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First Trip Of The Year - March 2023

Hi all, it’s been a while since my last blog, in fact it’s been a while since I was out fishing to be honest. When my friend Keith passed away suddenly in the Autumn, it knocked the stuffing out of me fishing-wise. December and January just seemed to fly by. After having had a really good holiday with the Missus in sunnier climbs in February, I am feeling the urge once again to be getting out on the bank on a regular basis again, with a renewed interest in catching some scaley beasts.


I have often said. If you are not enjoying been out on the bank, then don’t go, have a bit of time out and do something else, rather than sitting it out and not enjoying being there. Trying to grind out a result (what does that really mean?) is when I feel I would not be fishing well anyway, I don’t have the time to just occupy bank space and wait. I would rather wait until I am excited to go again and feel I am fishing better because of an upbeat attitude. So that’s where I am now, new season and raring to go. I thought would cover my first couple of sessions of the year in this piece.


My first trip was a two-day session down at Trent View Fisheries, which is a great fishery, well run by Ian Harley and his team. I had booked the cabin swim just in case the weather turned a bit cooler with it still been March, which it did! The Cabin swim is a good swim and usually good for a bite or two. I arrived Sunday lunchtime, there was no need to rush as no bivvy etc. to set up. Having fished the swim before I knew the spots I intended to fish as well. The plan was to fish 2 rods on the bar in front of me at just over a hundred yards, it comes up from 22 feet to 16 feet or so, before dropping away to very deep water, the other rod I would fish with a bag and keep it moving about.


Trent View has some very deep margins and I have caught a lot of carp here just fishing at the bottom of marginal shelf, from a few different swims. I did feel that with the water temperature still very cold, the carp may not be moving along these areas just yet. Hence focusing on the main body of water, the shallows were not fishing very well just yet, which suggested to me the carp were still in the main lake. Bait wise I am using the ASM this year which I started with last year, when I joined the Key Baits team, it’s just such a good bait and catches a lot of carp, having said that, it is not very wife or house friendly at all! Now that I have got used to using the bait and various hookbaits that accompany it, I am really looking forward to using it for the full year. I feel it will be an edge for me, wherever I fish.

As I haven’t fished at Trent View recently I didn’t want to use too much bait, I know some others have been having good results on here using a fair bit of bait, but as I wasn’t in touch with the venue enough to know what was happening, I didn’t feel it the best option to be putting lots of bait in, similar to most lakes at this time of year, just fish for a bite at a time. Using just enough bait for a bite at a time is a piece I have just penned in an article in Talking Carp about early season fishing. Literally one scoop of bait at a time over each hookbait, a mixture of crumbed ASM, the new dissolving pellets from Key Baits Solutions and a small amount of the Trent View house pellet, mixed up with a good glug of Hydro Liver and Hemp oil. The key to this approach is to refresh the baited area on a regular basis, especially as it’s very deep water here. So little and often is my preferred approach at this time of year.

As I was fishing two rods close together, I opted for different hookbaits and set-ups, just to see if the carp showed a preference, which does happen quite often. One rod was fished with a small Natural ASM pop-up on a stiff hinged rig, which tends to be my starting rig at this time of year on most lakes, as there can be lot of rubbish on the lakebed left over from the Autumn/Winter. The other rod was a bright yellow dumbbell wafter trimmed down a bit, set up on a on a combi-rig. The third rod with a small PVA bag and wafter set-up was kept on standby until I saw something to cast to, which didn’t materialize at all, so I just kept moving it around along the bottom of the marginal shelf.

The first night was quiet, just before first light I started to see the odd carp show out along the middle line, it wasn’t long after dawn when the pop-up rod gave a few bleeps and I struck into my first carp of the year. After a short fight I netted a lovely looking Mirror, which tipped the scales at just over 25lb, excellent! The first carp of the year under my belt. The rest of the day was quiet, with hindsight, I should have switched the bag rod to an adjustable Zig as there were definitely carp about down the middle line. After refreshing the rods at last light, I was confident of another bite that night.


At 2am, in the middle of a real storm, the same rod rattled off properly. I made a point of taking my time getting my coat and boots on before hitting the rod, as it was lashing it dow! After a very spirited fight and a real soaking I netted a mid-double Mirror, I unhooked it in the net and released it straight away, if it had been bigger, I would have gone for someone to take a photo. I decided to wait for the weather to pass before getting the rod back out, which I did just before first light. It wasn’t out long before it rattled off again, a fairly steady fight saw me net another Mirror, which went just over 25lbs, I was feeling a little pleased with myself with another nice carp.


All too soon it was time to pack up. I was happy with my first trip of the year though, a brace of 25lb carp is a fair result for this time of year I think. It does show the benefits of the little and often baiting approach though as opposed to slavishly filling it in without really knowing what is going on. Over the 2 days I did go through a few kilos of bait, so it still went in, just not all at once. Interestingly, all the bites came to the small neutral coloured pop-up, at a time of year when most will look to use brightly coloured hookbaits, would I have caught more if I had switched the other rod to the same set-up? Who knows…

My next trip two weeks later was to my usual haunt, the A1 Pits at Newark. I couldn’t get the swim I wanted on Pit 6, so opted to fish a swim that gave me access to the middle of the lake on Pit 5, as I knew the weather forecast would move them on. My location was nearly right, there were carp showing along the middle, but just slightly on the opposite side. With a bitter Easterly wind, the fishing was extremely hard, and I never had a blip over the two days I was there…oh well…back to the drawing board…it did give me the opportunity to get back into casting at range though, as I was fishing around the 120 yard mark. I also spent a bit of time, re-spooling my marker and spod rods as well.

My fishing plans for the first part of the year is as follows, for the next couple of months to fish mainly on the Pits for 2 nights every two weeks usually Sunday to Tuesday, and on the week I am not night fishing, I will have a short evening session once or twice a week up at the Airport Lake in Leeds, I haven’t really fished it much since lock down. So, I plan to have a bit of a go on there, just the barrow and some rods, nothing else, keeping very mobile.


In Mid-June I am hoping to get over to France to try a couple of new public lakes I have had my eye on for a while. Then in late June and into July, I have a few fishing events to attend. One at Trent View, which is an annual Memorial event for Rob. Then on to Horseshoe Lake for the Carp Societies Festival of Carp, where I will be organizing a memorial swim at the event for my friend Keith who passed away last November. Then we have a BCSG social, which should be nice chill out event, with a few glasses of the red stuff! Finally at the end of July, another social back at Trent view, let’s hope I bag a few carp along the way.


I will let you know how I get on, catch you next time.


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