For many years I treated my local river, which isn't so local now as my training ground. Learning most of which I'd need to know in my quests across the country. There are many things that we down here are blessed with, large numbers of Barbel, Roach to make the head spin, Gudgeon to warm the fondest of piscatorial hearts and massive swathes of Chub.
The latter is a species that in the coldest and in the most uncomfortable of times do these offer themselves up for capture, not many other species seem to have the need to feed as much, now whether its out of necessity or pure greed its almost always welcome, (when targeting Barbel or Roach they can scupper entire plans), but through all the greed they never seem to get above 5½ pounds, even these are very rare.
That is until this season, a handful of upper four pounders and fives have been out (5.10 & 5.08) so far for me this season, with very little time done so far I suspect there will be more! or is there more already?!
Twenty-Six years has elapsed so far, since I first wet a line on this diminutive chalk stream with my father, all the way back in 1993. Crazy to think that portion of time has already slipped by, without seeing or catching a Chub capable of threatening that magical barrier of 6lb that I have achieved on four other rivers. Not for a very long time did I think that that milestone would be achieved, but in the light of recent events my confidence in catching such a fish had vastly improved.
With only a few hours available a couple of weekends back I fancied going localish and giving the river a go, when I arrived at the river there was plenty of colour so my approach of stalking fish looked to be up in the air, but my arrival was well timed as the level had already dropped over a foot and the colour dropping out fast. First port of call was a run of overhanging bushes that offer plenty of cover to passing fish and residents alike. With only a tin of meat on hand, rolling meat was my desired tactic.
Drawing a blank in the first run a quick wander upstream proved a real good call as I could see a couple of sizable shapes gliding across a patch of sand, all I had to do was get a long enough cast with the centrepin to hit the spot where a take was likely, this was a lot easier in theory, rarely getting the bait out far enough to where the chub were holding. When I did get the bait as far as I needed the attention was emphatic!
The result was another five pound chub, this one weighing 5lb 6oz and it did not want to come in, beds of ribbon weed, tree stumps, you name it it tried to dislodge the hook, but my fairly stout tackle was enough to win the battle!
|Lovely and Stocky.|
Half a mile down river before I next cast a bait was where the unthinkable happened. My first roll down the inside margins produced nothing, as did my second roll down in mid river, the third roll, second in mid river I got a faint pluck on the line and just made out a silhouette drop the bait when it took it again and the hit was much more vigorous, now I could see it was a chub and a good one too but hit it some twenty-five yards downstream in murky water, so I couldn't be sure.
The hook-up led to a powerful scrap which had me believing the unthinkable, not that I thought possible, just a couple of minutes later and a heart in mouth battle had ended I was convinced I was close or just over the line.
Much to my delight she didn't just make it, but clear daylight!
6lb 2ozs and a new personal best for this river, a far greater achievement than any of the other six-plussers I've managed elsewhere, I simply could not top that capture, I slowly packed up and then released her, a fish I may never see again but thankful for our brief encounter!
|22.6 inches long and 14.8 inches girth, likely to be a high six come April.|