Friday 16 February 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Bonitos and Butt Ringers

Chub take deadbaits, there is no question about that, and in my own experience I’ve had them on sections of lamprey, roach, sprats and most recently using whitebait. Having a tidy up the other day I noticed tucked at the back of the bait freezer some Mackerel tails that I had intended to use for Pike but with the weather as it is, I’d not used them yet.

Well until now that is, so for this quick after work session (sadly it was all I could muster) , it was out with sections of Mackerel to see if anything would take a fancy to it. The skin is nice and tough, the flesh pungent which no doubt would attract the gluttonous Chub. Various publications I’ve obtained over the years refer to the use of Mackerel as bait for big Chub so I might as well give it a try, nothing to lose and all that.

The thought behind ones madness was, any old Chevin would take a whitebait, worm or winkle, so more of a gobstopper might attract something larger that what I’ve been catching, and give a big fish a meal he couldn’t refuse. The problem is you see with my short sessions because of the diary makers got to maximise any bank time I have got, to full effect.

Now in Peter Stone 1980’s book, ‘Fishing for Big Chub’, he praises the use of deadbaits for Chub, he’d successfully used them on still waters to target the bigger fish among the proletarians. Whole fish fished on braided hook links fished in the margins come sundown and bobbins used for bite indication.

Takes often so savage the bobbin bangs the rod butt…

So a similar set-up would be used and put out on a sleeper on a bobbin in the margins just prior to dusk, the other rod, the main one, yeap, you guessed it cheesepaste.

Chub cannot get enough of it, well apart from bread I suppose. I’d choose no other bait to fish for them, they love it. The concoction I use is grated Danish blue, gorgonzola, extra mature cheddar and frozen block pastry, with added garlic and cheese powder and with a small bit of krill. The consistency such that despite the temperature of the water under 5 degrees at the moment it still stays relatively malleable. So more cheese than pastry basically, seems to work well. 

A paste cage on a hair, with the paste moulded in such a way that the hook is free but more or less touches the bend. In recent times rather than tightening the line down to the tip, I’ve let more of a bow in the line, so the Chub which can be right little buggers in ejecting bait on feeling resistant or nibbling at it, but a bow in the line means they get the bait down better before they notice something might be up. 

So anyway, enough of the preamble back to the fishing…. 

I’m still a little puzzled why the banks are largely deserted, ok I know it’s cold at the minute, but the rivers near me anyway for all but a couple of days here and there over winter have been perfectly fishable.

No Dave Harrell to be seen here....

Maybe it’s because many anglers want easy wins these days and couldn’t contemplate a blank session for example, imagine a few back to back like I and the like-minded endure, it’s the nature of the beast, it really is. Am I mad, most probably, but as a seeker of solitude and that 5lb Chub, got to stick with the routine and it's nice the banks are deserted, I like it that way, and I've everything I need to weigh that 5lb Chub myself, ta very much.

So to the session, better get back on track....

Very much groundhog day here, rocked up, cormorant feeding in the 2nd peg, one flying overhead that means I'd have to wait till the isotope was glowing before any action. So there was no rush to get going. A few balls of cheesepaste next to some cover, the rods set-up. There was a nice gap in the nearside bank so I positioned the chunk of mackerel there with bobbin attached. The main flow had a nice pace but it was less so. Water temperature 5.1 degrees, so a little up from last week.

Nothing much happened for an hour, even the cheesepaste rod didn't even have a pluck but in compete dark I had an single bleep on the mackerel , the blue LED registering the interest. I thought it was some debris caught on the line as first, but then after a couple of minutes, the bobbin rose steady and the rod top was nodding.

After setting the hook it was clear with the fight it was a Chub, it initially bolted off downstream but I turned it and probably due to the cold water, he said, rights that's enough. A nice long chub, a bit of a warrior and surprised it only went 4lb 6oz on the scales as it had a bit of a belly on it.

With the swim disturbed no more bites for 15 minutes or so when it was time to head back home. Interestingly not only it goes to show Mackerel is well worth a go for chub but I reckon I might have caught the same Chub here before. The plan of action next week is to try an area that has been far tougher than it has been in the past and maybe fish up to dusk there, as it seems, especially when there are some apex predators around they are probably tucked up playing hide and seek.

The fish there grow big, the average stamp higher than the usual places I fish. Maybe I'm putting a bait in front of a small head of fish here and I'm wasting my time if I want a 5lber, then again having only fished 2 of the swims, maybe it's worth trying another likely looking peg and disturb another families tea.


  1. Deserted river banks are pretty common also for us fly fishing folk in winter, most folks seem to prefer a big stocky rainbow to a winter grayling. I guess its an easy win.


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