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Wintle's World - Finding New Waters

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Mark Wintle tells you how to find new waters and visits Christchurch AC's Somerley Lakes.


Mark Wintle
Mark Wintle, an angler for 37 years, is a prolific article writer and co-author of a book on pole fishing published in early 2008 and one on carp fishing due for publication in 2009. Previously heavily involved with match fishing he now fishes for the sheer fun of it. He has an open and enquiring mind and writes articles on fishing various waters with a variety of methods.

Finding New Waters

Just imagine you are new to an area. You want to get out fishing but don't know how to find out what waters are available locally. What is the best way to find out?

Maps and club books
Maps, magazines and club books

This question can puzzle all anglers at some time or other. It's not just those that have moved; perhaps you've just taken up fishing, or simply fancy a change from your usual haunts. Perhaps you are planning a holiday far from home and would like to get some fishing in whilst away.

There are a number of approaches that all work, and a combination of methods may be the best way. It does depend on what you need to find out. Are you looking for a local club to join, a selection of day ticket waters, or perhaps a specific type or size of fish? You need to know what it is going to cost, whether you can join easily, whether the water is pleasant to fish, and you may be interested to know whether it has facilities such as safe parking, an onsite tackle shop or toilets.

Getting this information may be very easy. The better angling clubs and day ticket waters have their own web sites with contact details. Prices are available together with maps and details of the waters. These web sites may not tell you all you need to know but it can be an excellent start.

One of FishingMagic's hidden hotspots is the Local Info section that has details including websites, phone numbers and contacts for many clubs, fisheries and tackle shops.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to knock together the details of one of your local angling clubs and submit them to FM as an article. An example of what I mean can be found later in this article.

The forums on FishingMagic, of course, is another way to go but before asking a very general question like, 'What fishing is there near London?', which will get little or no response simply because it would take a book to answer, first ask yourself what you are trying to find out. You will have some idea of what sort of fishing you are looking for. Is it river or lake fishing? Are you looking for carp fishing or just some general fishing? It could be an easy day ticket water suitable for pole fishing, or somewhere offering some river trotting for roach or a decent day ticket carp water with night fishing. At least there is a chance that someone can answer. That doesn't mean that everyone who know every detail of the ideal water is going to rush to your aid.

Just how freely information is likely to be available varies a great deal. The ideal water might exist but if it's an exclusive syndicate stretch or jealously guarded secret to those in the know it is unlikely that you will hear about it through something as public as an angling forum. I occasionally get to fish as a guest on one such water. It offers superb fishing but if I wanted to fish it far more regularly than the once a year treat that I currently enjoy I'd have to join the waiting list. I have seen articles on fishing the water but these have always been careful not to say anything about its location.

Conversely, waters that have been high profile public knowledge for decades like Throop Fishery near Bournemouth on the Dorset Stour are heavily promoted through the controlling club's website (Ringwood DAA in this case) and numerous articles and reports so that finding out more information is very easy.

Another way might be to study Ordnance Survey maps of the area and then go for a drive to look at the waters depending upon whether there is any public access through public footpaths. If you can get access this way you may get clues as to the controlling club through asking anglers who are fishing or through notice boards. What you shouldn't do is starting exploring private waters where there isn't access without prior permission. Actually being on a water helps enormously in that you get a feel for water and its challenges. You may spot fish, or witness other angler's catches and this is a good way to get some idea of its potential.

Another worthwhile method is to ask at local tackle shops. Make your visit at a quiet time if possible and at least have the courtesy to spend some money there even if it's only for a couple of floats. You may get a chance to look through some club permits this way, which can be useful in deciding which club to join.

Part of the fun of angling has always been the quest for new waters and challenges, and many anglers with many decades of angling experience still seek new waters just for the challenge of the unknown. I hope this short article will help you in tracking down the waters of your dreams.

Focus on a fishing club - Christchurch Angling Club

For freshwater anglers in eastern Dorset or western Hampshire the Christchurch Angling Club offers a wealth of fishing. For the keen river angler it has numerous stretches of both the famous Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour. For carp and other stillwater fishing there is a wide variety of stillwater fishing including gravel and clay pits, estate lakes and small purpose-built ponds to satisfy all angling tastes.

 Somerley Lakes
Christchurch AC's Somerley Lakes

Christchurch Angling Club was founded 70 years ago and initially based in Christchurch. But its phenomenal growth since those early days has resulted in 40 pages of maps. Even one lifetime would not be enough to get to know such an impressive selection of waters.

Such fishing does not come cheap but £ 125 per year represents tremendous value for money that is hard to beat and equalled by few. The jewel in the crown is the Somerley estate waters that include two mature gravel pits, several miles of prime Hampshire Avon from Ringwood to Bicton plus smaller ponds and side streams. With the river containing barbel well into double figures, and producing chub to 8-02 already this season, not forgetting having produced roach to very nearly four pounds in the past, it is the stuff of dreams.

Editor Graham and I, together with top angling coach Ian Gemson, spent a day at Somerley Lakes courtesy of CAC chairman Ian May. The well-kept, litter-free banks and relaxing atmosphere together with excellent parking and on-site loos make it a water that club anglers can share with day ticket anglers in harmony. We fished the larger Meadow Lake that contains carp to 38lbs plus a good head of sizeable tench, bream and roach. The carp eluded us though we had some tench and bream. We did spot some very big carp lurking in one of the sanctuary areas.

 Somerley Lakes
Ian Gemson on Christchurch AC's Somerley Lakes

The adjacent King-Vincents Lake, formerly two separate lakes, is one of my favourites. The carp are smaller in this lake, running to about 28lbs, but far more prolific and a good day can produce upwards of ten carp including several doubles. This water responds to many methods including standard bolt rig/boilie methods, floater tactics or good old-fashioned float fishing or pole fishing. I often fish for the elusive crucians in here. Care is needed not to get confused with the similar brown goldfish that are the result of a misidentified stocking some years ago. The good news is that the true crucians are breeding successfully whereas the goldfish are not so this water should regain its status as an interesting crucian water. In fishing for crucians, I usually get amongst the tench that run to more than six pounds, bream, roach and rudd as well as the carp. It all makes for interesting fishing that is easily accomplished through close in float fishing with baits like hooker pellets, sweetcorn or bread.

The excellent local tackle shops - Avon Angling and Ringwood Tackle, both in West Street, Ringwood, Davis Tackle, Bargates, Christchurch and Bournemouth Fishing Lodge, Wimborne Road, Moordown, Bournemouth - all sell day tickets and annual permits. To become a full member you will need to supply a passport type photo within a month of joining to get an ID card.

For much more information about the club and waters see http://christchurchac.org.uk

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