Big Chub – Missing the Eights
Bob Hornegold has been after an 8lb chub for a very long time – and he narrowly missed out again with his last capture – it was a nine!
Bob tells the story of one of the largest river chub of all time in his own words:
“I had to go down to see Daryl, the owner of Truesport Angling, who has a small engineering firm at Hertford and after he had sorted out the male ferrule on a cane rod, made me a cup of tea and we had had a long chat about specimen fishing, I headed towards the Old River Lea. However nature called and I had to stop off and use the facility at Tesco in Hertford Town.
I had a change of plan during this break and instead of the Old River Lea I aimed the car elsewhere and set up my stall for a spot of barbel fishing, as I thought it would make a nice change from the ‘slog’ of chub fishing. However, fate had a change of plan in store for me when a group of school kids with canoes decided that my barbel swim was the perfect place to practice the art of going through angler’s lines - and then laughing about it! I had a word with the young PE teacher who was supposed to have been ‘supervising’ them but to no effect so I decided to call it best and pack up.
As I had to pass the entrance of Fishers Green on the way home I thought I would just have a quick look at the state of the river (like you do) and I was surprised to see that it looked OK. Sure there was a spot of colour and although it was maybe a foot or so up from normal it was in good shape – chub were indeed on the cards...
I set up in a swim I had shared with Simon King on many occasions over the past six months, sorted out the rods and put on fresh All Season Bait Developments’ Salmon boilies with a PVA bag of chopped boilies and a lump of salmon paste pushed into the running Gripper Lead.
I'm not exactly sure but I reckon it was about 3pm when everything was sorted and I was able to sit back and enjoy my first cup of tea; I was surrounded by snow but it was really nice to be out.
The swim I was fishing had been kind to Simon and me with a series of chub captures with the whole spectrum of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8-pounders but they had certainly not come easily. I worked it out that I had done about 24 afternoon/evening sessions in all weather with about one bite in every four trips.
All of the 7lb fish had fallen to me, with a pair of different 8lb fish to Simon, which you will have previously read about here on FishingMagic. I'm not complaining about not getting an 8lb fish (although I wanted one) but I did have the chance of a monster a little while back when I hooked and lost one in early January, but then it was just not to be.
I can recall what happened that evening in perfect detail: Using two rods to enhance your chances of a bite has its disadvantages and when playing this particular fish it went under the line of my second rod, not a problem I thought as I have had this situation many times before, but this time it pulled the free line into a snag and I ended up playing a huge chub snagged via the other line.
To make matters worse I could see the fish just out of reach of the landing net cord - it was so frustrating! In the end the line parted and all I could do was watch as this huge chub sank slowly away from sight – an enduring image that has haunted me for the best part of six weeks and the reason why I have kept going back.
This time back, although the river had looked good, it was cold and getting colder by the minute. After a short while I reckoned I was wasting my time; a good mate thought the snow melt would not help and I was inclined to agree with him. Still, that last hour of daylight and into first hour of darkness had been good to me and Simon so I thought I would give it to at least 6.30pm.
Nothing happened...I was snuggled down under the umbrella out of the wind and the frost was starting to form on the surface. There was hardly a bleep on the buzzer, which meant there was not a lot of rubbish coming down the river and few crayfish about so at least that was good news. I decided not to check the baits and just trusted my knowledge of the river and decided to leave things alone until I packed up.
By 7.30pm my feet were frozen and I had had just about enough, ‘there will be another night!’ I thought to myself and I eased myself out of the chair and headed towards the path, where I was going to stamp my feet back into life.
Beeep, beeeeeeeeep... I turned around to the see the right hand rod taking on a bend and within seconds I was there pulling into a good fish. I knew straight away I was playing another very big chub - it's not just the weight you can feel, it’s the way they kite and kick.
Pump and draw, wind down, pump and draw...slowly I gained control of the fish in the strong current - I was winning - but every time I dropped in the landing net it was swept away from the chub which, by then, was laying on the surface kicking, then spooking at the landing net and powering away again.
I knelt down, extended the landing net handle and put it behind my back to make a lever, the chub was still not done though and powered away a couple more times before it was finally in the net - job done!
I pulled it to the edge and lifted up the dead weight within the net and knew straight away it was a new PB. On the unhooking mat I unwrapped the mesh and there before my eyes was the biggest chub I had ever seen! I quickly got the Salter digitals out of the bag, wetted the weigh sling, zeroed them and it read...
I could not believe it, I put the chub into the large keepnet I have in the boot of the car for just such an occasion and rang Simon:
“Yes mate” he said, “I will be down in half an hour.”
Sitting down in the aftermath of the capture the freezing cold seemed to have disappeared, I poured myself a cuppa from the flask and thought maybe I should cast out again... ‘No, don't be silly!’ I told myself and by the time Simon had arrived all the tackle was in the car and I was ready to sort out the chub.
Simon knew the fish straight away and as I lifted it from the keepnet and onto the mat he said, “That’s the ‘Police Pit Chub’, there's a mark on its back, just below the dorsal fin.” And so there was.
Simon took charge of the weighing, wetting the sling, zeroing the scales...
We weighed it on two different sets of scales and it registered exactly 9lb on both. I had missed out on the ‘eights’ and gone straight to a ‘nine’! I guess I’ll just have to go back and try to fill in the gap!”