It’s over 20 years since I last fished the Tidal Trent. In those days we used to fish High Marnham on a regular basis and catch plenty of Chub on the feeder along with Skimmers, Roach and the odd small Barbel. Put a worm on and you would get plagued by the dreaded bootlace sized Eels.
The tidal is a completely different animal to the upper Trent that I tend to fish these days. A fifty yard chuck with a feeder is not uncommon and then there is the rise and fall of the tide to contend with.
Anyway I decided it was about time to go back to the tidal and give it a try. It was going to be a bit of an exploratory visit and I armed myself with maggots, casters, worms and a few deadbaits to see what I could catch. A quick check of the tide times meant that I needed to be there early (typical, why couldn’t it be a more sociable time) to catch the river just before high tide and then the productive run off period. I arrived just as the river was starting to back up and I setup a bit further up the bank as at high tide the river level would be about 3 feet higher than it’s current levels.
My first line of attack would be the feeder loaded with maggots, casters and chopped worm with double maggot on a size 16 hook. First cast in and the bait had hardly had time to settle when the rod tip rattled and I struck into my first tidal fish in over 20 years. It turned out to be a Dace about 5 inches and several others followed along with a few hand sized Perch and Skimmers although the Skimmers did get a bit bigger as the morning went on with a couple of them over the pound mark. This pattern continued for a few hours although the bites got harder to hit until I did managed to connect with one of them and this turned out to be a Roach around the half pound mark that had a liking for a bit of chopped worm on the hook.
As the day wore on I decided to put a deadbait out for Zander. There have been some very large Zeds caught out of the tidal stretch of the river and although I wasn’t expecting any monsters I thought it would be a good chance to see what the Zander population was like on that bit of river. Twenty minutes after casting out the rod tip started bouncing and at first I thought the line was caught on some debris that was floating downstream but it didn’t look quite right so I struck and felt the familiar thump-thump of a Zander on the end. It was only a small fish around 12 ounce but the greedy blighter had taken the Roach section right to the back of his throat. It was my first tidal Zander too so it was a special fish.
I was still getting bites on the feeder rod but these wee getting less frequent and just as difficult to hit. I did connect with one fish that turned out to be a little skimmer and as I was bringing it in something was trying to grab it on the surface from behind. Just as I was swinging the fish in I noticed a very large perch behind it that looked well over 3 pound. There was no way it was going to take the skimmer but it might take one of the Dace that I had in the net. I quickly setup another rod and rigged up a livebait Dace. I dropped the fish about one and a half rod lengths out and literally within seconds the rod pulled over and I connected with the Perch. It really did feel like a very good fish as it dived towards the rocks trying to escape. Slowly it came towards the net and I could see that it was well over 3 pound and I could also see the livebait in it’s jaws. It made another lunge and then it was gone. B*****d !!!! To say I was gutted is an understatement.
I let the swim settle for half an hour before putting out another livebait. I didn’t have to wait long before the same thing happened again. The rod tip started to quiver as the Dace got nervy and then “Wallop!!” another Perch hit it. After another struggle I was starting to get the better of it and then the hook pulled again.
Out went a bait again and third time lucky I managed to land one, only it was about 10 ounce. How come the small fish manage to get hooked securely but the big one’s don’t? I managed to miss a couple more bites on the livebaits before deciding to give it up. I think the baits I were using were probably too big. It seems to be an ordeal to try and catch any fish under 5 inches from the trent these days. I’m sure if i could catch some smaller fish in the 3-4 inch bracket then the fish would be easier to hook and land.
I went back to fishing the feeder and I still had the Zander rod out but the fishing had well and truly tailed off. Just as I was thinking how lucky I had been to not get plagued by Pike I had a bite on maggot and as I was reeling a Dace in it got snaffled by one very angry Pike. It was a good fish too around the 12 – 14 pound mark by the looks of it. I whinced every time I felt the line twang on it’s teeth and for a moment I thought I was going to land it before the line parted agonisingly close to the net.
The river left had dropped considerably as the tide went out and I’d had the best of the sport. It had also started to rain so I packed up with mixed emotions. It had been enjoyable getting to grips with the tidal again but I could help but feel that had things gone my way a bit more I could have had a nice fish or two. Not to worry though as i’ll be back on there soon enough with a bit of luck.