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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/01/2021 - Back To Angling


 Today Saturday16th I headed off to the river, I haven’t been able to fish during the past week due to weather conditions, the only day when I thought I might have a chance with suitable river levels, I couldn’t leave home, my cul-de-sac was a snow covered over a sheet of ice, if I could have got out, I would have faced serious problems of getting to the river. Saturday morning it was a different scene, the snow and most of the ice had gone due to temperatures on the rise during Friday night Saturday morning also a warm wind was helping the thaw. After breakfast I headed off to the shops, passing over the bridge I noticed the river was pushing through the colour of washed out kaki, which would have sent shudders through a drill sergeant. After getting everything I wanted from the shops, I headed off to the river, it wasn’t a pretty sight lots of rubbish including a dead sheep along with two trees that had crashed down in the river some weeks previously, some Christmas trees some slob had dropped off of the road bridge upstream which had got stuck on the bottom until this big lift, now all the rubbish was floating off downstream to the Irish sea. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 38 degrees F which surprised me with all the melted snow and ice. After walking some three miles of river bank where I spent some time clearing rubbish from some fencing, I was also surprised and delighted to count eight hares just sitting out in the fields, no doubt feeling happy now the fields are free of snow. Near the bottom of the beat where I have been clearing a lot of rubbish, I surprised two roe deer, they didn’t dash off but moved slowly into the trees. Back at my starting point I could see the river had come up over two feet, I got a reading of 1.655m, it was still rising fast, coming over the bank in places, also all the streams were now backing up. I then had a brew before setting off home around 1500 hrs. Sunday river not fishable, I walked about a mile and half loaded up with my gear, but found nothing that I thought might produce a fish, the colour of the water was that weak kaki colour the fast pace of the river with lots of rubbish passing downstream told me I would be wasting my time, also the water temperature was 37-38 degrees F. I then spent an hour collecting rubbish, taking another bin liner to the local tip.


Monday the river was still quite high but certainly fishable with a clarity of around eight inches, I had a loaf of bread, also a ball of sausage sizzle flavoured sausage meat, I was using my go to Avon action 11 ft 6 inch with a small fixed spool reel with 12 lb braid line, my weight would be plasticine moulded around two float stoppers with a size 4 barbless hook attached with a Palomar knot, I chose to fish a swim about a mile walk from where I was parked courtesy of the landowner. As I started my trek the rain was now falling heavily, the rain drops were pinging back on the water surface creating a mass of bubbles so heavy was the rain. Eventually I arrived at my chosen spot, then spotted three cormorants, def’initely a bad sign, I fired two shots from my 9 mm hand gun which had them moving away, but probably the damage had been done. I have noticed over the past years, that fish have often changed their feeding times to dusk and the dark hours in many instances. My chosen spot had a slightly slower pace of water extending about three feet out from the bank with many small whirl pools which I have found is often a suitable pace of water that chub like, why this should be. I have no idea except from a lifetimes experience of chub watching and catching, also noting the species seem to like these areas at certain river heights and flows. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 36-37 degrees F, no doubt due to the snow and ice which wasn’t good news.


Baiting with a walnut size piece of paste, I cast out then allowed the bait to move downstream and into the slower water close to the bank under an overhanging willow bush where many branches trailed in the water. After an hours fishing with meat paste, I had a quick tap, pushing the rod forward I waited for the next pull, fifteen minutes later I retrieved the paste, to see a slight indentation from the lip marks of a fish on the paste. Why it didn’t take I can’t answer that question. Rebaiting with another piece of paste I fished for about hour without a touch, so changed the bait to crust, an hour later with the river now rising fast, the whirl pools had gone as had the slower water, I decided I was wasting my time. The only highlight was a kingfisher that perched on a willow branch then diving twice on both occasions returning with a minnow. That’s why its named a “Kingfisher” certainly a better angler than me. The forecast for the next two days is for forty eight hours of heavy rain often torrential, I reckon I might get a chance of fishing on Sunday. I do have areas where I could fish some back waters, but sadly it’s a ten mile drive which I am not prepared to travel, where I currently fish its just under five miles.


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Martin James Fishing
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