I set out late this morning with the rather ambitious aim of catching a 5lb chub from the Somerset Levels. Whilst such a fish is a rare thing on these silty, lowland rivers, I am in no doubt that they do exist, even if I am yet to see one. Location can be a bit tricky, particularly on the lower River Tone, which can be mile after mile of featureless channel, contained within steep muddy banks.
I prefer to float fish. Not for the challenge, or because of some discriminatory views I hold towards ledgering, but because it is what I feel most confident in doing, and it allows me to search out unfamiliar stretches more quickly. When the fish holding areas are so inconspicuous, a float travelling up to 40-50 yards downstream is a useful way of establishing where the fish are (and aren't).
The first trot was a clean run through, so I pushed the float up six inches and tried again. This time the float made it almost to the very end of the peg before submerging. Clonk! Chub on. As I'd hooked the fish a good forty metres down the peg, I walked a third of the way to meet it and safely netted an immaculate chub of around 1¾lb. I grabbed the keepnet from the car and then, next cast, the same result. Given that I was catching good quality fish and they would no doubt run out at some point, I didn't push the swim too hard, instead resting it a while between trots.
I had seven chub to maybe 2¼lb this way before declaring the swim officially 'dead'. A car journey to a couple more areas was fruitless, before I found myself on the tidal stretch near Athelney for the last hour and a half. I still had plenty of maggots, so fed these liberally in the hopes of stirring any large chub that might be present into feeding. It was a fish a minute - roach mainly - but there was no sign of anything bigger, before I decided to call it a day.