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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


27/08/2022 - Some Delightful Angling In Sussex

My friendly robin




Recently I fished some delightful waters in the county of Sussex where I’ve joined several angling clubs, one pool I fished was similar to pools I fished in the 1940’s and 50’s with many past memories, sadly they were eventually filled in to be replaced by housing estates or motorway projects. One such pool I fished on my recent visit, I described it as “A Crabtree Pool”, being similar to what Crabtree often featured in his writings, even more so when describing tench fishing. I could not be more captivated by the water, where depths varied between six and twelve feet, surrounded by Oak, Ash, willows, Alders and brambles, the pool was fringed with reeds and water lilies,

On arriving a Robin appeared, then continued to join me throughout the day. An entertainment that caused me to miss a few bites, was watching the Emperor dragonfly’s (Anax imperator) with their four large wings with large eyes making them a swift and efficient hunter. On one occasion I watched one grab a large white butterfly, another occasion there was an aerial battle between two males with no quarter given. There are several species of Hawkers, along with the Darters. Also many species of Damselflies, which are more delicate than dragonflies, no doubt like me you have often had a Damselfly, settle on your float.

Even if you’re not catching, there is so much to see. Several moorhens were present, also flitting in and out of the reeds were several warblers. No wander I often missed a bite. As usual on still waters, canals also some slow moving rivers, you often find lots of Pond skaters, Great diving beetles, with lots of Whirligig beetles, I had all three adding to my interest.

Ground bait Mix

My first job on arriving at the waterside was to make up a bowl of ground bait, nothing special, a good helping of brown crumb was added to the water, which was then left alone for around fifteen minutes, before being well kneaded, I then add chopped lobs, hemp or corn, sometimes a combination of all three. Having got the mix right I would put in balls  in a diamond shape, in the hope that whatever direction the fish moved they would hopefully come across the free offerings that would keep them grubbing about, causing masses of bubbles to appear on the surface.

Simple Tackle Set Up

The tackle chosen was a through action 13 foot rod, matched with a Richard Carter centre pin reel, holding some forty yards of 6lb line, float choice was either a porcupine quill slider, made by Sussex Micky, or a goose quill also made by Micky, sadly I lost two Porcupine floats and two goose quills, when tench powered into the lilies, I didn’t stand a chance even though I was holding the rod all the time. Hook sizes when using lobworms or bread flake were size 6 or 8’s, when fishing corn size 12’s all barbless as usual. Having plumbed the depth, I set the float a few inches over depth. With a Wallis cast I could cover any spot I wished with the tackle landing quietly on the glass smooth surface of the pool. Unlike many anglers I sat well back from the water using the cover of overhanging trees for shelter from the sun where ever possible. I can’t say it was difficult angling, in fact I never had a session without catching a few fish, nothing big the average around two and a half pounds, one member had a fine tench of 6lb 1 ounce, I did notice the odd angler on the water fished a small swim feeder using corn, prawn or small redworms. But usually I was on my own.

Carp on Crust

Another interesting water I fished had some carp and tench, I wasn’t really interested in the tench, preferring to creep around on all fours to get within range of a smoke screening or bubbling carp in perhaps two feet of water, making for some interesting angling. Tackle was a 10 foot rod, fixed spool reel with 8lb bs line with a size 6 barbless hook when fishing crust or lobs, when using corn used a size 12 hook, when fishing corn it was a case of lowering the baited hook from the rod tip, then wait for the line to twitch or move left or right. When I had a take on crust, a bow wave would suddenly appear as the carp moved to intercept the bait.

Another fish I wanted to target were some mullet on the river, my plan of action was to fish float tackle, using lightly mashed bread feed as an attracter, with flake on the hook, but sadly it didn’t happen. I had a very sore throat for three days, hardly able to take any liquid, but the doctor soon got me sorted, but I had run out of time for the mullet. All in all I rated my holiday a success, I am now look forward to some winter angling on the Sussex Ouse chasing chub.

Another highlight was meeting a friendly angler, as we discussed fishing in general, I asked “If there was a tackle shop with a good service, where I could get some decent lobworms, also advice on angling waters?” I was told try Bodle Bros angling at Cuckfield road, Burgess Hill RH15 8RE, he also gave me the number to call 01444 247757. Later in the day I called saying “Please do you have any lobworms”, “Sorry sir we will be getting a fresh supply in tomorrow, would you like me to give you a call when they are delivered”? “Yes please” I answered. True to his word I got a call later next day to say “The lobs have just been delivered”. More important they were quality lobworms also some of the staff are very experienced anglers.



one of my tench swims

Moorhens were often around looking for food

A red tipped float

Another bubbling carp from under the rod tip

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Martin James Fishing
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