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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


07/07/2019 - The Very Attractive River Soar


I’ve just returned from my first trip of the season to the River Soar, near Loughborough, the river is one of those delightful waterways, as it winds its way through some of the most attractive countryside one could wish to spend time in, as it flows twisting and turning to join the mighty River Trent. No doubt If like me you will stop every few yards or so, at another attractive spot that demands your attention. Keeping quiet and low you will peep over the bulrushes, often to see a mass of small fry, on the shallows, perhaps some chub, or like I did a big barbel chasing bullheads or many of the nymphs in this rich environment. There must be several miles of bulrushes growing down both sides of the river, often you will find a long stretch of rushes with a tunnel like look between to beds, that’s where you often find the chub. I don’t mean those reeds with a thick brown furry head which most people call bulrushes, this mistake started when a Victorian painter described them as bulrushes, when in fact they were a species of reedmace which are usually found in slow muddy conditions. Whereas bulrushes are found in gravel sandy conditions often inn fast flowing shallow water much loved by perch, chub and barble.

There are also several miles of water lilies, where at some time or another you can expect to find all our coarse fish species. Below the surface of lily leaves and flowers you will find the cabbages, these are crinkly leaves that resemble the outer leaves of cabbages not sure who come up with the description, I think it was either Dick Walker or Fred J Taylor, it’s an area roach find attractive, come September October I will be seeking those roach with stewed wheat. My companions on this trip were Mark Sarul, Paul Elliott, Tam Miller and Dave Hurst, all four anglers chose to fish the top beat, soon Tam, Mark and David were catching roach, dace and perch, while Paul early part of the taking photographs. I spent some three hours walking the bank, I was amazed at the large number of damsel and butterflies of various species I spotted, in fact I would describe it as amazing, it just goes to show what a rich environment the river is for the aquatic life but also the amount of insect life that inhabit the riverside environment.

After a good look at the river, it was back to the car where I made a brew for Paul and myself, at the same time handing Paul a lunch box, from my box I selected a fresh roll of corn beef and pickle, as I was now feeling hungry after all the exercise and getting up at 400 hrs this morning for the long drive with Dave Hurst I devoured both rolls. Half an hour later, I put together an Avon action rod, matched with a fixed spool reel with 10lb braid to which I tried on a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, into my small shoulder bag I put my scales, loaf of bread some cheese paste luncheon meat a small box of LG shot and some hooks. Sadly Paul then had to go off home to deal with a problem that had cropped up.

                                                            Off to Hunt The Chub

It was around 1500 hrs when I started off at the bottom of another beat, where slowly I made my way upstream looking for a fish worth catching, often passing small chub of which there were plenty, I didn’t want to catch a two pound fish, I wanted one or more in the four pound range if possible. I’d probably walked eight hundred yards in about an hour, then before my eyes was a chub lying motionless in a fast run between two large beds of bulrushes, immediately it was down on my hands and knees, then a long slow crawl through nettles and thistles, trying to miss the cow pats, as I got closer to the water’s edge it was down on my stomach to slither like a snake like closer to the water’s edge getting well stung in the process, peering over the bank I could see the fish several yards downstream. Squeezing a bit of bread flake I threw it in the water, drifting downstream towards the chub the free offering was ignored. Another piece of squeezed flake was thrown in hopefully this piece would drift closer to the fish, slowly sinking in the gin clear water, this time it was about an six inches from my target, then to my surprise the fish edged forward swallowing the bread. Sliding back into the field getting stung again, slowly I made my way back to my tackle thinking “I would only get one chance if I was lucky”

                                                       Hooked Up to a Good Chub

With rod, landing net and a slice of bread I slowly made my way back to where I’d been dropping the two free offerings in the water. My problem now was the eight foot drop to the water, landing net handle wasn’t long enough. I decided, “Should I hook the fish I would go in the water” Its only about two feet deep over gravel, so what harm would it do? Baiting the size 4 hook I baiting with a bit of crust I added an AAA shot three inches from the crust, enough weight I thought to slowly sink the bait a foot or so below the surface. As the slowly sinking bread drifted downstream I could see the fish was already interested, as it move upstream then taking the bread with confidence, setting the hook the fight was on, I just fell off the bank landing in the water up to my knees, I felt my body shudder as I hit the river bed with both feet, not something an 82 year old should be doing. I can’t described the fight as a long one or even exciting, it lasted less than a couple of minutes, before guiding the fish over the net. My problem was getting up the bank, sliding the hook from the fish it was put safely in the keeper ring, I then threw the rod up the bank onto the field javelin fashion. Then had to fight my way upstream looking for a place where I might be able to get up the bank, eventually I found a spot where the bank wasn’t so steep, but covered in nettles thistles and brambles, it was my only way, eventually I got to the top of the bank with a lively fish in the net, running down the bank to my scales my feet certainly felt strange in the boots full of water. It got a weight of 5lb 4 ounces then punched the air with delight, my first 5lb fish from the River Soar, I watched the chub swim off strongly into the depths of the bulrushes.

A Dream Fish for A Brace of Chub

Collecting my though and tackle I made my way well downstream avoiding the cows with their very young calf’s so a day old, it was another battle through nettles brambles hawthorns, even a barbed wire fence to get downstream too where I could start searching for another chub. I was now in the big meadow where conditions for walking were much easier, after about half a mile I moved towards the water’s edge, then slowly made my way slowly back upstream, looking for a chub. A hundred yards ahead I could see a willow tree over hanging the water, arriving at the spot I noticed a lot of swaying weed in some six feet of water, standing motionless I watched the water, then noticed a movement in the weeds, sadly it was a pike around 8lbs, fifteen minutes later I’m on the move again upstream, ahead I could some bulrushes tight to the opposite bank, I could see the rushes had diverted the flow of water across towards my bank, it looked good for a chub, but looks can be deceptive.

Sitting on the bank I fired some bits of floating crust well upstream, then half a dozen bits of meat at the head of the fast run. Thirty minutes later with no sign of a fish, I added two LG shot to the line fifteen inches from the hook, baiting with three bits of meat on the hook and up the line. I made a cast dropping the baited hook at the head of the far bank rushes, as the bait moved downstream I took in slack line, half way down the swim I felt a light pluck, a few seconds later a solid pull, setting the hook I was forced to give line, this felt like a good fish, this time it wasn’t over quickly, this fish had some fight in it, which isn’t often seen early in the season. It was several minutes before I felt confidence in landing this fish if it didn’t find a snag. A minute or so later I had the fish wallowing its way to the waiting net then it was mine.

“That’s a good five pounder” I said to myself the scale reading gave me a weight of 6lb 2 ounces. Mark had recently told me an angler had caught a 6lb fish at the start of the season in this area, I reckon this was that fish by the bad hook mark in its mouth. Lowering the net in the water I watched it swim off to the sanctuary of some reeds. I was more than pleased with the five pounder, when I got the six pounder that was the icing on the cake, it was another 6lb fish from another river making it a total of 54 x 6lb fish from 14 rivers. Sadly I had no pictures, as Paul had to leave, I called Mark and David but both were to far way especially in hot weather conditions, no way could I ask them to come and take pics. Knowing Paul was going to be with us I left my camera at home feeling I didn’t need, in future it will be back in my bag.






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Martin James Fishing
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