collettperchTuesdays 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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There is no losing in fishing, you either catch or you learn!


THIS week’s musings will probably only appeal to the hard-core winter league matchman or the canal angler as I am sure, like me, you have all been through this. Read on…

This week around the UK many of us would have embarked on the winter league, usually associated with layers of thermals, and woolly hats. But this weekend just gone saw topless anglers and short sleeves – crazy weather, but I am not complaining!

I am always looking forward to the start of the winter league, as unfortunately it’s the only real team fishing event left nowadays, but I am not sure the winter league looks forward to me, as my moaning will get worse as the weeks go on!

This first round was no exception, but it could all have changed. As I didn’t make the draw, and was nowhere near the draw, I inevitably drew well, in fact very well. I ran to my peg, number 54 and prepared for a nice day’s fishing.

After picking the brains of the missus, who is lethal on the River Soar, a few hours in and I haven’t uttered a single F-word. So far, so good.

Although a very good peg, I had some misgivings, and after too many years of fishing rivers, I didn’t feel as if it would fish well. According to the EA it was very slightly on the rise, and I have never done any good on a rising river no matter how slight, but everyone seemed chipper.

Well to save you from a boring blow-by-blow, it didn’t happen, but something interesting did. Have you ever had one of those days where the fishing has been busy, and before you know it the all-out is called and the whole match has been a blur? Well mine was like that.

Good peg? Hmm.. I might as well have been fishing here.

Good peg? Hmm.. I might as well have been fishing here.

I felt I had caught what was in front of me, and thought I had done reasonably well, until the scales arrived. After 50 or so fish I had amassed the massive total of 890……grammes. There must be a hole in the net, and cries of “I thought you had more than that” did nothing to lift my spirits.

I was gutted, I was sure I had more than that, and then to find out I had only managed to beat one to my left, saw me have a face longer than my pole. If I had a cat, well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Afterwards I thought long and hard about what I could have done, but I am not sure there was anything other than a lobworm and sat on my hands all day in the hope that a big hungry perch popped by. I also thought that this has happened a few times, and it must have happened to you, a busy day’s fishing followed by huge disappointment at the weigh in?

A bonus fish!

A bonus fish!

Then the barren spells, what the hell happens under there? I had a brief spell during the match where I had bleak after bleak coming, I had them spot on, didn’t overfeed, didn’t do anything wrong… but they disappeared. Vanished… gone?

Nothing I could do – I changed depth, hook size…everything I could, I did. And out of nowhere they reappeared, and I could not help thinking about what happens, are they a metre away, has something spooked them, or do you just manage to catch a large proportion of the shoal? And more importantly how do I stop this happening again?

So after a complete thumping from not only the fish, but my fellow competitors, a frustrating day, and a frustrating few months match fishing, you could forgive me for throwing a complete paddy, and putting my gear up for sale.

But I love it for some bizarre reason, and I always look at my little picture on my phone that reads: There is no losing in fishing, you either catch or you learn.”


collett match awards

Not carp this time, but versatile Mr Vandervleit was the man.

Not carp this time, but versatile Mr Vandervleit was the man.

We should all be scratching for bites this month, but lots of venues around the UK have been fishing their heads off and being as it’s the first week of the winter leagues I had a look around every round.

Every region had one name standing out amongst the rest, a guy who seems to have been around forever, but still consistently pulls out results at this top flight level.

This weekend saw the man himself net 17 bream at 13m using worm and caster on the first round of the London winter league, it is of course Mr Chris Vandervelt (Maver Image). A great result and always nice to kick it off with a win.

Chrissy, take a bow, this week’s winner of the Angler’s Mail performance of the week.

Be sure to read Angler’s Mail  for full match reports from around the country.



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