We've crept into April, the world is currently fighting Covid-19, many people are doing our country proud, the key workers, and of course the NHS that are working all hours trying to save lives! Society has all but shut down, social distancing is in place and we're only allowed out of the house for essential items and an hours exercise. It's tough times for sure, the majority of the country are pulling together as one but there are as usual one or two that think they're invincible!
Please Stay at home and Stay Safe.
Covering My Options.
Now, I love my Chub fishing and would probably say that over the last half a dozen seasons along with Perch they've fast become one of my favourite species, plus I love late Autumn going in to the winter. The banks can be quieter, foliage starts to drop back opening up more water to angle and spots that look dull in summer often become fish havens once a little extra water has dropped in.
Some of you that follow my footsteps on social media may well think that I'm out on the bank at every given moment, I can assure you that I'm not, although I do try and tread the banks twice a week if I can. For the majority of all of my trips they're three maybe four hours long at best.
I constantly try and keep ahead of the game, keeping an eye on the weather, the levels and the conditions in general.
Through the winter months when it's dark early, I'll load my car before going to work, put my shift in and head to my chosen section, sometimes that'll be right as daylight is fading. It's a rush but rewards can be had. The same goes for my early morning trips, I'll be up at silly o'clock depending on how long my drive is and aim to be walking the field or towpath so that I'm creeping into a peg just before first light but more often than not I'm home before lunch.
Many parts of the Ouse through Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire and beyond hold spectacular sized Chub, from small chublet right up to a magical six, seven and even odd eights if we're really lucky!!
I personally have a few membership books that offer some great chub fishing, and I do mix it up a little depending on where my hunch is telling me to head.
Minimal kit is taken and that will consist of one bag with a built in bait compartment and clips to take my unhooking mat, one quiver holdall (usually with two rods, bank sticks and my net handle) and my lightweight chair, oh... and my flask!
Usually armed with a rod of around the 1.5t/c with a spliced tip of 2oz maximum, a six pound mainline fished straight through to a size 8 or 6 hook that is anchored to the bottom using a light link ledger incorporating simplistic float stops.
Worm fishing while spraying maggot on the river is more of an early evening thing, but mainly aimed at perch just as the sun is dropping from the sky, although I do catch the occasional chub along the way, but to be honest it's aimed more directly at Perch.
Pellet, boilie and my spiced up luncheon meat are usually my choice of baits come winter with the latter being my first choice come either darkness or floods.
My pellet or boilie offering will be combined with a pva bag which has a mixture of both baits within and these would be potentially tied up a few weeks in advance, this will indeed slow the melt rate of the bag down once it has hit the river bed and I prefer that rather than a breakdown as it's potentially falling through the water and maybe ending up further away from my baited hook?
When pellet or boilie fishing, my hook of choice is a reliable Korum power hook in either an 8 or maybe a 10 if I think I need to scale down a little, but I personally wouldn't go any smaller if there is the chance of either a Barbel or a Carp as there is in certain stretches.
10lb or 15lb smokescreen is the hook link of my choice, again this may seem a little heavy to some but on many sections, swims can be tight with foliage, needle reeds and of course trees/snags.
Rod choice is usually decided depending on the flow and conditions so again I will pack a either a 3/4lb avon style or a 1.5t/c with a 2oz tip. With the Ouse being the width it is, I find an 11 foot rod in most situations a perfect length for sneaking in and out of what can be tight holes as sometimes I am literally just lowering straight from the tip of my rod and donking down!
If the river has extra water on or the conditions look good for the chance of a Barbel bite then I have no problem whatsoever in packing the more heavy duty type Barbel rod with a test curve of say 1.75. Ok so I may not see the more finer bites that may occur but generally I find in these conditions that a couple of dinks tells me that something is sniffing. More often than not I will receive a full blooded bounce/bite and that is probably down to the one thing that I have changed this past autumn/winter, from a running lead with longer hook links to a lead clip system and shorter hook links of 5 to 6 inches with baits set as tight to the hook as I can get them so it gives a claw type effect no matter the size of the bait or hook.
Come early season and through the summer I revert back to my free running set up and longer hook links of about 14"- 20" just to get the hook bait away from the lead and where the line enters down through the water, but again this depends on levels and water clarity.
My rod positioning again is dictated by the flow and the conditions, low water levels and my rod would be as low to the water as possible and the angle will be set at 10 o'clock if my bait is set roughly at 9 o'clock. In high water levels then my option is to fish the same angles but with the rod pointed skywards and if allowed then a large bow of line is released from the reel just to ease the pressure on the line.
Lead size in all situations is dictated by the flow and could be anything from 1/2oz up to about 3oz but more often than not a 1oz would be my favoured size for a free running set up while a 2oz would be my choice if a bolt style set up is being used.
As a rule, a typical session for me is about four hours or so, within that I let the tip tell me how long to sit in any particular swim. We all have sections, some short some long, we all have favoured pegs on certain stretches in certain conditions ( a bit like a Carp angler would on certain winds at a certain time of year) and over a period of time and the more knowledge we have gained this can then automatically give you a head start on where you think you should start to angle.
Now, there's no rule with this next bit.... generally there are two types of river angler, your bait and wait type or your roaming angler, I tend to be the latter of the two especially with my short sessions.
This would be my typical session on the Great Ouse (on the larger rivers like the Trent, Severn and Wye I would probably set my stall out as a bait and wait but only to a degree and If I felt the need to move then I would be off , at it and on my way)………..
I've arrived at a section at say 5.30am, it's just started getting light, I know the section, I know how far I need to walk to my furthest first choice peg given the conditions, so with that in mind I generally will pick three or so other swims on route, have a quick look and if they feel/look right I will then trickle just a little bit of feed in and walk on quietly and continue to choice one.
At choice one, my first job is to hand feed just a little bit of bait in, not masses but a light taster, my rods are already made up so just need slotting together and my chosen bait attaching, this will be done out of sight and away from the waters edge and quietly, there's no need in spooking anything that might be home before you've even dropped a bait in!
As stated earlier, most sections of the typical Ouse is only so wide, but positioning of the bait is mainly dictated to by the features and probably more importantly by the flow.
I love nothing more than being able to gently lower a bait in to the water just off of my tip or not much further than that, it's minimal disturbance and with the right size lead choice depending on flow, you can more or less get it fishing with hardly a splash.
Rod positioning to me is quite important, I try to set it away from the waters edge or on an angle that would give me the best vantage point if a bite is received, especially if I'm around heavy snags or foliage that a fish will almost certainly head for (which as we all know is typical, especially of chub) if they can get under your feet then they undoubtedly will!
As for myself, I always try and be discreet as possible, either on my chair or sat/laying on my unhooking mat but always on the rod within quick grabbing distance (common sense I know but I have been caught out on occasions in years gone by and there's nothing worse especially if your fishing for a bite in limited fishing hours).
As a general rule I'll let the tip dictate the longevity that I'm in any chosen swim, if within 30 to 45 minutes maximum I haven't had as much as a tap then I'm off to swim two, and the same process starts again, but if I have received even a slight bit of attention then I'll sit on my hands and play it by fifteen minutes at a time and see what happens.
If by luck I've put something in the net, I'll then weigh up my options as to whether or not its worth another chuck or move on. Sometimes I have had two and even three fish from a peg before moving on but I rely on my gut or a hunch to dictate this to be honest, as there is obviously no written rule.
Some days or trips, I may only fish two swims but others it maybe four, it all depends on the day and the situations that unfold.
My late afternoon/evening trips are set out exactly the same and nine times out of ten I can be found moving around in the dark for one or two possible swim choices to have half an hour in before venturing off home hopefully with a fish or two in the bag.
Give It A Go.
All this "Works for me" and I have confidence with it, it suits the hours that I juggle with, and I get in to a rhythm.
So, next time if you're debating going but do not think you have enough time then just think about it for a little longer and push yourself no matter the intended species, pick the hours that you think best suit, put minimal kit in the car and go for it.
Good luck and more importantly in these times that we are facing Stay safe and I'll look forward to bumping into or angling with one or two of you once this horrid storm has blown over.