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Bread punch quality chub and roach season closer

March 15, 2019 at 12:31 pm

As storm Gareth swept across England toward the North Sea, I made a last minute decision to fish my local river whatever its condition this afternoon. This was my final chance for some winter chub, it being the last day of the UK river season. The day had begun with heavy rain, but bright sunshine and strong winds were drying the roads as I drove into the carpark. Unloading my tackle onto my trolley from the van, I was unsure of the state of the river, but arrived at my swim after 2 pm to find a pacey flow, but good colour, fining down after the rain.

Setting up an ali stemmed stick float, I plumbed the depth to find a channel three feet deep running along the opposite bank in the main flow of the river. Throwing in two balls of liquidised upstream of my swim, I cast into the sinking cloud as it swept by, missing a rapid bite as it passed the tree downstream. The 5mm pellet of bread was gone from the size 16 hook, so I rebaited and trotted through again at half speed. This time the float buried with the line following and my 12 foot Hardy rod bending into a hard fighting chub.

I put in another ball and repeated the process, the float dipping then diving. In again, but this time the bouncing of my rod top indicated a good roach, taking my time to bring the fish to the net.

More roach followed, putting in a small ball every other cast keeping the bites coming every trot. This one another specimen.

The roach were getting bigger, this one rushing off downstream like a chub, but that characteristic tumbling fight needing caution to avoid the barbless hook coming free.

There was no doubt about the next bite, the rod bending round when contact was made, as a big chub charged off down stream. The chub turned and swam back upstream hugging the bank, then passed me at speed making for roots on my bank. It nearly reached its goal, but side strain pressured it away to turn downstream again, eventually getting its head up to the net.

What a lump. This chub far exeded my expectations from this small river, having taken a tiny 5mm pellet of bread. The feed was breaking up into small particles and the fish were swooping through the cloud sucking it in.

The roach were still there including another clonker.

I had been missing bites from the off, this small dace hanging onto the bait as it ran through the swim.

Another decent chub stormed off before turning back to be netted.

The pace now picked up and the river turned orange, the local building site was washing off their roads again, the tankers discharging into holding ponds, that are full due to the storms, which then overflow into the river.

The bites stopped. Following the clouds of feed down had no result. It was time to have a snack and a cup of tea. After fifteen minutes the river began to clear again, the float sank and I was playing another chub.

I was back in the groove again catching roach among nuisance dace and mini chublets, but then a bigger roach tested my rod again, when it ran away at the bottom of the trot, needing a rapid backwind.

Having netted this good roach, I cast in again, just holding back to settle the float, when it sank away downstream and the rod was at full bend again with a chub under my rod tip, backwinding to ease the strain on the hook, biding my time to get it to the net.

It was now approaching 5pm and the wind was picking up again. The main road a hundred yards away was already filling up with traffic and I decided to pack up in ten minutes time. A small chub came to the net, then next cast it was action stations again as a another big chub made off downstream against the backwind.

With this chub in the net I packed up. I have had many memorable last days of the season, but this one is up there among the greats.

A pint of liquidised bread and half a slice of medium white were all that I needed for three action packed hours.

Thirteen pounds of quality fish from a river that was destroyed by pollution a few years ago.

Roach bread punch Braybrooke backstop

March 12, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain, rapidly raised river levels over the weekend and with only strong winds forecast for Monday, before yet more stormy conditions in the days ahead, I took the opportunity to check out my local river. With the river season about to end on Thursday, it was now or never for a chance at some winter chub. One glance said it all, the weir was at full flow, while the feeder stream was a churning mass of brown water. The river would have to wait for the new season in June and decided to fall back on Jeane’s Pond in Braybrooke Park.

On arrival I found another pair of refugees from the river huddled in the wind, the bright sunshine counteracting the wind chill slightly. They were fishing running line waggler rigs with maggot bait and seemed content catching three inch rudd.

I moved round the pond to where the north west wind blowing over my left shoulder, was defused by a high bank and set up a pole to fish the bread punch. I had not fished this peg before and was surprised how shallow it was, the shelf extending two yards out at two feet deep, only dropping another six inches further out. I considered moving round to a deeper swim, but it was comfortable out of the full force of the wind and opted to stay put. Setting the float at a few inches over two feet I was ready.

Putting in a couple of small balls of liquidised bread, one over the shelf and another a few feet further out, I dropped the rig in with a 5 mm bread pellet on the size 18 hook over the second ball, letting the wind bring the float round to the shelf. This will usually result in a bite, but this time nothing. No bites for ten minutes, apart from a couple of tremours of the float antenna. Fish were there, but not that interested in feeding. There had been a lot of sleet and hail overnight, maybe the water was too cold?

Ten minutes is a long time to go without a bite on the punch, so I tried something else. In the past on frozen canals, a sprinkling of vanilla powder had upped the bite rate, so this was my next move, adding water to make a sloppy mix, that I put in with a couple more balls. Dropping the float in over the sinking yellow cloud, the float trembled and sank.

Only a small roach, but better than the other pair were catching. As I swung it in there was a cheer from the other side “At least you haven’t blanked!” I cheered back. Over the feed the float dithered and sank again, this time the pole elastic pulling out of the tip. It was a nice roach fighting deep, but breaking down to the top two sections, I guided it into the landing net.

“Nice one!” came the call from the others. The vanilla seemed to be working, the float going down as the float cocked each time. Mostly ounce fish with the occasional better roach.

I added a couple more balls, taking a few fish off the shelf edge, then back to the outer line. The float went down, but before I could strike the elastic zoomed out. A pike had taken the roach. I had seen fish jumping ten yards to my right, now one had moved in and was stretching the elastic toward the middle, curving round to my left, before it came off. The hook was still in place. A couple more balls went in and I followed with the float.

A small rudd came to the net, then nothing. The pike was back in the swim putting the fish down. I got out my sandwiches and poured a cup of tea. It was a sunny, if breezy day and it was better than working.

Fish began jumping to my left, the pike had moved on and I began to catch again. I fed the last of my bread mix and fished over it. The bites were slow to develope, but the fish were bigger.

A few more rudd began taking on the drop, one quite decent.

More fish, then the pike returned chasing a roach, but not before I swung it out of reach. This was a nuisance, hook it and I could lose my rig, leave the pike alone and it might go away. I picked up my flask of tea and walked round for a chat with the other anglers. They were still catching very small rudd on their maggots, with the odd decent fish. One had lost a large specimen, possibly a tench. They were happy enough.

Returning to peg 16, I continued to catch again, fishing over my feed until 3 pm. It had seemed a long four and a half hours, the sun was down behind the trees and I was getting cold.

The vanilla seemed to have worked, bringing fish into the swim, but it also seems to have brought a pike with it.

These silver red fins had kept the float going under all day.

Blackwater bread punch roach

March 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Temperatures in the 60s, broke all the records for February this week and I made an effort to get to my club’s stretch of River Blackwater, while the sun shone. Having unloaded my tackle from the van, it was early afternoon, when I walked downstream looking for a suitable swim, finding just what I was looking for on the outside of a bend.

A tree had fallen into the river, diverting the flow and I set up my Hardy twelve foot float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stem stick float to trot down to the ivy covered snag. I could clearly see the bottom and initially set the float to two feet deep, but with the flow dragging it under, brought the depth down to eighteen inches. Very shallow, but with a small holly bush between me and the fish, I punched out a 5 mm pellet of bread and fed in a couple of balls, following down with the float. The float had only drifted a few feet, when it dived under and a small roach was bouncing at the end of the line.

First cast. There were three others fishing, as I walked to my swim and they were all without a bite, so this was a good sign. The following six trots put another four slightly larger roach in the net, before the bites stopped.


Had I fed it off already? The float now reached the tree, before it sank away again, another roach flashing in the sunlight as I set the hook. A green flash, a swirl and the rod bending over, as a small pike seized the fish, made my heart sink. It dived back beneath the sunken tree and sulked there, while I pulled the rod back under pressure. It came out, a small one of about two pounds, swimming over to the opposite side, before breaching in the shallows and cutting the two pound hook link. Pike are a nuisance to the float fisherman, putting the fish down and ruining the swim, their razor sharp teeth usually making short work of the hook line.

This is one Blackwater pike that did not get away!

I dropped a ball of liquidised bread in close to my bank, watching it break up in the current, then got out a size 16 barbless, that I had whipped to nylon only the day before, while sitting at the garden table in the sun, having made up a couple of identical Drennan stickfloat rigs at the same time. One of those float rigs was now getting a new hook, which baited with another 5 mm pellet of punched bread, was cast back in. The float sailed on untroubled, until it ran out toward the middle along the dead tree, then it sank. Fish on!

The Hardy bent round, as this small chub made the most of its first run in the pushing current, thinking it was bigger than it was, but once held, the chublet soon gave up the fight. A couple more followed, then the roach came back.

This had taken just ahead of the tree on the inside and rushed to the middle, zig zagging in the shallow water, taking my time to reel it back to the landing net. Next trot same place, another nice roach.

I was on a roll, next trot another quality roach was on its way to the net. A swirl and the pike was back, taking the roach, the hook pulling out. At this point I felt like going home, as I watched the pike slink back over to the far side to swallow the roach.

A couple more balls of bread soon got the roach going again, small ones at first, then I struck into a 12 oz skimmer bream, that rolled off the hook, just as I reached across from the high bank with the landing net. My next roach fought all the way back, this time staying on long enough for me to net.

I kept my eye on the pike for some time, eventually getting engrossed in catching roach, mostly 2 to 3 oz fish, with the odd clonker in there to wake me up.

One of the other club members had packed up and now sat down beside me, putting the World to Rights as I continued to fill the keepnet. My feed had concentrated the fish in an area just ahead of the tree, settling down to a rhythm, trot down with the flow, slow the float with a finger over the open face of my ABU 501 reel, watch the float tip bob and sink, draw back, rather than strike, then reel in.

My club mate left and with the time getting on for rush hour, I decided one more fish would do it, a quality roach topping an enjoyable session.

It had been a glorious afternoon, the low sun just beginning to lose its warmth by 4 pm.

A busy time on the punch, early on the 5 mm punch was best, but in the end the 6 mm found the better fish.

Catching at around two pounds an hour, this made a fitting end to the 2018 -19 river fishing season.

Bread punch common carp in the winter sun

February 21, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Days of double figure temperatures and a bright sunny afternoon, promised a few hours of successful carp fishing at a council owned lake a short drive from my home this week. With a car park at the waters edge, it is ideal for the casual angler, although the shallow, silt filled water is not the easiest to fish. Being a magnet for local mums with bread to feed the many ducks and Canada geese, the carp are used to bread being readily available as feed and I arrived with only bread as bait.

The council have recently trimmed the trees opposite the top of the island and I set up a float rod to fish through a gap, out into the channel. The float is a cut down antenna pole float carrying about 3 AA, the main line 6 lb and the hook link 4 lb to a size 16 barbless hook.

I mixed up a pint of coarse processed bread, adding a teaspoon each of curry powder and the same of vanilla powder, wetting this down to form sloppy balls. With so many ducks and geese around, I waited for an obliging mum to arrive before throwing the balls in three quarters over toward the island. With the ducks preoccupied on the adjacent bank, my feed was able sink onto the silt without being gobbled up by the feathered hordes.

Casting out into the fed area, I sunk the line to avoid the wind drift, the antenna soon showing signs of interest in the double punched 6 mm bread bait fished just above the silt. The float slowly sank away trailing line and I struck hard to lift the sunken line, the rod bending over into an explosive carp, that headed back over to the island snags. This was not a big fish and I held the run without any need to backwind, the clutch staying silent as the carp dashed from side to side, being brought closer to the landing net each time.

I have netted several commons to eight pounds from this small lake in the past, but I was happy with this three pounder, my spur of the moment decision to come fishing justified.

I now managed to miss a couple of unmissable bites, then striking into a tiny common, which it seems the lake may now be infested with. Back in November I had caught several baby carp, commons and mirrors and here was another nibbling at the bait.

With a few more of these micro carp returned, I decided to mix up some feed in the hope of attracting some of their larger brothers, but the extra, instead of feeding them off, brought in a greedy shoal. Each bite had to be treated like the real thing and striking into thin air, to see a tiny carp spinning on the hook was becoming tiresome.

I had gone up to a 7 mm double punched bread pellet, but this was no deterrent, the soft bait easily sucked into their mouths. The float disappeared again and I struck into a running carp. At last. It had been two hours since the last decent fish and this one was fighting harder, making long runs against the reel, stirring up a trail of black mud in its wake, then diving under the bank into the roots, eventually rolling repeatedly to the net.

About four pounds, this wild common carp made the most of its extra weight and satisfied my desire to continue; I had been sitting in the shade all afternoon and was now feeling cold. Time to pack up and head home for a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake.

 

Kingsley Pond bread punch roach and skimmer bream

February 15, 2019 at 1:51 pm

I had just finished scraping the ice from the windscreen of my van, when my friend Peter arrived to join me for the drive to Kingsley Pond in East Hampshire. Peter is a member of Oakhanger AC and I would be fishing on a guest ticket, available at the community shop across the road to the pond.

Bright sunshine was burning off freezing fog on the drive and we hoped that the pond would not be covered in ice as it was on our previously abandoned visit. Still shrouded in mist when we arrived, the pond seemed ice bound again, but a thin covering of algae over the still surface proved to be an optical illusion, much to our relief, having both invested a fair bit of mileage to get there.

By the time we had arranged the guest ticket and tackled up, an east wind was ruffling the surface, but this did not bother the fish, my first cast following a small ball of liquidised bread, the tip of my float dipping several times before slowly sinking away. The first few casts brought a one ounce roach each put in, then the elastic came out with a better fish staying deep, breaking the pole down to the top two to net it.

The size 18 hook dropped out in the net, all the fish so far taking a 4 mm punched pellet of bread offered under 4 g antenna float. When I plumbed the depth, I found three feet at 5  metres and I fed a couple of small balls along this line 2 metres apart, fishing out in front of me, when the wind dropped and to the right holding back in the wind.

The extra feed began to attract skimmer bream into the swim, the fussy bites reliably resulting in a slow sink away of the float, the slab sided silvers beginning to fill my keepnet.

A surprise catch was a golden rudd among the roach and skimmers.

A hard fighting roach/bream hybrid also got in on the act.

Peter had been sitting without a bite all this time, his double maggot on a running line waggler rig untouched, until a change from a size 14 hook to a size 18 and a single maggot, produced bites. Shotting the float down close to the tip, improved his chances of hooking fish, although not as effective as the bread punch and pole combination.

The down wind feed area was now full of skimmers and a small ball of feed every three fish held them there.

We set a time of 3:30 to finish fishing, despite us both catching at a regular rate, one of my largest skimmers coming just before the dead line.

In the cold water the 4 mm punch produced more positive bites, even the skimmers preferring the smaller bait.

The warm a wind hardened up the punch bread quite quickly and I had to change to fresh slices during the five hour session to avoid missing bites.

Considering the frosty start, I was pleased with the end result of about a hundred fish, the punch out fishing the maggot ten to one. Peter was happy with his day, having caught a few nice roach and a decent skimmer, while we sat within chatting distance in the sun.

Bread punch silvers brighten the gloom

February 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Heavy rain, then snow and ice, followed by more rain, had kept me away from fishing for too long and with a brief gap in the weather today, I took the short drive to my local Jeanes’ Pond in Braybrooke Park, to see if bread punch would coax the roach to feed. Bearing in mind that the pond had been covered with ice, then snow only a few days ago, I was not convinced, that I would catch, but at least I was giving it a go, instead of sitting at home staring out of the window.

On my way, I passed through a heavy shower of rain and as I tackled up, force 5 winds were driving a massive black cloud my way, blocking out the mid day sun. Scrambling for my waterproof jacket, I was just in time to avoid a soaking, as sleet filled rain hissed across the pond, keeping me pinned down for ten minutes. No sooner had the rain gone, the sun came out into a clear blue sky, my choice of the north bank being justified by the fact, that the wind would be blowing warmed surface water over to my side. That was theory anyway, the first ten minutes without a bite making me think otherwise.

My setup was a light canal antenna float, dotted down to just below the tip, a size 18 barbless hook being tied to a 1.7 lb bottom line. I plumbed the depth, seeing that a shelf dropped down to 3 feet, 4 metres out, then dropped again to 4 feet 5 metres out. I put a small ball of fine liquidised bread over each shelf, fishing over the near shelf four inches off bottom, the 4 mm pellet of bread untouched each time that I lifted out, when the float drifted up to the shelf. Another small ball over the near shelf saw the tip dip slightly, as the rig drifted into the cloud, the antenna silhouette against the surface switching on and off, then off as the float held under. I lifted and was surprised to feel the resistance of a decent fish as the pole bent with the elastic pulled clear of the tip. This was a net worthy roach, the bite indicating a much smaller fish.

Ice cold to the touch, the fish must have been barely awake, the next bite merely trembling the antenna before holding it down. These roach were generally bigger than I expected, considering the feeble bites and I settled into a slow, but steady rhythm of hooking fish, only interrupted by another short burst of rain.

The sun was reflecting on the water dead in front of me, moving across to the right as the session progressed, the tiny float tip black against the glare, switching on and off in the surface, a good bite indicator. The inside line went dead after an hour and I added depth to the float, plus another metre to the pole to fish over the next shelf, getting a bite immediately over the feed.

Not a monster, but a hard fighting roach all the same, this one of several that continued to take the 4 mm punch pellet, a step up to a 5 mm resulting in missed bites, rather than bigger fish. Waiting longer for bites, I shallowed up again and came back onto the inside line, resting the swim bringing another good roach.

Two anglers had set up opposite me fishing wagglers, but failed to catch, while I steadily lifted small roach from the cold water, the pair gone before the hour. I was now feeding very small balls every fifteen minutes, one to the left and fish to the right, then the opposite, which brought a good bite and two, or three fish each switch. Not speed fishing, but the keepnet was filling.

I began catching small rudd on the drop, a sign that the water was warming, then it went dead again. The bites had dried up, so I went back out to the far line. It was very slow, a small fish every five minutes. I had fed the inside and came back over it, but again waited five minutes for a sign of a bite, the float dipping several times before it slowly sank. I struck into a moving fish, that powered away taking out the elastic and I added another metre of pole to follow as it ran toward the old lily bed, putting on side strain, turning it to arc toward the middle. As the fish ran across in front of me, I saw that it was a small pike of about a pound, and unshipped the extra length of pole, drawing the pike across the surface against the elastic to my landing net. A roach was held across its jaws, which came free when the pike rolled in front of the net. The pike had taken the roach as I struck and not been hooked, dropping the fish by accident, or design. Apart from scale damage, the roach swam off without a second look.

I continued to fish, taking a few more small roach every five minutes, or so; maybe the pike was back. It was now 3 pm and the sun was behind the clubhouse, the air temperature dropping away, so I packed up.

Around fifty silver fish in under three hours, when the bread punch proved its worth in cold water conditions.

Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 first 2019 rabbit

January 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

A week of snow and ice was changed over night by a welcome west wind from the Atlantic and as the temperature climbed to a heady eleven degrees, loaded up my Magtech 7002 semi auto for a walk round a new permission, that bordered an existing permission gained last year. A Christmas courtesy call to the land owner, had revealed that he had control of the uncultivated 25 acres to the north of his flat pasture.

Gaining entry to the land was the hard part, an overgrown, rotted gate could not be passed without a chainsaw, but a dry ditch along the boundary, allowed me to pass beneath an overhanging tangle of branches to a more open area, the ditch taking me down into a steep sided valley. Rabbit burrows dotted the banks, some recently dug, which I noted for warmer times. More mature trees now gave access to the steep slope to my right and I climbed up through them, clumps of snowdrops pushing through the dead leaves.

Climbing to the top, the trees opened out to reveal an area of undulating unmanaged ground that stretched for half a mile, or more to the east, with bushes down toward the pasture in the south. The land to the north continued upward over a brow.

Walking ahead, there was movement in the brush to my right, as a fallow deer turned and made off over the brow to my left, followed shortly by another pair bounding away across the open ground. There was no more movement and I continued to explore, making my way down to the pasture to get my bearings, finding burrows among the bushes close to the fence on my side.

Making my way back up through the jungle of branches to the open ground at the top, evidence of rabbit droppings were everywhere, finding several communal latrines as I walked along.

Having covered 200 yards of the rough ground, I had seen enough to make a return visit in the near future, this was just a scouting session and made my way back to the trees on the skyline.

A movement ahead made me stop. Had a bird flown across the bushes? Raising the scope to my eye, I scanned the ground. Nothing. The white chest of a rabbit raised from behind a clump of grass. A fatal move. My trigger finger tightened and the rabbit flipped over backward. Still kicking wildly, a quick second shot to the head, ceased any more movement.

The Magtech .22 semi automatic had paid off again, the first shot to the upper chest had missed any vital organs, while the second to the head had made sure. After bagging this one up, I made my way back down to the roadside and the van, looking forward to richer pickings in the spring.

 

 

Environment Agency netting reveals Braybrooke pond secrets

January 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Two successful spawning years at my local Jeanes’ Pond in Braybrooke Park, had resulted in a dearth of small roach, rudd and perch crowding out the upper levels, eagerly attacking anglers’ baits meant for bigger fish. With the controlling club in close contact with the Environment Agency, it was suggested that the answer was another netting operation. The first, three years ago had seen the removal of thousands of small fish from the pond, resulting in members catches including many more quality roach and rudd.

With temperatures in single figures, I arrived mid morning to find the netting well under way, with two Agency operatives up to their chests in freezing water. The net had been walked round the pond, until it met the fixed end, then slowly drawn in to a tight circle, the bottom of the net drawn up to trap the fish.

Hand nets were continually dipped into the boiling mass of fish and passed up in a fireman’s chain to a water tank on the back of the Agency Landrover, all fish over 3 oz being returned, under the watchful eyes of club members.

Several larger fish were evident in the bulging net, this pike the first to taste freedom again.

Proof that the roach, rudd and perch were not the only successful spawners, was this young pike.

Often seen, but rarely caught, this white Koi must have had a rude awakening from its winter sleep.

Another exotic, a gold Koi, emerged from the depths of the net, this fish had not been seen all season and was assumed taken by poachers, that had been leaving out unattended night lines attached to bank side bushes.

Yet another pike from a water that was said to have no pike when I joined the club. A 10 lb pike was landed this season, on two different occasions, having taken anglers’ fish. If the pike and perch do their job, netting sessions may not be needed in the future.

Just one sample of the fish taken with one dip of a hand net, perch, roach and rudd clearly visible.

A rough estimate of 7,000 small fish were placed into oxygenated water tank, ready to be transferred to a small lake near Aldershot 15 miles away, that has been heavily predated by cormorants.

Once the EA men were satisfied with their catch, the net was sunk and the base lifted out to allow the remaining thousands to swim free, the job done with such care, that there were no visible casualties.

Bread punch chub feed in arctic conditions

January 18, 2019 at 4:00 pm

I was determined to get out and fish this week, but I have been beaten by the winter weather each time I planned to go. Yesterday it rained non stop, then today I awoke to a heavy snow fall, the snowflakes freezing to the van windscreen, due to an icy blast, that pushed temperatures below zero. Then a chink of hope appeared, as the grey sky gave way to clear blue with bright winter sunshine. Already committed during the morning, I thawed bread from the freezer and set off after 1 pm for my local river, where I hoped to find a few obliging chub. Loading my trolley from the van, the wind was cutting through me, despite several layers over my thermals and I wondered how long I last without a fish, or two.

Considering the earlier snow and rain, the river was only slightly coloured, with a steady pace and I was quite hopeful, as I set up my pole. Due to the temperature, I was convinced that bites would be slow, having intended to set up a canal antenna float, but with the pace of the flow and the gusting downstream wind, opted for a lightweight 2 No 4 stick, dotted down to the tip.

Putting in two egg sized balls of liquidised bread, one just past the middle, the other in line with the overhanging bush, I had watched the bread cloud sweep downstream on the outside line, so started in the slacker water on the inside of the bend. With a 5 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 18 hook, the float dipped a fraction, sending out a an indicating ring, then submerged slightly and remained there. Lifting the pole, the elastic came out and stayed put as a decent fish woke up, then burst into life, dashing off downstream against the No 6 elastic, before turning to run hard upstream past me. With the pole at four metres, I held the chub in mid stream and pushed my landing net out to meet it, pulling back the pound and a half fish.

The tiny barbless hook was just in the tip of the lip, falling out once the pressure was off in the net.

Without feeding again, I cast back in, watching the float give the faintest of indications of a bite, as it moved downstream, waiting for something to strike at. I held the float back slightly and the float slowly sank, lifting again to solid resistance, as another chub beat a retreat down stream. This fish was smaller, close to a pound, but full of fight, stretching out the elastic as it dived around, searching for a snag, but the elastic did its job, bringing the chub within netting range, the inside bend being shallow with silt.

Two decent chub in two casts, this what I came for. Even on the coldest of days, chub will usually feed, small hooks and baits, often better than the opposite. I paused for my first cup of piping hot tea, the sun shining through the trees warming my back, while my front and hands were already getting frozen, those chub feeling like blocks of ice.

I ventured in another ball of bread past middle and cast beyond it, holding back then letting the float run, the float tipping and dipping as it followed through the swim. Lifting out the bait was gone. This repeated for a couple more trots. Something was down there, sucking the bait from the hook. I tried a punch of rolled bread, squeezing it on the hook, the float holding down long enough to strike, bringing a small roach splashing to the surface.

Two more small roach from four trots saw me deepen up six inches to hold back hard, easing down on a tight line, but I was back to no bait, this time without a sign of a bite. These fish were so cold, that they were like iced lolly pops and must have been just sucking at the bait. I shallowed up again and chanced another ball of bread, following it down. Nibble, nibble, hold. Strike! A tiny roach. In again, nibble, nibble, hold. Strike! Bottom. No! Another chub dashed off downstream, rolled on the surface and came off! Blow it! That was a good fish of well over a pound.

Time for another cup of hot tea and a packet of mini chocolate Penguins, resting the pole, with the float well over depth, while I got my brain back together. Tap, tap, pull, the float sank. Missed it, but the bait was still on. Shallowing up again, I ran it through several times over the feed, without a sign of a bite, the punch untouched. An intermittent  bite resulting in a four inch roach hanging itself at the end of the the trot, finished the session for me. The sun had gone behind the houses and the temperature had dropped noticeably. This was no fun any more and before the men in white coats came to take me away, I packed up.

The sign of a slow ninety minutes. That third chub would have topped it for me, but I can’t really complain, with two nice chub to show for a session in the deep freeze. You don’t have to be bonkers to fish on days like this, but it helps.

 

Trout stream work party feeds optimism

January 13, 2019 at 7:23 pm

The January working party on the Hampshire syndicate trout stream, that I fish, has often been flooded off, but this year the river was running clear, as I joined several members walking up to the weir to begin cutting back willow and alder, in an effort to aid casting.  It was encouraging to see several trout redds, where spawning trout had cleared  shallow troughs in the gravel to deposit their fertilised eggs.

This stretch had not been trimmed for a couple of seasons and last year had proved almost impossible to fish, due to branches hanging low over the river, while trout rose unchallenged by anglers’ flies.

The chainsaw saw plenty of action removing a fallen tree, while a couple of pole saws trimmed back overhanging branches along a 200 yard stretch. A fire was started to dispose of the cuttings, a strong wind bringing it up to furnace temperatures in minutes, as a constant supply of cuttings were ferried along the banks to its central point.

 

Calling a halt after three hours for a tea break, plans were discussed for further work parties following on in the next few weeks, more trimming back down to the roadside on this stretch, while flow deflectors were earmarked for improvement and repair. Ranunculus weed, transplanted last year, was also seen to be growing well on the gravel runs, the long fronds acting as a haven for nymphs and young trout alike.

Two years ago the landowner diverted the river to build a new bridge, without consulting the anglers, reducing the flow to a trickle and many fish were lost in this and the stretch down stream. It appears that nature is already repairing much of the habitat damage and with more sunlight now able to reach the riverbed, fly life and weed growth will improve, much to the benefit of the anglers.