Bread punch chub fight among the snags

March 1, 2022 at 5:51 pm

Always looking to try other waters, this week I followed my local river downstream to a point that it flows beneath a road bridge, where there is access to a short overgrown bit of bank. Being at the side of the bridge, the bank slopes steeply down to the river, but a small flat area was just big enough to get my tackle box located, adjusting the feet to counteract the slope, although it meant sitting back six feet from the river.

The main current passes against this bank, flowing out of a narrow shallow tail of the pool, which creates a muddy eddy that flows back toward the bridge along the opposite bank. In the summer this bank is an impenetrable mass of Himalayan balsam and stinging nettles, that spill over into the water and today I could see their remnants still lining the bankside.

I’ve not fished this pool for some years. It looks really productive, but it was always evident that it had regularly been fished for food, either by men, or cormorants. The main channel is about four feet deep with a steady flow, ideal for roach, but I have only had one in the past, no gudgeon, or perch either, unlike the wooded river a mile upstream. A few decent chub it did have, again no small ones, another sign of cormorants.

Why was I bothering if it is so bad? Well, I think that all anglers are optimists and I like a challenge. So here I was setting up my trusty 14 foot Browning float rod with a 4 No 4 ali stemmed Drennan stick float, while combining liquidised bread, ground hemp and a jar of Haiths red spice mix, damped down to squeeze up some tight balls of feed.

I started off putting in two egg sized balls of feed, six feet out into the flow upstream under the concrete sill of the bridge, holding the float back as the balls sank. In the past I have caught a chub first, or second trot right under the rod top here, but today nothing and watched the float travel unmolested along my bank.

After fifteen minutes of casting and recasting, the float dipped as I held back at the end of the trot. “Go on, go under” It dipped and held. Missed it! Bread gone. At least there was some thing there. Even a gudgeon would do this afternoon. I swapped from a 6 mm punch to a 5 mm on the size 16 barbless, put in another ball and followed on down, holding back hard at intervals. The float dipped at the same spot, then went under. Probably a snag, I left it for a second and struck. Woomph! I was into a decent fish that ran off downstream, while I back wound the ABU501. Keeping the rod high, I lost sight of the line, reeling back when the fish allowed. Too late, I saw that it was heading for the tangled roots along my bank and laid the rod over in an attempt to pull it away, while reeling hard. It all went solid. I could see the float. I pulled and the fish pulled back. I gave it slack and on the third pull it came free. I bullied it back out into open water, seeing the three pound chub for the first time, as it spiralled round in front of me, getting it’s head head up and into the net.

The hook was in the tip of mouth and came out in the net. A very fat chub.

What a lump. Phew! Time for a cup tea and a sandwich. I fed another couple of balls, this time further out. That chub was probably living under the bank and I wanted to encourage any others to feed away from it. The wind got up, blowing from the southwest into my face, putting a bow in the line, making float control difficult, holding back dragging the float off line. The float sank, I paused and struck. Yes! I was in again, this time a smaller fish of a pound and I relaxed, reeling back down the middle. It found a snag on the bottom. Solid. I walked downstream of the snag, but the fish was gone. The float came back minus the hook.

Adding to my woes, the forecast rain had arrived early, sinking the line and causing a few missed bites. I was feeding a small ball a trot and the chub were there. A longer delay and a long swooping strike made contact with another decent chub, which I managed to keep in mid water, reeling back hard, but reaching to my side for the landing net gave enough slack for it to dive into the roots at my feet. A tug of war was won by the chub, another hook to tie on and two fish lost. The Browning is a good rod for roach, but seems to lack the back bone for these bigger chub.

In again and I took no chances, having the landing net ready, while reeling back hard to keep the float in sight, shortening the line to pull the head up for the landing net. Another nice one.

The wind now was driving in heavier rain and covered up as best I could, but it was worth a soaking. Thinking this, when I struck into the best fish of the afternoon, the rod doubling over as it kicked for freedom. The “chub” ran to the opposite bank, lifting a long sunken branch up to the surface, when it dived beneath it. The float line parted and I lost the whole rig. Elation to devastation in seconds.

This was a cue to pack up, but it was still early and I had more float rigs. This new rig had size 14 hook to a heavier line and I punched out a 6 mm pellet of bread to cover the hook. It was difficult to see the dotted down float as the rain increased and it was one of those is it there, or not moments, when I struck into number three. Reeling hard, the chub zigzagged toward my bank, but I drew it away in time, only for the fish to dive beneath my keep net at the last minute, before swimming straight into the landing net. Another clonker, long and slim.

The rain had stopped as suddenly as it had begun and the sky brightened, giving a better contrast between light and dark on the surface, allowing a clearer view of the float. Scraping up the last of my feed, I put more balls down the middle and shallowed up the float, leaving two No 4s to act as droppers. Chub number four took in the shallow tail of the pool, the float looked like it had dragged under, but I struck anyway, the fish exploding out of the water, tail walking like a trout. Although smaller than the rest, it fought savagely, shaking it’s head as though lightly hooked, but stayed on to the net.

Still a good sized chub.

I missed another couple of bites, due to the bow in the line, but the next was well and truly on and heading for a sunken tree at the outflow. I held on as the rod bent over taking the strain, the dark back of a carp, or a very fat chub broached on the surface of the shallows, before the inevitable happened and the 3 lb hook link snapped.

I tied on another hook, but there were no more bites. Even my slice of bread had runout of holes.

It had been a draw, four lost and four netted, not a good average. A heavier line all round might have put more in the net, but then I may not have got the bites. No doubt my friend who fishes a link leger with 6 lb line straight through, with luncheon meat on a size 8 hook would have got more out, but that’s fishing.

Persistence pays off.