Plenty of room for anglers to sit together
The Fennes Fisheries

Fennes Road

Tel: 01376 323285

The Fennes - pronounced 'Fens' - is one of the largest coarse fisheries in Essex and offers a total of 14.5 acres of water the three spring-fed lakes within easy walking distance of each other. The fishery is a superb example of how, with careful planning, development and management, a tailor-made complex can mature in less than a decade into a well-established and productive site with a truly 'natural' feel.

Looking back down the lake to the car parkThe fishery is built on former watermeadows and the lakes each take their name from the names of the original fields on which they now stand.

Probably best described as a general mixed fishery, The Fennes has been developed with a strong emphasis placed on the environment and has plenty of decent sized specimens for anglers looking to catch bigger fish. These include carp to nearly 20lbs as well as good sized tench, bream, roach, rudd and perch.

With decent all-weather car parks, tended banksides, platform pegs and well-maintained ladies and gents toilets, it is also well equipped to cater for disabled anglers.

In addition to the angling, The Fennes sports a superbly stocked on-site tackle shop which sells a wide range of fresh baits, rods, reels, poles and whips plus accessories including line, floats, hooks, shot, etc.

There's a well-stocked tackle shop on siteIndeed, anglers often visit the tackle shop for equipment even when they are not fishing The Fennes and the maggots on site are said to be some of the best available in the county. In addition, the tackle shop sells fresh and frozen bait for sea fishing.

The shop also sells hot and cold drinks, snacks and confectionery whilst a refreshment van serving breakfasts, hot snacks and drinks is open on the site almost every Spring and Summer weekend.

Although night fishing is not allowed and children under 12 years old must be accompanied, there is no Close Season and very few rules except the most obvious. In addition to Day and Evening Tickets, The Fennes offers an annual membership for regular visitors which costs £20 for adults and £10.00 for OAPs, juniors and the disabled. Members receive discounted admission every time they visit the fishery.

The Fennes is open from 7.30am until sunset all year round
with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Day Ticket costs

One rod
Two rods

Evening Ticket costs
(from 4.30pm summer only)

One rod
Two rods

Ash Grounds is a pretty waterAsh Grounds

Ash Grounds was the first of The Fennes waters to be developed and is an attractive 60-peg, six acre lake which is predominantly stocked with Mirror, Common, Ghost and Crucian Carp for match fishing purposes. In addition, there are decent stocks of tench, bream, roach, chub and barbel.

Ash Grounds also holds decent bream and perch with the bream averaging between three and 4lbs but running up to 9lbs and the 2001 best perch was a fine specimen of 3lbs 10oz.

Plenty of features to fish toAlthough the best match catch in 2001 was 62lbs 8oz, the best pleasure catch was again over 140lbs - a decent day's sport by any standards.

With more than 1,000 yards of bank, Ash Grounds has several islands within casting distance and the lake offers many features to which anglers can fish. The margins are also home to a good mix of vegetation including Reed Mace, Bullrushes and water lilies which provide cover for both fish and anglers.

Despite its size, the lake is a favoured pole water with the majority of anglers fishing between nine and 14 metres in matches and between five and six metres when pleasure fishing. Unlike many lakes, fishing close to the bank does not tend to work.

Bankside vegetationIn the warmer months sweetcorn and small pieces of luncheon meat about a quarter of an inch square tend to sort out the better stamp of carp, bream and skimmers, whilst those going for the bigger carp tend to fish an open-ended feeder towards the islands with a quiver tip rather than swing tip. Using maggots in the summer tends to attract the smaller fish. Popular floating baits include bread and Chum mixer.

Winter baits which work well include casters, worm and maggots.

The deeper water, at around 10 feet, is to be found at the car park end whilst four to five feet can be found from half way up the lake to the point furthest from the car park.

or clear, open pegsAlthough the waggler works well, most pleasure anglers fish the pole at between four to five feet deep up to the half-way mark and about four feet deep in the shallower top end.

Popular pegs include anywhere from Peg 11 to 20 on the right hand bank and 50-53. Also, at the top end, Pegs 30 and 31 are usually productive, particularly in late spring when the fish are spawning in the warmer shallower water.

As one would expect, the deeper water near the car park is favoured in late autumn and the colder winter months. As a general rule of thumb, however, Ash Grounds is yet another of those waters where the best advice its to fish with the wind in your face - it may not be comfortable, but it's usually very effective!

Hobbs Croft offers plenty of open waterHobbs Croft

A lake which offers both open water and the opportunity to fish close to islands and features, Hobbs Croft covers three-and-a-half acres and has 25 well-spaced pegs.

This lake holds the same range of species as Ash Grounds but the general stamp of fish tends to be bigger with the carp running to 16lbs and a few to slightly over 22lbs. In addition there are good heads of bream and tench to 7lbs, Crucian Carp and roach to 1lb 8oz and perch to 2lbs 8oz.

Unlike Ash Grounds, most of the bank is accessible for disabled anglers who are allowed to park near their pegs.

or features to fish toThe water is deepest near the car park, where there is about eight feet of water, although much of the remainder of the lake is only between three and four feet. However, along the right hand bank of the lake and for a short way across the top end there is a figure 7-shaped trench where depths run between six and eight feet.

Favoured methods and baits for fishing Hobbs Croft tend to be much the same as for Ash Grounds but because most of the water ranges only to about three feet deep, float fishing either with the pole or rod is fairly straight forward and popular.

Hill and Black is being landscapedHill and Black

About a quarter of a mile from the main Fennes Fishery site is Hill and Black, a former farm irrigation reservoir which was drained, re-contoured, re-shaped and then landscaped when it was converted into a fishery in 1994.

Unlike some fisheries which have been converted from farm reservoirs and which can sometimes look sparse and featureless, The Fennes has made great strides in landscaping this water and providing features.

More good quality fish on offerAn 'inner barm' has been built around the water to protect anglers from the wind whilst soil from a former bank which used to divide the water into two has been used to create three islands which provide additional features to which to fish.

Looking across the lake from the bank near the car park the water is some seven feet deep at one end and rises to only three to four feet around the islands.

Again, the lake holds the same species of fish as the other two lakes on The Fennes site, but there are a larger head of good sized fish than in either of the other two venues.

A nice little carpAlthough the carp aren't as large as those in Hobbs Croft, running to only 20lbs-plus, there is a decent head of tench which provide good sport for those who like this species.

Whilst fishing on the bottom is obviously successful for the most part, in summer good nets of fish, particularly carp, rudd, roach and skimmers, are regularly taken at between 18 inches and two feet deep with the secret here being to feed regularly.

All traditional and modern methods work well when going for the carp whilst 15-years-old Frazer Rampley (above right), nephew of regular Fennes match winner Trevor Davies, caught this typical Hill and Black 7lb Mirror with Chum Mixer fished on the top.

How to get there...

A map of how to get thereBocking is about three miles north of Braintree off the A131 at High Garrett. Heading towards Sudbury, turn off the A131 into Bocking Church Street as directed by the brown Tourist Board signs. The fishery is signposted half a mile down Fennes Road, which is a right turn by the Village Hall (Bocking United Services Club). Again, follow the brown Tourist Board signs.

The main site is on the left, Hobbs Croft Lake is on the right and Hill and Black 400 yards down a concrete road.

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