Zuid-Willemsvaart - Helmond - 5th November 2023
I met Dave Hampson at McDonalds in the A52 near Elmpt and, after some breakfast, we have made our way to the Zuid-Willemsvaart Canal north of Helmond - at the canal junction.
This is exactly were we fished: Zuid-Willemsvaart, Helmond
The canal here is sheltered from the wind and there is a really good bank to fish from - and the car is right next to you. Bonus.
The temperatures have dropped and the water is getting colder. This means we have to take it easy with the feeding. The groundbait we feed at the start shouldn't have too much food in it. We can always add more as the fishing gets better, but you can't take out what you have put in.
For both of us I mixed up 1 bag each of Zammataro Bream, Zammataro Roach & Skimmers and VDE Secret Black. Even though there were two of us fishing, half as much would have been enough by the end of the day.
Since our last trip, Dave has bought a new Preston box with all the accessories he needs for pole fishing. He's got a pole roost, pole rest, pole sock, small side tray and a pole roller. Ready to go.
He also bought my Preston Carp 1000 11.5 m pole with 2 standard 3.5 mm Monoblocks and 3 Carp 4.5 mm Monoblocks. The pole has two spare top 3's and a top 2 cupping kit.
As all my rigs are made for the right length with this pole, I can give him some of my rigs until he gets some of his own made up.
I went with Dave and we picked up some bait from JD Floats - just maggots, casters & worms. They do good casters - and it saves me turning them myself.
To add some smell into the groundbait - as I'm expecting Bream - I've also added some liquid Bream from Sensas. I made the groundbait up the night before to save time, and to ensure that the groundbait is less active. I'm using up the last of my 2023 groundbait supply. We shared the 3 kg of groundbait out between us.
The water here is about 2.4 m deep (8 feet), which means the rigs for today are around the 0.5 to 1 g size - for beginners a good way to find the right sized float is to use 0.1 g per foot of depth in still water. As you get more experienced, lots of other factors come into play.
The Preston Inter Carbon & Preston Chianti are my float choices today.
The 0.5 g Chianti is a light float for this depth of water, but a light approach and a slow fall through the water near the bottom can produce lots of fish. The float is on 0.12 mm Accu Power main line and I'm using a Preston ready made size 18 N10 hook. I have a bulk of No. 8 Stotz about 1 m from the hook, and then a string of evenly spared No. 11 Stotz. This rig will be used with a single maggot or caster, or 2 pinkies.
My second rig is a 0.75 g Inter Carbon, again with 0.14 mm Accu Power main line, and a N20 size 18 hook. An olivette with a few size 10 Stotz as droppers round of the rig. This rig is used with two maggots or casters, or a small piece of worm.
Dave was using a Chianti 0.5 g and a Dave Harrell DH13 in 1 g.
The depth stays constant from 6 m out to 13 m, so to help ease Dave into pole fishing, we are both going to fish at 10 m today - top 6 sections and the strong butt section. Dave has set up two rigs and I've set up the three described above.
I made about 1/4 litre each of dead pinkies and dead maggots to use in the groundbait, and as an alternative for the hook. To kill the maggots or pinkies, clean them of any maize meal, put them in an air tight container and place in the fridge overnight. The next day they appear dead, cover them in cold water and leave them in the fridge. They will stay inert and fresh for many days.
Note: If you give them some air for a while after being in the fridge overnight they will revive.
After feeding 4 balls of groundbait with the pole cup (two for me and two for Dave), I started loose feeding hemp over the top. This is to make a noise and attract more fish into the swim. I use a throwing stick as catapults are still banned in Holland. Hopefully soon they will allow them for fishing - I know of a trial allowing catapults for some selected matches. Dave fed groundbait exactly the same as me.
The Chianti rig is the rig I chose to start on. In the beginning the fish are not settled over the feed, so I should pick off a few fish in the area at the start.
It took about 10 minutes for the first bite and the first fish went to Dave - a little Roach about 10 g. In the beginning the fish were very small. We were both catching small Roach and Rudd, but nothing bigger than 1 oz.
After an hour a cupped in a ball of groundbait with some dead maggots and a few casters. The small fish kept coming, the biggest now perhaps 2 oz. On the second hour, when I cupped-in the next two ball (on each), I added some chopped worms.
That helped a little and the fish got a little bigger. I had a Roach about 6 oz and another about 5 oz. Still, all we were catching was Roach and the odd Rudd. No big fish or Skimmers were interested today.
We decided to call it a day after about 4 1/2 hours, just as there was a break in the rain. On the scales my 63 fish weight 4 lb 12 oz. Dave weighed 2 lb 8 oz with about 50 small Roach.
Although we had no larger fish, we were getting bites all the time and it kept us warm on a cold day.
This is a nice bit of the canal, and there's a comfortable bank to fish from. Further to the left of where we fished, the water is a little deeper, and that may be where the larger fish are to be found.