The Glorious 16th – Steve Cowley

Well after a three month lay off from the river, the time had finally arrived to get back on the bank of my local River Ouse. To say I had been eager to get back would be an understatement and I can honestly say, I’m sure I heard a big sigh of relief from my better half as I exited the house on the 15th. I say the 15th, as I was all packed, loaded and en-route to the bank, to get all sorted and ready for a midnight kick off. 

On arrival the river itself, it looked in tip top nick, a small tinge of colour and tiny amount of movement. I was counting the seconds down before even sorting the gear out. My plan of attack was simple as they come, feed plenty of groundbait out around 7pm then get the kettle and pan going, before sitting back awaiting the glorious 16th to arrive.

The set up was simple as it gets really two 12ft Cadence #2 Feeder rods, both with identical set ups bar the hook length, 5lb mainline with a 6lb shock leader, with a size 16 hook with hair rig on the one and a conventional 16 hook on the other. Bait wise was again as simple as it comes, either hair rigged worm or sweetcorn as my main attack and treble dead maggot or caster on the other. Both rods were set up with my favoured 2 inch running link, down to a gripper stop against a twizzled loop to create a simple, very high anti tangle rig something that I vital not only in all my tip fishing, but more than vital in the dark. The last thing you want to be doing, is fidgeting around trying to sort issues at 1am especially when there are fish to be caught. 

My groundbait choice had been swimming around in my mind for weeks, do I use this mix or do I use that mix? It’s nice to have a choice of mixes that have worked over the last season, but I had chosen my opening gambit at the final hour which was Bait-Tech Max Feeder and Pro Natural Bream Dark

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The Max Feeder on its own is one heck of an amazing groundbait, very strong with fishmeal and a lovely, lush olive green colour. Add into the mix, the awesome Pro Natural Bream Dark, where you’ve got what I consider as the perfect combination of sweet and strong. The aroma surrounding my garage when the mixing process commenced at home, was good enough to eat and if it’s tickling my taste buds, then hopefully the bream would also have a similar reaction.  

The mix itself was a bag of each groundbait, two pints of brown crumb and all blitzed together with my drill. Leave for thirty minutes and the whole mix goes really dry, add a bit more water and blitz again, before leaving the final tweaks to be done on the bank. Even though I use a drill, I always riddle the whole mix off just in case any lumps my be present which in this case, they were very minimal. When the time came to introduce some feed, I opted to use a big bait up feeder… ten big feeder fulls with just groundbait and a further ten containing worm, caster, dead maggot and corn. 

The banquet table had been laid and with the bacon sizzling in the pan, I was soon sat back butty in one hand and a brew in the other. The evening drew into darkness and with the sounds of the odd fish surfacing, the clock soon ticked around to the magic time.  Click, click, click, boom, 00:00 had rocked up, the feeder was cast out into the darkness and landed with hopeful perfection.

Focusing the headlamp onto the tip, I sat patiently before a distinct nod and a strike. I felt small resistance on the other end and the first fish of the new season was soon in the net, not what I was hoping for being a slimy eel, but the first one none the less. I soon realised that worm wasn’t going to be the way forward, so on went two crisp grains of Bait-Tech Natural  Super Sweetcorn and sure enough, next cast the rod slowly pulled round and the customary nod of a bream was felt. After one or two hairy moments in the weeds, the chosen species was safely netted and a lovely snotty slab was on the bank. I was now happy and could sit back and relax… not a chance I was like a giddy schoolboy.  There is something about catching bream at night, the headlight glistening on their golden bronze flank is just magical.

Over the next couple hour, I slipped the net under another seven prime, Ouse bream before having to wave a white flag and have a thirty minute power nap. Reason being I do believe I actually nodded off briefly whilst watching the tip in the darkness, well actually I know I did due to the fact slipping off the edge of the box woke me up. 03:00 my alarm woke me up and back out I went. The darkness was slowly giving way to light and with birds starting to sing, the tip flew over again with another bream attached on the other end. Number ten soon followed, before the feeding period ceased and a motionless tip was all that remained.

There was plenty of small skimmers and hybrids, ferociously attacking any bait that entered the water but the bream had fed and migrated into their daytime hideaways. The magic of the Glorious 16th has always be historic, be it my recent midnight starts of late or evening session straight after work, there is something magical about this day.

Will this be the last? Only the powers that be are able to decide the fate. If it is, then I have thoroughly enjoyed mine and hope everyone else who made the trip out did too.
Tight Lines all and let’s get some fish caught!

Steve Cowley 

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