Planning is the first step to any adventure, and planning for a couple of days away fishing at Collingham Weir with your pals is no exception.
As the days were ticked off the calendar excitement grew, and more and more time was spent focusing attention on the venue, usually through catch reports and posts on social media. These recent reports and memories from our previous visits to the Weir form a level of expectation and excitement! It’s difficult not to get carried away, but to be honest, I personally embrace the madness!!
With the recent spell of weather being unbearably hot and the country seeing very little rain, we prayed for some wet stuff to fall and ‘freshen up’ the Trent. A week out and the weather forecast looked absolutely spot on! 3 days before us travelling, the local report showed showers and a temperature drop followed by mild conditions and a little wind! Perfect!
John McGough and I arranged a strategy meeting over a few beers (an important part of any trips planning stage) We knew the fish were there, and plenty of them. Collingham has a reputation for multiple catches and some stunning fish can be caught. But as the sun drops the fish move out of the foamy weir and travel towards the higher numbered pegs. With only three of us going we had a great opportunity to ‘Catch twice’.
Daylight hours would be spent in the top pegs, and we would move ahead of the barbels daily migration and pick them off as they moved away from the turbulent water. With the strategy in place in record time we celebrated with a couple more beers and looked forward to catching some lovely Trent barbel and hoped for a river monster or two to show themselves.
The day soon came, we set off at 3.45am giving us plenty of time to factor in a stop to grab a McDonalds breakfast on route (all part of the plan) and arrived at the weir before 8am. The gear was hastily unloaded and we were soon set up on a rising tide with our tails wagging, watching thousands of gallons of water cascade over the mighty weir.
The bait of choice for the next 48 hours was plenty of Hinders Elips and C Food Pellets, different sizes were to be stuffed into PVA bags and matched with hook baits ranging from, Elips Dumbells and Pellets, C Food hardened hook baits and Pellets. Some glugs, enhancers and paste were also ready and waiting to tempt the resident leviathans. Rigs were simple but strong to cope with the flow and to steer fish from snags we remembered from previous trips!
Action is usually pretty quick, but after the first few casts came back untouched or snagged, we soon realised it would not be as straight forward as we’d hoped and planned for.
Takes were timid to start with, a few drop backs and taps, but just before lunchtime my rod hooped over and keeping the rod high to avoid snags, I steered our first barbel of the trip into the net! (a huge relief) She had picked up two small Elips Pellets trimmed, glued and dunked into a C Food glug, at over 11lb she was just the start we needed. A few more decent runs resulted in more barbel, but also highlighted what we were up against as it was very difficult to avoid the unseen snags!
We were fishing spots that were clear from previous trips but now we had to remap the weir and find new, safer spots. This however was soon to be the least of our problems as being wrapped up in all the excitement we hadn’t seen the storm clouds approaching.
Typically, my preparation was poor, John and Paul and already set up base for the night, with sturdy shelters erected and bags tucked away from the elements. I was ‘between swims’ as the biblical rain, thunder and lightning came. Everything I had carefully packed was saturated within minutes. My brolly broke, as did my river pod and my trip was spiralling out of control. But the ever in control John used the change of weather, location and the cover of darkness to his full advantage.
Knowing the fish would be moving, we fished through the night to make the most of this opportunity and our time, and make the most of his time John certainly did, he managed to add 10 barbel from under the star filled skies to his earlier tally of 4 from the stormy weir. But the stamp of these fish was significantly bigger with 5 doubles, 3 over 13lb with the biggest being 13lb 15.
John used bigger baits at night, C Food Dumbbells and Elips Hook baits wrapped in paste replaced the smaller trimmed and glued pellets from the daytime and proved to be the winning formula. Using the lights on the weir as a marker, John accurately recast to exactly the same spot to keep the feed going in and the group of Barbel interested, this tactic proved to be hugely successful!
It was soon morning and as the sun brightened the horizon and the stars disappeared from the night sky, I (having sat in wet clothes through the drop in temperature) succumbed to the cold and climbed into my wet sleeping bag in an attempt to warm up. During the night I managed a total of 5 barbel, with 2 over the 11lb mark and was delighted, this bought my tally to 7 fish.
At 5.30am the wind had dropped, the rain had finally eased and the kettle was on, we were ready for day two in the weir! John started strong, with a few early fish, I on the other hand lost 4 in a row, one in particular was a heavy fish lost close to the net that left me feeling sick. Snags became more and more of a problem and we decided to make our night switch earlier than planned.
The weather was very different but John’s routine and tactics stayed consistent, taking his recent great form on the Hampshire Avon seamlessly to the Trent and doing it in style.
As the sun dropped below the trees and the clusters of stars brightened the clear skies the stillness and silence of the night was broken only by the sound of John’s buzzer and then screaming clutch from 50yrds up the bank.
Our plan, hatched months before had to be adapted, the thunder storm, lightning, torrential rain and snags in the weir tested our skills, tactics and patience, but the results