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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


09/05/2019 - A New Coarse Fishing Season a Few Weeks Away

Dawn on the River Beult


A New Coarse Fishing Season a Few Weeks Away


As usual I have rented a cottage from June 15th so I can have a dawn start, yes I’ve had an occasional days angling during the close season by fishing a still water, but don’t feel happy even if it is legal. Even when the river season starts there have been occasions when I’ve packed up fishing on the first day, having caught fish with milt or eggs coming from the vent, then moved to another area. This June 16th I will once again be on the banks of the river Beult with its designated triple SSI, a nature paradise with no public foot path where the member make sure they don’t leave any litter, even a cigarette butt but would get you thrown off. There is something very special going back to a venue after a three month break, to see how mother nature has healed all those worn bank spots. At the water’s edge I find lilies looking resplendent with their yellow, red or white flowers , bulrushes, sedges, various types of water crowfoot some with white flowers, Mare’s tail, Spiked water milfoil and Starwort and water violet to name just a few. The trees and bushes looking resplendent in their new cloaks of green of various shades. Last year just upstream of my swim were several hawthorn bushes in blossom, one with pink blossom which I can’t ever remember seeing before.



As I sit at the water’s edge I will hear the hum of insects, the sight of the dragon and damsel flies of which there are many species, many bites have been missed through watching the flying and hunting displays of the Emperors known as hawkers whereas the smaller dragon flies are known as darters. When it comes to damsel flies they are the delicate ones, that often perch on the top of our float, though I don’t remember getting a bite while this is happening. I will also have bird song even more so when I arrive at dawn then as I leave just after dusk. During the day I will hear grasshopper warbler, then look up and downstream to see who is fishing with a centre pin reel, but it’s the call of the grasshopper warbler fooling me once again, as it throws it’s call in various directions, but it’s rarely seen. A great sight I will never forget is the aerobatic flying display of the hobby, the more I see of this Falcon the more I want too, then late in the evening I will probably see the barn owl hawking the riverside fields. Tackle and Bait Selection for my week Long Stay I will be equipped with a Millwards Swim Master, as there are some extremely big tench in the river into double figures also good carp I will take my Constable Forty Fore, my other prize possession will be my 17ft 6 in cane pole which is around 98 years, recently having been refurbished by Cane & Able, apart from its original whale bone tip Lee Price of Cane & Able has made me another tip of whale bone. The rod is now like new, as a youngster I used some 10 inches of silk topping fixed to ring on the end of the pole with a loop system, then the cast holding float shot and hook which were made up beforehand, I would use a loop to loop system for joining cast to the topping, the silk topping was later replaced with a short length of thin string, then later by Terylene, I now use an elastic topping which Tony Booker made up for me in several strengths. It was my grandfather who started me on my apprenticeship with the pole, I was around 12-13 years old, a few days before I was to fish a junior match on the Saturday he told me I could use his pole, at the end of the match he gave me the pole saying “You will be better than your Dad with the pole”



Learning from some of the great pole anglers



In the 50’s and 60’s I was very fortunate to see some great pole anglers in action, the likes of Frank Murgett, Freddy French MBE who was a successful insurance agent, who moved to the Lake District in later life, as did several LAA anglers who had given good service to the Association, I spent hours watching some of the pole anglers as they fished the LAA Shield matches, another great stalwart was Bill Gardner, Captain LA Parker who was ‘Mine Host’ at the Bull Inn in Downton for some years was another great pole angler was another fine pole angler, he was also author of This Fishing one of my most read books, I doubt if a month goes by when I don’t read something, when I needed some inspiration. a book I recommend to all anglers. It wasn’t the Thames and Lea where anglers fished the pole, many took their skills to the Medway, Suffolk Stour, Arun and Avon, even on the Norfolk Broads and Fenland drains you would find pole angler. If you are interested in the history of the Roach pole then go out and purchase the book Poles Apart The history of the London Roach Pole by Michael Nadell. It’s the first book I have ever seen published or know of on the subject. Wood or Plastic Winders When I first started out in angling every angler of my acquaintance would have their rigs on wooden winders, I had winders that would hold 4 rigs with a small box in the centre holding shot and float caps, sadly all mine were all destroyed in a house fire, even Hitler and his Doodlebugs or V2's couldn’t destroy my 2 winders, though he did destroy the house and my fishing rod. Today most anglers use plastic winders in garish colours, it’s something I had to put up with but thankfully no longer, I now have some old wooden winders from the 1920,s/30,s the plastic ones certainly look out of place, it’s thanks to my friend Paul that I now have enough wooden winders, when they are loaded I will dispense with plastic. Centre Pin and Fixed Spool Reels


I will take 4 reels, my small Beult centre pin made by Watermole, which I feel is the perfect float fishing reel with 3lb line for roach, it a joy to use. Another reel is my J W Youngs The Atom which my children got me for my 80th birthday this will be loaded with 6lb line, a Mitchell 300 with several spools loaded with lines of 3lb 6lb 8lb and 12lb, the other reel is a small Spro Passion Micro 605 with braid which I will use for drop shotting with soft plastics should I see some good perch to target. A Good Selection Of Floats In my leather tube I have a good selection of floats, with many of the swims on the Beult having up to 14 feet of water you need a selection of sliding floats to get a good presentation unless you are using a pole or rod of 16-17 feet, In my float box are several sliding floats taking different shot loadings to cope with the deep water and flow rates. Sliders are not just for deep water, I often use them in shallower water swims, a slider can make striking better and more efficient with less disturbance. Ground Baits Over the next few weeks I will be loading my freezer with plain cooked hemp, not flavoured, bags of bread cubes, I will riddle off, then freeze gentles in 1 pint bags, dead gentles want wriggle away in to the silt, sand or weed so are a good ground bait. In my garage I have a dustbin full of rock hard dry bread, which will be soaked in water for some 24 hours, after draining off as much water as possible, I then spend around 20 minutes giving the bread a good bashing with a very strong potato masher, if you don’t have a good masher, use a piece of 2”x4” timber, don’t even try the plastic masher as they are useless for the job. Having broken all the bread into a fine mash, I put around 3lbs of the mash into zipped plastic bags then freeze for future use, I also have a dust bin full of wheat bran, I buy this in 20 kilo bags, I wouldn’t advise you to purchase bran from health food shops, supermarkets or pet stores but go to a corn merchant you will save a lot of money. I always take some bran with me in case I want to stiffen up the mash depending on the swim I am fishing. By making your bread mash you will save money on the packaged brands of ground bait, I will often add some mole hill soil o gravel or small pebbles to bread and bran mash, which has been used for many many years on all types of water with success. One of the baits I wouldn’t want to be without is a good supply of lobworms, I usually buy 2 or 3 packs of 50 lobs which I keep in my bait fridge with the temperature set at 40 degrees F. I find I can keep lobs in good condition between 6 and 8 weeks, there have been times when I have had them for 10 weeks, you must make sure the lobs you purchase are really fresh, then just pop them in the fridge, DO NOT add anything to the worms, just leave them alone.



My cane pole

Elastic pole topping

A box of sliders

Author on the ban of the River Beult

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Martin James Fishing
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