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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


27/06/2019 - New Season on the Beult

Rob, Martin, Brendan and Paul with Yates

Day 4 of the new season, when I looked out of the window this morning I was greeted with a leaden grey sky with rain, after breakfast, we headed off to the river to find it quite clear, before we started to fish today we walked the river bank to find some friends who would be fishing, Rob Burt, Kev Dyer and Paul Adams who is from Kent but now lives in Colorado but likes to return home to see his mum and friends, also do some fishing. Please note Robs spaniel Yates at our feet, after catching up on all the news and meeting up with Kevin Dyer we went off to our separate swims, despite the wind and rain we were all optimistic in catching. Today I chose to walk well upriver to fish just over the lily pads with a lot of pads on the opposite bank, it’s an area I have fished in the past which often produces bream and tench, today I was using a small fixed spool reel with a sliding waggler float set up with bread punch on a size 12 hook, hoping for some better quality roach. Around 1130 hrs the sky cleared and the sun appeared, it was time to shed the waterproofs. Two hours later we were all back at the car having a brew with a sandwich, I also made a brew with some biscuits for Paul who was fishing a swim close to the car. Tea break over Brendan and myself went off upstream, while Paul fished two swims above Paul. We all caught roach, and rudd, I also had 3 eels but I didn’t complain as all were hooked in the lip, all I had to do was take out the barbless hook and return the eel safely to the water. I detest people who just rip out the hook. I have even seen people kick an eel along the bank and these are not a rare occurrence, all our fish should be respected. Around 1800 hrs the sky started to change colour from a grey to black as the wind increased, we had been warned that there was a chance of a thunder storm and no way was I going to be on a river bank with lightning around. We called it a day early and returned to the cottage. Later that evening the thunder and lightning started which continued for around two hours this was followed by heavy rain lasting well into the night.

                                                               Day 5 of the New Season

Brendan and myself were up early this morning as we needed to drive to Maidstone to get some gentles, the shop opened at 0800 hrs and we needed to travel early to be there as the shop opened, after buying a 4 pints of red gentles along with some plummets, we returned to the cottage for breakfast then headed off to the river, on the way I collected some fresh strawberries. Back on the river I was pleasantly surprised to see the river was well coloured with a good flow, perfect for trotting with an Avon float or a waggler, the storm had done its job, I had a big smile on my face. I made up an Avon set up, but I could quickly change over to a waggler if needed. I made up a large bowl of mashed bread to which I added some bran and hemp, my advice when making up ground bait is use a large mixing bowl as you would in the kitchen, you will get a better mix than one of the silly plastic bait bowls sold in the shops where you also pay to advertise the product. I then scrambled around on the bank to find a few small stones to put in the ground bait even more so on the Beult when its pushing through, also I had to take in account the deep water. I then put in 4 balls of ground bait the size of a tangerine, then with a bait dropper I put in 6 droppers of red gentles, 6 of hempseed and six of bread and bran mash. I was in my element today with a good flow on the river. In the first for trots I had four “Goer roach”, followed by two bream about 2lbs, I then had a fifteen minute quiet spell, before once again catching more roach with a few “Goers” I was now in match mode, a few gentles were thrown well upstream on every cast, sometimes I would add some hemp, every fifteen minutes a gold ball size of bread and bran was added. About two hours into the session the float shot away, I didn’t need to strike just tighten a good fish was on, I was forced to give line “This is a tench” I said to myself. Sadly after some ten minutes it took me into the lily pads in front of me.

                                                                        Waggler Float Set Up

As I had to tackle up again I decided to fish a waggler float close to the far bank water lilies, this time I chose a small fixed spool reel with 4lb line with a 4 AAA shot with a size 14 hook, All I needed to do was make a gentle underhand cast to drop the float just in front of the pads, It was a case of occasionally mending the line as the float travelled downstream, second run through I had a bream followed by a perch then a tench no bigger than 3lbs but it gave my string a good pull and bent the stick. then a string of roach, in some twenty casts I only had one cast when I didn’t catch, they might not have been big fish but most were “Goers” It was some of the most satisfying sport I have had in a long time. When I arrived on the first day of the season I told my boys my target fish were roach, also I wanted to see the float keep disappearing, that’s what I got all the week. Not just from roach but perch, eels, pike, bream, rudd, small chub, bleak and tench. Meanwhile Brendan fishing the next swim down was getting plenty of action from roach and rudd, he reckoned he might well have had a 100 plus fish, I can well believe it, so good was the fishing if your prepared to work. You don’t just drop in any spot, it takes some time walking up and down the river, I will spend some time plumbing the depths finding those small drop offs, always plumb carefully so you can find those small depression probably no bigger than a tea tray, its these areas where food collects and the fish know it, remember it’s there domain. I then put together rod, reel, float hook etc, making sure I have everything ready, before feeding my swim,  I then leave it alone so the fish can settle over the feed so they feel secure in feeding. After some fifteen twenty minutes of quietly watching the swim, should I see some activity such as bubbling or discoloured water, I might then add some more feed. Its often anything up to an hour before I choose to fish, every day of course is different in fact conditions can change a dozen time or more in a days angling, as I fish I am thinking ahead to what I might do if the fish stop feeding. Paul meanwhile fishing downstream with his Sowerbutts pole was also in action with roach along with some fine rudd around the pound mark. When I fished the river in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s we never caught rudd, though tench often showed up especially on mild days in winter when the river was high and coloured. As we were preparing to leave the barn owl put in its evening appearance, it was around 2000 hrs when we arrived back at the cottage feeling tired but happy after another good day. All pictures were taken by Paul Elliott, he certainly done an excellent job. I didn’t bother taking any pics with Paul around, he is far better than I am.




Paul Adams fishing with Pauls Sowerbutts pole

Kingfishers were flying up and down stream all day long

Measure and disgorge

What Avon float should I use?

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Martin James Fishing
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