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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


31/12/2022 - Heavy Rain With Strong winds - Didnít Help My Fishing

My best chub at 5 lb 10 ounces


Having had breakfast, I sat for several minutes thinking “Do I really want to make the long trek to the river in the heavy rain showers, with the gale force wind, plus a high fast dirty river”? Ten minutes or so later, I decided to face the conditions some of the worst this winter. I’ve often told anglers “If you don’t have a bait, lure or fly in the water you can’t catch” Taking some sausage meat, luncheon meat, cheese paste and bread from the bait fridge, I looked at the rods in the rack, then chose my Richard Walker MK1V Avon, matched with a Mitchell 300 with 12 lb braid, rod went into a tube, reel and other bits and pieces in my rucksack along with my bait selection, also a small bottle of milk in case I wanted tea and not OXO drink when I had a break.

Out in the garden I noticed Pendle hill could hardly be seen in the gloom caused by a leaden grey sky it really did just miss the roof tops, along with the heavy rain and strong wind visibility was extremely poor, not conditions for using my E-moped, it was a bus, then “Shank’s pony” for some two plus miles.

Getting off the bus I was quickly buffeted by wind within ten minutes I had to take off my glasses, as the rain run down my face, it soon found, the smallest opening in my clothing especially around my neck, leaving the county lane I crossed two big fields where I got a real buffeting, twice my trilby was blown off my head which entailed trying to catch it as it was swept across the field, thankfully it eventually got caught in a hedge.

Half a mile further on I made it to the shelter of a small copse, where I disturbed a pair of buzzards feeding on a rabbit, further on were a group of fieldfare, eventually I was in reach of the car park and cabin. Thankfully one of my bailiffs was having a brew, I soon had a mug of OXO with a piece of toast. After chatting about Christmas etc, he went off to check the mink traps, while I set about putting together my gear, I struggled to thread the line through the guides, eventually adding two float stops, finally a size 8 barbless hook was tied on the line. I was ready to go, fully dressed for the conditions, my chair and small bits and pieces bag over my shoulder, rod landing net and rod rest in hand, I made my way to my first choice swim, an area of gravel with reeds at the water’s edge also the water slowed slightly, it was where Brendan lost a good fish on Christmas day.

I started off checking the water temperature, getting a reading of 44 degrees F, baiting with three pieces of luncheon meat, with plasticine a foot further up the line. I made an underhand cast, a minute in the water I realised the bait wasn’t on the bottom, so added more plasticine, a few casts later, I felt I’d got it right. All I could do was sit and take a buffeting from the wind and rain, the rod often being pulled in all directions, it wasn’t going to be easy to detect a bite, unless it was a savage pull. Half an hour or so, I decided to move swims to a sheltered area, bring in the tackle I said to myself “That’s strange, luncheon meat doesn’t just come off the hook” I sat there thinking of my options , I must have had a bite, but didn’t notice it with the rod bouncing in all directions. I repositioned my rod rest, so the rod tip was within an inch of the water surface, though often submerged as a wave swept over it. I made the decision to hold the rod steady in the rest with the line over for forefinger hoping to detect a bite, even if the rod tip is submerged.

Baiting with three bits of luncheon meat, I made a cast out into the flow allowing the bait to be swept naturally into the slightly less powerful flow. For half an hour or more I didn’t detect even the slightest of bite, but persisted as I wasn’t going to give up, being certain I’d lost the bait through a fish taking it. Eventually an hour had passed, I noticed a slight movement of the rod tip, immediately I saying “That’s a bite” I felt the line slightly tighten, fifteen minutes later there was a quick pull of about an inch, by the time my brain engaged, it was gone.

Another fifteen minutes passed, I felt the line tighten, I watched the tip move no more than in inch, but I was already going through the strike mode, feeling the satisfying solid pull of a good fish. Saying “This isn’t a trout” line was taken off the reel, the rod had taken on its battle curve, certainly a lovely sight. The fish stayed deep moving ever so slowly out into the faster water heading towards a large submerged tree that had been in the river for some years. I swept the rod smoothly over the my left in the hope of drawing the fish away from danger. It worked, even better still the fish moved slowly upstream, I could feel the odd head shake, I shudder at the feeling.

What I didn’t want is a lively fish in close, causing the fish to struggle even more when it spotted daylight, also I didn’t want it swirling about on the surface, where it might get rid of the hook, occasional the rod was buffeted by the wind, this gave me some concern. Thankfully the fish was still fighting the fast water and staying deep, I reckon ten or more minutes had passed, before I felt I was winning, slowly I worked the fish into the slower water but not close enough to the reeds, I decided to get off my seat, picking up the net in my free hand, I chucked it upstream then slowly worked the fish past the dangerous reeds, if it got in reed bed all would be lost.

I’d lost a very good fish a few weeks ago in the same reeds. As I got the fish coming towards the surface, I spotted it for the first time saying “That’s a Five pounder” Drawing the fish towards the submerged net, it didn’t struggle, once over the net I lifted, it didn’t even struggle in the net just laying docile, as I went to take out the hook I spotted it in the mesh. Thankfully the rain had eased off, grabbing the camera, scales and weigh bag, I moved up the bank into the field. Scales zeroed I slipped the fish into the bag then hoisted it on the scales watching the needle go round to 5 lb 12 ounces then drop back to register 5 lb 10 ounces. After three quick pics, I walked upstream some twenty yards then watched the fish swim off strongly from the submerged net. I then thought that will do me, I will pack up and go home early. leaving my gear in the swim I went off, making a mug of tea with two biscuits, drinking the tea I though “I’m already wet through I might as well carry on”. I was pleased I did, I had four more good chub one around 3lbs the others all 4 lbs plus. It had been one of my best sessions this winter for what was planned to be my last trip in 2022. I will now be back tomorrow, thankfully the winds are lighter, but there is plenty of rain forecast.


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Martin James Fishing
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