Andrew Pilgrim

Practice What You Preach.

Hi Guys & Gals, I trust you all had a very enjoyable Xmas and your sacks were full to bursting on Christmas morning, I know mine was but my beloved Sheena was busy basting her Turkey!

Anyhoo, my last three blogs have been quite intense reading but I hope you found them useful and helpful in your quest for winter fish. So I thought I would have a quick recap on my own fishing over the last few weeks.

But first I would like to thank those who took the time to leave comments as feedback is most appreciated and to the ones who sent me a PM asking if I have considered writing a book, I am flattered, maybe one day but for now there are too many fish that need catching.

If you missed them they can be found here

The weather has meant that I have had to put into practice some of the techniques I have been writing about in my previous blogs on River fishing, so lets see how I got on…………………

Drop-Shotting in Chelmsford I’m still getting my head round this method and had a trip to the Chelmer. I started at Browns Wharf and worked my way round to the main weir in town. Just the one little Perch from the gin clear canal and some small jacks from the well coloured river above the weir.

Elusive Big Chub on the Backwater I have been using the backwater of the Suffolk Stour at Stratford St Mary as a proving ground for a new batch of Cheese Paste, the recipie for which can be found here.

Most of my short trips here have been late afternoon into dark so please excuse some of the pictures. I have consistently caught small Chub and the odd nice Roach proving the paste works – no sign of anything much over 1lb, but very enjoyable never the less.

Raging Weir Pool In my efforts to find a bigger Chub I had an evening session on the Suffolk Stour at Dedham Mill. This is a stunningly beautiful place in the summer but nigh on un-fishable due to canoeists, swimmers, swimming dogs, paddle boarders etc but late afternoon in December was perfect, apart from the fact the water was well up and raging through. A few enquiries on worm and bread early on then as it went dark I had a few bites on Paste and managed to eke out a few Roach and a small Chub, but still no sign of a bigger fish.

Lure Fishing with Thomas and Bailey A thoroughly unproductive day trying in vain to tempt a Pike from a pea soup coloured Chelmer near Maldon. Thomas somehow managed to get a small jack on a spinner but Bailey kept us both entertained by chucking his lure into a tree!… which tree?…. ALL OF THEM!

Unfishable?… Never. Yesterday I was desperate for a few hours fishing. The Suffolk Stour was well up at over 1.5 meters.

(Check your local river levels here )

So I met with an old friend James to fish my secret stream. This too was well up as you can see in the following pictures taken a month apart, and had burst its banks in places.

We persevered and found three places where we could wet a line. One bite on worm gave me a good sized Dace.

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And half an hour later the most tentative of bites on Cheese Paste, a very gentle, Tap……… Tap……. Tap, Tap then a slight pull of no more than a quarter of an inch ( Thats less than a centimetre kids) and I found myself connected to a very nice, but quite angry Chub. My little 9ft Drennan Acolyte ultra had a cracking bend as the Chub tore arround the pool. Never ignore the little bites, big fish can be very cagey.

For more information on fishing Secret Streams near you have a read here

If you enjoy reading these blogs please do leave c comment below and if you would like one of our bloggers to cover a specific subject just ask.

So thats about it for this year from me, best wishes and see you all again in the New Year.

Andrew Pilgrim

Advanced River Fishing Techniques Pt3

In the first two blogs in this series we covered firstly how rivers flow and secondly how to approach fishing a flooded river. If you missed them they can be found here.

and here.

This week I thought we could talk about one of the Chub anglers favourite subject… Cheese Paste.

Over the years I’ve had many people ask me “How do you make your paste?” And To be honest I’m not going to tell you as its something I’ve perfected over 40 plus years of hunting Chub and also Roach, Bream , Carp and Tench. I have my own preferred pastes for each. What I will do here is explain how easy it is to knock up a basic cheese paste mix and that will give you a base from which to experiment and find your own ‘Secret Recipe’.

Firstly we need to ask ourselves why Cheese Paste? Well way back in 1653, In his book The Compleat Angler, the great Sir Izaak Walton mentions using cheese to catch Chub. Almost 400 years later the fish haven’t changed they still love a good smelly lump of cheese.I would hazard a guess that of all the freshwater fish we target none has a sense on smell to match the Chub. So what follows is a quick and easy way to knock up a killer bait.

CHOOSE YOUR CHEESE. The rule here is almost any cheese will do, the smellier the better. as its Xmas in a week or two there will be a plethora of mouldy half eaten bits cheese lurking at the back of the fridge, perfect. Take every last one, put them in a sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer until your ready to make your paste. Without doubt the go-to variety for any Chub angler is the mighty Stilton, and if you don’t have Stilton in your fridge go buy some its a must have. The rest is up to you but I would personally avoid hard cheeses such as Parmesan and Goat/Sheep cheese as they have a high salt content which I personally think makes the bait less attractive.

For this example I will be using a mix of Stilton and Red Leicester.

Take your cheese and grate it finely.

Pop it into a bowl and stick it into the microwave for 10 seconds. No more or you will separate too much of the fats. Mix it together to make a thick stinky cheesy goo. I should have mentioned at the start that this whole procedure is best carried out when your other half has left the building.

Cheese 2

Next take some flour add the melted cheese, I also like to add a beaten egg, I’ve no idea why it’s something I’ve always done and it seems to work.

Mix 1 1

and mix, and mix and mix. It’s important to mix well as this action gets the starches in the flour active and gives the dough/paste a certain elasticity, which is what we want.

Paste 1

Once you have a soft dough turn it out and kneed for 5 minutes.

Your paste should be fairly soft and a little sticky, almost gooey.This bit is trial and error and comes with experience. Don’t worry as when you get outside on the bank, in the cold, it will be perfect for moulding round your hook, and when it gets in the cold water it will stiffen up even more.


Take a piece of paste and roll it into a ball.

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Squash it flat.

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Lay your hook on the paste.

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Mould the paste round your hook

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I like my paste to be quite soft and the hook will pull through the paste on the strike, however it you prefere you can mould the paste round the shank to leave the hook point showing.

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So there you have it, a simple basic and easy to make killer bait for Chub. From this basic recipe you can experiment adding many different flavours in powder and liquid form, here are just a few ideas to get you started, Garlic (many peoples favorite), Tumeric powder, Curry powder,Mixed Spice, you get the idea… SMELLY is what you want.

Stick it in a Tupperware pot, keep it in the freezer and you can grab it as you go fishing, no need to defrost overnight. When you get back just put it back in the freezer.

One further tip. When I have made a new batch of paste I like to test it sy yesterday I headed down to a backwater on the Suffolk Stour that I know had a good head of smaller Chub. Four hours fishing with Sheena’s Drennan Acolyte Plus quiver tip rod and 13 Chublets later I had full confidence that this is a good batch.

So tomorrow I will venture out to where the big Chub live full of confidence in my bait