Willow Bank is one of the specimen lakes on the Todber Manor Fisheries complex. Having only been opened in 2016, it is often overlooked by anglers who set their sights on fishing Paddock or either Big Hayes or Little Hayes lakes.
I too am guilty of ignoring Willow Bank, having always opted to fish Wadmill or Little Hayes lakes on my previous visits to this beautiful Dorset fishery.
With the popularity of the complex increasing all the time, more and more anglers are now turning their attention to this wonderful specimen lake.
Willow Bank is a fantastic specimen lake with excellent stock levels. With a good head of carp in excess of 20lb and with several specimens weighing more than 30lb, there is always a chance of having a productive session.
Good stock levels
Well maintained pegs
Pegs are quite close together
Only basic facilities next to the lake
Arriving At Todber Manor Fisheries
Todber Manor Fisheries is located in Sturminster Newton, in the heart of some of Dorset’s most stunning countryside. Before starting fishing, all anglers are required to dip their nets/cradles/slings outside the tackle shop, which is located on the main site.
Arriving At Willow Bank
In order to reach Willow Bank, you need to cross the road from the main site and follow the track for about 500m. The complex is well signposted, with Little Hayes and Big Hayes to the right-hand side, while Wadmill and Willow Bank can be found on the left-hand side.
Willow Bank At A Glance
Willow Bank covers around 3 acres of water and is shaped almost like a soft drink bottle when viewed from above. The lake has a total of 10 pegs, all of which are situated along one bank.
Pegs 1-9 are located within the wider area of the lake, while peg 10 is tucked away at the far end of the lake and enjoys its own, slightly narrower body of water.
The average depth is around 6ft in the main area of the lake, shallowing slightly towards peg 10.
Each of the 10 pegs are marked out with sleepers and covered in gravel, ensuring that they remain relatively clean in all weather conditions. Drainage systems are also present, guaranteeing that the pegs don’t become waterlogged, even in the most torrential rain.
Stock Levels And Biggest Carp
Willow Bank is believed to be stocked with around 250 carp, giving an impressive 80+ carp per acre of water.
While there are some smaller carp present, the average size is mid double-figures and there is a good head of 20lb+ fish, the majority of which are mirrors.
There are a handful of carp that have crossed the 30lb barrier, with the lake record already in the region of 35lb.
Peg 1 is the most popular peg as it commands the largest amount of water in the wider part of the lake. There is a nicely sized margin area immediately to the right-hand side, while the pellet feeder on the reed-lined bank further adds to its appeal.
With all of the pegs spaced quite closely together, there isn’t much difference in the layout of pegs 2-8. With little or no near margin available and not much in the way of other features, most anglers tend to position all of their rods as tight as possible to the far margin. Another popular approach that has proved to be successful is to fish zig rigs at various depths towards the middle of the lake.
Peg 9 is also a popular choice among anglers as it is positioned at the bottleneck of the lake between the wide and narrow areas of water. There is an inlet pipe on the far bank which is a definite hotspot for carp, as well as an overhanging tree on the near margin towards peg 10.
Peg 10 seems to get overlooked by a lot of anglers who visit Willow Bank. It is the furthest peg from the car park and it is the only peg in the narrow part of the lake. Even though the lake is much more narrow here, it still enjoys a decent amount of water and doesn’t experience the amount of angling pressure that the other pegs on the lake do, meaning it can often be a safe haven for the carp.
Access to the other side of the lake is possible from either end, enabling precise baiting and rig placement.
Successful Baits On Willow Bank
As with most of the lakes on the Todber Manor Fisheries complex, baits from CC Moore tend to account for a lot of bites on Willow Bank, with Pacific Tuna and Live System among the most popular choices.
With that being said, Mainline Baits “Cell” and Sticky Baits “The Krill” have also been responsible for tripping up some of the bigger residents, with the latter being my bait of choice on my recent trip.
As with most waters, sweetcorn should never be ignored here, while luncheon meat and tiger nuts have also been used with devastating effect.
There is no mains water on this side of the complex, so anglers fishing Willow Bank must make do with a portaloo that is positioned in the car park. Proper toilets, hot showers and handwashing facilities can be found on the main site, next to the tackle shop.
Urban Larder caterers are often available on the main site, enabling anglers to place orders for a range of meals, drinks and snacks.
The car park is located right next to the lake, close to pegs 1, 2 & 3. If you are positioned further down the lake, using a barrow is recommended.
Day tickets are priced at £15, while a 24 hour ticket will set you back £25. For anglers wishing to have a fishing holiday, discounts are available for bookings of 7 days or more.
Willow Bank is a fantastic lake with excellent stock levels.
Although the pegs could have been spaced out a little bit more, it doesn’t tend to affect the fishing too much. The strategically positioned trees on the opposite bank ensure that anglers fish within their own allocated areas.
Have you ever fished Willow Bank? If so, how did you get on? Please let me know in the comments.
Hi guys! My name is Scott and I am the main contributor here at Carp Smart.
Once I accepted that I had almost no chance of a professional football career (I was overweight and had very little talent) I decided to concentrate on carp fishing.
I hope that the articles I write are helpful and informative to you and may your blanks be kept to a minimum!