Over the past week I have had 4 sessions on the rivers Ribble and Aire. Over these 4 days the water temperature was between 32 and 34 degrees F. It all started on New Years Day when I chose to fish a session on the Ribble. I had a 4 hour session with just 2 bites, both on crust with the shot stopped just an inch from the size 6 hook to 6lb Masterline Illusion fluorocarbon line. Both bites just moved the dough bobbin perhaps a quarter of an inch, not really a bite more a shiver on the line. The first fish was a pike of 8lbs which gave me a lot of pleasure. As I played the fish, I thought at long last I had hooked a seven pound chub, sadly it wasn't to be. That pike did give me some fun though, I was more than happy to catch it. The second bite was a chub of about 2-8-0.

Wednesday I chose to fish the river Aire downstream of Silsden Bradford City AA club water (tickets available from K L Tackle Keighley and Gee Tee Angling supplies Silsden) fishing tight to an overhanging bush. I fished for some 3 hours without a sign of a bite then called it a day. I did see 4 kingfishers and these were not repeat sightings. Several small groups of fieldfare and plovers brightened the session. As I am always saying "You cannot have a bad day at the waterside"

Thursday I was back on the river Aire, fishing this time on the Keighley AC water (tickets available from the previous mentioned tackle dealers). I chose to fish a deep hole on the inside of a bend where I introduced an egg size lump of mashed bread which would break into small pieces and swirl around the chosen swim, coming to rest on the bottom close to the bank where I planned to drop my bait; as usual a piece of crust. Tackle was 6lb Masterline Illusion fluorocarbon line size 6 hook with 2 LG shot stopped just an inch from the hook. An Avon rod and centre pin reel completed the set up. In these cold water conditions I feel the fish will be lying on the bottom, tightly shoaled together. What I'm trying to do is get a bait in front of the chub's nose. If you can do that you have a good chance of that chub eating your bread.

For some 2 hours I sat watching the dough bobbin, the line seemed to shiver then went slack. The answering strike connected with a good fish. It was a good scrap with the fish making a couple of determined runs and taking a few feet of line from the reel. Slowly I got the fish up towards the surface. I could see right away it was a good chub, definitely a five plus fish. Pushing the landing net out over the ice I pulled the fish towards the net. It had other ideas and dived, going under the ice - the line was cut. I was gutted and left with just a few feet of line fluttering in the wind. Tackling up once more I fished on for about an hour then called it day. As I walked across the snow covered field towards the car, I thought about the lost fish and realised I couldn't do a lot about losing his one.

Friday, after an early morning shift, I'm back on the Ribble for a couple of hours. I chose two swims. In the first I had chub of some 3lbs, I then moved on to one of my favourite swims close to an overhanging oak tree where the roots go down into the water. The chub just love this area, especially when the water is gin clear as the fish have a sanctuary from the cormorants. All I had to do was try and encourage the chub to leave this tangled mass of tree roots. Two handfuls of mashed bread were introduced a foot or so in front of the tree roots. I chose the same tackle as previously mentioned, bait was crust. In clear water under very cold conditions it's hard to find a better bait than crust.

After about thirty minutes I had a good pull; chub number one was quickly netted. I cast another bit of crust to the same spot, two feet out from the tree roots, then dragged the bait back some inches. Immediately a fish grabbed hold; chub number two, again it was quickly netted, about 3lbs. I then missed three super bites, they were the perfect bites, a slight tap then the tip pulled round not really stopping. Why did I miss those bites? I can't answer that question. I have no idea. Half an hour later I had another good pull, this time a far better fish, it weighed 4-6-0. I was more than happy. Ten minutes after casting out a bit of crust, I had another good bite. The answering strike connected with a good fish which was soon netted. I could see it was a good four pounder. On weighing the fish I was most surprised to see the scale needle go round to 5-2-0; my 15th chub over five pounds this winter. I punched the air with joy.

I fished on into the darkness without another bite. It was time to leave. Within fifteen minutes of getting in the car I was home having a mug of tea, certainly a good afternoons chub fishing session

Mr Martin James