Commercial fisheries might not be everybody’s cup of tea and if I’m honest, up until a few months ago, they would probably not have figured on my list of “places to fish” either.
However, since accompanying Dan on his first commercial success feature at Whitemoor in Dorset, I learned a very valuable lesson.
Not everybody has the opportunity to put in 48 hour sessions, in fact some folks are limited to purely fishing daylight hours. So to find fisheries, with a decent head of fish, who can be caught on a variety of methods, gives anglers a chance to test out their skills, try new rigs and baits and use a variety of methods on a single visit.
For this feature, Dan and I visited Hordle lakes in Hampshire.
The Hordle Lakes fishery is situated just on the south side of The New Forest, just a few miles from New Milton.
It consists of 7 lakes and pools but for this feature, I am going to concentrate on just two of those, Bob’s lake and Spring Lake.
Bob’s lake is the largest lake on the complex, boasting carp of over thirty pounds, along with bream, roach, perch and chub. It is also the most popular and is available to night fish.
We decided to start on Bob’s lake and although the weather was already in the mid twenties, we started on bottom baits as Dan had previous success on the venue, fishing PVA bags tight to the numerous islands on the lake.
My first rod went out on a method feeder, fished with a very short fluorocarbon hooklink and pellet band whipped tight to the shank of a size 12 hook. I like using fluoro hooklinks because it helps the pellet ‘kick out’ from the feeder once the feed gets broken up, often resulting in instant bites.
I also find it tangles less as it is stiffer and less likely to fall in a heap on the feeder. The rig proved successful, however the culprits were in the form of very small bream around the 2-3lb mark and I caught three in consecutive casts, without even having the time to set up rod number 2.
Eventually, I did manage to get the second rod out and for this I used an extra small PVA bag, a short braided hooklink, with an 18mm Fruits of the Sea boilie.
The bream were proving annoying and by the time I’d reached the half a dozen mark, I gave in and switched from pellets to a Cultured Carp SOS boilie.
The change had an immediate effect, although not the one I wanted, the next two casts resulted in bigger bream. Nudging the 4lb plus mark, they were OK but not what I wanted to catch all day.
I did eventually get a small carp of around 7lb but on a ratio of 8 bream to 1 carp, I felt a change was on the cards.
Dan had popped over to my swim just as I was landing the carp and he mentioned that he’d also been struggling with the bream. We had a brief chat and then decided to have a look at Spring lake, to see if we could see anything moving.
When we got to Spring lake, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Not only was it an extremely pretty little lake with plenty of small Islands and bankside cover, but nobody at all was fishing it.
Better still there were plenty of carp cruising about on the surface and not all small either, we spotted a couple that would easily nudge the 20lb mark.
Two 1.75 stalking rods and a couple of loaves of bread later and we were back up at Springs, ready to winkle out a fish or two. It was now around 30 degrees but there was a slight ripple on the water, so we were confident.
Dan was first to strike, a small fish he spotted cruising close to a bed of lilies. Still with the lighter rod and nothing but a hook on his line, it was a good little scrap and welcome sport in the heat of the afternoon sun.
My turn next and I spotted a big looking lump, nestling close to an overhanging tree. I flicked my crust past him and leaving no line on the water, gently coaxed it closer and closer, trying to emulate a natural piece of bread being blown by the breeze.
At first the fish seemed uninterested but then came a nudge, followed by a little taste and then the big slurp. It didn’t quite make twenty but it was still a very nice fish to have out on a really exciting method.
Dan and I then split up and I started feeding bits of bread no further than 8 inches from the bank. Within 10 minutes I had about 6 fish feeding but most of them seemed fairly small.
I then spotted some fish on the opposite bank so through out a few bits of crust. Two decent sized carp of around 9 or 10lb then started to compete for the crusts, so I cast out and after a few missed strikes, managed to get one in. I didn’t weigh it but I’d say it might have just scraped double. As I was releasing it, Dan returned and said he’d had another of about 7lb from the other side of the lake.
So, 2 hours on the main lake for just one carp, an hour on Spring Lake and we’d had 4, the move paid off.
We grabbed some drinks and Dan returned to fish Bob’s lake. I decided to get a few venue shots and packed up my gear. Once back in his swim, Dan baited up the margins heavily and shortly after losing a good fish, he landed another smaller one.
We’d had 6 carp between us and a stack of bream but we both agreed that had we fished during the evening or in cooler conditions, this was a venue where you could definitely catch 10 or more carp in a day per person.
Hordle Lakes will not be everybody’s cup of tea. It is however full of fish and has plenty of diversity. It is super for the beginner and the pleasure angler and complexes like this, are very much the future of the everyday angler.
£10 for a full day or £5 for the evening is decent value when you consider the stock levels, so we’ll happily put Hordle Lakes down as a commercial success.
Just watch out for those bream.