Caught by the River

Letters From Arcadia

John Andrews | 11th September 2008

‘Flood Of Perch At Freezy Water’


Whilst you were finding your gypsy feet again on the banks of the Seine and catching lean carp as supposed to the Jerrybags that inhabit the pits in the back garden of the Palace of Versailles, I was out for the first trip of the autumn. Blue black skies at five am, tea in the dark, wet leaves underfoot, conkers the size of sea mines and the smell of rotting and decay coming up from the earth. But mild air yesterday, too, swear I could smell the woodsmoke from your caravan as it crossed the Channel. Drove through empty streets and along a Westway just waking up and down to Kempton. Watched the sun rise on the rails but a summer of rain had washed out the deals and stranded many a van. To the Richardsons from there for a tour of the float factory and print room, more tea and a rumble with the dogs. Then off to the Creel to pick up some 1960’s prints of Stockbridge Pond and listen to Mick Borra’s tales of drowning. Five friends he has lost now to the river. The last a lock keeper on the Thames. They found footprints going up to the lock gates but none coming back. He had slipped and was gone.

By the time we reached Frensham the rain was falling out the sky and it was dark once again by noon. In my pocket was a scrap of paper from the Fishing Gazette – August 30th 1924. It read ‘Another Big Haul of Perch at Frensham’ and read ‘Major Coulon and Mr G. Edwards had another very successful day’s fishing in the Great Pond at Frensham on Sunday. They began operations from the punt at 6am and secured 42 perch, one less than their previous record, but the total weight was considerably over their previous catch, the fish averaging from 3/4lb to 1 3/4lb. Mr Pollard, proprietor of the Frensham Pond Hotel, displayed the fish and the catch was much admired guests at the hotel, who joined in congratulating the veteran anglers upon their success’.

The punts have long gone from the banks of the Great Pond but the perch are there in their legions once again. Major Richardson secured 41 and Mr J. Andrews poached his swim at the last knock to catch his only one of the day, a two pounder.

The perch ganged up under a tree eating each other and laughing at Mr Pollard. The veteran anglers congratulated each other on their success and set off down flooding lanes to dry out their wading stockings.

Major Richardson’s special bloodmeal recipe on the Birdtable