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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


25/07/2016 - A Tale Of Woe But It Gets Better

One of several good chub

With shingles still causing problems especially with my right eye, I’ve been getting on the river just after dawn, fishing for a couple of hours, then after a brew spending half an hour pulling balsam before going off home feeling well and truly shattered. On Wednesday I’d been fishing about an hour, then as I netted a chub I stood up to lift the fish up the high bank, feeling myself getting dizzy I started to stagger around, quickly dropping the net and fish back into the water, I heard something break, then something else, not feeling safe close to the river I immediately sat down. Slowly my blurred eyesight returned to normal, that’s when I found I’d stood on my rod breaking it in two pieces, then discovered I’d broken my reel both beyond repair. Having got the chub back on the bank, taken out the hook, I lowered the net back into the water then watched the chub swim off, after about twenty minutes sitting on the bank, I made my way back to the cabin. After a brew and two slices of buttered toast I stretched out on the bed waking up an hour or so later feeling a lot better. After chucking the broken tackle in the rubbish bin I went off home.

Day Two

I was back on the river about 0630hrs fishing with either cheese paste, sausage sizzle, double lobworm or bread, I didn’t get any interest from the fish, even a trout didn’t want the worms though the minnows quickly cleaned the hook of bread. I fished for a couple of hours, apart from seeing a salmon roll downstream and watching a kingfisher on several occasions nothing else of interest happened. Returning to the car park I put the kettle on for a brew, half an hour later I was ready to pull balsam, after clearing this invasive plant from about twenty yards of river bank I went off home.

Day Three

Today I was fishing a different beat on the river, as I walked across some rough pastureland in the thick mist I was surprised at the number of rabbits also three hares, it was around 0600hrs when I arrived on the river bank, choosing a swim where the bank was a foot above the river, where I could sit down among the long grass and occasional nettle, my chosen spot had some five feet of water flowing left to right over gravel with the occasional large stones, over hanging trees downstream of me giving shade and cover to the swim, a few yards from the bank were several long strands of Ranunculus fluitans swaying to and fro in the flowing water, sadly the big floods have ripped away most of the Ranunculus, I often find fish seek shelter underneath this delightful water plant . It’s noticeable that with the loss of this water plant, we haven’t had the big hatches of grannoms or iron blues. Both flies lay their eggs close to or in the plants, the grannom larva seek shelter and feed on the microorganism that is also attracted to these areas. The iron blue nymphs are agile darter that can move fast to grab a food item. Today I was going to float fish using small balls of Lone Angler cheese paste, during the previous afternoon I rolled up about 60 odd small marble size balls of paste, having laid them out on a couple of trays I stored them in the freezer, taking them out just before I went to bed, this morning they were quite firm ideal for hook bait and feed. With tree roots in the water also a fallen tree, I chose my Lone Angler 13 foot float rod, matched with a centre pin reel with 6lb line, this combination would allow me to exert a lot of pressure on any chub I should hook, in fact it’s the best rod and reel combination I’ve ever used when float fishing for chub, barbel, where there are likely to be lots of snags in the river. It’s also my first choice outfit when fishing for carp and tench on still waters where there are water lilies weeds and reeds, it’s the perfect combination. I chose a cork on quill Avon float fixed double rubber then lightly pinched on 8BB egg shaped shot bunched eighteen inches from a size 12 barbless hook, with 1 BB about six inches from the hook. Having made a few casts working the tackle down through the swim, making small adjustments to the float I got the depth right so the bait tripped along an inch or two off the bottom. For fifteen minutes I trickled a few small balls of cheese paste into the swim a foot on my side of the swaying Ranunculus or water crowfoot as its commonly described, where I expected the chub to move out from the cover to intercept the free offerings.

Good Chub From The Off

Feeling it was time to catch a chub I baited the size 12 hook by sticking the hook into the side of the cheese ball so the point was exposed, then made a Wallis cast allowing the float to drop quietly a few feet upstream, holding back the float I allowed the bait to move downstream, making sure I didn’t allow any slack line. Ten yards down the swim the float moved across the flow towards the crowfoot then disappeared, setting the hook I felt a powerful pull on the rod as the tip was pulled down savagely I was forced to give line, a minute later the fish gave up, all I had to do was slowly pump the fish upstream to the waiting net, a nice looking fish weighing 4lbs plus then it was mine. I’ve found most summer chub go off strongly making you think it’s a fish of a lifetime, then they give in, but it’s all great fun and I enjoy every fish I catch. Throwing in half a dozen balls of cheese paste I baited the hook then made a second trot soon I’m into another fish about the same size as the first, “Like peas in a pod” In the next three casts I hooked and landed two more 4lb plus chub. As often happens I then had a quiet period for about twenty minutes, though I still continued to trickle in a few pieces of cheese paste. Leaving the swim I went off to the car park for a brew. Returning to my swim spotted four chub in the open water away from the crowfoot looking for free offerings, occasionally picking up a bit of cheese from the gravel patches. Providing I didn’t spook these fish they were for catching, impaling a piece of cheese on the hook, I made a cast upstream allowing the float to drop as quiet as possible into the head of the swim, as the float moved down towards me I lifted the rod keeping in contact with the float, as it moved below me I lowered the rod tip then allowed the float to pull line off the carefully balanced reel, just before the float reached the end of the swim it dipped, then moved towards the crowfoot then disappeared, striking I connected with a chub that immediately went off downstream as with the other chub it quickly come to a stop then moved to the nearside bank trying for the submerged tree or tree roots, cramping on a lot of pressure I pulled the fish of course then out into the river, then working the fish upstream to the waiting net, another nice looking fish with an empty stomach come the winter these fish would be pushing 5lbs plus. In the next thirty minutes I had five more chub of similar size, thankfully I took a quick pic of my last fish, though I fished on for at least an hour with no more bites, I didn’t even spot any fish in my swim. It was time to leave but it had been an interesting session. This winter I ‘m planning to use small balls of cheese paste when I seek the roach, the Lon Angler shelf life cheese paste is as near perfect a paste bait one can get, I’ve made cheese paste for some 70 years, I find the LA product as good as I make, when the water is bank high often over the bank and very coloured, I will add some well matured Danish blue to the LA cheese paste to give it a stronger smell.

The next day I was on the river at first light, overcast sky light breeze and clear water, I started off in the swim I’d fished yesterday same tackle and bait, an hour without a sign of a fish, I moved on downstream to another swim, half an hour later I’m on the move again to fish the tail of a weir pool. After an hour, I moved well upstream to a well-known pool where the water flowed quite fast down the far bank underneath several over hanging beech trees. After an hour with nothing I packed up then returned to the cabin. After a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried tomatoes, bread and butter with a mug of tea. having washed, I put all the gear in the car then returned home.


Balls of Lone Angler cheese paste

Rod reel floats and hooks

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Martin James Fishing
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