Saturday, 2 February 2013

Chubbing in a winter wonderland

I'm thirty eight years old going on ten when it comes to snow, I just love the stuff. It can change the entire world overnight, everything looks wonderfully crisp and clean and I like just being out in it but that isn't the main reason I love it. I think what I really love about snow is that it turns life into a bit of a mission. Everything becomes a big adventure to me and it's great, I quite often have a big daft grin on my face at the first sign of the white stuff when it seems that most other people past their teens can't wait for it to melt. When the forecast said that we were due a good dose of snow overnight I was running around the house looking out of the windows at every opportunity and by late evening the first flurries had arrived which made me even more animated. I awoke in the night to be greeted by a lit up room that told me that a good coating had settled which fired me up to the extent that I had trouble getting back to sleep and as soon as the alarm went off I was up and gawping through the curtains to see what had happened. There was maybe an inch or so hiding the world, not loads but a good start.

The wife's last words as she left the house were "Do not go down to the river". Well I didn't reply so I couldn't actually be accused of ignoring her advice could I, I would just pretend that I didn't hear. I had it in mind to visit the Derwent for a crack at the chub but while having breakfast the TV weather report came on and even I had to admit that it did look a tad dodgy. I was in two minds but in the end decided that if I ended up stuck I would never hear the end of it and so decided that I would pay a visit to the local brook again.

I drove out of the town to my usual parking spot to find a van already occupying the only piece of hard standing available, I started to pull onto the verge instead and then thought better of it as once in position I may have never got back off. The only option was to drive back into the town and walk to the stream. I don't know why but I felt very out of place walking the few hundred yards to the footpath with fishing tackle. In any other place I wouldn't even think about it but it just seemed odd in my own town, I tucked my chin into my chest and picked up the pace. I decided firstly to have a look at a stretch which I had never visited before with fishing in mind. The snowflakes blasted into my face as I wobbled my way along the footpath with every step risking my backside meeting the ground quick sharp. No one else had ventured along the track and it became my own private world. After a round about loop of the best part of a mile I decided that I didn't fancy my chances much, the slightly deeper areas were very small and difficult to get at and the one tasty spot below a mini weir involved the risk of a steep slide into the drink which didn't fill me with joy. I headed back towards the main road through the ever deepening snow, opening my coat and a couple of zips to let out a bit of heat as I went. It isn't easy to balance your clothing in these conditions when you are likely to spend a lot of time static between long walks, ideally I would carry some layers while on the move and put them on once I'd stopped but that would mean taking a large rucksack and I didn't fancy that at all so it was just a case of putting up with it.

I reached the road and once again picked up my speed as the traffic passed, every occupant no doubt questioning my sanity. Thankfully I soon reached the bridge where I slipped, literally, down the embankment to the waterside. This piece of water I do know well and I headed straight for a spot that holds one or two chub and where I caught from on my last visit. A little bit of crumbled bread was plopped out into the flow at the top of the sweeping bend and I moved down to the bottom of the feature so that I could flick the single swan shot rig up into the hot spot. The snow was coming down heavier than ever and within a few minutes I noticed that my rucksack was coated which prompted me to look at my coat and find that I was starting to resemble a snowman, instant camouflage. Half an hour in such a small spot was more than enough without a bite and seeing as that was my banker swim I wasn't very hopeful of a bite elsewhere to be honest. I was in two minds whether or not to head for home but I was enjoying being out so I carried on downstream through the fields with each step feeling heavier than the last through wading in the powder. I could just about make out the footprints of a dog walker that I had seen ahead of me as I entered the field less than an hour before so I knew that a good amount was settling and as I left the tree line and broke into open ground I was blasted full on in the face. I got my head down and hurried on towards the wood ahead. Once in a little bit of cover I stopped for a minute to dry my face and attempt to clear my specs, what a mess! At that point I had the option of carrying on along the stream or returning along the far bank, I thought about it for about two seconds and went for the return leg, I had no idea where the next deep pool was and could have walked for miles for nothing.

Getting to the opposite bank was easier said than done. I tried to cross the water in several different places but at each attempt the water looked just a little bit too deep or the jump too wide. I made my way back to the bridge just downstream but a deep ditch had been dug that made that route just as treacherous, it was either retrace my steps or go for it though so I went for it. All was going quite well until I started to slip backwards after landing. I had no choice but to grab at a root with the hand holding the rod which could have spelt disaster but I was lucky in that respect, not so lucky in that I ended up with a foot in the ditch full of water. I was hopeful of finding some tasty looking pools that hadn't been accessible from the other bank but all I found was some very hard going, thick beds of reeds and undergrowth half buried in snow are not easy to negotiate as I now know. At one point I hit another ditch and had no choice but to jump it, what appeared to be the other side turned out to be a layer of snow on foliage and my foot went through into the water again though somehow on both occasions I had managed to avoid a soggy sock which was a bonus. The snow storm was now a virtual white out, I couldn't see the hedgerows surrounding the field at all and I was loving it! I ducked into a hollowed out tree for a few minutes at one stage to try and get myself dried off and to take a breather. As I stood there I noticed an unusual looking white bird a little further along which I guessed might have been a little egret, someone had mentioned that they were in the area now but I'd never seen one before. As I moved off I spooked it and could confirm that that was exactly what it was, apparently they are a relatively recent addition to the country and are gradually moving further and further inland and it's always nice to see something new.

Eventually I ended up at the bend that I had already fished and as I was running out of options it had to be worth one more go. From that bank I was on a steep bank more or less directly above where I wanted my bait to settle so snow or not I was going to have to crawl up to the edge. There was no point in putting any more bait in so I just swung a bit of flake out and settled back with the rod resting on a thistle. Two minutes later the tip twitched a little bit, go on lets have one I was thinking, another couple of minutes and the same again, they were really not very enthusiastic were they. Finally I got a strikeable pull and hit into a fish. I had dug out an old 9ft Silstar matchpicker for the first time in years and it was perfect, with it being designed to snatch little fish the chub of a pound or so bent it double and that's what it's all about, great fun.

A million miles from a monster but who cares!

There wasn't a cat in hells chance of another bite from that swim and I knew that nowhere else was worth bothering with on the journey back so I decided to take a shortcut away from the course of the stream. In retrospect the short bit would probably be better replaced with long. Firstly I got stuck in a seemingly hedge bound field and had to jump another ditch to squeeze through a tiny gap, of course I got a wet boot again but this time the whole lot went under and I was well and truly soaked. In the next field I took a diagonal in what I thought was the right direction but ended up at the junction of several hedgerows and had to admit that I was lost, a mile from home in a white out blizzard! It took the gps on my phone to work out where I was and send me through three more fields with the deepest tractor ruts I have ever seen in my life complete with snow hidden, iced over, puddles until I finally made it back to the road. It was only then that I realised just how much snow had come down, the road was white over and my van had the best part of three inches on the screen all in the space of three hours, perhaps the Mrs was right after all.

The weekend was mostly spent messing about in the snow, I didn't realise that sledging could cause you so much pain, obviously old age is setting in. By Monday I was itching to get out again but I had a big pile of paperwork that had to be done so if anything it had to be a quick hit and run session so the River Soar was the perfect venue.

Only one set of faint tracks were visible in the snow which told me that it had been at least two days since anyone had visited and even then they had been nowhere near my intended spot which was good news. The local foxes hadn't been so shy though and the field was criss crossed with their prints, in fact I even spotted one running across the next field. That's something else that I like about snow, you can see the evidence of what has gone before you so easily when at all other times you wouldn't have a clue.


I quickly rigged up an open ended feeder to hold my mashed bread and tied a size 6 hook onto my 4.6lb low diameter hooklink before pinching on a bit of flake and sending it across to the far bank just upstream of a tree. That tree has always been a cracking spot but due to the last twelve months worth of floods it is now even better as more limbs dangle subsurface, chub central. The swim is one great big eddy and the feeder started to bounce around slowly in the flow with the quiver tip pulling back and forth all over the place. To a newcomer in the swim that would be a nightmare to read but I've fished it so many times that I know exactly what happens and what to look out for. After perhaps thirty seconds the rig settled and the tip bent round double and held. Another thirty seconds and it dropped back straight as the line fell slack due to a chub moving the feeder and I was in, that fish was probably about 3 3/4lb's.

The next two casts to the same spot gave me two more chub with the best making 4lb 6oz's but then I had a bait sit static without a touch for perhaps fifteen minutes and so decided to put a cast across directly at the tree.

The change worked straight away and I was in again, this proving to be the best of the session at 4lb 11oz which is a pretty typical top end Soar chub. More fish seem to be creeping just over the 5lb mark each year but a fish of that size is still far from common on the river. At that point I decided to call it a day, an hour and fifteen minutes on the bank and four nice chub to show for it was just the tonic I needed after wading through the dreaded paperwork.

Best of the day


  1. Just the sort of session I enjoy!

  2. Well that was a very enjoyable read Rob, didn't know you did some sledging too,I bet you was aching all over after that!

  3. nice one mate that made me a bit jealous

  4. I can believe all the fish weights and the soar does look excellent BUT ....... only 38?????

  5. Note to self... When Ian visits for some fishing place him a particularly duff peg :)

  6. I cant believe youre 5 years younger than me! A decent bit of stable weather and I'm having a day off work and bobbing down for one of those chub. if you get a second fb me the tackle requirements as im either way to heavy or way to light for fish that size in flowing water