Tel: 07511 453715
Think of the Isle of Sheppey and probably the last thing you think of is coarse angling. Situated at the mouth of the River Thames some 50 miles east of London, it is better known for its thriving Sheerness Docks, its marshes, mud flats, bird watching and as a tourist resort.
But thanks to the enterprising work of Matthew Waghorn, the island now has its own three-lake venue which provides a variety of sport from a small 30-peg purpose-built childrens lake with wooden walkway and guard rail through to specimen fishing for big carp and bream. The fishery covers a total of about eight acres and is open between 7.00am and 7.00pn although the closing time is invariably much later during the better summer months.
To be found immediately to the rear of Stones Garden Centre (pictured left and below) on the road between Halfway Houses and Sheerness, Stones is an unusual and interesting fishery and has certainly proved popular with local Isle of Sheppey residents - or 'swampies' as they are affectionately known.
Although it was only created at the end of 1999 it has matured nicely with the Match Lake in particular being full of interesting features including two ornate wooden bridges which cross the the two islands, as well as beds of lily pads and water reeds, all of which make interesting features to fish to.
The fishery also has ambitious plans to expand during 2005 by providing a new 100-peg match and pleasure lake next to the current Specimen Lake plus a modern new clubhouse which is expected to be open in Spring 2006.
When completed, the new clubhouse (left) will provide a fully-stocked tackle shop as well as cafe, bar, restaurant, golf shop and function room for private parties and corporate events. It will make an ideal meeting place for clubs holding matches at Stones.
Whilst the fishery currently has a tackle shop, this is housed in a temporary Portacabin which is right next to the Children Pool. The shop carries a wide variety of baits including flavoured meats, sweetcorn and pellets as well as maggots and worms. In addition, the shop usually offers a selection of terminal tackle plus reels, rods, landing nets, landing net handles and bank sticks. It even has special offers of complete rod/reel sets by well known names such as John Wilson from as little as £30 all-in including a day's permit at Stones Fishery.
The three pools each have their own character and are suitable for disabled anglers. Indeed, the fishery even goes so far as to give disabled anglers and their tackle a lift to their pegs in electric golf carts. Disabled anglers requiring this free service should ask when paying for their day ticket at the tackle shop.
The golf cart is also used to deliver orders for food and drinks to anglers at their pegs. Orders for hot and cold snacks and drinks are prepared at the cafe in the garden centre next door.
Each year the fishery holds an Open Day when anglers are invited to fish free of charge and when anyone who breaks the fishery record of 28lbs for a carp or 10lbs 6oz for a bream wins £250! In addition, the angler catching the biggest fish on the day wins £25.
During the Open Day the fishery offers a discount on tackle and has several top named anglers on hand to give help and advice. The whole things wraps up with a bar and barbecue.
All told, Stones Fishery makes an interesting venue in an area which undoubtedly is short of coarse fisheries. Being a popular tourist resort, it is also great for anglers and members of their families who don't fish with plenty of local attractions to non-angling members of the family occupied.
Although the Isle of Sheppey is just nine miles long by five miles wide, it offers traditional seaside towns such as Leysdown and Sheerness as well as a rich cultural heritage. The island gets its name from early times when sheep farming was extensive on the island.
Today the western end of the island - home to a former naval dockyard - is now the successful commercial port of Sheerness whilst at the other end of the island are miles of beaches for holiday makers. Because of its marshes and coastline the island is also a noted haven for bird watchers and even sports a naturist beach!