fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


23/06/2019 - Another Season Day 1

Heading for my swim

Another Season Day 1

Sunday June 16th 2019 was the start of my 78th year of angling, the new season was shared with some very special anglers Tony Booker is not only a very good angler, but he is spending a lot of his retirement working on our behalf to protect and enhance his local waters along with other caring people in fighting various facets of the HS2 high speed rail line, also the Heathrow runway project, when he could be enjoying his love of angling. Tony is an example to many of those who sit on their backsides and let the few get on with the work, remember we can all do something to improve our fisheries, IE by collecting some of the rubbish in and along our waterways and still waters, which can only be good for the future of our great pastime. Another friend was Paul Elliott a photographer who has worked for some of the top picture agencies in the UK, no doubt you would have seen some of his photographs in your daily paper over the years covering all types of subjects that make the news. My other companion was Brendan Ince who has served his country with the British army in various posting including Belize, he is a quiet unassuming person always willing to offer help when needed. The River Beult flows through some of the finest Kent countryside eventually joining the River Medway in Yalding. The river is designated a SSSI giving it legal protection to some of the most important wildlife and habitat in this protected river corridor, as you sit quietly on the bankside watching a float or rod tip you get the chance of seeing the hobby a member of the falcon family, watching the agility of this bird in its dazzling flight will keep you spell bound, one minute you will see the hobby gently take a dragon fly on the wing, the next it might be a swallow in flight which becomes its prey. As you sit quietly at the waterside you will hear a sound similar to the check of a centre pin, but do not fear having your domain encroached upon by another angler, the sound will turn out to be the grasshopper warbler, sadly its very rare to see this songbird. A sight you will often see during the evening time is the barn owl, its rare not to see this great and silent hunter. Our base for the week was a nice cottage at the end of a quiet lane, situated a mile or so from the river. We all shared the cooking and other chores, breakfast for me was usually shredded wheat , but on occasions I also had a bacon sandwich like the other boys, in fact I call my small group of friends “My Boys” as they are much younger than I am.

                                                                        On the River

We arrived on the river around 0800 hrs on June 16th the weather forecast was for lots of cloud cover and rain showers, so I didn’t feel we needed to be on the river for a dawn start; As one does on arriving at the water’s edge we quietly walked the banks looking into swims we fished in the past, noting how the river has changed over the winter months creating new fishing spots which had to be explored during the coming week, the river unlike previous few years when it was very clear, often you could see down several feet, was highly coloured today with nil visibility. the trees and fields looked so beautiful in there new cloaks of various shades of greens and browns, the white and yellow lilies along with the odd clump of poppies looked resplendent, it made one feel great to be back taking part in a pastime I have been doing since June 16 1941 when I fished with my uncle Len who was home on leave from North Africa, to make the scene even more exciting a spitfire was often over head during the day time, those of my generation can’t fail to get a lump in their throat when we hear the sound of those Rolls Royce Merlin Engines.

After a good walk we then had a brew before going off to our separate swims, I chose a swim with around 10 feet of water where I also had some water lilies, my plan was to use a sliding float with the bait tight to the cabbages , these are lily leaves with a crinkled edge in the deep water, hence the name, it’s an area so loved by roach tench and bream. My tackle was Millwards Swim Master, matched with The Beult centre pin made by Watermole, my line was 3lb to which I had 4 BB shot sliding float with a size 16 barbless hook.

                                                                    Hemp and Tares

Roach were my target fish, choosing to start with tares rather than gentles, feeding with a few grains of hemp every cast, baiting with a tare usually produces a better quality roach, than gentles has been my experience from many years of using this approach when seeking roach. The roach these days are far better looking fish than in the 1950’s 60’s when most of the roach had black spot. This is fluke disease causedby flatworm larvae appearing as tiny black spots on the skin, of the fish. I didn’t seem to effect the feeding or fighting quality of the roach.

                                                            Roach and Lots of Them

Within minutes of casting out I had my first roach a “Goer” which is a fish of 8 inches plus, this was quickly followed by several more fish of similar size, after an hour I decided to switch to gentles with hemp and bread mash ground bait, I started off putting in 8 droppers of bread mash with hemp, then 4 droppers of red gentles, then moved the float up the line about 12 inches so I could lay on. I reckon it was 15 minutes before I got my first fish a roach of 10 inches quickly followed by several more roach of similar size to the first fish. I got the impression there might be some better quality roach in the swim, so I changed the hook to a size 18 to 2-5lb breaking strain line, then baited with a single red gentle, casting out I tightened down to the float, in around 2 minutes the float slowly submerged, I gently set the hook into what felt like a heavy fish, after a minute the fish slowly moved towards the far bank, “No roach this” I said to myself, as the fish moved in a determined manner, I put more pressure on the fish hoping it could be turned, the extra pressure did have the required effect, I started to gain some line, for several minutes the fish slowly plodded around, putting on more pressure the fish woke up then headed for the far bank lilies, reaching this danger zone the fish then made its escape by braking the line. It was time for a tea and cake break.

                                       Lots of Roach for Tony, Paul and Brendan

Tony and Paul chose to fish with their poles Tony a modern carbon, Paul with a Sowerbutts Pole, Brendan fished with his Youngs of Harrow Otter brand 14 foot matched with a nice 3.5 centre pin reel, using a sliding float with a size 16 hook baited with 4 gentles, Brendan had lots of roach between 5 and 10 ounces, a perch along with an eel, meanwhile Tony pole fishing further upstream had lots of roach, rudd, several eels along with a tench, Paul who spent a lot of time taking photographs and talking to all three of us still found time to catch plenty of roach on his Sowerbutts which he had recently acquired. Paul being a very experienced pole angler and match fisherman was certainly at home on the River Beult. Our first day had turned out as we wanted, all of us catching lots of lots of fish. That evening in the cottage we celebrated with some good food, lots of tea drinking though Brendan enjoyed his ice cold cans of lager. It was gone midnight before we retired to our beds. All pictures are credited to Paul Elliott 




My Beult centre pin

A hook up

tea and cake break

Brendan waiting for the next bite

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]