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.