Big-fish man Paul Elt has banked three chub for nearly 18lb on simple
The St Neots, Cambs-based angler took fish of 6lb 3oz, 5lb 12oz and 5lb 11oz in a short session on a club stretch of the Great Ouse.
He opted to fish the float - a method that has accounted for a series of huge chub this winter, including an 8lb 2oz fish from the Hampshire Avon.
Here he tells the story of how he did it.
“In the early morning gloom I could just make out the dull orange glow of my small Avon float as it drifted downstream, dangerously close to the branches of an overhanging willow.
“It had travelled only a short distance when the orange tip vanished. A gentle strike set the tiny red hook and a chub was on...now the fun could begin.
“Catching winter chub on float gear is one of my favourite methods, whether the venue is a small brook or deep, wide river. Waiting until dusk or dark for perhaps a single bite on cheesepaste or boilie is old hat, so when conditions are right a float, small hook, light line and two pints of maggots are fine.
“Snow-melt or coloured water is the scourge of the maggot angler so I studied the weather forecast intently. With the worst of the winter weather seemingly behind us and no recent rain as such, I was confident I would find my local River Ouse in perfect trim - low, with a hint of bottle green.
“Arriving at a favourite swim in the dark I could just make out that the level was good and the surface glassy smooth - conditions were perfect.
“I filled my ESP bait belt with red maggots that had received a good glug of Dynamite Red Fish liquid, then catapulted a pinch of the grubs across and upstream of my run.
“The swim was not an obvious one. A small willow barely overhung the water, a tiny slack behind it creating a perfect lie for winter chub. A submerged branch downstream was barely noticeable. I felt confident.
“My choice of rod was a 14ft float model from Drennan - it affords good control of the float and the tip is soft enough to cope with the small hooks needed to fish maggots. I’ve recently started tying my own spade ends, something that greatly improves presentation. After trying several patterns, Red Maggot in size 16 is always a starting point.
“With 4lb 4oz Drennan Floatfish mainline to a 3lb bottom, the Avon float was cocked by a 4g olivette around 12ins from the hook - preferred over shot because it prevents tangling. A tiny dust shot a few inches below and everything was ready to go.
“An under-arm flick sent the float out across river and into the desired spot. Seconds later and it disappeared.
My strike met with a bent rod and for a split second I thought I’d hit a snag. For several minutes the fish didn’t move more than a few feet from where I’d hooked it but gentle pressure on the rod started to ease it up in the flow and for the first time I saw my float just below the surface.
Gently I guided the chub to the waiting net. At nearly 6lb it was a great start to the day.
“With the sun now well up, I continued to trickle in maggots. An hour passed before the float blipped momentarily, barely enough to be called a bite, but enough to tell me something was down below sipping in the passing grubs.
Time to stop the loosefeed - and two trots later the float buried. Bingo!
“After successfully landing the first fish, a second made its way into the net, again hooked in the top lip. This one pulled the needle steadily round to a satisfying 6lb 3oz.
“A red letter day was on the cards and with another big ‘five’ joining the trio before I lost a good fish in the snags it was time to head home.
“A classic winter’s day fishing the float can be hard to beat.”