I've caught many good sized chub over the years, bigger fish than in the story I'm about to retell but sometimes its not the size that matters (well that's what my wife says!), but rather the memories that come flooding back and with that an accompanying sense of achievement. This is about the the first time I caught a brace of five pound chub, something up until that time I'd never achieved, despite twenty years of fishing for the species.
with all my chubbing trips I'm accompanied by my father, which is
something we have always done together. Like a modern day Mr Crabtree
and Peter we are constantly learning from each other and swapping tips.
Sometimes two heads are better than one especially where chub are
We arrived at the river at first light. The weak sun
just creeping up over the horizon as we unpacked the gear from the car.
With the air temperature just above freezing the cold air rasped our
lungs, each breath a struggle.We must have looked a strange sight to
passing dog walkers that morning. Dressed in our thermal suits, boots,
and with woolen hats pulled down tightly around necks to fend of the
bitingly cold wind, we looked like a pair of arctic explorers from
yesteryear, sallying forth to do battle with the elements. But the
weather, no matter how bad, could dampen our spirits which soared high
with anticipation at each passing step took us closer to our quarry.
river ran low and clear with winters grip firmly established and the
grey landscape a ethereal winter wonderland incased in a heavy frost.
The air crackled with excitement and promise, as the mist rose from the
water and we seemed at one with world. I soon arrived at one of my
favorite winter spots, a place I've fished many times in the past but
is unusual for a winter swim as it is rarely over 3ft deep, yet seems to
be very productive owing to overhanging nearside cover where the water
is a little slower than normal. It was one of those swims that most
people would have walked past but with years of experience under my belt
I knew better than to ignore a swim like that.
I tackle up with
my usual chubbing rod that I've used for the last couple of years and
wouldn't want to be without an 11ft Free Spirit Specialist Advanced. It
has got a soft through action and has a test curve of just over the
pound mark making is a great rod for chub fishing using a variety of
styles. The ideal rod will have a nice soft tip with enough power in the
butt to keep fish out of marginal weed and snags. As an added bonus the
ends of the quiver tips are painted white, but I go one step further
and paint nearly the entire tip white. White is the most visible colour
especially in low light conditions and its in these conditions that the
bigger specimens usually get caught, yet it still amazes me that tackle
company’s insist on producing tips painted all the colours of the
rainbow! I also like to add an isotope attachment, which combined with
the white quiver, adds increased bite indication.
fingers hampered my time in setting up but while doing so I deposited a
few small lumps of highly aromatic cheese paste into the swim and left
it to rest for an hour. I've found in the past that sometimes baiting up
with large amounts of bread can have a negative effect on the fish's
appetite and fill them up too quickly during winter.
tentative cast landed spot on the money as my 2 swan shot link ledger was
washed downstream and under the overhanging nettles where it held
While waiting for a bite I attempted to get some
feeling back into my fingers as I cradled a hot cup of coffee, but I
didn't have to wait long for a bite, and what a bite it was! In typical
chub fashion a small pluck following by a full blown pull round on the
tip, had my cup of coffee flying one way and me the other, grabbing the
rod with hand and battling with an unseen foe. I knew from the beginning
that this chub was of a good size as it made hard for the the nearside
cover and hugged the bottom, trying to transfer my hook to some sort of
I used the power of the rod to its utmost and at last minute
managed to steer the chub into open water where it seemed to tire
quickly. Soon the chub was safely in the landing net and I breathed a
sigh of relief. As I lifted the net clear of the water I knew this fish
was larger than the average size of 4lb for the river. With scales and
net already zeroed I called over my dad to assist in the ritual weighing
procedure. The dial on the Avons zipped around to a very pleasing 5lb.
I was very happy to catch that fish as I always say that when fishing
catching a fish is a bonus, but a big one is always welcome. Little did I
know what what the rest of the day was to bring.
cup of coffee to settle my nerves I set about hunting down some more
chub. A number of other swims which looked certain for a bite and were
usual 'banker' swims, failed to produce a single bite. With all the will
in the world I could not get that tip tip to move, despite making
alterations to my rig and using different baits.
As the day continued
to draw on and with the chances of a bite increasing as the light
levels decreasing, I decided to return to my original swim with the hope
of catching another fish.
The set up was exactly the same as
before with cheese paste once again the chosen bait. This time I had to
wait longer for a bite, which came just as the sun had set. Again the
bite was a classic, one of those slow draws that only chub can give,
with the following tug of war a battle of wits and raw power. Despite my
best efforts this fish certainly knew its business as the chub got me
firmly lodged in the cover which I had tried so hard to keep it from
reaching. This time I had my game head on, as I quickly got downstream
and managed to extricate to chub from its watery lair. As soon as it was
free it shot out into the middle of the river where is wallowed around
quite happily on the surface until I got it into the landing net, now
crisp like cardboard with frost. As soon as I attempted to lift the fish
out I knew it was a good one but I hadn't dared dream that I might
catch two fish over 5lb in a session. I mean thing like that only happen
to other anglers don't they? I carefully zeroed the scales again and
with shaking hands the dial banged around to 5lb dead.
To say I
was happy was a big understatement - I was over the moon! I know to some
chub anglers this may see this of little achievement but not everybody
is fortunate enough to live near rivers holding very big chub like to
Avon, Stour or Ouse. Nor do I wish to fish these rivers as I derive my
greatest pleasure from tracking down the bigger fish in my local river.
In these circumstances the chub angler should have realistic targets for
the river they are fishing. For example over the last three season I
have only taken three chub of 5lb+ from my local river, whereas my
father's biggest fish, over the same time period stand at 5lb, 5lb 12oz,
5lb 14oz, and 6lb 3oz. Two of my 5lb fish+ came in the same day! This
could well be down to inept angling at times on my part but is only goes
to show the challenge involved in chasing down the bigger specimens.
There are other anglers who have fished the same river for a lot longer
than me who have never broken the 6lb mark. This challenge is what keeps
me coming back, week after week, month after month, year after year, in
all weather conditions, in search of that special fish over the magical
6lb mark. Luck certainly plays a big part, no doubt about it, as well
as natural angling ability but, as in all walks of life, just as some
people excel at sports or mathematics for example, others are natural
Two bites and two 5lb chub on a bitterly cold
winters day is good going by anybody's standards and it just goes to
show with a little thought and perseverance what can be achieved.