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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


14/09/2018 - It Was A Fish less Day

My float rig


It Was A Fish less Day

The river Ribble where I planned to fish on Tuesday wasn’t fishable, it was bank high, the colour of dark brown paint with lots of rubbish coming down also still rising, it’s rare for me to be defeated but I couldn’t find any quiet spots where I thought a fish would be, also where it was possible to present a bait. Instead of fishing I spent the morning roaming the river bank collecting rubbish. Illegal Night Lines Walking the bank picking up rubbish I noticed a stick in the bank which I hadn’t seen before, pulling it out of the ground I could see line attached to it, straight away I realised it was an illegal night line, the one turned into three, all baited with worms, on one line I found a trout about half a pound sadly dead, as were the chub on the other two lines they were around a pound in weight. After taking the hooks off the lines and removing the weights, I wound the line round the sticks as I planned to put the lines minus the hooks back into the water. After collecting two large bin liners of rubbish it was time for some lunch.

After putting the kettle on, I made some scrambled egg, fried some potatoes and beans. Afterwards I sat outside the cabin enjoying a welcome brew, I called my senior bailiff then discussed the problem, I told him to call in another bailiff then keep a watch on the area from 1800 hrs until dusk, if they should be lucky in apprehending anyone, to call the police and myself so they can be charged with Theft of Fishing Rights under the Theft Act. I then replaced the sticks and cord where they had been. Back in the cabin I washed the frying pan saucepan plate, and mug, then swept out the cabin. After loading the rubbish bags into my vehicle I headed off to the council tip then off home.

A Float Fishing Session

Arriving on the river today conditions were a lot better for fishing though there was still plenty of water, I had planned to wade and float fish but felt the water a bit too high for wading. I had in mind a swim where I thought it would be possible to fish. I put together a 12 foot Milwards Swim Master matched with my Atom centre pin reel with 6lb Gamma line, the float was a 4 AAA balsa on cane fished double rubber, with the shot bunched fifteen inches from a size 10 hook to 4 lb line, a few inches up the line I added a BB shot. Bait would be bread flake, feeding mashed bread and bran, arriving at the swim it looked virtually perfect with some colour. After managing to get over some barbed wire I made my way down the steep bank stepping over more strands of wire until I was on a level bit of grassy bank, the river flowed from left to right, downstream a few yards were two big trees with branches coming out low over the water, close to where the tree roots protruded deep into the water, some foam coming down river would collect, as this built up pieces would break away moving off downstream. It was ideal chub swim with a steady flow of water, overhead cover over a gravel and small pebbles bottom. Having got everything in place I made a few trial runs down the swim until I was satisfied I had the correct depth around four feet, the bait should be a couple of inches off the bottom, though I did expect an occasional light hook up, but making a mental note of the spot and by holding the float back it should continue to go through the swim.

Dropping in lump of bread and bran golf ball size I sat back for a ten minutes, flicking in pieces of flake the size of a ten pence piece every minute or so. The Chub Wanted Flake Baiting with a piece of fresh flake I cast out then eased the float down the swim, as it reached the foam it disappeared all I had to do was lift the rod lightly to set the hook, a lively fish powered of downstream a few yards, but the tackle was master of the situation and soon I was drawing the fish upstream and into the waiting net, a chub around 2lbs, having unhooked and released the chub in the swim, I usually do. I just had to hope it would spook the other fish. Another ball of bread and bran went in, followed by a piece of flake slowly moving down the swim as it moved well under the overhead branches, the float dipped I set the hook as I did so this fish moved out further into the flow it gave me some anxious moments before I felt in control, then I was able to draw it upstream into the net a fine looking chub of 3lbs plus. In the next hour I had ten chub averaging about 3lbs also a big brown trout pushing 4lbs which did give me the run around for some minutes. I then had a fishless session for about half an hour, not a single bite or sign of a fish.

Climbing the steep bank, I moved up river to the car to make a brew and enjoy a sandwich. Back in the swim I introduced some bread and bran then flicked in pieces of flake for a while. Time to fish again, first trot through the float dipped, it felt a bit strange I couldn’t work out what was on the end of the line, then I got a glimpse of the fish, it was a bream, a real surprise as I didn’t know bream were in the river. Eventually it was netted a fish around 4lbs, that’s the wonder of angling it throws up surprises. In the next hour I had five more chub around 3lbs with another I thought would have gone 4lbs. As the float went smoothly down the swim I thought about the bream, as the float glided underneath the outer most branches which were nearly touching the water, the float dipped in a determined manner at the same time I got a wrench on the rod tip, I was forced to release line.

Whatever had picked up the flake was a powerful fish as it ripped line off the reel going off downstream. I thought grilse then barbel, suddenly the fish slowed up then I got the head shaking so reminiscent of a chub as it bored into the bank going under some overhanging brambles, thankfully the extra length of the Swim Master helped me lean well out over the river where I could pull the fish from danger, it was then a good few minutes before I had full control of the fish, as it swirled on the surface I got a look at the fish. “That’s a good chub” I thought. Slowly but surely I worked the fish upstream to the waiting net. “Then it was mine” Thankfully I had a small area of grassy bank where I could weight and photograph my prize a chub of 5lb 7 ounces, it was quite hollow, no doubt it could go 6lbs next February March time. I fished on for another hour catching four more chub around 3lbs then the swim died, I didn’t get another fish so after an hour I packed up then headed off home more than happy with my result.




My chub swim

5lb 7 ounce chub

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Martin James Fishing
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