WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays mean Steve Collett, the boss of leading online tackle retailers Harris Sportsmail.

Steve’s blogs focus mainly on match fishing but also delve into his styles of pleasure fishing and specialist angling. He also appears regularly in Angler’s Mail magazine.

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UNLESS  you were a winner, or collected a large brown envelope on Sunday, I can imagine that the opening day of the river season proved to be a little tougher than we all expected.

I know it was for me. I had visions of a large cooked breakfast followed by 30 minutes of P’#s taking, and then breaking my fingers on the backwind as barbel after barbel lunged and fought their way in my keepnet, then the struggle of hauling my huge overfilled keepnet to the top of the steep bank…

However, this didn’t happen and rarely does on the glorious, and I think I know why.

It’s all in the timing.

The rivers are a beautiful watercourse, and for many months of the year the inhabitants go about their business without a care in the world, apart from our lovely friends the otter and the cormorant, and peace and quiet, seems the norm.

That is until June 16th, then it must be like the Blitz for these poor blighters as feeder after feeder, and 4oz of lead rains down on them, the booming Brummie mating call of “yow ad anything mate” echoes down the valley. It’s no wonder they switch off, I know I would.

Usually if I was targeting a summer level river, it would be a very light stealthy approach and most importantly it would be at particular times, either very very early in the morning, or at the last light of the day. There’s a brilliant piece on all this timing stuff in the new issue of Angler’s Mail magazine (with a triple set of disgorgers and top stuff …plus me On Tour, and with a huge bream).

Whatever period I choose, it would only be for a few hours, and in this spell I have had some of my greatest catches, before deciding to head home, or work between the hours of 8am and 5pm.

After weeks of being just like this – with just the odd boat going through – the tidal Trent has been buzzing with anglers again.

So when I pack my specimen gear away and don my brightly coloured Goretex, and head on down to the draw, I cannot help feeling that I am battling straight away with mother nature. The times of the match were the complete opposite of the times I would fish a river to get the very best out of it. But we keep coming back!

This particular match on the Trent this weekend was to be held on a stretch that can produce 30-40lb bags of bream with the odd anomally of a 50 lb bag of barbel. I have had some great catches here myself, but, and it’s a big BUT, during the hours that I mentioned earlier.

So after putting my hand in the bag, famous for being able to draw like a year-old child, I drew peg 22 – awful, no form, and no features, just a steady pace.

Now like all “angling writers” it’s nice to practise what you preach, and as I have bemoaned the timing of matches, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and predict that this match would be won with only 8-10lb.

So with that in mind, the feeder rods, float and bolos would all stay in the bag, and instead I have my trusty old Matchwinner whip system, and a few Browning Speed Sticks, all set up with 0.08mm hooklengths and size 20 hooks! Not the usual set up for a match on T’Trent, but I had set myself a target of 5 lb for a section win, as my watercraft, and specimen knowledge would hopefully come into play, and no barbel or bream would be caught.

Well to cut a long story short, I was wrong on a few things but right on others, the time of day and the sunlight were just not right for a match today, and as predicted, thankfully not a barbel, or bream was caught.

I had 6 lb 14 oz – a grand total of 487 fish, bleak, and the odd bonus dace of 3oz. A very busy and enjoyable day, not a winning one as three massive perch were caught for 7 lb 2 oz and second prize was all I can muster, but I had a much more enjoyable day setting myself a modest target.

If I would have gone for the barbel or bream, I would have been moaning like the other 17 that dry netted. The fish are there, in fact I will go down in the week before 6am and prove it (I’ll keep you posted) it was purely down to the time of the day. If the match would have started at 3pm it would have been a different story as the light faded roach and everything else would, most probably, have come on the feed.

All his just makes you think… are we fishing against the bloke in the next peg, or mother nature?


Well it could only go to a river angler this week with the celebration of the glorious, and it falling on the 16th.

And it was the first big river match of the season on the mighty tidal Trent that has produced the Anglers Mail performance of the week, and although helped by a mighty 15lb carp, a 21-13-8 net gave Neil Nicholson a nice payday in the 70-odd entry winter league final practice match.

Peg 38 at Laughterton was the scene of the victory, and Neil managed to top a quality field including the likes of Dan Ashington who managed to sneak into the frame with a hard earned 9-1-0.

Congratulations Neil, our first Angler’s Mail award of the new season, well done.


HOT NEWS! There are exciting changes afoot in the Matchman of the Year, with new sponsors Preston Innovations on board. Get the lowdown in the new issue of Angler’s Mail (with three FREE disgorgers) – out now.


CALLING all match fishing organisers! Attention all matchmen!

Are you running an Open fishing match,  series of events, a league or weekly fixtures?

Email Angler’s Mail magazine the full details, including venue and ticket price and contact telephone number.

Mark your email Matchplan and email to: anglersmail@ipcmedia.com





FREE set of three disgorgers with this week’s brilliant Angler’s Mail magazine – be sure to get it!


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