The year started with a few sessions on the AK (The Albert canal) but blanking was the norm, so after a few trips I gave up and purchased a few tickets for some other waters. One was a small club/park lake and the other was a 74 acre deep sand pit, which I planned to target during late winter and early spring due to how deep it is. These types of venues often take a long while to warm up and I didn’t want to be wasting my time until I knew the fish were up and running. Due to this I started on the park/club lake at the end of March in-between helping out with some shop open days. Fishing the park/club lake proved a great decision and a nice change after fishing on the big public canals for the last few years and blanking my socks off. It was a great place to flex some carbon and I had a great time landing fish on every trip. They were mainly doubles, low twenties and a few high twenties thrown in for good measure.

In April I had a real red letter session and I landed fourteen fish during a two night session, which included a fish that was a fraction under thirty pounds. At the time I was playing around with hook patterns on the Ronnie. I started playing around with the Rigga BCR’s, but after a while I tied a few up with Covert Dark Wide Gape Talon Tips and I carried on steadily catching. During this time I did a night on the big pit, but it didn’t feel right, so I moved back to the park/club lake as I found the lure of catching a few hard to resist.

In May I had a trip planed to the UK with the GT Benelux team to infamous Yateley Pads Lake. It was real highlight for me as I love fishing in the UK. It was a great trip and I landed two fish, a small common and a thirty pound plus mirror. I really enjoyed myself and it was great meeting some of the lads from the UK team too.

After the trip to the UK I had a well deserved break and I went on holiday to France with my other half. Our accommodation was right on the banks of the River Mossele, so it made sense to take the rods and spend the days enjoying the local sights and fish during the nights. The wife and I had a great time and although I made sure to have the rods out during the hours of darkness, unfortunately no takes were forthcoming.

The summer was very hot in Belgium and I’m not really a fan of the hot weather and fishing in these conditions, so I didn’t head back to the club/park lake until the end of August. After catching consistently during the early part of the year, I went straight in using the same approach of Ronnie Rigs and bright pop ups that had worked so well. I nicked the odd bite, but the action was nothing like it had been in the spring. A changed my approach to the German TT Rig and match the hatch hook baits (an approach that I talked about in a short video on the Gardner Tackle YouTube channel) and the change paid off handsomely and my catch rate improved.

During October I headed back over to the UK with my friend Kurt to fish two stunning waters which are owned by Alan Cooper from CWA Fisheries. We fished three nights on Long Lake and three nights on Roach Pit. Unfortunately we blank, but we had a great time and made lots of friends. We had such a good time that we have already arranged another trip to fish these lovely venues in 2019.

Once back at home I had a think about how I wanted to spend the autumn period and although it was great fun catching on the park lake, the draw of the big lake was too much and I headed back over there to see if I could nick a bite or two. On my third session I repositioned one of the rods to where a couple of fish had shown and I was rewarded with a nice scaley twenty pound mirror and a thirty pound common. I kept going back until November, but unfortunately they were the only two bites I received.

At the end of November I headed back to the park/club lake to finish the year off and get a bend in the rod. I ended the year on 62 fish and most importantly I had a great time and I really enjoyed myself. I’ve got two new waters to fish during 2019 (which I am very excited about) and I still have unfinished business on the big pit. Happy New Year and good luck in 2019!

Tight lines, Tommy “AKA Ronnie” De Cleen