Todber Manor Big Hayes, Sturminster, Dorset

A big-fish day ticket water set in the Dorset country, with carp and catfish to over 40lb!

Todber Manor, Big Hayes

The Big Hayes is the specimen water on the Todber complex. It is around 8 acres in size containing approximately 800 carp. It is an incredible 20’s water with at least 250 different 20lb fish and over 30 fish over the magical 30lb mark. The lake record currently stands at 37lb.

Big Hayes boasts 18 easily accessible gravel swims, with the majority of which has its own parking bay.

Not only does it contain some magnificent carp, there are also catfish present which exceed 45lb.

It also offers some cracking pike fishing during the winter months, with specimens to over 25lb. Booking is advisable, full payment is required upon booking.

Todber Manor, Big Hayes

Tickets: Day ticket (booking advised)
How much: Day Ticket £15.00; 24 Hour Ticket £25.00; Week Ticket (7 Nights) £150.00
How to book: 01258 820 384 TO MAKE A BOOKING
How busy: Can be busy so booking is best
Can you drive to swims: Yes
On site facilities: Tackle shop, toilets
Average Size: 20lb plus
Max size: 37lb
Realistic catch rate: 1-3 per session
Best swims: Around the islands
Best rig: Simple lead clip system
Best bait: Mainline high impact and CC Moore Pacific Tuna
Ideal experience level to catch: Intermediate
Fish you could catch here: Carp, catfish, pike, bream, roach

If the fish are showing in numbers then I like to introduce a decent helping of bait, there are plenty of big fish to go at and they consume a lot.

Billy Samkin

How to approach Big Hayes

I approached Big Hayes by not rushing into a swim. There are always swims that look ultra appealing, carpy looking islands and margins, but if there are no fish there then it’s pretty pointless.

I always have a good look around before I settle on a swim. Many of them command a fair bit of open water and the fish do show a lot between the two islands so note this as a great area to start.

If the fish are showing in numbers then I like to introduce a decent helping of bait, there are plenty of big fish to go at and they consume a lot.

I like using the shelf life range of boilies from Mainline because they are high quality, and also very convenient, as you can just take home whatever you don’t use. I pimp my loose feed by halving and crushing the boilies, then coat them in lashes of Smart liquid. I also like to Goo up my hook baits too to give them an extra burst of attraction.

I think that the smaller bits and pieces of crumb in the mix, and Mainlines Nut Crush (a mix of crushed peanuts and tiger nuts) keep the fish in the swim for longer periods of time, in turn increasing your chances of a bite.

What rigs to use?

I use wafter and snowman hook baits, so rig wise, I opt for my favourite Krank rigs and IQ-D rigs. I use these rigs because they do not tangle, as with the Kranks I use the Dark Matter coated braid as a hooklink, which is stiff enough to kick the hookbait away from the lead system in flight, and so too with the 15lb IQ2 fluorocarbon I use with my IQ-D rigs. My hook holds are always great with these setups.

There is very little weed in Big Hayes, the bottom is pretty clear with clay all over the lake, so these wafter/snowmen presentations wouldn’t look too ‘alien’ over the bait, like a pop-up would.

I would say keep chopping and changing with hook baits to single out which is working on the day, try not to over feed the swim with bait and fish with backleads.

Find the fish!

As I said, I have a good look around when I arrive, the fish show themselves, they bubble up and give away their whereabouts.

I would say that the open water is a good area to put a bit of bait out, and around the islands with little traps can also be productive.

What not to do!

I would steer clear from using high pop-up rigs like hinged stiffs and chods, I definitely think this would look too alien on the bottom, especially over a bit of feed.


Todber Manor, Big Hayes

Barbed or barbless?: Either
Any rules on bait?: None
Fish care: Mats must be used
Other rules: Min 42in landing net, No children under the age of 16 without prior arrangement

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