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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


02/03/2019 - Back on the River Soar

2 lb 7 ounce perch


Back on the River Soar

Recently my friend Kevin Sharples an electrical engineer posed a question where is a good place to catch a 2lb plus perch?, without hesitation I said “The River Soar”, at one time I would have suggested a venue on the River Thames but I’ve been put off fishing the venue with all the wooden platforms, that last thing I want is to do sit like a garden gnome in view of my quarry. I like to use the surrounding reeds, trees, bushes and use my water craft to choose my place to fish, so I suggested the River Soar with its bulrushes, sedges, trees, and bushes with dozens and dozens of attractive swims often flowing over gravel between beds of bulrushes, with lots of wildlife, also the river has some excellent fishing for perch, chub, roach, bream and pike, I mustn’t forget the good carp to be caught, not those with big guts, but streamlined commons. After some discussion we agreed to fish the River Soar where a club card is really cheap at just £40-00 a season, at the time of writing, day permits are also available but must be purchased before fishing From Stuart at Bennet’s Angling Store Market Place Mountsorrel Mob 07946709640. If you’re travelling and need accommodation I can recommend the Cedars Hotel in Loughborough. Kevin picked me up at 0500 hrs in the hope of missing a lot of traffic on the M6 and A50 it was certainly a wise choice as we arrived in Loughborough around 0730hrs, at 0800 hrs we were outside Waitrose ready for some breakfast and last minute shopping, I was certainly a nice break with very good friendly service, breakfast over it was off to Stuart at Bennet’s to collect a hundred lobworms each along with some red gentles and a few small items of tackle and day permits for Kevin.

The River Soar Looked Magnificent

Twenty minutes after leaving the tackle store we arrived on the banks of the river, as we unloaded our tackle I found I’d left my landing net at home, this is the third time this season it has happened, each time I have had to purchase another Drennan handle, I just couldn’t afford another one. Arriving on the river bank I would describe conditions as good with a water temperature of 49 to 50 degrees F with low light levels, there was a light mist over the far bank fields, with a light upstream breeze which ruffled the water surface in some areas, if I had a choice I would be happy to see an extra couple of feet of water, but we can’t have everything. After a long walk downstream on this twisty turning river with its many attractive swims, we arrived at an area with hawthorns, willows, alder trees, with the occasional oak tree our chosen venue.

I suggested to Kevin he fish a swim downstream of where I was going to fish, I’d been told it was a noted perch swim which that was Kevin’s quarry, I was desperate to help him catch his 2lb plus perch, one of the reason we had a 100 lobs also a large bag of fresh king-size prawns. Kevin tackled up with a Drennan quiver tip rod, fixed spool reel with 4lb BS line to which he attached a size 6 barbless hook, weight was a single LG shot on the line. I then left Kevin then walked well upstream looking at various choices then chose to fish just upstream of Kevin so I would be available to help Kevin if needed, also I would be on hand to keep him in a good supply of tea and coffee.

Float Tackle Set Up

My tackle set up was different from Kevin’s, I chose to use a 13 foot float rod matched with a 3.5 inch centre pin reel made by Watermole ‘The Beult’ with 3lb Gamma line, I used an orange topped porcupine quill taking 2AAA and 2BB shot, the latter attached 6 inches and 12 from a size 16 hook inches, the AAA shot 24 inches further up the line, my target fish were roach, which I had enjoyed catching on my last visit along with some twenty odd gudgeon. My baits were redworms and red gentle and punched bread. If I use the latter bait I would change to a wide gape size 14 hook. The swim I chose had a mixture of bulrushes and sedges with some bushes along the bank, I spent some fifteen minutes plumbing the depth I finding on average of 4 feet of water close to the bankside vegetation stretching out some eight feet, the water dropped dropped to around six feet, a few feet out, I had eight to nine feet of water, dragging the plummet across the bottom I reckon it was mostly gravel.

Laying On

I made up a mixture of finely mashed bread, to which I added a pint of hemp with chopped red worms and red gentles, I put in three handfuls of mix on the first drop off, if I should be catching then the fish stop feeding I will then move out to the next drop off. I set the float two feet over depth so ensuring that I had enough line on the bottom so a fish wouldn’t hopefully bump into the line when feeding causing it to spook which can easily happen. With everything set up I then left the swim alone for half an hour just occasionally catapulting in a few gentles and bits of broken red worms, then it was time for a fresh brew.

A Good Perch

In the first hour of fishing I had just one bite which I missed, meanwhile Kevin was getting a few bites, but failed to connect with most of them, but probably lost a chub which he’d hooked from under a far bank raft which needed a skilful cast to get the bait in the area, though he did catch a pike on worm that weight around 5lbs, he was more than happy as it was the first he had ever caught on a worm. I’d been fishing about one and a half hours when I had my second fish of the day, it felt a good fish shouted to Kevin, “Fish on” he turned up armed with his large landing net which immediately gave me some confidence, at this time I hadn’t seen the fish though I was certain it was a perch by the head shaking, every now and again I was forced to give line as my orange tipped float disappeared below the surface. Eventually we got our first glimpse of the perch which was soon netted by Kevin, it weighed in at 2lb 7 ounce, after a quick picture by Kevin, it was quickly released well upstream. Time for a late lunch with a fresh brew. In the afternoon session, Kevin sadly hooked and lost a fish which was probably a perch from the head shaking, later in the day it was a tale of missed bites, in a hectic thirty minutes Kevin a five good bites on both lobs and prawns but for some unknown reason all were missed, meanwhile I had three missed bites and connected with just one a perch around a pound mark. So ended our first day.

Day Two

It was around 0830 hours when we went down for breakfast to find Mark Sarul waiting for us, he quickly put a smile on my face as he handed me a cane landing net handle, it was a big relief to know I didn’t need to call Kevin if I needed a net. We then went in for breakfast, Mark and Kevin had a full breakfast, while I chose porridge followed by scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with a small helping of beans. When we arrived on the water I reckon conditions looked even better than the previous day, with more cloud misty condition with virtually little wind which today was coming from upstream, though the air temperature was 4 degrees F lower than the water temperature, which I have often found will slow down the feeding rate the fish, thinking “It could be a hard session today” Again Kevin chose the swim where he ended yesterday having missed those good bites, I chose to fish the same swim in the hope the fish might be attracted to the area which the feed that had been put in the area. Mark meanwhile had gone off upstream, while Mark and Kevin got sorted out, I put the Jetboiler of for a brew, soon we were all enjoying hot freshly brewed coffee or tea, as we stood talking you could feel the drop in the air temperature

A Lost Chub

Back in my swim I put together rod, reel, line etc, then made up a mixture of mashed bread hemp and red gentles, I checked the depth to find there was couple of inches of extra water, with the same water temperature as the previous day, I then put in two handfuls of mix, over the next thirty minutes I added a few gentles and chopped red worms every five minutes or so. I’d been fishing a worm with two red gentles on the hook, after about twenty minutes the float very slowly submerged, I wasn’t sure if the hook had connected with some obstruction on the bottom or was it a bite? I lifted very gently, to find I was connected to what felt like a very good fish, “Chub” I thought as it powered downstream forcing me to give line, for several minutes I was an equal fight between angler and fish, slowly and carefully I worked the fish upstream, suddenly it kited in towards the bankside reeds, I was forced to increase the pressure, then everything went slack. I quickly realised my mistake in gently lifting into the fish instead of making a firm strike to bury the hook deeper into the fish, which was probably my downfall.

I fished on catching two small perch around six ounces. This was followed by a very quiet two hours with no sign of a bite. It was time for fresh brews, having put on the water to boil I walked down to Mark who had now changed swims to collect his Sir Winston Churchill mug, I spotted it some week previously, I was immediately envious of him having such a great mug. I asked Mark “Where he got it from and would he send me an e-mail with details”, he done better than that, he sent me one of the mugs which come in a lovely presentation box. Certainly too good to be used on a muddy river bank, it now has pride of place on top of one of my book cases, under a very large framed paining of the great man that hangs on the wall. After tea and sandwiches, Kevin mentioned he had missed some bites, I suggested he used a dough bobbin as a bite indicator. We all returned to our respective swims. An hour later Mark went off home, later I had a bite I should not have missed, I’d walked a few yards to collect a cheese roll, as I turned to walk back I spotted my float disappear but sadly as I got to my swim the float reappeared. Then within minutes Kevin appeared with his landing net where I could see he had a decent perch caught on half a lobworm, on the scales it weighed 1 lb 7 ounces just an ounce of his personal best, the dough bobbin had worked, I then used his camera phone to take a picture, he had the pleasure of watching the fish swim off strongly. Half an hour later he was back with another perch of similar size caught on half a prawn, it weighed in at 1 lb 6 ounces which again was safely released upstream. As in the previous afternoon in the fading light, Kevin had a series of bites all sadly missed. I got the impression the fish were not feeding, just taking the end of the worm baited hook. It was one of those days a few minutes after Kevin caught his second perch. 

I then had a strange bit the float bobbed twice, then nothing I thought “Perhaps a fish had taken the bait then just lay there” my instinct was to lift the rod, as I did so it arched over, line was ripped off the reel, good fish I thought but then had my doubts, as the fish which felt heavy slowly allowed itself be guided upstream, I immediately “Though pike” it was typical behaviour from such a fish when hooked on light tackle fishing a worm baited hook, slowly I got it close to the net then towards the surface, where I got a look at the fish, probably around ten pounds, suddenly seeing daylight it reared out of the water shaking its head then disappeared, I was left with a limp line. Still it was good while it lasted. I fished on until the light disappeared then switched on my torch to illuminate the float but it didn’t move so ended my day. It was around 1830 hours when we walked back to the car, arriving home at 2200 hrs. We both agreed it had been a good two days despite the lack of fish, but that’s angling, well done Kevin on your brace of perch and for your company, my lasting memory will no doubt be that big king size burger you had, as I said to you at the time “Did you shoot it or stab it”?




Kevin with his 1 lb 7 ounce perch

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Martin James Fishing
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