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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


19/06/2024 - My New Season Was Cut Short - But The Two Days Were Excellent.

outside the caf'e

For the past few weeks, my thoughts have been on the start of the new season fishing the river Soar with Mark Sarul, Tam Miller and Paul Elliott. Suddenly a few days before the start everything changed, my Kate had to attend the hospital for the result of a scan. As we waited n the waiting room I noticed Kate’s fingers were trembling. I quickly realised there must be something serious, I had no idea what it was. Eventually we were called in to see a surgeon and her team, it was then I learn Kate had breast cancer, I was stunned, no doubt in shock, not having had a clue. After around forty minutes, the consultation ended with arrangements being made for Kate to have the operation the following week. I must say Kate was in a good frame of mind, I wasn’t. I then cancelled my plans , it wasn’t a problem, when I told my friends, they were very positive and full of support and encouragement for Kate and myself.

Later that evening Kate said “I want you to go off to the River Soar with your friend for a couple of days, in fact I insist, you can’t do anything” Next day I called Tam, Mark and Paul with the news that I would be angling for the first two days of the season. Early Sunday morning Tam who lives in the Midlands arrived around 0600 hrs to pick me up, then it was off to Butter Market café in Mountsorrel it’s always been our favourite café, Tam and I arrived just before 0900 hrs where we met up with Mark and Paul. After an excellent breakfast it was off to the river, the weather was warm and sunny with a stiff breeze. In the car park we got sorted out with all our gear then headed across the field among the bull, cows and calf’s, with my first glance at the river, everything looked stunning, more so with some extra water pushing through the bulrushes, the area made me think of the Upper Ouse in the 1950’s, lilies with their yellow flowers added a dash of bright colour, the trees and bushes in their new cloaks of green of various shades, added to the splendour of the day. There were numerous damsel and dragon flies, a chorus of bird song, two swans cruised slowly upstream through the bulrushes, swallows were dashing up and downstream collecting insects to feed their young, a kingfisher dashed upstream, it was great to be back with some very trusted friends.

Time to choose a swim

Tam and Paul made their way towards the top of the beat, Paul taking the end swim, where he tackled up with his new Sowerbutts rod, with a centre pin reel and float tackle his quarry were the roach and chub, as he was putting his gear together he said to me “Martin I should have my pole, I will when we fish the Suffolk Stour”, I look forward to that experience. Next spot downstream was Tam, who started off legering for the perch with lobworm, if not successful, he would change to prawns. Before leaving these two dear friends in peace, I said “I will have fresh brewed tea, with sausage rolls for lunch around 1300 hrs”. I then made my way down stream, stopping every few yards to study the swims which have changed drastically from last season, due to the very big floods that lasted for several weeks. Eventually I come to a spot that caught my attention, with lots of swaying weed, with a huge bed of bulrushes upstream extending across 90% of the river then going upstream some thirty yards. Where the rushes extending across the river they slowed up the flow of water creating a slow deepish pool downstream, The area I had chose gave me a choice of five areas to fish with different conditions. I chose a spot just upstream where the rushes ended, where I could at the same time cover all the water. As I sat putting together my gear using a soft Avon action rod, matched with a small fixed spool reel with braided line, we all have our own choice of rods, reels, lines, float etc etc, in my opinion is a peronal choice, based on experience over many year of fishing with many great experienced anglers around the world. I will often change my tackle in the course of a day’s angling, if I think it’s needed. Often different swims need a complete change of approach, both from tackle and baits, no one set up will cover every swim choice. Using a catapult I put some lobworms across the river to land in the branches of a will bush, where they will fall down into the water, I then put some prawns in various spots especially tight to the rushes.

Mark Catches On Second Cast

After about fifteen minutes I got a call from Mark who was fishing downstream, I could see he got a “Hook Up” as usual the master showed up the way to go, then he has fished the river since being a youngster. As I arrived at his swim, he netted a chub the first of the day. Sadly we didn’t get a picture. An hour or so later I got another shout from Mark, as I arrived I could see he was into a big fish, probably another chub, sadly a few minutes later it got off, when it went into some rushes.

Back in my swim I sat watching the bow in the line, in the hope of a fish picking up the bait, I suppose an hour had gone by when Paul appeared low to the water, then sat down to say "I've had a few roach, as we sat talking, the line tightened I set the hook into a very angry fish, that really did rip some line off the reel in a series head shaking thumps, immediately I thought perch, then I thought I’d seen a dorsal fin for a split second, that might confirmed my idea I’d hooked a good perch, sadly just as Paul went to pick up his camera the fish threw the hook, I was gutted. During the course of the day I had a series of quick taps on the rod tip or the line sometimes dropping slack, but apart from two hook ups where the fish was on for a few seconds. I ended the day without a fish, Was I worried of course not I’d had a great day with three very good friends on a river I love in some beautiful countryside. What more could I wish for. Yes, my thoughts were not always at the waterside, but at home with Kate, but I want use that as an excuse. Tam had some chub, as did Paul.

Tam Got two Great Fish On Monday

At 0800 hrs Paul had to leave us on Sunday evening as he had to work today Monday, so it was just Tam, Mark and myself, in the Butter Market café in Mountsorrel we had a good breakfast, I chose eggs bacon beans on brown toast with a big mug of Yorkshire Gold tea, which I always carry with me, Tam and Mark chose to have two big rolls each, filled with bacon and eggs for breakfast, then it was off to the river, the forecast was good with an occasional shower around noon. We all chose to fish the areas we had fished the first day. Having got sorted out I baited with two lobworms, within ten minutes I had a determined take, striking I got that satisfied feeling of a fish in the end of the line, with a couple of minutes Mark was there landing net in hand, ready to hopefully net the fish, which later he did in fine fashion. At last I’d got off in the new season with a nice chub. Fifteen minutes later I am beside mark as he played a very good chub, after some minutes the fish dived deep into the swaying sharp leafed aquatic plant that can grow to about fifteen feet in length similar to broad leafed pondweed or Potamogeton.

A Surprised Bream

I suppose it was an hour later when I hooked what felt like a heavy fish caught some twenty plus yards downstream under a large raft of rubbish on the far side of the river, as I sat holding the rod, the line went slack winding down quickly I set the hook, after about five minutes what looked like a golden coloured fish, kited into my bank heading for some rushes, thankfully I pulled it away from the danger zone, it didn’t dive, it wasn’t a chub or perch, after a few more minutes I was getting it upstream against the strong flow, by this time Mark was beside me net in hand. As it got closer we both said “Thats a good bream” eventually it was in the net, it weighed 5lb 12 ounces, also being a river bream it didn’t leave any bream slime in my net, as the still water bream do. It was time for a fresh brew, I called Tam, soon all three of us, were sitting and chatting about the mornings events. Tam then moved well downstream of Mark and myself, soon I got a call to say “Can you come down, Tam had a very good two pound plus perch, having taken a pic, I went back upstream stopping to let Mark see the pic of Tam’s perch. An hour later I am off with my big net Tam had got a 5lb chub, but he couldn’t get the fish up with bank with his short handled landing net, I soon had the fish on the bank, after a pic, it was back to my swim. Back in my swim I had two smaller chub, I then I got a nice perch to end my day. Sadly Mark didn’t catch though he did get some good bites. Without a shadow of a doubt Tam caught the best two fish, that were certainly deserved. It’s a pity we didn’t stay the full week, but it could not be helped, I did at least get two days thanks to my friends, also a big thank you to Mark for the pictures of my fish.. Kate will have the operation on Wednesday. I will be worrying all day about what is happening, but I am sure she is in good hands. Hopefully you will enjoy this report of our start to the season. Tight lines everyone.


My first chub

Tam with best chub

River bream

Tams best perch

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Martin James Fishing
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