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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


27/08/2015 - A Good Week On The Ribble

PVA bags of Dumbells and Cheese Paste

Sunday 16th August in bright sunshine I attended with the help of my friend Albert Procter the Cheshire Game and Angling Fair which was well supported, the lake looked beautiful, how I would love to have a dawn session in search of tench, still we can but dream. I gave 2 talks and demo’s which according to Albert proved interesting to the audience.

Monday 17th August I arrived the river to find it flowing clear, the cloudy sky with a light wind were ideal conditions for fishing , even the trout were showing in numbers. Sadly I wouldn’t have time to fish, over the weekend some cattle had trampled down several areas of fencing, including wrecking one of my stiles. After loading my vehicle up with crowbar fencing posts barbed wire other tools including plenty of staples and nails, I drove across the fields to the river, then spent some 5 hours repairing the damage before I stopped for a brew and sandwich, the time was around 1400hrs. Half an hour later I was back on the job building a new stile, when completed I then covered it with chicken wire so my members feel safe when the boards are wet and slippery. About 1800hrs I’d had enough, packing away all the tools I then went off home feeling rather tired.

Tuesday 18th August 75 years ago today was the biggest battle fought in the Battle of Britain. In the House of Commons on the 20th August 1940 Churchill made that magnificent speech “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so few” No doubt at this time in the war, Hitler and his evil scum of supporters realised, they were up against a formidable and far better Nation. I arrived on the river today around 1030hrs, the weather was warm, cloudy with a light wind, ideal for fishing. After walking both beats I found a couple of fence posts were down also a stile needed some fresh chicken wire, did I fish or get those repairs done I thought, I chose the latter the longer one leaves a job the worse it often becomes. Back in my storeroom I collected tools, posts etc. then dumped the lot in the back of my vehicle. I was finished by noon then headed off for a brew and sandwich. After lunch I walked across to the river to see if any fish were moving, in the next half an hour I spotted several good fish, including a good sea trout around 6lbs. One of my members had an 8lb (estimated) sea liced salmon on a 6wt rod with a size 8 Dunkeld as I’d recommended, Matthew said “It was awesome fun but not for the faint hearted” What really pleased me was to watch a pair of moorhens feeding 4 youngsters which looked like large balls of black fluff. This tells me the more mink and grey squirrels I wipe out, the more these delightful birds will be around for people to admire, so much nicer than the quarrelsome coots. Lots of young swallows were learning to hunt for their food, though I did see some of them getting into a spot of bother as they occasionally flew to close to the riverside bushes. Back in the cabin I had another brew, feeling quite tired from the mornings work, thinking I really must slow down a bit, or get some help. Though I doubt if I will do the latter, I then had a snooze for an hour or more, waking up I heard the rain drumming on the cabin roof so decided to go off home.

Wednesday 19th August it was a late start today, I didn’t get up until 0830 hrs. still feeling tired after a sleepless night through my MS giving me a lot of pain, probably caused by the heavy work I’ve been doing. I’m not a person who takes pain killers preferring to accept the pain rather than cause other problems. Eventually after a shower then breakfast of porridge with tea and toast I felt ready to go off to the river bank arriving about 1030 hrs., my first job was to get my friend David to help me fix some broken barbed wire fencing, it certainly helps having some assistance. Job finished we went off for a brew, David suggested we fish for the trout, in a couple of hours I didn’t get a single take, while David had a nice fish about 18 inches. I then went off looking for some chub which were found in a pool at the bottom of some fast broken water, several of the chub I thought might go 4lbs, certainly well worth catching. Back in the cabin I made up some PVA bags of 14mm cheese dumbells, see pic then went off to the chub pool, where I put in three bags of dumbells plus ten pieces of cheese paste. I didn’t fish for them today, I will wait until they have sampled the free offerings. I’m going to try and catch them tomorrow. I will have a float fishing outfit, also an outfit to free line a lump of cheese paste. Back in the cabin we had a brew and sandwich before trying for the trout again we both failed miserably, as the rain started to fall quite heavy so we chose to go off home.

Thursday 20th August Why not go out and target the chub, all you need are a supply of Lone Angler cheese paste and dumbells, I make no excuse for promoting this bait, after 60 odd years having to make cheese paste, I can now get it sent through the post, store it in the garage, with a bag of dumbells and paste in the car at all times, the following events of today’s blog should be encouragement enough. Today the weather was overcast with light rain when I arrived on the river about 0800 hrs, after issuing a day permit for a guest, I spent a few minutes showing him how to fish the nymph, also suggesting his line needed cleaning but better still a new line would help greatly. Having given him a beat map with the various pools I left him to enjoy his day, while I went up to the top beat, my plan was to fish for chub, conditions were ideal with thick cloud also a light upstream wind which would slow down the float through the swim. I put together the Lone Angler 13 foot float rod centre pin reel with 6lb bs line, then added a wire stemmed Avon float taking 7 BB shot, 1 shot was lightly pinched about 6 inches from a size 8 barbless hook, the other 6 BB shot were bunched another foot up the line from the tell-tale shot. I had a small bucket of crushed dumbells for loose feed with a few small PVA bags of cheese dumbells, these would be dropped in at the head of the swim as needed, I also some 14mm dumbells for hook bait, with some cheese paste. Tackle and bait sorted, my shoulder bag contained camera, scales, split shot, hooks and forceps, having pulled on my chest waders I locking the car then picking up rod and landing net I headed across the meadow to the river to find conditions looked good. The swim I planned to fish was about half a mile down river on the other side where a wood encroached onto the river offering plenty of cover for fish, with some old trees in the river offering plenty of cover. I was going to fish a pool at the bottom of some rapids. Having crossed the river to the opposite bank, I pushed my way through head high nettles, balsam and bushes which seemed to take ages before I arrived at the pool. Placing my shoulder bag on the grassy bank, putting together my wading staff, I shortened the strap on my bait bag so I would hang around my neck resting high on my chest allowing me to feed the swim and bait the hook. Rod in hand I waded into the fast flowing water making my way towards the centre of the river, occasionally stumbling over a larger rock until I felt I was in the right place to trot a bait downstream close to a rotten tree. Having adjusted the float at about five feet I allowed to move downstream watching for any slight movement of the float showing that it might be catching on some obstruction. Five times I adjusted the float until I felt the bait was tripping just off the bottom.

Chub On My First Cast

Baiting with a cheese dumbbell I allowed the float to move through the swim, within seconds it disappeared, lifting the rod I tried again same result, I needed to take off one shot, to counterbalance the weight of the dumbell, eventually I removed two shot, the float was now nicely balanced. Hooking a fresh dumbbell on the size 8 hook, I made a long Wallis cast sending the tackle across the river to the area I wanted to fish, the float settled then moved downstream pulling line off the reel in its progress, still no sign of interest as it passed the dead tree, it to continue on its way, twenty five yards or more of line had come off the reel, without warning the float buried. “This wasn’t weed or other obstruction but a proper bite” as I set the hook it felt like a heavy fish as I said to myself “It’s a good chub not a trout” As the fish slowly moved down and across the stream staying deep, I just love their head shaking, all my life chub have been my top fish, as I fought this fish I realised why that was so especially playing a good chub on float gear more so when hooked at long range. Occasionally I felt the line scrape on a rock then shuddered at the thought of the fish busting me off, after an exciting fight I eventually got the fish in about three feet of water getting my first glimpse of the fish, “That’s a five pounder” I said to no one except myself. Then moved back towards the bank for my net, drawing the fish along with me like a dog on a lead. Close to the net I started to put line back on the reel eventually pulling the fish over the net, it was mine. A real solid fish, no sign of flab just quality chub, on the scales it went 5-10-0 I was more than happy as I watched the fish swim off into the fast broken water. In the next three casts I had three more chub of similar size.

Something Special

As I watched the float make its way down the swim, it suddenly disappeared, lifting the rod I found myself hooked up to something special that really pulled the string and bent the stick, a powerful fish went off down the pool like the proverbial steam train the reel screeched in protest, thirty yards or more of line had gone before the fish slowed down, allowing me to get some control. Fifteen minutes or more it was a dogged fight with a powerful adversary which I now realised had to be a salmon, though I hadn’t seen the fish. Finally the well balanced tackle started to have its effect as I started to draw the fish upstream getting my first glimpse of my adversary, a salmon about 6lbs, slowly I made my way to the shoreline as I did so I looked for a place to beach the fish, then noticed a shallow shelving sandy gravel bit of beach, ideal I thought. Ten minutes later I was slipping the hook from the scissors of a bright silver fish then watched it swim off strongly.

More Chub and a Big Trout

In about 2 hours trotting with cheese dumbells on a size 8 hook, feeding with lot of broken dumbells and some PVA bags of full size dumbells I had a total of 11 chub all over 4lbs including a total of five fish over 5lbs, so engrossed was I in my fishing I didn’t take notice of the rubbish coming down stream, bits of wood, weed, plastic bottles etc., as I played a good trout I then noticed the water had become quite coloured. The river was rising fast I could be in trouble if I didn’t quickly move, back on the bank I found my shoulder bag under water, not far off being swept away, my camera bag was in several inches of water, thankfully the camera inside was dry, though I doubt if it would have remained dry for much longer. Collecting my gear I made my way upstream to my crossing point, then noticed my marker rock had disappeared, it was going to be a bit of touch and go, especially with the power of the current. I had two choices either take my chance in wading across the river or walking back about three miles to the bridge. By wading I could get wet but nothing worse, if I’d left it another ten minutes it would have been the long walk. In less than an hour the river had come up three feet, typical spate river, I reckon I had two inches to spare from the top of my waders with probably ten minutes to spare. Back in the cabin I put everything out to dry then made a brew. Half an hour later I went off down to the bottom beat to see how my guest was getting on, to find another member realising the guest didn’t understand spate rivers, had called across telling him to get back quickly or he would be cut off, thankfully no harm was done, as we chatted my guest was quite shaken as he realised how quickly the river had come up. I then went and sat at the weir pool where I counted 4 salmon going over the weir in about an hour. Good news for my salmon anglers over the next couple of days.

Friday 21st August it was a dull warm day with a strong gusting wind with the occasional light shower, more like a heavy mist. It was around 0730 hrs when I arrived on the river to find about a foot of extra water, ideal for seas trout, an extra foot of water would make it excellent for salmon fishing. I then called one of my guests to give him the current conditions explaining it wasn’t good for fishing a dry fly which he wanted to do. After a chat he said “I will call you early next week” I then got a 7 weight outfit from the back of the car, then attached a snake fly to the end of the 8lb leader and headed off downstream to fish a well know sea trout pool, how lucky can one get as I arrived there were two good fish at the head of the pool. Unlike most sea trout anglers I don’t always fish across and down, but often cast upstream, On my third cast as I worked the fly down and slightly across the current I got a savage take the reel screamed in protest as line was taken then a good fish threw itself from the water crashing back in a shower of spray sending ever increasing circles across the pool. twice more the fish went skywards in its attempt to throw the fly without success. It was a fight of give and take for some minutes before I got the upper hand, eventually netting what we estimated the fish about 5lbs. unhooking the fish we admired it for a few seconds before releasing it to continue its way upstream. After fishing for another hour without success I made my way back upstream for a brew with some toast.

No Chub - But Some Good Trout

After a late breakfast I chose to try and catch some more chub, using the tackle from the previous day which had been broken down then put in the back of my car. Baits would be cheese dumbells and paste, feeding with broken dumbells, shortening the strap on my bait and ground bait bag so it would hang around my neck resting on my chest so leaving my hands free, then fixing the belt of wading staff, around my waist, then with rod and landing net in hand I walked across the meadow to the bottom boundary fence, before sliding down the bank into the river before slowly but carefully I waded across the river to the far bank, then pushed my way downstream to the pool I’d fished the previous day. Setting the float at roughly the depth I fished yesterday I let it to drift downstream, then repeated the process half a dozen times or more until I felt I’d got it right. With bait bag around my neck I waded out towards mid river reaching the spot I wanted to fish. Then spent ten minutes or so feeding in free offerings hopefully to encourage the fish to feed with confidence. Baiting with a dumbbell I made a long Wallis cast towards the far tree lined bank, like a hawk watching its prey I watched the float on its journey downstream ten, fifteen twenty yards of line were gone, suddenly the float disappeared, striking I hooked into a powerful fish which surged downstream taking line, as the line angled up towards the surface, I immediately thought “Trout” a big powerful fish swirled on the surface trying at the same time to go skywards without success. More line was stripped from the reel, for a good ten minutes I was more a spectator than a competitor, after another five minutes I was getting line back on the reel, eventually getting the fish close to hand, I could see the hook in the scissor’s part of the mouth, running my fingers down the line to the hook I was able to take the barbless hook out without touching the fish, then watched it drift off slowly as if it hadn’t been hooked. Though not a chub, which were my quarry it gave a great performance and one I enjoyed. In the next six casts I hooked six good trout all giving me lots of excitement, though I wasn’t catching chub, but no way could I not enjoy catching these trout, every fish was taking line off the reel. It fast and furious sport but sadly I had to pack up at 1130 hrs, I’d got a pupil booked in at 1200hrs for a lesson on how to fish a sea trout pool. At 1400 hrs my pupil Brian and myself made our way back upstream to the car park, he was really buzzing he’d caught his first sea trout about 2lbs during the lesson, leaving Brian in the car park, I made my way back to the cabin for a late lunch. As I sat enjoying a salad I could see the sky becoming dark at the same time the wind increased causing the riverside trees to sway in the wind. An hour later I couldn’t make out the surrounding hills which were wrapped in thick cloud. As the light faded I chose not to fish but go off home early, sadly the cricket wasn’t any brighter than the weather from England’s point of view. Another interesting week on the river with some good fish as a bonus both for my members and myself. Long may it continue

The Chub Were Fat and Heavy

Demo time at the Cheshire Game and Angling Fair

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Martin James Fishing
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