fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


21/06/2015 - Start of New Season 2015 /16

Lone Angler Cheese dumbells and paste


Sunday 14th June The Herefordshire countryside looked stunning, trees and bushes pristine in their new cloaks of green, Country music giant Johnny Cash had a chart winning song many years ago titled Forty Shades of Green that’s what our beautiful countryside looks like at this time of the year, another great bonus the river as flowing clear at normal level, sand martin were about in abundance hawking the surface for insects to feed the hungry broods, I looked upstream to the sand martin’s nesting area in the sandy bank on the left. The bird song at dawn and dusk was as enjoyable as listening to a top orchestra. Brendan Ince and myself had a full week of relaxing in this delightful atmosphere, fishing , bird watching, visiting local book and antique shops in the surrounding villages with the occasional meal out in one of the many restaurants, though I would be doing most of the cooking for Brendan and other visiting anglers on the outdoor cooking range. After a slow long amble along the river bank we spotted several salmon also chub just inches below the surface, should notice your presence they will disappear ghost like. Brendan chose a far bank swim known for its barbel, my target fish were the chub, I chose a swim well down river where the flow created a pool on my left as it made its way downstream, with a tree overhanging the water creating some overhead cover. On my right was a tree that had been in the water sometime, further downstream a large oak had crashed into the river years ago weather-beaten and bleached creating a great fish holding area. I put in six cricket size balls of mashed bread flavoured with the new Lone Angler cheese flavouring, it’s so much better than all the other products I’ve tried over the years loaded with 10mm Lone Angler broken cheese dumbbells, I also scattered hook size pieces of cheese paste in the swim The water flow would slowly dispense my free offering downstream coming to rest under the branches of the tree to my left. My plan was to add feed every three to four hours or so until about 2100hrs on Monday June 15th when I would be seated in my swim waiting for midnight start, I would then toast the new season with a small glass of slow gin.

An Excellent Lunch

At around 1100hrs Brendan and myself headed off to Hay-on-Wye to book Sunday lunch in the Granary Café, this lunch has to be sampled to believe how good the food is. We then had a walk around the town with its multitude of book shops. In one shop with books, cloths and bric-a brac, a tweed jacket caught my eye, then I noticed two Burberry’s Camel double breasted overcoats leather buttons and epaulets, one was a perfect fit the price was right, so I purchased this coat to keep me warm during the winter months. At 1230hrs we were back at the Granary Café, where we soon tucked into a delightful roast lunch, the red cabbage was some of the best I’ve eaten. Brendan also agreed, if you’re in Hay-on-Wye on a Sunday why not book a roast lunch at the Granary you want be sorry. Back on the river I baited my swims also adding six bait size pieces of cheese paste, back as base I fired up the jetboiler for a brew in Brendan’s case it was coffee, I then walked downstream with my tea to sit and watch for any activity in my swim, the occasional chub drifted by which lifted my confidence for my chosen spot, hopefully they would be in residence and feeding on June 16th unlike those who have fished through the close season, I’ve the pleasure of a midnight start. Yes, I enjoy my trout fishing but not quite in the same way as I do coarse angling. Before leaving the swim, I topped it off with more loose feed. Back at the car I again fired up the jetboiler for more tea and coffee. At teatime I didn’t need a lot to eat after the excellent lunch so I had some tuna salad. Around 2000hrs I once more went off downstream to bait my swim sitting beside the river for some time. At 2100hrs I put my head phones on then sat back listening to two hours of jazz on BBC Radio 2. Music over I crawled into my sleeping bag.

Monday 15th June It was about 1000 hrs. when I reached my swim for the first baiting session of the day, I spotted half a dozen chub, I was overjoyed, apart from mashed bread with broken and whole size cheese dumbbells I also threw a dozen bait size pieced of cheese paste, also put six bait size bits of cheese in the margin alongside a big submerged tree branch where I could see if a fish had eaten the free samples. Back at the car I put together a chub rod matched with a small size Shimano fixed spool reel with 10lb braid then attached a size 4 barbless hook with a polamar knot, my weight when needed would be LG shot, though when using cheese paste I would free line the bait, though my first choice fish are chub, I also put together a Lone Angler barbel rod with a 3500 size Shimano reel with 12lb bs Gamma line, using a simple running set up, on the line was a bead, link swivel followed by another bead then a tapered rubber sleeve over a swivel  Should I want to try and catch a barbel, I would knot a length of fluorocarbon varying in length from twelve to thirty off inches, depending on the bait and swim I chose to fish. Having put together my landing net, I sorted out rod rests, chair and brewing gear. Having set up my gear, I put a bit more free bait before making the long walk back at the car, where I made a brew then sat down to read a book for a couple of hours. At around 1600hrs I set the table for dinner, buttered some fresh wholemeal rolls for myself, Brendan had plain white bread, new potatoes were bought to the boil, the gas then turned down so they would simmer until ready. I set about preparing bacon, eggs and beans,  we then sat down to enjoy a relaxing meal in the outdoors

Great Start with Chub

After washing up I had a brew then spent some time walking the banks until around 2100hrs then made my way downstream to settle in my swim to wait for a midnight start, having made a brew I sat back listening to Sounds of the 50’s on BBC Radio 2 . As Big Ben sounded midnight I baited with a lump of cheese paste then cast out, within a minute I had a good pull which I missed cursing myself, baiting again I made an underhand cast dropping the cheese paste into the same area, two minutes later I felt a slight pluck them a firm pull connecting with my first fish of the season, a few minutes later I netted a nice conditioned chub estimated 3lbs plus in very good condition, I was amazed at the good condition of the chub so early in the season, casting another bit of cheese paste I waited all of five minutes before I got a fish of similar size as the first chub. I the next hour I had five more chub with a couple of 4lbs plus fish, one I weighed thinking it might go five pounds, was two ounces short at 4lb 14 ounces, I then had a short break for a brew with a couple of wholemeal biscuits. In the second session I had four more chub estimated around 4lbs, then a session with no more action so just after 0200hrs feeling very tired I packed up heading off to bed more than happy with my result. Brendan caught five good chub 4lbs plus and a barbel estimated at 6lbs on sausage sizzle paste wrapped around a pellet.

A Great Curry

Tuesday 16th June about 1100hrs we went into the local co-operative store for some shopping, then back to the river, after a late breakfast / early lunch I set about making a curry, having sorted all the ingredients I soften up the chopped onions then gently fried off the chicken pieces, before putting both in a large saucepan, adding three jars of Tikka Masala a jar of mango chutney some button mushrooms with sultanas, it was given a good stir then left to marinate until teatime. I then walked down to my swim then topped it up with mashed bread mixed with pieces of cheese dumbbells, I also scattered some whole cheese dumbbells and pieces of cheese paste in the swim. I then went off to meet my friend Tam Miller making sure he had a fresh brew with a bacon sandwich on his arrival. Tam and myself then discussed the fishing prospects, trout chub and barbell were on his agenda, as a member of the British Army fly fishing team, he is very experienced angler having fished since he was a youngster. Brendan had baited a swim over the past two days for Tam to fish in the hope a few barbel would be present, which he would fish in the evening. During the afternoon I got Tam sorted out with bits and pieces of gear while he roamed the fishery which was a great escape for a few hours from his hectic job. At 1800hrs I called Brendan and Tam that dinner would be served at 1845hrs, a few minutes after 1900hrs we all tucked into a plate of rice each and curry. Brendan then went off to fish their swims while I washed and dried the dishes.

A Bad Fall Stops my Fishing

I then went off downstream to my swim stopping n the way to speak with Brian who was fishing a swim where in the past I have had some good results with barbel including a 11lb fish last tear which Brian photographed. I had been in my swim about an hour when I thought it was time to make a brew, climbing up the bank I got to the top then stumbled, falling down the six foot steep bank onto a large branch damaging my shoulder neck and left hand, for some minutes I didn’t know where I was, half an hour later with a slightly clearer head I decided I shouldn’t be on the river bank. Picking up my tackle I slowly stumbled up the river bank having to stop about every hundred yards or so on the way back to the car, at one time I didn’t think it was going to make it back to the car, but eventually I did. Taking off my boots I crawled into my sleeping bag then fell asleep. Brendan fished on until nearly midnight catching a few chub and two barbell.

Wednesday 17th June I woke up feeling light headed with a painful shoulder and left hand, I could see my right shoulder starting to colour up, after a wash and cleaning my teeth I made a brew which was certainly needed, I noticed Tam and Brendan were on the river, after a brew I sorted out the food for breakfast, after enjoying another brew I called the lads to say ”Breakfast in thirty minutes”. Just before Tam and Brendan sat down to breakfast / lunch, the farmer started cutting the grass within five minutes we had the spectacle of watching a pair of red kites Tam had 3 eggs, 4 rashers of bacon, beans and wholemeal bread rolls, Brendan had bacon and beans as he doesn’t eat eggs. I also made them tea and coffee. The lads then went back to the river while I washed and dried the dishes before sitting down trying to decide where I would fish when I felt I could walk to the river, My chosen swim was out of the question, I had to find an area where it was easy walking, eventually I chose an area just a short walk away, where the river close in was about a foot deep over gravel and small stone slowly getting deeper towards the far bank where I had about eight feet of water. I baited with my normal cheese flavoured mashed bread with broken dumbbells and small pellets, in the hope I could attract a few chub in the area. I then went back and sat down for an hour reading a book before sorting out my tackle. About 1500hrs Tam returned from the river saying “I will have to leave now and thank you for looking after me” I do enjoy Tam’s company and felt a bit lost when he disappeared in the distance. Brendan and myself sat down for tea about 1800hrs finishing off the curry that tasted even better than the previous days meal.

Some Nice Chub from a New Swim

It was time I tried to catch a few chub, back in my chosen spot I threw in three handfuls of mashed bread, looking at the water flow I chose to fish three L G shot some six inches from a size 4 hook, then baited with a piece of flavoured crust which I slowly bounced down the stream in a similar manner to stret pegging without a float, ten minutes later I felt a light pluck the line going slack, striking I connected with a fish which didn’t want to come upstream but the balanced tackle was the winner as I netted a chub in good condition estimated at 3.5 lbs., in the next six casts I hooked a chub each time most averaging the same as the first fish with one well over 4lbs, I then set myself a target of ten fish in the same number of casts, it didn’t happen the next bite I missed, I had two more casts with no interest from the fish, putting in some free offering of cheese paste I rested the swim for about fifteen minutes. Taking off two shot I moved the single LG shot two feet up the line, baiting with cheese paste I had four more chub in quick succession all around the 3.5lb mark. After a break of about twenty minutes with no fish I caught three more fish on a 10mm cheese dumbbell banded on the hook. With one fish weighing 4lb 14 ounces, I thought it would go 5lbs. With my shoulder, legs and feet becoming painful I chose to end the session and returned to the camp site. I made a brew then sat back to listen to some music on BBC Radio 3 so ended my day with some nice chub. Brendan ended his session with four barbel and several good chub all on pellets, Geoff had a nice salmon fishing in the traditional style of cast fish out the drift, then take a step downstream, repeat the process, some half a dozen casts later he hooked up to a good fish weighing 14lbs which was then returned. The sign of a great sportsman in these times of low salmon numbers when the fish need all the help we can give them.

Thursday 18th June It was 100hrs when I got out of bed I could see Brendan was fast asleep so didn’t disturb him, I sorted out some clean cloths then had a wash, before putting on the kettle for a brew, I had a glass of homemade sloe gin toasting the Duke of Wellington for thrashing Napoleon 200 years ago freeing Europe of a nasty dictator. An hour later Brendan was ready for a coffee, we then decided to visit Hay-on-Wye as Brendan wanted to buy a big steak for his dinner, also I needed some uncut bread for bait also fresh milk and a newspaper. Two hours later back on the river I went and put in some mashed bread with crushed and whole cheese dumbbells in the swim I’d fished the evening before, I just wished I had a chair to sit on so I could rest my legs and feet.

Lone Angler Cheese Baits and Flavours Do The Business

I started off fishing about 1700hrs using the same method as the previous day catching a succession of good chub including two fish at 4lb 14 ounces, many of the fish were coughing up bits of bread and pellets, they were certainly in a feeding mode, I had a dozen or more chub before I had to pack up, my feet and shoulder were now very painful. I slowly stumbled back to the camp site feeling angry at packing up, I was worried about having another fall which would have been in the river, safety had to take consideration over another chub. Brendan had chosen fish all night, after a brew and sandwich I sat back listening to some music on BBC Radio 3

Friday 19th June it was around 0900hrs when I got up feeling rough, my shoulder was not only painful but badly bruised a dark purple colour my left hand was swollen and painful, I decided fishing was out of the question today, I would sit in the sunshine listening to the radio and reading, after a wash and brew I made a couple of egg sandwiches for breakfast, at 1100hrs Brendan was up so I made him a coffee , he told me there was going to be rain with a possible thunderstorm tonight, suggesting he wouldn’t fish in the evening, It was then agreed between us we would leave two days earlier than planned. We set about breaking down the gear, I packed the car which had to be done correctly getting everything in. About 1500 hrs we left Hay-on-Wye arriving home around 2000hrs. It had been a good few days, despite only fishing short sessions I caught plenty of good chub, I quickly realised was how good the Lone Angler cheese paste is, without a shadow of a doubt you don’t need to go to all the trouble of making cheese paste this is as good as it gets. Also the liquid flavour is excellent for mashed bread, the dumbells can be easily fished straight to the hook, if you hair rig baits for chub you will no doubt miss many takes as chub often hold the bait in their lips before moving off, when it gets pushed back in the mouth. I would suggest you hold the rest whenever possible as you will no doubt catch more chub and barbell, barbel don’t always give a three foot twitch as many anglers think, holding the rod you will more in touch with what’s happening, many times I’ve had a light pluck then seen the line slacken off slightly by striking I’ve often had the best fish of the session. Have a good season.




Barbel Rig

Preparing dinner

Brendan tucking into his dinner

Geoff with Wye salmon

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Martin James Fishing
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