If I said to you that I was going on holiday to do a bit of carp fishing you’d probably ask if I was going to France or Hungary. A 3 or 4 night session is normal for some anglers in the UK so a week might not feel that different. For a lot of us though, a week’s fishing whether in the UK or abroad would definitely be classed as a holiday – especially as the longest session I’ve ever done is 48 hours! I wanted to look into carp fishing holiday options in the UK and thought that I’d share my findings by writing a mini guide. Although there are northern waters in the guide, there are also others further south. After all, if you’re doing a week, why not travel a few hours in the car or van to get there?
Let’s start with a northern water though and one that gives the possibility of banking a fish to rival the weight of some venues across the channel.
Please note that you should contact the venues mentioned below directly about your specific requirements before planning anything, I cannot accept any responsibility for incorrect information or ruined holidays!
Erics Willows Lake
Willows is fast becoming a well-known big fish water by anglers across the country, not just in the north and there is talk of a potential UK record being broken there in the next few years if the fish continue to grow at the rate they are doing. The current lake record stands at a staggering 58lb and there are 16 known 40’s swimming around this 25 acre lake. The lake is very rich in natural food which is a result of the extensive weed. Weedy lakes can put anglers off but because of the cover and food it provides for the carp it means that you can fish for these monsters without having to wait years to get your name down. The lake was once run as a syndicate but the owners made it day ticket a couple of years back to fund an otter fence. There are 350 fish to go at and the peg has 20 pegs but the management only allow a maximum of 15 anglers on at any one time which means you still have plenty of water to go at and if the fish have moved, you have a good chance of moving into a peg closer to them. Although you can’t book the lake exclusively, you can book in advance to ensure you get a peg and they do a Sunday to Friday deal at £100. You do need to call the management to book this and a one-off membership fee of £50 is applicable but that means that you can fish it at any point after you have joined on a day ticket basis. There are boats on site which you can use for finding spots, baiting up and netting fish caught in weed but you will need to take your own life jacket which is required to use the boats.
Richworth Linear Fisheries
Probably the most famous of UK day ticket carp venues, the Linear Fisheries complex is home to 8 day ticket lakes with carp to over 40lb. There is something for everybody at the complex – Brasenose 1 and 2 for those who like to fish for big hits to St Johns for those who want to target bigger and particular fish. St Johns is home to the Big Plated which I’m sure needs no introduction. Because the tickets are transferable between lakes, you could split your holiday up and spend a few days targeting a biggie and a few days seeing how many you can catch. The complex is very impressive with some great facilities. The first thing I noticed about the place was how well maintained it was and everything was well thought out. Most well-known carp anglers have fished there at some point and a lot fish there regularly. Some of the Korda Underwater series was filmed on St Johns so is worth a watch if you’re planning on going there for your holiday. Linear do an offer for those wishing to holiday at the complex with a buy 6 and get a 7th night free deal. The complex is close to the Oxfordshire town of Whitney where you can call to stock up on essentials if you need to. Like the Willows, you can’t book a lake exclusively but would you want to when so many options are available?
Yateley Pads Lake
The two venues above don’t come with the option of exclusive use but Yateley does. This historic 4 acre carp venue holds no less than 32 fish over 30lb – that’s almost a third of the total stock! As mentioned above the lake can be booked exclusively for a maximum of 10 anglers so if you can get a good group together it could be quite cost effective. Yateley might be a bit of a drive for those of us based in the north with it being in Hampshire but it will probably be quicker than going to France. Plus, I’ve driven from Leeds to Oxford and back in a day for a few hours fishing at Linear so stop complaining!
Elphicks claim to have the modern angler in mind. By this they mean that access to the swims is easy and the car parks are close by. For some this might sound a bit commercial but isn’t a holiday supposed to be relaxing! A lot of French venues are similar to this anyway. There are a number of lakes on the complex, some of which contain some absolute monster carp. The biggest fish in the North Lake is 62lb 8oz, West End 52lb 12oz and 46lb on Pullens. The lakes are available to book for exclusive use and as recommended with all the lakes featured on this page you should speak with the management about your specific requirements.
Churn Pool isn’t the place to go if you’re looking to catch massive carp but it’s certainly setup to accommodate anglers looking for a UK carp fishing holiday. Facilities include a toilet block, gas
Up to 5 anglers can book the lake for exclusive use and there are carp to target up to 37lb. Some of the fish are really old, scaly warriors so if you’re looking for some stunners to add to the album then Churn Pool could be the venue for you. You can buy a range of Baitworks boilies on-site should you wish to save some room in the car. Churn Pool might be a good option if you enjoy a bit of stalking in the summer and a lot of carp are caught this way at the venue.
UK Carp Fishing Holiday Tips
So, you’ve decided on the venue, what next? Preparation of course! You should do as much research as you can about your chosen venue. Before deciding on the venue you should have at least found out how the lakes fish at the time of year you’re planning to visit. It’s no good booking a week on a lake in a month where it doesn’t tend to be very productive. Read their website, speak with the owner, read forums and try to speak with anglers who fish there regularly if possible. Also, try to find out what methods the fish respond to. Ever spodded slop over zigs? If not and you’re planning on a doing a week on one of the Brasenose lakes at Linear in the summer then you might want to have a read up on it! Bait too is a consideration; if a certain bait dominates on a particular water then you may want to take some with you even if you don’t start off on it. I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Sticky’s Krill but if I was due to do a week on a Cell dominated water then I’d take some with me just in case I started to struggle – if you can’t beat them, join them and all that! You will want to have options but this is where your research comes in.
Another thing to consider is the gear you take with you. If the swims are a long way from the car park or the terrain is tough to push a barrow around then you might just want to take the essentials so that you can move more easily if fish are showing in a different area. If you can park next to your swim then you might want to take all the tackle you own just in case! Sitting there wishing you had brought an item of tackle though is the most frustrating thing in the world so this needs careful consideration.
It’s important to ask yourself what you actually want out of your holiday, is it to catch the biggest or most amount of fish or is it more about a good laugh with your mates? I’ve been guilty of pitching up next to friends for the social and then moaning about my results. If you’re hoping to catch as much fish as possible then the social aspect should come second to getting on the fish. Different people want different things from fishing holidays though just like any other type of holiday, some like the beach, some like hiking – take from it what you want and plan accordingly. Regarding peg choice, you might find that a few of your group want a particular peg and in that scenario it’s probably best to draw for them. Hopefully that will avoid a few arguments!
It’s important that you speak with the management about the facilities on site or nearby so that you take enough food and water to last you the week. Some venues have more facilities than others and whereas a lot of French holiday venues offer catering packages it’s likely that you’ll be using the stove at your peg when session fishing in the UK.
The last thing you should plan is the travel. Fishing in the UK (mainland anyway) means you don’t have to worry about ferries and passports but it still requires some planning. Think of all the gear you take and then times that by the number of people in your group and all of a sudden there’s an awful lot of gear you need to fit into your van/car. A Transit (not Connect) sized van has 3 seats and should conformably take the gear of 3 anglers. If you don’t have a van then a trailer might be an option but this will require a tow bar and you’ll need to look into what you can legally tow on your driving license. The advantage of going in a group is that the fuel costs can be split and it’s a good opportunity to talk tactics on the way and you can share the venue research you have done to give you all a better chance at making the session a successful one.
So, what are you waiting for?!
Hopefully this guide has given you the inspiration to look further into a carp fishing holiday in the UK. The venues may not contain 70, 80 or even 90lb carp but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a session here in Blighty. We have some stunning waters here and some great carp living in them so before arranging your next French trip just consider how enjoyable a holiday could be a little closer to home. Your mates might take some convincing especially if they’ve fished abroad in the past but they might be surprised about what the UK has to offer and in the case of the Willows and Elphicks they might even beat their French PB with an English one! Nine times out of ten when I see an angler being interviewed and the question comes up “UK 40 or a French 70” the answer is the UK 40. English carp are a bit special so have a think about targeting them on your next holiday.
Until next time, tight lines…