FOR me, any fishing trip to a big river is an event. What the day may hold in store sends me all of a dither. Couple that with the knowledge that the venue holds a record-breaking fish, and the excitement’s off the scale.
It’s been that way ever since my old man took me on my first fishing trip. I didn’t need an alarm to wake me back then, and I still don’t. Most times I was up and dressed and raring to go before dad reached the foot of the stairs. Indeed, I’m sure most anglers can identify with the condition I call PSE – pre-session expectations!
The River Trent at Gunthorpe is packed with big, hard-fighting barbel, and somewhere among them almost certainly swims the British record. So, with my PSE factor off the scale, the car was loaded up with bait and tackle at silly o’clock.
The day’s fishing was to include the making of a short video, as well as a live test of Shakespeare’s latest two-piece 11ft SKPS Solitude LS Specialist rods in test curves of 1lb and 1.5lb. Was I likely to tangle with a record-breaking barbel? Well, no, but in angling there’s always a chance!
Bang, and with a bump I was back down to earth – skidding, then going head over heels on my driveway, before clinging on to the frost-covered car to save myself further injury and embarrassment.
It was one of those supernova mornings when the moon looks immense – all very scenic, but boy, was it bloody cold!
The weatherman had forecast a cold start to the morning, followed by sun and rising temperatures. Little did I know then just what a glorious winter’s day this would be.
I pulled into the car park, tyres crackling over frozen puddles as if driving over cornflakes. The early sun was just making its presence felt, though, throwing golden rays across the field and down to the river as if pointing the way, and a light mist rose from the rapidly thawing ground, adding even more drama to the scene.
Thom, on camera duty for the day, pulled up alongside me and a few moments later we were both gazing at a Trent that looked in fine fettle – pacey and a little clear, but probably ideal for chub.
I’d originally intended to fish the 1lb test curve Solitude for old rubber lips, and its slightly more powerful relative for barbel. But the river was just too clear for that, so it was a lump of cheesepaste on one rod and the ever-reliable breadflake and bread feeder on the other.
Gunthorpe, like much of the Trent, is strewn with tackle-grabbing snags, so I went for robust 10lb and 12lb reel lines and similarly hefty hooklengths terminating in sturdy size 10 hooks, just to be on the safe side.
These Solitude rods are dressed in the finest, strongest Seaguide rings with low profile, friction-free ceramic linings. As specialist rods, they don’t come with quivertips and nor should they – their respective test curves provide them with reasonably fine tip areas that can be used to spot all but the shyest of bites. They look very classy, too, resplendent in retro olive-green with detailed gold whippings. At the risk of spoiling such a pristine paint job, you could always paint the tips white so they show up bites even better, if you’re doing a lot of river fishing.
The two-piece blanks use a combination of 20 and 30-tonne carbon cloths, to give a through action that retains a fair bit of grunt from the butt section up, should you need to pile on pressure. They’ll cast weights up to 60g (2oz) easily enough, and while they aren’t long-distance casting tools, their flexibility more than makes up for that.
You could use them with bite alarms for summer tench, stalking carp, or even lightweight deadbait tactics for pike, perch and zander.
You could even take them floater fishing on small lakes, such is their versatility.
But back to my day out, and the Trent surrendered up three of its finest chub. No fish were lost, despite the super-snaggy riverbed, and the Solitude rods performed faultlessly.
Watch the video, if for no other reason than to see the day itself… simply glorious, and a reminder about all that’s right and good about going fishing.
Price: £69.99 (but shop around), www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk __