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Stuart Gardiner

The Eagle Was Landed

I have never been a serious Carp fisherman not on todays scale anyway but the first carp I caught is to this day a memory very ingrained in my fishing favourites. TBT to a July evening in 1978 at the Eagle Pond Wanstead.

Back in the good old days of simple safe urban free fishing I spent many hours sitting on bank at the Eagle and on rare time it was full a 5 minute walk through the forest to the Hollow ponds was a great alternate spot. Most summer days and evenings the road bank was always with busy with anglers along its entire length catching the abundant roach, bream, tench, perch that were prevalent throughout all the Epping forest ponds in those days before the cormorant plague took hold in the Lea Valley.

The fishing was simple either a waggler for the perch and roach or swim feeder packed with bread and maggots using a swing tip casting further out for the bream and tench or if lucky with that weeks pocket money Kestrel groundbait, this groundbait was pretty much only commercial groundbait at this time and had the consistency of hardened concrete, but worked pretty good.

Had the usual fun evening session with roach and skimmers a plenty, with about an hour to go and dusk falling I decided to try for a tench so set up my ledger rig comprising a 3/4oz arsley bomb slid on the mainline, size 8 hook barbed of course in those days and AAA lead split shot very firmly bitten 18 inches from the hook as a stopper on 8lb Bayer Perlon line, that was as about as sophisticated a rig at the time, not even a whiff of chodd, ronnie, spinner hair rigs back in those days. So with the rig ready a big fat juicy lobworm was cast between the two islands.

Removing my swing tip as I was now specimen hunting and using of course at the time the most high tech bite detection at the time the humble red fairy liquid washing up bottle top after a few minutes wham ! bottle top going into space and the tip bending around it was fish on big time and to be honest it was a fair bit of luck the fish decided to swim away from the island a stressful 5 minute battle ensued with a crowd gathered behind me and thankfully netting a whopping dark scaled common carp. It weighed around 15lb mark thanks to the older angler along the bank using his brass salter scales and keep net to weigh it in. I could hardly speak with excitement at landing it but then of course those days in 1978 digital pocket photography was many many years ahead so sadly never got a picture. What drew me to write this fishing memory was recently finding the rod and reel I caught it on in the loft, the rod was a Richard Walker Mk IV Avon 10ft split cane by Bob James of London and a bulletproof Mitchell 300, this set was my prize possession as it was a previous Christmas present from Mum & Dad. Now that I have refound this classic rod time to get another whopper on it fingers crossed in 2021 .

2 replies on “The Eagle Was Landed”

I may have fished there same time as you. I returned a few years back, noting the No Fishing signs were nowhere to be seen, and cast a few lures about and got a couple of pike around 5-6lb before I was ‘told off’ by a local resident for fishing there…I pleaded ignorance but it really did take me back to those wonderful, hot school days sitting on the pavement or in the water when it was low. I never did slip round to the Courts side where the bigguns were rumoured to hide! 🎣👍

Never fished the Eagle but great memories of other Forest ponds. Ornamental waters Wanstead, was rammed back in early 80’s and had good fish. Haven’t seen anybody fishing there or Connaught Waters in years. Last pond I fished was Wake Valley about a year ago. Two hours drop shotting only one Perch, but a decent one about 1lb 8oz. I used to love the small genuine Crucians in the smaller ponds around Loughton. Saw small Rudd in these pins on a summer walk.

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