I started fishing when I was aged nine. My brother and I fished the small River Chew, in Somerset, for anything that came along.
My brother then got into football, and I started work when I was 15, but luckily I met some other anglers at my workplace. We started fishing for Bristol Avon barbel, and I became hooked on them between 1973 and 2001. I caught the first authenticated ‘double’ from the river in the 1970s, a fish of 10 lb 2 oz.
I then joined a specimen angling group in Bristol, meeting like-minded anglers that had an interest in targeting big fish.
I started fishing with Don and Alan, both of them preferring to target specific species at different times of the year.
Their approach was an alien one to me, as I had been focussing solely on barbel, but I learned so much from them, about pike, tench and chub fishing methods. Sadly, they have both now passed away.
I followed their approach, pursuing different species to suit the conditions, which seems blatantly obvious now, but it wasn’t back then.
A career with Cadbury took me all round the world, but it got in the way of my specimen fishing. Time was precious, and fishing was no longer my top priority.
I still fished whenever I could, but my fishing time was severely limited.
Back on the bank
About 11 years ago, at the age of 52 and when living near Bath, I managed to escape the clutches of the business world, leaving me with plenty of free time to fish the Hampshire Avon, the Dorset Stour and a host of other venues. I was also keen on becoming an angling guide.
I started to catch some good-sized chub from both rivers. A 5 lb chub in a season is a very good result on the Bristol Avon, but on these Wessex rivers you can catch several five-pounders in a day, and there’s always the chance of a 6 lb fish, and even the ‘holy grail’ of chubbing, a seven-pounder.
Christchurch AC and Ringwood DAA are both excellent clubs that have wonderful day ticket waters. Living near Bath, it’s a two-hour drive to these rivers, so I’m not on them that often, but last year I managed 18 6 lb-plus chub and barbel to 14 lb 13 oz from the Hampshire Avon.
I used to travel down and fish both rivers for a couple of days at a time, sleeping in the back of my car. My personal best chub started to creep up, and it currently stands at 7 lb 12 oz, a fish from the Stour.
Using the knowledge gained from my time spent with my pals and from reading angling magazines, I was soon using a method that has caught a lot of 6 lb-plus chub.
A feeder rig with a short hook length is a well-known method, and it’s deadly for catching the big chub in the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour when the conditions are right.
The finest way to catch a big chub is on a float, but a feeder can be very effective and requires a lot less effort, particularly on windy days, when fishing a float is practically impossible.
What are the best river conditions for fishing a feeder for chub, I hear you ask? Basically, it’s a light-line approach, best fished when the weed in the river has died and then been flushed away by floods. Hooked chub are masters at diving into weed, so a river without weed will help you to land them much more successfully.
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