Katie Blake with her new PB. A fantastic 34lb Mirror

2022 Cherry Lake Annual Report

Katie Blake's capture of 'Houdini' is my favourite capture of the year
Thursday 15 December 2022

As regular followers of this 'Latest News' page know, I produce an 'annual report' each year. This is our report for Cherry Lake for 2022.

As in previous years I have indulged myself with lots of photos of some of the cracking Carp caught. I have also included my favourite capture of the year. This was Katie Blake catching the Carp I have christened as 'Houdini', pictured in the lead photo above. This amazing Carp had somehow evaded capture (as far as I can tell) between November 2016 when it was stocked at 21lb, and 28 August 2022 when it was caught by Katie at 34lb.

'Dick' finally squeezed over the 50lb barrier when Liam Knight caught her at 50-02 in September

It has been good to have a year without Covid lockdowns and to report we have operated normally for the first full year since 2019. I have continued to work hard on my '30lb+ Carp catalogues', but I will confess that I have not been as diligent as in the past. I know I have missed several 30lb+ Carp from all three of our prime Carp lakes. The principal reason for this was me catching up on the missed holidays and fishing trips rolled over from 2020/21. I am hoping Judith will 'let me' get away as much next year!

Peter Callow with his 45-12 Common known as 'The Scuff', presented with him by fishery manager Dave.s . 45-12 L.jpg
Peter Callow caught 'The Scuff' at 45-12 in June. Held here by fishery manager Dave Bowen.

The Carp stocks in Cherry Lake continued to do well and put on weight. Firstly for the numbers. My 2022 30's catalogue contains a total of 70 different Carp over 30lb. A small increase on the 64 reported for 2021. My best guess is that we have at least 80 different Carp over 30lb+ and at least 12 over 40lbs within Cherry Lake. Assuming a total stock of around 350 Carp, this means that more than 20% are thirties. A high figure for an open access English Carp lake.

Rob Murray. 43-08 R
Rob Murray with the Cherry Lake Ghost Mirror record holder at 43-08

Of these 70 different Carp caught over 30lb+, 42 were Mirrors and 28 Commons. Within this overall split we had 7 Ghost Carp over 30lb+ (4 Mirrors and 3 Commons). In 2022 we reported 5 Carp over 40lb, this year we were delighted to double the number to 10, which included our first over 50lb, caught by Liam Knight, when 'Dick', the big Mirror, scrapped over this magical mark at 50-02. Liam probably had the most amazing few hours of the year when he landed both 'The Patch' at 45lb and then 'Dick' at 50-02. Our biggest ever brace!

The 10 x 40lb+ Carp caught were split almost evenly with 6 Mirrors (including the 43-08 Ghost Mirror pictured above) and 4 Commons. 'The Scuff' was the biggest Common at 45-12 just ahead of 'The Patch' at 45lb, whilst 'Ruby' was the second largest Mirror at 47-02 and is pictured below.

Gary Burton. 47-02 R.jpg
Gary Burton with 'Ruby' at 47-02 in May

This good progression in growth and weight gain, is also evident in the split of our 30lb+ Carp. The number of 35lb+ Carp increased from 14 to 20 ( despite the fact that 5 of last year's big 30's are now 40lb+). The number between 30-35lb dropped slightly to 40 (2021 = 45). However I think it is in this weight range where I have probably missed some of the individual Carp caught.

Liam Knight with ‘The Patch’ at 45lb from Osprey Lodge
Liam Knight with 'The Patch' at 45lb

As I have said previously, I am anxious to do whatever I can to ensure the longevity and quality of our Carp stocks, and in particular for Cherry Lake. We have further invested in additional aerators. The standard bubble aerators are best suited for regular oxygenation and helping to 'turn' the water over. They are also great at keeping small areas of water clear even during the coldest of weather when the rest of the lake freezes. We have also invested in more splash aerators which are better in an oxygen emergency.

Cameron Brannaghan with 'The Dark Mirror' at 41lb. Our 10th different 40lb+ of the year caught in November.
Cameron Brannaghan with 'The Dark Mirror' at 41lb. Our 10th different 40lb+ of the year caught in November.

Other than from birdlife, which in an area of SSSI I can do nothing about, the real risk to our stock would be from the introduction of Carp bringing disease from other lakes. Fortunately, we have a stock pond, which is linked to Cherry Lake, where we can grow on the progeny of the Cherry Lake Carp. So for the last 5 years, the only stock introduced has been from our stock pond. All fisheries need a steady population of younger fish coming through to ensure those that naturally die are replaced and avoid the position where a Carp population gets so old that an external stocking has to take place. So each year I personally select around 15-20 beautifully marked and/or shaped Carp of between 4-7lb and introduce them into Cherry Lake. At this size they are hopefully Cormorant and Pike proof and are ready to grow faster in a bigger environment. I think we are close to saying that any Cherry Lake Carp under 20lb are our own home grown Carp.

Steve Townsend. 31-08 Ghost Common
Steve Townsend with a 31-08 Ghost Common caught in January.

We have consistently invested heavily in the highest quality bait and feed. This is a major cost for us which, given the number of Carp and other fish species in all of our lakes, has to be regarded as a fixed cost. Without this feed, which I consider to be the base feed load upon which anglers feed is a supplement, I am sure our Carp would not appear so healthy and in such good condition, as well as putting on weight. They would also be more prone to disease. You can be confident that we will continue to do so.

Dave Cole caught 'Pac-man' at 35-04 in February
Dave Cole caught 'Pac-man' at 35-04 in February

The drought conditions of the very long hot summer of 2022 was a challenge for us. I did increasingly stress about water quality and oxygen levels. We certainly burnt a lot of electricity when running the oxygenators 24/7! Thank you to all of the anglers who worked with us through this period, and in particular when we felt it necessary to ban the use of first spod mix and then pellets.

Judging by the weight gains which we saw throughout the autumn, the Carp were not concerned that the water level was down by nearly three feet. Indeed they thrived in the warmer water and on the better quality feed. As a result we are currently considering keeping the ban on particles (Spod Mix) except for Hempseed and Sweetcorn for the year ahead.

Elliot Lee with his 'honeymoon present'. The Two-tone Common at 40-06 from Grebe Lodge
Elliot Lee with the 'two-tone Common' at 40-06

It never ceases to amaze me how much each year we have to invest in maintaining and raising standards. In the early part of the year, we completed the re-fit of the bathrooms and some new flooring in the Lodges. We also installed the new fishery gate in March which so far (touch wood!) is proving to be much more reliable. So far this winter we have renewed the decking and supporting joists on the three Cherry Lake Lodges and will shortly be doing the same for Pochard and Kingfisher Lodges. A very expensive and big job.

Given the very high cost of electricity, we are currently investigating whether to install a 20KWH solar panel system. With the Cherry Lakes Limited electric bill projected to be north of £30,000 for 2023, this level of expenditure is not sustainable from an economic perspective. A large solar system would help offset a good proportion of these costs as well as significantly improving our carbon footprint. With the costs of a solar system being upwards of £60,000, it is a big decision and one which we will need to make soon. Watch this space!

James Hine with a stunning 31lb Fully Scaled Mirror from Osprey Lodge
James Hine with a stunning 31lb Fully Scaled Mirror

We will shortly be sending out our normal Christmas email to past guests. However recognising this page is read by some people who won't get the email, we would like to thank all of our past and regular guests for your support and business. Without our guests it would not be possible to keep developing Cherry Lakes and achieve our goal of being 'the best Carp fishing holiday venue' in the UK. We look forward to seeing many of you in 2023.

We would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Christmas and a Happy healthy 2023.

Richard with his  new English PB, a fantastic Ghost Mirror of 37-12
Richard Haddingham with a 37-08 Ghost Mirror
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