This tale is another example of how forums, or at least, Fly Fishing Forums, can work.
After a number of attempts at identifying a likely stream in this industrial area, I connected with thetrouttickler, who introduced me to the River Cole, because in December 2010, he was one of three local anglers who worked with the WTT, for whom Paul Gaskell conducted a Site Visit and wrote up his findings in a fascinating report which he, Justin, shared with me. It was known that the odd trout had been caught from the Cole, and Paul’s report directed me to where it was more likely that I might. Both Justin, and his companion angler, Steve Williams offered to accompany me, which was comforting because both warned me that the river flows through a less than desirable part of the country, “The Cole can otherwise flow through some pretty built up and dodgy urban areas”….he wrote, and I should take note that in such a deprived area, Tonka, certainly would attract attention!
As, I imagine might a wadered individual….
So when I received a further email from thetrouttickler, which told me with some excitement that there might be another option, it was here, where I began to focus.
April 2012 – the Blythe
The Blythe is a lowland river in the Midlands which runs from Warwickshire, through the borough of Solihull and on to Coleshill. It runs along the Meriden Gap in the Midlands Plateau, is fed by the River Cole and is a tributary of the Tame, and it joins the Trent on its way to the North Sea at Humberside. It is considered to be one of the cleanest rivers in England.
Running over clay, it is not a typical trout stream, and is known to hold a good head of tench, bream, rudd and barbel.
My venue was a stretch running through the land occupied by the West Midlands Golf Club, which thetrouttickler advised – “I don’t think the Blythe is a natural trout water, or the most perfect water for trout, but people do stock it…” He continued – “The river has a coarse feel to it – slow and deep- but then there are shallower sections with riffle and gravel beds”
On arrival, I met the truly helpful, Nigel Harrhy. He advised that few fished the river. Also, that the beat upstream, leased to West Midlands Police, was stocked, as was the beat downstream, adjacent to the fabled Forest of Arden Golf Club, so why, he argued would some trout not migrate into his beat, which he does not stock. And that he could not remember trout being caught, or at least for a while! But I was there, so I had to try! And with a modestly priced day ticket, I was about to, with only similarly modest expectations, after my chat with Nigel.
The afternoon started sunny.
A walk to the bottom of the beat showed a gravelly run, and I optimistically tied on an Adams and began casting, but into a downstream wind which made presentation hard and often the fly landed my side of the fly line! But I sensed, nor saw any fish of any description, so walked upstream. Entering the water at the end of runs and casting into them I spooked a couple of fish which may have been chub, and amused some carp anglers on the adjacent Barston Lakes who told me there were no fish in the river anyway, but generously wished me “Tight lines , Mate” and went back to kneading boilies (or whatever they do!).
The weather was deteriorating a little, as I spied a likely run.
Here the river bends a little between two trees, runs over a gravel bar where it remains shallow to its left hand side, but has a hole under the roots of the stand of alder to its right hand side, and a back eddy just ahead of the same hole, where I noted a couple of little swirls. The waters shallow again down the length of the pool from whence I cast, up into the gravels where the pheasant tail nymph would sink, before tumbling along the bottom of the hole where I thought there might be a fish, or one lurking in the roots of the alder…
Only two or three casts later, a tug , a pull, a short struggle and a fish into the net…a chub of about ¾ lb.
But still, I wondered, might there be what I am seeking in the same spot!?
So I cast a few more times, getting as close to the roots, as a growing wind would allow…until ‘Bang!’ and a take of an altogether, much more aggressive type. This chap did not fight like a brown, though, no waggling of the head, rather, and whatever it was, it torpedoed down the pool towards and past me, and headed to some roots. Leaning my rod to my left to apply a lot of side strain to keep him from the woody comfort, the 7ft, 4wt. Loomis bent alarmingly, more from my determination to get the fellow than his size, and when he came to the surface, I smiled a rainbow smile, as I realised I had another ‘county’ and a fish of about 2lbs.
Two more fish, small dace, and the weather which was ‘threatening’ all afternoon, finally collapsed, and the rains returned, for which I was pleased. Eight to go, and Tonka, intact!