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The torpedo shaped, big mouthed chub is a hard fighting river species that can be found in all regions of England and Wales as well as in a few Southern Scottish rivers. With its brassy flanks, dark green back and distinctive white lips the chub can be found in almost all flowing water from tiny streams you could jump across to the widest deepest rivers. It is also found in some still waters especially those alongside rivers that flood into them and has been more recently stocked into commercial fisheries.
It is a greedy fish that feeds all year round and even in the coldest of conditions can be reliably expected to give sport, making it one of the country’s most popular river sport fish. Chub usually spawn in shallow gravelly water shedding up to 100,000 eggs per fish which stick to gravel, weed and debris on the river bed. Once hatched, after 8 to 10 days, the fry feed on microscopic plankton and insects while hiding in weeds to avoid predators. As the chub grows it becomes omnivorous eating anything it can find or catch as it spreads to all parts of the river system. Mature fish prefer steadier water often being found in areas adjacent to faster flow where it can take up station and intercept food items brought to it. It is a shy fish that in daylight particularly likes the shelter of overhanging or sunken trees, rafts of debris, weedbeds and undercut banks.
Up to three or four pounds in weight chub are a shoal fish that feed voraciously and wherever you find one you can be sure there will be others in the vicinity. Once they reach specimen sizes of five pounds and more they become much more solitary and cautious often living close to smaller shoal fish and using them to try out new food sources, watching them feed to make sure nothing is amiss before feeding themselves which makes pre-baiting or feeding without fishing a popular tactic when targeting bigger specimens.
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The chub is an omnivore and will literally eat anything it can find including insects, worms, crayfish and small fish of all species. It feeds at all levels in the water from rooting out food items lodged on the river bed to items floating past it on the surface. It is an opportunist feeder that makes the most of whatever is available at any time of year.
They have been known to gorge on berries falling in the water from overhanging trees in autumn and fish fry and tadpoles in the spring and early summer. Although the chub has no visible teeth it has strong teeth, called pharyngeal teeth, deep inside its throat that allows it to crunch up even the hardest of food items it finds.
Float fishing with a stick float or waggler catches thousands of chub every year and is perhaps the most enjoyable way of catching big bags of them. Heavy feeding encourages the chub to become competitive allowing you to use heavy enough tackle to prevent too many breakages on the hard fighting fish. Look to fish close to cover where the chub prefer to live and try to draw them out to your loose feed.
The block end swim feeder can be a devastating method of catching chub allowing you to cast right to far bank features that are often beyond the range of float fishing tactics. Maggots, casters and hemp are perhaps the best baits for catching bags of shoal sized chub. For specimen chub casting big baits, such as lobworms, bread, meat or slugs, close to features with strong tackle is without doubt the best approach. Travel light and stay mobile so that you can wander along the bank side trying a number of likely looking spots. Often your bite will come within seconds of casting into a new spot so be ready.
Family: Carp family (Cyprinidae)
Scientific Name: Leuciscus cephalic
Length: up to 60cm
Specimen weight: 5lb (0.9kg)
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Best Baits: Bread, cheese, maggots, luncheon meat and worms.
British Record: 9lb 5oz (4.2kg) caught in 2003 by A. Marker on a Southern still water.