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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


16/07/2017 - Another Day Another Place

A tricky chub swim

It was 0500hrs when I walked into the shower, this was followed by a bowl of porridge with a mug of tea, as I swallowed some pain killers I though “What am I going to do today” looking through the window it looked good for some trout fishing, then I thought “I could try for some chub”, if I had the opportunity it would be fishing for roach, but I didn’t have any roach fishing close to hand. Checking river level for the River Ribble it had about 6” of fresh on, I decided to target the chub, this time I chose another beat, fifteen minutes later I pulled into the farmers car park being as quiet as possible in case any young children were still in bed.

Collecting rod, landing net, tackle and bait bag I headed off upstream to an area where I have enjoyed sport on previous occasions, it was a long trek but worthwhile in the early morning, on the way I spotted three hare’s and two leverets, passing through a field of cows and sheep I noticed several nice mushrooms making a mental note to pick some on my way back. Overhead a pair of oyster catchers were putting on a flying display, suddenly I’m greeted by a tawny owl tearing the feathers out of a young pheasant, evidently it didn’t get enough food during the dark hours, this is the second tawny owl I’ve seen on my early morning trips to the waterside this season. I made a long detour around the owl not wanting to spook it, thankfully it carried on feeding.

 Twenty or so minutes later I arrived at my chosen spot, it’s close to a fence line with a big oak tree with many of its thick roots protruding into the water, many branches were hanging just inches off the water, there were also some big roots on the bank which offered a seat, as you can see from the picture it’s not a swim for the feint hearted or those worried about losing a hook. In the past it would have been described as a dapping spot, then we used to use a hook with a clip on the shank in which you fix a grasshopper, (how rare these are today) other baits would be a caterpillar or a big blue bottle. Of course before tying on the hook you would have a bore bullet on the line stopped a foot above the hook by a split shot, you would then quietly creep forward without showing your face over the water often getting down on your tummy, yes we got scratched on brambles or stung to bits often both, reaching the spot where you had either spotted a chub or expected one to be you would slide the rod over the water then gently lower the baited hook so it just lay in the surface film. If you were lucky you would get a wrenching take, the rod tip plunging downwards as all hell was let loose, even at my age I still do some dapping.

Today I would be fishing pieces of flake, cheese or luncheon meat using a BB shot with just enough plasticine to get the bait in position where I could roll the bait through the swim, I used a ten foot cane rod, fixed spool reel with 6lb bs line to which I tied on a size 4 hook. As I looked through the maze of branches and leaves I threw in four pieces of luncheon meat as a free offering, the water being around six feet deep over clean gravel was also the haunt of trout which I didn’t want. I sat on the bank for some twenty minutes to let the fish get back there confidence back after the disturbance also throwing in the bait samples. If I hook a fish I would fight it in the confines of the branches then slide the net under the branches then into the water where I could hopefully net the fish, the swim looks difficult but really isn’t also I’ve had plenty of experience in this and similar spots.

As hub Like Meat I ripped off a large piece of meat the size of a thumb, it was impaled on the hook, one couldn’t cast in the normal way, I wound in the line until it was inches from the top of the rod which was then carefully pushed through the branches where I could do a pendulum swim then releasing the line, I allowed the bait to move some yards downstream where it would swing in under some water crowfoot where I expected a chub or two to be holding. For about half an hour nothing happened suddenly I felt the rod wrench round, no need to strike the fish was on, now the fun started as I bent low to get under the branches then sliding on my backside a couple of feet so my legs were over the bank, from this precarious position I fought the chub slowly upstream towards the waiting net, soon it was mine. I then struggled back up the bank through the branches and nettles also I hadn’t noticed a hawthorn branch which of course grabbed the net causing another struggle to get it free. Eventually I got back on the bank where I unhooked my prize a chub I estimated around 4lbs, a worthy prize indeed. Throwing in some more free samples I sat back to let things calm down. In the next three hours I caught two more chub of similar size then after a bite less hour or more I called it a day and packed up but it had been worth the effort.

My first chub of the session

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Martin James Fishing
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