THE MONUMENT FISHERIES - DISCOVERING DAY TICKETS | LOZ EAST
Loz East continues his look at some of the nation’s best day-ticket waters and this month turns his attention to RH Fisheries’ Monument venues
Monument Fisheries was created in November 2002 by Rob Hales and was specifically designed to offer the day-ticket carp angler a chance of catching the fish of a lifetime, in beautiful surroundings. The venue is set in the heart of the Shropshire countryside and can be located in the Shifnal area using the address: The Monument, Lamledge Lane, Shifnal, TF11 8SD
This superb venue holds two big-fish waters named Monument One (M1) and Monument Two (M2). M1 is around 8 acres in size with 15 fishable swims and holds around 300 carp. It has about 80 fish over the 30lb barrier with a lake record of 49lb. M2 is approximately 10 acres in size with 18 fishable swims and holds around 500 carp to 47lb. Both M1 and M2 offer disabled facilities with two swims available on both lakes, along with a disabled toilet and wheelchair access to the fishery lodge and shop.
You can ring and reserve your pegs in advance of your session, which are 36-hours long and start from 6.30am (7am in winter) on the first day of the session and finishes at 7pm (dusk in winter) of the evening on the second day of the session. The sessions run from Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday and Saturday-Sunday. If you wish to fish for longer than 36 hours, it is possible, by booking two sessions that run back to back. If you wished to do so, however, you would have to reel in and stay in the overnight bivvy area until the session commenced on the following morning. Showers and toilets for both men and women are also available on site.
Cost-wise, from March 1st until the end of November it is £60 per 36-hour session and from December 1st until the end of February it is £40 per 36-hour session.
Anglers fishing the Monument complex can only use bait provided by RH fisheries, this is for the welfare of the fish. Bait can be added to your booking fee and collected on the day of your session or, alternatively, you can just buy it on the day. They provide boilies in a range of different flavours and sizes, along with mixed particles, pellets and hookbaits. Despite this, anglers may use their own hookbaits but this doesn’t include plastic baits or zig rigs, as these are both banned. A full list of fishery rules can be found on the Monument website: www.rhfisheries.com.
The on-site facilities are amongst the very best I have ever experienced. The fishery has 24/7 on-site surveillance which includes CCTV on the car park which is next to the fishery lodge. The car park is also securely locked during the night-time period. The lodge itself also stores limited terminal tackle and essentials should you need further supplies. The fishery makes use of a local café called Boxwood who deliver daily to the fishery just after 9am, not including Sundays, should you want to treat yourself to breakfast. The fishery is conveniently situated less than a three minute drive from Shifnal should you need to pop out during your stay.
The actual lakes and surroundings are always maintained to an exceptionally high standard. Each swim along with the paths around the lake are stone-chipped so you don’t have to worry about getting anything muddy. It’s also important to note that you must use the on-site fishery landing nets, slings and unhooking mats which are provided for you. This is to prevent the spread of disease which ultimately does you a favour with not having to bring your own. There are also spare barrows available should you need to use them to get everything around to your chosen swim.
RH fisheries also offer four other carp fishing venues, ranging from day-ticket waters to syndicate lakes, which are always invested in by adding new big fish every year to ensure the progression of the fisheries. To book on, or find out more information in relation to those venues, you can again visit the website I have mentioned above.
At the beginning of March I made the two hour drive from Nottingham and arrived at RH Fisheries early on a Saturday morning to be greeted by a frozen Monument 1. Before doing anything I popped into the club lodge which is where you pay your day-ticket money and collect your bait, to see Tom Forrester who is the fishery manager. Tom explained there had been the odd fish out from both Monument 1 and Monument 2 and, despite the lakes being frozen, there was always the chance of a bite.
Around 9.30, and after a few cups of tea, I went about setting up in Peg 2 which is directly in front of the car park and next to the lodge, which was nice and convenient. I wasn’t in any rush either as the lake still had a lid on it. After a few more hours had passed and with my rigs baited and ready to go, I managed to get a couple of rods in the water after it had thawed. Peg 2 commands a corner of the lake where I was reliably informed the fish like to shoal up during the winter period. I wasn’t going to argue with this. I think the biggest advantage anyone can have when turning up to a new venue, especially day ticket waters, is listen to the bailiffs. At the end of the day they live and breathe their lakes and know exactly what has been caught and from where. Tom had told me about a spot, 10 wraps towards a group of trees in the distance, where the lake bed was slightly deeper. He also happened to mention this particular spot had done the most bites this winter, which again I wasn’t going to ignore!
I decided to use a rig I had the ultimate confidence in on particular venues such as the Monument, where the lake bed was pretty uniform and clear. That rig is the IQ D rig. I construct the rig using 20lb Korda IQ2 fluorocarbon in conjunction with a size 4 Kurv Shank hook. Halfway down my hooklink, which is usually around eight inches, I add a large sinker. This is just to ensure the fluorocarbon is pinned to the bottom and I like to use a sinker, as opposed to putty, as you tend to find putty marks the material. I finish the rig off with an anti-tangle sleeve which covers the quick-change swivel on my hybrid lead clip. By using a lead clip setup, it allows me to discharge the lead if the fishing situation dictates. The reason I have so much confidence in this rig is not only do I have a great hooked-to-landed ratio, but it gives you certain camouflage properties which other rigs just can’t because of the fluorocarbon.
I use a micro swivel on the D as opposed to a micro rig ring, believing this gives the bait 360º movement. Hookbait-wise, I used half a Mainline Hybrid hooker which I trim the top off, then adding half a 10mm pop-up before joining the two neatly together to form a small snowman presentation. The 10mm pop-up I used on this occasion was a Toasted Almond. To finish the rig off prior to casting out, I like to add a small PVA mesh bag with Response pellets to the rig and glug the whole presentation in the Hybrid Hookbait Enhancement System.
I’m a firm believer that small percentages make a big difference in carp fishing and, by adding a liquid to your bait before casting out, it not only creates a halo around your hookbait but it also leaves a trail of attraction in the water column and gives the fish something to home in on.
I cast both rigs tight together on the spots that had been shown to me and then made up five small PVA bags with the pellets the fishery sell on site. I used my catapult to fire the bags a short distance around my hookbaits. My thought process behind this was that if the carp came across the small bags it wouldn’t look unnatural when they came across my hookbait. Just before I set the rods in position I decided to slide on a couple of back leads – with the lake being around 8 acres in size, the bottom pretty uniform and fishing in a corner swim, I wanted everything out of the way of the fish.
During my session Jon ‘Shoes’ Jones came down to join me and jumped in Peg 1 as we had some filming to do for Mainline Baits. Obviously, the hope was that between us we would nick a fish for the cameras. Despite our confidence, the first day passed uneventfully but we were both quietly optimistic for the night ahead. I decided to re-bait and reposition my rods just before dark to freshen up the area.
That night the heavens opened and when I say it was torrential, I mean it was torrential! Everything was wet through from top to bottom and, to cut a long story short, the fishing was still quiet and there hadn’t been one fish caught around the lake. Fortunately, our spirits were lifted when Tom brought us a couple of bacon and egg cobs down from the local shop in the morning.
The rest of the day was again spent in front of the camera, filming product clips for Mainline’s social media accounts – which at least kept us busy. That afternoon I decided to repeat the process of recasting the rods before dark and then keep my fingers crossed. I knew everything I was doing was right and, as ever, I had the utmost confidence in the rigs, bait and spots.
Unfortunately, as the sun rose on the Monument the following morning, the story was the same – not a single fish had been caught. By the time it had reached mid-morning and most people started to pack their gear away and head home, I had one last trick up my sleeve to try and possibly save the session. I spoke with Tom and he mentioned there had been a handful of fish out of Monument 2 and there were a couple of pegs free. Armed with just a landing net, two rods and a bait bucket, I set off for a few hours but again, despite my best efforts, I still had nothing to show for it. I guess that’s carp fishing and especially as it was still winter and the weather was unpredictable, I knew I’d have to return.
Around a month or so later I made the return trip and things were looking much better. We’d had a couple of weeks’ worth of consistent temperatures and the fishing had slowly but surely started to pick up. Again, after consultation with Tom when I arrived, I jumped in Peg 12 which is a peg Tom had fished a few days prior to my arrival where he’d had some success. Despite the rain falling and temperatures dropping again I was more than confident. We were due to have some heavy rain (now, there’s a shock) but, at least, there had been fish caught and they were on the move.
Despite blanking on my last visit I decided to adopt the exact same approach with my IQ D rigs and small snowman presentations. I think it’s important to believe in what you are confident in and sometimes it’s nothing you’ve done wrong but simply the carp just aren’t having it. I cast two rigs out, mounted with Hybrid hookers and 10mm Shellfish pop-ups, to a spot at 17 wraps before proceeding to put 10 spombs of corn out over the top. It certainly didn’t take long and just an hour after spodding my left-hand rod was away, which resulted in a lovely double-figure mirror which certainly made up for its size with its scale pattern. Before taking the photographs I tied on a fresh rig and got it back out on the spot first time. It’s important to maximise your time on the bank and be as efficient as possible, so having rigs prepared with baits already tied on is a massive edge.
At around 4pm, Tom came for a chat and as we were chewing the fat, my right-hand rod signalled a steady take. For the next 15 minutes I got beat up by a fish which clearly wasn’t a double, and when it finally went in the net it was a carp know as the Crinkle Tail Linear at 33lb. To say I was over the moon was an understatement, and once again I got a fresh rig back out on the spot ready for the evening, before taking some stills of my prize. It goes back to that old saying that, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”.
Just before sunset I was contemplating spodding out some more bait, when again I had a take off a double-figure fish. Three bites in just a few hours told me it was definitely time to introduce more bait to the swim. As we went further into the evening I started to receive savage liners from about 9pm onwards. During the night I managed another two doubles and a lost fish to a hook-pull unfortunately. I woke up the following morning feeling shattered, due to lack of sleep and my hands stinging from line cuts, but it was well worth it. At first light I decided to make the effort and redo the rods, as well as introduce some more bait, whilst it proceeded to absolutely chuck it down! The rest of the day, however, was uneventful and at lunchtime I decided to wind the rods in and have a walk around the lake.
I found some fish tight in a corner in Peg 2 where I fished on my first session. I thought to myself, five minutes in the right place has got to be better than 24 hours in the wrong place. So, despite catching fish from Peg 12 I decided to make the move to Peg 2 and, after checking my weather app, it only confirmed to me it was the right decision. Over the next 24-hours we were due to have a steady south-westerly wind blowing directly into my corner as well as temperatures as high as 17ºC. With the fishery’s 36-hour limit rule I got myself set-up once more, fired some bait out to the spots that were shown to me on my previous session, and left the rods out of the water for the night whilst I caught up on some much needed sleep in the lodge.
When I woke the next morning the wind had swung to the south-westerly as forecast and it looked bang on for a bite. Once Tom arrived and the gates opened, I proceeded to cast my two rigs out and within minutes I had a bite from one of the Monument babies – a good start to say the least! The rest of the day passed quietly but the fish were more than active and certainly in the area. I decided to get the rods repositioned for my last night and get everything settled. At 1.30am my right-hand rod signalled an incredibly fast take – this proved to be a scaly mirror around 15lb and I just thought to myself another good one can’t be too far away now. The following morning I awoke to another blistering take on the same which clearly was a better fish. It kited tight into the corner I was fishing and, unfortunately, the hook pulled. I guess you can’t win them all and you certainly can’t dictate how the fish picks your hookbait up.
That drew to a conclusion my redemption trip to the Monument. Two nights fishing and I managed eight takes, landing six of them which, considering only three other fish were landed whilst I was there, I was more than happy with. As far as day-ticket fisheries go this is certainly one of my favourites so far. The fact you can book your peg, buy food and drink on site, that the pegs are clear of any mud and you have absolute hippos out in front of you makes this venue something special indeed. For now, be lucky.