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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


25/11/2017 - Three chub and a barbel

With lots of heavy rain gale force winds this past week, I’ve not been able to fish since last Sunday19th November the river Ribble has been bank high, on one occasion it had a rise of 8 feet above the normal summer level, with masses of floating and submerged leaves and other rubbish, including a dead sheep with major flooding in some areas effecting households. Today Friday the river level was still some three feet up this morning, but I reckon it was fishable. I called my friend Mick Holgate with the news so we both agreed to fish from around 1500 hrs into the darkness for a few hours. Mick chose to fish a swim several hundred yards downstream of the car park, in well sheltered swim on the edge of a wood, I could have shared the swim but felt it wasn’t fair on Mick as he was my guest.


I had two choices walk upstream about a 1000 yards over ground that resembled a salt marsh, with a chance of stumbling into a ditch on the way back in the dark, or walk about 400 yards across a water logged meadow, I chose the latter, though I would be fishing an open swim with no shelter from the icy cold wind, my first job was check the water temperature getting a reading of 40 degrees F. Thankfully the forecast was for a light shower at 1700 hrs with clearing skies from 1800 hrs until around 2200 hrs when it was a forecast of rain and sleet. Sadly that forecast was wrong, as dusk descended, I baited with a piece of flake big enough to cover a size 6 hook then cast downstream, as I did so I noticed a thick bank of black cloud moving from a south westerly direction, very quickly followed by rain, not a light shower, this was heavy rain which included hail, as the wind increased from strong to gale force, often forcing the top half of the rod at times to bend upstream, as I sat hoping for a bite I shivered in the icy cold wind.


Over the years I’ve had anglers say I must be lucky with the fish I catch, it’s nothing to do with luck, it’s being on the river bank with a bait in the water, using knowledge gained from mine and many other anglers over years and years of fishing in all conditions. As the rain and wind increased I felt a slight pluck, quickly followed by a more positive pull, then the tip wrenched round savagely, the answering strike connected with nothing. Rebaiting with another piece of flake I cast into the same area where I’d had the bite then sat holding the rod, a few minutes later I had a good pull striking I set the hook into an angry fish that rocked off downstream and towards the centre of the river. “A good fish this I though” as more line was taken, I immediately got up collected the landing net, then slowly walking downstream to try and get below the fish. Soon I started to gain line, I could feel a lot of head shaking with short fast runs, strange behaviour from a chub I thought. Several minutes later I had a fish ready for the net, in the beam of the head torch I could see it wasn’t a chub, but a barbel a fish around 6lbs. After releasing the fish I made my way upstream to my seat, casting out a big piece of flake, I sat there thinking to myself where did that barbel come from in these cold conditions?

                                                                               Three Chub

Some minutes later I had a good bite which I didn’t miss, typical chub this I said to myself which felt a good one and soon I netted a fish of 4lbs plus. Another piece of flake was cast out within minutes another good pull, another chub was hooked, after a bit of head shaking I was soon drawing a good chub over the net, that could be a five pounder I thought, as I got the fish in the net which I decided to weigh, it went 5lb 3 ounces. I then had to make a decision do I drag Mick up river from right downstream for a picture but chose not to, it isn’t as if I don’t have any chub pictures. Casting out again I soon had a good pull, bite missed, followed by another missed bite. Eventually I got another chub in the 4lb class. After about forty plus minutes without a bite, I decided enough was enough in the horrid conditions, but I was more than happy with my 4 fish. It was a tough slog back to the car park in the buffeting wind, rain, sleet and hail, but well worth the effort. Despite the poor weather forecast I hope to be back tomorrow with Brendan for more of the same.

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Martin James Fishing
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