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.