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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


13/03/2019 - A hard day on the river

My chosen swim


Another Hard Day on the River

I thought yesterday’s conditions on the Ribble were bad, today it was even worse, yes the water had dropped from just under 3 metres to around 1.65 metre, today a lot of the colour had gone out of the water, but the wind was horrendous along with the heavy rain showers making life uncomfortable, but I was determined to try. I was around 0900 hrs when I at my chosen venue, to find the only two suitable swims I wanted to fish were out of the question when I noticed a tree had crashed down during the night, the line of beech trees were swaying from left to right in the gale force wind, no way was I going to sit under those trees with the risk of falling branches or even another tree. Back at the car I loaded all my gear in the back, then headed off for the other side of the river about 3miles away by road but only a 100 yards as the crow flies. Pulling into the car park, getting out of the car I noticed it was sheltered from the wind, unlocking the gate I struggled I struggled across the flooded fields to reach the river, then walked up stream to the wood, but decided not to fish as the trees were being hammered by the wind. i then headed back downstream but struggled to find a suitable spot, I then moved well downstream where I found what I thought might be a swim which could produce, even though there was the occasional large boil on the surface probably caused by a large rock on the bottom This didn’t put me off, I thought back to an occasion on the River Aire when Kate and myself after fishing several spots decided to have a brew and shelter from the heavy rain in a favourite spot to see the water turning round like a giant washing machine. As I sat waiting for the kettle to boil, Kate said “Are you not fishing” I replied “No it’s a waste of time in these conditions” she then commented “As your waiting you might as well put a bait in the water” I did and within minutes the rod pulled round, I had a 5lb plus chub, in fact I caught 3 chub that day all over 5lbs. From then I would always fish the spot when the river was pushing through bank high, catching many fish over a 4 year period. The swim I had chosen had over hanging branches with part of the tree trunk and roots in the water, I thought it could be a good spot for chub, checking the water temperature I got a reading of 42 degrees F, I used 3 LG shot covered in plasticine, stopped 18 inches from a size 4 barbless hook then baited with a bantam egg size lump of soft smelly cheese paste. I dropped the bait downstream under the tree trunk in around 3 feet of water.

Fish Hooked and Lost

I sat there holding the rod willing the tip to move, the wind was howling up river straight into my face which felt numb from the cold, today I chose to wear a pair of gloves “I must be getting soft” then the rain sheeted down another one of the many ten to fifteen minute showers, this time with some hail, suddenly the tip pulled round savagely, striking I felt a good fishing powering away, “No trout this” I thought as line was pulled off the reel, I thought “barbel” For some ten minutes it was give and take eventually I started to win the contest bringing the fish upstream. I had one problem, I couldn’t move downstream to play and land the fish as the tree stood in my way, so I moved upstream hoping to get a better angle on the fish where I could pull it further out into the river, then hopefully upstream past the tree., sadly the fish had other ideas and dived into the tree roots. All I could do was pull for a break. The line hung limply in the wind, I was gutted.

Tackling Up Again

Having put on a new hook I attached 3 LG shot wrapped in plasticine, this time I moved a few feet upstream, so I could fish the bait further upstream of the tree roots in the hope that if I should hook another fish, I would cramp down hard then walk upstream hopefully pulling the fish like a dog on the lead from the danger zone. I suppose it was half an hour later I got a sharp short pull on the rod tip, not enough to strike at I thought even though I was holding the rod, it happened to fast.

Lunch Break

Around 1300 hrs with no further action I walked back to the cabin for lunch, I had grilled cheese and pickled sandwiches, with grilled tomatoes, followed by a big mug of strong cocoa. Half an hour feeling revived I headed off to my swim. While I had been away I could see from my marker the river had risen another six inches, typical, spate river, from the amount of rain falling and what is forecast tomorrow the river will be much higher. I fished on for another 3 hours without any further interest so decided to go off home. The river was still rising, by this evening I reckon it will be over 2 metres. Tomorrow I will be back for a long session on the last day, well into the dark. David and I will also have a big hot pot which I will cook this evening, all I have to do it heat it up tomorrow teatime, then back on the river for a session in the dark.



A close up pic of my swim

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Martin James Fishing
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