fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


12/02/2024 - A few Chub

Willow bush swim


 Over the past few ,months the river has been up and down like a “YO-YO”, for three days the river was iced over from bank to bank, with water temps down to 34 degrees F. I wasn’t put off, every time I had the chance of a lift, I would grab my gear, then spend a few hours on the river often fishing until late in the evening, there were time when it was around 2200 hrs when I packed up.

My last three trips have all ended in blanks, but that’s part of angling, on one of those sessions though I blanked, my friend Ian had 4 x 4 lbs plus chub so it was worth the effort in combating the conditions. I got a call asking if I wanted to go on the river for a few hours even though conditions are not good, my answer was an immediate “Yes” the river was falling, as was the water temperature, it was an icy cold easterly wind often gusting to 40 mph, with sleet showers with snow on the high ground. The sky was leaden grey the colour of the grey slates on a row terraced houses of the past, I wouldn’t catch anything sitting indoors.

The river it didn’t look good, at least I was getting some decent exercise, it would entail during the session covering some two miles walking along the river bank and across the fields, which I am comfortable with, if I fall over on the soft earth etc, I’m not likely to break a hip, on the foot paths I worry all the time, apart from Stonis of the spine, I often lose the sight in my right eye causing me to lose my coordination where I often fall over. I chose to fish in a small copse where I would have a bit of shelter, I’m not a fan of umbrellas, though I do have one.

As I was fishing in the shelter of the trees, I wasn’t to bothered by the wind, also I carry a large bin liner where I keep my gear dry. Today I chose to fish two swims one upstream of a willow bush that was partially in the water, where I would be fishing over a fine sand and silt bottom, if this didn’t produce after an hour or so, I would move downstream then fish upstream towards the bush.

The first job was to take the water temperature, living only half a mile, if that from the river, I try and check the temps every day. I got a reading of 38 degrees F, a drop five degrees from the day before, not a good sign, but having caught fish before when there is a sudden drop, I set about sorting out the tackle. Today I used my 11 foot soft Avon action rod, with a small fixed spool reel, loaded with 6lb bs Gamma line to which I attached two float stops, then a size 4 barbless hook, plasticine would be used as weight, I find this a lot better than shot or leger weights where the bottom is often rocky. My first swim upstream of the willow bush, as I only fishing crust and flake to start with needed the weight of an LG shot, if I switch to cheese or meat, I will free line these baits in this swim.

Having got me self-set up I made ready to make my first cast, only to find the bread was left in the car park, still the walk done me good, back in my swim I baited with a piece of crust, then with a gentle underhand cast dropped the bait just short of the branches in the water then allowed some slack so the bait could be pushed further under the branches where I though the fish would be, with the low water temperature I didn’t put in any free samples.

After about half an hour I replaced the crust with cheese paste and removed the plasticine, as I reckon the cheese paste was heavy enough to fish it freelined. Another half an hour, with no sign of any interest it was time to move. The next spot was downstream of the bush, having got settled in I added some plasticine then made a few casts adjusting the weight until I felt it was correct. After baiting with crust on a short link I cast out then used a dough bobbin, to let me know if I had a drop back bite or a fish had picked the bait then moved deeper under the branches. An hour later in the fading light with no interest, I checked with Ian who said “No sign of interest” My answer was “They might come on half an hour after dark, which is something we have often experienced before”.

I decided it was time for a bacon sandwich with a mug of OXO and a dash of pepper. Fifteen minutes later, I ‘m ready to try and catch a chub, it was time for a bait change, I baited the hook with a chunk of Garlic sausage, cast out and sat back watching the bobbin in the torch light. The snow and sleet had changed to heavy rain which was more welcome, though I doubt if the river will be fishable until Sunday, but if I get offered a lift I will go. In the distance owls were calling, behind me I hear a fox bark, as it did so it disturbed the pheasants, eventually all was quiet.

Suddenly without warning the rod was wrenched round, I just managed to grab it as it was sliding down towards the water. Grabbing the rod I didn’t need to strike the fish had hooked itself, as line was taken off the reel. At long last I though “I’ve got a fish” after an interesting giver and take for five minutes I got a glimpse of the fish in my head torch, then I was able to draw the fish over the net, it was mine. On the scales it weighed 4lb 2 ounces, “That will do” I said to myself. After a quick picture I walked well upstream to release the fish.

In the next two hours I had several more bites, first one accounted for a fish of 3lb 6 ounces, the next fish was around 3lbs. I then had two good bites hooked both fish, but they dived deep under the bush then snagged me, I had to pull for a break on both occasions. I can say now “Its not so easy putting the line through the eye of the hook, with a head torch beam. Having got sorted out I chose to fish the bait a few yards further out from the bush, I would then hopefully get any fish that tried to get under the bush well away from danger. Half an hour later I got a god hook up only to lose the fish close to the net. My final bite of the session accounted for another chub about 3lbs. Half an hour later we called it a day. It was then a long walk back, where I had to get out of the trees, but succeeded without trouble. Now waiting for another session.

Ref pic of chub, the picture is properly exposed. i.e. the shiny fish scales are not blown out which is a problem with flash shots. The reason why the mid tones (grass) looks dark is 1. It was dark, but more particularly it's down to the shutter speed used. 1/60th of a second is the default for flash images on most cameras, not enough time to record any ambient light, the flash becomes the light source, not that there is much, so it comes out dark...only by using a longer shutter speed would you be able to bring out the shadow details, ,but at the risk of blurring the image or over exposing the shiny fish scales. but then I would need to carry a tripod.


My best chub of the session

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]