Saturday, 29 November 2014

A New Adventure is Underway

Two weeks ago Pat delivered new licences for Parps and myself which enable us to wander further into the Leam valley in search of a literally deeper experience

This tiny, in width, river is hideously deep in places. I know of no other river like it, split as it is by a somewhat incongruous sluice at Eathorpe pumping station, meandering through the best countryside Feldon has to offer and which it has of course itself created by its own efforts through geological time

I thought the stretches I had spent the last two to three seasons tackling were surprisingly deep in certain pegs but first impressions of this new stretch double those deepest areas and, with over two feet of water on, must be approaching twenty feet surface to bed in places

The charm though is certainly wider than the watercourse

The birdlife is often surprising and never less than entertaining, particularly in the colder months and after dark, and even the fungal blooms are engaging

The fishing however is tough but that's how we like it. It makes the few red letter days all the more warming

The Leam is not a river to covet in pursuit of a net full, except perhaps in the town reaches the urbanossity of which does not draw these two anglers in. That said we do not attack it with maggots and so we do purposely limit potential for higher numbers of smaller fish but conversely maximise the chances of the prey fighting-back if the tip or the float indicate sufficiently positively

With The Dog twice at the mercy of the surgeons knife and long-distance journeys being involved this past fortnight, things have been at best disjointed and at worst a shambles but I have managed to get in a couple of brief visits, once accompanied by Parps, to suss-out the new canvas onto which we hope to apply that fish-oil paint

As with many rivers, excluding perhaps those in fenland, the adjacent terrain is contoured and fascinating. One bank can be low and grassy, the other steeply banked and, at this time of year, festooned with decaying willow-herb or, perhaps, tree-lined. Rushes burst out of the flow wherever the depth allows and cattle-poached pasture banks form conveniently comfortable terraces on which to sit

The flow can vary from slow to quite pacey dependent upon the depth and relative width of the length

The first brief attempt comprising a few hours spent in a glide leading to a deeper pool resulted only in numerous initial tappy small roach bites on bread but a few lob sections thrown into the pool itself resulted in an immediate p.b. perch for the river of 1-6-14 followed by four or five around the 5 - 6 ounce mark. At the time these were quite boldly marked individuals but the ongoing turbid water will soon have changed that as they take on the shade of a cup of white tea, with stripes

Highlight of the late evening though was a synchronised flying display by a pair of woodcock, reasonably unusual for Warwickshire and the Feldon landscape (though more so in spring and summer), as dusk fell and they burst from bankside ruderal to orbit a nearby group of trees and then disappeared overhead to the east; their ridiculously long bills and chunky duck-like bodily proportions unmistakable against a dusk sky

A second short visit produced a cracking roach of exactly one pound on two legered lob sections in a rising river some 0.6m above normal. This fish beaten only by one of 1-4-11 two years ago from this river

So even the limited time on the bank between personal crises had produced enough encouragement to suggest worthy potential once the venue has been grasped and some experience gained. Thus a visit today was inevitable, not to say necessary, armed with research on a method for use in swollen rivers which produced instant roach and perch to lob tails followed by three other perch, the largest ten ounces.

The river was alive with quality roach though, as they topped with abandon all morning while I experimented, more of which in the future if it is proven to be successful after more refinement

This past week's study of the water levels and weather forecasts suggested a falling river at perfect height and flow and so it appeared. I, however, need to get my act together if it is to be taken advantage of this weekend as, tomorrow afternoon, we go again

Combined bird list:
Grey heron, mallard, moorhen, pheasant, woodcock, raven, carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, woodpigeon, stock dove, kingfisher, green woodpecker, mistle thrush, song thrush, blackbird, fieldfare, redwing, robin, starling, wren, skylark, blue tit, long-tailed tit, chaffinch


  1. Sounds interesting, George. Quality roach topping always is to my mind — but the prospect of catching of them fills me with a primal urge. It happened to me on the Avon one night while fishing meat for barbel. They were driving me crazy because I hadn't the bait for them! I never found them again. I'd love to fish the Leam again, have once but it was a dire day without bites. It was very deep, as you say.

    1. I'd never seen the like on a river, that I recall Jeff

      So many quality fish but I suppose in the former match fishing existence I would rarely have been on the river bank at dusk

      Let me know if you fancy a dabble sometime

  2. Love small rivers! Had some happy days on the River Mease with some big chub, including what is still my PB at 5lb 15oz, sadly all long gone.

    1. They're incredibly intriguing are't they Ian? So unpredictable and diverse. Unlike the big rivers in all respects, but of course they are enjoyable too in a different way

      I'm hoping this might be another cycle occurring before my very eyes and in not too many years time the Leam might again start producing real specimens again, but if not it's all good stuff anyway

  3. It's nice to read a report on that stretch George and it was good to meet you too - if only briefly.

    It's an intriguing bit of water and there's plenty of variety to go at across the various access points. I just find that deep section to be such a draw though.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your sessions down there. Lots to discover I'm sure...

    1. See below Sean something went wrong with lack of wifi there!

  4. Looks an interesting bit of river George, look forward to hearing your reports. I spotted some topping roach down the cut recently, never seen it before but plan to try for them when I get a chance

    1. If those roach were where I think they might be (i.e. your zander haunt) then I understand there are pound-plus fish to be had, so well worth shot...but then any canal where zander are well established is now worth a look these days, for sure

    2. Not the usual area I fish for Zander George but not far away to be honest, well about 5 or so miles away. I'm planning to hedge my bets and try for Roach as well as the Zander if I do go and try for them.

      I really do need to give the Leam more of a go. Probably needs my full time attention though, that's the issue. It's certainly got plenty of potential. The Warwickshire Stour is very similar to be honest, some stupdily deep swims despite being narrow and I've had some half decent Roach from there. If I do go again I'd probably try at Offchurch.

  5. Yes, great to meet you Sean. We ought to organise bumping into each other properly in future so we have more time!

    Another afternoon down there today with the littl'un added to the fast growing database but I'm looking forward to your next update first. I've a sneaking suspicion you might have had a fruitful few hours