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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


27/03/2018 - A Spring Day on My River

Kingfisher with a small fish



A Spring Day on My River

I arrived on the two mile stretch of the river Ribble I look after around 0800 hrs, a thick fog like mist hung over the fields, driving down the track to the cabin, I come across a barn owl perched on a fence post some ten yards away, as I got closer the owl moved forward onto the next post, repeating the process for around some twenty yards, until I come to a belt of trees where the owl disappeared. It was a wonderful experience, but sadly my camera was in the back of the car, so no chance of picture. In the cabin I put the kettle on for a brew, then made two slices of dripping toast, looking out of the doorway I could see around a dozen or more long tailed tits some feeding on the fat balls, while others sat on the fence waiting their turn to feed, they are a real family group, I have never seen them quarrel. Over on the sunflower hearts were two pairs of goldfinches feeding. Around 0930 hrs with breakfast over, the sun having made an appearance it was quickly burning off the mist, leaving a clear blue sky without a breath of wind, it could best be described as a lovely spring morning.

It was time I walked the banks, first job was to inspect my mink traps, which have to be done every twenty four hours, there had been no visitors. I moved on further downstream I was surprised to see two clumps of Marsh-marigolds at the waters edge sheltered by a large willow bush looking resplendent, there was also the odd lesser-celandine adding a dash of golden yellow beauty, hazel leaves are starting to show all this despite the very old weather over the last couple of months. Half a mile downstream I arrived at one of my favourite fishing spots between two large willow bushes where the pussy willow have blossomed over the past week with their delightful flowers, I sat down between these two bushes then let my mind goes back to the winter where I had some great sport catching chub, dace and gudgeon, the latter two by float fishing with an occasional chub in the catch, but most of the chub were caught on legered lobworms. I looked back with fondness to a last winter. Half an hour later I am on the move again until I got to the weir pool, sitting on the bench in the warm sunshine, I thought how lucky I was to look after two miles of splendid river where I am able to improve the aquatic habitat, but also the bankside habitat for birds insects and other wildlife as I see fit without any obstruction. Sitting beside the weir pool and looking into the crystal clear water I could see some chub and the occasional good trout, it was nice to see the green coloured water crowfoot swaying in the current reminiscent of a southern chalk stream, an odd large dark olive was hatching off just upstream of the weir pool, in another couple of weeks I am hoping to see the first of the grannom hatching off in April, most books will tell you they are around for just two weeks, I disagree as I have seen and caught trout on grannom well into a three four week period, it’s the first of our caddis. On my water I can see good hatches of grannom in a four hundred yard length, then nothing for a mile or more. Sadly with all the big floods this winter I am fearful that we might not get a decent hatch of grannom this April as the larva depend on weed to which it attaches itself to for survival.

Arriving at a small copse, I spotted a pair of kingfishers, sitting on a fallen tree I watched these able fishers diving in a small pool, every now and again catching a minnow. Some minutes later I continued my walk, occasionally I started finding butterbur pushing up through the soft silty sandy soil, later on these plants will have very large green leaves, which offer cover and shade to riverside creatures. Coming out of the copse into a large meadow I could see a small group of jackdaws, then a cock pheasant rocketed skywards virtually under my feet. Further along the river I sat down in the shade of a big alder tree then watched the water for any rising trout, I was quite surprised to see several fish over a half an hour period, along with a pair of oyster catchers with the distinct plumage and pink legs with a delightful sounding call, they are also exceptional fliers. Around 1300 hrs I had arrived at the end of my beat, it was time to make my way back at a fast walk for a brew and sandwich. Lunch finished, I got my secateurs and gloves then headed off to trim back the brambles that were over growing the footpath. Around 1500 hrs I was back in the cabin, after putting everything away, I filled the bird feeders, then headed off home after a pleasant day in the countryside


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Martin James Fishing
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