Ian Heaps Premier Fishery
and School of Angling
Tel: 07796 517586 (mobile)
or 01437 541285
Former World Coarse Fishing Champion Ian Heaps - who took the title in Poland in 1975, became European Champion in Portugal in 1985 and was a member of the England team from 1975 to 1988 - realised another lifetime's ambition when he opened his three lake fishery next to the Eastern Cleddau river in Pembrokeshire.
His ambition when he started to develop Holgan Farm was to create a fishery where the quality of sport was equalled only by the attractiveness of the surroundings - and he has certainly achieved this. The match record of 197lb 12oz, set in 2010 by Kevin Roberts, speaks for itself.
Indeed, Holgan Farm must now rank as one of the most attractive fisheries in the UK - a first-class angling venue in beautiful Welsh countryside which fishes well all year round because of the temperate climate where snow and ice are something of a rarety.
Since opening Holgan Farm he has also continued to develop his Ian Heaps School of Angling where novice and experienced anglers can receive group and one-to-one tuition from one of the top names in angling.
Not only is this a great way for beginners to the sport to learn the correct ways to go about fishing and how to read the water, but his courses are also invaluable to more experienced anglers who can learn what they do wrong, get rid of bad habits and learn new and different techniques.
Ian Heaps Fishery might be a long drive from most parts of the UK, but in addition to offering a total of 90-pegs on three well-stocked and attractive lakes - not to mention a stretch of the Eastern Cleddau which is well known locally for its brown trout, sea trout and salmon - it is also on the doorstep of some of the finest sea and estuary fishing in the whole of South Wales. Pembrokeshire is also renowned for its beautiful scenery, beaches, castles and countryside.
The fishery is set on a 12 acre site which has been extensively landscaped and planted with thousands of flowers, shrubs and trees. It also has its own tackle and bait shop.
Ian - pictured below right with some nice Holgan Farm carp - also offers comfortable accommodation in the main house which is accompanied by traditional home cooking.
Suitable for disabled anglers, the fishery has a roadway all around the site and three car parks, one to serve each lake. In addition, there are purpose-built disabled pegs on all waters.
To prevent the spread of disease, Ian supplies every angler with one of the fishery's own landing nets whilst those who are new to the sport can hire the right tackle for the job by the day. Although Ian enforces the minimum number of what he describes as 'sensible' rules, he does not allow boilies.
Also, although Ian allows floating baits, loose fed samples should not be used as this encourages rats and can result in free offerings floating into other anglers swims, thereby possibly disrupting their sport and enjoyment.
Each lake is just over two acres in size and hold 30 pegs. With an on-site tackle shop, ladies and gents toilets and picnic areas equipped with picnic tabled scattered round the site, Ian Heaps Fishery is suitable for all the family.
For those who like match angling, Ian holds a 'Golden Peg' Open Match every Sunday on the Carp Lake. Entry is £20 'all-in' with cash prizes going to the top four places. About 15 anglers usually enter every week.
Holding Mirror and Common carp averaging 8lbs plus a good head of doubles - the largest recorded at 27lbs 14oz - Carp Lake also offers a good many green and golden tench to 5lbs as well as Crucian Carp to 3lbs 8oz with the average being about 1lb 8oz. Ian purposely keeps roach out of this water because he says lakes can quickly become overrun with immature fish which can become a nuisance to anglers.
With an average depth of about six feet just a rod length out and three feet in the well fringed margins which have been heavily planted with irises which provide lush cover in the summer, Carp Lake has three islands which provide features to fish to, although in summer fishing close to the margins normally produces the best results.
Although Carp Lake is fairly large and reasonably deep, pole and waggler are undoubtedly the best methods with the feeder for some reason not producing very good results.
During the summer months when the bankside plants can be up to five feet high providing plenty of cover, then the dibber float fished tight to the margins sorts out the bigger fish.
Best baits for this are usually corn, maggots, meat and paste fished over a bed of pellets which are sold on site. To make the paste, simply add an equal amount of water to the pellets and mix into a soft paste which can be used as large as a conker. The carp just love a very soft paste and an easy way to fish this is under a small pole float with no shot on the line using the paste as a plummet and adjusting the float so just the tip shows. If the paste is removed the float will lie flat, if it is taken by a fish the float just goes!
Ian Heaps says that the way you feed is equally as important as how you shot your line. Little and often is best for the small fish whilst bigger fish will hoover up a bed of pellets once they get their heads down. However, whichever way you feed, it is important to keep a short line between the rod tip and float - a maximum of two feet - in order to present a still bait.
In the later months the fish often leave the margins and then the pole scores highly, unless you want to fish towards the islands when a waggler is required to cover the distance.
Once again, paste works well when fished over a bed of pellets and this is probably the No 1 method in the colder months. In addition, casters, maggots and all flavours of sweetcorn work exceptionally well.
As with any water, unless you familiar with the typography of the bottom it pays to plumb the depths. Nearly all pegs on Carp Lake have some feature and it is worth taking the time and trouble to find them as they can make all the difference between 100lb catches and more mediocre weights.
In winter when the water is clearest the fish often shy to the islands. When this happens it pays to use a large waggler baited with hair-rigged sweetcorn. It was using this method in the winter of 2003 that Rob Jones from Neath took the lake record during a match with 187lbs 14oz after hair-rigging treble sweetcorn and fishing just two feet deep close to the island.
Tench and Crucian Lake
Designed specifically for tench and crucian carp, this lake again averages six feet deep although the main feature is a submerged island in the centre which is heavily planted with red, white and yellow lilies which flower from about June onwards and provide the perfect habitat for tench and crucians. The depth here is only a matter of a couple of feet or so.
As its name implies, this water holds both common green and golden tench to about 6lbs, several thousand crucian carp which average about 1lb but which run to 3lbs and can give pleasure anglers bags of over 50lbs, plus a good head of golden orfe which, when they show, are usually around the 4lbs to 5lbs mark.
Although they were never stocked in this lake, common and mirror carp are also showing. These are believed to have found their way into the water as either eggs or fry through the overflow from Carp Lake and first started to show in 2001. Since then they have become quite numerous are are being caught at up to 12 lbs in weigh with the average coming in between 4lbs and 5lbs.
When fishing Tench and Crucian Lake both pole and waggler score equally well with the same techniques and baits as those recommended for Carp Lake scoring highly.
Ian Heaps' favourite technique, however, is to fish a quarter-inch bread punch close in on the slope over a tangerine sized ball of liquidised bread. This, he says, is a cheap and effective method throughout the year when fished on a long-shank, fine wire round-bend size 16 or 14 hook and the top two sections of a pole. However, keep the remainder of the pole close to hand in case you hook into one of the bigger carp.
The best shotting pattern for this type of fishing in a string of five tiny shot, say 10s or even 8s, placed six inches apart starting about six inches from the hook. Once again it pays to keep the line between the pole tip and float short.
Anglers who don't own or use a pole should fish a small waggler 'canal style' with two or three No 4 shot to cock the float and smaller shot strung nearer the hook.
Other than bread, maggots, casters, soft hooker pellets and sweetcorn make good baits when fished with pellets fed little and often. Ian recommends that about half a dozen pellets should be fed every cast and that anglers wait no longer than two minutes before recasting. Three or four pieces of sweetcorn or other samples such as maggots can also be thrown in at intervals.
In winter, chopped worm and caster fished in the deeper water can be the best method. Again a pole would the No 1 choice with the float dotted right down. Alternatively, use a small waggler with the rod used as a whip.
The Match Lake
With a maximum depth of about eight and a half feet, Match Lake is the deepest of the three lakes at Ian Heaps Fishery and has a large central island scalloped into bays opposite all pegs giving anglers some lovely waggler fishing at about 20 metres.
Excellent fishing can be found on the shelf off the island where there is about five feet of water making a typical summer and autumn haunt for all species. Typical of the other two Holgan Farm lakes are the densely planted margins which offer ideal conditions for fishing close in in the warmer months.
Match Lake holds a large variety of fish including mirror, common and ghost carp to 20lbs, crucian carp to 3lbs 8oz,green and golden tench to 4lbs, rudd and golden rudd which were recently stocked at 1lb, roach to 2lbs and averaging five to six ounces, bream from 3lbs to 6lbs and thousands of hand-sized skimmers.
In addition, there are a large number of golden and blue orfe which average 2lbs to 3lbs and 50lb to 60lb nets of these are often taken fishing just 12 inches deep on maggot or caster whilst spraying loose samples.
Of all three waters at Holgan Farm, Match Lake is probably the most diverse when it comes to the species of fish available whilst the marginal contours are much the same as Tench and Crucian Lake and therefore the same marginal approach pays dividends with all species. A bonus with Match Lake is that in the coldest weather the extra depth guarantees sport.
Again, pole or waggler fishing is best whilst ledger tackle should be left in the garage.
The Eastern Cleddau
Described by Ian Heaps as: "One of South West Wales' best kept secrets", the Eastern Cleddau yields Sea Trout to double figures whilst the average size of fish caught by the daytime angler is usually between 1lb 8oz and 2lb 8oz.
As with many rivers, fly fishing at night is best for the Sea Trout and most patterns containing blue and silver seem to work well. Spinning during the day is also very successful and a Mepps No 2 blue and silver generally produces good results.
Most anglers prefer to stand in the middle of the river where the water is two to three feet deep and progressively cover the water in particular working the bankside lies.
Best times for fishing are after a spate when the river if fining off although if the water is coloured a bunch of freelined or trotted worms can be excellent for taking salmon whilst a single worm is good for the Sea Trout.
Anglers who traditionally fish coarse waters should remember that an Environment Agency Game Fishing licence is required for fishing for salmon and Sea trout on this water and that maggots are not allowed under local EA regulations.
Ian Heaps School of Angling
Ian Heaps 'School of Angling' has to be an excellent way to take a holiday whilst improving your angling technique and knowledge at the same time, whatever the time of year.
Ian has run the 'School of Angling' for many years and anglers from all over the country have benefited from his teaching by going on to become club champions whilst others have even made a name for themselves on the tough Open circuit.
To ensure the best personal tuition at all times, Ian restricts the school to six places per week. On each day anglers can learn a different technique. Each morning session begins with a notepad and pen session with Ian showing how a particular method works best, illustrating shotting patterns and other details with sketches and diagrams. This is followed by Ian demonstrating the technique at the waterside after which anglers try out the techniques for themselves.
The School is open throughout the year with the methods demonstrated varying from winter to summer to suit the conditions.
Enrolment at the School currently costs £75 per single day or £250 per week (five days) from Monday to Friday plus accommodation, which can be provided either on site in the main house or at one of several hotels. All Ian asks is that when booking, anglers send a £75 deposit to secure their place at the School, supply their name, address and contact telephone number and indicate which dates they want to attend the School.