Sherborne Lake

Description of fishery:

50 Acre Lake Designed by Capability Brown.

Built circa 1749 by damming the river Yeo, it was constructed under the watchful eye of a Mr William Burnett and was dug completely by hand by staff of the castle and local residence

The cost came to just under £550 that was when the average wage for a professional person was in the region of £25 per annum, the cost included the burying of 2 men that were drowned during the build and financial support for their widows

It was completed in 1755 so about 6 years later

210 brace of Tench were purchased and stocked also 9 wild Ducks and a boat was bought to put on the water

A steam weeding machine was purchased to keep the water clear and was kept in one of the boat houses it was sold for scrap during the 2nd world war

Moving on in 1974 the lake had become completely silted up and a major operation was undertaken to clear all the weed etc and deepen the lake, around the lake there are several large mounds that were the result of some of the silt that was removed and left on the bankside and still can be seen today if you use your imagination,  by this time the castle was open to the public and the lake restored for visitors to enjoy

 

The lake itself is 6-8 feet deep on average with the deepest part being around 11 feet . The lake has around 70 pegs these are mostly natural banks apart from pegs 15-41 on the south side of the lake which are platforms, the areas of the lake over the years have been given names such as the islands, the bay, the lawns and the shallows (see map for details) The club has had the fishing rights on the lake since the late 50s early 60s and is an all-round fishery with many different species of coarse fish.

Sherborne Lake Entry & Exit Times for Anglers

2024

FRI 8TH DEC 2023 TO THUR 4TH JAN 2024 ENTRY 8.00AM-16.30PM

FRI 5TH JAN TO THUR 18TH JAN  ENTRY-8.00AM  EXIT-17.00PM

FRI 19TH JAN TO THUR 1st  FEB  ENTRY-8.00AM  EXIT-17.30PM

FRI 2nd  FEB TO THUR 15TH FEB  ENTRY-7.30AM  EXIT-17.30PM

FRI 16TH FEB TO THUR 29th FEB ENTRY-6.30AM  EXIT-18.00PM

FRI 1ST  MAR TO THUR 14TH MAR ENTRY-6.30AM  EXIT-18.30PM

FRI 15TH MAR TO THUR 28TH MAR ENTRY-6.30AM EXIT-19.00PM

FRI 29TH  MAR TO THUR 11TH APR ENTRY-6.30AM  EXIT-20.00PM

FRI 12TH APR  TO THUR 25TH  APR ENTRY-6.00AM EXIT-20.30PM

FRI 26TH APR  TO THUR 15TH  AUG ENTRY – 6.00AM EXIT-21.00PM

FRI 16TH AUG TO THUR 29TH  AUG ENTRY-6.00AM EXIT- 20.30PM

FRI 30TH AUG TO THUR 12TH SEPT ENTRY – 6.30AM EXIT- 20.00PM

FRI 13TH SEPT TO THUR 26TH SEPT ENTRY- 6.30AM EXIT -19.30PM

FRI 27TH SEPT TO THUR 10TH OCT ENTRY – 7.00AM EXIT- 19.00PM

FRI 11TH OCT TO THUR 24TH OCT ENTRY – 7.30AM EXIT- 18.30PM

FRI 25TH OCT TO THUR 7TH NOV ENTRY – 7.00AM EXIT- 17.00PM

FRI 8TH NOV TO THUR 21RD NOV ENTRY-7.30AM EXIT – 16.30PM

FRI 22TH NOV TO THUR 5TH DEC ENTRY- 8.00AM EXIT – 16.30PM

FRI 6TH DEC TO THUR 2ND  JAN 2025 ENTRY- 8.00AM EXIT – 16.30PM

2025

FRI 3RD  JAN TO THUR 16TH JAN ENTRY – 8.00AM EXIT – 17.00PM

 

Parking & Fishing Times – Shallows, Lawns & Pegs 42 – 74
The only parking area available to anglers within the Castle Grounds is the “End of Woods” parking area by the cattle grid. See Parking Map.
Strictly No Parking in Front of the Castle or anywhere else in the Castle Grounds.
Anglers wishing to fish the “Lawns” and Pegs 42 – 74 have two options.
Opt 1 – Park by the cattle grid at the “End of Woods” parking area and walk over. The Iron Gates that give access to these fishing areas will be unlocked by 9.00am and will be locked at 5.00pm.
Opt 2 – Park in the Visitors Car Park on the left as you enter Sherborne Castle Estate just after the Lodge. Open 10.00am, Closed 5.00pm. OK for a short session The Visitors car park is open from 28th March 2024 however it is closed on most mondays  and will be closed from 3rd November 2024 to 31st March 2025.

Shallows
Fishing in the “Shallows” will be from the 1st November to the 14th March.Gate to the fishing areas will be open at 10am until the 4th March and back to 9am after this date

LAKE CLOSURES 2024 

The lake will be closed for fishing on the dates below

MONDAY 15TH JAN     LAKE SURVEY

TUESDAY 16TH JAN     LAKE SURVEY

MONDAY 27th MAY        COUNTRY FAIR

SUNDAY 21st JULY         CLASSIC CAR

 

ANGLERS MUST NOT ENTER THE ESTATE GROUNDS UNTIL THE ENTRY TIMES

DO NOT PARK AT THE ELECTRONIC GATES AS YOU ARE ON THE ESTATE GROUNDS

***If you see this sign then you are not allowed to Enter the Grounds.***

Address

Sherborne Castle

Access & Parking

Gate Access via Card Entry Only.
Anglers Parking – The only parking area available to anglers within the Castle Grounds is the “End of Woods” parking area by the cattle grid for fishing pegs 1 – 41.  Anglers wishing to fish the “Lawns” and Pegs 42 – 74 have two options.

Opt 1 – Park by cattle grid at the “End of Woods” and walk over. The Iron Gates that give access to these fishing areas will be unlocked by 9:00am and will be locked at 5.00pm. From 1st November until the 4th March it will be 10am, all other times it will be 9am.

Opt 2 – Park in the New Visitors Car Park on the left as you enter Sherborne Castle Estate just after the lodge. Open 10:00am, Closed 5:00pm.

Strictly No Parking in Front of the Castle or any where else in the Castle Grounds

Maps

 

A record 11.04 bream

A10.02 bream

A 10.01 match day bream

 

 

A 9lb.06oz match day bream

 

Another double figure bream 10.03

 

A bit of swim clearing on peg 4

A pike of over 20lb

 

A massive hybrid 5.08

 

Match day peg 12

An early season tench of 5lb

Swim clearing peg 20

A nice 9lb.14oz bream

A 5lb + bream from the islands

A bream from peg 12 weighing 10lb.6oz (wow)

A few hours on the whip

One of the lakes bigger residents

Two match day tench from peg 29

A bream caught in the 30s (pegs not years)

 

A nice bag of roach,rudd and hy brids

Wow thats what you call a hy brid

A 5ib.12oz bream from peg 39

A 10lb 5oz bream caught on peg 10

A 11lb.2oz record

A summer evening on the lake

Species

  • Bream
  • Carp
  • Common Carp
  • Eel
  • Mirror Carp
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Rudd
  • Tench

SHERBORNE LAKE 1974

THE DREDGING OF THE LAKE

The dredging of the lake

 

Since the lake was built in the 17th hundreds it was maintained and landscaped throughout the years , in the late 60s early 70s the lake had silted up and most of it was covered in weed and Lillie’s, the vast reed beds around the lake edges had grown yards out into the lake

The lake had become very shallow in places and we believe it was only a couple of feed deep especially by the castle.

 

In 1974 the decision was made to dredge the lake and remove the weed and most of the reed beds, we have acquired some photographs of the dredging from the estate which shows the boats and work being carried out, as you can see in the photos two boats were used, one for the main dredging of the lake and one for reed cutting and dredging.

 

We are not quite sure how much silt; mud, weed and reeds were removed but believe it to be many hundreds of tonnes, the raised areas around the lake today are where most of the silt was put. On speaking to various people who remembered this said the smell from the silt and rotting weed was really bad.

OX ROAST 1891

A unique event occurred on 9th January 1891 during an exceptionally severe winter when Sherborne Castle lake froze to a greater thickness than ever before. A novel idea sparked by the generosity of ‘Jack’ Wingfield Digby, it was seen as something that would go down in the history of the town – an ox roast held on the ice itself.

 

As the Western Gazette reported, while many thousands of people had already been engaged in ‘the graceful art of skating on the lake and the time-honoured pastimes of sliding and promenading’ without major accident, it was deemed a severe test to maintain a three-ton weight on an area fifteen foot square and with five foot of freezing water below. Happily, however, ‘those who predicted disaster found themselves mistaken’.

 

The roasting arrangements were entrusted to Mr W. Pragnell, who first had deal planks placed upon the frozen surface, then a layer of coconut fibre, followed by elm planking and a coating of iron and earth. This platform was fixed with ropes attached to stakes driven into the ice.

 

Mr Sawtell supplied the ox, a Devon breed seven-foot-long and weighing seven and a half hundredweight. Fires were kindled at 3am and cooking was supervised by Mr. E. Pragnell of the Half Moon, dressed in a chef’s outfit. Two men were continuously occupied in turning the carcass on a spit to make it ‘brown all over’. Basting was executed by a six-foot long ladle to allow the cooks to escape the fierceness of the flames. Screens were set up to enclose the heat and shelter the platform from a bracing wind which had got up and ‘wafted to the other side of the lake, the savoury smell of the dish which was in preparation’.

 

Although during the morning Digby Road was already ‘pretty well thronged’, Sherbornians, Yeovilians and other residents of the neighbourhood packed the lakeside in anticipation between 1pm and 4pm, with the Military Band providing ‘excellent music’ all the while. Some of the oldest inhabitants assembled early ‘and were much gratified at being allowed to hold the huge ladle for a few seconds.’

 

Cooking was completed around 3pm when the ox was removed from the spit and cut up. Joints were set aside for all those who desired a taste ‘in memoriam’ and the baron and two prime cuts were taken to the Castle.

 

63 years later, Edwin Pragnell recalled in the Western Gazette: ‘Anyone could have a taste given on a bit of bread. We then took the ox to the coach-house at the Castle stables…where all the employees [around 100] sat down to supper; roast beef, bread and cheese, long clay pipes and real good beer and a jolly evening. Next day the carcass was removed to the Castle where in a large copper I made gallons of good thick pea soup which was given away to the poor.’ Pieces of bone from the skeleton were given as souvenirs, one of which resides in the museum collections.

 

This extraordinary event might never have taken place, for the very next day the thaw set in after six weeks of remarkably cold weather.

 

 

 

 

In 1891 the ice on Sherborne lake was thick enough to roast an ox on it, which once carved was given to the ‘poor and needy’. A notice was placed on the lodge gates and at the Digby Estate office in Cheap Street informing the townspeople that the ‘ice is bearing’.

 

SHERBORNE LAKE OPEN MATCH

 

12TH MARCH 1992

 

As many of our older members know the lake matches back in the 90s were massive and were booked up weeks in advance, the whole lake was used except the 5 pegs on the lawns, if you drew a peg in the 60s you were in for a very long walk , across 3 fields and over 2/3 fences, long grass and in the summer 80 deg temperatures, but it never deterred any one because the rewards were the possibility of a 100lb of bream, in them days the woods and in front of the new castle were used for matches.

The parking was in front of the castle and the draw normally took place at 9am and we fished 10-4 so if you were opposite the islands on the far side of the lake the time it took to walk round with all your tackle you probably had 10 minutes to set up if you were lucky

Not only did the club run matches for members it also held open matches for non-members and one in particular, it was the 12th march 1992 and the last match before the close season as that was inforce back then, if I can remember prior to the match the lake had been fishing really hard due to the cold weather but on the day of the match it was nice and sunny, the turnout was lower than normal because how the lake was fishing but I think there was still about 50 anglers and they came from all over the south west and as far away as Bristol and beyond, lots of local anglers who were sponsored by tackle shop were there as well.

The draw took place on time and as there were so many fishing it seemed to take forever but that was the norm,my turn came and I drew peg 55  so very happy far side of lake in the deeper water and a 20 yard chuck with a feeder to find the old river bed and no  horrendous walk,

When I arrive at my peg I was in-between Bob Northover and the late Brian Preston so I was in good company. The set up was an easy decision, I set up a feeder rod with 5lb main line 3.8 hook length size 14 drennen super spade hook and a 20g cage feeder, bait would be red maggot and groundbait was vitellin which is a dried dog food mainly consisting of maze and meat free, the match started and it was a gentle lob to the river bed. I can remember Bob saying if we were going to catch it would be in the old river bed and how right he was.

The first few hours passed and not even a bite, looking around the lake it was apparent that it was the same for all.my tip finally moved after 4 hours I guess and a skimmer of just over a 1lb was in the net, by the time the whistle went I had 12 or 13 skimmers of about a pound each. Bob said he had done about the same but the fish were smaller, Brian to my other side and in a different section had according to him about 5lb.

As there were about 5 sections or so and depending on how the lake had fished I thought I might be in with a chance of a section place, Bob weighed in first and he had 10lb 10oz ,then my turn 16lb 10oz and that was first in our section, Bob was second so we were both happy with that because the reports that were going around the lake regarding the fishing were pretty grim, there were many good and experienced anglers on the lake that day and many had blanked some had only a few small fish and some had gone home early.

As we got back to the car park Bob said he had heard I had won the match and with that I was being congratulated by all the guys, as nothing had been confirmed yet because all the weights were not in I did not get to excited.

As the presentation was held at the railway pub down by the train station the wait was unbelievable, when we all got to the pub the club had layed on hot food for all the guys(tomato soup and crusty bread) and it was then that I was told I had won.

For winning the match I picked up £190 and as I had entered the pools/super pools I picked up £200, as the match was over 30 years ago it was like I had won the football pools ( remember them) £390 in total was a lot of money 💰 the funny thing was I fished matches with a friend and we split the winnings so we had two chances of picking up money but unfortunately for him he did not fish the match, so extremely lucky for me thanks Phil.

This is just one story / account of a match on sherborne lake and there were many, many more that took place, if you fished any of them please email us your account and we will put it in our history section on the website.

Many thanks regards Gary

 

A SELECTION OF LICENCES GOING BACK TO 1985

As you can see on licences below there was a closed season on stillwaters as well as rivers, except devon & cornwall where you could fish all year round, the closed season on stillwaters was abolished in 1995

 

 

The 1991 pink rod licence above is a regional one and only covered SW England A national rod licence was not introduced until 1992

 

OLD MATCH DATES FROM LATE 1980’S TO MID 1990’S

Committee Members Past & Present

1985-2023

J Webber, R South, R Sams, I Parson, D McKenn, D Laws, C Ward, N Garrett, G Abbot, M Bedford, A Garrett, B Northover, K Thompson, D Hadley, N Baxter, J Greenhalgh, T Alden, P Coombs, G Bugler, T Wood, G Skarin, E Clack, W Gatehouse, T Bailey, A Rainford, P Banfield, P Thomas, G House, M Palmer, F Wood, A Vincent, S McIlroy, A Ankers, J Thorne, D Kennet, R Patman, P Leeks, R Cattle, A Murray, S McAvoy, T Bidgood, T Walters, P Jenkins  B Rainford, M Fiddy, G Hart, G Smalley, P Bishop, B Hampshire, P Giles, G Critchell.

The records we have at the moment only go back to 1985. If anyone has any information pre 1985 we would love to hear from you.

SHERBORNE LAKE IN 1995 JUST AFTER THE CLOSE SEASON WAS ABOLISHED

 

SHERBORNE LAKE 1928

The photo above was taken from a bi plane in 1928, you can see that the lake was nearly all covered in thick weed , it went from peg 1 all the way up passed peg 41c the end of the woods to just below the boat house on the south side which has since been demolished, in front of the castle appears to be the only clear water but if you zoom in that part of the lake is completely covered in water lilies, you can also make out the course of the river if you look closely, the reed beds that grew around the lake exetend many feet out into the lake

YSAA CLUB HISTORY

As many of you know over the last year YSAA has been trying to collate as much information on the club and its history.

I (Graham Bugler) have recently been in touch with Mr Les Shirley who is now 81, Les was the secretary of the original Sherborne Angling Association which he believes was founded in 1960.  Les has kindly been providing us with his memories of Sherborne AA and when it merged with Yeovil Angling Association to become the Yeovil and Sherborne Angling Association as we know it today.  Les said “I will do my best to give you an accurate account, but as most of this happened over 60 years ago and l am now 81 obviously cannot guarantee total accuracy. My period of office l believe was from approximately 1960 to 1979 when l resigned due to leaving the area.”

Below are the edited emails between us, where based on my recollections I think there are some errors I have added in brackets what I believe to be correct, my late uncle George Abbot was a founding Chairman of the Sherborne Angling Association so from an early age I was involved in the club in one form or another.

Hi Graham

I believe the club was formed in approximately 1988/89 (I think this was supposed to say 1978/79)  and known as (Yeovil and) Sherborne Angling Association. The conception of the idea was by a guy called Doug Theobald, I believe his son Fred still lives in Sherborne and would appear to be a valued member of the community.

A meeting was held in the Wessex Club (this was a club for the Wessex Electricity Board employees later to become the Southern Electricity Board located in Park Road Yeovil now a restaurant called Castello) to see if this was feasible and the attendance was far better than expected. One of the front runners was always going to be your uncle George and he agreed to take on the chairmanship. I agreed to be secretary, l can’t remember who initially was treasurer but the position became vacant after a couple of years and the secretary’s job was combined with the treasurer. The committee member’s l remember at that time were :— Chairman George Abbott, Secretary Les Shirley, other committee members were Tom Bailey, Charlie Maidment, Dick and Maurice Wheedon, Tony Garrett and Tony (Tom) Alden, Dennis Vallard was Water Bailiff ( There was also a Rose South and Alfie Miles who wrote an article in the Western Gazette that I can remember). There was also a master from Sherborne boy’s school and l cannot recall his name but he was a useful fly fisherman. Sadly l suppose that most of these lovely fellows have now passed away. I will give you my thoughts on club waters and the amalgamation of the Yeovil club when l can get some info together, unfortunately l have absolutely nothing in writing, it’s all in the memory which is not bad but could be better, Just a few more lines which may help on the club waters as l knew them before the amalgamation.

 

The original logo and badge of the merged Yeovil and Sherborne Angling Association

 One of the problems l felt we had after the formation of the club was the lack of some decent water, for the small percentage of fly fishermen it wasn’t so much of a problem as Sutton Bingham was readily available as well as the Dorset chalk streams which were fishable on a day ticket. The Yeo was always available from Purlieu down to the old mill at the bottom of Mill lane. The best fishing to be had was what we knew as the Marty Yard (I always knew it as the waterfall) which was a pool between the lake outflow and the New Road Bridge especially when some tench got out of the lake, good pike there as well. But it was private and you had to look out for Mrs Digby’s dogs.

It was agreed that we would stock the Yeo with a small number of Brown Trout at various locations and amazingly these did quite well, not only did some of them get to 2/3lbs but they actually bred, l think flooding, fishing and pollution eventually put paid to them, DC Engineering ( Later Wincanton Engineering and now where Sainsbury’s is located) and Chaffey’s farm were the main offenders. We had Silver Lake for a while but as you know the silt was always a problem, but there was always water coming in, in those days. Chairman George found us a small pond in the hillside at Sutton Montis which we stocked with tench, he also found a similar pond at the top of Marston road on the right hand side before the White Post, which to me looked distinctly like a bomb crater and tench were stocked there( Its near to Pearce Seeds,  I can remember this pond it sadly one hot summer it dried up and was filled in). As already mentioned the best of all these little ponds was without doubt Upton Noble ( I remember this well it was located the other side of Bruton but was great fishing for Crucians and one year recall when they drained the lake and many anglers were using nets to catch the fish, lots of tench which were put into tin baths and taken to Upton Noble lake in the back of my uncles truck) , full of those lovely little Crucians. The best move we made was to join the Somerset Federation of waters and this opened up good bream haunts like Muchenley and Yeo Corner and where we also had the odd match.

I cannot think of any other water we had at the time but l am struggling a little now and may have made the odd omission? The next and final information will be what l can remember about the amalgamation, which isn’t much but l will do my best.

Tight lines.

Regards Les

YSAA would like to thank Les for the his insight into the history of the club

 

Some of our older members will rember the winter of 1963 it was one of the coldest and snowiest on record and the lake was frozen solid, so much so 100s of people were ice skating and ice hockey matches were talking place,

YSAA would like to thank our chairman Graham for the photograph

PEG SPONSORS

This page is for our sponsor a peg members

all proceeds will go towards our lake projects

PEG SPONSORS 2023/24

YSAA WOULD LIKE TO THANK MR GEOFF SMALLEY WHO HAS SPONSORED OUR 1ST PEG

PEG 41A SPONSORED BY MR GEOFF SMALLEY   8/7/2023

YSAA WOULD LIKE TO THANK MR KEV BREAKER WHO HAS SPONSORED OUR 2ND PEG

 

PEG 27 SPONSORED BY MR KEV BREAKER 18/9/2023

PEG SPONSORS 2024/25

YSAA WOULD LIKE TO THANK MR SAM BOWERS AND SHERBORHNE TOWN FC

PEG 9 SPONSORED BY STFC 9/2/2024

 

YSAA WOULD LIKE TO THANK MR MICK RICHENS

PEG 18 SPONSORED BY MICK RICHENS 28/3/2026

Known Snags for Sherborne Lake.

Here we will list any snags reported by Members.

These will be cleared and updated where possible.

  1. During Match 01-10-23 Peg 33 9m out
  2. Pleasure Session 22-09-23 Peg 25 approx. 20m out.
  3. During Match 17-09-23 Peg 36 approx. 20m out.
  4. Pleasure Session 11-10-23 Peg 6 approx 10m out to the right