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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Its Been A Busy Two Days and A Bonus Chub 16th February

It was a very foggy Saturday morning when left home around 3-45 for the BBC Radio Lancashire studio. Thankfully there were no idiots on the road as I drove through the thick fog at about twenty five miles an hour. It was a long working session as I tried to get all my work finished before going off to the Bahamas next week. I arrived back home about 2-30pm then after lunch I spent some working on my pond. About 4-0pm Mick Holgate Director of Football at Macclesfield football club arrived from a match at Burnley where his under 19 team had been the winners. We decided to have a two or three hours on the river Ribble close to home on a game fishing syndicate water. It was 4-40pm when Mick and I arrived at the waterside to find the Ribble very low and gin clear with a water temperature of 45 degrees F. Conditions didn't look good, though it would be nice just to sit there listening and watching the bird life.

I chose a swim where the water depth averaged two to three feet, my two rods both Avon's with centre pin reels and 6lb line with size 4 hooks were already made up. On one rod I lightly pinched on two LG shot a few inches from the hook, this outfit would be used for fishing crust or flake. On the other rod I was going to fish cheese paste and by using the old fashion sink and draw I could hopefully bounce the bait down the centre of the river. Mick had chosen a swim some fifteen yards upstream. Before I made my first cast Mick had his first fish a chub about two and a half pounds on bread crust.

A few minutes after he had caught his fish I made my first cast. Having worked the bait downstream without a take I struck off the bait off, then batting the reel I quickly had the size 4 hook to hand. Rebaiting with a fresh lump of paste about the size of a pigeon egg I dropped it some two thirds of the way across the river. After the bait had settled I lifted the rod tip so the bait was lifted off the bottom then lowering the rod I managed to get the bait to move slowly downstream. Within seconds I had a good pull and quickly landed a chub about two pounds. Three casts later I had another fish of about three and a half pounds.

Having spent some twenty minutes casting to various spots without success, I made a long cast downstream. After about a minute I lifted the rod tip trying to get the bait moving, as I did so I felt the line tighten. The strike connected with a better fish and after a brief struggle I netted a chub of 4lbs plus. The light was now fast fading fast, pheasants were crowing as they went to roost, an owl hooted in the nearby trees another owl answered back, in some bank side rubbish left over by the recent flood a wren was chattering away. It was wonderful just sitting there and enjoying the whole ambience of the occasion. I made another cast some two thirds across the river, then I slowly moved the cheese paste downstream, by lifting the rod tip then lowering the tip the bait slowly moved downstream. It had gone some twenty feet when I felt a small pluck then a good pull. The answering strike connected with a good fish which moved slowly but powerfully upstream. I quickly realised it was a heavy fish. As it continued to move slowly upstream it suddenly kited across to the far bank. The rod tip was savagely pulled down I was forced to give some line. As often happens with chub this fish suddenly moved downstream then towards my bank. I decided not to force the fish upstream but go towards the fish, I was soon able to draw a magnificent chub over the net. By this time Mick had arrived. When he looked at the fish laying in the net he said "That's the biggest chub I have ever seen". Zeroing the scales we weighed the fish the needle went to 6-10-0 then dropped back and settled at 6-7-0. Rummaging around in my tackle bag I found the tape measure the fish was twenty three and a half inches in length with a girth of fifteen and a half inches. It was a personal best chub. I punched the air with delight. We fished on for another couple of hours, I didnít get another take but Mick who was fishing with a new rod caught three chub the best at 4lbs. No way can the photographs do this big chub justice. As it lay on in the water it certainly looked huge, as I watched it swim off. I thought perhaps I will one day achieve my ambition of catching a seven pounder.

Clearing away the riverside rubbish

It was a bright sunny Sunday morning I was up and about by 7-0 am getting ready to go across to the river Aire. It was working party day, we would clear away some of the rubbish that had been deposited by the big flood early this month. A job that would take several visits. A dozen members of the Bradford City AA had turned up with saws, hammers, nails and all the other tools and materials needed to repair stiles and trim back some of the riverside trees and bushes. From about 9-30 am through until past 4-0pm. We worked away improving the riverside and aquatic environment. I spent several hours in the water taking plastic bags and sheeting from the riverside bushes and trees. It was cold, wet and dirty work. As I moved slowly upriver I would spook the odd big trout and grayling. I marked them down for when the season starts on March 25th. In Lancashire you can start trout fishing on the 15th of March but its ten days later in Yorkshire. I was nice to see some of the Water Crowfoot I had planted last May had survived the floods. I will be planting a lot more this year, but I will use wire baskets filled with stones, I will also fix them into the bed of the river with a metal spike. Hopefully this will keep them in position when the river is in flood next winter. It was a tired group of anglers who arrived back in the car park. I will be back on the river tomorrow clearing away even more rubbish.

Martin James Fishing