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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Rolling Meat For Ribble Chub

Having fished for several days in a gale force easterly wind and rain showers for a handful of chub, I woke up on Wednesday morning to a clear sky, light wind and the prospect for mild weather conditions. This despite the bad weather forecast on the radio early in the morning. Prospects of a good day at the waterside were excellent. Breakfast over, I checked my mail then headed into town to collect some fresh bread, before picking up the daily paper and the Anglers Mail.

Back home with a fresh mug of tea, I read the Anglers Mail and the picture of the first 20lb barbel from the Great Ouse was impressive. I said to my wife "That's a huge fish" I had made a similar remark when Richard Walker was pictured with a 44lb carp in the Fishing Gazette. Saying to my Dad "Look at this huge carp" Its also interesting to note that back in the 1950's Walker had himself targeted what he and Colonel Crow thought were 20lb barbel on the Hampshire Avon.

I was going to fish for grayling on the Hodder, but having seen the river Ribble with a steady flow and carrying a few extra inches of water with some colour. I decided a session after the chub was called for. Though the early morning weather forecast promised heavy rain showers with wind gusting from the south east., it was nothing to worry about. I had good waterproof clothing. My bait bucket would contain bread, sausage and cheese paste, three baits I rate highly for chub. Having made some sandwiches, I grabbed two Avon rods, tackle bag and loaded the lot into the car, then headed off to the Ribble near Ribchester.

As I drove into the car park a dozen Canada geese flew low over a nearby field, in the middle of the bunch was a white farmyard goose which I found quite amazing. Threading the line through the rod guides, I then tied on a size 4 Partridge F7 barbless hook. A wren chattered loudly from a nearby hawthorn bush, on the other side of the car park another chirped back, the sun was trying to burn through the thin cloud, hopefully it wouldn't succeed.

Slinging the bait bucket over my shoulder, I picked up my rods and headed upstream, a cormorant flew low over the water. I cursed the bird under my breath. With so many small dace, chub and roach in the Ribble the last thing we wanted were some fish eating birds descending on the river. Three hundred yards further upstream, an angler fishing with stick float and double maggot on a size 16 hook was catching some nice roach between 12 ounces and a pound, plus some quality dace .

Half a mile further upstream I arrived at the area I had chosen to fish, a long steady glide below some fast swirling shallow and boulder strewn water. The swim I had chosen to fish, contained the odd football size boulder and a length of alder tree which had been in the river for several months. It was a spot where I have caught chub in the past. A kingfisher with its shrill whistle flew low over the river towards a large willow tree just upstream of where I was sitting then perched on one of the lower branches.

I had certainly caught the river just right with a water temperature of 50 degrees F, a nice flow and plenty of colour. My first choice bait was sausage meat and crust fished as a balanced paste, which I would roll down the swim. If it becomes lodged I gently lift the rod tip and the bait usually bounces over the obstruction. The way I fish is similar to Czech nymphing. Casting upstream several yards I kept the rod high as I followed the bait downstream, as the bait passes below me I lower the rod tip allowing the bait to trundle.. As it starts to swing into my bank I strike it off. Then rebaiting I start all over again.

A dozen lumps of sausage meat paste the size of a bantam egg, were catapulted upstream, followed by three orange size balls of mashed bread. I sat back too enjoy a fresh brew. A group of noisy long tailed tits settled in the Willow tree chattering away as they hunted for tiny flies and other insects.
After about an hour, it was time to make my first cast. Fifty minutes later I had a take which I missed. Rebaiting I cast upstream, as the bait trundled through my swim the rod tip pulled over, my strike connected. It was a chub about two and a half pounds. In the next two casts I had two more chub about 3lbs apiece. A dozen casts later I hooked a better fish which weighed 4-12-0. Shortly after catching this fish the rain arrived which continued for well over an hour, during which I didn't get a single take.

After topping up the swim with more bait size lumps of sausage meat paste and mashed bread, I walked back to the car for lunch. The float fisher was still catching. With some hot soup and fresh crusty bread I sat back watching the river. Lunch over I made my way upstream under a clearing sky, stopping on the way to talk with the float fisher, who was getting a bite every cast. Mostly small dace and chub.
Back in my swim a barbel rolled, conditions looked good. On my second chuck I had a barbel about 3lbs, quickly followed by another of the same size. Twenty minutes later I had a nice chub of 4-6-0. In the next thirty minutes I had three more small barbel. Then followed a quiet spell, I tried crust, flake, lob worms and cheese paste, with just one eel for my effort. A good couple of hours followed when I probably had 16 takes hooking 7 fish which included 3 chub of 4lb plus, three big chub weighing in at 5-4-0 5-10-0 5-14-0. I fully expected this latter fish to be well over six pounds. I suppose it was about 4-30 - 5-0 PM when I had a savage pull and hooking a heavy fish. The fish fought strongly heading upstream towards the Alder tree snag. Slowly the pressure started to tell and I was soon able to draw a very long fish over the net. My immediate though was, 'This could well be a six pounder' The scale needle hovered between 6-4-0 and 6-5-0 I decided on 6-4-0 It was time to go home after a great day at the waterside.

Martin James Fishing