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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


07/11/2019 - Another Day Of Hope

Coxon Aerial


Another Day Of Hope

It was around 0900 hrs when I arrived on the bank of the River Ribble desperate to catch some fish after suffering five blank sessions, yes the river has been bank high, the colour of chocolate but usually I can usually catch, yes I had several bites over those blank sessions, apart from a trout, I missed the other bites even though I was holding the rod. Despite the north easterly wind blowing downstream I considered conditions were good today with an overcast sky, also foot of extra water with some colour with a water temperature of 48 degrees F as it has been for the past four days. Today I chose to fish a swim that my old friend Mick Holgate who sadly passed away early this year and I often fished together in early November now the salmon season has ended. In fact there is a plaque fixed to a riverside alder tree simple saying “Mick Holgate’s Swim” fixed to a piece of ancient oak. On the far bank bay were various deciduous trees and bushes, this bay in high water is certainly a spot to fish but it needs a fixed spool reel for the job, I can manage 25-30 yards with a Wallis cast, today it would be Wallis casting running the float down the middle of the river. Tackle choice was 12 Milwards Swim Master matched with Colin Culley’s Coxon Aerial with 4lb breaking strain line, my float was a cork on quill made by Grandad Turner sometime in the 1930’s, back in the 1980’s I decided to strip off all the broken paint and varnish, before rubbing it down with some flower paper, it was given seven coats of varnish with a red painted tip, early this year I repainted the tip with some Crafters acrylic neon orange on the advice of Russ Shaw. I can now see the float under most light conditions. After putting on the float I added an Olivette weight stopped ten inches from the size 8 hook by a BB shot, the weight of the Olivette will certainly help me push the float out to the line I want to fish, my baits would be bread flake, small bits of prawn and bread cube.

Bread Mash Ground Bait

Overnight Id soaked some stale bread I’d retrieved from my dustbin which is probably twelve months old, I find the older drier and harder the bread is the better your bread mash will be, at the waters edge I added some fine bran to the mash until I thought it was just right, as the water was quite fast I needed the ground bait on the bottom in my swim not fifty yards downstream, I raked around in the waters edge collecting enough pebbles for the day. Before starting and with the water flowing from left to right, I balled in three tangerine size balls of bread and bran with a pebble added, following up with a few pieces of bread flake. I also added two droppers of broken prawns, I find it’s a waste of time loose feeding with whole or broken pieces of prawn, as they sink very slowly, in fact some will float several yards before very slowly sinking. Having got everything sorted I sat back on my box resting the swim for twenty minutes.

Chub Were Willing To Feed

I’d been fishing around half an hour when I had my first bite, the float had travelled some twelve yards down the swim then slanted sideways towards my bank, I lifting the rod I felt the fish dive towards a tree in the water down to my right that had been left by the recent floods, quickly I pushed on the rod to my left making the fish turn towards the middle of the river, I then had full control of the fish, soon it was in the net a chub about 2lbs. Rebaiting with another piece of flake I added another ball of mash followed it up with the float following the same line, after five yards it disappeared soon another chub similar to the first was netted then released upstream. In the next seven casts I caught four more chub all of similar size or smaller, one was just about a pound. I then changed bait to a small bit of prawn, three casts later I had a slight drift sideways of the float striking I found I was into a fish, immediately I realised it was a grayling by its twisting antics so reminiscent of grayling, soon the fish was netted probably 12 ounces it was quickly released. Grayling have to be treated with the utmost care they are a very fragile fish and should be handle for more than a few seconds. In the next three casts I caught three more grayling all of similar size, often when you catch a grayling you will often catch more as they are a shoal fish. This proved right as I caught six more fish then, a blank spell the fish had probably scattered or dropped well downstream probably the latter. I continued to feed balls of bread and bran mash, hoping to draw any chub that might be further downstream into my swim. Switching back to bread flake I had a bite less half an hour perhaps it was longer.

I then moved the float a foot down the line thinking the fish might have moved up in the water intercepting free items of flake. Two casts later with the float going a lot further down the swim I got another chub about one and a half pounds, two casts later I had a similar size fish quickly followed by another of similar size. I was now hooking my fish fifteen sixteen yards down the swim, thinking I might get a bigger size fish, I moved the float up the line so the bait was just tripping the bottom in places, when I would hold back the float. I caught two more fish but nothing bigger than my first fish around two pounds.

Roe Buck Swims Across River

As I was watching a sparrow hawk, I heard a big splash to my left looking upstream no more than ten yards away I could see a roe buck swimming across the river towards my bank, quickly it was out of the water heading towards then boundary fence which it gracefully cleared then headed across the field towards the wood. Today I’d seen four sightings of kingfishers, one was perched on a willow branch just downstream of me. Another one flew low and fast under my rod tip, also a pair flew low and fast upstream. With the fish not feeding I went off for a fresh brew with a toasted cheese sandwich.

Chub and Dace

Back in my swim I started feeding with golf size balls of bread and bran, soon I had dace feeding catching seven on the trot around eight to ten ounces, after a ten minute quiet spell, I had another ten dace, then the chub put in an appearance I quickly had eight fish around the two pound mark, then for some unknow reason the fish stopped feeding or moved away. After half an hour perhaps longer I decided to call it a day. No big fish but it had been very enjoyable.



1930's bait dropper

one of several chub

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Martin James Fishing
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