Deep gravel pits are usually the haunt of specimen pike and carp anglers but there is one in the Midlands where vast shoals of giant roach have been dominating recent headlines and keeping match and pleasure anglers happy all through the winter.
Mill Farm Fishery in Gilmorton near Lutterworth, started life in the 1950s as an old sand and gravel quarry that filled up with water when a spring was disturbed on the bottom. The banks were then set with vegetation and before long it was claimed by the angling community. In time, the lake became known for its big carp but over the years the baits left by those in search of them became the staple diet of the pool’s silverfish and the roach population has boomed.
Today, these redfins are seen as a nuisance to the venues visiting carpers but to the matchman they have become the area’s best kept secret. Middy backed Joe Oakes is a regular at the fishery and reckons there are few others like it in the country.
“I love fishing this venue as the roach fishing is immense. They aren’t small either - you rarely catch anything under 4oz and it’s also the most versatile place I know. You can fish any method here and bag up, although I like to use a pole,” he said.
Being an old quarry, the depth of this venue (14-15ft on average) can put a lot of anglers off but places like this are simple to fish if you just follow a few basic guidelines, says Joe.
“Before fishing, find a flat, weed-free area with a heavy plummet at around 11m out,” he said. “Using a pole will make presentation easier when fishing at this sort of depths. Just stick to the one rig though as you’ll need another top-five kit if you wish to fish a second one.”
In winter Joe likes his bait positioned on the bottom as this is where the bigger roach sit when it’s cold, so heavier elastics and pole floats are a must.
“I fish the lake like you would a tidal river with a 2g pole float and an olivette bulk to get the bait down quickly and a slightly heavier elastic than on shallow commercials in order to set the hook better in the deeper water. As for the hook itself I use around a size 16-18 with caster or maggot as you don’t need to fish too small because the roach aren’t hook shy” he said.
Joe also likes to keep the feeding simple with groundbait his key ingredient in the deep water. “I start the session by cupping in half-a-dozen balls of fairly dark fluffy groundbait laced with casters and only top it up once bites start dwindling. The fish will tell you when to feed – it’s really that easy here,” he said.
If you enjoy fishing in this style the rewards are well worthwhile as with few predators and even fewer anglers the Main Lake’s roach shoals are easy pickings for those few who target them.
Most swims will provide at least 20lb on a good day and with a relaxed keepnet rule you’ll even be able to view your catch at the end of your session. Once the water starts to warm the carp will also feed and that’s when anglers target them with tactics such as pellet wagglers or Method feeders. Most average over 10lb with the odd lump to 20lb but the roach are still there and can be caught fishing shallow with casters or small pellets.
The fishery also has a 35-peg match lake which also fishes well for carp in summer and supplemented by a hefty amount of skimmers which make for a good day’s sport themselves.
Prices: £7 one rod, £10 for two; 10-15s £3 per rod on the bank.
Contact: 07802 655650, www.mill-farm-fishery.co.uk
Location: Mill Farm, Peatling Parva Road, Lutterworth, LE17 5NR
Rules: No night fishing, barbless only, groundbait by cup or feeder only, no peas, beans, nuts or tiger nuts
Facilities: Disabled access, toilets
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