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Coombe Pool
@ :: UK Fisheries ::     Feb 12 2005, 07:39 (UTC+0)

Dtidmarsh writes: Coombe Country Park
Brinklow Road
near Coventry

Tel: 024 76453720
Fax: 024 76635350

Part of Coventry City Council's Leisure Services Department
Coombe Country Park, until recently better known as Coombe Abbey, has been a famous landmark on the outskirts of the city of Coventry since the current buildings were constructed between 1774 and 1777. The gardens, which were landscaped by Capability Brown, now form part of the extensive 500-acre country park, where visitors can idle the day away feeding the ducks or simply taking in the breathtaking view throughout the year.
Few of them can realise, however, that they are looking at one of the country's most renowned zander and bream fisheries.

Most of Coombe Country Park is regarded as Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and angling has to go hand-in-hand with nature conservation. For this reason only the half of the lake furthest away from the hotel is reserved for angling. However, when you consider Coombe Pool is the second largest expanse of still water in Warwickshire after Draycote Reservoir, this still gives anglers more than enough to go at. The fishery also observes the traditional closed season and closes on March the 14th to re-open again for angling on June 16th.

The lake is comprised of two banks. The public bank has 100 pegs and is open all season. The Lindley bank (is only accessible for season ticket holders or pre-booked matches) comprises 40 pegs. This bank is closed from September as it is a breeding habitat for rare shoveler ducks.

Coombe has a history of being an "all or nothing" water, where in the correct conditions large numbers of fish can be caught, however being in the wrong place can be the kiss of death. During the past few seasons, angler numbers have dropped off due to the easy fishing found elsewhere.

Those that have stuck it out at Coombe have often been rewarded with outsized fish. This is in part due to propblems with cormorants which has resulted in the fish stock becoming separated into two distinct groups - those bigger than Cormorant prey and those smaller. As a result, the fishery team at Coombe has developed a five-year management plan for the fishery, with emphasis on habitat creation and fish stock management and they hope this will help redress the balance.

During the closed season, fisheries enhancement work will be carried out on the fishery, in guidance with the fishery's management plan. As part of this plan, an artificial reef will be introduced to various areas of the fishery, this reef will comprise of gabions - metal wire mesh cages used for erosion stabilisation - tires and wooden structures called kackabunds. These will provide habitats for juvenile fish and invertebrates and provide additional features to fish to.

New for the 2002 season is Top-Pool, an existing lake on site which has suffered become increasingly silted up over the last few years. To make this water available to anglers, the lake was drained down and the surface treated with lime to allow the silt to breakdown. After flooding in mid-March, the lake was then stocked with silver fish plus a few Tench and Carp and is being developed as a junior fishery where youngsters can come and learn the skills of fishing.

It is also a credit to Coventry City Council that it still makes all this available at low cost to day ticket anglers, whilst season tickets are available for those who want to fish the water frequently or visit for longer stays.

Day Tickets (opens June 16)

Adults Passport to Leisure Juniors
Day Ticket 3.50 2.00 2.00

Season Tickets

Adults Passport to Leisure Juniors
Midweek days only 20.40 11.00 -
Full week - days only 32.60 16.00 16.00
24-hour ticket 65.00 32.60 -

Coombe Pool has a large population of Bream, mainly large individuals which are usually over the 4lb mark plus several specimens around 8lbs. The Bream are commonly found in a few large shoals which can provide anglers with great fishing if anglers can hold the shoal in their swim with copious amount of bait.
However, locating these shoals is often difficult and anglers should look for large areas of coloured water which is often caused where the shoal has been stirring up the bottom for food. Another common activity is rolling or "head and shouldering". This behaviour, which is more common at dawn and dusk, is associated with feeding in many species, and will give away the presence of the fish. Because the water is shallow at Coombe, the larger fish may also give their position away when feeding by having their backs or tails exposed.

During winter the fish will shoal more densely and location becomes more difficult. Smaller bream and hybrids often migrate towards the Smite Brooke in late winter and can regularly be seen from the footpath.

A lot of the smaller bream caught in the fishery are usually roach/bream hybrids, although silver bream have also been caught. True silver bream are considered quite rare in England as much of their true genetics have been contaminated by cross hybridisation. At Coombe Pool, several of the large breeding silver bream were used by the Environment Agency's fish farm at Calverton to successfully artificially spawn this species for the first time and thus allow for restocking into other waters. Due to the rarity of the fish, Coombe Pool is one of the only waters in England that gives the angler a realistic chance of catching a true specimen.

Fishing for bream at Coombe can be extremely good, with bags of fish caught regularly to nearly 100lb in weight. However, because of the size of the water, location of the shoals can be very difficult. The key to success at Coombe is firstly to locate the fish and then feed them.

There are no favoured "bream pegs" as the shoals move around the lake depending on conditions. Try and fish a windward bank, or anywhere where the water is coloured and stirred up. Once a shoal is located, it is important to have enough bait to hold the hungry shoal in your swim for as long as possible. If the food source runs out, it is likely that the fish will move on.

Ground bait is usually used with lots of squats, pinkies, maggots, castors, hemp, sweet corn, chopped worm and such like. By using lots of food particles, the bream shoal will stay in the swim for longer as they search through the silt for food.

Fishing is often done at long range, usually by swimfeeder, using either a swing-tip, quiver-tip or a bite alarm. The rigs are simple - a 3lb main line with the feeder on either a four turn water knot or a standard loop set-up. Experiment with the length of the tail, although three to five feet is standard.

Accurate casting is also a must at Coombe. Casting can be made easier by incorporating a stop knot on your line for reference, or alternatively using the bait clip on the reel as a casting stop - although heavy lines are required for this approach.

Feeding at this range can be tricky and several anglers use either bait boats or bait scoops to get large quantities of ground bait out to the hookbait. Hookbaits can be anything contained in the ground bait mix, though it is usual to use small red worms or maggots.

Care should be taken when using keepnets for big bags of Bream, two or more nets should be used for large catches. Also because the lake is quite shallow, care must be taken in the positioning of keepnets. As a rule, try and position keepnets in deep water that is well shaded to avoid stress to the fish and use unhooking mats for large specimens and large catches of fish, especially on the hard ground of the dam wall.

Popular pegs are one to 25 - although they do involve a fairly long walk - whilst those in the 80s and 90s by the weed beds also fish well. Whichever you choose, they all respond to the same methods.

Although large, Coombe Pool is shallow at little more than four feet at its deepest. However, because of its size there can often be an undertow, so fish over depth but as light as you can. Feed little and often, but be accurate.

If you're after a mixed bag of fish then look no further than the pegs in the 70s, 80s and 90s. There's plenty of variety here and plenty of features to fish to such as lilies or the reedbed at the fishery entrance. It is here where the tench have been showing well in recent years and there's always the chance of one or two decent crucians as well. These pegs can be float fished or you can go for the feeder, but the same rule applies about accurate feeding and casting.

Specimen hunters have been targeting Coombe for many years now but have really been reaping the rewards in recent seasons with carp to over 30lbs and a zander just two ounces short of the British rod caught record.

Zander were illegally introduced into Coombe around the mid 70's and since then have grown at a tremendous rate, the largest recorded specimen tipped the scales at 19lbs 4oz - just two ounces short of the British rod-caught record. Last season, the largest fish reported weighed in at 16lb 6oz. The average zander size has been recorded at 8lbs, although it is common for season ticket holders to regularly take fish over 10lbs, making Coombe Pool the place to go for a realistic chance of catching a truly massive zander.

However, to be successful for zander you normally have to at night, which requires a Full Season Ticket. Small fresh water fish baits are commonly used, both live and dead. With regard to rigs, most zander caught at Coombe are taken on simple running rigs. The secret is to minimise resistance to the fish as they are a very shy-biting species and often drop the bait if they feel the resistance of a heavy lead and line.

A lot of the zander are caught on pegs 1 to 44, often at very long range with baits usually being dropped off by bait boat. The lake can be quite shallow and featureless, so the fish can be anywhere, although bank-side overhanging trees are a common fishing feature. The fishing is usually better when the water is coloured with the majority of fish coming out during the early winter months.

Pike are also one of the main species, along with zander, that attract anglers to Coombe Pool. There are several big fish in the lake with a few running to over 25lbs in weight. However, there are also numerous smaller fish, the average size being around 8lb, which gives the angler a good chance of catching whatever the weather conditions with the added bonus of a chance of a really big pike. The Pike Anglers Club often hold junior fish-ins at the venue, teaching young anglers how to safely fish for pike, as it offers easy fishing and a good environment for the young angler.

What is the largest pike to come out of Coombe? Well, several 25lb fish have been reported this year and as one famous pike angler once said, "If Coombe can produce zander to nearly 20lbs, think how big the Pike could go!"

Pike angling starts in earnest in October, with many bream and carp anglers turning their attention to the species. The first few weeks in tend to be the most productive, however, as we all know pike don't like pressure, and often after the initial success of the early winter, the pike migrate up the lake or become a lot harder to catch.

Favourite swims are the first few pegs near the reedbed, small fish are often herded by the Pike and Zander into this area in the winter, and if the small fish are there, the Pike and Zander are often there as well. The Pike in Coombe tend to be very nomadic, maybe due to the featureless lake bed, therefore, when fishing, the roving approach is advisable, swim hopping until the fish are found.

Obviously before fishing for Pike, anglers should be aware of how to properly hold and unhook the species, if in doubt ask another experienced angler, or alternatively book on one of the many Pike fish-ins that are held in conjunction with the Pike Anglers Club.

Anglers should also have the correct fishing gear for the species, especially a large 42" landing net minimum, a long unhooking mat, a pair of forceps and a pair of wire cutters. When Pike fishing it is vitally important to use a wire trace, this stops the pike's teeth from cutting through the line. The trace should be a minimum of 18in long and made of 20lb wire.

Most baits will catch pike from Coombe, spinners and plugs work well as the water is relatively shallow. Dead baits also often work well, with large pieces of smelly fish like mackerel or sardines accounting for a large number of the bigger pike. As the water is quite large, it is important to attract the fish to your swim. Some anglers do this by 'glugging' or injecting their baits with various types of fish oil or amino acids dips before casting out. Float fishing for pike is rarely used at Coombe as most anglers, when using dead baits, use running ledger rigs with light leads on the lead link, allowing it to rest in the silt and not pull the bait in to it.

When it comes to carp, Coombe carp are a difficult fish to catch. However, because the stocking rate is relatively low, with approximately only 50 fish, most of these are large with the majority weighing over 25lbs and several, including commons, over 30lbs in weight.

Because of the low density rate, few anglers actively fish for carp at Coombe and the fish that are caught each year tends to come to the same few season ticket holders. Most of the carp are caught at night, due to the clarity of the water, with the majority coming to large beds of bait over a period of nights. Stalking is also a successful method, especially around the tree branches and margins along the Lindley bank when this is open for fishing.

Beds of hemp seed, chopped boilies, particles and trout pellets all help to stop the nomadic carp in their tracks. Due to the silty nature of many areas, pop-ups that are critically balanced should be used. If your bait comes back smelling of silt this is a good indication that you are fishing in the wrong area. By careful plumbing and leading around, hard areas of clay can be found and these are the spots to fish. In the summer a large proportion of the lake is covered in lily beds and obviously these are often a good area to fish to or to fish on in the winter when they have died back. Hookbaits should be large - over 25mm to avoid bream and tench.

As part of the pool's management plan for the water, 26 lenny strain fish have been purchased and these are at present resident in one of the stock ponds prior to putting in the lake once they reach the 20lb plus mark.

When it comes to other species, there's more to Coombe Pool than just swimfeeders and deadbaits. Float anglers also catch well and many season ticket holders do nothing else, choosing to fish the waggler with hemp and casters.

Although large, Coombe Pool is shallow at little more than four feet at its deepest. However, because of its size there can often be an undertow, so fish over depth but as light as you can. Feed little and often, but be accurate. If you're after a mixed bag of fish then look no further than the pegs in the 70s, 80s and 90s. There's plenty of variety here and plenty of features to fish to such as lilies or the reedbed at the fishery entrance. It is here where the tench are often caught and there's always the chance of one or two decent crucians as well. Roach and skimmer bream are often caught in the margins using simple float techniques, maggots or bread being the best bait.

Coombe Pool is a noted match fishery and is now open to all clubs. The Lindley bank has 40 pegs and can be booked for 143 for Coventry clubs and by clubs from outside the City for 204. The Public Bank can be booked at 3.50 per peg plus a 15 booking fee. To book an event please telephone 024 76453720 or e-mail:
Special arrangements can also be made for larger events.

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