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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


25/12/2017 - Christmas Eve Chub and Dace on the Feed

red gentles and floats add colour to the picture

 Arriving on the banks of the River Ribble I got a water temperature reading of 46 degrees F, the gauge gave me a reading of around 2.5 feet with a slight colour, with a very strong upstream wind, often gusting to 30 plus mph, other anglers 2 other anglers refused to fish in such conditions and returned home, what a waste of time I thought, I was quite capable fishing in such conditions especially as the win was upstream, another reason for choosing an Avon float I reckon these floats are one of the most versatile floats when fishing rivers, but don’t use one if the wind is downstream, it’s a waste of time, you then need a ducker. I had with me 2 pints of red gentles a tub of worms, some cheese paste also cheese flavoured bread crust. I had two outfits, my Abbey Avon matched with a Mitchell 300 with 6lb line to which I attached a size 4 barbless hook. For float fishing I chose to use my Aspindale Avondale matched with a Carter centre pin with 3lb bs line, I chose an Avon float taking 4 grams, then gently pinched a BB 6 inches from a size 16 barbless hook, with 2 LSG’s 2 feet further up the line.

What Swim?

I had a choice of several swims over 2 miles of river bank, including the tail of the weir, eventually I walked some mile and a half to a swim where a 2 foot deep stream flowed in the river, from previous experience I expected the depth would be around 5 feet, with a steady flow, downstream were three over hanging willow bushes where the branches ended about two feet off the water surface, the bottom was composed of gravel and small pebbles, a third of the way out was a two feet deep channel some six feet wide that run downstream some forty feet, this I expected to be the hot spot if there was one. If you were new to the area, you would say “This was a good chub swim with the overhanging trees” you would be right, it has a reputation for both chub and dace, though over the past couple of years it’s been quite good for perch and the odd decent barbel in the deeper channel.


Missed Bites


After settling in, I run the float through a few times until I was happy with the presentation, I started off by ledgering 2 lobworms on a size 6 hook with a tiny square of rubber on the hook to keep the worms in place. After casting out I started feeding a swim midstream with a few gentles every five minutes or so along with some ground bait to which I added some hemp. After about fifteen minutes I had a couple of sharp knocks, followed by a good pull, I missed the bite, looking at the remains of the worms I reckon the culprit was a perch, rebaiting I cast out, then continued baiting my trotting swim. Ten minutes later another knock followed by a good pull this time I was holding the rod but still I missed setting the hook in the fish. Casting out 2 fresh worms I concentrated on the rod for some minutes with no sign of a bite. I put the rod up the bank after taking off the worms.


Out with the float rod


I then switched to my float rod, every cast putting in a few gentles, every fifth cast was followed with a small ball of ground bait. I was now in match man mode, bait, feed, trot through retrieve then repeat the process, the wind had now increased there were times when the float hardly moved downstream the wind holding it back, the noise was horrendous as the wind roared through the trees on both banks, it sounded like a motorway with a continues fleet of tank transporters. There were times when the rod was nearly pulled from my hand as an extras strong gust of wind blew upstream.


Dace come on the feed


After about an hour of casting feeding retrieving I got my first bite, a dace around 8 ounces, I then had a dozen or more dace of similar size on every trot through the swim, this was more like it I thought. The trout then decided to get in on the act where I caught 4 fish around the pound mark in 4 casts.


Chub Move In


After a break of about twenty minutes I had my first chub a good 3lb fish, perhaps it would have taken the scale pointer close to 4lbs, I had six trots through catching five chub of similar size, I then had a bite less half an hour. After putting in quite a bit of ground bait with plenty of gentles I rested the swim, while I went off for a walk also enjoying a beef and mustard sandwich, I also went and studied a swim on the opposite bank which I though of fishing on Christmas Day, it looked good for perch and chub with a fifty foot tree a few feet from the bank in about six or seven feet of water I could see a spot upstream where I could get a got trot right down in front of the said tree.

More Chub and Dace


Back in my swim I was thankful for the small amount of cover that was breaking the wind a bit but it had now started raining quite hard and with the gusting wind it was a trial of my will power over the conditions. I won the contest also I caught 8 more good chub and quite a few dace all of similar size around 8 ounces but I enjoyed catching them, the more the float dipped the bigger smile I had on my face, I though back to the other 2 who thought it wasn’t fishable, no one had told the fish. With the light fading the fish still willing to feed, I had to pack up and get home before darkness, otherwise I was in trouble not feeling I should drive in the darkness. I called a friend to ask if I could leave my gear in his barn to which he agreed, it was around 1500 hrs when I arrived home. If I could have one wish for Christmas it would be to get rid of my shingles, back again tomorrow, hopefully more chub and dace, perhaps some perch Happy Christmas everyone.

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Martin James Fishing
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