Chasing canal chevin (Chub, entry 539)

After my recent chub sessions on the canal I was really looking forward to a few more return visits. Although the boat traffic is now well down from the summer, there is still a trickle coming through. As I’m mostly interested in early mornings or late evenings though until the depths of winter are upon us, it isn’t an issue.

With my winter YouTube video series just a few weeks away, I intend to do an episode on canal chub fishing. I will cover tackle, rigs, bait and so on in more detail then, so for now the basics are that I am quiver-tipping and hair-rigging SBS Baits Barbel Stix. My tactics are always thought through and explaining why I’m fishing as I am is one thing I want to do in the series.

A gudgeon hooked fair and square
A gudgeon hooked fair and square

My first outing was a late afternoon into dark session and casting out I didn’t have long to wait till I had a fish on. After continual taps, and a run of sorts, I decided to reel in. What a surprise I had to discover I’d hooked a gudgeon fair and square, just as you would any fish when using a hair-rig. Of course it wasn’t caught in the same way, the gudgeon didn’t take the bait, it somehow hooked itself as it explored and whittled.

The first chub of the week
The first chub of the week

I knew that I was into a chub though when the tip flew round into an arc, the angle intensifying as I lifted and struck. Fishing with 6lb line I was always in control, although that’s not to say the fish didn’t put up a great fight because it did. With no snags as such to speak of though, so nowhere to seek shelter, eventually I got it in the net and on the bank.

I caught another chub towards the end and you can see that in the photograph below. The initial surge led me to believe it was either a small carp or a very large chub, such was the fight it put up. But like its predecessor, it eventually yielded itself and made its acquaintance with the bottom of the landing net. I was fighting a battle of my own, with manflu, but a day later I soldiered on and returned.

Another chub on the bank
Another chub on the bank

Barbel Stix, for those who are unaware, come in a stick. You break a piece off to hair-rig, and as you can see in the photograph below, to throw in as loose feed as well. My second outing ended with three chub, averaging around 2lb, so quite productive. I had a pike in the swim as well, which broke the surface a few times as it crashed into the smaller fish.

There aren’t too many pike in the sections I fish on this canal, so I definitely stored the information up-top for a later date. In the meantime though, with my chevin-head well and truly stuck on I returned to the canal for more. With strong SW winds depositing lots of rain across the British Isles, it was no surprise to discover that the water temperature was on the rise.

Undercover Barbel Stix
Undercover Barbel Stix

By the time I finished my week after chub, it had risen to 15.0C, which is pretty decent for this time of the year. As far as I’m concerned, this is now the time (and onwards) where water temperatures play a key role in determining what species I go for and on what venue. And of course, temperature trend is the key, whether rising or falling.

A small chub ready to go back
A small chub ready to go back

Session three saw just a small chub hit the back of the net, and that’s it above, ready to go back. My outings this week were all short ones; that’s the beauty of local venues, you can go for just a few hours at a time. In this day and age of high fuel costs especially, we need those on-the-doorstep places more than ever.

Bait dipped and ready to go
Bait dipped and ready to go

My bait approach throughout the week remained the same, with dipped Undercover Barbel Stix being the business end. They may be aimed at the barbel angler primarily – and excellent baits they are – but they are also useful baits for other species. As well as chub, I’ve also caught carp on them.

Sessions four and both – both evening ones – produced chub around the 2lb mark. The very last chub, which came as I was about to pack away, saw my rod not only pulled right round but dragged along the bank. As I grabbed it and lifted into the fish I had visions of either a massive chub or a decent carp. As it was, it was the smallest fish of the week. That’s angling for you. (Published November 9 2013).