Whatever happened to these big fish venues?
Remember those waters that dominated the big fish lists but then disappeared? Here’s a few...
1. Yateley Car Park
It seems like only yesterday that The Car Park was THE place to test yourself against the most famous stock of carp that the UK has ever known. Heather, Single, Arfur, Chunky and their mates are all now gone, and the fishery is run in excellent fashion by Martin Gardner as part of Yateley West Fishery. The Car Park now holds a new generation of big carp, albeit a little less famous than their forebears!
Once the hub of the Colne Valley. Harefield was second only in stature to its near neighbour, Savay. It held lots of big carp for its day, first topped by ex. Rodney Meadow big ’un, Nelson, then fish like the mighty Small Pecs and a couple of awesome fully scaled mirrors. A stone’s throw from the Horse and Barge pub, it was also a huge social centre for CV drinkers! After Boyer Leisure closed its angling arm, Harefield went totally quiet. It’s still under the same ownership, but the lake itself in now much, much smaller and shallower, thanks to siltation from gravel washing.
This secret Shropshire mere held two giant carp in the early 1990s, and was run by local carp angler Ray Stone. The two carp, Pinky and Perky, were a mid-thirty and mid-forty respectively, with Pinky being one of the very biggest carp in the UK at the time. It was also a bit of a looker, with a chunky frame and leathery flanks. And in case you hadn’t already worked it out, the name is ‘Nowhere’ spelled backwards! It’s so secret we’ve got absolutely no idea what’s in there now!
4. Withy Pool
On the site of a transport café, once owned by Rob Maylin’s granddad, Withy (or Maylins) as it was known then, was home to carp big enough that Richard Walker even cast a line there. Withy was bought by Kevin Maddocks, who converted the derelict café into a house and totally overhauled the fishery, which went on to produce some of the biggest carp in the country during its heyday. Kevin sold the property eventually, before moving to France and it remains in private hands.
5. The Mangrove
Tim Paisley’s Shropshire Mecca once dominated the pages of Carpworld, so central was it to Tim’s fishing. The Mangrove was truly significant, with huge fish for the area in the 1980s and 1990s, including Conan The Barbless, Scaley and the Saddleback Common, all of which were good thirties. Tim still runs the beautiful water, although it’s much quieter in terms of media these days.
6. Silver End
The home of Kevin Nash’s famous first forty lies near Braintree, in Essex. The great fish wasn’t around for too long after Kev’s capture, and there weren’t back-up fish of the same magnitude, so the eye of the carp scene moved on. The two pits, Front and Back, are run by Kelvedon & District Angling Association and still hold good carp, into the mid-thirties, to this day.
7. Ashlea Pool
In terms of significance, Ashlea Pool is right up there with Redmire. In an era when big fish were scarce in the extreme, Ashlea was home to at least two giants, Humpy and Lucky. It’s a tiny pool that was often choked by lilies and its diminutive size made the quality of fishing all the more extraordinary. Its crystal waters fascinated the likes of Jack Hilton, Kevin Maddocks and Mike Wilmott over the years, but long after the two big mirrors had passed on, Ashlea was sadly the victim of otter predation.
During the 1980s Darenth (principally the Tip Lake and the Big Lake) attracted the cream of UK carp anglers, and the reason was clear: it held a stock of big, gnarly, dark carp that were the envy of the rest of the country. The anglers who tested their skills here reads like a who’s who: Lee Jackson, Tim Paisley, Terry Dempsey, Ian Booker, Steve Briggs, Alan Smith, Micky Sly and Paul Selman among others. The old fish slowly dropped away and a controversial stocking followed. The lakes are now run by Darenth Fishing Complex.
This beautiful Cheshire mere was right at the top of the tree in the North West for decades. It produced fine carp to over 40lb (the Female Common), as well as some particularly fine anglers, with the likes of Frank Warwick, Gaz Fareham, Scott Day, Rob Gillespie and Myles Gibson cutting their teeth on the place.
After a long association with Stoke On Trent Angling Club, the great lake changed hands and became a Prince Albert water a few years back, not before the very biggest of the remaining originals, Snub Nose, sadly passed away. There are a few original fish left, alongside growing stock fish, so Redesmere could yet rise again.
The king of all ‘guesting’ waters is as big a part of angling folklore as any water has been, largely thanks to its most famous inhabitant, The Black Mirror. Of course, it was also due to the fact that you had to break the law to fish there, as well as the other amazing carp the lake held. As far as anyone knows, a devastating oxygen crash in August 2010 resulted in a total wipeout of the stock. We couldn’t possibly comment about what’s happened since because The Mere is, and has always been, for those who dare…