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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/03/2014 - End of coarse fishing and a new trout season starts

Hopefully you enjoyed the last two weeks of the coarse fishing season on rivers, I must say I got dismayed at the number of anglers who were moaning they couldn’t get out fishing due to the bad weather and flooded rivers. In over 70 years of fishing I have never let weather and water conditions stop me from fishing, back in 1947 and again in 1962/63 winters we often walked and cycled long distances 10 or more miles to reach the river bank. It doesn’t matter how much the river is over the banks there are usually a few spots that can yield a fish or two. The River Wye was well into the fields but we caught chub, perch and the occasional good roach. On the Hampshire Avon at Britford the Old and New rivers were well and truly flooded, so bad was the flooding at one time you couldn’t see the banks of the two rivers. It was just a large expanse of water but fish were caught. Several roach anglers fishing the Avon at Britford a London Anglers Association water available on a season ticket for just £57-00 without doubt a great buy for any angler. For me travelling from Lancashire it’s a 500 mile round trip to the Avon, 350 miles round trip to Ross on Wye and worth all the extra effort. On only two occasions did I have a blank day, but still it was most enjoyable.


On the Avon at Britford Brendan Ince of Leyland enjoyed some good float fishing using a centre pin reel catching plenty of dace. I as usual roamed the fishery catching chub on sausage sizzle flavoured crust, lobworms and sausage sizzle paste. Charlie Kemmet over the last few weeks of the season had some incredible roach catches with several 2lb plus fish. It was a pleasure watching Charlie trot the stream catching quality fish, another angler from Lancashire who joined me on the Avon was Alan Roe of Blackpool. After watching and listening to Charlie for a day and taking the advice on board, Alan fished the next day catching his first ever 2lb roach after fifty years of trying.


After the week on the Avon it was off to the River Wye in spring like conditions, while many anglers targeted the barbel my friend and myself fished for he chub, though fishing was difficult at times I did manage to catch chub n each day. On the first day I was joined by Sgt Major Tam Miller a game angler but now starting to fish for the coarse fish species and being quite successful. Tam quest was to catch a chub I said when we discussed the fishing. “No problem I will spend the day helping you achieve your ambition” Tam did so in fine style with Chub to 4lb 1 ounce on sausage sizzle flavoured crust. To flavour bread all you need to do is take a cut loaf spray the inside of a plastic bag with the flavour of your choice seal in the loaf then dump in the freezer until required. As the bread thaws out it takes on the flavour.


The next day Tuesday I was joined by Tony Booker, after walking the beat Tony chose a spot which allowed him to float fish with both rod and reel outfit and the pole. I watched in amazement as he set about the task of baiting the swim and setting up his gear. Tony certainly knew what he was doing. After a while I left Tony to his task while I went off in search of chub. Again I had a couple of chub and lost what felt like a good fish. I had dropped a bit of crust into a spot I had never fished before, in fact I doubt if any other angler had done so. sadly after about five minutes the fish shot off downstream then kited into the bank below a large tree stopping me from getting downstream towards the fish. It then went into a tangle of branches and busted me off, I was quite gutted.


Wednesday Tony and myself roamed the river fishing lots of likely swim, though we caught chub it was just one fish from a swim, it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get another fish. Even when I went back to the swim a couple of hours later. Mike Evans the hard working bailiff joined us later in the afternoon, even Mikes experience on the river didn’t help.

Thursday fishing was about the same Tony and I caught fish but usually one fish from one swim, I did fish a jungle type swim I had never fished before catching a few chub on crust, then lost what I thought might have been a carp. Once this fish was lost the swim died later in the day Tony fished the jungle swim catching some good chub on cheese paste. We didn’t fish the last day Friday, I find it difficult driving in the dark and couldn’t really afford another nights B&B, with it being the last day of Cheltenham races Tony didn’t want to be caught in all the traffic.


Since being home the new river trout fishing season started on March 15th, not a good day but some anglers did catch some nice over wintered trout up to about 2lbs fishing a March Brown. We shot two cormorants that didn’t want to leave the weir pool when I fired my starting pistol which is very unusual. Eventually they did fly further upstream to another pool as the circled overhead they were shot. Sadly that’s all I can now shoot as I have reached my target on my licence. I will have to rely on my starting pistol and a couple of Labradors to move these birds on. In the past couple of weeks I have taken 11 sacks of rubbish to the local council tip much of it rubbish thrown into the river or left on the bank by dog walkers such as bags of dog dirt, surely if they can bother to pick it up they can put it in the dog dirt bins.


Yesterday Tuesday after checking my mink traps and repairing some fencing, I sat beside the river sheltered from the wind watching the water, I suppose it was around noon when olives started coming off, I heard a splash upstream a fish swirled opposite more splashes more rising fish It was like a mini yacht race, the wind had dropped those trout were catchable. Back at the car I put together a five weight rod, floating line with a 12 foot leader, though olives were coming off I chose to fish a March Brown as I felt the slightly larger pattern would induce a bigger fish to take. I cast the fly upstream then watched the orange spot on the line like a hawk as I retrieved line. I had 4 nice trout and pricked two. Then the east wind ruffled the surface the flies stopped coming off the fish disappeared, it was all over but a most enjoyable session with some fine over wintered trout.

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Martin James Fishing
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