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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/04/2017 - New Season New Spring

Mink the biggest killeer in the countryside

The day started on a high note when looking out of the window I spotted a greater spotted woodpecker, also a cock pheasant in the garden, after breakfast I checked my e-mails to see I’ve had confirmation for accommodation at the Old Swan Inn at Lechlade later in the year when I fish the River Thames at Tadpole bridge with Colin, Leigh, David, Cane and Able along hopefully with Mark, it should be a good way to celebrate my birthday. Walking the bottom beat of my fishery I was lucky to see the first of the sand martins about 20 in number, I will have to get some mink traps down in the area where they nest otherwise the biggest killers in the countryside will rip the youngsters out of their homes, last year I caught and killed 5 mink in the sandy bank area.New Chub Swim Created. Walking further down the beat I come to an area where a thirty foot plus tree had crashed in the water close to the far bank creating what will be a good chub swim, but also a holding area for salmon and sea trout especially in low water conditions, it will also create a sanctuary for the smaller fish from the beaks of goosanders and cormorants, I did notice that many of the branches had large buds on them so hopefully there will be plenty of leaf cover.Hard Work Getting A Sheep back On Its Feet. Having finished walking the bottom beat I checked out the top beat where I found a sheep on its back, after a bit of a struggle I managed to get the beast back on its feet, if left they will slowly die, Back in the cabin I washed my hands in hot water with lots of disinfectant, then had a cup of coffee. I then drove round to the opposite bank where I found some low life scum bag had dumped a load of building rubble including wall covering from a bathroom, a fridge, kitchen sink and other rubbish including old cloths, wall paper etc. I made 4 trips to the local tip, as one of the attendants at the tip told me, “They are just scum who crawl from under the rocks, who don’t care about the countryside or other people’s property”A Few Trout Were Feeding. The next day on the river the weather was warm with a light wind, many sand martins were on the wing hunting the flies, further along the beat it was lovely to see a pair of oystercatchers, hearing the love haunting call should not be missed, neither should the which is nice to hear, flying display of these beautiful birds which is certainly stunning. On the opposite bank were lovely clumps of primroses, showing up like bright lights against the dark bank, catkins, pussy willow are about in profusion as is frog spawn in the small ponds. The jackdaw’ and rooks were making lots of noise, as I walked my 2 miles of river bank it made me realise how lucky we are in this country with our 4 seasons. On the top beat I met 3 of my syndicate members all fishing upstream nymphs in the hope of catching their first trout of the season.

At the edge of the copse I found a small flock of long tailed tits looking for insects, into the copse I was lucky to find a grey squirrel in the trap which was quickly dispatched so more birds will survive, half way down the copse I arrived at a pool which has been good for chub during the winter, standing there quietly for about 15 minutes I started to see chub moving around counting 8 good fish between 3 and 4lbs, certainly a sight for sore eyes. Having checked 2 mink traps, finding nothing I changed the bait then moved off upstream. Back in the car park I decided I’d done enough for the day and headed off home stopping of at the car wash to clean both the inside and outside of the car.Another Lovely Spring DayToday I had a few slices of bread with me, the idea was I would catapult some bait size pieces across the river to the edge of the fallen tree and see if any chub were interested,

it was a great day to be at the waterside with warm sunshine and virtually no wind, a perfect day for fly fishing for trout, but I didn’t have a single angler on the river. It was around 1100hrs when I arrived at my new chub swim, it looked perfect trim to run a float down alongside the tree, but sadly I have to wait until June 16th. I sat myself on a stile just upstream of the chub swim watching the water, often a few olive come off, but no trout were intercepting them as they arrived in the surface film from the bottom of the river where they have been living, tiny midges were about in profusion, which the sand martins were feeding on along with the unfortunate olives. I’m always amazed at the staying power of invertebrate's and crustaceans surviving in our river during winter and big spates. Last winter we lost most of our water crowfoot which is the home of many nymphs that are so important in our rivers, also as they hatch it’s not just trout that feed on them, but swallows, swifts, sand and house martins, duckling and other birds, I get great pleasure sitting at the waterside watching wagtails chaffinches great tits and others, also we must not forget the lovely dipper, to watch this waterside bird walking along the bed of a fast stream or river filling its mouth with nymphs is an exciting time in an angler/ naturalist life.Chub are At Home.

After a nice break I made my way downstream quietly so I was within range where I could see any action from the chub if they intercepted the bread, I reckon a dozen or more pieces went off downstream, but one piece was pushed by the water flow into a thick scum, where it was immediately taken in a slashing swirl then it was gone from sight as the scum settled over the area. More pieces of bread were fired out, this time two pieces were taken in a swirl half way along the tree, another piece was again taken when it was pushed into the scum. And two more pieces were taken among the branches at the tail end of the tree. No doubt about it, the chub have taken up residence. Roll on June 16th, in the meantime before that magic day I will be making sure the chub get their daily bread. Walking upstream to the cabin and a fresh mug of coffee I had a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Life felt good despite my shingles which really are starting to get me down, but times like this I get a big lift also I’m looking forward to getting my Oliver’s Carp rod back from Paul Cook.I’ve just had an e-mail from my friend Colin inviting me to go fishing for tench and crucian carp in late May certainly something to look forward to, I will no doubt use my Andrew Davies Kennet Perfection for the tench, my roach pole for the crucian carp with a finely shotted pole float for sensitivity. Attached are a few picture, the first one shows all one need to catch a chub or carp, picture 2 tells everything about a summers day tench fishing it’s thanks to Rob Burt for use of the picture. Picture 3 a very evocative picture of a tench water, picture 4 I reckon this pole will be ideal for crucian carp, and finally a picture of a crucian but I would like to catch a few more.

Chub caught on a fly intended for a trout

A selection of trout flies

The beak of a goosander that destroys so many small fish including bullheads

Early season trout

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Martin James Fishing
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