fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


24/12/2023 - Half A Dozen Good Chub


Ian called me  to say he would collect me at 1330hrs, for a session on the river, conditions could not have been more perfect, the cloud had started building, a nice south westerly wind was blowing, the river level was good with about 2 feet of extra water. We had several miles of water on the river to fish, with dozens of good swims. In less than an hour we were pulling into the farm yard where I am allowed to park, all we had to do was walk through a small wood then down the meadow of the stretch we planned to fish, no cattle today to bother us, all the sheep had been moved. Ian chose a swim he fished early in the week, where he had some chub, I fished another swim a hundred yards away in a copse, where I’d fished in the week catching just two trout. I was hoping it would be better today, hoping for some chub. Arriving in my swim I checked the water temperature getting a reading of 48 degrees F.




I then set about putting together my gear, an 11ft 6 inch soft action Avon that I’ve used for some twenty odd years, not just for chub but also barbel. I’m not a fan of stiff rods, I also feel that I can handle most fish with soft Avon action rod. My Sharpes rods that were converted by Dave Craine, are a perfect rod for handling big fish, you also get a lot more feeling through the rod from smaller fish. I chose a small bait runner, the reason I used this reel as I fishing a confined space, with my difficult mobility in my small swim, I could just flick the free run switch then immediately retrieve line. I added two float stops on the line before tying on a size 4 barbless hook. My plan was to start fishing a free lined bait to start with, I then realised the landing net was at the top of the bait, which meant a crawl on hands and knees to get it, no way could I think about standing up, in my slippery swim. Baiting with a very large chunk of meat I cast out, then allowed the bait to roll downstream so it ended up alongside an old tree trunk, then set the rod in the rest.




Some minutes later as I poured myself a cup of OXO the rod tip pulled round, “Was that a take or rubbish” I thought. Perhaps fifteen minutes later I retrieved the tackle to find most of the meat had been taken, leaving just a thin slice on the hook, “It was certainly a bite” For the next couple of hours, I fished all around the area, not a sign of any interest, I tried smelly cheese paste, then added some plasticine, so I could fish bread crust and bread flake, half an hour or so, I switched to sausage meat paste. The only sign of life at the waterside was a pair of kingfishers, a moorhen, the usual wrens, robin, blackbird along with quite a few mallard, also a heron, thankfully no cormorants or goosanders. Baiting with cheese paste I cast downstream then allowed the bait to settle under a willow bush, at last the light started to fade, the sunset was stunning, some twenty minutes later I got a bite, a trout around a pound, not what I wanted, this was quickly followed by another trout of similar size.




During my time at the waterside, I’d throw a chunk of meat under a bush, about every twenty minutes. An hour or so later it was time to freeline a bit of meat in that area, checking the point of the hook to make sure it was needle sharp, I tore off a big chunk of meat, then inserted the hook inside it, by now I needed to switch on my head torch to see what I was doing. It was going to be a tricky cast to get the bait underneath the branches, where I hoped a chub would be. At Last A Chub My first cast was spot on as the bait dropped down through the water, I noticed in the torch beam the line was angled down under the branches eventually it settled, I sat holding the rod for probably twenty thirty minutes, during which time a bat occasionally knocked the line as it fed on the tiny flies. Suddenly I felt a sharp pull on the line, I didn’t hesitate, but made a strike low to the water at the same time sticking the rod under the water, at the same time pulling the rod downstream in the hope of getting the fish out of the branches.




Suddenly something big and powerful powered off downstream, line was stripped off the reel. “This is what I want” I said to myself, suddenly it kited to my right, Immediately pulled it off course, then it took more line, at the same time staying deep, “This is no trout, it’s a chub” I thought. After some time I started gaining some control, but I was at the same time concerned at losing the fish, so strong was the head shaking and sudden short powerful runs a minute or two later it kited in tight to my bank, thankfully to the best of my knowledge there were no snags. After a couple of minutes it started to slow up, with less head shaking , I then got a glimpse of the fish in my head light, saying to myself “That a good chub” soon it was coming towards the submerged net, once over the net I lifted then it was mine. As I dragged the net towards the bank, I had to shorten the handle at the same time, as I lifted the net I could feel the weight of the fish, saying to myself “Yes its mine” In the torch beam, I looked at the chub as it lay in the net, then lifted out the hook without touching the fish, saying “It was worth the wait” With the net in the water’s edge, I sorted out the scales and weight bag, zeroing the scales, I then had to crawl up the bank, laying the scales on the field, followed by the net and chub, I gently pushed the chub into the weigh bag one big advantage in using a large strong plastic bag, hooking the bag on the scales, I got a reading of 5 lb 12 ounces, they settled back at 5 lb 10 ounces, taking two pics I then walked up field then released the fish by lowering the net in the water, I watched it swim slowly out on the shallow water over the gravel, then it was gone. Back in the swim I celebrated with a mug of OXO. Evern More Chub I then had an amazing hour or more of fishing, catching five more chub, all on big bits of meat, I had a total of eight good pulls, missing two, pricking one, catching five more chub weighing in at an amazing weights of 4lb 12 ounces two at 4 lb 10 ounces 4 lb 8 ounces and 4 lb 6 ounces. In fished on for about an hour then called it a day. The walk back to the car only seemed like minutes but of course was a lot longer.

Chub swim

My best chub 5 lb 10 ounces

Back to the News List

Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]