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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


20/08/2018 - Another Good Chub Session

My chub swim



I am very fortunate to have several landowners friends around the country that allow me the privilege of fishing their waters, either through getting to know them during shooting events, through BBC interviews about the problems facing the farming industry, or often meeting landowners when I have been a guest speaker at one of their functions. Today I was up and away early this morning for a twelve mile trip downstream of Ribchester. It was around 0700 hrs when I arrived on the bank of the River Ribble to find the river well up and coloured, conditions looked good, the weather was overcast mild with a light drizzle with no wind. I chose a far bank swim where chub would be my target, with the river high I would be fishing under the far bank trees using luncheon meat or cheese paste as baits,

I fished with similar tackle I used on the three previous visits to the Ribble, but at different venues.  Using an Abbey Avon which had been refurbished by Lee Price of Cane & Able. It was probably in a better condition today than when it was originally made as we now have far better varnishes and finishing techniques especially with the skills of Cane & Able. I matched the rod with a Mitchell 300 from the 1950’s with a roller bale arm fitted by engineer and angler Len Arbery, yesterday I loaded the spool with 15lb braided line, I felt fishing with more line out than usual, the braid with no stretch, with a fine diameter of five to six pound nylon, would help me detect the bites better.

Having threaded the line through the guides I added 4 float stops on the line then attached a size 4 barbless hook with a Polomar knot. On Friday I caught nine good chub but I really had to concentrate on bite detection as the fish were taking the bait on the drop often giving a slight movement, often they moved upstream giving slack line. After a good session on, I fished again on Saturday trying four swims including the swim I fished on Friday, catching just one chub around 4lbs which grabbed a bit of meat on the drop, otherwise I never had another bite that I could detect, but when I retrieved the bait small bits of meat had been taken.

Another reason for the braid, was from previous experience of fishing this swim today, I would not use any shot on the line as I would get hooked up a lot, my choice was small bits of plasticine the size of a treble AAA shot, from watching chub feeding over the past few weeks I didn’t want the chub to feel resistance if I could possible help it, I spaced the four float stops six inches apart with the first two feet from the hook, I then moulded plasticine around each float stop.

                                                                              A Moving Bait

My plan of action was to cast the bait under the far bank trees, then hopefully keep the bait moving along under the trees and not swing into my bank. Baiting with two cubes of meat I made a long cast dropping the bait where I wanted it, then holding the rod high I felt the bait slowly moving downstream, I felt a slight pluck, followed by two others, I was like a coiled spring as I tried to work out what was happening under water, the next small pluck I made a powerful strike immediately feeling resistance of a hooked fish, the rod pulled downwards, the clutch yielding line, I moved downstream with the fish as I didn’t want to try and bring it upstream and across the strong flow, I was fortunate that fifteen yards downstream the water slowed up creating a good slack on my bank. After a good struggle on part of the fish it was in the net, a good 4lb fish, on the scales it weighed 4lb 12 ounces.

Back in my swim I catapulted a few bits of meat across the river so they dropped upstream of my swim. Ten minutes later I made another cast, as the bait moved from left to right down the swim, I was ready for any movement on the line over my index finger, even better still if the rod pulled round savagely or perhaps a slack line bite. Then it happened four light taps then a slow pull, striking I connected with another fish, this one turned upstream against the flow, then kited in towards my bank where I was able to net the fish, it put up more of a fight in the net than out of it. It was similar in size to the previous one, I walked upstream quite a distance then released the fish at the same time I noticed a dozen or more fry in the net which were also released.

This time I had to replace two pieces of plasticine, then baited with two bits of meat. I dropped the bait at the head of my swim, during the next ten minutes I slowly worked it several yards downstream, suddenly the line went slack, striking and walking upstream at the same time, I felt the heavy pull of a fish as line was pulled from the spool, the sound of a purring clutch is music to my ears. Several minutes later I felt I was in control of the situation, eventually I worked the fish into the slack water where it was safely netted. I thought it might go 5lbs, out with scales and weigh bag, zeroing the scales I place the fish in the bag, then hooked it on the scales watching the needle go round to 5lb 6 ounces. “That will do me” I said to myself, its always good to catch a five pounder, having said that the 4lb plus fish are equally welcome, in fact all my fish are what ever the size. After a quick picture I walked well upstream then released the fish. Three fish in three casts I was more than happy.

This time I had to add plastacine to all the float stops, its far better than getting hooked with shot on the line where one often gets broken off. I baited with two bits of meat then made another cast virtually dropping the bait in the same spot as previously, I stood there working the bait down the swim slowly, my mind on what I imagine the chub were doing when they picked up the bait then dropping it, before picking it up again, which I reckon is causing the slight pluck, just as I had seen in the low water conditions. That's another reason for using small bits of plasticine spread on the line, it makes less resistance to a fish picking up the bait, a large bit of plasticine would have the opposite effect, I’m certain the fish would then drop the bait nine times out of ten, feeling just a slight resistance it probably doesn’t notice or isn’t bothered, as the fish moves a bit more, it will encounter another slight resistance, again probably not taking any notice. Twenty minutes later I get another slack line bite, immediately I’m hooked up to another good fish, they all give a good account of themselves, I’m really enjoying this, everything I have been thinking about on Sunday of how I could defeat the fish when picking up the bait is working, the float stops and putty are doing the job. Another fish is netted a good 4lb plus fish in fact nearer 5lbs than 4lbs.

At around 1100 hrs and having caught twelve good chub, I had to pack as my right eye was starting to close, it was time to go home. After thirty odd months it seems I will have my ophthalmic shingles for ever, though my doctor tells me it will clear. My right eye gets very sore and dry making it feel full of grit even with ointment and drops, thankfully painkillers help ease the pain in my head, sadly they don’t do anything for my eye. The problem has made me miss a lot of good fishing when I am on my own. Thankfully I have friends who do the driving, but they are not as free as I am.




I had eleven chub of this size

My best chub at 5lb 6 ounces

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Martin James Fishing
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