10 waters you wish you had fished in their heyday
Oh how we wish we'd fished number 4. And 2. And 5. And 6...
It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it must have been for the likes of Jason Hayward, Terry Hearn and Dave Lane to fish for The Black Mirror in the venue generally known as The Mere. Not only were the fish elusive, it was a nature reserve that banned angling. Perhaps the best way to experience it now would be to dig out Alan Tomkins’ incredibly atmospheric Blackwater articles, which are still available online.
02 Yateley Car Park Lake
Imagine being able to click your fingers and arrive back at Yateley Car Park Lake in the 1990s. The fish - Arfur, Heather The Leather, Ugloe and many more - were names to spark a million daydreams, and you would certainly recognise most of the anglers on its banks. At the time it was seen by many as the pinnacle of British carp angling and the atmosphere was electric.
03 Sonning Eye
What was once a wide open and uninviting gravel pit on the Oxfordshire/Berkshire border has now been pulled and pushed into a manmade rowing centre, but not that long ago it was a club water that no one fished for carp. Until out of the blue in spring 2000 Andy Dodd landed a 52lb mirror. Was it the last true surprise of the modern carp era?
Lac de Saint Cassien in the south of France is still fishable, but it’s now well documented and night fishing is banned, making it even trickier than it was. If only we could rewind 33 years to that iconic image of Kevin Ellis cradling a 76lb Cassien mirror and get in on that same pioneering spirit he and people like Steve Briggs must’ve experienced as they drove battered old motors over that equally iconic bridge.
05 Withy Pool
This three-acre clay pit was producing 20s in the 1950s and, under the ownership of Kevin Maddocks in the 1980s, went on to become one of the most well-known waters in the country during the period carp fishing popularity soared. The Bedfordshire venue is now private, with only a select few able to fish it. However, the rig named after it - created by Steve Renyard - lives on.
Everyone knows about the importance and unique qualities of Redmire, so you would expect to find it in this list. The only difficulty would be choosing which heyday! Would you go right back to the early days with Dick Walker, or skip a few years to Hutchy and Yates and the particle revolution? Or drop in on the filming of A Passion for Angling? Oh, to have a time machine!
07 Nene Electricity Cut
All things considered, there probably hasn’t ever been a British carp venue like the old Electricity Cut on the River Nene at Peterborough. It was unusual enough back in the 1960s as a section of river with a good head of big carp, but what made it stand out was the warm water being pumped in from the nearby power station all year round, making it an iconic winter mecca.
08 Linear Manor Farm
Controversial? Let us explain. Linear is currently at the pinnacle of day ticket carping in this country and Manor is as great as it has ever been… but carp historian Chris Ball tells a fantastic story of being one of the first carpers on site when Linear was founded 25 years ago. Len Gurd and Roy Parsons showed him to Manor and he found an empty venue with most of the lake’s then-unknown stock on the surface. Imagine that!
09 Billing Aquadrome
This Northamptonshire history water still exists as a holiday park and campsite, but its carpy heyday was back in the 1960s. Stocked by Donald Leney, Billing’s carp potential had been pioneered by Bob Reynolds before men like Fred Wagstaffe and Phil Shatford decided to tackle it. In the mid 1960s it produced two different 30s, which was almost unheard of at the time.
10 Big Moor
It’s not just southern waters in this list! Big Moor in Cheshire might be relatively unknown to many, but back in the 1960s and 1970s it was one of the best carp waters in the whole country. Chris Ball recently wrote: “In its time catches of large carp from Big Moor nearly equalled those of the mighty Redmire Pool.” So you know it was special!