This isn’t going to be a cut and paste list of what are the best waters that I know of, but the best waters I have actually fished and spent time on. The majority of my fishing is syndicate based, but I do venture onto day tickets to test tackle or just to get a bend in the rod of the tormented drumming I get on the big pits. These are in no particular order but they are the waters that I have cut my teeth on over the last 10 years.
1. Fox Pool (Longfield Fishery, Hythe End, Wraysbury)
The exact stock in Fox Pool has been hard to establish for many years, however with a lot of help from old members and existing ones, we now have a good idea of the fish stocks. There are currently over 80 fish, 2 x 40lb+ Mirrors and 1x 40lb+ Common. There are around 8 other fish over 35lb, three of those being commons.The rest of the stock is made up of original fish many of which are over 30lb and various fish introduced in the last 2 stockings. These carp from VS Fisheries mainly made up of the Sutton strain crossed with both the Dink and Leney strain.
I fished this water and ended up with 18 carp in 1 season including a couple of the A Team to 36lb. The three main corners are where the fish like to hang out during the day – Goose Pool, The Concretes and Common Corner. All the fish are easily spotted in the crystal clear water and will really test your skill as an angler. At night, they push out into the middle of the lake and have a good feed in the forests of weed that engulf mushroom bars across the lake. Take a copy of Rob Maylin’s book Fox Pool and immerse yourself into the history of the best anglers in the country walking those paths. Great stalking and a beautiful lake highly recommended for a season.
2. Thorney Weir (Contact: Dave Vaughan 07931 255897 West Drayton, Middlesex)
This water is available to fish as part of the Thorney Weir/The Mets syndicate membership or on a day ticket basis. A beautiful lake of 17.5 acres, lined with mature trees and offering a great many features to fish to; including islands both large and small, sunken barges, plateaus, gravel bars, and weed beds.
Upon entering the venue, you drive along the track parallel to the area named The Channel where the carp, tench, and bream may often be found and many good fish are banked. Continuing along the track you will pass the next group of swims known collectively as the Road Bank. These swims give you a good view of the main section of the lake.
Arriving at the car park, you proceed on foot to the River Bank, and before you arrive at the first swim there, the Pill Box, be sure to sneak a look among the snags for any whackers! It is advised you take the time to have a good look around the lake before settling on a swim, as the fish will often show themselves. Casting to the middle of the lake is a tactic that regularly produce takes, though keep a keen eye on the margins and corners if you are stealthy.
Thorney Weir offers many more features; among them are some lovely bays and back areas for the specialist stalker and float fisher. Four carp have been banked over the 40lb mark with ‘Chubbers’ (published in Carp Talk, May 2000) regularly weighing in at 41lb+. There are at least 25 thirties in the lake with some fantastic looking, scaly fish among these.
The Big Ghostie has been banked twice that we know of at over 30lb. It also boasts a large head of twenties and many double figure carp. For the coarse angler, Thorney holds a very large head of Bronze Bream up to 14lb, Tench to double figures, Pike to mid-twenty, and Roach over 2lb. What a water to fish especially in the winter.
The great thing about Thorney is the quality of the fish; really scaly stunners that would be home in any old English pit. Don’t ignore the river, very few people fish it and there are some clonking barbel and carp in there. The first swim as you get in the gate is the only swim close to the channel which they hold up in, cast to the blue rope and bait lightly and pick them as they come past – a great swim for a quick overnighter.
3. Mets lake. (Contacts same as above)
The Mets Lake is now on day ticket as well and has a new lake record common of 34lb 9oz. It is a beautiful 14½ acre lake with lots of islands and secluded bays, all in all, a carp anglers paradise.
From the time you step on the banks, you will adore the lake and its peaceful surroundings. Once you start walking around the lake to locate a swim, you will notice that there are many good viewpoints from the high ground. This will enable you to locate the fish.
This beautiful lake offers you the choice of not only fishing on the main part of the lake, but it also allows you to fish in the privacy of the many bays and lagoons. These are filled with lilies, rushes and many overhanging trees for the carp to get in amongst. A couple of years ago, there was a stocking of 132 Mark Simmons carp between 8 and 14lb and some of these carp are already seeing the bank at 21lbs +.
The Mets complex is also protected by a fence and rivers that prevent the general public entering. I spent a lot of time on this water especially round the longest walk to the Lagoon and Rat Hole. The lake record I think may be 36lb now but there are a couple of real special fish – The German Shepherd and the Tall Common are definitely over 40 but don’t come out. The original Devonshire strain of carp with the small heart tails are the jewels in this crown.
4. Farlows Lake (Contact: Iver, Middlesex, 01753630302)
Farlows Lake is the result of a gravel extraction that began as early as the 1930’s. Since the 80s, it has been a mecca of carp fishing and its popularity as a carp water has grown in the last 3 decades. Famous anglers such as Rob Maylin and Steve Briggs honed their carp fishing skills on this water and have written extensively about the complex.
With an estimated 1200 carp in 25 acres of water there is always a good chance of catching with the average weight being 17lb-22lb. There are over 35x 30lb plus carp in the lake with the resident , ‘The Pretty One’ reaching highs of over 42lb.
In 2013, the lake was stocked with 20 fast growing Leney/Dink strain carp that weighed up to 22lb, these fish are growing nicely with an envisaged growth of 5lb per year. The original carp are dark and scaly with some real old characters. Commons and mirrors are plentiful and it is safe to say there are very few day ticket waters offering such a top draw of English fish to go for. Tactics needn’t be complicated with simple rigs and high quality food baits taking the majority of the captures. With so many hungry carp to target they respond well to a bed of boilies but don’t forget the zigs in the springtime. When paid you can pretty much drive to most swims but if you see them in another area it is very easy to move.
5. Twynersh (Contact: Thorpe Road, Chertsey, KT16 9EJ, 01932 570156)
As day ticket lakes go this one is a real cracker. Eight lakes ranging from match style commercial lakes to the tricky pits where the low stock is very special. Not every lake is crammed with fish, you need to get on your toes and find them. I only pop in there every now and then as I like to get something going on a lake rather than day ticket prices all the time so I really only use this as a stalking venue. Lovely undercut banks and undergrowth gives you the perfect hiding hole for many of the wily carp that reside here. Don’t ignore the floaters and the zigs they are a real killer tactic here, wink wink.
6. Apps court farm (Contact: Hurst road, Walton –on- Thames, KT12 2EG, 01932 244822)
This is a really tricky little venue that holds old English Leney strain carp. When you first see the surroundings you might get mistaken for the wrong place but trust me well worth the visit. Personally, I have had original Leney carp up to 36lb on zigs, but many smaller carp do get caught on a regular basis. Apps Court Farm is home of Apps Court Lakes two large, well stocked, mature lakes containing several species including carp weighing as much as 38lb.
There are two lakes, set in beautifully landscaped parkland. Swims have been sympathetically sculpted into the banks and there is ample car parking. Night fishing is permitted. Apps Court Farm is a tranquil place to fish. The lakes are beautifully maintained and great care is taken of the environment…particularly of the fish and other wildlife. Removal of fish is strictly prohibited. Clubs and societies are most welcome and matches can be accommodated by prior arrangement. There is easy access to swims, created with the needs of disabled anglers in mind. Young anglers are welcome, but they must be supervised by adults at all times. The Fisheries’ Management reserves the right to ask anglers to leave if they do not respect other anglers and the environment if they do not adhere to the health and safety policy operated on the site. Apps Court Farm is proud to support The Elmbridge Community Fishing Academy, which encourages young people living locally to take up and enjoy angling. Again, young anglers on this programme are supervised when they attend.
7. Colnbrook West (Contact: Boyer Leisure, 01895 445141
Located just off the Colnbrook A4 bypass, Colnbrook Lake is on the same complex that is home to both of the Orlitts lakes. At four and a half acres, Colnbrook Lake is filled with fish-holding features such as small bays, snaggy areas, tiny gravel bars and silt patches which can be home to large beds of bloodworm and other naturals. Overhanging trees and beds of Norfolk reeds are favorite spots for fish to hold up. In the summer, a large plateau in the centre of the lake becomes a holding area, and fish can easily be observed cruising just under the surface.
The lake has around seventeen 30’s ranging from 30lb to 37lb. Fourteen of the 30-pounders are common carp and three of them are mirrors. The biggest common caught last season was 41lb. Last season, two members fishing the Royal Box on the surface managed to land 45 fish in two, day sessions – three of which were 30-pounders. In January 2014, during a cold 24-hour session (minus two degrees!) one angler caught a brace of 30’s: Pop Eye (a common) at 32lb 4oz and a 30lb 6oz silver common.
Ollie Ricotti – the front cover star on the prospectus– was a member at Colnbrook last season and managed to land 150 fish, including four 30s, one of which was a rare mirror. Along with the carp stock there are some good-sized bream, roach and tench, which have all been landed at specimen sizes. There is a seven-day limit in any one swim after which the angler must move 90° around the lake.
8. Hampton court Bushey Park (Contact: Royal parks office, 0300 0612000)
Bushey Park Lakes are fishable with a ticket from the Royal Parks. Only £25 per rod per season. The lakes are typical park lakes, with a consistent shallow depth across them. The lakes are all fed by water from the River Thames, which tends to keep them well oxygenated. The lakes hold good numbers of fish and potentially 40 pounders. There are 3 lakes you can fish, the Diana Lake, which is the centre of the large roundabout and contains the largest carp apparently, although there are many stories of fish moving from lake to lake like sprouting legs!
The Heron Lake, which is probably the largest and most difficult to fish with many little islands. Again, this has the larger residents in, often spotted in the boating pool to the side by 3 posts in the middle – walk the dog one day and watch where the carp are.
The Leg Of Mutton which is the furthest from the car park and contains a few carp to 20lb, this is one of the easiest lakes to fish but contains very few features so locating carp is more of a challenge. Fishing is only allowed with an annual permit, as this is the Royal Parks – if you are caught fishing without one or at night you are liable to face arrest and prosecution, this is the same with Richmond Park. The scenery here is probably some of the prettiest of all of the waters in the London area. Be careful because the deer come right up to the anglers especially during the rut when they start fighting, people have been thrown into the lakes before by the testosterone fuelled stags at this time. You have been warned!
9. Yateley Match lake (Contact: Farnham Angling Society, 01252 320871, Yateley)
The Match Lake offers a good head of 20lb and 30lb fish to a weight of over 40lb now, a fish known as Kisstail. A good number of double-figure fish are also present, which have done well as a result of the management plans that have been undertaken on this fishery. As with a great deal of the lakes at Yateley, a mobile approach works very well, as does the static approach – remember, keep an eye on the weather here as the fish react very well to it.
Catfish were stocked in the Match Lake back in ’93 as kittens and the good head of fish that makes up the backbone of the stock topping 56lb with specimens seen but not caught estimated to be considerably bigger, offering a challenge to the catfish specialists amongst you.
This venue was a real favourite of mine until the ticket applications got out of control. I went there with the sole plan of fishing the margins and snags, ignoring the open water. Over 20 different thirties later I reckon that was the way to go.
These are the first of the lakes that I have personally fished, not just heard about and thought might be good. Sandhurst and the other Yateley waters all have huge history but if I haven’t fished them then they are not on the list. Hope you enjoyed this, Part 2 is coming shortly with the RK complex, smaller unheard of ponds and many more.
Slack lines for now