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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


07/09/2017 - Two Days Fishing A West Midlands Still Water

Trying for a big perch


A few days ago Chef Anthony Morris and myself decided on a couple of days fishing a West Midlands still water, rather than choose a B&B we rented a cabin feeling we had more freedom to come and go as we liked, also no worry about waiting around in the morning for breakfast. I had first fished the water as a guest of my good friend Tam Miller last year when I stopped at Tam’s home, it was one of the nicest couple of days fishing in late Autumn that I’d enjoyed in a few years, my quarry were roach and perch, though I did catch rudd and tench also the odd nuisance carp. On this trip my target fish would once again be roach and perch, Anthony was interested in catching some of the resident carp, I reckon if he fished floating crust he would get his share of these fish. We left my home late afternoon for the trip south and the dreaded road works, though having said that, the works are necessary to ensure we can travel in relative safety. We arrived around 2000 hrs to find the cabin most suitable, after a brew and some cheese rolls, it was time to get our heads down for an early start next morning. It was around 0630 hrs when we had a walk around the venue, our first job was to clear away all the rubbish, pic shows some of it left by the slobs. Then it was off for breakfast. I suppose we got to our chosen swim about 0830 hrs, conditions were excellent warm with low light levels also a light mist with thick cloud, 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 a swim where I had large beds of bulrush, while Anthony chose a swim close to some willows with bulrush and sedges

Tackle choice

On my last visit I used my roach pole with its whalebone tip, its over 85 years old, but still in excellent condition, in the past I would tie the line to some braided topping which had been tied to the eye, Sometime ago Tony Booker tied me up a length of elastic to which I could attach the line, allowing me some leeway should I hook a better than average fish, if you’re interested in the history of Roach Poles I recommend the book Poles Apart - The History of the London Roach Pole. Written by Michael Nadell. Today I have left my pole at home, for roach fishing my rod of choice is a Perfection Roach on its first outing, for the perch and tench I had an Sealey Rover, my reels were a Richard Carter with 2.5lb line matched with the Perfection Roach, the Eureka with 4lb line was for the perch fishing on the Sealey Rover. I had a selection of small waggler floats, also some reed and quill floats for fishing double rubber, with a selection of hooks to nylon, some spade end hooks which I would tie direct to the line if I felt the occasion demanded. All my tackle was in my basket as I feel more efficient sitting up high on a basket that a low chair when I’m float fishing.

Baits and Ground Bait.

I had prepared a few pints of hemp, along with a pint of tares, yes I could have purchased hemp and tares in cans, but feel my prepared baits are better, some would no doubt disagree but I’m happy with my results. I have been preparing my own baits since the 1940’s so why change? I had a 100 big lobworms along with a pound of shredded prawns, the latter would be mixed with chopped worm as an attractant hopefully encouraging perch into my swim, but I did have a concern about carp taking over. I had a linen bag of cubed crust, that had been under a damp cloth with a heavy weight overnight, along with some fresh bread for flake, I was hoping to fish stewed wheat but have searched high and low for decent wheat, I couldn’t even find any good wheat at the local corn mills, a bait that is far better than sweet corn, which I have as a last resort. All my baits and feed are in a large cool box until needed. Many of my fishing friends say I’m over fussy with my approach to my tackle and baits, but as my results are often better than others, who often remain fishless I will keep being fussy. Perhaps I’m just lucky, as I often say if I keep trying I have to get lucky sometimes.

Having put together two outfits, I then plumbed the depth, on the Perfection Roach outfit I set the waggler 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, then added some Turmeric to give it some colour and flavour, I describe my feed as a slop which was fed into my swim on my left, I also added hemp to keep the fish hunting around. I did have to smile when an angler spotted my mixing bowl, then asked what the mix was, I said “Don’t tell anyone, its scrambled egg” of course he did tell a couple of other anglers, Anthony and myself had a good laugh, The other swim on the right I fed with chopped worms, and shredded prawns which had been soaked in water for around 24 hours so they would sink as I find lots of prawns don’t sink, I then left the swims for around an hour. When I did start to fish using a tare on the hook I caught fish from the off, rudd and roach virtually every cast, averaging around 10 ounces with an occasional fish weighing around the pound mark. The Perfection Roach outfit was a pleasure to use, surrounded by bulrushes with willows at my back, along with my surroundings the quality and quantity of fish I was catching took me back in time to the 50’s and 60’s. Though I doubt if I could have landed any carp on the light tackle. I made up my mind should I hook a carp I would point the rod down the line then pull for a break. I suppose it was about 1230 hrs when we stopped for a brew. While I was catching roach and rudd, Anthony had caught 11 carp averaging some 8lbs all nice long lean commons.

A Tale Of Lost Fish

The afternoon session was a tale of woe, I decided I was going to fish a big lobworm on a size 10 hook in the hope of connecting with some perch and tench, I used the Sealey Rover rod with my Eureka reel and 4lb line, again I chose a waggler float taking 4 BB shot, 2 BB to lack the float 1 BB half way down the line with the other BB shot a foot from the hook. About every fifteen I fed in a handful of slop with chopped worms, it certainly attracted the roach and rudd into a feeding frenzy, at one time I caught 8 roach in 8 casts all around the pound mark, in fact I weighed what I thought was a good pound fish, it went 1lb 4 ounces. I then had two tench averaging 3lbs lovely yellow coloured fish. I had around 3 hours fishing where I was getting a bite a cast, then the float slowly submerged, striking I set the hook in what I thought was a good perch, for several minutes I didn’t see the fish then had that feeling it was something special, I called Anthony over as I thought it would be good to have him handle the net. Three or four minutes later I got the first glimpse of my adversary it was has I thought a good perch, also having caught a lot of 3lb plus perch over the years, I estimated this fish in the 3lb class, drawing the fish towards the net its head out of the water mouth wide open, I said to myself “Yes” that’s the one, then it was gone the hook having pulled out,. I said to Anthony, “It feels like finding my house burnt down or finding my bank balanced has been scammed” I felt empty and gutted. To make matters worse, later on I lost a big tench after a good ten minute tussle, an angler who was watching said “ That’s the biggest tench I’ve seen in this lake” I put the fish at 6lbs plus, I then had a break for about 20 minutes.

A Nice Common Carp

Back in my swim I put in three handfuls of slop with lots of chopped worms, hooking a big lob in the head I casting out, then sat waiting for a bit, I didn’t wait for long as the float dipped before slowly submerging, soon I had a rudd about a pound, this was followed by several more good roach and rudd, I reckon it was float fishing at its best, I must admit I enjoy watching a float rather than a rod tip even though I probably do more of the latter, this winter on the Wye and the Ribble I am planning to spend more time float fishing, even if I don’t catch as many chub. For about three hours I enjoyed catching lots of fish, missing a lot and losing more than I should. As the light started to fade I baited with a tare then fished it alongside the bulrushes, some ten minutes later the float disappeared striking I found myself connected with a powerful fish, “Carp” I said to myself as line was stripped from my Eureka, The Sealey Rover played its part, at no time did I feel the tackle I was using wasn’t up to the job, though I felt by using a centre pin rather than a fixed spool reel, I had far better control. Eventually I netted a nice common that was around ten pounds, I called Anthony to ask him he would take a pic for me. We then called it a day in the fading light both agreeing it had been a great days fishing, Anthony had over 20 carp the best a low double.

Day Two Torrential Showers and More Fish

Today we decided to delay our fishing due to the heavy rain so went off for breakfast around 0800 hrs then got to the waterside about 0930 hrs, still the rain was falling but by 1000 hrs it ceased, we were then joined by my friend Tam Miller, who I introduced to Anthony, both being extremely fit and rugby players had a lot in common. Tam then presented us with our lunch bag long with a flask. We then moved off to our separate swim, I chose the same swim as the day before, Anthony went further round the lake to a new swim, while Tam fished the swim Anthony had fished the day before. I fed my swim to the left with slop loaded with elderberries hemp and a few tares. and sweetcorn, the swim to my right with chopped prawns, worms and a few droppers of corn, I started fishing the swim to my left with Rover rod and Eureka reel as used the previous day, soon I was catching roach and rudd on corn, then the float disappeared I set the hook into a fish that felt heavy and powerful but didn’t run off like a carp, I thought “Tench” It was a fight of give and take but no long runs just circling around in a small area in front of me, slowly I got the fish closer in then got my first glimpse of the fish, which I thought was carp soon I had the fish near the surface and soon it was netted a common of around 6lbs. Having unhooked the fish I took a quick picture then watched it swim off strongly. About 100hrs the rain sheeted down as the wind increased, it lasted about 2 hours all I could do was sit it out, thankfully I had good waterproofs with a quality hat, I staid dry and caught fish. When the rain stopped I had a brew with my lunch of beef and ham rolls, then it was back to fishing by this time the fish were harder to catch, though I did have a session when I had 11 pound plus roach which was very encouraging. About 1600 hrs the rain returned this time of monsoon proportions with very strong wind, I had just made up a bowl of slop which was quickly turned to a useless liquid. The rain was so heavy that it bounced off the water leaving the lake surface a mass of bubbles, it’s been some years since I was out in such weather. I struggled at time to cast the tackle into the right spot, though I occasionally caught a roach rudd or perch. Finally the rain ceased around 1800 hrs we all both decided to call it a day, as Tam lived nearby he went off home, but no way did I and Anthony attempt to go on the M6 until about 2000 hrs, so we went off to a restaurant where we had an enjoyable dinner to celebrate a couple of great days fishing despite the heavy rain showers.

I had lots of roach and rudd many over the pound mark

carp caught on a grain of corn float fishing close to bulrushes

Tam with one of his many carp

Carp caught on light float tackle during a heavy shower

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Martin James Fishing
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