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Bread punch roach keep rudd in the shade at Braybrooke

July 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

Unbearable heat and humidity have not inspired me to go fishing of late, but with cooling winds and cloud cover promised, I ventured out this morning to my local pond at Braybrooke recreation ground. Arriving after 9 am, I found the banks deserted and chose a swim that would keep me in the shade all morning. Not having fished Jeane’s pond since April, I was pleased to see activity all over the surface. Rudd were investigating every piece of wind blown flotsam, that had landed on the surface, while perch were scattering fry in every corner.

My swim was fizzing with bubbles thrown up by feeding fish and I couldn’t wait to plumb the depth and start fishing. There was about 6 ft, 4 metres out and I set the float to fish just off bottom. Once again only having the bread punch available as bait did not phase me. I decided to feed four balls of wet crumb straight in, putting one close to the lily bed and three in a line 2 metres wide in front of me.

First drop in the float sank without caution and the elastic came out in response to a hard fighting rudd. It felt warm in my hand, the pond must be like a tepid bath.

For the next few minutes smaller roach and rudd had invaded the heavily baited swim, then the float settled and registered a bite that cruised under, the strike setting the size 16 hook into a net worthy roach, that stayed deep.

Due to the depth, I had concentrated the shot in the bottom 18 inches with a 9 inch tail, which was sending the bait straight down. The float cocked and sank again. Unmissable, another quality roach was pounding away against the elastic and I took my time bringing it to the surface.

Back in again and the elastic remained out. This was not a roach, or a rudd, the surface boiling as the fish fought against the elastic. I thought it was a tench, but got a surprise, when the long dorsal fin of a fat crucian carp scythed through the water. It would not give up, diving and running, but eventually on its side I netted it.

The run of big roach went on…

And on…

Yet another big roach. They were just sitting there over the feed.

Eventually the big fish were mostly in my net and the average size began to fall.

The sun was coming round and more rudd were taking near the surface.

I took a chance and made up one more stiff ball, watching the rudd attack the moment it hit the water.

A few more small roach and rudd got to the bread first, but then success and I was playing another decent roach.

I scraped up the last of the wet crumb and put it in, bringing round a few better rudd.

At 12:30 I stopped fishing, just short of three hours, the sun was now over the trees and the temperature had risen again. It was time to pull in the keepnet. I hoped that I had over 10 lbs, but missed the target by a pound, but with the quality of fish landed, who was complaining?

 

Bread punch chub oblige after pollution

July 3, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Constant pollution events, caused by a local company dumping oil based waste down the drains at their industrial site, all but wiped out the coarse fish stock of my local river last year. Thames Water and the local Environment Agency did their best to recover the river, with booms to catch the polluted water and work to speed up the flow, but the damage had been done, the once prolific little river, where most  English species would be likely to turn up during a session, was not worth a visit. Three blank days for me a testament to this.

An early Christmas present for the river, was the introduction of a mix of over 3,000 roach, chub and dace by the Environment Agency from their Calverton Fish Farm in an effort to supplement fish lost. The river did not contain any dace before, but the Agency considered the river suitable.

With the country in the grip of a heatwave, I did not fancy sitting by a lake getting roasted today and decided that a couple of hours in the shade by the local river, would be a better option, while giving me the opportunity to test out its recovery.

Walking from the carpark, the first thing I saw was another pollution boom at the outfall weir. Not more pollution? The river runs under the industrial estate, from where the last culprit was tracked down from. The company was given a warning. Surely they are not up their old tricks again?

At 10 am, the sun was already beating down as I walked along the river looking for some flow and shade. No rain has fallen in weeks and the level was well down, with areas of exposed gravel and dried mud in the margins. My original choice of swim is deeper than average, but it now looked like a pond with no movement and I retraced my steps to a shallow run around the outside of a bend, where the river drops over gravel before the bend. The water here would be more oxygenated and likely to hold fish despite being only two feet deep.

Setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy stickfloat on my 12 foot Hardy rod, I bulked the main shot below the float, with just a No 6 shot 9 inches from the size 14 hook. Intending to fish bread punches of 5 and 6 mm, the 14 is a good standby, as I have had chub to 3 lb from this swim in the past. While getting ready, I lobbed a small ball of liquidised bread over beneath the opposite bank and watched it spread and sink. What flow there was did not carry it far.

First cast over, the float sank out of sight and the first of several small chub swung to hand.

Big enough to put a bend in the rod, these bites were unmissable, the size of chub making them likely to be part of the batch of stocked fish.

A different bite, another fish, this time a roach glinting in the sun. Next trot, a classic slow bob and a steady sink away had the rod bending again, as a much larger roach threw up puffs of mud darting from one side to the other. Then the line went solid, when the roach managed to find a snag, leaving the hook in a sunken twig. I pulled for a break, but straightened the hook, releasing the rig to catapult into the undergrowth. Once retrieved and untangled, I was ready again, putting two more small balls over in an attempt to hold the shoal of roach. The roach were long gone, but the bites had changed again. Tippy dips and dives removing the bread bait with ease.

Holding back hard, with a tight line, soon confirmed my hunch, they were small dace.

This then was definitely one of the stockies, the little battler even refusing to hold still for a photo. I will probably be grateful for these dace in a couple of years, when they have put on a few more ounces, but now they were a nuisance, stripping the bait without submerging the float. Going over depth and dragging the float back upstream an inch, or two works on the Thames and it worked here to put a few more in the net.The dace were hard work for little reward, missing far more than I hooked and bouncing a good fish, chub, or roach with a rapid strike.

With the first hour of my two over, I reached into the bread bag and put two larger balls close to the overhanging branches in an attempt to bring out more chub. It worked and the rod was bending again as I netted a better fish.

Better again, these chub were coming out from the shadows to scoop up the drifting crumb, sweeping the float back towards the trees in one pass. Connecting was explosive, with that characteristic chub power surge multiplied by the lack of depth.

The next bite produced a surprise, a perch, not the first that I have taken on the bread punch.

The chub kept responding to the occasional ball of liquidised bread, the dace well and truly crowded out.

They were getting bigger, but I had promised to be home in time for lunch and at 12:30, my cut off time, the landing net slipped under the last chub of the morning.

These latest chub are survivors of the pollution, probably having dropped down from the wild river above the outfall. Missing today were the rudd, gudgeon and roach that usually make up the bag in summer on this little river, but beggars cannot be choosers and will be happy to return.

Once more the bread punch had not let me down, maybe maggots would have got me a shed load of perch, but they would also have meant a dace sucking the life out each maggot. As it was, the bread was in the freezer this morning, and went back in later on.

 

 

Prolific fishery fails to live up to promise

June 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Last week I opted to avoid bad weather and fished my local pond, instead of a noted prolific club water. Today a damp, grey start was giving way to sunshine and I loaded up the van for the twenty mile drive south to the tench and crucian carp filled pond.

By the time I arrived, the sun had burned off the cloud and I walked from the carpark, along the bank to a lone angler and asked how he was getting on. No tench and no crucian carp, just a few bits. His swim looked perfect, with lily beds either side of a six foot deep open area. A few pegs down was an equally attractive looking swim, but I could see the bottom out to the lilies. I wanted deeper water close in and continued over the dam to the opposite bank, where I had been advised there was four feet off the bank.

Plumbing the depth, there was a shelf 4 metres out, sloping down from four feet to six at 5 metres, ideal for punch fishing. Wetting down half a pint of liquidised bread, I plopped in a small ball on the top of the shelf and another over the bottom. With the antenna float set at five feet, I swung out the rig to the middle of the drop off and waited. The float settled and sank slowly, hooking a small roach, which I netted. I then missed the following half a dozen bites. They would pull down half of the float bristle, then ignore the bait, or the float would dive briefly, then return.

The sound of a fishing trolley being pulled along the bank, made me look up, to then be greeted by another angler, who told me that he was practicing for Sunday’s match. He then informed me that this was the wrong bank to be fishing in the summer, as it was too deep and the water had not warmed up yet. He was only fishing it, as he wanted to get an idea of its capabilities, just in case he was drawn here. Seeing that I was fishing the bread punch, he now poured more cold water on my coals, saying that the punch is OK here in winter and that micro pellets are the only bait that will catch in the summer. A final blow was that I would not see crucians, or tench as they were spawning at the other end of the pond in the shallow inlet. He then continued 30 yards up the bank and set up a pole to fish. Oh well, I was here now and would have to see what I could do.

Putting out more balls of feed, I cast over them and watched the float slide away. The elastic came out as a decent fish bent the pole, a silver flash the first indication of a quality roach.

I looked over to the other angler, who gave me a thumbs up. Considering all the things that I was supposedly doing wrong, something must be right? Some of my roach had damaged flanks, possible cormorant damage? The bites continued to be a challenge, missing the unmissable, yet hooking mere dips of the float.

I was beginning to get the hang of the bites, when a swirl at one of my roach, made me swing it to safety. The bites stopped, when the surface erupted with scattering fish. A pike? I walked along to the matchman and told him of the pike. “No pike. A big perch. They are over 3 lb in here!” He was fishing white pellets over loose fed micro pellets, but so far had nothing to show for his efforts, while I had half a dozen punch roach in my net. He said that he was surprised, that I was managing to catch roach on the bread punch, as everybody fished pellets here in the summer. Better than hemp he continued.

I returned to my peg and fed again, dropping a couple of loose balls close to a lily bed to my left, followed by my float, which sat still, dipped and sank. Lifting the pole, the elastic came out and the float stayed put as something heavier decided to come out of its corner fighting, keeping close to the bottom, until the pole was down to the top two and a fat crucian carp surfaced ready for the landing net.

My new found friend obviously had his eye on me and called out “tench?” I replied “crucian” Another thumbs up. The hook was in the skin of the lip, coming out in the net. I was lucky to get this one.

More fussy bites brought the occasional roach, usually after another ball of bread sank, breaking up into a cloud on its way down to the bottom. It was now very hot, with a cloudless sky, the sun being absorbed by my black T shirt making me feel uncomfortable, but with my three hour session close to an end, I stuck it out to compare last week’s catch with this one.

Close to the lillies, I struck into another dip of the float to be met by the elastic coming out and a slow thumping fight, that I at first thought was a bream, but then it speeded up, doggedly pulling toward the middle. Seeing the pole bent over, my eagle eyed companion was soon out of his seat and by my side. What was it? Raising the pole, the fish turned and broke the surface. It was a large crucian of maybe two pounds in weight, that rolled and dived toward the lily bed, then came off, the line pinging back to wrap around the pole tip. I let out a gasp of exasperation. That fish would have finished off the day nicely.

Chatting as I packed up, he was impressed with my dozen bread caught roach and a crucian, considering that I was on the wrong bait, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He had only three roach to show, having abandoned the inside to fish out on the long pole over a bed of pellets. “It never fishes here when the sun shines”

About a quarter of last week’s 12 lb weight on my doorstep pond, but just as satisfying. Match anglers tend to blindly follow the latest trends, but sometimes the Old Skool methods, like the bread punch, can still lead the way. I wonder if he will give it a try on Sunday?

Bread Punch Carp and Crucians in the lull before the storm

June 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Returning from a short motoring holiday earlier this week, I had promised myself a full day at a small lake that was supposed to be stuffed with tench and crucian carp, having been told that 30 to 40 lb of these golden battlers was on the cards for a competent angler. Unfortunately, one look at the latest weather forecast told me that the session would not be happening this week, as another storm, this one named Hector, was already sweeping in from the Atlantic. With the last of my post holiday chores complete by lunchtime today, the next best thing available to me, was a few hours on the pond 10 minutes walk from my home.

The atmosphere was hot and humid with no wind, a far cry from the threatened stormy weather forecast for later in the day. Passing the shallow water at the inlet, the surface was alive with spawning common carp chasing around stirring up the mud and splashing in the margins, the pond at the dam end a picture of tranquility.

This swim is only two feet deep, to a thick layer of silt and I set up the pole with a small homemade waggler rig, 4 lb line to a 3 lb hooklink and a size 14 crystal barbless, enough to cope with most of the fish in the pond. With the common carp preoccupied at the far end, the No 6 pole elastic was man enough for anything today. Bait was my standby bread punch, with liquidised bread feed, which I soaked down to a slop, putting out half a dozen soft balls 6 to 7 metres out on two lines 2 metres apart. This allows me to feed one and fish the other, as rudd can often stop the bait getting through to the crucians initially after a feed.

As expected, first cast saw the float zoom off, as a small rudd took the 6 mm punched pellet of bread.

The rudd here vary in colour from silver, through green to orange, hybrids abounding in the pond, which affects commons and crucians alike.

The first fifteen minutes had rudd swinging to hand one after the other, then like a switch they stopped, as I noticed a dark stain of mud below the surface. The bottom feeders had moved in. A bobbing bite slowly submerged and I lifted the pole, stretching out the elastic into a crucian, that circled the swim to end up in my landing net.

A very nice, bog standard crucian carp, barely hooked in the top lip, was the first of many. The following bite did not mess about, sinking steadily away trailing line. The strike and immediate run toward the lily bed needed no guessing, as a common carp stripped out the elastic, putting an impressive bend in the pole. Breaking the pole down to the top three gave me control and the elastic soon did its job in wearing down the fish.

With a hint of crucian about this common, there was no doubting the next fish, a bob, bob, dive bite that saw the elastic follow a frantic fight to the net from a tench that punched well above its weight.

The next fish rang the changes again, giving a fight that went on and on, keeping deep, each time the net came close, it charged off again.

A fan tail crucian hybrid, that used its tail to good effect. I read that wild crucians were originally used to develope goldfish in asia, as they have genes that adapt for hybridisation. This one has obviously come from one of the domestic goldfish that were once common in this pond.

With barbules and a down turned mouth this carp fought like a common, dashing off with the bait, but again having crucian traits.

There was no mistake identifying this as a true crucian, most of them very lightly hooked, just sucking the bread without moving off, striking when the bite looked like it was progressing. If left too long, a bare hook was the result.

I had been feeding the occasional ball of bread to my alternative swims, switching over to see the float zoom away seconds after the bait hit the surface. Expecting a small rudd, my lift contacted with a solid force heading in the opposite direction, as a pound plus common grabbed the bread, taking the elastic close to the lilies, before it turned. Churning up black mud, the carp eventually fought itself to a standstill, sliding into the net without a fuss.

I have caught mirror carp in this pond before and wonder if this common is a mix of the two, with maybe a dash of ghost carp in it. Koi, goldfish and ghost carp were in this pond, when I first fished it eight years ago, but they seem to have gone, this could be the next generation?

The crucians kept on coming, but I was missing bites due to another highly coloured sub species of crucian, that has a smaller mouth.

These crucians give the float a couple of bobs, then just sit there. Thinking that the bait was gone, I would lift out to find one on the end, sometimes losing them, or fail to make contact after a decent bite. Like rudd they tend to frequent upper level of the pond.

Talking of rudd, my net was steadily filling with them, a shoal would sweep in for a few fish, then it was back to the carp.

This was the best of many rudd, that pushed its way in among the crucians, the punch continuing to do the business of putting fish in the keepnet.

By the time that I netted this monster fantail, the sun had gone and the promised wind was beginning to blow, flecked with rain and I was into the realm of “just one more fish” as my third hour of fishing came closer. I had an audience of three teenage lads sitting astride their mountain bikes in silence, as I continued to whip out fish, mostly rudd, but the better fish were still there.

These small coloured crucians were now taking over, not fighting as well as their plainer cousins, but all fish were fish in the net.

This small common was the last of the afternoon session, the wind was blowing the float about, the reason I hooked it being that the line was running away, as waves now replaced ripples. A hooked and lost fish prompted me to finish five minutes short of my five hours, I had caught plenty and without a jacket was expecting a soaking.

Pulling the keepnet in, was a signal for my young audience to come round to investigate the foaming water, as I tipped the catch into my landing net for a photo, the scales pushing past 12 lbs afterwards. Easing the fish back into the pond, the lads stood mesmerised watching them swim off. One of the lads fished with his father for carp and was doubly impressed that I had caught all the fish on the bread punch.

CZ 452 HMR evening visit

June 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

A warm still evening saw me back at the new permission this week, trying to keep in with the landowner, who expects the impossible, his land cleared of rabbits, while the grass is at knee height. The light was already fading when I arrived, but with my Nitesite as back up, was hopeful for a few more for the freezer.

He has mowed an area around the site, which helps spot rabbits, but those in the grass have learned to keep there heads down and sprint across the open spaces, stopping only to pass through the fence.

My best chance here is to enter the field keeping low, until I see the rabbits on an open space and get down for a shot, before they see me. Following round the cleared path, I saw a pair of rabbits dead ahead about 80 yards away and sank down prone. At ground level they were obscured by the long grass at one edge and moved over for a clear view. A white tail indicated that the pair had seen me already, moving toward the fence, the rear one paused and was dead in an instant, the other passing through to safety.

As I made my way over to pick up the rabbit, others were sneaking out of the long grass to the fence. A shot to hand at this range would have been lucky to find the mark and decided to clean the this one, while keeping a lookout along the cleared fence line. I settled down at the edge of the grass with a clear view up a rise for about 120 yards, no problem for the HMR on a still evening. A rabbit stuck its head out about 10 yards away, but soon turned tail and I waited, a barn owl quartering the field to my right taking my gaze for several minutes. Looking back, two rabbits were trotting in and out of the long grass near the top of the rise by a gate. Sometimes these games go on for a while, only to end with them back in their burrow. One stopped in the open and began grazing, while the other was out of sight. I don’t need a second chance, the scope was already zoned and the rifle cracked, the echo bouncing off nearby houses, as the rabbit reflex jumped. The second rabbit was startled and rushed into, then out of view again to appear sitting up at the top of the rise. Chambering another round, the cross hairs were on for head shot and it flipped over. I waited another ten minutes just in case any more appeared and made my way up the field to pick them up.

Cleaning duties done, I patrolled the top half of the field, again watching as another trio bolted for the fence from cover. In the corner a big, full red fox was sitting, it slowly rising to it’s feet. I had a clear shot to it’s pure white bib, but in this field he is on my side. I had wondered why I had not seen any young rabbit kits, here was the reason. The discarded rabbit remains of this evening would be cleared by morning.

I was satisfied with three adult rabbits from this evening and headed back down the path, cresting the rise to see a dark blob where I had shot the first. The bipod was flicked back open and I sighted on the unaware rabbit at least 120 yards away, aiming high on the shoulder, easing the trigger to send the tiny .17 inch bullet on its way. The silencer barked, followed by a moment’s delay before the rabbit rolled over.

This last one was a bonus, possibly the first of the pair that I had seen at the start. It was now getting dark, the Nitesite had not been needed and I made my way back to the gate on the lane. As I fiddled with the combination locks, the landowner came out of his house to ask how I had done, promising to cut the grass before my next visit.

 

Mayfly trout stream washout

June 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Thunderstorms were forecast across southern England this week on the first day of my three allotted syndicate days, but when none had arrived by lunch time, I took a chance and headed west, hoping to find the mayfly still being gorged by trout. Leaving home it was hot humid sunshine, but the nearer to the river I got, the darker it became. I decided to walk halfway down the river, to then wade back, but a look at the sky told me that I was on borrowed time.

Nothing stirred, my hoped for mayfly were missing, as a massive black cloud moved across from the south. I pushed on downstream, looking for trout among the weed beds. The heat in my waders was building and sweat was dripping down my neck, then as the sun came out, my polaroids began to steam up. I took them off and continued downstream, where a few mayfly had begun to lift off. All was not lost.

Entering the river was a relief, the cooling water having the desired effect of clearing my heat daze and rounding a bend, a rise beckoned me upstream. There was plenty of room to cast and with no wind, the line dropped ahead of another splashy rise. Ignored, I cast the small white mayfly again, watching it disappear in a ripple, tightening the line into a small wild brown that darted left and right, before dropping off as I lifted it from the water toward my hand. Once cursed by these small trout, I now welcome every one as a sign of the river’s recovery. Further up, another rise encouraged me to work the water a yard at a time, in the hope of raising another fish.

 

 

Then the rain started, just a few drops at first, then a cloudburst as a clap of thunder echoed across the pasture. I waded back down to the cover of an alder, tying on an unweighted flash back Hares Ear, while I waited for the shower to pass. This has proved a good alternative to a winged mayfly in the past, greased with floatant, it sits in the surface film like an emerging mayfly nymph. Soon it was dryer out in the diminishing rain, than under the tree, as heavy droplets fell from the leaves. Once again nothing was showing, just the occasional mayfly shaking free from the bankside vegetation, that skidded across the surface.

Again I prospected for takes along this fast shallow section, pausing to concentrate on a deeper glide of gravel and crowsfoot weed. I did not see the nymph sucked from the surface, only to react to the line shooting forward, feeling the surge of a good fish, as it stood on its tail to erupt on the surface. A brief run upstream bent the rod to the water, it springing back as the trout turned, running down behind me. My longhandled net was not to hand and holding my rod high, tried to steer the thrashing fish down toward it. Second sweep, the silver trout was in the net.

This had been an epic battle, controlled by the trout, with me on catch up trying to take the upper hand, expecting the barbless hook to come free at anytime.

No sooner had I unhooked the fish and held it upstream to recover, than the rain began in earnest, getting heavier by the second. With a peaked cap, jacket and chest waders it was bearable, but the river was being hammered and it was not a difficult decision to call it quits.

By the time I had returned to the road, my jacket and shirt were soaked through, but this time the waders held in the warmth from my lower body. While putting my rod away, another member came trudging up the other side of the river, he too had taken a chance with the weather and lost. As we talked, the clouds parted and bright sunshine beamed down, a signal for the mayfly to hatch, that persuaded my companion to pick up his rod and head upstream for some more punishment, while I headed for home.

 

Bread punch common carp challenge

June 1, 2018 at 9:49 am

Days of thunderstorms and their associate downpours had made outdoor activities pot luck, as to whether a soaking was on the cards, or not in recent days, but the forecast for the afternoon was dry and after a few household chores, loaded up the van to take the short drive to my local pond.

The pond is classed as a balance pond, acting as an over spill reservoir for a brook that runs in from the forest through housing estates. The pond was doing its intended job, the banks had been breached overnight showing a tide mark that extended way beyond where I now put my tackle box, the water still just over the bank. A heavy mist kept humidity high, almost to the level of a light drizzle, but there was no wind, which meant no surface drift, the float fisherman’s curse.

As with previous visits to the pond, my approach was to soak some liquidised bread crumb, press it into loose balls and bait an area twenty yards out. Using a cut down pole float, bulk shotted at the  base to allow an 18 inch tail to fall free to a size 14 barbless hook, bait was a double punched 7 mm pellet of bread. This was all cast out on my 12.5 foot Normark float rod. The difference now was, that there was another foot of water, due to the extra flow coming down the brook. Like most carp, when not browsing through the deep sedimentary mud, they cruise around close to the surface, these being my target fish, the punch pellet being slightly buoyant.

When I first fished this pond eight years ago, it had a good head of rudd, which tended be a nuisance, attacking the bread, but like the numerous perch and gudgeon, that I am told were once in abundance here, the only fish are now carp. This now means that any bite will be a decent carp, as with the previous observation, small carp would often be taken along with the rudd, but not anymore. I assume that the deep mud and coloured water have made spawning impossible to the extent that the rudd died out and the carp just get bigger.

I did not need to wait for a bite, the float dipping several times, before vanishing, followed by the V of the line behind it. I leaned back into the strike and nearly got impaled by the float, as it was catapulted out of the water. I had missed one of those express train bites, having watched the bite develope, picked up the rod in readiness, seen the line tighten and failed to connect. The next bite showed interest as the float cocked, the bristle rocking from the turbulence of a carp as it pushed the bread around. I was on the verge of striking as the tip sank to the surface, only to pop up again and be still. The bread was gone. Next I tried striking at the slightest movement. Nothing.

I mixed up some more feed and lobbed it into the swim. The float disappeared again. Missed it. Doing nothing different, the float was gone, the line followed and I made contact with an explosive force that was an unseen carp, that bent the rod double in its first run. Twice I thought that it was ready for the net, but each time it ran again, left and right making for the bankside tree roots. This was fun, the fish was not large, but good sport, a stepped up carp rod with heavy line would have stopped it dead. I had the time and inclination to wait until it was ready for the net.

The hook was just in the side of the mouth and dropped out in the net, this well rounded four pounder being returned immediately. Mixing up the last of my feed, I cast out again. Bubbles had been bursting in the swim from the off. The carp were there. Why couldn’t I catch them? Each bite was a variation on a theme. I tried going deeper by a foot. Twitching the float as a bite progressed. Bigger baits. Smaller baits. I suppose this is why people get addicted to carp fishing. A very learned friend of mine, who knew of my fishing habit, once described angling as the pursuit of the brainless, by the mindless. These wild carp certainly have a brain and I was losing my mind trying to catch another.

I called my wife asking her to delay dinner by an hour. I cut her conversation short. I had another bite and had to go. Missed that one too. With minutes to the new deadline, the float went again and I was in. About the size of the first, the fight was just as hectic. Each time I gained line, I had to give it back. At last the golden flank of a carp flashed, when it rolled; a sure sign of it tiring. Soon it was in the net, the hook barely in the skin of the top lip.

I think that they were playing a game of balance the bait on the end of your nose without being caught.

Whatever the reason for the missed bites, maybe next time I will try a pole with a lighter float and a heavy elastic. This pond is half a mile away from home, I have to go back.

Magtech .22 semi auto longshot with Winchester 42 grain subs between the showers

May 29, 2018 at 11:26 pm

Several months have passed since my last visit to the equestrian centre, where my efforts and that of myxomatosis, had resulted in a couple of visits devoid of rabbits. This 80 acre permission had been overrun with rabbits ten years ago, when I had shot over 200 with my Magtech .22 semi auto in the first year, the mixture of woodland and hedgerows, with mown rides for for the horses to be exercised, giving a wide variety of bunny habitats. I got the permission, when a young female rider’s horse stumbled in a rabbit hole on one of the rides, throwing her off, resulting in a broken back.

It had been a day of sunshine and showers, driving through a heavy downpour on my way that saw me ready to turn back, but blue skies ahead spurred me on, finding the ground already drying as I walked from the stables. The owners had seen more rabbits about again and called for me to come over, dropping in on my way to another shooting commitment. Being light weight, the Magtech is ideal for this sort of shooting, which usually entails a fair bit of walking, while the silenced subsonic bullets do not cause panic among the pastured horses.

It was interesting to see new developments under way, including a new house for the owners and following a recently laid path between paddocks, saw a movement beneath the shadow of a tree. Putting the scope to my eye, a rabbit was sitting looking at me about 40 yards away and I sidestepped behind a tree to my right, bringing the rifle round from cover. Steadied against the tree trunk, I took the shot before it moved off, the .22 Winchest 42 grain subsonic hitting the chest with a thump, that rolled the rabbit over.

With possibly a mile or so to cover, I skinned and paunched this rabbit where it fell, bagging it up, then continuing to explore. The owner’s wife had said of a new group of rabbits along the southern boundary, her husband had cut back bramble bushes encroaching onto the ride there and seen fresh burrows. The sky was beginning to darken and I was keen to add to my tally before another shower

Keeping in close to the edge of the far ride, I could see several rabbits as suggested in an area cleared of brambles, about a hundred yards away, an easy shot for the HMR, but with the heavier and slower Winchester subs, I needed to close that down to at least seventy yards. There was nothing for it, but to get down and elbow crawl the last thirty yards, with the last ten of these being fully exposed. Getting closer, a big buck sat up. I had been spotted. I stopped and sank my face into the ground, only cammo cap and jacket visible in the long grass at the edge. Looking up again, a couple were moving back toward the undergrowth. It was now, or never. Resting the Magtech on my gun bag, I aimed high on the buck’s head and fired, watching it do a backflip, then lie there kicking. A second later I sent a follow up bullet to the head. It lay still. The others were gone. Often a rabbit will kick and run on the spot, though dead, but get traction and disappear into the undergrowth and be lost. Having practiced the double tap shot in the past, I use it most times with the Magtech semi auto.

Pacing out the distance to this rabbit, I counted out seventy eight paces, about eighty yards, a long shot indeed for a .22. Heavier and faster than a standard subsonic, the Winchesters seem very effective compared to the RWS subs I had been using before. At this range I had allowed three inches drop from my 50 yard zero. While cleaning this rabbit, a nearby clap of thunder heralded rain to come and I was soon heading toward a small copse for cover. Rounding a bend, a pair of rabbits were feeding about 60 yards along the ride. I stepped back and got down prone, pushing my gun bag out into the open to rest the rifle, taking a clean head shot to the rabbit sideways on to me. It sank forward. The other rabbit was unaware of the fate of its companion, continuing to munch the long grass at the edge, a head on shot into the head and shoulders sealing the deal. 

It was now quite dark for a May afternoon and spots of rain were falling as I gathered up the rabbits, failing to reach the cover of an oak tree, before the rain came straight down in biblical proportions. Another clap of thunder had me worried, the oak was the tallest tree in the copse, but also with the best canopy, as the rain tap was turned on even harder. The air was full of the smell of rain bouncing off new leaf growth, a fine mist of droplets coating my jacket, as I busied myself with the rabbits.

The storm passed quickly, but not before the copse was thoroughly soaked, making my way back to the stables through another shower. This fleeting visit had bagged some big healthy rabbits from an ignored permission, that will need to be put back on the list for attention.

Trout stream hots up at last

May 20, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Reports of a few fish being taken on mayfly, saw me arrive with some optimism at my syndicate trout stream this week. A continued dry spell had warmed everything up, causing shoots to sprout with avengeance, the trees now full of summer foliage, while the adjacent fields were getting an early hair cut, as a tractor cut fresh grass for hay making.

A few mayfly were lifting off as I walked downstream looking for rising fish, but had to travel half a mile before a ripple from the bank below me indicated a feeding trout. I crept past and waited, Yes, another discrete rise sending out a ripple.

Having seen a white mayfly drift down to be ungulfed by the as yet unknown fish, I searched through my artificials and found a small bodied version to tie on. During winter work parties, we had removed many of the small overhanging saplings, to allow casting along this bank and keeping the rod flat to avoid overhead branches, tried to get close to the fish. Naturals were coming down steadily now and the trout was moving around taking two or three at a sitting, then moving back to the edge. Waiting for a lull, I flicked the fly close to the bank and the fly was gone, lifting into a good trout that ran to down my right toward some weed. Keeping a tight line, I let the 7 foot, 3 weight rod do the all the work, as it bent double. I wanted this fish, but did not want to give it line. Last week I had done just that and lost one. From high on the bank, I had a good view of the fight, waiting for it to slow down showing its flank, before pulling it across to my extended landing net.

The fly was well hooked inside the top of the mouth, but pushed out with forceps, an 18 inch overwintered stockie. Held upstream for a few minutes, it soon recovered to swim free.

I had been waiting for a decent trout since the start of the season and encouraged, decided to walk further down to the confluence of a smaller river. This was coloured and turned back and entered the river a few yards upstream. I do not usually venture this far, but the river here has character, rushing over stones and deep pockets.

With trees behind and above me, casting was not easy, but there were rises to my right in the fast water and cast the mayfly to the spot. The mayfly was ignored, while smaller flies were still being taken. I tied on a size 16 deer hair sedge, ideal for this rough water and recast. It ran down 18 inches then, splosh, the fly was taken by a juvenile trout, which launched into the air and came off. Others were still rising and a positive take made sure of another small wildie, that zig zagged about putting a bend in the rod.

The mayfly hatch seemed to be over, but plenty of smaller flies were being taken, as I waded up round the bend away from the trees, allowing me to cast at will to at least a dozen fish in the next 50 yards. This is what I joined the syndicate for, freestyle fishing, reading the water and always watching for a better fish. On a welsh stream these small browns are the norm, but here I have had some much better fish emerge from the depths in the past. Wading up a bit at a time, most rises were covered, some reached my hand, others shed the barbless hook, the best of about 8 oz, slipping through my fingers as I attempted a photo. A very pretty fish.

Reaching overhanging alders, I had seen an occasional rise and watched as a mayfly drifted into range, seeing the red spots of a trout as it took. Edging closer, the white mayfly was again tied on and I tried a cross body cast, up and across to it. At last I got it right, a foot from the opposite bank the fly drifted down. A splash and it was gone. There was too much slack, I missed it. Not to worry, I’ll be back next week, the mayfly should then be ready for Duffer’s Fortnight”

Bread punch skimmer bream dominate at Kingsley Pond

May 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Seconds before my alarm went off at 7 am, a text message awoke me. It was my friend Peter informing me that he had just arrived at Kingsley Pond, our fishing venue for the day. Thanks Peter. My wife’s plan for the day was to paint our bedroom, which meant me assisting in pulling everything into the middle of the room, before going down for breakfast. With bait out of the freezer, sandwiches and flask made, I was soon on my way toward a daily grid lock traffic situation, where on the roundabout over a motorway, traffic catches up with its tail, desperate drivers not willing to give up a car space making it worse. Car by car, truck by truck, my route onto the empty motorway cleared, taking 45 minutes to travel half a mile. This is why Peter gets up really early to fish, whereas I prefer to travel outside the rush hour, this compromise cost me time on just one day, these commuters face it every day.

The rest of my journey was traffic free and I could soak up the green wooded hills of Hampshire, arriving in the village carpark beside the pond after 9 am. My reason for the visit, was that Peter had bagged up the week before, with lists of fish caught resulting in a keepnet so heavy, that he could not lift it from the water. Arriving on the bank, I found him back in his favourite swim by an island, but this time he had little to report, a 4 lb tench and a small carp, plus a few roach. He was on the same method, feeding pellets over a waggler float twenty yards out, but this time the fish were not really interested.

Dropping off my tackle in the swim next door, I set off back across the road to pay for my guest ticket, only to find that I needed Peter’s membership card to complete the paperwork. Ah bureaucracy don’t you just love it?

By 10 am I was ready to fish, even at this time the sun was beating down, although a refreshing breeze was keeping things comfortable. I had been prepared to fish the pellet like Peter, even bringing two keepnets, but opted for the cautious approach and decided to start on the bread punch. At least I knew that this would get a few fish in the net. Due to the shallow water, I mixed up a sloppy mix of bread crumb and covered the area 4 to 5 metres out with the slow sinking cloud bait. Hoping for big fish today, I had my heavy duty pole set up, complete with heavy elastic, not willing to be given the runaround, as I had last week by large bream and tench on light elastic. This would prove to be a mistake.

Attracted by the cloud of bread, the float was disappearing each put in as small roach and skimmer bream found my 5 mm pellet of bread, only to bounce off again against the heavy elastic. A better sized skimmer worked the elastic and stayed on.

The bites were now slow and deliberate, but the fish very lightly hooked, were being bumped off against the elastic on the strike. After a frustrating hour, with very few fish actually reaching the landing net, it was time for a change. First I stripped off my jacket. It was already too hot. Then I changed poles, putting away the heavy duty job and getting out my other option with the lighter elastic. This had the immediate effect of bringing a fish a cast, although any attempt to swing in even a small roach resulted in a dropped fish.

The skimmers kept coming, while Peter was struggling for a bite on the pellet.

As the temperature rose, I began to miss bites, the bait staying on the hook being a sign that the bread was too hard. It seemed ok to touch, punching out freely, but each time a fresh piece was removed from its protective cling film, I caught fish for several punches, then the cycle would start over. To avoid running out of punch bread, I began tearing off smaller pieces of the fresh doughy slices.

I had some sweet corn as a back up, intending to use it for the tench, big crucians and bream that Peter had promised we would be catching. Adding corn to the bread feed, I tried some on the hook and got a tench bite, struck and caught a roach.

Then another. They wanted the corn and were taking on the drop.

Switching back to bread brought more skimmers.

The skimmers were like peas in a pod, all about the same size and more reliable than the roach,  continuing to hook, play and net them as though on a production line. As the sun moved round, Peter had landed a few more quality fish from the shade in close, a small mirror carp, a two pound crucian and another four pound tench along with some good sized roach. The pellet was paying off at last. I fed an area in the shade to my right with sweet corn, but attracted relatively small roach and considered the wait for a decent fish, if they existed at all in the swim, not worth it, when every time I put in with the punch, a skimmer bream would oblige.

Come 3 pm I’d had enough of the sunshine, while despite trying a few things, had failed to catch anything over 8 oz. Peter had justified sticking it out on the pellet with a good variety of fish.

It had been a busy five hours, once I had changed to the lighter elastic, but still required a gentle touch to get them in on a day too hot, even for mad dogs and Englishmen.

Not what I had expected, over 12 lb of silvers, but a just reward for persistence. On the road by 4 pm, we missed the worst of the traffic and I returned to find a wife pleased with her freshly painted bedroom.