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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer



Angling and Fisheries Go for Unity! 27th January

Building on the success of the Third Angling Summit, organised in December 2003 by Parliamentary Angling Liaison Officer, Martin Salter MP, members of the Moran Committee, National Angling Alliance and Joint Angling Governing Bodies, met to review the future of angling and fisheries representation.

All members present agreed to the concept of one, unified body for angling and fisheries, and all left the meeting seeking the approval and commitment of their respective organisations.

The meeting’s independent Chairman, Jim Glasspool, commented,

“The meeting was held in a very positive atmosphere, and showed great possibilities for progress within a very tight timetable.”

A working group has been established to define responsibilities and investigate future funding possibilities. A final structure will be presented to the main group by April 30th 2004.

On hearing about the positive attitude and successful outcome of this meeting, Martin Salter commented,

“I am delighted that the leading organisations in angling and fisheries management have responded so positively to the challenge to bring the governance of our wonderful sport into the 21st Century, by seeking to create a modern, effective and powerful unified voice for angling and fisheries.”


Borwick Waters 27th January

British Waterways latest fishery development – and the first in its new Northern Region – is scheduled to start opening for business in the near future.

The new fishery is situated in Lancashire just a mile from the Irish Sea and the warming waters of the Gulf Stream and less than half a mile from the nearest motorway junction. It promises to be very different from the usual commercial fisheries where pleasant surroundings sometimes take a back seat in the quest for convenience. The site has a “nature designation” as a Biological Heritage Site and long and careful planning has taken place to ensure that its nature value is protected while the site is developed as a superb fishing facility.

The 25 acre former gravel pit set in a further 8 acres of surrounding land is designated as a nature site for three reasons. During the Winter months large numbers of ducks and geese migrate from the North and East to overwinter there. In Spring, Tufted Ducks nest in the western margins of the lake and Lapwing chicks from the grassland to the North visit the margins. Day old Lapwing chicks need to access shallow muddy margins in their first day or two after hatching.

Imaginative thinking was needed to find innovative solutions which maintained the features that the wildlife required whilst accommodating the demands of the modern angler.

First part of the plan was to separate off some of the bays around the lake to form separate pools which could developed for angling whilst leaving the main body of the lake undisturbed. The excavation of material on site to provide rock and soil for this separation would create additional fishing pools. A shallow wet scrape will be dug straddling the northern boundary fence to allow livestock to access it still and “poach” or “puddle” the margins to create the muddy conditions needed by the baby Lapwings.

Next an overall site management plan was needed to make sure that angling activity itself did not affect the wildlife. Fortunately this was not too difficult since the site will have a total of eight fishing pools.

The main lake will remain at 15 acres and will have minimal stocking to enable the current large specimens (there are reports of a 35lb Pike) to remain. Existing stocks are something of a mystery though Pike, Perch, Carp, Tench and Eels are definitely present. Pegs will be spaced at a minimum 25 metres and no fishing will be allowed on a reserved area at the south of the lake with about half the lake closed over the winter. The public will be able to feed ducks and some very visible fish in an area separated from the lake close to the car park. Juniors will be encouraged in for Rudd and Ghost Carp in a nearby area and in an intimate pool stocked with Tench, Crucians and Rudd.

Four new pools separated from the main lake will range from half an acre to almost 4 acres and provide over 180 specially constructed fishing pegs. Each pool will have adjacent car parking with all weather paths and tracks. Each of these pools will be heavily stocked with a minimum of 2000 small Carp per acre.

The totally new northern pool offers exciting opportunities. Though one waterbody, it will be separated into two discrete fishing pools each with its own identity and fish stocking. One pool will be stocked with Barbel, Dace and Chub, whilst the other will be home to Golden Orfe, Koi and Golden Tench. All of these species are less heavy bottom feeders and should enable more vegetation providing ideal nesting conditions for the Tufted Duck, and part of the bank will be closed from March to June to leave these undisturbed.

Extensive planting and landscaping will take place when the main construction work is finished to create wet wildlife areas and enhance the environmental value of the site and provide picnic areas, bird hides and pleasant walks for families and the public.

Planning delays have meant that the opening has been delayed but the whole site including toilets and showers should open in Spring 2004, with a café opening shortly after. British Waterways is offering you the unique chance to fish virgin waters in North Lancashire for free. Borwick Waters, just off junction 35 on the M6 at Kellet Lane.

Before then British Waterways, which successfully manages 2,000 miles of inland waterways in England, Scotland and Wales, is offering anglers the opportunity to fish certain parts of the site for free for existing stocks. The main lake will have minimal stocking to enable the current large specimens (there are reports of a 35lb Pike) to remain. Existing stocks are something of a mystery though Pike, Carp, Perch, Tench and Eels are definitely present.

Surrounding the specimen lake are eight ‘satellite’ pools ranging in size from 4 acres down to less than half an acre. These pools are to be heavily stocked with a minimum of 2000 small Carp (and other species) per acre when public fishing begins in early April.

British Waterways is therefore anxious to keep the main lake as natural as possible and would like to return the fish trapped in the ‘satellite’ pools to the specimen lake.

British Waterways would like to offer a limited number of permits to anglers free of charge on condition that any fish caught are transferred to the main lake and catch returns are completed to provide information.


During the final month of 2003 the Environment Agency North West successfully prosecuted 13 cheats after they were caught fishing without a rod licence. The fines for December's prosecutions totalled £805 with costs of £720 awarded to the Agency.

Despite the unseasonable time of year, December's successful prosecutions represented an increase of 225% on the previous month. The total fines were also up over £600. Across the country 308 offenders were prosecuted by the Agency during December. Nationally fines totalled £17,595 with costs of £17,765 awarded to the Agency.

Godfrey Williams, the Agency's Acting Head of Fisheries, said the increase in prosecutions was due to an assumption by anglers that the Agency’s level of vigilance would slip over the winter months.

He said: “The increase in both successful prosecutions and fines in December should serve as a warning to anyone considering fishing without a licence over the coming months.

“The Environment Agency's rod licence enforcement activities continue throughout the changing seasons, and rod licence evaders should take note of the penalties they will receive when caught.”

Buying a licence couldn't be easier - there are around 17,000 Post Offices and other outlets which sell them direct, and for a small additional charge they can be purchased over the phone (0870 1662662.) They are also available from our website -

A Bank High River and Gale Force Winds Didn’t Stop Me Catching Chub 15th January

As we all know the country has been getting a battering from south-westerly gales and heavy rain mixed with hailstones. I can cope with wind and rain but not hailstones which quickly drops the water temperature and lowers the oxygen content. Today Tuesday both the Rivers Aire and Ribble were bank high. The water temperature on the River Ribble was just 41 degrees F having watched the River Ribble rise about three inches in some fifteen minutes. I chose to fish the River Aire. Driving along the A59 towards Skipton I could see the trees shaking and bending in the strong gale force wind but I just had to go fishing today despite the horrendous conditions. I didn’t want to go off to the United States having not fished the day before I went off on a trip.

I decided to fish the Keighley AC water at Kildwick driving over the bridge I could see the river was bank high. Parking the car I sat there for a few moments trying to decide if I should fish the clubs new stretch up river or go downstream to a bend where I often fish when the river is high. I chose the latter. Pulling on my chest high waders and boots I made up a powerful Avon rod which I usually use on the river Teme for barbel because I would be using heavy weights today it was matched with a centre pin reel and 6lb line. I dispensed with my usual LG shots using a sliding link so I could use a flat weight stopped some fifteen inches from a size 6 barbless hook by a plastic leger stop.

Locking the car I picked up my bag containing lobworms, cheese paste and sausage meat paste then slinging the bag over my shoulder, picking up the landing net and rod I made my way downstream head bowed against the wind. It was a tough walk. From the straw coloured riverside reeds a pair of teal shot skywards, a hundred yards down the track I put up three partridges. As I reached the bend a dozen mallard jumped from the waters edge and tried to gain height in the strong wind but gave up the struggle and flew downwind. A dead sheep floated into view before disappearing downstream. Against a partially submerged tree trunk I could see another dead sheep. No doubt as always we will have to put up with the horrid smell for weeks to come. I checked the water temperature it was 41 degrees F

A Brace Of Four Pounders

Despite the wind ruffled surface the swim looked good, about five yards above the bend the river flowed from left to right towards the far bank. There was a small area where the water was swirling around like a giant washing machine but the inside of the bend cetainly looked fish able. Clipping on a two ounce weight I baited with three lob worms and to stop the worms wriggling off the hook I slipped a small square of rubber band over the point of the hook and partly up the shank. Dropping the baited hook close in to the bank where I had about four feet of water. As I sat holding the rod I could feel bits of rubbish hit the line ten minutes later I felt a powerful pull the answering strike connecting with a good fish. The reel grudgingly gave some line as the rod hooped over. Three or four minutes later I had my first glimpse of a good chub. A minute later I pulled the fish over the landing net.

Looking at the fish I though that's a good four pounder, the scale pointer went round to 4-6-0. The fish itself had a washed-out look about it, no doubt due to all the flood water over the past few days. After a quick picture the fish was released upstream in the quiet water behind a reed bed which under normal times was part of the bank. Today it was submerged. I baited with another three lob worms dropping the baited hook back to the same area. Twenty minutes later I felt a slight pluck on the line suddenly the line went slack sweeping the rod back as far as possible I connected with another fish. It powered away into the fast water trying to reach the opposite bank I had no choice but give some line. The fish was staying out in the fast water picking up the landing I moved downstream getting below the fish. It was a give and take struggle for several minutes before I was able to lead the fish towards the bank and the waiting net. A few feet from the bank I could see I had another good chub slowly I pulled the fish over the submerged net and lifted. It was mine weighing the fish it turned the scales to 4-8-0 and despite the weather and bank high river I was catching fish.

I fished on for about an hour without a sign of a bite, laying the rod on the bank I put the kettle on for a fresh brew. As I sat there enjoying a sandwich and a mug of tea I thought how nice it was to catch a couple of good chub in these tough cvonditions. Then a break appeared in the leaden grey sky for some thirty minutes there was a patch of blue sky with bright sunshine. Eventually the clouds moved in followed by rain and hailstones. I decided it was time to move further downstream.

My next swim was where the bank had been strengthened by lots of rocks, on the opposite side of the river a stream flowed in. I could see an area where the river flow slowed up a bit. which I though might produce a fish. Baiting with three lob worms I cast out to the chosen area only to feel the weight and baited hook being swept downstream eventually coming to rest among the bank side rocks. I needed a heavier weight and changed to one of four ounces. Casting out I could feel the power of the water against the line, occasionally the weight would shift a few inches. In the next thirty minutes I made several casts without any sign of a bite. Suddenly I felt a powerful pull on the line and connected with a good fish. After a few minutes chub number three was landed. It looked about three pounds and was quickly released. With nothing happening for about an hour I moved back upstream to my first swim.

Two More Four Pounders

The river was rising with lots of floating rubbish, the water temperature had dropped down to 39 degrees F. I could see another dead sheep up against the far bank. Switching back to a two ounce flat weight I baited with three lob worms and cast out. I sat holding the rod but every minute or so I had to bring in the tackle and release rubbish from the line I also changed to a tree ounce weight.. After an hours fishing I had two good pulls connecting with chub on both occasions one fish was 4-5-0 the other a chub of 4-10-0. Fishing on for another thirty minutes without a bite I moved upstream to try a couple of other swims. With no sign of a bite the wind increasing with rain and hail I decided it was time to go off home and prepare for my trip to the States for two big three day fly fishing shows in Marlborough Massachusetts and Somerset New Jersey. I would be on the Thomas and Thomas stand offering advice to visitors about there fly casting and fishing techniques.

Visit Swedish Lapland for Good Fishing and Lots of Fun 15th January

The aim of Project Lapland Fishing which is partly financed by the European Union is to develop ecological fishing tourism in the southern part of Swedish
Lapland. The project co-ordinators are proud to invite you to a year of fishing activity. Non of us who attended the 2001 the World Fly Fishing Championship will never forget the event. Without a shadow of a doubt it was rated as the best ever World Fly Fishing Championships.

This year. The Swedish Sports Fishing Federation are organising from July1st until July 5th The FIPS Mouche European Fly Fishing Championchip. This
first, and biggest competition, the EFFC 2004, will be fished by teams from all over Europe. The EFFC is arranged in co-operation with FIPS Mouche, The
Swedish Sport Fishing Federation and Project Lapland Fishing.

For competitors in EFFC and LFF There is a special offer July 6-8: A salmon fishing package for the International competitors in EFFC and LFF. You will spend 3 nights at the Fällfors Camp and get an introduction to salmon fishing in the famous river Byske Älv. This is a perfect way to enjoy two competitions and have an exciting break.

July 9-11: The Lapland Fishing Festival The annual LFF takes place in the small village Gagsmark, just north of the famous salmon river Byske älv will be held over the weekend following the EFFC 2004. The fly fishing will take place on the river Åby Älv. Swedish Lapland has some excellent pike fishing with fish of thirty pound waiting to be caught. You can take part in a pike
fishing competition catch and release where you have the chance of catching a big pike and taking home a $1000 Spinning or fly-fishing for pike is held on Lake Finnträsket. . LFF is arranged by the Project Byske Laxdal in cooperation with the Project Lapland Fishing. .

During August 14-15: The Via Baltica Pike Trophy Its a competition for the keen pike angler! Held at Kattisavan Camping and Lake Mörtträsket. During LFF 2003, 187 pike were caught, the heaviest weighing in at just under 9 kg. The competition is a joint arrangement between the EU-financed projects Via Baltica Nordica Development Zone and Lapland Fishing For more information regarding the above events E-mail

Three Days In Winter 10th January

I have just returned from the Wasing Fishery syndicate water on the River Kennet where I experienced some exciting sport over three days. It was my first serious fishing session of the New Year. The previous previous day Sunday 4th January I had fished an afternoon evening session on the River Aire with Mick Holgate who is the director of excellence at Macclesfield football club. I thought our chances of success were nil as the water temperature was a low 41 degrees F. I was right we didn’t get a bite, neither did the other anglers on the river. We stuck it out until about 8-0pm then went off home.

Next day Monday Mike Osborne of Cumbria and me left my house about 12 noon, conditions were looking good the temperature was a warm 50 degrees F with lots of cloud. The journey was done in quick time and the new toll road on the M6 has certainly helped the traffic flow we just cruised through the M6 - M5 junction. The M5 was quiet just the odd lorry and car. It was around 3-30pm when we pulled into the carp park. We had the place to ourselves. First, job check the water temperature it was 44 degrees F. The day before my friend David Hallett was on the River Kennet with five other anglers they went home bite less with a W/T of 41 degrees F

After putting on the Kettle I tackle up two outfits both soft Avon action rods, centre pin reels, and 6lbs breaking strain line with size 4 barbless hook tied direct to the line with a five turned tucked blood knot. After putting together my landing net, I sat on the back of the car having my first mug of tea and a pheasant sandwich. Two robins appeared I fed them some tiny bits of pheasant that they enjoyed. Mike and I discussed out plans for the session Mike was going to fish upstream of the bridge for the evening session, then next day he would fish the Weir pool. I decided to go off downstream of the bridge where I would also fish the next day. On my last day I would fish the weir pool.

Plenty of Baits

On this trip I had a hundred lob worms, eight loafs of bread, two pounds of flavoured sausage meat and a couple of pounds of very soft smelly cheese paste. The River Kennet holds some very big perch and during the last few weeks of the season some of these big perch get caught. That's the reason I wanted a load of lob worms. Thankfully Carter's of Church Street Preston stock lob worms which are excellent value for money. The sausage meat can be purchased from Roy Porter Bridge Road Chatburn Tel 01200-441392 You will notice I don’t have any gentles, casters, boilies or pellets. I am more than happy with the previously mentioned baits.

After my tea and sandwiches I headed off down river while Mike went upstream. As I walked down the banks and through the tree's pheasants were going to roost with a lot of crowing and flapping of wings. A green woodpecker joined in the chorus with its manacle laugh. After crossing a narrow bridge I pushed my way through a group of dead trees and Norfolk reeds where I could see the moon looking like a silver orb surrounded by a halo of many different colours, with no wind to stir the tree tops the river could be heard quite plainly on my left gurgling and bubbling as it flowed over a gravel shallow. The river had a look of silver about it in the moonlight.

Lots of Missed Bites and a Big Chub

The swim I had chosen to fish was an area where the river flowed from right to left sweeping and cutting into the left hand bank that was over hung by brambles, reeds, bushes and a dead tree. It was the ideal place for fish to be. In the day time they would have plenty of cover over their heads, should they get spooked by an angler or predator they would have a safe sanctuary to bolt for, and of course food would be pushed right in under the bank where they were lying up. I found six feet of water in the area of the undercut bank that gave me a lot of confidence especially with a rise in the water temperature over the past twenty-four hours of three degrees F . Making up a loaf of mashed bread, six golf ball size lumps were dropped into the swim. I started off legering with two lob worms, in the next hour or so I had several good bites missing them all. I tried holding the rod, tough legering, and giving the fish slack line directly a movement was felt. Still no success. I tried one, two and three worms, even half a worm on a size 10 hook and still I couldn’t hit the bites, that were often savage takes. I change baits from worms to bread then sausage meat and cheese paste. The distance between hook and weight was changed several times but it didn’t make any difference I still missed the bites.

I suppose it was about eight o’clock in the evening when I had my first fish a chub of 4-10-0 on a chunk of balanced sausage meat. I first bait with a big piece of crust then add the paste on top of the crust so the combination of crust and paste is balanced to stay just off the bottom where it's held in position by the weight. After casting out I would then slowly bump the bait through the swim by lifting and lowering the rod tip as one would when fishing sink and draw. Thirty minutes after catching the first fish and missing three good hits I hooked a very powerful fish that turned out to be a 5-10-0 chub. I was very happy with that fish after missing so many bites. I fished on until ten o’clock and with no more fish we called it a day and headed off to our B&B.

Lots of Chub and Barbel

After an early breakfast Mike and me were on the river at eight o'clock, conditions looked perfect cloudy and warm with a hint of rain. Checking the W/T I got a reading of 46 degrees F Collecting our tackle from the hedgerow where it had been stored overnight, Mike made his way up river to the weir pool, I went off downstream to the area I had fished last evening. Apart from the swim I had previously fished, I also baited the next two swims downstream with mashed bread and chopped worms. Starting off in the first swim where I had so many missed bites the previous evening I immediately had a good pull catching a barbel about six pounds. Dropping in a couple of bits of sausage meat I then moved down to the next swim. Baiting with bread crust I cast out then worked the bait under an over hanging alder tree.

Within seconds the tip pulled round and soon a good 4lb plus chub was netted Moving downstream to the next swim I rolled a bit of crust under an over hanging mass of brambles and dead nettles where I quickly caught another chub of 4lbs plus. I then went back to the first swim, twenty minutes later I had another barbel a cracking fish of 9-2-0. Apart from two nice chub about three pounds, I didn’t have any other bites despite fishing all three swims for an hour. After baiting heavily with chopped worms I baited the hook with three lob worms then rolled the baited hook down the swim. In a hectic half an hour I must have missed a dozen good bite. It was a repeat of the previous evening lot of bites and no fish. After long exasperating time I eventually caught a perch of about a pound. This was quickly followed about another similar size fish. The bites suddenly ceased. After fifteen minutes without a bite I walked downstream trying other likely looking spots without success.

Two Good Barbel

About half an hour after noon I walked upstream to the car park, Mike was waiting and as we chatted waiting for our beef stew to get hot. He said "I fished the weir pool where I didn’t have a bite. After an hour I moved downstream trying some other swims and still I didn’t catch anything. "Lunch finished I went off downstream while Mike moved into another upstream swim. Resting my swim had certainly improved as I quickly caught several good chub and barbel including a couple of five pound plus chub on both sausage meat and lob worm baits. An hour before dusk I hooked into a good fish that fought extremely well often taking line off the reel. The well-balanced tackle was quite capable of dealing with anything I might hook After several minutes I could see I had a good barbel It looked a double figure fish. Slowly inch by inch I was able to take in line getting the fish closer to the waiting landing net. Cramping on the pressure with the rod well arched over I drew the fish over the net then lifted allowing the folds of the net to engulf the fish. I punched the air with glee, it looked like a good double. Perhaps 11lbs going by its length, the scales gave a different story it weighed 9lb 14 ounces still an excellence fish.

Within thirty seconds of the bait hitting the water I had a savage take, the fish immediately took line off the reel. After a few minutes the fish was netted a good chub which when weighed turned the scales to 5-7-0. As I looked at the river in the fading light it looked perfect for a nice picture. Using my mobile phone I asked Mike if he would come and shoot some photographs for me. Within minutes a few shots were taken and the fish released. It was now time for a fresh brew, waiting for the kettle to boil I fed the swim with mashed bread chopped worms and some hook size chunks of sausage meat paste. Checking the W/T it had gone up a degree to 47 F while the air temperature was a very comfortable fifty-two degrees F. In the fading light and enjoying my fresh brew I listened to the wrens, robins, blackbirds and pheasants as they were getting ready to roost for the night. An owl called from a nearby beech tree who was answered by another owl from across the river. A field mouse quickly moved from the undergrowth grabbed a bit of dropped sausage meat then scampered away to it's home. Then Mike called to say he had just caught his best chub of 5-14-0. I congratulated him on such a super fish saying "I will come up and shoot some pictures" Mike answered "I have put it back". It's a pity I couldn’t get a picture of such a great fish more so when it's a personal best fish and only two ounces off the magic six pounds.

Tea finished I cast out a huge ball of cheese paste that wasn’t far off golf ball size I then sat back watching the rod tip. It was the perfect evening with no wind and very warm, as the owls called to one another I thought how wonderful life was. Suddenly the rod tip was pulled round several inches, the answering strike connected with something powerful and solid. I felt as if my arm was going to be pulled from its socket. The ratchet on the reel sounded like a scolded cat or some similar sound as the line was taken by a powerful fish. It was a give and take struggle often with the rod bent double, but my well-balanced tackle was able to cope. After several minutes fighting this fish in the darkness that was illuminated by the moonlight shining through the trees onto the river I was able to net a good size barbel of 9-12-0.

A Brace of Five Pound Chub

In the next couple of hours I caught several chub and barbel that included two five pound chub of 5-4-0 and 5-12-0 the barbel averaged about six pounds but all the fish were good fun to catch and put a bend in my rod. From nine o’clock until I packed up at ten o’clock I didn’t get another bite. Although I could see and hear fish slurping and swirling at some floating bread I couldn't get them to take a bread baited hook. Feeling tired and noticing a drop in the temperature I decided to call it a day and head off to our B&B. Back in the car park Mike told me he had caught several chub that included another five pound fish of 5-2-0. It was two very happy and lucky anglers who after leaving our tackle in the hedgerow headed off for a mug of tea and toast.

Day In The Weir Pool

On day three it was my turn for fishing the weir pool, I was hoping I might catch some good perch. The water temperature over night had dropped two degrees F. I used the same basic tackle as used during the previous two days. I did change the size 4 hook on one outfit for a size 10 hook then dispensed with my usual LG shots using just a flat running lead on the line stopped twenty inches from the hook by a plastic leger stop. A cold wind was ruffling the water surface. On the left side of the pool two streams flowed into the pool, a few yards from the left side of the pool and a few feet in front of the weir there were some pilings, I could one of these weed covered tackle busting piles quite clearly. Between the post and the left hand bank was an area of quiet water the size of a large farmhouse kitchen table. A barbel hot spot. Today I hoped to catch perch from a small area where three currents converged creating a quieter area of water only a few yards out from my bank. The water flowing over the weir plunged into a creamy swirling boiling flow of water. A plume of spray was being blown skywards from the dropping water giving the impression it was steam coming off the weir pool.

Baiting a size 10 hook with a single lob worm I cast a few yards out from the bank allowing the water flow to take the bait into my chosen area. Within seconds I felt a light pluck then a strong pull, striking I connected with a powerful fish that stayed on the bottom as it moved slowly up the pool towards the base of the weir. I cramped on as much pressure as I thought the size ten hook would stand slowly this pressure started to tell then after several more minutes I had the fish in the clearer water. I could now see I had hooked a good barbel. Keeping on the pressure and lowering the rod tip I could now use the power in the butt joint to put more pressure on the fish. I slowly guided the fish towards my landing net where it gave one last short dash. Pulling it back I got the fish over the net then lifted. The fish was mine. It turned the scale pointer to 10-7-0 Putting the fish in my landing net I staked it out in the shallow water then walked down the bank to Mike to ask him to shoot some photographs After some photographs were taken I watched the fish swim off strongly. How lucky can you get! When I mention there is luck in fishing I get told "No Martin, It's all down to skill" If so where was the skill in getting that fish to take my bait that was intended for perch in an area of water where I don’t fish for barbel.

During the day I caught a total of seven barbel averaging about six pounds on two or three lob worms on both outfit's one with a size 4 hook the other outfit with a size ten hook. I did lose a very big fish I estimated at a good twelve pounds plus going by its length and girth. At one time I had it within ten feet of my net when it slipped the hook. I had just one perch about a pound. As the light faded and the wind increased I called it a day and headed off to the car park. The journey home was without a hitch it had been a good session. For the next couple of weeks I am in the United States offering advice and doing demo’s at some big three day fly fishing shows in Massachusetts and New Jersey where I will be on the Thomas and Thomas stand.

-----------------------------------A Few Days From My Diary 4th January

A Dismal Day

Tuesday 23 December was wet and windy arriving on the banks of the River Ribble. I wasn't a happy angler the prospects for catching chub were not good. The river was rising it had a dirty grey look which matched the leaden grey sky. Apart from the melting snow broth from the hills there would be salt and other rubbish off the roads entering the river by many side streams. Checking the water temperature I was even less hopeful with a reading of 40 degrees F. Chub more than any other fish hate snow broth.

As I waited for the kettle to boil I assembled an Avon action rod centre pin reel with 6lb line I chose to use a link leger and a flat weight of an ounce. The distance between weight and hook was just a couple of inches. After a mug of tea I collected my bait bag, landing net, rod rest then moved off upstream to a quiet bit of water where I though a few chub might be shoaled up. Walking up river I spotted some twenty or so fieldfar, four goldfinches and a robin.

Arriving at my chosen spot I was disappointed to see the water swirling around like a washing machine. Even though I new it was waste of my time I still baited with a chunk of crust dropping it into the quietest spot I could see. Twenty minutes later I changed the bait to cheese paste the two inch hook link was extended to twelve inches. In the next half an hour I tried meat and flake. With no sign of a bite, which I didn’t expect I decided to call it a day. Before leaving the river bank I fixed some fat balls in the near by bushes, chucked a pound of sunflower hearts on the ground for the blackbirds, robins and goldfinches. Three hours after leaving home I was back indoors having a mug of tea.

Trout Were A Nuisance

Christmas Eve While most people had shopping on their minds I decided to go fishing after I finished work. On the way to the River Ribble I stopped of in Clitheroe to collect some bread. It was certainly busy cars were queuing to enter car parks, pedestrians were over flowing into the roads, but I was in luck a motorist pulled out of the parking bay in front of the bakers and I drove in and parked. Collecting my bread I popped in the newsagents for my Anglers Mail and Daily Telegraph. Back in the car it was stop go stop go and a very slow journey through Clitheroe. Once on the outskirts of town it was easy driving. Pulling into the fishery car park I could see the river looked perfect with probably an extra two feet of water with some colour. Checking the water tempeature I got a reading of 44 degrees F.

I was full of optimism as I tackled up two outfits, one for float fishing the other for rolling baits or legering a staticbait. Avon rods, centre pin reels with 6lb line and size 4 hooks. On the float fishing outfit I chose to use a balsa float taking three swan shot. One shot pinched on the line about ten inches from the hook the other two shot another foot up the line. With a strong upstream wind ruffling the surface some colour in the water and low light conditions I really did feel I was going to get a few chub today. Fishing my way down river I tried all my usual fishing spots. As I left each swim I introduced a handful of mashed bread. In two hours I didn’t have a bite. Not even a trout. After another hour with just one trout, I decided it was time for a brew. As I sat eating my lunch I thought about the mornings fishing trying to work out why I hadn’t had a bite. I didn’t have any answeres. The only highlight of the morning was a sparrow hawk flying low under my rod as it hunted the riverside bank.

Lunch over I fished my way down river to the bottom of the beat with no sign of a bite. I then fished all my usual spots back to the car park. Apart from five trout I didn’t have another bite. I thought to myself why wasn’t I catching chub? I had tried float fishing, legerering and rolling bread crust, bread flake, cheese paste, sausage meat and luncheon meat baits. In the gathering dusk as the pheasants, blackbirds, robins and wrens were going to roost I drove away from the car park for home and dinner.

My Present Was Fish Shaped

Christmas Morning I was up at four o’clock after a shower I made some porridge, followed by two slices of toast and a mug of tea. Going out to my car I was surprised to see several frogs in the garden. No doubt the mild weather with lots of rain had encouraged these male frogs to be first in line when the females arrive in my pond. Putting the tackle bag and rods in the car it was off to work until about 8 0’clock. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I’d been asked by several of my listeners if I could take their boy friends, husbands or partners for a day’s fishing as Christmas present. This was the perfect time to deliver those invitations for a days coarse, sea or game fishing. I probably guide sixty or seventy anglers each year I don’t charge a fee only asking they make a donation to one of my two charities. Crossroad Carers or Multiple Sclerosis research.

Having delivered eleven invitations I went off to the River Wharfe. The two swims I wanted were both occupied. I then decided on fishing the Ribble. In the pouring rain and gusting wind I drove into the car park near Clitheroe. I was surprised to see two other cars. Checking the water temperature I was pleased to see it was 46 degrees F conditions looked good. I quickly put together an Avon rod, centre pin reel with 6lb line and a size 4 barbless hook. My baits today were cheese paste, bread and sausage meat. I started off bouncing crust down a swim in the middle of the river. First, cast a good pull I was hooked up to a good brown trout. You can usually tell by the body twisting as you play the fish back upstream it's a trout. Out of season trout were not the fish I wanted, unhooking the fish in the water I watched it swim away thinking "That’s a good fish to catch on a dry fly when the season opens"

Next cast I’m into another trout of about two pounds. It was time to move on, in my next spot I quickly hooked a chub about two pounds as I pulled the fish over the net a kingfisher flew low over the water adding a bit of colour into a grey dismal day. I had three more chub all about two pounds apiece. With no bites forthcoming in the next half an hour I moved on down river to fish the bridge pool. Three bites, three trout. Time for another move. I then chose to fish an area where a side stream entered the river, taking off two LG. Shots I baited with a piece of sausage meat. Rolling the bait downstream within a few feet of the bank I felt the line tighten on my finger, striking I hooked into a nice fish. In the fast water it felt like a big one. Drawing it towards the waiting net I could see it was a chub of 3lbs plus. Unhooking the fish I gently lowered the net back in the water then watched the fish swim away. Baiting with another piece of meat I cast several yards downstream, within seconds the line tightened I connecting with another hard fighting fish a chub about 4lbs. I fished on for another half an hour without a bite. Then decided it was brew time making my way up river I spotted a well-mended kelt trying to make its way back to the sea.

I was on my own in the car park the other anglers had gone off home, lighting the stove the kettle was filled and put onto boil. Within minutes I had a mug of tea, sitting on the back of the car in the pouring rain I thought about the first session. Most bites from chub were just a tightening of the line showing they were confident feeders it was quiet at the waterside no robins, wrens, tits, blackbirds or fieldfare. I spotted just one lone heron standing in the middle of a field.

As I sat finishing off my tea and sandwiches I decided to fish just one swim for the rest of the day. Choosing to fish a swim close to a big oak tree where some of its branches trailed in the water. I baited heavily with mashed bread then rolled a chunk of bread on a size 4 hook downstream until it settled under the trailing branches hoping a good fish would turn up. Half an hour later I had a small tap on the rod tip, picking up the rod I felt a more positive take striking I connected with a good fish. A chub about 4lbs.

In the next hour I had three more chub averaging about three pounds. In the fading light I had another chub about 4lbs. Switching on my lamp to illuminate the rod tip I baited with another chunk of crust. Casting out I put the rod in the rest then sat back In the torch beam I watched the rain falling heavily. During the day the river had risen about six to nine inches and getting quite coloured. I suppose it was about 5-30pm when the rod tip was savagely pulled over, striking I connected with a good fish. A few minutes later I was able to net a good chub. It was a solid fat fish well into 4lbs, it turned the scale pointer to 4-8-0. I fished on for another half an hour without a bite. With the rain still pouring down the wind blowing hard I decided to go home. I doubt if I would be able to get near the river tomorrow but we mustn’t complain we need all the rain we can get to top up the reservoirs. Hopefully in Berkshire they are getting lots of rain to give a lift on the Kennet.

A Stream Mouth Saved The Day On A Rising River Full Of Rubbish

Today Boxing day I’m on my way to record an interview for At The Waters Edge programme on BBC Radio Lancashire driving down the hill to the River Ribble the windscreen wiper is working over time to clear the heavy rain falling from a leaden grey sky with a strong gusting wind, Pulling into the lay bye near the bridge I could see the river was bank high with some colour the gauge gave a reading of four and a half foot. With the air temperature at 50 degrees F water temperature of 46 degrees the chub and barbel would probably feed today. As I made my way to Keighley many of the fields were water logged and flooded the ducks were having a great time. After recording my interview I stopped at Silsden to check on the River Aire it was bank high. Back at the bridge over the River Ribble near home I checked the gauge reading, the river was up six inches.

Back home I telephoned David Hallet in Berkshire who said, "The weather was a warm 50 degrees F overcast but no rain". The reason for checking on the weather in Berkshire is I desperately wanted to get back on the Kennet when it had some extra water. After a mug of tea and some toast I headed off to the River Ribble near Ribchester. I used my usual Avon action rod, centre pin reel and 6lb line with a flat weight of about two ounces stopped about twelve inches from a size four hook Bait today was going to be cheese paste and sausage meat.

Walking upstream I dropped the bait into every likely looking spot. For an hour I didn’t get a bite. Reaching the mouth of a side stream I dropped a big chunk of sausage meat into a quiet area of water. Within seconds the line tightened I hooked my first fish. It was a washed out light grey looking chub about 2lbs. I fished on for another hour then decided to call it a day and returned home. Back home after a sandwich and a mug of tea I decided to go and fish another stretch of the River Ribble near home.

I decided to fish a small copse that would offer some shelter from the heavy rain and strong wind. Fishing tight to the bank in five feet of water with a big chunk of meat I sat watching the rod tip. After thirty minutes without any sign of a bite I decided to move. Twenty yards up the bank was a stream with so much extra water the river had backed up into the stream creating a nice big slack. Dropping a fresh chunk of meat into the slack water I sat holding the rod seconds later the tip moved, striking I connected with a nice chub about three pounds, unhooking the fish I released well downstream. In the next five casts I had five more fish averaging about three pounds. With the light fading fast I decided I would fish on for a while. It was well worth the effort I had three more chub the best at about 4lbs. In the pouring rain and a strong wind I made my way back to the car. I had been right in getting out on the river despite the tough conditions. During the day I spotted a dead kelt and another trying to make its way back to the ocean. With all the rain hopefully more kelts will make it back. Climbing in the car I switched on the radio to hear Arsenal three Wolves nil. Yes, it had been a good day.

It Was A Tough Rough Day

Saturday 27 December 9 o’clock I was at Crabtree’s bakery in Clitheroe to collect some fresh baked bread and rolls, in the newsagents I collected the Daily Telegraph then walked back to the car. On my way home I stopped off at the River Ribble and checked the water level there was 4 foot on the gauge, checking the water temperature it was 44 degrees F. The top half of Pendle hill had a covering of snow, hopefully no snow broth had got in the river. Around 10 o’clock Mick Holgate arrived at my home. After a mug of tea we went off to the River Aire. It was bank high and mud coloured all manner of rubbish was floating down stream including a dead sheep. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 43 degrees. After talking to Mick about the prospects we decided to give it a miss and drive to the River Ribble in the Ribchester area. We made a detour so we could check on the river level, we were disappointed to see the river in the past couple of hours had risen nine or ten inches. I checked the water temperature finding it had dropped another two degrees giving a reading of 42 degrees F

When we arrived on the banks of the River Ribble near Ribchester the rain was sheeting down, thick leaden grey coloured clouds were covering the hillside, a bedraggled cock pheasant slowly walked past the car looking quite miserable. Sitting in the car having a sandwich we spotted another angler walking the bank with rod and landing net. As the rain eased off it was time to climb into our waterproofs. I then noticed another angler coming down the bank we chatted, it turned out this angler had caught some chub on crust but hadn’t had a bite since 10-30 some three hours previously. The rising river with a dropping water temperature told me snow broth had got into the river that doesn’t help one's confidence and chub hate the stuff. We decided to call it a day and head off home.

Driving through torrential rain with sleet mixed in, we both agreed we were making the right decision. Passing over the River Ribble we stopped in a lay bye then checked the gauge the river was still rising and rising fast. As dusk was settling over the valley I walked down to the river it was about 4 o’clock the gauge gave a reading an inch or so under six feet. Between 9 o’clock in the morning and 4 o’clock in the afternoon the river had come up nearly two feet. It was now a dirty brown colour with masses of rubbish chunks of polystyrene a traffic cones a piece of carpet plastic sheeting chunks of timber a No Parking notice and tree branches were all floating downstream to the Irish Sea.

Great Coarse Fishing In The Kennet Valley 2nd January

Over the past few weeks I have had several E-mail’s from you the reader me asking for information on the Wasing Coarse Fishery Syndicate. The Wasing Fisheries with its extensive lakes and rivers on the Wasing Estate has been in the same family since 1760. The various waters are set in the delightful River Kennet Valley one of England's nicest rivers. Within the estate boundaries there is an abundance of bird and wildlife. A very comprehensive friendly and knowledgeable bailiffing system is operated, which supervises, protects, and maintains the fishery and its delightful rural charm. Many waters are of special scientific interest some are sited within the listed park of Wasing Place, others in unspoilt countryside. As a naturalist and an angler I don’t just want to catch fish, the whole ambience is very important to me and that's the reason I don’t fish the commercial hole in the ground fisheries. I do not have anything against these fisheries they serve a purpose but they are not for me. Recently on a fishing trip to the Wasing fishery I often had three or more robins around me seeking morsels of food. Pheasants, rabbits, the blue, great, coal and long tailed tit’s were around in profusion blackbirds, thrushes, woodpeckers, kingfishers, coots, moor hens and tree creepers were spotted. Not only do you get to see lots of bird and wildlife you have the chance of catching some big fish in delightful surroundings. When you join the syndicate you will receive a key for all the estate gates which are locked so keeping your care safe and the keys are replaced annually.

River Kennet Beats

The River Kennet fishery comprises four very attractive beats of mixed single and double bank fishing amounting too nearly 4 miles. The bottom end beat of Aldermaston has been known for many years as a top stretch of the Kennet that often produces the big roach, chub, pike and barbel. It’s the stretch of river where I caught my first Kennet two pound roach when fishing with the late Len Head. This fishery also has two excellent car parks. Brimpton is the top beat on the fishery you will find a very attractive weir pool. Between the weir pool and the car park three disabled fishing platforms have been built in top swims. Its certainly nice to see the wheelchair bound the angler is given every help and encouragement where they can fish the top swims. Fishing the Kennet will offer various fishing spots to choose from in slow and fast water there will be shallow gravel runs so beloved of the dace. Undercut banks with over hanging trees. The roots often plunging deep into the water creating fishing spots that will harbour chub, barbel and perch. If you're lucky you might catch a 4lb perch. Other swims will have trees in the water creating those perfect creases and slacks. It's best described as the Crabtree River. Mr Crabtree who was Bernard Venables spent a lot of time fishing the Kennet that shows through in his writings and paintings.

Beautiful Still Water Fisheries

Big carp, perch, tench, bream and pike are all available in the estate's lakes, Want a double figure bream or tench? Fishing the Oxlease or Cranwell Lakes will give you the chance of catching such a fish. Last summer despite the very hot weather I was able to catch tench of 6lbs plus using the float tackle and bread flake bait. Although I didn’t catch any double figure bream of tench I did feel given god conditions and a large slice of luck I might have hooked one of the big tench I spotted rolling at dawn. During the middle of the day during that oppressive heat in August last year when I was fishing with Tony Farqharson a big bream slowly cruised through the swim. Having caught double figure bream I do know what they look like. That bream was a double digit fish. There are two lakes in Wasing Wood that were created in the 17th Century with tench carp and perch. If you want the chance of catching a twenty pound pike I suggest you fish the Rowney Lake which was featured in a recent Anglers Mail feature with Andy Little.

Cost of Fisheries

You can purchase a variety of tickets for fishing the various waters. River Kennet will cost you £250-00 that is far cheaper than the season permits for a shooting syndicate, golf club or Premiership soccer club. Carp and tench lakes only £150-00 Predator Lake £150-00. You can of course purchase a permit for the rivers and lakes permit varying in cost from £314-00 - £469-50 they beauty of fishing this syndicate water is having peace of mind and not having to worry about your vehicle. Which is a problem at many fisheries these days with break ins and damage being done by the slobs of this world? At Wasing syndicate you will be fishing with a very nice group of anglers. For further details write Wasing Estate Office Wasing Park Berkshire RG7 4NG Telephone Kevin Rolls Fisheries Manager 01189 714281 there is a website

Sportsfishing in The Bahamas 2nd January

For more than a century, the sport of fly fishing has captivated the spirit of outdoor enthusiasts on several continents. The sport combines the thrill of the hunt, the skill of a marksman and the wonder of the natural world in a breathtaking, unspoiled setting. Its solitary nature is distinct from team sports; each fisher competes with his or herself and the evolutionary achievements of the target fish.

Fly fishing as we know originated in Europe among the upper classes, who cast for trout and salmon in freshwater rivers, lakes and streams. In the early 1900's, fly fishing was introduced to The Bahamas, primarily on the islands of Bimini, Abaco, Andros, Exuma and Grand Bahama. Small lodges, such as the Bang Bang Club (1929 Andros), Deep Water Cay (Grand Bahama 1956) and Peace and Plenty (Exuma) Moxey’s Bonefish Lodge in Moxey Town on Andros have been looking after bonefish anglers since the 1930’s some of their clients in those days were the Melon family bankers and steel stockholders. These people established The Bahamas as a world class fishery among the sportfishing elite from North America and Europe and are still doing so. In my opinion its the number one place to visit if you want to catch bonefish. Apart from bonefish you have the jacks, barracuda, permit, tarpon, snappers and sharks to name a few. Should you hook one of the latter on a twelve weight outfit you can expect some heart stopping excitement.

Over the last fifty years, the number of fly fishing lodges in The Bahamas has proliferated, adding important diversification to the nation's vital tourism industry. However, few statistics about the role of fly fishing in Out Island economies have been collected. Only limited information about the number of visitors, their spending patterns and number of Bahamians that gain their livelihood is available.

The lack of information occurs despite changes in the fly fishing industry in The Bahamas over the last 20 years. Two decades ago, the flow of anglers was uneven, allowing operators to pick up a job every now and then, and was not viewed as a full time profession. Operators used 13 foot Boston Whalers to bring visitors to easily accessible fisheries.

The industry has undergone a remarkable transformation. In 2004, there are approximately 300 professional guides operating in The Bahamas. Guides ply The Bahamas' creeks and coastal areas on more expensive, more comfortable water craft, serviced by more powerful engines. Fly fishing has swelled to a multi-million dollar industry in The Bahamas and the country's international reputation has grown to match the high quality experience that Bahamian guides provide. I have found the Bahamian guides the nicest group of people anywhere in the world. There knowledge of the fish and the environment is top class. You will find the people living on the family islands very friendly, helpful and polite. Even the school children are well behaved. If your visiting the Bahamas this year for a bone fishing trip may I suggest you take some pens, pencils, writing pads, even perhaps a football or cricket bat for the local school. These gifts will be most welcome.

With the formation of the Bahamas Sportsfishing and Conservation trust I believe the sport will grow and prosper for the benefit of everyone anglers, guides, businesses and the people and lets not forget the environment which is the jewel in the Bahamas Crown. If your interested in bone fishing I would suggest you read Bonefish by Randall Kaufmann Its without a shadow of a doubt the best book on the subject. Please E-mail if you need any information with reference to bonefishing in the Bahamas.

The Last Day Of 2003 Is A Tough One 2nd January

December 30th and despite the cold frosty conditions with a water temperature of 36 degrees F Kent Sherrington, Steve Makin and me enjoyed a great days angling on the River Ure, catching some grayling, nineteen or twenty chub and one small barbel on a day when we would have been happy with a couple of fish apiece. It was a different story on the River Ribble for the last day of the year. It was a finger numbing cold day, with a strong gale force northerly wind ruffling the icy grey looking river. A heron with its big harsh like sounding call of "frank" seemed to jump then with its slow flapping wings flew from its fishing spot where a small stream flowed into the river. As I sat putting my tackle together I heard a noise that sounded like ‘wink-wink’ ‘wink-wink’ the call of the pink-footed geese, looking skywards I spotted a skein of about thirty geese flying in perfect formation. The call of the wild goose certainly excites me with its a thrilling musical sound, I suppose you could say it resembles the sound of baying hounds. I doubt if there is another sound in nature that excites me as much as the call of the wild goose.

After putting my tackle together, I put the kettle on for a hot drink before venturing out into the icy cold wind. Waiting for the kettle to boil I checked the water temperature, it was a shock to the system as the thermometer gave a reading of 31 degrees F. Now that’s an icy cold river. I said to myself "The chub will be hard to catch today". If the temperature had been low for a few days, then no doubt I would have had a reasonable chance of catching. My first swim was in a small copse out of the wind making fishing that little bit more comfortable. For half an hour I tried crust and sausage meat baits, there was no sign of interest from a fish. I moved upstream to where a stream flowed into the river for a twenty minute session. Still no bites.

My next fishing spot was where a fast shallow run of water ended in a deep pool with an over hanging beech tree offering some cover. At the base of the tree I could see some of the tree roots going into the water where a lot of rubbish had collected creating a nice looking raft. Wading out in the icy cold water I rolled a chunk of crust downstream, then by working the rod tip I manoeuvred the crust under the raft. With the line over my index finger I waited for a bite. Ten minutes later I started to shiver in the bitterly cold wind. I though of my warm study and the beef hot pot waiting for me. But still I fished on.

Before leaving home the weather forecaster said "In northern Britain expect sleet, rain, snow and blizzards. With an ever increasing wind, a sky looking full of snow I thought back to that weather forecast. With no bites, it was time to try the ‘Bridge Pool’ walked downstream I thought back over the years events, without a doubt for me it was England winning the World Cup. Leaving the shelter of the hawthorn hedge my hat was whipped off by the gale force wind. Scrambling down the bank I was lucky to catch hold of the floppy felt trilby just before it went into the water. As I sat baiting with a bit of crust I could see the gale force wind was creating small white topped waves on the river. Casting into the wind whipped river I tried to roll the bait downstream but it was tough just trying to control the bow in the line. Fifteen minutes later I gave up the struggle, then buffeted by the icy cold wind I made my way back to the car park. The year 2003 had come to an end Happy New Year everyone and good fishing in 2004.

Martin James Fishing