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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


30/05/2017 - A Great Two Days Fishing

A bronze bream

Recently I was the guest of the Portsmouth Royal Navy & Royal Marines Coarse Angling association where I had the privilege of fishing their water known at the Moat originally built in the 1850’s during Palmerstone premiership, today it’s a well-stocked coarse fish where regular matches are fished. Colin Culley, Kevin Sharples and myself left Newbury around 0600 hrs as forked lightning flashed across the darkened sky, after an eventual journey we arrived at the Military base to be met by Mark Dawson who a retired submariner and now the fishery manager, a real nice friendly guy with lots of good information not only about the swims the fishing conditions and the techniques to use but also the history of the fishery. First job was to showing our ID’s then we and our ID’s were photographed before finally being issued with passes. After parking up then walking across to the fishery with our host Mark I got my first glimpse of the attractive water, it resembled one of the many estate waters I’ve fished over the past 70 years rather than a Military establishment, with its many patches of water lilies with the surrounding deciduous trees and shrubs, close the water lilies in the dark peaty coloured water, I could see lots of pin head bubbles, in some areas it resembled a jacuzzi. Our target fish were tench and crucian carp, though there were King carp, roach, perch, rudd and pike in the water, before Colin and Kevin went off to their swims I gave them a box each containing cheese and pickle rolls to keep them going until lunchtime where I would give them a hot meal.

Pole Float Rig

With conditions perfect warm and overcast, also knowing how crucians feed where they usually give a slight movement of the float, about an eighth of an inch lift or dip, I chose to fish a very sensitive pole float rig with a few size 8 shot on the line with a size 16 hook, my bait choice would be either gentles, small redworms, or tiny pieces of paste that Colin had given me or a quarter piece of sweetcorn, I spent a few minutes before deciding to use my 12 foot Milwards Swimaster rather than my Aspindale roach rod which I matched with a J W Young’s centre pin reel with 4lb bs line.

Baiting Two Swims

I baited my first choice swim just two feet out from the bank where I expected to catch crucians in 4 feet of water with two very small droppers of gentles, I didn’t want to loose feed gentles as it would quickly attract perch and rudd into the swim. My other swim where I hoped to find some tench fishing close to the water lilies in 6 feet of water. Again I used a very small bait dropper, putting in gentles red worms and some ground bait. I then left the swim undisturbed while I tore open a bag of porridge then added some milk, after leaving it for a minute it was ready to eat, these meals in a bag are perfect for the angler, also it was a healthy breakfast.

Pestered by Small Perch and Rudd

As I lowered the baited hook into my close in swim the float dipped I lifted finding myself attached to a perch of about 2 ounces as black as soot, of course the fish had taken the baited hook into its throat but thankfully the disgorger quickly had the hook out with no damage to the fish, during the next 14 casts I had a succession of tine perch or rudd. I changed to minute piece of paste, for ten minutes or so the float didn’t move, tiny pin head bubbles were all around the float I thought crucians or tench, then the float just lifted a fraction as it did so I lifted the rod finding myself attached to a fish that wanted to go round and round in circles, no tench this I thought it’s a small crucian, as I lifted the rod higher I had the fish on the surface then scooped it up in my new latex landing net which I can recommend, it was the darkest crucian I had ever caught a real dark bronze about the size of my hand weighing about 10 ounces, it was quickly unhooked and returned. Mark the fishery manager had told me the crucian were a bronze colour the tench often black as soot.

Rebaiting with paste I sat for half an hour or more without a bite, then adjusted my depth then baited with two red worms and two gentles, before casting out so the bait was fished in front of the lilies. Despite the pin head bubbles I didn’t get any tench but again small perch and rudd, so I changed over to paste, the next cast I had a determined dip of the float then lifted into a fish that did give the impression of pulling the string. I quickly I netted a “Goer Rudd” about 11 inches, compared with what I was catching this rudd was a specimen. Baiting with paste I sat hoping for a tench with no more interest after an hour, I switched to fishing the inside swim again the small perch and rudd pestered me every time I baited with red worms, gentles or a cocktail bait of the two. After an hour heated up two boil in the bag all day breakfasts for Colin and Kevin with a mug of tea for Colin and coffee for Kevin which was delivered to their swim, I found Colin had caught a tench, a bream along with the usual small rudd and perch, Kevin had also caught a bream both were 5lbs plus fish.

A Surprise Fish

First cast after lunch I had a tiny lift bite connecting with another crucian on two gentles about the size and colour of the first fish, I continued to fish the inside swim but all I got for my effort was more small rudd and perch. With about an hour to go I switched to fishing for the tench close to the lilies, ten minutes later the float dropped flat then moved across the surface, I set the hook as I did so I glimpsed an area of bronze thinking then I had a big crucian, but suddenly everything felt heavy and strange on the end of the line, “This can’t be a crucian” I thought. It was like a flapping movement perhaps I’d foul hooked a big crucian as I increased the pressure a bream surfaced a real dark bronze fish which I eased over the net. After unhooking the fish I shot a quick picture of the fish then released it. Time for a brew which I enjoyed with some rich tea biscuits as I watched the coots with some youngsters on the opposite bank were a fine herd; flock or tribe of goats. I certainly felt privileged in fishing the venue. At 1600 hrs I packed my gear away then headed off to the car park where I stowed tackle and my brewing kit in the car then said my thanks to Mark for a pleasant day then we headed off to Newbury ending a delightful day with dinner with Colin and Sarah at their home.

Tench Fishing A Newbury Angling Club Water

Sunday Kevin was my guest on a Newbury AC water, first I must mention the tremendous work the club do in looking after their fisheries, all gates are securely locked the car parks are litter free and them member are very pleasant and cheerful to talk with giving information freely, I always feel when fishing these water it’s like going back to the 50’s and 60’s. Tench were our quarry though we did have a good chance of decent perch and roach, baits were gentles, lobworms, sweetcorn and bread, the water was gin clear the banks spotless with plenty of cover, sadly we didn’t see any surface activity or bubbling. We chose swims where we had cover from over hanging willows, in my case I had a willow with many of its branches in the water where the depth was around 9 feet over clean gravel. We decided to put down a good bed of gentles, hoping any cruising tench would stop and feed, we both used waggler float rigs to defeat the surface pull, the water surface was covered with what I reckon were green drake female spinners Ephemera dancia duckling, gosling and various birds were having a feast. For seven hours we fished hard without a bite or seeing any sign of moving or feeding fish, around 1800 hrs we packed up and head off home arriving around 2130 hrs a nonstop drive home. Kevin and I agreed it had been a couple of good days and worth all the travelling..




Kevin hoping for a tench

Hoping for some action

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Martin James Fishing
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