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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/12/2016 - Chub pounce on Lone Angler cheese paste-Martin James MBE

A nice chub at dusk

While people are at work, sitting at home or shopping I sought the sanctuary of the river bank seeking one of my favourite fish the chub, what a great winter fish they are feeding in conditions, when most fish seek a quiet spot until the water temperature settles for a few days or there is a rise in the water temperature, whatever the conditions you can usually catch a chub or two especially around dusk and into the darkness, see pics 1 and 2. Despite the forecast of gale force winds and heavy rain caused by storm Barbara in the next 48 hours. I wasn’t going to be put off visiting my river, often the wind drops quite dramatically around dusk, and also I had a swim where it would be fairly sheltered from the wind. On the way to the river I stopped off at a local store collecting half a dozen fresh eggs, my first job when I got to the cabin was to make up some bait, I’d just got a new batch of ingredients from Lone Angler, John Baker Taste –F2 base mix powder also John Baker liquid cheese flavour see pic 3, it’s so easy to make, use one fresh egg, one mil only of cheese flavour and beat this to a smooth mixture, then add enough of the JB powder to make a paste of your consistency by kneading it like dough for bread. My friend Anthony a top chef was my teacher, a few days previously he made up a batch of baits which I have put in the freezer for my next trip to the Wye on January 1st 2017 he even gave me a box of disposable chefs gloves, it makes the job less messy, also the smell doesn’t stay on your skin for weeks!!!! Today I needed some fresh paste for bait, making it was quick and efficient, I’d seen how effective the bait was by watching Mike O’Neill catching good chub in the summer. My first session with the paste bait was a chub a cast for the first 5 casts, I then missed a good take, in doing so I pricked the fish in the next hour or so I never had a touch I left for home feeling well contented.

A Few More Chub

Today Christmas Eve I arrived on the river to find an extra 2.5 feet with plenty of colour, with a rise in the water temperature from 40 degrees F to 42 degrees F. I felt confident of catching a few fish, I started off putting in a few free offerings in my two swims, both sheltered from the strong wind so no problem with false bites, at the bottom end of my first swim I had a big slack with a sand and silt bottom with around five feet of water, with an LG shot on the line with a paste baited hook I could hold bottom with ease. My bottom swim had more flow, I also had a foam covered slack downstream to my right see pic 4, where I expected to find the fish in the crease, another nice area I found was downstream of the weir pool, so I put some bait in that area. I was full of optimism as I made my way back upstream to have a fresh brew and put together some tackle, I used my usual soft action rod with small bait runner reel and some 15lb braid to which I tied a hook with a Palomar knot, which I found is ideal for braid, in fact I also use it with nylon line as I’ve never been let down with this knot even when fighting big dorado up to 60 plus pounds, in my Lone Angler bait bucket I had a ball of LA paste, a bait box of big lobworms, scales weight bag also a unhooking mat which is also my seat. I planned to have a timed hour in each swim including the one below the weir pool unless the fish were feeding in the first two spots. After walking about 400 yards including a scramble through a copse of bramble, hawthorns and some barbed wire I arrived at my first spot, having tied the rope to a tree I lowered myself down the bank, normally I would slither down but the heavy overnight rain made it difficult hence the rope.

I lightly pinched on an LG shot 18 inches from the size 4 barbless hook then wrapped it in plasticine, baiting with a walnut size piece of paste I made a simple underhand cast the allowed the bait to move downstream to settle in the slack, soon a group of long tailed tits were moving through the willow bush to my left, a few mallard were sitting in the quiet water under the far bank, sitting there day dreaming I felt a sudden wrench on the rod, no need to strike the fish had hooked itself, after a spirited fight I netted a chub around the 3lb mark which was quickly unhooked and released, normally I would take the fish up or downstream before releasing them but it wasn’t possible in this spot. Rebaiting I made a cast then allowed the bait to move down into the slack, it never reached the slack half way down the run I had a bite, another chub of similar size. I the next few casts I had three more fish two around 3lbs, after a bite less fifteen minutes I had a slow pull round thinking “That not rubbish” as I set the hook into a hard fighting fish which even had line coming off the reel, I do enjoy the sound of a slipping clutch, I couldn’t make up my mind if I’d hooked a big trout, chub or sea trout as I often catch the latter fish during December and January. Several minutes later a good fish swirled on the surface, “That’s a good chub” I thought which was soon netted, it weighed 5lb 1 ounce, having been weighed it was released, in the confined space I had no chance of a pic. After about half an hour with no more bites, I moved out of the swim with some difficulty and thankful for the rope to help me up the steep bank. I headed off to my next spot, walking along the riverside field I realised the river had come up several inches pushing through with a bit more pace.

                                                            A Bite less Session

Having thrown in half a dozen bait size pieces of paste, I added an extra 2 L G shot with a coating of plasticine then cast out into the fast water knowing the bait would swing into the slack downstream on my right, ten minutes later I changed to a fresh piece of paste allowing the bait to settle in the slack, fifteen minutes later with no sign of interest I changed from paste to a lobworm using a small square of rubber band to hold the worm in place. Twenty minutes later the rain sheeted down the wind increases causing the tree on the opposite bank to sway to and fro, an occasional gust caught the rod making it sway. I thought it was just a quick squall but half an hour later with no bites the weather getting worse Barbara had arrived, I called it a day walking upstream then across the fields I really got rain lashed and buffeted by the wind until I reached the shelter of a hedgerow. In the cabin I put the kettle on, and then shook the water off my hat and coat before sitting down. After a brew with a couple of Digestive biscuits, I felt better, putting my rod in its case I dashed outside dumping everything in the car, the drive home in the gale force wind, heavy rain it was a nightmare not made easier by the number of drivers who couldn’t be bothered to switch on their lights, “What a bunch of morons” I thought. Back home after a shower I sat down to a plate of stew, it was most welcome.

Christmas Day Fishing

After a shower I opened the presents from my daughter getting a great surprise of 2 Tubby Hayes CD’s also biography of Tubby Hayes by Simon Spillet, I've lost count of the times I heard Tubby playing often in smoke filled rooms, and of course at Ronnie Scott’s, these will give me some interesting listening and reading when I’m not at the waterside. Leaving home in the half light of dawn, the weather was awful gale force wind heavy rain often monsoon like at times I wasn’t bothered, it was a warm wind, driving to the river I thought back over other Christmas day mornings, one that stays with me was 1953 Christmas Day I’d cycled some fifteen miles leaving well before dawn to arrive at Hunton on the River Beult, the river had a steady flow with some colour, as I walked downstream in a light drizzle to the “Big Oak swim” I thought “A good day for bream fishing” included in my catch that day were 3 tench. In August this year 69 years from the first visit in 1947 I was back on the Beult, it’s still as lovely today after all those years see pic 5. Driving into the car park I could see the rain sweeping across the meadow, and just able to see the far bank trees, rain or no rain I’d come to fish and soon I was into my waterproofs, dragging the tackle from the car I made a quick dash to the cabin, having put the kettle on, I put together a soft action Avon rod, small fixed spool reel with 15 lb braid, then attached a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, Into my Lone Angler bucket bag went some cheese paste, lobworms, bread also cricket ball size lump of paste using JB Taste – F2 base mix powder with a liquid cheese flavour, its proved successful in the past couple of days. I also put in a towel and camera though with the rain sheeting down I didn’t think I would be using the latter. I then had some buttered toast with a mug of tea. It was time for the long walk as I stepped out of the cabin I was surprised to see the rain was now a light drizzle, walking across the meadow the condition had improved, I would be starting under a cloudy sky with gale force wind but no rain.

                                                                  A Good Chub First Cast

Quietly putting down my gear down, I could see the river was up another eighteen inches from yesterday, as I looked at the fast flowing water, I could see a nice crease ten yards downstream, I put in 4 bait size pieces of L A paste bait, having taken the water temperature I got a reading of 45-46 degrees F. at the end of the day the reading was 47-48 degrees F. I lightly pinched on 2 LG shot two feet from the hook, I sat for some fifteen minutes letting everything quieten down, before baiting with a walnut size piece of paste, I dropped the bait several feet above the crease then working it into the crease as if the water flow had pushed it in to the spot I wanted, two minutes later I felt a light pluck pushing the rod forward I noticed the bow in the line go tight as the tip pulled round, a good fish shot out into the fast water, for several minutes it was give and take but slowly the pressure told soon a good chub was in the net pic 6. In the first session I caught 6 chub similar size to the first fish, back in the cabin, I had a mince pie with a cup of coffee, I decided to rest my first swim, moving into another swim upstream where I had a large slack, a swim that had been baited over the past few days. For half an hour I didn’t get a bite trying several baits, finally fishing with two lobworms I quickly had two trout which were quickly returned. Baiting with a lump of Lone Angler cheese paste the size of a pheasant egg I allowed the bait to swing into the slack water, fifteen minutes later the rod was wrenched round savagely if I hadn’t been holding the rod it would have gone. After a good tussle I netted a chub which I thought might go 5lbs but weighed in at 4lb 14 ounces, in the next couple of hours I had three more chub around the 4lbs mark. Time for some hot food, before I settled in for the dusk and dark session, walking back to the cabin through the heavy rain, I could feel the wind increasing, I reckon Conor was arriving with a vengeance, I certainly welcomed the shelter and warmth of the cabin as I switched on the gas fire the put the kettle and a saucepan for boiling water. My dinner was a boil in the bag meal, starting with Mexican tuna and pasta, a nice spicy meal, followed by ginger pudding with ginger sauce, then cheese and biscuits with mince pie and coffee, what more could an angler wish when fishing?. These boil in the bags meals are far better quality than in the old days, if there good enough for our Military guys and girls there good enough for me.

                                                               Seven Chub on Lone Angler JB Paste

Back in my first swim of the morning I was getting buffeted  the gale force wind, as rain sheeted down I made a cast in the fading light, dropping the bait above the swim allowing it to naturally enter the crease, without a splash, Soon I had a chub about three pound followed quickly by three more of similar size. After a twenty minute wait I had another fish about 4lbs, then in the next hour or more I had five good bites missing all but two more fish around the 4lbs mark. With the rain and gale force wind which virtually tried to wrench the rod from my grip I decided to end my Christmas Day fishing which had certainly give me some pulled strings and bent sticks. Tomorrow I will again be back on the river. A Happy New Year to Everyone


Ready for action

With a lot of extra water I had a good slack

Back on the River Beult in August

One of several Christmas Day chub

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Martin James Fishing
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