fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


London Anglers' Association Britford Fishery

London Anglers' Association Britford Fishery Hampshire Avon Salisbury, without doubt the acquisition of the Britford Fishery at auction by the London Anglers Association in the 1960's was a great coup for its members. Situated downstream of Salisbury this magnificent chalk stream river offers good trout and coarse fishing for its member costing around £50-00 for a season permit. The fishery is extremely well run by River Keeper Stuart Wilson who in my book is one of the top river keepers in the business today Tel 07847-109153 This famous chalk stream is visited by anglers from all over the UK, many in search of its quality roach Rutilus rutilus is its Latin name, where many 2lb plus roach are caught with the occasional 3lb fish, it's certainly a place where dreams come true for the roach fisher. Walk slowly and quietly upstream wearing polaroid glasses,you will no doubt see under the swaying water crowfoot, a shoal of perch from tiddler size fish and other perch that might weight 4lbs. If you're very lucky you might spot two or three 2lb plus roach, under the overhanging cracked willow alder stunted oaks hawthorns and various bushes, you will find the chub, but not if they see your first as they will fade away ghost Like. Some of these fish will make you gasp at their size, with the chance of a 7lb fish 6lb 14 oz's is the best I've heard of, without doubtthe chub is the most River wise of all the fish that swim in our fresh waters, Isaac Walton said " the fearfullest of fishes" The Avon has always had a great record for producing good pike, the Britford Fishery is no exception. Every season pike of 20lbs plus are caught. Britford has barbel, but not in numbers as in venues such as the Royalty, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Ibsley but there is a good chance of double figure fish. John Plummer of Downton Wiltshire caught a brace of 14lb 4oz's and 13lb 6 Oz's last season.

Mixed Bag Recently

Gavin Hurst of Wigan joined me for a trip south to fish the Avon it was Gavin's first visit to this famous river. Leaving Lancashire early in the day,we arrived at Clearway Diner for breakfast just outside Salisbury on the A30 about 8 o'clock, Gavin chose a full English, I had scrambled eggs on toast, with large mugs of strong tea. An hour later we pulled onto the bottom car park of the fishery to meet River Keeper Stuart Wilson and one angler Steve Jones from Dorset who was on a week's holiday, his target fish were the chub, his best fish being a 5 lb. 10 oz's caught on lobworm.After a chat with Stuart and Steve, Gavin and myself pulled on our chest waders picked up our tackle bags and rods then set off for the long walk downstream to the Island swim whereGavin would float fish for Chub, perch, dace, roach, grayling and no doubt sometrout. He set upa 13ft rod, centre pin reel with 4lb line, a chubber float taking 4 AA shot bunched together about 15 inches from a size 16 barbless hook Gavin was ready to go. Wading well out into the stream he run the float through several times until he was happy with the float setting, with the bait a few inches off The bottom. Baiting with 2 red gentles (maggots) he fed a few in above the swim followed by the baited hook. On his third cast the float buried, the answering strike connected with a good fish. A trout about 4lbs which was unhooked in the water. I left Gavin to his fishing, then made my way upstream looking formy favourite fish the chub.

Two Rivers

After crossing over the weir pool that separates the old original river from the New River which was built to alleviate flooding in Salisbury, I made my way up The Old River, where the opposite bank was over hung with alder, cracked willow, ash, oak and hawthorn, in some places the branches of some trees were trailing in the water or inches off the surface. There were dark deep looking pools which no doubt hold some big pike, chub, perhaps a barbel. Two hundred yards upstream I come across a bay on the far bank over hung with trees making it dark and secretive, inthe far corner was a large raft of weeds, branches and other rubbish with a covering of thick creamy white scum. It screamed chub, I thought I'd won the lottery catapulting a few pieces of crust across the stream I watched their progress noting where the water flowed under the raft. I then catapulted a few pieces Lone Angler sausage sizzle flavoured bread flake upstream of the raft, then moved on further upstream looking for other swims. Having baited two more likely spots, I returned to my first swim, tackle was a 12 foot soft action Avon rod, fixed spool reel 6lb line, to which I attached a size 6 barbless hook finally pinching 3 LG shot fifteen inches from the hook, Baiting with a piece of sausage sizzle flavoured bread flake the size of a fifty pence piece. With an underhand cast I dropped the bait several feet upstream of the scum; the river flow would then carry the bait well under the raft where no doubt the chub would be waiting.

The Chub Were At Home

Within minutes I felt the line tighten on my index finger as the soft tip pulled round, striking I hooked my first chub of the session, after hauling the fish across the river and through the water crowfoot I had the fish close to the net, 4lbs "I thought" as I netted my first fish of the session the scales giving a weight of 4lb 12 oz's. In the next hour I had six more fish all over 4lbs the swim then died. It was time to move. My next choice swim was gravel run between the water crowfoot and the far bank, I planned to bounce a bit of sausage sizzle flavoured crust down the gap, taking off the LG shot I replaced it with a BB shot wrapped in plasticine six inches from the hook. On my first cast I hooked a good chub which weeded me for about five minutes eventually the pressure told the fish was mine. It weighed 4lb 10 oz'son my next cast I got another chub, and then lost the next fish. Time for a brew and sandwich then move on. My next swim was a large willow bush that over hung the water many of its branches trailing in the water, another ideal spot for chub.

Baiting with crust

I made an underhand cast dropping the bait at the upstream edge of the willow, as the bait went under the bush the tip pulled round savagely soon another good chub was netted. Quickly followed by two more fish, of 4lbs plus before I moved on to another swim. During my daylong session I had a total of 13 chub, it was time to make my way back to Gavin to hear about his fishing day, he excitedly told me he had caught chub, perch, dace, grayling, roach including several trout, also losing a salmon. On the way home he had a grin a mile wide. A great day on a top chalk stream river for just £45-00 a season. The cost of membership for the season commencing 1st April 2015 is as follows: Seniors £45 Partners £67-00 Juniors £25-00 OAP £27-00 Reg Disabled - £27-00 Companion £7-00 (non-fishing) Britford Coarse Tickets (available to those purchasing any of the above excluding Companion): Senior Coarse Tickets £15-00 Jnr, OAP or Reg Dis£7-50 available from. Izaac Walton House 2A Hervey Park Road London E17 6L J Telephone 020 8520 7477 E-mail [email protected]

Rhode Island USA For Top Saltwater Fly Fishing

Rhode Island USA is the smallest State in the Union with a wealth of top class fishing fishing opportunities. The fishing on offer is excellent for striped bass and bluefish in good numbers, which can be caught fly fishing, and light lure fishing gear. The bluefish fishing is incredible with many fish running 12 to 14 lbs. With some albacore inside the bay around 8 - 10 pounds. School tuna can be caught in August, they may show again in October when the bluefish move out of the bay. The tuna could be waiting to feed on them. Itís going to be a long winter, why not take advantage of this excellent fishing and the low airfares.

Lots of Bait Fish

If we want to catch lots of blueís and stripers, there has to be a big concentration of bait fish to draw these predators inshore and get them feeding. Without a good supply of food fish our predators will lose weight and die. There are several species of bait fish which we anglers can imitate. There are Silverside and sand eels, in the herring family, there is the American shad, a game fish in its own right, but as a juvenile an excellent food fish. Anchovies, are a small forage fish which are a great bait fish especially in September and October when the False Albacore are around.

I have used this imitation with great effect when hunting the Albies with Captain Dixon Merkt who ties an excellent imitation of this bait fish. The Atlantic menhaden, which I believe are often called bunker are an important bait fish, its an oily, bony fish with a high oil and fat content. They are unfit for human consumption, but are netted in their millions by commercial netters for processing into oil and protein meal. From talking with many experienced saltwater fly fishers on the eastern seaboard the wholesale slaughter of these and other bait fish is having a dramatic effect on the size of stripers and bluefish.

The Right Guide is so Important.

If your planning a trip to the United States you will need a good guide. We all know there are good and bad ones, some extremely bad. I have experienced the latter twice, once in Florida, the other time in California. It wasnít a nice experience. Thankfully, through my many American friends and attending various shows I have got to know several top class guides. I now have a good selection of top class people to fish with. You need to trust your guide implicitly, not only in giving you a good experience on the water, but also making sure you return safely to the dock.

Check to make sure your guide is Coast Guard, drug and alcohol certified. Remember your guide isn't a servant he is offering you his services as a fishing guide. It doesnít matter how good an angler you, there are days when the fish donít co-operate. I usually say to my guide "Hello Charlie (or whatever his or her name is) Iím Martin, just remember you and me are a couple of buddies having a day on the water and please donít call me Sir". If you are on your own and there is room enough in the boat, why not invite your guide to fish. Three guides I can recommend are as follows. For Cape Cod Capt Andrew Cummins E-mail [email protected] Long Island Sound Capt. Dixon Merkt E-mail [email protected] Without doubt the top Rhode Island guide is Capt. Jim White E-mail [email protected]

White Ghost Are One Of The Better Guiding Services

Captain Jim along with his son Justin operate the White Ghost guiding service in Rhode Island who specialise in light tackle and fly fishing. Last year fishing with Jim and Justin David Jones of Birtle Lancashire and me caught dozens of good size bluefish. One day we encountered seven big schools of blitzing blues One of these schools probably covered an area of two acres. It was awesome fishing, we could not have wished for better. One of the great things about some areas around Providence RI are the bays and inlets, where its possible to seek bluefish and striped bass under most weather conditions. Jim and Justinís boat are both 24 foot Tridents with the new quiet Honda 225 HP motors The boats are also equipped with all the safety requirements, both guides are Coast Guard, drug and alcohol certified.

On another occasion David Jones and me had some excellent fly fishing for striped bass and bluefish, in fact we couldnít have wished for a better session on the water. Captain Jim White of Coventry Rhode Island as previously stated is without doubt, the top captain around Rhode Island collected us from our hotel at 7-0 am. Within fifteen minutes we were on the East Greenwich dock. It was a great day to be on the water, we had a light wind from the NNE with warm sunshine. The sky was mostly blue with the odd small cloud. In ten minutes we could see terns and cormorants working close to the shoreline in one of the bays. Capt. Jim positioned the boat for our first drift then cut the motor. As we drifted closer towards the shoreline around mid-bay island of Patience, we could clearly see swirling bass as they slashed at the bait fish which had been herded into the reeds. Some of these fish were in double figures. We both used Thomas and Thomas Helix 4 piece fly rods rated for nine weight lines. David used a Rio versitip on his Loop reel, while I chose a Teeny 300 grain shooting line with ten foot of tapered Frog Hair leader with a 14lb tippet on my Aaron reel. We both tied on size 4 Clouser minnows in white and chartreuse.

Lots Of striped Bass and A Few Blueís

Capt. Jim had put us on a perfect drift, we both hooked up to stripers on our first cast, as I played my fish I looked down into the water where I could clearly see a far bigger fish following the hooked one. After a lot of head shaking I boated a good striper which was quickly returned. With another sixty foot cast I dropped the Clouser close to the reed bed where the fish were avidly feeding. With two short strips then I set the hook with a firm strip strike into another striper. This fish was determined to get into the reeds, the well balanced tackle decided otherwise, as I bullied the fish into clear water.

Looking towards the stern I could see David with his rod hooped over, the line slanting down into the water. This was fishing at its best. In fact I doubt if it could get better. We had perfect weather, feeding fish, picturesque surroundings and a skipper who did know what fishing and boating was all about.

Having unhooked my fish in the water I grabbed my camera to shoot some pictures of David who was having a tussle with a fish that didnít want to give in. Light conditions were perfect, using my Nikon digital SLR I could shoot dozens of pictures without worrying about the cost of processing. Having got my action shots. Capt. Jim leaned over the gunwale and grabbed the fish by its bottom lip. After quickly shooting a couple more pictures of David with his double figure bass it was released.

Meanwhile Capt. Jim started tossing Linker City Fin-S Fish seven inches long in white with Mustad keeper wide gap hooks that were weighted and known as Rip Tide Lures in the United States. The company make some great plastic lures for saltwater fishing. The two rods he used were Tsunami spinning rods with Quantum 30 and Penn 360 reels, loaded with Berkley Big Game line in 12 pound test with fluorocarbon leaders made by Triple Fish Line Co. The bass also grabbed Culprit shad bodies in white or purple smoke finish, On his first chuck he was quickly bitten off by a good bluefish. Seconds later as I lifted off my Clouser for another cast I too was bitten off by a bluefish. As all this was happening, we had drifted in close to the shore. It was time to move out for another drift.

As we slowly motored out into the bay to line ourselves up for another drift, I noticed a small boat with a fly fisher. Within seconds of seeing this guy, he was hooked up to a good fish. I pointed this flyfisher out to Capt. Jim who said "That's my friend Gene Matteson from Cranston RI" I shot a few pictures of Gene playing his bass, and I was pleased to see him wearing a life jacket.

Its most important when your out in a boat on your own to wear a life jacket. Should you go overboard you will keep afloat. In our next drift at Deer Cove fishing in four feet of water over a boulder strewn bottom we were quickly into action. Some occasions all three of us had hook ups. One fish I hooked up with gave a different fight to the previous ones, I soon realised I had a bluefish, this was soon confirmed when a good fish jumped clear of the water. As it crashed back and dived for the boulders I expected a bite off. It didnít happen. It was certainly my lucky day as some minutes later I had the fish alongside the boat where it was quickly grabbed by Capt. Jim who I noticed used a glove for the purpose.

Changing Tide.

With the water only five feet deep at high water we fished in a back cove of saw grass surrounded by trees and pines. With high water and no tide flow the fishing slowed right down. The feeding spell had virtually come to an end. Though the odd fish did still hit the fly or lure. I decided it was time to eat, then record an interview with Capt. Jim for my ĎAt The Waterís Edgeí Programme on BBC Radio Lancashire. Meanwhile Gene came alongside for a chat, what a nice guy he turned out to be. Although he is in his seventies he still fishes every day if the weather is good.

Often Capt. Jim invites Gene out on his boat. Two other guests who fish with Capt. Jim are Nick Curcione, what a great guy he is. The best article I have ever read on shooting heads was one by Nick which was published several years ago when he was living in California. I recommend his book ĎTug of Warí Its a good read with lots of good information. Lefty Kreh the worlds number one master fly fisher often has a day out with Capt. Jim. Lefty is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest fly fisher alive today. His knowledge is tremendous. I would love to have got Lefty and the late Richard Walker together.

Back to the fishing, with an ebbing tide we moved off to fish Crab Claw Bar about a two miles away. As we stopped the motor for our next drift, we could see a lot of birds working on the bait fish which have been driven to the surface by the predators. A group of stripers could be seen swirling on the surface. It looked as if we were going to have another session of bent sticks and pulled strings. On my first cast I got bitten off, David did the same and Capt. Jim had a good bluefish. As David and me contemplated the tying in of a wire tippet, we both spotted some stripers. Casting our Clousers we both got hooked up to these stripers. The session lasted some forty minutes before the fish moved away.

As we moved out into the bay Gene called across to say "Stripers moving off the point" Capt.Jim quickly changed direction, in a minute or so it was time to start another drift towards an area known as the Cave and Rock Gardens. I quickly had two more blues followed by several stripers. It was one of those days we all dream about. Over dinner the previous evening I said to David "It would be nice if we could get a few striped bass tomorrow as its our last session" At the end of the drift, it was time to head back to the East Greenwich dock . We had to drive to Boston for our flight home. To end the day in style, the American Airlines check in girl gave us two first class seats. If you want to sample the fishing in Rhode Island contact Captain Jim White by E-mail whiteGhos1@aol.

Worcestershire and the beautiful Teme

When it comes to seeking the hard-fighting barbel there are many venues countrywide. Though I live very close to the river Ribble, my first choice barbel water has to be the river Teme in Worcestershire. It's a delightful river of otters, water voles, kingfishers and many other bird species. Green woodpeckers are around in profusion. Much of the bank side is overgrown with willows, alders, oaks and hawthorns.

There are many types of wildflowers from bluebells, primroses, marsh marigolds, foxgloves, cow parsley, purple loosestrife, red campion and Himalayan balsam; in fact, the list is endless.

The river twists and turns through delightful countryside, with shallows, gravel runs and deep pools so much beloved of the barbel. I feel the Teme barbel are the toughest fighting fish around.

The river certainly has a big head of medium size fish, 4lbs to 7lbs, with a good chance of a double-figure fish. In fact, it would not surprise me to see the river throw up a big barbel of record proportions. You will certainly need some strong tackle: 12lb line and a rod with a pound and a half test curve. I use a centre pin reel which is perfect for this small river, which is a tributary of the river Severn. Much of the Teme can be fished for the price of a day ticket.

The Barbel Society have a stretch of the river at Bransford. Another club with some good water on the Teme is the Prince Albert AS which is an excellent value for money club who have several stretches of water on the Teme. This society is super value for money

The Teme is also an excellent chub and pike river. In the upper reaches you can enjoy some excellent grayling and trout fishing. Salmon also run the river. I have seen fish to 10lbs in the lower reaches of the river.

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]