Shallowbrook Lakes: where fish and people come first with a little help from the AIF

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Steve and Sandy Hook took over Shallowbrook Lakes in October 2020 and their first port of call was the Angling Trust. After 35 years in property management, Steve and his wife decided a change of direction was needed and taking on the lease for this charming Norfolk venue was their team decision. It’s as a team that they are turning this venue around, with Sandy’s culinary skills proving a huge draw for punters and Steve’s affable personality keeping them coming back, not to mention some top fishing.

If one was looking for a lesson in how to provide a venue that caters for all types of angling, then this range of four lakes would be the place to take your education. There is a runs water, a specimen carp lake, a match lake and a lake boasting 5lb perch alongside double-figure bream and tench.

“When I took this place on I was told we had ‘an otter problem but it wasn’t anything to worry about’. Now I’m no Danny Fairbrass but I do know that otters plus fish is a recipe for disaster,” explained Steve.

“We belong to the Angling Trust and got in contact with their Southern Fisheries Management Advisor Jake Davoile who came out to see us. What he was able to uncover would have taken me days if at all. I can only describe it as invaluable.

“We have issues with cormorants, poachers of the humankind, but most concerningly, otters entering our Snipe Lake. He found an otter slide coming directly from access via the River Judd and issued us with a report on how to tackle them.”

Shallowbrook applied to the Angling Improvement Fund, which operates in partnership with the Environment Agency and uses fishing licence money, and were delighted to be successful last year. An otter fence was installed around Snipe Lake and the fishery is now exploring options that were so nearly destroyed.

Steve told us: “We work closely with the EA who carry out regular licence checks at the lakes. This really hit home how vital it is for people to buy. It’s literally paying to improve your fishing experience!”

The culture change at the venue is demonstrated by the growing number of regulars who can drive to their swim, including disabled anglers who have not been overlooked, and the pleasure evidenced by anglers at the complex.

But rain or shine, whether blanking or hauling, there are two constants that ensure every visit to Shallowbrook is a good one. ‘Vegetation Control Operatives’ George and Freddie – the friendly goats that greet anglers as they drive in the car park. And the constant queue of hungry anglers taking advantage of the swim food delivery service, offered from the onsite café. If all your efforts are going to waste on the bank then one of Sandy’s bacon sandwiches is just the ticket to keep your spirits up.

The Angling Improvement Fund is open until May 6th for applications from clubs and fisheries that are planning projects to install protection from predation by mammals and fish-eating birds on their waters. A second round will open in mid-May for schemes tackling Invasive Non-Native Species.

More information about the Angling Improvement Fund

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