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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


07/02/2020 - A Great Session on the River Soar

5 lb 2 ounce chub

Recently Anthony Morris and myself travelled down to have 2 days fishing on the River Soar, leaving Lancashire around 1830 hrs on Sunday evening we arrived at the Cedars hotel where we had booked accommodation for Sunday and Monday, next morning out first stop was the Butter Market Cafe in Mountsorrel for breakfast, then it was into Bennett tackle shop across the road for the usual warm greeting from Stuart, who then proceeded to show me a nice cane rod which was going to be refurbished. While Anthony was looking around at various item of tackle, I purchased one and a half pints of red gentles also a pint of caster. Anthony once more spent a small fortune on items of gear for pike fishing we then went off about a mile to a stretch of water that Stuart had suggested was good for roach and pike a water he thought would be ideal, sadly it turned out entirely different it was certainly that.


It Was The Worst Venue I’ve Fished


Across the river was an industrial estate where we could hear the sound of machinery, there were flashes of light from welders at work, dozens of moored up barges, other going up and down river houses on the edge of the river, in an area marked with a dozen no fishing signs over a fifty yards stretch was an overweight European fishing with what can only be described as barbaric tackle from the dark ages. The rive bank had its more than its fair share of dog dirt, along with bags of dog dirt, to say it was a horrid location was an understatement, having showed Anthony an area I reckon he might get a fish or two, I then went and collected up the bags of dog dirt before hunting down a litter bin in a nearby car park. Having collected my tackle, I went off well downstream as I passed Anthony who had a couple of taps on his pike rod, I suggested he pick up the rod and feel for the fish, a minute later he set the hook, soon landing a nice pike of 6lbs plus which was soon released. I carried on downstream in the hope of finding a quiet area of the river bank, sadly I was mistaken by a dozen or more dog walkers, their dogs running wild everywhere even trying to get at my bait bag at one time, the litter was horrendous, in the first spot I chose to fish was a condom and two ST’s so I moved on further downstream more litter. I was certainly a depressed angler, my heart and mind were not in fishing what can only be describe as a crap venue. Eventually I made up a trotting outfit then went through the motions of trying to be an angler, catching some six inch roach along with a perch which was smaller than the worm, at the same time getting more miserable by the minutes. With Anthony having caught that pike of 8lbs plus I was trying to work out a way of getting Anthony to move off to another venue. Around noon time my hero Mark Sarul appeared on the bank, after chatting with Anthony he walked down to me saying “Your just Like Ivan Mark fishing there” as I was still trotting trying to find some decent roach. After telling Mark what I thought of this rubbish tip venue, he said “I didn’t think you would like this place” how right he was, we then both went up to have a word with Anthony who immediately said “Yes let’s move” Fifteen minutes later we are back in Stuart shop to collect a guest permit for another stretch of the river Soar for Anthony, then into the Butter Milk café for a couple of bacon sandwiches, then it was off for a few miles of driving to another venue arriving around 1500 hrs, pulling into a layby I immediately felt a different person full of enthusiasm to go fishing.


Keeping It Simple 


Having walked the bank for sometime I then and had a chat with Anthony who immediately said “What a lovely bit of river” after suggesting where he placed a couple of baits I moved a few feet upstream where I fancied a swim underneath a big alder with many roots and branches in the water.I was going to be roaming the bank perhaps fishing a dozen or more swims, should I catch a fish I would introduce a few free offerings of bait then move on, I chose to use an 11 foot with very soft Avon action, matched with a Daiwa Certate 2500 Made in Japan, its probably one of the best engineered reels I have had the pleasure to use, the slipping clutch is so smooth it’s a pleasure to use, no back winding with this reel, its not needed with such a delicate smooth clutch, being made in early 2000, I was lucky to have a friend in the States who searched out some extremely fine braid line available in 10lb breaking strain, I then attached a tiny swivel to which I added two feet of slightly thicker braid which hopefully would take the wear and tear, I then added a size 4 hook for starters, in the first swim I need 4 LG shot as you can see from the picture how I position the shot as its imperative that the fish feels as little resistance as possible, for crust it’s a short link as I changed baits to cheese paste lobworms meat and flake I would make the length between shots and hook to around 12 inches. At all times I would hold the rod feeling for any attempt at a fish on the bait or seeing a slight movement on the rod.

A Trio Of 5LB CHUB

In my first three casts I had three bites, these were not bites where the rod is pulled round an inch or more, merely just a slight tremble I doubt if many anglers would have done anything, probably not even seen the movement, Having dropped the crust under the alder tree branches I tightened down so everything was under a slight tension, after some minuets I noticed a slight movement of the rod as its had been gently shaken by a light breeze, I said to myself ”That's a bite” at the same time striking, I immediately felt a good fish which immediately shot off towards the very fast water with a lot of head shaking, For several minutes I let the fish expend its energy fighting the current at the same time taking in a few inches of line when I could, eventually after several minutes, I started to gain more line eventually getting the fish closer to the bank in the slightly less turbulent water at the same time bearing in mind there could be snags tight to the bank, I reckon it was perhaps ten minutes before I had the chance of netting the fish. The chub when weighed pulled the scale pointer down to 5lb 2 ounces, I quickly walked down to Anthony who on seeing the fish from a distance shouted “Have you got a barbel” “No” I called back “It’s a chub, would you take a picture for me”? Releasing the fish I moved on.


Hawthorn Bush Swim

My next swim was one where I lost a good chub when fishing with Mark some weeks ago, on the occasion I caught the fish on cheese paste that Mark said “Phew that cheese smells” or word similar. As we tried to free the fish I realised that there were a lot of tree roots in the area, I said to Mark at the time “That should be a good swim in the winter” I fished a few feet downstream from the tree, then extended the hook link to around 12 inches also adding two extra shot another three inches up the line, I fished a large piece of flake sprayed with sausage sizzle, dropping the bait upstream a foot or so from the tree, my idea was if I get a take I would immediately try and haul the fish downstream from the danger point of the tree roots. Within two minutes I noticed a slight bow in the line again saying to myself “That’s a bite” striking and pulling downstream at the same time immediately felt a good fish as the rod hooped over, several yards of line were quickly taken off the reel, This fight was for a long time on the side of fish, I quickly realised that to win this contest I would have to somehow get below the fish, I doubt if I could pull the fish upstream in the fast water, I’m certain the hook would have pulled loose, picking up the landing net I threw it several feet downstream then slowly followed the fish gaining a few feet when ever possible, on reaching the net, it was tossed further downstream, when you want to see another angler there is no one in sight. Reaching the net again it was thrown another few feet down stream. Some ten yards from where I’d hooked the fish there was a small quiet area of water where I might eventually get the fish in the net. Eventually after what seemed a very long time but was probably ten to twelve minutes I got the fish into the slower paced water, where I let it do its head shaking and occasionally take a bit of line which I was quickly able to get back on the reel, eventually I got my prize, on the scales it bumped the pointer down to 5 lb 8 ounces then settled closer to the 5 lb 7 ounce mark, out with the camera then I shot a picture before I held the net in the quiet water paced water allowing the fish to swim out when it was ready. I was now on a high forgetting all the horrors of the morning, with a brace of fives in two casts, I called Anthony who was now about a mile upstream of me with the good news also he told me he had another pike, we were both happy.

I moved on down river to a swim with an overhanging hawthorn where a lot of rubbish had been piled up in the recent floods, in the past it has accounted for a few chub, also known as a good perch holding area, after taking off three shot I chose to fish two lobworms with a plastic red gentle to hold them on the hook, casting out I quickly had a slight movement on the line, quickly setting the hook into another good fish, again it was quite a long fight soon I had another angler watching me, eventually I got the fish in the net, it weighed 5lb 1 ounce, the angler asked “would I like a picture” “yes please” I said, handing him the camera, after releasing the fish, we had a long chat about fishing, in which he showed me some pictures of a big tench he had caught. After I gave him some of my lobworms we went our different ways. Three five pound plus chub in as many casts I had to pinch myself to prove I wasn’t dreaming. I then caught several big 4lb plus chub two of which weighed 4 lb 14 ounces, Moving on I fished at the back of where there used to be a big bulrush bed, this time I was back on crust withing minutes I hooked another good fish which eventually weighed 5lb 4 ounces. I moved on to another swim on the inside of the river, where I caught more good chub all 4 lb plus fish, this was turning into a great day to be written up in the diary in green ink with my old school fountain pen, eventually as the sun started to set it was time to end this dream session in total I had 16 chub only two fish were below 4lbs.

5 lb 7 ounce chub

5 lb 1 ounce chub

My crust rig

One of my chub swims

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Martin James Fishing
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