Angler Tadas Pustelnikovas is determined to catch the biggest fish in the city’s famous Edgbaston Reservoir
And judging by the size of the largest pike he’s landed so far, it could be a catch to write home about when he does.
Like the tuna-obsessed character played by Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey in Steven Knight’s new thriller Serenity, catching the big one has become an all-consuming passion.
Fashion designer Tadas might hail from Kaunas, an industrial city in central Lithuania, but he is now one of four million anglers in the UK.
Throughout each fishing season, he now spends every spare minute by the Edgbaston Reservoir waterside trying to land a wonder of the deep…
Tadas talks about his passion for angling in the above video – he respects the aggressive, predatory pike so much he wears a fedora and a stylish combination of scarf, shirt and tie while trying to land the big one.
Even in an industry worth more than £3 billion a year, you won’t find many people going to such sartorial lengths to enjoy what is Britain’s most popular pastime.
But this particular challenge is even keeping Tadas awake at night – the record for a northern pike is 25kg (55lb) caught in Germany in 1986.
On the day BirminghamLive visited him, he’d had just four hours’ sleep before a taxi had picked him up on the other side of town ready to arrive dressed to impress in time for a spectacular sunrise at the Edgbaston Reservoir waterside.
Who is Tadas Pustelnikovas?
Now 27, Tadas left his Lithuanian homeland to study fashion design at Central St Martin’s in London and at BCU in Birmingham. in the hope of one day costuming a movie.
The entrepreneur has launched his own label Tado Vito and dreams up new designs while angling.
Tadas has a Chinese girlfriend, Tianyu, whom he has been encouraging to take up the fishing habit, too.
Tadas believes there are several reasons why people go fishing.
But his key one is to learn to live ‘in the moment’.
“When I relax after work I want to get inspiration (for my fashion) and fresh air and really enjoy the nature at Edgbaston Reservoir,” he says.
“(Why people fish) depends on your philosophy – for different anglers it can mean different things.
“For some people they only care about the quantity of the fish.
“They try to catch as much as they want.
“Others don’t care about how much they catch, they are enjoying the moment.
“For me it’s almost like a camp, but also waiting for something to happen.
“So you take your food, you might take your spouse and you are really enjoying your time.”
Why Edgbaston Reservoir?
Tadas discovered there were fish in Edgbaston Reservoir by accident.
The 70-acre oasis close to Five Ways was built in 1827 by Thomas Telford.
Today, almost 200 years later, it is still used to top up the city’s canal system.
“The first time I came was just to ride a bicycle,” says Tadas.
“I did not know there would be fish here.
“Only a year or so after I started talking to the local people and they said there were some fish here.
“I could not believe it but then they showed me the pictures.
“I wanted to try my luck and on my first fishing trip I was surprised with three big pikes!”
What can you catch?
Tadas has caught a variety of fish during his time on the water’s edge – but he is only obsessed by one.
“There are big pikes, loads of carp, mirror carp and silver fish,” he says.
“I think I’m the only man trying to catch pike all year round (when permitted).
“Most people who come here are waiting for the carp.
“The biggest pike I’ve caught was about 14lbs, but I’m pretty sure there’s even bigger ones – 30lbs.
“I spoke with local anglers and they said they witness people have caught 30lb pike in this water.
“Many people go to the reservoir to watch the nature, but they never experience what goes on under the water.”
Tadas is even getting to know some of the fish he always puts back on a personal basis.
“One of the interesting things was when I caught a pike which belly was openly like with a razor, I couldn’t believe it could survive,” he says.
“Later I researched and find out that this injury was made by a very big pike that fights for territory.
“After less then a month I caught the very same pike but the belly was completely sealed in less then a month, it’s just unbelievable how fast animals can heal themselves.
“Unfortunately for this particular fish, I managed to catch the same one three times in one season – thanks to the scar it’s easily recognisable.”
Lithuania and Birmingham
“Being a Lithuanian defines my heritage and everything I do more or less reflects my culture,” says Tadas.
“In my country, fishing is probably the second biggest sport after basketball.
“Almost everyone does fishing or at least likes going fishing.
“It is very popular, there is plenty of lakes, plenty of rivers and people really enjoy it.
“Ice fishing is very popular, too, when the water is frozen in winter.
“We drill the holes, have a little rod and sit on the ice.
“Whether it’s minus five or minus 15 we sit on the ice, that’s what we like to do and that’s our culture.
“I’m really proud and I want more people to try angling because this is a really amazing sport and lifestyle.
“I don’t feel a very obvious connection (with Birmingham) but I feel at home as long as there is water around where I can fish.”
Fishing in Birmingham
Edgbaston Reservoir is one of 14 parks across the city where you can go fishing if you have a licence to do so.
The others include:
Brookvale Park, George Road Erdington
Cannon Hill Park – Russell Road, Moseley
Edgbaston Reservoir – Reservoir Road, Edgbaston
Fox Hollies Park – Pool Farm Road, Acocks Green
Lifford Reservoir – Tunnel Lane, Hall Green
Manor Farm Park – Bristol Road South, Northfield
Norman Chamberlain Playing Fields – Pithall Road, Shard End
Perry Park – Walsall Road, Perry Barr
Pype Hayes Park – Chester Road, Erdington
Salford Park – Lichfield Road, Aston
Shenley Fields Playing Fields – Shenley Fields Lake
Trittiford Mill Pool – Priory Road, Billesley
Ward End Park – Washwood Heath Road, Washwood Heath
In Sutton Coldfield, you can also fish at Sutton Park National Nature Reserve.
Blackroot, Bracebridge, Powells and Keepers Pools which all have designated fishing areas.
Please contact Sutton Park Visitor Centre on 0121 464 8728 for further information.
When you can fish
Most of the above sites do not permit fishing from March 15 to June 15 each year.
But year-round fishing is available at four of them – Fox Hollies Park, Pype Hayes Park, Salford Park and Shenley Pool, Weoley Castle.
Tadas uses a paid-for app called Fishbrain to keep tabs on his catches and you can also use it to see what others are catching, too.
Tolkien in Birmingham
He also has lots of fishing tackle to help with the capture of a fish and its safekeeping before it is weighed and then returned back to the water.
The Gillot Road entrance to Edgbaston Reservoir has a Danger Water notice saying ‘No swimming’ and ‘No diving’.
In an emergency, telephone 0121 454 7810 from 10am to 9.30pm (winter) or 10am til 11.30pm (summer) or dial 999.
How to buy a licence
In order to fish at any of the above sites you must have an Environment Agency fishing rod licence or you will face prosecution.
You can buy a one-day, eight-day or 12-month licence online.
You’ll need a debit or credit card; your Blue Badge or National Insurance number if you have a disability and you’re applying for a 12-month licence; the other person’s details (such as date of birth), if you’re buying for someone else.
You can use the online service to get a junior licence for children aged 13 to 16. You will not need to pay.
This licence can start on any date as long as it’s within 60 days of the day you buy it.You can also buy a licence by calling the Environment Agency or in person at a Post Office.
The Environment Agency can be contacted by telephone on 0344 800 5386 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday or from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays (March 1 to May 31) or on bank holidays from 8am to 6pm (March 1 to May 31).
How much a licence costs
One day: £6 for trout and coarse 2-rod or £12 for salmon and sea trout.
Eight days: £12 for trout and coarse 2-rod or £27 for salmon and sea trout.
A 12-month licence costs £30 or £82 for the above categories, while a £45 year-round licence also allows you to use three rods for trout and coarse fishing.
A 12-month licence for over 65s / disabled will cost £20 for trout and coarse fishing (£30 for three rods) or £54 for salmon and trout.
A junior licence for children aged from 13 to 16 is free.
You can get a 12-month disabled person’s licence if you’ve got a Blue Badge, or you get Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (any rate) – you’ll need your National Insurance number to prove this.
You can also get a discounted 12-month licence if you’re over 65. You cannot get a discount for a 1-day or an 8-day licence.
Steven Knight and fishing
Having shot his steam thriller in Mauritius, Steven says: “Nobody had ever shot there before and it was a beautiful place.
“I will fish anywhere and, if it’s sustainable, I will eat what I catch.
“Fishing is metaphor for lots of other things. “It’s about waiting for fortune, communication, relations… and Matthew did a great job of expressing that.”
Has he ever been fishing with Chris Tarrant, one of the UK’s most famous fishermen and presenter of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire….? which Steven helped to create?
“No I haven’t. But you either are a fisherman or you’re not – and he definitely is!”