Chub are a fish I have always struggled to catch intentionally. Decent sized ones at any rate. I have fished for chub I could see and they have always ignored my baits. I have quivertipped and touch legered for them without consistent success. The only way I have managed to catch them has been by fishing water slack enough to allow the use of a light bobbin indicator. However, I did catch my first five pounder after thinking it out. I'd been getting chub bite after chub bite when barbelling one night on the Ribble and I determined to return the following night with my irresistible chub paste and hit every sharp rap I saw. It worked, but it was difficult. Since then I have been threatening to fish for chub 'properly' when the river is low, cold and clear. Today I actually got round to doing it.
The river was indeed low, cool and clear. It was borderline barbel friendly at 5.7C when I set up. A barbel rod was cast out - just in case. Then it was out with the tip rod. This started life as an Interceptor with a spliced in carbon quiver. The solid tip was way too stiff and last winter I removed it and spliced in a glass quiver which is much more like it, and still gives a fairly progressive bend into the rod tip proper.
I still had some maggots left over from Friday's failed roach session, and I had bought a fresh half pint yesterday to use as hookbaits. As soon as I hit the road I realised I had forgotten the loaf I had also picked up for bait. I stopped at the Spar shop and rectified that error, buying a Twix and a Mars bar to sustain me as I hadn't packed any food, only a flask, and was intending to be home early enough to cook something hot.
It was three by the time I got to the river and there was nobody about. The swim I fancied had a new feature since I was last there. A huge branch had been deposited right by the water's edge where you fish from. The banks also had a fresh layer of sandy silt. Each flood changes the river a little, or a lot.
It felt a bit odd to be fishing the river with five pound line, four and a bit pound hook and lead links and a size fourteen hook. Two red maggots and a 1.5oz feeder completed the set up and resulted in a sharp bite on the very first cast. Eat your heart out Stef Horak! The second cast was less successful resulting in a snagged, and lost, feeder. Third cast lucky. A more positive bite materialised but was still missed. It looked like I still couldn't master the quivertip.
After about three quarters of an hour an angler who had been fishing upriver stopped to have a chat. I refilled the feeder and recast. The bait had hardly settled when I struck and felt resistance. Not massive resistance but a fish had definitely been hooked. It was a chub of about two and a half pounds. Success! Two casts later and there was a pluck. I left it. The tip pulled down again and this time there was more resistance and I backwound a turn or two. Once netted the chub looked like it might make four. I nearly didn't bother weighing it though. When I lifted it into the sling I realised how chunky and solid it was.
I've caught bigger chub, but catching that one by design was more satisfying than any of the others. It was also nice to have to play the fish on suitable tackle and not merely wind it in on barbel gear. Having someone on hand I took the risk of passing him my camera for a couple of snaps. When I slipped the chub back it gave a cough, if fish can cough, and expelled a cloud of red maggots. It had been on the bait all right.
Things went quiet, my spectator headed home for tea, darkness fell, and the rain arrived. Only light showers, thankfully. The night was staying warm, and the river temperature was rising slowly.
Another chub of a couple of pounds or thereabouts came along, followed by an unseaonal eel. I was starting to feel peckish and considered a half-six finish. Then thought better of it as another shower passed over. At twenty to seven I got a dithery bite, struck and connected with something small. In the light of the head torch it looked like a chublet so I swung it to hand where I realised it was a dace. I thought I'd weigh it out of curiosity - not being a good guesser of dace weights. Far from a large fish it didn't quite make half a pound. But as I'd never seen a dace that big before it was still a personal best!
Half an hour later my stomach told me it was time for home. A pity because I was enjoying myself and the river had just reached 6C - barbel temperature. Still it had been a successful few hours. I'd caught a new PB, and got the urge to catch more chub by design. I already have an idea to improve my rig...