Chub In A Cold Climate

Anyone who is a relative newcomer to fishing and reads the papers avidly will be labouring under the impression that seven pounds chub are pretty common and that sixes are merely run-of the-mill captures. If only that were true.

The truth is that the headlines are dominated by a relatively small number of fish from the Stour, Ouse and recently the Thames. For the rest of us the reality is very different. Last winter I had a six from the Derbyshire Derwent. Previous to this I had one from the Swale, but these were exceptional specimens. If you live in the Midlands or the North, certainly on the East of the Pennines, four-pounds chub are a creditable target and genuine fives are exceptional fish.

It doesn’t make you a lesser angler if you target fish of this size, you are simply being a realist. Let’s face it, you’ll still have to master exactly the same techniques to land a five-pound chub from the Swale as you will to land a much bigger one from the headline grabbing rivers, so instead of bemoaning your luck, set a sensible target and go for it!
You might even get one of those elusive sixes.

It’s easier to catch a big chub in winter than in summer for two reasons. Physically they pack on weight through the autumn and plummeting temperatures sees a migration of the biggest fish from the shallows to their winter quarters. That sorts out the location.
When seeking big chub in winter you should target the deeper, slow moving swims. If that swim also has snags or cover, so much the better.

My favourite cover is a mature hawthorn bush. The Autumn floods deposit grass and other debris in the branches to provide a dense canopy for chub to shelter beneath. Only blackthorn offers comparable cover.
Because you will be targeting swims that contain perhaps one or two fish be prepared to work hard for a limited number of bites. Mistakes will be punished, a missed bite, a bumped fish, standing on the skyline or even a clumsy footfall can mean no more action that day so make sure you consider at least four swims.
Wasn’t it Isaak Walton who described chub as the ‘fearfullest of fishes’? How right he was.

My tactics for winter chub are certainly not revolutionary. Indeed they are very simple. Providing we’ve not endured a week or more of severe frosts and the river isn’t carrying too much colour I am quite happy to rely on one bait – plain old white bread.

Make sure you buy the good stuff though and it needs to be fresh. I’m a fan of the Warburtons medium sliced white loaf. It costs twice as much as a cheap supermarket loaf but the quality is more important to me. Let’s face it, how often can you go fishing on a bait bill of less than a quid these days?
I take six slices from the loaf for hook bait and the rest goes in the blender, crusts and all. Don’t overdo the liquidising and keep the flakes on the coarse side.

I start by introducing a couple of walnut sized lumps of the liquidised bread into each swim before tackling up but make sure you can cast to where it hits bottom. Flakes of liquidised bread will drift several feet downstream even in slow moving water, however, the pieces of crust are buoyant and will rise from the feed area before becoming waterlogged and fluttering back down, spreading the attraction over a wider area and drawing fish from downstream.

It will be half an hour before I make my first cast and I will spend no more than thirty minutes in each swim, usually making one cast only. The small cage feeder effectively deposits one more helping of bread in each swim and the rotation between swims means an extra helping is added every two hours. More than enough to tempt a cagey chub.

In later articles I will talk about other chub tactics but my opening gambit is invariably the same, a single piece of bread created with a Drennan Flake Punch. Every angler should own one of these. They are brilliant and you can be confident that you still have a bait on the hook after half an hour.

Bites are normally positive. Ignore the little taps, wait for a positive pull and hold on tight. To give an inch is to invite trouble.

As Del Boy said, “He who dares wins, Rodney!”

Bob’s Tackle
Rods – Daiwa Powermesh PMS2112B with quiver tip section fitted
Reels – Daiwa SSII3000C
Reel Line – Daiwa Infinity Duo – 6lb Test
Hook Link – Daiwa Super Shinobi – 3 to 5lb Test, usually 4lb
Hooks – Size 10 Drennan Super Specialist

Five Tips
1. Don’t rush out of bed, dusk is the key feeding time
2. Step up the hook link and hook size if there are serious snags
3. Try a ‘double’ punch when the fish are feeding well
4. Rest your hand on the rod at all times
5. Ignore sharp knocks on the tip and let the bite develop before striking

Five Big Chub Rivers
1. River Swale, Leeds & District waters, Topcliffe to Asenby
2. River Wensum, Norfolk
3. River Thames, Oxon
4. Upper Great Ouse, Bucks
5. River Stour, Hants

28 thoughts on “Chub In A Cold Climate

  1. chub have always bailed me out of being waterlicked when fishing on the dearne i think ive only blanked 3 times in 4 yrs mainly 3lbish majority of the time but if theyre only 1/2 a lb its a catch nd saves bein waterlicked i lost something big on tuesday though on same river nd decided im not going to throw my rod in but whatever you were im comin after you

  2. Would add one more to the top five. The Cherwell. Regularly throws up 6lb fish. My best so far at 7lb 12. Still think cheese paste better than bread!! lol.
    Great articles, always come away thinking.
    All the best Mark

  3. This is a ver good article bob as i am going chub fishing on the swale at topcliffe owned by leeds & district after a faild attempt to catch barbel from the same place today (because it was too cold for them). i noticed that the few anglers that were on the venue were fishing for chub and catching them up to 5lb. so im am off for ma spot of chub fishing tomorrow and i hope to catch. this has been a good read and has helped me alot, i would love to catch a 6lb chub an beat my pb of 5lb but if i dont then never mind.

  4. Another river to add to the list is the Lea. I havent fished it myself but ive heard that its is one of the best rivers in the UK to fish for chub at the moment.

    Also Bob, if you or any one else has a good cheese paste recipe or some other good baits for chub then your advice will be much appreciated

    Thanks Matty

    • Hi Matty,
      Cheese paste: grated cheddar, Gorgonzola or Danish blue and a little butter, mixed in a food mixer or by hand. Leave out for a few days to `go off`. It keeps well in the freezer so make a good batch.
      My other chub paste is Shipmans crab paste mixed with fishmeal groundbait and a spot of `Monster Crab` liquid, no water, this also keeps well in the freezer and stays on the hook for more than an hour. You can adjust the consistency with a spot of water or use more or less groundbait.
      Best of fishing

  5. Bob, I totally go with your theory that a specimen (therefore good) chub in many waters is a five but I think if they were a more targeted species then more publicity would follow and a whole heap of unexpected waters would reap some truly amazing results.
    IMO though best off keeping schtumpp on results, as there are far to many fish chasers, who for whatever reason seem to find it beyond themselves to locate big fish unaided.

  6. “If you live in the Midlands or the North, certainly on the East of the Pennines, four-pounds chub are a creditable target and genuine fives are exceptional fish”

    May be that was the case a few years back, Bob. In-fact, I’m the only angler I know who hasn’t had a decent 6 from the river Wear, sadly I’m stuck at 5-13. Even the Tyne, which didn’t have a single chub until the late 80’s, is now producing 6lb fish, but please dont tell anyone 😉

  7. Strange, isn’t it John? I used to fish a place where everyone but me caught 6 and even 7lb tench on a regular basis whereas I couldn’t actually catch one that weighed 5lb.

    I guess one man’s 5-13 could easily be another’s six…

    And of course, your PB 5-13 is a ‘five’, which, by definition, is therefore an exceptional fish.

    There’s no doubt that since the time I wrote that article (a few years ago) chub have steadily grown bigger across the country, which one can only presume is due to the lack of dace and roach competing with them for food.

    Since writing the article I’ve caught several more Northern sixes (by design – not accidental captures whilst carbelling which, of course, don’t count!) but the sentiment that the headlines are grabbed buy a small number of Southern rivers still remains true today.

  8. over the last to months i have bean fishing the wye
    for barble and chubb loads of barble to 8 10oz i have had many 5 lb chubb still waiting for that six mostly caught on worms

  9. Dont forget the suffolk stour!!! chub roach good perch( 3 lb)bream dace pike zander and the rivers authority have placed 3000+ barbel in the last few years along the river and fishermen are now catching small ones so it seems they are holding on! off chubbing tommorrow and maybe some pike fishing( depends on the conditions when i wake!) nothing like stalking a chub on a quiet, beautiful river when all the summer anglers are packed in for the year and you have it to yourself! i find float trotting bread flake, or rolling lead( light usually around 3 or 4 ssg)produce the best near me, the bottom is gravel, weed medium/slow paced flow, 4ft in the margins 6-10 in the deep.

  10. Have had a lot of success on chunks of lamprey before the cold spell. Usually 3 to 4lb fish but had two at 6lbs on the same day. Needless to say , no more since.I’m going to give the bread a go tomorrow though, Lamprey is becoming a little scarse.

  11. My best 5lb 2oz from the Sheffield canal about 8 years ago , am spending this winter targeting them on the middle Trent and did my 1st a 3 hour session after work this week fishing mince and steak , lost one fish but managed a 4lb 12oz and next week doing full session from dawn til a couple hours into dark and will be using both mince and steak plus liquidised bread and cheese paste , consisting of ready made short crust pastry rolled out with mature cheddar grated on it plus danish blue then folded and folded again and then kneaded til thoroughly mixed you can freeze and refreeze it

  12. I have landed many 6lb plus chub over the last three or four years from the waveney in suffolk/norfolk,they have spread right down into the tidal reaches near somerleyton but only small ones from there,my best from the waveney has been a 6lb 7oz fish last autumn (2011).

  13. Hi bob jus curious where did you fish on the derwent? There’s some cracking 6lb chub in the derwent that runs through belper that’s where I’m goin to be doing my winter chub bing this year

  14. hi bob.
    ive been fortunate to have lived and breathed the swale from a small boy and its certainely my favourite haunt.ive also been blessed with an 8lb 4oz chub from the river on the last day of the season of 2012 and this season managed a 7lb 2oz fish,the same fish caught twice in 4 month from the same swim.exceptional river and holds some surprises.

  15. Hey Bob,
    Good info about using bread, thanks. Actually I have seen this in your video “Caught in the act” – brilliant videos.
    Not caught a barbel in over 60 years of fishing so your “barbel days and ways” has been very helpful – 2014 will see me with some barbel I am sure

  16. out of all the Yorkshire rivers there is one which never seems to get a mention and is often neglected in the mind of anglers. the River Ure. the Ure is an outstanding chub river, since I began fishing it for chub half way through last season I had managed 7 5lb+ chub by the end of the season, and have managed 3 5lb+ chub as well as my best and only ever 6lb+ chub of 6lb 2ozs, the sport is brilliant with most fish averaging 4lbs, the perch fishing is excellent as well and I have taken perch to 3lb 6oz so far. I believe the reason why the river is neglected is because of the general absence of barbel.. in todays river scene I get the impression that most anglers think if there are no barbel its not worth the effort, so many anglers narrow there angling down to just one fish and by doing so they miss out. in fact I believe that the absence of a fish that competes for similar food as the chub allows the chub to dominate and take over the ecosystem,

  17. Hi Bob, some great info there. I’ve just started fishing the river dearne at Adwick, I’ve fished it twice and had lots of small roach, dace, perch and gudgeon. Do you think your bread tactics, as described above, will work here for the chub? I’d love to catch a chub over 4lb. Do you have any tips for approaching the dearne?


    • Hi Tim.
      If you seriously wish to catch chub in excess of four pounds then you might consider winter fishing on rivers like the Trent or Swale. However, if you’re limited to the Dearne then fear not, fish of that size are present but don’t expect catching them to be easy as they are not around in great numbers. I would tackle it using liquidised bread in a cage feeder with a big lump of flake on the hook. Pick out four likely looking spots, overhanging bushes, etc., and feed a couple of walnut sized balls of ‘licky’ into each. Rest them for a while and then fish each swim in rotation, adding a fresh ball after leaving each swim. Just give each swim half an hour (tops) and go round again. It’s definitely an active way to fish and very enjoyable. Make sure you let the bites develop into proper pulls on the quivertip because you get a lot of sharp taps that must be ignored. Strike at your peril as you’ll simply miss and spook whatever’s in front of you. It’s a proper winter method, especially good from December onwards. Stick at it and you’ll stand a good chance of succeeding.

      • Thanks for that Bob, I’ll try that over the winter. I want to unlock this little river and I reckon a mobile approach, like you say, will enable me to map the river out and find some of the hot spots.

  18. hi Bob,

    Agree with what you say about fish being relative in size to the area. Down South there are a few rivers that will throw up large Chub, but I would rather fish a relatively quiet river & catch a few decent fish. If they are above 4lb great, if not anything will do in winter. Went on my local river Ribble on 25th Jan, had 2 fish, 1 bullhead on maggot feeder and a Barbel of bang on 10lb on meat. All it took was a little studying of my swim & casting to a slack area, bang thank you mr Barbel.

  19. Hi Bob
    Just got back into course fishing after a near thirty year lay off and decided to target Chub as I just love to fish small rivers with a simple approach, to baits and rigs. l have had a number of Chub since September when I started back too over 4lb ,one 5lb and two individual fish of 5lb 8oz, one was so immaculate without exaggeration I was speechless. I would love to share the location but this little place would not take to much angling pressure.
    Reading your article, keeping a stealthy approach when arriving at the swim baiting and not striking at the little bumps has been a contributing factor to my early success Thanks

  20. Great advice I am targeting the chub in my local little river this year and this is very helpful I already know to stay mobile it’s the tips and tricks I need to learn especially the one regarding not hitting the little taps only had 2 chub from this river both from same swim on same day on trotted maggots last weekend. Plenty of fish in this little river it’s just finding them ive only float fished the river never fished static baits so need to find some good spots as I mainly just wade the river fishing each pool as I get to it so not really any idea if I can get to some of the areas to fish from the bank

  21. Best advice I can give to anybody fishing for chub on the quivers is fish with just enough lead to hold bottom IE 2 swan shot, have a bow in your line, hold the rod and at the first signs of a pull give line and wait till the fish has taken a couple of feet before striking. Ideal method on cheese padte

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