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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/07/2015 - Another week on the Ribble



Monday 7th July I was planning on a quiet day but it didn’t happen, when I got on the river around 0900hrs I found slurry being spread thickly on one of the riverside fields, close to the water’s edge, what makes this more worrying is the low water level and flow rate with low oxygen content, if we should get heavy rain the slurry will get swept into the river and no doubt cause a fish kill, if not the invertebrates nymphs etc. will perish. I immediately got onto the EA with all the details of farmer post codes and location. Also a public foot path runs along the river bank, a group of walkers from Scotland were so disgusted at having to walk through such a large amount of slurry, after a chat with them they agreed to complain to local council and newspaper, so I gave them the details also my e-mail address so if they wanted a pic to go with their letters I would send them one. See two pics of slurry, how can this be allowed in the 21st Century. Having dealt with the problem on the top beat to the best of my ability I went off to the bottom beat, then spent two hours slowly walking the beat with binoculars and polaroid glasses checking out the river, looking for fish holding areas, especially small drop offs and areas of deeper water where the chub will perhaps congregate during higher water levels, I was surprised to find two gravel runs under the far bank, with water crowfoot, also sheltered by bankside trees and bushes making it look ideal for winter fishing. For the next few days I will introduce samples of 14 cheese flavoured dumbells in the hope of getting the fish weaned on this bait. Back in the cabin I had a brew then sorted out tackle some tackle in the car for an early morning session the next day.

Tuesday 7th July I was on the river early today with rain forecast for later, my first idea was to fish for chub, then noticing the river had about 3 to 4 inches of extra water, I chose to fish the bottom beat for sea trout. I put together a ten foot 7 weight rod, floating line which had a seven foot clear slow sink tip built into the fly line, then attached an eight foot fluorocarbon 8lb bs leader, a snake fly was chosen then attached to the leader with a Palomar knot. I made a cast across some fast water on my left allowing the fly to swing downstream then across the fast water as it reached the crease, created by the fast water pushing downstream on the edge of a large deep pool to my right, then stripped the fly back creating an impression of an erratic sand eel. It must have been twenty five minutes or more of casting and retrieving, when I got a savage take as the fly was swinging across to the seam, as I set the hook I quickly realised I’d hooked up to a good fish, it powered down the pool in its bid to reach the ocean, stripping line off the reel as it did so. In the first couple of minutes the fish thought it was a cruise missile as it leapt skywards three times crashing back in a shower of spray, I doubt if there is a fish in our rivers that can put up such a powerful fight. Every time I get hooked up to a good sea trout, I realise why my grandfather travelled from the south all the way to the River Dovey before and after World War 2 to fish for these great fish. Though my grandfather, father and several other relatives caught double figure sea trout, I’ve yet to catch my first. After many minutes, I ‘ve no way at guessing how long it took to subdue this fish, but eventually I was able to draw this silver bodied fish with its black spots into my waiting net. It taped out at 26inches, as I slipped it back into the water I wished it well on its journey further upriver to successfully spawn. About an hour later I had another fish estimated at around 4lbs, what a great brace of fish I though, one of the syndicate members watching me release the second fish said “Not taking it home Martin” I answered “No I release all my sea trout and salmon, they need all the help we can give them”. Around 1100hrs, I made my way back upstream arriving at the weir pool I thought I’d have a few casts, but nothing was interested, I moved on to the cabin for a brew, at 1130 hrs I observed a minute’s silence in memory of those who were involved in the terrorist attack in London July 7th 2005. Later on BBC Radio 4 I heard that a police officer stopped the traffic in Tavistock square for the minutes silence. Well done officer. I well remember Make Hyde and myself taking part in Remembrance Service in Berkshire for those who lost their lives in various wars and conflicts, As we stood heads bowed traffic continued to pass behind or in front of us. We were all disgusted at these morons.

EA Act over Slurry

I got the following interesting e-mail today ref the slurry that was spread on the riverside field. It read Martin that’s a brilliant picture and worth referral to the RPA – I will check this out later today. Photos like this are worth their weight because the Rural Payment Agency can really hit farmers in the pocket by cutting their basic payment. Spreading slurry right up to the watercourse is a breach of cross compliance rules and we can refer farmers on the strength of this evidence. Many thanks. Back home I spent some time publicising the Dragon Boat event in which Lone Angler have strong team hopefully we can win but it want be easy.

Wednesday 8th July this morning the weather was cloudy no wind with light rain showers, what we used to call a ‘Roach Fishers day’ back in the 50’s, this saying come about through a feature written by Dick Walker when he discussed low light conditions that had an effect on feeding fish especially roach. It all come about when he noticed roach would feed when the light factor for taking a good photograph. In those days every photographer had a light meter usually hanging around their neck where it was immediately available. My friends and myself were no different, many times as we sat on the train heading off to some venue we would take a light meter reading, hoping of getting a reading of 125 f11 or f8 I can’t remember the exact reading, though I think it was the former. if we got that magic reading, then often in unison we would say It’s a Roach Fisher Day, most times it was true. When we get such days in autumn and winter I still think roach and light meter readings. I spent most of the morning sorting out my garage and two sheds, Sgt Major Tam Miller arrived at 1230 hrs for lunch, Tam is captain for the Lone Angler team in the Dragon Boat Event taking place on Saturday 12th September 2015 at the Liverpool Water Sports Centre, Queens Dock, 110 Mariners Wharf, Liverpool L3 4DG in aid of the ABF The Soldiers Charity, the event will take place between 1000 and 1500 / 1600 hrs. I spent the afternoon until 1600hrs walking the banks of my fishery in the hope of finding some chub, I also put samples of Lone Angler cheese dumbells in some likely looking areas both on the top and bottom beats.

Thursday 9th July bright sunny day with light breeze, on the river at 0700hrs, finding the river with about 9 inches of extra water, I chose to target the chub. In some ten hours of fishing all I had was just one slight pull on a tiny piece of Ocean Pride, I used various baits in each swim, Sausage Sizzle paste and dumbells, Cheese paste and dumbells, the same with Ocean Pride. Cheese flavoured crust or flake again flavoured with sausage sizzle or Ocean Pride, I just couldn’t get a bite. I float fished several swims that were suitable, either for trotting or laying on, in other swims I rolled or fished an anchored bait. In a couple of swims I fed cheese flavoured mash fishing crust or flake, still nothing. It was one of the hardest days I’ve experienced for a long time. I didn’t even stop for lunch just making do with several bottles of water. The only high spot during the day was seeing two salmon around the 12lb mark leap the weir pool. I didn’t even get bothered by trout. Why I didn’t catch I haven’t a clue, I thought the river looked just perfect for a good catch of chub today. I certainly got put in my place today. Usually when I have a day like this, I can look back then pin point something I’ve done wrong or something I should have done, in this instance I don’t feel I done anything wrong. Still that’s why it known as fishing and not catching.

Friday 10th July Today it’s the 75th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain when we stood alone against the scourge of Germany and its allies, while most of Europe was under the Nazi jackboot. Let’s give thanks to the pilots and ground staff who beat the Nazi scum. I thought it was a wonderful gesture that six remaining veteran pilots had been invited to Buckingham Palace for the fly past, then taken for lunch. After visiting my local war memorial where I chatted with two veterans in their 90’s for probably thirty minutes I made my way to the river arriving around 1230hrs, after yesterday’s dismal defeat by the chub I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fish or roam the river bank looking for signs of chub. I chose to walk both beats only finding a few chub, but lots of brown and sea trout. Two members were having good sport fishing with emerger patterns, several sea trout seen going over the weir. Above the weir I spotted 2 salmon probably the fish I’d seen going over the weir yesterday. It was about 1500hrs when I arrived back home, I then topped off my pond with water from the water butts, it’s far better than using water direct from the tap, it’s also nice seeing the frog and toad tadpole’s as they move among the plant life in the crystal clear water. I then spent the rest of the afternoon listening to the cricket, relishing the thought of a big defeat for Australia, also reading a good novel.


More slurry very close to the water's edge

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Martin James Fishing
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