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Trout from the jungle

September 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Following up on a recent visit to my syndicate trout stream, I was back again for more punishment this week. The farmer has enclosed the river in electrified fences to keep his cattle out of the river, which in turn has made fishing from the banks extremely difficult and often painful, as I found out, when the aluminium handle of my landing net made contact with the wire, while trying to stand on the thin strip of bank between the river and the fence. The intermittent shock ran up my arm, leaving me with the feeling, that I had been hit on the left elbow by a hammer. Not pleasant, when stalking a visible trout. Add to this the untended banks and overhanging trees, that require cautious and accurate casting to avoid snagging the fly. Summer working parties were promised by the bailiffs, but never arranged.

This is a typical, once productive series of pools, that is now unfishable with a fly rod. An hour with a brushcutter would transform this bank. Wading my way through this jungle, I found the room to cast, seeing the leader jag upstream and struck, dragging a minnow clear of the water.

A few more casts and the same result, another minnow. That pool could once be relied upon to produce a few dace, maybe a chub and even a trout, but now it seems to be minnow alley. I moved on.

Wading up through shallows, I made casts toward the tail of this pool, where in low water I have often had a trout. A sharp tug saw an instant response, but the nymph flew back into trees behind me. I was able to pull the branch down with my landing net and retrieve the nymph. Moving further into the pool, I searched the area with the size 18 copper headed spider, inducing movement, lifting and dropping the rod top as I brought the line back. The line went solid and a flash of gold ahead signaled a brown trout beginning an explosive fight in the clear water, as it dived for roots. It was not big, but having been catching roach of the same size recently, more powerful by far. My net was ready as it ran round the tail of the pool and I scooped it up.

A true wild brown trout of about 10 inches long, a rare sight these days on the river. The hook had dropped out in the net, being just in the tip of the nose, the trout probably activated more by curiosity, than hunger. Stepping back into the trees, I held the trout upstream in the shallows, until it kicked away.

With confidence boosted, I made my way downstream again, intending to work my way up through a section not fished this year, but found the river choked by reeds.

I continued upstream again, until I reached the pool where last time I had three perch, but this time the total was one small perch lost as I lifted off. Upstream, between the trees, a trout was rising noisily, splashing at unseen flies. Wading beyond my waist, may have got me within casting range, but the chances of extracting what seemed to be a very large fish from among the roots and fallen branches seemed very remote and I climbed back out. From the stile, I could look down into the deep pool, but the trout failed to perform, invisible in the shadows.

Time was getting on and a final dabble in a fast flowing run-off saw the leader stop and I lifted a small dace clear of the river. Close to the road, a pound plus brown waited in the stream for offers of food and I negotiated the electric fence in an attempt to make a cast, getting an electric shock and catching my line in an overhanging clump of vegetation. This is where I came in. The trout swam to safer water and I went home. Time is running out on the season. Last year I had 18 trout, compared to only a few this.

 

 

 

 

CZ452 evening HMR stake out

September 5, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Making my monthly courtesy visit to one of my farms, I climbed the hill overlooking the yard, where I have a clear view over about 300 yards to the sides and good sight of the sheds ahead of me, where the lady owner keeps hens, ducks and geese.

The wet spring and hot summer had been perfect for haymaking and the barn was stacked out, with the surplus filling the yard, giving cover for a marauding fox, that had already taken a couple of chickens and a prime egg laying duck.

This had resulted in Ruth, the owner, having to sit out on guard with a big stick to ward off the fox. The irony is, that the fox had been dumped overnight in the driveway of the farm by an animal rescue group, who left the tame animal to fend for itself. The next morning the fox was curled up on her doorstep and Ruth decided that she would feed it, hoping that, if fed, it would not worry her birds. Wrong. A week later it dashed into the yard and dragged off a duck, fatally wounding it, despite Ruth’s best efforts to revive the bird.

A fox’s nature is to kill and sooner or later, that cuddly looking animal will revert to its inborn character. Ruth was now locking her prized birds away at 5 pm each evening, as the fox was doing its rounds between then and 7 pm, just in time for my visit. I had come for rabbits with the HMR, the 4.5mm  diameter 17 grain bullet ideal for them, but a bit lightweight for a fox beyond 80 yards, but a head shot at that range would do the trick, if I got the chance.

I settled down at the top of the hill and waited for movement. It was pleasantly warm with the sun on my back, but the sight of a big rabbit trotting slowly around the edge of the barn, brought me to my senses. Following the rabbit in the crosshairs, as it approached the gate, I held fire. It stopped and I squeezed the trigger. A half jump and it toppled over, an ideal fox bait. I left it there.

Later, after a movement to my right, I spotted another rabbit entering the gateway at the top of the lane in front of the barn. This was an 120 -130 yard shot, but with no wind, easy with the HMR, the rabbit spinning round with the impact. I left that one there too. Both rabbits gained the attention of a pair of magpies, but fortunately for them they flew off. The HMR makes a mess of magpies.

I was intending to leave at 7 pm, when the extended shadow of the fox appeared behind the barn. The animal was invisible to me at first, but there was no mistaking the deep red coat, as it danced toward the dead rabbit, briefly bending down to sniff it, then slipping behind the shed out of sight. Out it came again and I concentrated on the rabbit. It stopped short and looked straight at me on the hill, turning away to the right behind the barn. I kicked myself for not taking the shot, its white bib clearly in my sights for a second.

Picking up the rifle, I ran to the right, hoping for a shot, as it passed the other side of the barn, only to see it loping off toward a stand of willows at the bottom of the field, the white tip of its tail following into the long grass.

With the sun behind me, I thought that my head and shoulders profile would be masked by the sun. OK for rabbits, but not a wily fox. I retrieved my rabbits and headed for home.

Bread punch finds chub, roach, rudd and dace on flooded river Cut

August 31, 2018 at 11:09 am

Rumours of more pollution on my local river Cut, saw me walking the bank earlier this week, but apart from oily looking pollution booms across the outlet from the town, all looked well further downstream, with plenty of chub and rudd, visibly cruising beneath the surface. It looked so good that I decided to fish the next day, removing punch and liquidised bread from the freezer ready for the morning. I awoke the next day to the sound of rain relentlessly pounding down and changed my mind, putting it all back in the freezer. By lunch time the rain clouds were gone and the yo-yo bait was back out of the freezer again.

Arriving at my chosen swim, the river was coloured and pushing through and intending to trot along the bushes on the far side, opted to try the pole, as in the flow, it would give better control, when holding back to slow down the bait. Unlike yesterday, there were no signs of cruising fish.

Setting up a 4BB stick float rig, I plumbed the depth to find over 3 feet of water in the main flow, up at least 6 inches on normal. Squeezing together a couple of firm balls of liquidised bread, I put them in about a yard upstream of the bush and watched them sink quickly, being carried away with the flow. Hoping for a chub mid water early on, I started about a foot off bottom, stopping and starting the float as it was carried along, the 6 mm pellet of bread swinging up toward the surface. The float pulled down and the elastic came out as a rudd dived back under the bush.

This was a good sized rudd and a repeat of the method saw the float slide away again with an even better rudd.

I put in another ball, followed by the float just upstream of the bush and the float sailed off. Expecting another rudd, I lifted the pole into a mini explosion, as a black tailed chub dived back to the bush, bending the pole and taking elastic in predictable style.

I don’t know if they had followed the bread tail upriver, or had just switched on to it, but another larger chub followed next cast.

Another ball, another chub, then a smaller chub, a roach and a couple of small rudd told me that I had over fed the swim. I was also missing lightning bites, a sign of small competing fish. Time to change tactics. Plumbing the depth again, I now went three inches over depth and pulled the strung out shot down to a bulk closer to the hook link. The float now carried to the lower end of the bush, held back with the bait on and off of the bottom, the trot bringing a dip, dip bite that continued without developing, until I held back hard and the float sank from view, the elastic following a decent roach as it darted across the swim.

 

Each time the float reached the end of the bush, it buried with another roach. Dropping the float on the spot did not work, they wanted it eased down, a dip or two, then slowly down. Considering the colour and pace of the river, I had not expected such a start. Even the rudd now had their heads down and quality fish followed each other.

The bites took their time, but the fish were worth catching, the float sinking again to have the pole elastic disappearing off downstream, as a large roach flashed beneath the surface. With muddy shallows and a stick standing up on my netting line, I found myself mouthing “Please don’t come off” as it stirred up the bottom. Phew, it was in the net!

What a beauty. The Cut looks no more than a muddy ditch to many, but the quantity and quality of fish cannot be matched locally, it is such a shame that industrial pollution has devastated the stocks in the last year, but here is proof of its revival.

I continued to catch on this scale for another 15 minutes, roach, rudd and chub, then as has happened many times in the past, the colour of the water changed noticeably, when a thick, light brown muddy cloud of water swept downstream, even blotting out the bottom in the shallow margins. The bites faded away, then stopped. Where the dirty water came from I have no idea, but in the past it has come from a large building site a mile upstream, where road sweepers clean mud from the roads, then discharge it into culverts, that eventually find their way into the river.

I sat the pole on its rest and had a cup of tea. Earlier I had watched a pair of kingfishers diving from an upstream branch, but now they were occupying their time flying up and down the river, passing under and over the pole, letting out their high pitched squeak each time. Maybe they were waiting for the river to clear too.

A good sign was my mid river static float pulling under, although by the time that I had grabbed the pole, the fish was gone. The next time that it happened, I was holding the pole, but I still missed the bite. Putting in another ball of feed upstream of the bushes I tried again, the river was beginning to clear and I ran through slowly, the float holding down long enough to hook a small chub.

At least the bites had started again, but they were quick darting dips, hard to hit. If the float was left to develope a bite, the bait was gone. I guessed it was small dace and tried a trick that works on other rivers, pulling the float upstream in short jerks away from the fish, teazing them to take. It worked, the first of several small dace tumbling across the river to hand, although a few also came off.

These dace are from the 1000 introduced last December by the EA, the Cut never having them in these upper reaches, due to steep weirs between here and the Thames, but if they continue to grow, they will provide good sport to float anglers. With only the occasional small roach, or rudd joining the dace in my net, I called it a day, after close to four hours, the river clearing again by the time that I was ready to leave.

Once again the bread punch method had not let me down, at times it was slow due to the influx of muddy water, but the fish had kept coming and there was a healthy net of silvers to show for an afternoon on the bank.

Low water trout stream rare visit

August 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm

It is months since the last visit to my local syndicate trout stream, a Mayfly imitation still attached to the line, from when I had left the fly rod leaning against the wall of the garage. The heat wave, plus almost total enclosure by the farmer of the river with electric fences and barbed wire, did not inspire me to bother with the ten miles drive, while more rewarding coarse fishing was available on my doorstep.

With only six weeks of the trout fishing season left, I had not had my money’s worth out of the river this year and with an afternoon free, loaded my waders and fly gear into the van. Recent rain would have increased the flow and I was quite optimistic that a few trout might be rising. Parking the van, first impressions were not good, an electrified fence stretching across the opening for the gate. Treading the wire down with my waders to enter the field, I could see the fence ran along the top of the bank for 300 yards to the next gate, making fishing from the bank impossible, passing under, or over the wire, leaving less than a foot, or two to stand on. Stealth would not be possible on this once productive beat. This field was always used for arable crops, the bank being open, but the farm has switched to beef production, the fence to keep the young bullocks from falling from the steep banks into the river.

Through the next gate, there was more barbed wire along the high bank, before I reached the cattle drink, where the cattle can pass between fields. Above this point is a long pool, from which I circled well away from the bank, as fish often lie in the shallow water close to the opposite side. Entering the water from the gravel dam, there were no signs of rising fish upstream of me and I tied on a size 18 Copper Head Spider to bounce along the bottom of the pool.

Casting up and across to a drainage pipe, the line set in a bow as it drifted down. Lifting off there was a tap on the line. Missed it. Probably a small dace. I cast again, even a dace would do to start my session. Lifting off, tap, tap, strike! The rod doubled over as a good trout gyrated around the pool on a tight line, throwing up spray. I thought it was beaten, but one look at the landing net, sent the trout off upstream toward tree roots, pulling the rod down and the small barbless hook free. Curses.

At least there are still a few trout in here. Wading in further, I cast up among the trees. Tap, tap. Missed it. In again, another tap. Strike. A tiny chub had taken the spider.

Time to move. Continuing down, over a stile, I entered a cattle free zone in the copse, the banks lined with Himalayan Balsam. When I first joined the syndicate, the bailiffs used to organise balsam pulling sessions, the members keen to help keep the banks clear, but now with the membership in decline, the upkeep of the river too has spiralled down. Clearing my way through the tall, sweet smelling plants, I reached a point where I could get down into the river, wading up to a deep pool named Dead Cert, where once an hour spent fishing into the trees, would usually be rewarded by a trout, or two, plus big dace and chub.

Casting into the deeper water to my left produced nothing from where trout and dace would often lie and I continued slowly up above the hop bush over the river. From here I could cast among the roots of the trees, allowing the spider to drift back to my position. With the leader greased to within two feet of the fly, I watched for any movements. It slid sideways and I lifted feeling the weight of a small fish. Definitely not a trout, hugging the bottom, a perch popped up on the surface.

Oh well, at least something was working. With a cold wind blowing, there was no surface activity, or any sign of rising fish, I stuck to working the pool with the nymph, another slow pull on the leader, putting a bend in the rod, a bigger perch coming to the net.

A couple more casts and the line straightened again with yet another perch, that dived deep on its initial run, then gave up the fight, drifting back to the net.

There was probably a shoal of stripies down there, but I was here for trout and headed back over the stile, trying my luck in various pools on the way back without a touch, ending up at the cattle drink. It was now spitting with rain, but sheltering beneath a tree, I covered the pool, another sharp take meeting resistance as a small dace took the nymph.

The rain was increasing and I made a break back to the van, passing again the electrified fences and barbed wire, this once delightful little fishery now resembling a prison camp. That lost trout has raised my hopes for more to come this season. At least it had not been a complete blank.

 

 

Evening tench, roach and rudd sprint

August 22, 2018 at 12:15 pm

The heatwave returned this week, blue skies giving no relief from the sun and I cancelled a trip to a big fish venue, deciding that a short evening visit to my local Jeane’s Pond in search of tench would keep me busy. The sun was still beaming down, when I arrived after 5 pm and chose a swim in the shade, although the humidity still made for uncomfortable fishing.

The surface was covered by streaks of algae, but this did not affect the fishing, other anglers already catching their share of fish. Targeting tench, I had a mixture of liquidised bread and sweetcorn, plus ground hemp and hempseed, sprinkling a handful of complete sweetcorn over the top of the pint bait container. This has been a successful mix for tench, crucians and carp at other venues in the past and was keen to see how it would work on this pond, putting in four balls along the drop off four metres out.

The hemp was an immediate draw and I guessed that someone had been using it here earlier in the day, fish swirling to the groundbait as it went in. My first few casts on the bread punch were seized the instant that it hit the surface by roach too small for the keepnet and I switched to sweetcorn on the hook and netted a quality rudd.

Despite not feeding, the float continued to disappear at speed, before the bait had a chance to reach the bottom and I continued filling my net at a pace with silver fish, roach and rudd.

In the swim to my left, the angler was steadily catching quality roach and the occasional small tench, fishing further out with running line and a waggler, using luncheon meat on the hook, reminding me that he was going for quality, not quantity like me, fishing the margin on the pole. I was catching as many good roach and rudd as him, but was blasting my way through the small stuff in the process. It took about half an hour to start to catch fish on the bottom, the float now steadily sinking out of sight with the line following, the elastic coming out with my first tench storming off.

300 of these small tench were introduced by the Environment Agency last December and have already put on weight, complimenting the original stock.

Roach and rudd, plus another small tench kept me busy, the float just sinking away each time. One bite, lifting and dipping, caused me to strike early expecting a small rudd, but the elastic came out as a large crucian carp fought deep. With it beaten on the surface, I reached for my landing net, only for it to twist off the hook.

At 7:30 it was time to go, my last fish, a big roach, the best of a quality bunch, over 7 lbs in two hours, lacking in my target tench, but a sign of a very healthy water.

 

 

Bread punch tench and crucian carp bonus

August 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm

When thunder, lightning and hail forced an early retreat from Kings Pond last week, I resolved to return for another session. This week

I arrived in sunshine to find the fishery carpark with only a few vacant spaces and anglers occupying all the early pegs on the pond, having to take the long walk to the far end, before I could find an opening. This at least gave me the chance to chat to a few of the locals on my way down, most of whom were struggling for bites on pellet and maggot baits, three inch roach proving to be a nuisance. Only one tench had been taken so far, that coming to ledgered red maggots in a feeder from the opposite bank.

Not too encouraging then. This pond is billed as a premier fishery, where an average angler should catch 20 – 30 of fish in a day according to the hype, but cormorants have damaged the fish stocks in the past, hence the tapes stretched across the pond. One informant said that there used to be many chub in the pond, but they were ideal cormorant fodder, the club now only stocking with tench and crucian carp.

Most of the other swims had an attractive clump of lilies either side, but this one was open with a small lily bed to my left. I prefer open water for the pole, giving more of a chance to control a running fish. First catch a fish.

Ready to use the bread punch, I plumbed up and found the inside shelf extended four metres out, a bit further than I would have wished, going from three to five feet deep with a steep drop off. I started with a ball over the drop off and another a metre further out, casting the pole rig in between the two with a 7 mm bread pellet on a size 14 hook, the depth set just off bottom. The float sat for a couple of minutes, then a tell tale ring spread from the float antenna, before a dip and a slow sink away, lifting into a roach.

A nice sized roach to start. Back into the same spot again and an identical bite, but this time the elastic stayed out with a better fish pounding away, an even better roach coming to the net.

A couple of smaller roach followed. Bites were slow to develope, but positive steady pull unders. Putting in another small ball of liquidised bread, I cast into it and watched the float slide away and lifted into a fish that powered away keeping deep, taking elastic. Thinking small tench, I was surprised to net a small perch. Taking on the drop, the perch obviously mistook the bread for a small fish. Not the first on the bread punch for me.

Small bubbles were now bursting over the baited area and I added another six inches to the depth on my float. The float sank immediately and the pole bent over into a good fish that fought hard and deep, throwing up bursts of bubbles as it ran along the bottom, the elastic doing its job of buffering each run.

Breaking the pole down to the top two sections, the net was ready to slip under a fat, round crucian carp. This is what I had come for. I had caught five fish from five punches of bread in the first thirty minutes, pretty slow going for the punch, but judging from what I could see further along the pond, a lot better than anyone else.

The inside line now seemed dead, the punch getting a few knocks, but nothing positive. I put a couple of balls over to the lily bed on my left and got a bite. A small rudd had taken the bread on the way down.

Better than nothing, I shallowed up again and began to catch roach instead, casting close to the lilies. The wind had been increasing since my arrival and it now began to blow a gale, dragging the float along in the drift.

Needing to refill the bait box, I opted for a change of plan. Mixing a third of ground fish pellets to the liquidised bread, topped with a covering of boiled hemp seed, I added water to make up a stiff ground bait and put in several balls straight out in front of me between six and eight metres out, where I had seen bubbles rising. To counter the drift, I set the float a foot over depth, with two No 8 shot on the bottom. I did not have long to wait, the float sinking well out of sight, before the pole bent into another elastic stretching fish.

Brilliant, nailing the bait to the bottom was the answer, the float going away again, this time a quality roach making off with the bread.

Back out again, the float lifted and plunged from view, followed by stretching elastic. I added another length of pole to follow the fish, which made a bee line for the lily bed, turning it to then follow across to my right, a tench eventually rolling on the surface to be netted.

This tough little male tench was in perfect condition, fighting hard to escape as I tried for a photo. I had kept the pole at nine metres, dropping the float in for another instant bite and an even more powerful fish, this time a larger female tench.

In again, this time a crucian fighting hard. The fish were out there and competing for the feed, the bites being unmissable.

Then another plate of gold.

The bites were still coming, more roach and a crucian coming to the net, then another tench, this time a small male that fought for all it was worth.

The wind was still rippling the water, the float blinking in the waves, striking when it failed to appear after a couple of times. A roach bream hybrid sailed away with the line in tow.

The variety of fish continued, several bright orange rudd intercepting the bait on the way down.

Time was getting on and the tench and crucians seemed to have stopped feeding, so made 3 pm my dead line to pack up, ending the session with yet another quality roach.

At one time during the afternoon, I thought that 20 lb was on the cards, but almost as I considered it, the better fish went off the feed. The angler in the next peg came round to see my catch and seemed impressed, ringing the changes between red maggot, micro pellets and banded pellets, he had pole fished to the middle for a small tench and two crucians, plus a mix of roach and small perch since 8 am for about 5 lb. In just over four hours, I had stuck to the bread to put 8 lb on the scales.

 

 

 

 

Crucian carp and roach worth a soaking?

August 11, 2018 at 3:22 pm

The forecast said sunshine and showers between 11 am  and 12 today, but arriving at Kings Pond near Farnham, it was already raining as I tackled up before 10. A strong wind was also getting up, so I had stopped at the first peg, where there was a bit of bankside cover. Preferring not to fish under a brolly, I put on a large waterproof hooded jacket, which when sitting on my box, drapes over my legs. This was enough for any shower and anyway it’s summer, the rain is warm isn’t it?

The main problem was that, fishing the bread punch, I needed to keep my punch bread dry, so I part filled a bait box with liquidised bread for feed and cleared an area to punch the quarter slices. Replacing the lid each time.

I squeezed up a couple of balls and put them over the shelf into 4 ft of water. The bottom here is clean sand and I plumbed the depth to fish just on bottom. I started with a 5 mm punch on a size 16 hook, but was plagued by small roach sinking the float each time.

Rain was increasing, making bite detection difficult and switched over my rig from a 4 x 14 float to a 4 x 16 with a slightly thicker antenna and a size 14 barbless hook, going up to a 7 mm punch pellet. This worked, the float being more visible and I watched it hold down a couple of times before sinking beneath the rain lashed surface. Lifting in, the elastic came out as the fish kept deep out of sight, until close to the net, a crucian carp popped up to the top.

Not a monster, but this is what I came for, the pond noted for it’s crucians and tench. I was beginning to have my doubts though, a passing angler on his way home, complaining that he had been there since 6 am without a fish. The pond had been dead during the heatwave and he had hoped, like me, that the recent rain would perk things up. He was using pellets, I was on the bread, which in difficult conditions gives me an edge. The elastic was out again, this time a nice roach coming to the net.

The larger pellet of bread was still being attacked by small roach and I was surprised, when a lift bite saw the elastic stretching out across toward the opposite bank, this fight different to a roach or crucian. Soon this fish was on the surface, its dorsal fin clear before sliding into the net.

This was a very shiny fish, a brief appearance of the sun glinting off its scales. It was very pale, more like a silver bream, roach hybrid, than the usual roach bream hybrid. It may have been a european ide, the Farnham AS even stocking barble into this pond, so why not ide?

The sun was short lived, the wind increased and in the distance could hear thunder rolling towards me, then flashes of lightning. The rain hammered down again and I hunkered down beneath my hood.

The first I knew that the float was gone, was the elastic zooming out of the pole tip heading for the lily bed opposite. This was a carp, or one of the fabled barble and I turned the pole to counter the run, the pole bending round. The fish rolled, then headed back in my direction and came off. What a let down, a decent sized fish would have been a just reward for sitting out in this storm. The hook was still there and I baited up with another three balls spread out in front of me, then sat out the worst that the weather could throw at me.

The wind eased and I dropped the float over the baited area, the float sinking away after a minute of dithering. This time I was back in control as a decent crucian fought deep under my feet, the hook dropping out in the landing net.

I made no mistake about the next bite, a broad healthy roach powering away, pulling out the elastic.

The wind began gusting, with steady big rain drops hitting the surface and I could hear thunder in the distance. When the float went down, I decided that this was going to be the last fish, another roach coming to the net.

As the rain began to pound down, I tried to pack up, the storm arriving like a tornado, with thunder, lightning and hail.

The storm was overhead and feeling vulnerable I retreated to a bush, that gave some shelter from the wind, but no protection from a lightning strike. With the rain now running from my jacket soaking my legs, I began throwing bits of tackle into bags. I would sort it all out later.

Pulling my net from the water, it now felt warm to the touch, tipping my fish into the landing net for a quick photo, before returning them.

Walking back to the van, the sun came out again, but too late for me. Arriving home early, my wife spoke of one short five minute shower at 11 am, while I had suffered all morning. At least the weather forecast was right for somebody.

 

 

 

 

Tench miss the point at Braybrooke

July 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm

A weekend of rain had cooled everything down, but a strong wind was blowing by 3 pm, when I arrived at Braybrooke Park to fish Jeane’s Pond this week.

Reports of tench and crucian carp coming out, saw me liquidising some frozen sweetcorn to add to my feed, while I also boiled up half a cup of hemp seed to go in the mix.  On the bank, half a pint of liquidised bread, was the base for my feed, sprinkling over some grains of sweet corn, mixing in the liquidised sweet corn and hemp to make four firm balls, that I put in over the shelf 4 metres out, two in front and two in a line toward the lily bed, watching the balls sink quickly to the bottom. For bait I had bread punch slices, sweet corn and some ready prepared tares, which I had bought online, being disappointed that they were no bigger than the hemp seed. I prefer tares that are at least twice as large as the hemp feed. I also had a tub of soft hooker pellets. Used to only bread as bait, it would be interesting to find out what was best on the day, if any?

Within minutes of the feed going in, the surface was a mass of bubbles bursting on the surface and I tackled up a 4 x 16 float, with the shot grouped a foot from the size 14 barbless hook in an attempt to get through “the small stuff” near the surface. A double punched 7 mm pellet of bread was dropped in off the end of my pole and I watched the bait fall through, only to see the float rise and skate off. Expecting a tiny roach, the elastic shot out as I lifted into a quality rudd.

Next drop in the float settled and sat for a minute, then sank away, again firm resistance, this time a roach swinging in to my hand, the size 14 holding firm in the top lip.

More roach and rudd followed, many chasing the bread down. I gave the tares a try, their size more suited to a size 16 hook, but the big hook did not bother the small roach that grabbed the tare. I loose fed a few grains of sweet corn and the rudd came swooping back in, the corn on the hook being attacked immediately, the float zooming off. Surprisingly I missed most of these bites, despite the big hook, the occasional good rudd being landed. Several times a small pike chased my fish to the surface in panic, but I lifted them all clear of its teeth.

I went back on the bread, more roach, then the float bobbed and stayed down as a small, but strong fish fought back. It was a tench, probably one of the 300 stocked last year.

Note the wasp on my hand, the liquidised sweet corn had them crawling all over the bait box, waiting to be crushed by a well positioned plummet. The surface was still a mas of bubbles, the occasional eruption a clear sign of a carp, or larger tench on the feed, but they could not be tempted by bread, corn, or pellet, the float rocking on the surface with the disturbance. The float kept going under, anticipating an epic battle, but even these quality rudd and roach were an anti climax.

The corn, pellet and tare all gave missed bites, the only consistent hook bait being the bread.

I still rang the changes and a big piece of corn attracted a bite that brought out the elastic, that convinced me that a better tench had taken at last, but no, a golden round shape flashing deep, proving to be a nice crucian carp.

I have had a crucian on my last three visits to Jeane’s, it’s a shame there are not a few more, as they fight well in the deeper water. It was now close to 6 pm and I had set my self a three hour time limit to get home for tea and bang on time I connected with my last fish, another quality roach.

Had I learned anything from these bait changes? The bread seemed to hook every time, but even the tiniest of roach and rudd would take the 7 mm punch. I have punches to 12 mm, maybe a much bigger punch on a heavier pole float will get the bait down better. The sweet corn got bites all the time on the bottom, but what looked like definite big fish sinkaways were missed. The tares worked, but only brought fish of a few ounces at best. The pellets were often ignored, but this may have been a different story if I had been feeding them.

It had been a busy three hours of fishing, throwing back many smaller fish, a quick weigh up putting just under 8 lbs on the scales. All the fish were returned in the landing net with no casualties.

Roach and rudd defy the heat at the weir

July 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

The effort of loading my fishing gear into the van, was enough to induce an all over sweat, as 32 C temperatures continued across southern England this week. Heeding advice by the Met. Office to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, I had decided that a couple of late afternoon hours in the shade at the weir on my local river, would be enough to see how the lower end of the fishery had recovered from the 2017 pollution, my last outing there this February producing not a single bite.

Having unloaded and pulled the trolley 200 yards to the weir swim, it was a relief to get my tackle box in position out of the unrelenting sunshine and sit down. I set up my 14 ft Browning match rod, to fish a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float, with bread punch on the size 14 hook. This is my usual rig for this pool, where big chub, roach and the occasional carp could be expected in the past, but today it was all about, what would be biting, if anything. There was very little flow coming down the river to my left, the depth a foot down on normal, while the outfall from the town water treatment works was pushing as hard as ever, creating an eddy that extended well upstream beneath my feet.

A couple of balls of liquidised bread were dropped into the middle and I saw them carried back over to my bank by the eddy. There is usually enough flow to keep the feed and the float down the middle here, the inside bank so full of snags, that it is fished at one’s peril, although worth a few trots to start with, due to a few resident chub being ready to take the bait before the snags do. The biggies were not there, but a 3 oz chub buried the float first cast. A cast to the centre of the foam and the float was gone again, this time a small rudd swinging to hand. In again and now a small roach. A couple more balls went in and the float bobbed a few times and dragged under. A gudgeon came to hand.

These have gone from the upper section of the river, but this little fellow was a welcome sight. I tried a trot along the edge of the foam, holding back in the rapid flow, feeling the line tighten against my finger as the float sank. Bang! This was a better fish, fighting hard across the weir stream, a nice roach having taken the 7 mm pellet of bread.

This is what I had been hoping for, there were still some decent roach here. My next trot through the foam seeing the float plunge as an even larger roach fought for freedom.

I had swung the previous roach in, but this time made the effort to lean out over the high bank with the landing net. These roach have always been infected with the black spot virus, not found elsewhere on the river.

Rudd are supposed to be still water fish, but these prefer the fast aerated water of the weir.

Continuing to feed every few casts kept the bites coming, but now I was having trouble with the punch bread. Not my usual Warburtons Blue, I had tried another supposed “stay fresh” brand that had been on offer at Tescos. From frozen, it was initially too wet and soft for the punch, then going through a rapid drying out cycle in the heat, to become too dry to stay on the hook. It came off, when held back in the flow and was stolen from the hook before a bite could develope. I began striking at every dip of the float, bumping a few better fish. The slices still had their crusts on and tearing these off and punching through the crusts gave a firm hook hold and I was back in business.

This rudd was a bonus among a swarm of small gudgeon, that took over the centre area of the pool, I had been glad to see them at first, but now they were becoming a nuisance.

This gudgeon fought like a demon, running hard into the flow and upstream into the weir stream. A few more ounces and these could be a serious contender.

The bread crusts were now gone and a double punched 7 mm bread pellet gave a dip bite, followed by an instant strike, that bent the rod tip over as another roach made off into the foaming water.

The net came out for the last time for this quality roach, as it was now getting close to tea time, my wife having her marinated chicken kebabs on their skewers, ready for the oven.

Not a massive haul, but about 30 fish in under two hours, proof enough that the river is now worth a longer session, once there has been some rain and the temperatures return to normal.

 

 

Bread punch chub dominate river revival

July 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm

A couple of weeks ago I visited my local river for a test fish, to see what species were showing, following six months of continual pollution with waste oil products, that had been washed down the drains of a business upstream of the river. Fishing at the upper end of the stretch, chub had made the running, with a few stocked roach and dace adding to the mix, plus a surprise perch, which took the bread punch bait.

Today I chose a slower, slightly deeper swim toward the middle of the venue, needing to pull out 6 ft high clumps of invasive Himalayan Balsam, before I could get close enough to put my tackle box down. Fish were already topping as I tackled up, trying to keep off the skyline to avoid scaring them off.

Intending to fish the stick float and bread punch, I put in a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread past the middle, while I was tackling up and was rewarded with a slide away bite first cast, my 12 ft Hardy rod bending well over to stop the surging run of a chub.

About six ounces, I had to swing this one in as my landing net had become tangled in the under growth.

Another swinger. Hooked firmly in the lip, the crystal bend barbless size 14 gave confidence with these hard fighting chub on light tackle.

All part of the same year class, these chub were spewing up the bread feed, the float sinking down and away each time.

This fish made a bee line for my bank in an attempt to find a snag, diving left and right in rapid succession, a slightly larger chub may have managed to pass the hook to an underwater branch.

Another slide away bite, but this time a fight that skidded across the surface. A rudd, I thought that all of these had perished in the pollution, but here was one to prove me wrong. These were so common once.

A shoal of rudd had moved in, topped by this beauty, making sure the landing net was ready, when it eventually stopped running and turning.

This used to be a roach river and it was good to see a few roach turning up, the chub were still about and I had just netted this one, when there was an almighty splash ten yards upstream.

Two dogs had seen several ducks sheltering under the tree to my right. They were not on leads and ran down the bank, full tilt into the river, scattering the ducks, appearing from under the branches in pursuit, straight through my swim. “Peter, Daniel! Come here!” Biblical names! The lady owner was standing to my right red in the face with rage, as the two spaniels circled the pool. The ducks had flown, but the dogs could not get up the bank, as it was too overgrown. They disappeared back beneath the branches into the hands of their owner on the bank. She now praised them for returning, then followed them at a pace as they ran off downstream. Not a word of apology!

My swim was dead. I had only been fishing for just over an hour and decided to pack up what I could, then move downstream. Weighing up, there was over three pounds of fish in my net. The roach were just beginning to show. It could have been a productive few hours.

With my rod still made up, I searched out another swim, but most were hidden behind a thick wall of balsam. The one I found was in a jungle of stinging nettles and I set about hacking them down with a bank stick.

I have had good results from this swim in better times and I started off as before, a couple of balls of liquidised bread, then a cast into the area. The float settled and sank and I was playing a six ounce chub.

Another chub and a rudd followed. I was back in business. Moving was a time consuming effort in oppressive heat, but an hour here would make up for the ruined swim upstream. Thunderstorms were promised, but humidity close to drizzle was all I got.

There were a few roach here too, but with little flow, their fussy bites were hard to hit.

Once again it was good to see that the rudd had spread out along the river.

The wind picked up briefly, shaking dried out leaves from the trees, which just sat there with the upstream breeze. Every time I put in a ball of feed, I could see it breaking up and spreading downstream, but the float was trapped each time by the leaves. Two out of three casts resulted in a hung up float rig.

When the bait got down to the fish, I had a bite, usually from a roach. At 1pm I made my last cast, the surface litter was making fishing difficult. The float dithered with a roach bite, dipping and lifting. I struck as the float held under for a second and the rod bent over into another chub, that ran to the far side debris. The fight was short lived and I netted it.

The fact that there seem to be more chub about, may be due to fewer roach. If these chub continue to grow on, next year could see some impressive weights of fish. I just hope that we have seen the last of the pollution.

Two nets of fish from a split session, two hours of fishing time putting over 5lbs on the scales.