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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


14/03/2015 - 12lb Wye Barbel Takes The Honours

Tam with his PB chub


 I ended my 2014/15 season on the River Wye in search of chub and grayling, trying to get another 6lb chub also 2lb grayling falling short on both fish, though I did catch 7 five pound plus chub best at 5lbs 6 ounces, but my friend Brendan Ince who was hoping for his first River Wye double achieved his wish with a great fish of 12lbs, another friend Tam Miller of Birmingham did catch a personal best chub of 4lbs 8 ounces. I make no excuse for discussing Lone Angler products as a team member I feel it’s my duty to promote what I personally feel are good products, that’s why I use and promote them.

My last few days of fishing this past season started on Monday morning 9th of March when my friend Tam arrived around 0900 hrs for breakfast, within minutes he was tucking into 4 bacon rashers, none of your horrid supermarket bacon but home cured in the Ribble Valley, 3 fried eggs Sunnyside up, tomatoes wholemeal bread and butter with a big mug of tea, as Tam enjoyed his food we discussed the fishing prospects. I wouldn’t be fishing today but looking after Tam a member of our highly respected Armed Forces his Regiment being the Scots Guards, my job was to ensure he had an enjoyable day. Breakfast over Tam put together a soft action Avon rod, matched with a Mitchell 300 reel holding 6lb bs line, I suggested a size 4 barbless hook, then lightly pinch on 2 LG shot on the line six inches from the hook. The Lone Angler bait and hemp bucket contained pots of Ocean Pride, Sausage Sizzle, Cheese Mania and a bag of hook size crust baits flavoured with Chees Mania which had been in my freezer for many weeks, I also dropped in some LG shots also a small box with hooks sizes 4’s 6’s and a few 8’s in case we wanted to fish a small piece of paste and we were ready to go, finally I filled a small bait bucket with Cheese Mania flavoured mashed bread.

3 Chub in 3 Casts

After a long walk across the fields then down through a small copse we arrived at a swim with over hanging willow and alder trees, up and downstream were several trees or large branches in the water it really did look as if it should hold a few chub. Quietly sitting down making sure we didn’t cast a shadow on the water I suggested he should start of fishing crust, within minutes, no I will correct that to a minute Tam hooked his first fish. During a typical chub fight, I got a bit worried when the fish headed for a large tree branch but Tam was master of the situation eventually getting the fish within netting range where I could scoop up a good fish, “That’s a good fish Tam perhaps a personal best” On the scales it weighed 4lbs 8 ounces and yes a PB. Leaving Tam to re-bait and continue fishing I walked upstream to release the fish in a deep pool, arriving back Tam was waiting for me to net his second fish another one of 4lbs plus. On his third cast he had another 4lb plus chub. Three fish in three casts all over 4lbs I certainly had a happy angler. In the next thirty minutes we didn’t get a bite, time to move further upstream where I suggested Tam should fish a crust in a deep run between two trees that had been in the river for some time, an ideal place for chub, fifteen minutes later the rod tip pulled down savagely but the bite was missed. It was a typical grab and swim off quick type of bite, we also tried other baits in the area but no success time for lunch.

Good catch of Grayling

During the second half of the day Tam chose to fish for barbel, with a pike bait fished slightly downstream close to an overhanging bush, apart from a few knocks on the barbel set up which I suspected were chub nothing happened. While further upstream Brendan was float fishing with gentles catching some nice grayling, a fish he had never caught before, despite the strong cold downstream wind his float control was excellent often trotting some twenty yards downstream, feeding every cast with half a dozen red gentles, as the float reached the hot spot he would gently hold the float back which worked as often the float dipped, if you catch a grayling concentrate on that area as grayling are a shoal fish. I was impressed with his float fishing skills also his casting with a centre pin reel. Brendan’s best fish weighed 1lb 8 ounces, in a catch of some 20 fish. Brendan then joined Tam to also fish for barbel, so I went off to prepare dinner. Two hours later the three of us sat down to a homemade hot curry, which I believe Brendan and Tam enjoyed, as we sat drinking tea we looked back over the day’s events agreeing it had been a good session. An hour later we said our goodbyes to Tam thanking him for his company also hoping we can do it all over again in the new season, but no doubt Tam will be enjoying some fly fishing on my River Ribble, also I hope to share some of the good roach fishing that Tam has close to home. Brendan and myself didn’t bother to fish the evening session, while Brendan sorted out his tackle including making up some rigs, I done the washing up I then sat back enjoying a mug of tea and some digestive biscuits before going off to bed leaving Brendan with a few cans of ale.

Lots of Chub

The next morning I cooked breakfast for both of us, I had eggs and bacon, for Brendan it was bacon, sausages and beans, while I washed and tidied up, Brendan went off to fish for barbel, for me it was going to be chub, I really do enjoy targeting this species having caught my first chub 70 years ago while on a camping trip with the cubs, during the early season, when the chub are not often in the best condition I enjoy searching for barbel looking for individual fish to try and catch without spooking my quarry. Though most of my time is spent targeting chub, I do catch my share of barbel when chub fishing. As previously stated my quest on this trip is a six pounder, tackle is an L A chub rod, small fixed spool reel with 6lb bs line I then attached a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, walking well downstream I passed Brendan setting up a couple of barbel fishing outfits. On my way downstream I dropped in some cheese flavoured mashed bread into every likely looking spot with the intention of fishing each pre-baited spot swims for fifteen to twenty minutes on my way back upstream. Eventually I reached an area where I had about 4 feet of gin clear water under my rod tip, I could faintly make out a bed of water crowfoot some fifteen feet out from the bank, I cast a pigeon egg size chunk of Cheese Mania paste close to the water crowfoot then slowly worked the bait downstream, within a minute of making the cast I had a good pull hooking a powerful fish which took line off the reel, it was several minutes before I felt I would win this contest eventually getting my first glimpse of a good chub, “That’s perhaps 5lbs” I thought as the fish was netted, on the scales it weighed 5lbs 5 ounces, pegging the net in the water’s edge I went off to ask Brendan if he would take a pic, his immediate answer was “Yes” having photographed the fish I released it further downstream. Fishing the same swim I had 5 bites hooking 4 chub all estimated in the 4lb class, after a twenty minute session with no more bites I moved upstream to my next baited spot a swim of some fifteen yards with plenty of overhanging trees with some debris in the water at various spots, it was a swim where I could cover a lot of water. Using a selection of baits, Cheese Mania flavoured bread crust, cheese paste and Ocean Pride I caught seven chub estimated at around 3lbs, three chub estimated at 4lbs plus the last fish weighing 5lb 6 ounces a great looking fish. Fishing my way back to the top boundary fence I caught 11 chub again on various baits apart from those mentioned I also caught on Sausage Sizzle. There were time when I fished a free lined paste bait with some success. It was now 1500 hrs, time for a mug of tea and a sandwich, with my feet being very painful from the long walk up and downstream, I didn’t continue fishing but sat back and continued reading my book Ian Flemming’s Commandos by Nicholas Rankin, I’d had a great chub fishing session. At around 1800 hours I called Brendan to say “Dinner in fifteen minutes”, it was another hot curry which we both enjoyed, while Brendan had a couple of hours in the darkness I washed and dried up the plates, knives, forks and saucepans, after which I cleaned the cooker before sweeping up and making sure the place was clean and tidy. When Brendan arrived I said good night leaving him to enjoy a few pints of ale while I went off to bed feeling very tired.

More Chub

Next day I continued my quest for that 6lb chub, fishing flavoured crust and Cheese Mania paste I caught 10 chub between 3lbs and 5lbs 3 ounces in a session lasting from 1100 hrs until 1500 hrs then decided I couldn’t continue walking up and down deciding to have a good rest then sort out dinner. After dinner Brendan went off fishing for a few hours in the dark hoping for that double figure barbel, having washed up and cleaned the cabin I had a brew then had a read for an hour before going off to bed, at 78 I am starting to feel the strain of walking up and down the river bank for hours on end preferring to fish short sessions.

New Light Weight Chair

The next morning after breakfast we called into Woodies in Hereford where I purchased a new JRC chair, back on the river Brendan continued in his quest for a big barbel, while I chose to float fish for grayling catching numerous fish including a grayling of 1lb 14 ounces other fish of 1lb 12 ounces 1lb 8 ounces and 2 fish of 1lb 7 ounces with numerous fish around the pound mark, despite the icy cold wind and gin clear water I reckon I had about 30 fish. I then sorted out dinner of fried onions and sliced potatoes, bacon and sausages for Brendan while I had eggs in place of the sausages, I had thought of choosing the easy way of chucking something in the microwave, as I enjoy preparing and cooking something nice I didn’t take the easy way. After dinner we went off fishing for a few hours in the darkness, Brendan for a barbel, while I tried to catch some chub, fishing just one swim wanting to give my feet a rest, I found the chub could resist a large piece of cheese paste catching 6 good fish including two five pound fish of 5lbs 3 ounces and 5lb 1 ounce, Brendan sadly had two hook ups with barbel getting cut off on both occasions, if anyone deserved a good fish it was Brendan.

Brendan Gets His Reward

The next day I had a short session float fishing for grayling catching several nice fish, then switched to chub fishing catching just 3 fish including a 5lbs 1 ounce fish, back in the cabin as I was pulling off my chest high waders I got a call from Brendan saying “Martin bring your scales and camera” Reaching Brendan I found an angler with a grin a mile wide, holding a big landing net in the water, after setting up camera, scales and weigh bag I told Brendan to bring the fish, getting my first look at the fish I thought “That’s a big fish especially for the Wye, on the scales needle settled on the 12lb mark, I then gave Brendan my Lone Angler jumper to wear for the picture but sadly the logo didn’t show. He then told me “I was using a 12 inch long hook link with 2 x 12 mm Lone Angler Caviar pellets super glued on a hair about 1 cm from the hook then over sprayed with Ocean Pride, in my PVA mesh bag I had a mixture of 6 mm 12 mm caviar pallets with a few broken up pieces of Ocean Pride squabs, and you can’t really get much more Lone Angler than that but it’s the truth”

I then went back to the cabin for a rest then cooked a meal for Brendan and myself, with sleet and rain was forecast for later tonight, I thought it might be my last chance of catching my six pounder this evening, it didn’t happen though I fished on until about 2100 hrs. then with rain and sleet falling we ended the session, I did have 3 chub two around 4lbs with one weighing 5lbs 4 ounces. Back in the cabin after a brew I went off to bed. When I got up around 0600 hrs I could see a light layer of sleet on the car with heavy rain falling, I said to Brendan “Should we call it a day and return home” he thought the same as I did give the current weather forecast, we slowly packed our tackle away then loaded the car, after I made some bacon sandwiches as we sat in front of the gas fire enjoying the warmth both agreeing it had been a good few days.

Finally my new chair is a JRC stealth x-lite chair in green, ergonomic designed, extra thick padded 600D polyester cover adjustable back rest with fully adjustable legs oversized swivel and folded mud feet, I fished several muddy spots the chair coping very well in the conditions with its new designed feet, it’s certainly the best chair I have seen and used with no silly arms as seen on some folding chairs. One I can recommend with confidence.

Last Day of the Season

Saturday 14th March after listening to the cricket, I decided to walk my fishery, the river was high with a water temperature of 40 degrees F, despite the very cold weather I couldn’t resist an hour as it was the last day. Having lightly pinched on an LG shot, I baited a size 6 barbless hook with a piece of Ocean Pride paste then made a cast into a slack over hung by an ivy clad tree that had crashed down back in the autumn creating some great cover for the fish, I spent about forty minutes without a bite suddenly the tip was pulled round savagely the resulting strike connecting with a good fish, though I wasn’t sure if I’d caught an out of season trout or a chub. Eventually I got a good look at the fish a chub that might be a five pounder, after another minute or so I netted the fish. On the scales it weighed 4lb 14 ounces. I fished on for a while getting colder, but with no more interest I chose to head off home for a bowl of soup. After lunch I cut all the crusts off 7 large loaves of bread I had left over from the River Wye trip then liquidised the crumb after bagging it up it was put in the freezer for future use, while the crusts have been put into some washing bags then put in the airing cupboard to dry out.









Brendan with his PB grayling

My best chub at 5lb 6 ounces

Brendan with his 12lb Wye barbel

A River Ribble chub

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Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]