That may sound daft, for they are not the best of conditions for fishing; not normally anyhow, but when youíre throwing slugs and lobs to chub in water that has been warmed by a summer sun it seems as though they are the best conditions at times. I know I enjoy the fishing when itís like that, and while the chub are not keen to chase after bread and luncheon meat beneath a bright sky, in tap-clear water, they will often gobble up slugs, lobs and wasp grub and cake with the appetite of a pack of starving hyenas. And I especially like summer chubbing in late summer, the end of August and through September, for the chub are well over spawning and in fine condition.

Incidentally, chub fishing on the Severn is most certainly getting better. This is due in no small part to the barbel boom being over, in that scores of these magnificent fish are not multiplying like rabbits to establish a colony. Thatís over now. They are just another Severn species, well established, their numbers more or less settled, and a range of sizes from babies to fish in double figures. Only the higher reaches of the upper Severn are still undergoing change, with barbel steadily colonising the area. It has taken the barbel several decades to settle as well established citizens of the Severn, but in the process they played havoc with the food availability and spawning sites for the already established species, particularly chub. Our friendly chub suffered for years, but now that the barbel have stopped their rampaging the chub are making a come-back with a vengeance. Severn chub weighing over 5lb are no longer a wistful dream. They are such a reality now that I fish there almost expecting to catch one, rather than merely hoping.

When I arrived at the river not long after first light, the sun was already hauling itself over the horizon into a sky that hadnít a cloud to call its own. Though to see me walking over the first meadow with my head hanging down you would have thought I carried all the troubles of the world on my shoulders. Not so, Iíd had a hard time finding slugs the day before, and I was looking for more in the dew-damp grass as I walked to the river. In fact, the ones I had found were on the small side, and although I was confident I would catch on them, I much preferred the real big ones that go three inches in length and as fat as your thumb. I found one or two slugs as I crossed the field, but still no real big ones.

I decided to walk the length of the mile-long stretch and begin fishing at the far end, so I made my way across the fields, torn between looking at the river for fish and watching the ground for slugs. Believe me, I was sorely tempted more than once to drop in a swim before I got to the end of the stretch, so inviting did some of the swims look. But I resisted the temptation - just! The walk, though, was most enjoyable, for this is part of the pleasure of summer chubbing, you carry the minimum amount of tackle so that you are comfortably mobile.

At the limit of this length of the Severn is a wood, where the banks are high and overgrown with all kinds of dead and broken trees amongst the dense undergrowth of nettles and docks. At the bottom of the high bank a sharp bend forms a pool on my side of the river. In winter the pool, which is about 6ft deep, fishes well. Now, in the warmer months, I knew that the sand bar, that sloped up from the pool to the far bank, would be favourite, for the chub love to get the sun on their backs - providing there are no menacing silhouettes or footfalls on the bank to drive them back into the deeper, darker water. I put the rod together out of sight of the swim (it was difficult to do it in sight of the fish the undergrowth was so dense).

The rod was a slim, 11ft long, Avon-type one with a spliced-in quiver-tip. It has a nice through action which gives me lots of pleasure when playing fish with it. The rod may not be the best one in the world for bullying fish out of snags, but it more than makes up for it with pleasure power. The line was 6lb Sufix Magic Touch, straight through to a size 6 Penetrator. I had no sliding link or lead on the line, relying instead on pinching SSG shot somewhere above the hook when weight was needed. Where exactly above the hook the shots would go would depend on the bait, ie, the more buoyant baits like wasp cake would need the shot to be a mere two of three inches from the hook, while a slug or lobworm needed either no shot at all, or two or three a foot or more from the hook.

I crept almost to the waterís edge and sat behind a big clump of nettles. With polarising glasses I stared at the sandy bottom, willing my eyes to adjust. Yes, two grey shadows slid out of the dark water, half way across the sand bar, and hovered in the current, quickly followed by two more, smaller fish. The first two looked about 4lb to 4 1/2lb apiece, which is about average for the upper Severn, and the smaller ones no more than 3lb or so.

Using forceps, I clamped hold of a slug and slipped the hook through its tail, a black juice oozing out of the penetration points. Not very pleasant, but undoubtedly a lot to do with the attraction slugs have for chub. With one SSG shot pinched directly on the line about a foot from the hook, I cast upstream, three yards higher than the chub, with the intention of watching the slug trundle down to where the chub hovered. It didnít. So I reeled in, dug a thumb-nail into the split and removed the shot, casting to the same spot again. This time the slug did what I wanted it to, and hopped slowly over the sand, right towards that big, chubby mouth. One of the smaller chub, a three-pounder, or thereabouts, shot at the slug, sucked it in, and tore off downstream all in the blink of an eye. Whack! The quiver-tip bent round, followed by the top section of the rod, before I could react and halt the fish in its tracks. If I hadnít seen the fish, and not landed it, I would have sworn it was a lot bigger than it was. But thatís slug fishing for chub. When they want it, they have it, and they donít mess around. It wasnít the kind of swim you could disturb and expect the chub to feed again for another half hour or more, so I slipped the fish back and made off for the next swim.

At the next swim was a big old crack willow that leaned and threatened to fall into the river, but which was handy for me to use as cover as I looked for chub in this narrow section. The far bank was undercut, only about 4ft deep, but dark and reassuring under the thick bushes that overhung the water. The bottom shelved to my own bank, over sand and gravel. A slug was hung onto the 6ís hook by its tail and cast deep into the undercut, the two SSG not heavy enough to stay there, which was exactly what I wanted. A second cast, then a third, and only the slug tripping out of the dark water and over the sand, and not a chub in sight. The fourth cast, a little further downstream, where a raft of twigs had gathered around the tip of an overhanging branch, produced two small plucks on the quivertip, but the slug remained intact.

Another cast produced the same result. Very small chub, or dace, I thought, and cast again. This time I held the line with the rod pointing at the bait, feeling for the bite. Sure enough, I felt the line tighten slightly, so I fed it some slack, and the next thing I knew the line had been snatched from my fingers. But the strike met no resistance and I brought back an empty hook. I decided to change the bait, for although the chub was willing to take slug it could be wary now that Iíd tried to snatch its prize from under its nose. So I threaded on a big chunk of wasp cake, added another SSG shot, and cast to the same spot. Within seconds the rod was bucking as a chub of possibly 5lb struggled to stay in the water. It tried several times and then failed, sliding over the net looking sorry for itself, not even a free meal for its trouble, for the slug had been spit up the line. This one was worth weighing and tipped the scales at 5lb 3oz.

I made my way up the river fishing every likely looking swim, including two that were no more than a foot deep, flowing quite rapidly over bright green streamer weed, where the chub chased the slug as it rolled across the bottom and beneath the weed. I had two 4-pounders on wasp grub from a swim where I could have caught a bagful had I fed it with mashed brown bread with lots of wasp cake squeezed into it. But that was not the idea today. It was single baits and no feed, lots of walking and casting into lots of swims and hoping for a big one. The 5.3 chub was the biggest of the day, which was big enough to keep me happy and Iíd had enough fun to cause me to go home a with a big grin and a warm, inner glow. But thatís fishing, and when it all comes together thereís nothing better.