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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/11/2017 - Hard cold session on the river

Perch holding area

As I pulled the curtains back this morning I could snow covering the hills, the front lawn also had a thin covering of snow, nothing at the back of the house, after a shower and breakfast I went off to the river to check the level and water temperature getting a reading of 38 degrees F, the water overnight had dropped around 8 inches, with a bright and frosty start with icy patches and the wind from a westerly direction, it would be a waste of time getting on the river before 1500 hrs. The forecast was for frequent showers with snow falling over the hills, more windy than yesterday making it feel a lot colder, but we did have a window of opportunity between 1630 hrs and 2100 hrs. I called Brendan to tell him the conditions and we agreed to fish a late afternoon session into the evening.

It would be ski pants with extra sweater underneath my camo gear. With the low water temperature I reckon it will be crust on a short link, if that didn’t work it would be flake on a 12 inch link. I would also have some soft luncheon meat and cheese paste along with lobworms as other options

At 1545 hrs we pulled into the carpark, opening the door we were hit by a cold blast of air the sheep looked at us as if we were mad, perhaps we were but you don’t catch fish and enjoy the countryside sat indoors. As Brendan said “It’s far better than watching Strictly Come Dancing” thankfully as I don’t watch TV I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.

Having got kitted out, then made up our tackle we agreed to call each other if we should catch or get some bites, then if one of us wasn’t getting any action he would join the lucky angler. Brendan chose to fish a swim well downstream, while I went upstream to fish a swim where a large tree trunk had crashed down with lots of submerged branches, offering good sport with perch at times, with the extra water the area downstream of the tree created a good slack I felt it was a good area to fish. Sadly it was exposed to the elements but we can’t have everything.

Lobworms were my first choice bait.

Before leaving the car park I’d tied on a size 6 Gripz hook, in case I chose to fish a worm bait, these hooks are barbless with tiny grooves on the inside bend of the hook available from Pallatrax, I had fixed a small shot 18 inches from the hook which was wrapped in plasticine. I baited with 2 lobworms then cast allowing the tackle to rest in the crease, within what seemed less than a minute I had a good bite, it was missed, I wasn’t expecting a bite so quick. Baiting with another 2 lobs I cast to the same area, then sat holding the rod, soon I was having small taps but nothing decisive to strike at, “Perch” I thought, after a few minutes the taps stopped, time to check the bait, just small pieces of chewed worm were left. Another two worms were hooked up and cast out, a short while later I got a slight pull then a good pull the strike connecting with what I thought was a trout as a fish immediately rolled on the surface. After a minute or so I realised I had a chub, soon it was ready for netting, as I lifted the net I could see it was a fish around 3lbs, not big but they are all welcome especially in the current weather conditions.

I called Brendan with the news. I had 3 more bites on worm all missed, I got the impression they could be roach and not perch as I first thought, if they had been the latter I would have hooked one or the fish would have hooked itself as they are very greedy. I changed over to a soft 3 year old well matured cheese paste, I sat there for some fifteen minutes when suddenly the rod tip pulled right round the perfect bite, it shouldn’t have happened but it did, I missed this perfect bite. I called Brendan to see if he was catching the answer was “Not a bite”, I suggested he joined me.

Break for a hot coffee and mince pie

After Brendan arrived I suggested before we start fishing again we should have a fresh coffee, so we struggled back to the car park. It didn’t take long for the Jetboiler to do its job, it’s such a wonderful piece of equipment, I got my Jetboiler while working in Oregon producing radio shows some twenty years ago, it’s still going strong. After a hot coffee we were ready for another session, the worst part was paddling back across the fields that resembled a salt marsh, it was that bad, I nearly lost my boot. Eventually we arrived in our swims I said to Brendan I will get my camera while its dry and take a couple of pictures, the first is Brendan Baiting with luncheon meat, the second picture, Waiting for a bite.

An hour later around 2000 hrs we were hit by a squall, gusts of wind were making the rod shake, rain, sleet then hail arrived, looking skywards I could see a large area of black cloud. We with stood this weather for about twenty minutes with no let up that we chose to call it a day. Collecting up our gear we plodded back to the car, thankfully I always have a large tub of water where we can dip our muddy boots. The weather as we drove home was atrocious, sheeting rain with a gale force wind, when Brendan dropped me off we both agreed we had made the right choice to call it a day, but it had been worth making the effort.

Brendan baiting with luncheon meat

Ready for action

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Martin James Fishing
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