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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


25/06/2022 - A Good Day With A Mixed Bag

A perfect picture for June 16th



I left home with Brendan Ince around 0600 hrs for our trip to fish the River Soar with two other great friends Mark Sarul and Tam Miller for the first three days of the new 2022/23 season, today I was starting my 80th year of angling a sport or is it a pastime? that has taken me to many countries of the world where I have fished with a host of great men and woman anglers, coarse game and sea angling, also a lot of saltwater fly fishing in warmer climes, I’ve even been lucky to fish the Amazon river and some of its tributaries. June 16th this year it really was stunning on the river, the water shimmering in the sunshine as the mercury quickly went up to the high twenties. I doubt if there is a more beautiful picture than a rural scenic seen of a river environment with various shade of green from the many trees, shrubs, reeds and water plants, the county of Leicestershire anglers are extremely fortunate to have some great rivers to fish, the Dove, Trent and Soar to name just three. Just look at the first pic, I was taught when studying photography that a picture should tell a thousand words, how true when you study this pic, I would have captioned this picture with “Where dreams are made for anglers”


After arriving at the waterside I was given a tour of the fishery, was hard going in the bright sunshine, but I was determined to reach the top beat. The other three stopped, I carried on, it was worth the effort. I spotted several good areas that I marked down for later in the season. By the time we arrived back at the car I reckon I walked some two miles, soon I was loaded up with a heavy basket over my back, along with another shoulder bag containing ground bait along various hook baits, in my left hand I had two rods, my right hand I had a canvas bucket with bits a pieces including some bottled water. After another miles or so trek I got beaten back by a stile I couldn’t manage as it was extremely difficult to get my right leg over without some help, I then retraced my steps choosing a swim a bit further back down the track, by this time I was starting to get dizzy. Quickly a bottle of water was emptied, I sat on my basket to focus on getting tackled up, I reckon it was around one and a half hours before I’d got rod, reel and float together. Half an hour later I plumbed the depth it was around 12 feet, I put in three bait droppers of hemp, one of corn. Ten minutes late I made a cast. See pic Fifteen minutes later, I nearly passed out, I was often getting very dizzy, I decided it was the end of my short session.


Feeling Really Rough I now had to stretch out on the grassy bank, knowing how deep the water was in the margins, it was the best place to be. I was getting reports the others were catching and I hadn’t even made a cast. I then thought it was time for cake and tea, Brendan and Tam didn’t want any it was just Mark and myself who sat down with a nice piece of fruit cake which we both enjoyed. see pic Half an hour later Tam come and told me he was going to take me off to the hotel, both Mark and Brendan agreed with Tam who was correct in his diagnosis of my condition, which to be honest put I me in a bad place. Some forty minutes later I’m back in my hotel room feeling really sick, that's where I stayed until later in the next day. So ended my first day of the season, I must say if it wasn’t for Tams insistence about me going back, that he perhaps saved my life. As I write this after four days I still feel the effects of that first day. 


A Special Place

The second day was no fishing, though later in the day Brendan decided we should go off to the National Memorial The Arboretum in Alrewas in Staffordshire. It was certainly a great experience, at times one cannot fail to get choked up when reading some of the memorials also such a peaceful place, it certainly made up for not going fishing, also everyone was most helpful. I would recommend everyone to try and visit this National Memorial at some time in their life. I did get through a lot of liquid during the day and evening as I hoped I could get out on the river bank on the Saturday.


A Good Days Angling

Saturday dawned cloudy with a forecast for rain, I was going angling come hell or high water, sadly we couldn’t get breakfast until 0800 hrs, it was 0900 hrs when Mark, Brendan and myself headed off to another stretch of river when entailed just a short walk. The rain was now sheeting down, often bouncing off the water leaving the river covered in large bubbles, I ended up in an area of bulrushes and water lilies, a true “Crabtree swim” I chose to use my Milward Swimmaster rod, matched with a Richard Carter centre pin with 4lb bs line, I used a quill float taking two AA shot and one BB shot, then attached a size 12 hook, plumbing the depth I got around six feet of water close to some cabbages, a few feet further downstream were lots of bulrushes. I then put in four droppers of hemp one of corn and two of chopped worms, I also made up a bowl of ground bait containing a lot of hemp, chopped worms, and red gentles, I started off by adding to chicken egg size lumps in the area, I would probably add a similar egg size ball of bait every fifteen minutes depending how interested the fish were. Up and down the river were numerous swallows and sand martin, despite the rain a large number of Blue-winged olives were coming off, these birds were not going to miss out on what nature was providing.


I also spotted small group of Mayflies. Occasionally a grey or pied wagtail would appear taking the BWO’s. Having got myself sorted out I made my first cast with a small bit of worm and two red gentles, as the bait dropped through the water the float moved across the surface, striking I connected with a fish, a chub of some ten inches, I was more than satisfied its not the size but being in a lovely place watching a red tipped float, the bigger fish can wait for future trips. In the next four cast I had four more chub of similar size. The next cast had the bait eventually ending up on the river bed, the float settling at a nice angle, a few minutes later it bobbed, then submerged , striking I was forced to yield some line, it was nice to hear a short screech of the reel, as the rod took on a nice curve, I could feel the fish immediately thinking “Could this be a perch” Soon a prickly fin appeared for a second, a few minutes later I netted a nice perch. See pic.


I then had several more perch of similar size, I then hooked what I felt was a very good perch a few feet from the net. Some fifteen minutes later I hooked a pike which did give me some fun for several minutes I was hoping it was hooked in the scissors so it couldn’t bite off the line. Sadly after some minutes the bent rod tip suddenly went straight as the fish went off. After thirty minute a blank session the bites started again, small roach and chub with an odd gudgeon, I’d got my wish of wanting lots of bites, occasionally I got another perch, I then noticed bubbles appearing further out from the bank, knowing it was the same depth from my plumbing, I made a cast further out, a few minutes later the float submerged I’d got a bream you cannot really mistake these fish when hooked unlike the still water species a river bream doesn’t just come in it will put up some resistance, but soon a I had a fish in the net around two and a half pound, unlike to still water fish river bream don’t have the same amount of mucus on its body, also with the new latex landing net mesh, it comes back clean, I had three more bream during that session, also some more perch along with small chub and roach, so ended a very good days angling despite the weather. See last pic I also learn that Mark fishing the river today caught had three chub on luncheon meat as we were driving home, which was good news.

Fishing the Soar

Cutting the cake

First perch of the day

Despite the rain I was a happy angler

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Martin James Fishing
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