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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Pallatrax Cheese Feast Temps The Fish

Monday 20th February the rain fell non stop for probably 26 hours, the air temperature was going upwards, I only had one thought on my mind all day. The barbel will be feeding tomorrow. Unlike many parts of the country we are very lucky to have more than the average rainfall and long may it continue. The River Ribble today Tuesday was bank high the gauge on the bridge at Grindleton gave a reading of about 8 feet. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 43 to 44 degrees F.
I chose to fish a club water where I would have a big inside bend where the water under normal conditions was about a foot deep over a silty sandy bottom with a large tree in the water to deflect a lot of the water flow. Today that swim would be an ideal choice with a depth around ten or more feet. Being several miles downstream of Grindleton I checked the water temperature again getting a reading of 43 to 44 degrees F. The only problem fishing downstream of the River Calder was the amount of rubbish that flows downstream, but I hoped the fallen tree would deflect most of the rubbish away.

Bacon and Cheese with Some Additives
I had two baits my last pot of cheese feast and some sausage meat. My tackle set up was quite simple a 12 foot Avon action rod, Mitchell 300 reel filled with 12lb braid. The end rig was quite simple. I used a Stonze weight stopped by a Roberts leger stop some two feet from a size 4 barbless hook, using a Palomar knot to attach the hook to the braid.
The cheese feast bait which I have used on numerous occasions is a mixture of mature cheese with a bacon flavour, in my opinion the cheese feast in its normal condition isnít suitable to be fished directly on the hook being too firm. Though if you like fishing your bait on a hair, the paste is perfect for the job by moulding it around a small cork ball or a leger stop. I am not a fan of hair rigs.

What I make is a soft paste I can use on the hook which is quite easy, after tipping the mix from the pot; I break it into chunks before putting it in a food mixer, then adding three or four deserts spoons of olive oil along with a lump of Danish blue cheese. Switching on the mixer the whole lot gets swirled around until once again I have a soft paste; I then add some cheese glug making the paste even softer. I reckon the softer the paste bait is the more chance the fish will just suck it in. Itís the same with my sausage paste which I get made very soft.
Usually I put in a few items of bait or mashed bread then leave the swim alone for about an hour, not today I was just putting in one bait sample with a hook inside. I cast out so the tackle landed in the fast water on the outside of the crease or seam. As the tackle hit the water the rod was pulled round violently which I expected, I let out some line allowing the stonze weight to hit the bottom. After about a minute the rod tip slowly started to straighten until the baited hook settled in the quieter water.
Chub Barbel and a Surprise Carp
Five minutes later I felt a light pluck then a slow pull, a bite that couldnít be missed. After a brief tussle I netted a chub about 3lbs. unhooking the fish I carried it downstream about 20 yards before releasing the fish. Rebaiting with another chunk of paste I put the bait out into the swim, as usual the rod was pulled round savagely after a minute or so it started to straighten as the bait settled once again in the quiet water, As I sat holding the rod I watched a pair of oysters catchers going through a breath taking aerial display that would put a fighter pilot to shame. As I sat spellbound at these oyster catchers I felt a sudden wrench on the rod immediately striking into a fish that moved out into the fast water as the reel gave line. For five or more minutes reckon the fish was the winner but slowly the pressure started to tell and soon I had the fish back in the quieter water where it done its best to get into the submerged tree branches, thankfully it didnít happen. Soon I had a nice fish about 8lbs in the net. After unhooking the fish I moved it about ten yards downstream then released it. Unlike chub I donít feel you need to move the fish very far.
In the next hour I had 3 more chub averaging 3lbs and five barbel about 5-6lbs. I then decided it was time for a brew and a fried egg sandwich. As I sat enjoying my break, the sky in a westerly direction started to change from its blue colour to a dark shade of grey as the sun disappeared so the wind increased.
Tea break over, I rebaited with another piece of cheese paste then cast out dropping the tackle once again into the main flow, slowly the rod tip straightened as the tackle settled in the slower water. Fifteen minutes later the rod tip pulled round in a savage manner the fish wanted its bit of bacon and cheese. Once more I was hooked up to a good fish which slowly but powerfully it moved out into the main flow. I really could feel the power of the fish right down into the cork handle. I thought at last after many years I might have a big barbell. For a good ten minutes I wasnít making much impression on the fish which really did convince me that I was hooked up to a big barbel. Five minutes later I started to gain line slowly I was winning the fight and once I had the fish in the slower water flow it just plodded up and down for a few minutes all the time I was slowly getting some line back on the reel. Without warning there was a boil on the surface, my barbel turned out to be a mirror carp, soon it was in the net. A fish about 12lbs. taking out the barbless hook I let the fish swim slowly out of the net. I fished on for another hour for just one more bite a barbel about 6lbs. With the light fading I called it a day and headed off home. With the forecast tonight of 3inches perhaps 4 inches of rain, I would be back on the river again tomorrow. Then its off to the Rivers Wye and Kennet.

Martin James Fishing