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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


10/09/2018 - A Mixed Bag


Yesterday I arrived on the river with a 12 foot Milwards Swim Master, matched with a centre pin reel with 4lb line, I then attached a 4 AAA balsa and cane float with the shot bunched together eighteen inches from a size 14 barbless hook where I lightly pinched on a BB six inches from the hook. My bait was two pints of soft white gentles that had been in fresh bran for twenty four hours. I planned to start at the top of the beat, fishing the tail of the first pool, then working my way downstream fishing the fast water swims at the tail of each pool. My friend David would follow me downstream later fishing the main part of the pools for a salmon.

Numerous Dace and Chub

Over the top of my chest high waders, I wore a fly fishing vest containing some extra shots and hooks along with a couple of floats in different colours, a net attached by a magnet was hung on the back of my vest in case I should hook a very good fish. Completing everything was a bag hanging around my neck holding the gentles, I was free to roam all over the river fishing every likely looking spot. At the tail of the first pool, I run the float through about half a dozen times adjusting the float a few inches at a time until I had the bait just tripping the bottom in four feet of water, I also made a mental note of where the hook touched some obstruction, so I could hold the float back and ease the bait through. It was a delightful overcast day with a light upstream wind making it near perfect for float fishing, In the first ten trots I hooked and landed six dace around 8 ounces and two chub about a pound each, I was really enjoying myself when the float dipped on the next cast, a gentle lift of the rod had me connected with a powerful fish, after a minute or so leapt clear of the water, a fresh run sea trout. I immediately estimated it around 4lbs, the fight was on as more line was stripped off the reel, I really do love the sound of a well made ratchet, its like a good piece of jazz music to my ears. I reckon I was hooked up to the fish for some time, when David appeared to see what all the commotion was about. David waded out then stood beside me as I slowly started to get line back on the reel, eventually he was able to net the fish which coughed up dozens of gentles as I, eased the hook out, we admired this chrome bright fish for a few seconds then watched it swim off strongly. The day was getting even better, I reckon the rise in the water yesterday evening encouraged the fish to move upstream from lower down.

Some nice chub

Moving down to the next pool which allowed David then try for a salmon, I spent several minutes feeding gentles down the run, before baiting the size 14 hook with three gentles then dropped the baited hook into the fast flowing water just downstream of my feet, then watched the float for some ten yards, suddenly the float veered off to the right slowly submerging, the strike connected with what I quickly realised was a chub, after a couple of minutes I had a fish about two pounds to hand, as I eased the hook out this fish it also coughed up lot’s of gentles. I then had a fishless ten minutes before the next bite this time it felt like a heavy chub by the way it shook its head, after some minutes I netted a chub estimated at 3.5lbs, in the next two trots down the swim which were preceded by a dozen gentles each time, I had two more chub of a similar size, I then lost a fish, I continued working my way down the swim without another bite. I reckon losing the fish had killed the swim stone dead. Coming out of the water at the end of the run, I found David sitting on the bank, I knew immediately he’d either caught or lost a salmon, sitting down beside him I said “What happened did you catch” the answer was “Yes a fresh run fish I estimated at 12lbs on the fly you told me to use”. I fished on for another hour catching some nice dace averaging around eight ounces, with one that probably might have weighed twelve ounces. It was time for a late lunch, after we had some toasted cheese sandwiches with tea for myself and coffee for David we sat and talked about gun dogs and fly fishing for an hour, then David went off home. I went off to a pool I would fish that evening until around midnight with my friend Kevin to put in a few chunks of luncheon meat. Back in the cabin I stretched out on the bed falling asleep until 1730 hrs. I then fried up some bacon and eggs for tea, before sorting out chub fishing tackle. Kevin turned up around 1900 hours, we fished until 2230 hrs, with a very cold mist descending we decide to go home fishless, though I did miss three bites, the end of a nice day.

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Martin James Fishing
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