THE ULTIMATE CARP BIVVY.
It’s cold outside. In fact it’s freezing, with sleety rain buffeting the canvas of your brolly.The bite indicators are remaining ominously silent, and you begin to wonder if you really can justify the outlay in bait, and the loss of sleep. Just think of it….A hot shower . . . . . a meal warming in the oven. .. . . cold beers in the fridge, and Man U about to kick off against Arsenal. You need to get yourself to Lake Farm in Hampshire where they offer…..
“THE ULTIMATE BIVVY”…………………………..
Now nobody could ever accuse me of being a softy as far as fishing in any weather goes. I’ve been out there with the best of them. Especially forty years ago when the old “Heron” and “B.J.” bite indicators were prone to scream at an ungodly hour just because a piece of weed had blown against the line. Sleepless nights ???? Tell me about it. But the lure of catching a Leney’s Carp in my area were always strong and an uncaught twenty would be the pinnacle of the year. The years rush by and the number of times you want to spend out in a freezing canvas bivvy get more limited. The carp today might be bigger, but the draw of fishing is still the same for many anglers. Now there is a place where you have the chance of nailing a few carp, and live in a luxurious log cabin, right on the edge of the New Forest. Lake Farm is the brainchild of Alf and Julie Birch, and these cabins, overlooking the ponds (so closely that I have fed carp with a catapult from the balcony), are such a success that even more are planned, and more ponds have been dug. You might be fishing in the countryside, but the cabins and accommodation are state-of-the-art.
Lake Farm is part of Aderholt Park which was originally a Deer Park established by Edward the Second as a hunting Lodge. It is on the boundary of Cranbourne Chase which extended over a section of what is now Dorset. Barely two miles from the market town of Fordingbridge and the famous Barbel and Chub River of the Hampshire Avon. Later occupants of the area soon noted that there were substantial clay deposits, and so some of the earliest original West Country pottery was actually developed here. The main three acre Lake was created by the need for that pottery production, and the waters held in place by a dam at one end. Broken chards of pottery are still found by local farmers when they plough the surrounding fields, together with silver coins of Edward the Second, right by the lake.
The carp were so prolific after being fed in a corner of the lake on leftover bread from the local bakery,that you could barely hear yourself talk above all the slurping noise. Obviously it had a “no fishing” zone, but all I can say is there were so many carp sucking on the bakery leftovers that you could barely carry on a conversation over the noise. It was like a trout feeding pond on crack!! I then went down to see what I could do for another magazine story, and took my personal best, if I recall correctly of 303lbs 7ozs.This was without any fancy baits or the need to night fish. Such success was then noted by the then Features Editor of the original Coarse Fishing quarterly glossy, Chris Dawn, who sent me down to try and catch one on a pukka dry fly. No problem. In fact using the traditional “Hedgehog” fly, bleached back and then dyed down to the colour of a trout pellet I took over 50lbs on a flyrod ! . Owners Alf and Julie wanted to put up luxury, eco-friendly fishermen’s lodges, excavate some of the fry ponds, and beef up the size of the carp caught. It all sounds so deceptively easy, but remember anything on the edge of the New Forest is a touchy place to put up ideas of change of any sort. It took them a full SEVEN years fighting planning permission to get the first three log cabins built, but they were a belting success from the day they opened. Once you’ve had a night in them, never mind the carp fishing, you will probably want to put your own property on the market and buy yourself a sawmill. They are so warm.
To get round planning, the cabins had to be built on blocks, or towers, which apparently put them outside of being a permanent structure. This has a bonus side as it allows the air to circulate underneath, and the Norwegian wood ensures they are totally efficient in heat retention. Waste water is via a Klargester tank system, which means the water enters the top header pond as clean. The gas heating is via a Propane bulk tank which was built underground to reduce any visual aspect, but actually uses about 40% less fuel due to the plank-by-plank construction of the timber. There are radiators in all rooms, windows are double glazed, and you have a full kitchen with fridge, microwave, oven etc. A good sized lounge with colour TV, and two-twin bedded rooms plus a shower completes the picture. Alf now has (after more scraps with planning) permission to build three further log cabins on the opposite field, so there will be even more comfort for anglers.
All this success has lead to a change in fishery policy. The smaller ponds are all held over for clients booking the cabins. That means they can fish any pool they want, as little or often as they want. The main lake has a fishery record of 32lbs, but quite honestly there are so many smaller carp in there to 4lbs you would be looking at an early double as being a really good fish. What Alf has done is stock mostly larger carp in the cabin pools, and this makes life so much more interesting. The first time I stayed overnight to sample his first log cabin; I couldn’t help but want to fish every single minute. Then came the realisation that there was only one other guy on the pool and he was taking the wife to Bournemouth beach for the day. It meant I had no rush. So I carpeted the entire pool with chum mixers, went back to the cabin and made a cooked breakfast. Eating it on the balcony I could see fish taking them, but still resisted the urge to rush down. They weren’t going anywhere, so I realised I could still feed myself the cooked breakfast, and the carp got top- ups of “bikkies” via my catapult from the balcony. I then walked down, and within five minutes had an 11-pounder on the bank. Now isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?? I finished the day with a 9, another couple of doubles and a 16.Since then I have had a few others to 19 plus, but they have been taken 29-4.. You can use pretty much any bait, but there is no need for any great expenditure. Sweetcorn,luncheon meat, bread,mixers,with my tip being to try trout pellet paste.
The Log Cabin pools are small, and due to the nature of the valley, are long and narrow, probably averaging 6 feet deep. My word of warning would be to ignore small particles or maggots as that is a sure shot for getting pestered by the small stuff, and that activity will surely put the larger carp on their guard. This is the only reason I use floaters, because I can then target each fish individually. Plus it’s quite exciting to see how close you can get to a 15 or 20 and just lower a dog biscuit into the margins. If any small fish approach I just lift off. As a general rule I will carpet a wide area with 50 to 80 floaters, and watch to see what it brings up. If lots of smaller carp I don’t put any more in at all. If just one or two doubles, then I cluster five to seven free samples in a tight area and let just one fish eat them. It’s too risky to pile a load on the head of a bigger fish as you’ll doubtless attract the attention of the unwanted sizes. The same goes for loose feed. I give a good old spray around with the bottom bait, so they get to taste it, but only pile a load in very close to the margins, in about three feet of water. This way I can get to judge if a good fish is over the baited patch by the size of the swirls, or even by his tail fin breaking surface as he digs in the mud. Of course there is the chance of hitting a small fish like this, but it’s a risk you have to take.
If you book a log cabin it also allows you to fish the larger lake, but the only suggestion on a bigger fish here is to use a monster, hard bait. Anything smaller and it will be demolished in minutes. I would suggest something at least two inches in diameter, but be prepared for plenty of line bites and tugs from smaller fish.
So what else is in the lakes? The most recently dug lower pool was still muddy when I saw it, but they have already piled some 500 small carp in there, and the two above have had fish to 15lbs come out already, showing exactly how fast the fish can grow when you reduce natural competition, and boost by winter feeding pellets. The main lake has a phenomenal number of mirrors and commons as mentioned, but there are Rudd to about 1lb, some tench to 3lbs, and apparently some buster-sized eels. When I first heard they had been caught to over 6lbs, I spent a session there, but clusters of lobworms made life difficult with the carp. In retrospect my time would have been better spent employing a dead rudd, or even something like a freelined sprat. The new log cabins are being brought over from Latvia, and are apparently even warmer. Rental costs include includes all electric and gas heating. As it’s self-catering just pop down the road to Sandleheath stores to stock up, which also has an off license as well. No point going up the pub, better to sit on that balcony with a beer, and feed the carp with your catapult! You don’t even need to night fish, which is why I rate this new operation at Lake Farm, as the “Ultimate Bivvy!”
COPYRIGHT: Graeme Pullen. All rights reserved.