Bernard Hunt and I Gary Bayes have gone into partnership to run the lakes as one fishing club at the RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes site. Our intention is to secure a longer lease for the lakes and to develop them into the type of fishery they are famous for. The lakes will never be runs waters but we will be introducing more fish in the future to maintain the fisheries as interesting, difficult waters where every fish caught is special.
Bernard and I have decided to have up to 35 members on Drayton Fen, 35 on Ferry Lagoon with 10 extra tickets at £500 per season that cover both these lakes.
On Swavesey we will run a separate 15-man syndicate, there will be no shared Drayton Fen/Swavesey ticket as before.
If you are an existing member of any of the lakes, we will offer a swap ticket to join any of the other lakes where possible before offering any vacant places to the people on waiting lists
We have a long waiting list of anglers interested in the Fen Drayton and Swavesey lakes now but at the moment have places on Ferry Lagoon, although we do have a list of 12 people who are looking to join there in the 2017 season.
On Bayeswater I like everyone to know as much as possible about the lakes before they join. I’m hoping that most anglers have done their homework and know what to expect from the Fen Drayton complex but even on my lake I still get anglers complain about the weed, the farmer irrigating and other little niggles even though I’ve put all this in letters to them before they join.
So, here’s a short run down of what to expect.
The whole complex is run as a wildlife sanctuary with many visitors throughout the year so we share the site and do not own it, so expect the odd dog off a leash, walkers to stop and talk, etc. There are also a lot of areas that are strictly out of bounds and as tempting as they are must not be trespassed on.
‘If you’d like to support the RSPB in maintaining Fen Drayton Lakes for wildlife and groups like anglers and birdwatchers, then you can join for as little as £4 per month. If you’d like to join, please contact Fen Drayton Lakes directly, so that the reserve can benefit directly from your membership. Email: email@example.com or call the office on 01954 233260.’
The whole complex is on a flood plain so there is always the chance of natural movements of the fish stocks. This, plus the size and nature of the lakes makes it impossible to know exactly what’s in each lake. However, we do know that all 3 main syndicates hold carp up to mid 40’s and the whole area is renowned for specimen fish of most species including the British record bream but these lakes are not for the faint hearted, they are difficult low stocked waters but this is the draw of such waters and what makes every good fish caught so special.
Drayton Fen, formerly Fen Drayton is just over 90 acres of water with an average depth of around 9-10 foot. It used to be one of the richest natural food waters I’d ever seen, thick with weed. Some time ago though the weed receded to almost nothing and then the lake suffered a catastrophic spring flood. Until this flood the fishing had been the best it had ever been but for sure we lost some carp and the flood waters altered the natural balance of the lake and made it a lot harder. Since this flood there’s been very few fish caught per season, but this has improved in the last couple of years with the natural balance, weed and naturals making a comeback.
So to some degree Drayton Fen is an unknown quantity once again. When I first fished it 15 years ago we speculated about a fish an acre and one spring I actually counted over 70 individual fish cruising, having ID’ed each individual as 100% carp through the binoculars so I was happy that around 90 fish was about right because I know it’s impossible to see them all. Just after I stopped fishing the lake it was said by some individuals that there were only ever 40 fish in the lake, going by fish captures. So, however you book it, we simply don’t know what’s in the lake carp wise, I knew there was over 70 when I fished it heavy, I’d seen them, some anglers think you catch every fish that swims so thought about 40.
Now, since the floods, the weed dying back and the poor visibility it’s a lot harder to see the fish but worse ways there is 20 carp in the lake, including at least 3 of the better fish, sighted by very reliable anglers. I suspect there’s a lot more than we think; they were always hard to catch on Fen and fishing somewhere like Fen is always harder than fishing smaller waters. Years ago, at the Essex Arena most of the anglers thought there was around 250-300 fish but when it suffered a catastrophic fish kill over 540 corpses was recovered and at least 20-50 fish survived.
In short, we simply don’t know what the carp population is in Drayton Fen, but then that was the most exciting part of fishing it for me and many other anglers. For sure its not a runs water, the fish are hard to find and then hard to catch when you do find them, so if you’re a carp angler who wants to catch a lot of carp don’t join, it’s as simple as that.
The specimen tench and bream fishing however are exceptional with bream to 20 pounds and tench to over 14 pounds caught last year. Being able to fish for these species with proper tactics on such large waters is very exciting. No one knows what the top weights might be but there’s been exceptional fish seen by very reliable anglers.
As part of our agreed management plan with the RSPB we have introduced 5 carp into Fen Drayton last year, 2 x 20’s and 3 x 30’s, this is part of an on-going project to improve the angling, more fish have been introduced this season with plans to possibly add several more.
One of the fish was stocked at 21 pound and caught a year later at 28 pound so we are confident we are improving the lake.
From what I gather there has been more carp caught this season from Drayton Fen than the previous 3 seasons so the recovering water quality has improved the fishing for sure.
Ferry Lagoon, is a lot bigger than Drayton Fen at about 160 acres and looks even bigger to me where I don’t really know much about it. Like Drayton Fen it’s really an unknown quantity carp wise. It’s produced some very big fish for sure, bigger than what’s ever been caught from Fen so the mystique is probably heightened. I know anglers in the past that have caught fish never seen before or since which is to be expected with these wild Fen Drayton complex fish.
Unfortunately Ferry Lagoon has banks that are out of bounds which is unfortunate fishing wise but adds to the mystique, throwing more mystery into the pot. Most areas can be reached with bait boats and we are hoping to open up new swims in the future.
Tench and bream wise I think it’s fair to say Ferry Lagoon is slower than Drayton Fen but the shear vastness of the lake screams big fish and Ferry does hold the bream record.
Again, we have added more carp to Ferry Lagoon this year and will keep doing so in the future. We stocked 2 high doubles, 16 x 20’s and 3 x 30’s
Swavesey is the smaller of the big pits, at around 30 acres. I had a walk around the other day and it looks bigger from some angles. Recently Swavesey has become the lake to fish due to one or two of the resident carp bumping up to some very good weights. I’m not going to go on about Swavesey to much, it’s up to the angler to do their homework and it’s a full syndicate at the moment.
I’m unsure of the potential of the tench and bream fishing but Swavesey does have a track record of producing some very big chub in the past, up to 8 pound 14 ounces 100% accurate. I’m not sure if there is still many chub in the lake but then that is the way these lakes are, low stocked but supporting some very big fish.
River Ouse and Holywell pond are an unknown quantity to me. UK Rivers are becoming cleaner now but are under other pressures that are seriously affecting them as big fish waters. Hopefully we’ll find out more as the river is fished.
Again, I’m not sure what the fishing is like on Holywell pond, I’m told it has a good head of tench and bream with the odd carp in it.
That’s about all I know for now. Bernard and I do have plans to carry on building the fish stocks up in the future and intend to develop the lakes further but will always do this on a similar theme that has made these waters the interesting, wild fishing they are known for.