Mill Park – Stunning nets of silver from tranquil waters

I caught my first coarse fish from Mill Park Pond near Berrynarbor whilst in my early teens a tiny perch with bristling spiky fins and bold stripes. It took a worm suspended beneath an orange tipped quill float in a scene that could have been lifted direct from the pages of Crabtree that evocative book that inspired many young anglers in that age long before computer games and mobile phones. I spent many hours fishing at Mill Pond as a youngster fascinated by the mysterious quality of its tree shaded waters.

Roach, perch, bream and eels were our target as young anglers and it was generally simplistic fishing with float fished maggot or worms. As we grew older we sometimes tried for the carp that glided through the water on sunny days appearing almost blue as the shafts of sunlight penetrated the water. I caught my first carp from water on float-fished sweetcorn in 1981 a fish that took close to an hour to bring to the net on just 3lb b.s line. In the early eighties I went on to catch several carp from the lake to almost twenty pounds. The pond also produced several big perch during those years the biggest I heard of was found washed up dead and weighed 4lb 10oz a fish that was at the time very close to the British Record.

Whilst I always had affection for Mill Park or Mill Pond as we knew it then my visits dwindled as my fishing focus changed and the pond of my youth fell into decline with silting issues and dwindling stocks of fish. In recent seasons I was pleased to hear of good catches of roach, skimmer bream and carp.

I was recently delighted to receive an invitation to visit the lake once again and seized the opportunity to revisit my early memories of fishing. Knowing that the lake held good numbers of silver fish I decided to invite three match angling friends to fish the pond on a summers evening. I would tag along with my camera and attempt to capture some of the ponds magic. They would undoubtedly be far more able to show of the fantastic fishing available than myself.

I am always wary of revisiting childhood abodes as time and maturity can sometimes shatter those treasured memories. Fortunately Mill Park has retained its charm and many of the features from my youth remained unchanged whilst the addition of a few water lilies, sympathetic bank work and de-silting has if anything enhanced the water.

Martin Turner, Neilsen Jeffrey and John Forster are all keen match anglers and all enjoy regular success on the local circuit. On this summer evening in early July I joined them in the swims I had fished all those years ago. Sunlight streamed through the trees into the greenish opaque waters. Carp basked on the surface in the warm sunshine. The quaking of ducks echoed across the water. It was as if time had stood still for over forty years.

Martin and Neilsen had elected to fish side by side, Neilsen using feeder fishing tactics whilst Martin pole fishing with tares feeding hempseed. I was absorbed immediately watching the quiver tip as it shook and pulled round and the float as it sat optimistically before darting beneath the surface.

It was fascinating to watch these masters of their craft at work as they constantly made tiny adjustments to their set ups as the fickle fish appeared to constantly change in their willingness to take the bait. It was Martin whose tactics appeared to win over on this evening with quality roach responding to constant feeding with just a few grains of hemp every cast. At times the water seemed to shimmer silver sided roach fed in frenzy beneath the calm surface. Steady feeding seemed to be the key to consistent success with a few grains of hemp fed each cast with Martin getting into steady rhythm of feed, hook fish, unhook, feed and repeat.

Martin Turner with 1lb plus roach

Martin handed me the pole for five minutes and I swung a couple of roach to hand experiencing the sensation of pole elastic and a lack of running line.

A few yards along the bank John Forster was using pole tactics to winkle out roach from beside a lily pad. He also made brief contact with a carp that smashed the light tackle as it surged for freedom.

After close to three hours fishing it was time to check the total catch and take a couple of pictures. The owners had allowed us to use keep-nets for this friendly evening demonstration of fishing tactics. Martin, Neilsen and John caught well over thirty pounds, all four of us then retired to Mill Parks on site bar for a lengthy discussion on fishing over a well earned cool pint.

Mill Parks campsite is set in a stunning valley with modern well-maintained facilities. The lake is stocked with carp, roach, bream and chub. As a site for summer camping with excellent fishing it comes highly recommended. It is especially suited for young anglers who should be able to catch their first fish with ease and delight in the excitement of that unique contact with nature that can lead to a lifetime of joy.

Out of season Mill Park offers superb roach fishing with regular matches staged with some stunning nets of silver fish winning matches.

North Devon Match Group Championship No. 2 Millpark Results

North Devon Match Group Championship No. 2 Millpark Results

Many thanks to Martin once again for his report on the North Devon Match Groups match at Mill Pond. Some stunning nets of roach in this close run event. This has to be one of the best silver fish waters in the area! A venue I have many fond memories of as I caught my first coarse fish there almost fifty years ago!

1st Kevin Shears 29lb 6oz

2nd Pete Slade 27lb 4oz

3rd Martin Turner 27lb

4th Nathan Underwood 26lb 10oz

10 of our members enjoyed a rare mild early spring day on Millpark Berrynarbor, but try as we might we cannot put an end to Kevin’s remarkable run of wins!! He drew on the platform below the car park and amassed a super net of quality roach on caster on a short pole, Pete Slade drew on the stream side and took second spot with a 9lb carp and a nice net of skimmers and roach all on the pole and soft pellet, Martin came in third with an all roach net, Nathan’s bag included a nice chub.

(Above)Nathan Underwoods net included a fine chub a fish more often associated with running water!

North Devon Match Group Winter League Winter League No.2 Millpark

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1st Martin Turner -28lb 5oz

2nd John Lacey – 24lb 7oz

3rd Peter Slade – 7lb 12oz

4th Ben Hathaway – 6lb 8oz.

Martin drew on the stream side and fished a 10mtr pole with hemp,tares and casters for roach, he also had a bonus carp mid match on a method feeder , John on the next peg got of to a good start on the pole over groundbait, finishing with a great net of roach and bream. Pete could not find the bonus roach but still managed third spot with a net of nearly 300 small roach. Floating leaves and a mid match down pour made fishing difficult at times.

North Devon Match Group – Winter League 3 Mill Pond

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North Devon Match Group enjoyed some fine silver fish sport at Mill Pond Berrynarbor.

Kevin Shears landed a fantastic 38lb 10oz of roach and hybrids on caster over hemp on the long pole ,for a convincing victory. John Lisle took second with 4 carp on the method and pole, third Martin Turner had all roach on caster. Andy’s 4th place was boosted with a stunning chub.

1st Kevin Shears 38lb 10oz 2nd John Lisle 24lb 7oz 3rd Martin Turner 23lb 8oz 4th Andy Gray 11lb 7oz

Kevin Shears – Stunning net of silvers

16121379_611165932400947_625320288_oJohn Lisle with one of his four carp

Martin Turner

16106135_611166969067510_833927953_oAndy Gray – Chub estimated at 4lb

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I have fond memories of Mill Pond near Berrynarbour as it was the venue from which I caught my first coarse fish over forty years ago. It is great to see the fishery returning to its former glory. I love the picture of Martins bulging net of silver among the carpet of crisp Autumn leaves. Well done Martin a great haul of silvers!

North Devon Match Groups  Winter League No 1 at  Mill Park

1st Martin Turner 28lb 5oz 2nd Nathan Underwood 16lb 14oz 3rd Pete Slade 14lb 1oz 4th Christopher Morris 12lb 8oz 5th Ben Hathaway 8lb 14oz

Martin Turner (Above)

Martin’s Match Summary –

Fished a bit strange, the pegs on the road side were very tough , those of us on the boathouse area found some roach willing to feed.I caught some better quality roach on caster over hemp at 10 metres, Nathan had smaller roach over groundbait, whilst Pete had skimmers on soft pellet, and Chris fished a small cage feeder. The only carp caught was on bread by new member Ben Hathaway.

Members please do not forget AGM at The Barn Bickington on Thursday

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John Forster organized an open match at Mill Pond near Berrynarbour where competitors enjoyed some great sport at this tranquil water. John commented that the day was enhance by plenty of friendly banter and the frequent glimpse of kingfishers darting to and fro. Below are a few images of competitors and their catches from this delightful venue that is renowned for its silver fish sport.

1st Nathan Underwood 35lb8oz
2nd Kevin Shears 28lb 5oz
3rd Andy Gray 22lb14oz
4th Rob 22lb5oz
5th John Forster 17lb 13oz






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Mill Park Pond near Berrynarbor is a superb silvers water with a good head of quality roach, skimmer bream and even a few chub. An Open match at the venue organized by John Forster saw Mark Capene secure top spot with an impressive haul of silver weighing 41lb 4oz. In runner up spot was Kevin Shears with 39lb 5oz and third Dave Jones with 26lb 4oz. Forth was John Forster with 23lb 7oz.

Mark Capene 41.04
Mark Capene 41.04

The next open is on July 23rd.