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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


17/11/2020 - Itís Been A Strange Week On The River

 Following on from my float fishing session on Monday, I spent Tuesday guiding. Wednesday Remembrance Day was started with a visit to my local War Memorial, today I was teaching a pupil the art of fly fishing, after six lessons he is proving to be a very adapt fly angler. At 1100 hrs we stopped what we were doing, and stood to attention for the two minutes silence. Bill is now starting to cope with upstream nymphing for grayling, not the easy way of presenting the nymph, but most efficient, once it’s been mastered, most anglers I see are down and across anglers, who often complain they can’t hit the takes they get on the dangle.

Thursday I showed a guest Tony what I thought was a good swim and how to fish it, I also discussed the rising coloured river with lots of leaves would be a problem, also suggesting two baits bread and meat to try. Sadly I learnt later in the evening that Tony didn’t have a bite which did surprise me. I thought he would have a good chance of a chub or two in the first couple of hours with a water temperature of 49 degrees F. I’d hoped to spend a couple of hours with Tony, but I had a doctor’s appointment to attend. During the afternoon I walked the banks’ on the top beat collecting a bin liner of rubbish deposited on the banks after the latest flood.

Friday The river had dropped from 0.905M the height registered at 1600 hrs on Thursday, today at 0600 hrs 0.077m, the water temperature was 50 degrees F with a nice colour. Today I chose to fish a lobworm bait, in hope I might find a good perch, though perch are a rare species on this stretch of river, my friend David had two good fish back in the summer on a tube fly, also last winter I caught a couple around the pound mark. Tackle choice was a soft Avon rod, Mitchell 300 reel with 6lb BS line to which as usual I added two float stops then a size 6 hook. Having got everything arranged I cast out a few feet from the bank but downstream about ten yards, within ten minutes I got a good take, eventually I got the fish coming to the net a chub estimated 4lbs, then suddenly it was gone, I was annoyed with myself. I then had a two hour bite less session, just watching the river rise. The for some unknow reason the chub switched on in an hour I had four good takes, landing four very good chub estimated in the four pound bracket. I fished on for another two hours as the river continued to rise the gave up and come home., feeling very satisfied with the final result. It was very quiet on the river, no kingfishers or other song birds except a wren, even the heron was absent on the riverside fields.

Saturday I made a big mistake, after hearing the weather forecast on the radio, I got the impression the weather was going to be rather horrid gale force wind with heavy rain, during the night and through the day , it didn't materialise until 1700 hrs today. I didn’t think the river would be fishable with float tackle, so left the gear and bait at home, taking a tub of lobs and the same tackle I used on Friday. When I got to the river conditions were perfect for float fishing, good water level with some clarity in the water and no wind. I chose to fish the same swim as the previous day which was another long walk which I really enjoy for the exercise it gives me, also crossing the big field its hard work walking through the long grass and the boggy areas of the field and climbing up and down a big ditch where I surprised some snipe, also a cock pheasant which shot skywards crowing and clattering it wings. Eventually arriving at my swim, still cursing my mistake in not having my float tackle.

A Four Hour Session

After taking the water temperature, I got a reading of 48 degrees F, I then put in half a dozen chopped lobs, then baiting a size 6 hook with a large lob hooked in the head, then cast out, slowly working the bait downstream so it come to rest under a willow bush. Some twenty minutes later I got two light pulls, then nothing for ten minutes retrieving the tackle I found the hook was bare, I fished on for another hour or so then got a slight pluck, I sat waiting for a determined pull, but after a while I retrieved the tackle to find an inch of worm had been taken from the tail end of the lob. I then switched baits to cheese paste then sausage paste, but no more interest. Late in the afternoon I decided to return home. Tomorrow I will be back on the river with float tackle and two pints of red gentles with a pint of dead reds for feeding.

Today Sunday what a horrible day I’d chosen to spend some hours float fishing for dace chub and grayling, as I drove to the river, day turned to night. Suddenly I seem to be driving through a tropical storm, so heavy was the rain with gale force wind I was down to an average of 15mph, even my wipers were having trouble clearing the water off the screen, within fifteen minutes I was having to take extreme care in driving through areas of flooded road. For a few seconds I did think of returning home, then thought “No I’m going fishing” and continued on my way, eventually I turned off the road onto a farm track, still the rain was sheeting down. Arriving in the riverside car park I could see the wind swept looking very rough, but where I planned to fish I should have some shelter from a small copes. Looking all around, all I could see was a dark menacing sky cutting out the hill side, every few minutes a sudden stronger gust of wind shook the car, its not easy getting into water proof gear in the driving seat of my car, but it had to be done. Eventually I got rigged out in my water proofs and ready to face the elements.

It Was Time To Go Fishing

Stepping out of the car the wind immediately hit me in the face as did the heavy rain, but I was prepared for it. I made up a bowl of ground bait to which I added crushed casters and dead gentles, I then put the mix under the car while it soaked up the moisture, taking out the rod case, for my Abbey 12 foot match rod which was all tackled up with a centre pin reel, a balsa float with 5 AAA shot with a size 14 hook to complete the tackle. All I had to do was put the three joints together, then hook up the hook at the butt end of the rod. After about fifteen minutes I checked the ground bait mix to find it ideal, putting the bowl of mix in the Efgeeco bucket I added two pint box of red gentles also half a pint of casters, along with a bottle of water so I could wet my hands when I wanted to put in a ball of ground bait. Seat over my back then tackle bag, I picked up the rod rest, landing net rod and Efgeeco bucket and headed across the field for the river, yesterday it was hard going today it was even tougher, yes I could have chosen a swim close to the car park, but I was determined to reach my chosen swim, time I reached my fishing spot I reckon it had taken me some thirty minutes, pushing my way through the trees I eventually reached my swim where I was now out of the wind, apart from some floating leaves conditions were looking quite bright far better than the weather. Having got settled in. I put in two balls of ground bait followed over the next fifteen minutes a few gentles every two or three minutes, then rested the area.

Fish From The Off

After running the float through the swim a few times and making some fine adjustment to the shotting pattern and depth, I was now ready to go, baiting with two red gentles I made a cast at the head of the swim, then slightly holding the float back I eased the float downstream, five it travelled then dipped, the strike connecting with a trout, the last thing I wanted, eventually I netted a fish of two pound plus. Rebaiting I cast out then the float dipped after about two feet I got the impression the bait was taken on the drop, striking I hooked what turned out to be a nice grayling around a pound and a half, no chance in getting out the camera in these wet conditions, unhooking the fish in the net I lowered the net into the water so the fish could swim off, I had to do this with every fish I caught as I was four feet above the water, it would be criminal to just drop the fish back in. I suppose I had a bite nearly every trot down the swim, I put in half a dozen gentles every cast. I was now catching grayling, dace and small chub between twelve ounces and a pound.

Looking well downstream I noticed some blue sky in the distance, ten minutes later the rain stopped, conditions immediately felt better. I then had two hours of good fishing in dry bright conditions at one time I cursed the sunshine coming through the trees onto the water where I lost sight of the float when it arrived in the sunshine spot. I fished for about six hours enjoying watching the float keep dipping and catching another fish. of course I lost a few fish, missed several bites, but it was a day I enjoyed. Next week It will be Thursday before I can fish again, I have a hospital appointment tomorrow. Monday guiding on Tuesday with a teaching day on Wednesday, but those two day will earn a donation to one of my charities that I support. Talking of charities it was nice reading about some of the NHS nurses that have benefited from Leszek’s wonderful gesture in making the reel, also my winning donation has given the hospital trust some badly needed funds. 

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Martin James Fishing
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