Is fishing a matter of life or death?

 

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In the last few weeks not being able to fish has been a torment for many.  If like me your life has revolved around fishing since childhood, it must seem extreme to “normal people” (non fishing types) so I’ll do my best to explain. Fishing has been in my life through good and bad times. Divorce, home moves, job moves, losses and love ones. Death, births and critical illness, it’s been the one constant I can always fall back on, I know it, and feel in my own way, I have it down, I’m good at it.

When I go fishing I relax, I don’t just mean physically, but mentally too. I enter a world of peace and tranquillity were the stillness of nature envelops me, stress floats away  like a feather in the wind. I take time to see things, like the Mother Moorhen with three young chicks I saw yesterday. She would leave them unattended for a little while, while making high pitched tweeting noises to keep in touch. Then she would return after a while and all four would huddle around talking, as if catching up on what Mums been doing while away from home.

Or the three Red Kites that were circling the lakes, I guessed parents and a chick, but it could easy have been two males and a female? They circled so high disappearing eventually in the clouds.  The common wildlife songs from Wren, Blackbird and Robins sound much louder with no buildings to dampen their music.

After a few hours fishing your mind returns to its normal self, its like a timer goes off in the head to re-set your brain. The closest thing I can guess fishing can be related too is religion, or being a football fan, were emotions over-take you and endorphins are released into the body making you feel a kind of high. My wife says she feels I’m happier, and more relaxed, after a days fishing, and it’s true.

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A small clear river close to home where you can almost guarantee solitude.

When I’m going fishing I’m full of hope in what’s ahead. I always look forward to being alone with nature, catching a big or big bags of fish, Roach in winter and Tench, Bream in summer. I’m sure looking forward to something is good for your sole, for one person it could be a concert of their favorite singer or group, or the big derby match in the city.  You’re uplifted and have that extra spring in your step, and those little nagging stressful worries melt away.  I’m a fisherman, and always will be, that God.

The Tench and Bream campaign starts next week, I’ll fill you in as I go. Stay safe and stay distant.

 

Back to the little lake!

Boy it’s been an awful time for everyone with this C/Virus, but now we can fish again, I’m sure many of us will regain our sanity and settle back into nature. Because its nature we all find so intoxicating I’d guess, and that is what we truly miss in our lives when we cannot fish? But we must all stay as safe as we can, so keep your distance everyone!

Reel Review.

I’ve too many reels to be honest, so buying another makes little sense. But I’ve always wanted an old school Mitchell match, I’ve two old Mitchell 300s, but the 400a with the automatic bail arm and quicker speed, is the one I wanted for trotting on the River Trent. The line lay on these reels (shallow spools) is exceptional for such an old reel, and the speed more than acceptable even in these modern times. The spool size is between the 3000 size and 3500, loaded with 3lb line you just get 100 meters to play with. I brought mine oddly not on E-Bay UK but from an American seller on E-Bay, the reel is mint. Made in 1981 you would think by its condition, it was made yesterday. There is no paint loss, and the workings are excellent. This guy does something to the auto bail arm in the restoration that makes it perform better, it’s certainly very smooth and precise. With the River season not far away, it will get some good use when I’m stick float fishing.

I’m fishing tomorrow, so will feedback on how it all goes. Keep well all of you.

 

Locked up.

Well, if you’ve been following me on Facebook you will see a few posted pictures of past fish, thanks for all the LIKES guys, please you enjoyed them. Like you I’m suffering the “non fishing blues” and finding non essential jobs around the house to do that fishing would have saved me from? The car has never been as clean, and I’ve even painted the gas and electric meters that stand outside the front door.

The fishing gear is cleaned and ready to go, and most of my floats on winders for a first time. I’ve used a spool of 4lb line for most of the lighter stuff, and 5lb for the heavy. My thinking is even if I use a 2.5lb mainline, the hook-link would go first being the weakest part of the set up. It’s been better/easier putting shot on a slightly heavier line, and moving it about makes far less damage on the 4lb than the 2.5lb. I also find most main-lines are underrated by at least 10% provided the knots are tied correctly. I must have gotten this idea of the net, as its not mine, but an excellent one. I’ve also started doing this with my feeder rigs, getting that little gem from Rob Wotton the match angler.

Rob will use a main line of say 4lb-6lb, then a short shock leader of maybe two rod lengths in 12lb. Rob and others say it’s better when you put the feeder and shot on this thick line, as it gives a better presentation with less damage. Also up close ,you have that extra bonus of strength when the fish is being landed. I’ve not tried this, but have tied a few leaders up in readiness. Apparently Joe Carass (Match fishing magazine Editor) just has a meter of this thick line, where the feeder, twizzel boom and shot go.

I’ve brought a bit of new tackle in the shut-down!!

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This is the solid bar mentioned, imagine one end fixed to your box, the other end with a large rod rest in the end hole, twist and tighten, simples!

I’ve several chairs and seat boxes for my fishing, but the boxes don’t have footplates. So when on the Trent it’s not easy having the rest up high for feeder fishing, as I have to rely on a high front rest. Anyone fishing the Trent will know how hard the ground is being all stone and gravel, getting a from rest in for those Barbel bites can be a challenge. So I brought a solid bar rest from Matrix, that sits on my box seat front rest and is a meter long. In the end is a hole and sleeve like you get with all rests, you get a 18” rest that fits this hole sitting upright. On this you can put a rod rest and fish with the rod just above the water, like on lakes. But this is the cleaver bit, take that piece out and put that high long rod rest in it, using a sleeve provided. Now you can push the long rest into the gravel as far as you can, but its stability is aided by tightening the sleeve around the rod rest. Its a meter away from you and high, so you can rest the rod on your knee or box. Its a bit like putting kids stabilisers on a bike.

I’ve invested in some split shot, two mixed tubs of Dinsmore mixed shot, along with a large tub of Italian number 8s lead shot. Boy is this “new” stuff expensive, a real money spinner for those making and selling it. However, with care it should last as it can be re-used over, its a nice round shot too. But I’m critical over the weight, as almost all the floats I’ve loaded onto winders need more of this stuff, than it would lead. I have some old lead shot and have done the tests, so know I’m not wrong. One 8x4s stick float took 8 lead number 4s and 10 number 4s of the new stuff?  I’ve put the two mixed shot boxes into a single little black box you can buy on E-Bay with lids, clearly marked with the shot size, told you I’m bored?

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These clear boxes for float winders are brought from a stationer on-line for £3.00 or £7 in a tackle shop?

Another purchase is an old Mitchell Match 440a refurbished. I’m still waiting for it to come from a guy on E-Bay, so should be all ok with a money back Pay-Pal guarantee. I fancied one of these as I do so much stick and waggler fishing these days. I’m told the line lay is impeccable and the speed at 5..1 is good too. The shallow spools take just 100 meters of 3lb line to fill, I’ll try Drennan float fish in 3.2lb and fill it to the brim, excited about this one.

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Old, but very usable 501 reel, ideal for windy days stick float fishing.

Last season I had my old Abu 501 serviced, its now loaded with just 50 meters of 3lb line ready for the dace and roach fishing I love so much. The retrieve is slow compared to modern reels, but get any wind on the Trent and it comes into its own. No line blowing off the spool, or getting lost behind the handle. They are much heavier than one would expect for such a small reel, but they do balance a long rod like the 14′ Acolyte. It’s fun to learn fishing with a reel with no clutch, if you don’t know this reel it works like this. The clutch is the backwind. You turn a knob and the handle backwinds slower/stiffer, so you have to remember to get your hand out of the way at times, like when Mr Whiskers takes the bait. You simply back-wind when a big fish takes, or take your hand way and allow the fish to run against a stiff handle going backwards downstream.

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Boy these worms love cucumber and carrot.

I started a wormery in February, by buying a kilo of worms from “Willy-Worms” and putting them in an old Daiwa Match seat box with holes in. To date they have breed and I’ve eggs in a second box after removing them from the main brood, they seem to be doing ok, eating cucumber and cooked carrot. The only thing I would have done differently is, used a smaller box than the seat box and stuck to just 4” of peat only compost, I used about 8” so the worms have too much room to move about in really.

 

 

 

A brighter day!

So today I visited another little commercial that’s been on my radar for some time. Just thirty minutes from home, and a nice quick drive, now people are self-isolating?

The little lake has an island in the middle about a 15/20 meter chuck, I started about a meter short with the idea of creeping up to the ledge as the session went on and the fish backed off. On arrival I meet one guy with two carp rods set up, 12′ jobs casting towards the island with big leads. It was freezing cold up his end, and all the fish were in the sunshine around the other side basking in the growing warmth, but people don’t like to walk do they?

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Cracking roach well over a pound, taken on maggots.

It was 9am and the  sun was coming out, getting warmer by the minute. I could see some nice fish over by the island, but couldn’t see what they were. They looked like roach, but too big for roach, not bream either, the shape was all wrong. I set up a 12 gram maggot feeder, that took maybe 10 maggots. It took a dozen casts before the tip gave any movement, then I missed it.!! But as the morning wore on, I swapped and changed with a very small 12 gram groundbait feeder and maggots on the hook, I started to catch a few fish. First, a nice little chub around a pound, then a cracking roach over a pound, then another chub of 3lb and a wonderful little red eyed tench of 2lb.   The new 11′ rod a Tri-Cast Excellence, was amazing, the little light one ounce tip showing every movement. But playing every fish with full confidence, not once did I feel the light hook-links were in any danger. The odd F1 and a few more little silvers came along, as the sun got high in the sky.

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Hard fighting tench about 2lb.

Now those feeders I used may have sounded very light, but they are supposed to be. I cannot see any reason for using big leads on little commercials like these. I learnt this fishing the A1 pits in 2018 when I was stalking the place (and catching well) with little 1/2 and 2/3 ounce inline leads. They go in softly and are enough to hook any fish if the hooks are sharp and the hook-link short. Two more carp guys arrived and both fished big leads.  The splash was like a Labrador hitting the water.

I packed up around four, as the coffee was gone, and it was getting cool, as it does at this time of year. Only one of the chaps had caught a fish, a small carp about four pounds. I noticed too, how two of the carp guys put so much bait in for early spring. You need to be fishing for one fish at a time this time of year, then once caught try for another. It’s not about numbers now, just getting a bite, one fish at a time. I may have used a quarter pint of ground-bait and the same for maggots., and I had eight fish?

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3lb Chub that gave a good fight on the light feeder rod.

I really enjoyed today, and the big roach made me think about next winter, November, December time, when those carp are all asleep?

On arrival home I’d discovered that my fishing would be curtailed for some time, due to the deadly virus. Keep safe all you followers. I won’t be fishing until its safe, having beaten cancer I’m sure we can all beat this. Best wishes, Richard.

A much better day, despite more wind!

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Even thought the wind was 40 mph plus, I found the little commercial lake open, the owners having done a huge amount of work to make it fish-able again. You may recall my last trip during the heavy rains and my mentioning it was flooded, the fish scattered around the trees and bushes that surround the lakes? I’d gone there as the Trent was un-fishable too. The owners and his staff had cleared all the local ditches in the area, to help with excess water, the result the lakes at almost normal levels. The banks were sodden, and muddy, but I still found a place to sit, so not getting all the kit too dirty. Nothing worse than having to clean the gear next day after a trip.

Todays start was much the same, I’d wanted to fish the River Trent as the season is coming to an end soon. But it was raging through, too heavy for float fishing, I could have fished a feeder but, na! So today the lakes were a second thought, but open thank heavens. Only one other person was fishing, I’m sure due to the boldly gale blowing again.

I tried a waggler that would be too heavy for the venue normally, but the tow on the water was incredible. Fishing with the wind at my back, large waves were going away from me, with the float coming right back under my bank until it reached a small ledge, where it stopped. I had a short 11′ ultra-fine float rod 3000 reel loaded with 3.6lb bayer the waggler taking around 4 AAA. Each time the float stopped I’d get a take from a good roach, or F1.

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It was really crazy good fishing to be honest, despite the difficultly strong wind causes when casting, baiting up and just stopping everything blowing in the water. So close was the float to the rod tip, I’d have to let line out to hand -line the smaller fish. A whip would have been ideal to be honest, but thinking about it what type of float could I have used in the gale?

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See the little black tip of the waggler just to the left of the rod tip?

I started with groundbait, a 50% 50% mix of River mixed with brown crumb. It seemed the roach loved it, those lean mangy mouthed roach of summer had gone, replaced with bars of silver, perfection in every way. Most of the fish were between 6oz and 10oz,  the carp 2lb a piece.  One, a stunning little mirror that any day would be a prize, dazzled in the broken sunshine. It was not a cold day, maybe 10c, but the noise from the wind made everything surreal, and more intense. I ended the four hour session with maybe two dozen roach, and several small carp, all taken on maggots, float fished with groundbait.

I so fancy a river trip, but unless the Trents gets itself in some kind of form I may just miss out. The commercials are ok when all else is underwater, but I do love the river fishing first and foremost!

Simply Blown away!

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I don’t normally fish on Sundays, its often far too busy. But as I’d been felling a bit down the wife said why don’t you go today, then again on Tuesday. I need the car tomorrow for shopping, if we want to eat in the week.

Needing little persuading I made up some nice ground-bait and collected 2 pints of mixed from the farm. The groundbait was 50% Sensas river and 50% brown crumb with strawberry liquid added to water then mixed in. I took two rods, my 13′ Daiwa x and a Drennan matchpro heavy feeder, the Trent beckoned.!

The scene I beheld on arrival was staggering. The main reason I don’t go fishing at the weekend is because of the crowds, normally its so dam busy. But today, not a sole for miles, no cars in the car park and the river within the banks. But the wind (downstream) was a hooligan, it was impossible to present a float (even a waggler) and the quiver tip moved around so much in the wind, bites were impossible to recognise?

I fished about four hours, three of them picking up shot, hooks, my cap and line the wind had damaged. Even my bread slices were dumped in the river along with my seat cushion and almost my rod bag. The wind was just insane, I packed after feeing I’d been blown inside out, what can you do? Worst of all the wind was downstream, making waves on the river like the beach at Skegness in winter

Next time its like this I’ll settle for a little commercial water, fishing for silvers in a spot the wind cannot get to me. On Tuesday I’ll look at the local river and if the wind is still with us, I’ll visit a little set of lakes where it’s possible to get of the body wind!

While I need another fishing rod, like I need a whole in the head. I love my river trotting so much, I wanted an all out river trotting rod ultra light and fine rod. So I’ve currently brought a super light stick come waggler float for roach and dace fishing. It’s taken me ages looking on E-Bay and at new models, because I wanted a rod like they use to make 20 years ago, designed for match fishing and silvers. Today it’s all about rods that will do everything, hence line rating of 2lb to 8lb or 3lb to 10lb. Even on rods costing upwards of £300 they come as a do-all, not specialist. I wanted a rod I could fish very light. Example 2.6lb Bayer reel line with a 1.7lb Bayer hook link. Small hooks down to the twenties, on rivers but also the commercials where roach can grow big.

I mentioned a few posts ago just how much I like my little Daiwa, and still do, but its nearly 20 years old and while light for a 13′, I fancies something even lighter and longer 14′ being ideal for the Trent. I looked for weeks, almost buying a John Allerton with the spliced tip, a Normark Sphere, and several others. But price was one factor as well as feedback from other angler on various forums, they all like different actions, handles and models.

Finally I settled on another Drennan, but this time the Acolyte Ultra 14′ three piece. It had overwhelming support form almost everyone that had one, along with some very serious roach anglers I admire. It was also offered for sale new, but at a discounted price, try getting that on a Trip-cast, or Normark? The rod also weighs 2oz less than my old Daiwa Team X. Paired with my other Acolyte Plus, I’ve got the rivers covered for all my float fishing work.

 

Line review.

For some time I’ve been using Guru n-gage on my reels as a mainline. Now I know it’s supposed to be more a pole/ leader choice for many,  but as a main line it has some real advantages if you go about using it correctly?

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Because it is a pre-stretched line, it’s nice and fine for waggler fishing. 5lb b/s is .15 much better that Float-fish-or Bayer that I normally use for waggler fishing, it sinks well too. Striking feels a bit sharper due to the reduced stretch, and for big roach you have that extra increase in line strength for when you might damage the line in any way, or hook a stray tench, bream?

 

It’s a clear line that I like over anything else, but you must be careful with knotting as all lines in this class. Do that right and you have a extremely strong main line, grinners and tucked blood all work for me. I use it for long-range bream too in 7.lb with shock-leader, few manufactures do a 7lb or 5lb so they fill a niche. I will replace the pulse 6lb on my other long range outfits, when I feel its time. I’d imagine Preston Power line would be just as good as a reel line, but I’ve not tried it to be honest as an out and out reel line.

With the Guru N-Gage and Preston Power, I doubt you would have to look any further for both reel line, pole lines or tippet material. Both come in 100 meter spools and is cheap when compared to other specialist fishing lines.

 

 

Getting on rivers of your choice?

One reader kindly contacted me and asked why is the blog called “River Trent Angler” when this season I’ve mostly avoided the Trent? Good question, but one they could have answered themselves with just a little thought, RAIN!

The river Trent today, February 2020

This and last season we have had an amazing amount of precipitation.  The ground is saturated and the underground aquifers full. So every times it rains, it has no place to go hence, we get flooded. Try as I might, I cannot fish the Trent when its over its banks and in the fields, so I try and go fishing some-place, question answered I hope? To be honest river fishing has been a right washout for me, and many others I gather this and last season. If you can go anytime, or are just lucky (I do have some commitments, family, bowls) then, you could catch the Trent at a time it is falling and have some cracking fishing. I’m still looking for some days before the season ends after the roach, that clearly on parts of the river are getting bigger. But it will be weather dependant, and out of my hands.

Right now everyplace is flooded, even the little commercials, I’m just being patience!

Trotting little rivers in winter.

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Being a glutton for punishment, I was back on the little river this week trotting with maggots. I’d popped in the farm for a couple of pints and was interested to see a sign, advertising a ” full time person wanted.” For the life of me, I don’t know who would be brave enough to work in a maggot farm with that smell. The guys that work there are covered in dead offal, their cloths look oily and unclean. How you ever get that smell off you or out of your clothing, I really don’t know?

Anyway, on the river a strong very cold downstream wind was playing havoc with any stick float I put through. It was clearly a waggler or feeder day, but fool that I am, I’d only brought the sticks with me. I did find a medium Drennan loafer in the tube, and fixed it bottom end only. This did work, but the water was so bloody cold, only a few small dace and roach gave me a look in. It was really bloody freezing, it made me wondered what we did before all the wonderful thermal underwear, salopettes and quilted waterproof jackets? I was not cold all day, in fact back home I’d found I’d sweated a little during the walking I’d been doing.

Today I had the river all to myself, but really we are never alone are we? Two Red Kites hung over the valley all day, and a pair of Kingfishers seem to be following me upstream as I made my way, from swim to swim. Despite a fair amount of water still in the fields, the river was about two feet down, and that nice green colour was replaced with a grey green, that didn’t inspire confidence.

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The sun did came out for about an hour at mid-day, and I sat on my little waterproof cushion for lunch. Hot tea with cheese and tomato rolls made me feel happy just to be out. It’s a cliché but so honestly true, sometimes it’s not about catching fish, but being out and about with nature in solitude. The days are getting longer, soon sure enough I will find and catch some decent fish and that will be my seasons start. After today, it cannot come soon enough!

 

Perfect conditions, but don’t mention the mud!

Readers must forgive me in that when I arrived today I’d discovered my camera was out of battery. Its a shame as I did manage a few nice roach on this trip, but nothing over half a pound. I think the power must have been turned on during moving it from my main bag, to the little stalking bag.

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The swim was one I’d fished may times for big chub, in similar conditions. The river had that wonderful green tinge to it you only get after healthy quantities of winter rain. It looked bang on to be honest, and maybe I made an early mistake by using ground bait mixed with caster and hemp, two large balls on arrival. I wanted to see what the swim could do in ideal conditions, hoping a big roach would turn up. I’m unsure thay really exist, but with so many healthy looking smaller roach around the 4 oz to 10oz range, you have an open mind?

I started with a big stick taking 14 x No 4, but soon change to a 8 x No 4 with a small olivette as the bulk just over half way down. Then No 4 and 8 strung out to a shotless 10” hook-length. The bites when they came were positive so I stuck with the 14s hook and double caster. The position of the swim with all the recent rain, had caused the swim to become very muddy. If you imagine a small line of rushes dropping into 6′ of water, but the bank covered in mud, where you need to stand and fish. Twice I slipped and was up to my waste in cold water, but many times just slipped onto my back or knees just getting dirty. Fortunately I was wearing my neoprene waders (no choice) as I was expecting to be knee deep in water. Back home the gear was just dumped into the garage to dry, I’ve been cleaning and washing the mud of it this morning.

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The day was dull, and the sun never stood out making it a perfect fishing day. I’m now having doubts about the swim producing big roach, as I stayed on until dusk trotting a lighter float along the margins feeding caster and hemp. I took several nice roach but nothing close to a pound sadly?

Next trip will be much the same, but I’ll try the Trent. Maybe with a feeder during the daytime, but feeding the margin rushes for later in the evening. There is a nice video on You-Tube My roach attack that is worth a look about big roach in the edge.