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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


While My Friends Went Shopping-I Caught Chub and Barbel

At 4 o'clock this morning a light rain was falling with just a light breeze, it felt quite mild. I was going off to the studio as I had a busy morning with 3 guests starting with Jon Neafcy secretary of region 31 of the PAC in Lancashire, My second guest was Clint Walker of Pallatrax who was followed at 9 o'clock by Alan Roe a great all round angler, I reckon Alan is one of the best Wallis casters in the UK.

Interviews over I had breakfast, then it was backing to editing all the interviews for 3 future programmes. Just before 12 noon I did a live piece for Steven Low's countryside programme on BBC Radio Lancashire. During which I told the listeners “The water temperature on the River Ribble this morning was 41 degrees F, up from 36 degrees F on Saturday afternoon. With a rise of over 3 feet on the river it’s barbel time. Conditions were as good as we could wish for”

At 1 o’clock work finished I was off to the River Ribble, pulling into the car park I was surprised to learn I had the place to myself, I chose to fish just downstream of where a 30 foot lime tree had been in the river for some time which created delightful slack. I chucked in a dozen pieces of chicken egg size sausage meat, then made my way back upstream to my car for a quick brew then sort out the tackle.

I couldn’t understand why no other anglers were out; it was a lovely day for fishing. As I sat enjoying my tea in the warm autumn sunshine I called several friends to see where they were fishing. None of them were out with a fishing rod. John told me his wife insisted he should take her to Manchester shopping; David was at home, he thought it was to cold, Brian had to visit IKEA. Thankfully I was born in an age when we males were trained to fight wars, do a weeks work and bring home the money, while the woman looked after the kids, housework and shopping. I’m told it’s not fashionable these days. Thankfully my generation didn’t have to change nappies.

Barbel and Chub on Paste Baits

My shoulder bag contained hooks, LG shot, swivels, various breaking strains of fluorocarbon and braid for hook links, thermometer and other bits and pieces. Baits were sausage paste, cheese paste with a box of gentles that Alan Roe had given me this morning. I reckon fishing would have to be hard for me to use those little grubs; I reckon if I couldn’t catch on my two paste baits, I would struggle with any other bait. But no doubt the robins and other birds would find the grubs to their liking.

An hour after putting in some free offering of bait I was back in the swim ready to try and catch something. I am convinced it pays to leave the swim alone for a while after putting in bait, it gives the fish a chance to find those free offering then feed with confidence. Let me say now, you should never cast the weight and bait on top of the fish. Make a cast well past the baited area, then feather the line so the bait and weight enter the water as quiet as possible. I hold the rod high then guide the bait and weight across the stream until it’s in the area where I want the bait, quickly lowering the rod tip. It might sound difficult reading this in print, but I can assure you its very easy to achieve.

My first fish a barbel about 5lbs come about half an hour after starting to fish, followed by 3 more fish in the next thirty minutes. All on sausage paste, the fish roughly the same size as the first one. Then I had a quiete period of about an hour; the sky was now clear of any cloud the northerly wind chilly on the back of my neck.

In very quick succession I had several chub around the 3lbs mark. Half an hour later I had another barbel this was followed by another barbel about twenty minutes later. Then followed a long bite less spell, the only spot of interest was watching a robin perched on the rim of the bait box happily filling itself with gentles.

As the light started to fade, the air temperature dropped, winding in my rod I went off to the car for some warmer cloths including my neck warmer. Back in the swim I rebaited then cast out allowing the bait to roll further down the swim, pulling on my gloves I sat back holding the rod willing the tip to pull round, as the darkness engulfed me I switched on the torch to illuminate the rod. I reckon an hour had gone before the rod tip pulled round. Another chub about 3lbs. This was followed by a better fish, which might have gone 4lbs.

As I switched on the radio for the weather forecast, the tip pulled round savagely, I expected a barbel but no this was a chub, it was a good one. After about ten minutes I started to draw the fish towards the net switching on my head lamp as I did so. I the light I could see a very good chub, “That’s a good six I said” then it was gone. I was gutted. I fished on until 7 o’clock then packed in. It had been a very goods session and the river belonged to me.

Martin James Fishing