26th April 2024

With a break in his busy work schedule, Ben Cook booked a trip to The Lakeside Retreat for him and his family.

The Lodge Retreat has become a gem in the angling world, with the luxury of the lodge and a family-friendly environment. With the lake having limited boundaries at different times of the year, it has its challenges, but the rewards are incredible, to say the least.

"It was important to spend quality time together doing things as a family throughout the days and sneaking in a few hours fishing here and there."

Ben told Sticky:

“I first saw the fish from The Lakeside Retreat last year, when a good friend visited and had a couple of mega carp. Since then, I had been keeping up to date with the catch reports on Instagram, of the old crusty carp with little withered fins and heart-shaped tails. So, I booked a 5-night session down there with my family. 

I booked the trip with my Mrs and 1-year-old daughter as a nice, well-deserved breakaway down to the Cotswolds, after a busy few months with work. It was important to spend quality time together doing things as a family throughout the days and sneaking in a few hours fishing here and there. The main target was to catch a nice carp to show my little girl. 

After arriving at the lodge, late in the afternoon on the first day, after a long drive down from Chester, Northwest, I went for a good walk around the lake. I searched all the likely-looking areas and spoke to a few anglers around the lake. After that, I started getting ready to do a few hours in the morning. 

The following morning, I had a good lead around to look for clear areas, as the lake was top to bottom with weed. I did a few hours in a swim near the lodge, where I found a lovely clear gravel area surrounded by low-lying weed. I opted to flick out single hookbaits on my go-to German rigs fished helicopter style, but to no avail. I decided to heavily bait the area I had found with 20mm Shelf Life Krill for the next couple of nights, without fishing throughout the days, as I had days-out planned with the family. 

On the fourth day, I had the evening to fish, and after seeing fish on the opposite end of the baited area, I went up there. I struggled to find any clear spots in the weed on that side. I fished two Chod rigs in the area, where I had seen the fish, with a scattering of Krill Active over the top of them. As the night slowly ticked away, the weather was changing, the pressure was dropping, and the wind was swinging around to a south-westerly, blowing straight towards the baited area. As last light came, it was time to pack up, as it was a day’s only venue. On my way back to the lodge, I stopped in the dark at the baited area and applied another spread of Krill Active – I was using around 4/5kg per evening with the stick. 

With the weather changing, I cancelled the family plans for the final day and decided to fish first light to last light. Sometimes you know, don’t you? 

That final morning, I was out at first light, with the wind and rain driving into the swim. The rods were clipped up the evening before with fresh German rigs, with razor sharp wide gapes on, fishing 20mm Krill Active straight out of the bag, topped with fluoro pink Mulbz, snowman style. They both went on the spot, the first time of asking, with 1kg of Krill Active spread over both rods. 

An hour later, the right-hand rod was away with a lovely upper 20lb common, and I got some unreal shots with my little girl. 15-minutes after getting the rod back in and topping the bait up with around 50 baits, it was away again with a clean chestnut brown 32lb mirror. 

It went quiet then for a few hours, and I thought maybe my chance had gone. I refreshed both rods with some fresh Krill Active over the top, and 30 minutes later, I was away again with quite possibly the best-looking carp I have ever caught and maybe ever will – ‘Johns Linear’ at 30.4lb may not be the biggest in the lake but was an absolute dinosaur and a breath-taking fish! It gave me an unreal battle from start to finish. 

Not long after slipping Johns back, I was away again with a mid-20 mirror. A proper red-letter day it was turning out to be.
Later that evening, I had a low 20lb common with little withered fins. 

The next morning was the last day, and we got on the road early to beat the traffic. The Lakeside Retreat is a mega place with some lovely lakes and amenities on the complex, and we will definitely be back next year.”