Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Small river chub fishing

Do you ever pass by a water that others ignore? Overgrown and forgotten, cars rumbling by as it cuts its way underneath old road bridges and alongside weed choked footpaths, from tiny trickles with weed choked pools, to brooks and small rivers that cut through urban sprawls. There is many a tale waiting to be told, each one holding a surprise or two in their depths, just waiting to make your reel clutch sing, they provide excellent opportunity all year round for stalking chub in summer or winter.

I really do enjoy fishing the smaller tributaries, brooks and feeder streams, in many ways they are places time has forgotten, usually ignored by other anglers, disregarded as unworthy of their attention. Keeping proceedings simple and staying mobile is the name of the game, rod equipped with a small cage feeder or link ledger, landing net and a small rucksack is all you need to begin this minimalist and most enjoyable styles of fishing. Hunting out likely features such as weed rafts, bankside cover, deeper pools, undercut banks and structures such as bridges, all perfect places for chub to skulk around.

Bait need be no more complex than a loaf of bread, cheese paste, worms from your garden compost or maggots, fishing each spot with little or no groundbait, lest you spook your quarry.
I do fish a wide variety of baits when targeting chevin, what baits I use can vary a lot and are also dependent on the time of year.

During winter I favour cheese paste, maggots and lob worms and I have two cheese paste recipes that I use. One actually contains no cheese and I call it my "quick mix",this is perfect for when there is no cheese in the house and uses the following ingredients.

Removing all the crust from the bread and adding 1ml of Richworth Cheese and half a level teaspoon of the Richworth Active xtracts blue cheese and garlic, I then knead the ingredients together whilst adding a small amount of water, until I am left with a nice smooth ball of paste.

It is important to make sure that the paste is thick enough to stay on the hook, but also soft enough to allow the hook to penetrate and pull through the paste when striking fish. This recipe can be made in just a few minutes and you can be out fishing more or less straight away.

My other recipe is very similar and replaces the liquid cheese and blue cheese and garlic additives with the following.

Blue cheese, and shortcrust pastry, mixed until you get a completely smooth and well balanced paste. Once again you want a firm paste, but one that you can still pull the hook through when striking into a fish. Remember in cold water conditions the paste will harden more when it enters the water. For such reasons I always make sure the tip of the hook is well exposed and the paste is only moulded around the hook shank. You can of course use any cheese, Camembert and Brie both work very well and provide a good scent trail for the chub to pick up on.

My fishing rig consists of a low resistance Nine Bream Kwik change run ring, a simple but effective run ring, enabling a fast switch of feeder or weight, so that I can change straight back to link ledger too, these have over the years become an integral part of my fishing and allow a very low resistance presentation for wary fish, beneath this I use an Enterprise Tackle protect-a bead both these components are then slid over the swivel which connects the hook link and main line.

The anti tangle tubing helps to push the hook link away from the feeder or link ledger, minimizing tangles. As can also be seen in the picture above, the cage feeder is filled with a mixture of bread which has been chopped down in a food processor, to this mixture I add a tiny amount of krill powder, this leaks off a very strong, fermented shrimp scent trail which the fish absolutely adore, but at the same time does not over feed them.


Most of my fishing for chub is done using a roving style, fishing in such a manner you are a lot less constrained into fishing only certain areas due to the amount of tackle you are carrying and as such you will feel the urge to wander somewhat more as you fatigue a lot less, learning a lot more about the water you are targeting in doing so and being able to seek out fish holding areas. Believe me the rewards are there and tools such as Google earth can come in very handy in finding hidden waterways.

Come winter and when sport is perhaps not so forthcoming on larger waterways due to flooding (2012 springs to mind),  smaller streams can be excellent, the fish remain in an amiable mood and quite willing to feed, providing some excellent winter sport, many is the time I have had a mornings roving, on a snow covered small stream or river and been pleasantly rewarded with a fish or two, where had I perhaps targeted the Thames in spate conditions, results would have been quite different.

So the next time you pass by what might look like just a ditch, perhaps narrow enough to jump across, or a weed choked small river, don't treat it with disregard, stop and take a look, because chances are you will be rather pleasantly surprised with what you may find.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Headfirst - The only Wey to go

A couple of weeks ago and on a rather hot morning I placed a light amount of roving tackle in the car, the plan was to meet up with Tom Aldous, whom like myself also enjoys creating videos of his fishing trips. He had kindly invited me down to fish a stretch of the river Wey in Surrey, a delightful little river and perfect for a spot of fishing and teamwork, we both planned to rove about, casting to any likely  features and areas that might hold a fish or two, very little bait needed, opting to use a mixture of lobworms, maggots, bread and cheese.

We started the day on a more overgrown section of the river alongside a wall, here chub and dace could be seen drifting in and out of the weed beds and were very easily spooked.

Tom had brought some thigh waders with him and decided to wade further downstream of me, first cast resulting in a perfectly formed dace and it was not long before he had the first chub of the day, a lovely looking fish (3.2), taken on a piece of mature cheddar.

The first fish in gin clear conditions and we were off the mark, as is the case with such small waterways the fish in Tom's area had spooked and spread out more, meanwhile further upstream I had spotted a few fish feeding close to the far bank, a light underarm lob and the link ledgered worm was presented to the edge of a weed bed and marginal snag.

Tom had made his way into my swim as I had the first few taps before the tip bolted round, a livley fight then ensued, the chub making a powerful dash for the weed beds and made it there, after a little bit of pressure was applied and Tom kindly hopping in to land the fish, we had our second on the bank, a hollow, real brassy looking fish (3.1). We was both over the moon, as the conditions were proving a good test of our watercraft and presentation.

We then ventured downstream beating a path through a more urban area of the river and being a weekend, paddlers, people picnicking and even inflatable kayaks were spotted, we decided to journey on through this part of the river before stopping downstream to try our luck along a very basic area of the river, with just a few small bushes for coverage but likely looking spots, first cast resulting in me watching a rather nice chub of possibly 4lb, drift across only to disappear, two minutes later I had a savage bite, only to connect with thin air, hook returning sans lob worm, I turned to Tom and mumbled "that was a decent fish I missed!"

Tom managed another very plump dace from this spot, we never stopped for long, our motion a perpetual  and one that only a roving angler can enjoy, free of weight and like a rolling stone rarely gathering any moss.

By late afternoon and having tried quite a few spots we ended up under a bridge,  there were numerous signs of other anglers having been here, sweetcorn tins left behind and numerous other bits of rubbish which included beer bottles, aside from this it looked a nice spot, a deep depression, the water slowing up here and not far downstream there was a riffle. Apart from a shopping trolley looking rather forlorn, this looked a very nice area for a cast or two.

My first cast resulted in a near instantaneous bite, quiver tip walloping round and I was connected to another fine example of a Wey chub (3lb), not long after having landed this fish and whilst it was recuperating, Tom was into a lively fight from a very nicel marked brownie, which had greedily gorged itself on his maggots. A quick unhooking and Tom was soon cast back in the same spot, whilst I baited from upstream with maggots over his area. Not more than a few minutes later and whilst we was debating whether to take lunch under the bridge or not, his rod tip plucked round steadily, this fight was different, the fish powering off and hugging the bottom, "definitely not a trout" said Tom.

As the fish surfaced in front of us, the olive green skin, paint brush tail and beautiful eyes were a dead giveaway as a very pretty tinca slid into the waiting net (1.6). We was both overjoyed, grabbing a quick chevin meets tinca shot before slipping them both back to this diminutive river.

After leaving this spot we headed downstream, making our way through more parkland, I was transfixed by the many inviting gravel runs, so much so I had no idea what was happening as I put my foot on to a false bank, tipping forward I plunged upside down into the river, rucksack the lot, the stark contrast from hot to cold a complete body shock, I could just about hear a muffled sound of Tom shouting  "oh Mark!!" as he managed to net my hat for me.

Getting out onto dry land opposite two chaps who were sunbathing and another angler upstream, we all started laughing, thankfully the only fatality was my mobile phone, the camera saved by its bag. In all the years of fishing I have never fallen in, but there is a first time for everything and thankfully apart from the phone it was mainly bruised pride.

It was a very enjoyable trip spent with Tom, who remained enthusiastic and very eager throughout the day and one we must do again at some point and next time without me falling in like a porpoise!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Head over heels - I Have fallen

The Loddon has me well and truly in its grasp and I am in no hurry to escape its watery embrace, the weather on the other hand is certainly smouldering, so I decided to pack my purist river feeder with link ledger, along with my barbel gear.

Having got to the river I then realized I had left my front rod rest behind, a bit of improvisation later and I had my wigwam rod rest, admittedly I should have just hunted about for a nicely shaped piece of wood.

I planned to fish a mixture of lobworms and maggots on the link ledger for the best part of the day and then change to barbel come late evening. I have to admit I keep thinking about the fish I lost, and where it might be wandering along the river now, what other haunts it might keep.

The sun was hot and I was rather thankful of the shade to say the least, despite it being such a hot day the fish fed well, the first casts bringing a few chublets, followed by a very solid, lurching bite, this fish bolted downstream trying to take me into some heavy cabbage patch, after a very enjoyable fight a nice looking summer Chub (4.9) was resting up in the net.

Later in the day Gudgeon found their way to the bait, I do seem to have found a nice pocket of them in this spot as I found out on my previous trip, however on this occasion after catching eight of them the spot fell quiet and I did wonder if  a few tigers had moved into the swim, or perhaps a Pike.


Sure enough the lobworms started being snaffled up by numerous Perch, it was a great way to spend the day, but by evening I decided to switch my attention to Barbel, who knows perhaps that leviathan that I had lost would reacquaint itself with me, maybe not, the joy in not knowing was an intense one.

The night was still very warm when I had a belting bite and was into a nice healthy Barbel and one which decided to take up a new hobby in tail walking..

After releasing her and checking the pictures over and over, I noticed the scar on both flanks, it was indeed the same fish I had caught on my previous trip, this time a little lighter (10.6), but nonetheless fighting fit and as healthy as before.

This brought me round to another thought, despite having not connected with the larger fish I had lost on a previous trip and knowing there were others in this swim, I feel it is only fair for me to move further up or downstream for my next couple of trips and let her be at peace for a while, as this is her home and I don't wish her to pay me to many visits, lest she might wish to follow me, she is beautiful, battle scarred and a survivor, long may she swim free.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Old Memories

A few days ago a parcel was left outside my door, after feverishly peeling off the layers of bubble wrap, I could just make out the shape of an item I have long wanted, but till now have never been able to find at a favourable price on ebay.

Once all the protective layers were peeled back, my eyes set upon the well worn body and with a bit of wobble much like myself, a Speedia centrepin and as eccentric as this might sound I just had to have a sniff of this little reel, the smell of metal, grease and old memories mingled between my nostrils.

Spinning freely and looking a lot more robust than any of the budget pins that I own, some of which have unfortunately taken to falling apart in months, I cannot wait to put this to use later in the season, a few chub and perch on it and perhaps the odd trot for dace, I look forward to it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Daytime doubles, gonks and nocturnal perfection

Well at last the sun is here and it is rather toasty to say the least, I decided to head out for a trip on the Loddon last Tuesday, well before the heatwave descended. On a previous trip I had lost a rather large barbel at the net that I estimated at over 15 pound.

After a steady tussle it awoke just as I was about to net it and powered off, eventually resulting in a hook pull, heart in mouth, to heart in the pit of my stomach within seconds. But what will be will be,the fish were evidently happy to feed a bit and an angler can not ask more than that.

So on Tuesday I made my way to the river, it was breezy, the odd patch of rain and looked as picture perfect as ever, as I was setting up I spotted some movement in the adjacent field and sure enough a rather pretty deer was picking its way through the field with not a care in the world, I managed to get some lovely footage of it on video, before it  picked up on my scent and bounded off into the distance, barking as it did so.

This epitomizes what fishing is about to myself, the journey as a whole, just seeing the deer would have been enough in itself, but I was kept company by many creatures during the afternoon, from kingfishers and robins, as well as two squirrels who were seemingly fighting for treetop dominance and involved in a ballet that any martial arts choreographer would be spellbound by.

I decided to start off on the quivertip and a size 14, maggots loosely sprayed into a few favourable areas, the bites were forthcoming and one being particularly savage, ripping rod from rest, chub sprung to mind, a quick change to bread and a few chublets up to a pound were soon resting in the net, chopping and changing between bread and maggot I began to receive those typical bites associated with gudgeon.

Savage knocks and taps, this diminutive species never cease to amaze me, inside each and everyone there is the heart and gusto of a fish ten times larger. Each fish plump and long, full of the joys of summer, pearl scales, vibrant colourings, each one holding warm childhood memories of days gone by, they are the perfect mini species and without doubt one of my favourites.

These were followed by a scale perfect bully boy who decided to muscle in on the action. As you may know I was very lucky to land a perch of 4+ last season from this waterway, I am now wondering what other perch might be lurking in the shadows along this particular reach of the river, especially with such a good populace of gudgeon and minnow around this area too.

Later in the afternoon I decided to switch my attention to barbel and one rod was cast to where I had lost the larger fish the week prior and the other to an overhanging tree, both rods out on Thames baits tb1.

There was always a chance that if the fish I had lost did not snaffle the bait up, then one of this rivers other bars of gold might peruse the sweet shop window. Around 6pm and between switching from short sleeve to jacket in hope that I could  trick the mosquitoes into thinking that there was not a tasty reward to be had beneath the material, I received a rod bending bite and a spirited battle began, I was instantly plagued by thoughts of the recent hook pull and if it would perhaps happen again.

After a very energetic scrap, a lovely looking barbus (11lb) was sat in the net, this fish had a distinct scar around both flanks, but was simply beautiful and so very placid on the bank.

Buoyed somewhat by this fish I decided to chance my luck and fish into cover of darkness. It was a nice night, the on and off patter of light rainfall, owls calling out whilst hunting the opposite bank and mice trying on regular occasions to circumnavigate my defenses in hope of a morsel or two.

Around 11pm I had another bite to the same rod and this fish gave an even more hectic fight than its larger companion, surging through the water like an aquatic exocet missile. 

One of the most scale perfect barbel I have seen (8.1) and with not a single blemish on it, this was my cue to head off home, a happy trip of gonks, daytime doubles and nocturnal perfection.

Thursday, 4 July 2013