Summer on Specimen Carp LakeRookley Country Park

Isle of Wight
PO38 3LU

Tel: 01983 721606 (Self-catering holidays)
Tel: 01983 721675 - Tim Oatley (Fishery Manager)
      or 07798 918717 (mobile)


There can't be many venues in the UK where you need to catch a ferry before you can go fishing - but Rookley Country Park near the centre of the Isle of Wight is one of them!

Your angling break starts here!Set in 20 acres and about a 20 minute drive from the docking points at East Cowes, Fishbourne and Yarmouth for the ferries from Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington, Rookley Country Park offers day ticket angling to locals as well as accommodation in static caravans which sleep between two and eight people plus new two and three-bedroom luxury bungalows.

This makes Rookley an ideal venue for an angling holiday or break.

Inside the on-site tackle shop The big draw for anglers are the two on-site lakes which form the centrepiece of the park. Developed from former clay workings, the three-quarter acre pleasure lake is a pretty, easy to fish reed-lined pool with spacious well-built pegs.

The larger two-acre Specimen Carp lake is equally attractive and the only day-ticket water on the island where carp to 40lbs can be taken - again in delightful surroundings.

The refurbished restaurant at Rookley Country ParkIn addition there is a well-equipped tackle shop (above) where a wide range of equipment and accessories including rods, reels, landing nets, chairs, unhooking mats, baits and terminal tackle can be purchased.

The shop also hires everything you could need for a day's fishing - so even if you are not an angler you don't have to buy all the gear before you try your hand at the sport.

For those new to the sport or anglers who would like to learn more about developing techniques, Fishery Manager Tim Oatley is a qualified Professional Anglers' Association Coach who can be booked to give lessons.

All anglers must dip their nets before fishingAlthough there are few rules apart from the usual regulations covering the use of barbless hooks and keepnets, the fishery does require unhooking mats to be used and nuts and beans are not allowed as bait. Bivvies can only be erected by anglers fishing overnight on the Specimen Carp lake.

Anglers aged under 15 years are not allowed to fish Specimen Carp Lake and must be accompanied by an adult whilst they are fishing Small Lake. In addition, all anglers are expected to dip their mats, nets and slings before starting to fish.

Rookley Country Park describes itself as offering value for money holidays - and it certainly seems to do that, although the cost of the ferry and fishing is in addition to the accommodation.

Looking across Small Lake to the restaurantWeekly prices range from only £210 for a two-berth caravan in March/April through to just £895 for one of the new top-of-the range three bedroom luxury bungalows in late July to mid-August.

In addition to the fishing, the park also has its own bar/restaurant and night club which offer a full range of drinks, meals and snacks; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; a small pitch and putt course; children's play area and launderette. There is also a small on-site shop which sells a range of foods, drinks and household cleaning items.

Some of the static holiday caravansFor further information and photographs of the facilities at Rookley Country Park, please click here.

All Rookley Country Park's caravans are attractively situated within lawned grounds and around a perimeter road giving easy access.

It all goes to make Rookley an attractive package which combines an attractive and productive fishery with an ideal base from which to explore the Isle of Wight.

2013 Day Ticket costs - Small Lake

Full Day One Rod
Full Day Two Rods
Full Day Three Rods

Junior anglers aged under 15 can fish Small Lake for £ 6.00 per day (one rod only).
Park residents can purchase discounted weekly tickets to fish Small Lake.
The tickets are valid from Saturday to Friday inclusive at £35.00 for
one rod (Juniors £30.00 (one rod only) ) or £45.00 for two rods and £50.00 for three rods.

2013 Day Ticket costs - Specimen Carp Lake

Full Day

Specimen Carp Lake tickets allow anglers to fish up to three rods.
Anglers can hire large cradle unhooking mats
and 42-inch landing nets from the tackle shop.

Looking across towards the tackleshop on Small LakeSmall Lake

Even though it is only three-quarters of an acre in size, Small Lake is a most attractive and interesting pool with plenty of bankside vegetation, an island, promontory and bays which give the angler plenty of features to fish to. Also, being the lowest point on the Rookley Country Park site it is sheltered from the worst of the weather.

All the pegs are spacious and well maintained, and a walkway around the pool means that many of the pegs are suitable for disabled anglers.

Another peg on Rookley Country Park's Small LakeSmall Lake has about 40 timber or gravel pegs and being only about four feet deep around the edges before dropping to about 12 feet in the centre is easy to fish.

Indeed, when visited Rookley in early summer 2006 we had a cracking time. In cloudy but reasonably pleasant conditions we fished Small Pool for the last two hours before dark in the evening and for two hours early the following morning and never seemed to stop catching.

Fishing only light waggler tackle - 4lb line to a size 16 hook with soft hooker pellet as bait fished over a bed of feeder pellets - we had over 40 fish including green and golden tench to 3lbs, crucian carp to 2lbs 8oz, crucian carp hybrids, roach and rudd to about 1lb and what can only have been one of the bigger commons or mirrors which took us into the reeds before throwing the hook after a five minute fight.

The bay at the top end of Small Lake at Rookley Country ParkThe quality of the fish was also impressive. Not only did they all give a good account of themselves but all were in beautiful condition.

Whilst we were there other anglers were also catching steadily. Across from us one angler landed a beautiful mirror carp of about 6lbs whilst a few pegs down 17-years-old Will Hebburn from Ludgershall near Andover took a 16lbs 2oz mirror (see pictures below). Will fished a pineapple boilie out towards the centre of the lake on a Size 8 hook and 12lb line.

And the evening before his brother Chase, fishing on Specimen Carp Lake, set a new venue record when he landed a 35lb 2oz mirror to break the previous lake record of 34lbs 4oz set 12 months previously by local angler Richard Smith.

Taking it easy on Small LakeAlthough floating baits can work well in summer for the carp, most anglers prefer to fish a waggler or pole either close in to the side or about a rod length out in open water using sweetcorn, maggots, pellets or small cubes of luncheon meat as bait, all fished over a bed of feeder pellets.

Those after the carp normally tend to fish one or two rods with boilie baits, one rod fished in the sides and the other out in to deeper water.

The beauty of Small Lake, in addition to being a most attractive water, is that it fishes well all year round so no matter what time of year you visit the Park you should catch well.

Will Hebburn with his 16lbs 2oz mirrorA nice mirror of about 6lbs from Small LakeA 2lbs 8oz crucian from Small Lake

A corner peg on Specimen Lake at Rookley Country ParkSpecimen Carp Lake

One of the obvious attractions of Rookley Country Park's Specimen Lake is that it is the only day-ticket venue on the Isle of Wight where can can catch carp to 40lbs, the other waters being either private or syndicate-members only.

As may be expected, however, this water is for experienced carp anglers with the appropriate equipment.

Looking down Specimen Lake at Rookley Country ParkAnother attraction is that, although the the lake is about two acres in size and lined with trees on two of its three sides, it has only 11 purpose-built timber and woodchip pegs, giving anglers plenty of water to go at without disturbing each other.

There are no fish under 15lbs in Specimen Lake and about half of the 120 or so known fish in there range between 20lbs and 25lbs with about 30 per cent weighing between 25lbs and 30lbs. At least 10 per cent of the fish are over 30lbs with some now pushing the 40lbs mark.

Looking across Specimen Lake at Rookley Country ParkUnlike Small Lake, Specimen Carp Lake shelves steeply from the bank with 10 feet of water being found in the corner near the Premier caravans and 13 feet immediately out from the first three pegs immediately left at the end of the causeway dividing Specimen Lake from Small Lake.

Round by the top end of the lake from the causeway about seven feet can be found whilst along the bank which runs by the old waterfall between four and six feet can be found. A feature at the far end of the lake is a weed bed from which a 13 feet deep channel runs to the centre of the lake where there is a clay patch about 10 feet deep.

Make sure you have the right kit for Specimen Carp LakeMost of the pegs on Specimen Lake have names like Bunker, Ring, Little Steps, Big Steps, Platform and Woods and can be booked in advance.

It pays, therefore, to enquire where the fish are coming from and which baits and techniques are working well before you settle down to a session.

The majority of anglers fish this water using modern carp fishing techniques, boilies and up to three rods. All anglers must have a large beany or XL cot-type unhooking mat, a 42-inch landing net and a Klinik or similar carp care kit before they can fish. Sling mats, zip mats and flat mats are not allowed.

Another nice peg on Specimen Lake at Rookley Country ParkAnglers are allowed to use floating baits on Specimen Carp Lake, although these tend to take few fish with nearly all the bigger specimens falling to hair-rigged boilies.

As with many other big carp waters, fixed lead rigs are not permitted, and the normal set up tends to be a running or semi-fixed lead with a two-foot length of tubing followed by a pin down back lead and hair-rigged boilie as bait. Half to one-ounce backleads are also recommended.

The most popular boilies are Carp Company boilies in a range of flavours including Nutty Squid and Icelandic Red.

Carp Talk columnist Ben O'ConnorCarp Talk columnist Barry O'Connor
Carp Talk columists Ben O'Connor (left) and his dad Barry. Ben with 'The Long One' - a 33lb mirror - and Barry with 'Rosie' at 40lbs 2oz

Follow the link to see more photos of big Specimen Lake carp
Why it's all right on the Isle of Wight!

Some cracking fish have come out of Rookley Country Park's Specimen Lake in the past 12 months including this 23lb 12oz mirror caught by Fishery Manager Tim Oatley, proving that when it comes to big carp - it's all right on the Isle of Wight! To see a selection of photographs, please click here.

How to get there...

Having arrived at East Cowes on the ferry from Southampton, drive up the hill ahead of you and follow the A3021 and signs for Newport.

On reaching Newport pick up the A3020 signed Shanklin and stay on this road until you see the signs for Rookley. After Rookley you will see the brown tourist signs which will lead you to Rookley Country Park. The park entrance is on the left hand side of the road travelling towards Shanklin before you reach Godshill. Ferry passengers travelling from Portsmouth should take the A3054 out of Fishbourne heading for Newport. When in Newport they should follow the instructions from Newport given above whilst ferry passengers from Lymington should take the A3054 from Yarmouth to Newport and again follow the directions above from Newport to Rookley Country Park.

Rookley Country Park launches impressive new website

An impressive new angling website which covers all aspects of the fishing at Rookley Country Park has been launched by the venue. Available at, the site not only includes latest fishing reports and a gallery of latest big carp catches but also has an interactive map showing the layout of the lakes and views from various pegs around the waters, plus links to their pages on Twitter and other sites. Follow the link to visit their site..

Island View Holidays on the Net

Rookley Country Park is one of four holiday destinations run by Island View Holidays on the Isle of Wight, the other three being Island View at Colwell Bay, Bay Close Court at Freshwater Bay and Hillgrove and Field Lane at St Helens. To visit these and Rookley Country Park's own holiday website, please click here.

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