Big river, big chub
Fishing a small river is straight forward. Every fallen tree, boulder, river loop, low hanging branch with shade is potential for a catch. An anglers imagination runs wild of what could lay beneath the water in such spots. When casting precision is more important than distance. Staying quite and not disturbing the water is also a factor in your success. One wrong cast can spook the fish. An unforgiving mistake that every angler has experienced. Large rivers present more freedom. Huge areas to wade, long casts, strong currents. This is not uncommon to me, but I have less experience in this setting. Also big rivers promise greater rewards. Giant fish lurk in the depths. Monsters that have avoided anglers hooks. Bent rods and escaped nets for decades to reach epic sizes. The river is the second largest in my country, well known for salmon fishing. Tried it on occasion while I was still in university. Did not take it serious and it was more of a desperate attempt to quench my thirst for fishing. As always I do some research to find a potential spot and plan my trip. My target is not salmon, but chub.
The one that got away
Short trip on a highway, another 15min on a cobble road, 10min on dirt and finally 15min hike to reach the river. Have my Megabass Shoreluck paired with a Shimano Rarenium 2500 and 0.18mm mono line. As the view to the river opens I am greeted by Islands that split the flow. On one side fast flowing white water that can’t be waded, on the other shallow calm flow. Felt lost were to begin. Scanned the possibilities and started in the calmer water which got deeper upstream.
For the first hour no bites. Changing my lures had no impact. I leave an elongated white Bux spoon. As I move upstream the flow slows down. It got deeper and deeper. I stop. And start scanning the area with the lure. First couple of casts nothing. Then a heavy feeling, the reel break starts clicking. A big fish is on. A couple of jolts going for the deep. The reel and the rod do a great job of absorbing the hits. The fish turns and starts heading for the weeds. I counter by switching rod position and reeling the fish. It tries going down stream and again the break does its job. I keep on reeling until it reaches the surface. A pike around 2.5kg. I reach for my landing net. The fish does a hail marry. Shakes its head, the lure shoots out. The fish was a couple of meters from me. I am flustered and annoyed, but also full of adrenaline after a fun fight.
I wade further. A massive splash disturbs the water tension. My guess a monster chub picking off low flying dragon flies. Probed the area for 15min only to turn around and head down stream. I start checking the other side of the island. A 70m patch of fast flowing water. Sticking close to the bank I cast in hopes to land a grayling, but no luck. Further down I cast in calmer areas near the banks where there are more water plants. I land a small trout, further on a decent perch. With no more action I head to my car. Walking threw a winding forest road I contemplate the pike that got away.
Day two. Joined by a friend we try another patch. Longer drive with a more challenging terrain. We end up at a cliff side, below us the river. We prep the gear and head out.
Casting across the river to deeper areas gave no luck and we change our tactic. We start getting bites when casting along the banks as close to the vegetation as possible. Small chub hit the lure. This continues for a couple hours during which I land a couple bigger ones. By bigger I mean from 10-11cm to 17-18cm. We continue in hopes of a serious fish. After passing some fast shallow flow a splash echoes near the bank were the water deepens. We both acknowledge it with a glance. We wade closer to the area in question.
I cast towards the drop off. As soon as I start reeling a hit soon after my rods bends. A big one is at the other end of the line. Fish on. It takes some line and shoots to the depths. The rod and reel break do there job of absorbing the punches. I reel slow and steady. The fish changes course and start going down river. The addition of the current puts extra stress on the rod and it bends half way. I move towards the bank where the flow is slow and the water is shallow. Couple more reel turns and I see the fish on the surface at first glance I fought is was a pike, my friends yells “Its an asp”. Both wrong. The menace is a monster 52cm chub. The fish got a gulp of air and seems tired out. I grab my landing net only to pass it to my friend as I am struggling to reel in the last meters. The fish has a last gasp attempt at escape and trashes its head with hope that the barbless hook shakes loose. But it’s too late I move towards the landing net my friend to the fish. It’s in.
We are both giddy like children and in shock at the size of this river monster. Even holding it felt awkward because I could not grasp the width of the fish with comfort. I pass the camera to my friend, free the fish of the hook, measure it. Pose for some pictures and set this beast free. What a fight and fish. My personal best. It will live in my memory forever. We continue in hopes that my friend lands something decent as well, but all he got was a perch. After an hour we decide to head home.