In my angling career I have only fished for chub on a few occasions and spent limited time on the river bank in search of that monster. I have carried out a few winter campaigns catching some cracking chevins to over 5lb but never managed to break the magical 6lb mark. The river in which I have targeted the resident chub on has produced a 7lb monster but these fish are extremely rare and the average stamp is 2-3lb. I know of a very good angler who has fished my local river for many years and his PB is 5lb 15oz so with this knowledge it only made sense to concentrate on a different venue. When you think of big chub one river springs to mind with a history of producing large specimens including the record 9lb 5oz fish caught by Neil Stephens and that river is the mighty river Lea in Hertfordshire. This is not an easy venue and with numerous obstacles to overcome the challenge would be a difficult one.
Before I knew it I was heading over the Dartford crossing towards north London ready for my first session chubbing. I had planned to do three nights but due to the night fishing ban on the main river I decided to hit the lea navigation which is effectively a canal that spans many miles through the county. With only a handful of decent fish in miles of river this was going to be a difficult campaign but I was up for the challenge.
The first obstacle to overcome was the signal crayfish that have made themselves at home in the numerous waterways in Hertfordshire and many other counties in England. The signal crayfish carry a disease that affects our native crayfish and this has basically wiped them out. They are a lot larger than our native crayfish and cause many environmental issues including damaging of the river banks in which they burrow and eating fish eggs. The only good news is that the fish love them and it’s this rich diet of crayfish that has really pushed the weight of chub to the limit. Some of the fish in the Lea are huge and I wouldn’t be surprised if a double figure fish was to be caught from this river. The future looks bleak for up and coming fish with hardly any smaller fish present and with other predation issues including otters and cormorants what chance do these fish have. It’s great to see stocking programmes being carried out to hopefully save the future of our sport and the river.