Loz has really spread his wings for this month’s feature, travelling all the way down to Dorset, mixing business and pleasure into a single trip to sample one of THE west Country’s LEADING fisheries...
Loz has really spread his wings for this month’s feature, travelling all the way down to Dorset, mixing business and pleasure into a single trip to sample one of the west country’s leading fisheries...
Ofishingn-site there are 11 lakes totalling 28-acres, which includes four specimen carp lakes, a ‘runs water’ and six match/pleasure
lakes. The lakes are well known for their carp fishing but they also provide one of the few places in Dorset to catch a catfish. The match lakes provide 90 pegs which are available for match bookings. The on-site tackle shop is one of the biggest in the UK and stocks all major brands, with opening times of Monday to Saturday from 8am until 6pm and Sunday 8am until 2:30pm. To complement the lakes they also offer self-catering holiday cottages which are ideal for anglers. The site also provide access to a shower block with a shower, toilet, washing machine and tumble dryer, so it’s perfect should you wish to fish a lengthy session, or even have a short holiday break.
The complex has a superb, up to date and current website with a clear list of both the rules and prices for fishing. They also keep an accurate catch report going, so it may be worth keeping an eye on this before booking your session so you know which lakes are producing fish. The rules are pretty self-explanatory to be honest and they are: Strictly no litter to be left, fish from designated areas only, you must have a minimum 42-inch landing net, a large padded unhooking mat must be used, no children under the age of 16 without prior arrangement, carp-friendly non-tether rigs only, all carp must be returned to the water via sling or zip mat, strictly no driving on the grass, three rod limit, bait boats may be used sensibly, all day-tickets must be purchased from the shop before commencing fishing, pike fishing from 1st October to 1st March and an EA rod licence is required.
Something I would advise anyone thinking of visiting the venue to do is book your place prior to turning up for your session. You can do this by calling the number I have already mentioned but with the lakes being a premier carp fishery for the area, they do get busy and the only way
Todber Manor is set in 125-acres of Dorset countryside and is home to some of the finest carp and coarse fishing in the south-west. The venue can be found by using the following address: Todber Manor Fisheries, Manor Farm, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1JB. You can also contact the fishery by using the telephone number (01258) 820384 or alternatively by email on: [email protected]bermanor.co.uk
of guaranteeing a place to fish is by prebooking in advance, this will also require a full, upfront payment.
Now, where do I start with my visit to the venue? So much happened during the trip it’s hard to put it all into this article, but we will give it a go from when I arrived at Todber in the first week of August for the Korda Carp Academy. The event was scheduled to run on ‘Big Hayes’ lake from Tuesday to Thursday and I decided rather than make the long five-hour drive back up north afterwards, I’d stay on and do a couple of nights for my own personal fishing. For the event, myself and my two students, Joe and Jacob, had been given peg 4 which controlled a great area of open water in the centre of the lake. To summarise the 48-hour event, everybody involved in the academy completely ‘smashed’ it. I think overall there were 206 carp caught in 48-hours and I believe the lake holds somewhere in the region of 800.
Once everything was finalised and everyone headed off for home it was time to get the rods out – and I’m sure you can imagine 48-hours watching the whole lake literally empty of carp certainly whet my appetite! Rich Shenton, who is the sponsored anglers co-ordinator for Korda, decided to stay on with me and get some extra filming done around how I approach these types of day-ticket venues. We decided to set up in peg 12, which was located around the back of one of the islands. There were literally two pegs that controlled the water in front of us and with the lake opening back up to the general public this was important. Day-ticket lakes can get very busy and it was probably even more likely this particular weekend due to the publicity on social media around the success of the Carp Academy.
By the time we had both managed to get everything set up it was getting on for late afternoon and we were both pretty exhausted from the past couple of days. Nonetheless, we went about finding spots in each of our swims before getting a much needed early night. In front of my swim I had the island around 70 yards away and it had a couple of little alcoves, and a gap between the edge of some reeds and the islands which the fish would have to pass through. I decided to hedge my bets and stagger the rods across the swim – the bottom was pretty uniform in depth around 6ft which came up to around 3ft tight to the island. There was little in the way of debris and the bottom was mainly comprised of clay with the odd hard spot here and there, which the fish had clearly fed on at some point. I fished my right-hand rod at 16 wraps close to the island in around 3ft of water; my middle rod was positioned at 15 wraps in 4ft of water and my left-hand rod was at 14 wraps in 6ft of water. In relation to baiting up I decided to put a spread of bait out with the catapult, 60 yards is a comfortable distance to fire a few boilies out just to give the fish something to feed on. We were told before arriving at the venue that spodding literally ‘kills’ the lake and the fish seem to shut up shop – maybe it’s because the lake is shallow; who knows? In the end it was a no brainer to give spodding a miss. I went about putting out 20 Mainline Cell and Link boilies on each spot before casting my rigs over the top for a couple of hours before dark.
On the rig front I decided to start with a simple IQ D-rig which would not only offer great anti-
tangle properties when casting but the rig would also reset itself should it get interfered with when presented on the bottom. The lake does contain a whole host of other species from bream to catfish so there’s always the possibility that the bait will bring everything to the party. My IQ D-rig is constructed from 20lb IQ2 fluorocarbon and used in conjunction with a size 4 Kurv shank hook. I like to use a large sinker in the centre of the hooklink to keep the rig pinned down – and I finish it off with an anti-tangle sleeve which covers the quick change swivel. I always like to use a sinker instead of putty when using fluorocarbon because you can be confident the sinker will remain in place and also not mark the hooklink. If you use putty it can tend to move as it has nothing to purchase onto.
I decided during this session that I would cast single hookbaits, and to compliment my rigs I used Mainline’s Cell cork dust Wafters which would imitate my free offerings out in the lake and also take away the weight of the hook when the fish picked up my hookbait. By using something which imitates what I’m feeding, it’s also less likely to appear as danger to the fish – whereas if I was to use a bright fluoro bait this may look out of place. Normally, in my day to day fishing, I like to add a small PVA bag of Response Pellets to my rig when I cast out just to ensure everything lands correctly but again I chose not to do this because the pellets would likely bring in the bream and the cats.
I finally got my rigs in the water around 6pm and before settling everything down on the alarms I slid a small back lead onto my mainline, before slackening everything off. Anyone who follows me regularly on social media will know I almost always use bowstring-tight lines, but on this occasion I figured this would do me more harm than good. That evening, good friends Nick Longpre and fishery manager Jack Taylor came down to see us and we had a BBQ whilst we reflected on the week so far. As we talked, two of my rods almost simultaneously pulled up tight and I landed a couple of lovely mid-double-figure Todber mirrors, what a great start. At around 9pm we decided to wind the rods in for the night and prebait ready for the morning. I catapulted 50 Cell boilies across the areas in the hope the carp would be there in the morning. My reasons for doing this were simple – during the Academy very few fish got caught during the night and most of the activity was during daylight hours; it would also give the carp a period of time to feel confident and have a free feed before first light. I set my alarm for shortly after 4am, to be up bright and early in the hope of seeing a few early morning rises. I’d literally got everything ready, the rods were clipped up and my baits were already attached so it was a simple case of flicking the rods out onto the spots and we were fishing. Again this is another little tip that people can take into their own angling – the more efficient you can be will definitely puts more carp on the bank for you.
No sooner had I put the kettle on and my rod was away! The prebaiting seemed to have worked as I landed an upper-double mirror. Before we did any of the camera work the fish was left secured in the landing net and I cast a fresh rig onto the spot quickly followed by another 20 Cell boilies. It’s important to maximise your fishing time, and time spent without rods in the water is not an option for me. You see most people taking their time setting the camera tripod up and weighing the fish – Heck, even maybe a cup of coffee before casting their rig back out.
The rest of the morning was hectic to say the least – both myself and Rich literally couldn’t keep a rod in for a good few hours and whilst we were both trying to fish effectively the camera work had to take priority. We ended up having a few hours rest making sure the filming was on point, prebaiting our swims and also tying a few much needed rigs. It just goes to show that if you get the tactics right on any given day you can enjoy plenty of success – and I believe that outcome was massively influenced by keeping the disturbance to a minimum.
We put the rods back out in the afternoon around 4pm but it was all quiet on the western front as if there were no carp in the lake! I decided
to start introducing the bait on a regular basis – every 20 minutes I’d catapult 20 baits out almost trying to entice the fish to feed by ringing the dinner bell. Eventually, my left-hand rod was away which resulted in a cracking scale-perfect 22lb common and my biggest of the session so far. After we’d returned the common to its home it was like a switch had been thrown and we couldn’t keep a rod in. Double takes were happening on both our rods and by that evening, I think we had managed 30 fish between us – crazy fishing!
Again we decided the most appropriate cause of action would be rest the swims and prebait ready for the early morning bite time again. At 4.30am and after some much needed sleep, I decided to get the rods back in position and again it was just a case of casting straight out as everything was already set up. In complete contrast to the previous morning the lake was strangely quiet, until 8am when my middle rod signalled a couple of bleeps – but nothing else happened. So I decided to wind the rods in and have a rethink. My rig on the middle rod had been tampered with and the D section had twisted around the shank of the hook which told me I’d been done! This wasn’t the first time this week I’d seen this as my students had experienced this on more than one occasion. A change was needed. I resorted to my faithful bottom bait presentation, which consisted of a size 4 Kurv shank hook with a small piece of silicon tubing on the shank. It was then finished off with some shrink tubing. I used the rig as a combi rig with the IQ2 material and joined the 20lb Kamo to the fluorocarbon with an Albright knot. I decided to keep with the same hookbaits but shorten my rigs down to literally four inches. I cast the rods
It’s important to maximise your fishing time, and time spent without rods in the water is not an option for me. You see most people taking their time setting the camera tripod up and weighing the fish
back out and again baited with 20 Cell boilies. It didn’t take long and I had another double take, which suggested the rig change had made the difference.
It was sunny as midday approached and the air temperature was almost 30ºc, so I opted to try a small zig on the right-hand rod with the idea of intercepting any passing fish – there were clear signs that they were up in the water column. I started with a 3ft zig using a combination of orange and black foam, which produced a take within seconds of casting it out. I went on to have three bites in the first hour before the fish wised up and moved off. I did end up trying to adapt and change the depths and colours to a 1ft zig with yellow and black foam which did bring me an extra bite.
By the evening myself and Rich had managed almost 60 carp between us, but we pushed on into the first few hours of darkness and managed to end up with 64 fish which totalled 1080lb in weight. The next morning we decided to finish off the filming we had to do and head home at 9am – the week had more than exceeded our wildest expectations from the Carp Academy through to our session.
Todber Manor Fishery has something for everyone and if getting a bend in your rod is what you’re after then this is the venue is for you. The average size of the fish is around the 15lb mark and if the fish continue to grow at the rate they are doing then this is going to be one impressive venue in the future.
One last piece of advice would be to fish smart and remain active – the fish are always actively hunting for food so if they’re eating it, give it to them. The last thing you want to do is turn up at this complex with a few handfuls of boilies. I think during our week we went through kilos and kilos of boilies but we were rewarded with almost 300 carp, so it just goes to show you can obtain a big hit of fish by fishing smart. The last thing to bear in mind is that the fish are pressured and used to seeing anglers’ lines, so do whatever you can do to keep disturbance down to a minimum and your lines out of the fish’s line of sight.
This mid-double mirror was typical of the Big Hayes stock ABOVE
BELOW Action can be hectic at times
Double trouble with Richard Shenton
Single ‘match the hatch’ hookbaits over a scattering of boilies were the order of the week TOP
ABOVE Front and centre – one nailed by the FLUOROCARBON IQ D-RIG
LEFT At times it was tricky to keep any rods in the water
BELOW Assessing the conditions over a nice brew at first light
In amongst the mirrors was the occasional common TOP
MIDDLE Short and dumpy...
BOTTOM Long and lean, there’s a real mix of strains at Todber Manor