As well as brown trout, South London’s River Wandle is home to a variety of coarse fish. Many of these species I’ve never caught before, so today I planned to target chub. I’m not much of a coarse fisherman – and certainly don’t have the appropriate kit – so I tried out a hybrid method: Fly rod and line with a small hook and an earthworm.

I was admiring some large trout in a section of the river I frequently visit. These fish – easily two pounds – seldom deign to take a fly (they prefer white bread). Along came a Polish chap, and we chatted as fisherman do. I mentioned my chub-hunt and he directed me to a stretch I’d not considered before.

This is a canalised arrow-straight length of river. It didn’t look typical trout habitat; that’s why I hadn’t tried it previously. Nevertheless, the flow was good and the water clear. In the sandy patches between the weed I could see shoals of small chub (and surprisingly the odd trout too). I didn’t bother taking off my size 18 nymph, just threaded a small worm onto it. Within a few flicks I had on my first chub.

Chub, Squalius cephalus

I say ‘chub’ now. At the time I was torn between in being a dace or a chub. Having seen neither before close up, I was relying on the handy id phrase “Dented Dace. Convex Chub” which refers to the species’ dorsal and anal fins. The problem was, I could just about convince myself that it was either. With some help from the Fishing The River Wandle Facebook page, I can confirm it is a chub.

Concave or Convex?

I moved upstream to a small bridge, and cast amongst the weeds. A man came over the bridge. “There’s no fish in there” he said, a common claim by non-fishermen who don’t own a pair of polarizing glasses.

My second fish proved harder to come by. In some fast flowing water coming from a culvert at the top of this section, quite a number of chub and trout were holding position in the flow. Maybe some gudgeon too? My free-lined worm was snatched away in the current, so I used a small tungsten worm-weight. Still, it was tricky to keep the bait where the fish were. Eventually a lobworm on a size 10 hook took this larger chub.

Chub, Squalius cephalus

The sun was setting. Insects were biting. I made for home.

This trip has inspired me to explore some new sections of the Wandle.


Total Catch:

  • 2 Chub