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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


23/12/2013 - A Timely Warning - Walking Stick Saves Angler

The day started off as any other fishing trip, Dave and myself looked forward to escaping from all the Christmas frazzle by catching a chub or two, have a few mugs of tea and no doubt talk about the Test series so abysmally lost. We had the stretch to ourselves with the choice of swims, finding it difficult to walk I chose a car park swim while Dave decided to fish the next swim downstream. Having erected my brolly I sat behind it sheltered from the gale force wind sweeping across Lancashire, putting together my rod and reel etc. I was disturbed by a sound what I thought was a branch brushing against the brolly, looking around I spotted Dave up to his chest in the river that was carrying an extra three feet of water. The noise I heard, I was later to learn was a muffled “Help Martin”  from Dave.

 Dave is a big lad fourteen plus stone and wearing all his winter clothing including a one piece suit, moon boots with a big rucksack on his back that probably weighed twenty pounds. I quickly realised he was in danger of going under or pushed downstream should he move back another foot where the river dropped around 12 feet deep. It’s amazing how quickly ones previous training and adrenaline kicks in. The only option I had was to try and get in a position so that I too wouldn’t end up in the water but help my friend. I reversed my walking stick so the handle was extended towards Dave who managed to grab hold, exerting all my strength he was slowly pulled inch by inch closer to the bank, but there was nothing for him to grab hold of. Digging my heels in the soft bank I slowly pulled him to where I could get his rucksack off his shoulders. Not an easy task when one is trying not to end up in the water but I eventually succeeded, at one time I thought of using my knife to cut the bag free.

 Once the bag was free I dragged it away from the water’s edge, then set about trying to move myself a few inches further up the bank so I could then try and drag Dave onto the bank with him gripping my walking stick. It was tough going all the time I was aware of hypothermia setting in. Eventually he was out on the bank then slowly dragged himself back to the car which was just a few yards away.  Having got rid of  his wet clothes except long johns, I told him to get in the car,  switch on the ignition and heater at full strength. Packing all his wet clothing and gear in the vehicle, I then realised I was fifteen miles from home, I quickly called another friend Brendan asking him if he could collect me about six o’clock in the evening, he agreed. I told Dave, “drive straight home I have a lift”  Without Brendan’s help it would be another thirty miles driving for Dave before he got in a hot shower. No way could I allow that to happen. Thankfully it was just a ducking, but it could have been a disaster. So take care on those slippery banks.



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Martin James Fishing
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