We left my home around 8-45 am, it was around 12 noon when we stopped off at the Cherry Tree Cafe in Sudbrook on the main road between Lincoln and Horncastle which is open 7 days a week. After a fresh brew and some toast it was back on the road. Arriving on the banks of the Bain about 1-30pm to find the water up a foot, pushing through with a colour that can best be described as looking like a weak lentil soup.

The wind howled from a south westerly direction making the weather feel quite warm for the time of the year. Having checked the water temperature we were surprised to find it between 48 and 50 degrees. My tackle choice was an Avon action rod, centre pin reel, 6lb line with a size 6 hook. Mike chose to use a quiver tip rod, fixed spool reel, 6lb line and a size 6 hook. Our baits today were bread, cheese paste, luncheon meat and lob worms; from my past experience mashed bread or crumbled bread would be used as an attractor, but with the river pushing through it would probably be mashed bread in most swims, made up into tangerine size balls so it would reach the bottom quite quickly.

Looking around I could see clumps of snowdrops which brightened the drab countryside. In a few more weeks the marsh marigolds would be adding another touch of colour, lots of mallard and teal were resting on the river, three dab chicks worked above and below a weir pool, wood pigeons were flying in all directions. In a nearby hedgerow we spotted a lone tree sparrow, quite a rare bird these days, and the odd pheasant flapped across the river. As we stood looking at the countryside we spotted a fox which appeared on top of a small drainage ditch. Then it bolted across the field, running as fast as its legs would work before it disappeared down a rush-lined dyke.

As the wind tried to blow us away, we struggled upriver towards a lone hawthorn bush where the river made a right hand sweep, it was an area where I had caught decent chub in the past. Reaching the chosen spot we slithered down the bank to the waters edge. Normally I would fish quite a long distance from the next angler but I wanted to help Mike catch a five pounder. I put Mike at the top end of a slack expecting the fish to be in this area while I fished a few yards downstream in the fast water where I decided to fish a chunk of meat in the highly coloured water. We fished for about half an hour during which Mike had a couple of pulls that didn't produce a fish. Then my rod tip shivered slightly then quite so slowly pulled round about an eighth of an inch. I struck, not really expecting a fish as I thought it was rubbish, the rod tip pulled over as a fish fought for it's freedom in the fast flowing water. A minute or two later I netted a nice chub in the three pound bracket.

Perhaps an hour after starting to fish I decided I would take Mike off to a small weir-pool hoping the fish would be more co-operative. When we arrived I could see at the tail of the pool a super looking slack on the left hand bank which literally screamed chub. Putting Mike downstream of me I suggested he fish a big chunk of crust in the slack, Ten minutes later he had a nice chub weighing 3-12-0. The change of swims had proved right. A few minutes later I had a nice three pound plus chub. We fished on until dusk with no more bites, so I decided we should return to the first swim, known as the 'hawthorn bend'. We fished on into the darkness.

Once again my rod tip moved slightly as if a leaf or bit of weed had drifted against the line but I knew better and struck. Once again the rod tip pulled over as a good fish fought for it's freedom but the well balanced tackle was the winner and a nice fish was pulled over the waiting net. It had the length of a five pounder but not the depth. It pulled the scales down to 4-9-0, I was more than happy. We fish on for another hour without a bite then called it a day and slowly we made our way back to the car then off to our B&B in the village of Woodhall Spa, a delightful area with a world famous golf club and an historic cinema in the woods.

We stayed with Barry and Beryl Tonkinson in their guest house with the charming name of 'Pitchaway' The cost was twenty pound a night, certainly good value for money. Telephone 01526-352969. If you're a golfing angler you will find the B&B is situated only a few yards from the golf course.

Day Two

We had arranged breakfast for 8-30am, a breakfast that would be suitable for the hungriest angler. After saying our goodbyes we headed off to Horncastle, where Mike collected the Daily Express. I picked up the Daily Telegraph and Anglers Mail then it was off to the river to a very small weir pool probably no more than fifteen feet in width. We fished for an hour or so, both of us using the same tackle as the previous day with bread as our first choice of bait. We also watched a stoat out on a hunting trip, which makes the trip so much more interesting. My rod tip trembled, then moved a fraction of an inch. I struck, connecting with a good fish which tried to gain sanctuary under the white water pouring over the weir sill. My tackle was more than adequate and soon a nice fish was guided over the landing net. It weighed 4-12-0 with a hollow belly. A few minutes later Mike had a nice trout on bread which was unhooked and released without being touched by hand. I feel it's so important in ensuring the fish will survive and remember, it's an offence to put an out-of-season trout in a keep net. It was time for a move.

As we made our way back to the car I pointed to a bend on the River, saying to Mike "That's a place I plan to fish sometime, it looks very good. I reckon it's ideal for good chub." With that we decided to give the place ten minutes. Mike chose a spot where the river flow hit a point on the far bank then flowed across to our own bank with a small Alder tree. I moved some yards downstream. As I did so, Mike called my attention to a surface feeding chub. Sadly neither of us had a bite. I suggested we move down to the wood, fishing the area for about fifteen minutes where I had another good chub on crust. Mike thought it was a five, I had my doubts. The scales showed I was correct; it weighed 4-12-0. Again the bite was just small tremble on the rod tip.

After some while I suggested to Mike we should move upstream to the first spot, I felt I could put him on to a good chub. Moving upstream we reached the spot where we had seen the chub but we didn't stop. I wanted Mike another ten yards further upstream. Reaching my chosen spot I dropped some bits of bread across to the far bank, watching it float downstream then across the current to our bank. I pointed out to Mike the place to drop his crust-baited hook. His cast was spot on, within seconds the tip pulled round. Mike was into a good fish which rolled on the surface, as it did so I said, "That's a good five". I was a happy guide. Mike slowly pumped the fish upstream but between him and the fish there was some fencing and tree branches, just the spot a chub will dive into. I grabbed the net moved downstream hoping to net the fish before it reached the snaggy zone and was in luck, quickly netting the fish. We both thought it as a five, it weighed 4-15-0 no way was it going to make five. It was certainly a super looking fish. What does an ounce or two make when we catch a good fish?

It was time for a late lunch and a fresh brew, we sat eating our sandwiches made from proper oven baked bread from Crabtree bakeries in Clitheroe. None of that mass produced sliced rubbish for us, which I reckon is only fit for fish. We sat talking over the morning's fishing enjoying two mugs of fresh brewed tea. After an hours break it was time to get back on the river. As dusk approached a Barn owl flew across the river just a few yards downstream of where we sat, what a magnificent sight. As darkness enveloped us and with no fish except for a small perch to Mike, we decided it was time to head off for home. Stopping off in Horncastle at the Mermaid Fisheries we dined on haddock, chips and a pint of creamy milk, then headed homewards.

We had certainly learned a few things. Lesson one, we should never expect decisive pulls on the rod tip even in high water temperature, I believe the chub giving those tiny bites were very confident as they were hooked well inside the mouth. In fact I don't think most anglers would have spotted those bites, and they couldn't be felt by holding the line. Be prepared to find chub feeding on the surface and under your feet - that's why it's very important to make a quiet approach to the water when fishing small waters. Don't take boxes, baskets, rod holdalls and big carryalls with you. All you need are a rod, reel, line some hooks and weights, plus a canvas bucket to carry your baits and a bit of sponge to sit on. You must be prepared to move from swim to swim. Occasionally if you're lucky you will get a few fish but often it's one fish then move on. Many anglers it seems have problems keeping bread on the hook. The answer is, use big hooks, size 2's down to 6's. I can often recast a big bit of crust three or four times.

Mr Martin James