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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


29/07/2021 - Boy Goes Fishing To Hedgehog Pool

Samuel ready for the off


Wednesday 28th July was a memorable day for 10 year old Samuel Heath-Sly who attends Shoreham College, all the previous week, bedtime reading was ‘Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing’, I doubt if there has been a better book for a boy or girl to read. Today he was up early, ready to go fishing with grandad. Weather conditions were for strong 30-40 mph winds with heavy showers, but Samuel wasn’t going to be put off, sandwiches were prepared along with other food items to chew on during the day, along with bottles of soft drinks. His basket had been packed the previous day, we also collected half a pint of red gentles from the local tackle shop in Hove, around 1000 hrs we left home, the Satnav gave an ETA of 1215 hrs, his Mum Sharon was driving after dropping us off at the water, Sharon and Kate were going off to Royal Tunbridge Wells for a day’s shopping.

After a short chat with Garry and Lorraine, at the same time I ordered freshly harvested radishes, onions, potatoes, cherries and strawberries to take home, far better than anything from the supermarket, also Garry doesn’t use any chemicals on his land. Arriving at the waterside I chose a swim between two willow trees with some patches of water lilies, with reeds in the back ground, the depth averaged around 4-5 feet, with several patches of soft pond weed. Tackle set up was light fibre glass rod, he is not ready yet to have one of my cane rods, fixed spool reel, with 4lb line, I attached a reed float made by Mark Sarul taking 1bb and 1 number 4 shot, bait was gentles. First cast a 5-6 inch roach followed by several more of similar size, then the odd rudd of similar size, after about two hours he caught a bream about twelve ounces,

It wasn’t size or numbers of fish caught it was all about Samuel getting used to casting, baiting up etc, at the same time taking in his surroundings, he really pleased me later in the day when he said “It’s nice a peaceful place Grandad, can we go again on Friday?” I answered “Yes”, he then said “It’s good to see the moorhen with its young ones. Around 1300 hrs a Second World War Spitfire flew overhead, just as they did when I was fishing in 1940 and onwards, later in the day Samuel was to see another spitfire flying quite low this time. I then had him fish with stewed wheat which often improves the size of the fish, it worked as he had the odd ‘Goer’ roach, I kept feeding bits of bread to the moorhens who were quickly on the scene with their chicks who were shown how to feed. Suddenly swirls started around the bread, Samuel said “What caused that Grandad”? I said “A carp” His eyes were fixated on this swirling fish, later a carp clooped down a bit of crust that had drifted under the willow branches. “Can we try and catch that one” he said, I answered “We don’t have any tackle” A while later I spotted a carp about two pounds thinking, “He might have a chance with that fish” I stripped down the tackle then I tied on a size 8 barbless, though I didn’t think there was much chance of him hooking a fish even less chance of landing it, but the experience will do him good to feel the power of a bigger fish bending his rod, hopefully it wouldn’t break.

Dreams Can Come True

I then showed him how to bait with crust, then said “Just lower the crust close to the willow branches then hold on tight to the rod” About half an hour went by, when I heard a light sounding cloop, next second the rod tip was pulled round savagely, as a fish on feeling the hook shot off for freedom. Now comes the hard part, Samuel is a small lad for his age, but I’d decided he would have to do it on his own or lose the fish. I shouted “Stand up Samuel move to your right, keep the rod up, don’t wind in line, that’s it keep the rod bent”, time didn’t mean anything, he had done the impossible, several minutes it might have been ten or more, Samuel was grimly holding on, “I thought there might just be a chance of landing this fish”, I extended the landing net handle to its full length, then got my first glimpse of a common carp far bigger than I thought. I shouted, “Lower the rod Samuel wind in some in some line, keep the rod bent”? “Now move back a bit”, a few minutes later, I realised with a lot of luck he might just get this fish. Samuel had a look of grim determination on his face, I was now kneeling low down near the water landing net extended, twice the fish come within a foot then dived, several more times the fish would come close then dive on one occasion into the soft weed I called to Samuel “Bend the rod more and move back a bit” the extra pressure got the fish moving again into the clear water, suddenly it was coming towards the net I lifted against all odds the carp was engulfed in the mesh. Shouting to Samuel I said “You have caught it well done” He had a grin with two big sparkling eyes, we shook hands, I then had Samuel to hold the net in the water, while I set up the scales and weigh bag, then made the fish mat wet, ready for the carp. It weighed 6lbs, then Samuel held the net and fish in the water while his mum got ready to take some pics, then it was released swimming off strongly, immediately Samuel “Said can I go back to float fishing” He asked “If I was going fishing again” I said “Yes” “Can I come” was the next question I said “Yes”, Today an angler had joined the ranks.





Coaching Samuel

Samuel concentrates on watching the float

Reeds and lilies

Samuel with his prize a 6 lb carp

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Martin James Fishing
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