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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Big Brace of Summer Chub and a Huge Barbel for Comedian

A few months ago a fellow presenter at BBC Radio Lancashire told me that comedian singer song writer Phil Cool wanted to meet me. I said “Tell him to give me a call" Now this comedian is the world's only "Stand up Chameleon” who is armed with a controllable rubber face. He's not afraid to use it! Phil's body, too, seems to be able to defy the normal anatomical laws. With this unique weaponry, he can be anyone or anything instantaneously from international celebrity to intergalactic alien. He can be shockingly funny. And is one of the most original and unique comic talents to come out of Great Britain.

During the 1980’ and 90’s Phil was a familiar face on both BBC and ITV television, working with some great artists of the day such as Rolf Harris, Jasper Carrott and fellow angler is Chris Tarrant OBE. Phil’s escape from this hectic life was his wife Beverley and their three children; he enjoys the peace and quiet of angling and the countryside. A week later Phil called we chatted as anglers do and it transpired that Phil wanted to spend a day fishing with me. We arranged a day’s chub fishing on the River Ribble a day of heavy rain and gale force wind but Phil caught chub. I was impressed.

When the current trout fishing season started I invited Phil to join me on my stretch of the River Ribble. I suggested he fish a size 14 Grannom pattern on a twelve foot long leader, five weight floating line matched with a Thomas and Thomas nine foot Whisper-Lite rod completed his outfit. His casting was spot on, during the session he caught some fine brown trout. Other fly fishers on the day went fishless.

On our last fly fishing trip in May, Phil mentioned his lifelong dream was to fish the River Kennet; I invited him to join me for a few days in late June for a trip to his River of his Dreams. The first evening we fished the Wasing syndicate water Warren beat, where just on dusk he hooked and lost two good barbel. An hour into the darkness with no more bites we headed off to our accommodation.

Next morning I cooked, his favourite breakfast of kippers, toast and tea, breakfast over we were ready to go fishing. After stopping off to view the Rivers Enborne and Kennet, we paid a visit too Tadley Angling, where the first question your asked is it tea or coffee, soon Kevin’s delightful wife Lynne produced two mugs of tea, you even get offered biscuits. As I chatted with Kevin, Lynne and some customers Phil looked around the shop, as anglers do he couldn’t resist purchasing a new item of tackle, in this instance a Grauvelle 12 foot two piece rod designed for big river fish. Tea finished we went off fishing.

Condition were rather horrid, sunshine and clear blue sky, it was going to be tough going to get my guest a good fish. We roamed the Warren, Dalston and Woolhampton beats, I chose one where its little fished. One has to push through head high nettles and brambles, some swims have good tree cover and cabbages. (These are submerged water lilies, looking like the curled leaves of cabbage, hence the name). Most fish like these areas, especially the roach. The water is also a good venue if your seeking big perch. But as with all big fish it’s not easy and we all need a bit of luck. Choosing a likely swim I suggested Phil fish with legered crust.

Phil put together his gear the new Grauvelle rod, matched with a Shimano fixed spool reel, 10lb line and a size 6 hook. 2 LG shot were then lightly pinched on the line some five inches from the hook. I suggested he should bait with crust, then make a cast so the bait would fall close to some reeds, on his third cast he got it right. Within minutes the rod tip pulled round. First bite was missed, the same thing happened on the next two casts.

I suggested he hold the rod, then as the tip moves strike a bit more firmly. It worked beautifully soon the rod took on its battle curve as a good chub fought for its freedom. I kneeled down holding the landing net in the water waiting for Phil to draw the fish over it. A minute late I lifted and said “Yes it’s a big one, in fact it’s very big” on the scales it went 5-13-0 Now that’s a big summer chub. What a great way to start a trip.

Next day its back to the same venue in search of chub and barbel, for a long time nothing happened. Later in the day he eclipsed his previous personal best chub with an even bigger fish of 6-7-0 this time on a piece of Wraysbury soft paste bait.

Phil Cools Biggest Ever Fish

On the last day and night of our trip we fished the Wasing syndicate water, and during the afternoon Phil had a barbel about 6lb, after a recording session with Phil playing guitar and singing a comical fishing song, we went off for some food. As the sun started going below the tree line Phil astounded everyone with a barbel which weighed in at 14-15-0 again Wraysbury soft paste bait was the answer. Tackle was 10lb line size 6 hook using the Grauvell rod he purchased on the first day of his trip. Matched with a Shimano fixed spool reel, an ounce and a half of inline lead was stopped 15 inches from the size 6 hook.

Charity Concert

For my kindness in guiding Phil to his incredible trip Phil has agreed to give a concert in the autumn for some of my charities in this case it will be the Ribble Valley Crossroads and the Army Benevolent Fund What a great gesture. The Wasing Estate still has some vacancies for the Kennet Syndicate Tel Jacqueline on 01189-714140

Martin James Fishing