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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


31/10/2020 - High Water and Strong Winds Havenít Helped My Fishing This Week


Monday 26th I was lucky to get in a short period when the water level and clarity were suitable for fishing, within an hours of after catching a nice chub of 4 lb 14 ounces, the river started rising quite fast, in about 2 hours it had come up a couple of feet and muddy, from then on I never had a sign of a bite. I went off home with one good fish, more than satisfied.

Tuesday was spent guiding a fellow angler trying to catch his first salmon, conditions were horrid with several squalls, the wind often gusting gale force with heavy rain showers of tropical proportions, several times I was asked if I wanted to call it a day, my immediate answer was “No, if I’d been on my own I would have continued to fish” Around 1300 hrs I got a call from David OMR of TFF to say he was on the bottom beat, leaving Andrew to enjoy his lunch I drove off to meet David who was bringing me a Crabtree net, not a tiny net as Bernard used, no way would that be any good for the fish I often caught. This was some thirty inches with a nice deep net, superbly made which I can recommend highly to any angler wanting a good size net, mine is made from white American oak it looks superb when on the six foot cane and built cane handle that Mark Sarul passed onto me last season. Around 1500 hrs Andrew hooked the fish I was hoping for, five or six minutes later it was off, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. We stuck at it until dark with no more hook ups and returned home.

Wednesday I was back on the river just after 0800 hrs to meet Bill who was learning the art of fly fishing, in the six sessions so far, he has been doing well, in fact making a single haul cast of forty feet, not every cast, but enough to catch a trout or two next season, the weather was heavy showers with a strong gusting wind, occasionally the sun appeared for an hour or so, but nothing as bad as the previous day. We even had a civilised lunch of toasted cheese sandwiches for Bill, while I had pasta and beans. Bill continued to practise his single haul cast, eventually getting it right nine times out of ten allowing the fly to land gently on the water, I reckon he is my best pupil for a long time. At 1600 hrs with the light fading we called it a day.

A Day Of Heavy Rain

Thursday despite the heavy rain, a grey leaden sky not just touching the roof tops but blocking out the surrounding hills, but this rain was serious, soon roads were getting flooded, but I’m back on the river this time wearing two pairs of water proof trouser and two water proof coats, I was going to fish despite the conditions, before doing so I had two branches to trim off a tree that’s stopped from trotting a particular swim, it wasn’t easy to reach the large top branch, having reached the first branch I lowered the rope to the ground to which I’d attached the bow saw, then tying the rope around my waist I had to go back to my boyhood days when we would grip the tree trunk with our legs then by using my arms I managed to pull myself up so I could grip the branch with one hand, then pull up the bow saw, it certainly makes a difference in having a very sharp saw blade, within minutes I heard a creak the a crack as the branch crashed down into the river with quite a splash, leaving me to hang on the six inches protruding trunk, I then lowered the bow saw to the ground, I followed by slithering down the tree trunk, in a few minutes the second branch was floating down river.

Off Fishing

Despite the poor conditions I decided to try and catch a chub, my baits were cheese paste and sausage meat paste, I chose to fish an 11 foot Avon action rod with a fixed spool reel with 6lb line, using three float stops on the line then a size 4 barbless hook, having found a slack area of water just upstream of a side stream flowing into the river, I moulded a piece of plasticine around the float stops, then made a few casts adjusting the amount of plasticine until I got it right. In a four hour session I had one bite after twenty minutes, it was two light taps then nothing after five minutes I retrieved the tackle to find no bait left. I never had any more action, but I did fish with confidence for around five hours then had to give up as the river had come up around three to four feet changing to a dark brown colour with lots of rubbish coming downstream including an old chair. Back in the cabin I got out of my top water proof coat and trouser, soon there were puddles underneath the wet cloths, but soon the kettle was whistling with a mug of tea and a toasted cheese and pickle sandwich I felt a lot better, looking out the window there was no let up from the down pour. Having sorted out all the tackle I loaded it up in the car then putting up the shutters I locked the door and headed off home. Within eight hundred yards of leaving the fishery I was stopped by flood water causing me to reverse and take another rout, I was now driving through a few inches of water around fifteen mph, most of the way it was far to dangerous to go faster as I didn’t know what I was going to meet, I then had to change my rout again through a flooded road. Eventually I got within a mile of home to find a big area of flooded road, getting out of the car and thinking I’d got my wellingtons on, I walked into the water to check the depth, withing seconds I felt cold water up to my shins then realised I was wearing walking boots, back in the car I reversed then had to make another detour this time of about four miles but eventually arriving home. After a shower and a bowl of soup I looked back on the day thinking it will be a huge river on Friday.

A Very Big River

Friday I was on the river around 0900 hrs after a long detour due to flooded roads, pulling into the car park I looked at the river today there was around twelve feet of dirty muddy brown water, I supposed best described as khaki colour, putting on my wellingtons and water proofs I walked about two miles trying to find a bit of quiet water, but nothing that I thought might be worth fishing. With fishing out of the question I done some repairs to a stile fitting new chicken wire and a rope down the steps, I then had a brew before spending an hour or two walking the banks before heading off home.


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Martin James Fishing
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