VENUE FOCUS | Royston Fishery, Wood Lake

Royston is a day-ticket complex of two lakes that can be found just off the A10 near Melbourn in Cambridgeshire. The two lakes are known as Kingfisher and Wood Lake. In this article, I’m going to be writing about Wood Lake, which is also my personal favourite of the two lakes. Wood Lake is the larger lake at a size of just under five acres. It’s strange, as when you’re fishing the lake, at times it can feel like a much larger venue. On the lake itself there are 16 swims located around the bank, each swim giving different angling opportunities. The average depth for the lake is around 20 to 25 feet deep with a couple of significant bars that are just a couple of feet below the surface.

Wood Lake has been stocked over the years with over 350 hand-picked carp and along with all the originals, it makes for some exciting fishing! There’s a really good mix in the size of carp, ranging from 5lb up to just below the 40lb mark. With the original stock still present, it adds an element of the unknown that is really unique considering it’s a day-ticket venue. Multiple members and bailiffs believe that there could even be a couple of fish over the 40lb mark!

As mentioned, Royston is a day-ticket venue; however, you can’t just drive to the lake and start fishing. You will need to purchase a membership before you start fishing. This gives the complex a different feeling compared to other day tickets around the country. It makes you feel like you have joined a club, you see regulars on the bank and it gives it a ‘community’ feel. If you’re someone who is put off by the business of venues, the rotation of swims and not much water to play around with, both lakes at Royston offer exactly what you’re looking for.


One of the great thing about Wood Lake is that you’ve got a chance of a bite across the full lake and there really isn’t a bad peg. This means that even if the lake is busy and you have limited swim choice, you’ve still got a chance of catching. There are a few pegs however, that I’d always keep my eyes on as they can produce big numbers of fish if the conditions are correct.

The Plateau is a peg that I’d always check out on a trip to Royston. As the name suggests, there’s a shallow plateau in front of this peg around 35 to 40 yards out. This is a very prominent feature with it only being a couple of feet deep on top and depths of 20 feet surrounding it. Personally, I only fish on top of the bar when it’s really hot. It’s a popular area and I feel the carp treat the top of the plateau with caution and avoid swimming directly across the shallow water. However, when it’s hot, the fish do tend to swim across the feature more than usual and this is when I’ll target fishing on top.

When fishing on the plateau, I only ever use one or two rods. If I fished three rods on the feature, I feel that three lines in the shallow water put the carp on edge. Fishing on the side or back of the plateau is normally my approach, targeting depths of eight to 10 feet. When fishing on the plateau, I choose to fish particles and crumbed boilies, which is different to how I’d approach the rest of the lake, as previously mentioned. The reason for this is if using whole boilies, they’ll roll down into the deep water and you won’t be baiting up effectively. The final great thing about this peg is that from this area, you can see 90 per cent of the lake. You can use this to your advantage, watch for fish and make your next move depending on what you see elsewhere on the lake if you don’t know where to start your session.

Long Chuck is again a great peg for targeting behind the plateau in the deeper water. You have access to long range fishing from this peg but you also have some prolific margins. This area of the lake always seems to produce fish close in and the fish use the deep margins as a patrol route.

Main Snags commands the largest section of open water on the lake and is a peg that produces all year round. The margin to the right-hand side of this peg is a hotspot and an area I wouldn’t ignore, especially if the wind is blowing into this bank.

Big Bay can be a very prolific peg when the conditions are right. There are plenty of overhanging trees and snags in this area and when the sun is out, the fish love to get into this zone. If you’re fishing this peg, the use of a Bushwhacker or baiting pole will certainly help you out. If you have too many attempts at getting the cast perfect and tight against the snags, you risk spooking the carp from the area. Again, just like fishing on top of the plateau, I’d only fish one or two rods from this peg to avoid spooking them from the line cutting across the bay.

The carp in Royston tend to swim around in large groups and if you’re not set up on them, you’re not going to catch them. It’s the same wherever you’re fishing, location is the number-one priority and I’d make sure to stay active when on Wood Lake. The fish do show themselves quite regularly and if you keep your eyes on the water, you will see them show. From past experience, I think this is the biggest piece of advice people overlook when down at Royston. They’re not dumb fish and they will do anything to find water where they’re not being pressured. This may be in the corners or it could be up in the mid layers. With Royston being a chalk pit, when the carp are feeding, the water goes a milky white colour. If you’re not seeing them jumping or fizzing, this is the next thing I’d be looking for when tracking down their location.

One final thing to mention are the margins. As I’ve already mentioned, Wood Lake is deep and this is the same for the margins. The carp do spend a lot of their time only a couple of rod lengths out in most swims so don’t ignore them. A couple of margin areas especially worth checking out are the reeds to the right of Main Snags, Long Chuck, Big Bay and the corner, which is right next to Kingfisher as you drive down the track. These are a few of the hotspot margin areas I’d be checking out but to be honest, they can get caught in the margin from all the pegs if approached correctly. More often than not, if there’s a warm wind blowing into a specific bank, that’s the area you’re likely to find them on Wood Lake.


1. Depth

Depth can be an issue if it’s an element you have not been faced with before. It can be daunting if you’ve never fished in 20 or 25 feet of water. The main head scramble I always hear people talk about is “How do you ensure you’re baiting up accurately?” My standard rule of thumb when fishing is that I’ll clip my spod rod one foot shorter for every three feet of water that I’m fishing in. This is accurate to a degree; however, there are so many variables that can determine the accuracy of this method. When fishing in much deeper water than normal, it then becomes much harder to judge the swing back on the lead and where to bait up.

To ensure that I’m baiting up as accurately as possible on Wood Lake, I’ll use a marker float and a spod. I will find the spot I intend to fish on with the use of a lead. I will then attach a marker float on to the same rod and cast it back out to the spot that I’ve just found. You’ll notice when the float comes to the surface, it will be closer to you than where it entered the water on the cast – this is due to the swing back. I will then take my spod rod and cast the Dot Spod past the float. If you’re fishing out towards the middle, it’s likely you’ll have to add bait into the spod to give it the extra weight for the cast. I know that means you’ll be introducing bait past your baited area, however, I’d much rather have one spod land past the area at the start of the session than baiting up inaccurately all session. I’ll then bring the spod back across the surface until it is level and at the same distance as the marker float. I’ll then clip up the spod, reel in and cast out into the clip to ensure it’s landing in the same area as the float. This gives me a visual representation and will give me confidence for the rest of the session.

2. Bait

When the carp are on the feed, they love the bait in Wood Lake! The bait I’d look to use would be a mixture of boilies and pellets. I’d use this combination for a couple of different reasons. The first is that with the depth, there are multiple undertows across the lake in different depths. If I was to start spodding out hemp or sweetcorn for example, this would drift away from where I intend the bait to fall, spread over a large area and result in inaccurate baiting.

The second reason why I’d use this combination is the carp in Wood Lake are growing fast and always on the lookout for a high-quality food source. If you’re introducing baits such as pellets and boilies, I can guarantee the carp won’t be far away from having a bit of a feed. Liquids can also be a great edge on Wood Lake, however, I wouldn’t pour the liquids directly on to the boilies. I’d allow the baits 48 to 72 hours to soak up the attractors so the attraction is carried down to the bottom. Soaking your boilies in oil is also a key piece of advice. Since oil is less dense than water, this will leak out from the boilies and float to the surface and as a result it will help attract carp down to the bottom if they are up in the water.

3. Zigs

Zigs can be a prolific method on Wood Lake. With the lake being so deep, a lot of the time the fish can be found in the mid layers. Over the years, there have been a number of divers in the lake to remove snags and after speaking to several people it seems the light levels towards the bottom are almost non-existent. Because of this, if I was fishing a zig towards the lower third of the depth, I’d use a high attract hook bait such as a bright piece of foam, Citruz pop-up or a hook bait that had been soaking in liquids.

If I was fishing towards the surface, it can be quite difficult to fish a fixed zig of 18 to 25 feet long. When fishing this high up in the water, I’ll opt to use an adjustable zig to make life when casting out and landing carp much easier. The problem with adjustable zigs in the past is that you could never drop the lead. In the last couple of years, Nash has been developing the Run Clip to ensure that you can drop a lead when using adjustable zig floats. This was always a problem when fishing snaggy waters such as Wood Lake so now it eliminates the chances of losing any hooked carp.

Overall, I hope this gives you a better insight into what to expect when visiting Royston and I hope you can take a few things from this article that will help you catch a few fish on your visit. Tight lines!