‘Perfection’ doesn’t guarantee success (Entry 71)

Everything looked absolutely perfect. The river had a little warm rain in it a few days before my trip. The levels rose and began to fall the day before I was due to arrive, leaving the river at normal winter level,  just a hint of colour. The weather, although blustery, was mild and with a fair amount of cloud cover predicted I couldn’t believe how everything had fallen perfectly into place. I was certain that the big chub would be willing to feed.

Ideal home for a big chubI had decided to try something a little different on this visit. Something I have never used before for chub. Even before I had started fishing, however, I had serious reservations about the choice I had made. In fact I was regretting not bringing my usual set up. But I was here now and I was going to give it my best. If nothing else I would learn something by the end. I settled into a lovely swim, offering me a defined crease, plenty of cover in the form of overhanging trees and a good depth of water. On went a small baitdropper and I proceeded to feed the swim. In total I put five loads of maggots into the swim. Quite a lot for me. The reason being I was hoping for a big fish and there are plenty of smaller species in here, minnows, dace and small chub. I wanted to make sure that there was some bait down there in an hour or two. I also felt that the conditions could potentially throw up a barbel so this was always in the back of my mind. I tied up the rigs on both rods whilst the swim settled.

The mag alignerAnd this is what I tied. One I have never used for chub before. The Mag Aligner. Borrowed from the carp fishing world, and indeed, the tench and bream fisherman. I had read in the past about successes other anglers have had on the method when used for wise chub and barbel. I thought it worth a go. Simply involves a fake maggot threaded onto the rig, and positioned so the curve of the fake maggot ever so slightly kicks the hook at an angle that will help flip the hook into the fishes lip. One or two real maggots are threaded onto the hook before a large PVA bag filled with a generous helping of grubs is attached both to the hook and the lead. Seemed like a good idea when I was day dreaming about the session at work. Less so now I was on the bank. The rigs were tied, PVA bags made up, and the swim had been rested for an hour. At the head of the swim I cast the first rod. The second rod, which had smaller sized PVA bags, was cast downstream into a deeper hole. Everything settled cleanly. I sat back and watched the tips. Two hours later I wound in. The maggots were fine. I re-cast both rods and for another two hours I watch the tips gently nodding. I wish I had brought one rod and some cheesepaste now and tried any likely swims. Still, I was learning. By now it was dusk. I wound in a recast the rods for one last time and waited for the blanket of black to envelop the surroundings. Of course I ended up blanking.

Now the stretch I am fishing is no pushover but it does offer a realistic chance of five pound plus chub with the odd fish over that magical six pound barrier. When the stakes are high I guess you have to expect times like this, especially when trying a new method. There are so many variables in fishing its sometimes impossible to say why you haven’t caught. Today, I think it was just poor angling; a certain lack of experience with the method. Or maybe the conditions were just too perfect? We’ve all had days where things are ideal, at least in our minds, but the fish think otherwise.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy christmas. Thanks to everyone who has been reading these updates and indeed those who have followed or liked the Facebook page. Your support means a lot and I hope the new year brings you wet net nets and big fish.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

A bumper chub session (Entry 70)

After attending the Northern Angling Show on Saturday and helping out on my clubs stand there, I was eager to get some fishing done on the Sunday. I had it in mind to head off in search of big roach on a local canal and, although conditions looked ideal weather wise, I decided to head back to the river for a few hours roving and trotting. There was another motive for this decision. That week I had, eventually, received my new rod that had been ordered a fair few weeks ago. I was itching to try it out and the idea of sending a float down the river seemed a good way to christen it. If I happened to catch a grayling or chub, then that would be even better. I had some old maggots in the fridge and these would be my only bait having forgot to get fresh ones on the Friday. I tell you, I’d forget my head.

D_BlurBy the time I arrived at the river it was early afternoon and a quick walk along the length revealed one or two other anglers already resident. In the distance I could see another angler arriving too, so my roving plans went out of the window. Instead, I decided to find the longest, straightest part of the river and stay there until dusk. I hoped that with patience and careful feeding I could build a swim and draw fish towards me. Making the fish come to me for a change instead of me finding them. Swim selected, I assembled the rod and quickly set the float to a ‘guestimated’ depth and began feeding. Six maggots at a time for starters, roughly every minute. The river was at its usual winter level but very clear with just a tinge of colour. I was confident that my 2lb fluorocarbon hooklength and size 18 hook wouldn’t put any fish off but only time would tell. On my first run through the swim at the end of the trot, seconds before I was about to reel in, the float sank from sight and I was into a fish. Brilliant! First cast with new rod and a fish! I couldn’t believe my luck.

A good way to christen my rodAt 4lb 1oz the above chub was a great start to the session. It certainly put the rod through its paces and I’m glad to say it handled the fish beautifully. After the picture I returned the chub well upstream and headed back to the swim. Time to feed some more maggots and run the float through. Nothing that time. I eased back on the feed, still as regular but just three maggots now. Nothing again. I persevered for half an hour, changing the depth several times, and changing the pace the float was put through the swim. Still no signs of any more fish. The water was very clear and the more I looked at the end tackle in it, the more I became concerned. Those split shot stood out quite a lot. So I changed the larger shot for groups of smaller ones and spread them out, shirt button style, and the very next run down the swim I had a bite which I bumped. Probably a grayling and not the wisest thing to do when the fish are being finicky. Maggots changed, I ran the rig down once more hoping to prove this wasn’t a fluke. Once again I bumped another fish! After this little flurry of action the swim went quiet again, and for another hour, all my efforts were in vain.

Something to keep me positiveTwo small trout were my reward for keeping at it and proved at least that the feeding and rig was working. I just needed to hope that this rhythmic feeding drew up some better quality fish in the last two hours of light. At this point I was a little worried that my plan wasn’t going to work. But I needn’t have been. A few casts after the two trout, I hooked into my second chub of the day, which turned out to be a lovely conditions three pounder. Single white maggot being its downfall. The next cast produced another chub, this time a larger fish of 3lb 12oz, again in lovely condition. Things were hotting up a treat.

Solidly built chubOver the next hour I took thirteen chub, ten of which were over three pound and the other three were two pound fish. Once they arrived the fishing was fairly easy. So much so in an attempt to catch the fish quicker I started feeding further upstream. This moved the shoal toward me so there was less time spent waiting for the float to get to the ‘killing zone.’ As long as I kept the bait going in, once just before I cast and at the end of the trot or whilst playing a fish, I was certain of a bite the next trot down. Eventually, and inevitably, the chub bites dried up. And thats when the grayling moved back into the swim. The first two were tiny; less than two ounces but eventually I connected with a bigger fish. Typically, it fought very hard, using its dorsal to hold in the flow. Weighing in at 1lb 10oz, it was a lovely fish to end the session with. No photo unfortunately as it decided to return itself before I had a chance to get the camera. They are lively fish for sure. With the light now all but gone it was to be the last fish of the session. I packed away slowly, taking in the atmosphere and the brilliant red sunset behind the trees. I had caught over 34lb of pristine chub, had another lovely sized grayling and a couple of brown trout. Not bad on a few handfuls of old maggots and a bit of perseverance.

Chub no.13Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Trotting for chub (Entry 69)

Just a short update this week as I only had a two hour session one evening before dusk. I decided, for a little change on this stretch of river, to try trotting maggots. Hopefully a big chub would find this presentation irresistible. In the last few days the colour has really dropped out of the river so I figured that the chub would be more responsive to a smaller bait approach. And what better way to present them than under a float. I have really been enjoying running a float down the river lately. I didn’t neglect to take a light swim feeder set up with me though. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket you know.

IMG_3543I had a swim in mind and I made a beeline for it on arrival at just after two o’clock. With the faster water on my own bank I fed a few maggots mid river whilst I set up the rig. With chub to 6lb present I didn’t want to fish too light. I had the ‘no point fishing silly strength line only to lose the fish should you get a bite,’ debate in my head. In the end I plumped for a 3lb fluorocarbon hooklength to 4lb mainline and a size 18 hook. I was pretty confident this would allow me to put on adequate pressure to steer an angry chub from any obstacles should I hook one. All this time, I’d been feeding three or four maggots every thirty seconds. I set the float to a depth of four feet and ran the float through. The float leant back occasionally, telling me the maggots were just tripping the bottom. I shallowed up and proceeded to run the float through and feed a few maggots before each cast. After fifteen minutes I had not had any signs. I added six inches to the depth, the maggots would now be very much on the bottom should I let the float run through. The rig went through cleanly enough and on the second run through the float sank from sight. Unsure wether this was debris or a fish I struck and was pleased to feel fish-like resistance at the other end. It felt like a good fish too. But in a fairly strong flow its hard to tell. I took my time, kept the rod low and slowly inched the fish up the swim. When it was in front of me I caught the first glimpse of what turned out to be a chunky chevin. It behaved very well, and didn’t try the classic chub tactic of diving for near bank cover as I drew it over the net. I was very happy to see the scales pull round to 4lb 8oz. A good chub on light float gear.

Look at the belly on this fish! I remained in the swim for another fifteen minutes after that fish but had no more interest. I fed the swim with a fair few maggots before I left in search of another swim. I planned to come back at dusk and have five minutes. But for now I walked downstream to a lovely fast bend with a big near bank eddy that I know holds chub most of the time. Today however, the chub didn’t seem to be obliging. Maybe they wanted a static bait and I did debate trying the swim feeder. In the end I was having too much fun on the stickfloat. I did have a number of small fingerling grayling from this swim. I have never seen or heard of anyone catching them from this stretch before so it was a huge surprise to see them. I wonder if there are any bigger ones present?

Where have these com from?With about ten minutes of light left, I headed back to my first swim and fished until I could no longer see the float. When it was too dark to make out, I had a further twenty minutes on the swim feeder. The light had now gone and with somewhere to be that night, I had to leave. Very content however with that lovely chub caught at the start of the session on the humble maggot. I am at the Northern Angling Show this weekend so I am unsure whether I’ll be fishing. If not, there will be no update next week. I’ll keep you posted via the Facebook page.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman