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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


11/08/2020 - Another Good Chub

A perfect chub


After a night of lightning and thunderstorms I didn’t know what to expect when I got up this morning around 0530 hrs, checking the local news I heard that Dunsop Bridge in the Ribble valley close to the river Hodder had an inch of rain in a short time, checking the river levels of three rivers close by that I fish, the Aire, Calder and Ribble I found the river levels were up about six to eight inches making them all fishable, I thought sea trout on the Ribble could be a safe bet. The forecast was light wind with sunshine, no rain or lightning forecast until the early hours of the night.

It Wasn’t Fly Fishing Water

It was around 0930 hrs when I arrived on the banks of the Calder to see it was the colour of Cherry Brown boot polish, moving away I headed off to the Ribble, the colour was the same, fly fishing was out, I thought about travelling a few miles downstream but had my doubts about the roach fishing today, the water conditions were probably best for barbel, these days I don’t have much interest in catching these fish, chub, roach and perch are my target fish when I get the chance. In the end I decided to fish a stretch of water where I have permission to fish with safe car parking which is so important these days, some ten miles from home. Arriving and parking up I pulled on my boots and waterproof trousers, then walked upstream for about a mile noting three interesting spots, one was where the flow swept across from the far bank to my side of the river, caused by the obstruction of a large tree forty feet plus in length that had fallen in the water last winter, which had a very large root base, with a massive weight of soil, no way was that tree going to move for a long time. One swim that caught my interest was where the water flowed along my bank, a large willow hung over the water some of its branches trailing in the water certainly an ideal chub swim, but there was no way I could fish upstream of this willow. I found a spot some ten yards downstream of the willow, where I could cast upstream above the willow, then hope I could get bait to trundle downstream at the same time the water flow coming off the far bank would help sweep the bait under the willow then down towards me.

Tackle and Bait

As usual when I go off trout fishing, there is some coarse fishing tackle in the car, not knowing what conditions would be like I had taken some bait from the refrigerator, a ball of cheese paste along with some sausage meat paste, not the usual stuff you find in supermarkets, this is made to a recipe from 70 years ago that my grandfather put together, these days it has an additional flavour. I walked upstream so I was above the willow, then threw in some samples, hoping it would be pushed down the flow under the tree perhaps sampled by a fish or two, while other bits would trundle further downstream towards where I would be sitting.

My tackle set up was quite simple, Chevin rod matched with a Diawa Certate 3000 fixed spool reel filled with 6lb bs Gamma line to which I attached a size 4 barbless hook with Palomar knot, then lightly pinched on a BB shot eighteen inches from the hook which I covered with a thin coating of plasticine, more like a thick paint, if it gets stuck in some rocks, usually it will slide free leaving some of the plasticine behind, nothing technical just a simple set up.

Three Missed Bites Then A Hook Up

I reckon I spent nearly twenty minutes or more getting the size of the sausage meat to trundle down the swim, eventually ending up with a piece the size of a pigeon egg, too big a piece it didn’t trundle, too small it was swept down towards me, often well off the bottom. Having got everything right I started to fish, in the first hour I had three good pulls missing all of them, I was puzzled at why I wasn’t getting a hook up, I could think of any reason, I had a blank half an hour without any interest, the weather getting extremely warm and uncomfortable, I got to thinking “How much longer did I want to sit out in the conditions” I then decided to tie on a size 6 barbless hook, thinking the size and weight of the hook was making a difference in how the bait acted in the water also the fish were getting suspicious, perhaps holding the bait in their lips.

Ten minutes later on the second trundle down the swim, the line quickly went slack, a long sweeping strike downstream found me connected to a fish, after a few minutes I netted a chub about 3lbs plus. Rebaiting I made a long cast upstream then concentrated taking in the line so I was always in contact with the bait. Half way down the swim I had a solid pull connecting with a fish that really did make the clutch sing as line was pulled off the reel, this fish wanted the sanctuary of the fallen tree on the opposite bank, I cramped on more pressure but still the fish didn’t ease up, suddenly it went off downstream, my thoughts were is it a barbel?, if not a salmon. After some five minutes or more it stopped in the middle of the river hugging the bottom, slowly I had to try and ease the fish off the bottom then upstream, I couldn’t move downstream with a wide deep stream in the way. Suddenly the fish kited in to my bank where there were several snags and rocks, leaning the rod out over the water as far as possible, I hoped to draw the fish further out from the bank, but it didn’t budge, I thought of going in the water but not sure of the depth I considered that dangerous, I was desperate to see what I had on the end of the line. Suddenly for no reason the fish gave up the struggle it was then I realised I’d got a good chub, then thought, was it foul hooked? soon I got my first look at the chub, it wasn’t foul hooked, the line was clearly in the mouth of the fish, eventually I drew the fish over the net. The hook was well inside the mouth of the fish. Was my idea the fish were suspicious of the size 4 hook? I will never know. On the scales the fish weighed 5 lb 9 ounces, it was without doubt one of the best looking chub I’ve ever caught, broad shoulders, scale and fin perfect, just notice the row of golden scale also it solid body, best described as the perfect chub. I was more than happy and chose to go off home, tomorrow I will be fishing a new venue where I hoping to float fish flake for roach if conditions are suitable.



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Martin James Fishing
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