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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/04/2020 - Looking Back

Some of my sea trout flies


Having returned home after a great week on the River Beult, followed by a trip to the River Soar, I turned my attention to my local River Ribble, my first choice of species on this river are chub, but as they are the last species to return to good condition after spawning I choose not to target these fish until later in the season. I decided to direct my attention to the trout at night due to the low water conditions, during the evening session a couple of days later some iron blue’s and midges or buzzers were coming off, in a quiet area shielded by a wood from a cold wind. I had a 9 foot 5 weight rod, floating line with a 12 foot tapered leader with a 3lb tippet.Having watched the water for about thirty minutes I marked down a fish, feeding on the Iron blue dun’s between the big rock and the bank, a gap of no more than three feet. The overhanging willow bush no more than two feet from the water surface, should I get hooked up in the willow, the fish would be spooked. I switched from the 3lb tippet to one of 2lb then tied on a size 18 Iron blue Making a cast upstream, the fly dropped six feet above the feeding fish then drifted slowly downstream towards me, retrieving line as the fly drifted towards the rock, it was taken, feeling the hook the fish went upstream then out towards the centre of the river busting the cast off against the rough surface of the rock, I was left with a limp line.Moving to a spot some thirty yards downstream where midges were coming off, with an occasional fish taking emerges. Having watched the area for several minutes I chose a size 20 suspended midge pupa cutting back the leader from 12 feet to 9 feet then tying in some extra fine 1.5lb tippet de-greasing a foot of line close to the midge pupa. I had no worries with rocks or other snags, the fish were feeding under the far bank trees, they shouldn’t cause me a problem. In a two hour session, I had six takes missing the first two, then connecting with four fish averaging about 1.5lbs I was more than happy with the result. I then made my way upstream for a late supper and some rest before trying for a big trout.

Fun in the Darkness

Having had an hours sleep, I made a brew with some cheese on toast, tackle was a 7 weight T&T matched with a floating line to which I attached a ten pound tapered leader on the advice of Dave Riding who advised me to use a leader of around 3 feet in length when fishing a waking lure as often the fish will take it quite gently, using a longer leader you wouldn’t notice the take, Dave who ties my flies is one of the best in the business, when he ties my Richard Walker mayfly nymphs he uses the exact colour and make of silk as Richard Walker used, I doubt if I could have a better fly tier.I take his advice whenever it’s given, looking through my fly box I made sure I had some waking lures, I use these patterns on dark nights in the faster water, on the beat I plan to fish I had several areas where the waking lure might work. Even better the forecast was for a warm dark night with a thick cloud base, when seeking big trout at night, I never attempt to start fishing until an hour after sunset, start too soon and its usually the kiss of death. One of my successful wake lures is one by Hugh Falkus, it’s also accounted for some big chub. It’s surprising how many good chub with hit these lures, but I do find I miss a lot of takes or snatches from trout and chub. Fishing waking lures is for a pitch black night, fishing under any other conditions, waking lures are in my opinion and experience a waste of time. Another good lure is a mouse pattern, which can often be successful on dull days fished close to a bank with over hanging trees.It was around 2300 hrs when I made my way downstream until I reached the area where I plan to start, slowly I waded out into the river trying my best not to create waves which can quickly spook the trout, reaching some fast water I stood for some fifteen minutes letting everything settle and taking in my surrounding, just upstream a good trout slashed at a moth. My first cast was across and downstream then letting out several yards of line I could faintly make out the lure, then felt it swing across the water then settle directly below me. It’s surprising how you can feel the line throbbing in the current. After several minutes I will draw the lure upstream in a series of short and long pulls. Hits can often be savage other times you just feel tiny take, you must concentrate a 100% at all time.Tonight was so silent, no foxes or owls calling, there wasn’t even a quack from a duck, the only sound was the odd fish swirling on the surface, or the gurgle of the water around my chest high waders.

Fish On

I’d been fishing about two hours getting three savage takes, but no hook ups, I moved downstream several yards to fish some fast water over clean gravel between two large clumps of swaying water crowfoot, half an hour later I had a confident pull then set the hook into my first fish, twice I was forced to give line as the fish went off fast downstream, I had a tussle trying to get the fish back upstream, suddenly it went off on another fast run, eventually after some heart stopping moments the fish was netted a surprise trout, not what I wanted but still welcome. It was quickly released, estimated it around 4lb. Slowly I made my way back to the bank saying to myself “It’s a good job I’ve got a wading staff” these can a life saver, never wade at night without one, it doesn’t matter how well you know the river.

Tail of the Weir

My next stop was to fish the tail of a small weir pool, with a snake pattern tied by Dave Riding who tied flies for Hugh Falkus, it resemble an eel and is extremely good, not just for sea trout, but also big browns bass and chub. I had a fish within fifteen minutes estimated around 3lbs plus with big red spots which was returned, then nothing in the next thirty forty minutes, feeling the strain of being on the water I decided to call it a night, fifteen minutes later I’m lying on the camp bed feeling shattered but happy with my results, especially catching those browns on the pupae. This year I reckon I will be lucky if I get a chance of fishing until July at the earliest, but if its case of no fishing and stopping at home, it makes sense to me these medical people are best placed to give advice not us the general public., I do get fed up with the nonsense I reads in the angling press that the writers can’t cope without going fishing utter rubbish.Picture a selection of flies, note the mouse pattern which has accounted for several big browns, also chub, pike and on one occasion a 3lb perch in daytime.

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Martin James Fishing
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