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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


14/12/2022 - Back To The Fifties On The Bus

Ice along the margins

Today with the roads not really suitable to ride my E-moped, also needing to get out fishing I decided to go on the bus, I had the rod in a tube so people would think it was a snooker cue. Arriving as close as possible to the venue, it still entailed a walk of two to three miles, that wasn’t a problem, but traffic on the roads was, even though I walked facing the traffic several cars come far to close, it was quite uncomfortable to say the least. Eventually I got off the road then walked across a field into a wood, with no foot path I had to make one, twice I slipped on ice, narrowly missing a big rock some three inches from my knee. I found it interesting walking among the big maple beech and oak trees, I also come across a group of six roe deer, they didn’t dash off, but looked at me from some ten yards. Quietly as best I could I walked pass them, to continue on my way until I come across a fence topped off with barbed wire. Following the fence line I come across a gate where I met the local Shepheard who knows me said “What are you up to Martin” Having explained what I was going to do, he said, “Next time come off the road by my house, then follow the track which will take you where your going” I thanked him saying “I will return that way when I go home” Within a few minutes I could see the small copse where I planned to fish under some maple and willow trees, a bit further down the bank was berry loaded holly tree, with a high bank behind me with more trees and bushes it was quite secluded and comfortable, the first sight that greeted me was the large amount of static and moving ice. Apart from the ice, I would have a bright sun in my eyes which wouldn’t be good.


Tackle Tactics Bait And Water Temperature


Today I tackled up with a Davenport & Fordham Peter Stone leger master honey coloured glass, thanks to John Harding, it’s a lovely rod for chub fishing in icy cold conditions, where you have to hold the rod all the time, repeatedly casting to make sure you cover every bit of water. This angling is not for the person who wants to chuck out a bait, sit back to see what happens. I used a Mitchell 300 with 6 lb breaking strain line to which I attached a size 8 barbless hook, the weight would be a small piece of plasticine stopped about two inches from the hook, bait would be crust. Having got everything sorted out, I checked the water temperature, where I had to break the ice this worried in case it effected the fish. I got a reading of 36 degrees F, now that’s quite cold, but I wouldn’t let it worry me as the temperatures have been very low for a few days, from past experience I’ve had plenty of fish under similar conditions, sadly I can’t fish in the dark as it will be too dangerous walking along the county lane in the dark, even with a headlight at the front, with a similar red light at the back. I reckon the first hour of darkness is a great time to be at the waterside, despite the temperatures dropping.


First Bite A Good Chub


Having got myself all sorted out, I pinched a piece of plasticine size of a small marble on the line two inches up from the hook, then made a few casts to see how it performed when I dropped and lifted the rod, allowing it to roll a bit, I felt the weight was just right, when I come to fish the bait tight to the ice covering, I will make the weight a bit smaller. I made my first cast close to the far bank ice shelf, then slowly worked the bait along in front of this ice covering. Fifteen minutes later I made a cast towards the centre of the river where there was a slight flow, as I was doing this my friend Bill called to see if I had made it safely to the river, I answered in the affirmative, as we chatted I spotted the bow in the line tighten slightly, thinking “That’s a bite” making a strike, “Fish on” I shouted to Bill then dropped the phone to concentrate on the job in hand. I felt it was a good fish, I now had to move along the bank some ten yards or so, where I had a bit of ice free water. About ten minutes I got a glimpse of the fish a nice chub, saying “That’s a four pounder” I then worried about the fish kiting into my right under the ice causing the line to break. Thankfully as I increased the pressure, the fish moved out towards the moving water, where I let it go away from the ice danger. Slowly I got the fish further upstream into the ice free area, where I was able to sink the net, a minute or so later I was able to draw the fish over the net then lift. I immediately realised when lifting it out it could well be a four pounder. Taking out the hook, I laid the net in the shallow water, while I zeroed my scales and got the camera ready. The fish weighed 4 lb 9 ounces. Certainly a good start.


On my second cast I had a trout, quickly followed by two more chub around 3 lbs,. I was more than happy with the result. I then had a good forty minutes or more continuously rolling the bait all over the river, covering as much water as possible, but nothing. Several flocks of fieldfare flighted across the river to feed on the berries. I had a robin for company feeding on small bits of bread, tomorrow I will take some gentles and bird seed down for him and his companions, what I did see that I have never seen in winter were two kingfishers on a perch I’d erected over a small running pool, that usually remain ice free. It seemed they were having a feast.


Three More Chub


After quite a long bite less session, I got three more chub in about half an hour all between 2lbs and 3lbs, but most welcome. I then went off for a bacon and egg sandwich with a mug of OXO with some added pepper. Break over I had another hour, but no more action with the temperature starting to drop with a fresh easterly breeze I packed around1500 hrs then made my way home. The end of a very satisfactory day with plenty of intertest, I will be doing it all again tomorrow.

A winter scene

My best chub at 4-9-0

Bait and plasticine set up

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Martin James Fishing
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