‘Agitation feeding’ finds chub
If you’re finding chub hard to catch, try this approach to get them responding… it certainly worked for me!
SINCE RiverFest began in 2013, I’ve visited new waters and make a lot of new friendships along the way.
One such venue is Morton, on the River Swale, a venue that I liked from the moment I first walked along it with match organiser Kevin Weighell.
This was the scene of my first RiverFest qualifier for 2016, and the swim I drew was one of those ‘might be okay’ affairs.
It certainly looked inviting. Fast water from the right ran a good way down past two bushes on the far side. I’d been told that most of the chub from this swim over the past few seasons had been caught in front of the second bush, but were difficult to get out because of snags and weed!
There was a lot to consider in terms of gear, including what mainline to use. I wanted to give myself options to scale things up if big fish did prove to be a problem.
I set up two 13ft Daiwa Connoisseur 13P rods and matched these with TDR 3012 reels loaded with a prototype 0.22mm line I might be launching under my own brand soon.
Floats were small and dumpy as the swim was only shallow. On both rods I used my No2 (Standard) Speci Wagglers in sizes from 3AAA to 5AAA. For most of the day, 4AAA was perfect – I only went bigger in the last hour when a downstream wind got up. On one rod I put a 0.16mm hooklength tied to a size 12 Drennan Wide Gape hook, and on the other went a size 12 Kamasan Animal Spade hook direct to the mainline.
TRIGGER TO FEED
When the match got underway, for the first hour I fed casters and hemp and a few 6mm Bait-Tech carp pellets via a catapult – but no bites came.
Going into the second hour, I changed things slightly, going from feeding then casting to a system I call ‘agitation feeding’.
Let me explain. Instead of fishing, you spend a couple of minutes feeding small amounts of bait in rapid fire to create a column of feed that confuses fish that have become used to
seeing one big clump of bait either before you cast in or just after. By feeding small amounts of feed as much as 10 times before you cast in, the fish grow agitated and it’s often the trigger for them to start feeding. It certainly worked this time – in a couple of minutes I was attached to a very big chub a fair way down the swim.
I applied as much pressure as I dared and slowly started to bring the fish upstream, but was gutted when it ran into a snag and broke me. One nil to them. I was gutted!
I quickly picked up the other rod with 0.22mm straight through and went through the same feeding routine. First run down on this rig, the float shot under and I was into another big fish. This time I piled on even more pressure and brought it upstream as quickly as I could. A four-pounder was soon in the net, joind 15 minutes later by a 5lb chub. Two-one to me!
TRIUMPH AND DISASTER
I was starting to feel confident with the heavy gear on when another disaster struck 30 minutes later. I struck into what felt like it could have been a barbel, and the fish swam behind a snag on the opposite side and obliterated me!
I managed to land the next two, including one of 6lb, by holding the rod really high and putting an enormous amount of pressure on to keep the fish away from snags and weed. I was now winning 4-2 and had 16lb in the net.
It took a while to get the next bite, but when it came I was horrified when the fish snagged me in weed within seconds of hooking it. I’d probably lost as much weight as I’d landed!
With an hour to go chub number five was in the net and I’d got over 20lb. I felt I needed another one to win the zone, as talk on the bank was that two anglers lower down were on close to what I’d got.
With half-an-hour to go, I hooked the fish I wanted. I played it hard, got its head up well down the swim and began to bring it upstream. I was within three yards of being able to net it when it dived down into weed and shed the hook. At that point I thought my chance of qualifying had gone.
The whistle went and the final score was 5-4 to me. At the scales I weighed 21-2-0. I estimated I’d lost about the same weight in the four fish that had escaped. Thankfully, though, my 21lb 2oz was enough to win the zone.
The match was won by Mark Turner with a superb 43lb, while long-time friend Paul Downes won the top section with 37-11-0.
These two excellent anglers will make up Team Swale with me in the two-day November final and I fancy our chances if the river fishes well.
Five3c6hub towarJdUs mLYy 2119lb, 2o0z1q6ualifier.
My ‘Team Swale’ team-mates for the final – Paul Downes (left) and Mark Turner.
Success or failure hinged on a single chub.