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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


05/12/2015 - A Big Trout Probably Pushed The Chub From My Swim

These quill floats made by Mark Surul are good for laying-on


After my very recent chub catch on cheese paste, I returned to the river the following day condition were even better with a water temperature of 45 degrees F, no way did I feel that I wouldn’t catch chub, though not necessarily five pounders, in fact I would be very surprised if I did so, five pounders don’t get caught every day. Having changed my shoes for boots, I put some cheese, sausage meat along with a loaf of bread into my bucket bag then picked up my soft action Avon rod with a small fixed spool reel and 6lb bs line with a size 6 barbless hook, weight if needed would be LG shot. Unlike barbel which will grab a bait without any finesse, chub are a different animal, they will in most cases pick up the bait in their lips then immediately drop it, often watching the food item for several minutes before moving forward then picking up the bait once more in their lips before moving slowly backwards or to one side. Should they feel a lot of resistance from a heavy weight the bait is often dropped immediately. With LG shot spread an inch or perhaps four inches apart, the fish isn’t unlikely to feel much resistance from moving one shot, as it moves a few more inches it will move the next shot but resistance again is very slight. One of the reasons I feel I get positive indication from the fish, is directly I feel a light pull I immediately push the rod forward giving slack line, as the bow in the line starts to straighten I’m ready to set the hook.

A Big Mistake

Reaching my chub swim of the previous day, I sat quietly on the bank dropping in pieces of bread flake the size of a fifty pence piece, then sat quietly watching the water flow from left to right, noting how the flow would often create a slight boil where a submerged rock was situated. For some thirty odd minutes I sat watching the wildlife, a wren, robin, two moorhens and a dipper were seen close by, upstream about ten yards I could see a heron looking for its breakfast, a minute later I heard the shrill whistle of a kingfisher followed by a flash of blue, what more could an angler ask for? Having hopefully got the chubs interest in taking some bits of bread with confidence I bait with a piece of crust allowing it to bounce down the swim as it went under the raft of scum weed twigs and other rubbish, I had a savage determined pull on the rod tip, no need to strike the fish had hooked itself. Suddenly the water boiled as a big trout swirled just under the surface then got really angry as it fought for its freedom, for a few seconds it thrashed the water to a foam lashing its tail and head shaking, then went off on a determined run down stream hooping the rod round causing the reel to snarl like an angry dog as line was taken. It was another ten minutes before I got a glimpse of the fish, another five or six minutes later I started to win this contest slowly getting the fish under control, eventually pulling it over the net, as I looked and admired this brown trout I thought “I doubt if I’d have landed that fish on my 5 weight rod with a three pound tippet”. It was hooked nicely in the scissors, sliding out the hook I allowed the brown trout weighing between 5 and 6lbs to slowly swim off upstream. Having tried several more swim with no sign of chub, just trout I ended my session and returned home. Looking back my mistake was feeding in those bits of bread flake, I should have just put a baited hook into the spot. Still a lesson learnt.

Float Fishing Gentles For A Mixed Bag

Friday the weather was looking good, though gale force wind and heavy rain was forecast for later afternoon, Mick Holgate and myself planned to fish further downstream on the Ribble, while 95% of the anglers sit behind two rods pointed skywards for barbel, some even using electronic bite alarms, it wasn’t for Mick and myself, our quarry would be the roach or chub, as we pulled into the car park, a light misty type of rain was falling, Mike went off downstream I chose a spot upstream. I planned to fish laying –on style choosing a fifteen foot rod, matched with a small fixed spool reel with 3lb bs line, adding a crystal float taking 7 BB shot, I chose this float so I could change the red insert for a night light for the after dark session, finally attaching a size 16 barbless hook with a loop to loop system. As the rain increased I decided for the first time in a couple of years to use an umbrella, I must be getting old though I still have another year before I become an octogenarian. An umbrella has never been an item of gear I like to have, preferring to sit it out in my waterproofs, with the wind increasing I anchored the brolly down with guy ropes. Thirty minutes later a tremendous squall virtually ripped the brolly from the ground at the same time rain lashed down making a tremendous noise as it drummed on the brolly, even with my hearing aids it sounded as if I was in a tunnel with a train thundering through, I was thankful for my quality MOD waterproofs, available from several decent army surplus stores. Having waited about twenty minutes hoping the wind and rain would slacken off sadly it didn’t. Having come to try and catch some fish it was time to check out the swim attaching a heavy plummet with a coating of Vaseline on the bottom which would help me discover the composition of the bottom, small particles of sand, grit, silt and bits of vegetation often get attached to the plummet, a few casts later I found a depth of about 8 feet over fine silt extending from the bank some twenty feet out into the river. Casting a bit further out I found around 12 feet extending towards the centre of the river, a few minutes were spent dragging the plummet along the bottom, apart from the fine silty sand I found an area of small stones no weed or snags. Finally I checked the water temperature getting a reading of 46 degrees F, it’s pleasing to note the water temperature had increased a degree each day, having got the depth settled I added another three feet of line, then bunched 7 BB shot three feet from the hook another 2 BB eighteen inches from the hook with 1BB twelve inches from the hook.

Bait Dropper To Concentrate The Feeding Area

My plan of action was to put in three bait droppers of red gentles with three droppers of mashed bread ensuring the gentles were on the bottom, while the bread mash would create a milky cloud but no food item for the fish just an attraction. By loose feeding gentles by hand or with a catapult, often gets the fish spread all over the swim at various depths especially as the flow often increased for a few minutes then become virtually still. Leaving the swim to quiet down after much casting with plummet and bait dropper, I went for a walk checking permits. Several anglers had been on the water since early morning with one bite between them which was missed, I felt quite confidence as did my friend Mike that we would catch a few fish. Twenty minutes later I baited with three red gentles then made my first cast, holding the rod, eyes fixed on the red tip of the float laying at an angle, I watched the float drop flat on the surface then started moving further out into the stream, striking I found myself attached to my first fish, a roach about 10 ounces, in the next two casts I had two more fish of similar size. Despite the gale force wind whipping across the water with the lashing rain, the bites were easily seen, soon I had a couple of chub around the pound mark, then five more roach with one weighing around the pound mark, I was more than happy despite the horrid conditions. In a two hours session I probably had twenty plus fish, losing, missing and pricking a few fish. Mike turned up to say he was moving swims thinking he might lose his brolly, I suggested he share my swim, he said “I’ve found a sheltered spot well upstream, once I’ve got sorted I will make a brew” I offered my help to move his gear but he didn’t need it. Twenty minutes later we were enjoying a fresh brew with some beef sandwiches, as Mike enjoys mince pies I gave him my two.

A Switch To Nigh Lights

In the fading light I made my way back to my swim, being extra careful on the slippery bank, then switched to a night light, easily done out with the red insert replacing it with a night light, having bent it a couple of time to release the chemicals I was ready to go. In the darkness the top of my float stood out like a lighthouse, five minutes later it disappeared, striking I connected with a fish that bore away into the fast moving water, “No roach this I thought” as I was forced to give line, a minute later all went slack, the fish had gone possible a small barbel. Attaching a size 14 hook to 3lb bs nylon using a loop to loop system I baited with four gentles then cast out drawing the float into the baited area, the temperature was dropping fast causing me to shiver, as I did so water run off the brolly onto my neck, time to put my hood up. The bites were not as frequent in the darkness as they had been earlier, probably twenty minutes had gone by when the float slowly submerged, striking I connected with what felt like a good roach a minute or so later in the beam of my head torch I could see the silver body of a pound plus roach. It weighed 1b 3 ounces. In the next five casts I had two more roach around twelve ounces, a gudgeon and two chub averaging a pound and a half. In the next fifteen minutes the wind increased making it virtually impossible to control the float on the wind and rain lashed river.

Switch To Legering

Thankfully I had a leger outfit made up, with a size 12 hook, after attaching 3 LG shot fifteen inches from the hook, I baited with several gentles then dropped the baited hook into my swim, ten minute later there was a sudden wrench on the rod, no doubt a line bite from a barbel. This was followed a few minutes later with a sharp tap on the rod tip followed by a firm pull resulting in a chub about 2lbs. Half an hour later with no more bites a rain drenched and sodden Mike appeared out of the gloom to ask “How I was getting on” I quickly related the events since tea time. Mike said ”I haven’t had a bite” I suggested we pack up he quickly agreed, conditions were atrocious not even fit for ducks and geese, an hour later we were unloading my gear in the garage

A bait dropper will make sure your gentles and mash get down to your swim

A thermometer will help you catch more fish

These are the spots I look for on a flooded river

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Martin James Fishing
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