Trent Musings with Cal Wilson

16th March 2022

With the final weekend of the 2021/22 river season fast approaching, I knew it was time to have one last bash at the mighty River Trent. The plan was to do a 48-hour session 

with the Mrs and Mabel, the fish pooch whom, being a pup, had never been with us on the bank before.

The weather for the previous few days had seen quite a bit of sun but with cool nights, the river was well up the previous week, and I anticipated it to be near on perfect by the time the weekend arrived, slightly up and coloured, but fining down nicely. A stiff southerly was forecast with rain mid-afternoon on the Friday. 

With the Mrs and the dog coming, I wanted somewhere accessible and the back of A1 Pits at South Muskham fitted the bill. I have fished at Muskham before over the years, but upon arriving late Friday morning my heart sunk to see just how busy it was. Most of the old match stretch was full, as was up to the A1 Bridge, and driving further past it seemed every other river angler had the same idea. Just before the river bends, I noticed 3-4 pegs void so stopped to have a closer look. One of the pegs had an overgrown bush to the right into the water and a tricky looking fallen tree snag to the left, the glide on top of the river around 2 rods lengths out looked perfect with it coming back in on itself from left to right, further out it was its usual right to left flow.

These days I always prep the bait up a few days before the planned fishing trip, having been involved within the bait industry for quite a few years with British Aqua Feeds and a consultant for the last 8 years with DNA Baits, bait choice isn’t a difficult one, S7 from DNA and Black Magic pellets from BAF had done me well on both rivers and still waters. 

This time however, I wanted something a little different, I’d been on ‘The Bug’ last season and it had caught me well, I would take some of these, along with the awesome Crayfish Hookers, these Hookers are soaked in 5-10ml of BAF’s Amino Solutions ‘Black’ 3-4 days prior to fishing, 

this allows the liquid to soak right into the hook baits and you can top up if necessary. I generally fish two rods on the river, but always have 3 set up, one is on a feeder style; set up the other 2 straights leads, hook lengths are determined by the flow and the number of debris pushing through, the more debris coming through the longer I tend to have the hook lengths.

On the straight lead rod, a single Crayfish Hooker wrapped in Shrimp/Belachan paste was put out just beyond the main crease into the flow, the feeder set up was put along the same lines but more to the right so any bait that drifted down form the feeder had to go past the straight lead rod. After a couple of hours, the rain came and went, and despite perfect conditions no action came, I deliberately wound the straight lead rod in to check for debris and despite a little build up around the 5oz lead, there was nothing that warranted any concern.

I put the ‘Fresh Crayfish Hooker’ bait back on again, wrapped in paste, only this time another 5 yards further out into the main flow of the river. 

10 minutes later the rod rips off to a pristine Barbel of 9lbs, pressure of a little and it’s nice to get a fish early on.

Time to relax, rod re-baited with the Crayfish Hookers soaked in Amino Solutions ‘Black’ and wrapped in Belachan/Shrimp paste. Feeder rod re-baited at the same time and again, put a further 5 yards out into to the main flow. Shortly after dark, the straight lead rod was away this time giving a decent pull and thump and the rod. 

After a short battle, a chunk of a Barbel at 13.04 was in the net. A new season’s best for me, two decent fish in a couple of hours; good start Wilson. Interestingly, all the dog wanted to do was lick the fish.

The night was very quiet, and by midnight, I decided to rest the swim with no further action and wound the rods in to get some shut eye. As soon as the sun rose, both rods were back on the spots in the main flow, and if it’s one thing I have found, if it’s a busy place, the biggest fish can come between 2am and 6am in the morning, especially in summer.

This was different, it was near mid-March, a Re-bait on both rods around 10am and a chill in the bivvy, I’d drifted off and soon after midday, the paste wrapped rod was away again.

Slow and heavy thumps told me it was a decent fish, this was confirmed when another season’s best of 13.14 was in the net, happy days indeed. 

Anyway, both the rods were re-baited and back to the fishing. Exactly 90 mins later, the paste wrapped rod is off again, another spirited battle and a pristine Barbel of 12.06 was awaiting some pictures. Mabel was seriously getting in on the photo bombing, a little cutie with the pose this time.

The swim went quiet until the evening when another mint conditioned Barbel of 8.08 to the paste wrapped rod. 

Then suddenly, around 8pm, another impressive fish of 11.06 followed by a fish of 9lb on the nose which gave me the best scrap of the lot and snagged me several times before giving up the final action of a very welcome session.

The one thing I’ve learnt over the years, is no session is ever the same on the river Trent, thinking a little outside the box can mean all the difference between a fish or a multiple catch, this time it was the Crayfish Hookers soaked in Amino Solutions Black wrapped in Belachan paste that made the difference, not one bite came to the feeder rod fished just 4-5 yards upstream, same distance out. Whatever the outcome, enjoy your fishing, and do it for yourself, no one else.

Tight Lines

Callum Wilson

Part of the group