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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/12/2022 - Christmas Day On Bank High River

Brendan watching for a bite, during a short spell of dry weather on Xmas day

I suppose it was around 1045 hrs when my friend Brendan collected me from home, travelling along the quiet country lanes Brendan reminded me of other Christmases we had shared on the Kennet Wye, Soar and other venues. As we passed over two bridges, we realised the river was bank high, but that wouldn’t put us off, hopefully there had been a water temperature rise. As we arrived at the riverside car park, the rain was sheeting down, both of us agreeing conditions could have been better, at least we would be fishing in the hope of catching a chub or two.

Tackle and Baits

Brendan had with him his newly acquired Chris Lythe centre pin reel which he had been waiting for 10 long years, at least he did get it at the original price he paid when ordering the product, before starting to fish we put some forty yards 6 lb bs line on the reel to which he added a float stop then tied on a size 4 hook, which he matched with his Abbey Avon. Under the current conditions we both chose to leger close to the reeds where the flow was slightly less, five feet out from the reeds the river was really pushing through with a lot of rubbish. First job was to check the water temperature I got a reading of 44 degrees F, I was more than happy with that. Our baits were bread, luncheon meat and well matured cheese paste. Having chosen our spots, just a few yards apart, we settled in. Brendan said “What weight would you recommend” I answered “ probably 3 LG, though you might need 4 LG also we are fishing over gravel, you can use a float stop with plasticine if you wish” I suggested we both trickle in three or four free samples of meat. I used my Avon action rod with fixed spool reel 12lb bs braid then added a float stop followed by a size 8 hook. Brendan had been fishing no more that ten minutes when he shouted “Fish on” looking upstream I could see the rod had a lovely curve through to the butt, I thought “That’s certainly something to enjoy Brendan”, I also realised that the way the fish was hugging the bottom and slowly moving upstream it was probably a good chub. Laying aside my rod, I grabbed the landing net then moved towards Brendan, a minute or so later, later it had broken him off on a snag, no doubt a sunken branch that had been swept into the area.

A Good Fish Hooked

Back in my swim I repeatedly slowly working the bait downstream searching for a fish, an hour must have gone by when I felt a light pluck on the line, followed by a determined pull, striking I felt a powerful surge as a fish made its way out into the powerful flowing river, taking line off the reel without a problem even though I was cramping on the pressure. I reckon for ten minutes I was just hoping I could tire the fish but still no sign of it wanting to be drawn into the quiet water. It was a case of winding down to the water, then slowly lifting the rod try and get a bit of line on the reel, eventually the pressure started to tell on the fish as it come closer to the bank, then suddenly I was forced to give a bit of line which thankfully was quickly retrieved.

As Brendan got ready to hopefully net the fish, we got our first glimpse, it was a good trout, perhaps 4 lbs. At the first sign of daylight, it then dived again but I was now in control, once again it was on the surface headshaking and twisting in its bid for freedom, then Brendan had I in the net, it was mine, looking at the fish we both realised what a fine specimen it was scale and fin perfect, not a mark on its body. These triploid trout don’t spawn so don’t lose condition but continue to be a feeding fighting machine. While I was thinking of getting my camera out in the heavy rain, Brendan weighed the fish saying “three and a half pounds” I chose not to use my camera, so Brendan then returned it. Its times like this when I think “Should I get a phone camera? The answer is always a resounding No”

A Well Earnt Break

We fished on until dusk, then had a break from the weather, I made a mug of coffee, also gave extra Brendan an extra-large size sausage roll to Brendan, I had a mug of OXO with some pepper along with a toasted cheese sandwich. In the darkness we made our way across the fields to our swim, often now paddling through water logged fields so much rain had fallen. We then fished on for another two hours Brendan never had a bite, I had one on cheese paste which turned out to be a trout just over a pound, I then changed to flake, after a while the rod pulled round slowly, I thought that was a bite, but for some unknown reason I just watched it happen without striking. Relating the story to Brendan who said “Shall we pack up” I answered lets give it another fifteen minutes, as the church clock sounded eight bongs we chose to pack up. It was two wet and bedraggled anglers that trekked across the fields then up river to the car park. But we both agreed it had been a good day out on the river.

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Martin James Fishing
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