River Fishing

There are certain river swims where floating baits are particularly effective. These are usually shallow, gravelly runs with a lively current, especially where the current starts to slow as the depth increases. These shallows often hold large numbers of fish in summer, as they are naturally high in oxygen.

The most reliable surface-feeder in rivers is the chub, and the most basic bait is bread crust.

However, the chub’s natural diet consists of many things, chub are extremely greedy fish! They will eat all manner of aquatic insect larvae, small fish, snails, shrimp, crayfish, any insects that accidentally land on the surface, even lobworms that are washed into the river in times of flood. Anglers have found that the larger the bait, the better chance of it being taken by a chub.  Despite that, the chub is a very nervous and shy fish and care needs to be taken when setting out to catch one. Walk lightly and keep as low as possible as they will buzz off if they hear a lot of vibration on the bank or see movement above the water.

Although allowing a chunk of crust to drift naturally with the flow is simple in concept, there are important considerations to avoid becoming frustrated with the technique. Natural bait presentation is vital. The crust must be free to follow all current variations, without moving unnaturally across the flow or, worse still, dragging and causing a wake. It requires practice to learn how much line to let out as the crust progresses downstream. Too little, too slowly, will result in drag, while too much will see loops of line on the surface drifting everywhere, possibly even pulling the crust off course, particularly on a windy day.

Other surface baits are often more effective for chub, especially when they have become spooked on crust after one or two have been taken on it. Items like dog biscuits, floating cereals or feed pellets can be used in sufficient quantities to initiate preoccupied surface feeding, and this largely overcomes the chub’s natural caution. Floating boilies also make superb chub baits.

Pet-food mixers and trout pellets are also very effective chub baits. They are the right size, visible at range, and remain buoyant for a long time. If you cannot obtain bait bands, trout pellets and pet-food mixers can be superglued to the back of the hook shank. For surface fishing, the floating putty, known as flotsam, is good. A small rough piece attached to the line resembles a piece of bark and floats like cork. Attach flotsam approximately 18 in (45 cm) from the hook and it will serve both as an extra flotation aid and a sight bob, the latter being more important with small baits like trout or koi pellets, which can become extremely difficult to see at long range.

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