I've been travelling down to Linear Fisheries Oxfordshire waters since 1996,making sure to pay at least a couple of visits every year. Back in the late 90's there was no Brasenose or Oxlease, for me, these overstocked waters are strictly for the 'Argos Carpers' and they are not waters I'd visit myself.
Its Manor, Hardwick and St Johns that hold my interest, all contain the kind of fish you travel all that way for in the first place so I concentrate on these three waters and forget about the rest.
The first thing I would recommend when going to Linear Fisheries, is to fish midweek, as it gets really busy at the weekends, I reckon the perfect arrival time is about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, this is because most people have left, or are just packing up. I've lost count of the number of times I have arrived to find both Manor and Hardwick empty at this time!.
My approach on arriving at Linear, is to spend some time walking around the lakes. Naturally, I'll start on Manor first, this is because it contains the most 30's and the largest fish so finding fish on here is first priority. If I fail to locate any fish, rather than just guessing, I will look at the next best option, which is Hardwick, this contains the next largest/most 30's. If a good walk around those two lakes doesn't reveal any carp then I will move onto St Johns and carry on looking. It's very rare to get around all three of these lakes without finding some carp tucked away in a corner somewhere. If I find fish on Manor, I will set up straightaway, however, if I locate fish on Hardwick or St johns, I will make a note of where they are, then leave them be for a while, this is so I can re-trace my steps back to Manor, and see if there is anything that's been missed. Basically, I'm looking for the largest fish I can find on any of the three waters.
Should I get on the fish and they move then I'll move with them, if this isn't possible then I'll take a look at the other lakes to try and locate some more fish. This tactic has paid dividends a few times when I've moved from one lake to another in mid session and had a result. It pays to keep an open mind about which lake to fish, by deciding on the day, based on where the fish are, you will find more success than picking a particular lake/area before you even arrive.
On the location theme, Linear fish are known to follow the wind, if they are not directly on the end of it, they will almost certainly be in the windward half of the lake somewhere. It's basic good practice to check out the windy end of the lakes first, yet so many people just don't seem to bother!.
Once found, the carp are not too hard to catch if you use a cautious approach and be a little bit different. My favorite tactic is the single hookbait or a very light scattering of bait fished to showing fish. By not baiting up heavily, or using a spod, I don't risk spooking the fish and I get my bait right amongst fish that are feeding. Believe me, it doesn't take them long to find a single hookbait. Should the fish decide to move, its just a matter of moving with them, if you have a large bed of bait down you can be reluctant to move off it, even if the fish are showing somewhere else. Theres also the fact that most Linear anglers turn up and spod for England, often ruining their chances of a fish before they've got their hookbaits out!, I personally only give them a lot of bait if they actually look like they are up for a big feed and thats not very often.
On the bait side of things, it seems that most people seem to spod a mixture of particles and pellets, then fish boilies or maize over the top. I'm not a fan of spodding on top of pressured fish so I just fish either maize, a tiger nut or a boilie over a light scattering of bait, or use a single hookbait if I can't bait up quietly with a catty.
The old saying 'it's better to spend one hour in the right spot than a whole day in the wrong one' is the theory behind my approach, not just on Linear's waters, but everywhere else too. The key to catching on Linear's waters is to keep your eyes open and be prepared to move when it's necessary, don't put all your eggs in one basket regarding which lake you fish and how much bait you put in. If you just turn up and go through the motions, you're more than likely going to be sitting there watching somebody else catch, work at it and stay on the fish and sooner or later they'll make a mistake and it's usually sooner!.