Andrew Pilgrim

Frustrating Isn’t it?

Frustrating isn’t it, when you are denied your one pleasure in life, when, in your mind, you have been perfecting a new technique or method and you are dying to try it out, when your tackle is starting to look forlorn and underused and you start to wonder if you may ever use it again?

 I’ve been feeling like this for the last few weeks now and I mentioned this to my beloved Sheena who immediately changed the subject and suggested that I go fishing instead to clear (clean?) my mind, so I did.

Just before lockdown I paid a visit to the River Ter in Essex as part of my quest to fish lots of the forgotten small rivers and streams that Essex has to offer. You can read my blog on this subject here..

The pretty little River was carrying a bit of extra water and was well coloured, despite that my fishing partner for the day James and we covered about half a mile of water and we both managed to winkle out some tiny Brown Trout.

Now whilst these are not going to impress anyone with their size they make up for it with their enthusiasm, (Sheena has just said she’s going to start calling me her little Trout!) Anyway they put up a spirited little fight on my little 9ft Drennan Acolyte Ultra rod and despite it being a bitter cold day it was a very enjoyable one.

Now, as you know, with this latest lockdown malarkey we are restricted to staying local which is not too bad for me as the Suffolk Stour is but a few miles down the road and I therefore that’s where I headed.

First up was the Mill Pool at Dedham.

Dedham Mill has featured before in my blogs and I will say again what a stunningly beautiful place it is. Although I am yet to encounter any of its larger inhabitants I’m quite confident that it’s just a question of time as I’m sure it holds some great fish. In fact a bit of research throws up talk of big Bream to 8lb+ and other large specimens of other species too, so I shall persevere.

I am finding that most times I visit the river is carrying extra water and is quite challenging. All my recent trips were no different and bites were few and far between. Roach on bread flake and small Chub up to 1lb or so on worm with little interest on my killer paste.

An interesting note is that I usually like to fish into dark 12-6pm ish and when fishing the end of the pool where it shallows and narrows both times I have had a run of bites and fish between 4-4.30pm just as the light is going, and then nothing. There is obviously a shoal of chub leaving the pool or heading into the pool for the night. Further investigation is required.

Also, I was sat at Dedham thinking that I was somewhat crazy fishing in such raging conditions when, in the swim to my left, I noticed two old women adorned in bright swimming gear enter the water and proceed to swim franticly upstream and into my swim, luckily the flow was such that they never quite made it as every time they stopped for a rest the flow took them back to where they had started from. You can just make them out in this picture, I was fishing off the end of the bush!

I managed one further trip due to the river levels and the cold, which was to another local stretch of the Stour at Langham.

I was fully intending spending an afternoon on Cheese paste but when I got there the river looked perfect for running a stick float through. The float rod was already set up in my rod bag and soon I was blissfully trotting away. I have to say that for me nothing comes close to trotting a stick float, and after an hour or so I could feel all my worries and woes drifting away as I slowly got into a rhythm, feed 6 maggots, gentle Wallis cast, 6 more maggots, trot a while mend the line and trot further… and repeat.

My state of meditation was, however, rudely interrupted when right at the tail of the swim, 30 yards downstream the float vanished and I struck into the bottom which was solid, 2 seconds later the bottom gave a couple of shakes of its head, turned and shot off downstream. I love it when Chub do that, The next 10 minutes were spent with the Speedia Centerpin going forwards then backwards as I slowly worked the fish upstream in the flow, all the time being fully aware the I was only connected via a size 16 hook. Once netted and pictured the fat lad was returned and I was soon back trotting.

The daylight ebbed and I spent the last two hours ledgering Cheese paste and worm with no interest at all.

As I write this I note that the levels are dropping so I shall be back out Chub hunting in the next day or two with hopefully something nice to report next week.

Tight lines Y’all and stay safe.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Squash it flat.

Lay your hook on the paste.

Mould the paste round your hook

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.

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