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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


10/07/2018 - A Mixed Bag

My selection of baits

The River Ribble is extremely low at the present time, the flow rate is negligible, also with high water temperatures, low oxygen content along with lots of clodorpha weed, I feel it’s not right to subject the fish to even more stress, even in the weir pools I feel it’s not right to fish.

A perfect example of not fishing many of our rivers and of course some still waters, was two weeks ago, I started fishing at 0430hrs immediately hooking a chub in the fast water of a weir pool on crust, it gave a slight flick of its tail then come in like a wet sack within a minute. I immediately unhooked the fish, releasing it quickly back in the oxygenated water of the pool. I then packed up, It probably weighed 4lbs plus, yes it looked in excellent condition, scale and fin perfect but of course was hollow.

Big Still Water

Thankfully I have a large deep still water I can fish which is often wind swept, the fish don’t seem to be suffering, after speaking to a fishery biologist I felt it would be safe to fish. Roach Were My Target Unlike most who fish the water I chose not to fish for carp, but target the roach with perhaps a chance of a crucian carp in a windswept area of the water. My baits would be either punched bread, tares, hemp and corn, along with some damp crumb with hemp, which would be deposited in my swim, using a bait dropper or be fed in chestnut size pieces as and when I felt it was needed. Tackle was a Milward Swim Master, matched with ‘The Beult’ centre pin made by Watermole, it’s such a delight to used, I have about thirty yards of Cralusso 3.22 lb line which I find excellent, also its very fine, I do have problems getting the line through the guides these days caused by my shingles, often spending 15 to 20 minutes to get the line through. Today it’s not a problem, Russ Shaw come to my rescue with a line threader. I had chosen two swims not being sure of the depth, I chose to fish a sliding float, I’d been told the depth could vary from 5 feet to 12 feet. I started off using a size 14 barbless hook to 3lb nylon, pinching on an LG shot next to the hook, after smearing the shot with Vaseline I plumbed around in the first swim finding a depth around 4 feet, closely looking at the Vaseline I found small samples of tiny sandy silt, In the next swim to my right I had 10 feet of water over a hard bottom with what felt like some soft weed. In this swim I put in 3 droppers of hemp and 2 droppers of damp crumb and hemp, I often use this method rather than ball in the feed which often attracts the small fish. Its well worth the extra effort, often the average size of fish improves. In my shallow water swim I put in 2 droppers of hemp along with 1 dropper of feed, my plan of action was to fish the shallow water swim feeding with half a dozen grains of hemp every cast, baiting with a tare, I also painted the hook with some Tipp-Ex, I feel the small amount of hook shank being white could make the tare look more like a bigger item of hemp, its worked in the past so hopefully it would today. Water visibility was very good, I pinched on a size1 Grippa Styx 6 inches from the hook, then added a BB 18 inches up the line, I find Styx, better than shot as the fish don’t take them for a tare. In the past I used a tiny coil of lead wire, I then added 2 AAA gravel shot a foot further up the line, these would probably be moved around depending on how the fish are feeding. It was around 1830 hrs when I started fishing, within minutes I had a small bream around the pound mark which surprised me as I didn’t think this species was in the water, I then had three ‘Goer’ roach a fish of 8 inches in length, a saying used by anglers in the south during matches, I then had 3 more ‘Goers’ in as many casts. I missed the next half a dozen bites. Sadly I could think what I might be doing wrong so persevered, soon I was again catching quite regularly.

Perch Were Feeding

As I caught roach, the perch were creating havoc with the small fry, which really were being hammered. I said to myself, “I should have a drop shotting rig with me today”, though I was more than happy seeing my float keep disappearing. After a break for a mug of tea with a salad roll, I started off fishing a small piece of flake hoping for some better quality of roach, it wasn’t a roach I got hooked up to, but a tench around 2lbs which looked in poor condition. I tried corn, it didn’t produce a single bite, then switched to punched bread catching a few smaller roach. After a walk around to see what other angler were catching, I found all except one were sitting behind silent buzzers. The other angler was float fishing using gentles catching roach, perch, the odd bream and some tench which he also noted were in poor condition which I find is very unusual for this species. Back in my swim I switched to fishing the deep water swim in around 30 minutes I didn’t get a single bite, fishing tares, punched bread and corn, not even a slight movement on the float. I returned to fishing my shallow water swim, catching more roach also a couple of rudd around 10 ounces, switching back to corn I didn’t have a bite, as I retrieved the corn on 3 occasions I caught a perch around 8 ounces no doubt mistaking the corn for small fry. In the last half an hour I had 12 more ‘Goer’ roach ending the session on a high note. If you feel the fish might be distressed then please don’t fish the venue but try somewhere else

Roach like this were caught often

Line threaders made by Russ Shaw

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Martin James Fishing
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