Snow, it drives Chub mad - Angling Times

The last fish l caught and it’s another five!

It happened so quickly, one minute l was catching rudd on a Stillwater then without warning the air temperature dropped and within a few hours sixty-acres of open sea froze, then days later the country came to an abrupt holt as a covering of Arctic snow encapsulated our wilderness. 
Hampshire had seemed to have missed the worst of the weather, but then just as l was counting my lucky stars an overnight silence fell on my neighborhood and l awoke to four inches of the most devastating conditions imaginable. Trains, planes and motor vehicles fell silent and with many commuters failing to make it to work and the police urging people to stay at home and only venture out in extremely important circumstances the last thing on anyone’s mind, you would have thought was fishing, but for me, fishing is important.
In conditions like snow its important to look at what species will feed and which venue offers the best chance of getting a bend in your rod, grayling are the most obvious but unfortunately l had no venue that sprung to mind, at least not local to me. The other option chub seemed a far better prospect and although a favorite stretch of the Loddon was some twenty miles away through some narrow countryside l felt that if l could get the van out of the drive then l might just get some action. 

Icy margins don’t stop the chub feeding, look for feature swims, and boost your bread with a flavor.
Timing my departure to allow the roads to clear from the early morning rush l was amazed that the closer l got to my destination the better the conditions proved and apart from the icy downhill decent to the car park the journey passed with relative ease. I wasn’t surprised to find the carp park empty and knew that being the first angler to drop a bait into each swim meant my chances of a result were maximized, however the first swim, a real banker failed to raise anything positive apart from the odd tremor from small fish, something that was revealed as l wound in after just ten minutes to find a minnow impaled on my size 8 barbless hook. 
A couple of minutes later l was once again nestled within the snow, in a swim that comes into its own in the extreme cold due to a slightly deeper depression a few yards downstream. Holding the rod l felt the line for an enquiry whilst enjoying the splendor our countryside brings. A red kite drifted effortlessly overhead whilst a couple of pairs of bullfinches searched the branches of the overhang opposite for any small insects then at my feet l noticed a movement. Looking down l just made out a piece of bread l had dropped disappear. Replacing this with another l sat motionless and before long a mouse stuck its head out of the snow and pulled its meal into its earthy home, however whilst all this went on my intended quarry, chub seemed uncooperative. 
With the wind chill dropping the temperature to around minus four l questioned whether the conditions were just to extreme but knew that in the past if l kept moving around that eventually my big lump of cheesy garlic flavored bread flake would not go unnoticed and sure enough in the next swim it happened. Just seconds after the bread disappeared under a raft of rubbish held up by an overhanging tree a sharp pull on the line was felt revealing that a chub was interested. Gripping the cork handle firmer it wasn’t long before a steady pull had me striking and after a quick fight a modest chub for the stretch lay in the net. Normally l wouldn’t make another cast but being just a small fish of maybe three pounds and extracting it with very little disturbance l felt that l might just get a second chance as a repeat performance happened a few minutes later. 

Touch ledgering is an art, but once mastered it will reward you.

The swim these two fish came from is one that l would put money on in the summer to produce a chub or even a barbel but it slows down once the cold arrives and knowing that at the downstream side of the tree is far better in the winter l soon edged myself towards its high bank trying to keep my movements as discreet as possible. The tree creates a slack on the inside and faster water on the far bank and it was in this area that l quietly flicked in my next offering, only to be taken by the speed of the bite and strike thin air. Chancing my luck once more an identical cast was made and l watched as the small feeder fell out of sight followed by the hookbait but before l had time to settle missed another pull. This time l was ready for whatever seemed wiser than me and for the third time dropped the bait within inches of the far bank but now l was posed and ready. The rod twitched then line steady tightened in my fingers and a firm strike was met with solid resistance. I knew it was a chub straight away by the immediate defiant headshake as the hook penetrates its fleshy mouth but instead of the bolt to the nearest piece of weed it stayed deep using all its weight to stay out of sight. Slowly but surely whatever was on the other end started to lift slowly in the water and soon l could see my prize although l still wasn’t aware of its size until it exploded on the surface and headed for the far bank. With the rod bent double, clutch spinning and the line singing l managed to avoid any unseen dangers and as a huge mouth headed towards the surface l pushed the landing net well out and under what was now a chub bigger than l had ever witnessed. I knew instantly that this was a personal best as its proportions were completely unique to anything I’d caught before. Similar to a barbel over fifteen pounds, they become different creatures and the pigeon chest on this chub was more like an ostrich chest, it was huge and at 7lb 1oz completely smashed my previous best by miles. 
In a complete daze l almost packed up but after making such a journey and knowing the chub were on the feed continued on, and to be honest the next hour became somewhat of a blur, as in the next three swims the line pulled tight once more and chub of 5lb 4oz, 5lb 9oz and 5lb 14oz graced my net. 
It was certainly a red-letter day, but l never thought I’d experience one in the snow!

Just because there’s snow on the ground, doesn't mean there’s no fish to be caught!

Duncan’s Tackle & Bait
Rod: Korum Precision 11ft Compact Float 
Reel: Shimano Super Perfection  
Mainline & Hooklink: Gardner 6lb Hydro Flo 
Hook & Feeder: Korum S3 barbless size 8 and Drennan 8g cage feeders. 
Bait: Bread flavored in Sonubaits Hemp and Cheesy Garlic.  

Forum’s Precision Compact 11ft Float Rod is ideal, as its sensitive to register bites through the tip, strong enough to land any chub hooked, light enough to hold all day and short enough to poke into tight swims. Drennan 8gram cage feeders are tiny but just hold bottom as well as allowing just enough liquidized bread to gain a response and a barbless razor sharp Korum S3 is the perfect hook.

Duncan’s top tip for catching chub in freezing conditions. 
1. Look for swims with features, travel light and keep on the move.  
2. Hold the rod at all times, bites often come in seconds.  
3. Point the rod at where you cast and feel for bites.
4. Use the smallest feeder or lead possible, one that just holds bottom. 
5. A short two-piece rod can be set up and ready to go and allows tight swims to be accessed. 
Plenty of thin layers on top of thermal underwear will keep you warm, plus a woolly hat, gloves and a thermos flask of warm fluids.

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