Stick float chub make the running

October 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Two days of heavy rain transformed my usually placid local river into a raging torrent at the beginning of the week. It had been at it’s lowest level for years, a series of near stationary pools joined together by water trickling over gravel, the larger fish creating bow waves, as they tested the boundaries. Then the rain started, drizzle at first, increasing in volume, until it was coming down like stair rods for hour after hour. With maggots to use up, I was keen to get on the river, taking a chance that it would be fishable on the first dry day.

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Looking over the bridge, the river was now between it’s banks and the brown water was gone, although it was still pushing through, carrying leaves and branches washed out from the wooded banks. My winter swims were full of the sweet smelling scent of Himalayan Balsam, this invasive annual packed together in tight jungles, where the seeds had fallen the previous autumn. I made a bee line for a swim, that had been good to me last year, only to find that a tree had fallen along the bank, it’s branches reaching across the river, preventing any access, forcing me to continue my search. A hundred yards downstream, another tree had fallen, this time creating a swim, coming down to leave a narrow shelf just wide enough for my tackle box, the place where it had stood, now open to the sky, ideal for a float rod.

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On the inside of a bend, the flow swept beneath a bush and overhanging branches, just the place for chub to hang out. While tackling up my 12 foot Hardy match rod, I sprayed a few pouches of red maggots over toward the bush, setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy Ali Stem stick float. First cast over, the float dipped and sailed away, a typical chub bite. The rod bent over, connecting with a hard charging fish, that flashed bronze beneath the surface, the expected chub revealing it’self as red finned rudd.

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Another couple of maggots on the size 16 hook and the rig was swung out again, dropping into a small bay above the bush, being carried away with the flow, then sinking from sight. This time it was a chub, not big, but powerful enough to bend the lightweight rod right over in it’s initial rush, causing me to backwind to ease the shock, as it dived for cover.

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This was the first of eight chub ranging from 8 to 12 oz, a spray of maggots preceding each cast, the float never travelling more than a few feet, before it disappeared. Then I hooked and lost a chub, as it turned away on the surface, the hook flying back to tangle in the nettles at my feet. That was enough to scatter the shoal and I never saw another, despite trotting the float well downstream beneath the trees.  Adding a foot to the depth, I dropped the float short, past the middle, holding the float back against the current, seeing two slow dips, before it sank away. This time I guessed the species correctly, as the first roach of the day came to hand.

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With hemp from the freezer, I began to feed this deeper line, alternating between maggots and hemp each cast, the roach lining up to take the maggots, the occasional rudd, or small perch, also getting in on the act. The keepnet was beginning to fill, when a hiss announced the arrival of a swan, speeding along at the sight of free food offerings.

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Regularly fed by bread wielding mums and young children, these swans do not understand, that they are interrupting a serious sport, this one extending it’s long neck to the bottom, where it began mopping up the feed meant for it’s scaly friends. Catapulting hemp at the swan, which bounced off it’s back, seemed to encourage it all the more. I could not fish for fear of accidentally hooking the winged monster, finally, when it seemed to have exhausted the supply of bait on the bottom, the swan began to look elsewhere in my swim and I began firing bait upstream round the corner. Catching it’s attention, the swan made off in search of these offerings and once out of sight, I began to re-bait the swim. There were only gudgeon left, plus the odd small roach and when the swan returned, I decided to call it a day.

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With close to 8 lb of fish in under four hours, this small river, which serves as a surface drain for the town, came up trumps again and I was able to arrive home at the time promised, much to the surprise of my wife.