Dedicated barbel anglers will be found on the Rother – in particular on Petworth & Bognor Angling Club’s stretch at Coultershaw, home to some big barbel that sometimes I find hard to believe live in this narrow winding river. They like it and stay there, possibly because there’s a fairly consistent flow of anglers’ bait to tempt them.
Likewise, carp anglers seem content to sit mostly by lakes and ponds as opposed to rivers. Carp followers know that somewhere out there are large double-figure specimens grubbing about on the bottom searching for whatever they find tasty, similar in fact to barbel.
For me, it’s chub – reliable, friendly and chubby chappies – that tick all the boxes. Most rivers have chub in them, some lakes and ponds do as well, but I think we all look upon chub as river fish and both the Arun and the Rother in particular have some good chub.
In fact in the 1950s a Rother chub held the British record. That one sadly ended up in a glass case, something that these days rarely happens any more I’m pleased to say.
Several years ago it appeared in an auction catalogue and I was on my way to bid, allowing myself enough time to reach Lewes where the auction was due to take place.
Unfortunately a traffic accident that blocked the A27 meant I arrived too late, so where it ended up is anyone’s guess.
In those days a 5lb chub was considered a top-end weight, and today it’s not uncommon. And the good thing about chub is if you catch one, there’s every chance there’s a shoal of them, they are sociable fish and to my mind can be relied on to tip the scales when all seems lost.
Chub provide the greatest opportunity to trot the river. By that I mean using a float and bait to allow the current to carry it downstream and by gently holding back from time to time, you can let the bait trip along the bottom – especially towards overhanging branches that almost touch the water.
That’s where most chub lie – they let the natural food come to them, no darting about, no splashes. The wise chub is patient, perhaps lazy and not too fussy what it eats.
Worms, bread, cheese, maggots, meat and perhaps sweetcorn in the summer will suit them nicely. When you hook them, they put up a good fight, dive for cover inevitably under tree roots but reluctantly come to your landing net having finally decided enough is enough.
They know they will be put back following some admiring smiles from an angler happy and content to have his enjoyment from what I consider as a friendly and sporting fish.
I say sporting because the spring and summer chub do like a fly and trout very often get beaten by a chub to take an angler’s dry fly which tends to drive dedicated trout anglers mad. But the chub enjoy their day in the sun.
I love chub fishing, as you can see from my smile with a chub caught from the Hampshire Avon a few years ago.
Rivers are in flood, ponds are full, it’s cold and wet and yet there are some hardy anglers out there most weekends.
Matches continue come what may and March 14 is not that far away – that’s when the coarse season closes until mid-June.
Time is ticking and despite conditions, the fish are there to be caught. Forget light summer rigs – in these conditions you need to re-consider what’s suitable and where you stand the best place to catch.
Luckily we have a wide choice in this area, but take care, stay warm and consider carefully where to go.
See www.sussexangling.co.uk for more details.
Read Roger’s ‘What’s the Catch?’ column here and in the Chichester Observer every month
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