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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


06/10/2021 - A Poor First Session - turns Into A Good Second Session

My best chub at 5 lb 3 ounces

Arriving on the banks of the river Ribble on Wednesday 29th September finding it high and coloured with lots of rubbish floating downstream, river conditions didn’t look good, I suppose I should have given it a miss as it’s the first flush of water we have seen for weeks, how I miss the Southern and Midland river, these condition on the Kennet, Avon, Soar etc would have been welcome as these river don’t suffer like the spate river. I have had numerous occasions when the Kennet where it has been over the bank, but still fishable, if you were to look for the slower areas where the fish gather. Two winters ago the River Soar was way over the banks in fact out in the fields lapping the top of the flood bank, it was the colour of dark chocolate. I well remember Mark Sarul having a double figure barbel roll in his swim, all my life I have enjoyed fishing flood rivers unless its caused by snow melt.

But these spate rivers are different, they can rise five feet in a day then drop right back the following days so the fish don’t get settled, yes, we catch fish but not like those on other flooded rivers as mentioned. Today I chose to fish ‘Oak Meadow’, where I found an area of slower water, I tackle up with a soft Avon action rod, fixed spool reel with 6lb bs line to which I added two float stops then a size 4 hook, my baits were sausage meat and cheese paste. In the first one and a half hours I was bringing in the tackle about every ten minutes the line was like a navy signal pennant full of Filamentous Algae, as one of my friends said “Those fish are sending a signal, we are not feeding today” there was also lots of leaves and other assorted rubbish including bits of toilet paper. I then moved onto another swim, same result, after about 3 plus hours of fishing I gave up and went home. A Window Of Opportunity Today checking the water level I found it had dropped around a foot and a half and still falling, I chose to have another session on a different section of the Ribble, first thing I noticed was how the flow has slowed up considerably, “Chub today” I said to myself, baits again were cheese paste that was made some 3 years ago and well matured, also sausage meat paste. The weather was atrocious strong South Westerly wind and lashing rain, but I was kitted out to cope with whatever the conditions were likely to be. I am not a fan of umbrellas, so make sure I’ve got good water proofs, nothing was going to get through, also I has a plastic bin liner to keep my bait bag in. Putting seat and bait bucket over my back, rod and reel in one hand, landing net and rod rest in the other, I set off at a fast pace into the wind and rain, I felt good today, so a mile walk was no problem, apart from a small copes and stile which slowed the pace. Eventually I arrived at my first chosen spot, as I looked at the water I said to myself “Why didn’t I bring a float set up” conditions were perfect with a steady flow good depth and upstream wind. I cursed my foolishness in leaving the float gear in the car. Looking across the stream to the far bank I found what I was looking for a good raft, see pic below there was an area of water about two feet wide no more, where I had to drop the bait, to far I would be hooked on the bank, not far enough the bait wouldn’t be under the raft. I felt a good underhand cast would do the job, I added a small piece of sausage meat then made a few casts, soon I was dropping the bait where needed, I then fixed the line the clip. I wasn’t going to be easy, if I wanted to fish the far bank, then nothing is easy in life, we have to work for our rewards, it’s the same in angling. There was an easy way, but it would entail 2-3 mile walk to get to the swim. A Trio Of Chub Having got myself settled in a swim sheltered by a willow bush some two feet from my left, I moulded a small piece of plasticine over the float stops, moulded the sausage meat around the hook, then made a cast, I was lucky it dropped inches upstream of the creamy white foam, I held the rod high so I could keep as much line off the water surface, half an hour later I felt a slight tremble on the line hooked over my finger, it felt like the bait was moving over the gravel ever so slight, fifteen minutes later I would in to find no bait. My next cast landed where I wanted it, again I had to hold the rod high, my hand kept going numb so I had to change hands frequently. Again I felt the line tremble then stop, I waited a while then retrieved the tackle, no bait again. Rebaiting I dropped the bai short so that to rebait and cast again, this time it hit the far bank, a quick strike had the tackle landing in midstream, I was lucky, still the rain sheeted down, though the forecast for a fine day. Rebaiting I cast again this time it dropped right, I sat holding the rod high as usual, probably twenty minutes had gone by when I felt that tremble on the line I immediately made a strike, connecting with something that could really ‘Pull the string and bend my stick’ as a fish took ,line off the reel, I hoped it wasn’t a trout or grisle, after some minutes I realised I’d got what I was after a chub. It tried its best to get under the far bank trees and snags, but I was slowly getting it across the stream then it changed direction moving fast towards my bank.

Five yards downstream I had an old hawthorn bush in the water, if it got there all would be lost, I couldn’t move upstream as I had a willow bush in the way. I lowered the rod to the water’s edge then cramped down on the spool pulling hard, either the tackle would or the fish would give in. It was the latter soon I had the fish in front of me, but as yet hadn’t got a glimpse of the fish. This fish really could scrap as autumn and winter chub can, they are a far different fish than in summer time. I then got my first glimpse, saying “That’s a lovely coloured fish” after another two or three minutes I was able to draw the fish over the waiting net then lifted, it was a good one. Out with scales and bag, carefully slipping the fish in the bag it was hoisted on the scale hook I watched the pointer go round to 5 lb 6 Ounces then drop back and settled on 5 lb 3 ounces, A quick picture then it was returned. I felt a glow of warmth and pleasure, a great result and reward for putting up with the conditions. In next hour and a half, I was lucky to get two more good chub 4 lb 14 ounces and 4 lb 7 ounces, the last fish as the river started to rise, I had to choose a different swim as the force of water stopped me fishing my far bank choice. I fished on for another hour but the river was rising fast with lots of rubbish, I’d had the best so packed up a happy angler.

My chub swim

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Martin James Fishing
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