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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


19/09/2020 - Two Fishing Sessionís

Martin casting for a roach



Thursday 17th September A busy day, my friend Anthony collected me in the morning, for some six hours we worked away, Anthony on the roof of the building, while I was the tea maker and labourer. Job finished we had a fresh brew with freshly made beef rolls. Then we drove off, making our way to the river for a few hours fishing in the hope of catching some chub.


Tackle Set Up and Bait


We both chose to use Avon action rods matched with fixed spool reels filled with 10lb braid, we both added float stops on the line then tying on a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot. We chose to fish within eight feet of each other so we could have a good chat, the river was very low and clear, with little if any flow, not good conditions with the bright sunshine and strong easterly wind. Moulding a piece of plasticine the size of an LG shot around the float stops 15 inches from the hook, our bait choice was meat paste, we were ready to go.


A Good Chub


We both cast tight to the opposite bank, where we could roll the bait downstream by lifting the rod to move the bait downstream a few inches every five to ten minutes, it’s a way of fishing which I find can be successful under the current conditions. In the first twenty minutes we both had a couple of good plucks. A couple of minutes later Anthony tried hitting a good take but missed, I rebaited then repeated the process, I reckon I’d got the bait downstream fifteen yards, as I lifted I got a light pull then four more quick pulls, on the fifth take I chose to strike, immediately line was stripped from the spool, just like a barbel, a minute later I said to Anthony “It’s a chub” Eventually Anthony netted a chub, on the scales it weighed 4 lb 4 ounces, as Anthony was getting read to take a pic I said “Don’t bother I will get it back in the water being it fought hard” During the rest of the evening we both had a couple more bites, I had one where the tip pulled round powerfully moving the butt of the rod resting on my right knee across to my left knee, while I was cleaning my glasses. A typical time to get a good take when doing something, as darkness engulfed us the temperature dropped quite dramatically so we packed up.


Friday 18th September


Today I was being taken to fish a big private mere in Shropshire by my friend Dave Hurst, we left my home at 0730 hrs after a good drive with no hold ups we arrived at the Mere, a beautiful place set in the heart of the countryside, I didn’t hear the sound of any vehicles during the day, just the birds and geese, it was nice to see the great crested grebes, also many sighting of kingfishers. There were no hideous pylon’s, just the beautiful rolling hills and fields of the rich countryside. The only problem we faced today was the strong east wind with bright sunshine with wall to wall blue sky all through the day, not the best conditions for angling, my target fish were the roach, David it was the bream. David chose a swim between two trees and bushes, offering a lot of cover from the easterly wind blowing from left to right, my swim was quite open, where I had three swims I could bait and fish within my reach, one to the left with some tree cover, one directly in front and to my right I had a swim in front of a large bed of bulrushes.


My Tackle Set Up


Today I chose to use an old rod from the rack, it’s a Milwards Swimversa with a revers taper butt, with a twin taper tip, it’s a lovely rod for casting light float tackle, I matched it with copy of a 1939 Aerial reel made by Watermole with 4lb bs line, choosing a tapered balsa float with an orange tip to be fished waggler style, taking 2AAA and 3 number 1 shot, tying on a small plummet I spent fifteen minutes plumbing the three swims finding an average of ten feet of water, three rod lengths out over a silt bottom, do not hurry this most important job. I then took off the plummet tying a loop in the main line, then attaching a size 16 hook to nylon with the loop to loop system, adjusting the float taking in account the 18 inches of hook link. The AAA shot were lightly pinched on the line five feet down from the float, 2 number 1 shot were pinched two feet apart further down the line, with a number I four inches from the hook.


Ground Bait Mix


I made up ground bait in a round mixing bowl, after putting the fine brown crumb from the Sensas range into the bowl, I slowly added water, giving it a good mixing by hand, don’t put the water in the bowl first. I then let it stand for ten minutes to absorb all the water, hopefully ending up with a light fluffy mix that would break up close to the bottom. I then added a good helping of red gentles to the mix, baiting all three fishing spots with a tennis ball of ground bait. Then leaving the swim to settle, every five minutes I catapulted a few gentles while I made a brew.


David Baits Heavy For Bream


Before I started to fish I went and watched David, he was in the process of baiting a swim some twenty twenty five yards out, putting in fifteen cricket size balls of ground bait mix, full of goodness into an area the size of a billiard table. David is acknowledge as a good bream angler, a fish he has had a lot of experience with catching especially from the Shropshire meres.


Small Roach and Perch


Back in my swim I started catching small roach with an occasional small perch, the bites were very shy just lifting the float a fraction of an inch, many were missed, switching to bread punch again lots of shy bites, all missed many times the fish left a half moon shape in the tiny piece of punched bread.


Pike In The Right Hand Swim


An hour later I couldn’t get a bite, even on a size 20 hook baited with a single gentle, suddenly there was a swirl on surface as a pike grabbed a roach then disappeared. It was time for some lunch, a toasted cheese and pickle sandwich with a mug of tea, I went along the bank to join David for a chat, he too was having lunch a boil in the bag meal. An hour later I’m back in my swim, choosing to fish the left hand swim, I changed to a size 14 hook baiting with three gentles, it proved a good choice as I started to catch several 6-7 inch roach with one ‘Goer’ of 10 inches, things were improving. I was now baiting with three gentles a few more better roach but none of ‘Goer’ size which was in the old days an 8 inch roach. Again the swim died, I switched to the right hand swim, but nothing. Time for a change I made up a large bowel of ground bait adding a pint of hemp with half a pint of gentles, I was going to see if a heavy baiting might produce some better fish, thankfully the sun was getting near the ten degree mark and soon disappeared behind the trees, at the same time the wind virtually disappeared. I put in four cricket size balls of bait laced with hemp and gentles, placing two balls in each swim, then rested the swims for fifteen minutes. Chatting with David he told me a bream had just swirled in his swim, hopefully he would soon be catching. Twenty minutes later, I started fishing again, it seemed as if the three gentles were the answer as I quickly caught two ‘Goer’ roach with a few around the six inch mark. In went another ball of ground bait, a few pouches of hemp and gentles followed, the bites were now more positive, often a good lift bit which usually accounted for a better roach, then I hooked something much better, I had to use my landing net, a roach of 12-13 inches “That’s what I’m after” I said to myself. On the next cast the float lifted about two inches, striking all seemed solid, “Bottom” I thought, I felt a couple of thumps “That’s a bream” I said, as quickly as I spoke those words, the line went slack, winding in I could see the slime on the hook link.


As the light started to fade the temperature dropped, roach started topping I got some good action for about half an hour then the bites stopped, no doubt another pike in the swim. Time to pack up, I’d caught over a dozen nice roach so I was quite pleased. Sadly for David and all his hard work and skill in baiting at range never paid off with a few fish or a bite. It didn’t surprise me, I said to David on the way "It’s going to be tough in the current weather conditions" he agreed. The big bonus was the beautiful water and surroundings, hopefully next time we will have nice south westerly with a low cloud base.



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David bream fishing

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Martin James Fishing
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