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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/06/2020 - Count Down To June 16th Part 2

Three of Marks wonderful quill floats,




Saturday June 6th D-Day when in 1944 we started the invasion of Europe to free those countries from the Nazis. Normally on this day I visit my local War Memorial to place a bunch of red and white roses, but I’m not allowed into shops petrol stations or the town centre, I was told just keep on my own, so it’s the river bank for me. Today I spotted two nesting pairs of curlew, the first I have seen on these fields for some fifteen years. I also have a pair of oyster catchers with three youngsters. I spent an hour putting some bait in my chosen swims. After a brew, I put together a 9 foot 4 weight rod with a floating line then added a fifteen foot leader tapered down to a 3lb tippet, before tying on a fly I would sit and watch the water, to see what fly activity there was, before choosing a fly pattern. Half an hour later I had seen enough activity as fish were picking off emerges, so I chose a size 14 klinkhammer pattern with an olive green body which imitates the emerger. There are times when the fish ignore these patterns, but if you impart a slight movement on the fly, you will often get a savage take. I reckon the fish thinks it’s likely to lose the tiny morsel of food if it doesn’t act quickly. In a two hour session I ended up with five nice fish, I was more than satisfied with my day and headed off home.

Monday 8th June I was on the river around 0630 hrs, after a brew, I cleaned and polished the fly lines, before attaching new leaders. I then collected my bucket of baits, then headed off to put some bait in the chosen swims. Apart from seeing several hares it was all quiet on the river. An odd chub took a bit of crust off the surface but only after circling it several times which is very surprising at this time of the year, they usually make a big bow wave.

Tuesday 9th June during an early morning session starting at 0600 hrs I spotted a grilse roll on the surface, fifteen minutes later another similar size fish showed. I quickly made my way back to the car, choosing a 6 weight rod, with a reel holding a floating line, to which I attached a 12 foot leader with an 8lb tippet, to which I attached Dick Walker beaded mayfly nymph. Within ten minutes I was walking towards where I had seen the grilse, I chose to fish the nymph upstream, as opposed to fishing it down and across as many anglers do, I felt it would be a more natural presentation in the shallow and clear water. I had made around a dozen casts when I felt a hit, there was no need to strike as the line tightened the hook went home, the reel made a soft purring sound, not harsh like many reels as line was taken. The reel had been made for me by some engineers in Oregon many years ago, who are more used to making engineering products for the space industry. After about ten minutes I was able to beach the fish, leaning down I slipped the barbless hook from the scissors of the fish then gently pushed it out in the stream, it probably averaged 4lbs and quite coloured. Fifteen twenty minutes, I had another fish of similar size, I fished on for about an hour without a take and made my way back to the car for a brew.

Wednesday 10th I had a late start arriving on the river around 0800 hrs, I spent an hour baited some swims but didn’t see a single fish today which is surprising. An hour later I went off and baited my chosen swims for the first day, I wasn’t happy at the sight of some of the chub, they certainly needed a couple more weeks at least before I attempted to catch them, though the shoals of dace looked in good condition. I am now thinking of switching venues to an old estate lake which has Leney carp, along with some roach and perch. If I don’t catch I will be fishing surrounded by some wonderful scenery and wildlife.

Thursday 11th June I was faced by a north easterly wind, after baiting as couple of swims, I sought the shelter of the cabin, where I stripped off the lines from four fly reels, giving each a good clean, then adding a dab of oil on the spindles. I then put some hot water in a bowl with some washing up liquid, each line was soaked for around five minutes before being given a good rub down, it’s surprising how dirt and scum can build up on a fly line during the summer time. Drying off the fly lines I gave them a good polish, before attaching new leaders. After wiping down the rods, I checked all the guides, another job finished. As I sat having a brew, I could hear the wind roaring through the trees often gusting at times to 40mph I decided to go off home.

After lunch I sat with a brew thinking about my options for the first day of the season, casting my mind back to the early 50’s, after some thought I have decided it will be carp fishing on an old estate lake 1950’s style. My baits will be potatoes, bread and paste. The tackle will be a Sharpe’s of Aberdeen Scottie brand 15 foot double handed salmon fly rod, which I has been cut down to make a powerful barbel and carp rod, I first used this rod back in February for carp on the estate lake catching some very nice fish around 12-15 lbs, the rod was perfect for the job. It was nice to relive the feel of the rod in action after so long not using the rod for salmon fly fishing, modern material are more efficient when it comes to waving a 15 foot salmon fly rod. I stripped off the 6lb line from the Coxon Aerial replacing it with 12lb line, at the same time adding a dab of oil to the spindle. Having sorted the reel I placed it in my basket along with camera. Other items in the basket are a couple of floats, one a swan quill made for me by Mark Sarul, the other a self cocking short wiggler, a small box of mixed size hooks, some float rubbers, silver paper for bite indication if needed, baiting needles for putting the line through the potatoes bait before tying on the hook. As in the 50’s I will be wearing a nice shirt and tie with a sports jacket, I also plan to wear my grandfather’s bowler hat, which I only wear when attending Remembrance Day parades. This year I will remember what my grandfather gave me during my formative years until he passed away when I was 24 years old, he has always been Sorley missed, being such a role model who taught so much about angling shooting especially wildfowling and natural history.



A shot of my friends estate lake

Coxon Aerial

A winter caught common on the Sharpe’s salmon rod rod

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Martin James Fishing
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