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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Bits and Pieces - Martin James

In the dim days of the past when I was dusting and crusting for roach with a Sowerbutts pole with its whale bone tip, perhaps fly fishing with bamboo rods and silk lines, or using bored bullets and hooks to gut. In those days, the home of the fishing tackle industry was Redditch. We were wearing winkle picker shoes, three button Italian suits, flared trousers and Cuban heeled boots, riding Lambretta scooters and Triumph motorcycles. The Dave Clark Five had a record simply titled ĎBits and Piecesí Hence the title.

Are the fish getting wised up to modern baits?

If you walk the banks of many rivers today where chub and barbel are the main species. You will probably see perhaps 60 to 75% of the anglers using pellets or boilies as bait. A few will choose meat, perhaps the odd angler is fishing bread. Even the humble maggot seems to be going out of fashion on the northern rivers. Could the chub and barbel be getting wised up to pellets and boilies on heavily fished waters? While many of my angling friends use pellets, pastes and boilies, I'm still using bread, cheese paste, sausage meat, lob worms and sweet corn. There are occasions when I will use a meatball or chunk of meat. Often its 3 or 4 big lobs on a size 2 or 4 hook. As my catches compare very well with those of my friends who are using the new baits. I see no reason for change.

Fishing the rivers Kennet, Teme and Ribble where it seems most of the baits in use are pellets, pastes and boilies, my bread or sausage meat paste has usually out fished my friends. It's not because I am a better angler. I feel my little used baits, are viewed with less suspicion than the modern baits. In fact bread and sausage meat this season, has accounted for several double figure barbel, five six pound plus chub. Including a personal best barbel at 12-7-0 and chub of 6-15-0. These fish have fallen to what my friends mockingly call old fashioned baits. On a recent trip to the Kennet with Mike Osborne of Carlisle I had 14 chub 6 over 5lbs best at 5-9-0 2 small barbel and a perch. Baits, bread and lob worms. Yet the day before with a W/T of 50 degrees F I caught just 3 small chub average about 11/2lbs and 2 barbel about 5lbs. Against my better judgement and through propaganda I chose to fish boilies and pellets. It was only when I changed to cheese paste and bread that I caught. Most of the day had been wasted.

With only a small percentage of anglers using bread, sausage meat and lob worms, the fish donít get hooked so often. So they donít get many bad experiences, through getting hooked so often. Could this be the reason they take my baits with confidence?. I well remember last winter on a fishing trip to the River Kennet with Mike Osborne of Carlisle to record one of my radio shows for BBC Radio Lancashire. On the Wasing Estate fishery at Brimpton, is a nice weir pool, which is little fished by most members. Both Mike and I like too fish the pool, so I offered Mike first choice, Mike struggled fishing pellets, bread and meat. I fished the pool next day with lob worms catching several barbel including a nice double caught within fifteen minutes of casting out. In fact I was hoping for a big perch. But I didnít complain.

I well remember another trip last season getting a call late on a Monday afternoon from Kevin Rolls the fishery manager on the Wasing Estate saying "You should be down on the Kennet Martin. The river is high and coloured conditions look perfect". I answered "I will be down tomorrow morning, thanks for the call" I then called my favourite B&B to see if a room was available, the answer was affirmative. Thankfully I keep a few loaves of bread in the car, ready for a fishing session. A word of advice. If your fishing with mash and making bread paste. Donít use new bread, its far too glutinous and will prove useless. When fishing with flake and crust I like two day old bread, for all other uses it needs to be a week old.

After loading my car with tackle, bait and cloths, it was time for dinner. I left home at 6-30pm arriving in Thatcham at 10-30pm Nine oíclock next morning Iím on the river. The favoured swims were being fished. I chose the weir pool, it was a good choice. I had a super catch of barbel and an out of season brown trout of 5-8-0 caught twice. We could see a distinct mark on the back end of the fish. Bread was the only bait used. Those anglers fishing the favoured swims that day with pellets and swim feeders caught two small barbel.

Graeme Cook a Civil Servant from Lancaster joined me on the Kennet weir pool. He caught two good barbel on crust, His first ever barbel weighed 8lbs followed by an 8lb 8 ounce fish later in the day. Graeme being a pellet man (Often referred to as weasel droppings by Mike and me) tried this bait on the second day. Graeme had one small barbel about 4lbs. Mike Holgate of Standish was another pellet man. I got him using crust. In March last year he had a 6-7-0 chub. He has also had several five pound chub from the rivers Aire and Ribble on bread and barbel from the Teme and Ribble on this simple bait.

One of my ways of raising money for Crossroad Carers Charity is guiding other anglers. I donít charge a fee just asking them to send a donation to Crossroad's of my charities. During the past few months many anglers have caught their personal best fish. The latest three have been John Houghton a fireman of Southport, Martin Salisbury a solicitor of Lostock and Terry Semeraz a nuclear scientist from Preston all caught their personal best chub. The bait was bread. Why not be adventurous in the last few days of the season, go out and try bread flake, crust, sausage meat, cheese paste, worms or gentles? Neil Fearn Ormskirk fishing the Ribble last week as I suggested caught a 6-4-0 chub. Now let's be honest these are huge fish.

Are Modern Baits - A Tackle Dealers Dream

I suppose I started using boilies back in the sixties when I added Pomentag to Kit-E-Kat to make paste which was then lightly boiled to give it a skin. Not only was this bait good for carp, it proved excellent for tench and chub. Today walk in to most tackle shops, and you could be forgiven for thinking you had walked into the local sweet shop. Hanging on pegs or packed on shelves will be bags of boilies in various flavours. Strawberry, Vanilla, Maple, Tutti-frutti and Cornish cream to name a few. On another shelf you will find bags of pellets in different sizes from 5 mm to 21 mm. Pellets and boilies must be the best thing since sliced bread for our friendly local tackle dealer. No big refrigerators to hold gallons and gallons of gentles. No getting up at dawn to run off, then bag up hundreds of pints of casters.

The boilies and pellets just stay on the shelf until needed. If you want to go fishing today, you donít have to worry if the tackle shop has any gentles. Most anglers I know, keep a supply of pellets and boilies at home. In my shed I have several sizes and various flavoured boilies. Should I go off fishing for a day or days on a still water where I often use boilies. I just unlock the shed pick up some bags of bait, and off I go. There are some days when tench fishing, when I often get better results fishing with boilies from Cotswold Bait Creations than lob worms. Phil Chumís various boily baits come in a sausage shape. Fishing the sausage shaped baits seems to out fish the usual boily even when they are the same flavour.

I well remember some years ago while filming a segment on barbel fishing. The director, cameraman and me stood watching some barbel. I dropped in some cubes of luncheon meat, immediately the fish started to back away. They were certainly upset at seeing these cubes of bait. Before moving on I used an apple corer to make some sausage shaped lengths of meat, which I dropped into the swim. Later on all those sausage shaped baits had gone. Most of the cubes remained. We dropped more bits of bait into the water, a few minutes later the barbel appeared from under the Water Crowfoot mopping up the free offerings. I really do believe fish associate shapes with a bad experience.

Do We Need Those Silly Names Used To Describes Our Fish?.

Have you noticed the stupid names given to describe some of our coarse fish species. The newcomer to our great sport must be puzzled by many of the words being used to describe our various fish. Barbel are known as, the beard or torpedo, then we have Zeds to describe the Zander, Perch are stripys or sergeants. Tench are Tincaís. The pike get called crocís. Lets stop using these silly words

Martin James Fishing