fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


27/07/2020 - A Tale Of Two Sessions

Every fish was in mint condition.

On Saturday I went off well down the river Ribble to fish for roach, it was around 0630 hrs when I arrived conditions were perfect for roach fishing over cast sky, light drizzle with an upstream wind. Having walked some 1200 yards I eventually selected a swim which was accessible between two alder trees. Tackle set up was an 14 foot Acolyte rod, Classic Avon reel by Richard Carter with 4lb line, I used a balsa body float with a bright orange tip one of several made for me by Russ Shaw, the one I chose was made to carry 3 AAA shot, when plumbing the depth I always coat the bottom of the plummet with Vaseline so small particles of the bottom will stick to the plummet. I found ten feet of water over a firm weed free fine sandy silt bottom, starting five feet below the float 3 AAA shot were lightly pinched on the line six inches apart, I shudder when I see anglers pinch shot on the line with pliers or their teeth, most times you will damage the line. As it’s not possible to buy a decent spade end hook to nylon line of the breaking strain I desire, my friend Mark Sarul whips up all my hooks on 18 inches of my required breaking strain, today it’s a size 12. I attached a BB shot six inches from the hook, then moved the float up the line six inches, so the bait was on the bottom, my swim was like a still water swim, the main flow of the river going down the far bank some twenty five yards distance.

Ground Bait And Baits

Today knowing I wouldn’t be close to the water I carried a bottle of water for mixing ground bait, after pouring some water in the mixing bowl I added a commercial brand of fine crumb, allowing it to soak for a few minutes, then added half a pint of hemp with a few grains of stewed wheat mixing it up to a medium firm consistency, I wanted the ground bait to sink quickly then start breaking up two or three feet from the bottom. I wasn’t looking to catch small fish but ‘goer’ roach and bigger.

Roach From The Off

After putting in four handfuls of ground bait with a sprinkling of wheat I went off for a fresh brew with some buttered toast, as I sat in the car enjoying my break, the sky turn very dark the wind increased suddenly the rain sheeted down of monsoon proportions. The rain ended as quick as it started, back in my swim I baited with a grain of wheat threw in half a dozen free offerings, then cast dropped the float lightly in the baited area, then gently submerged the rod tip to sink the line so the upstream wind wouldn’t put a bow in the line dragging the float out of position. A few minutes later the float lifted slightly I pulled into the first fish of the session, a nice roach of ten inches. Soon the bait was in position this time I had a bite on the drop another similar size roach. I the next twenty minutes I’d caught eight roach then the bites stopped. For half an hour or more I didn’t get a bite, I was then surprised to see an otter scurry along no more than two feet from my boots, five minutes later bubbles appeared on the surface going from right to left ending up in the roots of the alder tree, that’s two otter’s, I’m not surprised I wasn’t getting any bites. Fifteen minutes later an otter appeared on the surface ten feet from my float with a chub about a pound and a half in its mouth, treating the chub as a plaything. With no other swim that I could safely reach even with my dog spike and rope. I sat there for some minutes thinking what to do, then decided to move to another stretch. It took me some time and several trips to get my tackle up the bank then to the car. I was well shattered so decided to go off home, on the way I found myself feeling rough so pulled into a lay bye where I spent half an hour before going home. Having put the car in the garage, I had a shower then dropped off to sleep in the armchair, at 1800 hrs I went off to bed without any tea.

My Second Session

Sunday morning I was up and about at 0500 hrs, I decided to fish a venue close to home just five miles away, after a bowl of porridge some buttered toast and tea, I was ready to go, my target fish today were chub. I was just after 0630 hrs when I arrived at my chosen swim, to find an extra foot of water, with the tackle all made up in its rod slip, all I had to do was adjust the shotting pattern and run the float through a few times until I was happy with the depth. I then made up a bowl of ground bait similar to what I used yesterday but with some sweetcorn added. My idea was to keep feeding a chicken egg lump of ground every fourth or fifth cast if the chub were feeding.

Chub Were On The Feed

On my first cast the float travelled about four yards then dipped, soon I netted a ‘goer’ chub, which has to be 9 inches this fish was 11 inches I was more than happy. In the next fifteen minutes I caught a succession of chub all “goers” with several pushing the pound mark, the extra water has certainly helped, it seemed the fish were queuing up for the bait. Every cast I put in three or four grains of corn, every fifth or six cast some ground bait, it was a bite every trot through, I was certainly enjoying myself. Several chub were around a pound and a half, but whatever the size, every fish was in mint condition. See Pic. With the sky getting darker and darker the wind increasing I heard the church clock strike nine so decided to end my session more than satisfied with my result and feeling a lot better after yesterday’s episode. As I started to walk back across the meadow the rain hit me square in the face, the wind was slowing my walk, thankfully I was dressed in all my waterproof gear, back in the cabin I switched on the gas for a welcome brew.


I have just had a poem from Carl Hier [email protected] titled Watching A Float I thought it was so good that I am sharing it with everyone. Thank you Carl

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]