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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


20/09/2018 - Busy Day on the River

4 lb 4 ounce chub

Busy Day on the River

I was up and away this morning around 0630 hrs to check on river levels for some member who live a long way from the venue, it was perfect salmon and trout water, the trout season ends on the 30th September, salmon angling the last day of October. Having called all the members who requested an update, I made my way through the wood checking my mink and squirrel traps all were clear, I rebaited mink traps with fresh fish heads, the nuts hadn’t been touched. I then walked the bottom beat, no night lines, poachers or cormorants. Eventually I was back at the cabin after about a 3 mile slow walk ready for a very late breakfast.

Kippers on the Menu

Today I had kippers with some nice fresh wholemeal bread and butter followed by a mug of tea, as I sat finishing my breakfast I was debating with myself, if I wanted to try for a salmon or sea trout, but the thought of a big chub kept going through my mind, the chub quest won. I then opened 2 cans of Spam which were cut into 16 big chunks, I would catapult two or three pieces across the river, then fish a chunk on a size 2 barbless hook, using plasticine as a weight making sure it was carefully balanced so the bait could trundle slowly down the opposite bank, should I get snagged up on a rock it’s no problem, it either pulls free or I lose the plasticine, if the latter all I do is add a new piece. Stepping outside the cabin I noticed the sky was very overcast, the forecast was for heavy rain 80 to 100 mm over the next 14 hours, I reckon I had chosen the best day, as tomorrow the river will no doubt be over the banks in places. It’s a pity much of this rain didn’t fall in the southern counties to freshen up the rivers.

Chub were Feeding

My plan was to start at the top of the beat, giving each spot around twenty thirty minutes so I could really search the swim, Having fired in some samples I made a long cast across and downstream then sat holding the rod, as I was doing so I had a call from Colin Culley about fishing Tadpole Bridge, after a minute or so I felt a slight pluck on the line then pushed the rod forward allowing a bow to form, then said to Colin “Just had a tap on the first cast” followed by “Gotcha" After a few minutes I had a lovely chub in the net, “That’s a four pounder” I thought, on the scales it weighed 4lb 4 ounces. Within minutes of casting out I felt a small pluck, then nothing for some minutes, I lifted the rod to allow the bait to move, it had gone about a foot, then three light pluck ten seconds apart, having watched these fish feed all summer, I had a good idea what was going on, again I gave some slack then I had three more quick plucks again about ten seconds between each, more line was given, I then got a very slow tightening of the line, striking I felt another good fish, in the net it was another four pounder I didn’t need to weigh it. As with all my fish I walked along way up or downstream then release the fish.

In the next hour I had five more 4lb plus fish, with the best weighing 5lb 1 ounce, all bites were seen and felt, I was keyed up ready to tighten at the right moment, I judged it right as I only missed out on one strike. I must make it clear it wasn’t easy fishing, I doubt if most anglers would have seen those tiny plucks or would have caught those fish. What has helped during the two months when we didn’t fish I was able to refresh my memory of what I had observed in the past 70 odd years of the feeding habits of chub and other fish. These chub would never have given a big wrench of the rod tip, if they did I can guarantee the bites would have been missed as the fish no doubt had the bait in its lips, forget the idea of hair rigging a bait for chub, you will miss most bites. Yes chub do get caught on a hair rigged bait, but many more are missed. I have been able to show many of my friends how crafty the chub can be, they have watched me fish with soft paste baits, the rod has moved a couple of inches then stopped, five minutes later nothing, I will carefully bring in the bait which has a perfect impression of the chub lips. With the rain sheeting down I made a hasty retreat to the cabin for a toasted cheese sandwich with a mug of tea. Two hours later it’s still raining the cloud are leaden grey virtually touching the roof tops, there is no wind, as I write this its still raining hard, I reckon those chub were expecting a big flooded river tomorrow and chose to feed

5 lb 1 ounce chub

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Martin James Fishing
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