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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


24/02/2017 - A Few Days on the River Soar

.Brendan and Stuart discuss baits

For several months my friend Mark has been telling me about his fishing on the Soar, also sending me some good photograph’s which certainly wetted my appetite to go and fish this delightful water, a Loughborough Angling Society card will cost you just £30-00 for season certainly value for money. After checking in at Cedars Hotel and Restaurant, Mark Sarul turned up to show Brendan Ince and myself various parts of the Soar where he has fished for some years, I can best describe the Soar as looking like several other river venues I have fished over the years, some parts resemble the Kennet, move a mile upstream and you could think you’re on the Upper Ouse as the river twists and turns flowing over gravel with many beds of bull rushes, not to be confused with reed mace, found in muddy areas of the river bed, whereas bull rushes are found in streamy water over a gravel bottom, I have at one time or another found all species of our freshwater fish have a fondness of this type of habitat. After a 4 hour tour it as off to the Quorndon Fox,  burger and chips for Mark and Brendan, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for me and quite delightful.

A Great Welcome at Bennetts Tackle Shop

At 0900hrs Brendan and myself were at the Bennetts tackle shop Market Place Mount Sorrel, we were lucky to find a parking spot outside of the shop, after a warm greeting from Stuart Tinson I asked for 2 pints of red gentles, to say I was surprised at how full my 2 pint bait box was filled would be an understatement, in fact I didn’t have any room to add bran, so collected my other box from the car, it’s the first time I have had my bait box filled correctly when asking for 2 pints of bait. I also collected and inspected 100 lobworms, all excellent of quality, no way would you have to be concerned if you wanted fresh bait, the shop is clean tidy with no horrid smells as one gets at some shops. . Stuart then showed me some old floats, one that caught my attention was the one on the left, it would be fished with the top half fished flat on the surface, when you had a bite the top section would stand up, opposite to what we get with a traditional float, seeing my interest and my knowing the history of these floats Stuart gave me all 3 floats After a chat about tactics and tackle we collected our permits then headed off to the river.

Chub City

Two weeks ago Mark sent me a picture of a swim where he’d had been fishing, an alder tree was growing over the water with many of its branches trailing in the water where over time a large raft of rubbish had collected, and we all know chub like a roof over their heads. I Christened it “Chub City”  it was that type of swim, no way I could pass up such a spot, after ensuring Brendan was in a good area to catch chub we had a brew before I went off to fish Chub City, my set up was a soft Avon action rod, small fixed spool reel, filled with a fine braid line to which I attached a float stop then a size 4 hook with a Palomar knot, the idea of the float stop was I could mould plastacine around the float stop, also I could easily move the weight up and down the line depending on the bait in use, it’s simple but very effective. An hour earlier I had baited the area with two handfuls of mashed bread, before starting to fish I added another handful of mash, then sat down for about 20 minutes so the fish could settle, at the same time I fed small bits of bread to a moorhen one of our most delightful and peaceful waterside birds, unlike the quarrelsome coot which always seem to be fighting.

Bites From the Off

Having let the fish settle then hopefully feeding with confidence, I baited with a thumb size piece of crust fishing on a six inch link, a gentle underhand cast had the baited hook swaying gently in six feet of moving water, within a minute I had small tap then a nice pull connecting with a fish which after a minute or so shed the hook, as is usual under these conditions I rested the swim to give the fish chance to settle, as I didn’t have any other anglers around I didn’t have to fear someone taking my swim. Back in my swim I again dropped a chunk of crust into the baited area then sat holding the rod within minute I’d hooked another fish this time it ended up in the net, a fish of 3lbs plus. During the course of the day I caught 9 chub averaging around 3.5lbs the best at 3-12-0

Bream on the Float

Next day I decided I would float the chub swim fishing an Avon float with a 13 foot rod matched with a centre pin reel and 4lb line to which I attached a bright red tipped float taking 4 AA shot lightly pinched on the line 18 inched from the size 10 hook with another AA shot six inches from the hook. After checking the depth by running the float through the swim then adjusting the set up several times until I had the bait going through the swim a couple of inches off the bottom. After feeding with chicken eggs size balls of mashed bread over a fifteen minute period I made my first cast with a piece of flake as bait, I’d inched the bait through the swim some six seven yards when the float buried, “That’s not weed I thought that’s a fish” as I set the hook, the rod tip pulled down but I didn’t get that sudden rush I expected from a chub. It was a heavy solid weight with some head shaking, suddenly I was forced to give some line, I then realised I’d hooked a bream, the cause of the line being taken was the fish turning broadside to the water flow, after a few minutes I netted a nice fish, the beauty of river bream is they are not slimy and do not come in like a plastic bag as most still water bream do. As a matter of interest I weighed the fish which pulled the scale pointer round to 5lb 5 ounces. During the next couple of hours I had 6 bream averaging a good 4lb plus, after losing a fish the shoal disappeared. Back at our base swim Brendan and I had a coffee with fresh made buttered rolls I’d purchased that morning from Waitrose. After we had finished Mark turned up so we moved up river, my job was to try and help get Brendan hooked up to a good chub, at the third swim, Brendan caught and landed the best chub of the trip at 4 lb. 4 ounces again crust on a short link had done job .

Chub and Bream

The next day was very windy so we roamed up and down the river trying all the likely looking spots, with just one chub for our effort a chub about 2lbs on a piece of flake from between two beds of bull rushes, back at base we had a long break drinking freshly made coffee with fresh rolls filled with beef or ham, I also had a tin of herrings in a mustard sauce, After a couple of hours sheltering from the wind we chose to go off fishing, I went off downstream to try for chub or bream, Brendan fished a swim he had fished on and off since we arrived, within thirty minutes of getting to my swim Brendan called to say he’d caught a chub about 3lbs, I legered a piece of crust on a size 4 hook, I was quickly into a fish which I soon realised was a bream, in the net it looked as if it might be a 5lb fish, on the scales it weighed 5lb 7 ounces, in a two hour period I had seven bream 3 more over 5lbs, the last 3 fish were caught on a cocktail bait of flake and worm.

Stuart with all 3 old floats

Chub City

Brendan's chub at 4lb 4 ounces

5lb 7 ounce bream

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Martin James Fishing
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