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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


03/10/2015 - My Highlight This Weeks Was Fishing A Midlands Lake With Tam Miller

Fishing with my old cane pole


Monday 28th September after calling in the barbers for a haircut at 0930hrs then a visit to the library I was on the river around 1015hrs, first job was to put some mashed bread and broken LA Cheese dumbbells in my chub swim, back in the car park I put together a float fishing outfit then chucked a box of hooks and shot in my shoulder bag along with some sliced bread also a bag of mashed bread. At 1100hrs I was ready to fish, in three casts I had three bites hooking and landing three chub estimated around 4lbs, the next two trots through the swim accounted for nothing, on my next cast the float went ten yards dipped then submerged, another chub around 4lbs. All the time I’m lightly feeding mash along with two or three whole or broken cheese dumbbells. I fished on until 1300hrs without another bite, I must have adjusted the float half a dozen times, even dispensed with the float using just 2 AA shot, often extending the hook link to three feet, still nothing not even a trout which can usually prove troublesome. Back in the car park I packed away my gear then headed off home, after a brew and sandwich, I collected some tools from the shed then went next door to tidy up the ladies garden also cutting back the brambles which were starting to take over, the lady goes in hospital on Thursday for a hip operation so I felt I should help out. Around 1800hrs I’d finished, after a shower I was ready for my tea and a rest. After I sat reading L A Parker’s book This Fishing first published in 1948 when I was given my copy, Captain Parker was a fighter pilot during World War I, eventually taking over the Bull Inn at Downton, then Bickton Mill, I recommend this book to all anglers, the chapters on fish and water temperature are revealing and long before Walkers writings on the subject. The last 12 pages make fascinating reading, Captain Parker’s writing is full of common-sense and observations gained over many years, his writings on the Thames and Arun even today are well worth reading. Yesterday we had two prospective anglers come for a day’s fly fishing tuition in aid of the Air Ambulance charity. David was teaching the lady the basic idea of casting with a salmon rod, five minutes later trying to cast as instructed she hooked and landed a salmon estimated at 8lbs, without any help except for David tailing the fish. That’s one lucky lady angler.

Tuesday 29th September late getting up this morning 0900hrs, after a shower and breakfast I headed off to the river, found a mink in one of the traps which was quickly dispatched. Having walked the bottom beat I then drove to the top beat, having checked this out, I went into town to meet a couple of friends who were off abroad but they didn’t know how long for, I said “I would try and catch some fish for them while they are away and ensure their membership was taken care of”, Back home after a mug of tea I spent a couple of hours finishing off next doors garden, then done some trimming up in my garden. Back indoors I checked then answered my e-mails where needed, one from my friend Tony in Buckinghamshire made me feel rather envious of his recent fishing trips to the Avon where he had good perch, dace and chub one of which was just an ounce short of 6lbs, in my book they are known as giants. All this while listening to some delightful music from Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie and Chris Barber a good mixture of jazz. Finally I sorted out my gear for two days fishing in the Midlands where hopefully I can catch a few decent roach and perch.

Wednesday 30th September today I’m going off for two days fishing as I did in the 50’s though not the best weather I want complain, for our rivers we need rain and lots of it, I was hoping for low light conditions cloudy skies, light wind and muggy conditions for my trip to the Midlands, but its forecast for bright sunshine, I will have to do my best. I had an appointment with my diabetic nurse for 0930 hrs. arriving just after 0900hrs, ten minutes later I got to see my nurse who gave me the good news that my cholesterol was 2.3 sugar 5.5 also my single kidney had improved slightly, as we sat talking she said “you are very healthy and active for someone your age, well done on looking after yourself, though it seems didn’t do myself and favours yesterday with the gardening as I’m full of aches and pains today especially down my right side. I also got some good news today, Mike Evans the Ross A C bailiff who I gave up my Redmire week to caught himself a 28lb Common carp in the early hours of the morning, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Well done Mike. At 1300hrs my friend Tam called to collect me for a couple of hours fishing a Midland still water, on the way to his house we called in a local tackle shop as I wanted some gentles and hemp, then we proceeded to have a look at the still water we would fish tomorrow, it looked lovely in the afternoon sunshine many of the trees and bushes looked resplendent in their autumn colours. At Tam’s house I met his delightful wife Maxine and their two sons Noah and Zac, after we sat down to a good dinner cooked by Tam.

Thursday 1st October it was 0830 hrs before I woke up after a great night’s sleep, after sorting myself out I went into the kitchen where Tam was busy cooking breakfast, no porridge today but poached eggs bacon sausage and tomatoes with several pieces of wholemeal bread with a big mug of Yorkshire Gold tea. I was then ready for the off, having loaded all the gear including brewing equipment and lunch we were off. As we headed for the lake we passed over a canal where it made a left hand turn, the bay had some sedges turning a nice shade of brown with a couple of small trees and brambles, it reminded me of Piking Corner on the River Beault. Eventually we arrived at the lake conditions were excellent low light, mist hanging in the trees, not a ripple disturbed the water surface with just an occasional fishing topping close to the bulrushes, we chose to fish the western bank, with lots of bulrushes in over 70 years of angling I’ve found perch roach and rudd, are attracted to bulrushes which are found in gravel areas. I chose to start of fishing with my roach pole with its whalebone tip, see pic the rod itself is over 85 years old still in excellent condition, in the past I would tie the line to the eye today I attached three inches of elastic then the line also a pole float taking a small Olivetti stopped twelve inches from the size 16 hook. Having plumbed the depth I set the float so the bait was an inch off the bottom, my plan was to feed liquidised bread which I put through the food processor a couple of times, bait punched bread . Having left the swim to settle for about half an hour, I started to fish, catching rudd, roach also an occasional perch virtually every cast, though I doubt I would have landed any carp on this light tackle, I suppose it was about 1230 hrs when Tam made a brew I sat and enjoyed my break which included freshly made buttered rolls, Tam certainly looked after me at the waterside, not once did I make a brew.

Lunch finished I put away the pole choosing to use a 65 year old roach rod comprising whole cane butt and middle joint with a spliced in split cane top, centre pin reel with 3lb bs line, a small 4 BB shot crystal float was fixed bottom end waggler style, hook a size 14 barbless, baits would vary between red worms, red gentles, punched bread and flake, having plumbed the depth I set the float to fish a few inches over depth. Baiting with a cocktail of red worms tipped with two red gentles virtually every cast I caught rudd, roach and perch including a 1lb 5 ounces fish, after an hour the bites dried up. I then switched to bread flake catching better quality roach and rudd, then the carp got in on the act, even though I lost two carp, one just a few feet from the net, I was impressed at the way the rod handled these fish. After a few more roach and rudd, I hooked a third carp, after its first long run I started to gain control, I was amazed how the tackle set up handled the fish, soon Tam was alongside landing net with its laminated cane arms and cane handle at the ready, a few more minutes of give and take then Tam netted a long lean common carp about 6lbs. Meanwhile Tam in the next peg fishing alongside bulrushes caught several carp on floating crust, also some lovely perch roach and rudd fishing red worms on a light leger rig, I was most impressed. pics Tam with carp and perch. At the end of the session as we walked back to the car we agreed it had been great angling in a delightful peaceful venue catching fish throughout the day even with the sun beating down most of the time. Back home we sat down to chicken pie, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas with nice thick gravy, served up by lovely Maxine, a meal fit for a King, then I suppose we were Kings for a day.

Friday 2nd October 0845 hrs I crawled from under the duvet, twenty minutes later I was sitting down to scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast with a mug of tea, then transferring our gear from garage to car it was off to the lake passing Pikey Corner on the way, pulling into the car park we quickly loaded ourselves up with gear then walked through the tree to the waterside, no mist today the water was smooth as glass, fish dimpled the surface a few out from the bulrushes, I had several dragon flies for company today, which meant I missed many bites as I kept taking my eyes off the float to shoot pictures of nature’s amazing flying machine pic. Today I chose a different swim so I could fish tight to some bulrushes on my left, choosing to fish a light fifteen foot, rod centre pin reel with 3lb bs line to which I attached a crystal 4bb shot float fished waggler style with a size 14 hook, my baits would be flake, crust, punched bread, red worms and red gentles. I started off feeding liquidised bread with punched bread on the hook. Catching roach and rudd from the off, an hour later I noticed a good swirl on the surface, perch I though, as I quickly changed from punched bread to a bunch of red worms. I was soon catching a better class of roach also pound plus rudd. Without warning the float disappeared as the rod tip pulled round I just tightened then felt the head shaking so reminiscent of a perch, I was forced to give line then followed several boils under the surface as the fish fought for its freedom, though I couldn’t see what I’d hooked, it just had to be a perch, then I caught a glimpse of a red fin, then an erect prickly dorsal fin a couple of minutes later I netted a good perch. On the scales we got a reading of 2lb 5 ounces, I wanted more of this action it didn’t happen. Bites continued through the day with just an occasional quiet spell, sadly the only perch were around the twelve ounce mark but I did catch many roach and rudd, the latter fish some of the nicest I’ve caught anywhere in my 70 odd years of angling. Later in the afternoon the carp put in an appearance I hooked and landed to nice long lean common’s around 6lbs which were great fun on float tackle. On my next cast I had another common carp of similar size which also gave me a bent stick and pulled string for a few minutes. Sadly in no time at all, we had to leave this love fish filled venue set in a delightful setting, collecting up all our gear it was a slow walk back to the car park as the sun set in the west. I’m certain Tam felt the same as me it had been a great couple of days, next time I will make sure I have some big lob worms. Thank you Tam for making it happen and you Maxine for being a great hostess. The drive back home was horrendous, not by an accident just heavy traffic, Tam having dropped me off, eventually got home after midnight. I then got a message from Dave Whyte who had been at Redmire with the news he had caught a 19lb plus common just an hour before packing up, well done David on your best Redmire carp.

Return to the 50's with cane roach rod centre pin reel and basket

Tam with a nice perch

Tam with one of his many carp on floating crust

Carp caught on a 65 year old roach rod centre pin reel 3lb line

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Martin James Fishing
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