Coarse and Carp Fishing Articles

'Kez' with a nice Carp
from Avallon Lodges

Our Coarse fishing articles and tips offer Carp and Coarse Fishermen advice on fishing in our Westcountry region

Some concentrate on specific areas and techniques for the coarse angler, others are of a more general nature. There are also contributions from the Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Salmon and Trout Association, Angling charities, Trusts and associations. We hope you enjoy reading, and find useful angling information within. The South West of England offers so much for the coarse angler to enjoy!

All change at Devonport Services Angling Association!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2019 - 6:04pm

Devonport Services Angling Association which was run primarily for Serving and Ex Serving Members of the Royal Navy, followed by all HM Forces (Serving or Ex-serving) is currently undergoing major changes.

To this effect the Association is updating due to the shrinking of HM Forces and the fact that at this time more Ex-serving than serving members are controlling the Association which should have been the other way around. Currently the Ex-serving members do not have any voting rights and this needed to be changed.

Carp Fishing Competition - Upper Tamar Lake - 29th-31st March 2019

Submitted by jane on February 19, 2019 - 12:20pm

Enter the Mainline Baits Carp Open Pairs Competitions!

With £3500 prize money from South West Lakes Trust and Goody bags for each competitor from event sponsor Mainline Baits.

Your tackle and fishing gear will be transported direct to your peg and food delivered to your swim too!

Theres also  a free BBQ during presentations

Stillwater Fish Ageing Surveys April 2013

Submitted by Mandi on June 19, 2013 - 2:24pm

Stillwater Fish Ageing Surveys
A service to stillwater fisheries April 2013
Understanding how the fish in your water are growing can provide vital information to help you manage your fishery. Our Fish Ageing Surveys are a quick and easy way of gaining vital knowledge about the growth and health of your fish. The service is free and easy to use.
Improving fisheries management - Improving angling
If you are concerned about how well your water is fishing, or if you just want to know more about the growth of your fish, using our Stillwater Fish Ageing Survey Kit may provide you with vital information for the management of your fishery. If you are thinking about stocking more fish because catches are poor, it could save you money.
We will send you a "kit", containing everything you need, including advice, to measure and remove scales from your fish. We will age the scales (counting the yearly marks the fish lay down on their scales), calculate growth rates and send you a specific report on the growth of those fish and recommendations about fisheries management steps that may be valuable.
Taking samples

Learn to Coarse Fish For Free 2013

Submitted by Mandi on May 21, 2013 - 3:10pm

Learn to Fish for Free

Coarse Fishing Events 2013
Exeter & District Angling Association
Harper’s Lake
Opposite Double Locks, Exeter
Sat 13 July 2013
10:00am to 4:00pm

Newton Abbot Fishing Association
Rackerhayes Ponds
Behind Tesco, Newton Abbot
Sat 10 Aug 2013
10:00am to 4:00pm

Free tuition, loan of tackle and bait.
Event is covered by an Environment Agency temporary licence so no need to purchase a separate licence. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult
For more information contact Mike Holland on 07557 633742 or email [email protected] or just turn up on the day

Level 1 Course Dates 2012

Submitted by Mandi on October 12, 2012 - 12:04pm

 Angling Trust 


           ************** Level 1 Course Dates 2012 *************

Level 1 courses are taking place on November 18th and December 1st at the Watersports Centre, Roadford Lake in Devon.

  Details and application forms etc are available on the Angling Trust website.

     Applications need to be submitted to the Angling Trust by 20th October.

South West Lakes Trust 2011

Submitted by Mandi on September 22, 2011 - 2:21pm

South West Lakes Trust manages around 30 lakes as fisheries in the South West of England. The Trust was formed to provide, promote and enhance sustainable recreation, access and nature conservation at these lakes. One of the most popular activities for visitors is angling for both coarse and game fish. Each of the lakes has its own unique character. Some lakes are found in wild and secluded settings, or you may choose to fish at locations which offer other amenities such as campsites with modern facilities, and cafes. The lakes are regularly re-stocked with good-sized fish, and regulars will be familiar with the legendary large fish landed at some of the coarse fishing sites.

Bank, boat and more

We aim to provide great fishing for both experienced anglers and beginners. New ventures introduced during 2010 included a new branch of the South West Fishing For Life scheme at Kennick, in addition to the already successful branch at Wimbleball, which gives a people living with breast cancer an opportunity to experience fly fishing, which can aid their physical and emotional healing (all equipment is provided, and novices are welcomed). In conjunction with a local instructor based at Wimbleball, we have introduced kayak fishing, and will be offering introductory experience days. There are now improved access facilities at Kennick, along with a replacement wheelyboat. Our successful training and family days are held regularly throughout the year. Juniors will be encouraged to fish for both coarse fish and trout with the parent/child ticket again being available allowing youngsters under 12 years to fish for free, sharing the parent bag limit. Please note that children under 14 years should be accompanied by an adult over 18 at all times.

Fishing on SWLT Waters


Tuition for beginners

Beginners’ Days are held in conjunction with local qualified professional instructors and the Environment Agency. They include national Fishing Week family events at Siblyback and Stithians, as well as Beginners Days, Junior Days, Ladies’ Days and Family Days at Kennick, Siblyback, Wimbleball and Stithians. For more details contact 01566 771930 or click on fishing at These events have been very successful over the past seasons, with many novices taking up the sport, including the formation of a Ladies’ Club at Wimbleball. Equipment can be provided and a local professional instructor will share his knowledge and experience in the use of equipment and where to catch fish. The Trust held a series of coarse fishing junior days during 2010 which attracted more than 120 young people and these will run again in 2011/12. The tuition days are very popular, so prior booking is essential. Individual tuition can also be arranged with local, qualified instructors.

Access for all

Through its partnership with the Wheelyboat Trust, South West Lakes Trust is able to provide wheelyboats suitable for wheelchair access at Roadford, Upper Tamar, Wimbleball, Stithians, Siblyback and Kennick. These must be booked at least 48 hours in advance. There is also a Wheelyboat at Wistlandpound, which is operated by the Calvert Trust. We provide facilities for disabled anglers at some of our fisheries.


  The Trust holds three main trout fishing competitions each year: The Peninsula Classic bank competition at Kennick in June, supported by Fly Fishing Tackle, Crediton; the Snowbee Team bank competition at Siblyback in July; and the Wimbleball 2000 boat pairs competition in September, supported by Orvis. Dates and booking information are available from the Angling Centres at these lakes or click on fishing at The Trust also holds its successful Carp Fishing weekend competitions at Upper Tamar. Details of these may be found on the website. Porth and Upper Tamar are both popular coarse fishing large competition venues which may be booked in advance by contacting 01566 771930, along with other coarse fisheries. Details of all competitions at these sites and other Trust waters in the region may be found on the website on the Fishing Diary page. Fishing news and catch reports may also be found here – photos of your successful catches, or articles, are always welcome.

Season permits

In addition to pay-per-visit, you can also purchase a season ticket. These are available locally through the Trust’s ‘Outdoor And Active’ Centres, on-line from the Trust’s website, or through Summerlands Tackle in Westward Ho!, either in person or over the phone on 01237 471291. Westcountry Angling Passport tokens, which are available through the Westcountry Rivers Trust and other outlets, may be used as part-payment for fishing on the trout fisheries. This payment option may be used at self-service lodges and at ticket agents.

What’s going on?

If you would like to receive a copy of the Trust’s Coarse or Trout Fisheries Newsletter, please email: [email protected] or phone 01566 771930 to be included on the mailing list. The Trust is committed to angling and creating the best possible experience for its visitors. So any comments are welcome to help us provide what you, the angler, really wants. For information on sites, facilities, instruction and competitions please contact our specialist Fisheries Managers:

Coarse fishing:

  Ben Smeeth - 01566 771930 [email protected]

Trout fishing:

Chris Hall - 01647 277587 [email protected] or visit

Off The Top

Submitted by Mandi on September 22, 2011 - 10:59am

Of all the types of fishing I have sampled, taking fish off the surface has to be my favourite.
I must have been about 15 when I caught my first carp on a crust. I had spent many fruitless hours lobbing crusts (boilies did not exist) at the carp that cruised around the middle of my local lake.
These fish invariably appeared in the summer months during the heat of the early afternoon, materialising ghostlike from the depths to hang just below the surface. Of course these fish were not feeding and had no intention of taking any sort of bait, but the temptation to chuck a crust was just too much. I had no knowledge of bubble floats and the like so the crust would be dunked to add a bit of casting weight.

This had to be quite precise as too much water would soften the bread and cause the crust to fly off the hook when casting, frequently vertically. Amusing when you are 14 and it descends from 30ft up to land on your mate in the next swim!
Through observation (so often the key) I became aware that the carp spent a lot of time underneath a particular patch of bushes that overhung the lake by 3 or 4 feet. You could not get to these fish from either side of the bushes so the cast had to be from the opposite bank. By drifting 'freebies' in on the wind I could get these fish to feed. I also noticed that there appeared to be an invisible line that the fish would not cross.
Getting a baited crust inside this line involved the wind being just the right strength and direction and the cast being perfect first time to allow the bait into the 'taking area' before too much slack developed in the line.

Eventually I managed and finally got my first carp off the top.
Over the following years I got better at it and realised distance casting was, more often than not, pointless. Particularly at first light the carp could be caught right against the bank and I frequently tempted them by standing well back, dropping the crust in and crawling forward to peer over the edge. This was really exciting stuff as you could see the fish so clearly. Sometimes it would nose the crust five or six times before taking it, on other occasions it would appear from nowhere and take in one movement, disappearing instantly with the bait. Of course on many occasions it would mouth the bait once and never return.
I also learnt the trick was to find a feeding fish. Only experience will teach you this but a 'feeder' will behave differently. Moving a little quicker and more deliberately, seeming more alert and switched on. You can also find fish (I'm talking small west country stillwaters here) by dropping crusts around the margins of a lake in likely spots and waiting for a fish to come on the feed.One that's really going for it will happily take half a dozen freebies before you drop in a baited hook. That's as close as you will get to a guaranteed fish.
It's not just carp either. Dry fly fishing for trout is also awesome fishing, requires considerably more skill though.Of course there are many other variations; plugs for pike, poppers for bass, muddlers and the like for fry feeding rainbows, and more.

Graham Sleeman editor of Get Hooked.

This article was inspired by the picture below (I had hair!) from an old photo album and,some 32 years later, I get exactly the same feelings of heart fluttering anticipation when that nose and those barbuled lips nudge a baited hook just a few feet away from my own nose.
That's fishing and that's why I love it!

Giving ' Nature A Nudge'

Submitted by Mandi on May 27, 2009 - 12:55pm

Chalk rivers are recognised as being one of the most managed types of river system in the UK, having suffered from excessive dredging and channel re-alignment for land drainage purposes, resulting in watercourses which are too wide and deep for natural river flows. This has destroyed habitats, damaged fish and vegetation communities, silted up gravels and disconnected the river with the flood plain with the resultant loss of wetlands.

In the Wessex area the Hampshire/Wiltshire Avon is a well known classic chalk river, famous for its coarse, trout and salmon fishery as well as its large number of nature conservation designations. It has its source in the Marlborough Downs flowing though Wiltshire, the city of Salisbury and continuing through Hampshire and the towns of Fordingbridge and Ringwood, finally discharging into the sea at Christchurch.

‘STREAM’ (STrategic Restoration And Management) and ‘Living River’ are two collaborative, partnership projects involving Natural England, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water and the Wildlife Trusts and are funded by the European Commission's LIFE-Nature fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of £2 million. The STREAM project is focussing on river restoration and aims to restore channels to a more natural size and shape, thereby improving their ability to support the multitude of aquatic habitats. In essence by mending or creating new habitat and giving ‘nature a nudge’ both fisheries and the wider conservation interests can be significantly and sustainably improved.

During the last few years over 7km of river have been restored by introducing new ‘physical features’ into the river channel thereby re-energising the river and creating new habitats. Over-wide river reaches have been narrowed by creating artificial berms improving the velocity of the main river to encourage healthy weed and fish populations, but leaving quiet backwater areas suitable for lamprey and the infamous protected Desmoulins or ‘Newbury by-pass’ snail. Steep banks resulting from historic dredging have been re-profiled to create a gradual slope encouraging colonisation by emergent vegetation much loved as food and cover for ‘ratty’- the endangered water vole. Where dredging has left over deep channels, bereft of features essential for many species, river bed raising has been the answer by introducing many hundreds tons of gravel, now much appreciated by salmon, trout, chub, barbel and even the bullhead, all of which are now using these fast flowing riffles for spawning and nursery areas. The ‘wiggle’ has been put back into straightened channelised sections of river creating the beginnings of a more natural and habitat rich meandering river.

This has been achieved by introducing a series of flow deflectors made of natural woody material in-filled with pre-planted coir or recycled textile mats to encourage the establishment of vegetation. Trout fishermen are finding the end of these structures which bounce the flow from one side of the river to the other particularly good fish lies. Fallen trees were once an incredibly important habitat in rivers but a preoccupation with tidiness has encouraged their removal from the river over past decades. The STREAM project has experimentally re-introduced over 25 full sized trees to the river at a number of sites, securely anchoring them to the bank and allowing nature to take its course, but already they have created fantasic fish refuges for both fry and adults. Management of the floodplain inevitably impacts what happens in the river and STREAM has also looked at ways of managing the plethora of historic channels associated with the old water meadow systems to benefit, where possible, both fish populations and wetland birds. Similarly with over 100 hatch control structures, weirs and sluices on the main river alone, the management of water levels is absolutely critical to the wellbeing of flora and fauna of the river, and therefore hatch operating protocols have been developed to ensure that these interests are not compromised.

The Lottery funded Living River project is closely integrated with, and is running alongside the STREAM project however is more ‘people focussed’. Its aim is to increase awareness of the River Avon and its tributaries involving the people and communities who live and work in the river valley in the conservation of the fantastic natural and cultural heritage of the river and valley. Dozens of river related events have been held throughout the valley from enthusing hundreds of volunteers to remove invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam, training events to engage people in river restoration and learn how to identify and measure the quality of invertebrate life in the Avon. Artistic theatre performances have been produced; ‘The River is Revolting’ is a comic theatre piece for the Salisbury International Arts Festival to highlight issues that the river is facing, and an audio river archive, REverberAVON has also been very popular.

Even sculptures inspired by the river have been constructed; look out for the ‘Dragonfly’ made from a Gazelle helicopter by the apprentice mechanics at QinetiQ as you head south on the A303 at Amesbury. Allan Frake, Project Manager for the Environment Agency commented “I have been particularly impressed how this project has integrated both fisheries and the wider conservation interests, engaging angling interests, conservationists and landowners, but also the lengths to which local communities and the general public have been actively and enthusiastically involved throughout the project…it has been brilliant fun and really made a difference to improving the river and raising awareness to local people” For further information on both projects, visit the websites:

Improving Fish Stocks On The Middle Dorset Stour

Submitted by Mandi on May 27, 2009 - 12:30pm

Historically the Dorset Stour between Blandford Forum and Wimborne Minster has provided a highly valued coarse fishery. However in recent years catches have fallen dramatically and poor fish recruitment has been detected by the Environment Agency’s monitoring teams. This has led to local angling clubs, Landowners, the Barbel Society and the Environment Agency to work together to develop a strategy to improve the resident fish stocks. This strategy has developed into a two pronged approach. The first is to address the reduction in key fish habitats and the second is to re-introduce fish species that otherwise would have little scope for returning naturally.


Habitat improvement works

In the past, flood risk management dredging of the River Stour removed vital habitat features and in high flows created deep, fast channels rather than allowing the river to dissipate its energy across the flood plain. The result was fish spawning habitat has been reduced and that young coarse fish survived poorly during high flows, as they were unable to find refuge in slack water areas.

In consultation with the National Trust, Test Valley Angling Club, Southampton Piscatorial Society and other interested parties the Environment Agency has, for a number of years, been carrying out a wide range of habitat enhancement projects in order to ameliorate the effects of the dredging and provide protection for the fry. Works over the last 2 years have been carried out on the stretch between Eye Bridge, Wimborne and Crawford Bridge, Spettisbury.


Habitat improvement techniques involve re-introducing gravel shallows and creating refuge areas for fish at times of high flow. Projects range from simply digging out a side channel to introducing many tonnes of gravel and rock into the river. Each potential habitat improvement site is assessed to determine the best technique to achieve the required aims of that site and all are assessed to ensure they do not increase the flood risk.

The ultimate aim of these on-going works is to achieve a diverse range of habitat types that fulfil the needs for the fish species present in that locality and generate an environment that ensures fish populations are sustainable and resilient.

Re-establishing the barbel population

The original introductions of barbel to the Avon and Stour river systems occurred in the early 1900s where they quickly established self sustaining populations. The Environment Agency’s historical monitoring results for the Stour indicate that barbel had reached a good level of abundance as far as upstream as Blandford by the end of the 1970s and with their numbers peaking in the early 1980s. However, they have since declined to sporadic pockets of fish in the Blandford to Wimborne reach.

The significant factors causing this decline are considered to be the dredging of this part of the Stour in the early 80s and fish kills associated with pollution incidents.

The habitat improvement works carried out by the Environment Agency, the natural processes of the river and improved environmental legislation aimed at reducing pollution incidents should now provide suitable habitat for barbel once again.

To kick start their recovery the Barbel Society, together with the Environment Agency has implemented a three-year stocking programme with 3000, one year old barbel being stocked annually into three locations in this reach. The aim of this is to establish a solid base from which a self sustaining population can be built.

The barbel have all been provided by the Environment Agency’s Calverton Fish Farm and range in size from 10cm to 20cm. Each of the fish stocked has been marked with a coloured elastomer resin on their head. The colour and location of the mark corresponds to the time and place stocked so that when these fish are caught in the future we can identify where they were stocked and how well the fish are doing. The marking of the barbel has been jointly funded by the Barbel Society and the Environment Agency.

It is hoped that anglers and angling clubs will report all barbel catches to the Agency - so if you catch a barbel on the Stour – look out for a bright splash of colour, about 2 – 3 millimetres long, near the eye. Please note the colour, the position of the tag, the river location of capture and an estimate of the size of the fish - and report your catch to the FRB team, Environment Agency, Rivers House, Sunrise Business Park, Blandford DT11 8ST Telephone 01258483454.

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Environment Agency, Wessex Area


Angling & The Environment

Submitted by Mandi on May 26, 2009 - 3:40pm

Anglers have always been the first to notice when rivers and stillwaters are suffering from pollution or over abstraction. Their keen eyes and ears are needed more than ever.As with most fieldsports, angling is dependent on a healthy environment. The abundance, size and condition of fish are indicators of the quality and quantity of water and the health of aquatic habitats. These ingredients all need to be in place to make going fishing worthwhile and therefore Britain’s 3 million anglers are more concerned about the state of our rivers, lakes, canals and ponds than most.

Of course, clean, plentiful and wild waters are of benefit to everyone. They provide water for the home, industry and agriculture, habitats where many food chains begin and unique places for quiet reflection. They are also places which have been convenient dumping grounds for sewage, noxious chemicals and rubbish. Many rivers have dried up completely from too much water being taken out to fill swimming pools, wash cars, drip from unfixed taps and to water crops. Many others have been dredged and encased in concrete to try and stop them flooding or drain fields. All these things cause fish numbers to decline.

The way we look after water affects not just fish, but also our families’ health and well-being, the whole economy and the risk of homes being flooded. Angling is a very obvious direct example: it generates about £3.5 billion for the UK economy each year and employs tens of thousands of people. It provides a healthy, outdoor activity in city, town and country which can be practiced by anyone between the ages of 3 and 103. It instils in youngsters a great understanding of the natural world and the mysteries of life beneath the water, without them having to go to a coral reef.

An angler is someone who fishes with a hook. Over the past 10,000 years, a huge number of ways of using hooks to catch fish have been developed and this is apparent from the daunting array of equipment in fishing tackle shops, which is the best place to go for anyone wanting to get started. The good news is, you don’t have to buy everything in the shop and for less than £50 you could get enough kit to go fishing for either coarse, game (trout & salmon) or sea fish. Anyone over 12 years old also needs an Environment Agency licence to fish. Daily, weekly and annual licences are available online and from most Post Offices.

Apart from tackle and a licence, anglers need clean, plentiful, wild water with fish in them. The ACA has been fighting for this right for nearly 60 years, by using the law to make polluters pay for the damage they do to our members’ waters. Our in house lawyers represent our 1,000 member angling clubs and river owners completely free of charge. We have won more than 2,000 legal cases and have secured millions of pounds in compensation which has been used by our members to restore their damaged fisheries. In 60 years, we have lost only 3 cases. Our reputation means that many thousands of pollution incidents have been avoided as water companies, farmers and industrial plants have thought twice before using rivers as dumping grounds.

Thankfully, much of worst pollution has now been stopped and many of our rivers are seeing fish populations on the increase. When people imagine pollution, they think of big pipes spewing out poisons and sewage. In fact, this type of damage is now much rarer, but still happens sometimes. However, new problems have arisen which are impacting seriously on the angling economy and society as a whole. Pesticides like cypermethrin sheep dip wipe out insect life, the main food of most fish, in rivers. Endocrine disruptors washed out of sewage works make male fish become female. Silt pollution from construction and agriculture increases flood risk, puts up the cost of treating water for public supply, smothers gravels where fish breed and insects live and makes it necessary to dredge estuaries and ports much more often, which is both expensive and damaging to these sensitive habitats. What looks like a bit of harmless mud causes millions of pounds of damage to river systems.

The average person’s water consumption has increased by 30% since 1970. If we continue to waste water in this way, the construction of millions of new homes in already water-stressed areas will put great strain on the ability of natural water systems to support fish, other wildlife and other uses of water. Similarly, all this new development will mean a lot more hard, impermeable surfaces like roads, driveways and roofs. Instead of soaking into the ground, rain landing on these surfaces rushes towards the nearest drain to be carried efficiently to the nearest watercourse. Unless these new developments are designed sensibly, with sustainable drainage systems and the latest water efficiency technology, Britain is on a collision course for widespread water shortages and hugely damaging flooding. We got a taste of both these future scenarios in the last two years, with drought in 2006 and floods in 2007.

To make a difference, all anglers should join one or more of the bodies which represents their interests. The Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT) has a list of all the angling organisations on its web site at Membership of the ACA is just £22 a year for individuals, £6 for juniors and more for angling clubs and riparian owners who benefit from our unique legal protection service. More information at or from 01568 620447.