fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


28/06/2017 - A Week on the River Beult

The Village Sign

After my short session fishing the River Ribble on June 16th my next session was on the River Beult a London Anglers Association water, this association offers excellent river and still water fishing for what I feel is really a nominal sum open to everyone. The two bailiffs who look after the River Beult Rob and Kevin do an excellent job, in fact they have cut out many swims, making the river bank accessible for everyone. Species to be caught are tench with a chance of a double figure fish, bream, good fish to be caught perhaps 7lbs plus, roach are plentiful with a chance of 2lb fish with many good catches of goer roach, Kevin has caught roach to 1lb 14 ounce, in the 1940’s to the 70’s many of the roach had black spot, today the roach are perfect, I didn’t catch a single fish with black spot. Perch can be caught in good numbers averaging 12 ounces, though fish with between 1lb and 1lb 8ounces are caught, a 2lb perch would be a giant. Drop shotting or using a small Mepps spinner would ensure some good sport. Though there are plenty of jack pike, you still have the chance of a big fish, last season a member had a 21lb pike, other fish are carp, bleak and rudd.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Being a triple SSI Site it’s a protected area as one would expect, the LAA look after their fishing and countryside, making it a stunning area for wildlife, flowers, plants, bushes and trees. During your angling day you will probably see as we did barn owls, hobby, sparrow hawks or buzzards, perhaps all three, kingfishers are in profusion, should you hear the sound of a centre pin, thinking an angler was fishing close, it’s probably a grasshopper warbler. You will hear the Hungarian bull frogs in full chorus at some time during the day, if the sight and sounds of the English countryside are part of your angling day, this could be a venue for you, I’ve fished the water from June 16th 1947 apart from the trees being older and more mature, bushes, hedges are thicker and taller it seems nothing has changed around the villages of Hunton and Chainhurst.

Silver Cottage

Kate and myself had booked Silver cottage in the delightful village of Hunton at the end of a long private road, we couldn’t have chosen a more peaceful location with bird song from dawn to dusk. It certainly has some interesting history. It was originally built as a stable with a silver smith’s workshop. The hearth for the silver smelting was where the downstairs bedroom is now under the chimney that was left in place. The horses occupied the living room area and there was no upstairs. The stable bricks on the car parking space were used throughout the building. The lane itself was one of the routes from Hunton to Yalding so a good location for the horses to get off the road and inside. The horses kept the smithy warm and vice versa in the colder months. It probably dates from around the 1800s though there no reliable date, it was originally used as a garage with double doors onto the lane at the front with a general storage unit.

The conversion of the property took several months, involving significant works to underpin the building that enable the installation of the upper floor. A mini digger was used to dig meter wide bays under the walls a meter and a half deep. Each bay was tied to the next using steel rods, filled with concrete and packed under the brickwork with sharp sand and cement. Two of the four sides had to be dismantled and rebuilt whilst supporting the roof on “Akron” which are steel props that can be “wound” up to support structural sections in a building like floors and roofs to stop it collapsing. A tree had been growing out of the floor and through the wall by the log burner creating a gap 10cm wide. A new concrete floor was laid over where the owners installed under floor heating. If you’re looking for a holiday home where you are at one with nature and the countryside I cannot recommend a better location than Silver Cottage e-mail Mary Goddard [email protected]

At Last I’m On The River Bank

After a long journey we had a look around our new home for a week, while Kate put the kettle for a brew, I unloaded the car putting clothes in one room footwear in a cupboard etc, then repacked the important things of life tackle bag, rods etc back in the car, After a brew we went off to the river just a few minutes’ drive away arriving to find no one fishing, walking the bank we checked out several swims, with many likely looking spots at my disposal and going on the advice of Rob I chose a spot where to my left and right of my swim were pads and cabbages, the latter are submerged pads with crinkled leaves hence the name, on the opposite bank a large willow tree created shade again with lots of pads both yellow and white flowers, the occasional fish was being chased by a pike or perch, a pair of moorhens patrolled along the far side of the river, it was great being back on the river bank where I first visited exactly 70 years ago as a ten year old. After making up a large bowl of feed with a mixture of brown and white crumb adding lots of hemp, some corn with chopped worms, I then put four cricket size balls of ground bait in the swim, also some three pints of hemp with half a can of corn.

My Tackle and Baits

At the water’s edge I put together two outfits a 12 foot Milwards swim master, matched with a Richard Carter centre pin with 4lb bs line, As the depth of water is around 12-14 feet over the edge of the pads and cabbages, I chose a float that could be used as a slider, having a choice of 3 floats, two porcupine quills, along with a reversed quill float with a cork body, the latter if I had found the river with an extra two feet or more of extra water. With the river at normal summer level, I chose a red tip porcupine quill with a small eye fixed two inches down from the red tip, the bottom ring was fixed at right angle to the float, making it ideal for use as a slider then attached a size 14 barbless hook.

My other rod a Kennet Perfection by Andrew Davies is ideal for tench fishing, with a JW Youngs Purist II centre pin with 6lb bs line, again a sliding red tipped porcupine quill was my choice with a size 10 barbless hook. Having put together both outfits I plumbed the depth setting the stop know two feet over depth on the Kennet Perfection outfit, the float on the swim master rod was a foot over depth, both outfits were ready for a dawn start. For bait I had eighty lobs, several cans of corn in plastic bags, (no tins allowed), three gallons of hemp and three loaves of bread. For feeding I had plenty of white and brown crumb, to this I would add hemp, corn and chopped worms.

First Morning Session

Walking upstream to my swim I was disappointed not to see tiny pin head bubbles that would show tench in the area, In went two cricket size ball of feed along with a pint of hemp with a sprinkling of corn, as always I left the swim for some thirty minutes, it was on the with Jetboiler for a brew, opening a bag of Apple and Cinnamon Muesli I added a good helping of milk then left to stand for a few minutes. The dawn chorus was as spectacular as the scenery, for encouragement if I need any an occasional good fish rolled on the surface, across towards the far bank a sprinkling of fry were scattered by a marauding predator intent on an early breakfast, two kingfishers flew low over the water going from left to right upstream, in the riverside vegetation the bullfrogs were making a right old racket, along the far bank hopped a hare, in a large ash tree to my right a green woodpecker hammered away, the world was coming to life and I was part of it, as previously mentioned for 70 years I’ve walked the banks of the Beult camped along its banks from June to March year after year and never get enough of this great river. The London Anglers Association must be congratulated along with their officials, bailiffs and members for treating the river with respect.

I baited the tench outfit with a large lobworm with a grain of corn with a light underhand swing the tackle settled in the swim a few feet to my right, the other outfit was bait with a grain of corn then cast slightly downstream. Fifteen minutes later the float to my right dropped flat then moved across the water, picking up the rod I set the hook into something which felt good, “Tench” I thought, but no it was an eel around the 2lb mark but I didn’t mind it had pulled the string and bent my stick, as I pulled it towards the net it disgorge the hook. Baiting with another lob and corn cocktail the tackle was again dropped to my right. A few minutes later the other float slowly submerged striking I found I had a roach about 8 ounces what we would have called a “goer” Rob then turned up so I made him a fresh brew, he then went off to the top of the beat. In the next couple of hours I had a few more roach also some perch, nothing big but it was fun. With the sun beating down from a cloudless sky the bites virtually ceased so 0900 hrs I packed up, putting in a couple of pints of hemp I headed off to the cottage.

A Mixed Bag

During my weeks fishing I was on the river each morning around 0400hrs fishing until 0900 or 1000 hrs then back again around 1800hrs until dusk, I never caught a tench but did catch lots of roach to about 14 ounces, perch probably the best just over a pound, I had a couple of roach bream hybrids over 2lbs which did put up a scrap, several small rudd, another couple of eels also 4 pike two around the 2lb mark the other two I reckoned would have pushed 4lbs which had the heart beating thinking “I’d hooked a tench” but sadly not. I’d seen barn owls, buzzards, a hobby, kingfishers, warblers but I never could spot the grasshopper warbler though I heard it often. Each day a pair of swans with 4 cygnets glided by heading up or downstream, blackbirds, wrens, green woodpeckers were about in profusion, what did surprised me were swifts moving extremely fast then dipping their beaks in the river to take on water, Summing up my week all I can say it was a wonderful experience in the most delightful countryside one could wish for catching fish from a river that doesn’t seem to have changed in the 70 years I’ve fished it.



My stretch of the river Beult

Sliding floats

Roach swim

Evening session

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]