Sunday, 7 February 2010

Lovely chubbly!

The last couple of months of the river season are the best for catching big chub. For twenty years chub fishing on my local river Welland was the mainstay of my winter fishing programme.  In recent years my chub fishing has been carried out during occasional visits to the Dorset Stour where I have been lucky enough to catch chub in excess of seven pounds and my local river has been neglected.

It was time to make amends, although when I set eyes on a brown, foamy river with visibility limited to a couple of inches I nearly went straight home. I spent a hopeless couple of hours on the first stretch before deciding to move several miles downstream, where a tributary would, I hoped, be fishable. On this stretch the water level had dropped several feet meaning that the chub would no longer be in the feeder stream. At least the flow was more manageable so I decided to make the best of it and search out the slacks. The stretch was always prolific although my best from it was only 4lb 9oz and only a handful of fours came my way (remember that).

I have to admit I was not feeling confident as chub and coloured water do not go together. In years gone by I would switch to roach fishing in these conditions, but nowadays I am more likely to locate rocking horse droppings than I am to locate a big roach on the welland.

Not having the benefit of summer observation I would have to rely on watercraft, luckily there were plenty of features to fish to, rafts, small slacks, deep bends and confluences. By staying mobile and moving swims every twenty minutes it meant that a lot of swims could be covered during the course of the afternoon. Chub tackle is best kept simple so I was equipped with a quivertip rod matched to a small fixed spool reel loaded with 6lb line. The end rig consisted of a swan shot or two pinched around eighteen inches from the hook and my bait in these conditions would be two lobworms on a size 6 hook. Where the current allows I like to use a washing up liquid bottle top as a bobbin.

The afternoon passed by quietly with two chub in the two pound class being hooked in slacks, the second dropping off at the net.

A large raft on the other bank could not be ignored especially as a crease meant that the flow was on the inside bank and the far side was slack. In coloured water chub often retreat into the slacker water away from the crease, maybe the suspended mud in the water irritates their gills, so I flicked over the bait and raised the rod high to avoid catching the line in the flow. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large dark brown creature run along the waterline, it seemed too big for a mink, an otter maybe? Before I could look at it properly the rodtip banged over and my strike saw both the creature disappear and the rod hoop right over as a big fish headed for the tree roots. After some hairy moments at full stretch guiding the chub past some marginal reeds she was finally netted. I noticed that the chub was the same size as my landing net, twenty two inches and although hollow I felt she would probably go over five pounds.

The scales confirmed five pounds exactly and my biggest ever from this stretch. "Lovely chubbly"