Absence makes the Carp grow fonder.

Stunning Weston Park lake and Boathouse
Stunning Weston Park lake and Boathouse

It’s fair to say it’s been a few years since I last seriously went carp fishing.  In fact bar the odd trip fishing with dog biscuits, it was actually 1992 that I last seriously fished for them.  If truth be known I fell out of love with it due to some of the people that were fishing for them on my local waters.  So when I got a hankering for having another go for them late last year a plan was hatched with Mr C to ease my way back onto the carp scene.  Mr C is  a bit of a carp buff and has fished many places so my brief was simple, no knobheads, somewhere quiet and somewhere that we had a good chance of getting a fish or two.  I’m not bothered about catching monsters, yet, I was interested in getting my string pulled.

Instantly he suggested Weston Park in Staffordshire run by Rob Hales and his team at RH Fisheries.  The lake and gardens were designed by Capability Brown and when I did my initial research I couldn’t help but get a bit giddy.  With only 15 swims on the whole lake and a good head of fish it looked like the perfect place.  What’s even better is the Grade II listed boathouse that has been converted into self-catering accommodation sleeping 2 people.  Fortunately when we phoned up to enquire about availability there was 1 week available in 2016 so we quickly booked it.

Boathouse Accomodation
Boathouse Accomodation

Our week soon arrived and we picked up the keys from The Monument and made the short drive to Weston Park.  Entrancing through the locked gates we drove through the woods before the lake opened out in front of us.  It was even more stunning than the pictures made it out to be.  The accommodation was immaculate too retaining many of the original features from when it was built.  It’s difficult to appreciate the history of such a place and as we sat in the kitchen, having a cup of tea staring at the two carp mounted in the glass case above the fireplace, I wondered just who had frequented the place over the last 200 years and what stories it could tell.

One of the benefits of booking the boathouse is you get 3 dedicated swims that none of the syndicate members are allowed to fish.  I chose the right hand boathouse swim and Mr C chose a swim called the “African Tree”.  The plan was to fish 3 rods casting to the far side of the lake underneath the rhododendrons as this is where a lot of the fish are caught.  I did put two baits over there but I decided to fish the third about halfway across.  One word of warning though, if you don’t like weed then this isn’t the place for you.  Most of this fishing is done with either chod rigs or helicopter rigs which is what we opted for.

We decided to night fish the first night rather than sleep in the boathouse just to get a fish or two on the bank.  Once we’d done that we decided that we could then sample the luxuries of the boathouse.

It was difficult to sleep in the bivvy that first night as I was expecting a run at any minute and all sorts of thoughts were running through my head.  Eventually though I did manage to drift off into semi-unconsciousness and then at some ungodly hour of the morning I could hear Mr C’s delkim spring into life.  I made my way along the path to find him battling a fish which came to the net surprisingly easy and we were both shocked when we looked at the fish as it was a right lump.  We weighed her and she pulled the scales down to 32lb.  Not a bad start and after a couple of quick photo’s she went back into the dark gloomy water.

Mr C - 32lb Mirror
Mr C – 32lb Mirror

No more fish came to the net that night but mid-afternoon on the Sunday it was my turn as I had a screaming run and I landed a lovely looking mirror at just over 24lb.  Thankfully we had both got the monkey off our back and we could relax a little.  The next night was uneventful and we were both getting a bit twitchy as we were expecting a bit more action than we were getting.  Mr C had fished the water as part of the syndicate a few years previously and he was a bit perplexed about the lack of activity.  Speaking to some of the other anglers they too were struggling so at least we could take comfort in the fact that it wasn’t anything we were doing wrong.  Mr C was next in with a 24lb mirror and then I took a fantastic looking common which although on the small side at 15lb was absolutely mint.

24.2 Mirror
24.2 Mirror

Then the fishing went even quieter and neither of us had a take for two days until finally my alarm went off in the early hours of Thursday morning and I landed a stunning 28lb leather carp.  The good thing is it signalled a bit of a run of fish for me as just before 1am on Firday morning I landed a lovely common which had me convinced it was a good 30lb+ fish due to the scrap it gave me and then at 4am on Saturday morning I had my final fish weighing in at 22lb which was another mirror.

28lb Leather
28lb Leather


Battlescar Common - What a scrap!
Battlescar Common – What a scrap!

In between the carp fishing we did find some spectacular Rudd and we managed several upto 1.13 in weight.  I doubt they had even seen a hook and we used a whole loaf of Warburtons, that we had bought for sandwiches, trying to tempt them.

1.10 Rudd - A welcome distraction
1.10 Rudd – A welcome distraction

Sadly the week was over far too quickly, as is usually the case when you are having fun.  It’s fair to say the fishing was unusually hard by all accounts but we still ended the week with 1 x 30, 5 x 20’s and a mid-double which I was more than happy with.  We never did get to sleep in the boathouse such was our enthusiasm for the fishing.  We did make use of the kitchen though to cook our meals and make copious amounts tea and coffee.  During the week we had spoke about whether to put our names down for the syndicate or come back for another week next year.  We were both giddy about fishing there again and it had re-ignited a bit of my passion for carp fishing again, after all they do say variety is the spice of life.

We took the keys back to The Monument and while we were there we bumped into Rob.  During our conversation we discussed the possibility about booking the lake exclusively for a week next year.  As luck would have it for us he managed to squeeze us in for a week.  The thought of having the whole lake for just the two of us for a whole week has got me bursting with excitement, it’s just a shame that we’ve got to wait nearly a whole year before we are back there again.


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