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Sea Angler - March Digital Sampler

Bob Roberts My monthly

Bob Roberts My monthly fishing diary... WHAT a mixed bag this month threw up. With social media dominated by anglers complaining about catching nothing, I couldn’t help wondering if they were simply looking for excuses not to go fishing. Winter fishing can be tough, but proper clothing makes things bearable and choosing the right venue on the right day can produce spectacular results. Week one... The River Torne is one of many dykes and drains that were re-engineered by Cornelius Vermuyden around 1628 as part of a project to drain King Charles’ Hatfield Moors hunting grounds. In 1940 the Torne was re-routed to discharge into the River Trent via a pumping station at Keadby. Of course, all this was well before my time, and my earliest experience of fishing the Torne was in the big freezeup back in 1963, one of the harshest winters in living memory. I had journeyed with my mate Keith Gale, whose parents owned the local tackle shop in Bentley. I was just 12 years old and Keith was probably 13, yet we travelled on our own, by train, to Crowle and walked the rest of the way. Snow lay in the fields and was piled knee deep on the roadsides where it had been ploughed. Not surprisingly the river was frozen solid, thick enough to bear the weight of a man, but we were tough in those days. We had to be. There were no thermals or moon boots. Oh, and there was no return train until the afternoon, so we went scouting to try and find a bit of open water. The only bit we could find was immediately underneath a road bridge on the A161. We gave it our best shot, but needless to say we caught nothing. Though I have fished the Torne occasionally since, I think the first outing left me with my most lasting impression. It’s not a regular haunt of mine, though I did once catch 35lb of roach in a short afternoon session on hemp and tares. Decent roach and quality skimmers off the Torne Thanks to a tip-off from my old mate Trevor Empson, I learned that fish were being caught in numbers near Belton. With nowhere else producing much I had to investigate. Blow me, the first angler I bumped into as I parked up was none other than five-times world champion Alan Scotthorne. He had intended to have a bloodworm practice session on Hayfield, but it was iced over and the gates were locked, so we dropped in side by side above a bunch of other anglers. Now I was expecting to get spanked by the master, particularly with him using bloodworm, but it turns out that as brilliant a bait as bloodworm is, it is not the be-all and end-all some make it out to be. Sometimes punched bread can beat it hands down, and while Alan struggled to get past hordes of tiny roach, I was catching quality roach and skimmers galore. The flow varied considerably, sometimes stopping altogether, but whenever there was a bit of movement I was getting one a bung. What a session, and most welcome in the circumstances. One that might well remain in my memory as long as the first one. Week two... With the snowmelt finally gone, my beloved Trent was getting back to something approaching normal levels. I was itching to have a go. The water temperature was still decidedly chilly, certainly too cold for barbel to show any interest, but that just meant it would be a chub day. Fog shrouded the river on my arrival. It was eerily still and the river looked I sat on my hands to connect on the Trent 110 • IYCF Issue 334

dead. But looks are deceiving. I set off for a favourite swim, cast out a cage feeder loaded with liquidised bread, a squeeze of flake on a size 10 hook and within minutes the tip began its stuttering, dithering dance with an occasional enthusiastic jag. Fishing bread is all about remaining calm, in control, patient and measured. You must under no circumstances go striking at every violent twitch – it’s about waiting for a deliberate pull. Easier said than done. It’s not really something that can be explained but you’ll know when it happens. The best advice is to sit on your hands so you don’t strike too soon. Better to not strike at all than strike at the wrong time and spook every fish in the swim. Even so, I missed the first couple of positive indications so I took my own advice and sat on my hands. The next cast saw me ignoring the sharp tugs and I waited until the tip went over and kept on going. Fish on! And would you believe it was still only just hooked in the lip? I think chub mouth the bait and give it a good shaking. They play with it, sometimes for ages, before deciding to eat it. You simply have to have faith that your hook is still baited and wait it out. The reaction in my second swim was almost identical. The chub were showing an interest but not feeding hard. I switched to a much smaller feeder to avoid filling them up too quickly. And bingo! Fish number two was soon in the landing net. The sun was now breaking through and burning off the lingering mist. It was a beautiful day to be out, wandering my river with the minimum of tackle. I had the place to myself and all was wonderful in the world as I continued to attract plenty of tentative plucks and pulls that kept me enthralled, catching a fish here and there in the bright sunshine. Roving on the Trent delivered several quality chub IYCF February 13 – March 13, 2018 • 111

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