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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


02/08/2015 - Kennet Chub Ribble Salmon

Chub Swim

Monday 27th July My first day back on the river after good holiday in the Highlands with my children and grandchildren, including the occasional fishing session catching a few trout, returning home feeling good after my two week rest.Sunday evening I got a call from my friend David to say he had booked accommodation for three days on the Kennet, what made it sound extra special was, I hadn’t been on the Kennet this season, second there has been a lot of rain so hopefully I might catch the river in good trim. My target fish will be roach and perch with float tackle, also searching for chub using Lone Angler cheese and sausage sizzle paste baits, hopefully with free line tactics. It was around 1100hrs today when I got on the river under a cloudy sky with no wind, conditions would be very good, if we had some decent river flows, but with a bare bones river looking quite horrid, with lots of clodorpha weed also lots of rubbish that had been thrown in the river by people who don’t care, plastic bags and bottles, beer and soft drink cans, I had to make a trip to the local council tip with three bin liners of rubbish including lots of cardboard that had been dumped. Back in the cabin my first job was to photograph some picture to go with a feature I’ve written on fly fishing for pike. After a brew and sandwich I walked both beats some 2 miles collecting more rubbish and removing two people who thought they could just wander where they thought, one was a poacher from previous encounters, no doubt checking out various pools, after calling the police, I left them to deal with these suspected thieves, returning to the bottom cabin where I had an interesting chat with two of my bailiffs who turned up after seeing the two suspects. I then went off home, calling a Berkshire tackle shop I booked some worms, then sorted out gear and baits for my Kennet trip, finally settling down to finish reading an interesting novel.


Tuesday 28th July 0830 this morning Dave Hurst picked me up from home for a 3 day trip to the River Kennet, fishing various waters where permits could be purchased. In fairness to the members of the associations syndicates or clubs who’s waters we were privileged to fish they want be mentioned. I was around 14-30hrs when we pulled into the fishery car park, after talking with the bailiff on the prospects, we had a walk along the river, noting the extra well-worn swims which we would give a miss, only seeking out swims I’d fished in the past, though in several cases they were no longer fishable having changed from a nice swim to one of very shallow water often with lots of silt and debris. I chose three swim which I baited with a few hook bait samples then went back to the car for a brew and put together some tackle, Chub were my quarry, soft action rod small fixed spool reel 10lb braid to which I attached a size 4 Pallatrax barbless hook with a Palomar knot, my weight would depend on the swim in question, either no weight or between I and 4 LG shot, bait choice was Lone Angler cheese or sausage sizzle dumbells and paste, cheese flavoured crust or flake, also lobworms plus 2 pints of red gentles, though I doubt if they would be used. David and myself fished until 1900hrs in that first session I had two bites both missed, to save on washing up we have switched to boil in the bag meals, far different than the one we would throw down our throats years ago. David had lamb and chick pea tagine while I chose sweet and sour chicken with pasta, You just put the bag in boiling water for eight minutes then open the bag and eat, the water is then used for making a grew, we both agreed the meals were good. Back on the river we both fish until 2200hrs, I had one more good bite again missed, all three of my bites I should have connected with, I was holding the rod then feeling a light tap, I was ready for the tip to pull round which it did but all were missed, why I haven’t a clue I put it down to bad angling perhaps it’s my age but that isn’t an excuse. David fishing lobworms didn’t miss his bites catching two trout averaging around 2lbs


Day Two on Beat Two


Wednesday 29th July After a good night’s sleep in a Travel Lodge we were both ready for our second days fishing, I started off fishing two weir pools, catching 4 small barbel around the 5lb mark several chub most averaging 3lbs but I did have one estimated at 4lbs plus also a few perch, baits were cheese and sausage sizzle paste, bread crust and flake, at 1300hrs we stopped for lunch of venison sandwiches also a welcome brew, in the morning session David caught 9 chub averaging 3-4lbs float fishing with gentles a good display of float control and angling. Lunch over we went our separate ways, I reckon I covered about a mile and half of river fishing dozens of different spots catching just 1 trout and 2 good roach around the pound mark. At 1800hrs I arrived back at the car for tea, again the boil in the bag meals were enjoyed I started off with tuna pasta and beans, finishing off with ginger pudding. Back on the river I spent some time roving around until I found a swim pic DSCN0129 where I spotted a big chub glide underneath a willow bush, creeping into position I baited with two lobworms, with a gentle underhand cast the bait entering the water with a slight plop a few inches upstream of a willow bush then settled well under the bush, saying to myself “The perfect spot” then sat holding the rod, I reckon thirty minutes must have passed, when I felt two gentle plucks, a minute or so later I had a good solid pull striking close to the water not wanting to lift the rod in case I got caught on the willow branches, the fish shot out from under the bush downstream towards some water lilies, as it did so I returned to raising the rod so I could exert some pressure on the fish. For several minute I reckon the odds were in the chub favour, then I started to gain control. Suddenly the fish went off across the river getting itself into some sedges, all went solid, For a couple of minutes nothing happened, all I could feel was a dead weight, I pulled from various angles nothing happened. Eventually pointing the rod directly down the line I walked slowly backwards then felt movement but sadly it was one of the sedges that was coming towards me, the fish had gone. I sat back feeling despondent, I’d missed my chance of another 6lb plus Kennet chub, but marked it down for the autumn and winter months. I moved downstream two hundred yards to an ivy clad tree which had fallen into the river, another worm was cast into this new spot, within minute I had a good pull which rally did bend my stick, eventually after a few minutes I netted a lovely silver fish with black spots about 4lbs a lovely clean sea trout. That was my last fish of the session, back at the car I made a brew also enjoying a cheese thin while I waited for David before we went back to the Travel Lodge where I got a good news call saying 2 salmon had been caught from my water also there were lots of salmon showing.


A Trio of 5lb Chub


Thursday 30th July It was around 0700hrs when I switched on the kettle for a brew, then off to the bathroom for a shower, today we had breakfast in the Little Chef, David chose a breakfast wrap, while I had two rounds of wholemeal toast, I was impressed the cleanliness of the place and the service, several of these places leave a lot to be desired. Back on the river I walked a mile or so upriver only to be stopped in my quest of reaching a weir pool by shoulder high nettles brambles and the deadly Giant Hog weed growing in profusions , please don’t attempt to touch this weed you can suffer bad burns, when destroying this plant you need face covering, protective glasses and gloves, it should be cut then burned, but beware at all times, it’s not being wimp but sensible and never allow children near it. I eventually settled in what looked like a good chub and barbel swim Pic IMG 1037 though it was the former fish that interested me, I sat and flicked in a series of hook size bait over the next thirty minutes, noting the area alongside the opposite bank looked like a good holding area for chub. An hour later I baited with a walnut size lump of cheese paste with 2 LG shot fifteen inches up the line, within minutes of casting out I had a good pull connecting with my first fish of the session, it fought hard all the way to the net Pic IMG 1031 weighing 5lb 2 ounces. In the next couple of hours I had 5 more fish 4lb 6 ounces 4lb 6ounces 4lb 10 ounces 4lb 12 ounces 4lb 12 ounces. Caught on both cheese paste and flavoured crust. An hour without any interest, I went off for a brew and sandwich. On the way back upstream I found David diligently working a bait downstream a bait between the flowing water crowfoot . After fishing my morning session swim for about an hour without any interest, I moved downstream to a swim I’d previously baited, after introducing a few hook bait samples I sat and listened to the cricket as Australia wickets kept tumbling, after about thirty minutes it was time to make a cast , pinching on L G shot then baiting with a big chunk of cheese flavoured crust I made a long cast across the river so the bait would settle under an alder tree, within five minutes I felt a couple of pluck then watched the line going slack a big sweeping backward strike I connected with what felt like a heavy fish, it immediately moved across and downstream towards a bush that had fallen in the water, if it got in the tangle of branches all would be lost. I cramped on as much pressure as possible eventually turning the fish of course. After a dogged fight I eventually spotted my quarry, another 5lb chub. A minute later it was in the landing net, leaving the net in the water I got the scales out then zeroed the weigh bag. The needle went to 5lb 12 ounces then dropped back to 5lb 10 ounces. I called David to ask if he would make the long trip upstream to take a picture for me, he as more than happy. Picture IMG 1043 taken I then watched the fish swim off into the deep cool water, the only disappointment the tail of the fish had recently been attacked by an otter. Half an hour later I had another good chub of 5lb 6 ounces, then missed another good bite, after an hour with no more action I called it a day, we had a long drive home, my job was to find a litter bin, after about 5 miles we pulled into a lay bye where we got rid of 2 bags of rubbish . It was the end of three pleasant days in the Berkshire countryside on the delightful river Kennet which had some flow and colour, eventually arriving home around 2200hrs.


Friday 31st July I was up at 0600hrs and on the river as 0700hrs it was in perfect condition the best I have seen the river for many weeks both for coarse and game fishing, after parking I sat on the river bench looking for signs of salmon a few yards downstream a good fish swirled, I didn’t need any more urging and quickly put together a 7 weight out with floating line choosing a large Dunkeld, I've always maintained that much of our fishing depends on a big chunk of luck, I though perhaps I’d used up all my luck on the Kennet, thankfully I still had some left second cast across the stream then as it swung across the river close to a large boulder I got a hit, the reel went into over driver as a fresh fish went off downstream. After about fifteen minutes where several time I thought I might lose the fish I eventually beaching a lovely clean silver fish which had 2 sea lice on its body. Sliding out the fly I edged the fish back into the river to continue its journey upstream to hopefully spawn in late autumn. I arrived home at 1200 hrs. then listened to the cricket, the end of a good weeks angling

Chgub and Barbel Swim

A Good Chub

David searching a goood barbel swim

My best Chub

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Martin James Fishing
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