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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


11/02/2021 - Winter Time Angling- It Doesn’t Stop Fishing

Mink are the cause of the major decline in Water vole’s, they also destroy ground nesting birds also those that nest in trees.


Monday 8th Feb I had hours 5 hours on the river float fishing for grayling with sweetcorn, I fished a total of six different swims, sadly I had an icy cold downstream wind, which certainly tested my casting and trotting skills, at one time there was a white out for some 40 minutes, it started with day turning to night, it was bitterly cold throughout the session, with a water temp was 36 degrees F air temp in the easterly wind on my thermometer hanging in a tree dropped to 30 degrees F. Despite the cold and the downstream wind I wasn’t going to give up until I fished several swims hard, sadly without a bite. The birds certainly welcomed me, during my angling I was scattering sunflower hearts around each swim I fished, in two swims I hung a bird feeder full of fat balls, it wasn’t long before I had several blue tits and goldfinches feeding, these were followed by blackbirds, a pair of dunnocks, even a song thrush turned up along with some robins, they were not going to quarrel today, food was more important. Back tomorrow but I will be crust fishing for a chub


Tuesday 9th of Feb I arrived on the river at 0900 hrs, today I was fishing a different stretch of water in the hope of catching a chub, my first job was to scatters around 5 lbs of sunflower hearts , most of it under surrounding hedgerows and under trees so hopefully if it snowed, the food would be in some shelter, I also put up two fat ball feeders, but the problem is grey squirrels. The weather wasn’t good light snow showers, with a strong gusting north easterly wind and an occasional period of bright sunshine the water temperature was 35-36 degrees F, air temperature in the icy cold wind was between minus 2-3 degrees F, conditions certainly didn’t look good. I chose an Avon action 11 foot rod with a small fixed spool reel with 10 lb bs braid, I used my normal set up of a float stop on the line and moulded plasticine as a weight with a size 4 hook, I planned to start of with crust then switch to cheese paste then lobworms.

After choosing a small bay with virtually, no movement, I find when the water temperature is falling, fish will move into the slack water, but I could also fish the more streamy water if required. Having settled in I added two pieces of sinking bread flake, then baited with crust with a tail of 2 inches, again I find the short link will often work, in these conditions you have to really search the swim, in the hope of dropping the bait just a few inches in front of a fish, they rarely chase a bait under these conditions. In the next hour I retrieved the tackle every few minutes each time finding the crust had gone, on last occasion I found I had foul hooked a minnow, so that answered the question of no bait every time I retrieved the tackle , the minnows were quickly on the bait.

Two Lobworms

Having extended the distance between hook and weight to 12 inches, I baited with two big lobworms, half an hour after casting out, the rod tip moved all of a quarter of an inch, I didn’t feel any tension on the line hooked over my forefinger, after another 15 minutes I retrieved the tackle, the tail end of a lobworm was missing tight to the bend of the hook, at least I wasn’t wrong in suspecting a bite. This time I baited with one lobworm then cast out to the same area, half an hour with no sign of a bite I retrieved the tackle for another cast, to find the lobworm had been chewed, the worm was puncture in one spot, also the body of the worm had been squashed and stretch, I hadn’t seen a thing or felt any tension on the line. I continued until 1400 hrs then went off to make a brew and have 2 slices of toast and dripping, half an hour later I am back in my swim, again choosing a single lobworm. I fished on until 1630 hrs then decided to go home, a short journey of16 minutes, having been out in the cold all day it felt as if my face was in front of a furnace as I stepped indoors.

Rescuing A Sheep

Wednesday 10th Feb After sorting out the water bowls for the birds, filling up seed feeders etc, I then had a bowl of porridge with two mugs of tea, my plan today was using the same tackle as yesterday except for a hook change from a size 4 down to a size 8. My plan of action was to start off feeding chopped worms with a light mix of bread mash and bran with some chopped worms inserted in the ground bait, but I would also catapult in some free offerings of chopped worms. It was around 1100 hrs when I arrived on the river, looking across the meadow I noticed a sheep sitting all on its own, I then got a call to go to the bottom beat as there was a strange car in the park, it turned out to be a member who had purchased a new vehicle. While I was there I restocked the bird feeders with fat balls also spread around a few pounds of bird seed. Thankfully the water is low and gin clear so the herons and kingfishers can still feed, also there are lots and lots of minnows in the shallow water.

Back in the cabin I was joined by the owner over several mugs of coffee and tea, I also had two slices of toast and dripping, for a while we discussed fishing matters and the cricket. He went off walking his dog, I collected my tackle and bait bag then headed off downstream, on the way I checked out the sheep. It’s legs were was stuck in a pot hole, looking at the ground around the sheep I reckon it had been there all night as its body warm had melted the snow and frozen ground, the poor thing was lying in a quagmire, as it struggled to get free it had sunk further in the ground, I tried my best to help without success, It too heavy for me to move and well stuck in the ground. I called the landowner, who then called the shepherd, within fifteen minutes he arrived. Thankfully I had a spade in my cabin so went off and collected it. Half an hour later we had made enough room around the sheep where we could pull it out of the ground, not the easiest thing to do, but eventually we had it out and laying on its side. The next job was to get it in the back of his vehicle, but it was far to heavy for both of us to lift, I then went off a got a big piece of inch thick chipboard from the storeroom. I was hard work for this old man dragging it across the meadow but eventually I go to the site. I suggested we put the board to the back of the land rover so it’s on a slope, we then dragged the sheep as best we could into position on the board, the shepherd then clambered into the back of the vehicle, he grabbed the back legs I grab the fleece around the chest and neck of the sheep, as the shepherd pulled, I pushed, eventually the sheep was safely on board. Then we had another problem the 4 wheel drive had stopped working, so the vehicle was well and truly stuck. I then set to trying to dig away the mud and grass from the rear wheels, while he finished off the digging, I went into a small copes after three trips collecting loads of branches, so I could lay a thick raft and hope the wheels would get some traction. Sadly it didn’t happen. The shepherd then called the farm for assistance, I then decided there wouldn’t be any fishing for me today, so made my way back to the cabin to clean myself up as best I could. As there wasn’t any more I could do, I loaded my car up with the tackle etc then headed off home. A couple of hours later I got a call to say the sheep would be ok, it was carrying twins which made me feel good.

Thursday 10th Feb I was on the river at 0830 hrs to collect four members angling fees, an hour later by appointment three people turned up who were interested in joining the syndicate also learn more about the fishing, after a couple of hours of showing them around, answering their questions and having the fill in an application form I told them I would be in touch. I decided I would take two of them, the other has no chance, all he wanted to know was how many salmon, sea trout and brown trout he could take each visit. He was a typical fishmonger, after they left, one of my members suggested “I didn’t’ touch him with a barge pole, he was also asked to leave another organisation” I then spent half an hour or more showing a member the art of upstream nymphing, when I felt he was ready to be on his own and left him, collected a bin liner of rubbish most of it plastic in one form or another, most hooked up in the tree and bushes. Back in the cabin I had a brew, then scrapped the line on a spool, then filled it with new line. It was then time to feed the birds and check out a mink trap I set yesterday, which to be checked every twenty four hours there was one in residence which was quickly and humanly dispatched. With wall to wall blue sky and Lowe and gin clear river with a water temperature of 33 degrees F. I decided not to fish but return home.







I am hoping to repeat these scenes when the season starts on June 16th, with my friends including the river Soar with Mark.

Hooked up to a carp on an estate lake

River Soar Perch

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Martin James Fishing
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