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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Illness Left Me Sitting Around and Not Fishing Out West

Kate and me left home in August for a ten day visit to St Lawrence County in NY on the banks of the St Lawrence River at Joe Babbitt's carp fishing camp. It's a place where you can expect some of the greatest carp fishing in the world. These are not stocked fish, but truly wild ones, with no names. Growing to perhaps 90lbs.

I well remember a fly fishing trip last year on the St Lawrence in search of smallmouth bass. From a weed bed appeared a big carp, No. It was a huge carp. This fish was in some four feet of gin clear water, it passed within 4 feet of the boat. That fish was at least 60lbs, It could have gone 90lbs plus. I stood spellbound, as I watched that awesome fish swim slowly away from the boat.

Helping The Kids To Catch Carp

The first three days of my trip were spent in helping boys and girls catch carp during the St Lawrence carp fishing tournament. The youngsters from all over the United States, Canada and England were a credit, not only to their parents, but also themselves and their countries. Their behaviour was excellent.
Young Milly Mason from New Jersey fishing on the first day caught her first carp, about 16lbs, then went on to capture a magnificent carp of 44lbs on a six foot white fibre glass rod. Without doubt the girls were equally as good as the boys, catching many excellent fish, several girls winning much of the prize money on offer.

Sadly on my 4th day I went down with a kidney infection, and I was glad my health insurance was in good order. The doctors were extremely efficient making sure I was as comfortable as possible. I lost 17 pounds in a week. There was no fishing for trout, bass, carp or pike. All I could do was sit around, feeling lousy and quite bored. Having only one kidney was a major worry which I could have done without. After ten days I flew out of Ogdensburg NY for Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Oregon is a Great American State

Early in the year Cheryl and George Burgermeister had invited us to spend a couple of weeks with them in the city of Portland in Oregon, with a week at their beach house on the Pacific coast at Netarts near Tilamook. We got to know George and Cheryl, when they came and stopped with us in Lancashire a few years ago. We had offered Oregon Trout a conservation body, a two week stay in our home as a fund raising auction prize. The Burgermeister's made the highest bid. We all had a great time fishing the rivers Hodder and Ribble.
The Beautiful Pacific Coast

Oregon is well known for its beautiful coast line stretching from Washington State in the north to California in the south. The State was also proving extremely popular for the Californians. Some years ago the two term State Governor Tom McCall, said in the Portland Civic Auditorium on a June morning in 1972. "We want you to visit our State of Excitement often" then said "Come again and again. But, for heaven's sake, don't move here to live" McCall was a great conservationist who introduced the Oregon Bottle Bill in which nine Oregonians out of ten think is a great law. Its a pity we do not have a similar bill in the United Kingdom.

Our stay with the Burgermeister's at their beach home in Netarts was perfect, I could rest up, and get my strength back. Sitting out on the deck some fifty feet up on a hillside just reading and drinking tea, was the perfect convalescent. I could look out over the ocean, and witness an ever changing scene. The dawns and sunsets were often magnificent. I can recommend it to everyone. I had just purchased a new Nikon Digital SLR camera so I spent much of my time reading the instruction book and getting used to this new bit of equipment. My time wasn't wasted.

We enjoyed some great food cooked by Cheryl, visited many shops including Camera World, Kaufmann Streamborn, and Powell's bookshop in Portland. During my visit I also gave a talk and slide show at Mark Bachmans Fly shop at Welch's near Mount Hood. After some four weeks, I was I was feeling a lot better.

During my stay in Oregon, two other friends Scott and Barbara Richmond collected Kate and myself for a visit to Frank and Jeannie Moor at their log cabin home on the Umpqua River near the famous Steamboat Inn which they had run for many years. Looking after the many steelhead anglers who visited, not just from the United States but from many European countries. Frank and Jeannie are also great conservationist. Through their efforts, the Umpqua river today is a fine steelhead river, being just as famous today, as in the Zane Grey and Major Mott era of the 1930's. On the wall, next to my desk is a picture of a young Frank as an 18 year old D-day soldier in France. Jeanie was housebound recovering from a fall, in which she had broken her ankle in three places. After lunch we made our way to the banks of the Umpqua river where I could see a chrome bright steelhead about 10lbs alongside a rock. If that fish could speak, then no doubt it would be saying "Catch me if you can".

Smallmouth Bass Fishing

A week later I got the chance to go fishing. The Kesterson family warmly invited Kate, George, Cheryl and to visit the Big K Ranch set in 2500 acres of private land on the banks of the Umpqua river, in the quiet, serene, and natural beauty of southern Oregon. It has an incredible 10 miles of fishing for Smallmouth Bass, American Shad, Chinook and Silver Salmon. You will see wild turkeys and deer, if your lucky you might get to see elk, bear or cougar. Its not only a great place for the angler but also the artist and photographer. Accompanying the ten thousand square foot lodge where you will enjoy some good home style cooking, are twenty spacious cabins, Many families vacation at the lodge, companies big and small often treat their employees to a weekend getaway at the Big K. You can plan your wedding or reunite your family at the Ranch. Its a great experience.

Though there were many chrome bright coho and king salmon in the river George, Cheryl, Kate and me chose to float the river in search of smallmouth bass with our guides Richard who looked after George and Cheryl and Quinton who guided me and Kate. We all used five and six weight fly rods, floating lines and very big nymphs. I had known Quinton along with his cousin Gary for several years. As youngsters they were fine anglers and hunters who's company I greatly enjoyed. I well remember Gary as a 14 year old, catching a big salmon on an English ten foot spinning rod.

Today they are even better anglers. Both are great guys along with another cousin Michael, and all and a credit to their parents. A big influence on their young lives was Big Al, their grandfather who has truly made them into even better hunters and anglers than others twice their age. Richard is one of the resident guides along with his twin brother. Despite the heavy rain showers we all caught a lot of bass while we enjoyed a wilderness experience. There were many occasions when we would see a dozen or more salmon pass by the McKenzie drift boat After a couple of days at the Big K ranch it was time to move on. If your interested in visiting the Big K Ranch you can call them on 001 541 584 2295 E-mail or

Fly Tackle Dealers Show in Denver

Two days later I was in Denver for the Fly Tackle Dealers Show, I was on the Thomas and Thomas stand, meeting many other dealers and friends. The show is certainly a great meeting place for the trade to show off their new products to the many hundreds of dealers from all over the world. During the show I was able to get some interviews with authors John Gierach, Stephen Grace, Chico Fernandez and Simon Gawsworth who is also with of Rio Lines. Tom Dorsey of Thomas and Thomas explained how he designed the new Horizone 2 rods while company chief Lon Decker told my listeners how he got into the fishing tackle business. All in all it was an interesting show.

Martin James Fishing