Capesthorne Hall has long been one of the north west's top carp waters, its been producing good numbers of 20lb+ carp since the seventies and continues to be a top north west carp venue today with several carp topping 30lb+ at the right time of year. For details about capesthorne hall please visit the Sotas website, there is a link to the Sotas website on the right hand navigation on this blog under 'North West Angling Clubs'.
During my time on Capesthorne the dam wall sprang a leak and for a time, the lake was drained whilst repairs took place, the following pictures were taken when the lake was all but empty of water. Like most people, I struggled in my first year on capesthorne hall, my results were strictly average and I managed 6 carp in my first season, thats not a lot of fish when you're fishing there 2-3 days per week. The following pictures had a massive impact on my results on this lake, once I sat down and studied them I began to relate showing fish to the underwater features in the pictures, the next season produced 24 carp for me as I was able to use the photos to understand the carp movements around the lake.
The following pictures relate to the 'park pool' side of the bridge, a long area of the lake known as 'the shallows'. This area of the lake can be very productive as the carp like to cruise round the shallows in the afternoons.
This first picture is a swim known as 'the cattle drink', it's not a very popular swim due to it's restrictive nature, from the surface it looks very difficult to extract a carp from and it is 'hook and hold' fishing. As you can see from the picture, apart from the trailing branches of the yew tree theres little else for the carp to snag you up on and you can safely extract carp from this swim if your competent at snag fishing. This swim is highly under-rated and allows you to fish much closer to the yew tree than from the popular main pads swim opposite. Fishing close to cover is a big thing on capesthorne and the closer you can get to it the better. The cattle drink will produce carp regularly and is particularly good if the lake is busy as the carp tend to favour the cover of the yew tree when they are under angling pressure.
The next picture begins to deal with the 'stream bed'. Capesthorne hall is an old estate lake, it was created by damming a small stream which runs in from the end of the shallows, the lakes water level is regulated by the 'plug hole' up by the dam wall, what water flows in one end, then flows out via the plug hole and into the syndicated bottom pool. The old stream bed still exists and it didn't take me long to realise that the carp would follow this feature quite a lot. Looking from the main pads swim, the stream bed flows through the second arch of the bridge, it's quite pronounced here and has a fair depth of water, despite looking very good, fishing in the stream bed here has been unproductive for carp, in this particular swim the carp seem to prefer the cover of the yew tree and the pads and usually pass through arches 3,4 and 5 when moving between the park and garden pools and vice versa.
Changing the picture angle from the above shot you can clearly see the stream bed meandering its way through the shallows of the park pool, it comes close in to the bank just before the rodey bushes on the hall side before going back out to the middle of the lake. If you can get a bait in the stream bed anywhere down the shallows I think you have a chance of picking up a carp, for this reason I never used to break my neck to get into what are known as the 'popular' swims near the bridge, if you find the stream bed your in with a chance from any swim on the shallows.
The next shot below looks at the rodey bushes on the hall side, this clump of bushes is just under half way down the shallows from the bridge. As you can see from the photo, the stream bed passes through this swim as it does through every swim on the shallows. Take a look at the far bank on the hall side, if you look carefully along that bank you can see a line were the silt starts. Along this bank the margins are sandy to start off then a couple of rod lengths out the silt starts. If there are carp cruising the hall side then a bait placed precisely on this line is in with a chance of being picked up. You really need to be quiet when fishing capesthorne hall, particularly so if fishing the margins. If the fish are there and you can get your bait on the line and avoid being detected by the carp, this sand/silt line can produce a carp. Incidently the remains of the fallen tree were removed!.
The picture below looking back towards the bridge gives a different angle from above, you can see the line of sand/silt along the near margin, its just beyond were the old barbwire fence finishes, or used to finish as the fence is now gone!. You can also see the stream bed and that the far bank has the most cover. I mentioned above how important bankside cover is to these fish, I can only assume the carp feel safer with cover close to hand, they are more likely to try baits in areas they feel safe in, which I guess is true of all carp in all lakes. When a lake see's as much angling pressure as capesthorne though, it's crucial if your going to stand a chance of banking one of these tricky carp!.
To sum up the park pool, you should always pick a swim based on sightings of fish, don't worry about people running straight for the main pads swim, it's a good swim yes but because of the constant angling pressure it sees it's not as good as it once was. If you start getting obsessed about this, or any other swim then you've fallen into the trap of 'swim chasing' and you'll be in for a hard time.
The carp in capesthorne hall pretty much follow the same daily pattern, in the morning they begin to pass through the arches from the garden pool into the park pool and up to the shallows. They spend the day cruising the shallows, then, as we get to late afternoon, they begin heading back up towards the bridge and through into the garden pool again. It's worth fishing along the shallows through the daytime then moving to the garden pool early in the evening. The garden pool has slightly deeper water and it's one big natural feeding area, in part two I'll go through the pictures of the garden pool when its empty.