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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


13/10/2023 - Back On The Sussex Ouse

Martyn netting a barbel


Today I’m on the upper reaches of the Sussex Ouse, flowing through peaceful countryside, as it twists and flows growing in size every mile or so, it creates riffles, smooth glides over gravel, then clay or a mixture of both, often flowing between high banks, through dense woodland and hedgerows, places where you often have to get down on hands and knees to reach a dark secretive pools, carefully pushing the rod a head of oneself. I just love this type of angling but it’s not for everyone.

I have a small shoulder bags with a bottle of water, some prawns and lobworms, a small box with hooks, also some LG shot and plasticine, tucked under my light weight jacket I have my camera. My tackle is simple an Avon action rod, small fixed spool reel with ten pound braid to which I have attached a size 6 barbless hook, in some spots I will freeline a bait, in other places I will need some weight depending on the strength of the river flow.

I left my mate Martyn fishing a small weir pool, which I always bypass as I cannot bear the noise of the water flowing fast into the pool and the road traffic just a few feet away. I love the quiet areas, with just the gentle flow of water and bird song, in one area, a winding country lane passes close bye, it was nice to see four huge trailers loaded with hops pass bye. My first spot was a pool flowing from left to right sweeping under the bank on my right, then it flowed underneath, small trees and bushes, there were also two big living trees where the roots could be seen reaching out like a giant spiders web. Certainly a place where a hooked fish would try to reach in its attempt for freedom.

I started off fishing a big King prawn, within ten minutes I had two good bites, sadly missed both of them, half an hour later I got a third bite, within a minute I got a good look at the fish as it crashed out on the surface then made a powerful run downstream, I reckon I was a big four pound plus chub. For several minutes it was give and take by both the fish and myself, but slowly I was winning the struggle, suddenly the fish found a big snag in the water just to my right, everything went solid. I left if for a few minutes, nothing happened so I tried hand lining the line, I could feel movement at the end of the line so I new the fish was still on. I reckon ten minutes past when all of a sudden the fish was in open water. I breathed a sight of relief, thinking this fish will be mine” a minute or so later the fish swirled on the surface, then dived, seconds later the line went slack. I then moved off downstream going through some rough ground more like a jungle, it was a tough walk, until I found a small gap in the tree to my right, then it was down on hands and knees, at the same time getting stung by nettles and scratched by brambles, pushing the rod ahead of me, the thing we do in our 80’s, it was like being a teenager again.

Eventually I found a small gap about two feet wide, peering into the semi clear water I spotted a chub, baiting with a prawn I free line the bait dropping it quietly few feet above the fish, it had drifted down through the water some two feet, the chub full of confidence opened its mouth, then engulfed my bait, I set the hook, the fish dived, I chose not to give an inch of line, not knowing what snags there were. This scrap was fought out just under or on the surface, within three minutes I scooped the fish up in the net. It was about two and a half pounds but most welcome. I then moved on. I fished what I would call several spots often between high banks of clay, making it tricky to get in a spot when its wet, often with lots of brambles, nettles and Himalayan Balsam, I found the best way of getting into a good position is sliding down the bank on my backside.

In each swim I would alter my tackle slightly to ger the best out of the conditions, often it was by adding or subtracting a split or extending the distance between weight and hook. I was surprised also to catch 3 perch around the 10 ounce mark, these fish added a bit of interest, no doubt there are some bigger fish, which I will search out. All in all it had been a good days angling topped off by lots of jackdaws in the overhead trees. Apart from the perch I had 8 chub all averaging around 2.5lbs. In one spot I found a horrid set of end tackle with hooks suitable for cod, no doubt the poachers had been at work, another reason why clubs need more members to be part time bailiffs. See pic P1000170 JPG My next trip will be to a small water in search of Wild Carp.



Poachers hook rig found on a chub swim

The first of several chub

A good chub swim in high water

I caught chub and perch in this swim

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Martin James Fishing
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