During August my mate Andy “Epicentre” was up from London for a couple of visits, so first of all we decided to go exploring on the River Trent. Our first stop was the A1 stretch at South Muskam. Not having been to the A1 Pits Fishery before, we came in from the wrong side of the railway crossing and had to sit there for ages, watching countless trains whizzing past, waiting for the barriers to open. Having finally got into the complex we were impressed how busy it was, with loads of bivvied up anglers on the various gravel pits. We found the river less populated and drove along the whole length to get a feel for it, finally deciding on the downstream end, which looked good on a sweeping bend.
There was not quite as much flow as I expected, so I got away with a 30g groundbait feeder, only having to strap on a thin strip of extra lead to hold bottom. My plan was to feed a mixture of casters, hemp and meaty flavoured pellets in Krill groundbait, while Andy went for his usual pellet and sweetcorn orientated attack. The river was running a bit clear, with less flow than normal due to the hot, dry summer we have enjoyed this year. I was expecting the going to be hard, but we both got plenty of bites after a few feeder loadings had been deposited on the deck. I was getting pestered by small stuff on maggot or casters, so I quickly changed to 6mm pellet hook baits. I had to wait a bit longer for bites, but the size of fish immediately improved, although nothing over a pound turned up.
I thought Andy was a bit quiet upstream of me, so I went to see what was happening, which turned out to be much the same as I was experiencing. He had just switched to sweetcorn on the hook and was starting to catch some better sized roach on it. I went back to my swim and tried a smaller 4mm pellet, which resulted in a string of quality roach, but still no signs of bigger fish like bream, chub or barbel. Not knowing this part of the river very well, I wasn’t sure if we were doing the right thing, or if the area we were in wasn’t right for bigger fish.
Things have changed a lot on the Trent since I used to travel up from London, to fish matches in bygone days when Frank Barlow and John Dean were bagging up on the stick float, using the famous Dorman’s Donkeys maggots. Nowadays most of the anglers you see on the river have two rods set pointing skywards on pods, looking to catch specimen barbel.
Bites on pellets dried up, so I switched back to using casters, adding a good helping of these to my groundbait. The fish came back instantly and I caught some decent sized dace, along with roach and a good perch. But after that the small fish returned, mainly dace, bleak and small perch. I spent the rest of the session back on pellets and ended up with around 10 lbs of fish. Andy had a similar catch, boosted by a big slab of a bream that turned up out of the blue. I told him it would have been nice if he had let me know, so I could have got a photo!
On our next trip we decided on the tidal Trent, again kicking off with feeder gear, hoping for something big. But once again it soon became evident that the whole river is alive with silver fish. We both caught loads of dace and roach, even when using bigger pellets. I soon got fed up with
slinging out a 40g feeder and set up a stick float. Two days of fishing with my rod in the air was starting to give me a stiff neck!
The stick float I set up is a new model developed for Angling Direct shops and the Advanta brand. It’s a traditional cane stemmed float, but with a twist, having a highly visible hollow plastic tip. The latter is translucent, so it shows up much better than normal stick floats. To confirm this, Andy told me he could see my float tip from where he was sitting 25 metres upstream! These floats should be in AD shops soon, along with lots of other interesting running line and pole designs.
Once I got a steady stream of hemp and casters going into my swim it came alive with roach, perch, bleak and dace. It was virtually a bite a chuck. I had originally bulked number 4 shot above a long hook length, with two number 10s spread out on the trace line, but the tide was dropping and I found spreading the number 4s out evenly worked a lot better. Dace were beginning to swirl for my loose feed and I started catching these on the drop. I also caught quite a few perch towards the end of the trot, by letting my tackle pull in closer to the bank in the slacker water.
Some fair-sized roach turned up as well, with a single caster on a size 18 hook working best. I tried a tare but that didn’t work, while maggots were blitzed by bleak. Towards the end of the session I upped the amount of hemp and casters I was feeding, hoping that something big might turn up, but all that did was bring back the dace. Some were a fair size and I really don’t mind catching this species anyway. The lightening fast bites sharpen up your reactions and keep you on your toes.
Andy stuck it out on the feeder with pellets, catching plenty of dace, a giant gudgeon and some decent roach - one well over the pound mark.
Andy was back in Lincolnshire towards the end of the month, so we thought we’d try another new water, a pit run by Grantham AA at Buckminster. This is members only but at £25 for a season ticket it’s good value, considering all the other interesting places this opens up, including Denton Reservoir, several other lakes, the Grantham Canal and several miles of the River Witham.
There was no-one on the horseshoe shaped lake when we got there and it looked really nice, well overgrown, coloured water and fish fizzing bubbles everywhere.
All the surface activity looked like tench bubbles to me, so I set up a margin pole and a strong rig, finding a good 5ft of depth just beyond the weed beds, not far out from the bank. I cupped in several balls of dark groundbait, well laced with chopped worm, pellets and casters.
In the next peg along, Andy stayed with his favourite pellet and sweetcorn approach, fishing further out with a long pole.
It quickly became evident I had made a big mistake putting in chop and casters, because it turned out the place was heaving with small rudd. I couldn’t get a bait through them, which was very frustrating considering tench were fizzing bubbles like a jacuzzi over where I had fed. I tried bigger baits, heavier rigs, the lot, but couldn’t get a baited hook to the bottom long enough for the tench to find it.
Because Andy had only fed pellets and sweetcorn, his swim was less frenetic, helping him to find some better-quality fish, including a crucian carp and some bigger rudd. He then latched into a proper elastic stretcher as I happened along with my camera.
It turned out to be a good sized tench too, having put up a hell of a scrap. Andy said he had lost a couple of similar sized fish, which had come off in the weed. The weed was a problem for both of us. Apart from the visible floating beds of it, there was a lot of that horrible stringy stuff on the bottom that clings to your rig and covers the hook bait. That’s why Andy was now using sweetcorn, hoping the bigger tench could find it.
I went back and had another go for the tench as odd fish were still fizzing over where I had fed. But it was hopeless. I think I had managed to attract every rudd in the lake into my swim, so I set up a shallow pole rig and spent the last couple of hours having a go for them. It was a bite a chuck and gradually I started to get through to a few better sized ones, putting together a nice net of fish.
After Andy had returned to London I returned to Buckminster a few days later and fished the same swim as before, only this time I only fed hard groundbait and pellets. It didn’t take long before my swim was fizzing with bubbles again. I found by dumping a dark 6mm pellet in with my pole rig I could get it to the bottom. I did catch some nuisance fish, but I also managed to find three decent tench, which all fought like crazy on my margin pole. I caught some bigger rudd and a stray one-pound carp as well. A nice ending to the month and another interesting venue discovered.