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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


03/07/2015 - Fund raising for the ABF - Chub catch - LG shot

Chub on Cheese

Monday 29th June, it was around 0900hrs when I got on the river today, greeted by a warm cloudy with a nice breeze, ideal for a bit of chub fishing in a small weir pool where the water is well oxygenated, again Lone Angler cheese paste proved a better bait than my normal bread crust, even when I flavoured my crust is was second best which certainly surprised me. I fished for about an hour catching 5 nice chub averaging around 4lbs, after catching three trout in succession I called it a day. I spent quite some time at the bottom of the bottom beat hunting a mink, eventually I got a head shot at mink which just rolled over, another horrid killer taken care of allowing more wildlife to survive. Several sea trout were seen moving up through the fast broken water which was well oxygenated, lots of good size dace were seen a good sign for the autumn and winter months. Checking the mink traps in the riverside wood I found a big rat in one trap, a mink in another one, both were quickly dispatched. It was around 1400 hrs. when I stopped for lunch enjoying a tuna salad, my friend David had already taken his lunch. I left for home just after 1600hrs.


A Lone Angler team of Martin James Drum, Dave Hurst, James Hurst, Mark Hyde, Sgt Major Tam Miller team captain Sgt Paul Cooper, Martin Salisbury, Gavin Hurst, Brendan Ince, Captain Tony O’Hara, Ian furlong ex Scots Guards, Tony Clintworth, Staff Sergeant Alan Jones, Mark Perry and Julie Pym are taking part in The Soldiers' Charity Dragon Boat Challenge on 12 Sep 2015 and plan to be the winning team on the day! Please support us by donating generously.


Tuesday 30th June I was awake before the alarm went off at 0400hrs, I’d been invited to fish a stretch of water on a small Lancashire river on the understanding it wasn’t mentioned. Its noted for its sea trout, not chub which would be my quarry, I’d fished the water some thirty years or more years ago when I was wheelchair bound with MS. I’d got to know the present owner in Ireland many years previously while doing a photo shoot, Gerald was with the military. Last season I invited him to come and fish for salmon on my water, in return he invited me to be his guest. A few weeks ago I got a call to say he had seen some big chub, was I interested? the immediate answer was “yes” The invite wasn’t given because he’d been fishing my water, but for all the work I do for the ABF. Knowing It would be a very warm day, I arrived around 0600hrs, finding the river very low and clear, thankfully there were lots of overhanging trees along the river bank offering shade and cover. Grabbing a loaf of bread and a catapult, I walked slowly and carefully upstream looking for signs of chub, in the first half a mile I’d seen several trout, the occasional sea trout but no chub. Passing two big beech trees, I entered a small field the bank some six feet above the river, on my hands and knees I crept forward the lowered myself down on my chest before edging forward, fifty sixty yards upstream I could faintly see the river tumbling down a sharp rocky incline, moving upstream I got a clear view of the fast tumbling white water entering a good size pool. Moving well back from the water’s edge I slowly made my way upstream to the pool some twenty yards long, I guessed the depth around five feet, dropping onto hands and knees I watched for signs of life, within minutes I wasn’t disappointed as six grey shapes slowly cruised towards the head of the pool, no doubt attracted by the extra oxygen, these were good chub perhaps five pounds. On the far bank was a two foot wide covering of scum, twigs and other debris, while oak, sycamore, beech, the occasional hawthorn, willow and alder covered much of the far bank. On my side of the pool just downstream of where the broken water tumbled into the head of the pool, was a large oak it’s thick roots plunging down into the water, like the tentacles of a giant octopus. Pushing myself back from the water’s edge I broke off some pieces of crust then keeping low I fired pieces of bread upstream into the fast broken water where they drifted down the pool, completely ignored until they drifted into the fast shallow water flowing over a long gravel run, two chub moved between the water crowfoot swirling at the bread, eventually a piece was taken, chub about 3lbs. I could now see quite a few more fish moving to and fro between the water crowfoot as they moved up towards the pool. I catapulted out more bread, as the bread drifted downstream the newcomers were swirling and taking the bread, but not the Big Six, this was strange behavior from chub which to the best of my knowledge had never been fished for. Putting in more crust also some flake I crept away from the bank then walked downstream to my car, I put together a chub fishing outfit with a size 4 barbless hook attached to 15lb braid, into my bag went two pots of Lone Angler cheese paste, bag of 14mm dumbbells, small hook box, scales, weigh bag, camera and other bits and pieces. Then slowly made my way back upstream keeping well back and off the skyline. The pieces of bread flake had gone, no sign of crust which could have been swept downstream, though I reckon most had been eaten. Still the big six cruised around the head of the pool. Over a ten minute period I gently plopped in five pieces of cheese paste, two just upstream of the big six, three downstream where they were quickly taken by chub between three and four pounds, two of the big chub picked up and ejected bits of paste. Every time I tried crust or flake the smaller fish were on it immediately I just struck off the bait. For an hour I concentrated on getting the bigger chub to take bantam eggs size bits of cheese paste, eventually they started taking the free offerings. Time to put a hook into the cheese paste, with a gentle underhand cast the paste landed with a plop upstream of a chub which moved forward then stopped as the bait settled on the bottom. a few minutes later the fish edged towards the bait picking it up gently in its lips, then dropping it just as quickly before swimming off. That fish was spooked but why? I put in another free offering close to the baited hook, a chub slowly picked up the free offering, then moved away with its food. I left the bait for about twenty minutes then struck it off, within minutes a fish had moved in taking the bait.


A Surprise Catch of Chub


The big fish were now taking the free offerings of cheese, the I fed mash towards the bottom of the pool keeping the fish interested and hanging around in that area. watching the bigger fish I asked myself the question a dozen times. Why are they not taking my hook bait? Then the penny dropped, I reckon the size 4 hook was too big and heavy the fish noticing the difference, I’ve had this problem before on the Avon, but these fish had never been caught. Taking off the size 4 I replaced it with a size 8 which looked puny for the size of paste I was using. I still put another free offering from my second pot of cheese paste. Baiting with a good chunk of paste I dropped it a few feet ahead of a big one, as it sunk down in the water the fish moved forward then sucked in the bait, as it disappeared I set the hook. The rod hooped over I shouted “Yes at last” feeling a great weight disappear off my shoulders. A few minutes later netted a good size fish which weighed 5lb 6 ounces after a quick picture I carried the fish well downstream before releasing it. I was now around 0800 hrs. that’s a long time to fish for chub before catching one but well worth the effort. I then had two good fish in two casts again on free lined cheese paste 5lbs and 5lb 1 ounce, the other big fish disappeared, probably under the scum on the far bank. After a twenty minute wait I cast down the pool catching three 4lb plus fish in five casts these fish were in a feeding mood having it seems lost all caution, then out of nowhere one of the bigger chub dashed straight in grabbed the bait in a suicidal manner pulling the rod round savagely. It weighed 5lb 2 ounces, the chub often grabbed the cheese paste on the drop, though when I tried crust once again they were very cautious, in fact it was completely ignored. At around 1100hrs with the sun blazing down no cooling breeze to circulate the air also having used my two pots of cheese, I felt I’d had enough then called it a day I’d caught 4 x 5lb plus chub best at 5lbs 6ounces, 11 estimated at around 4lbs with 2 at 3lbs plus, Back at the car I fired up my Jetboiler then sat back enjoying a fresh brew with a cheese roll. Looking back over the mornings events I was surprised to catch so many chub from a small river in summer, these catches usually come in the autumn and winter when the rivers have extra height flow and colour. It’s not often that crust doesn’t work at this time of the year, I was also surprised how aggressive the chub were once they started to take the cheese paste. At 1300hrs I left for home after an excellent mornings fishing. The rest of my day was spent drinking copious mugs of tea, reading a novel and having a snooze.


Wednesday 1st July very warm muggy weather, with no rain forecast, conditions on some rivers were looking grim, thankfully all the hard work in building croys has helped by forcing the water through a small gaps creating some oxygen, also the weir pool is another source of oxygen. I had a guiding day but called my client to tell him it wouldn’t take place, I felt it wasn’t fair to cause more distress to the already distressed fish through low water high water temperatures and low oxygen content. He was more than happy with my reasons, I arranged to call him when conditions improved. Having walked both beats I put the kettle on for a brew then read the paper, it was nice to see the English ladies football team getting plenty of coverage. Back home I tidied up the garden then washed out my water butts which were starting to smell. The rest of the day was spent some reading an interesting novel an catching up on my sleep.


Lone Angler Now Stock LG Shot


Please note Lone Angler are now stocking LG shot at a cheaper price than many shops, I’ve used LG shot since its inception which is more years than I care to remember, finding it perfect for much of my fishing. You might well ask why use LG shot rather than a normal leger weight? It’s quite simple, I get a better bite indication especially when chub fishing, fish don’t like resistance when taking their food, with LG’s you can spread the resistance. Many times I get away with one shot, other occasions it might be six. By spreading the load you offer a bait the fish will take with more confidence. For example should I need 4 LG I start off spacing the shot between an inch to four inches depending on bait and conditions, as a chub gently picks up the bait with its lips, it often move a short distance, hardly noticing the weight, as the fish comes onto an even keel or moves forward slowly, it moves the second third or perhaps the fourth weight with negligible effort or resistance , it’s like stretching a length of elastic the pressure increases slowly. Remember much of the food fish eat will struggle to get away, How do I know these facts? because I’ve spent literally many hundreds, probably thousands of hours over many years not fishing but quietly watching fish in their environment noting how they react to picking up various baits and weights. There are many anglers today using LG shot after I’ve explained my way of using these weights, who have then seen their results improve. David Hurst and myself fished the River Kennet for a few days in late February fishing for chub I caught a succession of good fish including several 5lb plus fish, also a double figure barbel using 3 or 4 LG shot, some anglers fishing with 2 ounce weights ended fishless. See pics IMG 0900 a standard shot pattern IMG 0782 double figure barbel


Thursday 2nd July I was on the Ribble at 0500hrs today, after putting together a Lone Angler float rod matched with centre pin reel and 6lb line, I attached with double rubbers a 7BB shot Avon float then a size 8 hook. Into my bag I put a bag of 14mm cheese dumbells, a bag of cheese also some Ocean Pride in case I needed a bait change. Putting the bag over my shoulder I picked up rod and landing net along with my Lone Angler unhooking mat which I would be using as a seat then headed off downstream. I was surprised to see water flowing over the top of the weir, yesterday it had been dry, the storm last night had done some good by increasing the flow rate on the river and no doubt increasing the oxygen content. The first twenty minutes I sat feeding in cheese flavoured mash bread with broken cheese flavoured dumbbells. After making a few casts and adjusting the float, I tried a few casts until I had the float set up, with the bait just a few inches from the river bed, a dozen casts later with no sign of interest, I moved the float down two feet, perhaps the fish were higher up in the water. An hour later having adjusted the depth a few more times and changing baits, still no interest from the fish. Though I did notice a lot of fish further downstream were swirling in and around the water crowfoot, I thought perhaps they are attempting to spawn. Two hours later with just one fish on Ocean Pride paste I packed up. Before going back to the car I walked downstream where all the action was, then realised the fish were trying to spawn, no wander they didn’t want to feed. Back home I was just starting to cook a very late breakfast when I got a call to say the brook flowing into my stretch of river was very coloured with some horrid looking Switching off the cooker I changed from slippers into my boots then jumped in the car heading for the scene of the pollution dreading the worse. Arriving at the scene I immediately called the EA on 0800-80-70-60 to report the incident, having got a got a case number, I asked that someone contact me within a couple of hours. I got a call within an hour, the lady told me the cause of the pollution was soil washing off a local building site after heavy rain. I heaved a sigh of relief, thinking to myself Thankfully it’s not sewage which could have wiped out a lot of trout, sea trout, salmon chub and lots of invertebrates nymphs insects etc. I spent the next few hours at the scene of the incident to make sure I didn’t have a fish kill, though I did have very badly discoloured water flowing downstream which isn’t good for fly life. It wasn’t until 1900hrs before I felt happy in returning home. Though about 21hrs I returned to the scene to make sure everything was ok.


Friday3rd July on the river around 0600hrs no sign of dead or distressed fish, one of my members fishing downstream of the pollution incident reported no problem, though we didn’t get a fish kill, I dread to thinks how much damage was done to nymphs and invertebrates through being suffocated by silt. At 0900hrs as I sat having a brew, I listened to the weather report forecasting storms with torrential rain, these conditions are a major concern when rivers are bare bones with low oxygen content, the water runs off the land in a torrent carrying all amount of filth and rubbish into the nearest ditch or stream eventually into the river which is often the cause of a fish kill, then the water authorities are allowed to flush the sewage down storm over flow pipes, again causing fish kills. I’ve tried hard since the 1970’s to get these pipes banned writing to various Prime Ministers also other Ministers who profess they care about the environment, but all I get are weasel words. The we have an EA that is our biggest quango, receiving financial support from the Government but not controlled by the said Government. This quango is frightened to take on many polluters, they even allow water authorities to monitor their own outlet pipes. In one instance recently they allowed a polluter to make a donation to charity rather than put him in the court, Its laughable. I have said it on numerous occasions the EA isn’t fit for purpose. I also spent a lot of time today monitoring the aquatic life, before returning home late in the afternoon. if its chub you want, get onto the Lone Angler cheese paste, you want regret it, I’ve used cheese paste for nearly 70 years I made to make myself, now it comes delivered to my door ready for use, but remember if you spook the fish no bait will help you catch them. Finally some great news Battle for Bass – EU finally agrees to increase minimum size limits for bass, I’ve been fighting for an increase in bass size limits for a number of years, every time we thought we were going to win, the Fishery Minister of the time let us down, To the best of my knowledge, we were the only Western Nation taking fish that were not sexually mature, you can read the full report on my website On that good news, have a good weeks angling.

A example of LG shotting pattern

Winter caught barbel using LG shot as a weight

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Martin James Fishing
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