2019 Reflections: 'Onwards and upwards'
44 different Carp over 30lb+ and 3 over 40lb+ exceeded our expectations
Friday 13 December 2019
Almost as quick as a flash 2019 has come and gone. I thought in the absence of any catch updates that it would be a good time to reflect on the year as it finishes and look forwards to a new year. I remember so vividly the build up to 2000 and we are already in 2020. Scary how fast time goes!
Unquestionably 2019 was a good year for Cherry Lakes. Our occupancy levels throughout the year came in at a record for us of c.70%, with the warmer months largely fully booked. A good combination of first time new guests, and a high number of returning guests, ensured we stayed busy! The longer we are open, and the Lodges will enter their 8th year during 2020, the higher number of past guests there are who can return. Our advance bookings for 2020 are ahead of the same time last year, so the economy permitting we look set for another busy year in 2020. If you are thinking about visiting us for the first time, or retuning, and you have limited flexibility over dates, then please don't leave it too long to contact us.
Judith, Dave and I would like to extend a big thank you to everybody who stayed with us. We very much appreciate your support an for choosing Cherry Lakes.
We have continued to invest in Cherry Lakes. As well as the obvious work, maintenance and addition of new fish stock, the big investments in 2019 was in our booking system (to make it much more secure and up to date) and more obviously the new website. I hope you can see the difference. We are able to use more photographs and we believe it is more appealing visually . More importantly the website is mobile friendly. Being easy to view on a mobile is critical to us, given that we know that over 60% of our website visits are via mobile smart phones.
As you can see from this relection on 2019 update, I have indulged myself by including a record of 12 photos. I hope you enjoy it! The lead photo is not of a fish, but an atmospheric picture of dawn over Cherry Lake as seen from the Cottage swim. One of my favourites of the year.
We continue to choose not to take pure on-line bookings. This is because we feel it is important to talk to our prospective guests to ensure they fully understand the Lake/Accomodation/Fishing options available to them. We work hard to ensure anglers do not end up on the wrong lake and what we offer is in-line with their expectations.
The quality of the Carp fishing across Cherry Lakes, we believe, continues to get better and better. There is no doubt that the Carp are getting bigger across all of our lakes. This year Cherry Mere (Pochard Lodge) produced its first three different 30's to 32-08 whilst Cherry Springs produced its second one. Cherry Lake produced an amazing 44 different Carp over 30lb including 3 differnt 40's to 43-08, all of which are pictured here above and below. The Carp are obviously thriving on our on-going feeding programme (Pellets, Spod Mix and our Boilies), supplemented by anglers bait and feed. Our Carp are generally in top condition and growing. Long may this continue.
The picture below of Mike Houghton with his 40-04 Mirror, which was the third of our 40lb+ Carp caught in 2019. This Carp amazingly came as part of his catch which included 4 different Carp over 30lbs. The first time 4 thirties have been caught in one visit by an angler to Cherry Lake.
In 2017 Cherry Lake produced 18 different 30's, this increased to 30 x 30's in 2018 including 'Dick' at 44lb, followed by 44 different 30+ Carp in 2019. The progress in the size and quality of the stock can clearly be seen by this trajectory. Given that we have 50-75 relatively young Carp in their upper twenties coming through, many of which are stunning heavily scaled Mirrors, and assuming no natural disaster like disease, we expect to comfortably exceed the 50 x 30's target and hope to have at least 5 x 40's during 2020. Fingers crossed.
Over the last few years we have steadily increased the stock in Cherry Lake to around 300 Each year we have introduced around 20 hand picked young beautiful Carp. One of my favourite photos is the 30-02 beautiful Mirror below caught by Danny Taylor in the spring. Fantastic, and I think she is no more than 9 years old. She is typical of some of the gorgeous Carp coming through.
We have for the last 5 years used blue dye to help control the weed within Cherry Lake. I have to say getting the level of colour just right (resulting in some but not too much weed) is very tricky. It is very much like a pendulum. We get it right only briefly! In truth, othet than a little marginal weed, Cherry Lake has not had a weed problem for the last few years. The fact that we have more, and bigger, Carp also has a big impact on the weed (they rip it up!) So in 2020 we will be reducing the level of dye added to the lake this winter. All of our other lakes do not have weed because the water is too coloured as a direct resultof the high fish stocks and their feeding activity..
The growth in 'membership' of the Cherry Lake 30+ club reflects the growing number of big Carp. We ended 2018 with 115 members, a figure which we had built up to since we started the 'club' in 2014. We end 2019 on 159 members. This of course does not reflect fully the number of big Carp being caught, because regular guests who catch a 30+ don't count as they are already members!
We have been particularly pleased with the 'emergence' of 3 different 30's in Cherry Mere (Pochard Lodge). This lake is well stocked, where the Carp naturally reproduce, and yet the bigger Carp have still been able to grow. We think that this is due not only to our feeding programme but also because of the fact we run oxgenators on this water throughout most of the year. It is also not only the Carp that are doing well in Cherry Mere. The small Tench and Crucians which were stocked in 2015 are now weighing over 2lb each. The shy Crucians are definetly well worth catching on a float rod.
Cherry Pool (Egret Lodge) has proved to be it's own regular self. Almost in all conditions, as you would expect from a top mixed fishery, there is always something to be caught. Even when the plentiful hungry Carp are not feeding, the the Bream will get your buzzers sounding! This year I think the biggest Carp was 23lb+ and the Bream went to over 8lb. One angler had over 80 Carp and lost count of Bream over the course of a week!! By baiting heavily he really got the fish feeding and competing. There were also specimen Crucian Carp (to nearly 4lb), Roach (to 2-08) and Perch (to 3lb+) caught.
Cherry Springs (Kingfisher Lodge) had a mixed year. Most weeks it produced regularly and the Carp 'played ball'. Exactly what you would expect of a heavily stocked lake. Sometimes it would switch off for a week or more. Whilst we expect this on Cherry Lake, it is not always obvious to us why this lake was more moody than normal last year. We expect to increase the feed of pellets and boiles in 2020 and will see if this helps.
One thing for sure however is that the other species intruced in recent years have done well in Cherry Springs. The Crucians are now comfortably over 2lb, although they are shy and tricky to catch. The Tench have reached almost 4lb, and Roach of 2lb have been occasionally caught. We introduced around 100 Roach between 3-12oz three winters ago to see how they would they do (my main fear being Comorants). I suspect they might have bred, but they have certainly grown. It is a shame that more anglers don't try for them and the Perch, particularly in the cooler months as I am sure there are some lovely specimens to be caught.
If you have reached this point in my update.....thank you for perservering! I will sign off this review by wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Chistmas and a successful, healthy and enjoyable 2020. Cheers!