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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


16/11/2018 - Helping Our Brother Anglers

2 lb 10 ounce perch on free lined worm

It’s always been my aim to try and help a fellow anger to fish a special venue, catch a dream fish or use some fine item of tackle. Over many years I have been able to help hundreds of anglers over many years achieve those aims, yes its given those anglers a lot of pleasure, but it also given me great pleasure to see the sparkle in the anglers eyes often matched with a grin a mile wide. Recently I helped three anglers in their aims, Anthony Morris wanted to fish the Thames, many months ago Wayne Cryer told me his dream was to catch a 2lb perch, I made him a promise that I would help him get that fish, finally Paul Elliot wanted to meet me after many years of listening to my radio show.

Three Special Days

It turned out that a few of us were going to celebrate Collin Culley’s birthday. We all agreed to fish a stretch of the River Thames one of England’s finest rivers, steeped in angling history, where some of the finest anglers have walked the banks, Walker, Taylor, Stone, Frank Murgett a London greengrocer and breeder of the finest gentles, who at the final Walker V Sails match on the Royalty fishery said “Gord blimey look at that forty thousand little Dick Walkers” as we younger anglers sported a trilby hat of their hero. Back in the late 1800’s the celebrated roach pole angler Joe Woodward along with many other anglers of the era made their name wielding the pole with great skill, on this trip, I had with me a pole that was christened on the banks of this famous waterway nearly a hundred years ago.

After breakfast we all gathered near a weir pool, as anglers do we got to look at the latest purchase by our brother anglers of some traditional angling item but also to swap stories and meet other TFF members. I then spent most of the day walking Paul along the bank, answering all his questions, as both of us are trained photographers we discussed the subject in detail both agreeing that B&W pics were far better than colour. After a short break for a brew, Paul put together a B James Kennet Perfection matched with a Mitchell 300, then throwing some bait and other items into a bag we started to walk the beat, we hadn’t gone far when the sky darkened, the rain sheeted down, thankfully we were dressed in the correct weather gear. Having spent more time chatting Paul had to leave early but we agreed to meet up on the Kennet later in the month. Back at the car I found I’d left my landing net handle at home so Paul offered me the loan of his handle along with his Kennet Perfection, with thanks I accepted both items. Having seen Paul off, I decided to spend the last hour or so trying to catch a perch.

Five Minutes of Bliss

Slowly walking downstream, I stopped at several likely spots, taking careful note of the water flow including those tiny areas of backwaters where hopefully a good roach or perch might be in residence. I eventually arrived at a spot where an hawthorn tree was half in and out of the water, with several yards of bulrushes immediately downstream, I sat for some ten minutes then baited with a lobworm which was dropped in front of the rushes, as the worm wriggled down through the water, the line twitched then twitched again, then the line moved upstream against the flow, I tightened, the rod hooped over, I’d hooked my first fish of the trip, then I had a glimpse of a perch. “That’s a good fish” I said to myself. Soon it was in the net, after taking out the hook, I weighed the fish in at 2lb 10 ounces, after a quick picture by one of my friends, I watched it swim off strongly. That was the end of my fishing for the day, I spent the rest of the time talking with the other anglers.

A Chub Catch I Want Forget

Day two we were on the river around 0900 hrs, after helping Anthony sort out a swim, I made up a big bucket of bread and bran mix, probably weighing around 14 lbs as a wet mix, my idea was to feed a swim for around three hours, then leave it all quiet for another hour before attempting to fish, it’s a practise I have done ever since I was around fourteen years old on a variety of rivers such as the Thames, Great Ouse, Welland. The Beult and Medway in winter when it is carrying a lot of extra water, the Waveney and similar rivers. I h’d chosen a swim on a wide part of the river where I had an average of six feet of water in front of a long length of bulrushes extending some ten yards along the bank. The water flowed from left to right, just upstream of my chosen swim the flow cut across the river at about forty five degree angle toward some sedges then flowed downstream in front of the bulrushes.

I put in two tennis size ball of ground bait then repeated the practise every twenty minutes, I also kept putting in two or three prawns. Around 1300 hrs I put in the last balls of ground bait, then left the swim alone except for throwing in the odd prawn. I used a Kennet Perfection with a Mitchell 300 reel 6lb line, to which I attached a size 6 barbless hook. Having arranged everything I went off for and made a brew for Anthony and myself then spent half an hour chatting with Anthony about fishing his swim and several bait choices he could make. Then went off and fished a crust bait in several likely looking spots ending up with three chub averaging 3lbs.

Some Good Chub

Back in my chosen swim I pinched on an LG shot two feet from the hook, baiting with a prawn, I cast well down below the rushes then pulled the bait upstream so it settled in front of the green rounded stems that looked similar to onion stems. My idea was to slowly bring the prawn upstream, moving the bait a few inches every three or four minutes, I had retrieved some fifteen feet of line when I got a positive pull setting the hook into what I felt was a good fish, soon I had the chub coming towards the net, lifting the net I realised it was a big four pounder, on the scales it weighed 4lb 12 ounces. I balled in some ground bait along with two prawns and repeated the cast well downstream and repeated the process of bringing the bait upstream in a stop and start manner as previously, soon another chub was hooked then played to the waiting net another good chub of 4lbs 7 ounces. I the next hour and a half I had seven more good chub all big four pounders with the best weighing in at 5lb 10 ounces, I called Anthony to come and take a pic, sadly they were not good enough to use being too light we couldn’t even see the scale pattern I was very disappointed. In the next half an hour I never had another bite, so reluctantly I packed up after what had been an exciting session, in fact I doubt if it could have been a better session.

A Dream Fish For Wayne

As previously mentioned I had told Wayne Cryer of Little Egret Press that I would help him catch a 2lb perch, I was awake at around 0400 hrs this morning, I lay awake thinking how I could achieve this dream, I feel I had found a swim where it might happen so I didn’t bother with looking for another spot, during the previous day I had been putting in a few worms and the odd prawn, I doubt if I could have done more. Wayne, Anthony and myself enjoyed a good breakfast with plenty of freshly brewed tea then departed for the River Thames, a venue that Wayne had never even seen before, he immediately fell in love with the place. Anthony went off to fish a chub swim he liked the look of, while I took Wayne off in another direction, the tackle was a Kennet Perfection matched with a Mitchell 300 reel 4lb line to which I attached a small float taking 3BB shot then tied on a size 8 hook, after checking the depth I set the float to lay on about six inches. Within five minutes Wayne had his first bite, a small pike, not what I was looking for, rebaiting Wayne had three bites in the next half an hour all missed, I then changed the hook to a size 4 which again baited with two lobworms and cast out, I suppose twenty minutes went by before the float slowly moved across the surface then submerged, the light but controlled strike had the rod tip hooped over, the clutch growled as line was taken by a powerful fish, I said “Is the fish shaking its head” the answer was affirmative. “That’s certainly a perch” I said, it was a slow personal fight between Wayne and the fish with some nice tempered cane between them, which was doing the job perfectly as the fish was slowly losing the fight, we then got our first look at the fish, I said “That’s a big two pounder perhaps a three” As the fish lay flat on the surface Wayne guided it to the waiting net, I lifted and Wayne’s dream had come true in fine style. It weighed in at 3lbs 5 ounces, I then zoomed my camera in as tight as possible and got some nice shots, as Dick Walker said “ The perch is the biggest freshwater fish” and this one proved that statement true. We dedicated the fish to Dicks memory. I followed up with a 3lb 1 ounce fish along with a couple of smaller perch. Anthony not to be outdone caught chub to 4lb 10 ounces, all in all it had been a great three day, even the long drive home was smooth with no holdups, yes we were down to speed limits in the roadworks but Anthony coped well.

Wayne with 3 lb 5 ounce perch

3 lb 1 ounce perch

4 lb 10 ounce chub by Anthony Morris

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Martin James Fishing
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