Back on the River Trent.

It was great to have the commercial carp fishing this summer. But the river is really where my heart is. Sadly it takes me some time to get back into it, many will understand, that make the switch from still to running water, can take a few trips to iron out the glitches? So this week my firsts trip back was to my local part of the Trent, I’ve been fortunate to take some very big barbel in the past long trotting.

Trotted barbel, part of an eight fish haul in 2017.

I started on a 10×4 stick but the river was way too fast really, so I had to resort to an Avon/Bolo with olivette weight down the line 6 gram, but 8 gram would have been better. I also tried the pole, and finally a feeder. The pace really caught me out in truth, and I was unprepared. What did please though was a nice roach of 1lb 12oz was taken in a match just the day before, so it shows better fish are about, its just finding them?

One Weds I traveled again to the Trent. It looked better and slower, and as I settled down beside the Bull rush stalks, I set up with confidence. During the non fishing days I’d made up a few float set ups on pole rigs. I put a 8×4 Allerton stick with a black tip on the Acolyte Ultra with a 2.3lb bottom and started to feed caster and hemp. Small fish started to feed, chub roach and dace all very small, then I hooked a better roach, that came off after a few seconds. The water was clear and I could see the fish clearly, maybe a pound!

I changed to 4mm dampened pellets, with a banded one on the hook. The next hour was one of the most frustrating to date. I’d hook and lost fish, some a better stamp that did stay on were roach over 6oz, but 80% came off. I changed hook three times trying to find the correct shape and size, but failed. Next trip I’ll have some soft hookers for the hook, maybe in Aniseed flavour if possible?Maybe some expanders are the answer, but it’s a plan.I’m one angler that has to keep moving on in my head, until it all works.

Free-lining in the margins with a big lump of meat. Does it work, sometimes it does?

One other thing thats going to change is my line and reels. The Cadence reel is so good in many ways, but has a big problem. Line continuously get caught behind the spool, it happened so many times it has to be a design flaw, you know after 50 odd years of angling when an item is not right. The other thing is reel line, I will have to go to a much lower diameter as suggested by many of my fishing trotting friends. 3lb maxima main line with a section of 2.5lb for the shotting section (can be replaced and stored between sessions) and 2.1lb hook link. The 2.5 Maxima section is simply so I can replace it if it gets shot damage, as I use lead in 8s. on this part. It’s will be about 4′ long and stored on pole winters minus the float. If I get broken, I’ll get the float and shot back all being well. Maxima is known for being stronger than the breaking strain stated too.

Really nice video of James trotting on the Wye, not unlike the Trent?

I’ll also change to bread and pellets and leave the casters and maggots alone this year, its a gamble, but you have to try and be different at times. Bread will be mixed with a little crumb groundbait, and a few hemp seed to get it all down in the quick waters of the Trent. Pellets will be feed very sparingly, as they fill fish up so quickly. Maybe 3 or 4 pellets each trot down, with a hooker on a size 18/16 B911 wide gape hook. It’s another plan guys, I’ll keep you posted. One last thing, in these times, be nice to other anglers, stop keep a distance, but say hello, we all need to talk its good for your mental health.

Seasonal change.

After another poor day at Hallcroft (fish only feeding late in the day.)I’ve decided to make the change a little earlier than expected. Not 100% sure what I’ll do, but it will either be the river, or another little commercial for some better roach. If it’s the river then I’m sure seed baits will be attractive until the first frost, so hemp and tares could be one tactic on the Trent? I’m thinking now that would be a good little gape filler until the colder weather and those better Roach start to show.

A little commercial in winter, big roach maybe?

Trotting is my favourite thing of all my fishing. It keeps be busy all days and every fish is a bonus in truth. I’ll get a few bags of tares cooked this Thursday Friday ready for next week, yes that’s the plan. I’ve really enjoyed Hallcroft, but you can have enough of even good things. I’ll be able to go later in the day, and stay until dark now. Have a cooked breakfast maybe (did you hear that love?)

My forum friend Mark fishing hemp and tares.

When you’re trotting its a standing method for me, and when I’ve been on my feet for a few hours, the old back starts to play up. So 5/6 hours is plenty enough for this old chap. Most places I can get the car reasonably close to my fishing on the Trent, nice when its winter and you’re wrapped up in a big thermal suit and boots, trying not to get too hot.

The old Acolytes will come out and that new Michel Match I brought at auction last year, remember? I’ve been told the barbel fishing hasn’t been good this year, expect I’ll hear more once I’m tuned in to the river again. After all this blog is called River Trent Angler.

A blank saved and revising my margin fishing!

Monday the carp just didn’t want to feed, not for me or anyone I spoke to, just one of those odd days. I tried the five meter line, long up in the water, and in the margin. I lost two fish in the day (operator error) its never the fishes fault is it? And maybe a foul hooked job too, so when I took a big double last thing, it was a relief to be honest.

Review of the Slik elastics I’m getting to like a bit better now I know how to use it?

One Wednesday I got on Moat and fished the caravans side (sorry static homes) The wind was strong so I decided to fish the top kit and two, so about 3 to 4 meters from the bank, at an angle that suited the wind. The float was a new one from Guru called a pinger at 1 gram weight. Bulk just under half way, then a two number eights dropper 6” from the hook. A size 14s Drennan wide gape specialist. I potted in about 20 pieces of corn, and a six pieces of meat.

The bite was almost immediate and a nice common of about 9lb was landed. This yellow Matrix Slik (15) is ideal for open water and the fish was landed quite quickly. I potted in the same again, and took several little bream of about 2lb apiece, not what I wanted. As this spot was close to the margin I decided too keep bait going in for the rest of the day, as well as placing some up the margin shelf for later on. By lunch time I’d only had two fish, a nice mirror full of scales in good condition too. Two guys opposite me fishing further out, on both the lead and pole failed to catch any carp, a few bream, but no carp. One guy down from me took a real beast of around 20lb, but I did not see it weighed, only the picture. I must have had several 20s according to that photo, a big fish yes a twenty?

Stunning scaly carp of around 8lb taken 3 meters from the bank.

By 3pm a few carp came in close, but not in the margins. In fact I caught in the original spot, and only saw one fish in the very shallow water. I finished with nine carp, a nice day, but I could have done better. Bt this time I’m not sure how. It seems the fish are less inclined to feed in the margins now the season is getting on. Maybe I need to find a less popular spot to fish, not easy on any commercial with daily fishing matches. But I’ll take a look see next time. I know next season I’ll go later in the day, and stay as long as is possible according to the rules. I have taken over 50 doubles since lockdown ended so I cannot complain.

Water agitator on.

I’ve also made up some top kits with much lighter elastic ready for winter time. I’ve a 6 Aqua, a 8-10 Slick, and a 10-12 Maver, that should do me for winter time. I’ve also put some Slik 20-22 on a margin rig for fishing near to rushes and weed-beds on both Moat and Bridge. I’ll not lose anymore fish getting in snags again with any luck.

I’ll fish Hallcroft until the end of September, and the cold snaps start. But by October I’d like to be fishing for roach on the Trent and a little commercial I mentioned previously. Several of the new river rods I brought this and last year (Acolytes) and the vintage Michel Match reel have seen little use to date. I simply love my trotting and it will be that which drags me away from the carp and margin fishing I’m currently loving.

And I nearly didn’t go!

Oh boy, just think the weather forecast said heavy rain and thunder storms, so I considered the weather could be dangerous.( I’ve had a rod hit by lightning once while fly fishing, and it’s not much fun.) But I did in fact go, because the forecast has been wrong so many times, and I’ve regretted not going.

Another match on Moat made me decided to try little Croft again. The fish are smaller in this pretty little lake, but plentiful. One swim I’ve fished before has produced in the past, and with only two other anglers fishing, I got my favoured peg. The water fountains were on, but I could not see any fish on top. So I stared on the five meter line, with a small pot of corn and meat over the top.

The meat produced almost immediately and the 12-15 elastic pulled out really nice. I’d hooked a nice big common (for Croft) that took several minutes to subdue, maybe 10/11lb. A bream, Perch and Roach all followed, before a few more but smaller carp, nothing under 6lb, most around 8lb. I did not overfeed, just a small pot after each carp. I’m learning now, too much food can be the kiss of death sometimes, thanks to Jamie Hughes and his You-Tube clips.

As lunch came around, a fish were on top now, so a switch to fishing shallow was called for. But despite feeding 6m pellets for over an hour (3-4 a time) no fish came close. I was fishing a Drennan crystal inline dibber set 2′ deep. I potted a small cup of groundbait into the margins about 1pm, only to see the spot explode with carp, some big ones too. I dropped a large piece of meat over there top, and caught a nice looking mirror immediately. Then another foul hooked fish, and a change to a laid on hook link fished 8”over depth. But that didn’t really work, in fact a change back to my standard margin rig was really the best practical rig. The key it seems is leaving all bites, until the elastic pulls out of the tip. Then its almost sure a fish is hooked correctly. Its obvious how the fish have wised up, as so many times after feeding a pot, the carp would come in clear me out (in numbers) and I’d be left fish-less.

Feeding has to be right on the day. A change to feeding micros and mixed pellets was the best on this day. Fish after fish would pull the elastic out and steam off into the lake, fighting like demons until landed. (I now have a small carp matt sat under the landing net at my feet. I’ve found the bigger fish can be difficult to un-hook at times. It allows me to just rest the fish on the matt when the extra heavy ones come along, it works too, all fish are safe and unhooked without dropping them. )

I’d feed 10/12 mixed pellets 8/6/micro but with the smallest cup of groundbait to keep the carp coming back all afternoon until 6.30. I’d estimate with the fish averaging around 8lb I’d taken well over 150lb+ of carp today, amazing for such a pole novice. Maybe 3 of the 19 fish were doubles. Clearly my biggest bag ever and my best day at Hallcroft to date. By 6.30 I had the whole pool to myself and my swim was full of carp. I had half a tub of corn and meat left, so I put it in really close to the staging I was fishing from, while packing up. Next look ,tails of a dozen carp were waving me goodbye so close I could touch them.

The key today was feeding. Not over feeding and fishing for one or two fish at a time. Attract them in with groundbait, then feed enough particle to feed one fish. Tiny pots of groundbait keep them rooting, it’s nice to get it right once on a while.

Good service deserves praise!

Just a quick post about where I’m buying some of my fishing tackle lately, a float material seller that goes the extra mile, and a You-Tube fishing match-man thats very good at explaining commercial fishing tuition.

I’ve been a supporter of Angling Direct for decades, I must have spent tens of thousands of pounds in the place. But a recent bad transaction has shown me loyalty is not respected anymore in this shop, they are simply too big to care.

So I started to buy a bit of my gear in Matchman Supplies Nottingham, it’s run by a guy called Tim, and they seems to be on the ball. I do hate it, when you order something you need, only to be told after payment the item is out of stock, and the waiting period is unknown. These guys keep you informed, and it seems they still value their customers. Prices are keen, and they are open to do a deal if they can?

Call Tim for all your fishing tackle with a smile.

The other good provider is a float material seller on E-Bay called “The Float Studio 1”. This guy looks after his customers, to a point he will split packets of items to ensure you get exactly what you want, recommended 5 star.

I’m old enough to still value loyalty, when I was working the same guy cut my hair for 30 years, wonder what old Nick is doing now days. Service is all important to me and many like me, old farts we may be, but we still spend.

Finally, I’ve found a You-Tube site that’s all about commercial carp fishing. (my passion at the moment) Its run by a top Match Angler called Ben Townsend and he really is excellent at explaining the in’s and outs of this kind of fishing. His site is relatively new, but the content is growing and there is so much good stuff on there already. Ben has that something that makes you want to watch him, his knowledge is extensive, well worth signing up for updates.

I’ll catch you up on the fishing over the weekend. I had my best ever day at Hallcroft with 19 carp.

Hot weather fishing 30+deg.

Very short post today. I went to Hallcroft on Monday for a full days fishing, the weather looked really good for some “up in the water fishing” But by around mid-day I’d drunk all my cold drink, and was feeling a little light headed.

I wish?

Being one that suffered from cancer in 2019 I cover up nowadays. So I had a very large cotton hat I got from New Zealand some years ago, a soft cotton full sleeved shirt, with light cotton trousers all linen. If I’d have been fishing the Trent, I could have soaked my large cotton hanky, and put it around my neck, but Hallcroft is not the Trent and very dirty because of all the feeding carp. A cotton hanky is an amazing cooling down method in hot weather.

“Yes, but its a dry heat”

By 1 pm I was dizzy and feeling a little sick, I realised I had a touch of sun-stroke. I packed up, got the air-con in the car going and headed home. So this is a little plea to all my followers. Its so easy to sit out in the sun during the summer and not think about cancer, why would you. But I have had a girlfriend and son-in-law die from melanoma so its close to home. If you must wear shorts, put some heavy duty sun cream on. If you must wear a tee shirt do the same. The best way is to cover up totally, you can buy light cotton called linen its light and has UV properties that will protect you from the suns rays.

I’m back on Friday if its under 28 deg.

Baits and Bites.

When I’m fishing these days I tend to try and make things as simple as possible for myself. The fact what all the pro-anglers go on about all the time, even though they always have the most expensive gear on show, keeping things simple?

Regarding bait I always take pellets and corn, with worm on the odd occasion or when I have them. I no longer take groundbait, that may change in winter. But mostly pellets cover for almost 90% of my fishing on commercials now days. I’m sure they are feed (pellets) so often by anglers that the fish regard them as an almost natural bait. The two days fishing were a contrast, one day I had eleven fish the other just two. The eleven fish were all singles, the two fish on the other day we’re both doubles.

The last trip was the most interesting I believe. The eleven fish were caught on the pole eight meters out, then in the margins 3 to 8 on the day, a WORKMAN LIKE DAY FOR A GOOD RESULT. But the second day at 8 meters I simply could not buy a bite on the bottom. I should have fished up in the water on that morning until lunchtime, when I did eventually try it (to late) I lost two fish momentarily hooked. Its a method I must try more, and get better at.

The swim I’d chosen I really didn’t fancy much. Moat had a match, and Bridge was filling up quickly. Croft pool I just missed out on as two guys pipped me to a swim I had fished before, it also had a decent margin for evening fishing. Thinking to myself now I must not panic next time, as there are always places if you look around. This evenings margin swim was just not right, can’t explain it, but you know if you’re a commercial carp angler.

What I should have done?

I only had four bites in several hours fishing (slow) two hooked and landed, one spooked off, one foul hooked, I think? Maybe I will get around the foul hooked fish eventually by using paste, or corn hook in, not hair rigged. I also go a long time wasting time, waiting for the margin fish to come in. Some days it’s after lunch, others not until 3pm or later. So from 10 am until margin time, I must find where the fish are feeding. My plan next time will be bomb and pellet, feeding hard pellets until the fish come up in the water. Then shallow fishing just to see. If that works even a bit, it will be something.

Well, did it work? Kind of, but thats for next time.

Information and decisions.

Two decent days last week at my now local carp lakes, Hallcroft. But this week (Monday) I decided on a different plan, I’d fish the river lake until inch time, then move onto the bigger lake, Moat this time. I brought some maggots and caster at the local farm then set up on the little lake, disturbing a nice little carp in the margins doing so. I’m always really quite when setting up, its from the old days when my Uncle Alan would say; “Practice to be quiet son” every time I banged the wicker seat box down, or knock the flask over.

I feed a lot of bait in one spot over two hours and caught endless little Rudd and Roach, lost two small carp and decided I’d buggered up the new Drennan Aqua Silver fish elastic 4-6 by setting it too tight (bumping those carp) and cutting off any excess, I’ll learn? But soon it was time to move onto the big lake and set some traps.

As I was moving I stopped and had a quick chat with a guy fishing a few pegs down from me. He was a lot younger than me, maybe 40s but pleasant and offered some information willingly. Apparently he had been fishing about 7/8 meters out, feeding and fishing hard pellets. I moved maybe a dozen swims above him, and set up the Matrix pole at 7 meters then feed 3/4 pellets 6mm and 8mm over the top every few minutes. We’ll there must have been a carp down there waiting for me, as I had a nice fish about 9lb almost immediately. I really took my time landing this one, after losing a few fish last time out. I did not use the puller bung, but landed it nevertheless in minutes. The purple hydro doing a great job now its run in, so to speak?

The depth was about 5′ and with the strong wind blowing in the bank I thought about those fish I’d missed out on, on Bridge the other week. The time I should have moved and didn’t. The wind was blowing directly into the bank and fish were feeding in the tow some 8/10 meters out. Three more fish followed (one a double) until around 3.30pm when I started to bait the margin beside me. I feed with groundbait (mistake again) corn and pellets, and fished 8mm hard pellets on the hook.

Now here comes that learning bit, I feel if I don’t try to alter things that are going wrong, then I’m at fault, not the fish. Last time out I foul hooked several fish, and thats not good. I reasoned my hook link, or rather the length of line between the bottom bulk shot and hook were just too high, around 6”. So that when the carp moved over the bait they would catch the shot and spook, or get foul hooked. On Monday, three good fish came in the margins and spooked off, I could see them and the bow wave they left behind, what was wrong. We’ll it was that too long distance from shot to hook. So I re-plumbed up again and made sure the bulk shot 4 no 8 were just off bottom, 2” at most. The hook-link was 3” so in theory the bait was 1” on the bottom, perfect.

Did it work, we’ll yes it did. I took another 3 margin fish 2 doubles and a single all on hard pellet. I’m convinced that if the carp feel that bulk shot, they will also spook at that. So having a very short hook-link of 3” maximum on the margin float rig one, stops it getting caught up in fins and tails as it hangs below them, and two, with the float shotted so its one inch off the bottom the float is taking the weight as it should, the carp suck everything in its mouth and its took late. The weight cannot be ejected fast enough to stop self hooking, if it does try and eject it, the weight causes the hook to catch the carps bottom lip, and sets itself. Now I’m just surmising and maybe thats not the reason it works, but that night it did and I had no foul-hookers, and landed all fish hooked.

I’m back tomorrow and this time will just feed the margins like I did the open water with hard pellets, fishing for one fish at a time. It does seem the fish don’t mind pellets being dropped over their heads, maybe they have their heads so down, they simply not notice them. Or maybe they are creating so much silt and stuff, they think they are doing it. Whatever, it seems to work ok. I’ll feedback later in the week.

Perfect, no mouth damage, no scales missing, fat as pudding!

Wednesday. Much the same as above, but I found a good margin swim, very good. The carp really wanted to come in a feed, only 2′ deep and flat. Just pellets 6mm and 8mm not groundbait, or corn. Only one bream and ten carp during the day and evening. Two fo the carp fought so hard I did think they were foul hooked. But the good old Purple Hydro did the job. Eight more doubles with two beast of 14lb and 15lb.

One of three big units that graced the landing net. Net 55cm by 50cm.

Weather and summer carp!

So I’ve had a few trips since I last posted, but they were somewhat of an anticlimax. I put it down to very changeable weather, that being cooler, and much less sunshine than the previous weeks.

A small commercial close to my home.

The last week found me on Moat twice, both times with the wind in my face and both times it was raining steady all day. I thought the carp would be mostly in the bottom layers, or even feeding on bottom baits. But I noticed they were also on top many times. This fooled me and I wasted a bit of time on the bomb, when maybe I should have been fishing a waggler. Evenings found me in the margins, but the carp failed to appear in any numbers.

I’m very unsure what I should do down the edge in truth. Baiting up makes sense, but if only one or two fish show they can feed without you knowing much about it? Then they can bugger off, you need a lot of fish in the margins to get them less cautious, so they feed with confidence. I’ve tried several approaches and have come to no firm conclusions. I think you’re best to feed something maybe groundbait, with a few large items. Then top up if the fish show, that way you have the attraction without overfeeding. But truly I think it’s all down to the right conditions for the fish to come in the edge, hot day, sultry evenings are best. Rain and they seem to be all over the place?

So I had a few fish, but no big catches. I’ve also lost a few fish, I’ve concluded they are foul hooked fish, why you may ask do I think that? Well, it only occurs in the margins when you’re in relatively shallow water. The float and line pings back after a time, I’ve witnessed this with other anglers and it seems quite common when fishing shallow. One chap opposite me last night lost two like this, and another guy I spoke to last week also suffered such pull outs. So it seems margin fishing can be fraught with problems, some you can mitigate by careful feeding.

I’m hoping for some hot weather for next week. I’d like to try some open water shallow fishing with the pole, and get the pellet hybrid feeder going on days its not obvious what the carp want. It seems it works well for many that simply cast out any place and catch carp, all sizes. Strangely I’ve caught a lot of bream in the margins when the carp haven’t shown. As many as eight fish, all bronze bream but small, maybe 3lb max. Anyone that fishes for bream know the margin is not a place you expect to catch bream?

Proper carping, ha,! ha!.

Understanding commercials.

I know a good number of carp anglers read my blog, and not just those that fish commercials, I’m eternally grateful to you all. I’d like to explain to those folk why I changed from what many call “proper carp fishing” to fishing holes in the ground full of ugly looking carp?

And that’s just half of the lake you can see?

Actually it came about a few years ago, when my own carp fishing was going through a very difficult time. I was fishing for some very big carp in a local lake that were not playing ball. I’d gone most of the season not catching, and it was having a negative effect on my mind. So I simply had a try at a local commercial and caught a load of carp, 44 fish in a session to about 8lb on a little light Avon style rod. It was just fun really simple fun, it made me feel good after so long not catching. I still continued my other carp fishing, but called into the little commercial near home from them to time. All the commercials I fish have two things in common. They are attractive, in beautiful places, and full of fish, I don’t fish those featureless holes in the ground. One place I fish is very large, several acres in fact and has lots of swims on non match days.

Whats not to like about this place then?

Is the fishing easy, yes, but not in a way you may think, honest. You can go and catch fish most days, but getting the best out of them demands a different set of skills, just like those needed on A1 pits, another place I’ve often fished. Some-one like me may catch five-ten fish in a session, but a real good experienced match angler would catch twice that amount, why, it demands a skill set.

One thing I have found critical is, finding where the fish are feeding on a given time of day. You will not catch fishing on the bottom if the fish are mid-water and vice-vesa. That applies to all carp fishing, but on commercials it seems more critical to me. You may catch a few fish near the bottom, but many more if you get the depth exact, a bit like zig fishing really. Feeding is also critical, get that right and you can double the catch. And those that think the often caught carp are not cute, trust me they can be very cute. Because the fish get caught so often, they know a hook and rig and can be very fussy and finicky when feeding.

Lastly I’m getting old now, and simply cannot waste my life not catching fish. I’ve not got Terry Hearn’s skills or time to spare waiting for maybe twenty bites a season. So I hope all those guys that decry my type of carp fishing, understand a bit better and accept even commercial carp deserve more respect.