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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


23/01/2020 - Three Hours of Float Watching

My tackle box cost around 30-00

Pulling back the curtains in my study I was greeted by a heavy mist hanging low over the countryside, it was a day to go float fishing on a river or still water, with the rising temperature all week conditions were near perfect, having checked the water temperature yesterday and getting a reading of 43 44 degrees F also the overnight temperature averaged 42 degrees F, todays temperatures would average 48 degrees F the river level was slowly falling, I couldn’t wish for better conditions. Today I would have a day’s float fishing on my river, sadly there are no roach and very few perch both species would have been my target fish in these conditions. My target fish would be chub and dace no doubt trout would prove a nuisance.

From the rod rack I chose a Milward 12 foot swim master, I like this model so much, I have a pair of them, my friend Brendan is now the proud owner of this model, from my reel cabinet I chose a Coxon Aerial with 4lb BS line, along with box of Avon floats, as used by Billy Lane, these days they can be purchased from by Ian Lewis, the beauty of the Avon float is they can be used for trotting, laying on or stret pegging, I keep my reels and float boxes safely in my tackle box when out at the waterside, from the bait fridge I picked up a box of gentles, along with a bowl of bread and bran mash ground bait which were put in the bait bucket, all I had to do was pack all the gear in the car and I was ready to go.

Fifteen minutes later I pulled into the river bank car park, having cursed many of the motorists for not having any light, it was that bad with visibility around 50 yards in places, I even had my fog lights on, at least there wasn’t any excuse for motorists not seeing me. Looking across the river to the far bank field I spotted two hares then a kingfisher flew low up river, with visibility very poor I really felt conditions couldn't be better for angling as my thought suddenly went back to the 50's and 60's when in similar conditions I would be able to put together a good catch of roach, sadly with the amount of cormorants devastating our roach stocks, the fishing is a shadow of its former self. Having put together rod, reel then line through the guides, I then attached an Avon float taking 3AAA shot then a loop to loop method I added a size 16 barbless hook. Having changes into my aigle boots, waterproof trousers and jacket I was ready to go, so with tackle box on my back rod and reel in one hand with bait bucket in the other hand along with landing net I headed off downstream some 1000 yards to fish a swim where the current swept across the river to the far bank with some overhead trees where the occasional branches trailing in the water. Having got everything sorted out I made a few casts so I could adjust the float so the bait travelled do across the river then downstream occasionally touching the bottom, I made a mental note of the two spots so I could hold the float back allowing the bait to run through. I then spent fifteen twenty minutes putting in gentles every two or thee minutes along with a chicken egg size ball of ground bait, I then rested the swim while I went to look at a swim at the tail of a weir pool.

Fish From The Off

Half an hour later I baited the hook with two gentles, then made a Wallis cast dropping the tackle ten yards across the river, I held the float back for a few seconds to allow the bait to proceed the float, a few feet downstream the float disappeared striking I found myself hooked up to my first fish, a chub about a pound which was soon landed and released, next cast another bite a bit further across the river close to the overhanging tree the float dipped quickly then moved close to the far bank, as I set the hook I was forced to give some line, the rod took on a lovely curved I could feel a lot of head shaking, no chub this, I reckoned it was a good trout, after quite some time in which the fish went skywards three times I eventually netted a brown trout of 3lbs plus, which was lightly hooked in the top lip, it was easy to take out the barbless hook then release the fish.

More Trout

In the next six casts I had four more bites catching four trout all similar size to the first trout, each fish put up a good fight, these are not diploid trout, but triploid fish which don’t spawn, they just grow big and are very aggressive, being as they are sexless (What a boring life it must be), but they are in tip top condition. After a fishless half an hour, I once again started catching small chub around the pound mark along with some nice dace averaging 8 ounces along with the odd grayling of similar size. In the hope of pulling some decent size chub into the swim I continued to bait heavy with gentles also bread and bran mash but not a single fish showed. I enjoyed catching the grayling dace and chub, but it would have been very nice to get one or two 4lb plus chub which were the fish I hoped to catch At 1300 hrs I packed up as I had an appointment with my optician in readiness for having my right eye cataract done on March 2nd.












Coxon Aeriel reel

Box of Avon floats

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Martin James Fishing
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