“I’d been struggling to catch a big chub from the Great Ouse, but by switching to bigger hookbaits and targeting them earlier than normal this year I’ve managed to get a proper result.
“Over the last few seasons the stretch I’ve been fishing just above Bedford has been a really tough nut to crack. It’s 70-odd miles from home and there’s so much water to choose from, so locating the larger fish has been difficult. I tended to fish it from the end of October onwards, but winter floods made things even harder and I didn’t catch anything over 6lb.
“This year I decided to start my campaign earlier, so over the past six weeks I’ve been regularly baiting with 12mm milk protein boilies in the hope of drawing fish into the area.
“My first few trips were disappointing, with small roach and dace a problem. They were hanging themselves on the boilies I was using, so on my latest session I took a leap of faith and switched to much larger 18mm baits to try to overcome the problem.
“I got down to the river for 6pm and after loosefeeding a swim for an hour with hemp, I cast tight under the overhanging canopy of a fallen tree.
“About 20 minutes had passed when I had a twitchy, tapping sort of bite on the quivertip, which I thought was another small fish messing with the bait, but then the rod arched over and was nearly pulled out of my hands!
“I struck into a powerful fish which fought dirty and repeatedly tried to dive into the near-bank undergrowth as I drew it towards me.
“After I’d steered it away from the reeds and nettles it made a final bid for freedom by swimming back across the river towards the far bank, but with steady pressure and a bit of grunt I was relieved to scoop it into the net!
“On the scales this fish fell 6oz short of my long-standing PB, but it certainly felt much more rewarding after the long journey and all the effort I’d put in to catch it.”