I fancy that Coombe pool fishery holds some monster eels. How can't it! It's a prime looking bit of big eel water. The only thing it has against it is the overflows exiting the lake. These two escape points could give any eels present in the pool an easy exit from the lake, thus so turning what I wish was a prison where trapped eels could balloon, into a... say hotel, where they can live the life of luxury plumping up on the veritable larder available, before slipping over the spillway once the itch to head off on a one way trip to the Sargasso takes hold.
For now though I am going to assume that this lake does in fact hold as yet unseen leviathan eels thicker than my arm. And why shouldn't I assume this as I know for a fact at least two eels reside in the lake as I relocated them after finding them languishing in one of the drains. But these are not the only anguila-like leads that I have encountered over the last few years whilst fishing Coombe. Only two weeks ago reports of a four-pounder being caught from an area which looks very eelish graced my ears, and last year a trio of carp anglers reported nightly harassment when fishing with blood worm flavoured boilies at range.
All the information seems to point in the right direction and my gut feeling is that this lake has to contain more than just a few surprises. So all that remains is time - time spent on the bank waiting for a big old eel to sniff out my baits in the dark of night and rouse me from my (more than likely) dreams of eels.
The opportunity to do my first night had been a little pragmatic in arriving. You see whilst trying to work full time and fish part-time, I am at home removing and replacing what can only be described as a galleon worth of decking boards which make up the patio right outside the back door to our house. Its a beastly job, and as the good weather is here to stay and the impending date for the delivery of the new materials marches ever closer, I find myself lacking in time and excuses to sit lazily bank side waiting for night to approach. This in mind the ingenious idea to just actually sleep on the bank entered my head.
It sounds perfect doesn't it? Get my gear ready the night before, go to work for the day, come home have a quick feed before back in the car with my gear head down the lake. Bait up/cast out then get my head down for the night, maybe land an eel here or there, then pack up head home and work in the garden all day ripping up bad wood...
Turned it was never going to be that easy or go that well. After huffing and puffing all my kit into the car I arrived at Coombe already sweating like I was wearing a fur coat in the Kalahari to find hordes of cars in the car park. By the time I had walked the bank, located an area full of small fry I fancied and packed my kit down the water side the sun was already worryingly low in the sky. By then I was in no mood to have to do what I was about too. But the gallon of wretched dead maggots wasn't about to spomb itself out any time soon. To top it all off the flavouring I was adding to the dead maggots is quite possibly the worst smelling additive invented my man and after I had sent multiple spombs onto two different spots the entire bank was humming with flies attracted by the stench.
Eventually after much business I found my toiling done and with one rod cast onto spot far out in the lake which was liberally baited, and a second spot only a few feet off the bows of an oak tree which caressed the water, I went round to chat with and apologise to a very nice chap called Dave who I knew from another lake we both fish and who was bivvied up for a night of bream fishing just down the bank.
Really I held no hope that anything would be forthcoming until the lake had been shrouded in dark for a good while. So when my inside line went off like a rocket just after dark I was little more than surprised. It never bleeped or stuttered once before melting off and forcing me to sprint through the narrow gap leading back to my swim. Even the excitement of a instant one toner could not override my expectant excitement of what might have consumed the quiet literally humongous ball of worm I had attached to my hook. Honestly how many fish are big enough or tenacious enough to consume four large worms cut into quarters before being threaded onto hair and hook?
The answer to that question so far is one... and a tench at that! some how this greedy male had been grubbing around over my lovely eel bait when it came across my golf ball sized bait. Where it proceeded to cram it in its mouth along with my size 2 hook and 40lb hook link.
Although it was probably not what you could call a sporting fight on fifteen pound line and my three pound rods, I should count myself lucky of the action considering the night ahead.
The warm night passed with little disturbance from anything under the water. The creatures above the water were a different matter entirely. As I tried to calm my mind and get to sleep the little owls began a a lake wide conversation. I then heard what sounded like a daddy long legs buzzing on the roof of my bivvy only to discover when I turned the light on that it was in fact a mosquito that looked like a prop from Jurassic park buzzing around my head. After a few hours sleep I was roused by three beeps on my right hand rod which after I hovered over it for ten minutes came to nothing and was followed by Dave getting a run from a nice bream. By now it was three so I decided to recast both rods just in case and after doing so a pair of tawny owls began hooting in the woods over the lake which was followed by a male muntjac deer barking for a while. Some how I did manage to get back to sleep before the dawn chorus began.
By six the sun was already up and getting very hot. The lake was flat calm and from my bed I had a good view of a large swathe of it. Surprisingly nothing was rolling anywhere in sight and that's when it struck me. All night even with a load of bait spread over my swim I had not had a single liner on my long line which was fished taught and popped up of the bottom. The bream should rightfully have driven me mad passing through my swim but nothing had seemingly moved through it.
As I packed up for an early exit the carp anglers started stirring and news came down the bank that it had been a very quiet night all over with My tench and Dave's bream the only action all over the lake. I think the closest I may have come to an eel was that three bleeps in the night. I also think I may have gone a little over the top for just a single night by putting out all those dead maggots. Next time I think I will be a little more frugal and try fishing an area with a few more features rather than targeting an area full of prey fish
Through the weekend the temperature soared as I slaved away sawing old decking boards into manageable chunks. Always in the back of my mind I fancied I might have another session. But the savage sun made the prospect of even a short session at Coombe seem pointless. So instead I opted to link up with Andy and head down to my old mate Lanny's lagoon to do the only thing that seemed a viable prospect in the near thirty degree heat, surface fishing.
We weren't disappointed on arrival either, as close round the island was black with carp. By the time Andy turned up I had already bagged three powerful commons in three casts, fishing a free lined hunk of crust just off the massive patch of scum collected in the corner of the lake.
Sometimes it's just fun to leave the challenges at home and just head out to have a laugh with your mate whilst putting some serious bends in your rod. Which was exactly what we did bagging countless commons and mirrors, with a few strange hard fighting little wild carp mixed in for good measure.