Alton Water – Suffolk

01 Nov

Alton Water


At the beginning of October (2016), I signed up to fish Alton Reservoir, all 340 acres of it. It caused a few intakes of breath I can tell you, and a lot of comments such as, good luck with that one, and where do ya start on a place like that. I’ve kind of got an ace up my sleeve, having fished all huge matches on this ‘inland sea’ during the 80’s.  As a result, I have fished most sections and although it was 30 odd years ago, I have a great starting point.


I have always preferred big waters and have fished many over the years. During my match days, I fished at the top level and I guess a venue like this replicates a different but oddly similar challenge. Back in the days of the big matches on Alton, certain sections always produced fish of a similar size and I was keen to find out if anything had changed. For example – using the old peg numbers – 1-21 generally produced bream in the 4-7lb bracket, as opposed to pegs 61-120 where the bream tended to be in the 2-3lb bracket. There were similar patterns all around the reservoir.  Interestingly, carp in the 3-6lb bracket often showed up during the matches.  To add to this, regularly the ‘Rabbits Wood’ area produced mirror carp, where as the tower section it tended to be common carp. Now there wasn’t a lot caught, maybe 2-3 per match, but a quite a few were lost. This was probably due to very light hook lengths (2lb) and small hook sizes (18-20) being used by the match anglers.


The venue has never been night fished until I and a couple of others acquired a ticket four weeks ago. As soon as I knew they were available, I snapped one up believing this must be one the last big untapped English venues. The unknown is a real draw for me and always has been, hence why I stuck with Hemingford Grey for so many years. I have never liked commercial venues where the fish have been stocked at certain sizes, all with names; all boilie trained, and so on. It is just not my cup-of-tea. I have always had Alton in my thoughts, but not being able to night-fish it, kept me away, until now that is haha.



I have always loved this part of the world too and intend to move to one of the near-by villages at some stage.  The venue itself is stunning, and with 22 bays, some as big as a decent sized lake and 210-rod lengths to the far bank, there is a lot of water to choose from and fish. There really is something for everyone. More recently, it has been popular amongst Pike anglers, but very few fishing it for the big Bream and next to no carp anglers. Sound like Heaven, potentially it is. It has received some publicity for the huge roach that abound but rarely makes the press.  Aside from the fishing, Anglian Water offer sailing and wind surfing, including lessons. There is a great café serving excellent pasties, coffee-n-cakes, also bike hire is available. You can of course take your own bike and with a lot of wooded areas and bays to explore, it certainly offers a great day out for the whole family.  If you are thinking of having a look around, take a bike, it’s a long walk with very few access points to the water.  I walked a mile and could only get at the water in six places.  There is however a lot of water you can get easy access to, but the idea of fishing some of the areas that haven’t seen a rod for years, is, very enticing.




As a side note, there is plenty of parking available at various points around the reservoir. There is also a designated camping area planned soon.

So, let’s get back to the fishing. My main target will be the resident bream, and according to the locals, there is some serious potential for some proper lumps.  So far, in five 24-hour+ sessions, I have managed 32 bream up to 10lb2oz, so a good start by any standards. As for the carp, again the possibilities are interesting, fascinating and tempting, my best being a common at 24lb. It might be worth noting here that Anglian Water plan a huge carp stocking program that will run over 3 years, with the first 80 going in during this November. Then there are the tench, which have regularly shown up in the 6-9lb and with so many reported in the range, there must be a real chance of a double.  I have heard stories – from reliable sources – of 4lb rudd, 6lb eels, 25lb pike, several 2lb roach, and big double figure bream.  So with that in mind, who knows how big the carp could be. Certainly, with areas over 50 feet deep, the highest quality water, and so much natural food in abundance the potential for this venue is out of the ordinary.

My Approach

So, starting at this time of year was always going to be tricky and with that in mind I picked my area carefully. I wanted somewhere away from chilling Northerly winds with the subsequent steadier water temperatures. In the winter, the thermocline plays a big part in fish location. Please see graph below.


All that measured, I also considered what I had learnt from the matches all those years ago. It also helped that you can park in the area I picked, which is on the east side of the reservoir, near to the dam. Worth noting, season ticket holders can now drive across the dam.

Having seen a few bream moving and many roach topping, I decided on a heavy baiting campaign.  Now a as I head towards my next session, I have tweaked both the amount I feed and how I feed. Currently, I am putting in at the start, 2 kilo of ground bait, 1 kilo of pellet, 1 kilo of corn, and 2 kilo of cut maize, along with and a decent amount of broken and halved boilies. I then top it up as I go depending on the number of fish showing. It is worth noting here that neither the bream, nor carp know what I boilie is, so with that in mind, hook-baits are naturals. By this, I mean corn, maize, worm etc.


I intend to fish right through the cold months (ice depending) and will write again in a few weeks.

So far, I am extremely pleased with the start.

If you are interested in joining up, then here is a link to the Anglian Water page. Half way down you will see a pdf file. This is your application. If you want to join the select group of night ticket holders you must ring and book an appointment. It is not an interview, but it is not far off. When you consider this is a night fishing trial, they are being selective, I that I like.

Happy fishing people, SteveD

Below, a proper pea-soup. spotting you marker on the far bank, hmmm, maybe not.



Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Alton Water, Carp Fishing General


9 responses to “Alton Water – Suffolk

  1. Bill Lovett

    February 22, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Fabulous post have been looking at Alton for years you may have inspired me to get stuck in…

    Good luck Steve – I might see you there soon…


    • stephenmdavis571

      February 22, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Thanx for the kind words. I would while there are still ticket available. The potential is phenomenal… For the Carp, Bream, Tench, Rudd and Roach, all of which are either there to be had or have already shown in very big sizes. I have barely missed a week since joining at the beginning of October and have had fish every time. let me know when you do join up and I will give you an update… Something I need to do soon haha…

      Cheers Steve


      • Bill Lovett

        February 22, 2017 at 4:38 pm

        OK Steve… Have been carp fishing since 1973 & love a challenge – also know how devastating scaled down (or not scaled down) carp tactics can be for big bream… mate of mine from years ago called Roger the Chef had a go on Alton some years ago… another friend called Mick Lindsell (used to fish with Zenon of mainline in the 70’s ) told me he had seen carp rolling at Alton when he match fished it in the 80’s… I know they are there, just wish I had more time !! (roll on retirement)… Have worn out much shoe leather wandering around Alton & have spent a few mornings & evenings on the bridge and in the Naure reserve up trees – have only seen 1 (possible) carp that might have been a very big bream…. was a LONG way away…

        Liked by 1 person

      • stephenmdavis571

        February 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

        Bill, they are in there in numbers, and now topped up with 175 ish VS fish in the C3-4-5 bracket. I have had some decent fish so far and lost a couple of “big” fish.. If you join the forum mate (stansted.angling) on facebook, I can give you some details and my number too. Don’t want to give too much away on here haha, read by too many lol… By the way, looking towards the Nature reserve from the bridge on your left is a holding area for carp, so you may well have seen something down there… There in there mate

        Out of interest, we don’t have any trolling, swearing of being silly, so you may like our facebook forum unlike some haha… And I am not suggesting that you do any of those by the way, I can tell that the way you wrote this lol It is just about all of us sharing ideas and getting better as anglers…

        Cheers Steve


  2. Jason reed

    June 16, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Hi there am looking at joining within next few weeks thank u yr tips will be very helpful


  3. ITFC

    December 27, 2017 at 1:30 am

    I have had 4 big carp out of alton water this season the old carp not the new vs carp. Biggest 33lb and have seen bigger while baiting up my spot over the summer wk’s. Cant wait for the warm spring to kick in again so i can start pre baiting again i cant feel a 40 comeing and i dont do all the up to date carp gear fishing i just freeline a big bait close in and fish early AM or late summer PM the last 2 hour’s of light


    • stephenmdavis571

      December 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

      You’ve done well Dave… A lot have struggled so far. Well done buddy, hope to catch up on the bank sometime soon… Steve


  4. Anonymous

    May 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I had a walk over there with the other half and pooch yesterday and thought it would be worth a challenge for the carp but didn,t really see much signs of anyone fishing it. I already fish Ardleigh and love the place but Alton is bigger and seems to be quieter so may well look into the fishing more closely, especially as i love a bit of predator fishing too…..

    Liked by 1 person


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