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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


01/03/2017 - Lone Angler Cheese Mania does the Trick

My chub swim

I’ve said it before I will say it again the Lone Angler cheese mania really does the business when trying to catch chub under all weather and water conditions but especially in coloured water, I’ve found it’s not just for chub, as barbel, roach, bream and tench all like this paste. 2 days after my River Soar adventure, Martin Salisbury and I left the Ribble Valley around 0630 hrs, arriving on the river Wye near Hereford around 10-00 hrs to find the river in places had burst the banks, I can best describe the water as being the colour of khaki, as we watched the fast flowing water we could see the silt being swirled around, no doubt such conditions would be off putting for the newcomer. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 44 degrees F while Martin had a reading of 45 degrees F. walking well upstream with Martin we found a likely looking area where I thought he might catch a pike, there was some ten yards of slow moving water over a sandy silt bottom with some fifteen feet of water, upstream a large bush was virtually submerged slowing down the pace of the water flow, also the bank was safe which is most important when fishing flood water conditions, also Martin thought it could be a good spot, leaving Martin to his fishing I walked off downstream to find a suitable swim.

Several New Swims Had Been Created

Having fished many flooded rivers for some 70 years, with none of my usual chub swims fishable I had to find a new one, I wasn’t deterred seeing the flooded river, another advantage I had was my knowledge of this stretch of the river Wye under low water conditions, I’d found some interesting swims that couldn’t be fished the banks were far too high above the water, that knowledge of the underwater topography would help me choose a suitable swim today. Several of those unfishable summer swims could now be fished as I could now land any fish hooked with high water conditions. Today I had several areas of quiet water to choose from making me feel confident I had a chance of catching a fish or two, walking downstream I passed some large oak trees that stood sentinel like along the bank, passing the first interesting looking swim, I stopped at the second spot, at the upstream end well submerged were a clump of bushes, several yards downstream more submerged bushes creating a nice stretch of slow moving water, with a fast swirling run of water on the outside. After putting a rod together I started checking the depth finding about 8 feet at the top end of the swim slowly deepening to around 12 feet at the bottom end of the swim. I put three tangerine size balls of mashed bread loaded with chopped worms and red gentles in the swim, also scattering half a dozen bantam egg size lumps of cheese paste. I then put together two rods a 13’ Lone Angler float rod with centre pin reel that had 40 yards of 6lb line, my float was a red tipped goose quill float made by Mark Surul taking 3 AA shot, given to me last season which has proved ideal for laying-on, then attached 12’ of 4lb line with a size 14 hook to 3lb line, the idea of the small hook was, if cheese paste didn’t work I would switch to my second choice plan of fishing gentles. My other outfit was an 11’ 6” Avon action rod with a small fixed spool reel with 12lb braid to which I attached a size 6 hook with a Palomar hook, weight would be either 1, 2 or 3 LG shot some fifteen inches from the hook. Having got everything sorted I went off for a fresh brew and a toasted sandwich using my Ridge Monkey toaster a strange name but an excellent piece of equipment.

Chub Wanted the Cheese Paste

After a welcome mug of tea with my toasted sandwich I was ready to fish, I started off with 1 LG then added another shot finding I could hold bottom, so baited with a walnut size bit of paste, a light an underhand cast had the bait at the top end of the swim. Fifteen minutes later I had a small pull on the tip then a more determined pull, striking into my first fish I felt some head shaking, saying to myself “It’s a chub” but after a minute or so I wasn’t to know as it shed the hook, I was gutted as it could have been the only bite of the day. An hour later I’m rewarded for my effort with a chub of 3lbs plus, I must admit I did shout “Yes” as the fish went into the net. I then had 4 more fish of similar size in the next hour all on cheese and all confident bites. With the rain sheeting down, the cold wind increasing considerably I started to shiver, though I had a brolly I hate using it so went and got another fleece from the vehicle, then thought it was time for a brew. I then walked upstream to find Martin dressed in good waterproofs trying his best to catch a chub on meat despite the intense rain and wind, while keeping an eye on his pike float at the same time, after a chat I left him to his fishing, no point in asking Martin if he wanted tea or coffee as he doesn’t drink either, for him it is water or fruit juice, I did admire his concentration in trying to catch despite the horrid conditions he had no respite from the wind where I did have a bit of shelter.

Half an hour later I’m back in my swim feeling refreshed by my brew, I scattered six more pieces of cheese paste in the swim then baited with another piece which was cast half way down the swim in the hope of catching a bigger chub that might be further downstream from the shoal size fish, ten minutes later I’m in again within a minute I netted another 3lb fish, don’t get me wrong I’m enjoying every fish even more so under the horrid conditions, but I did want a 4lb plus fish if possible, we anglers are strange creatures we are never satisfied. As the light started to fade I was greeted by a cacophony of noise from geese both Canada and pink footed, jackdaws and rooks were in on the act as they descended into some nearby trees, not to be outdone I heard the harsh croaking of a raven quite a rare bird these days but wonderful to see, at the back of me a pair of wrens were trying to see who could make the most shrill noise like a fast tit tit tit. On the river were many swans, watching hundreds sliding down the banks from the nearby fields into the water then lift off from the river like a series of bombers was quite amazing to see. Within fifteen minutes it was all peaceful just the gurgle or the swirling river and the call of the occasional goose. I the next hour .fishing in the dark watching the rod tip in the torch beam I had six bites missing three of them but connecting with the other bites all chub all around the 3lb mark. With total of nine chub on cheese paste I was a happy angler as I packed up for a drive of about 7 miles to our B&B The Old Mill at Hoarwithy a delightful place run by Carole Probert where you certainly get an excellent breakfast.

Day 2 another Day the Same Swim

After breakfast I was joined by Anthony Morris who was joining me, while Martin was going off to Bath and Bristol on business, after transferring my gear into Anthony’s vehicle we went off to the river to find the water had dropped about six inches overnight, the water temperature had also dropped two degrees F. I chose a swim for Anthony that had a good record for barbel and chub, where he also had a nice stretch of quiet water, I was quite confident he would catch a few fish. Before moving off to my swim well downstream I gave him to sausage sizzle suggesting he wrap it around the pellet bait he chose to fish with, also some cheese mania if the first choice bait didn’t work. Back in my swim I spent half an hour feeding in red gentles; my plan was to slowly work the size 14 hook baited with three or four gentles through the swim in the hope of catching some Wye roach. An hour later I switched over to legering with a worm, within ten minutes I had a perch 12 ounces to a pound then no more interest after some 20 minutes I walked up to Anthony to be told he’d lost a barbel also had a couple of knocks, as I stood talking with him he had two good knocks but the strike was too early the fish was missed, having noticed the encouraging signs and knowing he’d hooked and lost a barbel, I left him in peace then went back to my swim where I decided to have a fresh brew.

While I sat with a mug of tea, I watched the rod tip for a sign of interest hoping another perch might show, sometime later the rod tip pulled round the strike connecting with another chub of similar size of the day before. Another worm was cast out I also fed a few gentles every two or three minutes some twenty minutes later with no sign of a bite I switched back to float fishing, not being able to get a bite on gentles I switched to a small piece of bread flake within minutes I’d hooked a powerful fish which tried to get out into the fast water but thankfully I could keep the fish in the quiet water but after a while the fish tired as it rolled on the surface I was surprised to see a small barbel, I doubt if it would have weighed 4lbs. I never had another bite until dusk when I hooked another powerful fish after some ten minutes I had a barbel about 7lbs close to the net which then rolled on the surface flipped it tail then dived and breaking the fine hook link. An hour later with no more bites with rain, sleet with occasional hail, I called Anthony who agreed to pack in, Back in our B&B after a hot shower followed by a mug of drinking chocolate I felt a lot better, we then went across to the local inn, Anthony had fish and chips, while I had a bowl of soup.

Day Three Nothing to Show for our Efforts

It was around 0800 hrs when I pulled back the curtains to be greeted by frost on the roof of the surrounding cottages also fields, not a good sign, after breakfast it was off to the river, today it was well up probably another two feet, some of Anthony’s tackle was under water which we managed to recover. As we stood watching the water we heard the sound of a powerful aircraft looking in the direction of the noise we watched Super Hercules aircraft approaching flying so low you got the impression it was just above the trees. We gave them big thumbs up, certainly a great privilege to see and my highlight of the trip. We both chose to fish our previous swims, but in about three hours neither of us had any sign of interest, with the weather getting worse we chose to call it a day. Within half an hour we were on our way home, driving up the M6 was truly horrendous with many drives both car and heavy vehicles driving far too fast in the conditions several without light, I counted several motorists using their phone to call someone, or reading a text how crazy can these idiots get. Thankfully we arrived home safely after a hard three days on the River Wye, I had the pleasure of finding a cheque for Crossroad Care Ribble Valley for £70-00 for a feature I’d done for Countryman’s Weekly which has been dropped off in the office, also a centre pin reel had arrived which my son and daughter had built for my octogenarian birthday later this year, sadly I couldn’t even take a peek as Kate has locked it away. Apart from fishing my local Ribble I have a 3 day trip is away on the Thames at Tadpole Bridge with 2 days on the Kennet.


One of my chub

Maek Surul's quill floats

The low flying Super Hercules was similar to this one

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Martin James Fishing
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