Fishing Methods for Catching Chub
Ground-baiting is important for chub, not so much in the matter of quantity but in its being accurately and sparingly placed. The old dodge of throwing in a sample of the hook- bait at intervals will often bring the fish out of their holes to await the next donation. If this carries a hook, it should be as naturally presented as possible, or the chub will not touch it.
Chub can be taken on float,, fly, or tackles according to their situation in the water and the time of year. Whichever method is employed, however, it is important to stay out of sight of the fish, which has a wholly justified reputation for disappearing the moment it spots the angler. This means approaching the water with considerable caution, and necessitates methods which enable a bait to be presented from a distance. For this reason, and leger methods are very successful.
When long-trotting, the angler first surveys the water to locate likely-looking chub holes. Overhanging trees, ancient piles, sunken barges, bridge buttresses, and high clay banks undercut by current are often very suitable. Having chosen his spot, he settles himself down some twenty yards or so upstream, taking good advantage of any natural cover available. Afterthe swim with some of the hook-bait, tossing this well downstream so that morsels trickle along in the stream to cover several such holes, he sets up his tackle.
A cork-bodied float capable of carrying several shots is used. This is set to cock with about 6 mm (I in) ofshowing to give good visibility at a distance. If the swim is a particularly long one, the float is capped with a Richard Walker float vane which, being cut like the wings of a dart, gives excellent visibility and very little extra weight or resistance when the float is submerged. The vane should, of course, be cut down to the size which is suitable. You will probably have to make up one yourself.
Fairly heavy shotting is employed to get the bait well down in the fairly fast water into which the chub sally from their points of vantage. The bait can be cast down and across so that during its passage through the swim it passes close to the various chub lies. During thedown, the float must be preceded by the bait, and this is effected by means of a continual but light check on the line from the reel. A good centre-pin reel normally allows the stream to draw line from the reel, the angler having a light finger control on the drum in readiness for striking and to prevent over-run. A few morsels of the hook-bait, aimed at the float during its passage, will often bring marauding chub into the stream, where they will inspect the bait and, with good fortune, take it. Once the swim is covered, the angler retrieves his tackle quickly but gently, possibly by ‘batting’ the drum (ie. by spinning it, with the check released, with quick strokes of the palm). It is a wise expedient to bring the rod tip around during retrieve so that the float returns across the middle of the stream and away from the bank being fished.
When the nature of the bottom is known, gravelly runs can be fished in this manner also, the float being checked at intervals to raise the bait momentarily in the water. The gentle way in which a bait so manoeuvred settles again is often very tempting to the fish, which perceives an item of food sinking very naturally past its ‘window’. Chub will sometimes simply mouth the bait, causing only the very lightest tremble of the float. It requires considerable self-control not to strike immediately at touches of this kind. More often an interested fish will bolt the bait defiantly and turn away with it, giving the float a quite sudden plunge which must be met by a firm strike.
In long-trotting, the bait should be presented at varying depths, the surface and middle waters being searched as well as the bottom because fish often move into these upper layers and take mid-water baits. If the angler is casting to near swims, lighter tackle must be employed. Where conditions permit, a slowly sinking, long-trotted bait is sometimes very effective.
Whatever the depth or the method used, it certainly pays to check the float at intervals to make the bait waver attractively near the surface before slowly sinking it again. This expedient is invaluable when fishing an uneven bottom, since it enables the fisherman to swing his bait over the shallower portions of the swim before settling it down among the deep runs again.
If the float is set 30 cm (1 ft) or so higher than the actual depth, the bait can be trickled along the very bottom by a careful manipulation of the tackle.
Fixed-spool reels are also employed for long-trotting techniques. The angler fishes with the pick-up open, allowing the
line to run off freely as the float moves through the swim. To check the float so that the bait precedes it, the palm of the hand can be held poised lightly about the spool so that the coils of line slipping off brush lightly against it. Sufficient friction can thus be applied to check the float through the swim. Another effective method is to hold the finger across the spool and apply friction to the running line, or the finger may be used to trap the line against the rim of the spool at intervals. In any event, the finger must be ready to stop the line in readiness for an instant strike. There is seldom time to close the pick-up before striking, but a finger across the spool can be just as effective, the pick-up being closed immediately the strike has been completed.
All float-fishing methods for chub require that the line should be well greased to keep it on the surface. Sometimes bights of line occur on the surface as a result of the swing of the current, or of wind at the surface. These should be ‘mended’ at intervals by raising the rod tip, lifting the line, and laying it back in the surface straight without disturbing the passage of the float. Long-trotting in this way is a most effective and killing method, and may be performed with worm, bread, maggot, and cheese. Suitably arranged, the tackle can be modified to present a live minnow or elver passing through the swim.
is used in fast waters where thick weed growth or uneven bottoms prevent a clean long-trot. The float is much the same for long-trotting, but should preferably be slightly heavier. The weight is a single drilled bullet which will not ordinarily submerge the float when clipped in position with a single shot about eighteen inches or so from the hook. A further shot is clipped on the line a foot or two above the bullet, and the tackle is fished from a tight line, the bait and weight resting on the bottom and controlled from the rod tip so that the float cocks sideways, pointing downstream. By carefully checking the line at intervals, and then occasionally letting out a further foot or two, the angler can make the bait trip along the uneven bottom and can control it throughout the swim. Bites are usually felt or spotted at the rod tip as quickly as at the float, and every touch is struck. If this fails to connect, the angler must try lowering the rod tip as soon as a touch is felt, striking at the more pronounced bite which often follows.
In sluggish waters the laying-on method is excellent; with it the bait can be presented from a suitable distance with accuracy and ease. The float is set up 30 cm (1 ft) or so higher on the line than the depth requires, and cast down and across so that the line extends out in front of the float at the cast. The bait then settles well in front, which the weights cause to cock slantwise. It may be necessary to withdraw or give a few centimetres of line to cock the float satisfactorily. The rod is then fished from a rest. Bites are normally quite definite, the float plunging in a slow, deliberate, and dignified manner.
Very often the angler when laying-on finds that the stream shifts the terminal tackle, swinging the bait slowly downstream and in towards the bank at intervals. If he cares to let out a little line on each occasion the tackle can be made to search out a considerable area in this way. Where the stream is insufficient to shift the tackle of its own accord the angler helps by lifting the rod tip at intervals, shifting the bait momentarily, and allowing the stream to do the rest.
For surface fishing, baits can be presented by long-trotting methods, using an unshotted light float, or with a controller or a. If the bait drags badly the chub will not look at it, and it may then be better to sink it somewhat below the surface, either by using a heavy bait, or by adding a shot or two just below the float.
Fly-fishing for chub is very effective when hot weather brings the fish near the surface and the usual methods are hopeless. It is every bit as difficult as fly-fishing for trout, and if anything the angler must be even more careful to obtain good cover. Casting a big buzzy fly to a rising fish is frequently worthwhile, and a No. 8 hook on fly tackle, baited with a single lobworm, will sometimes take a good fish. The presentation must however be very delicate if the worm is to stay on the hook; a light TROUT outfit is suitable for the task.
In known chub holes the same expedient may be used with aand ordinary bottom tackle. The worm is left to sink simply by its own weight, without float or shots. Some. Times too, this tackle is good enough for presenting small fly spoons, which are worked through the swim.
A fixed-spool reel with an ordinary bottom rod is a very suitable piece of equipment for surface baits. Paste, crust, crayfish, or small frogs may be presented in this way. Often the fish will take the bait immediately it strikes the water, but should nevertheless be allowed to sink to the bottom before being retrieved.
Dapping is a traditional way of taking chub at the surface, usually when stalking a known fish. Such a fish often has a hole in a pretty impregnable position to which it is almost impossible for the angler to cast his bait by normal methods. He must then try an attack from immediately above the fish, taking great care to avoid being spotted, and preparing his bait and tackle before approaching the banks.
The bait can be a large dragonfly or bluebottle, hooked so that it is alive and struggling, or even a worm or crust. The hook, about a No. 8, is tied directly to the end of the line, which must be tough enough to hold the fish at close quarters, because often the brunt of the battle will take place close by, and the angler may not have very much space to make full use of the power and suppleness of his rod.
The angler must locate a suitable hole in the bank-side foliage to put the rod through. He can either bring the bait up to the rod tip, put the rod out over the spot, and then pay out line to get the bait on the surface, or he can first arrange the bait at a suitable distance from the rod tip, and then wind the line around the rod tip several times to get the clearance for poking the rod through the foliage. In either case he will probably need a singleclose to the bait to get the line out when the rod is in position.
Once the rod is out, the bait is lowered to the surface, where, if an insect, it struggles in a lively manner. If the angler has successfully avoided being seen or heard, the bait is often taken immediately. Then he must strike and play the fish as well as conditions permit. This can be a very effective method of taking really big chub, although landing them through a hole in the brambles is often a tricky business.
Legering is by far the most productive method of taking good-quality chub, especially perhaps because the other methods often take ROACH or other fish before the chub has a good chance to get at the bait.
Some anglers advocateupstream, but most prefer to fish down and across. Upstream legering is a highly skilled business. It is suitable only for certain kinds of water and requires considerable experience, especially in detecting bites. It also requires the tackle to be carefully balanced so that the weight just holds bottom against the flow of the current. It is wise to strike at any suspicious movement of the rod tip or the line.
For the more orthodox forms of legering the weight will vary according to the bottom, the stream, and the presentation desired. If a static bait is desired, and the water is at all fast, a flat-bottomed weight or a coin lead is probably best. Both are designed to hold bottom. Coin leads are particularly suitable on the Hampshire Avon and Kennet for this technique. On the other hand, if a rolling leger presentation is wanted, anor pear lead and is essential both to make the lead roll easily on the bottom and to prevent kinks arising from line twist.
The length of ‘trail’ (distance between the weight and the hook) must also be varied according to conditions. It is not possible to stipulate rules for this, and the angler must experiment to find the most taking method in each case. Sometimes a very short trail of only a few centimetres will get fish taking madly; cm other occasions, even in the very same swim, a length of 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) may be required before the fish will take the bait confidently.
The main thing is to get the bait into the edge of the stream off the likely-looking holes and bays, or beneath overhanging trees which frequently shelter big fish. Once the bait is in position it can be fished with a tight line in fast water, but where the stream permits, other tactics can be employed.
When fishing a tight line it is extremely difficult to decide when to strike. Sometimes the merest touch must be ‘hit’ and sometimes the angler must patiently avoid touching these and await the really hefty thump which most big chub give when they confidently take the bait. This must be decided as a result of experience. When the angler finds that striking at small bit fails to hook the fish, or alternatively shows that the fish are small ROACH or DACE, he must turn to the other expedient.
In slow or sluggish waters the leger can be fished from a slac line, or, if a fixed-spool reel is used, even directly from the reel. For this, the bait is cast into position and the line is first tight,’ ened, then slackened off to allow it to hang in a gentle curve. Bites are signified by a distinct tightening of the line, easily visible where the line meets the surface. If the leger is fished directly from the reel, a spindle-shaped piece of dough, small enough to run easily through the butt and second rings, is fitted to the line where it hangs below the spool with the pick-up open. The dough prevents the line slipping off the spool, but run freely through the rod rings when a fish takes. The angler the closes the pick-up, watches the line tighten, and strikes firmly.
Other legering devices include the use of abetween the reel and butt ring, hanging with a foot or so of loose line, or a swing tip. In very sluggish waters, and where the adjustment permits, an electric bite detector can be use with considerable success.
The Great Ouse, Kennet, Thames, and Wissey (Norfolk) are amongst those likely to produce big fish. Other good chub waters are the Wye, Severn, Trent, Derwent, and Border Esk, and many south Scottish game waters probably contain specimen chub.
Although large chub are probably far more common than the average angler might suppose, their proverbial shyness is such that they are very hard fish to catch once they have the experience and strength that go with size.
Certainly there is no shortage of good chub waters. Besides those mentioned here, many smaller rivers are capable of producing surprisingly good chub.