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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/04/2020 - Looking Back Part 2

A summer flood water chub and perch swim

In part one I left you on the banks of River Beult at the end of ther first week of the season, after a couple of weeks at home I went off to the River Soar, with Dave Hurst, I’d left one great venue for another but of a far different character, whereas the Beult where I fished was mainly very slow flowing with an average depth of round ten feet. The River Soar winds its way through some of the most attractive countryside one could wish to spend time in, as it flows twisting and turning to join the mighty River Trent, you will fast and slow water, some lengths overgrown with bulrushes which have created channels of fast water, flowing over clean sparling gravel, with lilies in the slow moving margins containing lots of cabbage leaves full of aquatic insects and water snail eggs.No doubt if like me you will stop every few yards or so, at another attractive spot that demands your attention. Keeping quiet and low you will peep over the bulrushes, to see a mass of small fry, on the shallows, perhaps some chub, or like I did a big barbel chasing bullheads or the nymphs in this rich environment. There must be several miles of bulrushes growing down both sides of the river, often you will find a long stretch of rushes with a tunnel like look between to beds, that’s where you often find the chub. I don’t mean those reeds with a thick brown furry head which most people call bulrushes, this mistake started when a Victorian painter described them as bulrushes, when in fact they were a species of reedmace which are usually found in slow muddy conditions. Whereas bulrushes are found in gravel sandy conditions often in fast flowing shallow water much loved by perch, chub and barble.


My companions on this trip were Mark Sarul, Paul Elliott, Tam Miller along Dave Hurst, all four anglers chose to fish the top beat, where Tam, Mark and David were soon catching roach, dace and perch, Paul spent the early part of the day taking photographs. I spent some three hours walking the bank, with its a rich environment of not just the aquatic life also the insect life that inhabit the riverside environment including two colonies of grass hoppers. After a good walk, it was back to the car, I put together an Avon action rod, matched with a fixed spool reel 10lb braid to which I tried on a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, into my small shoulder bag I put my scales, loaf of bread some cheese paste luncheon meat a small box of LG shot and some hooks.


Off to Hunt The Chub


I started off at the bottom of another beat, slowly I walked upstream looking for a fish worth catching, passing small chub of which there were plenty, I’d probably walked eight hundred yards in about an hour, then before my eyes was a chub lying motionless in a fast run between two large beds of bulrushes, I slowly got down on my hands and knees, then crawled through nettles and thistles, trying to miss the cow pats, close to the water’s edge I was down on my stomach slithering snake like closer to the water’s edge, getting well stung in the process, peering over the bank I could see the fish several yards downstream. Squeezing a bit of bread flake I threw it in the water, watching it drift downstream, the chub ignored the offering. Another piece of squeezed flake was thrown in hopefully this piece would drift closer to the fish, slowly sinking in the gin clear water, this time the fish edged forward swallowing the bread. Sliding back into the field I got stung again, thinking “I would only get one chance if I was lucky”


Hooked Up to a Good Chub


With rod, landing net and a slice of bread I slowly made my way back to where I’d been dropping the free offerings in the water. My problem was the eight foot drop to the water, landing net handle wasn’t long enough. I decided, “Should I hook the fish I would go in the water” It only two feet deep over gravel, so what harm would it do? Baiting the size 4 hook I baiting with a bit of crust I added an AAA shot three inches from the crust, enough weight I thought to slowly sink the bait a foot or so below the surface. As the slowly sinking bread drifted downstream I could see the fish was interested, as it move upstream taking the bread with confidence, setting the hook the fight was on, I just fell off the bank landing in the water up to my knees, I felt my body shudder as I hit the river bed with both feet, not something an 82 year old should be doing. I can’t described the fight as a long one or even exciting, it lasted less than a couple of minutes, before guiding the fish over the net. My problem was getting up the bank, sliding the hook from the fish it was put safely in the keeper ring, I then threw the rod up the bank onto the field javelin fashion. Then had to fight my way upstream looking for a place where I might be able to get up the bank, eventually I found a spot where the bank wasn’t so steep, but covered in nettles thistles and brambles, it was my only way, eventually I got to the top of the bank with a lively fish in the net, running down the bank to my scales my feet certainly felt strange in boots full of water. It weighed of 5lb 4 ounces I punched the air with delight, my first 5lb chub from the River Soar, then watched the chub swim off strongly into the depths of the bulrushes.


A Big Chub


Collecting my though and tackle I made my way well downstream avoiding the cows with their very young calf’s just a few days old, pushing my way through nettles, brambles, hawthorns, even a barbed wire fence I was soon downstream where I could start searching for another chub. I was now in the big meadow conditions for walking were much easier, half a mile further on I moved towards the water’s edge, slowly making my way back upstream. A hundred yards ahead I could see a willow tree over hanging the water, when I arrived I noticed a lot of swaying weed in some six feet of water, standing motionless I watched the water, then noticed a movement in the weeds, a pike around 8lbs, I’m on the move again ahead I could some bulrushes tight to the opposite bank, the rushes had diverted the flow of water across towards my bank, it looked good for a chub, but looks can be deceptive.Sitting on the bank I fired some bits of floating crust well upstream, then half a dozen bits of meat at the head of the fast run. Thirty minutes later with no sign of a fish, I added two LG shot to the line fifteen inches from the hook, baiting with three bits of meat on the hook and up the line. I made a cast dropping the baited hook at the head of the far bank rushes, as the bait moved downstream I took in slack line, half way down the swim I felt a light pluck, a few seconds later a solid pull, setting the hook I was forced to give line, this felt like a good fish, this time it wasn’t over quickly, this fish had some fight in it, which isn’t often seen early in the season. It was several minutes before I felt confidence in landing this fish if it didn’t find a snag. A minute or so later I had the fish wallowing its way to the waiting net then it was mine.“That’s a good five pounder” I said to myself the scale reading gave me a weight of 6lb 2 ounces. Mark had recently told me an angler had caught a 6lb fish at the start of the season in this area, I reckon this was that fish by the bad hook mark in its mouth. Lowering the net in the water I watched it swim off to the sanctuary of some reeds. I was more than pleased with the five pounder, when I got the six pounder that was the icing on the cake, it was another 6lb fish from another river making it a total of 54 x 6lb fish from 14 rivers. Sadly I had no pictures, as Paul had to leave, I called Mark and David but both were too far way especially in hot weather conditions, no way could I ask them to come and take pics. Knowing Paul was going to be with us I’d left my camera at home, in future it will be back in my bag. Over the next few weeks I had several trip to the Soar, enjoying every moment catching some good fish including a lot of perch, I even had two good perch on meat, intended for a chub. Two weeks previously Mark Sarul sent me a picture of a nice perch caught on meat so it wasn’t that rare

A typical chub swim

I had many good perch from the Soar

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Martin James Fishing
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