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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


05/08/2019 - Back On The River

It's rare to catch eels


Back On The River

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks since my last trip to the waterside, I reckon all the hard walking up and down the river bank, through brambles, nettles over and under fences to reach spots I wanted to fish, also pulling balsam has taken its toll on my body. I then had three days indoors feeling weak, stumbling around the house often getting dizzy, but thankfully I have a great doctor who soon got me feeling better with some medicine. I then spent a few hours at the hospital for my Pre-operative assessment for my cataracts, which was conducted very professionally, I was talked through the whole process, leaving the ward I was more than happy with the coming procedure. The following day I sent a hand written letter to the hospital praising the excellent service which I had received, I’ve nothing but praise for the NHS and the way they have looked after me over years from when was diagnosed with MS some 40 odd years ago, including my treatment as I only having only 1 kidney, but the NHS have kept me going. I then had to visit another hospital as I am suffering from stomach problems and my doctor wanted me to have a Colonoscopy, so I had to see a doctor for a pre assessment then I would be given a date to attend. After a few days I felt I could resume teaching the anglers who’d booked me for a fly casting lesson, which earns a donation to one of my charities so everyone is a winner. I’d stopped fishing as condition were not good, low water conditions with high water temperatures, even the trout are lethargic in these conditions which offer no sport, in fact I feel some of these trout if they are not played hard and quickly released are not likely to survive,

Fishing Willow Pool

Having been told a small river I’d fished years ago was worth fishing as it had some good flow, having checked the gauge at Bingley I noted the reading was 0.273m, I felt this could be a good venue with the water dropping having been very high. I decided to try a pool I’d fished in the past, arriving around 0600 hrs, parked up and knowing I would be pushing through waist high balsam, nettles, reeds etc, I put on waterproofs, then collected my tackle and brewing gear, with some difficulty I climbed over a very high stile, I reckon it was made for giants, then across the field towards the river before doing so I had another stile to get me over a stone wall, before making my way downstream a mile of more which included several barbed wire fences. Eventually I arrived to find a fast run of water pushing though the centre of a pool, at the end of the pool the river narrowed up taking a turn to the left. Despite lots of riverside willows I found two small areas where I could sit, then either work a float through the swim, or fish a rolling bait. There was plenty of cover from the Cow parsley and balsam which would help break up my outline from the resident chub, though the river had some colour, I could see the gravel bottom in a foot of water, what made the pool attractive with the flow of well oxygenated water. Thankfully we are back to the normal English weather with sunshine and showers often with an overcast sky, far better than those bright days of sunshine with blue sky, the forecast was for more showers.

Bread and Bran Mix

Today my approach was to put in 4 orange size balls of bread and bran with a tin of liquidised corn mixed with bits of meat at the head of the pool in the hope of attracting the fish into the area. I carry my rods and reels with line and hook attached in separate rod holdalls, I had an Avon action rod with fixed spool reel filled with 10lb braid, to which I’d attached a size 6 barbless hook. My other outfit . was a 13 foot rod with a centre pin reel with 40-50 yards of 6lb nylon line, with an Avon float taking 4 AAA shot with a size 8 hook, should I feel float fishing would be a better proposition. Having got leger tackle sorted I fired up my Jetboiler, for a brew, as I waited I added some milk to a bag fruit muesli for breakfast, if its good enough for our troops its good enough for me. Sitting by the waterside I watched a pair of dippers with their lovely white breasts showing up clearly in the early morning sunshine , they were walking along in the shallow, hunting nymphs for their breakfast. A few minutes later a kingfisher flew upstream, then perch on an overhanging willow branch across the other side of the pool, seconds later it dived coming up with what looked like a small dace or chub, giving it a whack on the willow branch, it then flew off downstream. An hour or so later two flocks of green plover around 80 or more were circling over the nearby field, what ever I caught today, those plover would certainly be my highlight of the day, sadly I only manged to get a poor quality picture of one plover.

I Started With Lobworms

Breakfast over I put in another orange size ball of bread and bran with some chopped worms and bits of meat, I judged I could need 1 BB shot fixed lightly on the line 12 inches up from the hook wrapped in plasticine, I find it most useful when fishing over a rough bottom as you can often pull free leaving part of the plasticine behind. Baiting with a lobworm, it was dropped into the streamy water of the pool, I slowly working it downstream until it was in the steady water, where every couple of minutes or so I allowed the bait to move further downstream about a foot at a time, repeating the process every few minutes until I’d reached the tail of the pool where the water increased as the river narrowed. With no interest I repeated the whole process again, then again, for around half an hour, in between I added another orange size ball of bread and bran with some chopped worms.

I’d been fishing for over an hour before I got my first bite, I immediately realised it was an eel which was quickly landed then released, certainly a very rare fish from the river. Two cast later another slow pull this time, it felt a heavy fish but not like a chub or an eel, after a few minutes I was surprised to see a bream about 6lbs on the surface in the quite water of the pool which was soon netted, its when you catch bream, tench or eels you thank the designer of the latex landing net, as they don’t hold the fish slime, I have found during my long angling career that bream love lobworms, so I wasn’t surprised with catching a bream. I have had a lot of these fish from this river, though most have been on bread in various forms. Over the years caught some very good bream from this river, in summer, autumn and winter often when the water temperature has been down to 38 degrees F . The best bream I’ve had from this small river is the one pictured caught on crust when stalking chub. Fishing a swim well upstream of where I am today with Alan Roe on a bitterly cold winters day I had another big bream, just as we were having a brew. I had a tiny knock, then picked up the rod, Alan said “It’s a minnow” as I set the hook into a fish which certainly did pull the string and bend my stick, soon Alan netted not a minnow, but a big bream. After that episode we certainly enjoyed our tea and cake.

Back to the present day, I soon had a chub about 2lbs which was followed by 3 trout all around the 1 lb mark, which were soon winched in on the tackle I was using. I then changed over to meat catching a chub around 3lbs, then missed the next two bites. The next fish was a pike around 5lbs caught as I was bouncing the bait downstream. I then had an hour without a sign of a fish being interested in my baits of worms, meat and crust. I then chose to move swims a two hundred yards downstream, where in the past I’d had some good sessions with roach, but I doubt if there are many roach around these days with the number of cormorants being seen.

A Very Good Chub

I chose to continue fishing rolling meat, it was a good choice in about thirty minutes I had three chub averaging 3lbs, I sat there bite less for what seemed an eternity as I listened to the cricket hold the rod willing a fish to pick up the bait. I reckon half an hour must have gone bye when I felt a tiny pluck, I immediately made a strike suddenly the rod arched over and finding myself connected to a very powerful fish, at first I thought small barbel. It was several minutes before I felt I was in control at the same time realising it wasn’t a barbel but a good chub that really did pull the string and bend my stick. A few minutes later I got my first glimpse of the fish which I estimated as a big four perhaps a five pounder. A couple of minutes later I had the fish coming to the waiting net then it was mine. It weighed 5lb 7 ounces I was more than happy, now looking forward to my next trip to the River Soar for a few days, then home for three days before going back to the River Soar again.


These are good river bream and well worth catching

My ground bait mix

Hook link bait and weight

My best chub of the session

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Martin James Fishing
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