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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


500 mile round trip for Chub and Perch

For sometime I’ve been helping Frank Price an award winning architect from Warwick to understand how to fish and read rivers by e-mail. Having a few days spare I asked Frank if he would like to join me on the River Kennet for a few days. His immediate answer was “Yes” After sorting out dates and where to meet, I sorted out permits etc. A few days before we were due to go fishing the cold weather set in frost, snow and an easterly wind, not the best conditions but I reckon we could still catch. The problem was driving conditions. The day before we were due to leave I checked all the cameras on the M6 M42 AND M40 Everything looked well, except it would probably be slow journey but what did that matter if we arrived safely. I called Frank late that evening saying “Are you still up for going to the Kennet tomorrow, he replied “Yes” we arranged to meet in Newbury around 2 o’clock the following afternoon.

After meeting up we went off to the Kennet which looked lovely as it turned and twisted its way through the snow covered banks, we had the water to ourselves.

My aim was to help Frank understand and how to read the river, to search out the small quiet bits of water where a fish might be tempted to take a bit of crust, cheese or sausage meat paste and to change his way of fishing from being a static angler to roving one. He was a willing pupil.

I pointed out how to read and understand the creases / seams and how they should be fished. I explained how the tiny boils are favourite areas for chub, and the importance of a thermometer in knowing where the fish under given water temperatures. I showed Frank areas of over hanging trees where fish could be caught, When I reached a rubbish raft I explained how important these areas are and how to fish them. He was amazed at how simple the tackle set up was and how it was so successful. Despite the cold frost snow and easterly wind and those who said "We wouldn’t catch and must be daft even going fishing " . We caught fish, in fact we didn’t have a single blank session with chub averaging 4lbs plus.

My best fish was a chub of 5lb 8oz on legered crust, 6lb line, size 4 Pallatrax barbless hook, with 3LG shot 4 inches from hook using an 11ft 6" soft Avon Action rod with a small fixed spool reel. This best fish of the trip was caught late in the afternoon within 5 minutes of moving into the swim.

Perch and Lobworms

After 3 days with me Frank returned home but I had three more days left, I decided to fish for perch on a gravel pit I had fished in the past with success, but that had been several years ago. First stop was Tadley angling for lobworms and red gentles. Most of the pit was ice covered but I had an area of ice free water about 30 feet wide and twenty yards long in front of a large bed of Norfolk reeds. I chopped up about 60 worms then added a good drop of Pallatrax earthworm which is best described as being a thick dark liquid to which I add powdered milk to make a sloppy mix which I can ball up and throw into the swim. As it sinks it gives off a weak milky cloud which I reckon attracts small fish which pull in the bigger fish. I also scattered over the baited swim about half a pint of red gentles. About every fifteen minutes for the next hour or so I would add another dollop of sloppy chopped worms with a couple of handfuls of red gentles.

I then went into Newbury for some lunch then onto Tadley Angling for another load of lobworms and two more pints of red gentles. Back at the pit I put on the kettle then put together a 13 foot float rod centre pin reel with 4lb line. After putting a rubber float stop on the line then a 3AAA Drennan waggler float followed by another rubber float stop. These rubber stops are perfect for locking the float in position. Using a Palomar know I attached a size 8 Pallatrax barbless hook, the 4 AAA shot were pinched on the line three feet from the hook with a BB shot about six inches from the hook.

After plumbing the depth of my swim I found between 6 and 7 feet, I chose to set the float at six feet so the bait would be visible even with the small patches of weed I had in the swim.

After baiting with some more broken worm slop I scattered a handful of red gentles, baiting with a large lobworm I made a Wallis cast dropping the bait foot from the edge of the ice. Then I stuck the rod tip under the water to sink the line. Within five minutes the float lifted a fraction then dipped below the surface, I tightened into a good fish. Soon I had a perch well over the two pound mark in the net. Zeroing the weigh bag I placed the fish inside, and then hooked it on the scales. I watched the needle go round to 2lb 13 ounces. Baiting with another worm, I scattered a few more red gentles into the swim then cast out. This time the float hadn’t settled before it disappeared. Fish number two was hooked. Another good perch was soon netted and weighed 2lb 12 ounces. More sloppy chopped worms were thrown in along with red gentles. Baiting with a lob I cast to the same area where a fish hit the bait just under the surface. Striking I realised I had abetter fish. It weighed exactly 3lbs.

Eight Cast’s and Seven Fish

Then followed what can only be described as some exciting fish I have had for a long time, In eight casts I hooked eight fish losing one and landing seven, the best was a perch of 3lb 4 ounces. This fish was placed in a large carp and catfish netted bag which I carefully placed in some deep water hoping I might get another good three pounder. More chopped worms and gentles I could now see fish in the gin clear water snatching the worms and gentles about two feet under the surface. Baiting with two lobs so I had four bits of worm hanging from the hook I made a gentle cast dropping the bait on the far side of the swim, As the bait started to sink I drew the float back towards me which caused the worms to lift up in the water when I watch a perch dive in and savagely grab the worms then shake its head vigorously as I set the hook. It weighed 2lb 15 ounces not quite a three. Two more cast and two fish, the second fish was certainly a three pounder as I watched it twist, turn and dive for the bottom, but the well balanced tackle was the winner as I netted a good perch. On the scales I got a reading of 3lb 9 ounces which was placed in the net with the 3lb 4 ounce fish. With twenty minutes the fish had gone, I couldn’t get a touch what ever I tried. I wasn’t going to complain I’d caught 14 perch between 2lb 10 ounces and 3lb 9 ounces. Could life get better I don’t think so. I didn’t notice the icy cold easterly wind or the snow flakes falling to earth and neither did I notice the ice free water disappearing as I fished

Martin James Fishing