Keeping mobile and scouring miles of river in a day is the best way to keep warm this winter and chub are the ultimate species to target when adopting this proactive approach.
Tiny rivers that weave through stunning countryside settings are often the perfect place to employ a roving attack, with many enthusiasts of this style often visiting over a dozen swims in a session. A short spurt in one spot will soon provide indications as to whether a greedy chub inhabits the peg and if it does, you can bet your bottom dollar that a carefully presented hookbait will soon be engulfed.
WHERE TO FISH
Chub can be found in almost every English, Welsh and lower-Scottish rivers and streams. They have bred well and many numbers of chub of decent sizes are targetable across the country with hundreds of waters giving up 5lb specimens, and many prime rivers providing the angler with chub to over 6lb.
They can be found in deep and powerful rivers such as the Trent, Severn, Thames and Wye, through to tiny little backwaters that you could wade or even jump across. So there’s a high chance that you can find chub a short drive away from your home. A good start is to ask at your local tackle shop or keep an eye out in our 'where to fish' section of the Angling Times each week to help you find venues.
It is no secret that chub love to lie close to cover and there is no shortage of it on the river, with stacks of swims home to sunken trees, overhanging branches and clumps of brambles. Add to that a mixture of fast glides and gentle slacks and you potentially have hundreds of little areas that look incredibly inviting. The diagram below shows you some classic chub holding features. Click on it to enlarge..
The good news is chub are one of the least fussy species in our waterways. However, there are some days when one bait out of five is the only one they want so taking a few change baits with you on the bank is a good idea. The top baits for chub in winter are generally, cheesepaste, meat, bread flake, maggots, lobworms, boilies and paste but thats not to say other homemade and natural varieties such as a big black slug are not worth trying on the day. When the river is coloured cheesepaste is tough to beat and has accounted for some monster fish in the past. Find out how to roll your own here.
Minimal tackle is required for the ambush to end in success, with a rod, landing net, unhooking mat and a small bag of terminal tackle all that you need to carry. Bogging yourself down with too much gear will only discourage you from moving swims which will in turn mean you get less bites. On some stretches where there is bankside vegetation to rest your rod on you may not even need to take a bank stick! Travelling light will also mean you are more stealthy and less likely to spook shy fish.
Keeping things simple is the key to success with chub. Having too complicated a rig can also make it difficult to re-tie another in cold weather should you experience a breakage or tangle. A simple link leger rig is all you need to catch a few chub and some of the sport's top anglers still use this tradtional setup to catch fish in excess of 8lb. Tie a small loop in some strong mono and cut the other end to around two inches in length before pinching two or three SSG onto it. Thread the loop end up the line and prevent it from sliding down to the hook using a float stop or small swivel (see rig diagram below). A float stop will also allow you to alter the length of your hooklength at any time if you are fishing straight through with your reel line. This setup also makes it easy to change to another hook pattern if you decide to dramtically change hookbaits during a session. If you are planning to fish with baits like cheesepaste and bread a large hook say an 6 or 8 is perfect for burying the hook in the bait. Just make sure you fish a fairly powerful carp style variety with a thick wire gauge as chub are powerful creatures and can easily bend a hook shank. As for your line, this depends on how snaggy the river is and also the size of chub in it. Generally a line of around 6-8lb mono is more than beefy enough to cope with the biggest of chub you'll encounter on UK rivers.
FEEDING & TACTICS
There are many different options on offer here. A small cage feeder with liquidised or mashed bread in it can prove deadly during the winter. On days where the fish are more easily spooked than sticking to the link leger and feeding by hand is sometimes better. In this scenario a handful of mashed bread, created by soaking some cut slices heavily in water, or some small nail size blobs of cheesepaste fed into the likely areas should bring you success. A great tactic especially when there are few anglers on the water is to walk away from your car, feeding all the likely looking spots as described above. When you've fed enough areas, say 10, you can then walk back on yourself fishing all the spots you have baited. If you dont get a bite within half an hour, move on. If you prefer to use maggots or worms than feeding regularly by hand or a baitdropper is better.
Continue down for our top ten chub fishing tips...