fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer



A Great Week Of Tropical Fishing 31st March

The sun was high in the vivid blue sky, a light wind rippled the turquoise water of the Caribbean which glittered like a million diamonds. Ezra, Dave’s guide for the day, was high up on his poling platform. His eagle like eyes pearcing into those million diamonds trying to see the grey ghost of the flats. Known as bonefish. I call them the silver bullet. In the bow of the flats boat Dave was bent forward in a typical pose of those hunting bonefish rod at the ready, 50 feet of line was neatly coiled, the fly was lightly held in his fingers. Ezra quietly whispered to Dave "Bonefish at 12 o’clock 40 feet". Making 2 false casts David dropped the gold crystal flash Charlie 3 feet in front of the fish. All was silent as we quietly waited not daring to breath, Ezra whispered "Small strip" Dave done as he was told. "Small strip" whispered our guide The next second Dave's rod was stuck up high as a bonefish dashed across the shallow sandy flat heading for the deeper water. The fight was on.

Some weeks ago Dave Jones of Bury Lancashire asked if he could join me on one of my bonefishing trips, I said "Yes no problem". We arranged to visit Joel Moxey’s bonefishing lodge at Moxey Town Mangrove Cay on Andros Island in the Bahamas for a week visit in late March. In the weeks prior to our departure Dave spent many hours reading that delightful and knowledgeable book Bonefishing by Randall Kaufmann, a book I feel is the bible for all those who want to hunt this magnificent fish of the flats with a fly rod. Though of course you can fish with an Avon action rod, fixed spool reel and 10lb line using either shrimp, bits of conch or crab. You can of course choose to use lures if that's your favourite way of angling. Dave purchased himself a Thomas and Thomas Helix 4 piece travel rod, matched with a large size Loop reel carrying 200 yards of thirty pound backing with an eight weight Cortland bonefish line designed for use in the warm water climes. Wading boots and tropic shirts were also on the shopping list and purchased. Gotcha’s, Crazy Charlie’s, Clouser Minnows, Slider Borski’s, Mini-Puff, and Gold Gotcha’s were tied up on various sizes of hooks. Other flies were purchased from American fly tiers. With the coarse fish season ending on March 14th It was decided to leave on the 18th.

Moxey Town

I had visited our destination Moxey Town at Mangrove Cay on several occasions, its situated on the southern half of Andros island close to the Middle Bight on the east coast. just a short 15 minute flight from Nassau. Its a poor settlement, which was hit by a big hurricane five years ago, causing major damage to the homes, boats and the environment. Most of the people earn their living diving for lobsters and sponges, others use hand lines to catch fish for local restaurants, bonefish camps and lodges. Guiding the visiting bonefish angler, is without a doubt the top job. Its a job that demands a lot of knowledge, not only about the tidal movements, but the aquatic food supply that bonefish feed on, boat handling, which includes standing on an elevated platform some three feet above the stern of the flats boat with a fibre glass pole around fifteen feet in length. The pole is used to guide the boat along the edge of the mangroves or across the flats. The angler will be up front in the bows ready to cast when bonefish is spotted. Using the bow of the boat as 12 o’clock the guide will tell you where to cast for example he might say bone 40 feet 11 o’clock, or 60 feet at 3 o’clock. Often the flats boat will be anchored, the guide taking you wading the flats in search of the bonefish. I feel this is the way to go when possible. Your the true hunter after the hunted.

Moxey’s Bonefish Lodge

In Moxey Town situated next to the liquor store, you’ll find a small laid back bone fishing lodge known as Moxey’s. Where fishing is legendary, the same family for over 60 years have looked after and guiding bone fishers. The two story white lodge with its yellow trim is situated some seventy paces from a bonefish flat. Your room will have air conditioning, showers, bath and refrigerator where you can keep a few bottles of cold beer. I take small electric kettle for tea making. Downstairs you will find a large fly tying room with all the equipment and materials for tying up any flies that you might need. There is a small bar, where you gather before dinner to discuss the days fishing. The meals are excellent, well cooked and plentiful. May the cook and her team of helpers certainly look after us bone fishers. No one goes hungry. The large ice chest you are given each morning, is full of cold drinks, fresh fruit, sandwiches and biscuits.

The guides collectively have many years of experience on the flats and know them intimately. The famous Middle Bight, Big and Little Moxey Creek, Miller Creek where you will see Logger head turtles, big tarpon, barracuda and of course the awesome Sawfish. The latter often 12 feet in length sunning themselves in just 2 feet of water.

Gibson Island

Just a short boat ride across the water from Moxey’s you will find Gibson island with its dark secretive blue hole. I have fished Gibson several times, catching various species of jacks, including crevales averaging 10lbs, the street fighter of the aquatic world. There are numerous species of snappers, grunts etc. to be caught such as. Yellow tails, Schoolmasters, Grunts, Shad, blue runners and more. On the east of the island you will find a huge flat where its possible to fish through the flood and ebb tide for bonefish. I often target the sharks with a 12 weight fly rod which can be great fun. I had one interesting day on my latest trip where I caught 2 Boxfish on the flats, while fishing a small Clouser minnow to represent the lime coloured glass minnow. These bluish-green milk carton shaped boxfish when hooked go off very fast, fighting as hard as any bonefish. Like the bonefish, they are bottom feeders but rarely caught.

Helping the local people

Before leaving home for my latest visit to Moxey Town I collected a large holdall of clothing from friends, they would be given to Ezra and distributed to the local children, I purchased pens, pencils, writing pads for the local school, Goals for Life a Rossendale company gave me a cricket bat, and two footballs for use by the school children. When Dave Jones, Joel Moxey and I visited the school we were greeted by friendly, smiling children and staff. The boys quickly got to know the right way to hold a cricket bat. While the girls were more interested in the ball that could be used for net ball. After handing over the badly needed equipment we said our good byes and headed off for the shoreline where we met our guide Ezra,

The Godfather

I call Ezra is the Godfather of bone fishing guides, He shows the newcomers the art of spotting the bones, how to pole the boat along the edge of the mangroves and over the flats. He shows them how to put the flats boat into the best position to give you the chance of casting the fly. He also keeps the more experienced ones in order and making sure all the anglers have plenty of shots at fish. Ezra is a gentle six foot guy with a powerful shoulders, big hands and a lovely smile with a quiet gravely voice. Ezra knows everyone, he is certainly well respected by all the other bonefish guides and clients.

The Hunt Starts

After breakfast on the first day we collected our equipment, then made our way to the beach to meet Ezra, Rods were stowed safely away then we waded along with Ezra as he pushed the flats boat to deeper water where upon, Ezra said "get aboard" Before doing so we washed off our boots. The last thing you want in the boat is sand and mud. It doesn’t do your fly line any good, or make the guide happy. We were quickly skimming across the wind rippled turquoise water for Little Moxey Creek. Some distance from the creek, the motor was cut, then picking up his long fibre glass pole, Ezra climbed up on his poling platform. Slowly we moved along the creek some thirty feet out from the mangroves. We spotted a two sharks and several rays including a huge Manta ray. Sitting in the mangroves were several egrets, occasionally a heron could be seen hunting. Several bones were spotted two were targeted but they didn’t want to eat or were not happy with the presentation. Two hours later it was time for a break We sat chatting and drinking cool water, or a soft drink. Ezra told us about some of the big bones he had seen on other flats over the years. A Logger head turtle surfaced a few feet off the boat, then spotting us it dived quickly. Our rest period over, we moved off once more in search of a feeding bonefish.

First Bonefish

The sun was high in the vivid blue sky, a light wind rippled the turquoise water of the Caribbean which glittered like a million diamonds. Ezra, Dave’s guide for the day, was high up on his poling platform. His eagle like eyes pearcing into those million diamonds trying to see the grey ghost of the flats. Known as bonefish. I call them the silver bullet. In the bow of the flats boat Dave was bent forward in a typical pose of those hunting bonefish rod at the ready, 50 feet of line was neatly coiled, the fly was lightly held in his fingers. Ezra quietly whispered to Dave "Bonefish at 12 o’clock 40 feet". Making 2 false casts David dropped the gold crystal flash Charlie 3 feet in front of the fish. All was silent as we quietly waited not daring to breath, Ezra whispered "Small strip" Dave done as he was told. "Small strip" whispered our guide The next second Dave's rod was stuck up high as a bonefish dashed across the shallow sandy flat heading for the deeper water. The fight was on. I picked up the Nikon loaded with 100 asa film. I was ready to shoot some action of Dave with his first ever bone. But first he had to land the fish, which had quickly gone off at a fast rate of knots towards the horizon. Some 140 yards of line and backing were gone. For some minutes it was a give and take contest with Dave slowly winning back some of the line. Then as in most cases of fighting a fish Dave quickly got the upper hand. Checking the water was safe we went over the side of the boat where the fish was quickly bought to hand. As Dave lifted his first bonefish he had a grin a mile wide. I shot some photographs of them both. After which the fish was released safely. After the congratulation and a cool drink. We moved on in the hunt for more bonefish.

Lots of Bones, Snappers and a Shark

During our trip we both caught a lot of bones, while Dave hunted the bones exclusively, I went off to Gibson Island where I targeted the bones, snappers, barracuda and sharks. I was equipped with a heavy spinning outfit with 15lb line, a light spinning outfit with 6lb line. I also had 8 and 10 weight rods. In my bag were big and small popping plugs, a selection of lures and 3 boxes of flies, including big flies for jack crevals and sharks. Also some wire leaders for the sharks and barracudas. One day I chummed up the sharks, I had three fish swirling and fighting over the 6/0 fly size chunks of barracuda, one was a black- tipped shark about four feet in length, there was a lemon shark and a big bull shark. The latter was very big. These predators were some twenty feet off shore in about 4 feet of water. I had one of my flies picked up by a big bull shark, before I could lift it off the water. The fish tore off across the flats. After some 200 yards had gone, I pointed the rod at the fish then pulled for a break. No way could I have landed that fish. I targeted the lemon sharks, hooking two landing one a good fish nearly six feet in length. No way do I try to bring these beasts in close. I bring the fish in just close enough to touch, then cut the leader. The barbless hook would be quickly gone and no harm done. Light line fishing with a small plug I caught several jacks which were great fun. Why not take time out from catching bonefish and hook-up to a few other species. In the next couple of chapters I have dealt with some of the tackle and other equipment.

Tackle and Equipment List

I feel the most important bit of equipment when bone fishing is the reel, Bonefish go off fast and strong across the flats, often taking a hundred and fifty yards of line on its first head long rush. So make sure your reel is capable of doing the job. I use various models Loop Tibor and JW Young's reels, But my favourite reel is a hand built bonefish reel by Richard Carter. It was a 60th birthday present. I used this reel when I caught my best bonefish of 9lbs from Cocoa Plum Creek on Green Turtle Cay another Bahamas location.

The reel should have a strong smooth drag, it must hold 200 yards of 30lb backing and the fly line. Make sure the reel isn’t tightly packed. You should be able to run a pencil beneath the reel foot and the line. It needs to be 100% corrosion proof against saltwater. Even then you need to thoroughly wash and dry your reel after every trip. Don’t miss out on this very important job.

There are several brands of rods on the market suitable for bone fishing, I use the Thomas and Thomas rods because I feel they are the best on the market. For bone fishing I use the Helix model. Its a 9 foot 4 piece 8 weight that casts a nice line and copes very well in winds of 15 knots. I also take a 9 weight for use when the winds are gusting at 20-25 knots. The line for use in the tropics must be one designed for warm water climes, Don’t try using your normal cold water fly fishing line. It want work. Both Cortland and Scientific Anglers produce quality fly lines designed for bone fishing. As with all equipment used in saltwater, your fly lines should be thoroughly washed, dried then polished with one of the commercial fly line cleaners. Don’t forget to wash all the flies you use in saltwater.

Boots and Accessories

I mention boots first, they are so important. You can have the best rod, reel and line, but if you cut your feet badly on your first days bone fishing. All that expensive gear is wasted. Where ever you fish in the tropics you will find coral, Cut yourself on this stuff and you can quickly have problems. Coral is very poisonous. You will no doubt at sometime tread on sea urchins which are common on the flats. The spines of sea urchins can puncture neoprene, or almost anything else. If you do get punctured by a sea urchin spine, remove it very carefully and quickly. Disinfect the wound then apply an antibiotic cream. Should the spine break off see a doctor immediately.

There are both cheap and costly types of footwear for use in the tropics. Don’t go out and buy a cheap pair of sandals or other similar footwear used for snorkelling or sailing. You want a pair of wading boots with strong soles, they need to be high to protect your ankles have speed lacing and must be a good fit. I also use neoprene socks inside my boots They are easily washed and dry quickly. Never wade in bare feet you can quickly get burnt. The best boots I have seen and used are Patagonia Marlwalkers My present pair are some two years old, they have been used for some seven months of hard wading in the Bahamas, Mexico, the eastern seaboard of the United States and the Persian Gulf. They haven't let me down.

Sunscreen needs to be applied liberally over all exposed skin, your need some good tropics designed shirts with long sleeves and high collars, I often wear shorts, but if there is any chance of horse flies or other biting insects I wear long lightweight pants. I use two types of hats both a light coloured material with a dark brim. My favourite hat is one designed like a Foreign Legionnaire’s Kepi. Its perfect for protecting your neck and ears. Finally make sure you have an excellent pair of polarised sunglasses, not only for fish spotting but most of important of all to protect your eyes. Finally you will want a selection of bonefish flies and leaders. I suggest you take a selection of the new Frog Hair leaders 9’ and 10’ with tippet breaking strains of 8lb,10lb,12lb and 14lbs. That’s a list of the important items of gear you will need. Take a look in any tackle brochure and you will find dozens of other items for use in the warmer climes. I will be going back to Moxey Town in late May 2003. If you would like to join me your more than welcome. E-mail me For more information on Moxey’s bonefish lodge E-mail


Anglers in the north west are being reminded to renew their rod licences before their next fishing trip. All full and concessionary licences for the 2002/3 angling season expire at midnight on 31 March, but new season licences are on sale now. All anglers aged 12 or over must have a valid licence. Full licences have gone up just £1 since last year and are easy to buy. They are available from any Post Office, from the Environment Agency’s telephone sales line on 08701 662 662, or on the internet from

The Environment Agency uses income from rod licence sales to improve fishery habitats for the benefit of anglers and wildlife. Recent projects in the region, funded by licence sales, include: Coniston Water, Cumbria – work to protect the lake’s charr population. River Lostock, near Preston – work to protect riverbanks from overgrazing by farm animals, resulting in an improved river habitat for fish. Chequer Lane, Upholland near Wigan – creation of a new angling lake and community recreation and conservation area. Salterbeck Pond, Workington – environmental improvements plus additional work to improve access and allow more anglers to use the site. Cameron Durie, the Environment Agency’s regional Fisheries Technical Specialist, said: “The annual rod licence is excellent value for money. The income we get from sales helps us develop opportunities for as many people as possible to enjoy angling, with improved habitats and better access to fisheries. Buying a rod licence couldn’t be easier, so there’s no excuse for anyone to be fishing without one.” Environment Agency fisheries officers patrol the region’s waters and carry out checks on anglers’ licences. Licence dodgers are prosecuted and fines average nearly £100. Since April last year 190 anglers in the north west have been convicted of fishing without a valid licence. They were fined a total of £12,403 and ordered to pay costs totalling £10,170.

New Frog Hair Tippet Material 30th March

Some months ago I was given some spools of tippet material and leaders for fresh and saltwater angling. I was then asked to give the product a good field testing. Its known as Frog Hair, a strange name I thought. Talking with one of the company representatives Ron Carr at the Somerset New Jersey fly fishing show I asked "Why the name Frog Hair"? Ron said "I was talking with a colleague about the material", when he said "Its as thin as frog hair" A term we use in the United States to describe something so fine its hard to see. This I thought was an excellent description for this new leader material.
Tennis Racquet's
Gamma Technologies a leading manufacturer of racquet strings, claim its more shock resistant and supple than conventional tippet material. I have used frog hair on my centre pin reel for chub fishing, and as a leader material for fly fishing in fresh and saltwater. On my recent trips to the Bahamas and the Persian Gulf I have used the Deep Blue and Frog Hair tapered leaders with great success for bonefish, ,jack crevales, queen fish, bonefish, shad, yellow tails and boxfish. The latter is a very rare species indeed. I didn't catch one but two boxfish. The elasticity in the material certainly helps prevent break offs by cushioning those sudden jerks on the line, which we have all experienced. It often happens when bonefishing. I liked the extremely low memory There is nothing worse than a leader that want straiten. The Frog Hair fluorocarbon leaders have a stiff butt with a nice supple tip and a perfection loop. The Deep Blue saltwater leaders also come with a stiff butt, supple tip and perfection loop. Frog Hair line worked perfectly on my centre pin, perhaps it helped me catch a few more big chub. I used two knots, the Polomar and Nonslip Mono Knot .Check out their website,

Fishing News 30th March

Rutland Water

Anglian Water’s flagship water gets off to flying start.

Senior Warden, John Seaton commented “Boat fishing at Rutland got off to an excellent start on Saturday. The rod average for the first two days is just under 7 and anglers are reporting fish taken in all areas. Fish are right in tight to the bank, so prospects look excellent for Tuesday 1 April when bank angling opens. The signs look good for big catches off the bank.”

John went on to say “Over wintered rainbows and browns have been showing, but the pre season 20,000 stock fish have dominated the proceedings. Plenty of buzzers, blood worm, daphnia and one or two fry are showing up in the trout’s diet.”

Best fish of the day fell to local gunsmith Graham Emms from Spalding. Graham took a 5lb 11oz rainbow on a black buzzer and floating line. best rainbow 5lb 11oz taken by Graham Emms of Spalding fish stocked 2000 forthcoming events Saturday 5 April Troutmasters Fish Off (bank) Sun 19 and 27 April Beginners course places still available

Grafham Water

fish for week557(season1002) returns114 (208) rod average 4.88 (4.81)

Grafham Water has continued to fish exceptionally well this week with a rod average of 4.88. One third of the anglers have caught their limits. Season ticket holder Les Mundy, from Bretton, Peterborough, caught the biggest rainbow of the week. Les’s fish weighed in at 8lb 1¼oz, and was taken from the seat area of the bank, on a Black Pennell on an intermediate line. The main methods this week have been intermediate lines with montanas, cats whiskers, buzzers and gold head damsels or fast sink lines with black and green boobbies or cats whiskers. On Tuesday 1 April the fishing restrictions on the west side of the reservoir are lifted,and also Brown trout are back in season which will please many anglers as there have been many caught and released around the 5to 6lb mark .best boat areas Hill Farm, Hedge End, G Marker, bowl of the dam and the lodge frontage best bank areas Hill Farm, G bank, bowl of the dam, the seat and the harbour arms mid week boat winner Ray French from Letchworth

best methods Intermediate lines, montanas, cats whiskers, buzzers and gold head damsels. Fast sink lines, black and green boobies fish stocked 2000 forthcoming events Saturday 5 April Troutmasters Fish Off (bank) Sun 27 April Beginners course places still available

Pitsford Water

fish for week715(season1461) returns184 (364) rod average 3.8 (4.0)

The best Rainbow of the week weighed 8lb and was taken by Paul Allen of Milton Keynes . Paul used an intermediate line with a black and green tadpole lure to take his fish from the Gorse Bank. Edward Batty of Grantham returned a 5lb out of season brown from a boat. As from 1 April the season for brown trout opens. Two brown per visit are permitted. With 1000 brown trout being stocked in April and May. 1 April also sees the opening of the ‘small half’. 1000 Rainbow trout have been stocked prior to opening. The East Midlands Trout Fishing Association held a casting clinic and Barbeque on Saturday. Twelve members received tuition on the bank from Senior Warden Nathan Clayton. John Duffield said the event was a great success and will be repeated next year. best bank Gorse and the Cliffs boat areas Gorse and the Dam best methods Buzzers under the bung or intermediate line with small lures or green damsels or gold heads best rainbow 8lb taken by Paul Allen of Milton Keynes fish stocked 1000 mid week boat winner Terry Pancoust of Northampton forthcoming events Trout Masters Fish Off (bank) Saturday 26 April

Ravensthorpe Reservoir

fish for week 324 (season2152) returns 95 (518) rod average 3.4 (4.15)

Ravensthorpe is continuing to provide outstanding fishing. Staffordshire police visited mid week and were rewarded with a 6.6 rod average. Top rod was Michael Cartlidge of Stoke, with two fish for a huge 24lb 1oz, including a 14lb 6oz monster that took a mini cats whisker. Michael also returned a dozen other fish. John Goodwin took runner up slot with two for 10lb 5oz.

The reservoir continued to provide excellent sport the following day for the Bull Fly Fishers. Michael Hickey took top spot with a 9lb 10oz rainbow on a damsel nymph in his winning bag. Bank angler Wayne Nixon of Catthorpe, Rugby, proved mobility and patience is the key by taking 9 fish on buzzers and lures at the weekend. Ravensthorpe’s rainbows have been gorging themselves on daphnia. The sunk line and lure approach is proving to be the best method. But given a little cloud or haze fish are being taken on buzzers and bung in the afternoon.The water is crystal clear with good midge hatches and some damsel nymph activity. There are more casting platforms being installed at Ravensthorpe during the coming week. best boat areas Causeway and willows best bank areas mobility is the key, dome fish now on dam best rainbow 14lb 6oz taken by M Cartlidge of Stoke mid week boat winner D Fernando of Camberley

coarse fishing Taverham Mills

Taverham Lake has fished very well this week with good quality Tench falling to most anglers. The Weir family from Buckden enjoyed some excellent sport. Mum Christine took 5 Tench to 4½lbs. With Dad, Mike, taking 2 fish to 5lb. Son Andrew demonstrated his skills by taking 4 Carp weighing 19lb, 15lb 10oz, 17lb 5oz and 13lb. With his younger brother Simon weighing in a 10lb Carp.

Ardleigh The recent warm weather has really got the fish feeding well. Last weekend season permit holder Roger Shipley caught a 24 lb carp from Lodge Bank. Richard 'Barty' Bartlett equalled Roger's feat with a carp of the same size whilst fishing up the A12 end of the reservoir. This area has also been favoured for both bream and also some very nice tench. David Baksh reporting the largest at 7lbs. Anglers are reminded that there is a pike close in operation until 1st June but the reservoir remains open all year for all other anglers.

Fishing News 27th March

Grafham Water

Grafham Water has had a tremendous start to the season with some great catches. The fog on opening day soon dispersed with the sun shining through to provide fantastic weather. Bank anglers were spread along the whole of the north shore with most of them catching throughout the day. It was an impressive sight seeing the dam equally full of anglers. Other hot spots from the bank were the stone groins at Hill Farm, Marlow Stones, and the harbour arms, with anglers queuing to get in on the action.

There were lots of overwintered fish caught. The biggest fish on opening day was taken by Grafham regular Dave Ross, from Hatfield, fishing from a boat. The rainbow weighed 8lb 14oz and was caught using a sinking line and pheasant tail nymph. This fish won Dave the Lodge Trophy and £80 of tackle vouchers (£10 for every pound of fish caught). The second biggest rainbow of the day was caught by Oakham’s Alan Ovendon fishing from the bank. It weighed 7lb 11oz and was caught at the stumps on a black and green tadpole and floating line. There were several big browns caught but they were all returned to fight another day as they are out of season until 1 April.

All methods seem to be catching for both boat and bank anglers. Boobies and sinking lines and any lures with black and green are proving the most popular and buzzers fished under the bung on floating line. Ex England Youth angler Pablo Mullins, from London, took a good bag of fish from the middle depths of the water on buzzers.

best boat areas; stumps, hill farm, G Buoy and the Dam

best bank areas Stumps, Hill Farm jetty, Marlow Stones, the Willows, Harbour Arms and the Dam.

mid week boat winner Ray French of Letchworth

Pitsford Water

fish for week 487(season746) returns 138(180) rod average 3.5(4.1)

This was a record smashing week at Pitsford Water with a 13lb 14oz Rainbow breaking the previous record of 13lb 8oz which had stood since 1991. Alex Uquhart, of Hinckley, took the beauty with a black buzzer on a floating line from a boat off the point of Hell Bay. It was a week of big catches for boat and bank anglers. Gold season ticket holder Rob Edmunds, of Ringstead, Kettering, took a 10lb 4oz rainbow from a boat off Bog Bay. Rob’s fish was taken on a cat’s whisker booby fished on a Di 7 line. Rutland Water warden Paul Friend took a double figure brown whilst rudder fishing across the Narrows. Paul was photographed with the fish, which was then returned to the water.

best bank & boat areas Gorse Bank, Cliffs, Narrows and Brixworth Bay

best methods buzzers fished on floating lines when fished early and late. Lures and damsel nymphs fished on intermediate and fast sinking lines.

best rainbow 13lb 14oz taken by Alex Urquhart – see report

fish stocked 1000

mid week boat winner Mark Sturgess of Nuneaton

Ravensthorpe Reservoir

fish for week 314(season1828) returns 99 (423) rod average 3.18(4.32)

Londoner John McAllister had a day to remember taking the best fish of the week a 9lb 6oz rainbow in his catch of 10 fish. John anchored off the islands and used a black tadpole and a white Pitsford pea.

Ravensthorpe regulars Tim and Paul Polito were again amongst the fish boating 27 in a half day session. The brothers, from Medbourne near Market Harborough, fished white minkies and gold head damsels on intermediate and Di5 lines.

Banbury’s Digby Lewis enjoyed excellent sport boating a 6lb 2oz Rainbow from the Coton Shallows, a size 14 orange buzzer on floating line accounted for this and 11 other hard fighting fish.

Tom Scratton of Bugbrook trout fished for the first time in many years and blew the cobwebs off his ‘R.W. superlite’ rod to land a lovely 5lb 2oz rainbow from Hickman’s Pier.

Clear water and warmer temperatures have seen the start of surface activity at Ravensthorpe with fish feeding on hatches of black buzzer during the middle part of the day. Although lures fished deep and slow are still accounting for the majority of fish caught, diawl bach, GRHE and buzzer imitations fished in the surface layers from drifting boats are taking fish between the island and causeway.

best boat areas North Shore

best bank areas Natural Banks

best rainbow 9lb 6oz taken by John McAllister of London with a black lure on a Hi D3

mid week boat winner Mark Flavin of Northampton

coarse fishing

Taverham Mills

The warmer weather certainly benefited most anglers this week with plenty of good tench to 5lb coming from Taverham Lake. Season permit holder Bob Anderson of Taverham banked 7 fish overnight despite a hard frost in the early hours.

Big carp are now on the move in all areas of the lake with day ticket angler Simon Cox of Norwich banking a 20lb 15oz common using sweetcorn. This was a personal best for Simon who said “I am on cloud nine”. Taverham regular Gavin Buck from Hellesdon landed a 20lb 1oz Mirror whilst stalking in the snags. The 250 2lb – 3lb Mirrors, recently stocked into Taverham have settled into their new home and Costessey No2 produced a fine 21lb fully scaled Mirror for season permit holder Kirk Phoenix from Norwich.

The Taverham Mill fish off for the Angling Times/Nash Carpmasters (which ends on 31 March) will be held as a 24 hour match on April 5th and 6th. The winner will go through to the regional final at Drayton reservoir, Daventry on April 22nd and 23rd. With a week to go the position could still change.

The Taverham leaderboard is

1 Vinny Armiger of Norwich 38lb

2 Andy Moore (Costessey) 37lb 8oz

3 Dan Leone (Norwich) 30lb 11oz

4 Gavin Buck (Hellesdon) 30lb 4oz

5 Simon Wrigglesworth (Horsford) 30lb 2oz

Hollowell Reservoir

A number of large pike have been taken at Hollowell recently. Martin Wright, of Northants took a superb 27lb specimen from the Dam Wall on a dead bait.

It's Not All About Big Fish or Big Catches 17th March 2003

Graham Cook of Lancaster sent me the following story Its what this delightful sport is all about. Graham writes Sitting at home on Saturday watching the rain fall led me to think that there would be a bit of water in the Wyre, so I drove down to Garstang to have a look. Understatement to say the least! an extra 3 feet of raging coffee coloured torrent, just right for Monday I thought, it will have dropped to a fishable level.

So off I went Monday morning, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, looking forward to the best days fishing on the Wyre this year. How wrong I was! Where did all that water go? It was now about six inches above the level of a week ago and starting to clear. Oh well, still fishable so I started to fish, forty five minutes later the first fish of the day, a chub of 3lb 8oz, fought like a sack of spuds but a nice fish none the less. Unfortunately somebody decided that I was not going to have it easy, then turned the wind up, off went my seat down the river. Followed by my rucksack (I managed to grab it as it flew past my head), rod tops were bouncing around like they were alive. Then it started to rain, much like the rain you would expect in a Charlton Heston biblical epic, buckets of the stuff, but it was to windy to put up my brolly, so I threw my dolly out of the pram, then beat a hasty retreat for home.

To add insult to injury Lancaster was bathed in sunshine. So I thought a quick sandwich and off to the Lune. This was up 12 inches and the swim I had in mind was underwater, so a quick rethink and off the swim they call the iron bar. Maggots not a sniff, casters not interested, bread started to get bites. Unfortunately it was one of those days when I could not hit a cows backside with a barn door; and then it started again, the rain. This time it included hail, thunder and lightning, bouncing off the surface like a squash ball off the back wall of a court. I sat there in total disbelief, not able to move from the shelter of my brolly for 40 minutes (at least the wind had dropped).

So it was not what I would call the perfect end to the season, roll on those calm summer days!

Fishing News 17th March 2003

Ravensthorpe Reservoir

fish for week 207(season 282) returns 137 (197) rod average 5.8 (5.2)

The first full week of the season has produced a rod average of just under 6 fish, with some individual rods returning teens of fish. Doubles proved no trouble with the fish of the week weighing 11lb exactly. This fine specimen was taken on a black from Mongers Point by season ticket holder Rob Aves of Burton Latimer.

Paul Dennis from Dublin returned a 7lb 8oz brown from the Lodge bank, this magnificent fish fell to a black fritz lure. Season ticket holder Dick Haynes from East Haddon took an overwintered rainbow weighing 9lb in his catch of 12 fish, also taken from the bank. Leicester’s Rob Keeber braved a blustery day on a boat and was then rewarded on the bank with a 9lb 6oz overwintered specimen taken on a pink lure.

Ravensthorpe regular Tim Polito, from Medbourne near Market Harborough, achieved an ambition when he took his first ‘double’ a fine 10lb 14½oz fish whilst boat fishing near the island, this took a black Montana.

There are big fish a plenty with most coming to classic early season lures in black, white and orange, fished on intermediate or floating lines. A few fish are now taking buzzers with the top buzzer area being the dome bushes. Boats are catching best along the North East shore behind the island. While bank anglers should head for the lodge bank. The dam is rather unproductive at present.

best methods black, white or orange lures on intermediate or floating lines

best rainbow 11lb taken by Rob Aves of Burton Latimer

best brown 7lb 8oz taken by Paul Dennis of Dublin

fish stocked 500

mid week boat winner Phil Harding of Belper

Pitsford Water

With 4000 fish going into Pitsford Water this week prospects look very good for the opening of the new season on Friday 14 March. Anglers are reminded that until 1 April Brown trout must be returned to the water. The small half remains out of bounds until 1 April. Boat bookings are filling fast with opening day fully booked and only a few boats remaining for Saturday 15 March.

Pitsford Water has started the season with a bang and a rod average of 6.1. Opening day was well supported and both bank and boat fishing produced good quality fish, topped by two double figure Rainbows of 11lb 15oz and 12lb 15oz respectively. Anglian Water’s Nathan Clayton said “We’ve started the way we mean to go on the 2003 season looks like being one of the best ever.”

The first double figure fish of the season weighed 11lb 15 oz and was caught by bank angler Gavin Clark from Yelvertoft, Northants. Taken from the Gorse Bank on a cat’s whisker presented on a wet cell 11 line this was Gavin’s first double figure fish and completed a fine limit catch.

Four Waters season ticket holder Chris Mcleod from Cambridge took a superb 12lb 15oz specimen from a boat anchored off Duffers Reach. Chris used a Di 3 line and a small yellow minkie lure. The fish fought well and was finally landed after some 15 minutes.

Andrew Taylor of Ely landed a cracking Rainbow at 8.30 am on Saturday. GWFFA member and season ticket holder Andrew took the 10lb 2oz rainbow from Gorse Bank, the fish was weighed at the lodge by Nathan Clayton. Andrew used a gold head damsel on a slime line.

A quality rainbow weighing 11lb13oz was taken by Luton’s Simon Reid from the bank near the Pines. Simon’s fish fell to an orange booby fished on a Di 7 line.

There have been a number of good overwintered fish with some anglers taking the better fish on nymphs/buzzers and floating lines but as always lures have proved effective when fished on Hi Di lines and Intermediates. Many anglers taking bag limits have been using slime lines.

best boat areas within 100 metres of the bank

best bank areas Duffers, Bog Bay, Stone Barn and Sailing Club bank

best methods buzzers are catching in the warmer part of the day along with the Pitsford pea. With bright conditions fish are feeding on green daphnia. Fish are moving down when the sun rises.

best rainbow 12lb 15oz taken by Chris McLeod of Cambridge

fish stocked 4400

Ravensthorpe Reservoir

fish for week 482 (season1514) returns 127 (324) rod average 3.8(4.67)

Ravensthorpe has continued to produce excellent sport this week with fish still feeding heavily on daphnia. Lures fished deep and slow in the margins are proving to be the best method. It’s worth trying fritz damsel variants, small black, white or orange lures on glass or intermediate line. “Give the fish something to see and time to take it” is a top tip.

Phil Harding made a worthwhile trip from Peterborough to boat 17 Rainbows from the north shore shallows. Phil, the previous week’s ‘free boat winner’ enjoyed consistent sport throughout the day and included a superb 10lb 3oz fish in his bag.

Tom Crosier from Kingsthorpe, Northampton, took the best fish this week – an 11lb 3oz beauty caught boat fishing the Ravensthorpe bank off Hickman’s Spinney. Tom fished a fritz damsel on a slow sink line to take his personal best rainbow.

Season ticket holder and Grafham regular Chris Orders took advantage of recent bank clearance work at the Coton End. Chris waded out to tempt a super 11lb 2oz over wintered rainbow.

Other notable catches this week were a lovely brace of 6lb rainbows taken by Dennis Mees of Solihull from the back of the island with a nymph on a floating line and rainbows of 5lb 8oz and 6lb 8oz in a 9 fish bag taken by Market Harborough’s Paul Polito.

best boat areas North Shore shallows

best bank areas Ravensthorpe bank

best rainbow 11lb 3oz taken by Tom Crosier of Northampton on a Fritz damsel on a slow sinking line from a boat off Hickmans Spinney

An Amazing Weeks Fishing 17th March

Some weeks ago Mike Osborne of Cumbria and I decided we would spend the last few days of the current coarse fishing season on the banks of the rivers Kennet, Teme, Loddon and St Patrick’s stream. It was decision that turned into a dream weeks fishing including some personal best fish for both of us.

The trip started with an afternoons angling on the river Teme for barbel, arriving at this delightful Midland river we found conditions were perfect. The river was highly coloured with some three feet of extra water, and a water temperature of 46 degrees F. I decided to fish a swim where the main river was joined by two arms of the river which flowed around an island. I made up a barbel outfit with a centre pin reel and 12lb line, also a chub fishing outfit, again using a centre pin reel with 6lb line. I had a selection of baits bread, cheese paste, lobworms and meat.

Casting out a large chunk of meat, I had a good take within minutes of rolling the bait down the fast water on the far bank. I connected with a nice barbel. After a good scrap I netted a fish which turned the scales to 8lbs. Recasting another big chunk of meat I was quickly into another good fish. A barbel which pulled the scales down to 9-5-0. After a fifteen minute session without a take I changed over to my chub fishing outfit, baiting the size 4 hook with 2 lobworms. I made a long cast across the river, allowing the bait to trundle down river where it settled in a slack. Within seconds the rod tip pulled over. A good fish was hooked. After a good scrap, I netted a barbel which pulled the scales down to 9-1-0. Rebaiting with another couple of worms I made another cast across the river to the faster water, allowing the bait to moved down stream. After it had gone some twenty feet, I felt the tip pull downwards, the answering strike connecting with another fish. Not a barbel. It turned out to be a chub of around 4lbs The next cast I got another chub of about the same weight.

Casting again to the far bank the worm baited hook trundled downstream, a minute or so later I had a violent take and connected with what I thought was perhaps a double figure barbel. After some minutes I netted a good fish, which pulled the scales down to 9-1-0 Within minutes of casting again. I had another good fish of 8-14-0. This was turning into one of those exciting sessions we occasionally get in our angling life. With the sun shining, a kingfisher on the far bank willow tree and no other anglers on the opposite bank. Life couldn’t get better. Mike was further down river, He had caught 2 nice barbel and lost a really big fish in a snag close to the net As he said "It was certainly a double" During the rest of the afternoon I continued to get bites from chub and barbel on lob worm bait. Catching barbel of 6-0-0 9-4-0 and 2 barbel at 7-8-0 approximately. Three barbel of 9lbs plus but sadly not a double figure fish. How unlucky can one get. At dusk we called it a day after a great afternoons fishing in perfect conditions. We then shared a delightful hot pot meal at the waterside. Within an hour and a half of leaving the riverside we arrived at our B & B 1 Church Lane Thatcham for the best B & B available in the country.

The Delightful River Kennet

The river Kennet is not only Berkshires nicest river, its England's most delightful waterway. Though not as nice today, as in the past. I first fished this lovely stream in 1947, even as a youngster, I immediately realised the Kennet was a special river. Little did I know that today was going to be a very special one. It was certainly a nice day for angling, warm and overcast with a good flow on the river and most important. There was some colour in the water, which I find certainly does increase ones chance of a good fish. My target fish were chub and barbel. Tackle was quite simple an Avon action rod, centre pin reel, 6lb breaking strain line with a size 4 hook. Baits were lobworms, bread and meat. Though my first choice bait would certainly be bread. I chose to fish a swim where I had once caught 4 Chub over 5lbs in 4 casts including a 6lb plus fish.

On my first cast I rolled a big chunk of bread under the branches of an Alder tree where its branches trailed into the water. Quickly accounting for a big chub which weighed in at 5-14-0 What a great start. My next cast accounted for a bream of about 5lbs, this was followed half an hour later by a barbel of 7-8-0. Then followed a quiet spell of about two hours. After a fresh brew I had a break. As I sat listening to the Australia New Zealand cricket match, I fed hook size samples of bread under the trailing branches of the Alder tree.

After a long break I decided it was time to roll another bait under the branches of this riverside Alder. Within minutes I had another bream about 5lbs. . Meanwhile Mike had called me to say he had taken a personal best chub of 5-12-0 and a perch of 2-2-0 both on a worm baited hook. Time for a bait change I thought. I baited my size 4 hook with two of the biggest lobworms I could find. Casting out I sat holding the rod, slowly easing the bait downstream. I felt a quick pluck, on striking I connected with a good fish. It turned out to be a magnificent brown trout of 4-7-0 I thought What a super fish to catch on a dry fly during May.

Baiting with bread I quickly had a super barbel of 9-6-0. I thought this fish was going to be my first double figure barbel, but sadly not. Ten minutes later I had another bream of about 5lbs again bread had been the bait. It was certainly another good fishing session and I was more than happy. I will now let David Hallet of Slough in Buckinghamshire take up the story during the rest of the session. David writes

I was amazed to learn that Martin had not landed a double figure barbel in spite of all his angling skills and years of experience, it's the only thing that I have beaten him to! However this has now been achieved with a beautiful 11lb 14ozs Kennnet barbel taken on Monday afternoon. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I was able to net this fish for Martin and to enjoy the euphoria that this generated. Martin was like a demented schoolkid (in spite of his bus pass!) and this was infectious.
Firstly the bait, as for most of Martin's more memorable catches, it was "yeast flavoured bread". Who said the old fashioned baits can't still catch the big ones? As for the more technical detail: Martin was using a Avon 11ft 6ins Action rod. A Richard Carter Centrepin 6lb Masterline Fluorocarbon line. Three LG shot 6inches from the size 4 Partridge hook holding the breadcrust. To add insult to injury I blanked! It was delightful, to see the pleasure that Martin got from this fish, it puts the enjoyment that our sport can give into perspective. On Tuesday it was back to the Kennet, where Martin blanked, so he his human! (in fairness he was suffering from a throat infection and stayed in one swim all day). I blanked again as did most people on a river which was falling and clearing rapidly.

St Patrick’s Stream

On Wednesday I was on the St Patrick's Stream with Dave Johnson and friends, It was a tough days angling. To make matters worse, there were a lot of anglers about and I had to contend with a gale force easterly wind. During the day I had six bites which accounted for three chub averaging some two and a half pounds. I lost a barbel about five pounds and missed two bites. I was quite happy to leave the cold wind swept river bank for the delightful fire in David’s lounge and the steak pie David had cooked.

Return To The Loddon

Thursday David had day tickets for Mike and I on the river Loddon, A water I had fished the previous year, where I had caught a 6-5-0 chub. After bacon sandwiches and fresh tea we all departed to our chosen swims I decided to fish a big back water. David said "Can I join you" I said "Of course you can" I arrived at my chosen swim, after tackling the local Commando course including barbed wire. I tackle up with an Avon rod, centre pin reel, 6lb line with one LG shot pinched on the line some six inches from a size 4 hook. Baiting with crust I dropped the baited hook tight to the bank under a Hawthorn bush. Within seconds I had a bite, which I missed. Rebaiting I cast to the same spot, seconds later the rod tip dipped downwards the strike connected with a good fish. David picked up my landing net which he pushed in the water. As the fish was pulled over the waiting net, David lifted. Another nice fish. I said to David "That’s a good 4lb plus fish, it might go five pounds" It was weighed pulling the scales down to 5-7-0 I punched the air. This was my 31st chub over 5lbs in a season. During the day on the advise of David I rolled cheese paste down another swim hooking and losing one barbel and landing a fish about 6lbs. I also had several more chub with two five pounders 5-4-0 and 5-11-0. I spent the last two hours of the day trying to catch a twenty pound plus carp. I had three fish swirling and rooting in my swim but they didn’t want my bread or cheese baits. As dusk settled over the river I called it a day. Back at the car Mike told me about his 5-3-0 chub taken using a float leger technique on luncheon meat. A bait we had been told wasn’t used..

Back on the Teme

After a final excellent breakfast at 1 Church Lane we headed off to the Teme for our final session of the season. We arrived to find the river with some colour and carrying some six inches of extra water. The sun was shining, the sky blue and lots of birds were going about their business, it was a wonderful day to be alive. Today I decided I wanted to catch some fish. I wasn’t bothered what size or species they were. I just wanted to feel the string being pulled and see the stick bent. I chose to fish a stretch of river with lots of fallen trees. Setting myself a target of catching a fish from each of my chosen fishing spots. Catch one fish ten move on. It worked, I had five small barbel and over a dozen chub. Most of the chub probably averaged a pound and a half. But I wasn’t bothered It was great fun in the sunshine. At dusk we called it a day and headed for home. Another season was over. It had certainly been a good one. Roll on June 16th. Until then I had plenty of habitat work to do on my local rivers, I also had plenty of work to do on my new book, catch a few river brown trout and teach some of my listeners to cast a fly. On Tuesday I am off to guide in the Bahamas and hopefully make some anglers dreams come true with a fly caught bonefish.

Big Pike From Yorkshire Stillwater 10th March

34 year old Brian Simmons of York fished a stillwater in his home county with a legered sardine bait, capturing a personal best fish of 24lbs. Brian used a fixed spool reel, 12lb breaking strain line and a powerful 12 foot carp rod. The fish picked up Brian's bait late in the afternoon, after a biteless fishless day.

Barbel and Chub Feed 10th March

Despite all the rain over the past couple of days chub and barbel have been feeding despite rising rivers countrywide. Blackpool angler Allan Roe fishing the river Ribble for grayling caught a big chub weighing 5-4-0. Allan caught his big chub on light float tackle and gentles. He also had two big grayling.

Liverpool angler Tony Jackson fished the lower reaches of the river Ribble with shellfish flavoured boilie bait catching several nice chub including a 14lb mirror carp. Tony fished 6lb line size 8 hook and a Harrison rod with a fixed spool reel.

On the river Kennet Paul Williams of South London had a personal best barbel of 12-9-0 on luncheon meat bait fished on a size 6 hook to 10lb breaking strain line. Paul had 2 other barbel of 8lbs and 9-6-0

With rising water temperatures and river levels, prospects are looking good for the last week of the current coarse fishing season. Don't be put off by high and fast rivers. You might have to use 4 ounce weights but that doesn't stop the fish picking up your bait and who knows you might just hook into a personal best chub or barbel. Its not only these two species that will feed If you pick a quieter area of water you could be catching some good roach bream perch or pike. Going on past experiences, I will be fishing every waking moment during this last week. My target fish are chub and barbel. My baits will vary from bread to cheese paste, meat baits including meat balls pellets and lobworms. I will be fishing the river Teme Kennet and Loddon.


Big Pike From Yorkshire Stillwater 10th March

34 year old Brian Simmons of York fished a stillwater in his home county with a legered sardine bait, capturing a personal best fish of 24lbs. Brian used a fixed spool reel, 12lb breaking strain line and a powerful 12 foot carp rod. The fish picked up Brian's bait late in the afternoon, after a biteless fishless day.

Barbel and Chub Feed 10th March

Despite all the rain over the past couple of days chub and barbel have been feeding despite rising rivers countrywide. Blackpool angler Allan Roe fishing the river Ribble for grayling caught a big chub weighing 5-4-0. Allan caught his big chub on light float tackle and gentles. He also had two big grayling.

Liverpool angler Tony Jackson fished the lower reaches of the river Ribble with shellfish flavoured boilie bait catching several nice chub including a 14lb mirror carp. Tony fished 6lb line size 8 hook and a Harrison rod with a fixed spool reel.

On the river Kennet Paul Williams of South London had a personal best barbel of 12-9-0 on luncheon meat bait fished on a size 6 hook to 10lb breaking strain line. Paul had 2 other barbel of 8lbs and 9-6-0

With rising water temperatures and river levels, prospects are looking good for the last week of the current coarse fishing season. Don't be put off by high and fast rivers. You might have to use 4 ounce weights but that doesn't stop the fish picking up your bait and who knows you might just hook into a personal best chub or barbel. Its not only these two species that will feed If you pick a quieter area of water you could be catching some good roach bream perch or pike. Going on past experiences, I will be fishing every waking moment during this last week. My target fish are chub and barbel. My baits will vary from bread to cheese paste, meat baits including meat balls pellets and lobworms. I will be fishing the river Teme Kennet and Loddon.


March Its A Good Time For Big Chub 5th March

Anglers up and down the country are catching big chub with many over 5lbs a couple of six pounders and the odd seven pounders. In Anglers Mail March 1st Paul Allen was pictured with his second 7lb chub of the season In this weeks Anglers Mail week ending March 6th Steff Horak is featured with a 6-9-0 river Thames chub caught on a boilie bait. Alf Tapley has caught a 6-7-0 chub from the Dorset Stour on legered crust.Mike Osborne travelled down from Cumbria to fish the river Ribble on Monday where he caught his first Ribble five pounder a chub of 5-3-0 on legered crust. On the river Aire a river featured in this weeks Anglers Mail page 32 by Ian Chapman. Rossendale angler Harry Cunliffe had a good chub of 5-2-0 on legered crust. Fishing the river Ure Bradford angler Brian Jones had a personal best chub of 5-7-0 on legered cheese paste. On the river Wyre Terry Johnson of Preston had a good catch of chub on float fished gentles. Terry had 9 chub with three fish over 4lbs his best three weighed in at 4-12-0 4-12-0 and 4-15-0 If you want a good chub or a big catch of chub then the next few days are your best chance I am going to be fishing the Kennet Loddon and Teme for the last few days of the season in the hope of catching some good hub and barbel What ever happens I will at least enjoy the experience.


Ravensthorpe Reservoir 5th March

The new season at Ravensthorpe is off to a flying start, fine weather and an abundance of active rainbows have seen rods bending along the whole of the natural banks, giving a rod average of 4 fish per rod. Wellingborough’s Simon King and Rob Edmunds from Ringstead showed the way on Saturday, releasing 30 fish between them to 5lb off the Lodge bank. John Castledine of Desborough returned a superb 9lb 2oz Rainbow from platform 1 – John fished a black tadpole on a floating line.

Some big bags have been taken by boats this week, John Salt and Ron Quarterly both retunred 20 fish each – black and orange lures off the Domes shallows, being successful. Ron Oldroyd travelled over from his home at Empingham, Rutland, to record 4 overwintered fish between 5 and 7 lbs in his total bag of 11 fish. Ron fished a weighted black and green lure hard on the bottom on a glass line from his boat anchored close to the catwalk.

The most successful method being black tadpole lures or fritz damsel patterns on floating or glass lines fished slow and deep close to the banks in the warmer water. A fair proportion of overwintered rainbows are showing in the bags. The extensive clearance work undertaken during the winter is enabling anglers to fish many previously inaccessible areas of bank, with great results.

Its Tough - On The Travelling Angler These Days 5th March

Since 9/11 things have changed dramatically for anglers travelling by air to those exotic locations, we anglers love to visit. Pre 9/11 It was a pleasure to travel abroad, but its a different story today. Over the past few years we have been advised and cajoled in buying airline travel friendly fishing rods. I bet many of you purchased your four piece rod thinking you could take it as hand luggage. Its not the case today. I can aboard my flight, with my Zimmer frame, heavy walking stick or even a bottle of whisky. The latter makes the perfect close quarter killing weapon. But we cannot take a graphite rod weighing some three ounces. Where is the common-sense we expect from airlines.

What we expect are some sound common-sense rules, where everyone works to the same set of rules, but they don’t exist. The rules of the game are not the same for all travellers, even at the same airport. You can go through one security check, then told to go and check in your carry on fishing rod. You friend going through the next security check will be allowed through carrying his or her fishing rod. I have found the US airports are probably the worse for not having a given set of rules which everyone works to.

No two airports follow the same set and even the set rules are not adopted by all supervisors. Many it seems make up their own rules. In fact NO two supervisors work to the same rules. You can have the early morning shift supervisor allowing carry on rods. The next shift supervisor will say. "No carry on rods allowed". Its certainly a crazy situation for the travelling angler. There should be one set of rules for everyone passenger and airport staff. Lefty Kreh writing in Fly Fishing in Saltwater gives the following example I asked the shift supervisor at my local airport if I could bring a four piece fly rod in a tube through as carry on luggage She said it would be considered a personal item and therefore would be OK The next week after passing through the metal detector I was stopped in the same airport by another shift supervisor who said I had to the tube back out and check it at the counter

No Reels

I can board a flight in Manchester for Philadelphia with my Tibor reels, Yet arriving in the States, I get told I cannot take my reels as carry on luggage for my internal flight. Many of these so called security personal cannot even put together half a dozen word of English. In fact one couldn’t even read my ticket details, having to ask another person to check my ticket. I don’t jest. Its true, its also a farce. They might qualify to work in a fast food chain, fill shelves in a supermarket or pump gas. But they are a joke as security workers. I wasn’t prepared to accept these people telling me I couldn’t take my reels as hand luggage. I asked to see a supervisor. I was told "Check in your reels". I then asked to see a manager who acted like someone with a lot of common-sense. "Can I help you sir" I related my problem. "Come with me" he said. I followed him to another security check in desk "Please put your bags through that machine Sir" As it was being inspected, the guy operating the machine said "Are you going fishing?" I said "Yes" he replied "Catch one for me" After the check, I was then told I could proceed with my carry on bag containing my reels. Common-sense prevailed. With so much aggravation though, I now check in all my rods and reels, though I am not happy. On two occasions last year my bags were lost. In one case I had to return home, getting my bags back some three weeks later, fishing rods and cameras had been removed. Thankfully the thief or thieves didn’t realise the value of my Tibor reels. The other time I spent three lost days in Edmonton. If I had been allowed to carry on my rods and reels I could still have gone fishing. We all know about check in bags getting lost.

No Cases Or Bags To Be Locked

The latest situation at American Airports, is all cases and bags are to be unlocked when you check them in. I see this as a thieves charter, just as I believe car boot sales increase thieving from peoples homes, sheds and cars. The value in most travelling anglers bags is quite considerable. I have a minimum of at least three six hundred dollar rods and the same in reel value, then I have spare fly lines, boxes of flies and other accessories. During my latest trip to the United States, I was told Federal employees are not allowed to lift bags with a weight above forty pounds. True or false I don’t know the answer, but going by the answer I get, when I query this weight limit. I get told its true, it will come into operation later this year. My one bag will then have to be two bags.

Protecting Your Film

Imagine returning from that holiday of a lifetime, then finding all your photographs have been lost through fogging. Its another problem we travelling anglers face. Do not put your film in your checked in luggage, the new airport scanners which have been introduced during the past couple of years are high intensity X ray machines, which are designed to detect explosives. At the same time they can damage all types of films. You have two choices, purchase your film at your holiday location, then have it processed before coming back home. This of course is not an option at many holiday destinations. The other option is use a digital camera. Today’s digital cameras are excellent. The prints you can get are of good quality. Another advantage of using a digital camera, are you get to see the picture right away. If you don’t like what you see you just take another shot.

Hand Inspected

Placing film in your carry on bag, isn’t a hundred percent safe. Though the machines give out a lower dose of X-rays than those used in checked in luggage, they can still damage film. Many writers and film companies suggest getting your film inspected by hand. It sounds an excellent idea, but in practise it doesn’t work out. I always ask for hand inspection but the tactic doesn't work at most airports. In the United States you are entitled to hand inspection according to Federal Aviation Administration rules, but this doesn't work. Many supervisors insist you put them through the X-ray machine. Either do as they say or you don’t fly.

Laminated Lead Pouches

For many years I have used a 'Film Shield' designed for air travellers. Its a lead laminated pouch made by Sima Products, its designed to protect film against airport X-ray damage. Though having said that they don’t offer a 100 per cent protection. Having said that, I haven't lost any rolls of film through using my lead lines bag. But as stated they are not 100 per cent proof. Finally make sure you have a good travel insurance policy, should you bags get lost. The liability limit is approximately US$ 20-00 per kilo for checked baggage. When flying on an international flight, I always arrive at the check in desk at least three hours before my flight. Finally do not be put off by what I have written. Go on that dream fishing trip and enjoy the experience, but be prepared for big queues at the check in desk, also when goin

3 Big Barbel and a Huge Chub 3rd March

One of the nicest guys in fishing has just caught a catch of fish that most of us would give our right arm for. Preston, Lancashire angler Dave Foster has just taken 3 double figure barbel and a huge chub from Lancashire's river Ribble Dave had 2 Barbel one 12 lb and the other 11 lb 5 oz followed by a chub of 6lb 4oz in a one and a half hour session. Tackle used was a 1lb 10oz test curve Harrison rod , 14 lb braid mainline , 10 lb braid hook
length and a homemade paste bait. The weather was mild but rain the night before gave a rising water temp after a long cold spell. A couple of days later Dave fishing another short session had another double figure barbel of 10-9-0 Last week Dave had an excellent grayling of 2-8-0
Dave only gets the chance of short fishing session as he has a wheelchair bound wife to look after. This catch of fish couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Well done Dave

A Magic Half An Hour 3rd March

Two hours after returning home from a five day trip to Seattle in Washington State. I had a telephone call from Mike Holgate Director of football at Macclesfield Football club who called to see if he could have a days fishing the next day Friday 28th February. I really didn’t want to fish, but Mike makes a regular donation to one of my charities when he fishes with me, so I suggested a short afternoon session. The river Ribble in the Clitheroe area, was low and gin clear. The prospects for fishing didn’t look good until we had a lot of rain. Also I had to be in work at 5-0 am on Saturday morning. Mike agreed on a short session.

I had been in Seattle doing some casting clinics, demo’s and talking fishing at the Thomas and Thomas rod company stand. After the show I then had a session on the Soac river fishing for steelhead, I didn’t get a bit, but it was nice to be in the wilderness.

Mike and I arrived on the river around 1-0pm. After making a fresh brew we had some lunch, then it was time to put our tackle together. I used a Richard Carter centre pin reel, 6lb breaking strain line, matched to a Masterline BJ river twin tip rod. Hook was a size 4 Partridge barbless with one LG shot pinched lightly on the line some six inches from the hook.

As we made our way up river, it was possible to see most of the stones and rocks. I wasn’t happy with the conditions, thinking if we catch today. It will be a miracle. It’s been a long time since I have seen the river so low. I decided to fish a swim where a stream flows in. Its a spot I rarely fish. I thought the water flowing in from a side stream would give some oxygen, and hopefully the river bed might be a few inches deeper. Arriving at the chosen area I said to Mike "I rarely fish this swim but we will give it a few minutes". It was 2-15pm Baiting with a bit of crust I cast out into the slightly faster water. I could see my bait quite clearly in some two feet of water. I made three casts then on the fourth cast a fish grabbed the crust on the drop. It was a most welcome chub of about 3lbs caught within ten minutes of starting. After releasing the fish I added a small handful of crumbed bread, I then made a cast upstream with another bit of crust, allowing the bait to slowly trundle downstream.

After it had gone some fifteen to twenty feet, I felt a slight pluck on the line. The answering strike connected with a good fish. which pulled line off the reel. Knowing there were lots of rocks and snags in the water I tried to pull the fish downstream, but it decided otherwise and moved upstream. Mike said "Do you want me to net the fish for you" I said "Yes please" Then we both spotted the fish, I quickly realised it was a five pounder. Slowly the well balanced tackle had the fish coming to the net. Seeing it close up, I realised it was a very big five perhaps a six pounder. As I pulled the fish over the waiting net. Mike lifted, I shouted "Yes its mine" We could see immediately it was certainly a big chub. Out with the scales and tape measure. It was twenty three inches in length and a girth of fifteen inches. On the scales it went 6-7-0 then settled at 6-4-0 to 6-5-0 We weighed it three times and agreed on a weight of 6-4-0. My first river Ribble 6lb plus chub. It was certainly a lovely feeling knowing, at last after catching lots of five pounder from my local river. I had now caught a fish of 6-4-0. I have now been lucky to catch 6lb plus chub from five rivers. The Kennet, Aire, Loddon, Wensum and finally the Ribble. We fished on until dusk trying several swims without another bite.With heavy rain and strong gusty wind coming from the south west we called it a day. Arriving home I had a shower then dinner. Before going off to bed I had a look in the garden, with the mild weather and heavy rain, the frogs had at last put in an appearances. I counted twenty eight frogs around the garden, with others in the pond. Spring was around the corner and hopefully some good river trout fishing.

The Barbel Society 28th February

This years Annual General Meeting and Conference will take place on Sunday 18th May at the Hanover International Hotel on the A5 at Hinckley Leicester.The Conference will include nationally known speakers, discussions and tackle stands. If your interested in Barbel there should be something for you. Sadly the event clashes with the Chatsworth Angling Fair being held the same weekend.


Cumbria Anglers Good Day 28th February

Retired Middle East Oil technician Mike Osborne of Cumbria took a chance on the weather forecast being reasonably accurate, on Sunday for Monday 24th. February, deciding to travel several hundred miles up and down the M6 and M5 for a long day at Bransford on the river Teme in Worcester. Mike had set the alarm for 2.30am for an early departure, to beat the Walsall congestion, but rolled over after switching it off, for another half hour. Big mistake... the half turned into an hour and consequently he didn't get away until almost 4.00am which put him smack bang into the huge traffic build up on the M6 - M5 junction in Birmingham at 7.00am.
Not to worry though, he made it to Bransford by 7.45am, just time for a bacon 'n' egg wedge from Brian's Mobile Cafe (plus tea!!) before entering the Court arena.

The water temperature was an encouraging 44Deg F the water level, just up with some colour. The first fish was hooked before 9.00am and the second within the hour... a mid-7pounder followed by a mid-8pounder. By midday another two eight pounders had been landed, from different swims. Mike used a combination of baits. Meat flavoured paste, bread and pellet with the pellet and flavoured meat paste accounting for all the bites.

The next fish was, to coin a phrase, something completely different... a surprisingly energetic and beautifully marked trout of about 5lbs, not weighed and unhooked in the water. It took a piece of meat, trundled in fast water under a couple of swan-shot.

Following a lunch and tea-break, a new swim was tried and yielded another eight pounder quite quickly. The best of the day was reserved for the last swim tried, one which had given up a 9lb.2oz. barbel, in January. The swim proved beneficial again with another 9lb 2oz very fit, fat and shortest barbel for its weight. after a prolonged scrap it was estimated at not much above 22" and not much less than that around it's fat little girth!!

All in all it was a very good February outing with only one other angler seen all day. Neil Richards, baiting up and hoping for a big chub late on in the evening. Mike was surprised, as again, like his last trip in January, the barbel feeding session slowed to a stop after 4.00pm and into dusk, just after 6.00pm... Mike decided it was time for home. Arriving just after 10.00pm, thoroughly tired out after almost 500 miles round trip, but obviously well pleased with the outcome and the fulfilment of getting the weather forecast right. That's dedication from a keen angler.

50lb Barbel?

Thursday February 20th @ 7-30pm and Saturday 22nd @ 0600 At The Waters Edge programme will include an interview with Cindy Garrison where she discusses catching barbel weighing 50lbs plus on ten and twelve fly rods. Other guests are Tom Dorsey of Thomas and Thomas the Massachusetts rod builder and casting expert Ed Jaworowski The programme can be heard on the internet then click on sport
Ravensthorpe Reservoir 19th February

The countdown to the start of the 2003 season has begun with Ravensthorpe Reservoir being the first of Anglian Water’s fisheries to re-open on Friday 28 February.Ravensthorpe is considered one of Anglian Water’s most attractive waters – a tree lined oasis of a Victorian reservoir. It’s a peaceful place, until one of its superb rainbows tugs on your line! It’s no surprise that T.V.’s Mr Angling John Wilson visited Ravensthorpe in summer 2002 to film for his 2003 series Go Fishing. Don’t miss the programme on Anglia TV on Thursday 27 February, the night before the reservoir re-opens.

There is a lot to look forward to this coming season with 15 new fishing platforms being constructed as part of an extensive bank enhancement programme. Jim Ferguson of Rugby is a frequent angler at Ravensthorpe and holds a blue season permit. “I see Anglian Water has been busy trimming back the willows and extending bank access at Ravensthorpe. That’s typical of the staff – they just can’t be faulted for the effort they put into making their fisheries as good as possible. I’m back for another season ticket this year.” Says Jim. Ravensthorpe has built a solid reputation for its boat fishing with 15 now available ten of them with outboards.

The reservoir has a reputation for good quality fish with no fewer than 30 double figure trout being taken last season, including a new record at 16 lb 13½oz, a testament to the rich fly feeding and a good head of coarse fish which thrive in the clear water. The reservoir also benefits from a strong re-stocking programme. There’s no doubt that the 2003 season will see some big fish reported.

Hooked 2003 An early sign of spring is the publication of Anglian Water’s annual magazine for anglers ‘Hooked!’

Twenty thousand anglers who regularly fish at Anglian Water’s reservoirs will be receiving this 56 page publication through the post in the next few days. Recreation & Access manager David Moore said ‘This is the biggest and best edition we have produced it is packed with information on famous fly-fishing venues including Rutland Water, Grafham Water and Pitsford Water plus popular coarse fisheries at Taverham and Hollowell. There are practical tips for beginners and details of fly-fishing courses too.’ Copies of Hooked! are available free of charge at Anglian Water’s visitor centres at main reservoirs or by emailing

Pesticide Pollution hits Lincolnshire Water 17th February

Once again, a river in the UK has suffered from a major fish kill. Thought to be caused by pesticide. The pollution on the river Slea in Lincolnshire, has been described by the EA. As class one pollution. I have been told it could have been caused the washing out of pesticide chemical drums. Hopefully those who are guilty of this major offence, will be prosecuted and given a hefty fine. Perhaps common-sense will prevail and a prison sentence will be handed down to the culprits. Though I will not hold my breath.

It's Been A Tough Week Of Angling 16th February

With clear skies during the day and night, air and water temperatures have plummeted, rivers are now low and gin clear. The fish seemed to have virtually ceased eating. The feeding spells on the rivers Ribble and Aire have sometimes lasted just twenty to thirty minutes usually around dusk. Wednesday seemed the best day on the river, no doubt due to the blanket of cloud during the late afternoon.

Monday I was on the river Aire at Kildwick, the river was up some eighteen inches and nicely coloured. The water temperature was a high 44 degrees F up eight degrees from Saturday’s low of 36 degrees F Conditions certainly looked good. I was full of optimism as I made up a Masterline International BJ river twin tip rod, matched with a centre pin reel and 6lb Masterline fluorocarbon line. The hook was a size 4 Jack Hilton Partridge barbless, a pattern of hook that hasn’t let me down over many years of fishing. I used a Palomar knot for attaching hook to line. Bait would be bread crust or flake, and feeding with liquidised bread. When fishing the faster deeper stretches of water, I would clip on a small framed feeder to get the bread feed on the bottom.

My first chosen swim was on a big bend some two hundred yards upstream of Kildwick bridge, Pinching on two LG shot some six inches from the hook I baited with a big chunk of crust, Casting out towards the far bank, I slowly eased the crust down the current. Within seconds. The rod tip pulled over. A good fish was hooked which I quickly had in the net. It weighed 4-12-0 in the next four casts I had four bites which accounted for chub of 4-6-0, 4-11-0 ,5-1-0 and 5-3-0. In about half an hours fishing I had accounted for five fish in five casts Certainly an excellent start. It didn’t last in the next five hours of fishing several swims I couldn’t get another bite. I returned home rather puzzled at the lack of more fish after such an excellent start. Though I had increased my number of 5lb chub for the season to 24.

A Tale Of Missed Bites

Tuesday I fished with Peter West an angler from Chorley, the river looked good with a water temperature of 44 degrees F. The river level had dropped some twelve inches from the day before. The only problem was the clear blue sky and bright sunshine. My tackle was the same as used on the Monday. In the first session before teatime, we didn’t get a bite from any of our chosen swims. After a fresh brew and sandwiches we moved off downstream. In one of the chosen swims I had a bite which resulted in a missed fish due to a bite off. At dusk with no more bites we moved further downstream, to a fast deep stretch of water known as the Hawthorns.

I fed the swim with three orange size balls of mashed bread, baiting with a big chunk of crust. Casting out towards the far bank, I sat watching the rod tip. Within minutes I had a light tap, then rod tip pulled over. The perfect bite. I felt nothing, but on retrieving the tackle I found I had been bitten off. With the hook link only some three inches. I didn't expect any more bite offs. Tying on another size 4 hook I baited with another bit of crust, then cast to the same spot. I sat eagle eyed watching the rod tip in the torch beam. After ten minute, I had a good pull. The answering strike didn’t connect. Another missed bite. My evening session of woe continued with even more missed bites. After perhaps an hours fishing I had missed probably ten good bites. I was exasperated, but I had no answer to the problem. Meanwhile Peter was also missing bites. I continued to feed mashed bread knowing there were fish in the swim.

After perhaps half an hour without a bite, I spotted a slight movement on the rod tip, then it pulled over. The answering strike connected with a good fish which fought hard all the way to the net. In the torch light I could see it was a good chub. It weighed 4-14-0. At last success. We fished on with renewed interest. But it was the only success of the day. Around nine thirty PM we called it a day.

Short Session On The Ribble

After a very busy morning, I decided on a short session on the river Ribble, By two PM the clear blue sky and bright sunshine had gone, to be replaced by a grey cloudy sky. I arrived on my chosen stretch of river, to find only one angler. He looked quite bored as he sat watching a motionless rod tip. He had a huge amount of gear around him. The dry keep net was still in its bag. I baited eight swims with a handful of mashed bread in each spot. Tackle was the same. I had used the previous two days. Bait was crust or flake. Starting off at the bottom of the beat I had one good pull on the rod tip, which I missed. I fished on for another fifteen minutes, then moved upstream to another baited spot. After rolling a bit of crust through the swim for some ten minutes, I connected with a good fish. A nice chub of 4-6-0. Feeding in another egg size ball of mashed bread, I rolled another bit of crust down through the swim, some five or six casts later I felt a light tap, the answering strike connected with another good chub. This fish weighed 4-10-0

Out Of Season Trout

Ten minutes later I hooked a powerful fish which took several yards of line off the reel. For a while it was a give and take tussle, but slowly the well balanced tackle decided the outcome as I netted an excellent out of season female brown trout. The fish was quickly unhooked, I taped the fish out at 22 inches. As the fish dashed away I made a mental note of the area, where the trout had been caught. Hoping it might be in the same place when the season starts on March 15th. It would be rather nice to hook that fish on a dry fly. After probably fifteen minutes without a bite I moved off up river to my next baited spot. On my first cast the crust had moved no more than two or three yards down the swim, when I had a savage bite which resulted in a nice chub of 4-6-0. Next cast I had a light tap which resulted in a nice cock brown trout of twenty inches, this fish was quickly unhooked and returned to the water. Hopefully another trout to catch on a dry fly later in the year.

Time for a move, the next swim was just downstream of a feeder stream on the far bank. I made a long throw and dropped a ball of mashed bread at the head of my next chosen spot. The Wallis cast allowed me to drop the bait at the head of the swim Holding the rod high I allowed the bait to move downstream. Within seconds I had a good pull on the rod tip, the strike accounted for another nice chub which weighed 4-6-0. With darkness just minutes away, I decided to call it a day. As I walked back up river my mind drifted over the events of the day. I had seen herons, green plover, jackdaws, kingfisher, fieldfare, ducks, rooks and a pair of goosanders, these latter birds must not be mistaken for, The red breasted merganser. I had caught some nice chub, and a brace of out of season trout. As I continued my walk upriver a tawny was calling from a big oak tree. It had been a good session.

Two Bite Less Sessions On The Aire

Thursday and Friday were bright sunny days, following overnight frost. The river was low and clear, on Thursday the water temperature was 38 degrees F. Friday it had dropped even more down to 36 degrees F with cat ice in the quieter water. Both days I fished five hours sessions without a bite. I must have tried a dozen swims. It was certainly tough going, I spotted one nice trout in mid river catching some small olive patterns, that were drifting downstream. On Friday I met up with three new members on the river so I spend most of the time pointing out various swims to try when conditions were improved, I also helped them with the various tackle set up’s they could use. All in all it had been a nice couple of days despite being fish less. though the fishing had been tough it had proved most interesting and to round off the week Arsenal had beaten Manchester United 2-0

Prospects look quite good for week commencing 10th February

This past weekend hasn’t been good for river fishing in the Northwest of England with low water temperatures down to 36 degrees F and snow broth in the rivers, and of course, all the rubbish from the roads and riverside fields. Thankfully we had a lot of rain during the weekend, which has given the rivers and streams a good clean out. This coming week looks to be good for angling. The forecast is for some night frost, with rain showers at times. I don’t think it will stop us all getting out to the waters edge. I will be spending most of the coming week on either the Ribble, Wyre, Aire, Dove or Wharfe in pursuit of chub, pike and barbel.

As the water temperature rises the chance of catching a good barbel will increase. I feel the Dove might offer me a good chance of a double figure barbel. I will take a selection of baits, bread, meat, pellets and boilies. John Powlowski of Stoke-on -Trent who has caught barbel of 15lbs plus from the river Kennet.He will be spending a lot of time on the Kennet between now and the end of the season in pursuit of a sixteen pound barbel. He might also target the barbel on the Ouse above Bedford, where several huge fish have been caught this season.

John will be my special guest on At The Waters Edge programme on BBC Radio Lancashire Thursday 6th February at 19-30hrs and Saturday 8th February at 0600 hrs. You can also hear the programme on the Internet then click on sport. On the right hand side of the screen is a drop down menu click on fishing, then click on GO

John Richardson of Manchester tells me he is planning to spend much of the next four weeks or so on the tidal river Ribble, in the hope of catching a big barbel. He feels this stretch of river could produce a very big fish, but it want be easy, it will take a lot of time and effort. John also said "It might even end up being a series of blank sessions".

Between now and March 14th, the last day of course fishing on our rivers and streams, lets hope we get lots of warm, mild nights, some rain to keep the rivers a foot or so above normal level and light south westerly winds. Mike Osborne and myself are planning to fish the Kennet, Thames, Loddon or Teme for the last week of the season where with luck we might hook up to some good chub or barbel.

Fish Don’t Feel Pain 9th February

I've said it before, I will say it again. Fish don’t feel pain. See page 6 Sunday Telegraph February 9th 2003. The article is featured below and certainly makes interesting reading. How many time have you caught a fish that has been badly bitten by a seal, otter, pike cormorant or mink, often that fish you have caught will have chunk of its body missing. But still that fish continues to feed. If you were attacked by a lion or tiger or some other animal, where you ended up with a bit of your body missing. Would you want to eat a big steak? I don’t think so.

How many times have you caught a fish, or a number of fish with one, two or sometimes three hooks in the mouth, often with some line attached to the hook? But still that fish continues to feed. On several occasions over the years, I have caught a good fish, then as that fish tries to reach a danger zone. I have slackened off the pressure, the fish often just acts, as if it isn’t hooked. It just relaxes on the river bed, as if it was a free swimming fish with no hook and line attached to its mouth. I well remember fishing the river Teme hooking a good barbel, as it tried to reach the sanctuary of some willow branches I slackened off the pressure. The fish just stopped in its tracks and settled on the bottom. Within minutes other barbel were in the swim and feeding. My hooked fish then moved forward and sucked in a bit of mashed bread. Do fish feel pain? I don’t believe so otherwise that hooked fish would not have continued feeding. I have seen and caught lots of brown trout with lacerated and bleeding mouths where they have been feeding on perch. They still continue to eat my flies.

Anglers are finally off the hook: fish feel no pain By Rajeev Syal

Anglers, Rest easy. Fish cannot feel pain. Or so the largest study into piscine neurology has concluded.

An academic study comparing the nervous systems and responses of fish and mammals has found that their brains are not sufficiently developed to allow them to sense pain or fear. The findings represent a significant victory for anglers, whose sport has been under attack from animal rights activists buoyed by their success in securing a partial ban on fox hunting.

The study is the work of James D. Rose, a professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, who has examined data on animals' responses to pain. His report, published in the American academic journal Reviews of Fisheries Science, concludes that awareness of pain depends on functions of regions of the cerebral cortex which fish do not possess.

Prof. Rose, 60, said that previous studies which had indicated that fish can feel pain had confused "nociception" - responding to a threatening stimulus - with feeling pain.

"Pain is predicated on awareness," he said. "The key issue is the distinction between nociception and pain. A person who is anaesthetised in an operating theatre will still respond physically to an external stimulus, but he or she will not feel pain. Anyone who has seen a chicken with its head cut off will know that, while its body can respond to stimuli, it cannot be feeling pain."

Prof. Rose added: "There are people who aren't comfortable with my findings, but even those who don't accept them have yet to raise any scientific challenge."

More than two million Britons are anglers, making it the nation's most popular pastime. Rodney Coldron, from the National Federation of Anglers, said that he hoped the new findings would vindicate the sport. "I am glad this report has come out and killed off that silly argument. Fish can obviously become distressed, but anyone that actually goes fishing knows that they don't feel pain in the same way as mammals," he said.

As expected the study has failed to persuade the animal rights group. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. A spokesman said "We believe that fishing is barbaric. Of course animals can feel pain. They have sensitivity, if only to avoid predators" This statement from an organisation, that reckons we shouldn’t have dogs, cats, rabbits or any other type of pet. According to PETA We shouldn’t drink milk, eat beef, lamb, pork or other types of meat. In fact we should all live very boring lives. I feel PETA are burying their heads in the sand, they don’t want to know the truth. It might stop them receiving donations in cash and cheques by many of the liberal left wing of Hollywood actors and actresses. Remember, when you next purchase a video, a percentage of the royalties might end up going to the very people who want us to stop fishing.

A Short Session On The Aire 6th February

Mike Osborne sat in my study drinking tea, as we discussed the prospects for a few hours fishing. We couldn't decide where to fish. Should I choose the Ribble or the Aire. With bright sunshine, low and gin clear rivers with low water temperatures. I said to Mike "It will be a tough fishing session until the sun goes down" I decided we should fish the river Aire at Kildwick. As a river watcher I could also check membership cards on the Bradford City AA and Bradford No 1 AA We would then go downstream and fish the Keighley AC water where a membership card will cost you just £20-00

Our chosen tackle was simple, light leger rods, centre pin reels, 6lb line and size 4 barbless hooks. We started off fishing several swims with legered crust, in the gin clear water with a temperature of 38 degrees F. The only bite was a savage take on Mike's rod which was missed. It was nice sitting at the waters edge and seeing so many, Fieldfare, jackdaws, robins, wrens,and mallard. After a tough hour long session, we decided it was time to move off downstream to a deeper slower stretch of water.

After parking in a safe area, it was time for a fresh brew,and soon the kettle was boiling. As we sat basking in late afternoon sunshine, drinking tea and eating fruit cake I said to Mike "I doubt if we will catch until the light fades". I suppose it was about 4-30pm when we moved off upstream to a slow moving stretch of water with a depth of five or six feet. We chose to fish the inside of a bend, sitting just a few feet apart. Within minutes of casting out a big bit of crust. I heard the reel screech. I was watching Mikes rod at the time, having seen out the corner of my eye, his tip move. My first bite missed. I was annoyed with myself, it was bad angling on my part.

Twenty minutes later the tip moved, the answering strike didn't connect, again another missed bite. Rebaiting with another bit of crust I dropped the bait just a couple of feet out from the bank. Within seconds the tip moved, the strike connected with a powerful fish. After a good scrap I netted what looked like a good fish. Swinging it ashore I felt I had another five pounder to add to my list. Parting the mesh I realised it was a five. Out with the scales and weigh bag. The scales were zeroed, the fish had the needle flickering between 5-8-0 and 5-10-0 We called it 5-9-0 my 23 rd chub over 5lbs this season. I was certainly a happy angler, as I watched the fish swim off strongly. A pair of geese flew overhead honking as they did so. I pointed the geese out to Mike who said "As you were playing that chub another goose flew up the bank"

We fished on for another fifteen minutes, without any more bites. We decided it was time to move, we chose a new swim below some fast water where the depth increased quite quickly. The current slowed up considerably. After no more than ten minutes the temperatures which was already just below zero suddenly plummeted and everything was covered in frost We both shivered, it was icy cold. We decided it was time to leave. An hour later we are back in my study having tea and toast. We didn't catch a lot but we both agreed it had been a great day.

Rough Weather Forecast This Week 3rd February

Gale force winds, rain and the prospects of blizzard conditions have hit angling prospects for the start of February. Water temperatures on the rivers Calder, Ribble, Aire and Wyre are below zero. On the Ribble the water temperature is a very low 34 degrees F Prospects for the next few days are not looking good especially with snow broth entering our rivers and streams. The weather forecast for Wednesday 5th February are for light winds bright sunshine after a cold frosty night on Tuesday

Visiting New York 3rd February

If New York or Rhode Island are one of your destinations this coming year why not have a couple of days fishing with Captain Jim White, who is offering some 2 day camping and fishing trips to Prudence Island. Leave Monday after noon, fish during the evening. All day Tuesday and Wednesday morning. All camping and fishing tackle is provided which include top of the range Thomas and Thomas rods, matched with Tibor reels and quality fly lines.

The price for this all inclusive package is just $1400-00 for 4 anglers. With the extremely good exchange rate between the dollar and the pound sterling, its certainly value for money. You get 4 guided boat trips camping and food. The remote island offers excellent fishing and plenty of wildlife.For further details contact Captain Jim White, White Ghost Guide Service 43 York Drive Coventry RI 02816 USA Tel 001 401 828 9465 or E-mail

An Hour At Dusk 2nd February

I've just had a late afternoon session with Mike Holgate on the river Ribble water temperature was 34 degrees F. The river was low and gin clear perfect for grayling fishing. In fact several nice fish could be seen moving.Though I had my doubts about the chub feeding. Mike and I baited several swims with bread crumb as we moved downstream to the bottom of the beat, The idea was to fish our way back upstream trying each swim in turn. I chose to use a Masterline BJ river twin tip, centre pin reel 6lb line and a size 4 hook. We both fished with crust on a three inch link, allowing the bait to slowly trundle downstream. On my first cast I waited some thirty seconds before the rod tip pulled round. The answering strike connected with a good fish, which I lost. Tying on a new hook I baited with another bit of crust. I worked the crust downstream some five yards, then the rod tip was savagely pulled over within minutes I had my first chub in the net. A nice fish of 4lbs plus. I carried the fish several yards upstream before releasing it. In the next hour I had seven bites missed two and caught five more good chub all on crust.The best weighed 4-7-0. With snow falling we decided to call it a day,making our way slowly home along the snow covered country lanes.

Chub Feed On Two Rivers 30th January

Tuesday was certainly a rough day to be on the river, wind gusting 50 - 60 miles an hour heavy rain and hail stones.
Arriving on the river Aire I found the river about a foot up with a water temperature of 42 degrees F but the fish wanted to eat my chunks of legered bread. I had 8 bites, missing 3. Losing 1 good fish some six inches from the net. The best of my 4 fish weighed in at 4-15-8 It just wouldn't make "A Five" After fishing the Aire, I went across to the Ribble where the gauge was reading 2 feet same as early in the morning. The water temperature was 40 degrees F I fished 3 swims catching six chub. all caught on float fished chunks of bread close in to the bank in a 4 foot deep swim. I missed two bites. It was a good day, I didn't bother to stop for tea or food. I felt I needed to keep fishing especially with the weather forecasting snow, ice and gale force winds from the north. It might be the only day this week when the river is fishable.

Think Of The Birds 30th January
Don't forget to feed the birds, why not take some mixed bird seed and suet to the waterside. Bits of cheese, various meats and fat will be most welcome to our feathured friends. The birds need all the help we can give them. Don't throw your gentles in the water, fish with bread as bait and feed the gentles to the birds. Make sure you have some fresh water in the garden Water is as important to our birds, just as much as the food we feed at this time of the year. Many of their drinking places are frozen solid.

Arctic Conditions Hit Angling 28th January

After a few days of mild weather, Britain is going into an ice age. Water temperatures are going to plummet, snow and ice will cover the countryside. Fishing will slow up for a couple of days, but if you pick the right time then catching fish is possible. Don't moan about the weather challenge it and go out to the waterside. There is no excuse these days to stay indoors with all the modern clothing available. I can assure you that I will be out at the waterside. The two fish to choose as your quarry are the chub and grayling. You fly fishers who have put your rods away since the season ended, why not spend some time outside practising your casting. What ever sport you choose you have to practise to be successful. Tiger Woods is without doubt the number one golfer in the world. Why? Its because he goes out on the course where he practises for several hours. To many anglers feel they don't need to practise. That's the reason they say "Old Charley Brown is a lucky angler". Not true Charley is like Tiger Woods and other successful sportsmen. They go out and practise. If you chub fishing, don't expect tiny taps on the rod tip, You will often get savage takes. Often a chub will give you a warning tap, then pull the rod tip round an inch or so. If you want to catch grayling fish a leaded nymph down on the bottom, The fish will be shoaled up and its a case of fishing many good looking spots before you catch one. Once you hit a fish concentrate on that spot as other fish will be around looking for food. Present the nymph correctly don't spook the fish and you could get a dozen fish from one swim. Winter grayling are great sport. Go out and give it a try
It Was A Great Fly Fishing Show 28th January

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday 24th 25th and 26th of January I was in attendance at the New Jersey fly fishing show. A show attended by thousands of fly fishers who were able to see the latest tackle, books, fly tying materials and tools that are available. They had the opportunity to meet with and talk to the worlds finest fly fishers, writers, fly dressers, casters and guides. Seminars, casting and fly tying instructions were available throughout the 3 days.

In my book the top item at this years show was without doubt the new Helix rod from Thomas and Thomas. I spent several hours each day giving anglers the chance to test the Helix. Not on an indoor casting pool, but outside in the icy cold weather and north east wind. Where I was able to correct many of these anglers small casting mistakes, giving them some new ideas and help. Hopefully they will catch more and better fish this coming season, and of course enjoy this great sport of fly fishing even more.

Some of the people I met at the show were Captain Jim White who guides out of Rhode Island. Jim has guided the likes of Lefty Kreh, Nick Curcione, Charlie Levine, Joe Healy and many more of the big names from the world of fly fishing. Nick Curcione, a writer, who I believe has written the best series of articles on shooting heads that has been published, I have never read a better series on the subject of shooting heads. What Nick doesn't know isn't worth knowing. From the East coast too the West coast, north too Alaska and south to Baja. Nick has been there. He is now back home on the east coast of the United States, where he caught his first fish on a hand line. Tom Dorsey the man who for many years has given us some of the finest cane and graphite fly rods from the T & T plant in Massachusetts was in attendance. It was nice to see Tom still talking enthusiastically about his great love of fly fishing and rod designs. I had the pleasure to meet and interview Lori-Ann Murphy of Reel Woman Fly Fishing Adventures. I first met Lori-Ann on the Umpqua river at Steamboat several years ago. What a great lady ambassador she is to the sport and so full of fun.

Talk fly fishing with Lori-Ann and immediately her eyes sparkle like diamonds. Steve Monahan of Medford New Jersey always had a smile on his face however hectic the schedule was. Bob Meister told me about his newly designed bug shirt while Jerry Bottcher of the Hungry Trout or was it a pike or grayling, discussed a new bonefishing destination in South Andross in the Bahamas, where it want cost you an arm or a leg. Perhaps both at some destinations. Ed and Michele Jaworowski are a lovely couple. Ed is a professor of Classical Studies at Villanova University.He gave us that book The Cast, which was then followed by Troubleshooting The Cast. Another guide I spent time with was Captain Bill Hoblitzell who catches some huge striper bass The list is endless of great people who attended the show. It was nice to see so many boys, girls and the not so young lady anglers. Let's not forget ladies make great fly fishers. Roll on next years show.

Information Wanted 24th January

Can any reader give me some information about the fishing available on the following stretches of the LAA on the Thames at South Stoke, Cholsey Moulford, Gatehapton Farm and Appleford. Also Fisherman's Brook Aldermaston, Kings Weir and The LAA water at Britford on the Avon. Any information on B&B's in these areas also welcome

Cheers Martin

Ribble Chub Take Bread 23rd January

Despite a drop of 4 degrees F in the water temperature over the past 5 days the chub still wanted to eat some chunks of bread. The river was a good height with some colour and a water temperature of 44 degrees F. I used a roving approach dropping a good handful of mashed bread in a dozen or more swims. After tackling up with an Avon action rod, fixed spool reel, 6lb line and a size 4 barbless hook. The weight I used varied between 1LG and 4LG depending on the speed of the flow in my chosen swim. Bites were very positive, first a slight pull then a savage take. Bites which shouldn't be missed, though I probably missed half a dozen or more. My best chub weighed 4-6-0, all my other fish were 4lbs plus. What I did find strange was I couldn't get a bite on meat or flavoured paste.
This was my last days fishing until next week, as I'm off to Somerset New Jerrsey tomorrow for a 3 day fly fishing show where I will be on the Thomas and Thomas stand. If your in the area during January 24th - 26th why not spend a day at the show.

Fishing News 21st January

Our rivers are up and down day by day like a yo yo but the fishing can be good. Waters temperatures are high on some waters its 49-50 degrees.On the Ribble at Clitheroe its 48F. On the Aire its 47-48 up 2 degrees from 46 F Saturday.Lancashire angler Mike Holgate had nice chub of 4-5-0 at Kildwick on the Aire.
Downstream of the golf course, Peter Sayers of Bradford an electrical engineer purchased a £2-00 day ticket, then went on to make his best ever catch of bream in 26 years of fishing. Legering with a hempseed filled swimfeeder rig and 3 red coloured gentles on a size 14 hook Peter caught three big bream weighing in at 5--0 5 - 5-0-6 and 5-11-0 including 2 4lb plus chub weighing in at 4-1-0 and 4-6-0.

Catch and Release 19th January

Catch and Release! These are emotive words in angling circles. But why? Surely this is the only way forward, if the children of tomorrow are to have the chance of seeing and perhaps catching a wild fish. I am not saying release all wild fish. If the river can sustain the taking of the odd fish for the table, then I see nothing wrong in harvesting the occasional fish. That's perhaps the sign of a healthy water

Throughout the world, freshwater and saltwater fisheries are under pressure - not just from over fishing but also from pollution, water abstraction, intensive grazing, forestry and the dumping of rubbish by industry, agriculture and the general public. Countries in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres continue to treat the world's rivers, seas and oceans as dumping grounds. Through the action of Man, the world's sports fisheries are no longer the rich resource they once were, and the remaining sporting fish that swim in our inland or coastal waters are far too valuable to be killed. Then we have the barbaric practise of cutting the fins off the sharks then chucking this magnificent creature back into the ocean to die slowly.

Each fish killed is one less to be caught by another angler and one less fish to spawn. Should that fish be a large one for its species , not only are a lot more eggs lost but also the gene pool of better quality reproductive capability is further depleted.

Each year on my local river, the Ribble, I witness the sickening sight of gravid salmon being killed, displayed to all and sundry as if to say what a clever person I am... I have just killed this salmon that should have been caught and released. And then the carcass is dumped in the boot of the car, When that person gets home and guts the fish, hundreds of young salmon in the form of eggs will roll all over the kitchen table. Surely today we must ensure that wild fish are for catch and release; stocked or farm-reared fish are for the table.

Many of those opposed to catch and release will tell you that released fish won't survive - a view often expressed by the salmon angler who feels the fish should be displayed on a silver salver to show off to the other hotel guests. He or she is really saying: I want everyone to know what a great fish catcher I am. If your desire is to kill fish, then the stillwater angling scene with its put and take stocked rainbow trout is for you. Not so the wild fish of our river, lochs, lakes and seas; there, the sportsman should harvesting just an occasional fish when the stocks are adequate to allow it.

If a fish is not released, there is no chance of survival. In Canada and the United States of America it has been proven that released fish have an 85% chance of successfully spawning. We need look no further than the Miramichi River in New Brunswick where there is a catch and release regime. Where once the salmon were threatened with extinction there are now plenty and it is possible to have a small harvest of ten cock grilse a season per angler. It is interesting to note, though, that most Miramichi anglers return most of what they can legally take, rarely retaining more than one fish a season.

Oregon and Washington anglers in search of steelhead and wild trout realised that their sport was in danger through diminishing fish stocks. Much of the problem was caused by the felling of vast areas of old-growth forest. Through the logging practise streams silted up, and the waters were warmed to a level unsuitable for the survival of fry. Gradually, fish numbers dwindled to danger level.

Organisations such as Oregon Trout, Trout Unlimited and The Umpqua Steamboaters realised something had to be done. They created stream enhancement programmes, encouraged the loggers and cattle men to leave a riparian buffer zone, and then practised catch and release. The Fish and Game department were also involved, and soon it was decreed that all wild fish should be returned and only stocked fish could be killed. All stocked fish had the adipose fin cut off so that they could be easily recognised. Over the past three years, the steelhead fishing out there has been very good: I know, because I have experienced it.

To practice catch and release we must follow some very simple rules. Number one is to use barbless hooks. There can be no justification for today's anglers fishing with anything but barbless. I don't believe I have ever lost a fish because my hook was barbless. Oh yes, I lose fish, but invariably because I do something silly such as giving slack line or letting the fish get into a snag.

Fish should never be touched with dry hands or squeezed in the stomach area; nor must they be landed in knotted nets. All nets should be of a soft material. Unless the fish is of very large size, a net should not be used. Ninety-five percent of the fish I catch are released without being handled. Its easy: just bring the fish close to hand, slide your fingers down the leader and remove the barbless hook.

Some UK anglers are today finding their sport in saltwater and using fly fishing tackle. There, one fish reigns supreme: the bass, Morone labrax. Sadly too many of these slow-growing fish are being killed. Its not only the Spanish trawlers that are decimating bass stocks: in 1996 while fishing in Morecambe Bay I witnessed two persons - I refuse to call them anglers - catch some fifteen good bass of between five and nine pounds. They killed every single one.

"Why?" I asked.

"I will sell them on my fish round tomorrow," came the reply.

When I tried to talk some sense into them, all I got in return was verbal abuse. Such greed is destroying an excellent sport fish, for, despite excellent initiatives to protect immature fish in several nurseries areas around the coast, bass are still very much threatened. Perhaps the only answer for the survival of this species is a strict catch and release policy, enforced by law, with the penalty on conviction not a fine but a custodial sentence.

by Martin James

Environment Agency ASKS ‘WHAT GREEN MEANS’ AT NORTH WEST FORUM 16th January

The Environment Agency is asking people across the north west what ‘green’ means to them, during its Forum 2003 at Manchester’s state-of-the-art Urbis centre.More than 100 delegates, representing communities from across the region, are expected to attend the evening event on Wednesday, 29 January. The ‘What Does Green Mean?’ event doubles as the Agency’s Annual Meeting in the north west, and will focus on environmental issues from graffiti and litter to landfills and incinerators.

It also includes opportunities for delegates to informally debate and vote on issues, such as whether jobs are more important than a clean environment; whether Blackpool is a safe place to swim; and whether people want to know if their homes are at risk from flooding.The voting and debating session will be chaired by guest compere Tony Robinson, presenter of television’s Time Team and well known as Baldrick in Blackadder. Guest speaker will be top British Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson OBE, who will give a personal view on what the environment means to her. The Environment Agency’s Regional Director, Robert Runcie, will outline some of the region’s environmental achievements of the last 18 months, as well as some of the challenges that lie ahead. For example, while bathing and river water quality are now better than at any time since the industrial revolution, the north west’s landfill space is expected to be filled in just five years.

Mr Runcie said: "The environment means different things to different people. We are providing an opportunity to debate the region’s environment and explore some of that diversity, as well as celebrating the region’s achievements. "It is important for the Environment Agency, and some of our partner organisations who will be represented at Urbis, to listen to all the viewpoints people have. But we also want people to enjoy the event, we want it to be fun and informal." ‘What Does Green Mean?’ is at Urbis, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, on Wednesday 29 January. It starts at 6pm (registration from 5pm) is will finish at about 9pm. Invitations have already been sent out, but members of the public who want to attend should contact the Environment Agency on 01925 653999 ext 2200.


Lancashire lady fly fisher represents England 16th January

14 year old Lisa Isles of Poulton-Le-Fylde has been chosen to represent England in the coming Youth International after coming 4th in the Grafham water qualifier against an all male line up. Lisa was the only lady to fish the qualifier coming 4th with ten rainbow trout. Her Dad was last years winner of the seatrout festival. I am sure everyone will wish Lisa all success. I have always been a great supporter of ladies in angling. Hopefully more ladies will take up the great sport.

This Week's Angler's Mail 16th January

In this weeks Anglers Mail the Fox Specimen Cup winner is announced. On page 8 are some of the latest big perch catches, while on page 45 are a selection of pictures showing some of the latest big barbel catches. on the opposite page 44 Guy Robb shows us how to catch some of those big barbel. Having problems making a good brew at the waterside then take a look at the stoves on test pages 12 and 13.You carp angles are not forgotten with several pages of carp fishing text and pictures.

Warm south westerly wind and rain brings fish on the feed 16th January

The Arctic winds, frost and snow of last week have gone, replaced with warm south westerly winds and rain which quickly lifted the river levels. Water temperature's all across the country risen to the middle and high 40 degrees F . The Kennet, Severn, Aire, Ribble and the Lancashire Calder are all at an excellent level with rising water temperatures. Barbel, bream, chub, roach and pike are all feeding. Dave Hallett fished the Kennet catching five pound plus bream and chub from the same swim on hair rigged gentles. Mike Osborne of Cumbria travelled down to the river Teme where he caught a super winter barbel of 9-2-0 on a big piece of luncheon meat fished tight to the bank. I also fished the Teme but missed out on the better quality barbel taking a couple of small fish but I did have some fun with quality chub all over 4lbs including three over 5lbs all caught on crust. Having caught a few fish on crust using a short 3 inch link. The bites ceased. After some twenty minutes without any further bites I decided to fish a link of some 2 feet with a big bit of crust. I chose to fish a longer link, thinking perhaps the chub had moved up in the water to intercept bits of free floating bread from the mashed bread feed. It worked the first fish weighed 5-4-0 After three fish the bites ceased. Half an hour later I switched back to fishing a short link once more catching one more fish of 5-6-0 which was most welcome.

Today Thursday the river Ribble and Aire looked ideal with a good level, flow and slight colour. Brian Thompson fishing at Balderstone where he caught a brace of barbel on meat bait weighing 8-6-0 and 9-10-0 fishing a Masterline John Wilson Heritage rod, Okuma fixed spool reel and 10lb breaking strain line with a siz 6 hok and a braided hok link. Well done Brian on a brace of good barbel,


For some years smugglers have been illegally bringing diseased carp into the country from the continent. These smuggled carp could have wiped out many of our native fish. Battlesbridge Sussex fish dealer Mark Dallas and Chelmsford Essex smuggler Lee Coles tried to bring the diseased fish in through the Channel Tunnel. Test on the fish identified a killer virus. The 2 men have been committed for sentence at Maidstone Crown Court. Anglers countrywide no doubt will applaud and congratulate all those involved in stopping this evil trade in diseased fish being illegally bought into the UK. Lets hope these evil people get at least five years in jail as a warning to others.


The Environment Agency is sending more than 600,000 letters to anglers urging them to buy their 2003/04 rod licence by Direct Debit. Letters will start arriving from today (Monday) and anglers have until the February 4 to return the completed mandates. In 2001/2 a pilot Direct Debit project was launched in the Agency’s Anglian and Midlands regions. More than 26,000 anglers responded - an 11 per cent uptake rate.Now the Agency is targeting 662,000 holders of full annual and concessionary licences across England and Wales. The initiative means anglers who sign up for Direct Debit will automatically have a licence sent to them in time for the new season. This will mean anglers will not have to make a special trip to buy their licences. In the long term, savings generated by this project will enable the Agency to spend more money on improvements for fisheries and anglers. Those who completed a Direct Debit mandate in 2002 need take no further action - the Agency will contact confirm their bank details.

First five pound plus chub in 2003 9th January

Despite the cold frosty conditons, gin clear water with the water temperatures around 34 degrees F I fished the river Aire today for my 4th session of the week on a new stretch of water that Keighley AC have acquired at Kildwick. Today Thursday 9th January I got lucky. Fishing with Graham Cook of Lancaster we fished a couple of swims then at dusk I suggested we should have five minutes in the first swim. Within a couple of minutes of casting out a big bit of crust on a size 4 barbless hook to 6lb line I had a small tap on the rod tip then a pull of about half an inch, the strike connected with a good fish. It turned out to be a chub of 5-10-0. The only bite of the session but an excellent fish my 19th five pound plus chub of the season

It's Been Tough On The Northern Rivers 9th January

For chub and barbel anglers its been tough on the rivers Ure, Ribble, Aire, Wharfe, Wyre and Nidd With extreme frosty conditions for the past few nights and temperatures dropping to as low as 34 degrees F with gin clear water, the fishing conditions have been hard for many anglers venturing forth onto northern rivers. I've fished the Ribble and Aire getting just two bites from three days fishing, I had a river Aire chub of 4-8-0 on crust, plus a Ribble chub of 4-3-0 again crust was the top bait. Some anglers fishing with gentles have caught grayling and out of season trout from the Ribble while Brian Johnson of Leeds fishing the Ure near Ripon had a great day catching 14 grayling all on trotted double gentle bait on a size 14 hook to 3lb line.

According to the latest weather report, the high pressure zone should move away on Sunday to be replaced by a low pressure zone from the Atlantic bringing warmer winds and rain. All our rivers badly need some rain to put some colour in the water and raise the water temperature. Should the water temperatures rise to 44 degrees F the fishing could prove to be excellent, even the barbel might feed.

Congratulations this week go to Anglers Mail reporter Gary Newman for catching a barbel of 13lb 15 ounces from the river Severn. The river was up a few feet and flowing fast which meant Gary had to use a 6 ounce sea lead to hold bottom. Gary used a 12lb line with a 15lb hook line bait was a boilie used in conjunction with Dynamite Baits Marine Pellets. Gary is one of those angling writers who can catch fish. His record of big fish is very impressive which includes Bream 12-4-0 Common carp 38-10-0 Chub 6-11-0 Eel 3-4-0 Grayling 2-2-0 Perch 2-8-0 Pike 32-8-0. Mark Callaway from Ringwood must also be congratulated for catching an Hampshire Avon chub of 7-6-0 The picture of this super chub on page 5 of this weeks Anglers Mail certainly looks impressive. Pages 16 and 17 feature my old friend Tony Miles who has recently taken a brace of barbel weighing in at 16-7-0 and 16-3-0 which helped Tony win the December Fox Specimen Cup.

Final Report of the Season 9th January

Rutland Water finished the season on a high with catch returns for the period 15 to 22 December showing that 222 anglers took advantage of the mild conditions and caught 682 fish. Giving an excellent rod average of over three. Fish had been seen moving in the surface all around the lake, close in, taking small black and green buzzers. Several anglers reported catching fish on dry flies, other anglers took fish on minkies, tadpoles, buzzers and hares ears John Season, Senior Warden, at Rutland Water said "this is the best winter fishing we can remember and a few of the bags I have seen during the last fortnight were": 14 year old Ross Davis from Evington, Leicester had four fish including a 6lb rainbow.Ross Millagan from West Bridgeford, Nottingham had four superb fish for 15lb 8oz. Tony Day from Cambridge, George Branwell from Loughborough and William Allardyce from Leicester all recorded 4lb fish in their limits. Statistics for the 2002 season Fish Caught 49,660 Rod Average 3.2 Best Rainbow 14lb 4oz taken by Mike Burnside of County Durham who took this superb fish on a fry pattern fished from a boat in the south arm during May Best Brown 8lb 2oz taken by Nick Alton of Doncaster from a drifting in boat off Inmans Spinnery with sparkler booby on a sinking line during September.
Pitsford Water Pitsford Water has also had an exceptional year, finishing the season with a rod average of almost 3. The brown trout fishery record was broken and the rainbow record was within a few ounces of falling. Beginner courses were very popular at Pitsford last year, with many participants taking advantage of the ‘starter season permit’ and going on to gain experience by joining in the various leagues run for fun during the year. Statistics for the 2002 season Fish Caught 15,225 Rod Average 2.8 Best Rainbow 13lb 4oz taken by Geoff Adams of Northampton from the bank opposite the Pines. Taken on a size 14 hares ear ‘with a bit of extra twinkle’ during August. Best Brown 14lb 3oz taken by Rob Layton of Old, Northants from the bank in Pitsford Creek using a diawl bach on the top dropper during July. The fish gave a fantastic fight on 6lb leader and was the best fish Rob had ever caught. It is also a new fishery record for Pitsford
Ravensthorpe Reservoir continued it’s fame for big fish and plenty of them, finishing the season with a rod average of 4.5 and a record rainbow. Mick Beardsley, Warden, at the fishery retired at the end of the year after over 10 years service to our anglers. However I am sure you will all continue to see him on the boats and banks at Ravensthorpe this year. Statistics for the 2002 season Fish Taken 2,966 Fish Released 8,460 Rod Average 4.5 Best Rainbow 16lb 13½oz taken by Reg Belham of Duston, Northants who smashed the fishery record from a boat off Mongers Point using a ‘Pitsford Pea’ on fast sinking line. Reg also took a 12 pounder the same day in June. Best Brown 7lb 12oz taken by Mark Flavin just a few feet from the lodge bank on a damsel nymph in July.
Grafham Water continued to fish well right to the last day, with the harbour wall, producing fish on a daily basis. Winter fishing saw some of the best bags of the season with Keith Jones of Glinton, Peterborough taking 31lb 9oz off the harbour arms on a white minkie booby during a late December session. Statistics for the 2002 season Fish Caught 23,402 Rod Average 3.29 Best Rainbow 8lb 7oz taken by Fred Taggart Great Staughton on an olive buzzer from the dam wall during May. Best Brown 6lb 1oz taken by Robert Allen of Northampton from the right harbour arm on a black meanie and intermediate line during the gales of 29 October


Take a look at this weeks Anglers Mail? 3rd January

On page 5 Tony Miles is pictured with a super barbel of 18 lb 9 ounces from the Great Ouse where Tony was fishing with a new bait. On pages 6 through to 9 Its the battle of the baggers. On page 10 you can learn some good ideas for catching chub from John Barford. New Gear, Tackle on Test and User Reports are featured as are fresh and saltwater angling venues. Carp fishing being so popular is well covered with several pages of pictures and text on your favourite species. On pages 34 and 35 you will find Special Report Fishing forecast for 2003 Its based on the stars such as Scorpion and Capricorn, on a personal note I feel this was wasted pages which could have been filled with some good fish catching ideas from real experts. Despite this its still a good buy at just £1-00 from your newsagent.

New Water 3rd January

Keighley AC have a new stretch of the river Aire for 2003 Its upstream of Kildwick Bridge left hand bank looking upstream. Season tickets cost just £20-00 a year which includes some stillwaters and other stretches of the river Aire plus many miles of canal fishing.

Happy New Year to you all 3rd January

Congratulations go out this week to Pat O'Reilly angling writer, author, conservationist and first class fly fisher on being awarded an MBE for his services to angling and conservation. The New Year has started off with major flooding in most parts of the country, only the north west of England seems to have escaped the misery of people having their homes flooded. The forecast for the coming week is for dry, cold weather with frost and snow in some areas. Under these conditions I choose to fish for chub and grayling both species will feed in Arctic conditions. I have caught both species of fish when the water temperatures is down to 34 degrees F. Chub are the perfect quarry under cold conditions, some writers suggest chub give only give tiny movements of the rod tip in low water temperatures, I only have had this happen occasionally, most of the bites from winter chub are usually a small tap on the rod tip then a good pull. Bites which are easily turned into fish. My first choice bait is crust, I use a short link between hook and weight, often the weight is just 2 inches from the hook. On a bright sunny but cold day with clear water, grayling are an excellent quarry, they can be fished for with nymphs, dry fly and bait. For the latter I suggest you use sweetcorn and float tackle in pursuit of this delightful fish. By using sweetcorn, I find you don't hook so many out of season brown trout. Most of your fly fishing will be with weighted nymphs, around mid day you will often find a few grayling rising to take small flies off the surface. I suggest you then try a small olive pattern. A Greenwells Glory is a good choice.

Martin James Fishing