Syndicate Style Fishing On A Day Ticket
Mat Woods gets privileged access to Baden Hall’s new day-ticket water, Glovers Lake.
Nestled in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside is, to my mind, one of the nicest day-ticket fisheries in the UK. Baden Hall is home to lakes of all shapes and sizes, with just about every fish species you can think of swimming around in them.
For the carp angler, the real attraction is the Quarry Pool, home to half a dozen forties, 50 or so thirties and around 200 carp in total; catch a double and you’ve been unlucky! Next door to this you have the Bridge Pool, which is to my mind the most underestimated venue in the Midlands. I had a quick dabble on there last summer and every carp I caught was a good twenty. I saw dozens of carp in the low-thirty bracket and even a few surprises. Both Quarry and Bridge attract anglers from all over, but the new gem in the fishery’s crown is the pool behind the Quarry that has until recently been a total secret.
Glovers Lake is around six acres and is a shallow, gin clear, reed-lined paradise. With a relatively unknown stocking density, it’s not your average ‘new’ day-ticket venue. Most of the carp in the lake have been in there longer than the fish in the Quarry, and are an assortment of strains from all over the complex.
There are good carp in the two runs waters at Baden, the Middle Pool and Dam Pool, and over time these have been like a nursery for the specimen pools. One look at the fish cruising around in Glovers and you get the feeling this isn’t going to be just another day-ticket venue. No big, pale mirrors, just characterful old fish that have been left to their own devices for two decades.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first anglers to fish Glovers last winter. On my first visit, Adam Firth and I had 15 bites between us, with carp up to 26lb. On sessions following this we had fish to just under 30lb in the colder conditions.
Last spring, they held a leg of the Baden Cup on Glovers and those who entered that particular qualifier were allowed to fish the Lake before the match for a few weeks. Every carp that came out was a hard-fighting virgin. Big twenties and low-thirties kept coming out and everyone was buzzing with excitement for the potential of the Lake.
The guys at Baden did the right thing, though, by leaving Glovers unfished for the remainder of the summer. This gave them time to feed heavily and get the carp up to their full potential, and also allowed them to put a few ‘proper’ swims in place rather than people setting up on grass.
It opens this spring so, with the permission of the fishery manager, I was allowed on there for a quick scouting mission. I have spent a bit of time watching the Glovers fish and recognised many of the caught and uncaught fish like old friends as they sunned themselves on the end of a cold wind in just a few feet of water. I fed a number of spots with various baits, as the conditions weren’t ideal for a bite off the bottom.
What was clear was that, despite a cold winter, the fish were looking lovely and plump! As I scattered a few grains of corn in the margins hoping for a quick chance of a bite, I noticed that the carp were far too busy sunning themselves for that malarkey! Instead, I walked up and down the far margin following the bigger ones, trying to get a measure of which was which and how big they were.
Fishery bailiff Roy Russell recently caught a 33lb common and I clocked that fish right away. It has quite large gaps between its scales and is really golden, rather than being dark. Most of the commons look like brown leather in the water, but he was blinging like a gold coin. I also saw a mirror I’d found the previous winter that I’d told Roy was easily an upper thirty. Well, I might have to revise that estimation now, because this thing looks bigger! If you catch a lump out of Glovers with a snub head, that’s him!
I followed another pair of mirrors that both have a look like the Resident from Coate Water Park, but I settled in the windward corner where lots of fish were coming and going as they pleased. It was awesome watching such a variety of fish milling around. Like the Quarry and Bridge Pools, Glovers is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get!
Eventually, after two hours of getting sunburnt, I shot to my feet as a couple of lighter coloured mirrors started blowing up bubbles, feeding in the silt. It must have been a really deep silt pocket as the fish virtually disappeared into it. I’d thought the bottom was only 3ft down, but the fish totally immersed themselves in the almost liquid lakebed so I couldn’t see them at all.
I couldn’t help but lower a rig in. I decided to pop a couple of plastic grains of corn on my favourite German rig with a little PVA bag of Sonubaits F1 Corn dried off in a yellow, corn-based groundbait called Bream Feeder. I’ve done really well on this little combination in recent times, and I chuckled to myself as it landed, knowing it was going to rattle off.
Well, don’t ask me how, but as I tried to sink the line without getting it caught in the marginal reeds it pulled tight and there was a mirror carp on the end! It wasn’t much of a fight; before too much happened he was in the net, a proper gnarly old character fish with one eye, one pec smaller than the other and a really distinctive tail. He must have already been in the liquid silt when I cast. I’d thought the coast was clear to lower it in and was too busy looking at a common on the surface to see if he spooked or not when the lead splashed in. It appeared that none of the fish were that bothered, and my attempts at being stealthy and ‘well carpy’ were all a bit pointless! The fish is blind in one eye, though, so maybe he didn’t see me coming!
At first I thought it was another uncaught mirror, but it turns out it was a fish caught by a buddy of mine last spring at 21lb. Well, now it weighs 25½lb, which shows you these fish are really heading in the right direction. As much as I wanted to stay, after a few selfies with the carp I headed home happy with my afternoon’s work, smiling at how well the fish were doing.
Basically, if you want a day-ticket fishery that feels like a syndicate lake, a day-ticket fishery with some genuine mystique and some genuinely beautiful carp, Glovers is the only choice. I can’t wait to do a few more sessions on there when it opens. Until then, I might just have to have another wander around the Bridge Pool, or catch that big common from the Quarry... I’ve spent long enough trying!