by Paul Orford
A quick jaunt down the M25 and I was soon driving down quiet country lanes just outside Reigate in Surrey, on my way to sample the excellent fishing at Priory Farm Fishing Lakes. The sun shone through the window and I was full of the joys of spring and looking forward to some well earned time away from work.
Priory Farm Fishing Lakes offer superb coarse and carp fishing on four lakes, all well stocked with crucian carp, roach, perch, tench, rudd, bream, and of course, stunning carp to 30lb. A mere 20 miles from Central London, Priory Farm Lakes are within easy reach and members only fishing means the lakes remain under fished and the quality of the fish is always second to none.
I met up with Ian Ford, the Fisheries Manager at Priory Farm who drove me up to the car park. He suggested I try out Priory lake, as despite the recent cold weather, it had been fishing reasonably well.
The fishing on Priory Lake offers great year round sport and according to Ian, the carp, which are close to the original wild carp, will definitely give you a good fight !!
Most baits had been working well Ian remarked and taking his advise I set up two rods, one with a method feeder and single boilie cast as near to the island as I dared and one with a waggler fished hard on the bottom with pellets for hook baits. I offered only a few morsels of loose feed as I expected that bites might be hard to come by after a cold night.
Bites were indeed hard to come by, in fact they were pretty much non existent. I was also troubled by the resident swans who were certainly in feeding mood, even if the fish weren't. After a couple of hours on Priory Lake with no action whatsoever, I decided enough was enough and moved the short distance to Hogtrough Lake where I hoped for better luck.
Hogtrough lake is the youngster at Priory Farm although the lake is maturing nicely with the island and bank side vegetation growing rapidly. Apparently the fishing can sometimes be a little harder than the other lakes although the rewards are well worth putting in the extra effort, especially if targeting the resident hard fighting carp which go to 30lb.
As I neared Hogtrough Lake, I noticed there was one other angler trying his luck so I decided to pick his brains about what methods and baits worked well on Hogtrough. The angler in question turned out to be George, a regular at Priory Farm Lakes for many years. George was fishing the pole at 4m and because of the cold weather, with water temperatures not much above 0 deg c, he was using extremely fine tackle and tiny baits.
He explained that he always fished a different swim at Priory Lakes, still keen to learn as much about the fishery as he was when he first fished the lakes over 16 years ago.
Although he was keen to pass some of his knowledge onto a newbie like myself, he certainly wasn't going to reveal all his secrets that he had amassed over many years of studying and fishing and the lakes at Priory Farm. He was keen to retain a certain edge over everyone else ... and who can blame him.
George estimated that a crowded day at Priory Lakes would see a maximum of around 10 anglers on each lake. Compare this to a day ticket commercial fishery and you can see why this members only fishery is so attractive.
I could have stayed talking with George all afternoon but I had come to sample the fishing, so decided I had better get back to it. Using the same two methods I had started with on Priory Lakes, I recast my rods and hoped that as temperatures had risen slightly from the morning session, I could tempt a few fish to have a quick meal.
Unfortunately, this was not the case and the net stayed dry all day. George did manage one perch of around an ounce but I'm sorry to say that was all. Strangely though I was not too disappointed. For a townie like me, being in such stunning countryside with only the sound of the trees rustling in the wind and the odd bird singing was pleasure enough. Of course I would have liked to catch some fish, but that can wait until next time.
So what are my first impressions:
- Stunning location
- superbly maintained lakes and pegs
- un crowded and under fished
- easy to find and get to (even for me in West London, the drive was only around 45mins)
- really friendly and helpful fisheries manager (Ian Ford)
I can't wait to get back to Priory Farm and try my luck once more.
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