I had no idea this day would turn out like it did.
We returned from our family holiday on Sunday evening and my car was booked in for a service and MOT at the garage in Berkswell first thing Monday morning. Naturally I rustled up some tackle, called in at Lanes on the way over and after booking the car in walked around the corner to Lavender Hall premier mixed coarse fishery.
Amazingly the tub of worms I'd left amongst compost in my fridge were still alive and kicking after a fortnight of neglect. I opened the lid with some trepidation - raise your hand if you've ever had a 'bait tub surprise' at some point in your angling life. I removed the layer of fungus from the top of the compost to find the wrigglers huddled together in a corner for warmth. Armed with these, a bag of prawns and a pint of reds I intended to grind out a perch point from the commercial. Fifty two-ouncers should do it.
I bought a ticket at the cafe, asked the lady which pool was most likely and set up a short pole.
Maggots brought bites straight away and I caught rudd, roach and a couple of small perch. A worm wasn't taken so readily but did seem to differentiate the perch as I had a couple more. The only thing I caught on prawns were good sized roach - worth remembering for the inevitable winter trips to the Coventry canal.
|A Golden Rudd.|
At eleven thirty the day had warmed and I wasn't catching at anywhere near the desired rate so a change of pool was in order. Also, feeding maggots now had the water boiling with rudd and skimmers. I caught a few to check out whether there were any perch amongst them.
I weighed in my perch for only four ounces.
|Heavy duty 'perch' carrier bag.|
At the second nearby pool I fed only a few prawns into the margin and fished a worm on the hook to start with. First put in and a sail away bite saw me connected with a carp which had me adding sections and then holding the pole aloft for ten minutes whilst it tired itself out. Waiter! This is not what I ordered.
I caught two more small perch for about two ounces, two other carp, a gudgeon and two more decent roach (on prawn again) and looked at my watch. Twelve thirty. Things were not going to plan.....not going to plan at all.
In a fit of pique I made a snap decision. I reckoned I had four hours before my car would be ready and so packed up my tackle and headed back to the cafe. I'd read about Danny's bullhead point with interest and he was gentlemanly enough to share the location of his glorious capture with the rest of us challengers. I mean, Berkswell, Hampton in Arden, Barston, Solihull, Wolverhampton: they're all in this general direction aren't they. I would march to bullhead paradise under my own steam!
The lady at the cafe gave me a sideways look when I stood with rod quiver, tackle bag and bait bucket and asked for directions to the tiny stream. Not three hours ago I'd handed over seven quid to fish her premier mixed coarse fishery and now I was carping about the lack of perch and asking for hiking directions to a nearby ditch.
I'd forgotten my phone in the melee to get out of the house and so set off in the glorious weather on hoof and uncontactable. Totally untethered for half a day.
I walked with a spring in my step and saw some things.
The cafe lady reckoned my destination was two miles away. I've since googled the route and it's exactly four! I asked a number of people for directions along the way and just outside Barston village a farmer eventually stopped laughing and gave me a lift for the last leg in his pick-up.
|The downstream Police Anglers trout stocked stretch.|
|Tommy logge Nirvana|
There are two known hot pegs on this beat. I fished the one opposite 'Danny's'. If you look closely in the photo above you might be able to make out some rock gabions on the far bank. That's where Danny fished I think. I sat on the footpath and used only the top section of my pole as if I put a second on either the tip touched the far bank or the butt stuck out into the road where tractors were passing by.
Amazingly with the gear laid out on the concrete around me, every time a little person approached granny would tell them to, "Shush Barroi", or "Shush Spudulika, that man's fishing there". Who's mad now!? That's like seeing someone lining up a putt in the middle of town and shouting for shoppers to be quiet so he can concentrate on his shot. When granny went back to her car however I was overrun with the little ones wanting to see the endless minnows I was pulling out. There were plenty to go around. "Minnows for everyone!" was my cry.
It took me a while to suss out how to avoid the minnows (pin the bait to the deck by a rock) but once I had I got amongst the bullheads. I believe some of these fish could be repeat captures and so in true specimen hunter style have christened the biggest ones I caught.
|Notice the 'Featherlight A5' weigh sling (carrier bag) which is reserved for occasions such as these.|
I'd completely forgotten what these fish do when you try to get the hook out of their mouth. They flatten their head and jut out the tiny spikes on the ends of their gill plates in a kind of piscean 'brace position'. They clamp their mouths so tightly shut a disgorger was needed for every single one, just to open the jaw.
I had six bullheads for one ounce.
Given Danny had a dozen for between two and three ounces it looks like half a dozen to the ounce is about the going rate.
I packed up just after three o'clock and hiked back to the garage. I was back by four thirty.
There's a definite pang of guilt about pouncing so quickly on someone else's information and ground work. But what I'm not sure about is whether there is any redemption to be had in the eight mile hike in order to get this point? Does this effort tip the scales back in my favour or does it just plonk another kilo of bonkers on the other pan?
The others have been busy whilst I was away and so here are the challenge scores today: