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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/06/2018 - Band of Brothers Gather in Hampshire

Band of Brothers


Lee Price, Brendan Ince, Gary Cullum, Mark Dawson, Matt Minter Colin Culley and myself have just had a great together fishing on a delightful still water in Hampshire, certainly a long drive from Lancashire, but well worth the effort. Thank you Brendan for doing the driving much appreciated, it was good watching you catch those lovely tench and crucian on your new Sowerbutts rod and Speedia reel. On the way we stopped off at Rovers tackle shop West Street Fareham PO16 0EQ certainly a very busy shop with parking at the rear of the shop, all the staff were very pleasant with a fast efficient service.

It was around 1700 hrs on the Friday to be greeted by Mark who was the perfect host, nothing was too much of a problem, at the water I was greeted by mill pond smooth surface, water lilies many with white flowers set the scene, even more so as pin head bubbles kept appearing, one couldn’t help but feel excited at the thought of fishing this lovely water. After greeting Matt Minter who really went the extra mile to help me get set up, as we talked I learnt that he had caught some cracking crucians the best at 3lb 2 ounces. Having been shown the tackle I immediately realised I was going to have problems, having Multiple Sclerosis I have little feeling in my fingertips, finding it hard handling very fine line and small hooks. No doubt that’s the reason I target the chub with 6lb line and size 4 hooks. Matt started by giving Brendan and myself the perfect slider float, he then threaded the line through the guides including the tiny eyes on the slider. I thought I could handle the shotting, no problem with sand coloured egg shaped shot, but when Matt showed me some tiny weights probably the size of a mouse dropping, also looking like one, I had no chance.

Matt was soon at my rescue putting on a size 16 hook loop to loop then the mouse dropping weight. I tried my hardest to mould some paste on the small hook like one would with bread flake, no chance, Matt was there for me again. An hour later Brendan had his first tench then followed up this with a nice crucian. Having plumbed the depth by using a small piece of paste, a plummet would have given a wrong depth as it disappeared in the silt. Its these small things that make a difference in catching or not, it’s not being fussy, it’s presenting the bait correctly. With lots of small dips andlifts, the float moving slightly sideways, they were all missed, the results in that first hour were negative. Eventually I caught a small tench, then a better fish. Though I am sure a more tuned up angler than myself might have caught more fish, several times I was told that’s a bite, which I hadn’t seen. Exasperating yes but most enjoyable. Around 1900 hrs we packed up then went off for a sausage and chips supper cooked and served up by Mark, while they enjoyed a cooling glass of ale, I had a mug of tea.

Day Two

It was around 0500 hrs when we arrived at the waterside small wisps of mist settled across the water, in my swim lots of bubbles just like the proverbial jacuzzi both from crucians and tench, further out some bream were blowing, occasionally a carp would roll then a pike went crashing into the bait fish, it was an idyllic morning. In the next couple of hours Colin, Lee and Gary arrived, all armed with cane rods and centrepin reels, it was like going back to the fifties. It was time to make everyone a mug of tea. We all fished on until noon time. Gary showed me how to catch crucians but it didn’t help, I was still fishless. Was I bothered not in the least, there is more to catching fish, I was with a likeminded band of brothers.

All too soon it was noon time, Colin our chef was busy cooking bacon and sausages, Gary and Lee buttered the rolls, Colin even remembered I shouldn’t eat white bread and arranged some whole meal rolls. I was on tea and coffee duty, over lunch we discussed the morning events and how enjoyable it had been. It was then time to show my brothers, my new centrepin “The Beult” which oozes beauty made by Watermole, I then got my roach pole out that Lee had given a complete refurbish. Again lots of compliments. The two items that really did get some attention were two landing nets made by Watermole, as Wateremole told me, “The first net is based on the Richard Walker net with a slight improvement to his 1949 design with 30" planed greenheart arms instead of bamboo, during construction, I modified the aluminium hinge block by including a spigot location for the spreader block. This improved the entire rigidity and strength enormously and the centre screw could now be done up very lightly, without any tools”.

This is now my go to net for chub, tench barbel, while the other net is made to Richard Walkers design 36” arms of laminated cane, both have a 6 foot cane handles, this is my go to carp and pike net, I have given my others nets away for a donation to Crossroad Care. Lunch over we commenced fishing, Gary in the next swim was catching crucians, while Lee caught a bream pushing 6lbs, a real old warrior. Soon it was tea time Garry provided two fruit cakes, while I sorted out the tea and coffee. After the break we all resumed fishing with Gary and Mark catching nice crucians I remained fishless, it would have been nice to have caught, it was still good fun. Gary invited me to fish his swim, even though there was a lot of bubbling, I still couldn’t catch even when Mark said “Your floats gone” I still missed it. Eventually it was time to leave, after our farewells we all departed in different directions agreeing it had been very good, also we should do it again. Hopefully it will be on the Thames in the autumn.





My best tench

Matt's crucian 3lb 2 ounces

one of Mark's crucians

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Martin James Fishing
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