Chub hunting, the thin and thick end of my season.

March 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

The last day of the season dawned with one of the hardest frosts of the year, but bright sunshine had soon thawed the white from the grass and left me feeling optimistic for an end of season chub bonanza from my little river. A mile out of town, it’s course brings the river out from private land at the bend in a road, scouring a channel in the gravel as it turns sharp right, before heading off into impenetrable undergrowth. I have driven by this spot many times, but never fished it and was on my “one day I’ll fish it” list.

I was expecting great things from this swim and tackled up a 14 ft rod with a stick float rig, 5lb line to 3lb link and a size 14 barbless hook. There were plenty of snags and with the shallows dropping away to a deep pool, there could be decent chub, or even a common carp to wrestle from the high bank. A couple of balls of crumb were dropped into the channel and a further two towards the tree shrouded tail, where a log was jammed between the banks. My heart was beating faster as the first pinch of flake was drifted down towards the log, the float dipped a couple of times, but nothing to strike at. I held the float at the log, another dip and missed. More flake, more missed bites. I thought I saw a flash of silver on the shallows below me and dropped the float in, only for the bread to disappear and the float to lift  sideways as a small 8 oz chub fought for all it was worth, the long rod giving me the leverage to keep it out of danger. This was a very lean fish and for it’s length, I would have expected another four ounces. It had obviously been a hard winter.  I dropped into the same spot and away the float went again, this time from a much stronger chub, taking me along both banks, before it’s mouth gaped ready for the net. Yet again very lean, about 12 oz. Ready for another I tried again, but that was it. Easing the flake down over depth produce more pulls, but no fish, until I punched a 6 mm pellet from the thick slice and up popped a gudgeon, then another. I’d only been fishing for an hour and decided load up the gear and give the park another go, at least the mums keep them well fed with bread.

At the park I set off to another of my “one day” swims, a tunnel of overhanging branches, where the river narrows to push the flow through a no-go area of snags, but with this tackle I was confident of  success. I didn’t have to wait long, the float going down just as it entered the danger zone and the rod responding with a healthy bend as I pulled the chub upstream. These chub go mad in this shallow water, making long runs towards whatever snag is nearest. A fat pound chub was soon in the net, contrasting with the two taken earlier.

`Dropping further into the trees brought a pair of roach, before a tentative nibble and a slow sink set the world alight as the best chub I’d hooked from this stretch buried it’s head under a pile of flood debris, snagging me. Steady pressure brought the fish out, but a branch was still wrapped round the line and I watched it Vee upstream towards a sunken supermarket trolley festooned with branches, turning it in time for the possible three pound chub to rush off back downstream. This was like a frantic game of tennis, with the powerful fish charging all over, me putting on counterstrain in an effort to wear it down. At last it’s gaping mouth came out and I got the net out to land it, but the branch was still attached to the line and as I drew the chub towards the net, the branch caught in it. This was a signal for the chub to thrash around outside the rim and now in a state of near panic, I dragged the lot in, the fish diving under the bank, with me trying to net it out, but the branch kept it away. Suddenly it was gone and I was left staring at the empty net.

 I laced the water with a few more balls of bread and inspected my line. The hook link had broken at the spade end and I resigned myself to try again as I whipped on another hook. As if fitted with radar, a swan appeared round the corner and made a b-line for my swim, searching out the bottom with it’s neck outstreched.

Bread was now beginning to drift downstream with yet another mum feeding the ducks and the swan followed the trail, while I trotted through again hooking more small roach and the odd gudgeon. The commotion had probabaly put down any more decent fish, so cut my losses again, with the season ticking to a close. I was travelling light anyway, with just my rod, bag and nets, so made my way downstream to another chubby spot, only to find an ivy strangled tree had crashed down rendering the bank unfishable. This part of the park has been left unmaintained and many of the trees are in a dangerous condition, but continuing down found a bit of bank cleared by another fallen tree. This was on the inside of a bend with muddy shallows giving way to a far bank trot round the curve. It was greedy to hope for another big chub, but the tangled far bank looked up to the job and with the last of my crumb, fed over to the deeper water. The first few passes yielded nothing and I deepened up six inches, holding back, then letting it run, tap,tap, sink, big gudgeon,  one a chuck, then whomp, a chub hooked it’self as I held it back on the edge of the shallows. Back-winding I held the first lightning spurts of power, before getting the upper hand and with snag free water brought it across the shallows to the net. This was another round, plump chub of about a pound, more roach shaped and yet again fought hard in the cold, clear river. That was my last chub of the season and I continued catching the voracious gudgeon, the bites being so predictable that it was cast, tap, tap, lift and reel in. My time limit was 4 pm and made my way back to the van, watching a kingfisher as it skimmed between the trees along the river. A good sign for next season.