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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


17/12/2020 - A Brace Of Fives

Ground bait, gentles and other bits ready for float fishing

The past few days on the Ribble have been quite hard with the river up and down like a Yo-yo, Monday the river was up about 5 feet with a water temperature of 42 degrees F, I never had a touch after five hours of fishing with crust, flake, lobworms and sausage meat.

Tuesday the river had dropped to around 4 feet with a water temperature of 43 degrees F, I decide there was a chance of catching a few on the float, I chose to use a 15 foot rod, centre pin reel with 3lb bs line, using a balsa float taking 4 AAA shot bunched about 18 inches from a size 14 barbless hook. Having set out my bits and pieces I then made a few casts to check the depth choosing to fish the bait about three to four inches off the bottom, I then put in four balls of ground the size of a tangerine containing lots of dead gentles and hemp. I always have some water in a bait box so I can make my hands damp before balling the ground bait, I also find the balls don’t break up, also easier to throw. I then fired four pouchfuls of gentles well upstream. Ten minutes later I made my first cast catching a small grayling, quickly followed by several more grayling and dace. In the first hour it was virtually a bite a cast. I then had a fishless three hours what ever I tried. I then fished two other swims further downstream, still no interest so eventually I packed up.

Wednesday with a few jobs to do around the river which lasted until around early afternoon, I then went off to the shops in readiness for Christmas, I didn’t want my wife out and about in the wet cold weather. Arriving home around 1700 hrs ready for dinner.

Thursday once again the river had over 4 feet of extra water with a water temperature of 43 degrees F, my guest today was Tony from Stockport who is desperate to catch a five pound chub, today I took him on a very private stretch of water where only a handful of anglers can fish. One of the top spots is the ‘Big Oak’ where I suggest he gives it half an hour using crust and lobworms, on the way to the ‘Big Oak’ I pointed out to Tony a couple of others swims, including the ‘Drop Off’ a swim where my friend Brendan and myself have had some very good fish, another friend David lost a very big chub in this area, though it wasn’t seen David estimated it might have been a six, as he told me at the time, “I reckon it was the biggest chub I’ve ever hooked”

We met up at lunchtime over a brew he told me, “the water looks ideal also the swims are exciting to fish, about 1430 hrs I decided to fish a swim a bit further downstream, my plan of action was to keep feeding bread mash. For the first half an hour I kept putting in golf ball sizes of mash, also catapulting out pieces of bread flake. My tackle was 11ft Avon action rod, small fixed spool reel with 8lb bs braid to which I added three float stops, then attached a size 4 barbless hook with a Palomar knot, weight was the usual plasticine moulded around the float stops some six inches from the hook.

                                                              Trout and Chub

In six casts I caught six trout, I do find in winter the trout soon home in on bread, I then chose to fish a very big chunk of bread flake, casting out I allowed the bait to roll downstream coming to rest under a big alder tree, after a few minutes I got a tiny tap quicky followed by another tap, I immediately made a strike connecting with a powerful fish that took line off the clutch, “No silly trout” I thought “It’s got to be a chub” after a good scrap I got my first glimpse of the fish, saying to myself ”That’s a good fish” eventually it was in the net, as it did so the hook fell from the fish, I quickly moved the fish into a plastic bag then hoisted it on the scales, the needle went to 5lb 3 ounces dropping back to 5lb 1 ounce, after a quick picture I walked well upstream before releasing the fish. I was once more a happy angler, despite the cold wind and rain. As I sat thinking what bait I should use a fish rolled upstream, “That’s worth catching” I said to myself, then thought of moving upstream to cover the fish, but chose to stay where I was and fish a bit of crust upstream, as the weight settled, I gently tightened the line to put a slight bend in the tip. Twenty minutes or so later the tip sprang back as the line dropped slack, I made a big sweeping strike down stream, then felt the hook connect with a good fish, this time it went out towards midstream using the fast water to its benefit, then trying to get in the branches of a sunken tree. For about ten minutes it was a slogging match the fish not wanting to give an inch, but slowly the pressure told, I started to get back line until eventually I had the fishing coming towards the net, then it was mine, I immediately realised I’d got another five pound chub. On the scales it weighed 5 lb 8 ounces, a quick picture, I released it well upstream. I fished on until 1730 hrs without any more bites from chub but did catch three trout. The end of a very happy session, I will be back tomorrow with my friend Brendan, but the forecast is heavy rain.

My first five pound chub of the day

5 lb 8 ounce chub

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Martin James Fishing
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