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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


05/06/2016 - The Secret Pool Part 2

An area where carp cruised and fed on snails

I spent some time fishing for the crucian carp but having lost 3 carp on the light tackle, I decided to concentrate on the carp rather the small Crucians, I felt it was wrong to hook and lose fish through inadequate tackle' Having said that I chose to use my 10ft Constable Forty Four with a centre pin reel 12lb line Norfolk cane float taking 1AA and 1BB with a size 12 barbless hook fishing with swan shot size pieces of cheese as I'd done for the crucian carp, I also fed in a continues number of similar size pieces of cheese paste, it worked as I caught several middle double size mirror carp. One afternoon in the shallows I spotted a nice carp in close, saying to myself “If I don't spook that fish it’s for catching” I walked back to the cottage to collect my carp rod landing net and bag of cheese paste, then staying well back from the water’s edge I took off the float and shot, my plan of action was to creep close to the water then quietly lower a small piece of cheese paste a foot or so in front of the carp, With the bait in place I sat with bated breath willing the fish to move forward towards my bait, after some ten minutes the fish was over the bait all I could now do was watch the line for some indication the fish had picked up my offering.


Suddenly the line twitched then twitched again I lowered the rod to create a bow then as the bow tightened I set the hook. There was a huge boil followed by a large area of silt and muddy was as the fish thrashed the water to a foam before heading out towards the centre of the pool, then it changed direction and kited to my left heading for the rhododendron bushes, I wasn’t worried by this action as the water under the bushes to the best of my knowledge was virtually snag free. Again it changed direction for some soft cabbage patches. The balanced tackle got the better of the fish where I was able to pull the fish into the open water then slowly bring it in close for netting after one last effort by the fish I was able to pull the it over the net. It was one of those better moments in angling when everything goes to plan, I make no apologies for having the bait in the picture as I've had a lot of chub barbel carp tench and other species on this bait including mullet, as per the picture the fish was caught on a rod reel line and hook with a piece of cheese paste the size of a swan shot. Why not try this idea when you next see some carp in the shallows.

Bread Flake Was My Choice

Today the weather was bright and warm with lots of sunshine ideal weather for fish spotting, I found a comfortable spot to sit at the top end of the pool where the wind was pushing into the bay I could see several carp slowly moving around in the soft cabbage like bright green leaves, occasionally one would scoop food from the surface, other fish were sucking something from the underside of the leave, probably snail jelly or the snails themselves, I shouldn't be after so many years of trout fishing but I'm always amazed at the amount of water snails I find in the gut content of trout from the river. As I sat scanning the water surface for a cruising fish that I could put a bit of bread flake in its path without spooking the fish, After a while I noticed a dark shape emerge from under the rhododendron bushes, thinking "If I cast the flake some ten feet out into the pool from the bushes and twenty feet in front of the fish, I reckon the wind would push my bait in the direction of the fish as a natural item of food drifting in the wind blown surface". It worked a treat the bait was pushed naturally in front of the fish by about five feet, the fish instantly moved forward sucked in what it thought was a free offering. Ten minutes later it was in the net, a quick picture and off it went, no doubt thinking how did I make that mistake.

 A Welcome Common Carp

I’ve certainly enjoyed staying in the cottage, the weather was kind the fishing interesting, it’s been nice sitting beside the pool even when I've not had a rod, just watching the wildlife, enjoying the peace, reading also enjoying an hour or two sleeping in the sunshine. Most of my fishing sessions lasted probably an hour or so. The water I fished wasn't known for its big carp but did have a head of middle doubles which suited me fine, what I wanted was to get my stick bent and string pulled, though my first choice species was the crucian carp I'd been told were in the water, I'd also been told to fish small pieces of past on a size 16 hook, at the same time keep flicking in small pieces of paste around the hook. I chose to fish the Lone Angler cheese paste, why you might ask?, it’s been a winning bait for most species of fish, in fact it been a bait that has been good for me under all weather and water conditions both rivers and still waters. I did bring with me a bag of sausage sizzle dumbells also some bread as an alternative baits. During my stay I reckon I’d caught fifteen to twenty carp, what did please me was catching a nice common on my last session, I'd been fishing the top shallows when I decided it was time for a mug of tea, walking back to the cottage I spotted a swirl in the scum that had gathered on the western bank alongside a rhododendron bush. I watched the area for some ten minutes then spotted a common moving from left to right to intercept a piece of bread in the thick scum. I immediately went back collected my rod and landing also a slice of bread, pinching off a chunk of flake I lightly pressed it onto a size 12 hook then quietly lowered the bait into the water some five feet from the fish. I stood heron like watching the fish, some fifteen minutes passed then the fish moved in the direction of the bread, it slowly lowered itself in the water with just its mouth slightly protruding then quietly moved forward then gently pushed the crust before submerging out of sight, I thought the fish was spooked suddenly the water moved as the fish approached the bait again with lots of confidence then closed its mouth over the bait before slowly submerging as it did so the line slowly moved, as it did so I set the hook. The rod hooped over I was forced to give line, I reckon the fish . went twenty yards before turning towards the cabbages, where it buried its head, it was well and truly stuck, the only course of action was by pointing the rod down the line towards the fish then pulling on the line between butt ring and reel in a see sawing fashion as Dick Walker told us in Still Water Angling in 1953, after some five minutes I had the fish moving then it was in the open water where I let it slog away against the well balance tackle, it’s amazing what ten feet of quality built cane made by a master rod builder such as Cliff Constable of Bromley. Some ten minutes later the fish was mine, after a picture I watched it swim off strongly, then I went off for my mug of tea.

Probably My Best Fish

After tea as I walked the dogs around the pool, I spotted a good carp rooting around in the shallows, as I always have some bait I dropped in 4 pieces of cheese paste the size of a pigeons egg, then went off for rod and net, back in the swim I couldn't see the fish in all the disturbed and murky water so free lined a bait the size of a pigeon egg. After fifteen minutes with no sign of the fish being interested in my cheese paste, at the same time thinking it was feeding on bloodworm I thought of moving on, then noticed a unmistakeable twitch on the line the bow in the line between rod tip and water tightened. As it did so I set the hook into a very angry fish, the fight was on as it dashed off down the pool, then kited to my left under the rhododendron bushes, I cramped on as much pressure as I could then walked slowly in the opposite direction gradually increasing the pressure, it told as the fish moved towards the centre of the pool giving me chance to get a lot of line back on the reel and full control of the situation, another five minutes and it was in the net. Probably my best fish of the trip and a worthy quarry and a nice way to end our stay at the cottage. My bait bill for the week was a large bag of Lone Angler Cheese paste 1KG, a large bag of Sausage sizzle 900G with a few slices of bread. No doubt I could have caught a lot more fish if I used modern methods and spent a lot more time at the waterside. I was more interested in having a good and long relaxing rest with a bit of fishing. Fishing as I did in the 50’s, hence the simple tackle, as one approaches 80 years of age we look back through rose tinted glasses and wished we could relive our youthful years. That’s what I did, the only thing missing was the jazz clubs but we can’t have everything. Hopefully in two or three weeks time the shingle will be a bad dream, my eyesight will be good enough to see a float at thirty yards or more, when I’m long trotting for chub, that’s if I can walk far enough along the river bank without any help. I wish you all a very good start to the river season.


One of many carp

A nice Common carp

Probably my best fish

Lone Angler Cheese and Sausage sizzle dumbells

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Martin James Fishing
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