fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


24/09/2019 - One Bite One Fish Was Enough

Fin and scale perfect was my chub, a stunning fish of early autumn


Waking up this morning around 0600 hrs I had a shower, then my first brew of the day, sitting in my favourite armchair my thoughts were, “Do I fish for trout, salmon, sea trout or try for an early autumn chub”?, yesterday I had taken out some well matured cheese around 3 years old, from the freezer, placing it in my bait fridge, thinking of that cheese I had no choice chub would be my target today. After sorting out what I needed, I left home just after 0800 hrs, my first stop was the health centre for my influenza, then onto Tesco for milk and newspaper, it was just after 0900 hrs when I arrived in the car park. Some weeks ago a large tree had been blown down in the storm force winds, most of the tree was on the bank except the top fifteen feet projected out over the water, with some branches hanging in the water. These trailing branches had created a big raft of rubbish and scum, it looked the perfect chub swim. Upstream and downstream trees were overhanging the water, between the line of trees I had a gap about four feet wide to work in. Sitting on the bank I thought about the problem of getting a bait downstream and under the raft, it wasn’t going to be easy, I’d only get one chance, if I made a mistake I would get hooked up in the branches. I had some branches of an oak tree above me so that restricted my casting, it would have to be an under hand cast with just enough weight so the water flow would push the bait under the raft.

Simple Tackle Set Up

I chose an 11 foot soft Avon action rod with a small fixed spool reel loaded with 10 lb breaking strain braid, to which I attached a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, this knot has never let me down, I have so much confidence in the Palomar, I’ve used when fly fishing for tuna or sailfish, catching tuna of 60 lbs plus, sailfish to 100lb plus. It’s always been my choice of knot when targeting big fish, so I have no fear of it letting me down when after chub. I then lightly pinched on a size 1 shot eighteen inches up the line from the hook. Now come the guesswork of moulding enough plasticine around the shot to carry the bait down and under the raft. I also had to cast out far enough, so the water flow would push the bait downstream and across under the raft. I then scattered some bits crust on the water to watch how it proceeded downstream, this way I hoped to judge where to drop the bait.

I Would Only Get One Cast

Having watched lots of crust drifting off downstream in all directions either pushed by the current or blown by the wind, I did manage to get four bits of crust to drift downstream and get stuck up on the raft, making a mental note of where I should cast. Sitting in the warm sunshine, looking at the raft trying to judge the distance I thought it’s time to try and get that cheese under the raft, I made a few cast with just the plasticine weight working out how much line I should release from the spool, adding several more feet of line, I then clipped up, then retrieved the tackle. The time had come to bait the hook, first I attached a piece of crust, then moulded some cheese paste around the crust, ending up with a semi balanced bait the size of a chicken egg, this was to allow the small fish too nibble away at the bait. The underhand cast dropped just where I wanted it, holding the rod high I fed line off the spool watching it going in the direction of the raft, when I thought it was in the right spot I lowered the rod fed a couple more feet of line then sat back with the line crooked over the forefinger. As I sat holding the rod waiting for a bite I could look up and downstream also across to the opposite bank, occasionally a good trout took something off the surface, in the branches above me I watched a family of long tailed tits working through the leaves, also a pair of blue tits were looking for insects, a red Admiral settled on some balsa, the feeling I got could only be described as a perfect autumn day.

A Bite At Last

After about an hour or more I began to think no chub were in residence, or the bait wasn’t where I wanted it, some fifteen minutes later I felt a light tension on my finger, then a powerful pull in actual fact it seemed like a savage pull, as the rod went one way I pulled the rod back in the opposite direction, line was stripped off my reel, the rod was well bent into its fighting curve, the fish moved off fast into the flowing water then down and across towards the far bank, “had I hooked a salmon” I thought, what also took me by surprise was the head shaking, it didn’t feel like a salmon or a chub, perhaps it was a big cannibal trout. Some minutes later I got the chance to get some line back on the reel, but most of it was quickly taken back. Slowly I started to get the fish back upstream, still I didn’t have a clue what I was hooked up to. As the minutes went by I thought it might be a foul hooked fish, a few more minutes then I got my first glimpse of the fish. “That’s a big chub” I said to myself, then I got a good view of the fish its was a beautiful silver golden chub, probably the best I’ve ever seen, then I realised I might have to go in the river to net the fish, even though my landing net was fully extended I might well have problems. Immediately I reached into my pocket then dumped my wallet on the bank, preparing myself for a wetting probably up to my chest. Leaning out over the water and pushing the net forward as far as possible I proceeded to draw the fish towards the net, twice it dived, then I got it back. Slowly I got the fish nearly over the net leaning a bit more forward I got half the fish in the net, then it was out again, I got another chance this time it was nearly in so I lifted the net handle as best I could, but I needed more lift so dropped the rod, then used both hand and arms eventually it was just about in the net lifting it as best I could, I managed at last to get the fish on the bank. Out with scales and weight bag, zeroing the scales, I gently put the fish into the bag then hooked the bag on the needle, it went to 6 lb 4 ounces then quickly dropped back to 5 lb 14 ounces. It was without doubt the nicest chub I have ever caught, in the sunshine the scales of the fish were a lovely silver gold colour, the camera doesn’t do the fish justice. Back at the water edge I lowered the net, immediately the fish was fighting to get out of the net when it did get free it went off like a torpedo out from its tube, I’ve never seen a fish move so fast even when spooked. That ended my chub session today, I was more than happy.


Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]