ONE thing experience tells you is which species are worth spending time chasing when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and for me the worst months of the year tend to see me digging out the pike gear and the chub tackle.
For chub I’ve kept it local, and the beauty of local fishing is how reactive you can be to little windows of slightly improved chances – the water temperature up just a degree or two on a warmer afternoon for example.
I love bread crust and bread flake for chub but when you might only be looking for an odd bite there is always that question whether you still have any bait on or not and that’s not very helpful so I’ve been using my faithful old cheese paste recipe. It’s just half and half Cheddar and Stilton, microwaved to soften it and then with a fork I work liquidised bread in so it is the consistency I’m after and then it goes in the fridge to keep fresh before I fish.
I’ve borrowed a few tricks from the carp and specialist guys for my chubbing this winter and have been using a hair rig to mount cheese paste, with a bead on the end to mould it around. It’s simple stuff, just an 8 lb link and a size 8 Twister. You need the hook tight to the bait for chub as they are notorious for not getting the hook if there is too much separation. Cheese paste does firm up in cold water so you don’t want to be trying to strike the hook through it, and the bead and short hair allows me to mould the bait so it just touches the bend of the hook below it.
The other little change to my chubbing has been getting a bit carpy and prebaiting my swims. It works for carp and brings an obvious benefit so why not for chub? If the river has been up and coloured and looking a bit unlikely to produce I’ve been walking the stretch and putting a dozen balls of cheese paste in a few spots instead of fishing, and I’m sure it has helped.
For my piking I’ve also been spending time locally, although I did fit in a session at Chew Reservoir where I bagged a 27-pounder and a 32 both on smelt deadbaits which was magic.
Locally I’ve had fish to over 20 plus a 19-12 and some other good doubles and for these venues I’ve been using an unusual deadbait – pollan. I get mine from The Bait Box in Grimsby, but you have to be careful with pollan as they can easily have their swimbladder crushed during the freezing and vacuum packing process which is why I am picky where I get mine from. I’ve been using the popped up deadbait trick again, letting them rise and pulling them back down and it works so well I’m still amazed I see no one else doing it.
The other thing I have definitely noticed is that I am getting more runs on legered baits than float fished. To me it’s just tackle visibility, if you get ten people all float fishing for pike and there are constant lengths of vertical 40 lb braid it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise the fish are probably put on edge by it. Like carp angling I’ve been trying to hide the line in my areas as much as possible, and it seems to have been working… there’s always something to learn from each other!