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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


23/09/2019 - There Is No Excuse for Saying “I’m Bored”

Anthony Morris with one of his bream


I really do get fed up with so many people young and old saying “I’m Bored” what a stupid saying. I would imagine since I could crawl, I doubt I’d have been bored, during World War 2 our parents might have been worried, none of us boys were neither were we bored, after school in the mornings we had time on our hands put to good use, growing food in the garden, collecting it from the countryside, fishing shooting, setting snares in the hope of a rabbit, there was no time to get bored. Then there were many afternoons when we would roam the country lanes with our catapults, we never had a leather tongue in our boots they were cut out to make a pouch for or catties as they were described, with a pocket of pebbles we might be lucky to get a pheasant or even better still find Italian and German POW’S working in the fields then we let them have a well-aimed shower of pebbles, bored there was no chance.

Angling a Great Pastime

For all my life despite the ups and downs with my health since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, there has always been something of interest to keep my mind bright and working, I suppose without the challenge of angling since the age of 4 years which has been a great saviour for me, life might have been different. Thankfully despite not being able to drive far these days, I’m happy to have some very good friend who do their best to get me to the waterside, such as Brendan Ince, Tony Booker, Dave Hurst, Tam Miller, Anthony Morris and more, other friends who have helped me in other ways are Collin Culley, Lee Price, Gary Cullum, Richard Carter, Paul Elliott, many far too numerous to mention. Without doubt I don’t know where I would be these days without Mark Sarul who has given me so much help and advice on the River Soar, and helping me with modern technology. Every time I thread the line through my rod guides or watch an orange tip float on the water, I immediately think of Russ Shaw for the stringers and floats that Russ Shaw made for me, I have literally hundreds of floats, many worth a small fortune these days. Some given to me by far better anglers than I am, who sadly are no longer around. The other evening I was looking back to my younger days, sadly realising all my friends from the past are no longer around, I am the last of the gang from the 40’s and 50’s, two lost their lives in the Korean War, another in the Malayan campaign against the Chinese terrorist, others through accidents or old age. Those that are not around, are often in my memory, when I’m fishing I often need some inspiration, often asking myself “Should I yes use one of my old fashion baits or techniques”, even choosing a swim I look back to similar situations.

Guiding and Angling

Last week I had one of my regular clients on the stretch of water I look after, conditions looked good for a few trout, sadly no fish were rising so it would be upstream nymphing, in the first three hours before lunch, we didn’t get a single take, the second half was similar to the morning nothing, we fished hard I continued changing patterns of nymphs, length of leader, we fished the deep pools, fast runs, steady water under the trees, at 1800 hrs we called it a day, the first blank this season, but it was a most interesting day. We had seen 4 roe deer, a four pointer buck with two does along with a young kid, we had several sighting of kingfishers as they zipped up and down the river. For most of the day a pair of ravens circled close overhead, with their harsh croaking call. Walking across the meadow after lunch I spotted a Speckled wood butterfly then two more, we also found a small colony of grasshopper’s which we thought might number between thirty and forty it’s very hard to count them. Now we have our licence my head bailiff told us he had shot a cormorant which was welcome.

A Good Health Report

The next day I attended my local health centre for my yearly health report which really did make me happy all my readings for cloistral , sugar, blood pressure etc etc were spot on, then I was give the news that my one kidney had repaired itself which has been a big worry to me for several years, I was more than happy, but the icing on the cake was “As an 81 year old your probably one of the fittest patients in the practise, there wasn’t much more I need to be told.

A Lost Fish

The following days after several hours of heavy rain the river had over three feet of water, time for some well matured Danish Blue smelly cheese around 3 years old, I chose a twenty year old soft action Avon rod matched with a small fixed spool reel with 10lb braid to which I attached a size 6 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, after a long walk I arrived at my chosen swim, then pinched on two LG shot two feet from the hook, having baited with a small piece of crust I moulded some cheese paste round the crust, the bait was the size of a pigeon egg, Having cast the bait out I allowed it to move downstream then swing into a quiet area, I sat holding the rod with the line over my index figure which allowed me to look around I spotted a good size salmon making its way upstream several kingfishers were seen, a robin turned up, I fed it some small pieces of cheese which a greedily gorged itself on. Over a three hour period I changed my bait several times, as the church clock spoke twelve, I felt a light pluck, making a powerful strike, I set the hook into what felt like a heavy fish as the rid tip was pulled down savagely then everything went slack, I cursed on winding in I’d been bitten off. I thought about the incident for some minutes, before finally thinking, what might have happened. I reckon the bait had been pushed slightly upstream making a half circle of the hook link, as the fish picked up the bait it didn’t register on my figure. It wasn’t until the fish moved the shot that I felt the tiny pluck, by then the damage was done as the fish had pushed the bait down below the pharyngeal teeth of a chub. In that session I only had that one bite.

Three Days on the River Soar

Anthony Morris called me a few days ago to ask if I wanted to go and fish the River Soar, my immediate answer was yes, I then booked a twin room at the Cedar’s hotel in Loughborough, we planned to fish with Mark Sarul who is very knowledgeable on this river having fished it all his life, I owe mark a great debt of gratitude for all his help over the past few years.

Perfect Weather for Day One

We had arranged to meet up with Mark at the Butter Market Café in Mountsorrel around 0800 hrs for breakfast, it’s a great lace to meet, also the staff are very helpful, they even made up packed lunches for us with freshly baked rolls. Breakfast over it was across the road to see Stuart at Bennetts tackle, after catching up on all the latest news Anthony purchased a new rod bait bucket hooks feeders LG shot etc, Mark picked up some bait, then it was off to the river, conditions couldn’t be better, with a cloudy sky, light low levels some colour in the water with a bit of flow. Anthony wanted to try for a barbel, Mark was going to trot the stream feeding hemp and baiting with tares he had prepared himself, they were perfect. Leaving Mark in his chosen swim, I took Anthony for a walk of the beat showing him various swims, having chosen one I suggested, I also told him to put in half a dozen bits of meat then leave the swim alone for a while. But also bait an inside line under the trees. Leaving Anthony, I then spent some time with Mark who was catching small chub and dace with an occasional roach, he also had some fun with a pike on his light tackle and got bitten off by a second pike. After an hour or so I then went off to the car to collect some tackle. I’d made up my mind to trot a swim, in search of roach, it was around 1300 hrs when I arrived at my chosen swim. I chose to feed with liquidised bread and use punched bread on the hook, some two hours fishing with just a lot of small roach, I changed to trotting with small pieces of lobworm, catching quite a few perch averaging around eight ounces, but after an hour I decided to pack in, then head off to the car for a brew and rethink my tactics.

Some Nice Perch

After a sandwich and brew I put made my way off downstream to ‘Martin’s Pitch’ I think that’s the name Mark had given the swim, it was one that I enjoyed fishing, I had three choices an inside line tight to the bulrushes, where I could expect perch, I had a far bank swim with a good flow for chub, but also a perch, then a quite deep bit in the middle of the pool where I could expect anything from roach to a barbel, anywhere in the whole area I could expect small pike which can be a nuisance it’s a bit of water that fascinates me especially when its bank high with an extra six feet of water.

In a three hours session float fishing with lobworms, I caught two small pike around 3lbs some small chub from eight ounces to about a pound, along with eight nice perch all between 1 lb 12 ounces and 2 lbs. Back at the car around 1830 hrs I learnt that Anthony apart from catching quite a few chub had also hooked and lost a big barbel, I felt sorry for the lad but that’s fishing. We had arranged to meet with Mark with very pleasant and cheerful Andrea for dinner at the Cedars hotel, which turned into a fun filled night with no horrid mobile phones, there was a lot of pleasant and cheerful talk, which ended around after 2300 hrs.

Bright Sunshine For Day Two

Once again the meeting place was in the Butter Market Café in Mountsorrel around 0800 hrs for breakfast, then it was across the road to see Stuart at Bennetts tackle shop, having told Anthony there were some good bream in the River Soar he said ”I would like to fish for them today” a lot of ground bait, hempseed, frozen gentles and worms were purchased, I explained how I would fish for the bream also the swim to choose, then off went Anthony loaded up like a SAS trooper. Mark then got a phone call from Stuart to say my Acolyte Plus 14 foot rod had arrived, so while I got my gear sorted out, Mark went off and collected the rod. Soon Mark was back then we were on the way to fish ‘Martin’s Swim’, we stopped at several other swims so we could get a good picture of the swim under low water conditions also the water had cleared a lot overnight giving us a good view of weed beds etc, this information would be very valuable come the winter floods. I fished the top end of the swim, while Mark settled in a fifteen feet below me. Despite the very bright sunshine with wall to wall blue sky I thought we would catch a few fish, even perhaps a good perch or chub. It didn’t happen apart from a few small fish I had nothing of size until late afternoon when I had a few perch around the 12 ounce mark, with a couple of small chub about 2lbs. The highlight for me, was watching a swallow perch on my rod tip then preen itself for around five minutes, as I tried to reach my camera the bird noticing my movement flew away. Meanwhile Anthony was catching some good bream best at 4lbs 12 ounces which was a personal best. It was a very happy Anthony when we met up at the end of the day.

Our Final Day

Once again the meeting place was in the Butter Market Café in Mountsorrel around 0800 hrs for breakfast, then it was across the road to see Stuart at Bennetts tackle shop, again Anthony got more ground bait, hemp, frozen gentles and worms, also more small tackle items, Anthony had certainly been a good customer for Stuart. Having seen Anthony go off to his bream swim, Mark and myself went off to another beat in search of some chub, We fished a couple of swim with no fish to report, though Mark did get a couple of good bites in one swim, that really did look good. It was around this time I pulled in a large Lillie leaf known as a cabbage leaf. Off we went downstream, Mark stopped off at a good looking spot with lots of bulrushes with a large over hanging willow tree. I went off looking for other swims, especially with winter fishing in mind. Having pushed my way through some thick vegetation I made my way across a flat stretch of bank close to the river not noticing the slight dip, the next second I was up to my knees in dirty smelly water, every time I tried to get out I went a bit deeper, I stood there for a minute or so working out my options. I then decided was to push myself backwards on the firm flat bit of bank then hopefully I might get my boots free, after a lot of twisting and pulling at the firm bank I managed to crawl our smelling like a skunk, a few minutes later I got a call from Mark so we arranged to have a brew. As we walked back to the car we stood looking at an old English ash tree, I commented “That tree could tell some stories”.

Hooked A Chub On Marks Cheese Paste

Having baited a couple of swims with a few bits of meat before going off for a brew, we returned to fish, we both started off with meat, Mark soon had a bite which was missed, after half an hour we decided to have a look further downstream some two hundred further on we come across some dropping some were black the others were a reddish colour, I’m not sure but get the feeling as they were close to one another and had been left about the same time, I got the impression these were the droppings of a dog fox and vixen.

A Hook Up

Back in our chosen swim as ae sat side by side chatting away, I said to Mark “Can I try a bit of your cheese paste”? he immediately gave me the bag, it was as perfect as cheese paste can be, I baited with a small bit of crust then moulded cheese paste around it , by using the crust it counter balances the weight of the hook. Within minutes of casting out I had a bite which couldn’t really be missed, it can be described as the perfect bite. After a few minutes Mark said would you like me to land it as we were on a bit of difficult bank I readily agreed. I soon regretted taking my eyes off the fish as it shot across to my side of the river into some tree roots and there it remained until if left my hook in the roots. So ended our three very pleasant days

Anthony Morris with his best perch 2 lb 4 ounces

One of several perch caught on float fished worm

Pic of lilie leaf known as cabbage roach love to be close to these

An old English Ash

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Martin James Fishing
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