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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


10/11/2017 - Can It Get Any Better

4-10-0 chub with new rod and reel

Can It Get Any Better


Back in 1947 as a 10 year old I heard my mum say to a neighbour the local retired Colonel would be an Octogenarian the next day, over tea I asked my dad what an Octogenarian was, he said “It’s someone who reaches the age of 80 years, I immediately said “I was going to be an Octogenarian” During the next 70 years I often talked about reaching that memorable date, Last February with the help of Colin Culley I set about making the event special, my first job was to book rooms in the 16 century Old Swan Inn at Lechlade, as time progressed I discussed the menu with the chef, also sorted out some fishing on the Upper Thames at Tadpole Bridge through Colin and the club officials of Tadpole Angling Club who proved extremely helpful. I then commissioned some pairs of traditional floats, swan and porcupine quills suitably engraved by Mark Sarul. The next stop was the jewellers for some cases the float could lay in, come October Debra the manageress of the Old Swan Inn kept me informed on how things were progressing, Colin made sure everything was up to scratch on the fishing front also he would supply lunch for everyone. Colin has done a fine report on the fishing and dinner etc on Friday 27th, I would just add that Tam Miller’s chub looks everything a six pound chub should look like, well done Tam who is a member of TFF.


4 Days on the Wye


After leaving the Old Swan Inn, Dave Hurst and myself made our way to the river Wye above Hereford arriving to find the river flowing quite clear, on my last four trips to the venue, the river has had either 6 feet of icy cold water, or it’s been low clear and cold with hoar frost covering the trees and fields for the duration of our trip which have usually been five days, today I reckon we had struck gold.


After walking the full length of the beat nearly 2 miles, I suggested David fish a peg some hundred yards from the top of the beat, with a super glued pellet on a short hair to a size 10 hook with a two ounce open ended feeder, plugging both ends with ground bait, loose pellets in between. I chose to fish my Abbey Avon rod presented to me by Sarah and Colin Culley for my birthday, the previous evening Sarah and Colin were my dinner guests in the Old Swan Inn, I had arranged with the manageress to get me a large bouquet of flowers which were presented to Sarah after dinner, The lady certainly likes flowers. I matched the rod with my new Atom centre pin reel my children had made for me to go with the Avon rod, both needed to be christened, line was 4lb to which I attached a size 6 barbless hook, weight would vary between no weight except cheese paste to 4 LG’s depending on the swim, every swim was different, one could have six feet of water, the next could be 12 feet or more. On my second cast I dropped a bit of crust cast underneath a bush, quickly getting a good pull then connecting with a chub about 3lbs, target achieved, as the chub were in a feeding mood, I kept them interested by feeding a golf ball size lumps of ground bait every five to ten minutes ending my session with 13 chub the best at 4lb 10 ounces pictured with rod and reel. David ended his short 3 hour session with five barbel averaging around 8lbs, he was more than happy as he left me on the river bank, while he headed back to Lancashire. Sometime later I could see Anthony coming down the track in the darkness having driven from Lancashire to spend three days with me, we all know what it’s like on the M6 M5 M50 on a Sunday afternoon, not only did he have his tackle and bait, but with some freshly made wholemeal rolls, I set about making a fresh brew while Anthony went off to look at the river, he was all smiles on his return saying “Better than our last trip”.


Personnel Best Barbel


We fished for about two hours Anthony catching a 9lb 10 ounce barbel which was a personal best, I went off downstream to my baited swim where I caught another 5 chub all 4lb plus fish, three on crust two on cheese paste. After a brew we went off to our B&B where the owner proved very friendly, the room was warm and clean, we both had a mug of drinking chocolate before going off to sleep, during the night my shingles gave me a lot of pain, in fact the shingles stopped me from fishing a lot of the time on the river bank.


Monday 30th October


Overnight the temperature dropped giving a ground frost in sheltered areas, the temperature was 1 degree c in the morning, to make matters worse it was a bright sunny day with light wind, not really conducive to good fishing, Anthony fished the same swim while I sat in the sunshine as my eyesight was very poor the shingles were not giving me any relief. It was around 1330 hrs that I felt safe to venture onto the river bank and as those who have fished the Wye know the banks are quite steep. I spent 2 hours float fishing feeding hemp and gentles, apart from lots of minnows and a chub bite off I had nothing to report. Back in the car park I had a beef stew and dumpling in a boil in the bag, I must admit all these meals are very tasty, far better than the rubbish we had in Columbia and Peru, in fact found the stew the Indians prepared a lot better. After walking down river where I baited six swims which I thought might produce a fish, as all had overhead cover of willow and alders, the ground bait mixture contained gentles casters chopped worms and sweetcorn, I also added half a dozen chestnut size pieces of 2 year old cheese paste. Tackle set up was the same as the previous day. Leaving the swims to settle, I had a brew then put on an extra layer of clothing as I planned to fish very late if the chub were in a feeding mood, first swim I missed several bites all just light taps on the rod tip, I then used a small dough bobbin, it made a difference as the bobbin moved upwards I set the hook into a nice chub in the 4lb class, I then had six bites connecting with all the bites ending with six more good chub best at 4-12-0 after a ten minute spell with no bites I moved into the next swim, a chub hit the crust on the drop, no need for a dough bobbin as the rod tip was pulled savagely round. From this swim I had 14 chub all good fish including a 5-2-0, that’s worth a picture I thought. I called Anthony who arrived ten minutes later, after taking a couple of pics, I thought this fishing was some of the best I had in the past few years. In went more ground bait along with some cheese paste, I then baited with a walnut size lump of cheese, the chub just ripped the rod round they didn’t seem to have any fear and really wanted the cheese. Before we packed up I had another 12 fish giving me a total of 50 chub since I arrived on the river. Back in the B&B Anthony and myself discussed the incredible chub fishing, I said to Anthony just think what I could have caught if I’d fished all day and during the evening.


Tuesday 31st October It Gets Even Better


After an overnight shower the temperature was up to 9 degrees C when we left the B&B I could see we had a good cloud base conditions looked good, twenty minutes later we pulled into the car park, no need for a second layer today, after sorting out tackle then making up a bucket of ground bait I headed off downstream while Anthony went upstream to his swim, after baiting all my swims, I spent an hour with float rod hoping to find a perch or roach but nothing, these fish seemed to have disappeared, with reference the roach, I can understand it with the number of cormorants, yesterday I counted 10 of these black pests perched in some big beech trees on the opposite bank. Back at the car I had a quick brew then went off chasing the chub, they were still in a feeding mode from around 1130 hrs until 1500 hrs I caught 16 chub again all good fish in the 4lb class, chees was the winning bait. I then had a good rest, also a boil in the bag meal of potatoes beans and bacon with a couple of bread rolls. As I was going to be fishing late I decided to take 2 pain killers and put fresh eye drops in my eyes.


As dusk descended over the Wye Valley I made my way downstream, it was a dark night so I decided to stick with one swim, but being prepared to move if I didn’t catch. I changed from a size 6 hook to a size 4, my bait was going to be large chunks of cheese paste with no weight on the line, I reckon chub will move in quite close to the bank under cover of darkness in their hunt for food, I was going to drop a paste bait some ten yards downstream and about two feet out from the bank. In five cast I had an incredible session catching chub of 5-2-0 2 X 5-4-0 5-6-0 I then had a bite which was different from all the others, it was a series of tiny taps going on for some ten minutes, I ten pinched on a small dough bobbin, occasionally it moved slightly but I was convinced it was a good fish perhaps not a chub but a roach, then slowly the bobbin moved up towards the butt ring, with half an inch left before it hit the rod, I swept the rod back, suddenly I was forced to release line with reel check on and finger pressure the fish still powered off downstream, suddenly the first big rush was over, it was a slow dogged fight as the fish took line I got it back, but slowly I was gaining the rod with its battle curve looked wonderful, I started to realise I had got something special, soon I had it in the light of my head lamp, “That’s a possible six” I said to myself then it was in the net it looked a giant of a chub. Having had many 6 lb plus chub best at 7lb 10 ounces I always get a big thrill if I think I might have another six pounder, out with weigh bag then check the scales which I do even though I might just have weighed a fish. The scales needle went to 6-4-0 then dropped back a fraction I called it 6-3-0 I then punched the air, certainly a giant of a chub. After calling Anthony down we sat and admired the fish then shot a couple of pics, I released the fish several yards upstream. Back in the swim over the next hour or so I had 17 more chub all on cheese paste. It was a rather tired angler who arrived back at the B&B with a head that felt as if a swarm of wasps had descended, thankfully we had a key so didn’t disturb anyone.


November 1st Conditions Looked Tough


It had been a cold night the weather was very bright not the best of conditions when the river was dropping with clear water, but we had come to fish and I wasn’t looking for excuses, I would have to change my approach, today I would start off with tiny cubes of crust on a 2 inch link, I find under these conditions fish don’t like to chase a bait, I would use my experience and fish the inside of the crease, in 3 hours I caught chub 2 chub both nice fish, then I stopped for a couple of hours to allow my eyesight to improve, enjoying a couple of brews and bacon rolls. Around 1530 hrs I made my way down river fishing hard until dusk for three chub around the 2lb mark. I then moved into a swim that I had baited up every day but hadn’t fished, I dropped in this spot, as dusk was falling I chose to fish cheese paste once more, it worked I had 7 fish all good ones which included chub of 5-4-0 5-6-0 5-7- 0 then had a fish about 2lbs which turned out to be the last bite and fish of the trip. I was gone midnight when we got back home, the trip was certainly the icing on the cake, talking of cake Matt Minter’s wife certainly made was wonderful cake for my birthday. I say roll on the next 10 years when I become a nonagenarian and perhaps I can do it all over again.

5lb 2 ounce chub

6lb 3 ounce chub

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Martin James Fishing
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