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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


15/05/2017 - More News from the Water’s Edge

Richard Walker beaded mayflies

It’s been a busy few days, my first job has been to get rid of the green algae or mould from the outside of the riverside cabin, not sure how I could remove the mould, I asked a few friends, one said give it a good scrubbing using hot soapy water using a hard brush, another said use Jeyes fluid, having read the instructions and safety precautions on the latter, I though no way am I using that type of chemical. I chose the hot soapy water idea, it was very hard work, after an hour I had to stop for a long break, then it was back on the job, three hours later of hard scrubbing, I had one side of the cabin ready for a coat of preservative. my right arm and back were really feeling the strain. I didn’t think it was a job for someone nearing his 80th birthday.

Late in the afternoon sitting at the water’s edge, I had a sandwich with a fresh brew, despite the rather cold windy weather, the occasional good trout was seen taking emerges. Having finished my break I walked upstream as I got close to Rick I could see he had a nice trout, I said “What did you catch that on” he replied “A Richard Walker mayfly nymph” after a brief chat I left him to his fishing. As I reached the next pool I spotted several strands of toad spawn, I thought they want survive once hatched, the trout will soon clear them up. I made the decision to take as much spawn as I could get in a bucket then transfer it to my pond. After a walk to the top of the beat I made my way back to the cabin, Having put the kettle on for another brew, I had a look at my work, feeling quite pleased with the result. After my brew I found a suitable bucket in the store room, then walked across to the river and gave the bucket a good clean, I then walked upstream to the pool where I had seen the toad spawn, it was quite easy to encourage the strands into the bucket, job finished I made my way back to the cabin.

With a break in the wet weather, I decided to try and catch a trout, choosing a 9 foot 4 weight rod with a floating line, back at the water’s edge I tied on a size 16 green bodied Klinkhammer, then sat watching for signs of a feeding trout I suppose it was twenty minutes later when I spotted a trout take what I reckon was an emerging grannom nymph by the way the trout made a slashing take, what happens the fish will see the nymph struggling in the surface film then make a dash for it, often it will miss first time round then take it on its second attempt. Working out the distance of around 45 feet I pulled off enough line, then made a cast dropping the fly a few feet upstream, it drifted downstream like a natural insect, this time it wasn’t a slashing take, but a head and tail rise, the fish was hooked, after a good fight I netted a trout around 2lbs hooked neatly in the scissors. After releasing the fish I stood in the water looking for another fish to show, then spotted a movement along the far bank, at first I thought it was a mouse, then realised it was a very small bird which I presumed was looking for flies and insects, occasionally it flew into the taller reed stems, as it got closer I could make out tiny brown coloured bird with a small section of red breast, similar in size to a gold crest, how I wish I had my binoculars to get a better look, sadly it’s a puzzle I can’t solve.

Teaching a Newcomer

Today I had the pleasure of welcoming Andrew a new member to the world of angling, his outdoor interest has always been wildfowling along with other shooting sports, it was also one of my intense interests in the past. There were many weekends when I would be on a saltmarsh before the false dawn enjoy the dawn flight, often wet through cold without a shot being fired but at all times it was immensely enjoyable. I would then go homer for breakfast before heading off for a day fishing on some river or still water.

Having sorted out his gear then showed him how to attach a leader to the fly line, I explained how a rod is rated to the fly line, how you need to have thirty feet of the line out to work the rod. I started Andrew off with a piece of wool on the end of the line, than had him make a simple lift off the water then replace the line back on the water, I feel to many people teach others how to cast on grass, not the best way if water is available, it allows the newcomer to experience the tension on the line making them produce a better cast. An hour later Andrew could cast 30 feet of line on the water, lift off, then replace the wool back on the water. After a short lunch break I fixed a new leader then attached a Richard Walker beaded mayfly nymph, I thought this was his best chance of catching a trout. Though he will need a few more lessons before he can expect to catch on the dry fly.


Early next morning I got a call to say there were 3 poachers on my water, within an hour I had apprehended three poachers from Burnley with East Europeans accents, they were armed with spinning gear, wire traces and large spinners, I wasn’t happy dealing with these three who looked a bit thuggish to say the least. Two were on the far bank one in the middle of the river so I called him over then asked for a permit, knowing full well that I hadn’t issued a permit, I then read the 1969 Theft Act stating it was a criminal offence to attempt to steal my fish. I also let him know I was calling the police. With that they departed quickly from the scene. I did get a close up pic of the poacher I spoke to, I also got a pic of all three which has been circulated to other clubs. I feel one has to take action otherwise law and order breaks down.

MK 1V Carp rod for Brendan

I then made my way to the cabin for some breakfast buttered toast with a mug of tea which was most welcome, I then sat down and read the Daily Mail while waiting my friend Brendan to turn up. Having purchased a MK1V Avon he expressed a wish for the carp model, I was able to get him a very good model, so he is now the proud owner of two bamboo rods along with his built cane rod rests. I reckon when the season starts he will be keeping his gear in a basket.

Spring Flowers

It’s lovely to see the swaying bluebell in the riverside copse, though they are dying off, there are still plenty of primroses to be seen, we have started to see the prolific ransoms carpeting the woodlands throughout the country, it gives off a garlic smell, in the past the leaves were often used in cooking, I well remember my great grandmother using it during the latter part of World War 2, though I didn’t see my mum using the leaves, no doubt there are still some people using ransom leaves. At the water’s edge there are now lots of Marsh-marigold the plants common name is kingcup, sadly there is no sign of water- crowfoot starting to show caused by the big winter floods over the past two winters, this will be the second year we haven’t had this very important plant in our river, the reason for the decline of the grannom hatch this year is the loss of plant life.

Once I find enough of this important plant I can start to replant it in other areas. On the river conditions were not good for fly fishing with a near gale force wind blowing downstream, though two of my members did brave the conditions, both were successful fishing a team of spider patterns. Back home I sat a listened to some fine jazz on BBC radio 3 from 1600hrs to 1800hrs.

First Sea Trout

Next day as I sat having breakfast I watched a pair of pheasants in the garden feeding on the bird seed, certainly a more welcome sight than seeing an old crow. Breakfast over I headed off to the river, after walking both beats I sorted out some tools, crowbar and fence post so I could erect some barbed wire to stop cattle getting into the car park. The hardest part was working the crowbar down between the rocks and gravel making a big enough hole to put a post in, then friend John arrived to hammer the post well into the river bed. We then had a mug of tea with a toasted cheese sandwich, John went off fishing while I fixed two strands of wire between the post and the fence, job done.

After a brew I went and sat on the weir pool bench to see if any fish were trying to jump the weir, after about an hour I spotted 2 sea trout attempting to get over the weir but failed through lack of water, we are desperate for rain, not a few hours but a few days, the sooner a big low come in from the Atlantic in a south westerly direction the better.

A Brace of Trout

I was on the river just before 0700hrs today, conditions were quite poor for fly fishing with a strong cold easterly wind, I sat on the bank for about twenty minutes, didn’t see a single fish, it would be a case of going downstairs and fish a nymph, the pattern I chose was a Walker mayfly beaded nymph, I spent about three hours pitching the nymph where ever I though a trout would be with nothing to show for my effort, it was time for a brew and some toast. Thirty minutes later I’m back on another beat, I thought I would try the tail of the weir, in the first three casts I missed two take, hitting the third a nice brown trout around 2lbs, I was more than happy, I then made a dozen casts the result was nothing. As I sat on the bank watching the water I noticed a slight disturbance of the water, “That’s a fish taking an emerge” usually this is when I tie on a Klinkhamer pattern devised by Hans Van Klinken, but not this time I said to myself, instead I pitched the nymph close to where I’d seen the fish, I doubt if the nymph had dropped more than six inches through the water when I had a savage take. I reckon the fish hooked itself as it powered upstream into the white foaming water, for a few minutes it was an interesting scrap between angler and fish, but eventually it was mine. I was elated with the result. After watching the fish swim off strongly I decided I’d had enough for the day and headed off to the car park and home.

Pheasants in my garden



last of the primroses

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Martin James Fishing
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