Chub Fishing on the River Dane - Getting Intimate!
Phil Hackett, aka ‘The Bad One’, gets intimate with the delightful River Dane and its chub population.
Due to the constantly rising and falling water levels this winter has been hard for chub fishing on my beloved River Ribble as it just doesn’t fish at all well for the species when it’s got water on and is carrying some colour. So, for this reason, I decided that I needed a change of chubbing direction
The plan I hatched in my head was that I needed to fish somewhere intimate, not on a venue that required the brutality of casting a feeder 30-40 yards across river as we do on the Ribble. I wanted somewhere where I could make an underarm cast and hit the far bank and somewhere within an hour of home where I knew I could catch a few fish.
Two rivers fitted the parameters I’d set, the Goyt and the Dane. In the end I plumped for the Dane as I have a long, loving history with the river going back nearly 45 years to a time when I was a teenager and as fit as a butcher’s dog! Not that I am not fit for my age these days...well sort of! But in those days my knees didn’t creak, bang and clang at every footstep, nor did my lungs burn and blow like a steam train when walking up the valley from the river. Oh yes all you young guns out there, that is what you have to look forward to when you reach two thirds of a century!
I arrived at the river at 3.15 pm and found it at what I considered to be a perfect level, with a slate blue tinge and some four inches above normal level. I then set about baiting four swims with liquidised bread with three tangerine-sized balls in each. My plan was to fish each swim in turn until about 8.30 pm by which time I hoped I would have extracted all of the fish I believed were in them; disciplining myself not to move on to the next swim until I was satisfied I’d had all of the fish from the one I was in!
After I’d baited the swims I returned to my tackle and set up the only rod I had brought with me with: 8lb main line, a 6lb hook link, a small open-ended feeder and a size 6 Kamasan 983 Wide Gape Specialist hook. I rate these particular hooks highly for chub fishing with bread, they were first recommended to me by my mate Wayne - cheers mate!
The hook bait was to be bread in the form of flake and crust and, on the subject of crust, I use it in 15mm and 20mm disc-form, stamped out of the crust ends of a sliced loaf with punches I have made from copper and alloy tube – although there are commercially-produced examples available in the tackle shops.
The first swim I fished was a tight one, with bushes either side of the river down to a right-hand bend. I baited the hook with a 20mm crust disc, or as we call them ‘discos’ and made the first underarm cast of the session. The bait was only in the water for a couple of minutes before the rod tip pulled around savagely. The fish was hooked and landed without any mishaps; at around 2lb it was not the largest I’ve had from the Dane, but it was nonetheless welcome all the same.
I then found myself talking to the guy who always come with me when I’m fishing...I’m not really sure who he is, and I’ve never ever seen him, but he’s always with me. He’s more of a listener than a conversationalist, so I said to him, “That’s not a bad start, is it?” There was, as usual, no reply from him...
I re-baited with crust and cast again, and waited for five minutes before the next bite came, one that ripped the rod around yet again! This felt like a better fish and it fought well on the short line - I’d forgotten just how well the chub on the Dane fight when you hook and play them at close quarters. This particular fish went in the net at the second time of asking and as I lifted the net it felt quite heavy so I said to the ever-present and mostly silent one, “I’ll weigh this one I think, just to get my eye in on how big the better fish are!” It registered 3lb 7oz. “I’m pleased with that!” I told him. Nothing again from him!
For those not familiar with the Dane and its chub, a good fish is 3lb plus, a special fish is 4lb, a very special fish 5lb and a fish of your dreams is a 6. My PB is a fish of 4lb 13oz that came in late summer three years ago; prior to that it was 4lb 5oz caught way back in the early 1980s. When fishing the Dane I find it’s best to drop your expectations of the size of fish you are likely to catch compared to the Ribble where the chub grow bigger and are of far better average size. On the Ribble low 4lb are the norm, 5lb chub are always special fish, very specials are 6lb and the dreams are 7lb.
For my third cast of the session I re-baited with a piece of flake and waited about 10 -15 minutes before the by now familiar rip round came. It gave a good account of itself before it ended up in the net and it registered 3lb 7oz...again! I looked carefully to see if it was the same fish as I’d just had; it wasn’t as it had a bigger head and a thinner body than the previous one.
Having landed a few chub, and as the section of the Dane I was fishing has some good grayling in it, I changed my set up to a maggot feeder with smaller hook and lighter hook link to try and catch one and for the next hour and half I fished this set up, re-casting every ten minutes or so, but all I could catch were minnows. By this time the light was fading fast so I changed back to my original chub set up and moved on to the second swim.
The second swim hasn’t always been that productive for me in the past, usually producing two fish at the most. So I said to the silent one, “Better make every bite count in this one eh?” He spoke, “Yep, you’d better!”
Conversation over, I tossed another ball of bread feed in and baited the hook with another disco crust, before casting with a gentle lob slightly down river. Three minutes later the tip pulled around as before and another spirited fighting fish came to the net showing 3lb 8oz on the scales. The silent one made no comment about them getting bigger... Perhaps it was the increase of just an once that kept his lips sealed?
The next cast produced a fish of 3lb 4oz that snagged itself on something unseen...I waited. One thing the ‘Rubble’ teaches you is to be patient and to let the fish come out of whatever it is snagged on in its own time. So it proved in this case.
The next bite came about 15 minutes later on flake but the hook link parted during the fight; at this the silent one really found his voice. “You should have checked your hook link after snagging on the last fish….what a dummy you are!” He continued, “You know you’ve blown it in this swim now you’ve lost that fish, don’t you?”
Undeterred by his negative vibes I tied another hook length on, re-baited and cast in another piece of flake. Twenty minutes later, without another bite, I was starting to think the now quite one had made a valid point. I reeled in, re-baited and cast again, this time a little shorter. Another five minutes passed and much to my relief the rod tip went around again. This fish, weighing 3lb 10oz, was the heaviest so far and there was nothing from the silent one - I think he was sulking that he’d been proved wrong.
Another two fish of 3lb 2oz and 3lb 6oz joined the first one, making it the best catch I’ve had from the swim with a total of five fish and one lost. Happy with that I moved on to the next.
The next swim produced just one fish at 3lb 7oz. Needless to say, the now sulking silent one kept very quite as I moved back to the first swim for the last 20 minutes or so, acting on the hunch that I’d not had all the fish from that swim the first time around.
I settled in, cast out, and got a quick ‘rap’ within a minute or two, which I failed to connect with. The next bite came after about 10 minutes on a smaller (15mm) disco crust only for me to snap on the strike, losing the whole rig and feeder. The sulking, silent one chirped up at this, but I stopped him dead in his tracks saying, “Well that’s it, I’m not re-tackling now, I’m offski, as I’ve had nine chub, eight of which were over 3lb and that, my doubting imaginary friend, is good enough for me!”
There might just be time before the end of the season for a bit more of the Dane’s intimacy if I play my cards right eh?
By the Same Author
- Chub Fishing on the River Dane - Getting Intimate!
- Understanding Winter Floods
- Reading River Conditions in Autumn
- A Double-Figure Tench
- Bream and Tench at Long Range
- Straight Peacock Wagglers - The Hackett Way!
- Hackett's Sliding Hair Rig
- DIY - Method Leads
- DIY - Big Swimfeeders
- Natural History Of The Meres - Part 3