The chub is far from the most popular fish, and its name is not even heard by people who are far from fishing. This is explained by the fact that the number of the chub population is several times lower than that of the same bream and roach. And this fish has no special gastronomic qualities. But among fishermen, the chub is almost the most popular “character”, because the ability to fish this extremely cunning and cautious fish is considered the height of fishing skill!
Origin of the species and description
According to its habits and morphometric characteristics, the red-finned predator is a typical fish for freshwater reservoirs in the south and central Russia. According to the accepted classification, the chub (like most fish that live in the rivers of Russia, belongs to the carp family). Considering its size, it is considered to be quite a large fish. Adults reach a size of 80 cm and a body weight of about 8 kilograms.
Other names for this fish, which have taken root among the people, are “head” or “smut”. Their origin is most likely associated with the large forehead of this fish. This feature of appearance is explained by its flattened shape. In appearance, this predator is incredibly beautiful and bright. The chub, with its scarlet lateral and dark red dorsal fins, with large scales, cast in the color of old silver (this is due to the presence of dark dots on the scales), is considered the most mysterious and cautious fish of freshwater reservoirs.
The chub is one of the most cautious and shy fish that can only be found in freshwater reservoirs. From here came the countless ways of catching it, actively and not very used by anglers. After all, the easier it is to get fish, the less people contrive in inventing ways to catch it – they use one, maximum – two or three options. But in the case of the chub, things are completely different.
Now 5-6 methods are actively used (except for poaching), and experienced fishermen can list at least a dozen! So we can safely conclude that the chub is one of the most inaccessible objects for the fisherman and, in addition to experience, skill, requires a person to have a thorough knowledge of all his features and habits.
Interesting fact: The chub is a very aggressive fish. It bites so sharply that it can easily knock the rod out of the hands of an unsuspecting fisherman. A cut chub puts up extremely strong resistance – in order not to go to the frying pan, the predator makes «candles» and other “feints” in order to go into saving snags, where it costs nothing to confuse the fishing line. According to experienced fishermen, the chub demonstrates the greatest strength during the first jerks. If you overcome them, then it will not be difficult to fish ashore. Don't be afraid to hook — the mouth of the chub is strong, it will withstand. But if you hook it badly, the fish will most likely get off the hook.
Appearance and features
Main morphometric characteristics of this fish, taken as a species standard, are:
- thick, wide, slightly thickened head, which contributed to the appearance of the name;
- cylindrical body;
- large scales tinted with a black border;
- a large mouth, studded with pharyngeal teeth (double-row), bent at the top into a hook.
Separately, we should dwell on the structure of the fins. The dorsal fin has 3 unbranched and 8 — 9 branched rays, in the anal their number is 3 and 8 – 10, respectively. The back of the chub is dark green, almost black, the sides are silvery with a yellowish tint. The pectoral fins are orange, the ventral and anal fins are dark red, burgundy, and the caudal fin is bordered with a black line.
Most often, the chub is caught “on top” (that is, on a bait without a sinker, with a recumbent float made of cork). They catch a grasshopper, a dragonfly, you can even catch a cockchafer, but the first two options are better (after all, these insects often fall into the water). A long (4 — 6 meters), light and stiff rod (made of fiberglass or composite) is used with the available guides. Use only a spinning reel with a spool suitable for winding line 0.15 — 0.20 mm in sufficient quantity.
It is impossible not to note the specific behavioral features of this fish. In autumn, chubs leave their summer residences, gather in large schools, and already in September lie down in pits for wintering. All winter they stay there in a sedentary state and do not consume food – a very original way of organizing hibernation.
This is another feature that largely distinguishes the chub from the ide, roach, bream and other representatives of the carp fish order. With the appearance of rims and with the beginning of an increase in the level of flood waters, the chub leaves its wintering grounds. Before spawning, the population of these fish divides into small flocks and intensely begins to fatten their body weight.
Where does the chub live?
Chub prefers rivers with high and medium flow rates, rifts, whirlpools and cool water . In stagnant water bodies (ponds, lakes and reservoirs), this fish almost never occurs, preferring to leave them in tributaries. Slowly flowing waters are avoided by the fish. Accordingly, it is almost impossible to find it in the lower reaches and estuaries, although the chub is usually numerous in the upper reaches.
Sometimes it settles in the same places with trout and grayling, where other representatives of the carp fish order (with the exception of the minnow) are practically not found. The chub prefers areas with a sandy and rocky bottom, but this fish does not linger in earthy and shady places. Chub often goes to rifts, sandbanks; hides in pools and in the coastal zone, under willows hanging over the water (from them it is much easier for him to pick up insects that have fallen into the water). Of particular interest is the dense underwater snag.
Taking into account territorial preferences, the rift area is recognized as the optimal hunting place for chub. At the same time, there are anglers who make a serious mistake: they stand directly on the rift itself, thereby dispersing the fish. After all, the chub stays most often near the rift – a little higher or lower than it (hiding behind shelters: stones, a boulder, a water curtain). It would be more correct to be located 20–30 m from the rift, gradually moving away from it by 10–15 m downstream.
Now you know where the chub is found. Let's see what this fish eats.
What does a chub eat?
The main items on the chub menu are air insects, young crayfish, small fish and fry, as well as frogs. At the same time, the main factor determining the diet of chubs is the size of the fish. The larger the chub reaches, the brighter it manifests the habits of a predator. And by the time it reaches puberty, this fish becomes a furious aggressor, preferring to hunt small chasing fish (most often large and medium-sized individuals of bleaks and minnows become prey for the chub, because they are the favorite delicacy of the river predator).
But most often, the chub diversifies its diet – “the menu” includes flying insects and their crawling larvae, which, by the will of fate, landed in the water, as well as worms, mollusks that do not have a strong shell, tadpoles, young and adult frogs (a separate delicacy is frog and fish caviar), as well as mice and crayfish. Large chubs pay special attention to molting crayfish — obviously, for softness, since crayfish in this period are deprived of a shell. At the same time, “defenseless” crayfish are especially careful during molting, so it is not so easy for chubs to feast on arthropods.
Chubs do not disdain plant food. The habit of eating insects that have fallen from trees and bushes has taught chubs to swallow even berries and fruits that fall into the water. Chub do not refuse bread bait – even if the goal of the fisherman is to attract other fish. From all this, one not entirely logical conclusion suggests itself – the chub can be considered an omnivorous fish, but at the same time – an uncompromising predator.
Character and lifestyle features
The first time from the moment of emergence from spawning, the larvae are located near the coast, mainly in quiet places, mostly even in the grass, near marinas and rafts. As they grow older, the young begin to move closer to the middle of the river, although at the same time they still avoid the rifts favored by large chub, willingly nest near piles and reeds.
Closer to autumn, underyearlings go to the depths. The shoals, in which the young are going, are very large at first – they include several hundred, and even thousands of fish, but the population of the young is thinning very quickly. After all, there are many other predators in the river, for which the chub is the same prey. And gulls are not averse to eating fresh fish.
Young chubs are mostly vegetarians – due to the lack of extensive hunting experience and the morphometric parameters necessary for catching large fish, fish mainly eat algae, larvae, as well as adults insects in the water. In the summer, when the young grow up, they already switch from plant foods to the consumption of crustaceans and mollusks.
In spring, chubs swim even closer to the shore, because the diet of these fish is replenished with a “real delicacy” — earthworms that find themselves in the river with the onset of floods, as well as “high-calorie” May beetles and other insects. In autumn, large individuals actively eat herbivorous fish and hunt frogs. And in order to store more fat for the winter, the chub dares to start hunting voles and other small mammals.
An interesting fact: Behavioral features also leave their mark on the nature of the biting chub. The chub pecks most greedily in the spring, in the second decade of May, and with the onset of the first days of autumn, when it is already a little colder. In winter, its biting weakens by an order of magnitude, however, at the beginning and at the end of the icing period, there is a slight increase in fish activity.
Social structure and reproduction
Puberty in chubs occurs at the age of 4-5 years. Spawning occurs “in portions”, the fish for the implementation of this process prefers the riverbed and rocky rifts. Spawning time lasts from the beginning of May to the end of June. Despite the extremely high fecundity, the chub population is not as numerous as roach, crucian carp or bream.
This fact is explained by the fact that most of the laid eggs are carried away by the course of the unfertilized river (as already mentioned above, the chub settles only in water bodies with a fast current, and a high percentage of egg death is a consequence of the choice of such a place of residence). In addition, the lion's share of chub caviar is eaten by other fish, and not only by predators. It has been scientifically proven that crucian carp, bream and roach are the champions in destroying alien caviar in the river.
In order for the spawning of the chub to begin, the temperature of the water in the river must reach certain values. For example, in the southern regions of Europe, chub spawning begins at a water temperature of 12-17 ° C, mainly in the month of April. In the northern European regions, spawning time comes in May-June (where the water warms up later). Fish spawn always close to their habitats. The fecundity of the chub is high even in comparison with minnows and crucians – on average, the female sweeps away from 9.7 to 200 thousand eggs during the spawning period. The sexual maturity of the chub occurs at the end of 2-3 years of life, when the individual gains a weight of 100-200 g.
Natural enemies of the chub
Adult chub individuals (who have reached 2-3 years of age) feel quite at ease in all water bodies with a strong current, sandy or rocky bottom. By and large, these fish have no natural enemies left, because a large predator itself can rebuff anyone (and it is unlikely that any fish will want to mess with a 5-kilogram chub). But it also happens that the chub is forced out of its hunting grounds by more organized and voracious competitors, such as ide and asp. Again, all of the above points are valid only for adults.
Interesting fact: The chub is a valuable object of amateur and sport fishing. As noted earlier, it is very difficult to catch a chub, because the fish is very cunning and quickly “bites through” all human tricks.
But caviar, larvae and even young animals are actively eaten by all other predatory (and even herbivorous) fish, as well as some birds. As a result, it turns out that those fish that the chub eats with pleasure in adulthood are the main enemies of young predators! After all, it is they who destroy the bulk of the caviar. Taking into account the enormous percentage of death of fry, only a few survive to 2 years (puberty). But even so, the primary danger to adults comes exclusively from a person for whom catching a chub is considered a matter of honor.
Population and species status
Despite the fact that the chub population cannot be called numerous, this fish is not listed in the Red Book. The chub does not represent any commercial value (due to the fact that it is very difficult to catch it – the chub skillfully bypasses even fishing nets),
The species is widely distributed in Europe and Asia Minor. In northeastern Europe, the range of the chub reaches the Northern Dvina, in Asia Minor – to the Euphrates River. In the Kuban, Terek, Kura and other Caucasian rivers, a close “relative” of the chub familiar to us lives – the Caucasian chub. It is not much different from its “European counterpart”. This applies to both morphometric and behavioral characteristics. The fish also prefers water bodies with fast and medium currents, almost never settles in lakes.
There are many techniques for catching chub, and they are actively used, namely:
- float and wire rods ;
- practiced (less often) overtightening.
The bait can be what the chub eats in everyday life – insects, their larvae, worms and even fry. In the overwhelming majority of cases, fishermen use a fly as bait – according to them, the chub bites on it best. In addition, the use of a fly as bait has another indisputable advantage, namely: it easily floats on the water and does not sink down, and given that chub fishing usually does not involve the use of a sinker, the fly's stay on the surface is doubly important. Why is that? It's very simple – this bait lures fish the best!
Some fishermen practice spinning fishing using small wobblers and spinning lures. True, in this case, the chub is more often an accidental prey – with a higher probability of a bite, you can wait from a pike or a large perch.
The chub is a river predator that does not disdain plant food. The fish is considered especially cautious and shy, therefore it is of great interest for amateur fishing. Chub fishing is considered “aerobatics”, because the implementation of this process requires special skills and knowledge of a number of techniques.