Whilst back in Nottingham for a week I had to complete tasks for the tackle and bait company Pallatrax, to be in their select group of anglers, known as ‘Team Pallatrax’. 

Mincing It Up For Chub

Chub and their tiger like fight and bucket like mouths you could fit an orange through are great fun on light tackle!

Chub are one of the greediest fish that live in our rivers and will feed even during the coldest temperatures.

From lures to maggots there is simply nothing a chub will not eat or devour in its path using their crushing (pharyngeal) teeth located in their throat to crush water snails and even fish!

With their hawk-eye vision and predatory instincts, if they grew 20 feet long, I would actually think twice about fishing for them.

Taking my life in my hands and stepping into the lion’s den so to speak, I come to my local River Trent to do battle with these amazing predators, using my favourite combination during winter, steak and mince…

The blood oozing from the meat is likely to get any predator excited, the chub being no exception to this rule.

So I was up bright and early on a frosty January morning to hopefully catch one or two and to show how good the combination of mince and steak can be.

Cold overnight temperatures of –3 have not really helped the situation, after a very mild spell of weather the temperature plummeted over night and this sudden drop was not a good sign.

Normally temperatures below freezing are not a problem for chub; this is after a spell of 3 – 4 days acclimatizing their systems to this change however. But as all fish, the chub do not take a sudden plunge in temperature well.

I was hopeful but not entirely convinced the chub would be caught.


I decided on fishing a stretch of my local River Trent which offers deep and flowing water in certain sections of it and felt this was a good place to try.

I had much success last winter here for chub so it didn’t take much thinking about in terms of location.

After a short walk through the crispy and frozen field, I arrived at the river at around 10am.

I found the river looking clear and like a pane of glass, offerring some good flow at around 20 metres, during the summer months this stretch can be quite ponderous and subdued when running at ‘normal’ summer levels. Encouraged and unperturbed I decided on my swim…

I knew when fishing the peg during the summer that it held 12 – 15ft of water at around six metres, and beyond this I was facing around 18 ft of depth. I felt that because of the cold and over night frost the fish would be held up here as during cold temperatures, the chub will often be found in deeper, flowing stretches.

Tactics Of The Day

I decided that due to the depth of water, float fishing would make life awkward in terms of casting (13ft match rod and 20ft water). So I decided I would use a standard, twelve feet Silstar medium quivertip rod, it has an in-built quivertip, I have had it for years and needs updating really, but I love using it. The reel is a Shimano Aero loaded with six pounds of Preston Direct Mono, again it’s an old reel but it works just as well now as it always did so no reason to update.

The line I find is perfect for this style of fishing, giving direct contact to the fish, hence the name. The line itself offers 50% less stretch than regular mono and is fantastic at registering bites. It also provides you with the braid-like properties but forgivable striking and playing capabilities.  

My tactics will be a small open ended feeder; this would carry the mince, casters and hemp. Stewing steak would be my chosen hook bait on a barbed size 16 Drennan Super Specialist hook.

I do prefer a barbed hook compared to that of barbless when fishing for larger fish. I will of course adhere to rules on a fishery but my own view is that I feel a lot more confident using barbed, only really using barbless for smaller fish or when water rules dictate.

 The rig (pictured left) consisted of a small feeder on a link of line, in this case being four pounds, this is used in situations where underwater obstructions such as sharp rocks and boulders are prevalent in the swim. These obstructions could potentially, leave fish snared up on them with a feeder, hook and line attached if I did not create that weak link.

The weak link is about 5 inches in length and it tied direct to my main line (around 10 inches above the tag end) via a four-turn water knot. Under force or if my feeder is trapped within a crevice of the rock or boulder with a fish attached to it, it will snap before my main line of six pounds will part. This will leave me still connected with that fish.

The hooklength, which in this case is 3.6lbs of Preston Power line, is then placed into this loop. To do this you must tie another overhand loop knot on the tag end of your hooklength line.

You will need around 2 – 3 feet of hooklength line in colder clear water, shorter to 10 inches during coloured water. Then you must tie a loop – to – loop knot  to connect the two lines together.   

Your hook is now attached to your tag end of your hooklength via your favourite knot; I use a grinner knot for this purpose.

The mince is placed inside of the open ended feeder and a sliver of stewing steak is placed onto the small size 16 hook (pictured below). Using this combination has caught me massive hauls of chub in the past including a very impressive catch of 80Lbs on the River Derwent in 2007.


Along with the mince and steak that I have brought along for using this combination, I have also got some casters, maggots, hemp and groundbait. The groundbait and hemp is to only use within the mince. Groundbait helps the mince to bind together so it doesn’t come out the feeder easily and hemp adds that little bit of extra attraction.

The maggots and casters will be used as change bait if nothing materializes on the stewing steak, sometimes changing to a maggot or caster can bring instant results. It’s all about fooling chub to make them think they are safe eating one kind of bait, changing to another can instantly pay dividends.

To prepare mince, place the whole portion in a groundbait bowl as shown below.

Then slowly add your chosen groundbait, I have gone for a dark one today to help put some colour in the water due to the clarity, any dark groundbait will do.

I make sure I mix the groundbait thoroughly which will start to stick to the mince.

I will then place into the mix some hemp and caster with gives it an extra attraction or appeal to the chub.

Once desired result has been found you will be able to roll this into a ball like this…

The Session

Once I had set-up time was getting on to near on 11 o’clock, with the days being short I was eager to get started. So I set a marker on the far bank, (a large oak tree) and casted out to the direction of this mark at about 30 metres out.

Incidentally it’s very important when feeder fishing that you’re reasonably accurate with your feeding. Casting to a marker or feature on the far bank will help with direction; you must then judge the power. Of course all reels are made with a line clip facility on the spool, I would advise not using this however when fishing for large fish.

Line clipping when fishing for chub, barbel or any other big fish will be a problem if you hook into something that decides to ‘run’ once you hook into it. Barbel and chub are notorious for finding snags and once hooked, will immediately look for the nearest one. So it pays to have your wits about you and control the fish once hooked. The line clip will stop the fish doing this and will ultimately break your hook length such is their power. So back winding or using the clutch facility is more appropriate.

I suggest going to a local field and practice casting, getting into a rhythm is important and have found doing this, when not fishing a great benefit to me personally.

An hour past with little or no action on the tip to speak of, I kept my casting regular to keep the blood/attraction going in the swim in the hope that the chub would eventually turn up



Eventually at 12.15PM I got a very positive pull round, which upon striking I felt a heavy resistance pulling back hard and begin taking line (emphasizing my point on no line clips) I quickly turned it and began coaxing it in towards me. The fish decided to swim to the right and come towards the nearside bank where I noticed some sharp jagged rocks, visible in the clear water. As soon as I noticed them I began to give as much side strain as I’d dared with a 3Lb 6oz hooklength. It was at this point my line had gone over one of the jagged boulders close in to my own bank and parted. To say I was gutted, was an understatement.

Another hour past with not so much as a touch, it was at this point I began changing baits, in the hope this would get me a bite or two, casters and  maggot, even cocktailing them but nothing was forthcoming. I began to get a little worried, thinking I would blank and had missed my best chance of a fish today.

I switched back to the stewing steak and BANG! Out of nowhere I got a very good ‘unmissable’ bite, if there is such a thing?

I lifted the rod and felt instant contact with what felt like a very reasonable sized fish. I was determined that I was not going to make the same mistake twice. The fish did a lot of plodding about at about 20 metres and just hung itself in the current, making it quite difficult to make any line on it at all. Eventually however it began to come and after quite a bit of will it, or won’t it make it into my net I eventually landed what was a very respectable fish of around four pounds.

Excited, and with some confidence that I could make a success from the day yet, I cast out again dropping exactly where I had caught the fish.

The feeder had been in barely 5 minutes when the quivertip is shaking out the rest again, another one on!

After an initial run that I thought was from a much larger fish, it became very apparent this was a much smaller fish, it didn’t make too much of a fuss so I landed it pretty comfortably. However with conditions as they were, a very cold 3 degrees all fish were very welcome indeed including this one at about a pound.

Out I went with the feeder again with the mince and stewing steak on the hook, in an attempt to make it 3 fish out of 3 casts.

Again I was right on the money with the cast. It was almost as if I was watching it in slow motion, as the rod flew from the rest again after only a few minutes of being out.

I just managed to grab the rod and hold on as the fish made its intentions clear from the outset that it was angry and did not want to hang around, as the rod went hurtling away from me.

Judging by the initial bite my feeling was that this fish was bigger than the earlier fish of four pounds.

I set the switch to use the back wind facility (I prefer using this as opposed to the clutch) knowing that, at some point I would need to retreat and let the fish have its way with only 3Lb hooklength its not worth the risk to give any undue pressure than what’s necessary.

A battle ensued, with the fish not giving an inch and I no choice but to hold steady and wait for the fish to begin to tire.

For what felt like an eternity the fish eventually began to give in to the pressure I put upon it.

Gently easing the fish to my waiting landing net, the dives from the fish were becoming very deliberate and predictable at close quarters which I controlled through back winding with relative ease.

After the initial scare of nearly losing my rod, the fish eventually succumbed to my constant but not over powered pressure and was safely in the net.

The fish was a very good five pounds. I have caught chub to over six, but this chub was in mint condition and looked like it had never been caught before.

Very happy and with an hour or so left, I felt that 2 – 3 more would make a bad start to the day a very good and successful one.

Casting out again in the same spot, I started to become a little worried after having to cast out again after 10 minutes with only a small rattle on the rod to show for it.

Chub can have small windows of feeding in winter, which can last all morning or for two or three hours in the afternoon, these short feeding windows are representative of most fish during winter, often eating all they can before retreating having filled their bellies.

My worst fears were realized after a fruitless hour or so without any more signs that fish were present. Again I had changed my bait from caster to maggot, trying to entice a bite, with no reward.

Just as I thought that was it for the day at around 3.30PM I got another bite which resulted in me lifting the rod to what felt like an average sized fish. After a mini struggle I managed to coerce the fish into my waiting landing net, a fish of around 3Lb was gleefully received.

I made one last cast to attempt to catch another with no response; I felt that with the light fading I would call it a day with four chub in my net.

In conclusion, considering the cold weather playing a huge part in proceedings today I was very pleased with my overall catch in about 5 hours fishing.


A very happy angler, with all chub falling to the steak and mince combination. A real winter winner!!!

I urge you to get on it for winter chub fishing.

Tight Lines,