It was great to get an invite from the guys at Parkdean to visit their well renown fishery White Acres, set in the beautiful Cornish countryside. Covering 184 acres and containing 10 pleasure lakes and 3 specimen lakes it had more than enough water to entertain us for the week.
Joining me were a couple of old friends, Gardner Tackle’s Mike Lyddon, and from the Stoney and Friends charity, Allan Stone. Now myself and Mike are primarily specimen anglers and Allan I think would just call himself a pleasure angler nowadays, so with specimen, match, and pleasure fishing available at the complex it should keep us all happy.
Saying that though, we’d already discussed what we fancied fishing for and all agreed that this was a chance to do a bit of float and feeder work as opposed to camping out and sitting behind alarms as we generally do… not to say we hadn’t packed a couple of carp rods just in case!
I’d already met the park’s head of fisheries Clint Elliott and some of his team at the Big One show earlier in the year, and with a follow up phone call, he’d ran through the many species we could float fish for, and also mentioned the big carp, cats, eels, and perch, that might also be of interest if we fancied some slightly more specialised angling.
It’s always an idea to know what you want to catch otherwise you’ll end up taking every bit of tackle you own… we still ended up bringing half a dozen rods each!
Anyway, so I’ve now written a day to day diary piece to recount our week’s activities at this top venue.
Meeting my mates at Fleet services around 7am we headed off down the M3, it’s a fairly simple journey using the A303, the A30, then near Bodmin grab the A39 to Newquay before finally doing the last couple of miles on the A392 to the park itself.
Check in was nice and relaxed, and as we’d arrived early afternoon, slightly before our caravan was ready, we had a quick ride over to the Fishing lodge to introduce ourselves. Clint then gave us a run down on how the lakes were fishing before one of his colleagues pointed out the best swims for the different species. Which was all very helpful and gave us an idea of where to try during the coming week.
Once given the all clear it was off to our caravan holiday home, and what a beauty it was.
New for 2016, the Coverack caravan has 3 bedrooms, one double with its own shower and toilet, and 2 twins. There’s a spacious lounge/dining area next to the fully equipped kitchen with fridge, microwave, cooker and all cooking utensils. A separate bathroom with toilet, wash basin and shower allows the accommodation to easily handle 6-8 people if needed.
We then made a quick trip to the local supermarket and stocked up on supplies for the week. There is a convenience store on site that has all the essentials, plus an off licence, bakery and launderette.
Cooking some food back at the caravan and enjoying a good catch up, I think we’re all looking forward to some interesting fishing.
Our first session, and we decided to enjoy a day’s pleasure fishing on Pollawyn lake. It’s one of the 10 match waters on the complex with carp to 20lb, F1’s, tench, crucians, bream, perch, roach, rudd, chub and barbel.
Now depending on where your caravan is situated, you can either walk, or barrow your gear down to your chosen lake, or if like us you’re a little further away, it’s easy enough to pop your tackle in the car and drive down to the car parking area adjacent to the Fishing Lodge, then head off to the lakes from there.
Which we did, and then soon found an area of bank that looked promising, and we didn’t waste any time putting out a ledger and a float to work in our respective swims. The biting winds of the previous week seemed to be fading away and we were now blessed with some warming sunshine.
It wasn’t long before we started getting bites, Mike was first to put a fish on the bank, a bream of around a pound, caught on his ledger rod. Through the afternoon more bream and perch were landed by Mike and Allan, I on the other hand seemed to be getting plenty of bites but not connecting with anything? I’d set up with a small feeder filled with chopped worm, and had a nice juicy lobworm on the hook which I hoped would attract the big perch that were supposed to live in the lake.
By the end of the session Mike had started catching some of the carp, mostly in the 2-3lb stamp, plus a chub, and yours truly remained resolutely fishless!
That evening we went to eat at the park’s restaurant the Polkerris Bar, Pizzeria & Grill. With great choices on the menu, and all at very reasonable prices, it’s a nice option to cooking and eating in your caravan. And having a beer at the bar afterwards is the perfect time to dissect the day’s tactics.
Although we’d had a few fish our discussion soon turned to why we’d not caught more and it was probably that we were fishing too heavy, even though our tackle was already scaled down, it possibly wasn’t enough as most of the lakes were predominately match fished with anglers using very light lines, tiny hooks, and small baits. Something we definitely had to bare in mind.
After all the planning this soon turned into a rest day!
I think with the 6-hour drive down, and a good 8-hour session on the lake the day before had all caught up with us, so instead of an early start and trying a different lake, we ended up sleeping in.
Even before we’d arrived there was an idea of taking a trip to the coast and having a day’s sea fishing, probably on Thursday or Friday, so with our late start we decide to head into Newquay and explore a few places so we’d know where to go later in the week.
It was a beautiful day, so after parking up we strolled into this popular seaside town. Set upon the rocky cliffs with views out over the bay and the miles of sandy beaches, we couldn’t resist grabbing an ice cream and a wander down to the harbour to watch the fishing boats navigate in and out.
Checking out two or three possible fishing spots amongst the cliffs that were recommended by the local tackle shop it started to become apparent Allan might have a problem. His knee’s were starting to protest at the climbing and I think we all knew the sea fishing would have to be left until another time.
That was a real shame, but we’d make the most of our seaside trip and grab some lunch at one of the quaint pub’s on the way back. Although we hadn’t realised how much time had passed and soon found that all of them had stopped serving food. We were really doing well today!
The other part of the original plan was to get back fairly sharpish and have a few hours fishing into dusk, but even that fell by the wayside as we were hungry and ate early back at the onsite restaurant, and then chatted what was left of the evening away on where we fancied going tomorrow.
Oh well, this was supposed to be a holiday, as well as enjoying some great fishing. So it was good to see some of the surrounding attractions, and you have places like the Eden Project, Tintagel Castle, Newquay Zoo, Crealy Great Adventure Park all within easy reach.
A new day and a new lake, and we were off to Pat’s Pool. With Nelsons and Bolingey, they make up the three specimen waters here at White Acres.
Bolingey may ring a few bells with some of you, as it’s well known for it’s pleasure catches of over 100lbs, and festival catches in excess of 200lbs! It’s not actually within the complex, however it’s easily reachable by car in around 20 minutes.
Anyway we were happy to stay within the park and with Pat’s boasting mirror, common and ghost carp to 33lb, and cat’s to 74lb, they’d be more than enough to keep us busy.
We’d noticed earlier in the week which was the popular bank with 4 or 5 bivvies along it’s length, and sure enough with us not getting there at dawn most of those swims were already taken, but there was plenty of room around other parts of the lake.
Picking a spot that suited us all, we soon had our baits out to assorted features. In fact nearly all the lakes have features in abundance, plenty of islands, bars, shallows, lily pads, or deep water areas.
But try as we might nothing was caught, and through the morning we started seeing fish splashing up against the islands, and thrashing amongst the reeds, it seemed that with the warmer weather the fish had started to spawn. Just what we needed!
Later in the afternoon Mike packs up most of his gear and goes on walkabouts with a single rod, and a couple of hours later my phone rings, it’s Mike and he’s had one.
It seems he’d spotted a few carp on the surface going in and out of the lily pads so spent his time gently flicking out single dog mixers until they were feeding confidently and then lowered a freelined mixer right on top of them and had almost an instant bite.
I walk round with the camera and get a few snaps of his capture, a 16lb 10oz mirror, now that’s a proper fish!
Sadly Thursday ends with Allan having to pack his gear and make his way home. He’d had a phone call during the afternoon to say his wife had had an accident and so he wanted to get back to see her.
Our morning started with a call from Allan to say his journey home was uneventful and that his wife was now comfortable. That was good news.
So just the two of us to choose where to go, and Mike came up with a suggestion. Amongst the carp he’d seen yesterday was a huge ghostie and he wanted another try for it. That was fine with me as I’d drop in above him and fish another set of pads nearby.
It’s a nice relaxed session, Mike spending hours scanning the pads for carp while I pop one bait in off the edge of the pads, and another close to the side of a small island… then chill!
We’ve worked out that it was the bream spawning yesterday, and they’re still at it today, but now we’re noticing the carp are playfully following each other in two’s and three’s.
Around midday I hear a big splash and there’s Mike playing another carp amongst the pads. I help him net this one and it goes 17lb 8ozs, a chunky ghostie.
But that becomes our only action of the day, even though I have feeding bubbles and those telltale clouds under the water right next to my bait?
One of our initial plans had been to leave Nelson's lake until later in the week as the forecast was for the weather to slowly warm up. Our thinking being that catfish tend to prefer the warmer temperatures, and so this might increase our chances.
But now with only a couple of days left, and me still with not a fish to my name, it was time to pack the carp rods in the cars and head over to Nelson’s. Besides catfish to over 50lb, the lake holds carp to 28lb, ghost carp to 20lb+.
Not wanting to waste time cooking breakfast we popped into the First Bite Cafe, down by the lakes. It does a cracking ‘full English’ with plenty of tea and coffee!
On arrival we left our kit in the car and had a stroll round the water to see if we could spot any fish moving. It's one of those tales said amongst anglers that 'car park' swims are supposedly for lazy people, but on the other hand they usually get fished regularly, and can be a place where left over bait gets dumped, so they often hold fish.
As we came to the first corner of the lake we saw two or three carp milling about, then another, and another. Looking more closely we soon picked out seven or eight more, and as we moved along the first bank other carp were either cruising on the surface or lazily swimming through the marginal weed beds.
I also asked Mike if he'd noticed that the lake was empty… no one else was fishing it? We continued our lap of the lake quickly noting that the only showing fish were in that first bay, and so it wasn't hard to pick where we going... in those first two swims!
Once set up Mike continued his successful tactic of waiting and watching moving fish and feeding them Chum mixers.
I unpack my gear and soon notice fish moving through the weed close to my bank, and with Mike's influence starting to rub off on me I put out a couple of handfuls of pellet into an area of open water between the weed.
No more than a few minutes later I watch as a ghost carp circles the area twice before moving over the pellet and then starts to feed. It finally moves away and gives me a chance to top the spot up with more pellet, and more importantly place a free lined lobworm right in the middle.
I set up my other rod, and even though this was one of the specimen lakes, as we'd kept in mind that as a venue it’s predominately match fished it might be worth trying smaller hook baits, so I opt for a small 12mm boilie with a golf ball sized pva bag of pellets nicked on the hook. It's cast out to a gap between two islands.
Not long after I'm settled the marginal rod comes to life, a few bleeps on the alarm and my rod tip pulls round. I'm now playing what looks like one of the ghostie's as it zig-zags back and forth through the weed before I guide it gratefully into the net.
It's not huge at 11lbs, but I’ve finally had my first White Acres fish so I'm relieved!
Things get even better when 20 minutes later my other rod screams off and I land a 15lb 4oz common, and it looks like our thoughts on small baits might be working.
Mike gets in on the act next, he’s now playing a pretty fully scaled mirror that tips the scales at 21lb 4oz, and he’s proved over the last 3 days that patience and a bit of stealth can really pay dividends.
Fishing through to the evening our final tally is 14 carp, an assortment of mirrors, commons, and ghosties. I even hook what feels like a truck as it powers off down the lake, I’m assuming it’s a cat, but the hook pulls so we’ll never know!
It all comes around so quick, and suddenly it’s our last day. The choice comes down to either catching a bag full of smaller stuff, or still trying for a larger catch. The specimen angler inside both of us wins and we head back for a last go on Pat’s Pool.
Breakfast again in the cafe, then it’s off to the lake where I pick a swim that allows me to get a bait out to the middle of the lake. And there’s no mucking around with small baits this time, I’ve got 20mm boilies on each rod and covered them in a thick layer of paste. Then catapulted out a handful of boilies into each spot. Good enough for any cat!
You might have guessed, Mike is armed with just a single rod and has gone walkabouts yet again. Dropping into the swims next to the pads he’s content just to track the carp movements and hopefully entice them to feed.
Some vigorous liners have me up and next to my rods time and again until in the early afternoon I get a very half-hearted bite. I play in what turns out to be a bream of around a pound, now how did that get a 20mm boilie in its mouth?
I see Mike checking out numerous spots but it seems the fish aren’t playing today. Well that’s not completely true as through the afternoon I start seeing more and more carp topping, jumping, and crashing through the reeds as I imagine spawning has now begun for them.
Oh well it’s been a great week and we’ve all caught… even me!
White Acres is a smashing place to come and fish, but also to bring your wife or partner (perhaps it’s them that fish?), and the children too. With an indoor swimming pool, crazy golf, adventure playground, mini ten-pin bowling, and amusement arcade, the kids won’t be bored, and for the grown ups there’s always the spa bath, sauna and gym, or the ladies might like to make use of the solarium and beautician?
The restaurant is a great place to eat, and then there’s live family entertainment in the Lakeside Club, or you could just have a drink at the welcoming bar.
When booking your holiday just check if there is a festival happening the same week. There’s no problem if you want to come and enjoy the matches and see some of the star anglers, or even take part, but if you just want to fish it can be very busy and certain lakes may be closed.
Name: Parkdean Holidays’ White Acres Holiday Park
Where: Near Newquay, Cornwall
Accommodation: Coverack caravan which sleeps 6 to 8 guests
Pricing: Prices differ depending on your week, here are some examples. Arriving Friday 20 May for seven nights £649, arriving Saturday 28 May for seven nights £999.
Park facilities: 13 coarse fishing lakes, tackle shop, heated indoor pool, spa bath, sauna and gym, Polkerris Bar, Pizzeria and Grill, The Lakeside Club, Polkerris Bar and Lounge, Fish ‘n’ Chip Shop and a café.
To book: Call 0344 335 3450 or visit www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk
For more info on Gardner Tackle try www.gardnertackle.co.uk
For more info on Stoney & Friends try www.stoneyandfriends.co.uk