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Posts Tagged ‘Winter chub fishing’


The title is certainly not a description of me or any other angler, but the fast flowing rivers that make Hampshire such an iconic destination for any river angling enthusiast.

Day 1 saw me treading those hallowed banks of perhaps Hampshire’s most famous of rivers; the Avon.  The Avon cuts it’s way through Wiltshire and Hampshire before entering the sea at Christchurch, which is now part of Dorset.  At times the river meanders it’s way through open fields, with barely a tree in sight and in other parts it cuts through heavily tree lined banks where thick foliage offers the angler some much needed cover.  Much of the Avon where I fish is lined with dense reeds or rushes.  They stand tall and shield the angler from the quarry.  They also offer plenty of cover for the fish, with deep undercuts to provide sanctuary to chub and barbel.

The Avon

The Avon

Today I was primarily after chub.  This area holds chub to over 7lbs, although they are a rare beast indeed.  Of course the Avon is also famed for it’s roach, however some much needed reconnaissance is required before I target these most beautiful of fish.  A great deal of my time will be spent fish spotting throughout the spring and summer months.  The river will be gin clear by then and the ability to see the fish will allow me to start to log where roach are and where they might be come the winter months.  Hemp and tares will be used during those warm days, so hopefully a roach or two will succumb to my float tactics during the summer.  Hopefully come next Autumn I will have built up a much better picture of fish holding areas and give me a much increased chance of some big roach.

However today, as I said, I was after some chub.  Tactics were very simple.  A 12 foot Avon quiver tip rod (3oz glass tip), fixed spool with 6lb mainline, size 6 hook and a cage feeder.  The only bait used was breadflake, which is simply a deadly bait for chub.  Of course it’s also a deadly bait for roach too and I’ve even caught a few barbel on bread, so anything could turn up.  The hooklength was around 3 feet.  I use liquidised bread in the feeder and a pinch a flake on the hook.  It makes for a cheap days bait at around £3.00, which makes a pleasant change.  Maggots in Kent are now around £3.50 a pint and casters £3.90, so a few pints is the best part of a tenner these days.

My plan was to fish a swim for an hour and move on.  The only downside was the forecast.  Originally it had been really good for today, however the day previously it had changed to 2-3 hours of heavy rain.  This meant I was taking my umbrella and a few extra items of clothing.  I find fishing in heavy rain rather tiresome and I therefore fish less effectively.  Today I was fortunate to be fishing with good mate Jez Brown and he even treated me to breakfast, what a good chap he is!  So the plan was to leap frog swims downstream looking for good chub swims.

The Hampshire Avon

The Hampshire Avon

Jez was into a fish almost instantly, a nice fish of a few pounds.  Soon after I was netting a nice chub too.  I had found a lovely swim just below some sunken bushes, with tall rushes lining the bank.  A few yards downstream were a number of partially sunken trees and it just screamed chub.  The depth was good at around 4ft.  Soon after the first, the tip tapped for a second time and arched round. The result was a slightly better chub nudging 4lbs.  They were in immaculate condition and fought quite hard.  Sadly the rain had started by now and was pretty heavy.  I headed back to the car to put my thermal waders on to keep warmer and drier.  We lost around 2 hours fishing.

Avon Chub

Avon Chub

I worked my way downstream, although nowhere near as far as I’d hoped.  I simply had too much gear to carry for traveling any great distance.  Despite this I did fish around 4 or 5 swims.  They all looked superb and I ended the day with 5 chub to around 4lbs and a couple of trout.  I missed two absolutely unmissable bites too! Jez had headed off early and so I packed up around 5.30.  I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer but I was off to the Itchen the following morning and had the long drive back to Kent to contend with in the meantime.

The following day saw me on the lower Itchen Fishery with Peter Bentley, a fly fishing friend who came with me last year to trot the Itchen for grayling.  That was his first foray into float fishing and grayling fishing and he managed to catch a few fish.  This time I thought the LIF gave us a bit more water to tackle and hopefully a few more fish.  We didn’t arrive at the river until almost 11.30am and we were looking to pack up around 4.30, so we had around 5 hours to get stuck in.

We were soon tackled up and ready to rock and roll.  The tackle today were 2 14ft float rods, centrepins loaded with 3lb line and either a 2g Avon float or chubber.  Bait was sweetcorn and maggots.  I always look for some smooth water, regardless of depth.  We were soon running floats through swims and the fish were biting.  Peter was in first and landed a spirited little grayling.  Others followed.  We stopped around 2.30 for coffee and a sandwich before exploring a bit more water downstream.

The Lower Itchen Fishery

The Lower Itchen Fishery

Most swims produced a few fish and I think between us we ended up with probably 20 grayling and a dozen trout.  As always, almost as many were lost as we caught, but that’s often the way with grayling.  On our way out of the fishery I bumped into Danny who had caught a nice barbel from the bottom end.  It wasn’t a monster but more than welcome.

 

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It’s been a while since I wet a line with my good buddy John Kemp, too long in fact. At last we managed to put this right and agreed to a session on the Sussex Ouse, a river I’ve not fished before.  I have to say I was looking forward to the challenge of a new venue and I always enjoy new surroundings too.  The Ouse runs through some stunning countryside in Sussex, places like Sheffield Park where people flock to in the autumn for the stunning colours of the trees.  A veritable cornucopia of hues to marvel at and bewitch the eyes and minds of all those who visit.

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

We stopped at a few well known spots for a look see.  I have to say I was impressed.  We ended up at a fairly narrow and heavily wooded section that looked barely fished in all honesty.  The river here winds its way through the Sussex countryside, with steep banks and endless features to fish to.  It is a fairly small and very intimate river, with a good mixture of shallows and deeper runs.  There appeared to be a very healthy amount of gravel on the river bed too, which looked ideal for summer barbel to flourish in.

The Sussex Ouse

The Sussex Ouse

John and I were here for the chub today.  The weather conditions have been fairly steady over the last week, with a slight increase in air temperatures and very little rain to speak of.  All in all it was ideal chub fishing conditions.  The river had a good tinge of winter colour and looked spot on for a fish or two, well hopefully!  I was armed with a 12′ quiver tip rod, a reel loaded with 6lb line, some 2 and 3 x swan shots for the link leger and some 4 and 6 Pallatrax ‘The Hooks’.  This was a day of simple fishing tactics.  I thread 4 grippa stops up the line and then bend over a piece of mono between them and put on 1, 2 or three of the swan shots, whatever I need to just hold bottom.  A big hook is used to fish either lob worms or even better a big piece of crust.

Always, always try and buy your crust from a high street bakers.  I promise you they are far superior to the supermarket ones.  I don’t know why this is the case but it is.  The supermarket ones generally have very brittle crust and don’t freeze particularly well and rarely stay on the hook for long.  A baker’s loaf has much more pliable crust that you can bend in half without the crust splitting and breaking apart and it will stay on the hook for ages.  Unfortunately my local baker’s has closed down and I was forced to buy a loaf from Waitrose and it was awful.  Luckily John had some decent stuff so I pinched some of that, thanks John.

The right sort of crusty loaf

The right sort of crusty loaf

We headed to the upper section of the beat, with the intention of leap frogging swims back down to the bridge.  There was a lot of water to target and most of the swims looked likely to produce a bite.  My first choice was near an outflow from a waterworks.  From here I opted to fish for maybe 20 minutes per swim and head downstream.  The first swim failed to produce and so I moved down into the next favored spot.  Here a tree had come down right across the river and the depth looked good right along this section.  I threw out 3 balls of liquidized bread and cast out a big piece of crust flavoured with Sausage Sizzle.  This was anchored about 4-5 inches from the hook.

A few tiny pings on the quiver indicated interest from some unseen watery inhabitant and then the tip pulled round slowly into a full arc.  I struck and felt something solid and heavy on the other end.  A nice chub I thought.  But no, this was no chub as it tore off downstream and right under the tree.  I managed to coax it back and again it headed  off under the tree.  This toing and froing continued and I still hadn’t seen the culprit.  Over the first 30 seconds of this fight the fish had gone from chub to barbel to carp.  Eventually the unseen leviathan boiled on the surface and it was indeed a big carp and it looked like a ’20’.  This fish hadn’t given up yet and it went on a series of runs again, albeit much shorter and far less powerful than the initial ones.  I shouted for John, who luckily had moved downstream nearer me and soon came running to see what all of the commotion was about.

Whoops!

Whoops!

The fish was now wallowing on the surface and John just about squeezed it into my chub net!  As he lifted there was a horrible cracking sound and my Drennan net handle snapped in half.  We still managed to lift my prize out and there lay this big, fat and beautiful mirror carp.  It did look big and I lifted it with one hand and it felt a twenty to me.  We weighed and photographed the fish and it was 20lb 4oz.  I was over the moon.  You often loose fish like this on light set-ups but it is a testament to the old adage of using balanced tackle.  I have often said that you can exert an awful lot of pressure on big fish with light gear providing it’s balanced.  A quiver tip rod and 6lb line can easily subdue big fish, the only thing that often causes a loss is a hook pull, particularly if using very small hooks or the fish becoming snagged.  If I had been barbel fishing here, I would be using much heavier tackle due to the amount of snags.

20lb 4oz

20lb 4oz

We continued to fish and move slowly downstream but with no bites forthcoming.  I watched a Buzzard being mobbed by several crows.  You see so many buzzards now and I even saw three whirling overhead of one another whilst playing golf at Knole Park the other day.  They are the first ones I’ve seen here.  I knew they would eventually move in.  I saw my first and only other Kent sighting quite a few years ago in Stone Street, so it was good to see that they have populated the area now.  Of course you often hear them long before you see them, that forlorn cry as the circle high up on the thermals.  After talking to another angler lower downstream who had also failed to get a bite, we decided it was time to head off to another venue.

The Eden

The Eden

This time we headed to Kent to fish the Eden.  The Eden is a diminutive and intimate river that eventually joins the River Medway.  It’s largely gravel bottomed but rarely deeper than 2-3 feet.  There is plenty of bankside cover with steep banks down to the river.  Fortunately there are plenty of ledges to fish from.  Again we leap frogged downstream, fishing lots and lots of superb looking swims.  I was still struggling to get a bite, whilst John had lost a chub of around 3lbs and managed to net a slightly smaller one.  With only 15 or so minutes to go I moved into my last swim, having just lost a nice fish further upstream.  Out went a big piece of crust into a nice long glide under some overhanging branches.  The tip suddenly pulled round and a good chub fought on the other end.  I could see from the size of the chub’s mouth that it was a good fish and on landing, it proved to be a very healthy, bulky fish and weighed in at 4lb 7oz.  A fitting end to what had been a rather exciting day in the company of my very good mate JK.  Thanks for another great day out John.

4lb 7oz

4lb 7oz

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I experienced a somewhat lacklustre days grayling fishing last week in Berkshire.  The river was a little coloured and probably 12-18″ up.  However despite that it was a reasonable day and yet I failed to entice more than half a dozen grayling.  I did have a couple of bonus roach, one of which was nudging a pound.  Geoff and Kevin of course slayed them, taking 16 or 17 apiece.   Dan fared about as well as me I think, so we were certainly runners-up.  It was interesting watching a large group of grayling take the freebies but avoid my hookbait like the plague.  No matter what I did (hold back, hold back really hard or just let it go through the swim at its own pace) they wouldn’t touch the maggot hookbait with a barge pole let alone those delicate mouths.  Eventually I gave up of course but it was fascinating to watch.

So this week Geoff, Kevin and I headed to Hertfordshire to fish the upper beat of a small river, well it’s small at this point of its journey to the Thames anyway.  I was going with the intention of targeting the roach and dace.  With that in mind I was armed with 2.6lb mainline, 22 hooks to 14oz hooklinks and a small stick float shotted button fashion.  All this was to be fished with the trusty Bob James centrepin and my wonderful Drennan Matchpro Ultralight.  Bait was to be single maggot.  It was a cold day.  On arrival it was -6C and we’d already had a couple of frosts overnight and so wasn’t quite sure what to expect fish wise.

My first swim failed to produce so much as a twitch on the float and so I decided to move upstream.  After a recce I found a couple of swims that looked promising and so I upped sticks and settled into my new swim.  The depth was about average for this venue and that’s about 2’6″ deep.  A light stick float was used which took 5 no4 and I spaced out the shot using No6s, 9s and 11s.  A few trots through soon had the depth sorted and a few maggots thrown in each trot through would hopefully get the roach feeding.

It was not to be.  The roach and dace were either not present or were simply bullied out by the sheer number of chub that seemed to be ensconced in the swim.  Between 12pm and 4pm the fishing was a times quite hectic.  One of my earliest fish proved to be the best; a chub of 4lb 3oz.  I lost a couple of good fish and so upped the hooklink to a 20 hook to 1lb 14oz and this certainly helped.  I still lost a couple of fish but proceeded to land a total of 23 chub.  Several were between 3-3.5lb and another one which I estimated to be around 4lbs, otherwise they were mainly 1.5-3lbs.  It was great fun on the light set-up and the action was thick and fast at times.  I’m fairly certain I lost a couple of barbel out of the half a dozen or so that came adrift.  Still that’s how it goes.

4lb 3oz

4lb 3oz

It was interesting to note that once I changed to double red maggot the bites came thick and fast.  Prior to that I fished a single maggot and only had a couple of fish.  Once two were used they went potty.  Of course that may be just a coincidence and it may not.  Personally I think they were in a real feeding mood and responded well to constant little and often baiting tactics and the larger hook bait.

Geoff managed several nice roach to just over a pound and finished with a barbel of around 6.5lbs plus a couple of reasonable chub.  Kevin had a few chub too but it was one of those rare occasions of late where I actually managed to out-fish the buggers! 🙂

The fish were in excellent condition which is a testament to the hard work of the committee and good angling practices used by the members.  All in all a lovely day.

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