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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/03/2019 - Days 2 and 3 on the River Soar

Wayne on his first trip to the river Soar


Days 2 and 3 on the River Soar

After day 1 on the river Soar I left you in the warmth of the Cedars hotel after a cold wet days fishing with David Hurst, today on day 2 David and myself are joined by Mark Sarul for breakfast, we then went off to Bennet’s tackle shop to collect our bait, it’s a great tackle shop, which is certainly a rarity these days with Stuart his usual cheerful self, bait sorted it was off to the river where I found I’d left my top coat in the hotel room, so David immediately drove me back to the hotel to collect my coat, without it I would have suffered both from the cold and rain, in fact I would probably have sat in the car. The river had dropped around 4 feet over night which was disappointing, also the water temperature had dropped 2 degrees F giving me a reading of 46 degrees F, thankfully there was still some colour. The weather was as bad as the day before with heavy rain showers and a gale force gusting wind. David chose to fish the swim where he ended up on the day before, I chose to go well upstream as did Mark, it was probably an hour before I settled on several swim to bait and fish, though I wasn’t so happy today with a drop of 2 degrees F from the day giving a reading of 46 degrees F

Dace and Roach for David

David chose to fish the same way he fished the day before using the same tactics of quiver tip rod, with a black cap feeder with a size 16 hook, using gentles as bait, catching a succession of roach and dace, this despite the gale force wind and heavy rain, but David had chosen wisely he was in a swim not effected by the wind. He was also fortunate to see a greater spotted wood pecker, a kingfisher, tree creeper a little grebe, long tailed tits these are a great family bird, also pair of grey wagtails. Mark fished half way along the beat legering with either crust, cheese past or lobworms without success.

Just One Bite All Day

I fished several swims, not a single bite in any of my chosen swims, eventually I ended up in my last spot, I fished over an hour, then had what can only be the slightest of bites, the float just shudder gently, I said to myself “That’s a bite probably a pike” I thought having had lots of experienced of these type of bites over the past sixty odd years. I then gently lifted the rod feeling some resistance, I was note sure if it was rubbish or not? I gently increased the pressure, then a fish moved slowly out to the deeper water, I was even more convinced it was a pike as it stayed on the bottom. A few seconds later it moved off a bit quicker taking line off the reel, the rod was well arched over the fight was on. After around ten minutes I felt I was in control eventually I got a look at the fish a pike around 7lbs, I though “At last I’ve got a fish”, soon it was in the net, again gently hooked in the scissors, any mistake on my part in giving some slack the fish would have been lost.

A Field Mouse Puts in an Appearance

As I sat there in the fading light I noticed a field mouse creeping carefully over the sedges that were flat on top of several feet of water. Having picked up the piece of crust probably the size of its head then it carefully made its way back the up the bank to a tiny hole. With the light fast disappearing it was time to call it a day, normally I would have at least an hour in the dark but with the gale force wind with heavy rain showers the warmth of the hotel called me.

Day 3 On The River Soar

Today David and myself were joined by Mark Sarul and Wayne Cryer of Little Egret Press for breakfast, then it was off to the Bennet’s tackle shop so we could get more bait, also Wayne needed some bait also a day permit. Arriving in the car park we were nearly blown over by the gale force gusting wind, the sky was the colour of a bad bruise, it wasn’t looking good. As the rain come down I got kitted out in the front seat of David’s vehicle, not an easy job but eventually I managed it at least I was dry to start with. We then got loaded up with tackle before heading off in the wind for the river bank, its probably been many years since I was on the river bank with such strong wind, branches were being broken off river side trees then blown some distance before crashing into the river or nearby fields, it could best be described as horrendous condition, David as usual was in his same swim, Wayne fished a short distance upstream of David, in a swim not quite so windblown, float fishing with gentles Wayne caught a few dace. Further upstream where Mark and I were going to fish the wind was horrendous, but we were not going to be moved. Mark fished just below a dead tree, casting a feeder with crumb the hook baited with flake, casting across to a big raft tight to the opposite bank, his casting was spot on, dropping the swim feeder virtually into the same hole every cast, he soon had a good chub of 4 lb 3 ounces to end his season on a high note, later in the session he lost a good fish on a prawn.

More Pike

I chose to fish the swim just upstream of the sunken tree, where I had 8 feet of water, using the same float fishing tackle I have used every day on this trip, I’d only been fishing thirty minutes when I hooked a good pike, after some minutes it dived into the branches of the dead tree, an hour later I got another pike this time a small one which after a short fight was netted, just as Mark arrived, so he shot a quick picture, before I returned the fish. Mark and I agreed it had been some years since we had fished in such horrid conditions, he then decided his season was over.

Hooked Up To A Big Perch

Mark wasn’t even back to his car when my float moved across the surface then submerged, setting the hook I quickly realised I’d hooked a good perch as it went out into the fast water with lots of head shaking, all the time I was worried about the gusting wind that was shaking the rod, it felt like a giant had reached down then shook the rod. Slowly I was getting line back on the reel, I reckon I then made a fatal mistake by trying to beat the fish before it was tired out, as I lifted the fish to the surface, I gasped “that’s a 3lb plus fish” its dorsal fin was erect it made a great sight, then it made a powerful dive in its bid for freedom straight down into the tree roots. It must have gone around one of the numerous sunken branches I couldn’t move it, eventually the fish wrenched the line then broke away. To say I was shock at losing the fish would be an understatement. After some minutes sitting there I decide to moved down below David, more to get away from the full force of the wind, I’m not so steady on my legs these days, being so close to the river in these conditions on my own wasn’t a good idea.

Roach Perch and A Skimmer

Thirty yards below David the river twisted and turned as it flowed downstream, there were several interesting spots, but they were were spoilt by the river flowing in all directions, I then spotted two small areas of water no bigger than an open laptop, one on my left about twenty feet away there was a raft of brown floating sedges, plumbing the depth I found three feet of water over gravel, to my left some ten feet was another floating raft of brown coloured sedges with a depth of four feet, I baited both swims with red gentles for about ten minutes, then changed my hook from a size 10 to a size 14 barbless, baiting with 3 red gentles, I started off fishing the right hand swim quickly catching 3 perch around 12 ounces, not big fish but still good fun, I then had a skimmer about a pound followed by two small roach probably 6 ounces a piece. After some ten minutes with no bites I moved the float down a foot then baited with 3 red gentles casting the float out to the reeds on my left then held the float tight to the sedges, ten minutes or so later the float dipped another perch of about 6 ounces.

Hooked Up To Something Big

Rebaiting I made a cast to the same spot then added a few gentles, the fish were living under the raft, hence the reason for holding the float tight to the reeds so the bait could be pushed under by the flow in a natural way. I sat there like a coiled spring, waiting for a bite, fifteen minutes or so later the float dipped then submerged, I lifted into the fish which immediately shot out from under the reeds as a fast rate of knots. The reel screamed like a scolded cat, the fight was on, but sadly not for long as it made a long run to a gravel bar in the centre of the river, I quickly moved down river to pull from another angle, it didn’t maker any difference, I dropped the rod on the bank then grabbed the line to see if a see saw motion would get the fish moving sadly not, as the line was cut off on the sharp gravel just below the float. I then realised that David and Wayne were behind me with David net in hand, unknown to me they had been watching for some ten minutes having seen all the action but no fish. Sadly that was my lot on the beautiful River Soar until the new season. Long may we have the close season, so the fish, birds and wildlife can breed in peace, mother nature can repair the damage we make during the course of the season, also it’s a chance to clear up the dirty mess left by so many anglers which let’s be honest is a disgrace.


M J fishing the dead tree swim on a wind swept river Soar

Mark with his 4 lb 3 ounce chub the best fish of the day and well deserved

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Martin James Fishing
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