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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


A Brace of Good Fish

When I arrived at Aquateks lakes near Woolhampton in Berkshire around 10 0’clock in the morning I never for a moment though I would catch any fish, in fact I thought I wouldn’t think I would get a single bite. It was a day made for watching cricket. Fishing conditions were rather horrid to say the least, a clear blue sky, hot sunshine and temperatures touching 30 degrees C. The lake surface was flat calm, Paul Smyth and his friends were just pulling off the water when I arrived, they had enjoyed some good sport with double figure carp and bream to 7-12-0. After chatting with Paul he pointed out a swim that he had baited the previous evening, but for all his efforts, he only got signal crayfish. With Paul’s agreement I decided to fish the swim thinking that perhaps a few fish might have moved in to feed on Paul’s ground bait and eat a few crays.

I chose to float fish a lobworm on the bottom close to the reeds in ten feet of water, and fish two other rods both baited with lobworms some thirty feet out over the ground baited area. Having put together a thirteen foot rod, centre pin reel with 4lb line and a 4AA waggler float. I had just started to plumb the depth when I spotted a fish swirl just under the surface forty feet out from the bank. That’s a rudd I thought, as I quickly put together an eleven foot Avon action rod, fixed spool reel with 4lb breaking strain line. Tying on a size 10 hook I baited with a big lobworm then cast to the spot where I had seen the fish swirl. The worm had dropped about a foot below the surface, when I noticed the line move to the right. My strike connected with a good fish, a few minutes later I had a magnificent rudd in the net. It looked big. Out with the scales which were zeroed with a carrier bag, then with wet hands I transferred the fish from net to bag which was placed on the hook of the scales, I watched the needle go to 2-2-0. I punched the air with delight. Having had quite a few 3lbs plus rudd over the years I still consider a 2lb fish a big one. After some pictures I watched the fish swim off strongly. What a great start I thought. (See picture of rudd)

I then finished putting together my two Avon rods with fixed spool reels 4lb line and size 8 hooks. Pinching on an LG shot about fifteen inches from the hook. I also chose to use an audible bite alarms for both rods in conjunction with very light bobbins on long cords. Big perch don’t like resistance, they will often move the bite indicator up and down in short two or three inch moves before eventually taking the bait confidently. After baiting with lobworms, I inserted a small piece of elastic band on the barbless hook to keep the worm in place. Casting the baits out some forty feet into fifteen feet of water, I clipped on the bobbins between reel and butt ring, picking up my float fishing outfit I baited with a lobworm which was dropped in the margins tight against the reeds. Time for a brew.

Big Perch

An hour later the bobbin on the right hand rod slowly crawled to the butt ring, striking, I connected with a fish that took line off the reel, ‘small carp or tench’ I thought, I quickly change my mind thinking ‘big perch’ A few minutes later I netted a big fish saying to myself “that’s a 3lb fish” On the scales I got a reading of 3-5-0 a very solid and plump perch in very good condition. After a couple of pictures were taken I watched the fish swim off strongly saying to another member “These big perch remind me of a Teddy boy with their swagger”. It was time for a well deserved brew; within minutes of putting the kettle on I’m sitting back sipping tea with a contented look on my face. What a good session I thought.

Surprise Tench

Twenty minutes later my float dipped then lifted half an inch before leaning over at a drunken angle then slowly moving out towards the deeper water submerging as it did so. Striking I connected with a powerful fish, No way could this be a perch I thought as I was forced to give line. Five perhaps six or seven minutes later I still hadn’t seen this under water adversary as it fought for its freedom. With the rod arced over, with the float well below the surface I could feel the power of the fish through the quivering line. Slowly I got some line on the reel; soon the float was above the water. I carefully pumped the fish upwards and towards the waiting landing net. Soon a good tench was in the net. It weighed 5-12-0.

Perch and Bream

After a spell lasting a couple of hours with no bites I caught several good perch in quick succession, in fact one was only an ounce off 3lbs with others at 2-12-0 with three averaging between 2-0-0 and 2-4-0 All on lobworms, in fact the only bait I had were some lobworms left over from a trip to a Cotswold still water. I didn’t have a single twitch from the Signal crayfish. No doubt the perch had frightened them off to some hideaway for safety. While the kettle was boiling I took a look in the lake that was just feet behind me, I could see lots of bubbles close to some water lilies. Bream I thought. Turning round I switched off the stove, then wound in my two leger rods. Picking up my float rod and landing net I dropped a worm baited hook among the bubbles.

In about fifteen minutes as I was giving a running commentary to Brendan Ince I hooked and bumped off four good fish. Changing to a size 8 Pallatrax hook I baited with half a lobworm. Immediately I had a bite and soon bream number one was sliding over the landing net a fish about 6lbs. This was quickly followed by two more bream of similar size. With dinner beckoning in a local tavern with Martin and Jan Porter and Kate, it was time to end my successful session. On my way round to the fishery entrance I met up with Martin Salter MP who really does know how to fish and fights for the rights of all anglers. Martin had just arrived for an evening session hoping to catch some rudd.

Martin James Fishing