LAA’s Hemingford Grey Pit
Where do I start with my favourite venue? Having fished Hemingford since 1996, I have seen many changes to the venue, the people who fish it, and environment. The biggest change was the sudden appearance of thin-clawed Turkish Cray fish. In the space of a year, they destroyed virtually every scrap of weed and with it came a substantial decline in the natural food source. Within two years, the fish started to lose weight. With regard to the fishing during this time, it stayed on par with previous years and to some extent, improved very slightly probably due to the fish being so hungry. However, the huge numbers of Cray fish made it impossible to use anything other than plastic or wrapped bait during darkness. It is hard enough catching fish here without having to use artificial baits.
Over a 4-year period, I tried countless tactics to avoid the Cray fish, and just as I was getting to grips, the Cray fish vanished overnight. It was October, when we first realised they’d gone and remarkably by November – even though it was winter – the weed started showing signs of returning. By the following spring (2014), the weed had grown back with a vengeance. Interestingly, the people who blamed the Cary fish for their failure to catch were now grumbling about the weed. In all fairness, the weed in some swims has become dense, although this has made the fish more aggressive in their feeding habits and certainly a whole lot braver. In addition, the condition of the fish has improved remarkably. Not only have the Bream, Tench, and Carp regained their weight, but have increased in size at a remarkable rate. Carp stocked in May 2015, in the 7-10lb bracket had put on an average of 3-5lb by September. I would like to mention the current bailiffs Chris and Steve, who do a fantastic job, clearing tracks, paths and trees. If you want to cut a new swim, they will help. Importantly, they always have bang up to date information, but will keep quiet when appropriate.
Over the years, numerous rumors have abounded, even more so since Internet forums have kicked in. As a result, many anglers have had a go, and many have failed, claiming there is not enough fish. Their quarry has varied, some after the Tench, some for the Bream and many for the Carp. I read on a forum something that brought a smile to my face. It suggested that the two guys who fish it regularly do not catch anything. Hmm, yeah right, twenty years of blanking, not even I am that mad. The pit was dug in 1946 to supply pea-shingle gravel for the A14. There is some serious history behind this water and over the years, it has seen some great angler’s fish here, including the ‘God-Father’ of Carp, Dick Walker. In 1969, it produced the record Tench at 9lb 1oz. That was a remarkable fish at any time, let alone 47 years ago. If anyone ever debates how big the fish grow in here, should use that fish as a benchmark.
Over the years, I have had some remarkable fish in all species. I have no doubts this water holds Bream and Tench well over the current UK record. Catching them is another story. There are no silver fish and as such, the resident fish have an abundance of natural food. Not only do they grow big in this environment; it also makes them very fussy about what they eat. I’ve said it before, but in here they really do live in a 5-star restaurant. They are in there; you just need to locate them, and keep trying until you unpick the place. Any venue that holds fish in this proportion is never going to be easy. You need to walk it first off, to get a feel of the place. Then you need to pick an area you fancy and watch the water. This means sitting in one spot for a couple of hours in the evening or at first light. It takes nearly two hours to walk it all and doing that at a pace, you are unlikely to see anything. As for the Carp, every year rumors abound of fifties. Does this water hold fifties? Most of the other lakes in the area do. The food source is there. I will say it was chucking up 30s in the seventies. One or two of the ol’ guys who live in the village tell stories of massive fish being captured over the years. It is 65 acres and those of us who fish it seriously virtually have it to ourselves. Ask yourself this, if you were in that position, would you be blasting pictures of 40 or 50lb fish all over the net?
This place is far from easy, but it is worth the effort. It looks wonderful, and it is, but is very hard. It is so clear that it makes tap water look dirty. There are a lot of weedy areas, but there are also huge clear areas. The fish are there; you just need to locate them and then work out how to catch them.
Most swims are 100 yards apart, so therefore you won’t be disturbed by other anglers – other than my head torch shining in your face as I land another fish, he-he. I normally fish it from Sunday evening through until Tuesday morning. If you see me there (black car), come and have a chat.
Overall, it is on your £36 LAA ticket, and offers brilliant value for money. Fish it and if it’s not for you, you’re left with another 90 odd venues to fish for your measly 36 quid.