I am very proud to announce that Embryo’s second fishery is ready for new members.
It’s located in Stanton, very close to the village of Stanton Harcourt, Oxford, and used to be under the control of Vauxhall Angling Club, but being too far from their nucleus of waters, they have kindly sold it Embryo, and for that I am eternally grateful.
We are reliably informed Stanton has a slightly chequered history – we were warned a group of prickly characters had laid claim to the lake, and that they were less than pleased when the announcement went out that their fishing was coming to an end. There were lots of rumours about a back lash, but apart from a few empty beer cans there has been no actual grief.
The gates have been locked since the end of the Vauxhall ticket on 14th March and a few trusted anglers have been fishing/policing the lake ever since. The local police have been informed of the rumours and they are now doing regular drive-bys at night to check all is quiet, which it is.
It has done a few bites now the weather has warmed up, there were rumours too of fish being stolen in the few weeks when everyone knew the onward plans – this may be so, but the recent captures prove that the lake has not exactly been fishing it’s head off even in April, so if we did lose any in early March it was only the odd one.
We keep our ears close to the ground and have many friends locally, so we would have heard if more than a couple fish had walked as the people that do such things can’t help but brag about it!
So the stock; we are told by locals who know the lake well there are approximately 80 fish with the best of these going upper thirty. They are mostly classic Oxfordshire scaly ones with most fish having been stocked some time ago. We suspect they were probably not getting enough grub, we plan to change that.
We are going to enforce a pellet, boilie and floaters-only guideline until 1st November to increase the calories available to the fish at the best time of year for growth. Then, for the winter, high oil boilies, pellets and maggots will not be allowed as none of them are good for the fish in cold water.
I have learned recently carp cannot process maggot skins in cold water and that they can consequently ‘go off’ inside the fish, potentially killing them when the water warms, excreting large amounts of maggots also raises the ammonia level in the water, eventually shopping the fish from feeding, so all in all mass baiting with maggots may get lots of bites but does not serve the fish or the fishery in the long term.
Also, carp find it much more difficult to process fat (oil) or protein in cold water, so if you keep feeding them foods high in either they will probably still eat them because they taste nice but they will not feed again for some time, this could easily be why lakes fish so hard in the winter. Not because the fish are full and don’t need it but because what they do eat stodges them up so long they stop moving about and feeding for some time afterwards.
So, in total contrast to what I used to think, particles are really good for the fish in the winter, they go through them easily and as a consequence they carry on moving and most importantly feeding.
So after the first of November all Embryo waters encourage particles (including nuts in moderation) to be used as feed. That way there are far more bites, and the fish maintain their weight and maybe even grow a little at a time of year most of us write off for fishing!
If you are unconvinced I would like to quote the Gigantica results over the last winter. Our bailiffs realised quite early in the winter that small patches of particle with plastic or a tiger fished over the top got far more bites that anything else. The winter was cold this year, we record the water temp every week and this year in January it went down to 3.5 degrees where last year it was still 10 degrees on Christmas Day!
So the change to a vegetable or carbohydrate diet made even more difference this year, and as a result only the anglers that stuck to our tactics and fished tiny amounts of particle actually caught fish, all those who shovelled the boilies in blanked, in spite of our best efforts to stop them. And not only did they blank they ruined a swim that had done consistent bites for several weeks too!
We have been growing our own fish at Gigantica from spawn collected from the main lake by Simon Scott and myself last May. The best 950 were graded into size class and separated into three ponds, all fed by heavily oxygenated lake water, they were all big enough to feed on pellet after grading, the biggest being 22oz and the smallest being an ounce or two.
We fed them all winter with very low oil coarse pellets and once the water got down below 8 degrees they ate the pellet only once a week. The amounts were measured out just like a fish farm would so they were not over-fed yet they still ignored it in perfect conditions for a week each time.
We then changed to wheat after advice from one of our guests Keith Wesley. Keith is a fisheries expert and a fish dealer in the UK. He explained the fish’s inability to process high fat and high protein sources in cold water and after we switched to the same weight of soaked wheat they ate it all every day, even in the coldest water. As a consequence the bailiffs tell me the fish have actually grown this winter and now the water is back above 10 degrees we have switched them back onto pellet and they are eating it every day with gusto!
We also fed the fish in the Gigantica Road Lake with 40kg of cooked maize twice a week for the whole winter because angling is not allowed in preference to shooting. We went back to the markers with an underwater camera a day later and it was totally gone every time.
On the odd occasion they got a chance to go back the same day to watch the water, they saw fish hurling themselves out all over the spots within a few hours of the bait going in. So, in short, they will eat all winter long providing we give them the right food; maize, hemp, nuts in small amounts, sweet corn, maples, chick peas – basically any vegetable food.
And if you insist on using boilies go for one that is easy to digest even in cold water, Cell being the most popular of these, frozen Tuttis are another renowned winter bait. I always used to think it was the flavour, but now it appears it was the high carbohydrate base mix more than anything else.
So all bird food, carbohydrate and nut-based boilies are ideal, the ones to avoid are fishmeals and high fat or protein baits, and definitely do not glug your baits in oil or use high oil pellets. Remember: they will still eat them so you will still get bites, the cold doesn’t stop them tasting good but what you will do is slow the fish down, and stop them feeding again for the next few days.
So, as you can see, Embryo is not imposing rules to make it hard for you to catch, I hate loads of rules, what they are doing is putting in guidelines to help everyone catch fish all year round and help the fish grow as quickly as possible and stay in good health.
Embryo is about friendship, the collective working together to make the best of something. The guys at our first water at South Ings Lane, near Hull are doing just that. The fish we stocked in February are growing fast and looking great.
The lakes are never empty but never full either, for me it’s best bit of the whole project to see anglers beaming with a fish caught from one of our lakes, believe me it’s not an easy task getting one set up. Matt, who singlehandedly runs Embryo, is so committed, he puts in far more hours than he is paid for, because like me he loves the sport and wants it to grow no dwindle.
Ever since Embryo started last Summer I have had numerous threats thrown at me from various sources, making life very unpleasant at times, all as a result of trying to make great waters for other people – places I am not even going to fish myself. At times it has tested my resolve, I can tell you.
But I will not be beaten, and I am at my best when challenged, so it only makes me try harder and work longer, and one picture from a lad with a stunning fish makes it all worthwhile. I don’t care what the haters think, they mean nothing to me, it’s the good people I am trying to serve!
So back to Stanton, one of our other radical new rules it to have two separate memberships to break the week up. A weekday ticket from 10am Monday to 10am Friday, and then a weekend ticket from 10am Friday to 10am Monday. The same number of places are available on each, so instead of having a 50-man syndicate where loads of people turning up Friday to find a packed lake, we have two 25-man syndicates so the lakes are never full and never empty, that way you will always have a decent swim to fish.
We employed this at South Ings Lane and it was worked brilliantly, so we are rolling it out on all of our syndicate waters to start with. If it needs tweaking we shall do that as we go, nothing is set in stone, but even our most sceptical members are now seeing the value of this system, especially when they turn up Friday and there are loads of good swims left.
Before you ask, no you cannot buy both tickets! Embryo is about providing quality fishing for as many people as possible without cramming them in like battery hens.
I have walked Stanton this week and it looks gorgeous, what an amazing lake, gin clear water, loads of features and proper carpy looking swims. I even saw a big black mirror jump out twice on my lap of the lake, a very good omen. We shall be reducing the number of swims slightly and making a boundaries map to avoid disputes, the idea is even if you get the only swim that remains it’s still a good area with loads to go at, no one likes being hemmed in a tiny corner.
Having said that I predict there will be at least 12 excellent swims on the lake. Historically no more than a third of members ever fish at the same time so if the busiest it gets is 8 on with 12 swims everyone will be happy!
For this first year which runs from the start of May to the end of March (11 months) we are going to charge £120 for adults and £60 for juniors. This is lower than we wanted because of the rumours surrounding the lake, so effectively we are giving the members the first 3 months for free.
We have big plans; a pre application for an otter fence has been agreed by the EA, we hope this will go up over the course of the summer before the peak time for predation from November to April. This will cost around £20,000 and is a necessary long term investment as otters become more of a problem in this area.
In November we shall be stocking at around 50 new doubles. In contrast to all the baloney on the forums, we are not turning the lake into another ‘linear’ whatever that means (I like linear, it serves a great many people). If the keyboard warriors were alluding to a money-making runs water then they could not be more wrong, you do the maths: £20k fence, £8k of fish and revenue of £5k per annum (we have to pay VAT) leaves a huge short fall, that’s without paying the loan back for purchase of the lake! We want Stanton to be a big fish water, it will take time but it has the pedigree.
Embryo isn’t about profit because neither I nor anyone else will ever draw a dividend from it, it’s effectively run like a charity, I only pay money in and loan it money to buy lakes, I never take any profit out, that is written into our company guidelines and registered at companies house. All excess money will be spent on more fish, new waters and new fencing, that’s it!
I am totally confident that Stanton will be the jewel in our portfolio in years to come, I expect it to produce numerous 40s within the next five years – it has done it before, so with our management and our member’s support, it will do it again. I hope one day it produces Embryo’s first home grown 50!
The price will go up, as the quality of the fishing and facilities goes up, but like all Embryo waters it will never be expensive in syndicate terms, because we do not need to make a profit. I understand now why some tickets are so expensive, we are relying so much on volunteers support and modest funding, if we had to take a wage we would be living under a bridge on the A127!
We want our members to take ownership of the water, people who really care. As such we would like at least one referee from a club or syndicate you are already in, and/or someone at your local tackle shop that can speak for you.
Vauxhall members will get first priority as part of our agreement with their committee but we still expect there to be lots of space left. In case you are worried, there will be no swims roped off for filming DVDs or other filming, no one from Korda will turn up with mates for some free fishing, this water is for the members, and if I or anyone else wishes to fish it, we will apply for a ticket and go on the waiting list like anyone else. Equality is very important to me; there are no favours or queue jumping, everyone will get a fair chance just like at Elstow or any other well-run syndicate.
We also need a Syndicate Manager, someone who lives close by, who has good leadership qualities and wants to get his hands dirty, keeping the place looking spectacular and as a point of reference for members. If you feel you have what it takes to steer this water to greatness, please add a letter of intent and a brief CV of your working and fishing life for us to consider.
So, if you want to be a part of history and own a ticket set to become more valuable than Ali Hamidi’s trainer collection, send an email to email@example.com with ‘Stanton Application’ in the subject line and you’ll then be sent an application form to print off.
Complete and post it with a cheque payable to Embryo Angling Habitats Ltd, plus a stamped addressed envelope and two signed passport photos to: Embryo, Kingfisher House, Chester Hall Lane, Basildon, Essex, SS14 3DA.
Thank you for your attention and continued support, if you have any tips offs about potential waters please email firstname.lastname@example.org . We can never have enough irons in the fire, and we shall never stop searching for new waters for you!