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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


20/01/2019 - A Pair of Ravens Were My Highlight ON Day 1

I’ve just had five days fishing on my local river, the first session was float fishing for grayling, the water temperature was 42 degrees F the river had a steady flow with some five feet of water, I chose to use 3 piece Apindale Avon matched with my Beult centre pin reel made by Watermole, with some 3lb line, I used a porcupine float that Russ Shaw had painted for me with an orange tip, as I find this colour the best for my eyesight, attaching 3BB shot I found the float needed another BB, I attached a size 16 hook to 2lb nylon by loop to loop method. As I was running the float through the swim to ascertain the depth, I heard the sound of a loud rough harsh sounding croak croak croak, looking skywards I could see a pair of ravens some twenty feet above me, I stopped what I was doing then pulled my binoculars from the tackle bag, I quickly focussed on these majestic birds which are quite rare around my area. It was certainly a thrilling sight watching these birds which were around for some thirty minutes, rising high then swopping low before rising again on the thermals eventually drifting well away.

Some Nice Grayling

Having sorted out the depth of the float so the bait was a few inches off the bottom, I threw in half a dozen white gentles, baiting with two I made a cast slightly upstream then mended the line as the float passed me on its way through the swim, On the fifth swim through the float dipped some ten yards down the swim the answering strike accounted for a fish, straight away I could tell it was a grayling the way the fish twisted and turned as I slowly worked the fish upstream close tom my bank in the hope of not spooking the shoal. As I netted it I thought “That’s a pound and half fish” nicely hooked in the scissors gently unhooking the fish I lowered the net in the water then watched it swim off strongly. In the next twenty odd casts I had four more fish of similar size to the first fish. In the next half an hour I never had a bite. I moved off downstream trying three other likely spots without any sign of fish. Back in the car park I put my tackle away then went off to a small copse with my rifle to see if there were any grey squirrels around as it was very mild, Within ten minutes I spotted one slowly moving across the ground, a quick clean kill, fifteen minutes later I got another one, hopefully they are both female, the song birds will have a better chance of survival, I have even seen them take young birds of out a nest box.

Day 2

The conditions today was not good overnight there had been a big drop in the overnight temperature, leaving the fields frost covered, I could see two hares out in the field which is always nice, recently there has been a lot of activity from illegal hare coursing where the police were very active in stopping a group. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 40 degrees F not a good sign, I chose again to fish for grayling using the tackle and tactics as on the previous day, in a three hour session I didn’t get a bite, with the wind increasing and with a feeling of dropping air temperature I called it a day.

Day 3

Today I chose another stretch of river several miles downstream, the water temperature was 38-39 degrees F, I chose a swim where I had around 10 feet of quiet water, my target fish were roach, I used a Milwards Swim Master matched with my Watermole reel ‘The Beult’ its so delightful to use, that if it turns out to be a fishless day it will prove enjoyable. I attached a 6 BB shot quill float top and bottom, then attached a size 16 hook to 2lb nylon with a loop to loop method, having plumbed the depth I set the float twenty inches over depth then bunched the shot fifteen inches from the hook, my plan was to lay on. Having got everything sorted out I put in a single small dropper of white gentles, if I could have got hold of some casters I would have used them both as an attracter and hook bait, I did think of using hemp and tare but with a low water temperature I decided not to. I fished about half an hour before I got my first bite, a ‘Goer’ size roach, this one was about ten inches, in the next hour I had four more similar size fish. I would have liked to fish on into the darkness as I reckon there would have been a good chance of a decent roach, but with a 45 minute drive with the light starting to fade I packed up and headed off home.

Day 4

Back on the river I found a cold easterly wind blowing downstream, the water temperature was 38 degrees F the river was gin clear with a slight flow, there was only one target fish today, that was chub with a cube of crust on short 3 inch link, I would be making many casts searching each swim thoroughly, I used 1 LG shot three inches from a size 6 hook with some plasticine as the added weight. My first swim was under the far bank trees in some slack water, I dropped a piece of crust into the spot as quietly as possible then sat holding the rod, within minutes my hand felt frozen but I dare not put the rod in the rest, any bite, might just be a small pluck which I would have to strike. Some fifteen minutes later I got a tiny pluck then a more determined pull, striking I had nothing to show for my effort, once again a crust was put put the same area, as it started to settle, I got a good pluck the strike connected, but instantly pulled free, I was gutted, no point in wasting more time in this swim for an hour or so. My second swim was about 300 yards downstream under some trees on my bank a simple underhand cast, Within ten minutes of casting in I had a good pluck striking I didn’t connect, in the following hour I had a series of what can only be described as good pulls but all were missed, I was now scratching my head for an answer, but couldn’t find one. Two hours later having had four more good pulls all missed it was an exasperated angler who called it a day.

Day 5

Arriving on the river I was greeted by a dull day with a light wind it felt quite nice to be out, there was no sign of overnight frost, checking the water temperature I got a reading of 40 degrees F, I chose to fish the same swim as the previous day walking down the riverside field I could see the moles had been very busy overnight. Choosing the same swim I ended up in yesterday, using the same method of a crust on a short link, I made a cast downstream tight to the bank in around five feet of water then sat holding the rod, within twenty minutes I got a slow pull, striking I hooked a powerful fish which took line off the reel, for around ten minutes I couldn’t work out what I’d hooked, not sure if it was a good chub, small barbel or a big trout, hopefully not the latter. Eventually I got my first glimpse of the fish as it rolled on the surface, a trout but a good one. Eventually it was netted a fish of 4lbs plus. Unhooking the fish I lowered the net in the water and watched it swim off. I fished on for about five hours trying several swims without any more interest, so packed up and went off home. Tomorrow Monday might be my last day out for a few days as snow is forecast for the following two days which will certainly make it hard on the river if we get melting snow.


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Martin James Fishing
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