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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


15/03/2018 - A Pleasant Few Days

Pollarded willows


A Pleasant Last Few Days

Whenever I get the chance I always spend the last few days of the coarse fishing season away from home on a river venue, this year I chose the River Thames at Tadpole Bridge, I’ve fished this venue and many other venues on the Thames over the past fifty plus years with great affection for this river which starts life in Gloucestershire, though others dispute this by saying it starts in Oxfordshire being connected with Isis. I left home with Brendan Ince on Monday 5th March to spend a few days on this majestic river where we would also have the privilege of fishing with Colin Culley and Lee Price of Cane and Able. Our fist stop was in Newbury to collect 9 pints of red gentles, 250 lobworms along with some items of tackle.

On the banks of the Thames

I suppose it was around 1600 hrs when we arrived at the venue with some three feet of extra water, we had just enough time to grab a couple of hours fishing. Brendan chose to use laying on float fishing tactics, I chose to ledger a couple of lobworms, in the couple of hours I had one bite when the tail of a lob was bitten off, otherwise it was a quiet but enjoyable session.

In search of chub

Next day as we were walking down the river when a person asked “Could we take a picture of a 6lb chub, the person lifted keepnet from the water, then dumped net and fish on the hard ground disgusting behaviour. I was shocked not a word passed between us for a minute or so, I then said to Brendan “No way will I take any pictures of that oaf at the treatment of that fish” I walked away quite shocked at this behaviour which I though had disappeared from the angling scene.

We then made our way upstream, Brendan chose to float fish the swim of the previous day, while I spent my time roaming around, I found a most attractive swim with four pollarded willows on the opposite bank, it seemed such a good looking chub swim there was no way I could not fish the spot, it yielded me a chub about 2lbs. Around 1300 hrs we met up for a hot drink coffee for Brendan tea for me with sandwich, Brendan had caught a 3lb plus chub float fishing which he enjoyed. I always reckon there is something satisfying in catching fish on the float. During the afternoon session I struggled for a bite using lobworms, cheese paste and crust, at around 1700 hrs I moved into a swim near the top end of the beat where I had been putting in a few lobworms during the day. I fished a lobworm in a nice crease some ten yards out from the bank, half an hour later I had a nice slow pull connected with a fish which I thought was a small chub, eventually I netted a good roach which I reckon weighed around a pound and a quarter I was more than happy, I marked the swim down for the next day where I would try float fishing for roach.

A Nice Chub

Casting out the same spot, I sat hoping for another good roach but as it was now dusk with no night fishing is allowed, Brendan turned up as he did so I had a tap then a slow pull round, striking I connected with a powerful fish which moved out into the fast water, some minutes later Brendan netted a nice chub weighing 4lbs 8 ounces I was more than pleased with the result.

A Rough Cold Windy Day

A gale force downstream wind greeted us on Wednesday with heavy showers, certainly not the day for float fishing, it was a day to be tucked down behind a river side bush or tree. We fished hard all day both od us getting a couple of good pulls but no fish, we fished on until dusk then made our way back to our accommodation.

A Better Day

The weather was more pleasant with a light upstream breeze, the river had now dropped about three feet from our first day. Brendan chose to fish a swim at the top end of the beat, while I chose a swim halfway along the length, I chose to fish a light rolling ledger with crust, feeding with mashed bread, after about thirty minutes I had a good pull connected with a fish around the 3lb mark, In an hours fishing I had five chub of similar size, deciding to take a picture of the last fish, to add colour to the picture I added my float box. I then called Brendan to find he had missed a bite, I suggested he should come and fish my swim, I would move to another swim. Brendan done as I suggested catching four chub and missing some bites. I fished several other swims catching two more chub of similar size. I moved to another swim for the last hour where I fished like a Noddy, I had seven very good bites five of them were a tap on the rod tip, a nice pull round, bites which shouldn’t be missed, another bite pulled the rod round savagely which again was missed. Finally I had a good take hooked a good fish then realised it was a pike around 15lbs which had swirled on the surface then powered across the river, suddenly the line broke, sadly it was time to leave in the fading light.

Out with Lee and Colin

The day started with the two youngsters joining Brendan and myself for breakfast, then it was off to the river, pulling into the car park, I noted the strong gusting wind with thick cloud, I wasn’t fishing today, my job was to help Lee catch a chub. After Colin and Brendan went off to fish. First things first I wanted to see my two refurbished Milwards Swim Master rods, they were as good as if they were first purchased back in the early 50’s, both were immaculate, what a great job Cane and Able had done for me. I then got to look at my new Youngs of Harrow 12 foot 6 inch Otter rod, a 3 piece whole cane butt and middle joint with a spliced in built cane top with spigot joints, this too was immaculate. We then discussed my roach pole which Lee was going to take away for a refurbishment, its very first after some 80 odd years of use, what pleased me was when Lee said “It will be a joy to work on” I will hopefully use it on June 16th for some roach fishing over the lilies on the river where I will have around 12 feet of water.

Lee’s Personal Best Chub

Lee tackled up with a Young’s of Harrow Otter brand Avocet cane rod matched with a 1924 Allcock’s centre pin reel that looked as if it had just been taken out of its box for the first time. As we walked upstream I described the type of swims I was looking for, where a crease or seam would be flowing downstream tight to the trailing branches, or better still under the trailing branches of a tree or bush, chub love resting in the crease, if it flows under over head cover even better. I found just such swims, I fed in a some mashed bread the size of a golf ball, then added three pieces of bread flake. In each spot we sat and chatted for ten minutes to let any fish settle, I explained the need to strike parallel to the water, if he struck upwards he could catch the line on the overhead branches as often the bait is well under the tree or bush. I explained where I wanted Lee to drop his bait, then at the same time to quickly feed some line. I think it was the fourth or fifth swim when everything worked perfectly, the baited hook landing where I wanted it too. Fifteen minutes later we moved to the next swim repeating the process. Ten minutes later Lee had the perfect bite a light knock, then a slow pull round on the rod tip. The answering strike connected with what looked like a good fish, picking up the net I waited a few minutes while Lee enjoyed himself before he drew the fish over the net. It weighed 4lb 2 ounces a personal best.

Time for lunch.

Lunch was a fine affair with several mugs of tea or coffee, ending with a lovely desert that Lee had made the day before. In the heavy rain with a strong gusting wind we went off once more looking for chub, sadly we didn’t catch again, though we were like two boys having a fun days fishing while playing truant from school. As dusk started to fall it was time to leave, for me the end of a lovely day with a man who loves the countryside and countryside sports. While we have anglers like Lee, Colin, Brendan and many others I’m sure the sport is in good hands.

On The Ribble

My last days fishing was on the Riverr Ribble, my target fish were chub, I used a Milward Swim Master matched with a Richard Carter Avon centre pin with 4lb bs line, I chose a swan quill float made for me by Mark Sarul with a size 6 hook, my bait would be one or two lobworms feeding mashed bread with chopped worms. The water temperature was 42 degrees F, the depth of my swim was around 4 feet then after a few feet deepened to a nice six feet over gravel.

A Brace of Unwanted Trout

I started fishing around 0900 hrs on my fifth or sixth trot I had a good take hooking a good trout around 3lb which was quickly released in the water, this was followed by another of similar size.

Chub start Feeding

After a few trots and more feed I hooked my first chub around 4lbs mark which was unhooked in the water I didn’t even have to touch the fish, just sliding out the barbless hook. In the next hour I had four more chub of similar size, they certainly enjoyed lobworms. Around 1100 hrs my shingles erupted, I quickly swallowed a pain killer then carried on, fifteen minutes later I hooked another chub which was followed ten minutes later by probably the best fish of the session. Another fifteen minutes with my right eye closing it was time to leave for home. It was a disappointed angler who arrived home long before time on the last day of the season.








One of several chub

Lee's 4 lb 2 ounce chub

Ribble chub on float fished worm

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Martin James Fishing
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