I paid an unusual visit to Coombe pool one night the other week. Though me going to Coombe for an evening session is not actually that unusual, what I went to do was! You see on my last few visits there has been some different goings on afoot.
To fully explain this I must go back in time a few years. As I have said before, the lake that is Coombe pool has loomed large in my life ever since I was in my early teens and I first cast into it's difficult water. Back then it was a different place entirely. Just fishing a simple float rig in the edge twenty years ago would bring a veritable cornucopia of fish. As I grew older and found myself in my late teens and early twenty's my angling had evolved as had my tackle and around 1997 (I remember that year specifically as on the way there one day I heard on the radio that Princess Diana had died) fishing a waggler at the end of the lily beds over a good bed of ground bait you could fill a net with skimmers, bream, big perch, tench and roach that went from 'ugh' right through 'oh my god'. I don't remember when it happened for sure, but some time after this the sport seemed to just evaporate. I do remember a year when skimmers became so prevalent that the water boiled with them. From then on the things just got harder and the once great bream water of yesteryear seemed to decline away from its former glory.
On and off from then till last year I and many others dipped their toes into Coombe's water and again and again we all walked away vowing never to return. After many years of fishing away from Coombe I began to gain some perspective on how hard other waters can be and I think it was that idea that got me pondering Coombe again. Then last year by fishing 'bait and wait' tactics I realised for myself that the were still in Coombe, it's just their habits and environment had changed. Before in the wonder years Coombe always had a distinct tinge of colour, the sort of colour that has self respecting barbel anglers speeding towards rivers like tramps towards chips, whereas now most of the time it resembles more of a gravel pit style water, with gin clear water and excessive weed growth. But this might have come full circle now, as on one occasion last year the water coloured up and suddenly the fishing went mad and now this year, for the second time it seems on the same path.
The indicators of change started bleeping a few weeks ago when I fished two eel session on back-to-back weekends. On the first one I never got harassed that much, but Dave the chap fishing next to me got a lot of attention fishing maggot rigs. It was the next session that drove me insane as my worm baits got smashed up very quickly by small fish. Then again when fishing Coombe on few days later, the amount of small fish topping seemed rather excessive.
It was the intrigue to find out what was going on that drove me to go down to the bank only armed with a light feeder outfit, to try and see what sort of silver sods were harassing my bait. Oh and to have a crack at one of the most hair-brained things I have ever attempted on the lake and which I will only discuss if it ever works...
Knowing that the weed is romping up in the water I decided to fish a clearish area I know and to use dead maggots in both my ground bait and on the hook. The area was conveniently at the very limit of my light feeder rod so no clipping up or line markers were needed to hit the spot. It was just a case of firing the feeder as far as it would go.
I was very happy that my first cast resulted in a nice six ounce rudd but then I was not so happy when I cracked off my feeder second cast due to the line wrapping round the tip ring. Once set up again the next cast another rudd then that was followed by another then another then a roach. It went on like that all night and by dark I had put together a very respectable catch whilst confirming that yes the silvers were back in force or that they had never gone away. If they had always been around the current feeding frenzy must purely be down to the colour in the water as at the moment visibility is at around six inches tops.
It was towards the end of the session that the most amazing thing happened and I hit that one in a million cast. After missing a sitter of a bite I began reeling in and felt a dull resistance on my line. On several casts I had picked up some random bits of weed so that what I thought I had done. Turned out I had hooked something but not a fish or weed. I saw the three metres of line trailing from it first as it surfaced then it clicked I had picked up someones lost rig. No I couldn't be mine I hear you say. Well it was! I had managed to actually hook my own feeder off the bottom and the hook was in the feeder not on the line.
Since that session I have mulled over this upsurge in fish activity and concluded that the colour in the water correlates to the recent rains we had. Much like the rivers, Coombe colours up when extra water enters the lake via the brook in the park. As with many bits of river the fish come on the feed hard in these turbid conditions. Which is purely a confidence thing, as the fish in Coombe have more predators on their doorstep than most of the other fish in Warwickshire combined.
It was an interesting enquiry to say the least and after coming to my own conclusions I have to offer this bit of advice to anyone who might want to take advantage of this micro up turn in sport and relive the wonder years of Coombe "wait for it to hammer it down for a week then get on it!"