Fish­ing Heaven on es­tate lakes

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Inside This Month - Words James Fur­ness Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

Es­tate lakes in breathtaking sur­round­ings that lift the spir­its are a favourite of IYCF Ed­i­tor James Fur­ness. And you can fish them, too

AS VENUE types go, in my mind there are none that can top es­tate lakes. There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about these wa­ters. They of­fer un­ri­valled scenery and the his­tory be­hind the grounds only serves to add to the mys­tique. Nes­tled in the Le­ices­ter­shire coun­try­side sits Belvoir – mean­ing beau­ti­ful view – Cas­tle, which is the an­ces­tral home of the Dukes of Rut­land. The fam­ily have lived at Belvoir in an un­bro­ken line of al­most a thou­sand years. The land was orig­i­nally a gift from Wil­liam the Con­queror to one of his Nor­man barons – Robert de To­deni – who was his Stan­dard Bearer at the Bat­tle of Hast­ings in 1066. Since then the cas­tle has been re­built four times, and the cur­rent in­car­na­tion which you see to­day was con­structed in the early 1800s for the fifth Duke and Duchess of Rut­land. Crown­ing a hill, its tur­rets and tow­ers rise over the lake be­low and, land­scaped by Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown, it is an in­spir­ing place to fish.

Day-ticket de­light

But don’t be fooled by the grandeur. You don’t have to join an ex­pen­sive syn­di­cate to fish the venue and any­one can en­joy a ses­sion at Belvoir from as lit­tle as £7. The 12-acre venue is a typ­i­cal es­tate lake; shal­low and silty with var­i­ous fea­tures in­clud­ing the old stream bed that runs along the cen­tre, over­hang­ing trees, blood­worm beds, reedy mar­gins and a bridge. And sim­i­lar to most es­tate lakes it is home to a wide range of species. It was once famed for its bream and tench fish­ing it is now home to sev­eral hun­dred carp to over 30lb. Add to that perch, roach and pike and you have the op­por­tu­nity for some ex­cel­lent mixed fish­ing. As my­self and IYCF fea­tures ed­i­tor, Mark Parker, drove down the track, the lake emerged be­fore us with the cas­tle sat at the top of the hill. With a few an­glers bivvied up along the dam wall we made our way to­wards the cen­tre of the lake where we’d have a good view of the whole wa­ter. Us­ing po­larised glasses, we could clearly see a patch of coloured wa­ter to­wards the mid­dle of the venue as the silt was dis­turbed by some­thing ob­vi­ously feed­ing on the bot­tom. An en­cour­ag­ing sign. As tempt­ing as it was to get out the brew kit and just en­joy the scenery, we were here to try and catch a fish or two. It didn’t take long to lo­cate the old stream bed with a few casts of the marker float and, af­ter let­ting the float up to sur­face and count­ing the depth we found it dropped down to about 3ft 6in as op­posed to the 2ft ev­ery­where else.

“The cas­tles, tur­rets and tow­ers rise over the lake be­low and it is an in­spir­ing place to fish”

Both rods were soon clipped up to the spot and lines marked with a small piece of elec­tri­cal tape at the butt ring to en­sure I could land my rigs back in the same place ev­ery cast. As ex­pected, the stream bed was pretty much in line with where we’d seen the clouded wa­ter as the fish clearly used this bla­tant fea­ture as a pa­trol route to move up and down the lake.

Keep­ing my op­tions open

With carp, tench and bream on the menu, I’d hedged my bets to give my­self a chance of catch­ing all three. Both rods fea­tured large 25g Dren­nan flatbed Method feed­ers with 4in hook­links and size 10 Su­per Spe­cial­ist Barbel hooks. One was baited with a sin­gle grain of fake corn and the other with a cou­ple of rub­ber cast­ers, per­fectly bal­anced by the hook. Once on the lakebed the ground­bait would fall off the feeder and leave a per­fect mouth­ful of bait with the hook­bait sat bang in the mid­dle. Hope­fully this would be enough to en­tice any fish that hap­pened to cruise over the trap. The ground­bait mix wasn’t too fancy, just a bag of Sonubaits 50/50 Method Paste, a tin of sweet­corn, and a lib­eral help­ing of dead white mag­gots and cast­ers. Af­ter 20 min­utes both rods were re­cast with fresh ground­bait to keep the swim ac­tive. I also hoped the dis­tur­bance might tempt any in­quis­i­tive tench in the vicin­ity to come and in­ves­ti­gate. Af­ter a cou­ple more re­casts the bob­bin on the left-hand rod lifted slightly and then dropped back to its orig­i­nal po­si­tion. An en­cour­ag­ing sign that fish were in the area and, more than likely, brushed up against my line.

A wel­come visi­tor

When fish­ing these sort of venues you can’t ex­pect bite af­ter bite like at a heav­ily-stocked com­mer­cial. But with fish ob­vi­ously in front of us, I was be­gin­ning to get slightly con­cerned that a bite hadn’t de­vel­oped. My at­ten­tions were briefly dis­tracted by one the es­tate’s friendly pheas­ants which had wan­dered over to see what we were up to and scrounge a bit of ground­bait.

One of the es­tate’s pheas­ants ar­rived to dis­tract us just be­fore the fish showed up!

Fake baits stop small nui­sance fish ru­in­ing your hook­bait

Tackle and bait to cover tench, bream and carp

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