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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Ribble Chub On The Feed

Despite the River Ribble last week being bank high for a couple of days, it was over the bank in some places. In the Sawley area the river was over the road. Though it was the colour of khaki it didn't stop the chub feeding. My plan was to fish for the salmon and sea trout but conditions were not suitable for fly fishing. I chose to target the chub, this week I've had three sessions catching fish on every occasion.

Bait and tackle choice was quite simple a soft Avon action rod, fixed spool reel with yellow braided line, I chose the yellow line as its easier to see where the line enters the water. Attached to the end of the line with a Polomar knot was a small swivel. I then tied on two feet of 6lb fluorocarbon which ended with a size 4 Pallatrax barbless hook. Bait was crust wrapped in Pallatrax cheese feast that I have adopted to my way of fishing. I soften up the cheese feast with some cooking oil, cheese spray and plenty of kneading until I have a nice soft yellow paste. You can use the paste as it come from the pot but you will have to use it it on a short hair and mould it around a small cork ball. Being a stiff paste its hard to pull a hook through and you will miss bites

I do not like to use a hair rig when targeting chub, I reckon I will miss many bites. Yes, I know you can catch chub on hair rigs, but how many do you miss, chub are not like carp and barbel which usually take the bait down. Chub often pick up the bait gently in their lips. then move away the rod tip pulls round, if you don't strike you will bring the bait back with part of it missing, but the fish will leave a perfect imprint of its lips. If you do strike the bait will be gone. Hair rigging in my opinion is an inefficient method. If your happy with your results then carry on, its not for me.

My first swim was at the tail of a salmon pool where the water slowed right down, in fact I could free line my cheese paste bait, I would make a cast out towards the far bank into the faster water then allow it to roll downstream as it did so it would move into the slow water and sit in a perfect crease or seam. The only problem I had were the trout that quickly homed in on the crust balanced cheese paste.

I had several good size trout before I hooked the first chub, as I hooked the fish it powered out into the fast water heading for the tree roots on the opposite bank but the well balanced tackle soon had the fish back in the quieter water which apart from some rocks was virtually snag free. After a good tussle the first chub was in the net. It looked as if if might go 5lbs so I quickly weighed it 4-13-0 but still a great fish.

A Surprise Grilse

In the next hour I had three more good chub all 4lb plus fish. After about an half hour quiete spell, the rod top pulled round savagely, the answering strike connected with a powerful fish. I thought "If your a chub your a big one" after some ten minutes I had my first glimpse of the fish. It was a grilse which is a first year salmon. I estimated it about 5lbs, I eased it into to some shallow water where I could bend down slip out the barbless hook then point the head of the fish upstream so it could continue its journey. Time for some lunch, after chucking in half a dozen free samples I headed off to the cabin for a mug of tea and some toast.

A Five Pounder

After spending about an hour in the first swim with just some trout for my effort I moved off downstream to a small wood, I chose a swim where the water flowed under a large horse chestnut tree where some of the branches trailed in the water also many of the roots were down in the water. The fish could seek sanctuary in this area from the cormorants. Though I have a licence to shoot cormorants I can only shoot five. I do find by firing lots of shots in the air during the course of the day especially around dawn, I do drive these fish eating birds off my stretch of river to other waters that don't bother getting a licence, or couldn't care less what happens on the river. I also work ten mink traps which has helped protect the fish and bird life, I also use these traps with peanuts to trap grey squirrels. We have noticed an increase in bird life, especially with kingfishers and song birds.

Within ten minutes of casting out a large chunk of crust wrapped in cheese paste, I had a small pull, a good chub was hooked and after about five minutes I had the fish in the net. It looked a good one I pulled out the weigh bag, zeroing the scales I placed the fish in the bag the needle went round to 5-3-0. Hopefully the first of many. In the next couple of hours I had just three good pulls, losing two fish in the tree roots, the one I did get was another four pounder.

The next two days I used the same tackle with bread crust wrapped in cheese paste catching a few fish each day. In some swims I did have to use one or two LG shot. Anglers often ask why wrap the cheese paste around bread crust? My reason for using this bait combination, is one the crust counter weights the large size hook, second the bait trundles down river in a more natural way often lifting several inches off the river bed just as a free offering of bait would do so. Also I have a lot of confidence in this way of fishing and I catch some good fish to keep me happy.

Martin James Fishing