After six years fishing for Matrix Dynamite Trentmen, Tom Scholey is moving on….
I have Rob Perkins to thank for getting me involved with the then Fox Match Dynamite Trentmen.
I was first invited to join the team in January 2011, after a few good guest performances on the RILMAC league on the Fossdyke – although again, Rob should really take the credit for this as he showed me how to fish the venue!
I still remember my first weekend fishing for the team – it was in the Sensas Challenge at Packington Somers and Barston in March 2011. I was honoured to wear the T-shirt that Rob gave me (even if it was a little too big for me!) My performance, as I remember it, was less than heroic, somewhere near the bottom of the section both days – but things could only get better!
The next chapter was the Division One National on the New Junction Canal. This was a real learning curve for me, as it was my first real experience of summer fishing on a deep canal. Words can’t describe how much I loved it!
For sure, the weights were low, but the fishing was very rewarding, and I learnt so much from anglers like Rob, Adrian Higginbottom and Steve Woollard about tackling this type of venue in the summer. From this point on, I knew that my decision to invest my time in team fishing was the right one, and the learning curve was only just beginning.
Two other memories stand out from that National. The first was just how amazingly, outstandingly awesome Daiwa Dorking are! It was, and still is probably the best team performance I have ever seen. They scored 551 points from a possible 590, if my memory serves me correctly.
Secondly, probably the best piece of team fishing related text banter I have ever seen, courtesy of the then Dorking ace, Dave Harpin. Bear in mind that Barnsley were out-and-out favourites to win, and their angler Lee Kerry had been doing very well in practice matches.
The text message read: “Fuel: £50; bait: £50; accommodation in Doncaster Travel Lodge: £110; the look on Lee Kerry’s face after the match today? Priceless!”
I think I finished 17th in my 59-peg section but, crucially, the team finished eighth and we qualified for the World Club Classic on Newark Dyke.
In fairness, I probably shouldn’t have been fishing this match on merit, as back then I was a very inexperienced river angler, but the team was short, so I was drafted in. Another steep learning curve ensued – the first day I was fishing for barbel on the flat float, and had a great view of the eventual event individual winner, Tim Nash who caught four barbel as I recall.
Sadly a few small fish were all I could muster. The second day, things got a bit better as I drew the bottom end of the match length and caught 2kg 900g of roach on bloodworm for decent team points. The key, though, was that all the time I was learning.
That winter gave me my first taste of the Soar Valley Winter League – and I must say I fell in love with the fishing. A more varied, interesting, fish-filled river you will struggle to find – and this is somewhere else that has played a key part in my development as a river angler. We finished second in the league and went to Makins Fishery for the Semi-Final.
Being brought up on commercials, I was at home here and was pleased to finish second in my nine-peg section after a nice day’s pellet fishing on a frozen Outer Avon, although sadly the team didn’t make the final.
The next year I was pleased to take part in the Commercial National for the first time. It was split over Heronbrook and Cudmore – so we decided to split the team, with half of us practising Heronbrook and half Cudmore. As Sod’s law would have it, I practised Heronbrook all week, and drew Cudmore!
Still, thanks to some good info from the lads, I managed to come fifth in my 22-peg section, which helped the team to second overall – a result we were very proud of.
Looking at the team picture from this match, I am reminded of another aspect of my time at Trentmen – the quality young anglers that myself, Rob Perkins and Lee Wright brought in.
I became involved with co-managing the team in early 2013 along with Rob Perkins, and then later with Lee Wright, before stepping down early last year and handing the reins over solely to Lee.
In that time, Cam Cross, Greg Cooper, Ricky Marshall, Chris Greensides, Tom Potter, Kayleigh Smith, Adam Dowd, Matt Parkin and Jordan Holloway have all passed through the ranks of the team, with some sticking around and others moving on. If nothing else, I like to think I have a good eye for talent as these anglers have all achieved great things after signing for Trentmen, and all still fish competitively at the highest level.
The Fondest Memory…
My favourite competition that I fished in with the team was definitely the Preston Innovations World Club Classic on the Great Ouse at Littleport. I’ve never seen anything like this competition before, and I’m not sure I will again. In the weeks leading up to the event, the match length was best described as patchy, and though we managed a few fish, there wasn’t a great deal to be caught, with big areas seemingly devoid of roach.
There were two official practice days right before the competition weekend, though, and it soon became apparent that things were changing. It seemed a lot of roach had moved into the length and were on the feed!
Sure enough, the contest turned into one of the most prolific and fair team events that I have ever fished. Drennan Barnsley Blacks dominated the event on day one, winning four out of five possible sections. I was, in fact, the only non-Barnsley angler to win my section – narrowly pipping Simon Willsmore with just over 7kg of roach.
The second day went well too, and although Callum Dicks did beat me for the section win by a very narrow margin, I was delighted to be the only non-Barnsley/Dorking angler towards the top of the leaderboard. The team finished in third place too, and so secured a brown envelope, which made all the hard work worthwhile.
I suppose the thing that made the event such a special memory for me was the emphasis I had been putting on improving my natural venue fishing, and to put in such a good result on a fair venue and match had the cheeks glowing a little. I even made it into Steve Collett’s Anglers Mail column!
Is It Worth It?
One conversation that I have had more than a few times is “Is team fishing worth it?” And my answer is yes – it is definitely worth it. Many minds are better than one, and the amount I have learnt off anglers like Rob Perkins, Adrian Higginbottom, Lee Wright, Steve Woollard, Pete Scott and Dean Cherrington over the years is massive.
It is also a lovely feeling to be pushing towards a greater good. Fishing team matches (or leagues, or festivals for that matter) is so much more enjoyable to me than open matches or big-money qualifiers. You know that every fish and every potential point counts, and there is a lot more to this kind of fishing than there is in simply fishing to win.
The skills that you pick up are invaluable. Although it is an individual competition rather than a team event, I am certain that I wouldn’t have won the Drennan Knockout Cup back in 2015 if it wasn’t for the stuff that I learned at Trentmen.
Also, if the team happens to be sponsored, this can be a very valuable attraction to some anglers. Matrix and Dynamite have sponsored Trentmen very generously in the time that I have been there, and continue to do so.
So Why Leave?
Given all the positives that I have just mentioned about team fishing, I guess you are thinking it is a strange decision for me to be leaving the team – but I think it is the right one.
Firstly, this is going to be a very big year for me, leaving my current role at Match Fishing, and setting up my own business – Catch More Media. Time will be at a premium, and I am not sure how much time I will have to invest in team fishing, so this is a consideration.
They say that money is the root of all evil, and this has played a part in my decision too. Unless you are one of the very few teams who receive a cash sponsorship, funding the team is a massive challenge.
Without a doubt, this was the single most contentious topic that I had to deal with as co-captain, and we lost several good anglers as a result of the decisions we made. But the simple fact is, as captain you can’t please everyone all of the time.
Alongside being a very good friend and a brilliant angler, the current captain Lee Wright is one of the kindest, most selfless people I know. Everything he does is with the best intentions of the team at heart, but as I said before, you can’t please everyone all the time. And on this occasion, I don’t agree with the route he is taking the team down with regards to subs.
And the final reason? I just feel it is time for a change. Match fishing is such a wonderfully diverse sport now that you simply cannot do it all, and fishing for a team does eat up a lot of your year. Also, because a team generally has a geographical base (Trentmen’s being the north Midlands) you tend to find yourself fishing the same venues year on year.
But will I ever return to team fishing? You bet, I find it so enjoyable I’m sure I will be back fishing for a team before long!