After The Unknown

The syndicate where I’ve fished for the past 5 years, I have been hunting the unknown carp.  This is what I enjoy the most and get the most reward from.  It is a 64-acre gravel pit, which was in fact 3 lakes once and now has channels connecting them.

It has its own particular challenges, it has a lot of history as it was once an airfield and still has it’s original control tower!  Albeit a bit run down.


It even featured in a propaganda film starring David Niven.  It was then dug out for its gravel, filled with blitz rubble and then dug for yet more gravel and then sort of landscaped into 3 separate lakes.  A water company then joined them all together with a channel.  It was finally run as a fish farm, until the overpopulation of carp destroyed nearly all the natural food sources, at this point they removed most of the stock but left a few lumps in there.  It then had a restocking program from an adjacent water.  I bet you can agree that it has had an interesting past and no one has any real idea what’s in there!


There is no maintenance on there, it’s just left to run wild and the anglers fit in around the wildness of the lake.  Which is how I like it.  I’m not a fan of manicured waters, where you feel you are fishing someone’s back garden.

There are a few issues to contend with, but this adds to the adventure of searching for these unknown carp.  Firstly, it’s only open 6 and a half months each year from mid-March to the end of September.  Secondly, the carp spawn extremely early, sometimes around the 1st of May.  This year it was just before, this is due to them being partly an Austria strain of carp and a high proportion of the lake is only just over 3ft deep.  So the lake soon warms up in those warm Spring days.


Prior to the carp spawning, it’s pretty easy to track down the larger residents.  In reality, you only get the April to catch them, once they start spawning – which can last on and off for all of May (which is pretty frustrating).  Then the small carp appear and just take over the place, you catch the odd one beforehand, but they just go crazy.  It then becomes a battle of wills to keep on going through this carp, until you bag a lump.

There are also considerable amounts of out of bounds areas – mostly the West Bank.  It is also pretty much unusable by casting, so there is a 2-acre area that you can’t get a bite into.


All this adds up to an incredibly challenging water, which I’m utterly obsessed with.  It contains some huge carp, yet to be captured and my adventure will continue for a few more years I’m sure.  Normally, I’m only on a water for about 5 years before it’s time to move on as I have caught what I was after.  I also get bored of the view and need a change in scenery.  I can’t see this happening for some time as the six months on-off routine keeps the enthusiasm going and some years I’ve not even fished a particular area or lake, as I have broken them down to their original 3 lake structure.  Even though they are just one giant lake, joined by channels which contain 7 islands, 2 of which you can fish off.

Oddly there is no real angler pressure; mostly due to the other lake, which comes with the ticket.  It’s a lot smaller and stocked with a greater number of larger carp and none of the 10 pounders that plague you for most of the season.


I can’t get enough of this place and can’t wait for another season to kick in this year and maybe one of the monsters that I’ve spotted a few time way out by the island that is completely uncastable even for the boys that can blast them out, one day it will grave my net and it could well be this year.

Until next time









UK Fishing Blogs


About richardhandel

I would like to give a brief snap shot of my life and introduce myself; My name is Richard Handel and was born in 1965 in Suffolk. I have worked as a UK Operation & Intermodule Manager for a shipping company. I live in Hampshire now and am married with 2 young children, both girls so I am a bit outnumbered even the cat is a girl! I have been fishing since I was about 7 years old. I started on small local rivers in Suffolk, then moved onto gravel pits and then carp fishing. My personal best is a 39.08 mirror, over recent years I have started river fishing again, on the Hampshire Avon, this is a nice break from the carp lakes. My life has turned a big corner this year, the company I was working for relocated their Operation centre to Estonia. I was offered a job at the head office in London. This would have meant a 5 day commute and working in Stratford. As a family, we did not fancy this, as I would hardly spend any time with the children (and the Mrs). So after 22.5 years, I was given a nice redundancy package and with my wife is working full time. I became the house husband. This has meant a complete turn around in my fishing, as I can pick and choose when I go. I have found a splendid new syndicate to fish this year, which includes 5 lakes and some 8 miles of river with only 150 members. It's an amazing change to the way I am able to fish. I am now trying to start my own tackle business and make a bit of a name for myself in the world of fishing, as I have retired from real work. Richard
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