Although I have fished virtually all my life, until recently I had never fancied visiting a commercial fishery, by which I mean a smallish public lake liberally stocked with coarse fish – mostly small carp. Sitting in amongst a load of other guys, pulling in fish after fish, which are probably caught on a regular basis, somehow didn`t really appeal to me. However a good friend, who is mainly a match fisherman (using a pole for 90% of the time), persuaded me to give it a try. He told me he had enjoyed an afternoon at Holme’s Farm Fishery near Lubenham in Leicestershire, catching 40-odd carp and several bream, with his vehicle parked just 3 yards behind him. It sounded like fun.
The day ticket for O.A.P.s (like me) costs just £3, and having done quite well with the trout at Pitsford and Ravensthorpe in the last couple of weeks, I thought I might ring the changes and give it a go.
A 30 minute drive from my home was all it took, and following my pal’s directions I found it quite easily. There were only 3 or 4 anglers already there, and one friendly chap told me just to start fishing – the bailiff would be ’round later.
I chose a suitable comfy swim, unloaded my light Drennan feeder rod and set to, casting to a central island about 25 yards away, as I had been advised, with an expander pellet on a size 10 barbless hook. Sure enough, after a few minutes around went the tip and I found myself attached to a lively mirror carp of about 4lbs. I was slightly taken aback by how well it fought, and it was soon followed by 2 more, and a bream of about 2lbs.
“This is quite pleasant”, I thought to myself, but then I waited another 20 minutes without a bite! Some of the other anglers seemed to be catching more regularly than me, and I noticed that they were casting only 4 or 5 yards out, so I started throwing a few pellets at this sort of distance, whilst continuing to throw to the island. Still biteless after a further 15 or 20 minutes, I decided to drop my bait close in where I had been feeding, and as I placed the rod in its rest, it was nearly pulled out of my hand as an eager common carp of about 5lbs stormed out into the lake! A semi-silent oath emitted from my lips – I hadn`t expected such an instant response, but this same thing happened several times during the next three hours, and I realised this is not the place to take your eyes off of that tip!
The cheery old bailiff did eventually appear and I couldn’t resist a wry smile when he asked me for £6 (for the under 64s). I am coming up for 72 in August, so this was indeed a compliment and I almost gave him the £6 anyway! (This was made even better when I told my pal, who is 63, and he was slightly cross that the same bailiff had asked him for £3!!) The bailiff also said I should let Max, my black lab, out of the car, where I was keeping him out of trouble. This was an added bonus and Max looked very pleased with his new-found freedom.
At the end of a three-hour stint I had caught 33 carp, plus a few bream and roach. Some of the carp were ‘F1s’ (which I had never caught before – they are a smallish fish, rather rounded in shape and look like a cross between a carp and a bream. The match boys are very familiar with them).
Tea time was approaching, and I was well satisfied with my catch, so I decided to pack up. In a few minutes all my kit was loaded into the Pathfinder, together with Max, and I was on my way home. It had been a real change; OK possibly a bit easy, but as I made my way home I reflected that it had been most enjoyable and well worth a return visit.
Indeed a week or so later I found myself seated in a different swim on the same lake, and the afternoon started off in the same way with three carp of 2 to 4lbs whacking the tip around in the first 10 minutes. This time I was using small cubes of luncheon meat, and after this frantic start I was getting almost constant bites but nothing I seemed to be able to hit. After 40 minutes of this I caught a roach of 12 oz and a roach/bream hybrid of about a pound, so I concluded that the swim was full of small fish and decided a change of tactics was required. Fortunately I had brought my Drennan lightweight match rod with me and set up float tackle on 3lb line, fished 3 inches over-depth with a smaller cube of meat on a barbless 14 hook. This change proved a complete winner and bite after bite produced roach, bream, roach/bream hybrids, one perch and about 20 F1s. These were perfect quarry for the new rod, unlike the 10lb mirror carp that took me for a fair ride around the lake for 10 minutes or so before I was able to slide it over the net!
I thought this was a good time to call a halt, and packed up after another very enjoyable session at the venue. I have no interest in match fishing, and wouldn’t want to fish at such a place every week, but I have to say that the friendliness, convenience, and hectic sport has much going for it, and what a place for a youngster to start his angling career. Highly recommended!!
If you’re interested in visiting Holmes Farm Fishery, you can contact the bailiff, John Bevin, on 01858 463027 or 07710 811600, or Mick Ribbons on 07749 571907. Alternatively just turn up, like I did, and start fishing.