Situated in the village of Sutton on Trent is the syndicated Barbel Society’s Sutton on Trent Fishery. The river at Sutton is part of the upper tidal area of the Trent. Access is through a secure locked gate with parking behind every swim. Full night fishing is allowed.
First impressions are of a bleak and featureless place, but in its own unique way it has beauty of it is own. With over a mile and half of bank to choose from you could fish a different peg every week for the next three years and never fish the same peg twice. The river at Sutton is part of the upper tidal area of the Trent and only a few miles downstream of the infamous Collingham weir stretch. The tidal effect on the river level is somewhere between one and around 4 feet depending on what part of the monthly tide cycle you are in. For anybody fishing Sutton a tide table is a must, the tide can have a significant effect on the fishing and it is therefore important to know at which point of the tide you are.
The best times to catch fish are the first two hours after high water and then the last hour before the river reaches its lowest point, (somewhere around 1 to 2 hours before high water) Once the river has reached its lowest point it will start to fill up, the current at this point could continue to flow out, standstill or in some cases even flow inwards for a short time. The period when the river is backing up can be the least productive, but is a good time to bait up if using a spod.
Tackle for Sutton
Because of the need to use leads from 3 to 8 ounce and the requirement in places to cast 50 metres or more, Sutton is not the place for soft action rods and small reels some use 2.25lb Barbel rods or flood rods or even a soft through actioned carp rod would be up the job.
Reels need to be robust and have enough cranking power to cope with regularly reeling in heavy leads. Shimano baitrunners are up to the job although some use big pit carp reels. Strong main is a must and Daiwa Sensor fits the bill in 12lb breaking strain. If you are feeder fishing then you will struggle to find anything better than the feeders made by society member Paul Fisk. Paul makes the feeders with the Trent specifically in mind. A tripod whilst not essential is certainly very useful on the rocky banks.
Whenever possible it is best use open ended feeders, with leads to suit the swim and river conditions and worth carrying various size feeders with leads from 2 up to 8oz.
As a way of topping a swim or getting a big bed of bait down I like to spod a few particles into the swim using a mixture of hemp and mixed corn, to this you can add whatever you chose but go easy on the pellets. When spodding don’t forget to allow for the effect of the current or you will end up baiting the next 2 or 3 swims down and not you own. To be sure where you bait is landing take advantage of the slack water as the tide is backing up.
The most successful hook bait at Sutton is pellet in any size from 8 to 25mm, boilies like anywhere on the Trent seem to work in one session and not the next. All the old favourites will catch a few, don’t ignore a maggot or a castor and hemp approach.
The river bed along the entire stretch is mostly gravel other than the odd parts where the current has a lesser effect and in these places it is sandier. The banks are grass meadow land and in many parts they are edged with rocks which were part of a major flood defence programme that was carried out 50 or so years ago. In many areas these rocks have tumbled into the river and can create snags that can easily mean lost fish on the other hand they can also become fish holding areas.
To be able to better describe to you the fishery in detail we have broken it down into 7 different areas as follows.
Upstream Limit to Cattle Drink Near 1st Bend
The southern limit of the fishery is about 150 metres past the locked gate which blocks the path at the upstream end of the fishery. Vehicle access ends at the gate but by parking carefully and not blocking the gateway a further half a dozen pegs are available. The first few pegs through the gate are slightly deeper than the rest of the pegs along this area which the locals call Chub straight.
A few large carp have been caught in and around those first few pegs, the biggest a few ounces short of 30lb. As the locals name suggests it is a good area for chub and in my opinion if the chub are there the Barbel aren’t far behind. The main depth of the river along this straight is mid river, although the depth varies very little across the river. At times the area around the fence has produced large bags of smaller Barbel the best I have heard of is 25 in an afternoon up to about 5lb.
At the point where the access track to the fishery reaches the river there is a cattle drink, this marks the end of chub straight and the beginning of the long meandering bend incorporating around 30 pegs. The cattle drink peg can be very snaggy but by sitting facing downstream looking toward the distant power station cooling towers and casting around a third of the way across the river but in the direction of the towers it is possible to avoid the worst of the snags. This peg and the next 2 or 3 downstream have produced plenty of Barbel over the years.
With the deep water fairly close in for the next 20 or so pegs there is no need to cast much beyond half way with the favoured area around or about the crease between the faster deeper water and the slower area as the river shallows up. There are a few snags where the flood defence rocks have tumbled and been washed into the river, but in general it is not too snaggy as long as you don’t attempt to fish too close in. The favoured pegs are the low forties, but the low to mid thirties have produced and odd big Barbel with the forties more known for bags of smaller fish. If you fancy a good chance of a float caught Barbel your best chance is in the forties, a favourable wind and a well presented top and bottom float will often bring results.
The only downside of this area is it can be fished from the other bank by anglers holding a Scunthorpe ticket, the swims opposite the forties are some of the best on their stretch so can be popular.
Hawthorn Bush to Beach
Starting just downstream of the Hawthorn bush the deep water switches from near to far bank as it rounds the bend. The peg just below the hawthorn bush and the next one can be good pegs and are also well fished from the Scunthorpe bank. The pegs around the bend are not fished very often, I have witnessed several carp caught from the opposite bank where a beach has formed over the years.
The Beach to the Fence
The beach area is the most popular area of the fishery and also produces the most fish during a season, it is more to do with the fact that it is fished more often than any other area of the fishery than being the most prolific area to fish. With the banks here more resembling a sandy beach it is an easy area to fish hence its popularity with anglers.
The tree on the far bank is the only large tree on the entire fishery and consequently the pegs opposite it are very popular. From here downstream to the end of the beach the deep water is well over and a minimum cast needs to be three quarters the way across. The best results however come from casting within yards of the far bank, powerful rods and well loaded reels are needed to fish at this range comfortably.
Going downstream the areas that produce the best results are opposite the tree, the cattle drink, hawthorn bush and the end of the rock wall.
As we get to the end of the beach the deep water again returns to the near bank, with the cast from the rocks that mark the end of the beach just over mid river coming closer as the river approaches the fence that divides the fishery. The very end of this section is again an area with rocky banks, as always care needs to be taken to prevent personal injury.
The Fence to the Cattle Drink
This area is one of the under fished areas of the fishery and other than an odd brave soul it is rarely fished. The reason is no more than the fact that the banks are entirely rocks, a good 8 feet above the water level and treacherous when you need to get to the water level to land and return fish. The times I have seen anglers fish the area they have always had a few Barbel so it is well worth the effort to find an area where it is possible to fish without undo risk. A stream enters the river right on the fence line and I have seen this produce a few Barbel on a couple of occasions.
The Cattle Drinks to the Last Bend
The deep water is on the near bank all the way through this area, with the banks again large rocks, over the years thou in two places the rocks have been completely removed to form cattle drinks. These cattle drinks are well fished and consequently produce plenty of Barbel. The downside is where the rocks have been moved to form the cattle drinks many of the rocks have tumbled into the river and have made the area in front of the drinks very snaggy. I prefer to fish immediately downstream of the drinks to avoid the snags.
As well as the drinks there are several other areas where over the years the rocks have been moved and quite comfortable fishing areas have been created. This area is second to the beach in popularity and has produced loads of Barbel in the last couple of seasons. I prefer to fish the crease around the midpoint of the river, and plenty of fish are also caught from the deep water under your rod tip. Again a well presented float will produce results.
There is a short straight after the cattle drinks with some reasonably comfortable swims to fish, these again are fairly popular and do produce better quality Barbel at times. As the river approaches the last bend on the stretch the deep water is more towards mid river again.