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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


13/11/2023 - Two Short Session On The River

4lb 12 ounce chub



Yesterday I got the opportunity of a short session on the river, in exchange for a lift Bill would have a grayling fishing session. Bill having collected me from home, it was just half an hour later when arrived in the car park. It was certainly nice not having to take the bus into town, then a two mile walk, including walking up a steep slippery muddy track with numerous rocks, then down the other side, into a wood with lots of snags for the unwary.

Bill put together a five weight outfit, while I tackled up with an 11 foot soft Avon action rod, small fixed spool reel holding 12lb bs braid, to which I added two float stops, then a size 4 barbless hook. The float stops are used to mould plasticine around these stops, so I didn’t have to use normal weight, when I get snagged up I can usually pull free, “Yes” I might lose a bit of plasticine, but more often than not. I get everything back My baits today are Garlic sausage, bread and cheese paste.

After a slow walk along the river we come to an area where I thought there was a chance of grayling, I gave Bill a beaded nymph, with some Fluorescent floss tied in at the head, it can be attractive to grayling, though it’s really a trout fly on reservoirs. I watched him fish it through the run, where on his first cast he had a take just as he was lifting off, by the size of the boil, it was possibly a good fish. Having got Bill started, I went further downstream until I found some steady water on the inside of a bend, last winter, a large tree come floating down the river on a big flood, eventually it then got stuck half, on the bank the rest of the tree in the water, “That’s a chub area” I thought” I then checked the water temperature getting a reading of 48 degrees F.

I decided on using bread as bait to start with, throwing in six pieces of flake the size of a fifty pence piece, I had pressed them hard so they would sink. Twenty thirty minutes later, having got lots of tiny movements, each time I retrieved the tackle the bread was gone, I put this down to minnows and other small fry, time for a bait change. Having I decided to change my bait to a large piece of cheese, I pinched off some plasticine, so I had a lighter weight. Baiting with a chicken egg size lump of very smelly cheese paste, I made an underarm cast dropping the bait right on the crease, then sat back holding the rod with the line over my forefinger.

Action At Last

I suppose I’d been waiting for some action around half an hour, though it passed quite quickly, on the opposite side of the river were three roe deer, also several sightings of a pair of kingfishers flying up and down the river, often stopping at an overhanging willow bush where they could perch then dive at a suitable moment to grab a minnow. Occasionally a Hurricane was over head, those of my generation never forget the sound of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, it’s so evocative.

Suddenly I’m back to the present as I felt the line tighten on my forefinger, slowly the rod tip pulled round, the answering strike connect, I felt a surge of power from a fish that wanted to get off downstream as fast as possible. In the high fast water this fish put up a very good display of its strength, I suppose it was a give and take for around ten minutes, but slowly the combination of well-balanced tackle started to tell, slowly I was winning as the head shaking and taking line off the reel was becoming just a heavy weight, but slowly I lifted the rod high drawing the fish to the surface. “That’s a good fish” I thought, slowly I was able to draw the fish towards then into the net.

As I lifted I said to myself “I reckon that’s a good 4lb fish” I retrieved the hook hanging in the mesh of the net, then lowered the net back in the water while I got the scales and weigh bag sorted, meanwhile Bill had noticed the action and soon arrived. On the scales the fish weighed 4 lb 12 ounces. “That will do me for starters” I said to Bill. After he shot a pic, I lowered the net and fish back in the water, then watched the chub swim off strongly, I’m lucky as tomorrow I have someone who wants to fish for grayling, so I will be back again after the chub, but with last night’s heavy frost I reckon it will be a crust fishing session with a short link. I’m sorry about the poor picture but it was beyond my control

My Second Session

On Sunday I was on the river for a 2 hour session. Water temperature had gone from 48F down to 42F due to a very hard frost on Friday night and during Saturday, with a strong cold easterly wind. I thought there is only one way to fish today, and that was with crust on a short link, roving about, dropping bait in all the quiet bits of water. By the time my transport was due, I’d not seen any action, even the minnows were absent, but it was good being on the bank. This week it looks as if it’s the buses, then a long walk, at least I can go fishing, the river will no doubt have a lot more water, I checked the W/T about an hour ago, it had gone up to 44 F and will no doubt rise further.


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Martin James Fishing
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