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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


13/12/2013 - Two Day’s on the Avon



Having not fished for a few weeks caused by a flare up of my multiple sclerosis which has made walking and speaking difficult, it was impossible to fly fish so my 3 weeks in Dubai were spent staying around the pool at my daughters reading or sleeping. Three weeks after returning home I was very fortunate to get a couple of days on the Hampshire Avon fishing the London Anglers Association water at Britford. For nearly fifty years Blackpool angler Alan Roe has wanted to catch a 2lb roach. A few weeks before I went off to Dubai I suggested Alan book a couple of day’s holiday and I would arrange for him to fish the Avon at Britford with one of the Avon’s top roach anglers Charlie Kemmett. Sadly the first dates booked had to be cancelled as I had a hospital appointment.


Eventually we chose to visit Britford on Sunday and Monday 8th and 9th December, travelling down on the Saturday and returning home on the Tuesday We couldn’t have chosen a better time the weather was perfect mild over cast with a light southerly wind though we did have to suffer overnight frost which I was concerned about, but Charlie told me, it’s my opinion that once the roach have time to get acclimatized to the low water temperatures they will feed at some time during the session. The big problem is when you have mild temperatures, and then get a sudden overnight frost which often puts the fish down, so bearing in mind we had freezing temperatures all week I had no issues with yet another overnight frost.


Charlie arrived at the river well before first light then stood watching the water and waiting for the light to improve to see if the roach would prime. I agree with Charlie this is a good guide to choosing the swim to fish as winter roach often prime at first light, then again as the light starts to fade. Sure enough as he said “His luck was in” I don’t call it luck. Charlie has spent a lifetime learning the habits of the roach. It’s his knowledge of the species and its habits that make him a good roach angler. Picking up his gear he made his way to the swim where most of the roach were priming, Charlie put together a 15ft rod, fixed spool reel with 0.10 line. A Dave Harrell Avon float was attached; then he added an Olivetti weight, not shot on the line as used by most anglers, then attached a size 12 hook with bread as bait.


Charlie started fishing the far bank just putting the bread through on the hook and not putting any feed in, on the third trot he had a 6oz roach then a 1lb roach. He then chose to put in a walnut sized ball of liquidized bread now knowing the roach where feeding. The next trot through he had a roach of 2lb 2 ounces, then a 1lb 4 ounce roach. The next trot through he had another 2lb 1 ounce roach. After catching a few fish Charlie rested the swim so he could spend some time with Alan Roe. That’s how generous Charlie is with his time and knowledge.


Much of the day was then a learning session for Alan as they walked the beat with Alan learning from his tutor the habits of Avon roach, the various swims where he could expect to hopefully find a good roach. Charlie explained how he used bran in different ways when mixed with liquidised bread, After 60 odd years of river fishing for roach I too learnt a few things from Charlie which I will put into practise this winter when I’m targeting this most delightful of fish.


On the first day Alan fished with a centre pin reel dropping the bait a foot from the far bank on every cast, in fact several anglers marvelled at his skills with the pin and the accuracy of his casts. As Charlie said with the low flow rate you will get a better presentation with a fixed spool reel rather than the centre pin, as the flow isn’t strong enough to pull off the line off the reel causing the bait to move slowly near the bottom when it needs to be moving the same speed as the water.


The next day Alan started fishing early in the morning immersed in the riverside mist, this time his favourite centre pin was discarded in favour of a small Shimano fixed spool has recommended by Charlie. Within thirty minutes Alan had achieved his fifty year old dream of a 2lb roach weighing 2lb 1 ounce. A superb effort by a very good angler with some advice from Charlie Kemmett a great Avon roach angler.


                                        Avon Chub Catch


Despite my problems with walking and talking due to my MS, I managed 3 hours on the Avon at Britford catching 9 chub between an estimated 3-8-0 chub to the best weighed in at 4-14-0 all on sausage sizzle flavoured crust on a size 8 hook to 4lb line with a small Stonze weight stopped 6” from the hook. A soft Avon action chub rod with a small Shimano reel completed the tackle set up.                                                  





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Martin James Fishing
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