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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


18/10/2023 - A Good Day

A group of beaters

After an enjoyable day on the river, I returned next day to a small still water where I’d been given permission to fish, I was told the shooting syndicate would be around the surrounding fields and woods, If I didn’t mind, I was more than welcome, having been a wild fowler for some 60 years, it wouldn’t be a problem. I was amazed when the shoot captain took time out to introduce himself to me and explain where the drives would be. After a ten minute chat, we shook hands and off he went. I have always found most shooting people and beaters very friendly and helpful as was the case today, I was even invited to lunch if I cared to do so, at the big house.

Returning to my pitch, a gap just a few feet wide, in the water were some reed mace and bulrushes, on the bank to my right were hazel bushes, a large oak, also a thick hedgerow, composed of holly, hazel, alder and brambles, many of the latter branches were in the water, should a fish get among that lot all would be lost. There was a small area of dying lilies, of course the roots would be an area where any decent fish would try to reach. To my left were a mixture hazel, holly with some early berries with lots of brambles. Each time I see the hazel bushes I think of RB Traditional and his rod rests. The weather had turned cold with the wind around 25 mph from the east, not sure how this would affect the fish. I started off by throwing in a dozen or more bits of crust.

The tackle was quite simple a bamboo Sharpes rod, centre pin reel holding 12lb line, to which I tied a size 4 barbless hook, I then assembled my landing net, “Time for a fresh brew, before starting to fish”, having put the jet boiler, I looked in the bag for my mug, it was missing. No tea for me today, I would have to make do with water or milk. It seems these days ”I’m often forgetful”. After drinking some water, I baited with a piece of crust, then sat quietly waiting for a fish to show. Twenty thirty minutes later I heard the sound of a loud slurp or cloop, it always excites me, as I know a carp is interested in feeding, the crust no more than three feet out from my rod tip, was quietly was sucked down, hardly disturbing the water surface. I quietly lowered another piece of crust on the surface, about six feet away from where the first crust had been taken. I sat there motionless as a heron holding the rod, perhaps half an hour, I noticed a gentle rocking movement of the crust, that told me a carp was interested in my bait. The fish slowly approached from the right then nudged the crust, before slowly submerging, a couple of minutes later it approached from another direction, again nudging the bait before submerging.

A minute or two later the head appeared as the mouth opened, then quietly sucked in the sodden bread, if you can’t get excited and feel your heart beat increase at this sight, you shouldn’t be a carp angler. As the line moved, I lifted the rod, then felt the surge of power as the rod took on its battle curve, the reel with the check roared into life, as the fish tried to make as much distance between me and itself, after some thirty yards, it then kited to the left towards a small island, I immediately pulled the rod to my right, the sight of a good cane rod with its curve and jagging tip, I’m often taken back to the early fifties when I had my first MK1V, designed by that master angler designer and engineer Dick Walker. After some time of give and take by the fish and myself, I started to gain control, slowly the power of the fish was getting less, I thought “If I don’t make a mistake” A few minutes later I was able to net my prize, using a small pair of forceps, I lifted out the barbless hook, a quick picture was taken, as the net was lowered into the water, I watched the fish swim off.

During the session I had six more fish, three mirror carp around six to eight pounds, the other three were commons. Later in the afternoon I decided to change my bait from a prawn to bread flake, as I was retrieving the line I felt it snag on something fairly solid. Pointing the rod down the line I pulled, slowly something extremely heavy was moving towards the bank, its amazing the power in a quality well made cane rod such as Sharpes. Eventually I got the culprit into the bank, lifting the length of tree branch out of the water onto the bank, was hard work. As it had probably been in the water a few years.  It was a happy angler that was invited into the owners house for a cup of tea until my daughter arrived.

Another Good Day

Martyn picked me up from home at 0930 hrs, the venue today was about an hour’s drive, so we had plenty of time talking about our prospects, and fishing methods, I planned to fish two rods as did Martyn, I wanted to target the rudd, perhaps a carp, but with a strong easterly wind, I had my doubts, if the carp or rudd would be inclined to feed. My first job was to check the water temperature, I got a reading of 56 degrees F, down 4 degrees F, certainly not a good sign. I scattered some crust on the surface hoping for signs of interest.I made up an Edgar Sealey Rover float rod, with a centre pin reel holding 4lb breaking strain line, then attached a porcupine float taking 3AA shot pinched on the line, some three feet from a size 10 barbless hook, the BB was pinched on the line six inched up from the hook. After plumbing the depth, I set the float so just the hook and BB shot settled on the bottom. My first choice bait was a lobworm with half a dozen chopped up and scattered around the float.

Time for a brew as I was waiting for the water to boil, I glanced occasionally at the crusts, no sign of any surface movement from the fish. In each mug I dropped a Yorkshire Gold tea bag, soon the water was boiling and two mugs of tea were stewing for a minute or so, taking the flask of milk from the bag, I unscrewed the top then poured in the milk. “Disaster” the milk resemble a very soft cheese, it was off. Having tipped the cup of horrid liquid away, I washed it out then split the other mug into two mugs, walking along to Martyne I told him my mistake, asking “Can you drink tea without milk” he said “Yes” Thankfully Martyn had a flask of coffee, he offered me some, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so I made do with tea and no milk, not something I liked.

An hour or more later with no sign of a bite on the float tackle, I made up a renovated Sharpes rod, centre pin reel holding 12lb line, to which I tied a size 4 barbless hook, even though I hadn’t seen any sign of carp moving. I then had a walk around the water to see if any fish were moving, I met 2 anglers both were fishless, in fact they were packing up with the words “ It’s a waste of time today, also there was a frost this morning” After a few minutes chatting, I moved off one way, as they went off through the wood. Back in our chosen pitches I noticed most of the bread had gone, walking along to Martyn I asked “Did you see any carp or rudd taking the bread”? the answer was “No” Back in my pitch I threw in some crusts, then sat back on the bank to watch events, fifteen minutes later I watched a crust disappear no more than six inches from the bank.

I dropped another crust in the spot, a minute or so later I watched a mouth come out of the water engulfing the crust then it sunk back down with no sign or water disturbance. If I hadn’t seen this happen I would have believed a carp had been responsible, I would have thought it just drifted under the bank out of sight.At Last A FishI quickly baited with a large piece of flake lowering it gently in the water, then sat hawk like, watching the flake, within minutes, a mouth engulfed the bread then slowly submerged, I set the hook, I didn’t need to give any line the fish just wallowed under the water not really going anywhere I slowly lifted the fish to the surface then dragged it over the net. I was the most horrid looking mirror carp I’d ever seen, Immediately Martyn is ready with the camera, I said ”Don’t take a picture it’s not worth it” it had an extended gut, I got the impression it had dropsy or was spawn bound. Taking out the hook I lowered it back in the water. I really felt sorry for that fish.Martyn said “Once again you have caught” my answer was “I don’t count fish like that”

Baiting up once more I lowered the bait down close to some branches about six inches off the water, hoping the breeze would push the bait underneath them, then minutes later it had done so. A few minutes later I heard a cloop, then the line was moving I struck sideways to my right so I could hopefully drag the fish away from any tree roots, it worked as the fish went off towards the middle of the water, after a good fight I was able to draw the fish in close, “That’s a good wildie” I said to Martyn, eventually it was in the net. Estimated around 8lbs, This made my day. As I was trying to hold the fish for a pic, it shot from my hands straight into the water. Oh well I had caught it.

A Good Common

After catching four more decent carp, I spotted what I thought was a good double figure common, on the edge of a very large bush over hanging the water, some branches were trailing a few inches in the water. I’d heard a few cloops from under this bush as bit of bread were drifting into the area. Noticing this good fish, I baited with a big piece of flake, I then dropped a bit of flake in the area where I spotted the common, but a foot or so out from the branches in the hope the fish would move out. It worked, five minutes later the bread disappeared. I rested the spot for about two minutes before, I quietly dropped the baited hook, out from the branches, hoping the carp would take a second piece. No problem within minutes I watched it glide from under the bush towards the bait, it immediately sucked in the bait, as the line moved I set the hook into a very angry fish that also made the mistake of going off towards the centre of the pool and not back under the bush. I immediately moved along the bank dragging the net with me. I felt I now had more control over events. I was along protracted fight, more so as the fish tended to hug the bottom with a lot of head shaking. It was a case of slowly pumping the fish towards me, thankfully there were only two occasions when I had to give some line. Eventually I got the fish in the net, I estimated it around 12lbs, but Martyn insisted that I weigh the fish as he thought it was a lot bigger. On the scales it weighed 16lbs 4 ounces, a quick pic was taken, then the fish released. So ended another good day, despite no tea.

A nice carp

A dead weight

16lb 4 ounce common

My first choice swim

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Martin James Fishing
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