Twelve days and a little over twelve hours to go at the time I start to write this!!!!!
To what you might ask? The glorious 16th and the mighty River Trent opening its banks to the lovers of its magnificence once more, and I for one can’t wait!
So what have I been up to for the past couple of months? Well I have been chasing Bream & Catfish and watching the mighty Doncaster Rovers gain promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt, as Champions!
April & May Sessions
At the start of April and in bitterly cold weather I paid a visit to a well-known still water in North Lincolnshire and kicked off my out of season campaign with a bit fat blank. Not an ideal start and all I could muster were 2 runs that resulted in nothing. Only 3 other people were brave enough to be on the bank and between the 4 of us we managed to put a total of absolutely nothing on the bank, that’s how bad it was. So the following day I paid a visit to Bank End on the old East Lake to try and put a few fish in the net and have a bit of a confidence booster. Again it was bitterly cold with bright clear skies and once more it was a struggle, however I did manage to put a few ‘skimmers’ in the net for around 20lb in total on a small method feeder while others on the lake struggled.
Two weeks later and I decided to open my Bream account on a Nottinghamshire gravel pit. Not only was it was my first time fishing this massive body of water but it was also the first time I had ever set eyes on it and I knew it was going a steep learning curve. I decided to fish into the wind which at this point was nothing more than a breeze and on throwing out the marker rod I found a bar 60-70 yards out with a thin covering of silt that I decided would be the spot I fished at and put out quite a few spods of bait to try and bring the fish in.
After spodding I wanted to leave it an hour or so before making my first cast, so I spent this time setting the rods up and getting everything else prepared. By now the wind was starting to get up and I started wondering if I had made the right decision regarding where I was fishing because if it got up too badly it wasn’t going to be fun chucking a feeder or lead 70 yards out into it. I started off with a method feeder on both rods with short braid hook lengths with a hair rigged boilie tipped with a piece of buoyant artificial corn on one and hair rigged 2 pieces of sinking artificial corn tipped with a buoyant artificial caster on the other. Within minutes of casting in a saw a fin break the surface under the tips of my rods and to my amazement a Pike well into double figures was basking there for a moment before carrying on to the right patrolling the margins looking for a meal, damn I had left the pike gear at home!!!!
By now the wind had really picked up and was ‘blowing a hooly’ as they say with gusts up to 60mph.
I put a 20lb Fluorocarbon shock leader onto each rod to enable me to punch the feeder out the distance I needed to in this wind and settled down again but it was tough going. I had 2-3 anglers walk around to me telling me nobody had caught anything and my heart was beginning to sink but then my left hand rod screamed off and I was soon slipping the net under a 6lb 7oz bream. I stuck it out until an hour after dusk but sadly this was to be my only fish of the session which turned out to be hard work.
A few days later and I was back on the pit as dawn broke. I had a walk around and this time decided on the other side of the complex in a corner as I saw Bream rolling over there. Weather conditions were awful for the Bream, it was bright and the pit looked like a sheet of glass as there wasn’t even a breath of wind.
This time I found no features or change on the bottom with the marker rod so settled for fishing at a comfortable 40-50 yard chuck where I saw the fish rolling earlier. The same as my previous visit I fished with method feeders. The action was non-existent but the wildlife was beautiful and I decided to test out my new camera on the birds and even got a shot of a bee on the blossom in a tree to my right.
After a few bite less hours I decided to make some changes. Off came the method feeders to be replaced with a scaled down naked chod rig with 2oz leads and 2-3” 7lb fluorocarbon hook lengths with buoyant artificial baits and within 30 minutes I had been rewarded with a bream tipping the scales at 6lb 14oz
Again not a big fish but a reward to ringing the changes in order to get a bite and once again the only fish caught.
Moving into may and I really felt like getting my hands on some ‘pussy’, so myself and 4 friends spent the first weekend of the month at Manor House Farm in Hertfordshire in search of Wels Catfish.
To be honest I shouldn’t have really gone as I was ill with a Chest infection, tonsillitis & flu combination. I was that bad I spent most of the weekend laid out on my bed chair feeling sorry for myself, however the scenery was stunning.
The lake is small and there are only 5 pegs on it and all the ‘pussy’ apart from 1 were caught at the top end in the shallower water from pegs 1 & 5, in fact those 2 pegs produced over a dozen fish in the 2 nights we were there while everyone else struggled for even a sign of fish life. I drew peg 2 and started off with 30mm halibut pellets hair rigged onto size 2 Korda Curve shanks on 1 rod and a quarter of a tin of luncheon meat hair rigged onto the other. I never had a bite on either so half way through the weekend switched the pellet rig to a suspended lobworm rig. This involved fishing a large bunch of lobworms anything from 6 inches to 3-4 feet below the surface with them being suspended from tubing with a foam pop up ball at either end with my main line going through the centre of it. I did mange 2 runs on this rig but struck into nothing so they were probably another species of fish grabbing the bait and not taking it properly instead of the catfish they were intended for.
Gaz captured the largest ‘moggy’ of the weekend taken on a large chunk of garlic sausage.
And his reward, 53lb 13oz of pristine, hard fighting Wels Catfish.
I can’t wait to go back down later in the year for another go when I’m not ill and can think more about what I am doing and being in a fit state of mind to react to things that are happening instead of just chucking the rods in and crawling onto my bed chair to sleep all weekend.
The final morning was stunning with mist rising from the water and the sun breaking over the trees in front of me.
The weekend did however have its bizarre moments with the most bizarre being the sounds you woke up to. Chris said to me on the Friday “watch out for the lions” and I was like “yeah right” but at dawn I was awoken with what can only be described as an African Dawn Chorus!! I didn’t know that a couple of hundred yards from the lake there was a wildlife park and zoo and instead of being woken by the songs of birds it was the calling of lions, tigers and monkeys which even though bizarre was absolutely amazing and something really different.
On arriving home I had heard that the pit I had been fishing for Bream in April wasn’t producing anything of note so decided to switch venues to a natural lake, still in Nottinghamshire. The venue does hold double figure Bream but not in huge numbers but a fish over 14lb had come out recently. Even though I had fished this water before it was around 25 years ago so I had a lot to learn about the place.
My first session was an overnighter in the 2nd week of the month and I arrived at the venue mid-afternoon and fished a peg facing into a slight breeze. I get the bivvy and everything sorted and decided to start on the scaled down naked chod rigs. I did get a couple of fish but felt a change may result in better results so switched to helicopter rigs with 1oz grip mesh feeders and 8” long braid hook lengths. I fished both rods with hair rigged baits of 2 pieces of sinking artificial corn tipped with a piece of buoyant corn to balance the bait and hook perfectly. It did produce a couple of fish at dusk so I settled down for the night ahead. Strangely the hours of darkness produced nothing, the odd liner but that was it but as soon as dawn started to break the Bream were back on the feed and 3 more were soon in the net. Not massive fish but with most averaging between 6 and a half and 7 and a half pounds it was lovely sport. By mid-morning the bites had stopped so it was time for another change to try and winkle out another fish or 2, so off came the braid hook lengths to be replaced by longer 14” fluorocarbon hook lengths and once again making that change worked and it produced another 3 fish including the largest of the session at 8lb 6oz.
At lunch time I decided to call it a day by which time I had finished with 10 Bream and a really enjoyable session.
The following week I was back for another overnighter and decided to fish the same peg and carry on with the helicopter rigs that had worked the week previously. However I did want to make changes and decided the change would be in the amount of feed I introduced into the swim, after all I was learning the water and wanted to make changes and experiment to see what would work. I had brought with me Vitalin, molasses, pellets (micro, 4mm & 6mm), hemp & casters. The night before I had made up the vitalin with boiling water in order to release the oils in it and on the day added the rest of the bait. I made up 30 tangerine sized balls and catapulted them into the swim and gave it an hour to settle before making my first cast. I had a few fish and the at dusk had 2 over the 8lb mark, one weighing 8lb 4oz that I pictured on the mat as I had forgotten to set my tripod up and the second tipped the scales at 8lb 1oz.
Like my previous session I was bite less through the night, again something I found strange on a water containing Bream, but just before dawn I put another 25 balls into the swim to try and kick it off for the morning and as daylight broke I started to get indications. Bream were rolling over my bait and I was getting indications on my alarms and it wasn’t long before my first bream was in the net. I landed a few more fish and once again at lunch time called it a day. This session had seen a slight improvement in results with 13 Bream caught in total with 2 of them going over the 8lb mark with the rest as before all going between 6 and a half and 7 and a half pounds.
My final trip of the month to the venue was last week for 3 nights. I was going to fish from Wednesday until Saturday and be joined by fellow Yorkshire Specimen Group member Bob Beal on the Thursday until Saturday. I arrived at the venue on Wednesday afternoon and it was hammering it down with rain. Mick the venue bailiff was there in his car waiting for the rain to abate before setting up as he was stopping until Saturday too but by the time it got to almost 3pm we said we would give it another 30 minutes and if the rain hadn’t eased would go home and come back in the morning. Another angler (John) turned up in his camper van so Mick & myself decided to let him get organised and then we would nip around for a cuppa. So we gave John 20 minutes before driving around the lake to him only for the rain to stop, now was the window of opportunity to get set up so of I rushed to a peg on the other side of the lake from my previous 2 visits and I started setting up my basecamp for the next 3 nights.
I got the bivvy, bed chair, bivvy table, stove, pod and rods all set up, got all my gear into the bivvy and bait sorted and started plumbing about with the marker rod. I found a weed bed 25-30 yards out with clear silt in front of it so decided to fish just in front of the weed hoping the bream would patrol this point. In went 30 balls of bait and I went for a chat and a brew with Mick to give it time to settle before making my first cast at 8pm. By 10pm I had banked 4 fish up to 8lb 5oz and then the heavens opened.
I got soaked and checked the weather forecast and it said the rain was here for the night, so I stripped off, put my wet weather gear on and my wet clothes hung up with the heater blowing away to dry them out and get some sleep for a dawn start.
Just before dawn broke in went 25 balls and at first light out went the baited rods and it was only minutes before I was into Bream number 1. Over the next few hours it went crackers with fish after fish gracing my landing net and by late afternoon I had caught 17 bream before landing a surprise 8lb 5oz common carp. I don’t know what happened then but after the carp the bites started to dry up, I sensed that it and possibly 1-2 more had pushed the Bream out of the swim and I only had 1 more fish before nightfall.
Like the other 2 nights I had spent on the venue not one fish was caught through the hours of darkness, I really do find this strange and I need to work out why.
Dawn broke on the Friday morning and I had 2 fish before the sun started baking everything. It was red hot with not a breath of wind and of course the fishing just switched off. At midday I checked the thermometer on the car and it read 32 degrees in the sun trap where it was parked! I decided to relax and chill out in the shade of my bivvy because the chance of any fish being caught was zero to nothing in this heat and sun and there were fish crashing all over in the margins and reeds which meant the fish were going into spawning mode.
By dusk the fish were in full spawning mode. The margins and vegetation in them was alive and there was no interest in any bait presented to them and once again the hours of darkness produced nothing.
Dawn on the Saturday and in went some more bait. I was hoping the odd fish had finished spawning and that the feed might bring them into my swim. I did manage to snag 4 Bream before the sun emerged again in all its glory and killed to sport and at lunch time I decided to bring the session to an end and pack up.
I finished the session with 24 Bream up to 8lb 5oz with the majority once again between 6 and a half and 7 and a half pounds and 1 carp of exactly the same weight 8lb 5oz. So in this session and my 2 other overnighters I have had 47 Bream and 1 Carp and I am yet to bank a double. I know they exist because as I said earlier a 14lb 2oz fish was caught earlier in the month but they are scarce and this is the challenge that appeals to me, hopefully I will beat it before the river season opens in a fortnight.
The Hook Bait Company
I’m very excited about the range of baits that I will be testing over the summer and autumn months for Darren McCann of the Hook Bait Company. I met Darren at the Yorkshire regional Barbel Society show and was blown away with a flavour he’s been developing that I had a sniff off as it is very similar to the flavour I had knocked up and was using last season with good success.
So after a chat I asked if he could make me some 10mm boilies up which he has that look and smell fantastic and since then after more conversations he has made me up a dense oil in the same flavour as well as a glug and a paste base mix, at the back end of the summer I will be getting some pink pop ups done too. What I have received so far is of the highest quality and I am sure that the results will speak for themselves over the upcoming months.
Check out their Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/hookbaits
And their soon to be updated website here – http://www.hookbaits.com/
I really can’t wait for the Trent to open again, I mean I really really can’t!!!! After the fiasco of the weather and surgery last season I am looking forward to opening day this year more than I have done for years.
Over the close season I have been out a few times checking the river out and plumbing around with a bomb and I have been quite surprised how the bottom has changed in some areas due to the extra amount of water there was in the river last season.
I have my first session all planned and I feel like a kid at Christmas if I’m being honest.
All my gear has been stripped and cleaned, new braid sections for combi links tied up and put on rig boards and new braid put on the reels all ready for the off.
Next weekend I will be soaking 10kg of pellets in the flavour I’m testing for the Hook Bait Company and freezing them for 2-3 days before soaking them in the oil. I’ve got 2 gallons of hemp cooked and frozen and will be doing a few more gallon over the next few days.
Casters & Maggots have been ordered for collection so I think I am just about ready for the 16th.
Yorkshire Specimen Group
An update as to what the rest of the lads in the group have been up to recently, taken from the groups Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yorkshire-Specimen-Group/315467525242018 (Please feel free to like the page and receive regular updates regarding the groups activity)
It’s all been quiet with the lads getting ready for the start of the river season in a couple of weeks.
Tim has been chasing an elusive double figure Yorkshire Tench with fish so far up to 8 and a half pounds, I’m sure it won’t be long before a double is gracing his net. He’s also been inundated with orders for his Tench & Bream rigs and that’s not surprising due to the number of big fish they produce, so get some for yourself from here: http://www.specialistanglinginnovations.webeden.co.uk/
Mark has got 4 nights planned chasing Tench at a Lincolnshire Stillwater in early July, maybe 1-2 other lads from the group will be joining him.
Lee & his fishing buddy Danny Johnson enjoyed a fantastic 24 hours on Marsh Farm banking over 60 Tench to 5lb and 15 crucians to 3lb between them. Read Lee’s review of March Farm here: http://www.leeswordsfishing.co.uk/fishery-review-marsh-farm/
Something that I can’t go too much into detail about at the moment is that the group are looking at having an event in October in South Yorkshire in order to raise money for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It will involve a couple of guest speakers, one that has said yes is a Y.S.G. member that is an all-round specimen hunter who is well known and respected and the other who we are wanting to get is a highly regarded carp angler who again is very well known in the world of angling. There will also be the usual trade stands and a fantastic raffle to boot, more information about the event will be published on the groups website and Facebook page nearer the time.
Well what can I say apart from “Championees, championees, ole, ole ole!”
On Saturday 27th April my son Nathan and I joined 1800 other Rovers supporters in the away end at Brentford’s Griffin Park and witnessed one of the most dramatic endings to a game of football ever.
Going into the game we needed a point to clinch promotion, however if Brentford beat us then they would be promoted in our place. At the same time Bournemouth were playing at Tranmere and only had to get a better result than us to be crowned champions. Well here is how the drama unfolded:
We scored the winner with the last kick of the match and in Tranmere Bournemouth had only managed to get a point which meant the mighty Doncaster Rovers were returning to the Championship at the first attempt, as CHAMPIONS!
I could barely speak afterwards and this was the start of me being ill (See fishing blog when I was cat fishing) but it was worth it. The atmosphere was fantastic all the way through the match but when Brentford got the penalty I had my head in my hands and all I could think to myself was “same old rovers, we’ve f*cked up”, but I’ve never gone from the pits of despair to sheer joy and elation in such a short space of time at a game, ever. Eighteen seconds of so many emotions that you simply cannot put into words.
The funniest thing was that the Tranmere v Bournemouth game finished before ours and the Bournemouth fans were on the pitch demanding the trophy as league winners, especially after Brentford were awarded the penalty, how funny it was to see them pipe down and have their dreams shattered as we were rightly crowned champions as we had been league leaders for the final 2-3 months apart from the last week of the season. Here’s the video of the comedy gold ha-ha:
A few days later and the champions were presented with the trophy on a lovely evening at the Keepmoat Stadium:
For me our player of the season was our leader and inspiration both on and off the pitch, Rob Jones
“He’s Rob Jones…. Jones, always believe in Rob Jones, he’s got the power to score, he’s indestructible, always believe in!!!”
After the season finished and Brian Flynn moved back upstairs we were once again on the lookout for a new manager. Several names were thrown into the hat and being discussed o the various forums but the front runner with the bookies was always Paul Dickov, and so it proved to be when he was duly appointed.
At first I felt underwhelmed about it, I really hoped the club were going to appoint a manager with experience at this level, after all this was one of the conditions we were told that was needed but since his appointment PD has said the right things and with him attempting to bring one of my all-time favourite players to ever grace the red and white hoops back to the club in Richie Wellens then I will get behind him and give him time to see what he can do, I hope all Rovers fans do the same as we all need to be united now we are back in the Championship and the crap football we endured under Saunders is a thing of the past.
Also a couple of weeks ago the club announced their retained list:
The following players have been told the Rovers would like to retain their services and will meet the new manager as soon as possible to discuss the exact content of the contracts offered:-
The following Players have been given free transfers:-
I pretty much agree with that list but I suppose the biggest surprise was the release of Gary Woods who had been our first choice keeper for most of the season. Good luck anyway to the lads that have been released and I hope those offered new contracts put pen to paper soon.
It’s only a few weeks until the season kicks off again with it being moved forward with the world cup taking place next summer and the Championship is full of Yorkshire clubs, so there are plenty of mouth-watering derby matches to look forward to next season. In fact it’s been a good season overall for Yorkshire clubs with Hull gaining promotion to the Premier League, Wednesday, Huddersfield & Barnsley staying in the Championship and Rotherham & Bradford getting promotion from League 2. Have I missed anyone? Oh yes the poor Blades, once again destined for another season in League 1 and even having managers from Australia that nobody has heard of turning them down for the vacant managers job and calling the club Prehistoric, my heart bleeds ha-ha. I can see them appointing Gary Megson and there being another ‘shoes off’ protest in the car park at Bumhole Lane soon.
Anyway that’s enough from me for now, so until the end of June when I hopefully will have some Barbel to show you it’s tight lines and wet nets from me.