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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


09/02/2017 - Back Again On a Cold Bleak River

5lb 4 ounce chub


Today I was having my sixth session on the trot with my old friend Mick Holgate; hopefully it wouldn’t be a blank as the previous six sessions Mick is he a football trainer with Barrow FC, along with having recently moved house he hasn’t had much time to go fishing. Sadly we didn’t have the best of conditions a cold easterly wind after overnight frost, with more frost forecast for the rest of the week, arriving on the river Ribble we decided to fish two separate swims, if one of us was catching, we would then double up and fish the same winning swim. Mick chose the Beech Tree swim while I fished the copse, within minutes of arriving in my swim, a tawny owl kicked up a racket as it hoo hoo hooting away no more than twenty feet away, for three hours I didn’t get a movement on the rod tip, bread flake and crust didn’t encourage a bite, neither did Lone Angler cheese or sausage sizzle pastes, finally I chose to fish sausage sizzle flavoured luncheon meat still nothing. Thankfully I had lots of birds to watch long tailed tits, wrens and robins, a pair of buzzards worked the thermals, as dusk approached I watched a big flock of starling wheeling and diving before heading off to a nearby wood to roost, several pheasants flew across the river to roost in the high trees, no doubt moving from the high branches into the lower ivy clad branches later, with the full moon shining bright I walked upstream about 60 yards to find Mick had caught a chub pushing 4lbs on crust from the Big Oak swim, he also had a good trout on cheese paste. After a few minutes chatting we went off to the car park for a hot drink, I soon had the kettle boiling, tea for Mick coffee for me, while Mick tucked into his sandwiches I enjoyed a piece of bread pudding made by my personal chef Anthony Morris. Half an hour later I’m making the long walk downstream to my swim, as I got close to the copse I caught sight of a fox in my headlight, at the same time a flock of pigeons made a lot of noise as they flew from the nearby trees.

At Long Last a Fish

I chose to start off fishing a large piece of flavoured luncheon meat with plastacine wrapped round a float stop two feet from the hook, though I wasn’t confident of catching I did have to try hard so with an underhand cast I dropped the bait into the fast water then allowed it to trundle down the swim, within a minute or two I felt a light pluck then a good determined take as I set the hook I felt relief flooding through my body, at long last I had the feel of a pulled string and a bent stick, after three or four minutes I shouted “Yes” as I netted a good chub estimated at 4lb plus, I quickly walked several yards upriver before releasing the chub then watched my prize swim off strongly. No longer did I feel the cold wind or bother about the full moon as I baited with another big piece of flavoured meat, then dropping the baited hook into the fast water, it trundled downstream about ten fifteen yards when I felt a savage take, immediately several yards of line were taken off the reel , I could feel the fish shaking its head several times as it tried to get free, I reckon it was five or six minutes before I’d worked the fish upstream towards the net, as I pulled it into the beam of the head torch I could see it might be another five pound chub, a minute or so later the fish was netted, as I tried to lift the net I realised it certainly was a better fish, I called Mick to ask if he could come and take a pic for me, he was only too willing, on the scales it weighed 5lbs 4 ounces I was a happy angler, after a quick picture I watched this second fish swim away strongly. Mick hadn’t had a bite and with the temperature dropping we agreed to call it a day.




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Martin James Fishing
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