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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


04/01/2020 - My First Fish Of 2020

Soft pellets


I fished the last day of 2019 catching one solitary fish on legered crust and as I walked away from the River Ribble I said to myself “That’s enough for this year, it’s certainly been one of my worst” It felt as if a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I was glad to leave the river, tomorrow would be a New Year.

Work Before Fishing

January 1 I was on the river around 0830 hrs, the sky was wall to wall blue with a slight breeze, not good for fishing a gin clear river, but before I enjoyed myself, I had some urgently needed work to get done. Over the past couple of weeks sheep had been free to roam the river bank, they were also getting in the car park leaving both in a mess literally. I needed to replacing broken down sheep netting and fence posts, also repair two stiles if time permitted. the first job was to get all the gear and tools in place, it might sound easy, first job was to lug a big heavy crow bar some 800 yards, then back to the store room to collect a six foot posting, eventually I had 6 of these posts in place along the river, being a short fella I needed something to stand on so I could hammer in the posts. I collected a sledge hammer plus a chair.

First job was to work with the crow bar making a two feet deep hole the diameter of the post, once I’d pushed the pole was in place, I had to stand on the chair then carefully tap the pole into ground until it was down to a level where I could swing the sledge hammer so the post well hammered into the ground making sure it was straight and not at an angle, when I have some help the job doesn’t take long, but on my own it seemed to last an age. After getting the posts in place, it was back to the store room to measure out two lengths of wire sheep netting then cut it off the roll, sound easy but sheep netting has a mind of its own, eventually the length required was cut, then rolled up so I could transport it down river, I had to make two trips as the sheep netting is quite heavy stuff.

Once I’d got the wire down river to the posts, I would unroll a few feet at a time, I then try to and reverse the roll so I could take out the spring so it laid flat on the ground, it’s not easy but eventually I achieved what I wanted, the next job was fix the netting to the posts, back to the store room for bucket of tools which included hammer and staples, plus two coils of barbed wire. A couple of hours later I had the sheep netting fixed in place, then the posts were topped off by barbed wire, easy said than done as the wire keeps grabbing my clothing in and hands. It was now 1415 hrs, the sky had now clouded over conditions were looking good for fishing also the light was going fast, I would have to leave or I wouldn’t be able to drive home as I find it difficult in low light when we all have our lights on. I the past I would have stopped on the river for several hours in the darkness, but until I get my cataract on my right eye done its home before dusk.

January 2nd I’m Back On The River

It was 0900 hrs when I got on the river, my first job was to repair some stiles, around 1130 hrs I visited another beat to fixed a stile with new chicken wire making it safe for the members, it annoys me when I visit other waters to find no chicken wire on wooden bridges or stiles, when these are wet they can be downright dangerous, there is no excuse as it’s an easy job. All you need is a roll of chicken wire, some staples and a bit of time, in fact you can do the job before you start fishing, just visit your chosen swim put in some ground bait, then while the fish settle down you can soon cover a stile making it safe for yourself and other members, when I first joined a Sussex club Petworth & Bognor AC the first job I done was cover a bridge and stile with chicken wire, I then I went off a caught a few chub that day. Sadly not being able to drive long distances I’m not able to enjoy the club waters where I did enjoy some good sport, also meeting some nice friendly members, hopefully when I get my cataract done on my right eye I can return to the club.

oday I left the river around 1330 hrs for home as Dave Hurst was picking me up around 1430 hrs for a session after chub which included fishing well into the darkness, I really do like this part of the day. At 1500 hrs we were pulling into the car park conditions looked ideal, the temperatures were rising we had been promised 10 degrees C, David then presented me with a small box of Sonubaits pellets, they look ideal for roach fishing on waters where anglers are using hair rigged pellets for barbel, roach have been quick to learn that pellets are a good food item, these can be used direct on the hook, also can be cut into a small size, also I reckon they will be minnow proof. Without doubt they could be a winner for big roach, also chub, when float fishing.

After putting together our tackle we headed off across the meadow, I put David in the “Big Oak” swim which I’d been pre-baiting for a few days, he would also have some shelter from the rain which had been promised to arrive around 1700 hrs. Though we like to fish close enough so we can sit and chat to one another, I don’t think it works when chub fishing on a low gin clear river, so I went further downstream. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 43-44 degrees F, having put in some ground bait of mashed brown bread I went off for a long walk, allowing the swim to settle, then hopefully the chub would be working over the ground bait on my return, as I walked I dropped a few bits of meat in a couple of chub spots in case later on I wanted to move.

David’s First Fish OF THE New Year

David had been fishing about twenty minutes when he hooked his first fish which turned out to be a nice looking chub though on the thin side, we estimated it at 3lb plus, if it had been feeding I reckon considering the length of the chub it would have been around 4lbs, on a meat pellet, half an hour later David had a second fish a trout around 1.5lbs. I started fishing crust for the first half an hour but the minnows were causing me problems as they quickly whittled the crust off the hook, I then switched to luncheon meat as dusk faded to darkness I felt a light pluck across my forefinger then a solid take, the strike found me connected to my first fish of the New Year, eventually I netted a good chub which pushed the scale needle to 4lbs, That will do for starters” I thought.

Ten minutes later as I sat moulding some cheese paste the rod tip was pulled round savagely, but of course as I wasn’t holding the rod it was missed. We fished on until 1800 hrs without any more interest so decided to have something to eat and drink, I done a cheese and onion toasted sandwich for David with a mug of tea, while I had a boil in the bag meal of pasta in tomato sauce followed by a mug of tea.

It was around 1900 hrs when we went back to our swims. We fished on until 2130 hrs with no sign of a bite, though we did hear the odd fish plash so we agreed to end a very enjoyable session, what we both agreed on it was a very quiet night, no owls or foxes in fact its been sometime when we have had such a quiet night.


My first fishof 2020

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Martin James Fishing
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