Friday, 9 September 2016

Back from injury yet again.

"Go easy! We've got all day", she said as I stood two feet below ground level with a large Japanese maple draped around me, in the hole where our nature pond used to be. But as I am a man and we're not known for heeding our other halves warnings I carried on like a man possessed. And possessed I was at reclaiming the hundred pound or more of pea gravel that I'd used as a leveling agent under the hard plastic pond years ago. I'd tried a shovel and a spade but neither seemed to be making a dent in the ever shifting gravel, the only thing that seemed to be making an impact was a terracotta plant pot as big as my head. On my knees sweating like a pig in barbecue season, I repeatedly scooped up pots full of gravel and tossed it up onto the ground around the pond. Bar being filthy and sweaty all was well until one particularly awkward twist prompted an almost audible twang accompanied by a dull stabbing pain in the right side of my lower back.

That was two weeks ago when I had specifically booked some time off work to clear my vegetable patch which has languished terribly since BB's arrival. We'd even sent the little fellow off for a day with the grandparents so as be free of the hindrance of childcare, and there I was two hours in with a developing back pain, starting to do the old Charlie Chaplin walk.

Not only did that end the gardening but it also shot down three shorts sessions I had been planning in my head. The kit and caboodle came out to nurse the strained back, but still it's taken well over a week to get back to anywhere near close to being able to get out fishing again.

I didn't think sitting on the old chair for a session would be beneficial for my first time out so I grabbed the crazy cranker and shot over to Napton for a lure session, hoping the perch might be on the feed as they have proved to be in the past in late summer. With all the perch that I've caught in Napton bait fishing, I have a suspicion that somewhere in those moody depths hides some real monsters. So I went at it with a range of small to medium sized lures to try and sort out something bigger if that was possible.

Over the last two years I have lure fished Napton a fair bit, and on every single trip it has been a case of feast or famine. I reckon it's just one of those waters where the fish are either on or off. I chatted to a few anglers just generally fishing before I started to see how the day was going and all bar one were struggling to get bites from any species. After hearing the fish seemed off the feed I quickly nipped back to the car to pick up a couple of extras boxes of lures I bought along just in case, and boy was I glad I did!

The perch were not in the mood to attack what so ever and after covering the smaller half of the water I put away the small soft baits which I'd been working slowly along the bottom. Out game the shallow running hard baits and surface baits to try and lure any waiting pike in the shallows to attack. Not long after I began casting a shallow running Yozuri lure along the reeds I watched and undeceive pike of maybe five pounds follow it all the way to the bank before thinking better of attacking. A few casts later a tiny jack pike shot out from the edge not five feet from where I was standing the bank and smashed the lure without even a moments consideration.

It was undoubtedly going to be a hard session but the fact I'd had one follow and one fish kept me going with the knowledge that it was a case of covering water to find pike rather than perch. The only problem was that the pike did seem to be holding in the shallow water, which on Napton is largely inaccessible. This in mind I headed down to the weedy shallow end at the head of the lake which most anglers avoid.

With the wind coming off my back I began casting slow sinking Sizmic toads tight against the reeds and reeling them quickly back just under the water but above the weed. Straight away another small pike slashed after the lure twice before disappearing. A lot of casting later I found a second fish which bow waved after the lure making me think it was a better fish before it hit the lure and turned into a second tiny jack.

After covering the whole shallow area at the top the lake and not finding any more fish I moved round working different diving hard baits trying to locate fish. Although I had no more takers I did spot a very large carp drifting over the weed with seemingly not a care in the world. The last modicum of action came when yet another small jack shot out from the nearside reeds after my little plug only to stop a foot off the lure with a look in its eye like it had just clocked the rouse.

In the past I might of said it was a bit of a disappointing session, but since I've been lure fishing I've figured that expectations are different from when bait fishing. Strikes and follows are seemingly as much as a prize as catching the fish in some cases, and when you can get one chasing the lure just under the water that I find is just as exciting as watching float lift up amongst a fizz of tench bubbles. My session in fact was made by that tiny jack snaffling the toad lure after following it for at least twenty feet before smashing so hard it sent the lure right up the trace over the clip and swivel. So even as hard a Napton has proved to be in the past I know I will be back in the future and maybe the perch might be a bit more obliging then.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Poor relations #2

I've never been particularly inclined to spend much time at Leamington Angling Association Jubilee pools. I think the reason for this solely lies in the hands of the constant melee that rolls over daily on the larger island pool. I have fished there in the past but truthfully, the incessant spodding and casting of the resident carp anglers proves very distracting to me. The result is I have never been enamoured with the island pool or its poor relation, horseshoe pool, either. But saying that, the possibility of a decent rudd lured me back to check out the smaller horseshoe pool which nestles amongst the trees behind the island pool.

As far as I can remember I have only ventured onto this pool once many years ago and on that occasion I caught one single fish which just turned out to be one of the largest carp in the pool. Since then though it's been totally off my radar, until I started looking for rudd.

When I had a wander round a few weeks ago on the way home from another session, it looked a lot better than I remembered. Shrouded almost entirely with trees, the water was clear and weed beds could be easily seen. It took a little while for me to get round to going back but when I did I was back with a float rod and a load of casters, corn and ground bait.

My plan was to begin by finding a clear spot and initially bait up with a couple of balls of ground bait. Then I would regularly feed casters and corn over the top to try and draw fish in then up in the water, with the ultimate aim to try and catch the rudd shallow as the hook bait dropped through the water. Well that was the plan anyway...

If there's any fish that's going to distract me from a plan its tench, and my swim was paved with them. I never even bothered trying to bring the fish up in water, the tench fishing was that good. Literally in just under three hours that I had to fish, I caught over thirty tench ranging from two pounds up to five.

It was a bit of a shock really because I never knew this was such an exceptional tench water. Every single fish I caught was in perfect condition and fought so hard that I quickly had to scale up hook link to prevent breakages. I have chased tench all over the Midlands for a fair old amount of time now and I reckon I know a good tench water when I see one. So it is the absolute truth when I say that given the environment and the condition of the tench in this pool, I think that in the next five years horseshoe pool at Jubilee will be one the best tench venues in the Midlands. 

Something that did not go unnoticed as I was hoiking out tench after tench was the parade of big carp circling the edge of the pool. It was plain to see that in the middle of the two large bodies of water either side of the spit were large groups of carp being targeted by a few chaps. Those fish though looked to be mainly five to ten pounds with the occasional bigger fish amongst them. In the margins though, the fish were a different stamp altogether; everyone was a double or bigger, and some of them were proper wide back grey submarines.

A little known secret I like to keep under wraps is that I am a closet carper. It's something I keep under tight control as I know should I give into my carper urges then I'd find myself going full blown carp crazy, and I  have neither time nor money to follow such an endeavour, so its best kept on the back burner. Very occasionally though I give in to my carpy urges and pull out a carp rod just to satisfy it, and seeing those big old submarines on such close quarters seemed the perfect opportunity.

So a few days later I came back to again fish for the tench again, but this time I brought along my nine foot Nash dwarf rod to fish in the clear spots peppering the margins for those carp. Before even setting out my stall I baited a perfect looking clear spot to the left of my swim with a few pellets and a handful of corn which I'd pepped up with a dusting of krill powder. Next I carefully placed an in line bolt rig with a short fluro carbon hook link baited with three grains of corn on the spot, before delicately sinking the line along the edge of the marginal bushes so as not to spook any fish over the spot. Then I set the rod up on an bite alarm with the line hanging slack.

I'd no sooner turned around to sort out my gear when the alarm beeped quietly, the rod bent round and a carp shot out into the pool sending the reel into overdrive. The fight was savage and I knew this was not one of the little fish from the middle of the lake. It took a bit of subduing but the little 2.25lb dwarf rod took everything the carp could throw at, even when it repeatedly dived under a bush to the right of the swim. In the end a long lean common went into the net. It didn't look that big in the water but when I lifted it up onto the mat I realised it was basically the same length as my large fox predator spoon net and a low double.

After such an instant reaction from the circling carp I quickly concluded that putting out the tench rod might prove prohibitive. So I decided to concentrate on just keeping back away from the edge of the swim whilst fishing the single margin rod, which already had more carp back on the spot. I waited for the current residents to move off before repositioning my re baited rig on the hard gravel and then topped up the area with a handful of pellets and corn. Every so often more carp would drift in and dip down to suck up a few free offerings. When two carp moved in side by side I was sure I was going to get a take. Both were commons though one was much smaller than the other and in that situation I knew the smaller of the two would end up hooked. Saying that, after a crazy run and really hard fight, the smaller fish which had taken my bait still turned out to be a scraper double.

The last fish had caused quite a disturbance so it took some time for the swim to calm down. In that quiet time the tench drifted in over the weed and sank down to clear out the spot. I watched five fish around two to three pounds clear up nearly all the freebies whilst mockingly eating around my bait. It wasn't until they too drifted away that a single much larger tench ghosted in, instantly saw my lone bait and sucked it in before rocking back, where the full weight of the lead pulled the hook into its bottom lip and it instantly shot off in panic.

The clear spot was now devoid of bait and fish of any species, but I was sure topping it back up with more free offerings would soon draw more attention quickly. So once again I repositioned the rig and scattered more pellets and corn over the top. It did take a while, but soon I spotted a large dark grey fish lingering in under the cover of the bank side bushes. The first time it passed over the spot only slowing a little to acknowledge the bait,  and then I watched it drift out and circle back under the bush. This fish kept very tight to the cover and I could barely see its head peeping out, but I could see the clear water clouding up as it sucked in mouthfuls and blew out unwanted gravel. I knew the run was coming and it quickly did as the fish felt the prick of the hook and bolted in panic out from the margin.

This one was a much different fish altogether. After the initial panic and charge it turned into a heavy a plodding fight. It kept well away from the margins and the snags and circled around deep down out in the open water. My little nine foot dwarf rod was bent right over under the pressure but slowly the fish tired and little by little I came towards the waiting net. When I first saw it I knew it was stunning apple slice mirror.

How I would have loved a trophy shot of this lovely near twenty pounder, but as this was a bit of an impromptu carp session and I only had a small unhooking mat and with no one to help out I decided to play it safe and think of the fishes safety, so I just got a quick mat shot on this occasion.

A couple of days later I dropped back for a couple of hours after work and baited the same spot and three others along the same bank. This time I was fully kitted out with a proper sized unhooking mat and a 36" landing net. This time I didn't bother with the bit e alarm as I wanted to move between swims constantly. The weather had cooled a little and the carp seemed to be a little further out than on previous sessions. I kept moving carefully in and out of the swims checking the baited areas for feeding carp until I noticed the first of the spots I'd baited was now occupied.

Once again I watched until the fish drifted off and then I carefully placed my rig at the edge of the clear baited area and scattered a few more freebies around it. I sat back behind some cover on top of my mat with the rod lying on the ground next to me. Through my polaroids I watched a few fish move in and out quickly from the left hand side of the swim. After they disappeared I turned to see a long common moving intently in from the right had side. It never paused for a moment before dipping down and starting to tear up the bottom. Only a moment later the rod skidded across the ground with the free spool spinning. The initial run was as savage as ever but the weight of the fish seemed heavy, like the apple slice mirror of a few days before. This one fought for ages though not giving me an inch all the way to the cord of the net. It turned out to be another fish just less than twenty pounds and this one had a tail bigger than my hand which helped to explain its crazy power.

That fish released, I spent the next two or so hours chasing fish around the swims. I had a few dropped runs and plenty of spooked of fish in the shallower swims I'd baited. The session ended on a frustrating note though when I located a pair of very nice fish feeding on some bait I'd put tight to a weed bed. I patiently waited for them to move off long enough for me to get the rig in the water, but it never happened. Soon some smaller fish clocked what was going on and moved in. In no time at all there were ten or more smaller carp tearing the spot up and churning up the bottom until the entire swim was clouded. I did try putting a bait in amongst them, but there was actually to many fish in the swim bumping into the line. The final view was kind of good though, when one of the fish felt the line catch in its fin or something and it shot off sending every fish in the swim off in all directions like a star burst of panicked carp. Now with all the baited spots cleaned out and the carp gone it seemed the perfect end to the session, and I headed for home satisfied with another fun carp stalking session on Horseshoe pool.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Poor relations #1

I've always thought the Leam to be the poor relation of the Warks Avon. This isn't a theory I have formulated out of thin air, it's based on hard evidence collected by myself and others. Literally there has always seemed to be smaller quantities of smaller fish in it than the Avon. I know all rivers aren't equal in fish populations and that there is probably a million ecological and geographic reasons why this should be so. Any reasons aside though, the fact is that you just don't ever hear anything to tempt you to fish the Leam and I think the lack of angling attention itself doesn't help its reputation.

Saying all that the other day I drove over the river in my van, looked out the window and my fishing senses went wild, it looked that good. As far as the eye could see the sloth-like Leam was lined with Lily pads and it looked just up my street for a spot of summer lure fishing. So early in the morning I headed down with a bag full of lures and my new Diawa crazy cranker lure rod to see for myself if there might be any good sport to be had amongst those beautiful dense beds of lily pads.

I parked in the free car park above Princes Drive weir, grabbed my kit and headed straight for the weir itself. It was quite an odd experience walking out along the stepped wall of the weir to the centre of the river with the entire mass of the Leam sluggishly crawling towards you. Sadly though there were signs that not only was this popular spot frequented by the local colour, but also by possibly our eastern European friends. Along with the empty packets of cheap spinner lures discarded in the bushes were innumerable empty cans of Tyskie and the like.

The weir didn't produce Jack and really I wasn't surprised at all given its location and obvious popularity, so I crossed the road and began searching the snaggy waters in the park itself. Initially I was using shallow running roach like plugs and slow sinking weed free lures. The hope was that the predators might be hanging out under the pads lining the banks and that I could entice a strike as the lure either sank close to or passed by the cover.

My initial approach though wasn't working so I changed over to a light jig head with a large hook so as to fish some rubber lures slowly in the near still water. It proved to be the right move and a couple of tiny jack pike later it seemed the fish were a lot closer to the bottom than I assumed they were.

Weirdly, the water of the Leam in this area had quite a bit more colour than I expected it to, but with my polaroids on I could see small groups of roach just under the surface as well as my lure as it came closer to my own bank. I persisted with the jig tactics as I moved through the park and managed to search out a nice perch from the shadows of some over hanging trees which came as a nice surprise and might indicate the presence of some decent perch sport.

After fishing several more openings in the bank side bushes, I was thinking that most of the fish populations were held up in the lower area which I had already passed through, as I couldn't find or see any fish anywhere. The river here seemed to shallow up as I could make out a few ancient snags protruding off the bottom covered in debris. It was after casting beyond one of the snags and attempting to steer my lure around it that everything went solid. I thought I'd found a trailing branch and my lure was done for, until the snag began moving upstream and it clicked that I'd hooked a better fish that was probably unaware of its predicament. Needless to say when it did realize something wasn't right, it went insane and attempted to get into every weed bed it passed by.

In the end though I did keep it under control long enough to slip the net under a very nice example of a Leam pike in its full summer finery. It wasn't until I lifted the fish out of the water and put it on the mat that I saw half the kids in the park had been attracted over by the sight of an angler actually catching something. Certainly they had never seen anything bigger than a roach caught out of the river and they were over the moon when I opened up its mouth to show them all its teeth.

I called it quits shortly after releasing the pike as I could see a number of canoes moving down the river. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the mornings fishing and by what I had seen of the Leams fish populations. Now I find myself wondering if I may have sold the Leam short thinking it the poor relation of the Avon; certainly as a predator venue it looks like it might have some mileage for a session here and there later in the year.

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Lake #33 Which way to go now.

The lake has me flummoxed this year! When I purchased my ticket I had my attack plan clear in my head and my targets in the cross hair, but the situation has gone from bad to worse quickly, and right know I really find myself stumped on whether to even continue wasting my time on Coombe at all.

Not long into the season it looked great and my hope was that I could begin to home in on the tench as I had done in previous seasons. Admittedly it was a bit of the clear side, but that made for perfect conditions to scope out the weed beds and clear spots. Only problem is that the afore mentioned weed beds have grown exponentially. At first though, that seemed perfect for me to go out on a few short evening sessions fishing surface lures for pike which I knew would be hanging out in the weed. Success came quickly and in little over a few hours here and there I was putting together a few jacks, fishing floating sizmic toad lures with big worm hooks masked off so as I could cast them right into the weed without fear of snagging up.

I have to say fishing these floating lures is even more exciting than floater fishing for carp, as the hits generally come out of the blue and are so vicious that there is no doubt the pike are hell bent on consuming the lure. The attacks are so aggressive in fact that on one occasion a striking pike literally ripped the paddle feet clean off my lure.

Even having as much fun as I have been with the surface lures, I know that this method too has limited mileage on the lake; the weed is actually becoming so dense that I feel sure the pike will soon not be able to see the lures even if I can cast into it.

On three consecutive visits on the same day over three weeks the weed has grown more than noticeably. Not only is it growing up towards the suns nutritious rays, but it is also spreading out like wild fire. In one area the entire width of the lake has been filled with all sorts of varieties and it is quite simple un-fishable already. The spread has become so bad that literally the outer edge of the main body of weed had spread two hundred metres in a week and beyond that, the smaller beds are now growing up and joining together. At this rate I can see the majority of the water being un-fishable by the end of August.

Spending time on the bank has also made it clear that the fish aren't in their normal haunts, which on a ninety acre water that makes things even more difficult. I have considered raking a few swims out but even that feels a bit futile considering the extent of the problem. Given that I can't spend as much time on the bank this year, I feel that I might be wasting my valuable time and before I have really begun the sun might be setting on Coombe for me this year.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hark the morn doth call...Beeep beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Picture if you will a classical English summer morning. The sun creeps up over old England spreading its warm rays over the golden fields of wheat; Pheasants call from the hawthorn hedgerows and young rabbits nibble the dew ridden grass. In front of you the sparkling pool glistens in the early light as swallows skim the surface stealing a drink on the wing. The smell of the new day fills your senses with the multicoloured scent of skunk weed drifting across the water and then the moment of silence is shattered by the shrill sound of twenty cheap bite alarms screeching, as what seems like a million ravenous carp attempt to cram food in there ever opening mouths.

Yes the other day I went back to Area 51 to fish for sturgeon! Was it not for a strange interest I have developed in these prehistoric beasts, my god, I would not force myself to fish on a commercial pool. But as they only exist in a few places locally and I cannot afford a trip to Canada to fish the mighty Frazier river for wild fish, then this is what I must endure.

I've wanted to fish for them for a while, but like everyone else I have little time and everything must wait its turn. I'd been stock piling tins of luncheon meat for a while in anticipation of this trip and I had to, as on my last visit the four tins I took were hardly enough. This time I had had a good three pounds of matchbox size cubes dusted overnight in krill powder as bait.

Part of my wanting to come back here and fish for sturgeon was that I quite fancied fishing for them on the float. On my last visit it seemed rather stupid fishing 3lb test rods with bolt rigs on alarms when the fish were noticeably circling under the rods. It wasn't till the night before that I stood looking at a box full of end tackle that I came up with what I can only describe the ugliest float rig known to angling; Twelve pound main line and a couple of feet of safety tubing to protect the fish to start with; a small coffin lead for weight, a buffer bead to protect the swivel, then a hook link made up of 35lb braid and huge size 2 hook with a 2" hair and some fake corn to help keep the meat on. For bite registration the most high tech component, a home painted bit of peacock quill.

I opted to fish a corner swim at the entrance of a bay. Although the bay was stupidly shallow there, I knew from a previous visit that a ledge where the water dropped off went across the entire front of the bay and that the sturgeon and their ever circling movement would more than likely keep to. It turned out to be the perfect distance to just swing out the bait using my 9ft Nash dwarf carp rod.

I'd set my float well over depth as I wasn't looking for roach bites. In truth sturgeon aren't the most finicky of feeders and all the bites I have ever had have seemed like something big and stupid making off steadily with your bait, as was the case only moments after casting out, when my float drifted from left to right before sliding away attached to the first one of the day. Somewhere between me striking and landing the fish, a small munchkin turned up behind me silently from a nearby bivvy and the moment I put the small diamond back down on the mat this little voice pipes up, "I caught that one yesterday."

With my new companion rattling away I tried my best to get some photos as I was regaled with how he had caught it. Even as I released it back to the murky water the commentary continued with the location of his capture and where he'd let it go. Turned out my shadow was now quite interested and for the next half an hour my new friend, Leyland, fired a barrage of questions at me including some real corkers like; Can ducks hear? (Yes!) How come fish can't swim on land? (Because they have evolved to live in water!) Can carp see? (Yes that's why they have eyes!) Do you like hot dogs? (I am partial to a hot dog as long as it has fried onions and mustard on it!)

To be honest I was relieved when a second sturgeon took my bait and I got a break from the questions as I played the fish. Although he never claimed to have caught this one, apparently his uncle had a few months prior for sure. Once I'd netted the fish and unhooked, Leyland very kindly offered to take a picture of me holding the fish. I did have to think about that for a minute as I didn't fancy chasing a kid around the lake once he'd done one with my mobile phone, but as his dad was camped out in the next swim I thought I would be OK. Stupidly I asked if knew how to use a camera phone to which replied with disgust, yes! Though this was the best shot!

"Thanks, Leyland..."
Not long after this the scent of bacon lured my little munchkin companion back to his camp and peace was restored, or a least a relative peace to this pool anyway. Ten minutes later with a bacon batch in hand he was back and nattering away in my ear. After talking constantly whilst eating, a large flock of geese caught his eye and before I could say no, he threw the last of his batch about ten feet away from where I was fishing, which as you can guess prompted nearly fifty geese into my swim before he casually left.

Now, there has been large element of this trip that I have so far ignored and that element can be described in two simple words, hungry carp! Most of my session I managed to avoid the carp. I say avoid but what I mean is not catch any. Although it must be said that they weren't avoiding me, and my krill flavoured luncheon meat was mostly being eaten by the carp. Their sucking and pecking was going through my massive bag full of meat at an alarming rate. Quite how none of them were getting hooked was beyond me as so many of them were resident in my swim. I even took to feeding a couple of tins of cheap sweet corn a little down the bank to try and focus them elsewhere, but in the end there was so many that I couldn't keep them away. But for all the attention I only hooked one single carp which went bat shit crazy ploughing into the bay and making right old fuss in the shallow water.

I never did hook into one of those big Siberian sturgeon I was after, but that's not to say they weren't on the feed. Simply put, I think they just weren't getting round to me as there was some many other anglers fishing and so much bait going in. Several were caught around the lake by other anglers, two of which were over twenty pounds and one of them was closer to thirty. The catch of the day had to go to rather hungover looking chap who out of the blue hooked a fish which led him a merry dance through quite few swims. After an epic tussle it turned out he'd hooked and landed a near forty pound catfish on a zig rig.

Given that I really was ready to leave once the carp had done me out of bait, I still intend to come back for a second go for those big grey giants in this pool. Though I think I might wait until later in the year and probably a weekday so as it might be a little quieter on the banks around this pool full of monsters.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Cockamamie ideas.

I am rather partial to a cockamamie idea now and again. Sure I like a safe bet as much as the next man, but every now and again I formulate a plan that to most would seem implausible. Take for example the Coventry brown trout! It's most likely anyone would instantly think I was talking about a turd floating in some heavily polluted body of water and conclude the term is a slang reference, but that is not the case. Right now if you're still reading I am willing to bet you're thinking that I have gone mad and that trout only exist in lovely southern chalk streams, Scottish tarns or stony Welsh rivers. Well, that's true but there is a rare and small population of  trout existing in the diminutive and practically forgotten river Sowe in Coventry, and the cockamamie idea I concocted was to target these special little wild browns on the fly.

Technically, I am a bit late starting this seemingly implausible endeavor. I had hoped to be doing this prior to the start of the coarse season adding that illicit "I shouldn't be on the river before the 16th but I can legally if I am after trout" thing to the mix, but what with getting ill and getting fixed I never managed it. Back to the point, I recently obtained a 4wt fly rod, found out a small fly reel I've had for years and purchased what is probably a wholly inappropriate motley crew of flies and readied myself for an outing. However every time I've wanted to go, the river had a flush of water which has put me off until now. Having scoped out a few areas I thought looked good for it, I have just been waiting for the opportunity.

The time finally came and I packed up my spanking new fly outfit ready to go. Early morning I made the short journey by car. When I saw the river though my heart sank. The weed had come up so much that nearly the entire surface of the stretch I wanted to fish was covered. I don't think even the most experienced fly fisherman, never mind a novice such as myself, would have managed to cast a fly amongst all the weed. My session looked to be a wash-out on the face of it. After a little wander I managed to find a deeper area which was clear of weed, the only problem being that there was no space to make any casts. So to save me wasting time, I opted to go back to the car and swop my fly outfit for a light lure outfit I had stashed in the car boot and try and see if any small pike or perch might have been hiding in the deeper pool.

Even though the pool looked to be quite deep I initially opted to cast a small Snapper shallow bug around avoid any unseen snags. After nearly ten casts I would have expected any pike to show themselves but the lure failed to raise any attacks. As a matter of course I carried on casting it though to cover the whole pool just in case. I watched the lure wobbling back through the clear water when a fish suddenly rose up steadily from the depths and causally sucked it in. The moment it opened it's mouth and I saw a flash of white I knew it was a chub that had taken it. I've never actually seen a chub take a plug and it was interesting to see it very calmly taken, like it was a injured fish. The fight wasn't anything to write home about, but it was nice to finally hook a chub on a plug and it certainly saved the session for me.

I would have left the pool alone if I wasn't sure that somewhere in the unseen depths there was probably a shoal of perch. So I dug out a small cannibal shad and a five gram Sakura 5gram weedless jig head to help prevent getting snagged up. The combination worked well together in the flow of the river and I could feel the jig donking on hard gravel bottom as it crossed the main flow. The only weed in the swim was a raft of floating weed that had drifted down and caught on an overhanging branch at the head of the pool. When my lure went in just behind it I really thought that was where I would get hit. The lure though caught the flow and as I jigged it up of the bottom a couple of times, something ripped into it.

No sooner had I struck into the fish than it came flying out of the water looking quite angry. At this point I was sure it hit a highly strung summer pike, and casually played it on the light rod. Then it jumped again and I wasn't so sure of its identity. When it did a third jump and kart-wheel across the river I thought it wasn't looking that much like a pike at all. Now though it went deep, banging around against the bent double rod and for a moment I thought it was another chub, that was until it rolled close in and it clicked that it was a trout, and a huge one at that. I couldn't see the lure at all so I was confident it was well hooked. Several savage runs from the net later and I managed to turn its head into my waiting net to lift my prize from the water.

When I originally came up with the idea of catching a trout from the Sowe I kind of thought I would be lucky to catch something that would fit in the palm of my hand, but the reality of this amazing fish was mind blowing. Nearly two feet long and weighing over six pounds, this was the yeti of Sowe trout. This could well be the mother of them all and probably had never encountered an angler before. 

It truly was an honour to catch a fish that I would have never thought existed in a Coventry river in even my wildest dreams. I know some people might have been tempted to knock it on the head and take it home for a feast, not me though. I held that fish out in the flow in my net head for close on ten minutes and treated it with all the respect afforded to a British record barbel, it was that special, and why shouldn't I as this fish itself could well be a Coventry record brown trout or at least a Sowe record.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Looking for targets.

I couldn't even bring myself to entitle this post the 'The lake #33' as I am almost embarrassed by my last outing there. Trying to be a clever bugger I pre-baited an area which is popular with tench. Diligently I went down the night before with a bucket of tasty expensive bait and liberally spread it on some lovely clean gravel patches close to lily beds in three swims. Barely able to sleep, I was up before my alarm and driving to the lake ready to find the water's surface looking like a cauldron of boiling cola.

When I arrived and made the long walk to the prepared swims, I was not greeted by the obvious signs of feeding tench at all so I stayed patient and stowed my gear, watching each swim in turn for more subtle signs of life. After forty minutes a single fizz rose in one of the swims and I crept in to plonk a float in at close range.

I waited, and waited, and waited a bit more, and when no bite was forthcoming I began checking the other swims again, but when I returned to the original swim I again saw a single fizz. I was convinced there were tench in the area but if they were here they weren't hard on the feed. With little choice I again cast out and trickled some loose offerings around the float.

After spending the entire morning like a statue in the reeds it was getting towards thirty minutes past when I should have packed up. Then out of the blue the peacock quill rose steadily from the water and flopped over. It was the most blatant lift bite I have ever seen and when I struck hard, thinking I was about to feel the venom of a hooked tench in shallow water, I was shocked to see my float hanging in the tree above me. All that effort and I totally missed my only chance of the session!

A few days later I went on a research mission for rudd. Although rudd are fairly common round our way, venues for big rudd are like rocking horse shit. Years ago I remembered catching a few decent examples that were not far off two pound from a lake on an old friends fishery nestled away in a Warwickshire spinney. Although I knew it would certainly be a numbers game, I duly purchased a large amount of maggots and headed down to Lanny's lagoon.

After pitching up in the very same swim where I had caught those fish years ago, I set up a shallow float rig and began regularly feeding small amounts of maggot next to a small patch of lillies. The results were fairly instant and straight away small rudd could be seen darting to the surface after the falling maggots. After catching a large amount of these voracious rudd and various silvers I realised that this would go on all day and that I stood little to no chance of sorting out any bigger examples. So I opted to try and see if under the mass of little ones something bigger might have been lurking. The bait too got changed for corn which seemed not to appeal quite as much as the maggots. The bites certainly slowed down and the fish certainly got bigger, although still it seemed like I was playing a numbers game with species now rather than rudd.

I had plenty of these young bream.
And I had a few things that were just plain old ugly.
And it was only a matter of time till all the noise attracted the carp.

In the end I knew I wasn't going to find any of those elusive big rudd if they still existed and although I wasn't getting anywhere near achieving my target I was having fun with these long lean commons that seem to revert back to a wild carp-like state in this pool. By the time I came to leave I reckon I must have put together a good fifty pounds of fish, which would have easily won the match that was going on in the adjacent pool.

This local big rudd question I think is going to take some solving. Worst of all a few seasons ago Coombe was showing promise with the rudd, but catching anything from there is proving to be another totally different problem in itself. The only thing I can hope on that front is that we get a decent bout of prolonged warm weather to kick the lake into action, as these cooler conditions seem to be stifling the fish activity at the moment.