Bream fishing at Coombe Pool
Coombe Pool has a large population of bream, usually between 6lbs and 11lbs. These fish are commonly found in a few large shoals which can provide anglers with great fishing if they can hold the shoal in their swim with copious amount of bait.
Locating these shoals is the angler's first challenge and they should keep their eyes open for large areas of coloured water which is often caused when a 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 fish. Because the water is shallow at Coombe - generally only about four feet deep - the larger fish may also give their position away when feeding by having their backs or tails exposed.
Fishing for bream at Coombe can be extremely good, with bags of fish caught regularly to nearly 100lbs and sometimes 200lbs when anglers get it right. 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 to 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.
Groundbait is usually used with lots of squats, pinkies, maggots, casters, 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.
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 to successfully artificially spawn this species for the first time and thus allow stocking in other waters. Due to the rarity of the fish, Coombe Pool is one of the few waters in England that gives the angler a realistic chance of catching a true specimen.
Fishing is often done at long range, usually by swimfeeder using either a swing-tip, quiver-tip or 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 on the Dam Wall bank are numbers 1 to 7 and on the Woodland bank numbers 1 to 25. However, anglers are advised that fishing the Woodland bank involves a fairly long walk. Whichever bank you choose, they all respond to the same methods.
Zander and pike fishing at Coombe
Specimen zander and pike hunters have been targeting Coombe for many years but have really been reaping rewards in recent seasons. Zander, illegally introduced into Coombe around the mid 70's, have grown at a tremendous rate and the biggest to come out so far was over 19lbs. In recent years several other fish in the 16lb range have been caught, although the average size is generally around 8lbs with fish to over 10lbs regularly being taken. This makes 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 fish at night, which requires a Full Season Ticket. Small freshwater 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.
The majority of zander are caught on the Woodland Bank 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.
What is the largest pike to come out of Coombe? Well, several 20lb to 26lb fish come out each year and as one well-known 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 October tend to be the most productive. However, 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 and the last few pegs on the dam wall. 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, a 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. Fishery Officer Jake Davoile is always on hand to help out and give advice when required.
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 with spinners and plugs working well as the water is relatively shallow. Dead baits also often work well with large pieces of smelly fish like mackerel or sardines taking a large number of the bigger pike. As the water is 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 acid dips before casting out. Float fishing for the predators is rarely used 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.
Big carp fishing at Coombe
When it comes to carp, Coombe carp can be difficult to catch. However, because the stocking rate is relatively low at about 150 fish, most are large with the majority weighing over 20lbs with mirrors to 34lbs and commons to 39lbs being caught.
Because Fishery Officer Jake Davoile spends most of his working days alongside the lake he knows what it holds.
He said: "The big common to come out in 2012 is almost certainly one of two huge commons that I see every year in the close season. There is also a massive fully-scaled mirror and a sparsely scaled leviathan. The last confirmed capture of the fully scaled was in the mid nineties when it was weighed at 27lbs!"
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 beds of lily pads on the dam wall.
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, stocking small numbers of quality carp continues. The largest of the commons stocked in 2003 came out in 2012 at 35lbs! Furthermore, the most recent fish are doing well with one known to have put on 10lbs in two years. These are the future big fish of the pool. Although stocking levels have been increased, the aim has been to provide challenging traditional estate lake carp fishing at a reasonable cost.
Tench, roach and crucians
When it comes to other species, there's more to Coombe Pool than bream, zander, pike and carp. The tench fishing has been fantastic over the past couple of seasons with superb conditioned fish to 9lbs being caught.
Look no further than the lily pads early on in the season for the larger specimens which can be caught close in on the float or further out in open water on the feeder.
There are also other species in Coombe that seem to get overlooked. Huge shoals of roach and rudd inhabit the lake and can be caught fishing the waggler with hemp, casters and maggots.
Also, if you can find them, there are some incredible crucians to be caught with fish to 4lbs 8oz having been taken in the past.
There's plenty of variety at Coombe 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, rudd and skimmers are often caught in the margins using simple float techniques, maggots or bread being the best bait.
Go back to Fisheries homepage