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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


01/06/2015 - Another Week on the Ribble

Sausage Sizzle and Cheese pastes along with the glugs, which I reckon will do the business for me this coming season.


Monday 25th May today it was an early start, I was on the river at 0730hrs as I wanted to get my monthly kick sampling done river all it involves is placing a fine mesh net a few feet down stream of the sampling spot, I usually start at the mouth of a side stream, spending about four minute stirring up the stream or river bed with my wading boot, all the animals that get dislodged are then swept into the net, I then tip all my samples from the net into a white washing up bowl containing about three inches of river water. After removing all the bits of rubbish I then make a note of the various animals,  I note each animal as its placed in a small plastic food mixing bowl. My samples consisted of 4 Stonefly nymphs, several olive nymphs, a lot of blood worm larva, I was surprised to have a brook lamprey about five inches in length, there were a couple of shrimp, these are found more in the alkaline rivers such as the Kennet, Lambourn, Test, Itchen and similar waters. Several water hog louse were found, it’s very similar to a woodlouse or pea bug, that we found as an excellent bait for roach fishing back in the 1940's 50's, sadly its seems a forgotten summer bait these days. Other animals found were dragon and damsel fly nymphs, also a couple of mayfly nymphs, lots of caddis larva along with snails and five large dark live nymphs. I done other kick samples, below the flowing water crowfoot, another below a riffle, finally in some slow moving water over fine gravel and silt. In all I spent some two hours, then went off for a mug of tea. What did surprise me was finding a single spent Yellow may spinner flat on the surface with wings spread wide. I didn’t fish but went off home about 1130 hrs. to listen to the cricket which proved very entertaining.

Tuesday 26th May I didn’t wake up until 0845hrs this morning , after a shower and breakfast I went into town for some shopping then the library eventually getting on the river around 1100hrs, after checking permits, sweeping out the cabin, changing the gas bottle, I went and sat by the weir pool for about thirty minutes thinking how nice and peaceful it was, what helped was a Hereford bull on the opposite bank which kept the dog walkers away. I then made my way to the top beat, after putting together two outfits then pulling on my waders I locked the car before heading off down river. I made my way to the wood where the water would be sheltered from the cold wind, it was a good choice as several flies were hatching off which the tout were taking, I had three separate fish I could target over a four hundred yard length. Starting at the bottom of the length I sat on the bank watching a good trout rise every three or four minutes to intercept a small olives, after a while I tied on a size 16 Greenwell’s then put a touch of float ant on the wings, before degreasing the fine tippet. Ten minutes later made a cast the fly landing like thistledown then drifted downstream as it reached the spot where the fish had been taking olives I had the perfect take, as the fished moved downwards I set the hook, the rod hooped over I was also forced to give line as a good fish moved towards the far bank and some big rocks, leaning the rod over to my left I managed to pull the fish of course, it then went off downstream. I was really enjoying this struggle between man and fish as I played the fish I thought how great it as taking fish off the top rather than fishing a nymph, I was able to watch he whole process, as he fly drifted into the fishes zone I watched it rise slowly at an angle then intercept the imitation olive. Eventually I netted a lovely 18 inch fin and scale perfect, standing in the water I eased out the imitation then lowered the net in the water while I waited for the fish to swim away, as it did so it slowly moved across the gravel as if nothing had happened. Thirty odd minutes later fifty yards upstream I had another similar fish on the same fly. I then sat on the grassy bank thinking back over the events of the morning suddenly a fish crashed into the shallows a few yards upstream no doubt chasing minnows, when fish are doing this it’s a waste of time trying to get them on nymphs or dry flies, the pattern to use is Dunkeld. Yes it’s more a pattern for salmon and sea trout but when fish are hitting minnows the Dunkeld is a winner, not only for trout but also chub. Picking up my weight outfit I tied on a size 8 Dunkeld, the brown was still attacking the minnow shoals in a very aggressive manner. Would it be fooled by an imitation I asked myself, Pulling off enough line to reach the area where the fish was working I made a long cast of some fifty feet, the Dunkeld dropped with a slight plop, I waited some thirty seconds then stripped the fly back, then made another cast at a slightly different angle, then stripped it back still no interest from the trout which was still attacking the minnows. On my sixth cast I got a firm hook-up a good trout powered across the river then downstream. I reckon this tussle lasted some fifteen minutes before I was just able to net a very big brown trout, it measured 21inches I recon at least 5lbs plus, a great looking cock fish with a good size kype, I reckon this fish had been in the river a few years, no doubt its main diet these days would be minnow, bullheads, smolts, grayling, chub and other fry including no doubt the occasional frog and toad. I then went off for lunch. The afternoon session was spent fishing the weir where I caught three nice fish on a Greenwell’s to imitate an olive, further downstream I found a good trout feeding under an alder tree, every minute or so it would take something off the surface, it was too far away for me to identify what the trout was feeding on so I started off with a Greenwell’s twenty minutes later I changed to an emerger still nothing. After an hour or more without any interest in what I tried I moved on. After an hour with no more fish I returned to the top beat. Under a beech tree I could see a fish sipping down small flies, I tied on a Greenwell’s then made a cast straightaway I had a take getting a brown trout of 15inches. That was my lot I didn’t see any more fish but it had been a good day. At 1700hrs I packed up and went home feeling very satisfied with my days sport.

Wednesday 27th May I was on the river just after 0700hrs today as I had a back breaking job of removing grass that is growing in various areas mainly the shallow margins at the water’s edge, if it isn’t removed it will continue to grow then allow silt and rubbish to build up, in some cases covering gravel areas where trout and perhaps salmon might cut a red. As I arrived at the water’s edge a Kingfisher flew along the bank from a sandy bank with a tunnel in the face of the bank, six months ago I anchored a large branch in the margins as it was a place where I often spotted a kingfisher hovering before diving a catching a small fish, within days of his perching area being installed it was being used. I t now seems the Kingfisher has taken up residence. Our rivers have to be managed sadly many stretches of club waters don’t get looked after. How many times have you seen a nice bit of river turned into a poor quality fishery with lots of reed mace commonly called bulrushes, then clubs allows water lilies to grow and grow until they cover most of the water. I stopped for a lunch break just after noon, but was back in the river at 1300hrs where I worked away until 1700hrs. What has been interesting is today we had lots of Iron Blue Spinner Baetis niger. I’ve never seen this fly before on my water, there were big clouds of them which lasted on and off for about 4 hours, I like to think it’s down to all the habitat work I’m doing both in and out of the water. The last hour was spent in the rain anchoring bits of drain pipe in suitable areas, offering a sanctuary for various small fish including bullheads, invertebrates and nymphs. I was glad to get back home around 1930hrs for a shower and a rest.

Thursday28th May what a great day on the river I got down on my stretch around 0900hrs, though there was a south westerly wind with lots of cloud there were the occasional bursts of sunshine to brighten my day, as I sat on the bank looking for rising fish and trying to identify what flies the fish were taking, apart from a few small olives and lots of Yellow May duns and spinners, these latter two flies as soon as they were on the wing the Swift were on them, it was like Spitfires and Hurricanes chasing German Messerschmitt's, amazing birds are the swift spending most of their lives on the wing. it was one of the most interesting days I’ve had at the waterside for a long time. Most of my time was spent watching flies hatching off as swifts, swallows and sand martin’s were hawking very close the water surface grabbing lots of Yellow May flies. Just thirty feet from where I sat quietly on the grassy bank I watched a pair of Kingfishers feeding and teaching their three youngsters how to dive to catch a minnow, it was most fascinating and enjoyable, I only made five casts during the day catching four nice brown trout on tiny olive patterns. When I arrived back home my order of Lone Angler bait had arrived, no longer will I have to spend time making the paste baits suitable for use on the hook, these new baits are perfect, as I said to my wife, “We don’t need to make the kitchen smell of cheese or sausage sizzle”. Well done John Baker, you have certainly put a smile on this old guys face, I’m impressed that I now have a good paste bait for immediate use straight out of the packet. Roll on June 16th when I can get to use these bait, I have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for these products, The glug is far better than the thick treacle we had before when you had a job on a cold day of getting it on the bait. Why not get in an order for these paste baits so you’re like me ready to capitalise on the bait by catching some good fish, but remember you mustn’t spook them as even this the best bait want help you catch them. See pic IMG 0956 Sausage Sizzle and Cheese pastes along with the glugs, which I reckon will do the business for me this coming season.

Friday 29th May was a wet and windy morning when I arrived on the river about 0930hrs not conditions for fly fishing but hopefully the weather forecast would be correct so by lunchtime I should be casting a fly. The river had a few inches of fresh on the gauge having dropped from its eighteen inches of the previous evening, it was  flowing clear, swifts, swallows, sand martins and wagtails were looking for flies. Back in the cabin I spent my time drinking tea, stretching and cleaning fly lines, sorting out my main fly box and reading an interesting novel. Around 1130 hrs. the rain had stopped, with the occasional burst of sunshine, conditions were looking a lot brighter. I then had an early lunch of fresh sardines, buttered wholemeal rolls with a mug of tea, Lunch over I pulled on my chest high waders then collected my gear from the car before heading off to the river. A few Yellow Mays, Iron Blue duns and spinners also olives were coming of, The Yellow Mays were quickly picked out of the air as they tried to reach the riverside trees after hatching off in the riffled water by the birds on the wing often about six inches off the water, The olives that were not taken by the trout got the same treatment from the hawking birds. I tried eight different patterns of flies before I got a pattern the fish would take a size 22 black chronomid often called a buzzer, but they don’t buzz to the best of my knowledge neither do they bite or sting. Using a fifteen foot leader with a 2lb tippet then targeting a rising fish I caught six nice trout, on the light tippet I had to handle the fish with care, having said that it was an enjoyable experience. At 1545 hrs. the wind increased from a north westerly direction often gusting to around 30mph. I’d had enough to called it a day arriving home about 1630hrs then sat and listened to the cricket.    




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Martin James Fishing
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