Sam Whittaker embarks on a Belgian road trip, which all came good in the end!
Oz Holness – TA Summer Social
27th August 2021
Summer 2021 was in full swing and what with the past 18 months being so disjointed, there seemed no better time than now to have a good catch up with the lads at the TA office and get a good look at the forthcoming products as well as some great ideas still in the design stages. Of course, a trip up to the area wouldn’t be complete without a bit of a social and the chance of getting the rods out, so a plan was hatched and a few days on the RDAA junction 12 water was secured…happy days indeed! My good friend Si Bater had some bits to pick up from the unit and with a few days free from work that week he had decided to join us down on the pit for a change from his usual angling. It was the perfect opportunity to get a bit of media work boxed of for our camera man Joe, and a chance to discuss plans for future projects etc…
So, through the gates we go and what a place! I really didn’t know what to expect being my first visit to the venue. J12 so reminded me of the early days spent on Conningbrook! A big swathe of meadow-like grassland surrounded the pit with the river babbling along on one bank and a line of office buildings on the other, all beautifully screened by some quickly maturing alder and willow trees. Well-spaced swims with parking behind, it was the perfect venue for what we had planned. The stock was pretty impressive too with the original fish flourishing, going right up to upper forties in size, plus a good helping of a newer strain of fish introduced over the past couple of years. With the venue to ourselves and the fish seemingly well spread out and fairly active, we picked swims with me drawing the long straw for a change and getting first dibs at it! Of course, I picked the area of highest activity and elected to fish off the side of river point, a swim that gave me access into both open water as well as a long tree lined margin to my right. Si went opposite on road-bank point and Marcus slotted in on the end bank, so we had plenty of space between us.
I started quickly by flicking two single choddies out past the jacuzzi of bubblers in front of my peg and quickly skipped them back to drop quietly into the zone. Well, that was the end of that and the carp soon did the off! That was a bit of a theme that ran through the trip to be honest… those old carp had seen a bit of pressure over the past few seasons and had wised up, quickly moving off the pressure to quieter pastures given the chance! We soon decided to have a good lead about as the weed was up and we felt that getting the disturbance done early would give us a bit of a chance come the following day. With spots found and baiting done we settled in for an evening curry and a few beers. Joe and Lewis soon turned up from work got the rods in. Lewis elected to fish the first swim through the gate (well he had been at work all day) and a good move it was… a little bush furthest from the pressure gave him the first bite before he had even set up a second rod! Long story short by the morning he had whipped three stocky scamps out and left us all scratching our heads wondering what we had done to upset the carp gods! Good angling mate!
Never fear though, Joe soon had one in the net closely followed by Si with one of the chunky old original fish, so things were looking up at least! Marcus and I sat looking at the best part of nothing that morning and we both knew we had to mix things up a bit. The stalking opportunities were slim due to a late algal bloom but as the sun rose higher those fish gave themselves away out on a shallower apron of ground at range between me and Marcus. I left it until the activity died down a little then had a quick lead around out there. Loads of weed out there of course, but slightly left just as the ground shelved away slowly, a lovely firm sand area, just perfect for two rods and a spread of bait! I ditched the carp scaring spomb and went back to my old favourite, the throwing stick, and soon peppered the zone with 16 mm boilies and tied up two fresh hinges. The heavy sinking braid just about made the range in the cross wind but solid thumps back through the tip told me I was on the money…
The change of tactic paid off and I soon had a mid-twenty scaley in the net and Marcus then received a take on a rod he had left out since the start of the trip (sneaky tactic) landing a cool common to get him off the mark.
By mid afternoon I felt all chances had disappeared in the heat of the day but how wrong I was! One of those long rods on the sandy shelf ramped off with a violent take and I was flat rodded for a good 20 plus yards. A long battle ensued with the fish weeding me on several occasions but eventually a big headed, spawned out mirror rolled in the net tipping the scales at 34lb. With shots done and a bit of work stuff boxed off we headed off for a well earned BBQ and some liquid refreshment in Si’s swim! The last morning was pretty quiet all round until my rod burst into life right on queue with a heavy old fish that kited savagely left. I had to bring her back round the point at one stage but just as I thought I was winning she made the sanctuary of a big overhang and despite sitting there waiting for me to get the net into position she suddenly exploded off the branch in the final moment and was gone, definitely another good thirty…gutted but gone!
All told, we had a great little trip to this cracking venue with 11 bites between us landing nine mirrors and a common… we even got a visit from local legend Pier’s who runs the Pingewood Tackle store nearby, good to see you mate and thanks for the beers!
So good to catch up with everyone once again and we all hit the road with great memories of summer! Looking forward to a return trip already!
A big thanks to Del Shackleford and RDAA for our time on the venue.