As a family we have been involved in carp fishing and fish farming, in the UK and around the world, for over 50 years.
Norman Symonds, a timber merchant by trade, developed an interest in lakes and fishing in the late 1950’s. As a strange quirk of fate, one of the first sites he bought trees from was the Flixton Estate in the 1950’s, where nearly 25 years later he was to buy Homersfield Lake. Before this though, his attention was brought to seven lakes for sale just across from Homersfield and the River Waveney in Norfolk.
In 1963, he bought these lakes and so began the development of Waveney Valley Lakes Caravan Park. Back in the 60’s, this unique vision of developing a caravan holiday site for fishing holidays was totally new. Today, fishing holidays and caravan sites in the UK and around the world are numerous. Nobody could visualize the popularity that has developed today in carp fishing and fishing holidays.
What made Waveney Valley Lakes even more special were the fish that where stocked. During the 1960’s and 70’s, stocking of carp on a large scale took place. All the lakes had numerous doubles, 20 lbs + fish, and six of the seven lakes had 30 lbs + fish in them by the mid 1970’s. Slowly, the reputation of Waveney Valley Lakes grew across the country, and during its time became a “hot bed” for carp anglers. Many well-known catches were made and reputations formed. Also, developments of baits and rigs began. For example, amino acid baits and the “hair rig” originated from here.
In 1980, Yew Tree Lake, which joins Waveney Valley, was purchased. This complemented Waveney Valley and a new lake “Marsh Lake” was built. Soon, these lakes made their own mark by producing 40 lbs + carp and 40 lbs + Wells catfish. Waveney Valley Lakes was sold in 1988. However, Norman Symonds was not just developing a fishery at Waveney.
Back in Essex in the early 1970’s, Norman Symonds bought “Fishers Green” at Waltham Abbey in the Lea Valley. The house at Fishers Green dated back to the 16th century, and in the 18th century a family called the Walton’s owned a local Mill. The most famous son of which was Issak Walton the author of one of the most famous fishing books written called “The Complete Angler“. With Fishers Green came two lakes and a stretch of the River Lea. In addition to the lakes came about 25 acres of land, which Norman Symonds developed into the first commercial carp farm in the UK. The idea was to start producing carp for his own fisheries. Import of carp from Europe had been stopped in the mid 1970’s and the next obvious step was to produce his own fish.
Due to the complex nature of breeding and growing carp, Norman Symonds went into a joint venture with the then Thames Water Authority. Over the next 10 years, this venture produced 100,000’s of carp, which were stocked throughout the region. Fishermen benefit from this venture even today. Fishers Green produced hundreds of 20 lbs, 30 lbs and 40 lbs + carp. Over 3000 of these fish were stocked into Homersfield from when it was acquired in 1978, until he sold and left Fishers Green in 1983. After leaving Fishers Green in Essex, and the selling of Waveney Valley Lakes Caravan Park, he turned all his attention into developing Homersfield Lake. In July 2013 Norman Symonds had his biography published, written by long time friend and well known fishing personality John Wilson. The book “One mans passion for Carp‘ covers Norman Symonds life and shows how pivotal his role was in promoting carp fishing and carp farming over the last 50 years.
In 2015 Norman celebrated his 90th birthday here at the lake with family and friends. His passion for carp continues…
Martin Symonds grew up watching the development of Waveney Valley Lakes; he started fishing at the age of 4 and caught his first carp in this period. By 13 years of age he had caught carp up to 32 lbs and in 1976 caught the heaviest mirror carp on record then at 42lbs 12oz. As a young boy he had been involved in the family business and helped develop the family’s first carp farm. In 1984, he bought a run down trout farm on the River Mimram at Tewin in Hertfordshire. This started the development of Tewin Mill Fish Farm and Fisheries. Over the next few years it was developed into one of the leading water garden centre’s in the UK, specializing in koi carp from Japan.
Over the next 20 years he had business ventures, dealing with fish and fish farming in Europe, Hong Kong, China, Israel, USA and Japan.
Apart from the family business’s Martin’s true passion was for Japanese Koi. In the late 1990’s, his company became the largest importers and distributors of Japanese koi in the UK. From the early 1980’s, he spent 2-3 times a year traveling to Japan, learning about koi from the top koi breeders. He made strong business links and close friends with many of these breeders, which still exists today.
In 2001, his love of koi and Japan made him take the decision to sell his water garden centre and fish farm in Hertfordshire and move and live in Ojiya, Niigata, Japan – the heartland of the world for koi. He was the first westerner to take a house in the mountains of Mushigame, the very centre of koi farmers, and where the very first koi were bred some 200 years ago.
Over the following years he learnt the techniques of breeding, selecting and growing some of the finest koi in the world. This allowed him write his experiences in magazines around the world and he was also the focus of television programs on Japanese TV.
With the help of many of the breeders, he started a company called Japan Koi Export www.japankoiexport.com. Martin’s job involved introducing and advising customers, (including hobbyists, wholesalers and dealers) on the best selection of koi and then arranged the shipments of their koi to their home address, whereever it was in the world. Japan Koi Export still exsists today and Martin continues to travel to Japan in the spring and autumn, which are the busiest months for selecting koi for customers.
The unique techniques Martin Symonds learnt about breeding and selecting koi has allowed him to use this knowledge of breeding and selecting fish (e.g. carp, tench, bream and roach) at the fish farm in Homersfield. In 2006, he decided to return to the UK and start the fish farm.
Now the farm is well established and surplus fish that are not restocked back to Homersfield Lake are in demand by other fisheries around the country. Carp, Wels catfish, tench and roach are now supplied throughout the UK. He writes in all the leading koi magazines around the world and has written exclusively in the UK’s leading Carp fishing magazine “Carpology”.