Friday 1st March was a bright sunny day, with a bitterly cold north easterly wind which certainly caused a drop in the temperature due to the wind chill factor. I spent most of the day in the garden repairing the damage caused by the recent gales, after a late lunch Kate suggested we visit to the river to see if I could catch my 25th Chub over five pounds this winter. I wasn't too keen to fish under the prevailing weather conditions, but at least it would be a break from the garden.

What river should I visit, the Ribble or Aire? Both hold big fish but I did know some swims on the Aire where it's possible to get out of the cold wind. I chose the Aire at Silsden. The river was running fast and clear with a water temperature of 44 degrees F. Now this did surprise me as I expected it to have gone down to about 40 degrees F. The swim we chose was on the inside of a bend where we could get below the bank. With the wind behind us, the sun in our faces it was quite pleasant.

Tackle choice was quite simple an Avon rod, centre pin reel with a size 6 hook to 6lb breaking strain line. Two LG shots were pinched lightly on the line, these shots from Dinsmore are described as super soft shot, not a description I would give them. They are hard to close and open. What I cannot understand is how they can justify the cost of 1-25p a box of five or six LG shot. Also why do we get 6 shots in one box and 5 shots in another box? After casting out a big bit of crust a few yards to a crease in about six feet of water I sat watching a motionless rod tip, not really expecting much under the bright sunny conditions until dusk, but it was very pleasant in the warm winter sunshine.

After about thirty minutes I had a drop back bite, struck and missed. Winding in the tackle I was surprised to find I had been bitten off. Tying on a new hook, adjusting the shots down to some three inches from the hook I baited with another bit of crust and cast to the same area. Twenty or thirty minutes later I had another bite; this one I didn't miss but the fish was off within a few seconds. Two bites and no fish, this wasn't good angling. I cast out another hunk of crust, almost immediately the rod tip pulled over and the answering strike connected with a good fish. I couldn't believe I had hooked another fish so quickly, usually if a fish is lost everything usually goes quiet for a long time. The fish fought well in the fast water, taking line off the reel on a couple of occasions. Eventually I was able to draw a super looking chub over the waiting net held by Kate.

Immediately Kate said "That's the five pound chub you wanted". It was, it weighed 5-9-0. After some pictures it was returned to hopefully grow into a six pounder. As we sat drinking hot chocolate in the fading light, a Common Sandpiper flew upriver followed later by a herd of Curlew, some fifty or more in number. What a magnificent wading bird they are. Sadly modern farming causes the death of many youngsters or the destruction of eggs, both get chewed up in the grass cutters. Just as we were thinking of calling it a day I had a good pull, connecting with another chub which was quickly netted. It weighed 4-2-0. Another half an hour without a bite then it was time to leave. I just couldn't believe the fishing could have been so good under the prevailing weather conditions. Still that's fishing

Saturday morning I was up around 3-30 am for an early morning shift in the studio, I suppose it was 4-45 am when I turned the key to open the door at BBC Radio Lancashire studio. My first jobs were a mug of tea then sort through my mail. In the studio I sorted then edited some interviews, then finished off a programme 'At The Waters Edge' which was then put it into the system for broadcasting. 10-0 am it was time for some breakfast. Outside the studio I was quite surprised to find the weather overcast with drizzle. While I was in Blackburn town centre I picked up a batch of Fuji slide film, which was being offered at a good price, for my forthcoming trip to the Bahamas. After a bacon sandwich and tea it was in the studio. I made a few telephone calls to book future guests for my programme 'At The Waters Edge' BBC Radio Lancashire Thursday evening at 7-30pm Sunday afternoons 5-30pm on FM 95.5 103.9 or 104.5. All too soon it was 2 O'clock and time to head off home.

After some cheese on toast and a mug of tea, I was off to the river Ribble. The river was normal winter level, flowing fast and clear with a water temperature of 42 degrees F. I baited three swims with mashed bread then made my way back to the first baited swim. After settling in, I cast out a bit of crust on a size 6 hook. After an hour without a bite I moved to my second swim, still no bites! After half an hour trying I moved to swim number three - still no bites. At 5 O'clock it started to rain and with the wind increasing I decided to call it a day. It was one of those fishing sessions when I really didn't think I was going to get a bite.

Most of Sunday was spent working in the garden making it cat proof. I now have an eight foot high wire mesh fence, at the top of the fence there is an over hang of about a foot which should defeat the furry killers and allow the birds and youngsters to breed and feed in peace. I have also installed some cat alarms, the cat can hear the high pitched sound but no other animal or bird is disturbed by the noise, which humans cannot hear. Cats detest them and they are available from all good gardening centres.

After a late dinner I went off to the river Aire, as a river watcher for Bradford City AA and Bradford No 1 AA. I have to check that all those who are fishing are club members. There was just one angler fishing. I checked his permit then Iain Wishart of Kendal Cumbria who makes the long journey to the river Aire in Yorkshire, told me that on his previous trip he had caught a chub of 5-9-0 on legered crust. After chatting with Iain I went off to the next beat, no anglers present but I collected a sack of rubbish.

Kate had suggested we fish the last hour of daylight on the river near Silsden the river was flowing fast and clear, the water temperature was 44 degrees F. We chose a swim in a small copse sheltered from the cold wind. It must be my age which makes me look for sheltered spots. Tackle was an Avon rod, centre pin reel, six pound breaking strain line and a size six hook. I used two LG shot pinched lightly on the line and baited with crust. Casting out I sat back watching the rod tip, listening to the Curlews and Green plovers. Apart from changing the crust every fifteen minutes or so I didn't see any sign of a bite. Just on dusk as I was thinking of switching on the torch to illuminate the rod tip, it pulled over and the answering strike connected with a good fish. After some minutes I pulled a good chub over the landing net. It weighed 5-4-0 a lovely looking fish with no sign of wounds from cormorant attacks - these birds are becoming a big nuisance on the Ribble once more. Within five minutes of catching that chub I had another bite which I missed then we called it a day and returned home.

Monday was spent working on an environment programme and my next book, I then travelled across to Bradford for the monthly meeting of the Bradford City AA social evening with guest speakers David Calvert and England international Stuart Croft from South Yorkshire. They gave us a very informative talk and slide show on the upper reaches of the river Don which has come back from the dead. It was destroyed in the 1800's by industry and coal mining. Nothing lived in the grossly polluted water, now it's a fine grayling and trout stream with Dippers, Wagtails, Kingfishers and other wildlife. David and Stuart certainly gave many of us the inspiration to keep on working at improving the rivers and streams. If it can be done on the river Don, which was probably the filthiest stream in Britain, it can be achieved anywhere, but it takes hard work and lots of commitment.

On Tuesday I spent most of the day working and didn't manage to reach the river Ribble until 6-30pm As the light faded the rain started , the wind was horrendous, I found it difficult to walk to my chosen spot. The rain and wind in my face certainly didn't help me see any indication of a bite, it was also difficult to see through my rain covered glasses. After an hour without a bite I moved to another swim but the wind was so strong I wouldn't know if I had a bite so I moved to another swim. This time I could put the rod tip below the bank but it didn't help very much as the rod was often blown from the rest. I then sat holding the rod with the tip under the water After some twenty minutes I had a small pluck the answering strike connected with a fish. A nice chub of about three pounds. I fished on until 9-45pm then decided to head off home. The walk across the field must have taken all of thirty minutes for a six or seven minute walk and to make matters worse the rain was lashing down making it difficult for me to see.

River Coarse Fishing Ends March 14th We river anglers only have a few days left of the current river coarse fishing season which end on Thursday 14th March and starts again on June 16th. Though you cannot go coarse fishing on rivers, you can still fish stillwaters and canals. I am off to the rivers Teme and Kennet for a few days in the hope of finding a few barbel, chub or roach. The latter fish seem to be harder to catch these days than in the past. I feel the number of good roach waters have declined quite dramatically. What are your views?

Email Martin James