One of the country’s biggest trout waters is set to open its doors to coarse anglers all-year-round, bringing untapped fish stocks within their reach for the first time.
The radical experiment at the 600-acre Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex will allow anglers to use a wide variety of different methods and baits to target the lake’s fabled stocks of carp to over 40lb, 30lb-plus pike and numerous other species of possible record proportions including double-figure eels and monster perch.
The incredible coarse fish potential of Britain’s trout waters has been well documented in the past year following the pike trials on reservoirs like Llandegfedd, Grafham and Chew, and by catches of British record-shaking specimens by fly fishermen, including the recent capture of a 3lb 15oz Toft Newton roach.
The Northumbrian Water team that manages the fishing on Hanningfield is introducing the new rules from Saturday, March 7, the ultimate goal being to encourage more people to go trout fishing by making it less exclusive and more accessible.
“This is the future of stillwater trout fishing,” insisted Don Coe, a fisheries boss at the utility.
“We’re looking to provide angling for everyone, but the long-term sustainability and viability of put-and-take trout fisheries is our long-term aim. We want to hook anglers for life on the fishing experience we can give them,” he added.
Don claims that introducing ‘all method fishing’ for trout on Northumbria’s reservoirs saved their business at a time when increased market competition for people’s leisure time began threatening trout fisheries nationwide.
He believes Northumbrian Water has proved the two methods – fly fishing and coarse fishing – can successfully co-exist on ‘put-and-take’ waters.
“This all-method approach allows kids to use cheaper and easier-to-use fishing tackle to catch fish. To that end we’re running a promotional offer that allows two under-17s to accompany an adult or guardian and fish for free on their ticket,” said Don.
However, it’s the nation’s big-fish enthusiasts who were perhaps most excited by news of the Hanningfield experiment, with many Internet forums going into meltdown as they discussed the venue’s unexploited potential for coarse species of huge proportions.
“It’s every specimen angler’s dream to fish a huge 600-acre water that has never been baitfished before. Opportunities like this are increasingly rare,” said Andy Nellist from the British Record Fish Committee.