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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


31/10/2019 - Donít Be Put Off By A Flooded River

Brendan fishing a bank high river Soar

Don’t Be Put Off By A Flooded River



To celebrate my 82nd birthday a three day fishing trip was arranged by Colin Culley with a get together of some friend who are known “As my boys” being they are much younger than I am also they look after this “Old One” Sadly Colin could join us but he was there in spirit. Brendan and myself left home at around 0600 hrs arriving at just after 0900 hrs at the Butter Market Café in Mountsorrel, Mark Sural already had eaten his breakfast being we were rather late, but when you’re travelling from Lancashire, you can never estimate the traffic problems on the M6 A50 and M1. Breakfast over it was across the road to Stuarts tackle shop, known as Bennet’s, its like the tackle shops of the past where you get some good information, also it isn’t full of carp anglers. In fact I have yet to meet a carp angler, most are match anglers so your usually assured of some good advice, being new to the river the shop has been a mine of information that I have found most useful in my quest to understand the river and its various lengths of the fishery, I reckon it was an hour later when we headed off to the river, arriving to find it deserted. Looking across the field to the river I knew immediately the river was getting near to bursting its banks, as I could see the water from two hundred yards away, normally it couldn’t be seen as it would be flowing well below the bank. Mark headed off downstream to a bay that would be fishable, Brendan and myself headed in the opposite direction to an area where I was certain we would find some slower paced water close to the bank where the depth would under the current conditions around twelve feet.


Remember the deeper the water and the closer to the bank is your chosen swim, the flow rate would be much slower on the bottom than the surface, often ideal where fish could find a suitable sanctuary and often feed. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 51.5 degrees F, I made up some mashed bread and bran adding lots of chopped worms, then put together a leger set up 6lb line size 6 barbless hook with 2 LG shot, after a few minutes casting around, I added an extra LG shot. We really did search our swim, fishing hard all through the day except on the three occasions when we returned to the car for a fresh brew, sadly we didn’t get a bite. Looking back I felt I’d made a big mistake by fishing a leger rig, when I should have tried float fishing tactics, laying on or stret pegging, even trotting through the slower water. I will make sure it doesn’t happen again, as I will have two outfits made up. We struck it out in the rain until dusk as we walked across the field to the car we resemble a couple who had been in the river, chucking everything in the car, we headed off to the Cedars hotel for a hot shower and some food.


Saturday A Day Of Heavy Rain With A Bigger River


Saturday morning we are at the Butter Market café just as the doors opened, Mark, Brendan, Tam Miller, Tony Booker and myself, after breakfast it was across the road to Bennetts tackle shop to be greeted by Stuart with his usual welcoming smile, rubbing his hands Scrooge like seeing so many new customers. I collected three pints of red gentles some hooks and shot, others done the same but also picked up worms, and day permits, in Tony’s case he got a season permit, after watching the opening of the World Rugby match, where we beat the All Blacks, it was off to the river. After parking up I was off across the field to see what the river was like, it was now well over the bank and into the grassy field, the riverside trees were some forty feet out in the water. Walking slowly along the edge of the water trying to work out where to fish, a bream rolled, I had my answer Pic 2. Close to the tree is my bream swim at the back is the fast flowing river, fifteen minutes later Tony turned up saying “If I’m as quick off the mark Martin as you are at 82 I will be amazed” Having decided where to fish, I went off and collected my tackle also telling Brendan to come and fish with me.


Float Tactics Were My Choice


First job was to check the water temperature, I got a reading of 50 degrees F, I then put together a fourteen foot rod with a centre pin reel holding 4lb line, a float taking 3 AAA shot with a size 8 barbless hook completed my tackle set up, my bait would be lobworms. Checking the depth I found four feet of water, I then dragged the plummet across the bottom to see if there were any snags, it was just as I expected short grass. I made up a bowl of mashed bread and bran, with half a pint of red gentles with thirty chopped lob worms, having put in six cricket size balls of ground bait, I catapulted in about half a pint of gentles before resting the swim for twenty minutes. Twenty yards further out I could see rolling bream, hopefully some of them would move into my swim. Baiting with a lobworm, I then impaled a plastic gentle on the hook to keep the worm in place, then made a cast dropping the float close to the tree, sitting on my box I waited for something to happen, an occasional fish could be seen topping close to the trees, I suppose it was an hour when I said to Mark “I’ve got a bite” as the float ever so slowly moved from right to left, striking I felt a solid weight that moved slowly and determinedly towards the tree standing in the water. Putting on some pressure I turned the fish from the danger zone into what I thought was a snag frees area, a few minutes later Mark netted a bream on the scales it weighed 4lb 11 ounces I was more than happy. Having returned the fish after a quick picture, I put in three more ball of ground bait, all the time I could see more activity further out, under my breath I cursed myself for not having a fixed spool reel with me, there was no way I could reach those fish even with a Wallis cast, another bad mistake on my part.


Chub On A Plastic Lure


Tony Booker appeared I said “Anything Tony” he answered “A chub about three and a half pounds on a plastic lure in the big bay on the opposite side of the river” that was a surprising result in the very coloured water. After a chat on the prospects he and Tam wandered off upstream. Half an hour later I had another bream, this one gave a better fight that the first, I was more than happy, but at the same time I was annoyed that I couldn’t target the fish further out, still the rain sheeted down, by this time Brendan had wet feet through the rain running down his coat onto his trousers then into his boots, his water proof trousers wouldn’t fit over his boots. By 1400 hrs everyone except me and Brendan had left for the hotel, still we tried to catch despite the rain and rising water, we both had to move several time further into the riverside field. At 1600 hrs we chose to call it a day, it was a wise choice, especially with Brendan having wet feet. Back in the hotel some of the guests for our evening get together were already in the bar including Dave Hurst and Matt Minter with his girl friend Rosie. In our room Brendan and myself quickly had the kettle boiling, a coffee for Brendan, tea for me. After Brendan had a shower I followed feeling a lot warmer afterwards. Brendan went off down to the bar while I sorted the rods and reels out, making sure the rod bags were dried on the radiator.


Birthday Dinner


When everyone was gathered in the bar around 1900 hrs we moved into a quiet room, no music, no phones, just a few very good friends to share a dinner, drinks and some leg pulling, Matt and Rosie, Mark and Andrea, Sharon my daughter and two grandchildren Jessica and Samuel, Tam, Tony, David and Brendan. It had been Colin Culley’s idea at the Walker book launch back in May to have a get together for my birthday, sadly Colin couldn’t be there with his current injury, but we did stand up and wish him all the best as we raised our glasses, even if mine was only water. Various guest stood up to say some very flattering words which was gratefully received, as were several presents, Mark had made me two set of floats, a set of six reed floats with porcupine quill tops, the other a set of six goose quills, all collected from along the river Soar. Certainly something to be treasured for the rest of my days then passed over to Sharon. All the present were very nice including a classic English made Milward Floatcraft Trudex centrepin reel by JW Young of Redditch from Matt, itretains its factory brown original finish, a reel bag made by the original owners mother. Around 2200 hrs I went off to bed, while most guest were up until the early hours of the morning.


Sunday Morning Back On The River


David, Tony, Mark, Andrea, Brendan, Sharon my grandchildren and myself were back at the Butter Market café for breakfast, on the way to the café we passed over the river Soar, it was well over the banks, we had to make some detours as some roads were flooded, in the café it seemed I was the only one who thought it was fishable, I’ve never yet been on a flooded river where I couldn’t find a quiet spot to fish, remember the fish will have rich pickings on the fields and among the trees. Breakfast finished we said our good byes, Tony, David, Sharon with grandchildren and Andrea off in one direction, while Mark, Brendan and myself went in the opposite direction to the river. I walked across the field to the river finding it like a large lake and certainly fishable, I turned towards Mark by the road, then put two thumbs in the air as a sign that its fishable, Brendan didn’t fish as he felt unwell so slept he day in his car. Ten minutes later I got my gear then quickly walking back to my chosen spot, the sun was shining with a medium breeze from an easterly direction but the warmth of the sunshine took away the cold wind. First job check the water temperature I got a reading of 48 degrees F which didn’t surprise me as the night had been very cold also the wind across the water would have helped the water temperature to drop.


Mark and I sat next to each other, while I float fished, Mark swapped between float and leger, getting a couple of knocks on a prawn bait, early afternoon I had a walk downstream then finding a nice slack off the main river, we quickly moved swims downstream. I continued float fishing getting three bites, I pricked one fish, the other two bites resulted in sucked gentles. Mark had a good bite on prawn catching a chub about two pounds and well deserved, what did impress me during the last hour of day light was the amount of fish topping including some very good roach, also a barbel I put into double figures that rolled in Marks swim. I didn’t catch a lot but learnt a lot about the river, I also realised the fish stocks were very good going by the number of fish, I’d seen rolling. It had been a good three day birthday trip with good company,

My bream swim

First bream of the session

Marks chub

Reed and goose quill floats

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Martin James Fishing
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