Thursday, 3 January 2013

Catnappin' at Poole Hall Fisheries, Shropshire

Poole Hall House. Or should it be
Toad Hall? What a view from
a peg on the Abbey Pool. Jocky
and I tried to pop in for afternoon
tiffin but they set the hounds on us.
There can't be a fisherman in the Midlands who hasn't heard of Poole Hall. Can there? I remember being taken there as a kid by my Dad and so, last summer, felt the need to revisit and improve on the three record breaking gudgeon that I caught when I still had a Donnie Osmond hair cut and stylish beige bags (flares with massive leg pockets and a rather attractive five button waistband - You know you want some!) Only one slight problem, when you search on the Internet you find that there are in fact TWO Poole Hall fisheries (and one other stately home in Cheshire) One without and 'e' and one with an 'e'. The one that we were after was the one with the 'e' and with a fantastic looking Georgian (?) stately home.

Mmmm . . . chocolate! And some
nicely manicured bushes
We arrived early with only one or two cars already parked on the gravel next to a couple of temporary huts that looked like they'd been around since the end of WWII. But don't let appearance fool you; one was a welcoming fisherman's caff that provided tea, coffee, instant porridge (very excellent idea dude) and free fishing advice. We took a walk around the main part of the fishery which has six imaginatively shaped fishable pools in all, then settled for a start on the narrow leg of the Kingfisher pool.

How does he do it? Is Jocky the
Hermione Grainger of the riverbank? Or
just a jammy sod? Cast your votes now!
The interesting thing about this particular pool (apart from its rather suggestive shape when viewed from the air) is its colour; a rather attractive opaque, muddy, cocoa brown. So dark in fact, that at any moment I expected to see Augustus Gloop come spluttering to the surface with a couple of Cadbury's carp truffles clutched in his porky little fingers. Still, it was a nice pool and the colour didn't stop us pulling out the fish. I managed to regularly reel in an assortment of carp flavours up to about 4lb, and Jocky, bless his little cotton wellies, continued to catch the whole range of coarse fish species as per usual: carp, roach, bream, perch and a lovely golden rudd!

A fantastic sight. The only thing you
can't see is the man on the lawn mower
doing his best to put a dent in about
three years worth of grass cutting on
the far bank.
So, after a few hours of prolific fishing, instant porridge and a couple of impromptu downpours, the place seems to have filled up with the world and his wife. I went for a wander only to find that the car park was full and pegs on the main pools are in short supply. It's certainly a popular place. After another trek to the cafe for a coffee, the young lady there advised me that today, the specimen pool was fishable as part of the daily rate and might be a little less crowded as it was situated on another part of the sight, well away from the massed populace.

It sounded like a good proposition and after a short haggle, Jocky agreed to accompany me on the short (but heavily laden) walk to the Abbey pool in the shadow of the Georgian mansion. This is a beautiful pool, clotted with trees and reed beds and although a little more exposed and chilly than the others, well worth a visit. We settled in to two pegs nestled in amongst the willows and apart from a few tree casts (bastard things) began pulling out some nice fish.
Nice! Thought I might get
the day's prize, but no,
Billy the cat had other ideas!
I managed a glut of larger carp up to about 10lbs, all very nice fish caught on either mahoosive cubes of luncheon meat, or even better (and my favourite method of catching carp if its allowed) on free lined floating bread or red pellets. There is something extremely satisfying about creeping into the rushes and dropping a floating bait (which incidentally, I hooked still using a hair rig through the bread - novel eh? Or just lazy?) right on to the nose of a feeding giant and just holding your breath until you see the water break in a whirlpool and hear the noise of natures own suction powered vacuum cleaner. When the fish takes your bait, it is fishing excitement at its utmost!
Cat. Cat! CAAAT!! Quick, fetch a
saucer of milk and a scratching post,
The old dog is up to a new trick.

Anyway, there was me thinking that I had fish of the day with my carp bag, when blow me down if there isn't somewhat animated excitement and hullabaloo from my next door neighbour's peg. I sauntered over in Jocky's direction only to hear the strained cries of 'It's a cat! It's a cat'. Surely not? The first catfish on our travels? As I held out the landing net, Jocky reeled his capture to the surface and we both gazed down into the whiskered snout of a large tabby. As we landed the beast and laid congratulations onto the shoulders of the great hunter, we debated how to handle the beast with a mouth the size of a fist. Surely if we took a step closer it would take someone's leg off? Well. it didn't, but it was a marvellous fish of the day. Well done Jocky old son.

As dusk settled, we packed away satisfied and content and hungry for chips. The cafe was closed now but the trip to Poole Hall was a great day out and I would recommend it heartily. Was there anything to complain about. Only the standard of the toilets, which were by far the dirtiest and SCARIEST that I have ever seen in many a trip to a car park this side of Middle Earth. Still you can always use the bushes or knock the door of the Mansion House. Good luck.

Riviera Kid
Amidst fishing success, Jocky gets asked to lift his feet so
that the grass underneath can be mowed.

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