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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


26/01/2023 - Itís My Lucky Day

6 lb 3 ounce chub

After looking after Bill on Monday, I returned home feeling quite shattered, though all I had do was walk up and down the river, trying to get Bill a few grayling without success, yes the water was a milky colour through snow broth with a water temperature of 38 degrees F but that not an excuse for failure. Tuesday and Wednesday my legs didn’t want to work, even in bed they were quite painful.

Today I didn’t have to make a long walk to the river, yesterday one of my members asked “Could I pay my subs, also have a day’s grayling fishing”, I said “Yes, would you be kind enough to give me a lift”, the answer was an immediate “Yes I will pick you up around 1000hrs”. The following day was perfect for angling, light 5mph wind, overcast with some sunny periods, checking the gauge it was a falling river, what more could I wish for?

At 1000 hrs Liam was at the door, around half an hour later we pulled into the car park, first job was to get the stove out for a brew, then we tackled up, Liam fly fishing for grayling, I was going to try for some chub, I put together a Peter Stone Legermaster rod with honey coloured glass blanks, then attached a small fixed spool reel loaded with 12lb bs braid, having threaded the line through the guides, I added two float stops on the line then tied on a size 8 barbless hook.

Liam went off upstream while I went downstream into the second field, having chosen my first swim I settled in, next job was to check the water temperature, as I retrieved the thermometer it come off the line settling on a rock, I had two choices, strip off and go in the water, or try to retrieve it with the net, I tried the second idea, no chance.

My friend David who had come down for a chat, suggested winding all the line in just leaving the hook protruding from the end of the rod, then trying to hook the thermometer under the clip, I let David try this idea, It worked first try, a second lucky time for me today. I got a reading of 42 degrees F that is a rise of 6 degrees F from the previous Thursday, despite the snow broth that had gone in the river, thankfully its been a very slow thaw.

It was time to make my first cast I baited with three cubs of luncheon meat, my idea behind this idea is as follows. ”Having watched chub feed over some sixty years, I have noticed chub often pick up the bait in their lips then move off with it, its then dropped, to be picked again several minutes later, then they move off again in doing so the bait is taken into their mouth. On other occasions we get a quick movement on the rod tip as they snatch the bait. I feel many of the bites we miss are down to this happening first time, I have left the baited hook minus a cube of meat or with paste baits a piece taken from the bait, where the chub leaves an imprint of their lips. Please don’t pooh pooh this thinking, as I can assure you it happens.

Half an hour later I got a slight pull, then a quick pull missing the fish, bring in the tackle I found a piece of meat missing, I recast, probably an hour later the rod tip moved in a slow confident manner, the strike connecting with what I though was a good trout, suddenly line was ripped off the reel, the clutch growled in protest, all I could do was hang, the rod was well bent, on occasions I could feel it down in the handle, the fish then moved into the very fast water, going off downstream, I felt it was a heavy fish, there was just an occasional heavy thump on the rod, which made me shudder at the thought it would get off.

For several minutes the fish did its best to get away, sometimes I though “Is it foul hooked” such was the fight. But slowly I started to gain some line without it being taken back, eventually I had it within ten yards I started to relax a bit thinking” If I don’t make a mistake it was mine, slowly and carefully I got it closer.

Then I got my first glimpse of the fish, saying “That’s a big five pounder” slowly I guided it closer to the sunken net, just a few feet to go as its coming in quietly, as it got over the net I lifted then it was mine. The hook was well inside the side of the mouth, it was quickly retrieved, grabbing scales weigh bag and camera I moved onto some grass, laying the net down I zeroed the scales then carefully slide the fish into the large carrier bag, hoisting it on the scales.

I got reading of 6 lb 5 ounces, I waited for the scales to settle, it was 6 lb 3 ounces and 6 lb 4 ounces I settled on the former weight, more than happy. Liam then turned up saying “My feet are frozen” I suggested we have lunch, then if he wanted to go off home I was happy to do so, so ended my very lucky day, hopefully I can walk to the river tomorrow.


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Martin James Fishing
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