It has been recognized for many years that chub are carnivorous – they have been taken on livebaits intended for pike or perch. Specimen ace Peter Stone shows how dead fish can be a top bait for big chub.
Chub are, by nature, predatory. Living as they do with other species, they learn early in life that minnows, bleak, gudgeon – indeed their own kind – are tasty morsels and welcome additions to their diet. It is not only small or immature fish that chub find attractive, but big ones too.
Some quite large specimens have been known to turn up in chub gullets.
They are partial to sea fish as well. Favourites are fresh sardines which, because they are very oily, attract chub from quite some distance. The cucumber smell of smelt also seems to draw chub. Other sea fish such as sprats and whitebait work too, but are not as strongly scented. Try injecting them with pilchard oil or similar fish flavourings.
Typical chub-holding features on rivers -such as overhanging trees and bushes, floating rafts of weed or rubbish, undercut banks, sunken logs and other snags – are also all obvious choices on still waters. Chub are also found around sudden dropoffs, underwater hillocks and gravel bars.
Time of year is no bar to catching still-water chub. They feed voraciously in both summer and winter and in the same sorts of places. Even in cold weather they cruise the margins, looking for food.
Most Stillwater chubbing is done after dark when the fish seem to feed better and with less caution. After the sun has set chub move right into the margins to feed. Because they come so close in, complete quiet is vital – keep bankside movement to a minimum. Chub are easily scared and many anglers make a big mistake by treating deadbaiting for them as a social event.
Casting your baits and standing around in groups chatting just does not work for Stillwater chub. Chub fishing is very different from piking and any bankside noise will see the fish fleeing for cover—the crunching of gravel on banks is particularly alarming. Chub and social activity just do not mix.
One of the main problems when deadbaiting for chub – particularly on stillwaters – is pike and zander picking up the fishbait and biting through the line. The solution would appear to be the use of a wire trace. Unfortunately, Stillwater chub strongly dislike wire and usually bolt with the bait without swallowing it.
Until recently, anglers used Dacron of 20lb (9kg) b.s. This, although reasonably resistant to predators’ teeth, presents another problem. Instead of bolting, chub swallow the bait on the spot – and failure to strike right away results in the chub biting through the Dacron with its immensely strong throat teeth.
The introduction of Kryston Quicksilver shock leader line seems to be the answer. This tough material comes in 25/35/45lb (ll/16/20kg) strengths and is three times more abrasion resistant than other braided lines and yet is still very supple. (Tough though it is, remember it still isn’t 100% resistant to a big pike’s razor sharp teeth!)
Chub from narrow streams and from the widest of rivers respond to deadbaits, right through the year. In flowing waters, however, the problem with chub bolting with, but not swallowing, a bait attached to wire doesn’t always apply. For some reason they often swallow the bait on the spot, as they do when you use Dacron/Quicksilver on stillwaters. Try to use the thinnest and most supple wire you can find – Drennan’s 15lb (6.8kg) b.s. is a good one.
There are three methods that can be used when deadbaiting for chub. Float fishing is probably the least used because large floats are needed to suspend a bait such as half a sardine and these can offer too much resistance to a shy-biting chub. Using a float after dark isn’t really an option unless you shine a light on it or attach a Betalight to the tip. Both remedies may scare chub off- or at least make them suspicious — especially in shallow waters. Freelining is an excellent method for use in both still and running water. Resistance is kept to a minimum for biting fish and the deadbait is presented in the most natural way, especially in a river’s current. You don’t need to cast too far when night fishing since chub hunt the margins.
Legering is most often used when the flow in a river is so strong as to make presentation and bite detection difficult with other methods. By using just enough lead to hold bottom it is possible to bounce the bait along and search out all the deep, chubby holes. Legering is also used on stillwaters during the day, when chub are likely to be some distance from the bank in deeper water.
Keep your rigs simple. The make-up of the rig depends on the size of bait, which can be part or whole fish. For fishing a large bait such as half a sardine you need two hooks, both for good presentation and secure hooking. Strong, forged, single hooks in sizes 2 or 4 are not too large — small chub have big mouths and big chub have enormous ones.
To make a two hook or Pennell rig, tie the bottom hook on to a 50cm (19in) length of Quicksilver — a grinner knot is best with all modern braided lines. Slide the other hook down and stop it about 7.5cm (3in) above the other by sticking it with Superglue to the line. Slide a small length of tight silicone tubing down over the eye and joint and tie a small swivel to the free end.
For use on rivers or in areas where there are lots of pike, make an identical rig but use 15lb (6.8kg) wire. Use crimps instead of knots and put a crimp on either side of the top hook rather than gluing it. Slide some tight silicone tubing over the eye and top crimp for a neat finish.
When legering or freelining with deadbaits there are several types of bite detection you can use. Sitting with the rod in a front rest and the butt on your knee is sensible since you can strike instantly. Watch the tip for knocks and at the same time feel for plucks with your fingers.
Quivertipping is also a sensitive method and is well suited to times when the chub are delicately mouthing the bait. Use with two rests or sit with the butt on your knee, but remember to keep a slight bend in your tip to show drop-back bites.
Modern electronic bite alarms work well if used at their most sensitive setting. Use them with a monkey climber, swinging arm or bobbin indicator that keeps tension on the line and shows drop-back bites. Any of these forms of indicator can of course be used on their own very effectively.