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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/01/2015 - The Chub Were Willing To Feed Despite a Bank High River

Best Chub of the Session


Conditions couldn’t have been worse when Albert, Mark and myself arrived on the banks of the River Ribble, yes the water had dropped a couple of feet overnight but so had the water temperature by 4 degrees F due to lots of icy cold rain and hail, add a gale force wind often gusting so strong it sounded at times like a jet aircraft was going through the tree tops which were swaying in a dangerous looking way, thankfully on the far bank so no danger to myself or my friends. Albert and myself were going to fish for grayling Mark wanted to target the chub, I suggested two areas where Mark could try also he would get some shelter for horrendous conditions. Meanwhile Albert and myself had to endure the gale force wind if we wanted to float fish for grayling, we had two pints of red gentles I used a 13 foot Lone Angler float rod, centre pin reel holding about 30 yards of 3lb line which I’d loaded the evening before, I chose to use a Drennan wire stemmed Avon taking 6 BB’s using a loop to loop system I attached a size 16 barbless hook. Having set the float at about six feet I attached a size 1 egg shaped shot a foot from the hook, two feet further up the line I attached 3 BB’s then another two feet I attached 2 BB’s with another BB under the float. I then spent some fifteen minute running the float through the swim making adjustments to depth and the shotting pattern, feeling I’d got the set up correct I spent another fifteen minutes throwing in half a dozen gentles every two or three minutes.

Time to try and catch some grayling despite the strong gusting wind, I worked like a machine, half a dozen gentles make a cast work the float through the swim then retrieved the tackle again and repeat the whole routine, I done this for an hour with no bites or indication of fish in the swim, though I did feel I was fishing in an efficient manner. Another hour with no bites I thought it was time for a brew, calling to Albert I asked if he was ready for brew? the answer was an affirmative “Yes” then I’ve never known Albert to refuse food or drink. Back at the cabin Albert proceeded to cook sausages, beans, eggs, bacon, fried bread and tomatoes for himself and Mark, though I was offered some of this delightful food, I declined making do with my healthy eating sandwich, though it was hard to resist Albert’s cooking. As I sat enjoying a mug of tea I watched the rain increase in intensity also the roar of the wind through the tree tops had increased in its strength, I thought this isn’t float fishing conditions better off targeting the chub. Having left Albert and Mark to their food I picked up my chub fishing gear then battled the strong wind that was sweeping across the fields eventually arriving at the bottom of the beat, I had no shelter from wind or rain but I did have some good waterproofs so the weather wasn’t a problem for me, but with the rain and wind increasing in intensity I did wander if I would be able to fish my chosen swim that’s exposed to the elements.

Chub and Trout wanted Cheese

I’ve always reckoned if you want to catch chub in high water conditions with lots of colour then one bait probably reigns supreme soft cheese paste, but with the low water temperature the standard cheese paste will harden up in the cold water causing problems in setting the hook, despite other anglers telling me to use a hair with the paste moulded round a small plastic bead or cork ball, it’s not the answer, hair rigs for chub are not efficient. You will miss many bites as the fish moves off with the bait in its lips the hook outside the mouth. If you want to catch chub in tough weather conditions my advice is take some time out and make up some soft paste that will help you catch chub, now don’t make an excuse of not having the time that’s a defeatist way. What I do is take two tubs of Cheese Mania which I warm by placing close to a radiator, then break up into pieces before giving it a quick whisk in the food processor before spraying with some cheese mania, it’s then knead and knead until it starts to look like a large cricket size ball which is then split into large sausage shapes, after pouring some glug of the same flavour into a shallow dish I roll the sausage shaped pieces in the glug then knead into balls of soft paste, sometimes I have to dip the bait into more glug then knead again repeating until I have a soft sticky smelly of paste.

Keeping it Simple

As usual my tackle was an Avon action rod, small fixed spool reel, 6lb bs line today I had an adjustable float stop on the line with a size 4 Pallatrax barbless hook, I used the float stop as I was fishing a snag ridden area which was set about 18 inches from the hook then moulded plastacine around the stop, if I got snagged I could probably pull the plastacine free as it works 8 times out of 10 and with LG shot costing nearly £2-00 for six shot it can be quite costly hence the plastacine. My swim was situated at the top of a right hand sweeping bend with an average depth of around 5 feet the river bed in this area comprised of small rocks pebbles and gravel with scattering of large boulders and some beds of water crowfoot. In the past it’s been good for chub with a high average size with some very big chub of 4lb 5lbs and an occasional 6 pounder which in my book are huge fish.

Not knowing how the chub would feed, also what indication of a bite I could expect, in gale force wind at times the wind gusted extremely strong enough to blow the rod off the rest, which I chose not to use but hold the rod with the tip inches above the water surface. Baiting with the soft sticky mess is an adventure in itself, you need to have some water and a towel close to hand, eventually the hook was baited then lowered at the edge of a nice crease. With my hood pulled tight over my trilby hat I sat watching the line and rod tip like a hawk occasionally feeling the odd bit of rubbish bump the line, ten minutes into the session I had a light pull of about an inch then a more determined take, acting immediately I set the hook into a nice fish that powered away into the fast swirling water, at this time I wasn’t sure if it was a chub or trout. After several heart stopping minutes where I wasn’t only trying to get the fish through the fast water but also hoping none of many branches flowing downstream wouldn’t snag the line. (On the Wye last season I lost a chub estimated at good 6lbs when a large branch snagged the linen between rod tip and fish). Eventually I got a glimpse of a chub saying to myself “Yes that a good fish” then it was in the net, I gave a sigh of relief one that it was a chub and two my idea had paid off.

Leaving the fish in the net at the water’s edge in a sheltered spot I hobbled off upstream as I’m suffering from (planter fasciitis which is a very painful heel problem) to get my camera to find Mark and Albert still having lunch. Back in my swim I weighed the fish at 4lb 10 ounces then a quick picture with the scales alongside the fish. In the next two hours I caught 8 more good chub most fish I would say were 4lbs plus my best fish being the first chub I only lost one set of tackle, by using plastacine, what happens under pressure it changes shape allowing you to pull free in most cases. After a bite less half an hour I moved to another swim where I got pestered by trout catching seven good fish between one and a half and two pounds but eventually the weather got the better of me so I called it a day. Under the weather and water conditions I reckon it had been a Red Letter Day and one I really enjoyed, though it would have been nice to have caught some grayling in the morning session, though if I’d done so I doubt if I would have targeted the chub in the second session, it also shows that if your prepared to work at your angling, prepare quality bait you will get results. I still use bran after 70 odd years of using in my gentles, bran is far better at stopping the bait sweating and keeping them in good condition than maize meal or sawdust.


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Martin James Fishing
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