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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


20/07/2019 - Floating Crust for Chub



Today I chose to visit a small river in North Yorkshire I hadn’t fished for some time, it’s a river where I have enjoyed some great sport with chub, trout and pike on the fly, also at one time it was one of my top chub waters where I caught lot of four and five pound plus chub, including a couple of six pound fish, I still remember as if it was yesterday, fishing with Alan Roe and his son Nathan, having caught a few nice chub I made my way downstream to see what Alan and Nathan had caught, Alan had a couple of fish but Nathan hadn’t had a bite. I said “Come on Nathan lets see if we can get you a five pound chub as your Dad hasn’t had one that big” After baiting his hook with a big bit of crust I pointed to a spot where I wanted Nathan to cast saying “Cast your crust to the front of those reeds” Within five minutes Nathan had a 5lb 4 ounce chub, Alan along with Nathan had grins a mile wide. It was about an hour after first light when I pulled into the car park, first job was a brew, at the same time I put together a simple outfit 11 foot soft action rod, fixed spool reel with 10lb braided line to which I tied on a size 6 hook with a Palomar knot, in my small shoulder bag I put a loaf of bread, my catapult some LG shot along with a box of hooks along with a landing net.

I was ready to go stalking for chub.

I’d walked upstream about two hundred yards scanning the two to three feet deep water in the hope in seeing a chub or small shoal of chub, I did see a couple of trout, a grayling along with some small fry two kingfishers but no chub, until I reached some bankside alder trees many of the branches were creating a shadow over the water some three or four feet from the bank. Out in midstream were three chub in mid water, crouching down so as not to betray myself to the fish which are the most spooky fish of all, in fact there have been many times in the past when watching chub they have disappeared ghost like without a ripple, unlike most species of fish which give themselves away as they get spooked not so the chub. Over the years I have tested literally hundred of anglers who I have guided, knowing where some chub are, I would have my guest walk slowly upstream so they could see the chub, only a handful have passed the test of seeing the chub, the others didn’t realise they had spooked the fish.

Taking some bread and my catapult from the bag I fired two pieces of crust some thirty feet ahead of the fish, as the first crust got within ten feet of the fish the middle one slowly moved across then swirled at the crust, then a second swirl, the fish then dropped back a foot then as the crust come close it slurped it down full of confidence. As the first fish took the crust another fish quietly sucked down the other crust. Ten minutes later I fired out two more bit of crust, then as a fish swirled at the free offering, I cast a crust up stream, as it drifted down I took in the slack line, this time a chub didn’t for the crust to come down it moved upstream and with plenty of confidence it sucked down my baited hook, I watched the line start to move I tightened into the first fish of the morning. Sadly but it’s true chub suffer most from spawning stress, especially if the rivers are low with low oxygen content with high water temperatures, this one was soon in the net a fish about 3lbs and quickly released in the fast shallow water. As I was looking for chub I spotted a pike around ten pounds close to a small island, below the bridge pool where the river splits into two branches for a short distance, the pike was spotted at the tail of the island, I would try for the pike after lunch. During the next two hours I had four more chub of similar size. I then made my way slowly back to the car, as I looked into the water I spotted a nice trout probably a fish around one and a half pounds.

Pike On The Fly

After a brew with a bacon sandwich, I put away the chub tackle then made up an eight weight fly rod, this is the lightest rod I would use for pike, most times it’s a 9 or 10 weight, should I be fishing deep water where I feel I might connect with 20lb plus fish I usually use an 11 weight rod with a fast sinking line. Today I was using a floating line, I attached an eight foot tapered leader with a 20lb tippet then attached a two foot wire trace with an Albright knot. Having tied on a Lefty Kreh size 3/0 Deceiver pattern I was ready to go, it was a walk of about half a mile in most places waist high nettles with some brambles that slowed my progress, when I arrived I was perspiring that much I felt I had been in a shower. Once I got to the end of the second field, the rest of the walk was quite easy. As I arrived to the bottom end of the small island where I had spotted the pike, it was still there, I then walked downstream until I was about fifty yards below the fish at a place where I could quietly get into the water and make my way back upstream to a spot where I could make a cast that enabled me to draw the fly away from the pike, bait fish don’t hang around a pike but move quickly away, too many anglers when seeing a predatory fish following the fly or lure slow the speed of retrieve, you’re better off speeding up the retrieve. You usually only get one chance, mess up the cast and the pike will be gone. I watched the fish for several minutes then made the cast, as the fly moved away from the pike it was off the starting blocks then grabbed the fly, as I set the hook the fish went off in a fast rush, then tail walking, it’s something that always gives me a thrill, it was bigger fish than I thought, probably around 12lbs. It gave me a lot of fun for some ten minutes using the fast flowing water, it was in and out of the streamer weed, it also went tail walking on two more occasions, then it just sulked on the bottom but eventually it was mine. I was a very happy angler as I made my way back to the car.




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Martin James Fishing
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