The UK’s youngest fishery manager has said he’s living “every angler’s dream” at his new business in Cullompton.
Mathew Gunn, 21, backed by his family, has just opened a carp fishery on a site once used by golfers before Padbrook Park closed its course two years ago. Thanks to some EU funding you’re now more likely to find bait rather than bogeys after the land was transformed to become Colebrook Fishery.
Over two years, he, his family and friends have laid 1000 tonnes of recycled road palings, removed 400 tonnes of silt, felled 50 trees, stocked 46 fish, built ten swims and one reception.
Today he says the facility is everything he could have imagined and more.
He said: “We’ve been working on site since the end of April 2017 although we officially bought it in July that year.
“When we took over it was nothing more than just green fields and golf course. We bought the golf course; however, there was an existing carp lake already of just over an acre in size which we expanded so now it’s about three acres in size.”
“The best thing is the satisfaction of having anglers coming down and catching what to them is their personal best or the fish of a lifetime. We have some great fish. To see the look and expression on their faces makes those two years of hard work worthwhile. We create moments for them here; it’s all very rewarding.
“When the Angling Times came out to do a piece we went down to try and net the fish and when we did it was a big achievement. When you’ve been doing something for two years, feeling quite secluded, you can only build it to how you want it.
“Before I opened I worried it was built in a way I’d like it, but I’m not going to fish it myself, it’s built for visiting anglers. To have a guy come down and fish here and say how much he liked it and come back already means we’ve already seen our first regular, and hopefully there will be more to follow.”
Matt has been fishing ever since he was three years old after his granddad took him out to a lake one day.
“I started match fishing, and I saw other anglers catching some real big carp, and the obsession grew.”
Matt was a pupil at Burlescombe CofE Primary and Uffculme School before completing a two-year diploma in fishery management at Cannington.
“When you leave school, you’re told you’ve got to do something with your life, so I looked into it and saw the course for fishery management, so I did two years there before starting here.
“Most of my friends have been to see it, and they all love it. It’s a special place.”
Mr Gunn said that the area still has the essence and peace of a golf course, but with the benefits of shops, takeaways and pubs of Cullompton.
“When you’re down here on the lake, you would never know that Cullompton was a stone’s throw away,” he added.
“Carp fishing as a whole is pretty much is this the same fundamentals, but we aim to provide a good quality service at the same time as good quality fishing. Everything is done to a fairly high standard, and you can see that when you arrive from the showers to the box in the kitchen.”
He added that the next stage was to make the lake a success.
He added: “We now have to make the lake a success first, but we would like to put in some holiday homes, which are currently in our plans. I would want to dig another lake in another field we own opposite the Culm Brook, possibly a stock pond to begin but if we get the demand for it, another lake.
“I want this to be one of the country’s best carp waters and certainly stock-wise, I’m hoping to house a 50lb-plus fish at some point.”
To anyone else wanting to start their own fishery, he added: “It certainly isn’t how I initially imagined it. You can’t just buy a field and dig a hole. Water supply, access and surroundings all need to be considered.
“If you do have the money, speak to every authority, as I’ve learned these things take planning. We had eight different surveys on all manner of things before work started. You can’t afford to get it wrong.
“At the same time, don’t be afraid to chase your dream and don’t be too proud not to take the help that’s offered to make it happen.”