The story behind The Horton Complex
In carp fishing terms, the history of Horton Church Lake is relatively short; a mere two decades which, when compared to the likes of Redmire, Wraysbury, Darenth and Yateley, makes it barely a teenager. But in that time, its place in the pages of English carp angling has been written many times.
Contentiously at the time, it inherited the history of Longfield when those already famous carp were transferred into the Church Lake in 1990. The lake itself however, was already well established, having been dug in the mid 1960’s as part of the Kingsmead Quarry. This large expanse was split up into a dozen smaller lakes by the 1980’s and a couple were used to house trout pens for rearing trout. The temptation of such a bounty was impossible to resist for a few of the locals, and after a few raids on the pens, had severely diminished the stocks. It was decided to dispense with them and open the Church Lake and it’s larger neighbour Kingsmead, for trout and pike fishing.
After a few short years, the Church Lake was deemed to be the ideal environment to re-house the Longfield carp as the Road Lake and Fox Pool were earmarked for back-filling (the fact that this did not happen still irks a few people).
Despite the scorn that was poured on the project, the carp relished the move to the deep, rich, weedy waters of the Church Lake and it showed in their growth rates over the next couple of years! Fish like the Parrot, Lumpy, Shoulders and the Koi soon joined Jack as forty pounders as did the remarkable CP’s and many other fish breaking through the 30lb+ barrier, including a number of commons.
But in 1997, a fish kill saw some of the most sought after and revered fish in the country lost forever. Was this to be the death of Horton as well? The answer was an emphatic “NO!”
Following a judicious stocking policy over the past decade or so, the Church Lake waters are now home to more than twenty 40lb+ fish as well as many over 30lbs, and there are over fifty five 40lb+ fish throughout the Horton complex of lakes. The old originals have all but gone, with the Parrot, Shoulders, Dumpy and No Name dying within the past few years, but the new pretenders are just as cagey and just as worthy.
But the Horton Syndicate has never just been about the carp. Some of the anglers that have passed through its gates have also entered into carp fishing folklore, and some of their stories can be read in books today although censorship and good taste will mean that many tales have to remain as urban myths, only spoken over a Coleman stove, on a wet and windswept bank somewhere.