Chubby fishing, a good opportunity
By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Published in July 2002
During the early months of summer when the Fraser River remains high due to spring freshet, fishing can be terrible at times. Most of the sportfish that we often chase after do not emerge until late summer and early autumn, and the elusive chinook salmon can be hard to catch in this silty river. Your opportunities are limited, but not eliminated. There is one alternative species, which salmon anglers regard them as pests, since they school in the hundreds, steal bar anglers' roe that awaits for a salmon. Despite their small size, which rarely raise an angler's eyebrow, peamouth chub can still be an exciting opportunity that some may want to give it a try. This is a fantastic fishery for parents who wish to introduce fishing to their children, because the action is often fast.
It is not the size of the fish that drives people to fish for peamouth chub, but their abundance. Chubs are especially popular among kids who are still in the learning phase of fishing. No kid would have the patience and attention span to sit or stand for five hours, waiting for a large salmon to bite. Often parents make the mistakes by introducing big fish to kids instead of showing them the grassroots of fishing. It is certainly no fun struggling to reel in your first fish that is almost as big as you. What would be fun is being able to see a delicate bite on the rod tip and trying to hook the fish. The accomplishment of hooking a fish by yourself is always big, no matter how big the fish is. With some good timing and basic local knowledge, this type of fishing can be done successfully by anyone.
Peamouth chub are small, therefore they probably don't fight, right? I like to disagree to that. Surely they are no salmon, but they are no gumboots either. With the appropriate tackle, one will really appreciate what they have to offer. On average, chub are between 6 to 10 inches in length, weighing between 100 to 300 grams, almost as large as the rainbow trout that are stocked in lakes around the Lower Mainland. The fishing line, rod, reel, hooks and weight that you choose should reflect the size of the fish. It would be ridiculous to use a drift rod and a large foam float when fishing for them.
An ultralight spinning rod between 6 to 8 feet in length, rating 2 to 6lb test is ideal. This is accompanied by a small spinning reel such as Shimano IX1000R that is spooled with 2 or 4lb test line. Using slightly heavier line is for security purposes, because it is not uncommon to hook into a large bull trout or northern pikeminnow when fishing for chub. The size of your hook should correspond to the fish's mouth. Like most of the other minnow species, peamouth chub have a mouth that resembles a goldfish. For those who have pet goldfish in their aquarium, you would notice goldfish have a relatively small mouth that suck in and puff out food when eating. I recommend hooks that are between size 12 and size 16, depending on how alert the fish are.
There are two methods commonly used to target peamouth chub - Bottom fishing and float fishing.
When bottom fishing, your rig can be as simple as tying a hook on a line and pinching a small split shot above the hook. This works ideally in still water. When fishing in waters that have a slight current, I prefer to tie a 1oz weight at the end of the line, with a 10cm leader connected to the main line around 15cm above the weight. The larger weight anchors on the bottom, and your bait will suspend just above the bottom where chub are found.
Float fishing is effective when fishing in shallow, snaggy waters near shore. Try to use the smallest float that you can find as the bites are very delicate. A skinny float often works better than a round float. Adjust your float depth so your bait is just suspending above the bottom. Use small split shots to balance the float correctly.
There are several bait that you can use, most will work very effectively if the fish are around. Bait that you may want to try include dew worm, dough, bread, shrimp. Chub are not picky, in the past I have even hooked the odd fish on chocolate and hot dog! Dough is inexpensive, yet effective. To make them, mix some flour with water until dough is formed. It is wise to add in some flavour to attract the fish. Flavours that you may want to try out include curry, shrimp powder, peanut butter and cheese. When fishing, roll a small dough ball around the size of your little finger nail and thread it onto the hook. Firmly squeeze it a few times on the hook to keep it secured.
When fishing, continue moving until you find the fish. If you do not get any bite for a long time, then it is obvious there are no fish. Generally, if one fish is caught, you will encounter many. This makes it exciting, as all of us are always looking for nonstop action when fishing.
Although they are plentiful, they are not ideal for eating. These fish are extremely bony, therefore they are seldomly fished. Chub fishing in the Fraser starts in late April and continues to improve until late September. Give it a go, it may be a good way to spend your warm summer evenings.