Winter Chub Fishing on The Stick Float...
Nothing quite scratches a fishing itch quite like the rod bending round into a chub and it was this species i hoped to find on the session. A few jobs to complete on Saturday morning i quickly set about completing these tasks and finally packed the car around 11am.
A cold over cast day with plenty of grey cloud cover greeted me as i loaded up the fish mobile who's skirts still sported the brown splatters of mud from the weekly commute the day before. The car loaded with the bare essentials a warm glow of excitement inside polarised the cold air nipping at my nose, i felt confident of a bite.
Meandering along the B-Roads to the river the car bounced as it emptied the winter pot holes of their overnight rainfall, a salute to the buzzard on street lamp number 3 as i passed his usual station. He looked as fed up of the weather as all us anglers of late but funny how this same bird sites on the same post every week. The fields adjacent to the roads bare of their autumn crops that lay wrapped up tightly in bales next to the farmers barns and the whole landscape just had the mid winter feel to it. A complete contrast to the greens and bright yellows of summer but none the less beautiful, fishing in all seasons is such a pleasure.
The river i was heading too was one we had not graced in a while but it still felt like i was heading to an old friend and the car, on auto pilot, knew the path to take. Arriving at the venue and opening the car door for the first time you could feel that cold wet breeze hit your face, not an unpleasant winter breeze but the cool refreshing clean air breeze that only comes when beside running water.
The river looked in fine fettle her margins clear but more akin to weak tea than Gin, the pace just faster than walking and not a breath of wind around it was a perfect day to be fishing a stick float. The calm nature of the river now certainly had not been the case weeks earlier as the rivers raging dark side during the floods had deposited a whole tree upstream that pushed the flow more into the middle of the river than before but did mean the flow now pushed into and alongside a far bank overhanging tree.
The overhanging tree looked similar to our Christmas tree that we let our 3 year old lad and 5 year old daughter decorate, a mess! Its overhanging branches festooned with twigs and branches held in place against the tree by the constant flow it created a nice raft that just said one thing, Mr chubs home.
Tackling the swim would not be easy as the flow down the middle had created some slack water on the inside and keeping the line out of this would be crucial to presenting the float as naturally as possible. I had my 14ft Drennan Acolyte in the holdall and i was aching to get some proper chub on it but i knew time was of the essence and every trot down had to count. It was a day where the functionality of my 17ft Preston Innovations Carbon active float rod would rule of the style of the acolyte. Its extra length would keep as much line as possible out of that slack.
My reel loaded with 4lb4oz Drennan Float fish on which sat a 6 number 4 dome top stick float and all this went down to a 1lb7oz Bayer Perlon hooklength and a size 18 micro barbed hook. As i have said before on the chub blogs you don't need big hooks or heavy lines to catch chub and when the video of this session goes live hopefully it will show just how much pressure this set up can take, balanced tackle and a correctly set drag are key.
Long term blog followers will know i have used Cheshire Particle products throughout last year and such is the quality of the hemp seed that will continue through 2018's adventures. As always with my blogging i wont be sat there head to toe in all the gear i will simply mention when i use the product and what i catch while using and if you like what you see head over to Cheshire Particle and try it out. You will not be disappointed, Marks puts a huge amount of time and effort in creating his particles and it shows in the final product and the fish it has help catch.
I knew the chub would be sat under the raft and ideally i did not want to have to go hunting them underneath the raft. My plan was to feed the swim heavily with maggot and hemp and create a baited area of hemp just up and to the side of the snag to lure them out and feed heavily with maggot to have a steady stream of maggots going past their door.
Chub by nature are as crafty and cautious as them come, almost like the carp of the river, but once you break that cautious barrier they can be quite easy to fool and catch and their main down fall is their greed. While setting up the gear i fed the swim heavily with 3 good pouches of hemp and the same of white maggot and at periods while setting up continued to feed well with the maggots.
By the time i come to make the first cast the swim had been primed for a good 20 to 30 minutes and as such it only took around 5 or 6 casts before the float buried and the rod arched round solid as a bold brassy chevin held station in the fast flow. As defiant as they come the drag on the reel gave line slowly as it ticked over as a battle of wills was played out. The key is remaining calm and making sure you do not lose the fish right in the zone you are fishing. Eventually the chub kicked into the slack and i knew, as long as the slack had no snags, it was a case of playing it out under my control and a few seconds later the first chub was in my palms.
Chub fishing is the ultimate game of chess and this chub a pawn in the early exchanges and one that gave me great confidence as i knew where there was one there was like a shoal. The key is not to be in too much of a hurry to cast back in. The shoal will have spooked and needed luring back into participating in the game again so rather than casting back in i fed the swim heavily for a good 5 minutes with hemp and maggot. The mindset early on is to pick off as many as you can preying on the sheer greed of the chub to feed.
The time for another cast came and after a few trots through the float again bolted under and a smaller chublet bundled its way through the flow. It lacked the brutality of its earlier brother but still had the cunning to bolt for a tree stump under my feet. This small chublet was followed by a small grayling that of course went straight back after its capture.
A close up of the small chub showing how small a hook you can use for chub.
Reading the swim is key but so is reading the captures and i knew the arrival of a grayling meant the shoal was still not in residence, simply put the chub would easily out bully this fish. Keeping the flow of maggots going through the swim and the odd pouch of hemp seed patience was key. Getting into a rhythm and inching the bait through the swim it took a good half an hour before the next fish and instantly i knew it was a better one as it swam up against the flow till level with my peg.
Solid on the bottom it lazily kicked its tail and moved over in the flow the rod bending in tandem with the fight and the clicks from the reels drag increased in frequency as the chub glided across the flow. I knew this was the best fish so far and this was confirmed when a big set of white rubber lips broke surface the only issue was it did so mid flow. Inching the chub closer in slowly it came into netting range and a proper chunk of a chub was mine.
After this fish a change of tactic was used, i went from feeding a huge amount of maggot to just 3 or 4 every trot through. I knew the shoal was there and all the chub had mouth fulls of feed so i knew the fish where hungry and on the bait the reduction in amount of feed had them fish now competing for just a few maggots.
Under the water the chub where sitting picking off the maggots and hemp at will now they would be searching out the maggots as they competed and this tactic worked a treat as a few more chublets came in quick succession as this game of chess was played over the next few hours.
3pm came round as quickly as the float was burying with a chub bite and before i knew it we where moving into the last hour of the session. The famous witching hour where i expected the chub to really come on. In that last hour they did just that as bites came on successive casts that culminated in a proper barrel of a chub showing up.
The final net went just under 16lb of fin perfect chub and capped of a very enjoyable few hours on the bank. The 17ft rod was really put through its paces and come through it still in only 3 pieces. joking aside hopefully this session and the video on the blogs youtube channel shortly shows how robust this set up can be.
Till next time i wish you all tight lines, please check out the blogs youtube page on the link below, over a years worth of weekly videos on there.