It goes without saying that most of us like to take a break and go on our holidays. Either at home or abroad, it's just nice to get away from our mundane day-to-day life. I think you'll agree we all need to kick back and relax from time to time. For me, it is at this time of year I start to think about where I can take the family on holiday. All I want is a nice place to stay. Good weather in a good location, somewhere the children can have fun and play safely, the misses can put her feet up with a glass of wine or two and where I could possibly do a bit of pleasure fishing.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, before you spend your hard earned cash, I suggest that take a look at what’s on offer at Brompton Lakes, nestled away on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
Fishing on the door step... literally
This is a simply stunning holiday complex situated in beautiful countryside surroundings, with 5 star luxury eco-lodges which overlook its very own private well established fishing lake. This scenic location has something for everyone.
Brompton Lakes is different to most other holiday complexes in many ways and, because of this, it suits both a family holiday or even if you’re a couple that just fancy a luxury weekend away. You see, the surprising thing is that the majority of people who stay here do not even bother with the fishing on offer because it is such a scenic place to stay and relax.
I set off from my home in Derbyshire and arrived on site within 2 hours. This is perfect travel time when you have young children, because they soon get bored on long car journeys. On arrival, we were greeted by the friendly staff, but as we had arrived early the lodge was still being prepared. However, Kate suggested a game of tennis to keep the kids amused, as there is a court on site. Well, I am no Tim Henman, but hey, I’m on holiday - let's give it a go! And before you knew it, me, the misses and kids are all happily playing tennis and, as the balls flew, so did the time and it was not long before Kate gave us the all clear and the keys to 'Finlay', our lodge. As we walked in, there was a lovely hamper waiting for us, filled with all the necessities like bread, milk, cheese, fruit and a bottle of red wine. All local produce and top quality, which was very thoughtful. But, best of all, the lodge itself was just out of this world. I could go on and on about how well built and designed these eco-lodges are, not to mention the sheer quality of the fitted kitchens, appliances, dining furniture, bathroom suites, beds, en suite bedroom...everything, but the 5 star rating says it all. Simply fantastic.
It was not long before I turned my attention to the lake. I would estimate that it is about 3 acres in size, with one island. It holds all the usual coarse fish such as roach, perch, rudd, bream and carp. I could already see the odd fish cruising under the surface. The weather was lovely and I could not resist getting some bait in, so I quickly made up some ground bait with hemp, Dynamite Baits scopex and strawberry sweet corn and micro pellets, and proceeded to ball in four good sized balls, just to give them a taster of things to come.
Whilst the misses unpacked, I took the girls for a look at the river. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, you also have a mile of the River Swale to go at! This is a spate river and looked in good condition. We found some lovely spots; the big pool on the bend looked particularly good, with a lovely deep run that screamed chub and barbel. I started to get excited at this point. I began to think I was in paradise and even the kids liked it. So far, so good.
We walked back to the lodge to see how the unpacking was going. All done. I stood on the decking overlooking the lake and, where I had put the bait in earlier, there was plumes of bubbles fizzing to the surface, obviously caused by fish feeding hard on the bait.
I had decided to fish using two different styles; my lake tactics would comprise of bottom baits and surface baits, feeder rod and floater rod. Simple.
On the feeder rod, I would fish with two pieces of Dynamite Baits flavoured corn, hair rigged behind a size 10 or 12 Guru hook on a 6lb Maxima hook length, with a small PVA bag of goodies and ground bait to a 2oz bomb on a running rig with 10lb main line. My rod of choice is a Greys 1.75tc Barbel Prodigy and a Shimano 8000GTE bait runner.
For my surface fishing, I used a 12ft Shimano Antares match rod a Stradic 4000 reel spooled up with 8lb Krystonite. At the business end, I used a home made controller float a small section of 10lb Trilene for the float to run on, tied to a Drennan swivel and stop, then attached a 4ft length of 6lb Wychwood sub merge leader material to a size 12, with two hair rigged flavoured and dusted dog biscuits.
The river tactics of choice were again using my 1.75tc greys Barbel Prodigy with a Shimano 5000GTE spooled up with 10lb Krystonite, using Korum cage and maggot feeders on a running rig with a 6lb Maxima hook length to a size 12 or 16 hook, using either maggots or ellipse pellets.
Dynamite Corn & Guru Hooks
So, as I set my stall out on my own private peg in front of the lodge, I was full of confidence that there were plenty of feeding fish waiting for my bait. I cast out, counting down the depth to 5ft. As I positioned the rod and sat back, I thought to myself, “I am officially on holiday in paradise!”.
It was not long before I started to get indications, then the bait runner fizzed. As I lifted into the fish, it tore off across the lake. This had to be a carp and it felt like a nice fish! I let it have its way, as there were no obvious snags, so I could let the fish run and enjoy the fight on light gear. After a good fight, I netted my first fish - a common carp, and a lovely looking double figure fish at that. I thought then, if this is a taste of things to come, I was in for a great holida.
I fished on for an hour before tea and had another common. Then, after tea, I was lured back and had two mirror carp; a small one, followed by a better fish of double figures. What a first day - I had only been here six hours!
Brompton Lakes Mirror Carp
The lake continued to produce each morning. I always managed to fit a couple of hours in before we went out for the day. I had some specimen Bream, nearing the double figure mark, along with the ever eager carp that were very obliging.
Brompton Lakes is an ideal place to teach the kids at thing or two about how to catch and land fish. I particularly enjoyed watching my eldest daughter, Ellie, fishing. She was determined to catch her first carp, so I set up the feeder and watched as she sat waiting patiently, watching intently for a bite. The bait runner screamed and she picked up the rod, connecting with a good carp, playing it on her own for over fifteen minutes, only to lose it under the rod tip. Ellie was gutted; this was a real test of character, but undeterred, she persevered and was duly rewarded shortly after when the rod went again. She quickly went about netting a lively Common Carp, which she landed on her own superbly. No problem. I thought, “Good on yer. That’s my girl!”. Persistence pays.
Ellie Calton with a 6lb 6oz Common Carp
- Pedigree Chum Mixer
- Boiling Water
- Oyster Sauce
- Terry Hearne’s The Source
- Terry Hearne’s Stick Mix
Half fill a large plastic bowl with chum mixers. Pour boiling water over the mixers - not too much, but just enough so they can soak up the liquid - then stir the Oyster sauce, turning them over every 10 minutes. Then, when the water has been absorbed, give them a good squirt of Terry Hearn’s The Source, followed by a good dose of salt, then tip them into a carrier bag. Give them a good shake and let them stand for an hour. After that, finally tip some Source Stick Mix in and give them another shake. Leave them for as long as you can, because the longer you leave them, the better they get. I tend to do them the day before so they're perfect.
Floating baits preparation & presentation
Once I had set the kids on trickling in a few freebies with the catapult, the carp went on the feed and soon had the taste, as they appeared to be hunting them out, competing with each other and looking very catchable indeed.
I let the kids have some fun and the carp have their fill. It was not as if they were going anywhere. I was here all week I wanted to see just how many surface feeding fish I could switch on, whilst still fishing the bottom and still taking fish after fish using small bags and corn. In the meantime, I noticed the constant flow of floaters I was feeding in every five minutes were now slowly drifting down the lake, which triggered other carp to feed further down, and it was not long before they were then searching the scent trail for more food.
It is hard to stop fishing a bubbling swim, but the temptation of catching one of these carp now confidently feeding on the surface was getting too much to bear, so I set up using my match rod, a stiff 12ft Shimano Antares. Using the floater tactics, this rod would allow me to put some real pressure on the fish, whilst minimising the risk of breaking the 6lb leader line or bending out the size 12 hook if I managed to connect with one of the bigger resident carp.
As I was setting up the rod, I could see a couple of carp with their black silhouettes cruising just under the surface, obviously hungry and searching for more free offerings.
Within minutes of casting out, I was in and fighting my first Brompton carp off the top. And boy, did it go, taking plenty of line off the reel, but all under control. You cant bully fish on this light set up, so they will take you a lot longer to land, but the fight is fantastic.
Brompton Common Carp
After catching many carp and bream off the lake, I turned my attention to the River Swale. This particular stretch at Brompton–On–Swale looks so inviting for both coarse and game anglers alike, I was torn between the fly or the feeder. But, whilst walking the river, I got chatting to a fly fisherman called Ian who said he fished the Wye near Bakewell regularly. Ian was fishing the pool I had in mind and had taken a couple of chub and a few nice brown trout on both dry flies and weighted nymphs. Having fished all morning, he only intended to carry on into the afternoon, so after telling him of my intentions of catching a nice chub or barbel, he allowed me to introduce a few freebies into the swim, which was very good of him indeed. This would give me a head start, getting the fish on the feed for later on that evening.
However, I never made it back that night. A fantastic Chinese meal and a few glasses of red wine from the hamper sorted that, but I was up bright and early with a plan of attack!
The river looked perfect and I decided to fish with the maggot feeder first, casting right over the flow. Oblivious to any snags or obstacles as I felt the feeder bounce round and settle, I sat back and waited. Within fifteen minutes, there was a tap-tap on the tip, but as I struck, it was just solid and wasn't budging. I was stuck fast on a snag of some sort. After many attempts to free the feeder, the line gave and that was that, so I set up again it was round two, but this time I cast mid-river, allowing the feeder to settle. I sat back, but after a while I decide to reel in, only to find I was snagged up again on yet another underwater obstacle that wanted my feeder! The line gave up and it was back to the drawing board again - not a good start.
Undeterred, I set up for the third time for what I really hoped would be third time lucky this time, downstream on the inside crease of the flow, and waited patiently, watching the tip of the rod intently. I started getting a few indications, then a proper rattle on the tip, as I struck into a fish and not a snag. At last, I’m playing a fish and it’s a lively juvenile Swale brown trout. A lovely looking fish, still with the thumb prints on its flanks. Well, after all the misfortunes prior, I thought to myself, “Right, let's catch some fish!”.
I continued to fish the maggot feeder on the inside crease and had a couple more browns and began to think they were all I was going to catch using the maggots, so I changed tactics and switched over to hair rigged Ellipse pellets and cage feeder with ground bait. Fishing the same line, I had some positive bites and missed a couple, before finally hitting one and it felt a good fish, putting a proper bend in the rod and staying deep. It was no brownie! It fought well, but taking no chances, I piled on the pressure and landed my first Swale chub. A lovely specimen in top condition. I was well chuffed. It was at that point my family turned up with a couple of bacon and sausage sandwiches for me, so I switched the rod back over to maggots and let the girls have a go. It was only a matter of minutes before Clarissa, my youngest, was reeling in her first brown trout and on the last day of the season. What a morning, and we still had the rest of the day to go out and explore. It was a dream come true.
Clarissa Calton’s Swale Wild Brown Trout
River Swale Chub
IT’S A FAMILY HOLIDAY
So, what other things are there for the family? Well, you have Richmond just up the road about 1 mile away. Richmond is a lovely market town with everything you will need; good shops, butchers, cinema, swimming pool, ice cream parlour, pubs, etc. Then, for us anglers, there is an excellent tackle shop called Reel Deals, that sells tackle from all the top names; ESP, Korum, Guru, Preston Innovations, etc. They also stock a vast range of baits from all the usual, Dynamite etc, plus they sell top quality maggots and casters. I must say, these guys were also very forthcoming with info, happily revealing successful methods used locally, both on the Swale and other venues in the vicinity. So no need to worry about bringing pints of maggots and bait with you its all on your doorstep.
On our travels, we discovered some very nice places to have lunch; The Heifer bar and restaurant on the green in Scorton, which is just down the road, was very nice. Ade and Pauline run this establishment and it was one of the best. Another was the Farmers Arms, which also does great food, catering for all. Steve and Jean are the proprietors. You also have a tap room with Sky Sports and pool table, plus, more importantly, just over the road is Reel Deals tackle shop, so you can nip across and get what you need while the misses and kids enjoy nibbles and a drink!
In addition, you are only 3 miles from the A1, which gives you access to a multitude of places. You can be in Newcastle in less than and hour, or shoot across to the east coast for a trip to the sea side at either Scarborough or Whitby for some fish and chips. Again, you're only an hour away in the car, or you could even have a day out at Flamingo Land. There is plenty to go at - you really can have the best of both worlds. Brompton Lakes makes a superb base for a family holiday.
For more information about Brompton Lakes visit www.bromptonlakes.co.uk