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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


30/10/2018 - Some Enjoyable Fishing

Estate Lake Bream Fishing

One Sunday afternoon, I fished an estate lake in Sussex, it was one of those soft warm day with wall to wall blue sky, the lake shimmered with its glass smooth surface in the bright sunshine, not the best of days for angling even more so as I’d been told you need a good south westerly wind in your face to catch, I had no choice in the matter of when I could fish, but felt it was worth the effort in trying, as I felt I could catch a fish or two. My target fish were the crucian carp which I had been told had been caught to 3lbs plus, I chose to float fish not only is it the best way in my opinion for these delightful fish, bolt rigs have no place in my crucian carp fishing, even if it does produce results on some waters. I find float fishing is so restful and therapeutic watching the float to show some indication of interest from a fish. Tackle was a 13 foot float rod, matched with a JW Youngs Atom centre pin reel, my children gave me for my 80th birthday which was nicely engraved for the occasion. It’s an excellent piece of engineering by craftsman Gary Mills which I can recommend if you want a good centre pin. When I spoke to a company representative I was told it was the first true centre pin reel made since the 50’s. I can’t imagine the person who chose such a ghastly name for such a beautiful reel is an angler. Having put about 30 yards of 4lb line on the reel, I had the task of threading the fine line through the guides, thankfully this has been made easy for me with a simple tool made by Russ Shaw, it’s perfect for old people like myself as it ensures the fine line goes through the rod guides and not the legs. I added a small balsa and cane float again made by Russ, followed by a size 12 wide gape hook which I find are ideal when fishing corn which was going to be my preferred bait, I thought small redworms would quickly be engulfed by the lakes numerous perch but would start off with that combination. As mentioned my target fish were crucian carp, but I wouldn’t mind one of the tench which inhabit the water, some of good size. Having got the tackle sorted, I then heavily greased the bottom of my plummet, by doing this I could get a clue of the makeup on the lake bed, as bits of silt, sand and gravel get attached to the grease. Checking the depth I found around five feet, three rod lengths further out I found a drop of where it was six feet deep, I got the impression there was little plant life. It was mostly decaying vegetation over a silty soft clay like bottom, it’s surprising what you can learn by spending a bit of time dragging a heavy greased plummet through your swim. Time to put in some feed, I made up a bowl of dampened crumb adding sweetcorn, hemp and some corn, I put six pigeon egg size balls in the swim with a scattering of sweetcorn and hemp, I left everything to quieten down for half an hour. As I sat looking around the seven acre water I could see a large island towards the far bank on my left with another island some distance away to my right, a carp rolled twenty yards out which I estimated around 15lbs, behind me a wren was chattering away, glancing towards my baited area I spotted dinner plate size patches of bubbles, “Bream” I thought, but hoping they were not, but my gut feeling was they were bream.

A Dozen or so perch

Baiting with corn and red worm cocktail bait I dropped the float into my baited area, within minutes the float was away, a perch around 8 ounces was the culprit, in as many minutes I had a dozen or more, so stopped using the cocktail bait, the perch bites ceased.

Bream Move In

Some fifteen minutes later the float slowly moved to my left about two inches, I lifted the rod into a bream which was soon netted a fish around 4lbs, if you’re a bream angler I can recommend the latex landing net mesh it’s wonderful as it doesn’t hold the fish slime as the more normal nets do. In the next five casts I hooked and landed five more bream around the 4lb mark. After a quiet spell the float submerged, I set the hook into a fish which powered away with the ratchet sounding wonderful, music to my ears. “This is a carp” I said to myself three or more minutes later I am still hooked up to the fish which was some twenty yards out in the lake, by this time a few walkers stopped to watch the action, until the hook pulled free, I could hear a murmur of disappointment from the audience.After checking the hook point for sharpness, by sticking it in my thumb nail, I was happy to carry on with the same hook, if it had not stayed in place, but moved across the thumb nail it would have been changed.I threw in half a handful of corn after catching a fish to keep them in the swim, it worked as I ended up with 19 bream the best weighing 5lb 7ounces, sadly I bumped off what I thought was a good tench on my last cast, all in all a very enjoyable session. The bird life was very rewarding with many species being seen or heard, including a large flock of long tailed tits, these wonderful family group birds are always a pleasure to see.

Two Days on a Sussex River

Matt Minter and myself had two enjoyable days fishing Sussex river, I say enjoyable, it wasn’t so for Matt on the first day when we had several hours of heavy rain, he soon found his waterproof trousers were at home, he quickly found his jacket was no longer waterproof. Before the rain arrived around 1300 hrs he had some enjoyable angling, trotting with gentles catching roach dace gudgeon and small chub. I went off roving, catching 2 chub around 2lbs a perch of a pound along with an eel about two and a half pound which did give me some fun before netting the fish, I was using a latex net and can certainly recommend these nets as they don’t hold the slims found on eels, tench and bream, also they don’t smell. With the rain sheeting down and knowing Matt didn’t have any waterproof trousers, I decided I should walk up and see how Matt was coping, I found him in the car park looking as if he had fallen in the river. I suggested we go off to our B&B where he could have a hot shower and hopefully dry off his cloths, thankfully the room was warm with comfortable beds.

A Mixed Bag

Next day we fished another stretch of river, the weather was warm with a light wind, it looked ideal for angling though it could be better with two feet of extra water. Walking the river bank we spotted some good chub one of which we both agreed was 5lbs plus. Matt chose to float fish, while I used my usual river tactics of roving and fishing using bread crust, flake, lobs or cheese paste a baits often fishing just a tiny piece of plasticine or freelining baits. We both fished cane rods, while Matt used a centre pin I used a 1950’s Mitchell 300 reel matched with my Abbey Avon rod, built in the 50’s but refurbished by Lee Price of Cane & Able, during the day I reckon I walked some two miles trying lots of swims that looked as if everyone held chub, if so in many of the spots, they didn’t want any of my baits. I had a few chub between 2 lbs to 3 lbs, managing to catch a good chub of 4 lb 7 ounces. At the end of the day I was more than happy with my days sport, as was Matt, after he dropped me off in Hove he then travelled across to his Ramsgate Kent home. I do enjoy fishing with Matt as he is very experienced and I find I often learn something new or I had forgotten about.

Two Sessions on a Still Water

After the river sessions, I fished two five hour sessions on a local clay pit, the water had a nice appeal to it as the swims were quite natural, none of those platforms which I hate, I don’t want to be sitting like a garden gnome, I want to become part of the scenery tucked down in the undergrowth where possible or in the reeds, bushes and trees. The water contained carp, tench, bream, roach, rudd and perch, when I arrived on both occasions, I had bright sunshine with a strong gusting wind, as I was sitting below the bank it didn’t bother me, in fact, the wind ruffled surface of the lake helped to conceal my slight movements in casting and retrieving my tackle. Having moved behind a hedgerow I put together a 13 foot rod matched with a centre pin reel made by Watermole, in fact its so good I often think it should be on show in a Bond Street jewellery shop. After threading the line through the guides with a small item made by Russ Shaw I used a small waggler taking 3 BB shot pinched some three feet from a size 12 wide gape hook, on the hook link some six inches from the hook I added a BB shot. With tackle sorted, I then made up a bowl of ground bait which consisted of finely mashed bread with some fine brown crumb to take away the white of the bread. From my observations of some 70 years I feel fish are not happy at moving over a bed of white crumb even if it does contain corn and hemp, in fact I have seen fish move away from the area, especially tench. I checked the depth with a heavy plummet, finding a drop off three rod lengths out, some fifteen inches deeper just in front of a weed bed, to the right of my swim, I had a narrow channel leading into my fishing area, I put three handfuls of ground bait at the bottom of drop off, also a handful into the channel, followed by three handfuls of hemp with a few grains of corn. I then left the swim quiet while I had a brew, as I sat watching the surrounding area I was pleased to see a pair of moorhens a lovely peaceful water bird, unlike the quarrelsome coots, after some ten minutes or so a few small patches of pinhead bubbles appeared, “Tench” I said to myself, things started to look promising. Within ten minutes of casting out I had my first tench in the net around 3lbs, in the next hour I had eight fish of similar size.

Bream Move In

I then had a quiet half an hour, with no sign of a bite, as a slight breeze ruffled the surface of the lake, two patched of bubbles appeared about the size of a dinner plate, no doubt about those were caused by bream, I rebaited the with a corn and worm cocktail then over cast the feeding fish so as not to spook them, then slowly I pulled the baited hook into the area, I sat watching the half cocked float laying at forty five degree angle, a minute or so later the float dropped flat then moved across the surface submerging as it did so the answering strike was met by a satisfying weight, “Bream” I said to myself and soon a fish around 5lbs come wallowing towards the net. Taking out the hook I released the fish back in the swim as I have found these fish don’t spook easily. The worm was still intact so I added another grain of corn then repeated the process of drawing the baited hook into the area, almost immediatly the float rose up in the water, the answering strike had me connected to another bream again similar to the first in the next two hours I had twelve bream two more tench and several nice roach and rudd around 12 ounces. Soon it was time for me to leave as I wanted to miss the school run, I was back home around 1500 hrs after an enjoyable session.

Second Day More Bream

The second day’s events followed the previous days fishing except I didn’t catch any tench, it was bream from the off, along with some nice roach and rudd where several of the fish were pushing the pound mark, I was hoping for a perch or two on lobworms, but I reckon the bream commanded the swim, All in all a very good two sessions with lots of bird life including a kingfisher which kept putting in an appearance as it used a nearby bush as a perch to peer into the water, then it would dive returning with a small fish on most occasions, who said “Fishing is boring”?

Chub Fishing Session

Recently Tony Booker of Buckinghamshire and myself had a good day on what can only best be described as a Crabtree river, though in places it did look like the upper Ouse with the bulrush beds, I was most impressed with the venue, I suppose we spent an hour or more walking the length of the fishery, excellent exercise on an autumn day, there were many Crabtree type swims as Tony described them along the length we walked. Conditions were very poor bright sunshine with a very cold wind after a cold night, Tony had two chub legering lobworm bait both fish around 3lbs, as Tony said to me “With no crays lobworms are a good bait for chub” I had four fish, three around 3lbs the best at 3-10-0, one on crust, the other three on lobs. We felt the venue was very interesting, with the added bonus of seeing lots of wildlife, Tony spotted a red deer with quite rack, I was pleased to see the moorhens kingfisher, green woodpecker, sparrow hawk and just before sunset a barn owl hunting the opposite bank. All in all a very pleasant day despite the horrid weather, I reckon it could offer some good fish on a day of light winds with light low levels.

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Martin James Fishing
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