SUPERBAITS FOR SUMMER STALKING
Freeline ’em for some sizzling river sport
SOMETIMES, it is the simplest things in life that give the most enjoyment, and I would definitely put stalking chub from small rivers close to the top of my list of ‘fun fishing’.
Being able to watch a fish take your bait is always a thrill, and in the low, clear rivers of late summer this is very often a possibility. At this time of year I also like to spend the odd evening on the river to learn a little about its fish stocks and holding areas in readiness for winter, when the water will be more coloured and the undergrowth has died back.
Travelling light is what summer chubbing is all about. I’ll often cover a lot of ground, having no more than a couple of casts in every likely-looking hole, before moving on. A rod, a reel loaded with 6lb line and a few packets of hooks are the bare essentials.
The same goes for bait selection. Overgrown rivers in high summer is no place for lugging kilos of bait about with you. A tin of luncheon meat, a few lobworms or slugs and half a loaf of bread are plenty for a day spent stalking chub.
SLUG IT OUT
If I can get hold of them, slugs are always my first choice of summer chub bait. ‘Old Rubber Lips’ devours these slimy critters with a ferocity that has to be seen to be believed. Even wily old chub that have seen every bait under the sun are suckers for a slug.
The best way to hook slugs is once through the back, and don’t be afraid to use a big hook – a size 6 or 7 wide gape is about right. Being quite a heavy bait, slugs can be cast quite some distance and make a big splash when they hit the water. Unlike other baits, which can scare chub away, I have found that the splash of a slug actually attracts chub and so I will always aim to cast close to the biggest fish in the shoal.
Another big plus point with slugs is that you can collect them from the garden on damp nights for free! Store them in an old bait tub with some damp grass and as long as they are kept cool they will keep for a good few days.
Strangely enough, I find lobworms far inferior to slugs, although they will still catch plenty of fish. If you watch the reaction of the fish carefully they just don’t attack worms with the same gusto, so for me they are very much a back-up bait for when slugs are in short supply.
GIVE MEAT A GO
For convenience, luncheon meat takes some beating, and on many rivers chub will fall for this bait time and again. This is especially true on rivers that are less-rich in natural food where the fish are always on the lookout for an easy meal. On rivers where the chub grow larger and are fished for more often, meat can be
less effective, but it’s always worth having with you.
I like to bury the hook right inside a cube of meat, as this enables me to fish in weedy swims without the hookpoint snagging continuously.
Meat sinks slowly, so in deeper runs it can be tricky to get the bait down to the chub. When this is the case I mould a piece of tungsten putty around the eye of the hook to give it more weight. You don’t need to add much; a piece about the size of a pea is plenty.
BREAK OUT THE BREAD
Floating bread is a bit of an enigma; on some days the chub will race each other for every morsel, while on others they will ignore every piece that drifts over their heads. Even so, it is worth taking a few slices with you, as on those magical days when they’re up for it, the sight of those lips engulfing a match-box sized piece of crust cannot be beaten.
You get more crust on an unsliced fresh loaf, but cheap sliced bread is more economical and can also be squeezed around the hookshank to give you a slowsinking bait too.
This is all the terminal tackle you need.
Paul with a fine chub taken while stalking.
Don’t be afraid to use big baits when freelining.
Slow-sinking bread is cheap and effective.