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Chapter Eight

The Castle Lake
When you wanted a day of fun and some action you could not
beat a day ticket at the Castle Lake. This lake was in the grounds
of a stately home where a titled lord lived in the castle on the
grounds. Like most aristocrats he was an extrovert walking
around in old clothes he liked to be thought of as the gardener.
Of course you always addressed him as Sir or my lord when you
were talking to him. He loved his grounds which had been
designed by Capability Brown. Trees from around the world
surrounded the lake and with many features the lake was
picturesque and normally calm. As with most aristocrats as
taxation became greater he had sold all the farmland that he
owned locally. His family was very old and established and he
had English, Scottish and French titles. On the grounds in one of
the gate houses lived Eddie. He ran a Raptor centre which cared
for injured or rescued birds of prey. On bank holidays the castle
grounds were open to the public and he would give
demonstrations flying the birds. Also on the grounds a famous
stuntman Max Diamond had a school where he taught
apprentices how to ride and fight like knights. They would also
give demonstrations during bank holidays and he also placed his
trainees in motion films when needed.
The lake itself was about a hundred and fifty yards long and
about sixty yards at its widest point. It was very shallow
probably two foot at its deepest part. The bottom was deep silt
and originally it was spring fed. Over the years these got
blocked and so a pump was put in a hut by the river some
distance away and this was used to pump water into the lake
when levels got critical. I believe that when the commercial
gravel companies started to excavate pits miles down the road
they altered the water table but that is just my opinion. At one
end of the lake was a broken down thatched boat house. At the
other end was a metal gate leading onto a narrow bridge that

took you out to a wide peninsular. We used a float rod with
luncheon meat or sweet corn and you could get days of twenty
fish. I saw Carp close to ten pound but generally they would be
around five pound on average. The only predators I knew of in
the lake were Eels and so the lake was really overpopulated
especially with Dace and Roach. You could not put anything in
the water without one of those grabbing it.
The lord sold day tickets to fish the lake. You would park your car
and knock on his door to pay him but many anglers arrived very
early and in talking to him he was upset over this. In
conversation one day I suggested renting out the fishing on the
lakes. He asked if I could pay a price and I agreed. I told him it
would be a maximum of 40 members, only four fishing per day.
Each member would carry a photo I.D. card and he would have a
copy of all of these. We would run work parties and a bonus for
him and his friends would be free trout fishing. Each closed
season we would by 200 trout and put them in the lake, of
course he and his friends could fish whenever they liked. It really
was not difficult to get 40 members or get people to help put the
lake back together. We thatched the boathouse and clad the
outside with tree cuts still containing the bark. It looked really
rustic. We cut out nice swims on the peninsular and as only
members had gate keys we had a bar b q on there. To stop the
noise we opened a path at the far end of the lake to the road
allowing access to the lake without passing the castle. He
allowed camping but asked we took down the camps during
daylight hours. Gradually we dragged out most of the trees that
had fallen into the lake over the previous years and it looked
really pretty.

For many years I had been involved with Sports for the Disabled
and working with special and disadvantaged children. As the
banks were easily accessible and we had made a nice path
through I used the lake with help from volunteers to run fishing
days for these groups. I would scrounge prizes from shops and
local business’s and invents categories to ensure everyone got a
prize. We had a nice bar b Q and took photos of everyone
making sure they all got copies. Every competitor had a
personal assistant. These were members of the syndicate or
friends. We had some fantastic days and I remember the lord
walking around one day obviously enjoying what he saw. At the
next event he came down with a basket of fruit he had made up
as a prize, what a nice man.

I ran the syndicate for many years gradually moving away from
my other club waters.
It was inevitable but I was getting disillusioned at the
commerciality of Carp fishing and the behaviour of some of the
anglers. It was becoming difficult to even get a swim. School
kids during the holidays were camping up and holding swims so
their friends could take over. Fish were getting damaged and
killed through crazy end tackles and I realised I needed to look
elsewhere. I started to refer to these idiots and Carp Manglers
instead of anglers. These were just my personal points of view
and in no way reflected general opinion.
I was already thinking of trips to France.
During the bad storms we had one year the lord telephoned me
very upset and asked me to meet him. When I arrived he was

almost in tears. Many of the beautiful trees around the lake had
been felled in the storm and the area looked barren. I assured
him we would help however we could and knowing he had little
staff and equipment I knew he would struggle. I telephoned all
the members and explained the situation. Those that could
agreed to help and one in particular asked me what I needed.
Michael had been a member about two seasons. An Irishman he
looked really fit and I always thought he must be doing a
physical job. I did not ask what people did when they joined the
syndicate so I had no idea what that might be. I told him we had
many large trees down and we were going to need to try to
move them. “What time shall we be there” he asked. By that I
thought he meant us as a work group so I told him 10 A.M. The
next day a few of us waited in the road outside the gate and a
low loader approached carrying a small tractor and trailer,
behind that was a van. They pulled up beside the road and
Michael jumped out banging the sides of the van. “Come on you
lazy bastards he shouted” and ten guys jumped out of the van.
Apparently he owned a building and plant hire company. “OK
boss what’s first” he said. In one day we dragged all the trees to
a field by the road and his guys had lopped them all. “I will sell
these and let you know what I get, I have some good contacts”
he explained. I told him I could not thank him and his guys
enough and he explained a pint each would be a good wage.
Down the local we all went and had a great evening. About a
week later the trees disappeared and Michael gave me £600
cash. I went to the lord and explained the trees were £600. He
thought that was cheap to get rid of all that damage,. When I
gave him the cash and explained we had sold the trees for £600
his face was a picture. He vowed to use a grant and that money
to replace all that was lost and over time that is what he did.
A couple of weeks later I got an official looking letter with a wax
seal. It was an invitation to join the lord and lady for tea. Ann
and I went and he met us at the door and took us through to a
small room. His wife made tea and sandwiches and we sat and
chatted. For someone so out of my league he was a gracious

host and always treated me as an equal. During my time at the
lake we had some great times and events. One was when my
boss at the club I was a doorman at saw pictures of the lake. He
loved fishing and mentioned that the company that owned the
club funded fun days for the executives. Could I organise a day’s
fishing event for the top executives if the price was right? Of
course I could I explained and we agreed a price. I arranged the
food, a photographer , trophies ,tackle and again every angler
had an assistant to help them fish. I knew they would be
bringing alcohol and so to help with security I asked Lockee the
huge doorman mentioned in an earlier chapter to come along. I
had to get everybody off the lake by 4pm as members had
booked their swims for the weekend from that time. On the day
all the volunteers turned up early and by the time the executives
arrived all was ready. There were only six of them but they had
cases of wines and beers, enough for a small wedding. The day’s
activities and rules were explained to them as a group and each
was paired with an assistant who took them to their respective
The day went very smoothly, everyone catching and getting
their photo taken. Although they drank it was not excessive and
they explained the alcohol was really for the volunteers as a
thank you. Hearing this Lockee had a beer, and another, in fact
every time I looked around he had a beer. I made sure everyone
won at least one trophy and at 3pm called and end and got
everyone tidying up. I made sure everyone left safely and then
realised Lockee, who I had driven there was missing. I started to
walk around the lake and found a reel, then a catapult, then
some floats and then Lockee. I had not realised just how much
he had drunk but now he was flat on his face with his fishing
tackle everywhere. He had packed away as best he could in the
state he was in and tried to carry it to the car. Every few feet
something dropped and so there was a trail of fishing tackle
leading to his final resting place. After circling the lake and
gathering it all up I repacked and put it in my van. Now the
bigger problem, 300lb’s of Lockee and just me to move him.

Some lake water and a few friendly slaps and I got him at least
to stand. Stumbling along always ready to run if he fell we slowly
made for the van. If he fell I was not going to end up underneath
him. Eventually we got to the van and I poured him in. Great, I
pay someone to make sure we keep the party sober and leave
the lake on time and he gets pissed and makes me late. I felt
like I had bought a watchdog for my butchers shop and it had
eaten all my meat. As we drove home with the windows open to
sober him up we stopped at a halt sign. A police car pulled
alongside us and I saw Lockee’s face change colour. He started
telling the officer what he thought he should do with his
truncheon. At first they just ignored him but as he got a little
more suggestive I was praying for the light to change to green.
Eventually both officers got out of the car and moved to my van.
They through open the door and saw what was inside. He was so
large he was hunched over in the seat and wobbling back and
forth. At first they just stared as I explained how he got to be like
this and they were very understanding. The made me put the
window up and gave Lockee an earful which fell on deaf ears as
by now he had passed out. I arrived at his flat and of course he
lived on the top floor. It took me and his wife ages to get him
upstairs and I never let him forget that day.
One of the members who always helped in so many ways was
Martin. He was a local lad whose mother I believe ran a village
post office. Martin was also well over 6ft tall and a really strong
country lad. He had fished the lakes for many years so when I
formed the syndicate and there were now no vacancies he
thought his fishing there had finished. I told him that I would
never ruin another guys fishing so how would he like to be the
bailiff, fish free anytime and just be my local agent as I lived 20
miles away. As he lived locally this served both our purposes and
he was a fantastic asset. As time went by Martin asked me if I
would like to fish a lake he sometimes fished near Tonbridge. It
was a day ticket water on a farm that held good fish. Being close
to London I invited “the twins” to join us. We all met at the
access road to the farm still in darkness and quietly drove

behind Martin up the track to the lake. We unpacked and Martin
directed us to some swims so we could set up and be ready to
fish at first light. Ann was with me and Martin placed us at the
first bare area then continued, around the other side with “the
twins”. We got the rods set up ready and as it got light I realised
we were sat around a very small farm pond. There was no bank
side vegetation and no plants on the pond. The others were
directly opposite me and Gary was holding his nose as they had
set up surrounded by pigs crap.
There was lots of movement to my left but there was a barbed
wire fence that ran from the water’s edge back to a barn some
50 yards behind me. Rather than side cast Ann and I picked up
my gear and we paddled in the water to the other side of the
fence setting up in front of the fish moving on the surface. I
thought they were not very big so I had set up a float rod with
corn as bait. I was quickly catching small Roach, Bream and
....Goldfish. We had been fishing for about an hour when I
noticed Martin waving at us, so we waved back. It was
contagious because not only were now “the twins” waving but
all the anglers on that side of the bank joined in. Ann and I
waved back thinking it was because we were catching some fish.
I heard some movement behind me and saw the largest bull I
had ever seen wandering down towards us. By going around the
barbed wire we had set up in his pen. I put the rod down and
held Ann’s hand whispering “whatever happens do not scream”
and explained our dilemma. The bull reached the water’s edge
and took a drink then noticed us. Ann and I did not move a
muscle as the bull decided to check us out. He snorted right
down my neck and by now there were people falling off their
chairs on the other side of the pond. Martin had run to the house
to get the farmer. I was pleased we were surrounded by crap
because what I was adding to it would not be noticed. Martin
returned with a 10 year old in shorts who grabbed the bull by
the ring in its nose and led it away shaking his head. We moved
quite quickly out of the pen and over to the other side to fish
with the others. No one caught anything that day of any size and

Martin would moo like a cow whenever he saw me at the lake.
Eventually I got my own back with his canoe that he left in the
boathouse. Martin had this old crappy canoe he would use on
the Castle Lake. Knowing he was coming one afternoon I cut a
hole in the bottom of the canoe and put a large cork in the hole
to seal it. Then I put a screw eye in the cork and tied about 20
yards of strong fishing line to the eye. The end of this I tied to a
tree under the water. Then to finish the trap I eased the cork out
just so it would stop the water but come out easily. There was
always water in the old canoe so I knew he would not notice. I
set up with some of the members in swims where we had a good
view of the boathouse and waited. Martin duly turned up and got
into the canoe, he would normally paddle singing songs like “old
man river” or “Oh Rose Marie” just to annoy us as he was tone
I cannot remember which of the classics he was destroying that
day but he got about half way across the lake and even from
where we were we could see he was sinking fast. The canoe
went down like a submarine crash diving before Martin could
move. I mentioned it was very shallow and he was sitting on the
canoe with his head and shoulders out of the water. My stomach
was hurting and the others were crying with laughter. Martin
being a large lad took quite a while to get out of the canoe.
Having emptied the water out and seeing the hole he realised
what had happened but just burst out laughing as we waved to
him shouting “MOO”.
One day I received a phone call from a well spoken man who
explained he was a friend of the lord who gave him my
telephone number. He wanted to draw a live Carp and so had
asked if he could borrow one from the lake and draw it
swimming in his bath. His lordship explained I rented the lake
and that he should ask me. That is so strange as he owned the
lake but I took it as a compliment but as this was obviously his
friend, I agreed. I asked him to bring his rod and a large bucket
to the lake where I would meet him. He was a short, elderly
gentlemen obviously well educated dressed in plus fours and a

tweed jacket. In his hand he had a split cane fly rod set up with
an old float. He had a bucket with bread dough mixed with
honey as bait. The float was set about 5ft up the line and he
pressed a ball of dough the size of a mandarin on the hook and
cast out. As the water was only about 2ft deep I was dubious
about the effectiveness of the float as it now lay flat on the
surface. Eventually by adjusting the tackle he caught a Carp and
invited me back to his house in the village for tea. It was only
when I got there I started to realise how lucky I was. I was
talking to Alex Jardine who was a world renown artist
specialising in fish sketches. His family being well known for
inventing, amongst other things, the Jardine Snap Tackle, used in
pike fishing. Alex explained his drawings of whales had been on
postage stamps.
I chatted and looked in awe at some of the beautiful detailed
artwork he showed me and we parted as new friends. When I got
home I did a little research and saw his work reproduced and
sold worldwide.
Just recently I found this:
I find this strange, as I never caught, or saw a Tench in The
Castle Lake. That’s not to say they were not there as I remember
years after I started fishing there I caught some very large bright
orange gold fish that I had never seen before or ever caught
again after that. A year went by and Alex telephoned explaining
that he was making a few small television programmes and
wanted to include a short piece on the Castle Lake. As he was
not really into Carp fishing would I mind giving him a helping
hand? Of course if there was even a slight chance I might get
spotted as the next James Bond I was up for it. Alex and the film
crew arrived the next day and I had already set up the rods and
baited an area to attract the fish. I was fishing further down the
bank and catching quite well. Alex caught his fish and did the
piece in a fairly short time which was good as a film crew costs a
lot of money per hour. The reporter was standing beside me

fascinated by the alarms and general set up. I was using dog
biscuits as floaters and taking fish off the surface and he asked if
he could add a small piece with me in it. We shot a couple of
minute’s film where I said a few words and showed four fish I
had caught. I never did get any agents calling about film roles
but I enjoyed the experience. Sometime later Alex called me
explaining that there might be the possibility of him hosting a
fishing programme. As time was money would I be interested in
working setting up locations so that the filming could go quickly
as I had done at the Castle Lake. Of course I was interested and
he said he would be in touch. Over the next few years I moved a
couple of times and forgot about the offer. Attending the county
show years later, I bumped into the reporter who had been at
the lake with Alex. “Where have you been” he asked” “we tried
to find you but you had moved” so we looked for someone else, I
was gutted. There are other memories I have with other friends
from the Castle Lake but I have written those in their individual
Towards the end of the season I got a telephone call from a well
known angling magazine. Apparently someone had mentioned
the Castle Lake was really nice and they would like to do a piece
on it. If possible they would like a few anglers there before their
arrival so they could take pictures and leave fairly quickly as
time was money. I thought it fairer to invite a couple of people
that were waiting to join the syndicate as the members could
fish when they liked. As this was going to be mid week it also cut
out anyone who had a job. Because they had been so nice and
taken me to their private lake I decided to invite the “twins”. You
can read about these guys in the next chapter on “The Twins”. I
telephoned Gary and he was over the moon promising not to let
me down. Of course I asked him to bring his twin brother Greg
along. I also invited a guy called Trevor also waiting to join. We
met up at the lake as arranged and I was surprised to find Trevor
was, if it was possible, smaller than Greg. Now don’t think I have
a thing about size, I only mention these things as part of the
story. I put the “twins” in the same swim as they had fished
before on a day ticket, and setup in another double swim with
Trevor to help him if needed. I asked the guys to keep any fish

they caught safely until the reporter arrived as this was due to
be in an hour’s time. I had brought 8 large silk sacks with me
and these were put in the water ready. As it happened we
caught nine fish in that hour so as the reporter arrived he took
photos of these and we released the fish before doing the
It could not have been nicer, a fantastic still, warm day, beautiful
scenery and great fishing. We were told when the piece was
going to be in print and promised copies would be sent to us.
The day ended, we all parted and some weeks later I got a
delivery. In the package were five copies of the magazine. I
looked through thinking there were be a small article somewhere
and there right in the middle pages was a two page colour
spread. I was knocked out, it really looked great. For weeks after
that my phone never stopped ringing about day tickets or
syndicate membership as they had put my telephone number in
the write up.
Years after I gave up the syndicate the castle and grounds were
sold, I believe, to a Greek businessman.

Top left Me, Bottom left Gary, Top right Trevor,
Bottom right Greg