Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself in a position needing to find new venues to fish for various reasons. My carp fishing over the years has mostly been on club or syndicate lakes with a good stock of larger fish, so trying to find lakes with a good stock is not easy. 

So, I have turned my attention to day ticket waters, this is a new experience for me; fishing busier lakes with a heap of rules that go with this type of fishing. 

Beachborough Lakes

My first venue was Beachborough lakes, I have written about this venue before so wont go into to much detail, Paul the owner has let me fish during the winter periods without the usual scrutiny, so I thank him for that and intend to fish there more often, Paul has a good stocking and maintenance policy vital to create a good fishery. 

Tonbridge Wells

My next venue was Strawberry fields near Tonbridge wells, somewhere I have intended to visit for many years due to the large carp that reside there. So I contacted the owner to pre-book a 24 hr winter session. The car park is some distance away from the lake, so a barrow is need to get down to the lake or you can drop off your gear by the gate as you enter the complex (which wasn’t explained to me at the time of booking). I arrived with the first torrential rain of the winter. The stream at the back of the swims was in full spate. 

My first encounter was with a fella called Tiny “ who isn’t Tiny ”. He gave me some useful information about the place and recent form and so decided on fishing the furthest swim from the entrance. No fish were showing any signs of movement. My thoughts were the heavy cold water rainfall had possibly put the fish into winter mode, The owner has some very blunt ideas on how you should fish the water and the rules that go with it. My first trip was uneventful apart from getting wet, it’s a small venue but swims are angled to not interfere with other anglers too much. The owner recommends meat based baits and suggested that boilies don’t work. I’ll leave you to decide on that one. I opted for solid bags with crumb and a small wafter. A winter ticket is available. Since my visit Tiny has created a Facebook page for the venue with up to date reports. I will return, but this is not somewhere I could fish every week. 

Sandhurst Lake

My next day ticket adventure, if you can call it that, was Sandhurst lake in Surrey, I was invited by Paul from Beachborough who had joined a lake exclusive booking and kindly invited me to join him for a seventy two hour session. We arrived early to avoid some of the motorway traffic. You can’t get on the venue until the allotted time, so we had to park up round the corner until we could access the lake – not something I’m used to. 

The bailiff said we could walk round before a draw for swims would be made. Didn’t really see much to go on during our first visit to the lake. Although we had watched Youtube videos and had some information from friends. Unless you can see something on the day its always a bit of a guess you picking the right area when you do come out of the draw. Well we came out first and second, so decided on the island swims for a catch up and a social. Paul going on the right of the swim where just after we set up, fish did start showing. My feeling was these fish were up in the water and a zig was the only way to get some action. We stuck to the rules and weren’t tempted to zig fish. One of the downsides to fishing a lake with loads of rules. There were three fish caught on our trip the largest just over forty taken with the aid of a bait boat out into the centre of the lake. Apparently the bailiff saw the boat go out from the car park swim – on the ccttv installed somewhere in a secret location. But as the fella was on a lake booking, he allowed the use of the boat. For me watching a bloody bait boat go past my swim line further out didn’t fill me with optimism for my chances of a bite. He also had a thirty pound common from the same area. Another fish from the other end of the lake a mid twenty was also caught along with a mid-double bream that looked huge. We tried using different baits rigs that were allowed – to no avail. But we did have a good social with me cooking which is a rarity. Would I fish there again? Not something I’m contemplating anytime soon – at least half a dozen different bailiffs coming into the swim asking our names everytime got a bit boring. Something to be aware of also is bailiffs have the right to fish the lake when you have booked it exclusively. We could have got away with breaking the rig rules as with all these types of waters home and abroad there are loads of rules that don’t get checked when you’re actually fishing, the only rule that I do agree on is dipping nets and slings before entering the lake.