Big Fish Column: Plenty to carp about at New Farm Fishery

Ian Welch

Big Fish Column

In a week that brought with it a typically British spring weather combination of chilly nights, torrential rain and a mini heatwave the local fishing was also somewhat mixed, although most of the commercials continued to produce some great results. 

Of all of the local commercials it is New Farm Fishery that is really on form at the moment and catches last week included a terrific catfish of 46lb and a very rare albino grass carp of 8lb but it is the carp fishing that is really exciting local anglers with plenty of good fish showing.

Russell Barrett enjoyed a terrific session at the venue last week netting a ghost carp of 18lb 8oz, commons of 19lb 5oz and 12lb 4oz and a mirror of 16lb 3oz amongst a big hit of fish.

Arriving at 7am Russell settled into a swim that he knew well and tied up some 4-inch hair rigs with size 10 barbless hooks, 2oz inline pear leads and some rig tubing to pin it down.

Baiting the hooks with 16mm spicy crab boilies Russell cast two rods tight to a fallen tree on the far bank with just five free offerings around each hook bait.

Get your location and baiting tactics right and it doesn’t take long for the fish to show and it was just 15 minutes after arriving that Russell struck into his first take of the session!

Of all of his fish it was the ghost carp that Russell was most delighted to catch – a known fish in the venue that he had been hoping to connect with for a while.

For anglers not used to ghosties, and they are not that common, they are not actually a different species to our normal carp, but a cross between a carp and a koi carp.

Russell tells me he will be spending a lot more time at New Farm in the future, not just to try to catch the 28lb linear mirror that has recently been stocked into the carp lake, but he is also becoming somewhat partial to the home cooked meals delivered to your swim that bailiffs Graham and Cheryl offer…

Although the commercials are moving into top gear many of us will have our eyes of the flowing waters as the river season opens again on Thursday, June 16.

The magic of the 16th was lost to many anglers when the close season on the stillwaters was abolished but to those who prefer the river or who, like me, only fish the rivers it remains a very special date and although I won’t be making a midnight start this year a lot of local anglers certainly will be.

The start of the season is all about anticipation and excitement, the adrenaline buzz when you cast out that first bait after a three month lay-off but, of course, it is so often an anti-climax and I can count my red letter river opening days on the fingers of one hand and still have a few fingers left.

The early summer river tends to see barbel down in weight and away from their usual swims, chub either spawning or beginning to clean off and not interested in feeding and the rivers in general sluggish and lacking pace.

The conditions have at least brought us rivers with a decent push for the off this year but the barbel have yet to spawn on many rivers – although water temperatures as I write could well see them make a start this week. Whether they do, or not, they will be out of shape for the off and, for me at least, really not worth the effort.

I won’t be hurrying off to the rivers for a few weeks but the summer rivers are always a joy and I dare say I will at least have a look!

The new term offers little new in terms of what is likely to happen but I suspect we will continue to see a decline in Kennet catches – of barbel at least – as the days of numbers of big Kennet barbel are now long past.

There were worrying signs last season that the Loddon barbel boom could be past its peak too and this season will make for an interesting comparison.

For my money it will once again be the Thames that makes the headlines, a river with plenty of issues too but one that just keeps giving when it comes to top quality local angling.


Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at

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