As my angling has progressed and research has replaced many of my opportunities to get out fishing, I have turned more and more towards game fishing… but the coarse season will be upon us soon and few coarse fish behave as much like a beautiful brown trout as a Chub in a small stream in my opinion. Today, Matt Roche, one of the most engaging and helpful members of our Fishamo family, shares some tips on small river Chub fishing for you to think about ahead of the new river season
Sometimes there are styles of fishing or fish that you drift away from for some time only to rediscover them. These rediscoveries can feel brand new and exciting, like meeting an old friend and picking up where you left off. This was certainly how I felt returning to fish for chub.
On this trip, While some good fish were willing to take my bait, there were no monsters, but the experience of small river chubbing is, to me at least, one of the purest forms of angling. It is generally an active hunt where you spot your quarry and are constantly on the move. Tackle and tactics centre around this simple approach. Nearly all my fish are caught freelining with the very occasional use of a link-ledger or a float if I cannot see my quarry but suspect them to be there. Or if I am fishing up against that classic chub haunt, an overhanging tree or ‘raft’.
Most of the waters I fish are weedy and or snag rich, at least during the summer. Chub love this kind of cover and are adept at not being pulled from it. For this reason, the tackle is moderately stout. Mainline is 8lb, sometimes with a 6lb hook length but often without. If you can find the chub and do not spook them you are normally going to get bites and will want tackle that errs on the side of caution. Rods are of an ‘Avon’ style with a test curve of somewhere around 1lb or 1 ¼ lbs. A quiver tip option is useful but for me, this means two rods and I prefer to go with just one. If you can ‘touch ledger’ the quivertip can stay at home anyway. Any reels that are reasonably lightweight and in the 2500 range are perfect. I have a couple of Shimano Stratics which are a delight but have probably not improved my catch rate at all. Also, I would also really recommend a LONG landing net pole. I have one from Gardener, which is massive and can reach over all manner of vegetation. The best spots are often the trickiest and a net pole of this type really helps.
Chub are known to eat just about anything, and all sorts of choices are therefore available. I am a confirmed bread man. The reasons for this are quite simply its versatility. You can use it as a surface bait (so exciting) or squeeze it into a flake and watch it move along in the current until it disappears into the mouth of a chub. Chub can be very cagey feeding from the surface, but a bait trundled down the flow below the surface is accepted readily.
It is no good being a one-trick pony however, and other baits can have their day. Worms are always good and often deliver a nice perch or trout. Remember if you are on a river there could be a surprise waiting and, as well as the aforementioned perch and trout, I have had encounters with river carp and barbel while chub fishing.
Maggots will catch everything but to me, this is more of a winter bait. One bait I cannot ignore though, are slugs. The big black ones are the ones you want. They, like leeches for catfish, are almost chub exclusive. Their reaction to them can be so aggressive it is almost beyond belief. They are not pleasant to handle but my goodness do they catch chub. The distinctive plop they make on entry lets the chub know a much-loved snack has just come in through the front door, or the roof I suppose! But the sky is the limit for chub baits.
Locating chub on small rivers is most of the battle – your eyes are your most potent weapon. You can double their effectiveness with a pair of polarised sunglasses. People still are not convinced by the difference these make, but it is extraordinary. I have a pair of Fortis ones with amber lenses and have found them to be excellent. There might be some obvious spots like rafts, trees, roots, or other types of cover but you will find them in all sorts of spots and the first port of call should always be your eyes. Also, be stealthy. There is much debate about how aware fish are of us on the bank. I always proceed quietly and try to keep my large carcass off the skyline!
My final piece of advice is to travel light. All my terminal tackle fits in a bait box/takeaway box. Also, I take a camera and small tripod, small unhooking mat, scales, and forceps. The lighter you travel the more likely you are to cover some water and find lots of hungry chub.
Many people have access to small streams and upper reaches of rivers where this approach will reap rewards. Besides, it is a fine lesson in watercraft that will stand you in good stead in other areas of your angling. While there might be a few bites, cuts and stings you will not regret it!
As always, I am available through the Fishamo mentoring scheme for any questions or even a day’s chubbing, if you bring lunch!