Lee Swords Fishing

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What a week of fishing that was!

I am an all-rounder, a jack of all trades and not particularly the master of any. Every year I like to take a week’s holiday from work to coincide with the beginning of the river season, or in my case the beginning of the Trent season and this year, what a week of fishing that was!

You see for me, all the other rivers in the UK are little more than mistresses that I may on occasion visit when I have a need that she “the bitch” cannot fulfil, be that because “she” simply does not go there, or quite possibly like all great females she is in one of her more foul moods, times when it is obvious even to the most optimistic of us that she is in no frame of mind for a little bit of sweet loving.

The first week of the season this year was very much in that bracket, I arrived on the bank side to be greeted to a torrent of abuse that was quite unnecessary and rather disconcerting, you would have thought that after a three month break she would have been glad to see me as I was her but nothing could have been further from the truth…

Perhaps it was the fact that for the last three months the only company she (and all her sisters up and down the country) have had has been from the less savoury types of anglers…The ones that take, take, take and leave nothing but rubbish and the other type that have silly beards and speak with high pitched public school accents. No wonder she was peeved.

Whatever the reason, this was a full on Trent rage that I was seeing.

You can read and put into practice every bit of information you glean from article after article about how to fish large rivers in flood but no amount of back leads and rubber beads will stop a two tonne tree that is slowly and purposefully running down the edge of the river from taking your well placed rig, bending you over and stuffing it up your bum.

So it is best to sometimes walk away and do something different so with that in mind I did what any sensible person would do when faced with such blind rage…I upped sticks and went to get my jollies some place else.

Twenty four hours later I would return when all the big stuff had run through and all I had to contend with was your basic “washing” that would be hanging itself on my lines.

So with the first Trent session of the new season washed out, I found myself along with one of my fishing buddies Danny Johnson taking advantage of a twenty four hour still-water sojourn on the banks of a rather lovely but somewhat private estate lake (a little way north of Leicester) and after three months of no rivers when everything should have been pointing skywards the tips of my rods were buried deep below the surface and out of the way of the floating mats of surface weed as I set out to enjoy what I hoped would be a rewarding trip in search of Bream and Tench.

As I have already stated I am not the master of anything but I do have a decent working knowledge of most things including fishing for Tench and Bream, plus I have the pleasure of knowing Tim Ridge as a friend


A man who has in my opinion such a deep working knowledge of Bream and Tench that he is totally deserving of his reputation as the master of all fish slimy. Hence his book Still Water Angler (In conjunction with Dave Tipping) is on my bookshelf and is well thumbed. I recommend its purchase to anyone of a mind to do a bit of learning.



And so I set about trying a method that I thought would work well on the day in question a method I have named “The sloppy chod”

I have heard Tim mention spodding a sloppy cloud creating mix over his rigs to stimulate the fish to feed and so I thought I would do something similar.

Using a home made mesh feeder I went about creating a rig that I hoped would be just the ticket for fooling whatever came to investigate the cloud of particles and free offering that I had set about introducing to the swim.

It wasn’t very long after that my confidence received a massive boost when a small Tench and the fin of a rather large Bream broke the surface of the water as they porpoised their way down to where they would find a carpet of free offerings that would if I was correct settle their nerves and get them to put their protrusible lips to good use!


After maybe three quarters of an hour of gentle spodding and allowing the swim to settle three red maggots were super glued onto a very small fragment of Teme Severn Chocolate and Orange boillie.

My home made slop feeders were loaded with a very wet mix of T7 “Carpet Bomb” ground bait although I would say in all fairness any good method style ground bait from any number of brands would do an equally good job of creating the conditions I wanted to create below the surface, down the water column and on the deck.

Everything was set to go and my rods were finally ready to be cast into position, it wasn’t a large cast more a gentle lob and as the target species were not carp I used the bait clip to ensure that any subsequent casts I made would be landing on the same spot.

With the morning sun just about breaking over the tops of the tress I settled back to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, a Red Kite circled high overhead stretching its wings on the early morning thermals calling occasionally to some unseen mate and trying as best it may to avoid the attentions of a gang of marauding Carrion Crow, a tiny unobtrusive tree creeper darted up the mighty bough of a nearby oak, a bird so small and mouse like I am surprised it doesn’t live on cheese and is not in possession of whiskers and a tail.

I was fast becoming immersed in the beauty of nature but not so distracted as I did not notice the short lift upon my bobbin…the Delkim Txi however was oblivious to developments and remained silent as the bobbin lifted another half inch…Ah…Turn the alarm on Lee, turn the alarm on!

Before I could flick the switch and wake the alarm, the bobbin lifted to the butt of the rod and line was pulled from the loosely set bait runner…A bite!
Well…This changed things a bit!!

A firm but gentle lift of the rod had me playing what felt to be a small Tench, a very small Tench indeed but I am not one of those that gets emotional about pounds and ounces, it is just about getting a fish to take the bait, size would sort itself out later! The fight was nothing dramatic just the odd gentle nod followed by a kiting to the left and right …It may have even been a small skimmer. I didn’t care it was a fish, I had not blanked and my “Sloppy Chod” had done the business!
After a minute or so the fish was under the rod tip and that’s when pretty much all of the last paragraph got screwed up and thrown out of the window.

“It’s a bream!!!”


And it’s chuffing massive”

In all honesty, I did not say “chuffing” at the time, if I am honest nothing coherent was coming out of my mouth; in fact Danny thought I had been possessed by an Albanian and had lost the ability to use English as my first language.

There was some profanity when the fish slipped over the cord of the net in at least seven different languages!! I swear fluently in French, German Albanian, Spanish and Cantonese Chinese and can get by insulting people in Greek Japanese and Indonesian when needs must.

This thing blew my previous Bream PB out of the water. The fish was rested in the margins whist I did several Thierry Henry knee slide goal celebrations and danced around a small clump of what looked to be Russula xyanoxantha mushrooms like a rabid leprechaun on a bad acid trip.
Eventually Danny got bored of my celebration and told me to “calm down” because I was scaring the carp angler on the other bank. It seems celebrating the catch of a bream was just too much for the lad over the way; the poor chap thought the world had gone mad!


My brand new scales would be christened by a new best fish…the needle of the Reuben’s settled on a fine weight of 12lb 7oz. A fine weight indeed! I started to dance again.


Danny walked off in disgust and the carp angler over the way looked utterly lost in a sea of confusion…The world as he knew it had gone insane.

Danny gave me a bit of a right hook settler to calm my nerves and we got on with the job of taking some pictures, soon the fish was drifting off back to the depths and I was looking at the world in an altogether better light…I did not care that I was cheating on the Trent and neither was I bothered if I got so much as another bite all day.

When the bobbin slapped against the butt of the rod not five minutes later and the Delkim finally announced its presence I was both happy and excited! I was ( in most likelihoods  going to catch two fish in one day which would prove beyond all doubt that I was not the “Flukey fucker” that Danny said I was just moments earlier.

This one was no Bream however, whatever was on the end was in possession of some seriously bad attitude and more than a little fire power. Eventually a Tench rolled in to the net and once again I set off like a lunatic!

I had taken a couple of 8lb Tench from Sywell a few seasons ago with Mike Townsend and a couple of fish of similar calibre from Linear’s Hardwick the season after that but this fish looked a little bigger.
The scale said 8lb 8oz. A new PB. My second of the day!!! I said something “unrepeatable”.


Danny repeated the something I had said but aimed the comment directly at me.The carp angler on the other bank wound in and packed up. His will to fish on through such adversity as this was utterly depleted. Watching grown men actually weigh and photograph such things as Tench and Bream was beyond the pale and he would have no truck with it!


It would be easy to say the rest of the day passed without event but that would be a lie for not twenty minutes later did the bobbin do its dance again and another Tench lay within the folds of the net, this time a male of 6lb.

In the meantime Danny landed a new PB Tench of his own an almost carbon copy of my own PB at exactly the same weight of 8lb 8oz!

And I followed that by getting a second Bream of 7lb 10oz another two male Tench in the 5lb bracket and finally another “big girl” Tench that looked like a pale green Dors Feline and all of 10lb as she rolled in the margins.

She was huge and almost had me foul my waders as she wallowed in the silty mud refusing to succumb to the net!

However once in the net and on close inspection she had the build but not the filling for double figures and I must admit to a little smidge of disappointment when the scales stopped at 8lb 10oz…I thought she would be bigger.

Danny gave me one of his looks that said “If you don’t shut up moaning you will be eating the rest of your ground bait through a funnel” and I soon perked up again buoyed by the fact that I had done a hatrick of PB’s in a day.

Eventually we left the lake and made our ways home. I put a small dint in a bottle of single malt the name of which I cannot recall; it may have been Laphroaig I don’t know either way but I slept well that night.

The next morning saw me back on the Trent for a very quick session and armed with a special present of 100 fat juicy lobworms in an attempt to try and make things right between us. She was still a little flighty but as always when she is in one of her tempers the prospect of a few lobworms presented down the edge soon has her mellowed out somewhat.

No longer was she throwing trees at me any more she was satisfied instead by covering my line with leaves, small twigs and an endless supply of grass. I think it amuses her.

A Chub of 5lb 8oz soon healed the rift between us and I left her with a promise to return the next morning whereby I would give her a proper seeing to and leave her in no doubts about who the “daddy” is, there are many that pretend to be her master but there is only one Trent Machine :O)

As the sun broke over the horizon and true to my word I had returned as promised with the “Lob” and I was delivering her a proper seeing to, my landing net had already been dipped twice before the early morning mist became ignited by the rising sun as two rather flighty young Bream of around 5lb danced a high cockolorum all the way in to the edge.


The Bream were fun and games but they were not 12lb 7oz and so I switched baits in an attempt to avoid their constant attention.

This seemed to work as first chub and then barbel began to mark their place upon my dance card, however whatever I tried the Bream always seemed to want to play and so I resigned myself to simply filling my boots and giving it a proper go.

Four, five, six Bream and then a Chub seemed to be the order of the day and I could not complain, the Chub were of a good standard and I must admit to a whoop of joy when my first 6lb’er of the season slipped up on a T7 Salips pellet wrapped in a paste made up of the same (steep pellets in hot water for 5 minutes then drain and knead)

Eventually I could take no more, I did not fancy a night on the river bank in what were still hazardous conditions and so I bid my love goodnight once again with a promise to return on the ‘morrow.

When I drew back the curtains at 4.45 am the next morning the breaking day was best described as “foul” and so I held back until 7.30 am when the wind and driving rain had faded into something approaching sensible. My first choice flood swim would I thought be long gone and I did not want to waste my time surrounded by sheep on the more popular of stretches and so with this in mind I set off to fish one of my “banker swims” unfortunately this is a swim that is best described as a “cardio vascular examination” of the highest order and not a place to fish if you have any doubts as to your physical well-being.

Upon arrival at the water’s edge and after I stopped dry retching to the point I thought I may lose some portion of my liver I set upon introducing some pellet to the margins.

In summer and at normal levels this could be done via one of my droppers or via a very light feeder however a new pulse of temper was passing through my love and her mood was become a little unstable and so I needed a FFF feeder of 4oz to do the job without being washed into the brambles under the near bank.


Almost immediately upon casting in with my worm rig did the tip of my rather nice 2.75 tc T7 Mark Tunley Flood rod slam round into an almost impossible angle!
Game on!!

(I know I bang on about my Mark Tunley rods but they are awesome check them out http://www.marktunley.com/ )

A dour and determined fight told me that that this was a decent fish and not one of the usual schoolie barbel that one could expect to catch so soon after casting in.

The scales said “10lb 0oz” and I said “That’ll do pig…That’ll do”


The scales went on to say “9lb 3oz…7lb 2oz and 8lb 6oz” before I knew what was happening.
I switched my baits between large paste balls and worm s and whatever I tried eventually fell afoul of the barbel in residence.

At just before 3pm and just as the river level topped out did the bottom rod slam over and inform me that once again I would be going in up to my thighs in what looked to be hot chocolate in an attempt to net a proper river monster before it had the chance to snag me on the nearside brambles (The river was around 4-6 feet in flood by now)

This fight was a dull, deep grinding, no prisoner type of affair and very soon I was sure that I had hooked one of the large resident carp that I snag from time to time on the Trent.

It wasn’t until it came to the net and rolled over the cord did I realise I was playing a barbel…And what a barbel.
The scale said “14lb 1oz”



And I said “Something rather rude and quite unrepeatable”
Four personal bests in less than a week…I cannot ask for a better start to the season than that…Here is to more of the same!

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