Sil­vers in the city – Lu­cas Gough

Stowe Pool reser­voir in the mid­dle of Lich­field is a haven for a va­ri­ety of sil­ver species. Lo­cal man Lu­cas Gough shows how to catch them

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Front Page - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Tony Grig­or­jevs

TAKE a trip to a scenic reser­voir and the travel direc­tions will most likely make for in­ter­est­ing read­ing. Of­ten lo­cated in re­mote ar­eas of the coun­try­side, the fi­nal ap­proach to these wa­ters can be a real chal­lenge as you weave along tiny lanes barely wide enough to ac­com­mo­date a re­mote con­trolled car! And it’s un­likely to be the end of your ad­ven­tures once you’ve nav­i­gated the tracks – a long and tire­some walk to the pegs is pretty much a cer­tainty. Sadly, this is­sue of ac­cess is too much for some peo­ple. De­spite hav­ing a de­sire to tar­get wild fish against a stun­ning back­drop, they opt for a com­mer­cial due to the ease of en­try. Stafford­shire’s Stowe Pool has many hall­marks of an un­der­fished reser­voir. But there is one ma­jor dif­fer­ence – it’s in the mid­dle of a city.

The 14-acre fish­ery lies within the shadow of some of Lich­field’s most stun­ning ar­chi­tec­ture, with the fa­mous cathe­dral that has been stand­ing for over 700 years loom­ing over the venue. De­spite be­ing lo­cated within a stone’s throw of the hus­tle and bus­tle, it has mag­i­cally man­aged to cre­ate its own at­mos­phere, with a calm and re­lax­ing en­vi­ron­ment on its banks. The qual­ity of fish­ing is a mys­tery to most, but there are a few an­glers that are well aware of its po­ten­tial. These peo­ple will gladly use a plethora of su­perla­tives from the dic­tionary - which just hap­pens to have been a cre­ation of Lich­field’s most fa­mous for­mer res­i­dent, Dr Sa­muel John­son - to de­scribe the venue.

Stowe Pool praise

Born and raised in the lo­cal area, Lu­cas Gough is one of those who is de­ter­mined to help raise the pro­file of Stowe. Over the years he has built up a pas­sion for it, and when you find out what it is ca­pa­ble of you can’t blame him. “Not many an­glers re­alise just how good Stowe Pool is,” ex­plains Lu­cas. “It is teem­ing with

“There is no rea­son why you can’t put to­gether over 60lb of sil­ver fish in a day’s sport”

qual­ity sil­ver fish in­clud­ing big roach, skim­mers and perch to over 3lb. Spec­i­men an­glers are also in for a treat, as there are some huge carp that go to around 30lb.” Fish­able on a £7 day-ticket, it’s only a short walk to any­where on the venue with nu­mer­ous car parks and road­side verges to leave your ve­hi­cle. There are no per­ma­nent pegs, although you have the op­tion of sit­ting on top of the con­crete bank or get­ting slightly fur­ther away from pedes­tri­ans by us­ing a plat­form in the mar­gins. Although it is based in the heart of the city, there is a safe feel to it, with anti-so­cial be­hav­iour a rare oc­cur­rence. “I’ve fished in lots of dif­fer­ent places and there aren’t many where you feel as safe as you do at Stowe. The walk­ers and other passers-by are al­ways friendly and you never fear for your safety or tackle.”

Stuffed with sil­ver fish

Once you get down to the fish­ing you will have an ar­ray of depths to ex­plore, with the lake grad­u­ally deep­en­ing as you head away from the cathe­dral end. “It drops off to well be­yond 20ft at its deep­est. At this time of year, though, the fish much pre­fer to be in the slightly shal­lower wa­ter. “That said, the pole line still has around 10ft, go­ing down to around 14ft on the feeder line.” Hav­ing set up his sturdy plat­form in 3ft of wa­ter when the IYCF cam­eras joined him, Lu­cas set his sights on cov­er­ing all op­tions. This is by no means a wa­ter where one species dom­i­nates with an oc­ca­sional sur­prise show­ing up. A mixed bag of roach, big skim­mers, perch and maybe tench can be ex­pected. “It re­ally keeps you on your toes as to what you will hook next so it is im­por­tant to be ver­sa­tile with your tac­tics so that you don’t re­duce your chances of tempt­ing a cer­tain species. “If you get your tac­tics right then there is no rea­son why you can’t put to­gether over 60lb of sil­ver fish in a day’s sport.”

Stop them in their tracks

With no ob­vi­ous fea­tures for the fish to con­gre­gate around, they tend to spend their time cruis­ing up and down the lake. It is not un­usual to have a slow start, but once they rock up it is time to make the most of some fan­tas­tic sport. “You need to put down plenty of bait on all your lines to keep the fish in your peg. If you feed spar­ingly they will quickly hoover ev­ery­thing up and move on.” Mag­gots, cast­ers and hemp are the trio of loose­feed, with a flavour­some ground­bait also play­ing a key part. Lu­cas uses an even blend of Sen­sas Gros Gar­dons Brune, Gros Gar­dons Tra­di­tional, Black Lake and brown crumb to get a dark colour that is packed with at­trac­tants. “I start by us­ing a large feeder to get plenty of bait down in the early stages but I reg­u­larly change the style and size of feeder to moder­ate how much bait is go­ing in. “The pole line also re­ceives sev­eral big balls of ground­bait at the start and I cat­a­pult cast­ers and hemp to top up.” As pre­dicted, sport was far from fran­tic from the open­ing cast but small perch did at least give the rod tip some early ac­tion. Com­pletely un­de­terred, Lu­cas reg­u­larly topped up both his 14m pole line and the feeder zone at 30m and felt con­fi­dent the bait would even­tu­ally be dis­cov­ered. A much more ten­ta­tive take af­ter an hour was met with a plod­ding re­sis­tance – the first skim­mer of the day was on. Play­ing it care­fully to get it away from the shoal, it was soon in the net. “It’s very rare for you just catch one skim­mer – they usu­ally ar­rive in big num­bers so I want to get back out there as quickly as pos­si­ble.” That the­ory proved was spot-on, and a run of big skim­mers were soon in the keep­net. When they did even­tu­ally back off, a quick top-up tempted them back in no time at all. Although the long pole line pro­duced a few qual­ity roach and chunky perch, it didn’t hit top gear on the day but that didn’t dampen Lu­cas’s sat­is­fac­tion as he proudly smiled be­hind a 30lb net of glis­ten­ing sil­vers. “It is such a spe­cial venue that I can’t speak highly enough of it. Stowe Pool isn’t on the radar of many an­glers but its cur­rent form and large fish stocks are def­i­nitely go­ing to change that now.”

Swap­ping between feed­ers of dif­fer­ent sizes to moder­ate the amount of feed is key at Stowe

This beau­ti­fully coloured perch was the first fish of the day to pull Lu­cas’ tip round

A run of big skim­mers were caught on the feeder line

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