The rods had to come with me on my latest trip to the Cotswolds, there was never any doubt or questions asked by you know who. The hunt was on for a suitable venue that allowed catch and release as I was in the area for a weekend break. I was encouraged by “she who must be obeyed”, who allowed me to have a couple of hours casting practice en route to our destination of Bidford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. A little bit of research beforehand led me to believe there wasn’t a great choice of fly fishing venues in the locality, so a little deviation from our chosen route to our bed & breakfast guest house took us to Worcester and a little venue called Bransford Game Fishery, http://bransfordgame.com/fly-fishing-in-worcester/ just south west of the city.
It was a glorious day, bright blue sky with very little wind, the first for many a while, noticeably so by the height of the river Severn where it had burst its banks and flooded several nearby fields. Pulling up in to the neatly gravelled driveway, the owner of the fishery greeted us on our arrival and confirmed that we had brought the good weather with us as they hadn’t seen the sun for ages and it had been raining every day for a at least a week.
Normally the three pools on the site were clear, being all spring fed from either a surface spring or subterranean reservoir of Malvern spring water. The deluge of rain over recent days had turned the water very coloured causing the high turbidity and maintaining the low winter temperatures.
I was advised by the owner to fish deep using a black and green Montana nymph, but I was not to go below 5lb breaking strain leader as there were some hefty Brown’s lurking in the depths of the catch and release pool. But at the same time however, not to go too heavy with a big rod as the pool was less than an acre in size and only 10ft deep. The dilemma was already set upon me as I chose my #7 rod with a floating line over my #5 9ft rod, thinking I could change to a sinking line if needed.
As I was setting up, the fishery keeper came up to me and advised on using a large black snake or leach type fly. The bigger the better he told me. Yet another dilemma and I hadn’t even started yet!! I decided to use the largest black Cats Whisker I had in my box. It was middle for diddle at 2 and a half inches long.
I bid the wife farewell as she settled down to a brew in front of the shyly equipped fisherman’s lodge, but there were clean wash room facilities which pleased the lady in waiting.
As I approached the c&r pool an angler was playing a fish and proudly announced it was his seventh of the morning on a small “white” Cats Whisker.
So, there I was on a venue I had never been to before and met three people who had given me three different tips on which fly to use. At least they all agreed on fishing deep being the best bet as I saw a fish take a hatching midge on the surface. Isn’t angling such a clear cut and decisive sport…NOT!!
There were no casting platforms on the c&r pool so it was a case of finding a clear-ish spot in between the dead stalks of the previous years weed growth. Can’t make life too easy for us anglers can you fishery owners!!
My first cast was toward the island, allowing the CW to sink for a few seconds before retrieving with a steady pull. Apparently, according to my fellow angler on the other side, the pool is over stocked and I shouldn’t have any problems in getting a few. Yes, well, I know, I know, what you’re thinking before you read any more…. You will bet a pound to a pinch of poo that I blanked!! Well, I didn’t see…. on my second cast I hit a solid take and my first rainbow of the session came to the net. Not a huge fish by any standards but it was a fish. Relieved that at least I was not going to blank, I cast to the same spot and had another one of similar size, around the 1lb and a half mark. The other angler cockily shouted to me “see, I told you it was overstocked”. Hahaha!! As he failed to catch again for ages. My wife had seen the activity of my rod bending and came over to take a few photo’s. Instantly I was into another fish that came splashing to the net without much of a fight and this scrawny looking, half starved rainbow was lunged in front of the camera lens before being put back to fatten up on whatever natural food was in the pool. Not a lot I would imagine by the looks of all the other fish I caught.
All the fish had empty bellies and must have been desperate for food. I stayed with using the large black CW for another half an hour. Almost every cast thereafter I was getting nips at the fly until I was getting a little bored with chucking and chancing, and my concentration dwindled as an over exuberant cast sent my CW into the tree on the island and I am sure it is where it is to this day. I thought about finishing off then as I hadn’t any other CW’s on me because I had left them in the car in the lure box, so I went back to the wife who to my amazement said, “Have you finished already”? Oh! OK! “I’ll tie a smaller CW on and see if all the nips I was getting produce fish”. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, I was always told. “Come on then, bring the camera” I said, as she followed me back to the pool. 4 casts produced 2 more fish, the largest being this 4lber.
This rainbow would have easily gone 5lb if there was a plentiful supply of food in the water but it was clearly an over wintered fish showing it had been living off its own fat reserves for several months. At least it was obvious the fishery does not feed its stock, unlike some.
So job done then and another venue can be ticked off from the endless list of UK fisheries I shall need to visit whilst gracing the planet with my presence.
In summary, I enjoyed the couple of hours at the venue, landing 6 rainbows and had dozens of nips on the larger CW, so it definitely pays to go smaller if you want to catch fish all day long. There is an indisputable amount of fish in the c&r pool and given the time and inclination it’s definitely a bagging water, if, unlike me, you don’t get bored of “JUST CATCHING”.