I started fishing Alton Water regularly back in September, and I thought it was time I shared what I have learnt so far. This article is purely based on my opinion and will hopefully be thought provoking. I’ve fished virtually every week for 24 or 48 hours, only breaking for Christmas (and a bad back – fully recovered haha). In that time, I have learnt a lot, seen some serious fish – in all species – struggled for a bite on occasions, and managed to snare a few along the way.
Entrance to Tennis Court Bay and a bite on the right hand rod haha
It is worth considering that I started in autumn (fall), and my opinion is based on fishing at the hardest time of the year. I have no doubts that things will change tremendously during the warmer months. Initially, I expect fish to start moving towards their breeding areas over the next couple of weeks, and then move again once spawning has finished. Similarly, as the water temperature goes up, areas seemingly devoid of fish will change markedly, especially shallow areas in and around the bays. The most noticeable change will see the tench activity increase greatly over the coming days and weeks. I’ve already had a couple of small fish, and seen an increase in activity, with the revealing pin bubbles in the margins and their tell-tale dolphin role – something I love. In addition, the carp have started crashing out a little more, giving those who want to target this species a good starting point. The bream have been the slowest, oddly, to start showing themselves, which is something that has surprised and frustrated me. However, in the coming months, they will be capable of devouring as much bait as you can carry.
I will be sure to keep you up to speed, as and when things change. And, I expect things to change at a rate of knots over the coming days, weeks and months, especially with this constant weather we have had of late.
For now, here’s what I know so far. I am going to divide my article into three areas, the Tower stretch, Rabbits Wood, and Lemons Hill. Rather than go over old ground, I will look at water depths and predominant species. I will also suggest how comfortable these areas are to reach, and fish once there, and what you can reasonably expect to catch in the colder months.
In all maps, you will see I have marked the depths, the furthest out being 16 rod-lengths, which is 64 yards (60 meters for those of you reading this away from imperial haha). On the lemons map, I have gone all the way across, with the width being around 180 meters at the most.
Swim next to the Tower
As you can see from the map and photos, this is the widest part of the reservoir. Along with it being some 750 meters wide, it is also consistently deep within easy casting range. Roach are in abundance here, averaging 6 to 12 ounces, along with the occasional fish in the 1 1/2lb bracket. It is worth thinking about the amount of ground bait they will eat, especially if you are targeting the bream. On the subject of bream, this area has produced, not only the biggest bream I have had so far, but the most in numbers. My best catch rate has been 14 fish in one 24-hour session, with an average of eight fish per outing. The top individual fish has been 10lb 2oz, with a few in the 9lb bracket, and an average of 8lb. It is worth considering that I’ve been fishing during the coldest months. I have no doubts that the averages will change as things warm up. I have used between 2 and 4 kilos of bait to hold the fish, allowing for the vast shoals of roach. I have seen carp, mostly at distance, but not much sign close in other than the odd one in the bay. Back in October, there were give-away signs of tench in the margins.
Car Park Swim
The swims are very pleasant, hard gravel banks with a lot of tree cover. It is worth noting the wind direction, especially during the colder months, because if it is blowing towards you, it is unpleasant at best. There is a car park for season permit holders, which allows for short walks. The sunsets here are amazing.
There has been a scary amount of roach in and around the wood, which will munch their way through as much bait as you can throw at them. Annoyingly, they feed all through the night and are rarely over 12oz. There are Bream around, although I have only managed 2-3 per session, with the average being 6lb and the best just over 8lb. When fishing in the woods, it is worth noting there is the odd old tree stump to lose your tackle on. These are the remains from the initial flooding over the valley. They are there, but not enough to put you off fishing here. I have seen several signs of carp, both rolling and blowing, although this has coincided with the stocking of this species. My baiting campaigns have been similar to the Tower, but more towards the 4 kilo level. The depths vary greatly from one end of the wood to the other, and this is worth considering when targeting your chosen species.
The swims here are very pleasant, with a lovely outlook, although you won’t see a sunrise or sunset. Again, be mindful of the wind direction as it can blow across this part of the reservoir. The walk from Alton Hall Lane is 250 meters to the start of the wood and 550 meters to the end swim in the wood. The path is perfect for a trolley/barrow. I fished here during January and February, and as a result didn’t see much in the way of tench, although I have no doubts, they won’t be far away, especially near the small bay at the far end of the wood.
North side of Lemons
Lemons Hill Bridge to the right
This is so different to the other areas I have fished. There is heavy tree cover on both sides, which along with it being in a dip in the landscape, results in the water often being calm. This means fish spotting is easier, as well as making it a comfortable environment. You can hear the train’s hoot for the level crossings here, although they stop around midnight. The tow here is less too, and along with it being shallow by comparison, means you can use a spod/spom comfortably without fear of your bait ending up 50 meters away. Many of the trees, especially on the north side hang over the water, making for great holding areas for carp and tench. On that subject, I have fished seven nights in this area, and have not seen a sign of a bream. There are fewer roach too, which means you ground bait won’t be eaten by them. Word of warning here, the tufted ducks and the coots will quickly find your baited areas, unless you stick to the margins. I’ve suffered at distance with these lovely creatures grrrr. This is the area where I have seen, and caught significantly more carp and tench. As you will see from the map, it is shallow by comparison. The walk to either bank is sensible from the car park. These car parks are locked at night, although a key is available for season permit holders.
Next week, I am moving to a new area around Birchwood. I will of course keep you updated. Now that Spring has her foot in the door, I expect the fishing to improve immeasurably.
Please take all that I suggest as exactly that, a suggestion. I will say this though; the depths are eyeball accurate. Go-Catch – SteveD