Horton Complex Specials
Stuart takes a fond look back at his time on Horton. In amongst the monsters of the Church Lake and Kingsmead 1, there are some truly SPECIAL fish...
Stuart takes a fond look back at his time on Horton. In amongst the monsters of the Church Lake and Kingsmead 1, there are some truly special fish...
OOver the few decades Horton has been a fishery, it has been through a number of changes. From the Church’s changeover from a trout fishery to a carp syndicate, along with its accompanying group waters, to its takeover by RK Leisure in more recent years – yet it has continued to grow from strength to strength. Embracing change is something many lakes and their members have had to do in recent times. In the case of the Horton Complex the changes have been very positive and have supported the growth of an established fishery. These are based on traditional fishing values, and now provide a more contemporary set up with nothing short of five star facilities for anglers and their whole families to enjoy. It really is the theatre of dreams for most anglers, or for me and a few others at least.
The Horton Complex is without doubt one of the most iconic, historic and famous fishing venues in the UK, with the Church Lake probably being the most written and talked about of the lakes on the complex. Its spring fed, crystal clear, deep and weedy water, which is full of natural food, provides a banquet for the fish that reside there. So it is no wonder that the carp in Church, and in the other lakes on the complex, have thrived over the years. It has seen a loyal following of anglers and bailiffs who care about the venue and its stock, and most significantly had been in the care of the late Del Smith for many years – who was almost as iconic as the lake itself. Del led by example with his fishing etiquette and way the venue was maintained. It all gave a sense that no angler is bigger than Horton itself and never will be.
The venue has seen an increased focus on its in-house stocking program over the last few seasons, and what it is now producing is nothing short of superb. Carp are being raised from the spawn produced in the lakes and the growing programme is being conducted professionally. The resulting carp coming through are some of the most unique and special in the country. There is nothing else quite like them. From the polytunnels to the growing ponds by the lodge, the management really have got it just right. The future is bright and Del’s legacy is clearly in evidence and will live on now for years to come – and for future generations to enjoy.
There is now a significant head of very large carp in all the lakes including many 45lb-plus fish, and a number of 50lbplus carp that are regularly sought by the current members. It doesn’t surprise me though that the venue has been getting tarnished with the ‘full of Simmos’ brush and yes, there are some very large fish to be caught of the Fishers Pond strain (Simmos) – but believing that these are the only strain of big fish to be caught would suggest that a bit more homework might be required!
There are some very special fish scattered amongst the lakes on the complex – some old, some new – and every angler that comes to fish there will have a target or two in mind, whether they be the larger 40lb and 50lb residents, the older Thorpe Park or Longfield stockings, or even some of the Back Lake and Fridge Lake fish that have been moved across. Some of the more recent stockings are starting to produce some really sizeable, scaly fish and there are stunning and unique fish in all the lakes – something for everyone irrelevant of your angling style, desirable fish or fish-strain preference.
There are some smaller and larger residents that I personally see as ‘the special ones’ that might have been overlooked more recently, overshadowed by some of the 40s and 50s that have been in the limelight – and I have been lucky enough to catch one or two along the way.
TOP The late Del Smith with a Horton carp
BOTTOM The future? Carp being raised in the polytunnels on the Horton Complex