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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


18/09/2015 - Rain Badly Needed For River Ribble Salmon

My best chub


Monday 14th September a quiet day on the river apart from collecting some rubbish, I’d had a report from a member who had spotted a mink, I put out 2 traps baited with a chunk of fresh rabbit. Having walked both beats I went off into town for some shopping and to pick up a book from the library. The rest of the afternoon was spent working in the garden until teatime.

Tuesday 15th September I was on the river early today so I could walk the beat and show a guest the salmon pools with some suggestions on flies and tackle, also how to present the flies to the fish, I then went off and check my mink traps to find a mink fast asleep which was quickly dispatched. I then visited my local War Memorial in company of three other old boys to pay our respects to all those who gave their lives in the Battle of Britain, also giving thanks for all those who survived including all the ground staff. It was this day 75 years ago when we thrashed Hitler’s so called invincible airmen. It was this day in 1940 the little man realised he couldn’t conquer this Island Race, so turned his forces to the east where they were given another bloody nose.

Catching Chub - Then A Salmon Turned Up

After meeting up some friends for a catch up about what we’d been doing over the past few weeks, we went our separate ways. I chose to go back to the river, driving down the track I thought I’d float fish for the chub which I classify as a most delightful fish, see a 4lb or 5lb chub on the end of the line coming towards the waiting net still gives me a great thrill, the only other fish in my opinion that equals the chub, is a roach over the pound mark, in fact at the end of the month I’ve been promised a couple of days fishing on a Midland’s still water where I can float fish for roach with a good chance of catching a few pound plus fish. Back to chub fishing I put together a 13 foot Lone Angler float rod which I rate highly in fact it’s the only float rod I’m using, I can certainly recommend this rod if you’re interested in float fishing for chub, barbel, tench and bream, in fact for most of our coarse fish and yes I did buy the rod it wasn’t given to me, I matched it to a centre pin reel with 6lb bs line, this might sound heavy for chub, but I’m fishing a water where I’ve had several 6lb plus fish with the best at 7lbs 10ounces, pic My best chub. I chose a float to take 7 AAA shot bunched together about 18 inches from a size 8 barbless hooks, bait would be full or half size 14mm cheese dumbells, see pic my best chub the float set up with baited hook and sample of whole and half size dumbells, no need for fiddly bands they are perfect for sticking a hook in, the float would of course be moved up the line to the depth I planned to fish, often adjusting the float during the course of the day as the fish move up or down in the water.

The feed was cheese flavoured mashed bread to which I’ve added a few handfuls of full size and broken cheese dumbells, I doubt if there is a better attracter for chub than this see pic, I’ve written on many occasions how to make bread mash but make sure the bread is well dried out, it really does have to be stale bread. My swim a nice glide a few feet out from far bank where a tree had crashed into the water making it an attractive place for chub to seek sanctuary from predators or a big spate. I estimated the depth of water about five feet flowing over gravel and small stones with swaying water crowfoot, some thirty minutes or more, standing quietly out in the river every five minutes or so I placed a golf ball size lump of bread feed in at the head of the swim, using a catapult I introduced a single dumbbell every thirty seconds. If you throw a lot of hook baits in, in one go it doesn’t look natural, often causing the fish to spread out, the fish seeing a single bait fluttering down through the water will encourage them to accept your hook bait as being another free offering. I can’t impress on you the reader how important it is to leave the swim for a while, giving the fish a chance to feel confident, in taking the free offerings. Leaving my swim I went off to the cabin for a brew an sandwich. On my return I had two chub around 3lbs in two casts, then followed a blank half hour spell with nothing, suddenly a salmon porpoises then swirled on the surface, no wander I wasn’t catching chub, from my experience coarse fish are not happy sharing their space with a salmon. Though I shouldn’t have done so from past experience over many years, I spent another fifteen twenty minutes trotting the swim with no result. I then moved upstream some fifty yards to another swim, I had an hours fishing catching a trout about 2lbs, walking across the meadow to the car park I packed away my gear in the car, then drove off to the bottom beat where I shared a sandwich and coffee with Brian. About 1600hrs I went off home for tea, steak pie, new potatoes with cauliflower and a rich gravy, it was excellent.

Wednesday 16th September quite a busy day on the river, I had two guest after showing them the beats I made them a fresh brew before taking them off to show them some spots to try that were the water was sheltered from the bright sunshine, I also helped one with his casting. I shot 2 mink today, I can go several weeks without seeing a mink then they appear, sadly to the best of my knowledge no one up and downstream of me bothers with traps for mink or grey squirrels, it’s the same with balsam no one bothers to pull it out of the ground. On the bottom beat I frightened off 2 cormorants with a starting pistol, I should have had my licence for cormorants and goosanders by now but we’ve had the usual excuse for the licences being late. After lunch I went and sat in the wood for a couple of hours getting a rabbit and three grey squirrels, the rabbit will make a nice pie tomorrow, it’s also healthy cholesterol free and tastes good providing it has lots of thick gravy. My last job was painting the boundary posts white, up and downstream of the weir pool to let my syndicate members know they mustn’t fish between these two posts during October.

Thursday 17th September it had been a very cold night with signs of a slight ground frost when I arrived on the river this morning at 0730hrs, I was booked to give a casting lesson to pupil who was going up to Scotland later in the day with his future Father-in Law, Having checked his gear and giving the line a quick polish I fitted a new leader, then tied on a size 8 Dunkeld. Having demonstrated a couple of casts, I had him make a few casts, then corrected a couple of faults, he spent half an hour or so casting, coming to the end of his lesson he got a solid hook up, I thought the bottom then it moved. I watched in amazement as a grilse size salmon rolled on the surface then ripped line off the reel, ten minutes later I was able to tail a fish about 5-6lbs, after unhooking the fish I watched it swim off upstream. This is without doubt the luckiest angler I’ve ever met, I doubt if he will catch an easier salmon. I then made a brew while I waited for a member and his guest to turn up, during which I had a couple of pieces of toast. When Marc arrived I made both of them a cup of coffee, after getting them sorted out I acted as gillie for the guest, sadly neither angler had a hit during the morning session before they went off for a business lunch. I then had some lunch before leaving for a hospital appointment arriving home around 1530hrs where I found the current edition of Coarse Angling Today magazine had arrived if you’re not a reader and want to know about catching one of our exciting fish, go and buy the October issue then read Thames Chub Tips – Bob Harrington page 6, one of the best I’ve read on the subject for a long time, so full of common-sense and excellent advise. Well done Bob on a good feature about one of the best freshwater fish that swims and certainly more streetwise than others.

Friday 18th September I didn’t get on the river until 1100hrs due to feeling unwell and in a lot of pain through my diverticular problem, I spent a couple of hours on the river, after sweeping out the cabins then emptying rubbish bins, I walked both beats before returning home. After a mug of tea I sat quietly reading. So ended another week, hopefully next week we will get some heavy ran to encourage the salmon to move up river from the lower end of the river.


Bread Mash

Float fishing set up

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Martin James Fishing
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