A return to Hemingford

30 May

Having had more than my fair share of fish at Alton, I decided upon a trip back to my beloved Hemingford Grey.


I arrived in the carp park swim at around 4pm on Sunday, ready for a 48-hour session.  I had heard there had been more than the average amount of people fishing it, so checked with Chris the bailiff to see if my fancied swim was free – and it was, which was a surprise considering it was a bank holiday.

I know this area well and am reasonably confident the fish will be there or there about at this time of the year.  I also thought I had a good idea of where the gaps and channels in the weed would be – wrong haha.  Ninety minutes of marking up, and I eventually found a clear spot around 35 yards out of to the right, not where I expected.  Interestingly, this area is normally solid with weed.


You do see a lot of light changes at Hemingford, unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

Just as I was about to put my bait out, Chris turned up, telling tales of many people blanking, having pilled in enough bait to last the fish a month.  In actual fact, all you are doing with this heavy baiting campaign is feeding the tufted ducks.  Make no mistake, once you’re gone, there are in your swim hovering up every scrap. Now I am not saying my approach is best, not by a long way.  However, I have been fishing it for 20-years, and as such have tried every approach. I apologise here and now if that comes across as know-it-all.  All I am trying to do is offer up what works for me.  I will also try to explain why I believe some aspects of my approach works.  If you can gain something from this, it makes writing this blog worthwhile.

The place is virtually devoid of small fish.  On top of this, it is full of weed that contains enough natural food to fill the fish, without any need to eat our offerings.  The fish here live in a 5-star restaurant, and we are throwing McDonald’s at them.  Thank goodness, we all fancy a MackyD’s every now and then.


So, the trick is to set a trap for them as they pass your area.  Enough to stop them for a while, graze on your free samples, and hopefully take your delicious ‘Big-Mack’ hook-bait.  Over the years, I have noticed definite patrol patterns in some swims, to the point you can set your clock by them.

With this in mind, my approach is a loose ground bait mix that contains small samples.  My mix in the shallow part of Hemingford will include 2-3mm pellets of various flavours, crushed, and I mean crushed boilies, liquidized sweet corn, chopped worm, and just enough fishmeal powder and bread crumb to bind it together.

Then I will cast 6-medium sized spods, and as it hits the water, I drag it back towards me, thereby spreading the bait out over a bigger area.  Hopefully, this will trigger their interest enough for the passing fish to find you hook-bait.  Trust me; they won’t stop for long because they don’t need to.  Fast food if you like hehe.  Word of warning here, put maggots in and you will be pestered by eels all night.  However, the good news is, the eels in here are not so partial to a worm.

Next, I am going to discuss my tackle and bait approach.  The fish in here have seen is all before, so your big hooks and heavy line will just spook them.  I have found – and I have tried it all over the years – the best way is to keep it small.  I start with a size 10 hook, 10lb line, and a 8, 10, or 12mm bait.  I will drop down if need be.


I am sure some of the mirrors in here have scales made of actual gold… 😉

You can land big fish on light gear comfortably, providing you are using rods that match your line diameter and hook size.  For example, if I drop down to 6lb line and a 14 hook – which I often do on here – I use 1 3/4lb test curve rods.  For sure, it will take longer to get the fish in, but you will if you are patient.


So how did I get on during this last session?  I had a stunningly beautiful mirror and a proper tench.  There was also one of those un-miss-able bites, which I missed.  In total over 48-hours, I put of 10 spods, six to start, and then 2 and 2.  The fish were in front of me three times for an hour or two each time.  Sounds madly hard, well it is, but the place is an amazing environment, and the fish are always stunners.

Keep is tight and Go-Catch SteveD


Posted by on May 30, 2017 in A return to Hemingford


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6 responses to “A return to Hemingford

  1. Jon Lock

    November 11, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Firstly, I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I drove past Hemingford a while back, stopped to read the sign and having spent the past year hating life on my busy, bravado filled syndicate, saw that vast, beautiful expanse of water and instantly fell in love. It just feels special.

    I almost always fish alone, so I was wondering how safe it is? Ever get any bother? I once spent a year on a syndicate where threats against your existence were made on a daily basis. Which was lovely for a man who struggles to sleep on a good day haha.

    Do you get many pike anglers down there? That will probably be my first attempt at getting a feel for the place as soon as I’ve joined.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to get started on a new water that so many people confidently state doesn’t have any fish in. The mystery has really got my imagination going.

    Hope to cross paths on there sometime!



    • stephenmdavis571

      November 13, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Hey Jon,

      I am just back from a 2 nighter on Hem haha. I mostly fish alone too. The only bother you will have is the odd dog wandering into your swim, or Chris the bailiff telling you it’s ridiculously hard. It is the safest place I’ve fished. Pike, yes plenty, although not my cup-o-tea. Some proper lumps too. It is hard, but hey, that’s why it’s empty most days and I love that. The fish are in there, and every now and then they show and when they do, you will ask yourself what you’re doing wrong haha. Let me know when you’re there next buddy and maybe we can catch up on the bank… Cheers Steve


  2. Rich C

    July 11, 2018 at 11:29 pm


    Whats the catfish potential of the pit? Hear lots of bits and pieces about them but have never seen a picture and know of only one confirmed capture.

    Also, can you row baits out on the pit via inflatable boat for example?

    Many thanks


    • stephenmdavis571

      July 12, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Hi Rich,
      Like you, I have heard rumours but yet to see a cat on the bank or in the water. Sadly, no row boats or body boats.

      Cheers Steve


      • Rich C

        July 12, 2018 at 1:57 pm

        Thanks Steve

        Are bait boats ok to use?


      • stephenmdavis571

        July 12, 2018 at 3:04 pm

        Bait boats are just fine, and a must have if you want to find the wandering fish haha. You will go 5/6 weeks without seeing anything, then boom, everywhere you look there are fish. This time of year, right through autumn the fish, (carp bream n tench) are off the road bank in the open part. 5-7 foot for tench, 14+ for carp n bream (16 wraps out). The bailiff will tell ya there’s nothing in there “he knows, been fishing it since the 60’s”. Your question should be “why fish a water for 50 years with no fish in it?” hmm, he is far too cagey for my liking. Cheers Steve



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