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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


02/07/2021 - First Session On A New Water

A swim that produced several carp

As I looked out the window I could see heavy rain falling with a strong north easterly wind, it was more like an autumn, certainly wasn’t June weather. Brendan and myself put our gear and bait into the car, then we headed off in the heavy rain for Hedgehog pool. Arriving to find we had the water to ourselves, despite the rain and cold wind, it looked like many of the pools I’d fished in the 50’s and 60’ walking quietly round the water, we spotted a couple of cruising carp, eventually settling on two swims next to each other along the western bank.

Float Fishing For Roach

We both chose to float fish, our baits were gentles, red worms, prawns, bread and wheat, Brendan used a Sowerbutts 12ft Sprite with a small fixed spool reel and 4lb bs line sliding float with a size 12 hook, I tackled up 12ft Milwards Swimmaster matched with a Richard Carter Avon Classic with 4lb line, using a quill float made for me by Sussex Mickey taking 3bb shot, to complete the tackle I used a size 16 hook tied up for me by Mark Sarul, these days with no feeling in my fingertips I do have problems tying hooks to nylon, also I can never find the correct size hook to the required breaking strain of nylon.

Stewed Wheat My First Choice Bait

As often over some 80 years of angling, I chose to use stewed wheat, it often attracts a better quality roach, catapulting a pouch full of wheat a few yards to the edge of a patch of lilies, I followed up with a baited hook, ten minutes later the float moved slowly across the surface, the strike connected with my first fish of the session, after a couple of minutes I glimpsed a bream, not a roach, which was soon netted estimated about 2.5lb which was quickly returned. This was quickly followed by 3 other bream of similar size, still the heavy rain sheeted down. I made a decision to bait another swim in front of some Norfolk reeds with wheat, hoping for roach, I was soon catching small roach with an occasional ‘Goer’. After an hour I hooked a good fish, that took line off the reel, “No roach this” I thought, saying to Brendan “I reckon this is a carp” It was certainly a good test for the tackle soon it was in the net, I was more than happy with a well-conditioned common carp. I had two other carp of similar size, then got broken by a third fish, Brendan meanwhile was catching some nice ‘Goer’ roach. Around 1530 hrs with rain still falling we chose to end the day and go back to the cottage and a hot shower with dry clothes, I’d made a silly mistake by stuffing the water proof trouser legs inside my wellingtons ending up with wet socks and trousers.

Back To The Pool

As we had enjoyed our first day at the pool, we decided to fish it for the next few days, we could float fish for good roach and perch also carp around the 6-7lb, with a few bigger fish. Arriving 1000hrs we were greeted by Garry who farms the area, growing various types of vegetables along with strawberries, cherries, apples and pears along with some hopes, using no chemicals. Garry and Lorraine do an excellent job, they also have their own bar with darts along with a full size snooker table. He suggested when we finish fishing we should visit the bar.

For Me It’s Back To The Fifties

Again we chose the west bank, with its natural surroundings of brambles nettles bushes, many dead trees in the water, to give it a natural appearance. none of those horrid platforms for me, in fact I refuse to fish such contraptions, putting my basket down between two willow bushes among the long grass and nettles and occasional bramble I felt comfortable.

Brendan chose to float fish, I had a session fishing with my cane pole using stewed wheat as bait, having caught a few roach in the first hour, I hooked a carp, it was time to break off, I then packed the pole away. I changed over to fish floating crust for the carp, as I often did in the 50’s, using my Abbey Avon rod, matched with a fixed spool reel, 6lb line to which I tied on a size 4 barbless hook. I had a light wind blowing into my face, ideal for crusting. I catapulted out some bits of bread, then watched it drift into the bankside vegetation some pieces of bread drifted out of sight under the vegetation. Baiting with a chunk of crust, I gently dunked it in the water, then sat heron like with rod in hand, crust baited hook hanging an inch or so above the water, should a fish show I would lower the crust onto the water, fishing this way I wouldn’t be bothered by small fish. Hearing splashing from the other side of the willow to my right, I wound in my tackle then had a look at what was happening, to find Brendan hooked up to a good fish. Picking up the landing net I sunk it deep in the water, while watching Brendan fight a carp around 6lbs, eventually it was netted, the lad done well on the light tackle he was using. While he carried on fishing for roach, I returned to trying to catch some carp. Within ten minutes I hooked a common that gave me some fun though a few worrying moments when it headed off towards a sunken tree, the balanced tackle handled the job soon after I netted the fish, a quick picture and it was returned. During the rest of the session I had a total of 5 carp losing 1 but I was more than happy. Brendan caught some nice roach and an odd perch.

A Good Carp

For the third day we are back in our same swims as the previous day, we couldn’t see any point in changing fishing spots, both of us chose the same tackle and methods as previously, though I suggested Brendan should keep putting in a handful of gentles every fifteen minutes or so, then fish further out with a cocktail bait of prawn and red worm, it worked as he didn’t have to keep unhooking small fish, immediately he started to get better roach most of “Goer” size. Half an hour later I spotted a good carp well out into the pool, I catapulted a bit of crust in its direction within a minute it approach the bread then sucked it down. Baiting with a bit of crust I cast out dropping the bait some ten feet from the fish, for several minutes it circled the bait gradually moving closer, suddenly it was off the starting blocks shooting forward then engulfing the crust, as the line moved I set the hook, It fought hard for some ten minutes before Brendan netted a nice common we estimated at 12-14lbs, after getting the scales zeroed, Brendan was moving the fish into the weight bag when it flipped then slid down the bank. During the day I caught more 5 carp averaging 6-7lbs.

Friday morning its back to the same swims, same tackle and baits for Brendan, I thought it was the same tackle for me, until I hooked and landed a nice mirror, then Brendan pointed out I had caught it on my Millwards Swimmaster, I was amazed the rod had handled the fish so well, though I wouldn’t like to use it often with carp in mind. I couldn’t be bothered to go back to the car to change the rod, I used it to land six commons averaging 6lbs, another nice days angling for both of us.

Saturday was virtually a repeat of the previous days though all of my fish were hooked with a few inches of the bank, making it very exciting, when you hook them they really do fight hard to make some distance from the bank. Today was also a more relaxing day, we also had a look around Garry small holding or is it a farm, we purchased peas, beans, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb and strawberries to take home, all freshly picked or dug that afternoon, food doesn’t get any fresher, far better than any supermarket, it had certainly been a good few days fishing.





A common carp rod and net

Brendan with carp caught on float tackle when roach fishing

Mirror carp caught using Milwards Swimmaster by mistake

Common carp on Abbey Avon

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Martin James Fishing
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