When CEMEX decided to sell off the Yateley Complex the site was broken up and purchased by three different entities and it was not clear whether that would be the end of the Stoney and Friends Fish-ins on Yateley that had taken place there for the previous 16 years and had raised huge amounts of money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
However, shortly after Martin Gardener purchased the Pads, North, Car Park and Split Lake to form the new Yateley West Fishery, he advised me that he was prepared to donate these lakes to ensure the survival of the event; an extremely generous gesture and one that was appreciated by all involved in Stoney and Friends.
Having only four lakes as opposed to the 13 available for all of the previous events clearly meant demand was going to outweigh supply, especially in view of the lakes in question, and no sooner was the event confirmed and advertised than the places were filled with nearly all places going to anglers that had supported the event for years.
With all the lakes contained on one complex, and fewer anglers attending, it was possible to organise an earlier start than previous years and in this respect the gates opened at 0500 on Friday 09 August with fishing to commence at 0700.
As expected 90% of anglers were through the gates at 05.00, or shortly after ,with the other 10% happily making their way to the café in Yateley for a 0730 breakfast – having not properly read their introduction pack!
On arrival, all anglers were instructed to bring their landing nets, weigh slings, unhooking mats and stink bags to the registration tent to ensure they were bone dry and to have them marked as checked. They were then given their bag of final instructions, which also included any brochures etc sponsors had supplied us with. In addition they were given a Fox goodie bag which was not only unexpected but fully appreciated by all.
All anglers present at 06.45 had viewed their lakes, decided on their swim and, with no conflicts on swim choice, walked off and started fishing. It seemed everything had gone smoothly and the event ‘management’ were just sitting down to a well deserved cup of tea when Martin Gardener came running down the track from the North Lake car park to advise a tree had fallen and blocked it. He was already running late for a family commitment so, after photographing it for evidence of his lateness, the tree was duly cut and dragged down and moved out of harm’s way.
In previous years sponsorship money had always been collected at registration but it was decided with fewer numbers this year to do this by walking round the bank on Friday. This was a far more civilised way of doing things and enabled the management to chat with everyone in a more relaxed manner.
The collection of sponsorship on the Split Lake coincided with Lance Andrews-Mason hooking the first decent fish of the weekend as this occurred just as we were walking into his swim. I’m not sure he appreciated the gallery of viewers and the clicking of cameras but he held his cool to land a catfish of 37lb.
About three to four hours after commencing the sponsorship walk around, the management returned to HQ ready for the resident chef’s evening meal and appraisal of the first day of the new event. All agreed it had gone exceptionally well and the smaller numbers made the event more sociable and intimate. A number of anglers and syndicate members also rallied at the Yateley West BBQ for a social which seemed to be well appreciated by all in attendance.
Saturday dawned and following breakfast it was timeto site walk again, this time selling raffle tickets en route. As always this is the time to also gauge how the anglers were doing and what was being caught.
Starting at the Car Park Lake it was clear a number of tench had been caught in the unofficial ‘Gardner Tackle Employee Tench Challenge’ with Martin Lewis leading Mike Lyddon by three to one. Mike, not wanting to be out done over the weekend sneaked home to get ‘HMS Cheating Git’.
The first report of anything other than a tench came from the North Lake where Mark Beagley had caught a 24lb10oz carp but it soon became apparent that the Split Lake was the lake to be on as the event had obviously coincided with the catfish going on a munch and James Frankland, a syndicate member who was fishing the weekend along with two friends, had banked a number of ranging from 22lb up to 58lb.
On the Pads Lake nothing had been caught despite the carp showing themselves to everybody present.
The main purpose of the walk round though had been to sell raffle tickets. Without exception everyone dug deep in their pockets and we returned to HQ with nearly £1500 of tickets sold – an average of £25 per angler!!
Sunday started early with Mark ‘Jarvy’ Jarvis appearing live on Keith Arthur’s Fisherman’s Blues Talk Sport radio programme where he gave a summary of the event so far, the fish caught and a rough idea of the money raised to date. Anglers then slowly descended on the Car Park throughout the morning and details of fish caught started to filter in.
Joel Pritchard had caught the only carp from the Pads at 13lb, Darren Sartin had caught a 33lb carp from the North Lake, James Frankland and friends had an amazing session on the Split Lake: James had catfish of 57lb, 55lb and 10lb, Scott Baines had cats of 52lb and 22lb and Adam Porter had cats of 58lb and 15lb then rounded of his session with a 20lb mirror carp.
The largest fish of the event was then reported. Steve Hall and his son Frank had a 70lb catfish from the Split Lake along with a 38lb one. Unfortunately Frank was a heavy sleeper so Steve had most of the fight but did share it with Frank when he eventually pulled himself out of the bag.
The ‘management’ spent most of Sunday morning sorting out the raffle prizes – even in the current economic climate the generosity of the angling trade and individuals in donating prizes never ceases to amaze and is unreservedly appreciated.
With 1300 approaching all anglers started to gather around the ‘raffle’ tent. On seeing a new book of raffle tickets in a different colour being sold, quite a few dug deep yet again and purchased more tickets taking the raffle money alone to nearer £2000 – an amazing amount from so few.
Mark ‘Jarvy’ Jarvis started the proceedings by thanking all who attended, their sponsors, the trade sponsors of Stoney and Friends, Martin Gardener for so generously donating the waters and Allan Stone himself for yet again organising a brilliant event.
Jarvy then went on to announce the individuals who had raised the most money and award them with prizes for their efforts. In joint forth place was Derroll Nunn and Iain Marpole, third place was Ricky Craig, second place Steve Hall and in first place, although unfortunately unable to attend, was Tim Paisley.
Whilst prizes are given to the raisers of the highest amount we would like to thank everybody for their efforts as every penny counts and the overall amount raised was amazing.
In conclusion Jarvy advised that the event had raised approximately £8500 (on a per person basis one of the most successful Yateley events ever) with some more money known to be coming in. Furthermore that amount, added to the running total from all Stoney and Friends events meant that to date Stoney and Friends have raised at least £443,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
In that respect everyone involved in Stoney and Friends would like to give their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has attended or supported our events over the years and long may we continue to raise money and have fun along the way.
The event was a resounding success in every way, fish caught, money raised, respect for the waters and new owner, and general camaraderie – THANK YOU