Discovering Day Tickets
Follow Loz as he tackles Baden Hall’s Middle Pool for 24 hours in the third instalment of his travels around the country’s more popular day ticket venues
Follow Loz as he tackles Baden Hall’s Middle Pool for 24 hours in the second instalment of his travels around the country’s more popular day-ticket venues
Baden Hall fishery is based in Staffordshire and has 11 lakes on site, which suit most styles of angling. The lakes are set out in the categories of specimen waters, pleasure waters and match waters. The venue can be found by using the following address: Eccleshall, Staffordshire, ST21 6LG and you can contact the fishery reception on 01785 850313, or alternatively by email at fishing@ badenhall.com. The opening times for the fishery are pretty standard and during the summer months the gates open at 6am and close at 9pm, during the winter they open at 6am and close at 7pm.
First of all I’ll look at the specimen waters where there are three lakes – the Quarry, the Bridge Pool and Glovers. The Quarry is around 18 acres in size with 18 pegs and each have their own individual fishing cabin – so there’s no need to take your bivvy. This lake contains fish to almost 50lb and for a 24 hour session will cost you £35. The Bridge Pool is 10 acres in size with eight fishable pegs and for this lake you will need to bring your own bivvy. Bridge Pool holds fish currently to over 35lb and is £30 for 24 hours fishing. Finally, Glovers is 8 acres in size with 8 pegs around the lake and holds carp to over 40lb, and again this will cost you £30 for 24 hours fishing. The complex holds some huge carp and the thing that makes Baden Hall stand out from the crowd is you have the choice of three extremely beautiful gravel pits to choose from.
Not only does Baden Hall offer the specimen hunter the prospect of some very large carp but there are also three pleasure lakes on site – these being Middle Pool, Lodge Pool and Dam Pool. These lakes give you the potential to make big hits of fish and, if you’re all about enjoying yourself no matter what the size of the carp, then these pools are definitely for you. With that said though, they all still contain carp well over the 20lb barrier – so you’re always in with a chance of catching a decent fish as well. All three lakes will cost you £25 for 24 hours fishing which I’m sure is value for money with the sport you can expect to receive.
Last but by no means least, the complex also holds a number of match waters so, if you’re looking to give fishing a go for the first time or even practice for competitions, then these particular lakes are well worth a look. A day’s fishing on the match waters, with one rod, will cost you £10. You can expect to catch all manner of species and with great surroundings what more can you ask for.
In relation to the rules for the venue you can go to www.badenhallfishery.com/rules to check them out. They are clearly listed so there should be no confusion. From reading through them myself, the only point that stood out to me was in relation to the specimen waters. The venue provide their own landing nets, slings and unhooking mats, so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own. Before you start fishing you must go to reception and purchase your ticket, and it’s a maximum two rod limit on all the lakes. The rest of the rules are pretty standard but, before fishing on the complex, make sure you’re aware of them so you don’t mistakenly get caught out on the day because you haven’t read them.
When my session finally came around I decided to try and make it as realistic as possible, and I turned up at the venue early on Saturday morning and fished the weekend like the majority of anglers. Prior to arriving the night before, I made a phone call to Roy who is the bailiff for the complex, to get his thoughts and opinions on how the lake had been fishing and get any last minute advice he could pass onto me before I made my trip down. This is something I tend to do regularly if I’m planning on fishing a day ticket venue. At the end of the day bailiffs live and breathe their lakes and they are pretty much aware of everything that happens. They can be very helpful and give you the heads up on how many anglers are already on the lake, what’s been coming out and, most importantly, especially during the winter months, where the fish have been holding up. After a brief conversation with Roy, he suggested that I head for one of the more productive lakes at this time of year called the Middle Pool, as this was the lake that was producing most of the fish at the moment. Roy kindly gave me the heads up that all three specimen lakes hadn’t produced a fish since October and obviously, for the purpose of the feature, a fish would need to be caught. He explained there were a few anglers already set up after work, but basically to head for pegs 12 and 13 which are the island pegs, as the fish had been holding up in that area for a few weeks.
I arrived just as the gates were opening. The thermometer in my car was reading minus 3ºc and at this point it was still pitch black. I drove my car slowly around the track and, as I did, I could hear the puddles of water which had frozen overnight cracking under my car wheels. Suddenly, I had that awful, sinking feeling that things were not going to pan out well. After finding my way around to the Middle Pool, I parked my car up and went about finding pegs 12 and 13. As you can imagine, in the dark it was a task on its own and must have taken me 15 minutes. By now it was just starting to get light as I eventually found the pegs and, to my horror, there were two anglers already set up there – a great start! To make the situation even worse there were other anglers turning up left, right and centre – and still not knowing where I was going to fish, I decided to get back in my car and drive round to the other side of the lake. I figured from looking at the site map, peg number 61 commanded the same water area as peg 12 and 13, but from the opposite bank. I decided that once I’d placed my water container in the swim and reserved it, I would simply relax for 10 minutes and listen.
Whilst sitting there I heard a strange noise coming from the next peg to my right. The noise sounded like something standing on top of ice – maybe a group of birds. As I went to investigate and walked down to the peg, I turned my headtorch on. What I saw really took me by surprise. Despite the margins being frozen solid, I could see the water was churned up underneath the ice at my feet. I could also see the distinctive movement of a carp’s tail as a fish was literally tearing the bottom up. I just stood back for a second and watched the action, because I knew there was absolutely bugger all I could do about it – typical!
By the time I’d unloaded the car it was fully light and I could clearly see the Middle Pool was covered in a thin layer of ice, which I’d half expected given the events in the swim next door. What I hadn’t expected was for the heavens to open and for me to have to set up my Tempest V2 in a hurry. Once I had managed to get my house in order, I can remember just sitting on my bedchair thinking, “What else can go wrong?”
I just knew it was going to be one of those grind ’em out sessions. Now, if I tell you that I then decided to go about firing a kilo of Mainline Cell boilies from five yards out to the middle of the lake I’m sure you would think I’d completely lost my way – but there was a reason behind this. There were a couple of very friendly swans on the lake and they kindly broke up the ice in front of my swim as they went about fighting over the
boilies that were sat on top of the ice. Once the wind decided to pick up a few hours later, the ice then drifted away from my swim leaving me with a chance to get the rods out by mid-morning.
I started my session using 2½ foot zigs, putting one rod on yellow and black foam and the other on orange and black. I had a lead around the swim and could tell it was a pretty uniform lake bed, with around 6ft of water in front of me. The lake has a two rod limit as the swims are pretty close together, and you’re almost fishing the same water as each other.
The first few hours passed without so much as a liner and I’d worked the water column with zigs at different depths and various colours, as much as possible. The fact that everyone was fishing pretty much the same small area of water suggested to me that the pressure might be having an effect on the fish. It was time to go into stealth mode. I wound both the rods in and decided to rest the swim for a few hours. If there had been any fish in feeding mode I thought I would have tagged one or, at the very least, had some form of indication as to their presence.
Around 3pm, when most of the anglers were settling down for the evening, I decided it was time to set the traps for the night ahead and, no matter what, once they were in position that’s where they would be staying for the remainder of my session. Now, if anyone follows me on social media, the rig I’m about to explain will not come as a shock to you, as it’s one of only two rigs I take absolutely everywhere with me – and it’s the multi rig. I constructed two multi rigs using 20lb Korda Kamo braid which were both around 6 inches long. The hook was a size 4 Kurv Shank and the bait was mounted using a micro swivel. I tend to use a swivel instead of a rig ring for the simple reason it gives you a few options on how you can tie your bait on, and I also believe it gives the bait more movement. I loaded both rigs with Mainline 14mm white Cell Fluoro Pop-ups that had been
soaked in a Toasted Almond and Raspberry Ripple flavour. I cast both rods just over 30 yards out, and around two lengths apart, before catapulting a dozen chopped Link and Cell boilies around the rigs. I decided not to go mad with the bait to start with and fish for a bite at a time. I wanted to build the swim up as I went along because I could tell with the way the session was panning out that there was only a bite or two in it. Just before I cast out I put three small pieces of Dark Matter putty behind my lead clip just to ensure everything was nailed to the bottom and, to finish off, I added a couple of small back-leads to the equation.
With everyone around me casting spombs or using tight lines at short range, I knew if I could keep as quiet as possible the fish would eventually move into the area they thought had the least amount of lines.
After around an hour I started to receive some quite savage liners and, as you can imagine, I was up and down like a yoyo expecting one of them to develop into a take at any moment. Eventually, I did received a take. The bobbin hit the alarm and I was away but, unfortunately, the enthusiasm only lasted about 30 seconds – it was a bream!
I cast the rod back into position and put a few more chops out over the area, whilst saying all kinds of expletives which I can’t repeat in this article. Once I’d put the kettle on, I sat down to mull things over. I decided to take on the positives from the bite – my rigs were working and if a bream can pick my bait up so could a carp.
As the sun set over Baden Hall I decided to
The bobbin hit the alarm and I was away but, unfortunately, the enthusiasm only lasted about 30 seconds – it was a bream!
get an early night. The venue is around a 1½ hour drive from home for me so it was going to be an early start in the morning. Well, what can I say about what happened to me next – am I jinxed, cursed or maybe just unlucky? Anyway, around 10pm the mother of all storms came in and, despite being under the cover of some trees, the wind was smashing up against the Tempest. I’ve fished in some pretty savage conditions before but the rain that night was something else. I remember laying on my Levelite thinking, “If one of those rods goes now I’m not getting up and going out there.”
I bet you can guess by now what I’m going to say and, yes, at 10.30pm I received a couple of bleeps which I initially put down to the wind. However, a few seconds later the unthinkable happened and it roared off! I frantically attempted to get my boots on and unzip the door, whereby I was met with a face full of torrential rain. Just getting to the rod was an art in itself. As I picked the rod up and flicked my headtorch on, I remember looking out over the lake and seeing waves two feet high and thinking to myself, “What on earth am I doing here.” Anyway, after a five minute battle, which felt more like half an hour, I landed a cleanlooking, mid-double common. Needless to say, it remained securely in the landing net whilst I took cover back in the bivvy to dry off. Once the stormed had passed and the weather had calmed down, which ironically was only a few minutes after landing the fish, I unhooked it and cast a fresh bait back out onto the spot. Again this was followed by half a dozen freebies. This time though, instead of chopped baits, the freebies were whole 15mm baits – as the wind wouldn’t allow me to get anything else out there.
After I’d taken photographs of the carp I went back to bed, a little bit damp but with some satisfaction that the session had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at me and I’d still managed to achieve the goal. It just goes to show you have to persevere through the difficulties that fishing can throw at you to get the rewards.
The rest of the night passed quietly. I awoke at first light to watch the water with a brew in hand but never saw a ‘sausage’ – at least the lake wasn’t frozen, I thought to myself. Over the course of the next few hours I sat patiently and quietly behind motionless rods hoping there would be one more fish for my efforts.
I was told the venue was a prolific fishery and, in the warmer months, I can imagine situations where it would be difficult to keep a rod in the rests – but, on this session, with the combination of the frozen lake and the angling pressure, even prolific waters can be difficult. I decided to stick it out until lunchtime before I started tidying everything away. Fortunately, the car was directly behind me, so it allowed me to literally pack the gear and just leave my rods out. I’m a big believer in leaving your rods in the water for as long as possible and packing them away last – so I’ll always
The rest of the night passed quietly. I awoke at first light to watch the water with a brew in hand but never saw a ‘sausage’ – at least the lake wasn’t frozen, I thought to myself
lay them on the ground as it only takes a second for a bite. I was just walking back into the swim to wind them in and as I looked down at the rods the clutch on my left-hand rod was spinning – I was away! I picked up into the fish and landed what turned out to be another double-figure common. I kind of felt it was the least I deserved after the 24 hours I’d experienced.
I managed to snap a couple of pictures after unloading the car again as my Sanctuary unhooking mat was all packed away – but I was well chuffed.
I sent a text message to Roy the bailiff before I left the lake, thanking him for his advice and hospitality, and it turned out that with 17 anglers on the lake, they were the only two fish caught during the length of time I was there. I guess when your luck’s in, even on the coldest of days, you can still achieve results.
Baden Hall has some superb fisheries, and although I chose to fish the Middle Pool due to the time of the year and the weather conditions we had at the time, I will certainly be back at some point in 2018 to fish one of the specimen lakes which hold some pretty epic carp.
BELOW My chosen swim for the duration
BELOW First things first – home for the weekend
Hardly an ideal start to proceedings ABOVE
ABOVE LEFT By any means necessary – using the local wildlife to clear the offending ice Two-and-a-half foot zigs as a starting point ABOVE RIGHT
ABOVE Baiting up with a few chops – just enough to get them looking MULTI-RIG WITH MY FAVOURED FLUORO white Cell hookbait RIGHT
A mid-double common caught in stormy conditions ABOVE
ABOVE LEFTMy rods are always left until the death The result of leaving your rods in the water until last knockings – everything else was back in the car at this point A nice way to say goodbye!ABOVE RIGHT RIGHT