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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


11/11/2017 - Changeable Weather Didn't Stop Us Catching Fish

left to right Albert and John

Two of my friends Albert and John pictured wanted to take me fishing for a few days as a birthday present, the choice of venue was left to me, I thought of returning to Tadpole Bridge on the River Thames, perhaps roach fishing on the River Beult, I reckon both venues would be a long drive, I chose a still water in the West Midland where I’d enjoyed good sport with roach, rudd, perch and tench. We would be fishing the water from Monday through to Wednesday, before going off to our accommodation and fishing we called into Allen’s fishing tackle shop on Bloxwich road arriving around1200 hrs, John Albert and myself were impressed with the shop, the service and the quality of the bait, what really pleased me was that I was able to buy freshly cooked hemp, I’m not a fan of hemp in tins or jars, freshly cooked hemp is of far better quality than the flavoured stuff we get offered, the cooked hemp was that good I purchased a dozen bags for my freezer.

It was around 1430 hrs when we around at the lake, there wasn’t a ripple on the surface, conditions didn’t look good after heavy overnight frost, with bright sunshine I thought not much chance of catching fish until towards dusk, checking the water temperature I got a reading of 44 degrees F. Having fished the water before I had a good knowledge of the best swims so I offered them to John and Albert, both very experienced anglers I had no fear of them not catching from the swims. I chose a swim further round the lake where I had a bed of bulrushes which I have always found attractive to all species but especially perch.

John and Albert both used modern tackle with a swim feeder rigs using punched bread or gentles as bait, which proved very successful, they caught lots of roach rudd also perch and carp the latter not quite double figures but some of the common carp were quite stunning, in fact Albert probably had the most fish between all of us, though it wasn’t a competition. Albert is certainly a very good and experienced angler along with John, both having caught a fair number of 40 and the odd fifty pound carp on their trips to France. Albert caught several nice perch the best at 2lb 10 ounces a new personal best pictured.

Back to the 1950’s

I chose to fish with cane rods, with centre pin reels, also I used my delightful rod rests made for my 80th birthday by friend Rob Burt, the landing net handle had originally been made by my great grandfather who passed it on to his son my grandfather, then on to his son my Dad, eventually to me, I have made sure to keep it in good condition, ensuring it’s rewhipped and varnished every five or six years, eventually it will pass it on to my granddaughter or grandson. See picture

As I spend a lot of time watching a rod tip, I wanted when I get the chance to float fish as I find it so relaxing, it might not have been the best way to fish the water but it was my choice. I chose a 12 foot Milwards Swim Master matched with a Richard Carter centre pin, my other rod and reel was an Edgar Sealey Rover matched with my new 12 spoke Atom centre pin, I’m told it’s the first true centre pin made by JW Youngs since the second World War. I used a Drennan crystal float on this outfit so I could fix a starlight in the tip when it was dark, the float on my Swim Master was small cork on quill waggler, so I could beat any wind drift. My baits were hempseed, bread crust, flake, lobworms and corn, all baits were effective, hemp proved the best bait for the bigger roach, while whole lobworms fished on a size 6 Gripz hook, using these hooks I no longer have to use a small square of rubber to keep the bait on a barbless hook. On the Monday and Wednesday we had bright sunshine after heavy overnight frost, it was quite amazing how the fish would really come on the feed around 1530 hrs as the sun dropped below the 10 degree mark, as the light completely disappeared, I had a bite a cast often these bites were on the drop. The best days fishing was without doubt on the Tuesday, the rain sheeted down making it like monsoon conditions. Very rarely do I use a brolly, I did this day. Despite the conditions I caught plenty of roach, rudd and perch, an interesting shot of a perch in the net, I also had a carp around 5lbs, a tench about 3lbs. Apart from some good fishing it was a laugh a minute when we were not fishing, though the banter between John and Albert went on through the day, I also kept them supplied with tea coffee fruit cake and biscuits. Certainly a great three days with two guys who know how to catch fish but also enjoy life to the full.


Albert with his P B perch 2 lb 10 ounces

My rods reels net and rod rests

Perch in the net

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Martin James Fishing
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