Recent suggestions for up coming fishing trips, and the general attitude of a lot of people I meet, would have you believe that winter is just about over and spring will soon be upon us. Well my arse it is!!! I have this horrible feeling that sooner or later we are going to get some proper bad stuff. Admittedly I could be wrong, but either way I will be thinking very hard before involving myself in any night sessions for a while to come, unless the temperature rises by at least ten degrees and stays that way permanently. As for species I am playing it safe so off to the river after old Mr Chavin for me.
Walking across crispy frozen grass Sunday morning I could not help but remark to myself that of all the outfits which old England wears, by far my favourite is the frosty white number she sports repeatedly over winter. Be it meadow, wood, or ploughed field they all look great covered in crystals of ice. Especially on the way to a river.
A while ago I watched a short video on Martin bowlers website http://martinbowler.co.uk/online-videos where he used a floater cake to counterbalance a gob of cheese paste for chub fishing, and last time I was out it popped back into my head. At the time I didn't have the stuff to have a go so this time out I had the required bits and was ready to give it a bash.
I am a huge fan of critically balanced baits and use them whenever I can whilst fishing. As fish do not have hands to test out things with, they must use their mouths and should a weightless bait fly in their mouth as the test it, a panicked fish and a sprung trap are inevitable.
Early last winter I knocked up a batch of random shaped pop up boilies to imitate bread to be used on a few different venues. They worked great for tipping off boilies with a fleck of white and worked even better for threading on a hair and squashing a hunk of bread round surface fishing for carp. And they seemed the perfect way to reduce the weight of some very fruity smelling cheese paste on this trip to the upper Avon.
Hook a buoyant bait onto a huge size 2 Drennan specialist
place on top of a flattened piece of cheese chod
mould into required shape leaving hook point exposed
Another thing that Mr Bowler suggested, and I have also used before to search out Chub, are very light weights. By using not quite enough lead to hold bottom the flow of the river automatically pulls the bait into areas with less flow, where any energy saving fish can sometimes be found waiting for a tasty morsel to pass by in the heavier flow.
I used to solely use multiple swan shots until I discovered these giant shots made by Preston Innovations which seem to be the equivalent of 2-3 swan shot. It may seem trivial to most other anglers why I should use one large shot in place of two or three smaller shots. But as far as I can tell it makes a totally different sound hitting the water and you only have to pull one shot of the line should a fish find weed and need to be extracted.
Then cast the slowly sinking free moving bait into your favourite chub hole and wait. It took all of ten minutes for my rod tip to make a slight but significant tremble. I never even waited for the tip to go all the way round before I struck into a hard fighting fish. I do have the utmost respect for chub as they are the dirtiest fighters that swim and that combined with their willing to feed worst conditions makes them a winter favourite.
The hooked fish made an attempt to get under every possible bank, snag and weed bed within twenty feet. But finally it hit the net and carried on swimming like it was still in the water just like a tuna does when hauled from the sea.
Thank you very much Mr Bowler for the tip - it worked a treat! 4.5lb of long lean chub makes a chilly Sunday on the river perfect. I was shocked at how lean this fish was to be truthful. Had it been proper plump this would have been a five plus fish every day of the week.
I did have a few more fruitless casts in the first swim before I dropped down river a way and a rather rude half pound fish ruined my next swim, by making a god awful racket splashing around and shedding my hook.
The rest of the morning was spent residing at the head of a beautiful run with the Sun warming me. I knew full and well that the clear river and bright midday sun did not bode well for any more fish. So I enjoyed the last hour or so sipping warmish tea from my flask as I stared up at the amazing azure sky from my grassy corner overlooking the river.