet that prompts them to feed on bait in the spring? Is it that their metabolism means they are more active than other fish at this time and more willing to feed? Or is it just coincidence?
These patterns and little mysteries help to make carp angling the fascinating pastime I love.
Added at 12:45 on Tuesday 26th March 2019
I always like to fish the Spring and Autumn equinox if I can; those talismanic dates when the day length is the same as the duration of night time. It's not that I think these days are any better for fishing for any reason, it's just that they mark the change of the seasons at my favourite times of the year.
The spring equinox also ties in with the start of the booked season at Ashmead and the end of the winter syndicate. It's a lovely time to be on the wetland, with the spring migrants arriving and the weeping willows bursting into leaf. This year I fished for two nights and, in contrast to last year's snow, the sun shone and I found some carp browsing in one of the small bays. A carp took a bait that I had presented accurately on a glowing clay spot, just out from the marginal reeds, on the first morning and after a frantic tussle I landed a 23lb mirror with huge scales. It was a carp I haven't caught before and it marked what I hope will be the start of another successful Ashmead season.
Best wishes to everyone visiting the wetland this year; Shona and I look forward to welcoming you to Ashmead.
Added at 10:48 on Monday 19th November 2018
The Ashmead Winter Syndicate is now underway for 2108/19. I fished a night last week myself and found some carp in a deep bay near the car park. A bait presented just an inch out from the bank produced a run the following morning and after a heated exchange I landed this beautiful 35lb mirror. Other Opening Week carp included some of Ashmead's young mirrors that have been spawned in the wetland in recent years and a lovely common of 33.08lb to Trevor Sturgess.