Bankside Chat

We had a chance to sit down at Embley Lake with one of our bailiffs, Martin Whitfield, in Jan 24 and have a general chat about all things to do with Test Valley Angling Club. If you’d like to be our next guest, then please contact Martin Orman at

Bankside chat with Martin Whitfield. January 2024

Finding our lakes and rivers

MW: I got lost the first couple of times that I joined the club because I just couldn’t find it (Embley). It’s down a little pathway, so. I think with the YouTube video, you’re gonna have to be coming down every lane to see where the turning is and then? There’s no sign out there to say “Embley’s this way”.

And for the first time I went to Nutsey, I put the post code in and I ended up in a completely different place!

MO: So we’ve got the maps on the website, but whether they’re just not detailed enough like you say, we can do something on that. That’s easy enough. OK.

Informing members

MW: But yeah, getting back to the lakes. There’s no quick way of me doing a check. Because you get the lot of the regulars and they know me and I’ll talk to anybody and everybody. But as of late, we’ve had quite a few new members that have never fished the lakes before and I’ll sit down and I’ll spend like an hour and a half with one lad on Saturday about how to fish icehouse, what was in there. Yeah, but then I was talking about all. But I’ve walked people around the lakes and show them all the spots. I want people to catch fish at the end of the day. That’s what they here for. And yeah, everybody wants to find their own little spot And it’s the same with Nutsey as well because. From what’s in there and who’s been fishing it so it can get a bit clicky, yeah, but if somebody comes along or other people that I talked to about Nutsey, I said this is the swim, I fish at this length, certain amount wraps and this is what I’m using and that’s what I’m catching on.

MO: Because I think that’s also something which is quite important. I was thinking about can we communicate about rigs, for example, if we sort of like said to our members on Facebook and say like submit your rig sort of thing.

MW: Yeah, I use 3 rigs, right. I use one particular one for Nutsey that I only use for Nutsey, which is the stiff hinge pop-up rig because I don’t use a pop up on any of the other waters, because they just don’t work on Nutsey. Washed out pink pop up on an inch or 1 1/2 inch stiff rig with a size 8 choddy hook. That’s all you need on there. But I wouldn’t use it on here (Embley), it’s all bottom based for me so on here, so I’d use a wafter or a snowman. I’ve used the pop ups on here and they just don’t work.

MO: Have you ever used braid, or are you just using nylon?

MW: I’m a nylon man. I’m not a big fan of braid. Yeah, you do get better sensitivity through it but the breaking strain on that is just too much.

It’s about the safety at the end of the day. My lead always drop off. I’ll never fish anything else, so I make my own leader up so that in its design so if I get a fish that lead’s coming off. OK? And it’s got nothing to be snagged on.

And I’ll also use 18 LB line. That’s obvious Nutsey. You’ve got all of the weed and on Embley you’ve all he pads. You’ve gotta be gunned up properly for it. You don’t want something that’s gonna break too easily and what I’ve seen a lot on here as well with the pads as people are fishing towards the pads and get snagged with the fish in the pads and they’re trying to yank them out. Don’t like that as well. Tell people off about that. Yeah, I’ll put. I’ll put my rod down and I’ll wait for it to go out. If there’s nothing happening in an hour, I’ll bring it back and I’ll just slowly straighten it back.

MO: So you’ve fished Nutsey and Embley, what about our other lakes?

MW: I haven’t really fished Ice House or Willow, purely because there’s just too many fish in there for me. For me, the fishing is getting away and relaxing. I love my winter fishing because there’s long nights you don’t catch as many fish in the winter. So, I’ve got plenty of time just to chill out away from work. Catching fish is bonus. Which is quite handy because Nutsey, being Nutsey, it’s not an easy water. I had 6 fish out last year and lost three, so that was quite good.

Nutsey Fishing

My first fish out of here last year was Kingfisher which is the biggest mirror. I also got a name a fish last year as well, not a new stocky. I had a fish that was born from Strawberry and it was over the 20 LB mark. So the fish that I’ve named in there is an out and out Nutsey fish. It’s not a fish that has been stocked in there. It’s pure Nutsey though. And then pineapple, what a fish! I think I had it at 14-6. But that fish is older than me. I think it was 1972 that we should put in, yeah. So yeah, I was quite happy.

Benefits of being a member

MO: What advice do you give to the new members? If they’ve not been a member of a club before, what do you think are the benefits of being with the Club, which we wouldn’t have had when they just day ticket?

MW: Definitely the etiquette. You’re always going to get the individual who ignores that. On here (Embley), because a lot of people fish one side and cast over to the other side. You’ll talk to people along the bank and you think, oh, I really fancy fishing over there, but you’re going to talk to the person who’s opposite. And that does happen the majority of the time. If you’re on a day tick of water, that just doesn’t happen.

I mean I fish many ticket waters before, and people will just ruck in the swim next to you and cast over you. Yeah, that tends not to happen on these waters. Like I said, people will talk a little bit more about where the fishing and what the fishing sort of thing.

Mixed fishing

MO: But what about the mix of fishing? Because on a lake like this where you’ve got obviously people that like to do match style of fishing, where they might be a pole or light gear and go for the bream or other species.

MW: Oh yeah, happens every time, yes. This lake, especially this lake, it’s it is very mixed and I’ll come down when I’m do my rounds and I’ll have people that are just match fishing for the bream for the tench. Other days I’ll come down where it’s just pure carp. It’s probably. 60/40 or 70/30 carp/match.

Because the match fishing is good on here, there’s some big bream in here. There are some nice tench as well. Not as many tench as there used to because of the catfish. There are some nice er mixed bag in here. You’ve got good, some good perch.

MO: Do you think that our Members have enough respect for each other’s style of fishing?

MW: Not always, no, no. There is a difference. There is a major difference with carp angling and match angling, and that is sorrowful. I think that’s always going to be there.

I don’t care what kind of fish you’re going for. My issue is that when you’re fishing on the lake and it’s got big carp then you’ve got to be prepared to land a big carp. So if you’ve got the right equipment, you go ahead, do what you want.


MO: Can I ask you what you do for job?

MW: I work with spinal injuries. Yeah, I’ve been in healthcare all my working life.

I mean, that’s something I would love to bring in here because I used to work in spinal rehab at the spinal centre in Salisbury and I used to take a lot of them fishing.

But I was very involved in activities, not just fishing but different sporting activities. But yeah, there’s quite a few occasions where I’ve taken them out fishing. They loved it.And I’d love to get better access on the lakes for wheelchair users. But one key thing that could make a massive benefit is to have wheelchair access to the lakes because that will make a massive difference.


MO: We had a comment from somebody and they said that in their opinion was that our lakes should have a more natural feel to them and they shouldn’t be manicured like some day ticket waters. What’s your attitude to that?

MW: personally, I prefer a more mature looking non-commercial look. The problem is that we’ve got to encourage the youth to come through and a lot of them watch the videos on YouTube and they see all these big fish being caught, and all these lovely big swims that are all manicured, ready for the video, you know and that’s what they want. So, we have to kind of push towards that as well to get these people to come through.

It doesn’t matter about how it looks here, it is about what’s in the water and it’s the quality of the fish and everything.

Fish quality

MO: What do you think is our attitude like at the minute with the fish management with Mike?

MW: Mike is brilliant. I can’t say a bad word about him. He’s made such a difference since he’s come in and it’s a visual difference as well. It’s not just the fish that have gone in. He’s getting on the backs of right people has been pushing them that they have to be doing this sort of thing. And there is a change in the team with bailiff, maintenance and everything. I think going forward it’s going to be a hell of a lot better than what it has been.

Complaints about swims

MW: You’re always going to get resistance. And I’ve always said this, you can’t please everybody. But people a lot of people out there. To complain just for complaining and you know there’s nothing wrong. They’ll find something to complain about. I’ll complain about things, but I think you need to be. Constructive criticism, you know, I mean, these new swims that are on and Nutsey. They should have been done a long time ago. But they just seemed to be rushed now, and they’re just all over the place. They’re not big enough. The angles of them are terrible and they could have chosen a better layout for the base, because I think once that stuff dries, it’s going to be a nightmare ff you can get the pegs in, they’re just going to wobble. It’s not secure enough base to bivvy up. And I think there’s gonna be a lot of issues that we’ve always had. I’ve already had a couple of complaints about it.

MO: It’ll be interesting to see how people’s bivy pegs go in. I think it’s also going to be issues if you’re not using a tripod and you’re using a bank stick.

MW: That’s gonna be an issue. I had a Korda single set up. So you’ve got the one spike and then like a I could manage to just about get it in, but then it was just wobbling all over the place, so I had to get rid of it and go back to a pod it works better. I mean and it’s not just Nutsey, it’s both pegs at Embly as well as Nutsey. It’s the hard ground. It is a nightmare to get sticks in so. You can find little spots to get them in, but then it’s not really where you want them to be. I like to see everything you know. I don’t want to be “my sticks are over there, that’s the only place I can get them”. I want to be able to see what’s going on, and I want to be able to get on top of my rods straight away.


A couple of my friends called Steve, I met them on here and I was just walking past and I was watching the other Steve casting. And he was trying to get to 1 spot and he was going over here, constantly. And I took my rods out of the water, then I’m talking them out for a couple of hours if you want me to. I’ll go through some things with you. And he was like, yeah, please do so. I spent like an hour and a half showing him to cast and getting it a lot more accurate. And then he was casting and he was getting onto the spot nearly right off. I mean, within a few feet. But he started catching fish. And I was like, yeah, brilliant. Yeah, I’ll do that with anybody and everybody and I’ll give advice where I can. And if they don’t want the advice, then fine. I won’t give you the advice. But yeah, if I was on the new water and I didn’t know how to fish it, I’d ask.


Right. Embley is an out and out boilie water. Personally, I use a boilie all year round and I will cook them with a glug as well. In the winter, I’ll still put in a lot of boilies because they feed regularly in the winter right here as well. Stick with the 15mm as well all year through. But I’ll have different colours, so I’ll have like a 15mm bottom bait with a 10mm washed out pink or washed out yellow. They don’t like the bright colours on here.

I’ll just put my single hook bait over the top of the boilie that prepped and chucked out onto that area. Don’t use any bags or anything. If you’re carp fishing, as soon as you introduce any small pellet and things like that, the bream are coming in. Yeah and if you get hit by a shoal of bream, well, you don’t want that.

MO: Let’s talk about lead drop offs.

MW: Yeah, I do, because obviously in here with the pads and the snags. If the carp goes in there and the lane snaps, I don’t want it to be dragging out there. That lead’s going to come off when it hits the snags, so it hasn’t got that dragging around and eventually that hook will come out on its own anyway. It’s fish safety at the end of the day. Don’t care about losing leads. I’d rather the fish was happy for another day, you know.

Like I said before, I want my son to be coming along in years to come and catching these fish that I’m catching now. That’s what it is for me. It’s preservation. And like Nutsey, it’s a weedy lake, very weedy lake. That lead dropping off in the weed means less snagging up in the weeds. The last one I had, Pineapple. It was just a ball of weed and I thought I lost it and then it just it kicked. Luckily when it kicked, it got rid of all the weed. But I think if the lead was still on there, that would have just been a big club of weed around that lead as well. So it was all nice and clear. And I think that makes a hell of a difference.

Nutsey is a very weedy lake and the fish live in the weed and they feed in the weed. I walk around the lakes and I watch the fish, so I see where they’re going. And I’m watching them feed and a lot of times they’re coming out about a foot from the weed, then feeding, and then they’re going straight back in. And I’ve even seen them on the edge of the weed and plucking off, so obviously they get all the naturals out of it. So when I fish Nutsey I’m not looking for a hard spot. I don’t want to fish a hard spot. I’ll chuck out my marker lead and I feel it go down. If it’s smooth, I bring it back a foot and then I’m hitting weed. That’s where I’m fishing.

That’s how you want to fish it, I see. I hear so many people go down there and they’re constantly going like this; “Oh, I found a hard spot. I’m going to fish there”, and then they’re not catching. And then they kind of give up because they see all the weed and that puts them off, and then they’re not catching the fish. Nutsey is a weedy lake and the carp there are weed munchers.

Nutsey, you have to put the time in. You can’t just ruck up and fish it. You’ve got to go down there and not fish, just go down and create a spot. Take a rake and some food down. Rake a spot, fill it in with bait. Go back another couple of days later, rake it, feed it and you’ll get a nice smooth area with plenty of food going in, and the fish will come in on it because they do love the raked spot. They’ get used to feeding on there when there’s no hook there.

Kings and Willow

You just want small bait in there. Small colourful bits if you want the carp fish towards the reeds. I’ve had a little PV mesh bag on there and I’m chucking it in. It’s 6 inches off the reeds. It hasn’t even hit the bottom I’ve got a fish. It’s ridiculous how quickly you catch a fish on there.

Kings for me is dog biscuits in the summer evenings. That’s all you want to do and just take one rod because it’s ridiculous. You’ll just, you’ll have to stop fishing to have a break. In Willow I know they do well on the surface on Willow. But the margins are really good on Willow too and you’ve got to be just fishing really small little baits and be very careful about what you hook int. There is a 30 LB in there and there’s two big mirrors in there as well. Be ready and be prepared for them. If you’re going to purely go carp fishing, use your normal carp gear, don’t downsize anything.

MO: OK. And then what about Ice house?

MW: There are some lovely fish in there. There’s a mid double linear that looks gorgeous and there’s a 19-20 LB. Grass is still in there as well. It’s full of pads and there’s only certain swims that you think you can only just fish, but you open the gate and go around to the left. It’s difficult to fish it, but you’ve got a bit more open water and you’ve got some nice pads. And if you watch the fish, they’re running out with them pads and you can see some nice big fish coming in and out of there. Again, biscuits on there or small hook baits on the bottom. That’s how I would fish that.

MO: OK. That’s interesting. I never had anybody put some biscuits on ice house.

And then the rivers?

MW: I haven’t fished the rivers. Not yet, no.


MW: I want to try and get some things organised so we can have more kids here. I want the parents or grandparents to come along with them and we can come and suggest how they should fish. That sort of thing.

We can get some whips for the kids and just do some whip fishing and have days where it’s like family days where the kids come along with their parents even for non-members as well. Non-members wanted to do because I’ve got a lot of friends that. They said they would like to come along as a non-member. May we charge them like £5 or £10 for the day? And we fish Bobs, Willow and Kings and get the kids into fishing.

And it builds up. Watercraft is a massive thing that you need to have for fishing and a lot of people just don’t have it, and I think if you get in fishing as a kid you learn early.

MO: Thanks very much Martin, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk with you this evening and I’m glad you caught whilst we were chatting.

MW: Nah, you’re welcome, any time. I hope it will be of interest to the other members.