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Birch Lake - Our Regulars!

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For over a decade a group of anglers from Somerset and Avon police annually visited the complex.

They fished all the lakes at the complex banking many personal bests, but their favourite venue was Birch Lake for the quality of the fishing and the good bankside accomodation..

One of the policeman, a Traffic Unit boss from Frome called Nigel Butler set a record catch in 2009.

In a single day Nigel landed seven cats with the two biggest at 120lbs and 105lbs making this catch the biggest brace of catfish ever landed from the complex.

A couple of years ago Nigel retired and bought his own carp and cat lake just a few minutes drive away, so we have lost a client but gained a very good friend. If you are coming over in 2017, you may bump into him as he often calls over to see how our fishermen are doing.

Here are the pictures of his 225lb brace!

Could you break his record in 2017?

Posted by Paul Selman on 23/12/2016 12:59 Categories : Birch Lake


Birch Lake - Our Regulars

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The Howcroft family from Basingstoke have been coming to the complex for seven years now.

In that time they have fished all four venues: Birch, Poplars, Eagle and Peters and Orchard. They are equally at home targetting the big cats as well as the carp. I can't recollect a visit where they have no caught well with dad Fred and son David often chasing the big cats. Mum Jan is a very fine angler too and often banks the biggest carp of the week. David's daughter Lauren often comes with them.

In 2017 they have booked in for two weeks laid-back fishing on Orchard lake at the end of September.

Posted by Paul Selman on 08/12/2016 16:13 Categories : Birch Lake


Birch Lake - Busy at Birch Lake!

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Regulars that fish Birch will notice some major work on the far margin tree-line opposite the swims has been completed ready for the 2015 season. Regulars will know that in several spots on the far bank we have allowed the overhanging trees to spread out up to several meters over the lake to provide cover for the carp. However it was obvious last season that some of these trees had really come out too far, and some were in danger of falling into the lake and in the process taking much of the bankside with them. On the advice of our tree surgeon, Anthony, we have removed a number of the overhanging trees making the far bank much more accessible to the angler whilst at the same time still preserving the unique Birch atmosphere. We think this work will make the fishing easier as it will encourage the carp to move around the whole lake more rather than have them sitting tight to the far bank as they have tended to do in recent seasons. Another bonus is the lake will now get more wind on it and for the benefit of our many lady visitors to Birch more prolonged sunshine!

Posted by Paul Selman on 03/02/2015 10:38 Categories : Birch Lake


Birch Lake - Top-Up Stocking

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Every year we add a few thirties to increase the percentage of 30lb plus carp in Birch Lake, which is very popular and produced a best of 43lb last season. Last week we introduced two new mirrors of 30lbs and 33lbs, and two commons of 31lbs and a real stunner at 36lb plus. We hope to add one or two more thirty plus carp soon in readiness for the 2014 season.

Posted by Paul Selman on 01/12/2013 18:18 Categories : Birch Lake, New Stock


Birch Lake - Simon has great catch: despite the weather!

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Last week Simon Palmer from Chicester, West Sussex, had a great catch on Birch Lake in a very cold week, with rain, snow and frosty mornings: just about the worst conditions for catching carp! Simon’s catch was made up of three thirty pound commons with a best of 33lbs, two mirrors of 31lb and 33lb, six big twenties and two 19’s - plus he lost a monster catfish! With the very cold conditions Simon opted to use the minimum of bait, which was the correct approach. Many visitors to this small estate lake put in far too much bait at the start of a session rather than opting to fish for a single fish at a time. Start with minimal baiting, then if you then find the fish start to feed strongly during the session that unfolds, you can then bait more heavily to maintain the feeding spell. Once you have put your free offerings in, you cannot take them out! Simon also relied on bright hookbaits in the murky water, fishing popped-up corn or White Chocolate pop-ups with just a few free offerings around them. His hookbaits were very visible to the carp. He placed his hookbaits and freebies by hand from the small rowing boat we provide clients with. Although we recommend bait boats on Birch and these are a great aid, you can never achieve the accuracy of placement with a bait boat which you can achieve by placing by hand from a boat. His catch also shows you don’t need to fish bivvy sessions to be successful on Birch because Simon fished for just a few hours every day, resting the swim of lines for some of the day. Even if your lines are pinned down, it often pays to rest any swim for a few hours in the quiet part of the day so the carp can mooch around the baited areas with more confidence. Birch is a tricky little water and I know this is why it has so many devotees who return to the lake year after year. It is not one of those easy waters where you are pulling fish out one after the other day or night, it is one on which you need to think and where every fish caught is meritorious.

Posted by Paul Selman on 09/04/2013 16:13 Categories : Birch Lake, Catch Report


Birch Lake - The Big Cats of Birch Lake 2012

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Not so long ago we had two very experienced Ebro catfish anglers fishing Birch Lake and they had a good week, landing some good cats and carp into the 30’s.

Twice, however, they had to take to the boat to try to land of one Birch’s really big monster catfish and on the second occasion it was in daylight and they got a very clear view of the catfish alongside the boat. Sadly, on both occasions they failed to land the giant and left at the end of their stay shaking their heads and commenting: ‘You have a couple of really special big cats in there!’
 

Where did these ‘special’ cats come from? Well in the 2009 season long-time Birch angler Nigel Butler from Frome, Somerset, recorded the best ever catch of catfish caught in a single night from the complex. Nigel banked five big cats, including the Birch record of 120lbs and another just a ‘nats over 100lbs. Remarkably, the cats were landed on standard carp tackle and boilies intended for carp. A canny Nigel, fished with a slackish clutch and just allowed the cats to plough up and down the lake without too much pressure until they were ready to be gloved, although he did lose one big one on the concrete sluice gate.
 

So I think those ‘really special cats’ lost by the Ebro anglers were probably those two hundred-pounders caught by Nigel. With the average Wels’ growth rate being around 10lbs a year, that would put the biggest cat in Birch currently at around 150lbs, with another around 120lbs, although I personally think there are currently four Wels’ over 100lbs in the 2.5 acre lake.
 

In the season 2012 no one managed to land one of the hundred pounders but if I had a tenner for every occasion an ‘uncontrollable’ monster was lost I could put my feet up and finally retire!
 

Best Birch cat of 2012 was an 85lb beast landed by carp-france.com client, Mark Taylor, which was not just a pb but his first ever cat! Mark also banked another cat of 38lb, plus smaller fish of 27lbs, 25lbs and a double. Mark’s girlfriend Fran also had cats to 48lbs (but wouldn't touch it!), commons to 31lbs 5ozs and grass carp and mirrors to 18lbs – all p.b.’s.
 

One important thing about the Wels’ catfish is that they are not like carp. They have a very slow digestive system compared to carp, so they tend to feed like mad for short spells then lie up for a longish spell whilst their system digests the food. Then they wake up again for another feed, then they lie dormant for another spell, which then means cats are either feeding or they are not and unlike carp it is extremely difficult to induce them to feed by baiting up etc. The experienced catfisher knows this and is used to the blank sessions but the less experienced see all the cats caught on Birch and Poplars and think they are easy to catch: but they are not easy to catch unless it is during one of those  feeding spells.

Wels’ catfish, particularly in stillwater, are a much harder proposition than carp not least due to the feeding pattern. You also have to think in order to get that run, then you have to hook it - and missed runs are common with cats as the hook has to be in the right place in the mouth - and then you have the fight of your life to contend with once they are hooked!
 

Interestingly, we have one cat in Birch – it is a seven footer – that has developed a habit of lying up very visibly on the surface in the summer months under the treeline. It will stay motionless like a log day after day on or just under the surface, totally oblivious to the big carp swimming around it. I have never seen this before in France or the UK as normally cats lie up on the bottom. On a hot sunny day though, it is a remarkable and somewhat frustrating sight!


Numerous p.b.’s and first-ever cats were landed in 2012 by our visitors to Birch so I have included some of them in the Roll of Honour. The most rewarding thing about being a fishery owner is seeing the sheer delight and astonishment on clients faces when they have banked their p.b. Wels’ catfish or carp. I well remember the first thirty pound and forty pound cats I landed many years ago.

I thought I had hooked into a steam train!
 

Roll of Honour

Mark Dicken 85lb pb
 

Andy Parker 80lb pb
 

Jake from Kent 75lb pb
 

David Phillips 82lb pb
 

Keith Supple 65lb 8oz pb
 

Alan Hickmott 67lb pb
 

Fran Jordan 48lb pb
 

Craig Gambles 38lb pb
 

Neil Smith 41lb pb
 

Bill Rushton 44lb pb
 

Steve from Midlands 42lb
 

Posted by Paul Selman on 18/01/2013 12:40 Categories : Birch Lake