Sunday 31st January, 09:15 - 12:45. River Sowe at the bottom of a school field with Jeff.
Apart from a few years away being educated and generally exploring I've lived on the East side of Coventry all my life. This means I've never been far from the River Sowe (with an 'E').
I played in trees by the river on 'Monkey Island' whilst I was in junior school and walked alongside it every day to get to senior school. I've seen friends overshoot the sledging slope and end up in it and caddied for my dad on a golf course which it runs through. I've seen the local rugby club's goat beheaded and floating in it the day after a particularly eventful derby game and I've surveyed and netted a Crucian Carp from it as part of my biology studies. I regularly stare into it when out on a walk with the family and in recent years I've wondered what it might hold.
One thing I'd never done however is cast a line into it.
Anglers always have species and venues competing for the attention of their imagination and although I've had space set aside to explore the Sowe for some time it had become overgrown and buried by a thousand other hair-brained schemes.
Reading about Jeff's catches in the rivers upper reaches and from a section appearing to amount to no more than a ditch I dusted off my plans and set about action. Before the eventual first cast of this trip I can honestly say I was genuinely excited. I have a growing sense that small waterways are something of a forgotten frontier of English fishing. It seems everyone I've talked to about this recently has a story of a stupendous Trout, Roach or Eel from a stream you can 'jump over'.
I recce'd the stretch of the Sowe at the back of Tescos on Clifford Bridge Road on Saturday afternoon but it was shallow and fast upstream of where Smite brook (exiting Coombe pool) piled in. It offered little by way of slower deeper pools. By this time I'd roped Jeff into the mission and reasoned there wasn't enough fishing here to keep us occupied for a morning.
I drove a little further downstream and took a look at a section which runs through a school field. Here the stream turned into a small river and things looked promising. I counted half a dozen spots in which I would fancy a dabble.
I met Jeff in Tescos car park the next morning and we made haste to the little river. Parking in a Close in front of peoples houses was a little un-nerving but I donned a hood, cap and sunglasses to avoid recognition. I is an urban fishing-man.
Jeff's already written about how he was undergunned with his eight foot wand, and when a gentle underarm swing with my eleven foot rod and 1g feeder hit the far bank with a 'sploosh' it started to feel like we were both out of sync with the river in front of us.
Jeff caught a Roach from the pool pictured above.
I had a crack on the pool which was by far the best pool on the stretch and had a bite within seconds. A small Chub resulted which for me was a momentous occasion.
Next cast and another bite which saw me briefly hook up with a larger chub perhaps 2lb+.
Now this is not a big fish by anyone's standards but the fact this was happening from a stream I've lived next to for so long had me reeling!
I could tell Jeff could see the potential of this tiny place and we both agreed our strategy: first see it down on it's bones in the clear water months to identify the pools holding the fish. Second, remember those spots and return next winter and throw up a few surprises.
ps. If you do live in my area - walk on by when you see the Sowe - please.