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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


18/06/2020 - June 16th Angling At An Old Estate Pool

ready for the off

I was up around 0430hrs this morning June 16th, this year I’m starting my 79 year of angling, my first day was June 16th 1941, as every year goes by I still get that intense feeling of excitement and hope. I met the keeper at the main gate at 0700 hrs, as I went in the owner was driving out on his way to play golf, we shared pleasantries and went on our way. The keeper said nothing is moving this morning but I’m sure you will enjoy yourself, also thunder storms are forecast so please take shelter in the keeper cabin. After pulling into the car park by the big house, I went on a walk around the pool, as the keeper mentioned nothing was moving, unusual on this water as you usually see a carp or two. Some forty minutes later I am back at the car, taking out my basket, then the bait into a bag, I sling the basket over my shoulder, picking up rod tubes, landing net and bait bag I headed off to the pool. I chose to start at the shallow end where there were lilies and potamogeton weeds, also gravel and some silty areas.

The day started over cast with a light mist hanging in the tree tops in the far distance the hills looked ghost like in the mist, hopefully the sun would burn through the mist, though the surface of the pool was quite, nothing moved except a pair of moorhen with two chicks looking like black balls of fluff. As I quietly and slowly moved towards the quiet pool, a Roe deer with a kid moved across my path then headed into the woods, in some nearby beech trees a woodpecker was working away, pushing my way through the thick under growth I arrived at the top end of the pool, it was a stunning view with Rhododendrons bushes in full flowers, scattered around the pool were clumps of lilies with bright yellow flowers, groups of submerged lily leaves with a vivid green in colour, known by anglers as cabbage leaves for their crinkled edges. Through a gap in the Rhododendrons I made my way to the water’s edge, the water was slight coloured but I could see down around four feet, roach were scattered all across the surface of the pool. Laying the rod tubes quietly on the bank, set my basket in a nice spot where I could look across the pool with reeds in front of me, to my right were some flag iris with yellow flowers, further out a patch of lilies again with yellow flowers, I was surround by a chorus of bird song, it doesn’t get better than my surrounding for a June 16th expedition, certainly it been a long wait but certainly worth it.

I’m using two rods, a Sharpe’s salmon fly rod which I’d converted from 13 feet to 11 feet for carp and barbel, I wanted to change the guides to some more suited for coarse fishing, but sadly my MS stops me these days from whipping on guides as I have little feeling in my fingertips this is matched with an Allcocks C815 Aerial with 12 lb line, my other rod is a Constable Forty Fore matched with a Coxon Aerial with 12 lb, my baits are bread, potatoes and brown bread and honey paste with a box of lobworms. My landing net with 36” cane arms has an eight foot two piece handle made for me by the late Dave Austin of Maidstone a real gentleman who I still miss, along with his catapult he made for my 80th birthday. I had two sets of rod rests, one made by my friend Rob Burt from hazel he collected then seasoned. The other pair of traditional cane rests made by Dave.

I started off fishing a potato bait with a crust pad to my left, the reason for the crust was to make the bait semi buoyant so didn’t settle in the silt. My other rod was baited with crust and cast some twenty yards out into the pool close to some lilies, though I had some silver paper for bite indication, I chose to use dough bobbins. I sat there for around two hours just soaking up the atmosphere and the joy of being back, sadly most of my friends and others from the 1950’s 60’s have passed on, at 1000 hrs I stood for a minutes silence to remember all those no longer able to enjoy this special day. I certainly miss them all, we had so much fun, learning from each other as we progressed in our knowledge.

Half an hour later I heard the low rumble of thunder some miles away, twenty or so minutes further on I got a glimpse of lightning, followed sometime later by the sound of thunder, soon I was winding in my tackle then covering my gear with a plastic sheet given to me by Tom the keeper, I then dashed off to the hut. No way do I ever sit at the waterside when thunder and lightning are around.

An hour later I am back in my swim, Rebaiting both rods I cast them to roughly the same spots as previous, The sun now put in an appearance, it was now starting to look like oner of those June 16th days we look forward to, some twenty yards out a carp was spooked by two moorhens who were dashing all over the place, “Life at last” I thought. A few minutes later a fish nudged my crust bait, not sure what it was up to, as it slowly submerged and disappeared, “surely it wasn’t spooked” I thought.

Winding in the potato baited rod, I then collected my other rod a loaf of bread then walked to another swim, I sat fishing a bit of crust some twenty yards out where I had spotted a fish through my binoculars. I don’t think it was in a feeding mood but it might just take my crust, an hour later with no signs of the fishing taking the bait, though it was often close by. I went off for lunch and a fresh brew.

This time I chose to fish a spot on the opposite bank, no sooner than I got settled in I had to quickly move to the hut for shelter from the thunder and lightning which this time was virtually overhead, the storm lasted some twenty minutes, though the heavy rain continued for about half an hour, very quickly the sun come out which improved the atmosphere immensely.

Within an hour several carp could be seen moving, spotting a good common rooting some ten yards out close to some lilies in three feet of water, I baited with a potato and crust combination casting to the spot the bait making a gentle plop. As the sun become brighter so I could see more clearly in the water, suddenly the dough bobbing shot upwards as the Coxon screeched loudly, I lifted the rod saying with glee “Yes I ‘ve got one”. Line was stripped off the reel as the fish made a determined run towards some sunken branches closed to the far bank, I applied as much side strain to my right, as I felt the tackle could take, it was working as the fish slowed down it then changed tactics to what felt like it was rubbing its head in the bottom, as the water coloured up I reckon that was the trick to get rid of the hook. Slowly but carefully I was getting line back on the reel at the same time a lot of the weed was being cut off by the line, the fish was also starting to get a lot of line around its nose causing it to move more slowly. I then got my first real good look at the fish a common around 15lbs, slowly I was drawing the fish which by this time felt like a dead weight with all the weed I’d got the fish within six feet of the net when it come alive and dived I just held on, then suddenly all went slack. I thought the line had broken, no it was worse the hook had come unravelled through my stupidity of not tying the hook on correctly, the end of the line was like a pigs tail. As I was tying on another hook, I noticed a slight movement on the wate surface to my left close to some lilies.

I then walked slowly to investigate, to my surprise I could see a carp an inch under the water surface gently opening and closing its mouth with an occasional movement of its pectoral fins at it held station. I moved back to my swim collecting some bread rod reel and landing net, I stood for some time watching this fish I doubt it had moved more than an inch, three foot under the water I could see a large patch of cabbages vivid green in colour. Eventually I baited the hook with a piece of crust which I dunked in the water, with a Wallis cast I put the bait where I wanted it some two feet from the fish, thankfully it landed lightly with no sign of a ripple on the surface.

The fish didn’t budge. A few minutes later I slowly moved the crust towards a lillie leaf which was directly in the line of sight of the fish, eventually I had got the crust next to the leaf then lowered the rod so the line lay on top of the leaf, leaving the bait on the water but no line. For at least thirty minutes or longer it was eye ball to eye ball by the fish on the bait as it was for me watching the carp. It would move a few inches in direction of the bait, then slowly move back, at one time it made as complete circle of the bait, another time it submerged from sight then appeared underneath the bait, it was still ignored, I stood behind some tall reeds holding the rod hardly daring to breath, I had to keep still as if I moved the rod an inch it might move the bait then spook the fish I so badly wanted, to my shock I noticed a moorhen slowly moving along the edge of the reeds in the direction of the bread. All I could do was make a hissing sound, no way could I make any movement, thankfully the moorhen changed direction.

Still the fish kept going in the direction of the bait perhaps a couple of inches then stop, after a few minutes it moved another couple of inches, the tension was unbearable and exhausting after what I reckon was over forty minutes, then the fish made its move, slowly moving towards the bait, but stopped within two inches five minutes later it moved forward again then confidently closed its mouth over the bait then slowly turned I tightened then found myself attached to a very angry fish as it dived deep into the cabbages. I hung on like grim death it reminded me of an article titled Lugging for Chub, I was lugging this carp towards the net I dare not let it go a few yards or it’s in the roots of the lilies then all would be lost. Five minutes later I had a powerful angry fish thrashing around in ther net, I heaved a sigh of relief knowing I had come out the winner. Then hauled the net up the bank through the reed then onto the grass giving thanks that I had chosen a big net for the day. After a quick picture I lowered the net in the water, then watched the fish swim off strongly no doubt with a puzzled look on its face as if saying “How did I get caught” Looking westwards in the direction of a low rumble of thunder I could see storm clouds building, it was timer to pack in. I just about made it back to the car, packing all the stuff away and getting out of my waterproofs, before the torrential rain started.








tackle set up

crust is my first choice bait

My carp

The spot where I caught my carp

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Martin James Fishing
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