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


17/11/2019 - It Was A Cold Wet Windy Day On The River

Coxon Aerial-my top bread and float made in the 1930's


It Was A Cold Wet Windy Day On The River

Today Monday 11 November I’d planned to fish the Ribble in the Ribchester area, but that was out as I’d been told the banks were too treacherous. It wasn’t a pleasant day when I arrived on stretch of the fast rising and coloured river Ribble, at least my banks were safe within reason, the blustery heavy rain with hail showers a westerly 16-20 mph wind made conditions horrid, but fish I would, thankfully the wind was from an upstream direction which would at least aided my float fishing. Some anglers no doubt would question my sanity, but I need to walk two miles a day minimum, so why not fish a few favourite swims along the way. I’ve never turned down a challenge in my working or sporting life, in fact if I didn’t take on the challenge with my Multiple Sclerosis I reckon I would still be fishing from a wheelchair.

Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 40 degrees F that told me conditions would be tough, my target fish would be grayling, perch, dace or chub, I have found all species will feed in low water temperatures, the other species will of course feed once the temps had been low for a few days, I remember back in the 1950’s being told bream, barbel, rudd and carp wouldn’t feed after October utter rubbish, we caught more than our fair share of these species. Another bit of nonsense was pike will only feed on a bright cold and frosty day, my experience was the opposite, the mild cloudy days were best for pike, I’m not saying you can’t catch pike on those frosty days, you can bur there not the best days. If the river was bank high and coloured we would target the bream, many sessions one of us would get around a 100 lbs fishing the right swim.

My tackle choice today was 12 Milwards Swimversa which Colin Culley managed to find for me after a long search, its virtually new, probably only been used a couple of times. I matched it with Colin Culley’s Coxon Aerial with 4lb breaking strain line, my float was a cork on quill made by Grandad Turner sometime in the 1930’s see picture 1 the float and reel are resting on a loaf of Roberts extra thick sliced bread which I find ideal for crust and flake, as you can see at the bottom of the float the Olivette weight with 4 AAA shot, when I have a quiet moment I get a few floats that I’m likely to use during the next few fishing trips, then I attach a small length line to the float before adding what I feel the float will take, to check I have the right weight using a large bottle of water to test the float in pic 2. It saves me a lot of hassle at the waterside, as I can put together my outfit and leave it made up in a rod sleeve, then attached a hook to nylon with a loop to loop system on the day. Today as I was using the Coxon I couldn’t make up my tackle in advance, the reel is to valuable to try and fit in a rod sleeve.

During dry weather I usually use a basket when trotting, though in the autumn and winter I will use a fibre glass box with a harness so I can walk the banks with it on my back like a rucksack, this keeps my tackle camera etc dry and mud free cost just over £30-00. I find I am more proficient sitting slightly higher on the bank than in a chair when trotting. My baits were red worms, bread and wheat, after a long walk downstream I found a quiet stretch of water some five six yards in length with a depth around six feet, before it ended in fast broken water see pic 4. Having checked the depth by running the float through I found it averaged six feet, knowing there are lots of rocks along the stretch I chose to fish the bait a few inches off the bottom. Conditions were getting worse by the minutes the rain was so heavy I had a job at times in seeing the float clearly.

I’d been there some thirty minutes when the chiming of the 12 century church clock ( (which is mentioned in the Doomsday book) started to bring up 1100 hrs the time of the Remembrance Day two minutes silence. I moved away from my tackle, removed my hat then stood at attention then as the time reached 1100 hrs, with bowed head I remembered those who gave their all so I could do what I’m doing today, also remembering my parents, Uncle Len who took me on my first fishing trip and all those who didn’t return. With rain streaming down my face I returned to my tackle box retrieving my towel to dry myself off the best I could. Then it was back to fishing, For an hour I cast across the stream trotted a red worm down the area of quiet water, eventually I got a bite, soon I was swinging a grayling to hand no bigger than eight inches, but it was a start. Thirty minutes later I moved to a small area of quiet water best described as a pool rather than a length of river. I catapulted two pouches of stewed wheat into the area, then baited with a single grain on a size 14 hook Half an hour later I switched to bread punch, first swim through I the float dipped soon I was swinging a chub about ten inches to hand, three casts later I had another fish of similar size. Half an hour with no more bites, I switched to a red worm with a plastic red gentle, The float dipped halfway down the pool, striking I felt a heavier fish turning and twisting in the current, “typical grayling” I thought, then the fish really did put up a struggle as I was drawing across the fast water between me and the far bank swim, suddenly all went slack, what I thought was my first decent fish was gone. I persevered for about two hours catching two more small grayling and a chub but gave up in the end feeling very wet and cold. At least I had my exercise , caught some small fish, had three sightings of a kingfisher and two roe deer.

More Water In My River

Today Tuesday I was on the river around 1000 hrs the river was around six feet plus high, the colour of kaki, visibility was nil, if I was to be fishing today it would be a chunk of my smelly three year old cheese paste, Mark can vouch for the smell as he often gets a whiff of it several yards away, even the mice leave it alone, but the fish like it. It was busy day clearing the gutters of leaves on my cabins, also the metal channels set into the gravel road so the water can move from right to left down these channels onto the field, and not down the gravel track where its likely to cause pothole damage. On my bottom cabin a stream flows into the river through a three foot diameter concrete pipe, debris had causing a blockage including a large branch that had broken from a tree upstream, this was causing the water to come over the bank towards the cabin. I didn’t think it would be a problem to clear. Before anyone starts saying “I put my life at risk forget it” I am quite capable of working out if it’s. Putting on my chest high waders, I then attached a rope around my waist which had been tied to a nearby tree, then slowly lowered myself in the water, half an hour later I’d cleared the rubbish, including the tree branch by cutting it into three manageable lengths, with the water now flowing into the river, I was ready for a brew with a cheese and pickled toasty, an hour later I decided to go off home.


Water bottle for testing loading for floats

Tackle box

First swim

Flood water swim

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]