Chub fishing in the snow (Entry 29)

With the cold weather continuing and more snow forecast, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get out at all this week. Not because I don’t like fishing in the cold and when there’s a carpet of snow on the ground, I was simply unsure whether I would be able to get from my house to the river. Luckily the predicted heavy snow turned out to a little less than anticipated. Having not been out to the tackle shop I had no maggots in which ruled out a few hours trotting for grayling. I therefore had one option left which was to continue from where I left off last week, and fish for chub with cheese paste.

As I made my way down the M6 surprisingly the snow had indeed fell less and in the surrounding fields, bright green patches of grass could be seen. On arriving at the river I found much the same, snow drifts and deeper spots, with clearer patches of mud and grass standing free from snow. The river itself was at normal winter level and carrying more colour than last week, probably due to a little snow melt which didn’t fill me with confidence. But as ever, I did believe I had a chance of a bite or two. No doubt the fish themselves would be shoaled up tighter than last week. Having fished this stretch a few times now, I know some good areas to fish, some very tight to the near bank, behind obstructions that create perfect ‘ambushing’ areas for a chub to lie in wait for any food items to be brought down to it in the main flow. The snow, deep mud and persistent cold wind made walking the banks very hard and quickly sapped my energy. I don’t know what it is that drives us anglers to fish in such conditions but you really can see, if you step back from it all, how the general public and uninitiated might consider us to be mad.

It's important to leave your hook point exposed when using chesse pasteI fished a little differently from last week. Instead of feeding a number of swims and then fishing them in rotation, I decided to fish a bigger piece of paste but make this the only thing in the swim. Obviously if a fish is present then my chances of it picking up my bait were greatly increased. I was also basing this approach on the idea of ‘effort versus reward’. River fish fish need to keep eating as they are using energy constantly but when in a torpid state they would much rather get a lot of energy value from one big mouthful than have to use up a lot of energy picking off little morsels, such as maggot. Well that was the theory.

The first swim was fished for an hour,  a little longer than I would usually give it, but in that time I did cast to three different places that I thought would hold some fish. Alas there IMG_1356wasn’t any so I moved downstream to where the river runs underneath the road. I hadn’t fished this swim before but have always meant to. Just in front of the bridge support on the far bank there is a huge tree stump in the water that creates a delightful slack. It took a few SSG shot and a substantial bow in the line to hold bottom. It looked perfect but there it stayed for 20 motionless minutes. It was time for a little food and a warm cup of tea. It’s worth pointing out that if you are going to venture out fishing in cold conditions, that wearing lots of thin layers and taking enough food and warm drinks to cover your time on the bank, is very important. Fishing is something we do for fun and its worth taking care of yourself and not putting yourself in too much danger. Safety speech over! There was only one thing to do now, I had to take the long walk to the head of the stretch where there was three good swims all within 200 metres of each other. I didn’t relish the thought of the walk through saturated ground but I knew if I was to catch these swims would be my best bet. With that I set off for the horizon!

IMG_1352Some 20 minutes later I was at the first of the three swims. Its a small, but deep hole, tight to the near bank, and with a high bank it’s imperative to keep as low as possible. If this means crawling through mud and snow then so be it. On went a big lump of cheese paste and I lowered the rig into position. After ten minutes I felt a little pluck on the line before the tip was pulled round ever so slightly. Enough to strike at and thankfully I had a fish on, which at first I though was trout from the speed it took of at. The fish then held stationary in the main flow, shook its head and began to plod. Classic chub fight. Once netted and a quick photo taken, I weighed the fish at 3lb 10oz. Happy angler now!

The first fish of the dayAfter that fish I made my way to the next swim, its an interesting swim and one which holds a lot of options and places to present your bait. You can easily spend an hour there, which I did, but had nothing to show for my efforts. I think the fish were really tightly shoaled today and I might have fared better fishing into dark which wasn’t an option today. On my way back to the car I decided to have one last cast in the swim that gave me the fish earlier and I am glad I did as it produced another fish within five minutes, again to a big pinch of cheese paste. The fish was a little smaller at 3lb 8oz but made the arduous trek across the field that little bit easier. To catch any fish in these conditions would have been a good result, but to catch two good sized chub in just a few hours, during the day, I was made up.

A last gasp winter chubDon’t forget you can get twitter updates notifying you of new blog updates by adding @NorthwestFish or you can follow my blog by clicking the link at the top of the page. I update every Saturday morning.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

On the river for chub (Entry 28)

Well, it’s here again. That white fluffy stuff that usually brings havoc to our transport system and has every child rushing to find something suitable to slide down hills on. As the snow begins to fall and the temperatures drop, so the stillwaters begin to freeze over and once more its the rivers that offer any angler ‘committed’ enough a chance to wet a line.

Obviously then, this is where I was going to be heading this week but I couldn’t decide what to fish for. Should I trot for grayling with maggots or fish for chub exploring any likely spots with a big, smelly bait. Another question popped into my head. ‘What would Jan Porter do’? I don’t know why it did. A quick message via twitter saw Jan reply opting for grayling but then again he couldn’t rule out the chance of a chub even in the bleakest conditions. A decision had to be made and simply because I feel I have neglected chub of late I decided it would be wandering the banks with a handful of cheese paste and a ledger rod.

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I arrived at the river after noon and made my way towards the head of the stretch taking with me nothing but the cheese paste. Looking for any likely looking swims, like the one above, I worked my way downstream feeding a few pieces of cheese paste in each. Once at the downstream limit and having fed six swims, I headed to collect my gear from the car. I like to travel light when fishing like this, so it was simply unhooking mat, landing net, IMG_1474scales, a small bag with essential tackle items and a flask of tea. Oh, and a rod of course. I headed back to the first swim I had fed, baited the hook with an almond sized lump of cheese paste and crept into position. As the swim was very close in I had to keep low. There is no point going to all the trouble of feeding swims only to approach the swim with heavy feet. The ‘fearfullest of fishes’ will not abide this. The flow was very slight in this swim and was eddying back on itself. I dropped the running link ledger of a single SSG shot into position and let a little slack line out. I knelt on my unhooking mat, line wrapped around my finger and waited for any signs of fish. It took a full minute for the tip to start vibrating and a quick strike met with solid, lumbering resistance. Definitely a chub and what a way to start! I had to be careful playing the fish however as the nearside of the river was full of twigs and snags, ready for any wily chub to make a dive to safety.

A fish in under a minute - chub around 4lbI managed to safely net the chub and it is pictured above. A pristine and chunky 4lb fish with a definite liking for my cheese paste. I returned the fish well away from the swim although felt that I wouldn’t get any more fish from here due to the nature of the fight. The fish bore hard for the trees to the left and probably disturbed any fish that lay in the slack water there. Even so I gave it another cast. A motionless 15 minutes went by and confirmed to me there was no more fish willing to feed here so I headed to swim number two. No fish were forthcoming. The same could be said about swim number three and swim number four. I felt sure I was fishing correctly and the fish I had caught in the first swim gave me hope that I would eventually locate another fish or two in another swim.

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Swim number five was called upon. Would there be any fish here? I baited my hook and looked at the swim. I decided to add more shot to the link for this swim as the pace was greater here. I also wanted to fish further out in the slightly deeper water towards the far Grayling on cheese paste?bank. The rod top bounced around as the rig found its way into position. Two minutes later the rod tip arched over and I was playing chub number two, a little smaller than the first fish at around 3lb but a welcome fish all the same. I was able to play the fish well away from where I hooked it so I decided to have another cast. A little more cheese paste was fed before doing so. Another bite came within minutes and proved to be a surprise grayling, a respectable fish of around 1lb. It’s the first one I have ever caught on cheese paste. Maybe the fish had an identity crisis either way it brought a splash of colour to an otherwise dull and drab day. I decided to fish this swim for awhile longer as the fish didn’t seem to be backing off. I started to feed small bits a cheese paste quite regularly and fish a larger lump in various places of the swim. For the next 30 minutes I had a run of bites resulting in some nice sized chub all between 3-4lb.

Another chunky River Dane chubAs dusk approached I felt I had the best chance to get amongst a bigger fish. I had purposely left a swim for this time of day and it was a swim I had fished before. Although there was still fish to be had from my current swim I decided to see if I could snatch a bigger fish as the light levels fell. On arriving at swim six I went through the same ritual as I had done all day. Baited my hook well away from the swim, then made my way carefully into position and cast my rig. It settled beautifully and I was sure I would get a bite. It took a little while for one to materialise. A few taps made way to a typical huge chub knock before a more pronounced rattle gave me something to strike at. Unfortunately the fish itself wasn’t a monster but a welcome fish to end the session on.

The last chub of the session as the light starts to goToday’s session proved that, when it comes to small rivers, if you give yourself a chance by feeding numerous swims, approaching them quietly and more importantly, you are lucky enough to locate a few fish, even in cold, winter conditions you can catch some quality fish in just a few hours. As I am writing this entry the snow is now falling outside and a quick look at the forecast reveals that the temperatures are only going to get colder over the next few days. This means that the stillwaters will no doubt have a lid on them for a week or more so and next weeks entry will more than likely see me on the river once more where this time I may turn my attention to grayling. After all variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman