Nazeing Meads

Nazeing meads lakes

What follows is an honest feature recounting my time on these lakes. I spent years fishing on these gravel pits with friends Mark Cole and Adam Penning, mostly on the South Lagoon. I have funny and fond memories of this time. After Adam and Mark moved on to work for Peter Drennan (later to perfect the ESP range) I started fishing alone. It was at this time that I looked to the North Lagoon for inspiration. I was to fish the North for the next 8 years catching some fabulous carp including the great Floppy Tail at 35lb. I have tried to provide detailed information on all lakes to help and perhaps inspire anglers to try them.

Nazeing Meads Map

I have to admit that there is not too information on the Centre Lagoon purely, this is because it was my least favourite lake, It is less interesting in terms of feature etc.. As I update this information today (2/07/2014) I am a little unsure of the current status of the pits having spent the last 2 years running a fishery in France. I have just been down to the sluices and photographed the clouds of Daphnia, some things obviously haven't changed. I dare say the Crayfish are still around as they are through the Lee Valley. I am looking forward to returning the North again but, not until September for reasons you will understand later.

Nazeing Meads Brackens Pool


In the summer the banks of Brackens Pool can be pretty busy and space can be limited. I enjoy visiting this little pit during the winter months when few anglers grace its banks. There are a few humps scattered about and a gravel bar runs through the centre of the pit finishing at a small island. I have found that in the colder months a small scattering of broken baits or small square baits placed in the margin just over the reeds will bring fish, most of my captures in winter have been in the early hours, even in the coldest of weather. Doing something a little different can really pay off on this lake. The lake was drained and restocked in the 90's and this restocking has been a great success with fish growing very well since. The lake record currently stands at 38lb with many 20's. Although this is the smallest lake on the complex at 2.5 acres it is not easy and every fish will be hard earned. In the summertime fishing floaters over the bed of Lilly pads which grace the south bank will bring fish, as with all floater fishing, patients is the key. Only 2 rods per angler allowed on Brackens.

Nazeing Meads Centre Lagoon

This lake lies between the North Lagoon and the South Lagoon. Sailing boats use this lake mainly at weekends but don't be put off by them. Many times in the past I have seen takes come just after a boat has past over a baited area. Because this lake is fed from water by the North lagoon through a sluice gate system, the area of the gates can be particularly good when there has been rain and the water is churning through. There is a bar which runs down the centre of the lake which is adjacent to the east bank and half way along at about 80-100 yards. The boat house sits at the very end of the west bank and the last swims here can also be good.

Unlike the North Lagoon which is effectively cut-off from the other lakes by the sluice system the Centre Lagoon is connected to the South Lagoon by a small channel through which fish can move. This means that numbers of fish in the centre can fluctuate depending on weather, time of year, angling pressure etc.. There is a long island adjacent to the east bank which has an out of bounds fishing area. Fishing is allowed to the end of this island and can be very productive in the right conditions. As with the other 2 large pits the wind will have a great impact on how the fish behave. My advise is that if a good mild northerly wind is blowing, get on the south lagoon.

Nazeing Meads South Lagoon

My-self and Mark Cole in younger times

In my opinion this is the most interesting of the lakes we have covered so far. With its many gravel bars and islands it is a lovely part of the complex. I suppose the best way to proceed is to take a tour of the lake and its swims. We will begin with the 1st swim on what has become known as the caravan bank (due largely to there being a permanent caravan site behind) this is a very pleasant and comfortable area with its grassy banks and good swim construction. The 1st swim has the end of a gravel bar directly out in front at about 60 yards, this bar travels most of the way down the centre of the lake and at points is only 2 feet deep!

Carp are attracted to this area at most times of the year but in the summer when a brisk northerly blows then it can be very productive. Carp can often be seen showing along it. When conditions are right a bait cast to the end of the bar can bring numbers of fish. The 2nd swim has a feature at about 100 yards straight out in line with the causeway in the distance, this is a small hump which has a nice smooth clay slope behind, this is one of my favourite spots on the lake. Not much bait is required on this spot, most of my fish have been taken from it using just a hookbait.

The next swim is largely redundant due to the lack of features when compared to the 1st and 2nd. Then we have the corner swim which has a nice large shallow area out front and when the wind is right it can attract large numbers of fish. It also has snags in the left hand corner in which carp often visit and hold for a while. Next we come to a swim I know as The Stumps although I think it has changed names now. This swim has been very kind to me and many others. The main area of interest is a very small island which sits straight out and slightly left at about 30 yards.

The South Lagoon in Winter

A cast of about 80 yards out past the island and a slow pull back feeling for features will reveal nothing for 20 - 30 yards and then it will feel like the lead is sliding over glass, this is my favourite area for it is nice clean clay. Once you pull past the clay you will then begin to feel gravel which is the remains of a small bar which runs off from the island. One more spot sits at about 70 yards out and at around 3 o'clock, a slow retrieve will reveal a small area of clay and gravel "the strawberry patch" a secret spot that not many know about (wink wink). I have had most Carp from this swim during the winter months after introducing a couple of kilos twice weekly and fishing weekends. I believe that during the colder months (November to February) the Carp spend much of their time in the central area of the lake and a steady introduction of bait will encourage them into this area. Pre-baiting is the key during the colder months and the results will make the effort worth it. Most of the runs in the winter seem to occur during the hours of darkness, in fact bites can be so predictable that I would usually set my alarm for 1 am as a run would usually occur at between 1 to 3 am.

Moving along we pass another swim which doesn't have much to interest us as it is largely dominated by the island in front of the Stumps and fishing here means you run a great risk of a hooked Carp snagging around the island. Next is the Earwig, a swim which sits next to the causeway under which the water flows from the Centre Lagoon to the South. From here a long cast slightly left can be made to reach the beginning of the main gravel bar which runs almost the whole length of the lake. There is also a small gravel hump at about 10 yards and down to the right. As we pass over the footbridge we find the Burnt Out, again the name may have changed now. From here you can reach the start of the main bar and islands to the left. Fishing to the bar would depend on whether anyone is in the Earwig and visa versa! There are islands to the left and the Carp often patrol them but you need to get your bait as close as you can. Moving along we pass a couple more swims which are not particularly notable although always worth a look. Next is the Pylon, a long cast from here straight out and between two distant islands will often bring a fish as they travel along the bar which joins them.. Further along and we come to the Gravelly. The main bar can be reached from this swim and I have seen some good catches made by heavily baiting the bar. Next we have a small swim which used to be known as the winch because it used to have an old iron winch in the edge.

The winch can produce the odd Carp mainly through casting to a bar which is slightly right at approximately 60 yards. Moving further along and were almost at the end now, lies the Boom. This is an interesting swim as it is position at the area where the water from the South Lagoon leaves the lake and flows into the Relief Channel which the flows through other lakes in the Lee Valley. a bait cast across to the overhanging branches opposite will often bring runs. As we walk a little further we enter the Bottom Bay, a reed lined area which is shallow in places. This is where the Carp, Tench and Bream often come to spawn, and when not spawning they can often be found just sunning themselves on hot days if undisturbed. Stalking is my preferred tactic here, creeping through the reeds with my floater-rod and mixers. There you have it a quick tour of the South Lagoon on Nazeing Meads, a more detailed version could fill a book. I hope you have as much fun on the South as I have had over the years.

The North Lagoon

The author with a 34lb north lagoon common

This lake has always been considered the hardest of the 4 Nazeing Meads pits, the stocking density is light although nobody really knows how many Carp are present. There are certainly some large fish swimming within this challenging but interesting gravel pit. There have always been rumours of uncaught monsters in this pit as there often is with many large gravel pits, at 68 acres the North Lagoon is certainly large. Having seen them for myself I can honestly say that there are uncaught huge carp in the North. I have spent many years fishing this lake, hunting its uncaught monsters, although the best fish I have managed to catch was a known fish at 35lb (Floppy Tail). The North has 3 main area's these being the main body of the lake which is by far the largest area. There is a back bay where the Carp often spawn in the spring or early summer, there is an area around half the size of the main area called St Pauls Fields. This is where the water enters the lakes from a flood relief channel which carries access water from the River Lea.

A day in the summer of 2004

I thought, just for a change that I would spend the day strolling around the Lakes and fish spotting. This was unusual for me as I am generally a bit lazy, but this particular day was nice and sunny with not much wind. Sometimes the time spent watching can pay dividends. As I drove to the South Lagoon the sun was high in the sky, glints and shards of bright sunlight shone through tree branches, the smell of cut grass and blossom filled my nostrils as I parked my car by the back bay. No fish where spotted as I made my way along the west bank passing over the caravan bank, then the Stumps swim, then crossing the foot bridge and past Burnt out towards an area where there are a few islands and bays. Creeping along a small reedy bank and peering over the edge revealed a group of seven Carp. I had a tin of sweetcorn and some mixers with me so I gently opened a tin of corn. Spreading a few grains along the edge soon had the fish grubbing along the soft clay bottom. It was at this point that I recognised one fish as being the Big Common, a fish which my friend Adam Penning had caught recently at over 32lb.

The author with a 32lb north lagoon mirror from the cave

Feeding these fish on such a nice day was a real treat, but still, I really should have had a rod with me! Happy with what I had seen I made my way back to the car and drove around to the North Lagoon to see if I could spot a carp or two. Looking down from the road bridge into the depths of St Paul's Fields would often reveal a carp, on this still and hot day summers day only bream where present. Making my way around the lake past the neat, well cut grassy banks of the west bank where the residents who's properties back on to the lake seem to view as an extension of their garden which all makes for very comfortable fishing. To my relief a gentle breeze had now sprung up and this was blowing in a southerly direction which I knew would push a fish or two in to the snags further around the bank, having only seen Bream up to this point I made my way straight to the snags. Further along and around the corner a concealed pathway leads out to a small island which is not actually a numbered swim, a bit further around and we reach the snags. Climbing out on the main trunk of a fallen tree gave me a perfect vantage point from which to view beneath through the shallow clear water without any fish becoming aware of my presents. I spotted three shapes about 10 yards out in the now rippling water, catapulting a few mixers over their heads gained their interest. I could see the odd pair of lips sucking down a mixer here and there.

The more I fed them the more confident they became until they had moved closer and closer to me eventually ending up right under where I was perched. There where 3 mirror's, of roughly upper twenties to low 30's. All where nice looking and heavily scaled. As I fed this group, my eye's glanced away for a second and I spotted 2 more fish a little further out . As I tried to focus on these two fish I suddenly realised that they where not two, but one Carp! I lost sight of this large fish and so continued feeding the mirrors. Spending so long in the branches was beginning to give me a numb bum, as I descended the relief was instant. Almost half way down and looking at my next footing I suddenly saw a fish right in the edge beneath me, just sitting there. I realised that this must be the carp I had seen a little earlier.

The size of the fish was incredible, having only maybe 2 hours ago fed the Big Common in the South Lagoon and knowing that fish to be 30lb plus, here I was looking at an immaculate Common of at least 15-20lb heavier. As I watched, this huge common sitting there it slowly began to move and ever so gently, sipped down one mixer that had drifted in to the roots and branches before slowly gliding along the margins and disappearing never to be seen by me again. I was left feeling that if anybody was lucky enough to hook that beautiful creature in the first place then I think that they would be so very lucky to land it. Surely I cant be the only person to see this huge fish and then I recalled my friend Len who has also spent many years fishing this pit telling me of when he and his son Matt had spotted a huge common swimming out in front of number one swim on the west bank many years before. Could this be the same fish? I thought it was until a few years later, on another warm summers day. I was once again perched up a tree but this time by the sluices. Their laying among the branches lay 3 Common Carp of equal proportions to the fish I had seen in the snags a few years ago. They where like peas in a pod and all had the same impressive good looks, dark chestnut and bronze. They seemed to be a separate breed to the other carp in the lake, preferring to stay away from their lesser friends swimming in the general area. I called my mate Mark as I needed a second opinion. I begged for him to come for a look but he was busy at work and couldn't’t get away. This was a chance encounter as I was driving back from Johnson Ross, I had no tackle. I rushed home for some gear but on my return all the fish had vanished.

Nazeing Meads - My favourite Swims

Number 1

I have a few favourite swims on the North Lagoon and I will be covering more in the future but for now we will start with number one. Not very imaginative I know as that is just the number of the swim! This swim sits at the end of the east bank in the St Paul's Fields bay. I like this swim allot as it is hard to get to most of the time due to the brambles and stingers in the summer which makes the journey to the swim a difficult one, hence you are rarely disturbed. Once in this swim you are fairly well cut-off from the rest of the world and you can truly relax. Out front there is a small bar which runs towards you from the left and 20 yards out from a large willow tree. This bar becomes very weedy in the summer and I prefer to place baits towards the deepest part the bottom of the slope in around 8 foot where the weed is less dense. That is, when I choose to fish the bar as on most trips to this swim I will place my baits in the edge. The bank is quite high and if you are quite and place a small bed of hemp and sweetcorn in the edge you can often observe carp feeding on your baits, if you are lucky you may then receive a take. This is my favourite type of carp fishing, where I can see fish on my baits and that is why I like this swim so much. Being quite here is the key and that's why its nice that it rarely receives visitors.

The Sluices

The North Lagoon Sluices

This is a swim which may one day produce one of the whackers! Passing through the gate, the 1st swim you come to is The Sluices. A nice platform aids casting and the netting of Carp. Looking left and about 50 yards away is the road bridge under which the water flows after leaving the sluice gate system. This swim comes into its own when the sluice gates are opened and water flows from the relief channel, this water feeds all 3 lagoons. The extra oxygen created by the flowing water is a big attraction for all the fish in this lagoon. Feature wise you have a small plateau at 11 o'clock and 45 yards. My favourite spots however are next to the concrete wall on the left where bank side branches touch the surface 30 yards out. Another good spot is in front of the bridge around 15 yards out, its a nice gravel hump. Pressure plays a large part on the fishes behaviour here. I remember seeing an angler Carp fishing with his three rods high and his lines all pointing directly into and under the bridge like telegraph cables. I told him that he will lose anything he hooks, for him however it was a carp at any cost. He was there for a week and caught nothing, thank god. This swim didn't produce another carp for weeks after. What a dick! I have seen some of the biggest carp in the sluices but you must place a bait where there's a good chance you can steer the fish away from the sluices, if the fish gets in their you line will cut on the side walls or the sunken car which sits close to the wall on the left, looking from the swim. The sluices hold the key to the way the carp behave much of the time. In times of heavy rain through late summer, autumn and even winter the extra water coming through the sluices can evoke a response in the fish, causing them to move around more, burning energy and hence feed more.

The Lawns

Making our way back to the sluices we pass 4 swims which I would advise that you ignore. In the nine years fishing this lake I have only ever seen one carp caught from them. In case you are confused about where they are, just look for the greenhouse behind. The next good swim is adjacent to the main road. Although not my 1st choice it can produce in the right conditions (a warm south-westerly). From the Sluices swim we pass a swim which sits between some willows before we reach The Lawns swim. This swim get its name from the area resembling someone's lawn due to the residents behind cutting the grass and generally looking after the area. Features in this swim include a gravel bar at about 25 yards and another at about 75 yards. I have taken most fish from this swim by fishing a bait over the bar where it finishes and where gravel meets clay. A bait on top rarely brings me carp and I have found the deeper water to be more productive. I have caught my biggest North Lagoon carp from this swim, a fish known as Floppy Tail at over 34lb. Floppy tail was caught some years ago at a weight of 37lb and so she is probably now over 40+. I would say this is my second favourite swim with number 1 being my 1st.

The cave

A little further along and over a footbridge we come to the Cave, so named because of the tree canopy which forms an arch in the summer months. From the Cave you have the gap which St Pauls Field from the main section of the North Lagoon. Its a gap roughly 200 yards wide. From this swim you can see over to the east bank and the Pylon swim. Looking directly out front we have a small bar at around 4 o'clock and about 40 yards out. My favourite spot though is at 11 o'clock inline with a distant pylon. There are gravel bars and patches at 50 yards straight out. In the summer these gravel spots become very weedy but finding a clear spot is the answer.

East bank

For many years the east bank of the north lagoon was closed to fishing. This changed in 2000 and something. Everybody expected to bag up from this bank but it proved just as hard as the rest of the lake. There is one swim though that is in my opinion the best place to fish along this bank, The Pylon. The Pylon swim gives access to the narrow body of water as we move from St Paul Fields to the main lake. Out front there are 2 gravel bars 11am and a shallow area 60 yards at 2pm. I have caught fish from both areas and many fish from the close margin down to the right. Walking a bait down the margin to the right past an over hanging tree you can gently drop you rig a rod length out, scatter sweetcorn or whatever and you hookbait. This is my best spot when fishing the pylon. There is one other swim that has produced a couple of carp for me and others, its facing the boathouse. A cast with a lead of 35 yard towards the boathouse and a slow retrieve will reveal a gravel hump of 5 high in twelve feet of water.

The North Lagoon? that's a bloody hard lake mate!

I lost count of how many times I heard someone say that, but why is the North so hard? The North gets its reputation from anglers who have fished it without catching. The problem is that many anglers fish the North at the wrong time of the year. Through spring and mid to late summer there is an abundance of natural food, but one food item in particular plays a bigger part than all the rest in the demise of many an optimistic carp angler.

At certain times of the year the carp of the North Lagoon become preoccupied on Daphnia.

Daphnia, a natural fish food

Daphnia (also known as water fleas) are actually more shrimp than flea. In early summer, once the temperature rises Daphnia begin to proliferate. At times vast clouds can be observed especially from the sluices on the road bank. These clouds can be observed usually around early June but can be as early as late May. I have seen the carp (especially in the evening and night) gorging on the shrimp. In the early stages of the Daphnia's development these clouds will be a dull gray colour. In their later stage and viewed from above the vast number of these water shrimps take on an orange cloud like appearance. As the shrimps mature they will take on an ever deeper orange colour until they reach the stage where they swim to the sanctuary of the bottom. They will then take refuge in their preferred environment, weed. At this time once the shrimps have swum to the bottom good catches can be made by fishing around or even in weed beds. Frustratingly though, it can take 3 to 4 months for them to reach this stage. This is why, on this particular lake the fishing can suddenly improve around late August.

American Red Crayfish

As with many waters through the Lee Valley the Nazeing Meads fisheries are effected by Signal Crayfish. At times you cant have a bait in the water for more than an hour without the little suckers chewing on it. To overcome this I fish days only and as close to the margins as I can. Fishing this way I can observe my baited area and I have noticed the crays are less inclined to venture into the shallow margins. This is why I like Number 1 so much. I can fish within a rod length and I have caught many carp this way. You need to change your approach while fishing a water with crays.


Now I would briefly like to mention the other specimens in lake. For a start the Bream are huge and run well into double figures and it would not surprise me at all if the record is broken by a Bream from the North Lagoon. The Tench also run to double figures and there are huge Perch. I have caught Chub to 6lb 2oz. Although I have never caught a Barbel from the North, they do exist. A few years ago the sluices where drained for maintenance and there trapped inside where 3 double figure Barbel!

There are many surprises for those who are patient enough and stick with this lake. About the boats. Many people worry about sailing boats while fishing for carp. I never worry about them and in fact they boost my confidence. Many times I have caught while boats have been about. One particular day session while fishing next to the boat house I caught 3 fish including a lovely 29lb linear while the boats where only 10 feet away from my spot in the edge. The image on the right shows the spot .There is so much more I would like to say but space is limited.

I cannot finish however without warning those who intend to give the North a try about the one thing that has effected most of the Lea Valley fisheries and many of Britain's waterways, the American Crayfish or Signal Cray's as they are also known. These little beasts can make fishing this pit a bit of a nightmare. You will need to change your tactics slightly or you will constantly be pestered by them. I have taken to fishing days only and placing my baits on small marginal baited areas as the cray's seem reluctant to visit the edges as much as they do the bars and deep gravel spots. As with many big gravel pits on Nazeing Meads the carp follow the wind, big time. There is so much more I would like to say but space is limited.

I cannot finish however without warning those who intend to give the North a try about the one thing that has effected most of the Lea Valley fisheries and many of Britain's waterways, the American Crayfish or Signal Cray's as they are also known. These little beasts can make fishing this pit a bit of a nightmare. You will need to change your tactics or you will constantly be pestered by them. I have taken to fishing days only and placing my baits on small marginal baited areas as the cray's seem reluctant to visit the edges as much as they do the bars and deep gravel spots.

Nice paths

I will up-date, adding more information soon, there is so much more to say about these great lakes.

Where is Nazeing Meads Fishery?

Meadgate Road

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