One of the nation’s most well-known commercial complexes has announced it is set to undergo a major facelift in an effort to change its flagging fortunes.
Surrey’s Willinghurst Fisheries gained a national reputation for its bagging prowess but it has been plagued by problems since contracting the deadly KHV virus in 2009, with catch returns dropping and anglers venturing elsewhere.
In 2010, the Fish O’Mania qualifier at the venue saw winner Stu Ballard needing less than 70lb to book his place in the prestigious final, and that poor showing led to organisers of the money-spinning event not offering the fishery a chance to stage a heat in this year’s competition.
But despite the setback, fishery bosses vowed to take drastic steps to bring back the glory days, with fish stockings, new lakes and large-scale groundwork projects being undertaken at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.
Venue regular Jason Morgan has played a big part in reshaping the complex and he told Angling Times: “I’ve fished at the venue for longer than I can remember and I want to see it get back to being one of the best in the country.
“We’ve brought in thousands of skimmers so that winter sport improves, made one of the lakes into a specimen angler’s paradise and also dug out a brand new lake Šand that’s just the start!” Early indications suggest the transformation is already having a positive effect, with big hauls of carp and silvers being taken in the first few weeks since work began.
Several experts, including England international Steve Gardener, have been consulted on what action should be taken to ensure a bright future. He is adamant the revamp will help draw back the masses.
“It is a fantastic fishery and these are exciting times. John’s Lake is one of the fairest match lakes I have fished, and it looks set to become the best match venue in the south of England,” said Steve.