It hasn’t been a great year for chub fishing so far, thanks to the almost unprecedented high water we’ve had to endure for months on end.
However, as we enter the coldest time of the year there will be windows of opportunity when chub will be very much my number one target.
On a low, cold and clear river, breadflake will normally be the first choice of bait, but this year the chances of us getting those conditions are slim, so smellier baits are definitely the order of the day, and that means the good old cheesepaste will be getting an airing.
One of the major benefits of cheesepaste over other chub baits is the strong aroma that quickly wafts downstream, drawing fish in from quite a distance. In low, cold-water conditions, this is not going to make a massive difference to your catches, as the chub are going to be loathe to leave their positions. When the river is carrying extra water and colour, however, a smelly paste comes into its own.
Now, every chub angler has their own favourite cheesepaste recipe, and many a night has been spent in the pub with anglers extolling the virtues of one variety of cheese over another. Personally, as long as it is a nice and smelly variety, I don’t think it makes a great deal of difference, and I will happily use whichever is cheapest. Normally, this is any left-over Stilton, or other blue cheese that has survived in the back of the fridge over Christmas!
More important than the variety of cheese that you use is how you make your cheesepaste, as you need to have a reasonably soft consistency that will let the flavour flood out, without it being too soft that it falls off the hook.
Getting your paste just right takes a bit of practice, but is worth experimenting with. It also makes a difference whether you are moulding the paste around the hook or using a corkball or paste cage (left) to mould it around. If you are getting sharp pulls but missing bites then the chances are the chub are just nipping at the paste, and you will get more hittable bites if you fish the hook buried in a small piece of paste. If the fish are feeding more confidently then it is easier to use a paste cage and have the bait moulded around the hair, rather than all of the hook. A bigger bait, about the size of a ten pence piece or bigger, works well when the chub are feeding hard.
You can make your cheese paste even smellier using any number of additives, but a couple really stand out as being chub-magnets. Several of my friends swear by adding a couple of drops of N-Butyric acid to their paste. But be warned, this is without doubt the smelliest and most horrible smelling additive going, so be sure to keep it out of the house! I was told about squid powder a couple of seasons ago and my chub catches have definitely improved since I have started adding just half a teaspoonful to my cheesepaste. The squid powder is such a good chub attractor that I now leave it out of my barbel baits as I just get pestered by chub!
One other thing worth bearing in mind is that chub have very good eyesight and I am sure that on heavily-fished rivers cheesepaste begins to lose some of its effectiveness simply because nearly every time the chub pick up a piece of white paste it has a hook in it. In clear conditions, therefore, try adding some red or brown dye to your paste to darken it down and make it that little bit different from everyone else’s.
Cheesepaste fishing is normally great if you have a short attention span, as often it doesn’t take the chub long to home in on the flavour trail.
On a cold winter’s morning hopping between swims, spending anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes in each spot is normally all that is required to see if any chub are at home.
It’s a brilliant way to spend a short January day, and as long as the river is not a raging torrent, cheesepaste will do the business!
Most anglers will bait each swim with just a few chunks of cheesepaste by hand before fishing. However, when using such a potent hookbait I prefer to be more accurate with my baiting and instead of loosefeeding I mould three or four pieces of paste around a short length of PVA tape. I thentie this to the lead or nick it over the hookpoint. When cast out, the PVA will soon melt and leave the free offerings right next to the hookbait. Hey presto – perfect presentation every time!
HOW TO MAKE MY DEADLY CHEESEPASTE
1 Break up about 4oz of blue cheese in a microwaveable bowl. If the cheese has a rind, then this is best removed.
2 Heat the cheese for about a minute to melt it – you are looking for a runny mixture. Then add a dollop of margarine.
3 Remove the crusts from a few slices of fresh white bread and either break them into small pieces or liquidise them.
4 Add any powdered additives to the bread and shake well, and add any liquid additives to the runny cheese.
5 Add the bread to the cheese slowly and mix. Keep adding the bread until you get a firm consistency that’s easily moulded.
6 Wrap the paste in cling film or a bag and store it in the fridge. I like to make up small batches and use them within a few days.