What You Should Know!
We talk to fishery bailiff and owner Brett to discuss the features of Scotland Pond, the successful tactics and areas you should target. If anyone knows the lake, it’s him…
Castle Ashby Scotland Pond
Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the 7th marquess of Northampton. It is steeped in history as are the wonderful ponds on the complex.
The Scotland Pond is the specimen lake of the three, offering very peaceful fishing amongst the grounds of the impressive estate house that can be seen across the lush, green fields behind the lake.
It is tree lined, very silty and features all the characteristics of a very old estate lake. It is an absolute joy to fish!
The Scotland Pond is my favourite of all three Castle Ashby lakes. It has the real feeling of a historic estate lake. I have grown up fishing all three of the lakes and pretty accomplished my carping apprenticeship here.
I remember landing my first ever double from the Scotland Pond. I had an old Kingfisher bite alarm placed on a flimsy little bank stick with a cheap backrest. My reel was set to backwind and was fishing with my late Grandad.
I was presenting a side-hooked Van Den Eynde strawberry pellet at the time on a running lead setup (that was all I knew at the time). As I was sitting there chatting to my grandad, all hell broke loose, when the reel started backwinding with gusto and I duly went on to land my biggest ever mirror carp of around 12lb.
Since then, it has always been a venue that I have held in very high regard and take a few trips each year, maybe once to experience the incredible surface fishing, or in the winter when I fancy a bend in the rod.
The thing I love about the Scotland Pond is that it produces carp all-year round to an array of tactics.
As you drive into the car park you are greeted with a tree lined, quiet little pond, boasting peace and tranquility amongst the grounds of Castle Ashby – a historic little village with a beautiful, huge manor house that you can see in the distance.
The sunrises and sunsets across the lush fields behind the fishery are a sight to behold. Sheep graze in the fields and it truly is a pleasure to fish. The bailiff, Brett and his dad, are extremely helpful too and I have known them since I was a young lad.
"The tighter you go, quite often, the quicker the bites."
What is the lake like and how should I fish it?
The lake itself is notoriously shallow, quite coloured and silty, typical of an old estate lake.
The bridge end, as you enter the fishery, is slightly deeper and narrower – a great area for doing early bites and particularly productive at first and last light. Keep tactics nice and simple, there really is no need to overcomplicate things.
As you walk further down the field bank, my favourite side, the pond widens up a bit and gives a lot more open water to go at. It also allows access to the two main islands on the lake, which act like carp magnets.
Generally, if you can get in the swims that give you the island, then you have a great chance of catching consistently at any time of day. I have experienced hits of over 15 carp in just 5 hours fishing in these pegs.
The best way to fish the island swims
To effectively fish the islands, clip up as tightly as you can, the tighter the better, braided main lines really help due to the lack of stretch. The banks are undercut and so the carp frequent these;
1…to seek food, and 2…to escape from angling pressure .
The tighter you go, quite often the quicker the bites.
This is mounted to a helicopter presentation because the link can rotate around it on the cast, again stopping tangles.
Such a combination will rarely tangle because the hook bait will be kicked away from the lead on the cast and the pop-up will rest on any detritus or leaf litter that has fallen from the island trees.
Which hook baits to use?
Both yellow fruity pop-ups and pink, fishy-smelling pop-ups work particularly well – in fact anything with a spot of colour!
You can use mesh or solid PVA bags, but to be honest, due to the accurate cast required, it may take 5, 6, or even 7 attempts to get the lead as tight as you want it, so a straight hook bait is enough for me.
What if the island swims don’t produce?
There are times when the island swims don’t produce. If you find that this is the case, then don’t be afraid to have a wander.
If I can’t locate the carp and the fishing is slow in the main swims, then I will ALWAYS take a look at the far end of the lake towards the Brickyard Pond.
There is a stream that runs into the lake and carp can often be found congregating around this area, especially if there has been a recent downpour because it will flush coloured water into the lake, which is full of food and sediment – carp love this!!!
Look for that coloured water and the carp won’t be far behind.
The inlet end is very very silty, so again, ensure you are using helicopter rigs with the top bead pulled up a little.
Incorporate longer hook links too just for extra peace of mind. There is no need to fish far out this end because the fish will often be found right under the rod tips.
Surface fishing is a winner
In the warmer months, NEVER leave home without your surface gear because the Scotland Pond fish love a floating bait. In fact, the fish all over the Castle Ashby complex love surface baits.
However, you still have to fish for them properly. A single surface bait cast in front of their noses may result in the odd fish, but the most effective way is to get them feeding confidently before casting in your hook bait.
Use a mixture of different-sized surface baits; 6mm and 12mm sizes are ideal.
The smaller baits will really increase their confidence. Feed your bait little and often via a catapult or Spomb – another little tip is to use a throwing stick for the bigger sizes because it is a nice quiet way to introduce the baits, also very accurate.
Once you have some fish feeding competitively, it will be time to cast out your hook bait.
I like to cast my rig past the feeding fish and then gently, quietly reel it back towards the feeding fish before leaving in position.
If you spook them by casting directly on top, you could be blowing your chances straight away.
In terms of rigs, keep it simple again. I like an inline style surface float because it casts well and acts like a bolt rig.
A long 6ft hook link on a surface monofilament completes the setup, to a whittled down pop-up or mixer which is superglued to the back of the shank of a size 8 hook.
Bites in the freeze!
Quite incredibly, I have also found the Scotland to produce fish in the depths of winter, even when it has half frozen.
It’s far from easy, but I have caught fish presenting baits right up against the ice in winter, which is quite an achievement on a bitterly cold day.
Again, use very little freebies, a bright, high attract pop-up will often get you the bite. Imagine a beautiful estate lake carp in the snow? Scotland Pond could be the place to do it!
You’ll need these for your trip
Scotland Pond, Castle Ashby Rules
A fantastic pond that I hold very close to my heart.
These days I tend to go to Scotland Pond for a few winter trips because there is always a chance of catching even if it’s half frozen. If you are looking to get a bend in the rod, looking for your first twenty, or just fancy some enjoyable action in beautiful surroundings, be sure to have a trip – you won’t be disappointed.
Jimmy has been fishing since he was a boy and widely recognised as one of the most popular, successful and talented anglers in the country.
James | 19th December 2019