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
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