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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Solicitors Treble on the River Kennet

A few weeks ago 28 year old Martin Salisbury a solicitor of Leyland Lancashire telephoned me to ask if he could join me for chub guiding session. Martin then joined me on the River Aire near Skipton where he had a personal best chub of 4-11-0 on legered crust. Following on from this Martin asked if he could join me for a couple of teaching days with the aim of catching his first barbel. I suggested a couple of days on the River Kennet fishing the Wasing Estate water, thinking he would have his best chance on this delightful river. A week later and a 4 hour trip south we arrived at Brimpton to find the river gin clear with a water temperature of just 40 degrees F plus or minus 1 degrees F.

Now Martin doesn't drink tea or coffee, only water, coke or some other soft drink. As Martin made up his tackle, I got a brew going. I need my Yorkshire Gold for inspiration especially with the tough looking conditions. As we arrived a cormorant flew from the bridge pool. Not what I wanted to see. Finishing my tea, then having sorted out the tackle it was time to move off downstream. We would be moving from swim to swim, perhaps the bait would only be in the fishing spot for a couple of minutes before we moved on. I put Martin in one of the good swims near the first bridge, after explaining how to fish the swim and sorting out his tackle for crust fishing, I fished another spot a few yards away. On my first cast I had a chub of nearly 4lbs quickly followed by three other fish. This was encouragement for Martin. After thirty minutes or so moved to another spot. Over the next two hours we walked well down river trying various spots with a selection of baits lobworms, bread crust, flake and meat with no results.

Arriving at a well known area, where a pipe pours water into the river from a nearby stream, conditions liked good. Its an are that has produced a lot of barbel in the past, along with some excellent chub. I put Martin in what I thought was the top spot, while I moved just upstream. Ten minutes later, I moved just downstream of Martin. Within a minute of casting then rolling a big chunk of bread flake on a size 4 hook down the swim, the line tightened on my index finger, at the same time the rod tip was pulled over, I connected with a good fish. After a couple of anxious moments including the net getting tangles in the undergrowth. I netted a super chub. I estimated at about 5-12-0. I walked up to Martin and before I could say "Can I use your scales"?. Martin said "That's a huge fish I've never seen a fish that big" Having zeroed the scales we weighed the fish at 6-2-0. My seventh 6lb plus chub this winter. Martin said " A few quick pictures and it was returned.

I then turned my attention to helping Martin catch his first barbel, I was quietly confident he would catch in this area. I moved his shot down the line to within three inches of the hook, I then dropped two bait size bits of bread in the swim. After explaining how and where to drop the bait, I showed Martin how to get the bait into the fishing spot without spooking the fish. Within two or three minutes Martin was fighting his first barbel. After netting, then weighing the fish at 6-2-0 I shot some pictures of a happy Martin with his first barbel. We fished on for another half an hour, then without any more bites we decided it was time for dinner.

Back at the car I put the kettle on for a brew, the other stove was then ignited so I could heat up a big saucepan of beef stew. As we sat waiting for dinner Martin talked about catching his first barbel and how much he had learnt from the days experience. Martin said "I didn’t think you could catch fish so close to the bank". Martin had spread some casters on the ground which soon attracted a Robin. One of the great pleasures for me on the Wasing Estate fishery are the amount of birds especially long tailed tits. Watch this bird closely and you will see it savagely attacks any tiny insects it spots. We even had a Little owl calling during the day, and twice I had a Green woodpecker with twenty feet of where I sat. After two big helpings of stew we moved off to try and catch some more fish. I put Martin in what I like to think is a ‘Banker Swim’ while I moved off downstream to fish a swim I had baited with 8 hooks size bits of sausage meat paste early in the day. First cast I had a nice chub of 4-14-0 and in the next couple of hours I had several more chub averaging about 4lbs. With the temperature dropping, my net frozen to the ground I called it a day and headed off up river to see what Martin had caught. Apart from one rattle on the rod tip just after starting to fish everything had been quiet. We headed off too our B&B for the night.

A Mixed Bag of Fish

Second day on the river I put Martin in a recognised chub swim in the hope he would get a few fish. With no bites for half an hour I suggested he fish a lobworm, I gave Martin some size 8 barbless hooks and showed him how to bait with a worm. Repositioning his shot, I suggested where to cast. Within ten minutes Martin caught a good perch of 2-7-0 a personal best. This fish deserved some pictures with my Nikon digital SLR and not my Cannon Ixus. While I put the flash on the hot shoe of the camera so I could use some fill in flash to brighten the picture on a dull day.

Martin cast out the same worm baited hook and immediately caught a good chub which weighed 4-7-0. A couple of pictures later we are moving off downstream. I suggested several swims Martin should try. But the fish didn’t want to oblige, though I did get five barbel best at 9-12-0. All from the same area where Martin had caught his 6-2-0 barbel. Apart from several chub averaging 31/2 to 4lbs, I had two five pound plus chub at 5-12-0 and 5-14-0, two perch at 2-2-0 and 2-4-0 and two pike, which took a fancy to a float fished lobworm. One fish about 3lbs the other about 8lbs. Martin had two chub the best at 4-15-8 both on legered crust. Telling me the story of this fish as we drove home. Martin said "I was watching my crust on the bottom when it moved upstream, as I tried to work out what was happening the crust disappeared from view then the rod tip moved. Striking I found I had hooked a good fish". With conditions over the two days being tough I felt Martin had done very well and I was extremely pleased with my 6-2-0 chub. It was just after midnight when I arrived back home feeling rather tired but it had been been a great two days, made all the better by helping Martin catch his chub perch and his first barbel.

Martin James Fishing