Blake Hall Fisheries
Stoke on Trent
Staffordshire ST10 2NJ
Tel: 01538 753908
Mobile: 07970 732656
They say that success breeds success, and this is certainly proving to be the case at Blake Hall Fisheries in the countryside on the outskirts of the small Staffordshire town of Cheadle.
As recently as 1990 the site of the current fishery was just boggy ground fed by springs from the local uplands. For farmer John Heath, who runs the 450-acre mixed cattle and sheep farm of which Blake Hall forms part, the options were either to drain the land and use it for his livestock - or harness the natural water sources and turn the wetland into a lake which would attract wildlife.
The choice was simple. Being a keen environmentalist and wildlife enthusiast, John sought advice and started work on developing Blake Lake - a small trout lake which blended in with the countryside and brought in a little extra income.
It soon became obvious there was demand from a growing number of local anglers for a coarse lake, and so he started work on Hall Pool. When that became popular and demand from anglers grew even more he created Peninsula - at eight acres and holding 65 pegs, the largest of the Blake Hall waters.
The result has been that a once barren, waterlogged and fairly useless piece of land has been transformed into a 30-acre fishery and what must now rank as Cheadle's leading attraction.
Indeed, the demand for coarse angling in the area has been so great that John created another mixed 40-peg coarse lake to ensure none of his waters are overfished. In addition, immediately next to the clubhouse is a quarter acre pool which has been stocked and devoted to younger and novice anglers.
Throughout the whole process priority has been given to giving both the fish and anglers exactly what they want. Whilst the lakes themselves are exposed to the Staffordshire winds, John has landscaped the banks extensively with marginal plants and is undertaking a programme of tree and shrub planting. The modern Scandanavian-style clubhouse (above and left), with its verandah overlooking the fishery, is a credit to angling style and comfort whilst blending perfectly with its surroundings.
In addition to offering a warm retreat for anglers in the cold winter months or a delightful spot on which to relax in summer, the clubhouse serves full English breakfasts; hot and cold snacks and sandwiches; tea, coffee and cold drinks. Drinks and hot and cold snacks can be delivered to anglers at their pegs.
Nearly all the pegs can be reached by car, making Blake Hall suitable for disabled anglers. The clubhouse is equipped with access ramps, double doors and a disabled toilet.
To ensure the quality and health of the fish are maintained, anglers should use only feeder pellets supplied at the fishery whilst floating baits, boilies, dog and cat meat, bloodworm and jokers are not allowed. Keepnets can be used in matches but not by pleasure anglers. Hook sizes should be restricted to a maximum of Size 10. To prevent injury to wildlife - and to other anglers - glass bottles and tins should not be taken onto the fishery.
Situated in the north of the Midlands, Blake Hall has proved a resounding success, particularly with anglers from Wigan, Stockport and the Greater Manchester area. In addition, being only about six miles from Alton Towers, it is a great spot for anglers who want to fish whilst the rest of the family have a day out at this popular theme park.
Blake Hall is open from 7.00am until dusk every day in summer and from 8.00am until dusk in winter and is a popular venue for both club matches and for its own Thursday and Sunday Open Matches. The draw for the Thursday matches is taken at 9.00am with fishing from about 10.15am until 4.00pm whilst the Sunday morning draw is taken at 9.00am with fishing from 10.15am until about 4.00pm.
In summer, the Open matches are generally won with between 80lbs and 120lbs of fish with decent back-up weights whilst even in winter between 60lbs and 70lbs is needed to be in the frame on the larger waters. This figure has been on the rise every year as the fish have grown and this trend looks set to continue. In addition, matches are alternated between the lakes to prevent overfishing, a policy which benefits the many pleasure anglers who visit the venue.
Whilst regulars jokingly nickname the fishery 'Bleak Hall' in winter, in summer it's a completely different story with the trees being in full leaf and the bankside running rampant with lush green vegetation and marginal plants.
Indeed, we are looking forward to making a return trip to the fishery in the warmer weather of late spring and early summer and to enjoying a day's fishing... and perhaps even relaxing on the verandah with a cuppa just taking in the rolling hills and delightful scenery which surrounds this well managed healthland fishery.
Match bookings are now being taken for 2013/2014
Season tickets are available at £150.00 for adults and
£120.00 for junior, OAP and disabled anglers
The original lake at Blake Hall Fisheries, Blake Lake was extended to its present three acres in size and transformed from a former trout fishery at the end of 2003. It now offers some 41 pegs spaced 12 metres apart to give anglers plenty of room.
Blake Lake holds a good head of fish including common and mirror carp to 22lbs with a lot of double figure fish; bream to 3lbs; plenty of skimmers and roach to about 1lb 8oz; perch to 3lb 8oz; tench averaging 4lbs; barbel averaging 7lbs and a good head of chub to 3lbs.
In addition, since autumn 2004 stocks have been supplemented with a further 600lbs of carp which varied in weight from 1lb 8oz to 5lbs and which averaged about 3lb 8oz.
The result of all this is that match weights of between 70lbs and 120lbs are now needed to be in the frame whilst the lake match record - set in 2010 - currently stands at 170lbs.
The water has four central islands each situated about 20 metres from the bank which anglers can reach from most of the pegs, making the most popular techniques to be either fishing close in to the margins or out to the islands. Indeed, fishing a waggler on light tackle close to one of the islands whilst feeding caster or maggots little and often is widely regarded as a one of the most effective means of building a decent catch in winter.
Those anglers who prefer to fish at a distance with the feeder should pack the feeder with a light groundbait and a few hook samples and leave a long tail. The closer you can get to the island the better in winter, although in summer the fish tend to move out more into open water which means decent bags can be taken from any peg.
Although Blake Lake tends to have an even bottom with a fairly regular depth of around five feet, it does shallow slightly to four feet at the end furthest from the clubhouse.
This makes the water popular with pole anglers. Although a lot of fish are taken on the feeder with luncheon meat, pellets and sweetcorn being the most favoured baits even in winter, in the colder months worm, maggots and casters are also worth a try.
In summer all the usual techniques work well with waggler anglers tending to fish on 3lbs main line with a Size 16 or 18s hook and pellet or sweetcorn for bait.
Pole anglers usually set up two rigs, one to fish at about six metres where the bottom levels out and a shallower rig to take fish which are up in the water. Fishing close in the margins also often produces the bigger carp in summer.
At three-and-a-half acres in size, Hall Lake has a total of 30 pegs and is slightly deeper than Blake running between six and seven feet for the most part except in the margins where the banks shelve quite deeply to the bottom.
Holding masses of carp to a about 6lbs and a few double figure fish, Hall is also home to good heads of roach, rudd and skimmers to about 1lb as well as bream and perch to 2lbs 8oz. Although the fish are generally quite small and there are no tench, barbel or chub. Although the fish are smaller than in Blake Lake, match weights of between 35lbs and 40lbs are still usually needed to be in the prizes in winter whilst in summer most matches are won with 70lb-plus. The match record stands at 115lbs.
However, Hall Lake is still a fairly young water, having been cleaned out, the bottom levelled and the lake then restocked a few years ago to improve the fishing and make it an easier venue for anglers. The owners believe that in a couple of years time this will be one of the more productive of the Blake Hall waters for competitions because it offers the most even opportunities for anglers to catch.
As with Blake Lake, fishing either the pole or feeder are the most popular methods, particularly for those anglers targeting the carp.
Again access around Hall Lake is good with anglers being able to park near most pegs. Work has also been carried out to complete a concrete pathway around the lake, which has made access even better for disabled anglers and those with large amounts of tackle.
The main feature of Hall Lake is a single island at the clubhouse end of the water which is accessible from about half the pegs on the water.
Most popular baits again tend to be luncheon meat, pellets and sweetcorn although because of the large head of smaller fish it pays to experiment with maggots and casters, particularly in winter.
Once again, anglers fishing the pole usually set up two rigs to give them the option of fishing either on the bottom or up in the water. The large number of roach and rudd mean that fishing a couple of feet deep whilst spraying maggots little and often can result in decent numbers of fish, which can bump up match weights and often make the difference between missing out or being in the money when the fish are slow to feed on the bottom.
As with Blake Lake, fishing close in to the margins or to the island often produces the bigger bags.
At eight acres in size and with 65 well spaced pegs, Peninsula is the largest of the Blake Hall Fisheries waters and its main feature is the long peninsula which gives the lake its name and which almost divides the water in two.
Unlike the other lakes on the fishery, the contours of Peninsula vary widely, the bottom running from just four feet deep at the clubhouse end down to about 14 feet at the far end of the lake. For the most part the banks tend to run shallower than those on the other Blake Hall waters and although the bottom is fairly even there are the occasional holes.
To improve the quality of fishing in Peninsula, the water level was dropped a few years ago to enable many of the smaller fish to be removed. This gave the existing stocks more opportunity to grow and as a result Penninsula now holds the biggest fish of all the Blake Hall waters with common and mirror carp running to just under 30lbs and averaging between 5lbs and 6lbs.
As with the other Blake Hall lakes, Peninsula is a general mixed coarse fishery and in addition to the carp holds a large head of bream and tench to over 4lbs; roach, rudd and skimmers to 1lb; barbel to between 8lbs and 10lbs and some good sized perch to 3lbs which are well worth catching. Indeed, in one match four perch were caught which themselves weighed a total of 11lbs.
Because of its depth, Peninsula tends to be a mainly pole and feeder water with the pegs at the end of the peninsula and along its left hand bank being particularly productive. Pegs 51 to 57 tend to be popular all year round. Because the water here is deep close in you do not need to fish far out, and in summer good bags of carp, bream and tench are taken by anglers fishing pellets, catmeat, luncheon meat and sweetcorn.
Because of the large stocks of carp, bream and tench, most of the best weights tend to come from anglers fishing on the bottom. Although fishing close in tends to produce the best results, anglers after the bream can fish far out in open water, so it pays to look for tell-tale bubbles and having found the fish to keep them in your swim by feeding small amounts of pellets mixed with hook samples.
Whilst Penninsula holds the Blake Hall match record at 215lbs - set in 2011 - even in winter matches on Peninsula are being won with between 60lbs and 70lbs of fish.
Opened in Spring 2007, Capricious Pool at Blake Hall has been so named because it is totally unpredictable!
Developed as an out-and-out match water which is available for pleasure anglers when not being used for contests, the pool is about two-and-a-half acres in size, has six central islands running down its spine and a total of 36 well-spaced pegs which give every angler a feature to fish to.
To improve the quality of fishing in Capricious, the lake had many of its smaller fish removed a few years ago and this is now enabling the remaining stock to grow on.
As with the other Blake Hall lakes, Capricious is a general mixed coarse fishery which holds common and mirror carp to 6lbs with the average size being between 3lbs and 5lbs; a large head of bream to 2lbs; roach, rudd, perch and skimmers to just under 1lb; and a few chub.
A popular pole water, the central islands are between 12.5 metres and 16 metres from the banks. In rougher weather many anglers prefer fishing a small feeder either down the sides or close to the islands.
The current match record for Capricious stands at 132lbs with popular baits tending to be pellet and paste. These prove most effective when pole fished down the sides or on a small method feeder. In winter, caster and maggots are usually most effective.
In summer, bags of between 80lbs and 90lbs are common and even in winter anglers can expect to take between 40lbs and 50lbs of fish, particularly during warmer spells when the fish react quickly to a rise in temperature.
The smallest of the Blake Hall Fisheries waters is Cabin Pool at about half-an-acre in size and with just 10 pegs. Because it is small, located immediately next to the clubhouse and stuffed with smaller fish, Cabin is ideal for younger anglers, novices and those wanting to brush up on their technique.
Depths in Cabin range from about two feet near the clubhouse to seven or eight feet in the corner furthest away from the clubhouse and because of the large number of fish in the water it is one of those places that you can fish however you want and still expect to catch.
Being only small, the feeder is not really needed and most anglers opt either for the pole or waggler. Being near the verandah, fishing bread baits can prove very successful as many anglers feed the remnants of sandwiches to the ducks - much to the delight of the carp and other species which are happy to take virtually anything missed by the birds.
Although the water is stuffed with smaller fish it can hold pleasant surprises for younger anglers with carp being regularly caught up to 4lbs - nice fish by any standards for those starting out in the sport.
In addition, there are good heads of both green and golden tench as well as roach, rudd and perch.
How to get to Blake Hall Fisheries
Blake Hall Fisheries is situated on the outskirts of the Staffordshire market town of Cheadle, about 10 minutes from the main A50 road that links Stoke-on-Trent at Uttoxeter.
From the A50, take the A521 signposted to Cheadle and travel for approximately two miles. At The Huntsman Inn crossroads turn left into Brookhouses Road and you will see the sign for the fishery entrance about 500 yards on the left after a large walled house with ornamental lions adorning the gateposts.