As part of these improvements, the secluded tree-lined specimen carp lake, just a short walk from the main complex, has been closed to enable much of the weed and lilies, which have quite literally choked the pool, to be cleared and the snags and fallen tree branches removed.
The cafe, meanwhile, offers a range of hot and cold snack-type meals such as sausage or burger and beans, as well as drinks and confectionery. At weekends the cafe also serves full English breakfasts.
When Snake Lake was first developed it quickly established itself as one of the country's leading competition venues, but the new management team is now broadening its development to make it equally appealing as a pleasure venue. Although the fishery holds a regular Open Match every Saturday when places must be booked in advance over the telephone, a minimum of 60 pegs are always kept available for pleasure anglers.
In addition, existing stocks will also be supplemented this winter with the addition of a large number of silver fish which will ensure that anglers can catch throughout the year, whatever the weather.
The quality of the fishing is kept high because the venue is fed by more than 100,000 gallons of spring water which flows through the fishery every day.
Instead it was decided to turn a problem into an advantage and from the idea of using the water to good purpose sprang the idea for a now thriving and successful fishery.
Keepnets are allowed but anglers must use one net for carp and a separate net for silver fish. All fish over 10lbs should be returned to the water immediately after capture. The other main rules are that anglers under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult, no hooks bigger than Size 10 should be used and anglers should not use floating baits.
On-site are modern ladies, gents and disabled toilets and many of the pegs are suitable for disabled anglers.
Three-quarters of a mile long, between 15 and 16 metres wide and with a saucer-shaped bed, Snake Lake was developed specifically to cater for up to 132 anglers without the need for a large expanse of open water - a technique commonly used today for most out-and-out match waters.
This design also means that the water can be developed economically without the need for a prohibitively large stocking policy and that all the fish will always be within easy reach of anglers.
Four feet deep at each bank and going down to a maximum of seven feet in the centre, Snake Lake is obviously designed for the pole but is still a very popular with waggler anglers.
Holding a large head of carp which were originally introduced for match anglers, these have now grown on and although the average stamp is between 5lbs and 6lbs there are Mirrors to 24lbs, Commons to 26lbs, Ghosties to 16lbs-plus and Grass Carp to double figures.
Add in a mix of crucians to 2lbs and silver fish including roach and rudd to over 1lb with some of the roach topping the 2lb mark; and chub to 5lbs but averaging 1lb 8oz to 2lbs, and you have a wide range of species to go for in a venue which is ideal for year-round fishing.
On top of this there are perch which run to 4lbs, plenty of dace and a good head of bream to at least 4lbs which produce regular nets of between 20lbs and 30lbs. Another feature of Snake Lake is the head of tench which, although they have taken several years to become established, are now showing up to 4lbs.
Whilst the most popular technique on Snake Lake is to fish the pole to the far bank it is not the only method. However, which ever way you fish it, it pays to loose feed constantly with small amounts of pellets, hemp and casters. As a general guide, a one-kilo bag of pellets should prove sufficient for a six hour session.
Corn and meat baits both work well all year round whilst other popular baits are worm, pellets and paste. Maggots are also very effective, although they tend to attract the smaller fish which can become a nuisance as on any water.
Another popular technique is to use the swim feeder or Method feeder, both of which are good for all species. Pack the feeder with a mix of groundbait, hemp and casters and success should be guaranteed.
When fishing the waggler, fish on the bottom in the cooler months or on the bottom or up in the water in warmer weather. Fishing close to the rushes or lily pads and feeding regular with particles and hook samples is usually the key to success whilst fishing the inside swims close under your feet works well for the larger fish, although this is usually best mid-week when the fishery is quieter.
Anglers after the roach and rudd are recommended to fish down the middle of the channel over a bed of hemp and casters, varying the depth until you find the fish.
As the roach and rudd often take the bait on the drop when they are feeding properly you need to be on your toes and strike quickly. This technique usually proves very effective - until the carp move at which time you will need to upgrade the strength of your rig as the fish react quickly to being hooked and have plenty of cover to dive into with the abundance of bankside vegetation, reeds and lilies!
More informal than the other waters at Heyford Fisheries in that it has no clearly defined pegs and anglers can sit where they choose, Acorn Lake is a delightful pool tailored towards young anglers and novices - although it is worth a visit if you have experienced a succession of blanks or want to try out new baits, techniques or rigs!
Being near the car park and having a flat and even bank, it is also suitable for less able-bodied anglers who do not want to walk to the far end of the fishery for to a peg.
About three-quarters of an acre in size, Acorn is able to accommodate up to 14 anglers and is heavily stocked with small fish as well as some bigger specimens including Common Carp to 6lb 8oz.
Whilst it is packed with small carp, Acorn has a very good head of perch, daddy ruffe, roach, rudd, gudgeon and a few tench. However, it tends to be the carp which are the main quarry for anglers - including 14-years-old Heyford regular Jeremy Pope from Towcester who is pictured right with a nice 5lbs Mirror he took on pole-fished sweetcorn whilst Fisheries.co.uk visited the venue.
Indeed, Acorn's existence as a pool dedicated to younger anglers is to be praised. Although fishing only light tackle, Jeremy knew he was into a good fish and whilst his friends were urging him to net the fish quickly his experience told him better.
Allowing the fish its head in the early stages of the fight he used his skill to keep it away from the weeds and only when it rolled on its side did he say: "Now it's ready".
Only four feet deep throughout, Acorn has banks which drop straight to the maximum depth and is an ideal pole and waggler venue.
With maggot and sweetcorn both being popular baits, pellets and paste also work well, particularly when fished on the bottom or in by the margins, although if the fish aren't taking off the bottom it pays to fish higher in the water until you find them.
All in all, it goes to make Acorn a very pleasant and productive water.
Specimen Carp Lake
(closed until 2017 following weed clearance)
Set slightly away from the main fishery, Heyford's secluded and tranquil Carp Lake is about half an acre in size and holds up to 10 anglers on well-spaced pegs. Although it is currently closed because it has become almost totally choked with weed, the water is expected to re-open in 2009.
A natural-looking water, Carp Lake holds a good head of fish including Mirrors to 30lbs, Commons to 26lbs and Ghosties and Grass Carp to 12lbs. However, what is rarely recognised - or fished for - is the large head of quality roach and rudd which run to well over 2lbs and some tench to 4lbs.
A haven for wildlife, Carp Lake has deliberately been allowed to become naturalised to give it that traditional carp fishery feel. Whilst the amount of weed can be a draw back to more inexperienced anglers there are open pegs and the 'weed-worry' can easily be overcome by scaling up the strength of tackle.
Only four feet deep throughout the majority of the water, there is a five foot hole in the far left hand corner of the water as you approach the lake.
Both traditional and modern carp fishing techniques work well on this water, whilst the clear swims enable those anglers who wish to do so to float fish the water.
However, the native duck population can pose a problem for those anglers wanting to fish floating baits such as dog biscuits and bread. For those keen on wildlife, an interesting feature of this water is the large number of bull-frogs which live here - their calls giving the impression you could be fishing the Florida Glades instead of a rural Northamptonshire fishery!
Because all parts of the pool fish well there is little need to cast far and anglers visiting the water for the first time are recommended to fish a static bait on the bottom close to the rushes. Fishing the margins is always popular, especially when the water is quiet with few anglers about.
As for baits, hair-rig boilies, meat or corn are always popular and any flavour seems to work well. Bread is also a popular bait as are hair-rigged pellets and paste.
How to get there...
Heyford Fishery is located at Nether Heyford between Daventry and Northampton just off the M1 motorway or the A5 and A45 Trunk Roads.
After leaving the M1 at Junction 16 follow the signs for Daventry along the A45 and take the left hand turn to Nether Heyford. In Nether Heyford turn right at the main road junction signed Weedon and Daventry and where the road bends sharply to the left carry straight on into Weedon Road (signed Flore and Weedon)and the fishery will be found about a quarter of a mile down here on the right.
On the A5, go south through Weedon and after about a mile take the left hand turn at the Narrow Boat pub. After about three-quarters of a mile there is a canal bridge and the fishery entrance is on the left.
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