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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


02/01/2016 - Some Highlights in 2015

Brendan Ince with his PB Wye barbel 12lbs

At the start of the year I didn’t feel there would be many highlights on the angling front for me due to poor health and driving problems, thankfully through my friends I occasionally visit some favourite venues. During the early part of the year Dave Hurst, Dave Whyte or Albert Procter would call and collect me for days fishing, in late February David Hurst knowing my love of the river Kennet suggested we should fish the river for a few days, within 24 hours he’d booked accommodation in a Travel Lodge, we had some excellent fishing where I was lucky to catch a 12 lb. 6 ounce barbel on a small bit of crust from a two feet deep swim within a foot of the bank when chub fishing, I also accounted for some good chub best at 5 lb. 4 ounces during those few days. For the last week of the season Brendan Ince and myself fished the river Wye, Brendan catching a personal best barbel of 12 lbs. On this particular day Brendan hooked three fish which busted him off on an unseen snag, he asked for my advice on how to overcome the problem, after rummaging around in my tackle bag I found some very good abrasion resistant line suggesting he should try it. The next bite accounted for his PB Wye barbel .

Helping Other Anglers

With the start of the new fly fishing season on rivers for trout, I was inundated with requests for fly casting lessons also some help on fishing techniques, I help some thirty pupils during the following few weeks which included several ladies, everyone listened, took note of what I said and demonstrated, they all went away able to cast a fly to catch a trout. This gained valuable funds for my two charities, Coarse Angling Today magazine and Countryman’s Weekly also used my features sending the cheques direct to the Charities, with the help of others I raised £1600-00 for the ABF The Soldiers Charity. Colin Culley of Thatcham got involved in a charity helping service families, so I arranged with my publisher to donate a box of my books to his fund raising efforts, Prince Albert AS also were presented with two boxes of books to be used as prizes for their junior matches. In the past few weeks Angler’s Mail asked me to write a feature which got a handsome cheque for Crossroads.

June 16th on the River Wye

I was extremely lucky to start the new season on the river Wye with the help of Brendan Ince who done the driving, he caught a barbel and chub during our stay, on the first evening of the season I fell down a high bank knocking myself out as I crashed into a fallen tree at the bottom of the bank, it could have been worse as I was no more than two feet from the water’s edge an hour later it was a groggy dizzy angler who eventually got back his bed. The next day feeling slightly better I fished on a level bit of bank catching some nice chub during the next few days.

Back to the 1950’s

In August Sgt Major Tam Miller collected me from home then took me off to the Midlands to fish a still water, on this occasions I chose to fish with my cane pole with its whale bone tip, also a 12 foot cane rod, I must say I couldn’t have made a better decision, using both pole and rod and reel over two days I caught rudd, roach, perch and common carp, as we walked back to the car park after the first day I turned and said to Tam “just give me another 20 years of this” I really enjoyed going back to the 50’s even to wearing a tie.

This was followed by another Wye trip with Dave Whyte, where David caught some nice barbel including a river Wye PB of 10lb 4 ounces, this fish didn’t look happy when returned even after being held in the water for some time, I quickly realised it was probably down to the high water temperature and low oxygen content. Jumping in the water in my slippers I immediately grabbed the fish then waded out to the fast well oxygenated water up to my chest where I held the fish head first into the flow, after some ten or more minutes it kicked hard, I held on for a few more minutes until it eventually it got its freedom, I got great pleasure watching the fish swim further out into the flow as it headed upstream and towards the far bank trees. my target species as always were the chub which offered me some great sport, I well remember turning up after doing all the chores for David to say “I bet you can’t catch a chub in 20 minutes”, I got one in 4 minutes catching five fish in the allotted time, all good fun. Tony Booker arrived for a couple of days, I get great pleasure watching Tony trotting the stream, he certainly is a master at this technique. On my best day I had 29 chub and a barbel, certainly great sport using bread cube using both a leger outfit and float fishing.

Another Wye Trip

In October I was on the Wye again with Albert Procter and John Rowland, later we were joined by Tony Booker, the river was very low and clear not the best of conditions for my friends, though they did catch chub and barbel, as they said it was a great trip, while they fished I made sure they were well fed, at 0900hrs every morning they would come back for a full breakfast, at lunchtime I delivered some interesting sandwiches and mugs of tea to their swims. At 1700hrs I would serve a good dinner, during the week I gave them meat pie with vegetables and thick gravy, sweet and sour chicken with rice, beef curry and rice, a mixed grill with fried potatoes. At the end of the week instead of going back home with Albert and John, Tony took me back to his place for a week, what a great week that was including 3 days on the Hampshire Avon in an area I’d not fished before, we stopped at the Bull Hotel in Downton which also done a good breakfast, During the day on the river we had some good cook in the bag meals, though the fishing was hard I did catch some chub to 5lbs 9 ounces I couldn’t complain, I was impressed with the good tackle shops and fishing Tony had available, after my enjoyable stay in Buckinghamshire Tony drove me back home to Lancashire, after a good lunch he turned round then made the long journey south. Thank you Tony and Lorrain for being such great hosts I certainly enjoyed the experience.

I’ve enjoyed my fishing and charity work which has been very satisfying, I have bad dream every time I think of 2lb plus roach I dropped by mistake as Dave Whyte and myself were trying to escape from a fast rising river, I’ve caught some excellent chub the best at 5lbs 12 ounces, trout fishing for both sea and brown trout was successful, in fact I’ve enjoyed my trout fishing immensely, I also got great pleasure watching Albert Proctor casting a size 20 dry fly on his 4 weight rod, well done Albert. I was lucky to catch 5 salmon, also help 3 other anglers to catch their first salmon, when I say lucky I mean it salmon don’t feed so you need a good chunk of luck, being on the river every day I suppose I make my own luck. I’ve enjoyed my fishing over the past few weeks even though the river Ribble has been up and down like a Yo Yo, roach and chub have been my quarry, I failed with the former but caught some good chub.

Christmas Day On The River

I fished the Ribble on Christmas Day from 0900hrs until 1800hrs for roach I was disappointed to see the W/T had gone from 47 degrees F on Wednesday to 42 degrees F today, I started off the day with a heavy plummet set up, then spent about an hour checking out three chosen spots, all the areas I checked were looking good, as always one swim impressed me more than the other spots, it had around eight feet of water, the bottom comprised sandy silt, gravel and small pebbles, you’re probably thinking how did I know what the bottom comprised of, I used a heavy plummet covered with a thick coating of Vaseline, when retrieved I could see small pieces of sand sticking in the grease, from many years of experience I can tell if I’m over gravel pebbles etc. Using a bait dropper I then put in the swim some bread and bran mash equivalent to three cricket balls. I float fished for an hour, then checked the water temperature again getting a reading of 40 degrees F, I chose to switch to a light leger outfit fishing bread cube on a short link, with the drop in water temperature perhaps I should have gone home, but why stop enjoying the experience of trying to catch some roach. In the next hour I had 2 good bites both missed, time for lunch, a boil in the bag meal of sweet and sour chicken with pasta followed by a mug of tea with a mince pie. Between 1400 hrs and 1530hrs I missed two more bites, as dusk was falling I watched a couple of good size roach swirl on the surface. It’s a pity I can’t use dough bobbin but the strong flow between where I sat and my swim under the far bank stopped that idea. Despite the heavy rain which had fallen all day, I carried on fishing well into the darkness, about 1700hrs the river started rising fast I reckon foot in half hour then in the next hour it must have come up nearly three feet, being in the dark on my own with a slippery bank common-sense told me to call it a day, though looking back with hindsight perhaps I should have stopped fishing when the river started to slowly rise and colour up. Walking back to the car I could feel the air temperature rising, I thought should I stop but then allowed common-sense to take over. Back home I was lucky to get across the bridge into my village, an hour later I would have had to drive back to the river then sleep in my riverside cabin, though it wouldn’t be a hardship, I’ve a bed, sleeping bag, cooker, heater and food in the cupboards. Thankfully it didn’t happen. After dumping all my wet gear in the garage, I had a shower then carved myself some slices of beef for my tea. Having put on one of my jazz CD’s I tried to analyse what I done wrong, missing one bite is acceptable, but missing all four bites tells me I was a numpty. Looking back with hindsight having missed those four bites still fresh in my memory, I’ve decided I’m going to use my 15 foot rod with a very fine tip as I think the roach might just hold the bait a few seconds longer. Christmas was kind to me, I got some jazz CD’s from my wife, my daughter knowing of my love for cane rods got me a Dalesman Avon for Christmas which I will use for my chub fishing, also a couple of good books, my son got me some good books including Poles Apart the history of the roach pole, it’s a great read. Boxing Day I was stuck indoors, I tried to reach my stretch of river but no chance as water flowed over the bridge, back home I spent my time reading, listening to the cricket, some good jazz music also enjoying the occasional mince pie with several mugs of tea. Today Sunday I’ve been on the river it’s between the banks with a water temperature of 44 degrees F, I couldn’t resist a couple of hours fishing, having found a dinner table size bit of slack water I fished cheese paste on a size 6 hook, catching three trout around 2lbs a chub of 3lbs, I was more than happy to get my string pulled and the stick bent as I sat in the warm sunshine. Tomorrow I will have a full day on the river roving from spot to spot, the following day as the water recedes even more I will try for the roach.

When we look back at the highlights of 2015 let’s not forget all those who have suffered from flooding and its effects on their lives. At the same time give a big thank you to the army, police, fire service, mountain rescue, the RNLI the medical services and others who have been magnificent. We visit the water ways for pleasure, but it can also be the cause of death and destruction.

I wish everyone a Happy Healthy New Year





Pole fishing, Iím looking to buy another cane pole, if anyone has one for sale

My best chub so far this winter 5-12-0

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Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]