November and December, two months that can be a hard time on the bank for the year round angler and at times you do question your sanity as you open the door at 6am to howling wind and driving rain to head to the river bank. The inner angler knows though that these days are just as important as any for the task now is to locate the fish ready for the tables to turn in your favour.
January comes around and the weather settles with regular frosts and for a river angler like myself it is a time I think of one species more than any other and that fish is the chub. Chub are a weird species as you can fish in summer and catch dace and roach in a swim and not see a sign of Mr chub but get to the depths of winter and the chub is there as bold as its very own brassy flanks, not an easy fish to catch but one that once found rarely moves from its winter haunt.
Here is one of my recent sessions for chub..
The working week done I walked out of work and as I did so the stresses and strains were washed away as my mind can finally move into fishing mode and prepare to think about where to head the next day. January and it could only be one species, the chub, and for good chub fishing there can only be one river in the North West and that is the River Dane.
Chub are a very wary species but there is one thing that is the chubs downfall and that is its greed and that veracious feeding and inability to ignore food coming past its door is a weakness I hoped to pray on. The bait order was easy on the day two pints of maggot, a pint of casters and a pint of hemp seed with a few grains of corn for a change bait.
The swim was a typical chub swim located on the bend of a river where a tree had started to fall into the river presenting a nice secure snaggy home for them to reside and as always is the case the banks where steep and on this session quite hazardous after the recent floods in December. Care on the day was certainly needed and I always stress your own safety should come before any fish.
My set up to tackle the swim was my trust 4lb4oz Drennan Float Fish line down to a 10 number 4 Maver Stick Float which I shotted shirt button style down to a 2lb 1oz Kamasan Bayer Perlon Hooklength which was down to a size 16 Kamasan B980 hook. This might seem a light set up for chub but you will be amazed how strong this set up is if your knots are strong and your drag is set correctly. The rod for the day was my trusty 14ft Drennan Acolyte Plus teamed with a Shimano Technium reel.
No need big hooks for chub, size 16, 18 and even size 20 hooks are more than capable of landing chub even in the most snag laden swims the essential component is the hook is a reliable strong pattern you have faith in.
I began feeding the swim with 5-6 maggots with every trot through and fed half way down the swim with hemp. The aim being to give the chub a place to hold over once the maggots had drawn them away from the snag. The steady feeding of maggots and running down the swim had been going on for a good 30 minutes before the stick float suddenly buried and the first chub of the day was reluctantly on its way to the bank.
When staying in one swim I cannot emphasise enough how important a factor a keep net is in putting together a good net of chub. I have tried not using one and you get one of two chub but the action of putting them back really spooks the swim as they bolt back under the snag spooking the whole shoal. Place them in a spacious keep net and you will see the benefits in your catch without a shadow of a doubt.
A change of hook bait soon saw two more chub follow on double maggot and castor over the next hour of steady feeding and running through the peg. Chub fishing when you know there is a shoal around really is a game of chess and trying to out with the fish in your swim into making a mistake.
One great tactic is to feed the swim heavily and then rest the swim for 15 minutes, have a brew, some lunch or in my case I go for a chat with my uncle who joins me on all my fishing trips.
Returning to the peg after resting it the float disappeared first trot down with a cracking chub that really put the acolyte to the test. When the float then shot under on the next two trots down the swim I really thought I was in for a bumper session but as is the case sometimes the fish can just turn off and on the day I put this down to the clouds breaking and the sun shining directly down on the peg.
The session ended with 6 winter chevins in the net and one happy angler on the bank. These fish came from a swim that in summer had produced a good net of roach and dace and not a single chub. January and February really are the time to be on the river chub fishing.
Wishing you all,
A video of the full session can be found on my youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xYuu8Ftmow