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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


03/01/2024 - Three Missed Bites On A Bank High River

 New Years Day my river was bank high , in fact it was over the bank in many places, when I spoke to some friends about fishing, they immediately said “It’s a waste of time, you want even get a bite in the current conditions”. Around 1100 hrs John called to say “Do you want a walk along the river” My immediate answer was “Yes please” John picked me up around noon for a walk along the river? As we passed over two river bridges on the way, it did look bad with many riverside fields flooded. Eventually we arrived at a safe place to park. Having got into our wellingtons, we then climbed over the stile, walking across the soggy fields, which reminded me of being on a tidal salt marsh, on two occasions we had to make a detour where a flooded area of the field was too deep to wade through.

When we arrived at the bottom of the beat, I could just make out the fence post we put in during the summer. I immediately spotted a small area of water some eight feet in length perhaps two feet wide close to the bank, the water was quite a bit slower, it was caused by an upstream bush in the water. Not like further out where it looked like a giant washing machine swirling around, I said too John, “I reckon you should fish this spot”. He said “We don’t have any bait”. I said “Yes we do I have cheese paste, sausage meat and luncheon meat, surely you didn’t think would come without some bait”. We then walked upstream, just above the bush, I spotted a small area of slow water close to the bank. I estimated from experience the water was around five feet, also its an area where we have a lot of crowfoot growing in pea size gravel and sandy silt.

Having chosen our two spots we made our way back to the car for tackle and bait, before leaving we both had a mug of OXO with a dash of pepper. My jetboiler is perfect in all conditions. John chose to take a sausage roll, while I had a bacon and brown sauce sandwich, to keep me going. The river yesterday was over 6 feet, during the night it peaked at 9 feet, today it was back around six feet. I chose to use my soft Avon action rod with my Richard Carter Avon Classic with 6lb bs line. I added two float stops then tied on a size 4 barbless hook, I set the float stops two feet from the hook then moulded on some plasticine, some after half a dozen casts I felt I had got the weight right.

I had an amazing short session, on the first cast with a chunk of luncheon meat I got a strong pull on the rod tip as the bait was falling through the water, I was so shocked, I completely missed the fish. Rebaiting with another bit of meat, I cast into the same area, as it settled I got a sharp tap on the rod tip, then another tap before the tip pulled round, again I missed. I was getting annoyed with myself, as I tried to work out what I was doing wrong, but couldn’t find an answer. On the next cast I used a smaller bit of meat, then laid the rod in the rest, as I settled my chair in the right spot, the tip suddenly pulled round strongly, again I missed the bite. I reckon I was half asleep, to miss all three bites. I did have one good hook up, but lost the chub towards the net. I was gutted, as it was the start of a New Year I like to catch on the first day. John suffered a number of missed bites, often the tip being pulled round strongly. After an hour in the dark, we chose to end the session. It was a very slow trudge back to the car, bearing in mind the pools of water we had to by-pass, but eventually we arrived back without filling our boots with water, I heaved a sigh of relief.

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Martin James Fishing
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