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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


24/07/2020 - A Session With The Float

Having enjoyed a good session with chub on Monday, today the weather was ideal for float fishing, thick cloud base with rain showers, the river had a glass smooth surface, conditions couldn’t really be better. I would spend a few hours float fishing, the swim was around 3-4 feet with gravel, small stones and the occasional football size rock, at the base of the high bank, I had several willow bushes on my right extending downstream for ten yards, some with their roots in the water offering cover to fish on a bright sunny day, I had a gap in the willows about four feet, then more willows and alders extending twenty yards upstream. To reach my swim at the base of a high bank about ten feet, at the base I had a dry bit of bank a few inches above the waterline four feet in length and three feet in width, just enough room to for my basket, mixing bowl, baits etc. I had a dog spike and rope, so I could slither down the bank and hopefully pull myself up at the end of the session, if I couldn’t manage that I would climb through the willows, then use the rope to haul my basket up the bank. The big consolation for me, I was out of sight from any other member, so I didn't need a face mask.

Tackle Set Up

I chose to use a 14 foot Acolyte plus weighing around 6 ounces, matched with my copy of a 1939 Aerial centre pin reel made for me by Leszek(Watermole) my model didn’t have a line guard, I find such a thing nothing but a nuisance plus the added weight. I had 50 yards of 4lb bs line ample enough for the float fishing I planned today, I used a balsa float made for me by Russ Shaw, painted a very bright orange which make it visible under most lighting conditions including drifting in and out of shadows which I often encounter when river fishing. My hook size was a 12 barbless whipped to 4 lb bs line. Having set the float at 4 feet, I lightly pinched on two AA shot 4 and 8 inches down from the float, with a BB 6 inches from the hook after a few casts and some slight adjustments I felt I had got everything right. While I had been sorting out the tackle I had several sightings of kingfishers, either diving in the water on the opposite bank then flying off to feed a mate or youngster, or just zipping up and down the river.

Bait and Ground Bait

Today I had two baits, bread and stewed wheat, the wheat had been cooked last year then put in the freezer so I have a ready supply when needed. I had half a loaf of sliced bread to use as flake or punched bread, my ground bait was finely mashed bread with some bran added to give nice light brown colour. My plan once I found I had fish in my swim was to feed no more than 4 grains of wheat every cast, with a pigeon eggs size ball of ground bait every sixth cast.

Fish From The Off

I made a cast of ten yards out and slightly downstream making sure the baited hook downstream of the float. the float travelled no more than three or four yards then dipped, the answering strike connected soon I had a chub around 10 ounces, rebaiting I fired in 3 grains of wheat then followed up with the baited hook, the float immediately disappeared another chub was hooked and landed similar in size to the first fish, this time the fish had taken the bait on the drop, baiting the hook two grains of grains of wheat followed the float which travelled five yards then disappeared, this time I a better fish, chub about a pound. For the next fifteen minutes it was a bite a cast, it was most interesting to see so many young chub which augers well for the future providing I can keep the cormorants and goosanders at bay.

I fished for three hours, occasionally I didn’t get a bite. I hooked and lost a few, also one fish broke me where the hook link joined the main line. It had been a very good session, I reckon I had fifty plus chub between 6 ounces and a pound, hopefully one I will repeat at the weekend on a stretch of the river further downstream where I’d been invited by the landowner to fish, also we have been promised some rain, hopefully the river will have an extra foot of water.



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Martin James Fishing
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