A cormorant ate my chub

July 14, 2020 at 7:15 pm

With a few hours to kill this afternoon after lunch, I popped down to my local river Cut to try a swim that produced a 3 lb 8 oz crucian carp for me last year, baring in mind that more carp seem to be in the river at the moment. Once I saw the colour of the river however, I was not so sure that I would even get a bite. There was a grey sludge coming over the outfall and running down the far side of the shallows, where the bottom and larger stones had taken on a powdery grey coating, eventually spreading out across the flow, the further I walked downstream.

Arriving at the swim, my first task was to clear access through a stand of Himalayan Balsam and stinging nettles and by the time that I had tackled up with a 4 No 4 Ali stemmed, bodied stick float, the grey stain had passed through, but being replaced by a murky brown stain, another minor pollution that the Cut has up its sleeve to stop you catching fish. This swim has 2 feet max in depth, being wide and generally slow, but a fallen tree along the opposite bank has pushed the flow across under the nearside bank, giving an easy trotting speed to the float.

Starting with a 5 mm pellet of bread on a size 16 barbless hook, I fed two small balls of liquidised bread, one on the inside and the other side of the flow 10 feet out. Following the inside line first, I let the float run free in the hope of a chub, but apart from a couple of slight dips, there was nothing positive. After a few unsuccessful trots, I switched to the middle line, again with nothing strikeable, even when holding the float back hard, which will usually result in a positive pull under. My last option was to lay-on, setting the float over depth and resting the rod. Ten minutes in, while drinking a cup of tea, the float pulled under. Snatching at the rod, I missed the fish and launched the float rig into a bush on my side. The float came free, but the hook link had wrapped around the float line. This was not going well.

Ten more minutes later I was fishing again, sitting watching the static float with my right hand on the butt of the rested rod. After what seemed an age, the float bobbed and sank, simultaneously lifting the rod into solid resistance. With such a short line, the roach on the end was spiraling around, in danger of coming off, but a quick dip of the landing net secured my first fish of the afternoon.

This beauty was worth waiting for. I never thought that I would need winter tactics to catch summer roach on the cut.

I sat studying the float again, missing another bite, but the bread was still on and I flicked it back in, watching it sink away immediately and a fish was fighting furiously, trying to get to the sunken tree one second and under my bank the next. Unseen, I guessed that it was a small carp as it hugged the bottom, but soon an open white mouth on the surface confirmed it as a chub,

I am a fan of the crash bang wallop style of stick float fishing, cast in, strike, reel in, net and start again, but these fish were worth the wait. Something was not right though, as the usual infestation of gudgeon were missing, maybe the fussy bites on the trot were gudgeon.

I recast my float several times before the next fish, as I was sure the the bread had come off the hook, due to the no bite situation. Eventually the float sank again and I was playing a nice roach, which soon popped into the net.

This method was slow, but it was steadily building a catch of decent fish, so I stuck at it, netting another roach.

Occasional feeding had kept the fish in a tight area just downstream of my swim, but a swirl and a burst of bubbles five yards further down grabbed my attention, there was another swirl and a bow wave heading down around the bend. Must be a decent carp. Maybe one of the big koi. Although not equipped to handle such a large fish, I threw three decent sized balls of feed, down into the area and underhand cast my float rig with a 7 mm pellet of bread and waited. More bubbles and a swirl right next to my float!

URGH! A cormorant surfaced, raising its head up vertically to allow a flapping 6 oz chub to slide down its throat. That was my chub, attracted by the feed, now it was in the crop of a fish killing machine. The wayward sea bird flapped its wings and flew off downstream. The fishing had been hard enough today without a cormorant interfering. As I was packing up, it flew silently back along the river, gliding over the dead tree to land in the next pool. I wondered how many more chub and roach it would eat that afternoon. If he brings his mates back, this shallow river can be emptied in no time.