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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


13/03/2019 - A tough session on the river

My small area of the flood water swim


A Tough Session on the River

I have just 3 days left of the season, looking out of the kitchen window around 0500 hrs today Tuesday 12th March I could see the rain sheeting down with the top of the big tree being whipped about in the gale force wind. Checking the river gauge I got a reading of just under 2 metres and rising. After a shower, I made some porridge followed by tea and toast, as last I felt I was ready to face the atrocious weather. For my lunch I put some bacon rashers along with a couple of eggs and two bread rolls in my lunch box. Switching on Radio 4 I got the latest Brexit news then switched it off, I’d heard enough. Why don’t they get on with it as we voted. In the garage I loaded my tackle in the car then headed off for the river, calling in at the supermarket for some milk.

Bank High Swollen River

Passing over the bridge I could see the river was bank high, in some places over the bank into the fields, the colour of the river is best described as like the dark yellow of Pease porridge, conditions didn’t look good but I would try. I had to make a slight detour as the country lane was flooded, it might have been ok for a land rover, but I wasn’t going to try going through the water in my small vehicle. Twenty minutes later I pulled into the car park to see the belt of silver birch trees swaying in the wind. The riverside fields had several large pools of water with ducks enjoying the new found resting places.

Tackle and Baits

There would only be one way of fishing today, that’s legering using an 11 foot Avon action rod Mitchell 300 reel with 6lb line, I attached a size 6 barbless hook, I then put together my latex landing net to a cane handle made by the late Dave Austen , given to me by Mark Sarul when I arrived on the bank of the River Soar with no net handle. In the cabin I opened a tin of meat picked up a bag of cheese paste that really does have a strong flavour ask anyone who fishes with me what my cheese paste smells like and they will probably have glazed eyes and a smile on their face, it’s that good.

It was time to make the long trek to the river bank against the gales force wind and heavy rain, it was a much longer walk that normal as I had to keep making a detour around the large pools of water, eventually I got close enough to see the river, it didn’t look fishable, two large tree trunks floated down, walking upriver I covered about a 1000 yards until I found a small quiet area of water. I then checked the depth finding around 3 feet of water, I made a note of the spot then headed off further upstream to the big oak tree swim, there was an area of slightly slower water, that might produce a fish, I then went up through the wood, finding nothing of interest, so I walked back downstream to the first spot I’d marked down. I’d certainly been well battered by the wind and rain.

A Trout in Minutes

I started off by using three small pieces of meat on the liner and hook, I pass the first 2 pieces of meat over the hook then up the line before putting on the final piece of meat on the hook, then slide the other bits of meat down the line to rest on the hook. There was no chance of using a rest, I held the rod with the tip just an inch or two off the water to help combat the wind, suddenly I felt a strong pull then felt a lively fish dive away into the fast flowing water, I was forced to give line then I followed the fish downstream a few yards, over head flew 4 Oystercatchers, putting on a flying display to match the Red Arrows along with that beautiful piping call. I was now in more control of my fish which I hadn’t yet seen but I was gaining all the lost line, eventually I got it in close to see I had a trout around 2 lbs which was soon netted, I was disappointed it wasn’t a chub, but at least I’d had my string pulled. A few minutes later I had a second fish of similar size.

Time for a Bait Change

Baiting with a large piece of cheese paste the size of a bantams egg I lowered it down under my rod tip, then worked it a few feet downstream, I then sat hoping for a bite, as did so 4 old Christmas trees go drifting by, no doubt dumped by local people to lazy to take them to the council refuse centre, is there is no answer to these idiots. Last week some idiot parked their car close to the river then dumped a large box of rubbish and a bag of builders waste, I was incense with rage, so I left a message on all sides of the box simply stating “Your registration number has been noted and will be reported for dumping litter” Next morning when David and myself turned up all the rubbish had gone, I reckon he got the message. After some twenty minutes I changed to a fresh piece of cheese paste, then sat holding the rod between what felt like two frozen ice blocks. A few ducks floated by, more acrobatic displays by the Oystercatchers, more rubbish floating down including another big tree trunk. I then had to move further up the bank as the river was still rising, it had nearly reached the 3 metre mark. Twenty minutes later I made my way back to the cabin, it was a relief to get out of the wind, after switching on the gas fire, the kettle was put on for a brew, I also fire up the other gas ring to cook bacon and eggs which I would have in the bread rolls with brown sauce. Soon it was nice a snug in the cabin, as I sat enjoying the rolls with a mug of tea, I thought “is it worth fishing any longer”?. The answer was a firm “Yes” I’m running out of time on the river until June 16th.

No More Action

Back on the river I spent an hour, trying my first spot, then walked up to the big oak, then back downstream to a small copse, but no action, the river was still rising lots more rubbish was coming down, I had to keep retrieving my gear to clear away the rubbish from the line. Around 1400 hrs I decided enough was enough and made my way back to the cabin, after a fresh brew I headed off home, but I will return tomorrow.



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Martin James Fishing
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