At the end of last term's Bloggers' Challenge a very prominent loose end was left wafting in the breeze
The end that was loose related to the next undertaking, the next challenge in fact. Whilst usually the alternate season away from the competition is welcome, when I came to look the letters had crumbled from the signpost
Disatisfied with the limitations of local known river fishing options my mind started to wander, followed closely by the F,F&F bus and then my poor old feet
As it happened I ended-up spending the close season seeking-out new venues, mainly rivers and, initially, mainly my (now beloved) River Leam
Somehow it was almost as though each landowner I approached had never had the idea before and, in what seemed like just a few bewildering days, rights were acquired to some lovely waters all of which have one thing in common - exclusive peace and quiet. One massive plus of a small Syndicate, admittedly with higher fees than your average Angling Club, is this factor. You know that it is hardly ever going to be a race for a swim. So, after extending the angling antennae, there were soon ten like-minded individuals on board and, if everyone fished the whole range of venues on a given day, on average we'd still only see one other angler and we'd know him anyway.
At least four of our number are Bloggers and thus "Warwickshire Bloggers Angling Syndicate" was born...WBAS
The latter was an idea three or four of us had previously floated briefly when the Saxon Mill stretch became available after Warwick club relinquished rights, but at the time we concluded it was a difficult venue, being generally too public
I must confess first thoughts were to try to gain access to as much of the Leam as possible as most of it is not fished and those areas that could be are slowly shrinking away. Godiva have lost half of their water and much of Leamington A A's is inaccessible.
Once it had dawned on me that I couldn't fund the whole venture myself I started to ask around and before we knew it there we were all sat round a table next to the weir at the Saxon Mill, with that unmistakable cologne of treated sewage that pervades the intimate areas of the Warwickshire Avon mistily perfuming us like an air freshener working in reverse. We ran through the venues and after some polite arm-wrestling with landowners I think it's fair to say we are all still pinching ourselves with what we have managed to achieve so quickly.
Part of the initially evolving idea was to gain control of the remaining North Oxford Canal and possibly also some of the more accessible combined Oxford and Grand Union Canals but it transpired this was probably my own dream and no one else's(!) so we quickly dropped that idea and concentrated on rivers and the search for a pool.
Sean Dowling (Off the Oche, Down the River) was full of suggestions and came-up with some crackers that came to fruition, with more that we didn't have the wherewithal to follow-up.
The landowners have all proved very amenable and open-minded, within their obvious business limitations, and each venue has it's own quirks that we have to work within, one of which, by way of example, limits river access to winter months...no problem, it's weeded-up in summer anyway!
What could be better? Exclusive access, no other anglers, way off the beaten track, peace and tranquility, unmanaged river banks, no litter, good fishing, new locations to grapple with, great variety. Nothing beats it.
So here we now sit with options as varied as the Warwickshire Stour, River Leam, Warwickshire Avon and a picturesque, comfortable, sheltered pool. The latter being the subject of a long-term project to create a tench and crucian fishery, and for which we are opening membership to ten others to share the challenge.
|The Tinier Inhabitants of the Warks Stour|
The one magical thing about these waters is their mystery. The majority have not been fished in anger for years, if at all, and the potential is thoroughly engaging.
We've set-up a WhatsApp group to share findings and shallow-off a potentially steep learning curve. This also helps to quickly and easily disseminate more strategic messages without time-consuming meetings. Something I think we all welcome even though the amount of messages inevitably becomes a touch unwieldy at times and WhatsApp Fatigue (and known disorder!) can kick-in.
For my part, my first visit to the Stour stretch was my first visit to the Stour, the only contact I'd had with it previously being running my finger over it in BAA Handbooks as a teenager, enthralled by tales of deep holes and giant bream. Fish that I never felt capable of catching I should add, assuming they were snared either by accident or by smelly, bewhiskered men with ivy growing up their legs in the way people currently nurture tattoos. This at a time when my modus operandi was to stand in the water wearing a thick jumper and tie, fishing the roach pole, like the late Ray Mumford (who I once watched openly cheat in a match on the Great Ouse by the way, a moment that quickly changed my wardrobe. What a magisterial name for a river that is, the Great Ouse, capturing it's scale, history, latent power and piscatorial magnitude in but two small words, and yet, I look back at them on the page in a reflective, Miranda-type, way and think what strange words they are).
The Stour was, is, everything the Leam should be, were it not for the extent of its clay geology. Similar in width; shallow then deeper; rushing then still; weeded then clear; shaded then sunlit; devoid then infested; untouched yet touchable and with wildlife abounding. I actually flushed a little owl from the bankside field margin midday while roving with rod, net and bumbag full of the usual. The first one I have seen away from one known nesting site for some years, since their decline in lowland Warwickshire.
|Natural Beauty of the Warks Stour|
Both Warks Avon stretches are a totally unknown quantity and when access commences to the Upper reaches on October the 1st, it being five minutes from Chez Nous, there's no doubt where I'll be.
As for the pool, well, there's work to do to meet our expectations. Currently it's overrun with small rudd, roach, perch and various hybrids so the long-term aim is to thin those out to give the preferred species growing potential and to remove the carp under double figures so that they become a treat rather than a certainty. It will take time but it has all the potential we need to create an estate lake without the mansion!
I'll keep updating on our adventures via this portal I'm sure but, in the meantime, I was driven to prose while basking in the glory of a deep pool on the new Leam stretch at the end of the hot weather:
|Flowering Arrowhead on the Leam|
Many a step from a road, from buildings, from fellow man; an oasis of water, giving life.
As I sit, the sun, awkward on the eye, floats imperceptibly higher like a lemon pip gently lifted by the bubbles of a fizzy drink.
The irritated churring of the great tit in a mixed family flock of animated baubles, complete with hangers-on of numerous fattening chiffchaff, breaks through the now strained-for rustling of leaves on a gradually rising breeze as if in a relay without rules.
Fulfilled without false entertainment, the rod tip still, I watch as the flow grips specks of duckweed in its movement and tweaks them, drifting like tiny skaters, spinning and careering in perfect natural chaos toward their own overpopulated metropolis awaiting them in deriliction of decay downstream.
Surely no finer experience is to be discovered than by the stream.