I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
The Brotherhood Of Sensas
Warwickshire siblings Pete and Steve Randle are the men in charge of the East Midlands distribution network for bait giants Sensas. Fishing4Fun joined the brothers plus the man who handed them the reins after nearly 20 years – Starlets ace Joe Roberts – for a session at Meadowlands Fishery near Coventry.
The sound of splashing and sight of swirls in the margins of Meadowlands’ Warren Pool left nobody in any doubt that the carp were feeling frisky this fine spring morning!
I arrived to find Joe Roberts plus Pete and Steve Randle and their dad, Ken, had just started fishing – having set up the usual array of rigs, plumbing up and introducing their initial feed. And before long, any fears about spawning preoccupation spoiling the day’s sport were quickly quelled.
“They never all spawn at exactly the same time,” said Joe, who had set up at permanent peg 26 which is the first one past the Warren Pool’s car park, just beyond a small thicket of trees. He planned to fish pellet straight out in front and cat meat down the inside to his left beside a semi-submerged fence with an anti-algae straw bale behind.
Two pegs along was Pete Randle, a former Starlets team-mate of Joe’s and for many years proprietor of Attleborough Angling near Nuneaton. Pete was also banking on a pellet attack at around nine metres, but planned to experiment with the new Crazy Bait Marine Halibut flavoured luncheon meat later in the day.
“As well as carp there’s a tremendous head of skimmers in here and I reckon on catching these first before the bigger carp move in. I’m treating today very much as an experimental session because I’m also using a new pole for the first time and a mixture of new elastics,” said Pete, shipping out the Sensas 3674 in question. “It’s actually more of a silver fish pole, not like the one my brother’s on there,” he added, nodding to his right where Steve Randle was playing the day’s first carp on peg 22 – and making short work of it. This deserved closer inspection…
On The Pull
Steve, wielding a 664 pole equipped with black Hydrolastic, was clearly using the pull-method of elastic control to subdue the carp.
For anyone unfamiliar with what is certain to become standard practise on commercial fisheries over the next couple of years, this involves the angler having the ability to adjust the tension of their elastic whilst playing a fish by pulling at the bung end.
This alone is nothing new, with special Pullabungs from Milo being available for several seasons. Indeed, Joe was using one in his Sensas 654 pole today. But Steve’s arrangement was different, in that the elastic exited from a bush in the side of his No.3 section.
Preston Innovations have just launched a pole with this feature, but Leicester-based Scott Lane of Esselle Pole Repairs has been making up bespoke versions for two or three seasons, with his usual attention to details and reinforced wraps around the area.
“This system is better than the Pullabung because the elastic is at exactly the right place when you break down, and you can ship sections back on if needed without releasing all the elastic. On deeper waters where you break down at top fours it will still be useable too,” noted Steve.
Joe had earlier pointed out another advantage is that you can use a lighter grade of elastic the otherwise, safe in the knowledge that you can step up the pressure by hand if you hook a large carp. However, on mixed waters such as Meadowlands where significant large percentage of your weight will be made of skimmers or other silver species, a lighter rubber will reduce hook pulls and thus lead to valuable extra ounces – which of course build into valuable extra pounds – in the net.
Round on peg 18, with an inviting tree-lined margin to his right, Ken Randle was enjoying his first ever visit to Meadowlands.
“I’ve lived in the area all my life and although I do fish pools more than ever nowadays, rivers have always been my first love. The Avon was always a favourite, and every summer holidays we used to go to the Norfolk Broads which is where the boys really got into fishing,” recounted Ken, a retired mechanic and car salesman.
“Pete has already worked in fishing for a long time now with the shop, but Steve has been a builder for over 20 years so it’s lovely for him to have a go at making a living from his hobby too. Of course I wish them the best of luck,” he added with a proud smile.
I wanted to sit the brothers and Joe down together and ask them about their future plans for the business, which already services more than 40 tackle shops from Warwickshire to as far east as Kings Lynn and right up to Leicester, Lincoln and beyond. But their mobile phones kept on ringing!
Joe Roberts knew exactly how they felt, but now that he’s no longer the boss man and merely an employee of PSR Angling – the name the brothers trade under – his own phone was mercifully silent.
Out on his pellet line, the early flurry on unhittable ‘iffy’ bites had fades and he was settling into a steady catch rhythm of skimmers in the 10oz-1lb stamp, some chunky 2lb F1s and occasional larger carp. His first drop onto the cat meat line saw an almost immediate bite, and yards of elastic shot from the pole as an unseen carp raced out into the lake. Within 20 seconds the rig catapulted back with a large scale on the hook. “Just as I thought, a foul hooker,” said Joe, and after topping the line up with a fresh helping of the meaty slush he was happy to take a break and tell us how the business all started.
How It All Began
“It was December 1989, I was fishing with Leicester at the time and Trev Tomlin was in the side and acting as our manager. Trev is the only actual Sensas employee in the UK, the rest of us are self-employed.
Anyway, I mentioned that I’d like to help expand the distribution so Trev set up a meeting with Philippe and Fred Bonet of Sensas France,” recounted Joe. We discussed putting existing Sensas mixed into UK bags – all the words were in French back then – plus launching some of our own groundbaits. I held the world bream match catch record at the time and Ton-Up was my invention. It’s still selling well to this day.
Everything just snowballed from there. There are very few companies bigger than Sensas in angling and supply is never a problem. I’d always intended doing it for 20 years, but a couple of recent health scares convinced me it was time to slow down.
Three or four people wanted to buy the business but I’d promised Pete first refusal. His shop was one of our best customers, he knows the game inside out and I’m sure that he and Steve will make a success of it. They’ve even kept me on as a delivery man to some of my old shops,” concluded Joe.
Trade talk over, it was time to concentrate on how to catch fish at what is clearly an excellent venue. Joe, Pete and Steve are all top flight match anglers and Ken knows his stuff too, so what tips could they pass on which would be relevant at other venues too?
Given that pellets were today’s main hook bait, this seemed a good starting point. Joe has strong views on the bait, and believes that halibut pellets are too oily for general coarse fishing. “Drop one in a tank alongside a coarse pellet and see how long they take to break down, then decide for yourself what is best for a carp to eat,” he said.
Sensas are about to launch a new range of 4 and 6mm Combo Pellets in three varieties -Hempseed/Sweetcorn, Sweetcorn/Fishmeal and Fishmeal/Hempseed. These will have a fast breakdown, ideal for match fishing.
However, the rule at Meadowlands is venue feed pellets only so demonstration was restricted to hook baits. And good old 6mm expanders were on everyone’s bait trays.
While most experienced anglers know the correct expander preparation technique, Joe understands that each summer sees a fresh influx of newcomers into the sport who would benefit from seeing it done, and was happy to oblige.
Time For Some Lumps!
As morning became afternoon, the sun rose higher, the spring lambs gambolled (whatever that means) in the field behind. And the floats kept on dipping as the Randle clan and Mr. Roberts set about filling their keepnets.
Whereas skimmers had been the morning mainstays, carp in the 3-4lb range muscled them out and catches climbed from low double-figures up through the 20s, 30s and beyond. Get it right on any mixed species commercial and this will be a familiar pattern.
But once the sun passes its zenith and starts its daily descent, more time can be devoted in trying to contact the larger residents. Carp to low 20s have been caught here, but the average size of these bigger bonuses is 8-11lb.
All the anglers were using Preston Innovations PR21 barbless hooks, but size 16s to 0.12mm line used on pellet rigs in the 0.2-0.3gram range with light hollow elastics were swapped for size 14s and 12s to 0.18 and 0.20mm Sensas Competition lines and beefier rubbers as meat rigs came into play.
There carried longer, more stable floats of around 0.7 grams. With only three feet of water out long and less closer in, coupled with only a gentlest of breezes, there was no need to go heavier on the float front. But in a big wind a gram-plus rig may be required.
Pete was first to score, lowering in a punched cylinder of luncheon meat just to the left of his main pellet line to bag a carp knocking double-figures. Next drop he somehow managed to lassoo a 5lb common round its middle, landing it after a merry dance which initially convinced him he was into a real lump. “It takes skill to catch a fish like that,” he quipped.
Steve had fed a bonus fish line close to the vacant peg’s platform to his right, banking on the older and larger residents looking for an easy meal in the afternoon. This they often find, via bait thrown in by anglers on their way home. Although his carp remained in the 4-6lb class, he was catching fast.
Ken, who had his share of arm-aching action earlier, lost a rig to a big fish at the net and took that as his cue to wander up and watch his sons while enjoying a well earned break. Despite the lads and Joe raiding his flask earlier – some things never change – there was enough left for a refreshing cuppa. And they’d not found his sandwiches!
The Cat’s Whiskers
Joe, who was fishing this pool for the first time, pinned all his faith in cat meat in the session’s closing stages.
“I can see why this is rated as a good peg. Apart from the feature in the water, the trees cast some shade on the swim far earlier in the afternoon than most others on the pool and that’s a big bonus when you’re after large carp in margin swims,” he noted.
Scooping out a lump of Coshida from a bait box with enough water to prevent the unwanted side effect of sticky fingers, he simply taps his hook into the centre of the chunk with no attempt to expose the point. The strike – or more likely the pole tip’s impact on a bolting carp – will pull it home through the soft bait.
Incidentally, for those who think cat meat is low grade animal meat, Joe reckons it’s actually soya – and far better for fish than the likes of halibut pellets. Food for thought for those who ban it at their waters?
The upshot of the final hour’s fishing was five carp for around 40lb, boosting him to the day’s best total. Just imagine what the place can fish like when half of the stock aren’t spawning!
Meadowlands Fact File
Location: just off the A423 Banbury Road near the village of Ryton-on-Dunsmore on the southern outskirts of Coventry. The entrance is next to the Keller factory.
Rules: No night fishing, no keepnets (except in matches, when separate carp and silver fish nets are required), no stones in nets, no bolt rigs, braid or trout pellets. No bloodworm or joker. Soft pellets may be used on the hook but feed pellets must be purchased from the on-site tackle shop. Barbless hooks only, Method feeders on running line only, boilies on the hook/ hair only. Open 7am to 8.30pm.
Tickets: £6 adult, £4 concessionary and junior. Half day £4 (starts five hours before closing).
Contact: Chris Haile on 0121 603 0127. Match bookings on 07909 843561.