Red Letter Day by Stuart Longfellow

With Christmas nearly upon us again its sometimes difficult for our children to know what to buy for their dad, is it to be yet another pair of socks ,aftershave or some exciting toiletries.

It was therefore a pleasant surprise that last year my kids bought me a “Red Letter Day “ fishing experience with none other than Bob James, who you may remember made the series “Passion For Angling” along with former record carp angler Chris Yates which to this day must remain the best fishing video of all time.

When the great day arrived it was a very hot and sunny morning of the 19th June and with tackle neatly packed in the boot of my car the night before I set off to the venue being the Barton Estate on the river Kennet at Hungerford.

As I pulled into the car park, I was met by Simon, Bob's companion who directed me down a small track, so with all my fishing gear and rods strapped to my back I marched off until I got to the fishing lodge.

Not knowing exactly what tackle to bring, I had everything but the kitchen sink and although I was told it was only a short distance to the river, it was like a route march.

When arriving at the lodge, I fell to my knees only to look up and be greeted by Bob, who looked bewildered by all my tackle, especially then telling me that all I would need for the day was probably a float rod.(Words now remain unprintable).

I then proceeded to join the eight other anglers who I was to spend the day with, for a welcome tea and biscuits, before Bob's talk of about an hour.

Bob James comes over exactly like you see him on video, or on television, a quietly spoken man, but with great wit and always ready for a joke with his fellow fisherman. If we thought we were in for a technical talk this was not going to be the case.

As we all gathered seated in front of Bob, he produced his medium size tackle bag and stated that within this bag was all the fishing tackle he owned, apart from his rods and this covered all aspects of his fishing.

When arriving at a venue he simply takes out what he needs and makes off to the bank with just a rod , reel, landing net, a few leads, shot and not forgetting his bait.

When conditions allow it, Bob prefers to float fish, as this covers a wider area, allowing the bait to drift freely through as naturally as possible, never staying in one place for more than about ten minutes.

Bob's approach is very basic and listening to him I wonder whether we just get over technical, even with our Barbel fishing. What with sink tubing, back leads, different hair rigs, types of line, etc. the debates go on and who wins in the end? Probably only the tackle manufactures.

Anyway! armed with just a float rod, bulk shotted near the hook. Bob proceeded to one of the carrier streams of the main river, where he proceeded to show us how to present the bait through the water, which in this case was maggot. He then catch three trout and a chub within ten minutes.

One tip for perhaps Barbel, or chub fishing, try super gluing pellets to a elastic band, then just cut one off when needed and push the end overlapping band onto hook. Job done!.

With the talk and questions over and supplied lunch in our bags, we all proceeded to different parts of the river to put into practice what Bob had told us.

Although there are no barbel in this part of the river, this is a mixed fishery with plenty of big perch, chub, bream, trout and grayling. The day was extremely hot, but I did manage to catch approximately thirty pounds of fish.

So what did I learn from the day? Well, travel light if possible to be mobile, try to keep things simple, never sit in one swim all day, but what ever you do, be confident of your approach to how you wish to fish and always be open to learn new methods.

Tight lines.

Stuart Longfellow

re-generated Feb 2007