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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


04/04/2015 - Iíve Done A Lot of work On The River This Week

The past week has seen me on the river bank every day, though most of my time had been doing work to improve the river, I did occasionally cast a fly for a short while. This week I’ve seen a herd of curlew, some Northern Lapwing, often known as green plover or peewit, in Lancashire it’s known as Tewit, there have been 3 pairs of Oyster Catchers which always amaze me with their flying display, a pair of Buzzards have been working the thermals, then early one morning I spotted a pair of Green woodpeckers which are not often seen in Northern England. Every day on the river I’ve seen a Kingfisher, also the lovely Moorhen, there are several clumps of Primroses in the hedgerows and copse, along the water’s edge I have some early March Marsh Marigolds often called Kingcups. On Monday my friend Albert met up with me in the riverside cabin for a brew, also to discuss the prospects for trout fishing, the weather was very cold with a gusting NE wind making condition very poor for fly fishing, though we did have a few casts without success. After Albert went off , I started work on repairing a breach in one of the croys, about thirty minutes I gave up for the day on this job, as I find moving rocks extremely tough work at my age, so I plan to do the work in short spells each day I then had a brew before wading across the river at the top of the beat with a bin liner so I could collect some of the rubbish dumped by the general public which has been washed downstream during the winter months, as I waded I could see quite a lot of water crowfoot there are several species of this plant, I have Common water-crowfoot, but most of this delightful plant is the River water-crowfoot, this will be where the grayling will congregate to spawn. Reaching the far bank I walked downstream about 200 yards filling the bin liner with rubbish, by the time I finished this job I will have filled several bin liners, wading back across the river to the cabin I called it a day and returned home.

Brace of Trout

The weather on Tuesday morning was slightly warmer with a lighter wind from the SW, after spending thirty minutes working on the croy, I had a brew then waded across to the far bank of the river to collect more rubbish. I then went off to check my mink traps nothing found I threw out the old chunk of fish then put in a new piece of freshly killed rabbit. After checking for grey squirrels I made my way back to the car park. After putting on the kettle for a brew, I put together a 5 weight rod matched with a floating line to which I attached a 9 foot tapered leader then attached 4 feet of 3lb bs tippet. I would wait until I arrive at the river before deciding on the fly pattern. Lunch finished I locked the car then walked off downstream as I passed a side stream I could see a Kingfisher perched on a will branch, stopping I watched this beautiful bird, suddenly it dived returning with a small fish, after hitting the fish on the branch it swallowed the food then flew low to the water upstream. It always makes my day to see a kingfisher. I soon arrived at a pool sheltered from the wind by a small copse, sitting at the waterside I looked for hatching flies also trying to spot a rising fish after about 15 minutes I noticed a few chronomids hatching off commonly called buzzers, a non-biting midge. About thirty minutes later I spotted a rising fish then another fish further down the pool, seeing how small the buzzers were I chose to tie on a size 20 black pattern to my leader with its 3lb tippet. How lucky can one get, having made a cast up the pool I watched the tiny imitation drifting down towards me at the same time taking in the slack line, the imitation had drifted of about ten feet, when I spotted a slight dimple knowing it was a take I set the hook, a powerful fish shot downstream, I reckon that fish gave me the run around for about ten minutes before I could net a fine over wintered 15 inch brown trout in very good condition. Nicely hooked in the scissors as the fish lay in the net I quickly retrieved the fly then lowering the net in the water I watched the fish swim off untouched by hand. It’s always a great feeling getting the first trout of the season, as I stood thinking over the events of the past few minutes I spotted another fish rise, drying off the imitation black buzzer I made another cast dropping the fly about six feet upstream of the rise then watch the fly as it drifted downstream, as on the previous fish there was a slight dimple on the surface then set the hook into another fish. After a good fight from an over wintered brown trout, I netted a 15 inch fish again nicely hooked in the scissors, taking out the hook I lowered the net in the water the watched the fish swim off strongly. During the next hour I had three 12 inch fish, after about half an hour with no more signs of rising fish I ended the session, no doubt I could have fished a nymph probably catching another fish or two, but I don’t really enjoy fishing nymphs preferring to fish flies on the surface or in the surface film when trout are taking emerges. Back at the car I put the kettle on for a brew, thirty minutes later I moved off to the top beat where I collected another bag of rubbish before going off home feeling very satisfied with my day on the river.

Trout and Grayling

Wednesday I was on the river quite early where I collected two sacks of rubbish, down to the bottom beat I found a slob had dumped 4 bags of builders rubbish in the car park, so I made several visits to the council tip to get rid of this waste and the rubbish I had collected, still it shouldn’t happen again without it being recorded, on Friday some friends are helping set up some surveillance cameras, we can then hopefully catch poachers or those who want to leave rubbish or damage vehicles. Having watched a few olives coming off, with some fish rising , I chose to fish a very small Greenwell’s Glory, most tiers use hooks between12’s and 16’s, I was using a size 18’s tied up by a friend in the States, Cannon Greenwell and James Wright devised this patter back in 1854, its certainly stood the test of time being an excellent imitation when olives are hatching, an all season pattern which can be fished wet or dry. It was about 1300 hrs. when David had the first fish, a brown trout I quickly followed with an out of season grayling then I had a brown trout which was followed by 2 more nice size grayling. I said to David “that’s me finished it seems I have a shoal of grayling which need to be left in peace at this critical time in their life as hopefully they will soon be spawning”. I went off upstream to do some more work on the croy, as I was moving rocks I spotted a cormorant surface further upstream, leaving the water I moved well back into the, meadow then walked back to my car to get a friend to deal with this predator, I was in luck as he shot this pest, when retrieved I opened it gut to find two trout about 10 inches I must point out unless you have a licence cormorants cannot be killed, your also restricted to a very low number, at about 1500 hrs. David and myself went off for a brew.

Thursday the weather was horrid apart from collecting more riverside rubbish, I spent a short time working on the breached croy, I then put my bags of rubbish in the car, after a brew I went off to the local tip. Back at the bottom of the bottom beat I erected several strands of barbed wire in an where I had seen flattened grass and other signs that suspected poachers had been about. Two of my friends called as we discussed where to site the surveillance cameras so I cooked lunch. My friends are expert in the surveillance business, should you catch people fishing your water call the Police requesting assistance quoting Theft of Fishing Rights 116/11 as members of the Angling Trust your probably aware of this criminal offence, if you’re not a member of the AT I would strongly advise you to join as they are doing some good work on poaching, predation etc. After a walk around the fishery my friends went off to work while I cleaned and polished my fly lines then stretched some leaders, before going off home.

Friday another cold day with a strong gusting wind, by noon it had eased down allowing three of my members to enjoy some good fly fishing, most of the day was taken up with siting cameras where preying eyes wouldn’t see them, with the job finished it was time for a brew and sandwich. After seeing my friends off my friends off I had a chat with my syndicate members to ensure they were happy with all the work and changes we had made over the winter months. One of the members gave me some venison steaks along with a couple of venison joints which was most welcome at about 1600 hrs. I set off for home, with the forecast for very strong wind with heavy rain over the next two days I doubt if anyone will be fly fishing, also I expect the river to rise and colour up.

A Nice Cheque for Charity

Saturday the forecast was spot on heavy rain and strong wind, the local streams flowing into the river were full with dirty muddy water often with a film of oil, overnight my pond had another influx of frogs so hopefully more spawn. Recently I was told it’s not safe to fly due to my health problems, so I decided I give a friend some tropics fly lines and other equipment including an 11 and 13 weight fly rods knowing they would be put to good use. Today I got a nice cheque from Geoff made payable to one of my two charities in this case Crossroad Care, I will take it into the office on Monday which will mean more help to those who need the care. If you’re not involved in some charity work, why not try to give up some of your time perhaps a few hours once a month helping out in a pensioners club which most towns these day have. I’m sure some of those lonely people would enjoy a chat with you about your sport and family. You will find it very therapeutic also it’s surprising how you yourself enjoy the experience. Why not offer some help to the local youth club, who knows some of the youngsters might like to go fishing. Remember when you see a beginner catch his or her first fish you will see a grin a mile wide with two big sparkling eyes. Just think back to your first fish and how it has changed your life, you could change someone’s life for the better.


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Martin James Fishing
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