Sunday 19 January 2020

The River Leam - Crow Fairs and Crook Shanks

Four years ago or so the the Rocket pub near Coventry railway station that was boarded up for a good few years, started to be flattened as part of the regeneration work around the station for the Friargate development.

Now back in the 80s the pub, in Warwick Road, was opposite Horizon Studios and was often frequented by 2-Tone legends such as The Specials, The Beat and Madness. It was a pub whenever there was a top sporting event on we used to always go to.

The last gathering I can remember vividly, it was for the 2003 Rugby World Cup final where a big group of us descended to the back of the pub where the biggest screen was and the early drinking commenced.

The atmosphere like it always was there was superb, and as the game panned out the friendly banter and the general ambience was heightened to new levels.

One problem though, yeap the sound delay, you see the front of the pub was obviously watching a different stream or channel, and they were a good few seconds ahead of us in the prime area with the big screen at the back, the better ales on tap.

So when Jonny Wilkinson lined up the iconic kick, stuck with his weaker right foot, in the final seconds of extra time, we heard the roar before he actually kicked it. 

A climax and delayed reaction beyond our control !!!!

To be fair it wasn't at all marred,because the victory over Australia by 20 points to 17 was one of the best sporting moment I've been witness to.

His kick the glorious end-product of thousands of hours of kicking practice and meant an overwhelming feeling of elation for me and the other fans that had watched it.

Another good pub banished to the history books though, that's never a good thing.

Now talking about delayed reaction dace can give very confident bites indeed when using a quiver but fast taper, slow taper, glass or carbon, it's surprising just how different bites are registered depending on the tip you use.

I've found that often you need to be quick on the strike as they can be finicky biters and often you strike in to nothing if your reaction is too slow.

After breaking my wand rod a couple of weekends ago for this morning's session at the WBAS section of the river Leam, it was out with the 1.2oz test-curve TFG River and Stream rod. Combined with a centrepin it's a lovely rod and shame it's discontinued, in-fact I like it so much I'm on the look out for another to add to the collection.

Bread and maggots would be the main stay for this session, with liquidised bread in the feeder, the visit to the stream last time the dace really gave good confident bites on the bread and that was what I wanted. The quick change bead allowed me to change hook-link easily, so whilst it was rigged initially with a lighter set-up for the dace I wanted to target.

The few times I've fished it I've found a nice stamp of dace that seem to reside in swims where you cannot see the bottom, the deep holes basically.

However the good thing about a quick change link is that I could change the hook-link for a now discontinued paste cage. Now there is one swim in-particular where the bigger Chub seem to reside and after having a hook pull last time here on a lighter set-up, something more suitable was needed if a decent Chevin was hooked in this relatively open body of water. In-fact it was fitted with the paste cage first off because that was the first swim I'd fish.

Now it's a characterful stretch this, tight bends, a big pool, undercuts, holes, shallow faster areas and in places the river is jumpable with a short run-up even an old duffer like me could manage. Rivers like this don't tend to have the biggest of fish admittedly but for me I'd rather be fishing this sort or venue, rather than chucking big leads in to the Trent. Diminutive the better for me, but there are still some nice fish to be caught.

When actor and filmmaker George Burton and I fished this section 12 months back he had his PB dace whilst I was having a natter when our paths crossed. Small waters many overlook but there are some gems to be had, some roving to be done.

Now my PB dace came from a tiny Warwickshire stream that has been forgotten in so many ways, even smaller than this stretch of the Leam in size. Sometimes though fish seek sanctuary away from the main river in times of high water, so to be honest, for me anyway, not a huge surprise.

I'm always looking for the next fix though, small rivers define me as an angler I'd say, and given the choice, the Avon or its veins and tributaries, it would always be the latter, especially if it's just me roving and dropping in to any swim I want. Why venues like this have fallen out of favour I don't know, what's not to like, ok bites maybe not forthcoming like a mud puddle but come on, fishing to me and those from days gone by the location can be just as appealing as what fish you're likely to catch.

Now prior to this morning session there was some heavy'ish rain during the start of the week and the river was fining down after being over its banks so when I got to the river it was more coloured than I'd like. To be fair I've never had a problem catching dace and to be fair chub in conditions like this, so I wasn't that concerned about the river I was about to tackle.

Anyway back to the session !!!!

What a lovely morning, a hard frost with the sun trying its best to burn through the fog that was clinging on to the best of its ability. I headed straight to the chub pool but to be honest despite fishing a couple of spots the water was probably a little high, the surface was bubbling and boiling in most of it so the Chevin wouldn't really have time to relax.

George was at the bottom of the stretch and not long in to the session had picked up a couple of Chub to nearly 3lb on a lobworm tail, so the fish were feeding for sure. I started to make my way down to George and fished a few swims on the way managing some roach and small dace on liquidised bread in the feeder and maggot on the hook.

The river was just the wrong side of chocolate and when the sun came up the skies blue the bites dried up. Even two swims I primed with bread and paste freebies were fishless. I persevered in one of the swims and had a couple more small roach that really banged the quiver tip but to be honest it was tough going.

Another couple of days without rain it will probably be perfect. Still some fish were caught, and when I landed a bullhead on the last caught that gave a couple of rattles on the tip, it certainly wasn't a wasted morning, sometime when the conditions are like this, it's just nice being out.


  1. Bullhead are a species I seldom caught, truly prehistoric looking!

    1. Certainly lots of character James, Sam and I had caught multiple ones once when using a float under a bridge, proper aggressive they were, like small perch

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