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Mirror and common carp pond prize

December 9, 2016 at 4:30 pm

A week ago ducks were walking on the ice covering my local pond, but today an unseasonal updraft of warm air from the Azores had banished the frost, to bring with it a dull day blessed by fine drizzle and the need to still wear thermals. With those left over maggots aging in the fridge, I decided on an afternoon session at the lake, but first set about modifying a heavy pole float to cope with the shallow water. Cutting the wire stem, I wound an eye up close to the float base to allow free fall of the unweighted hook link. Shotting it up, there were only about two inches between the last shot and the surface. Perfect. A quick lunch and I was ready for a couple of hour’s finding out if the foat worked.

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The carp here live in a thick soup of mud and brown water, leeched out of the surrounding pine forest, the maximum depth being not more than two feet. Setting up my 12.5 foot Normark float rod, Shimano reel with 6 lb line through to the 4 lb float rig, I cast out twenty yards and showered a few catapult cups of red maggots over the area. With three maggots on the size 14 barbless hook, suspended off bottom, I sat and waited for something to happen, keeping busy with regular firings of maggots. A couple of times the float stem dipped as interest was shown, but no more. I tried a double 7 mm pellet of bread on the hook. Again dips and a full on bite, but no fish. Maybe it was rudd?

A sound behind me warned of my wife approaching, taking a detour on the way to post Christmas cards at the nearby Post Office. She stood and shivered, contemptuous of my eternal optimism, continuing on her way with me reminding her, that I usually hook a decent fish, when she gets out of shouting range.

carp-034Large single bubbles began to burst on the surface. Something was down there stirring it up. Back to three  maggots and I cast in followed by more maggots. A carp took on the drop with the catapult still in my hands. It was on, coming close enough for me to ready the landing net, before it woke up and accelerated in the direction of the island. My wife was passing the bottom end of the lake and I called to her. No response. This was a 5 lb common and going round in circles, which needed bullying on this tackle, or I would never get it in. Mistake. The hook flew out. I replaced the mashed maggots and cast out again. Time to remind my wife that I had lost a fish as she walked away. Her phone was ringing, when the float sank away again. Dumping the phone in the bait tray, I set about playing this next fish. It was smaller, but still a handful. The phone rang, my wife answered. I informed her that I was now playing another carp. She said “Oh… Good Luck” and rang of. You can’t beat wifely support.

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Weighed in at 3 and a half pounds, this common was shaped like a barrel and in perfect trim, the hook transferring to the net. A recast over more maggots, saw the float dip and sink away slowly, until the strike sank home, then all hell broke loose, the fish standing on it’s head, flapping a massive tail on the surface. My float rod was never designed for this sort of punishment, but survived being bent to the butt several times. This was a much larger carp and on one of it’s many passes, the coarse scale pattern of a mirror carp stood out clearly. The commotion attracted the attention of a pair of anglers on the opposite bank, who arrived in time to see the broad backed monster scooped into the net.

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21 inches long and nearly 7 lb in weight, this mirror was an absolute tub at around 6 inches wide at the shoulder. The water is so shallow, yet until hooked, there is no sign of these carp on the surface. The disturbance did not put off the fish and minutes later I was in again, the new float sliding under. My body is not used to this sort of a work out, the fish with nowhere to go, but in a lateral direction in the knee deep water, pulling away at full speed. Soon a flash of orange and more irregular scales revealed another mirror.

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In the now low light, the pic could not do justice to this golden mirror carp at 19 inches and 4 lb 8 oz. I was now ready to pack up, offering my swim to the onlooking anglers, but on refusal made one more cast. Having planned a short session, I had no reviving hot cup of tea with me this time and had to summon up the last of my reserves, when the float sank away again. The fish was unseen for several minutes, after the first run, bringing it back to under my feet, in and out of the landing net, then off again. My audience commented on the power of what we could see to be a common carp larger than my first, which refused to give up, but the hook held and number four was on the bank.

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I can understand why anglers get obsessed by carp, putting them on a pedestal, but like most fish, once you get them feeding, they are an easy fish to catch. I was pleased and also exhausted catching these carp. My float idea worked a treat and of the three fishing that afternoon, I was the only one to catch.

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It took three of us to get these fish in the landing net, before lowering them back into the water, no room for any more.

 

Roach and chub from the deep freeze

December 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

With maggots from last weekend still in the fridge, any fishing expeditions were scuppered by days of sub zero temperatures, that had put a covering of ice over the local ponds.

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Not wanting to waste my aging bait, the van was loaded up and the flask filled with piping hot tea for the ten mile drive south to the river Blackwater, hoping for a few winter chub. I’d been promising myself a visit to a swim, that I had passed in the summer,  where the flow runs beneath an archway of overhanging branches, which looked like it oozed chub. Trundling my trolley along the meandering bank, the sight of two anglers side by side in the very spot, stopped me in my tracks. Enthusiasm gone, I retraced my steps back to the car park, where a well worn swim beckoned. At least bait would have been going in here, holding a head of fish?

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Setting up with a 4 No 4 ali stick, there was a steady 3 ft deep trot along my bank, where brambles overspilled into the water, with a protective branch trailing. Having fed a couple of handfuls of red maggots while setting up, I was encouraged to see indications of a bite first cast, holding back, then letting go, seeing the float dive deep.  A sweeping strike met instant resistance, that gave way to a small perch of a few ounces, which was soon in the keepnet. The maggot was untouched, but I added another in the hope of a better fish and followed more maggots down, this time missing the bite. Next trot another small perch was in the net, having paused a second on the strike, the size 16 hook just in the lip.

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Bait still untouched, the float was eased back toward the overhang, where it sank again, the line following down. Counting to three, I struck. Yes! The rod bent over to a fast running fish, that stayed deep and I backwound to ease the pressure on the small hook. There are barbel here, but when the fish turned out in an arc to the middle, I saw the deep green flank of a very good perch, before it rushed back to the bottom. Keeping on the pressure, the pound perch was soon on the surface, being drawn to the landing net, the red maggots visible in it’s lip. Gills flared, it gave the dreaded head shake inches from the net and the hook flew out. Drifting downstream it remained on the surface briefly, then rolled over and away.

After that there were no more decent bites, that perch had taken the shoal with it. I tried to get them back, sticking it out for another half hour, before deciding to change waters. Keeping the rod set up, breaking down the top joint to get it in the van, I loaded up and headed back to the weir pool near home. If the swim was empty, I would fish, if not a warm kitchen would be welcome on a freezing day. The pool was clear and it took only minutes to settle down to fish.

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Frozen mist hung in the air and ice was visible in the margins, as I fed a couple of handfuls of reds into the eddy, watching them being swept round to the white water. Dropping the float in under my rod top, it travelled a few feet and buried, the rod bending over in response as a small chub retreated back to the weir. I swung the chub in, maggots spewing from it’s throat.

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Feeding more maggots brought another fish, this time a hard fighting roach, right on the edge of the foam.

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Having started fishing again at about 1:30, there were only a couple of hours of light left on such a dull day and I set about making up for lost time with another roach.

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A hot spot developed just where the slow water entered the fast and casting in with the float well over depth brought a bite every time, the roach tally rising.

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More like this followed, then, bang, something much bigger took, speeding across the fast water, backwinding saving a lost fish, putting on side strain to keep it clear of the bush to my right. Once back in the eddy, it was only a matter of time, until it was ready for the landing net, the two pound chub’s white mouth wide open.

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Once in the net, the hook dropped out, although still full of fight, it nearly flipped out of my grip, when faced with the keep net.

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By 3:15 the light was going fast and I was now having trouble hooking the maggots without bursting them, so this 8 oz roach was the last of the day. The camera was already slowing down and I needed a last shot of the final net.

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Some of the eight roach were hidden in the folds of the net, but I was satisfied with this image, which sums up what winter fishing is all about, and justified the change of venue.

Colne and Frays roach cold comfort

November 30, 2016 at 5:28 pm

A rare chance to fish a river of my boyhood came this weekend, when a local fishing club offered the use of it’s West Drayton water in exchange for my club’s stretch of the Thames at Windsor. As a twelve year old, I used to cycle the five miles from my home to fish for dace, where the clear water of the river Frays joined the Colne, a few hundred yards below Thorney Mill. At that time stone loach could be caught under the Frays bridge by lifting stones among the clean gravel, while flyfishermen were a common sight pursuing brown trout. Continued upstream pollution events during the 1960’s, transformed these once magical rivers into evil smelling, fishless drains for over a decade. Now with many of the factories gone and water treatment improved, the Colne and Frays are back to their former glory, large bream, chub and barbel the main targets for anglers.

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Meeting in the carpark on a cold Sunday morning, this was a new piece of water to most of the club, the match secretary setting off upstream to search out the swims and place a numbered peg in each. After agreeing to join in the club match pools to fish the fast flowing Frays, there were more anglers than swims available, so extra pegs were put in on the two weirs, which spill off the main Colne above Thorney Mill. It was my luck to draw the lower weir, where I was faced with near static clear water, more suitable to the pole, than the stick float rod I’d brought.

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Setting up with a 4 No 4 ali stemmed stick float, I plumbed the depth at five feet and ran it through with a single red maggot on the size 16 barbless hook. Not a touch. Not even a minnow. After ten minutes, it was time to try a different approach. I’d also brought some food processed bread to use as heavy mash ground bait for the the Frays chub and squeezed up a small ball, lobbing it upstream.  Baiting with a 5 mm pellet of punched bread and dropping the float  in behind it, I watched as it made slow progress in front of me. A ring spread out from the float tip, then another. A bite! It went under. I missed the strike, almost too shocked to move. Cursing my brain freeze, the float was dropped back to the spot. Again it sank, but this time the rod bent over as a decent roach flashed silver, deep in the pool. The landing net slipped under this fish and the hook dropped out from the skin of the lip.

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Canal tactics with the pole would have suited this swim, likewise liquidised bread would have been the feed, rather than the chunky, coarse bread floating down to the fish. It would be a balancing act today, enough feed to keep them interested, while not feeding them off.

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Over the next hour the bites kept coming, taking time to develope,  the roach were very cold to the touch, even with my frozen hands, striking early before the float had fully sunk well away, usually meant a miss. bread-082

With the fish seven metres out, the pole would have been perfect, being able to strike directly above, against striking through four metres of water, while a chilling east wind was putting a bow in the line and dragging the float. Excuses, excuses, a bad workman always blames his tools, I knew what I was doing wrong, but couldn’t remedy the fact that my pole was at home in the shed.

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This was the best roach on the day, after which the bites got fussier and the fish smaller, tiny chub and minnows taking over the swim. Word filtered down the bank of some big fish lost and landed from the Frays, on the other side of the Colne and needed some better fish. With the main flow of the weir 20 metres out, I doubled up on float size to 8 No 4, making underhand casts to the lip of the weir, following down with pouches of red maggots. Despite the wind, I could hold back and mend line back to this heavier float, set deep at first dragging through, but when the bites failed to come, the float was shallowed to four feet. There was now a bite a cast, but it was chub, roach and perch of a few inches dipping and dithering the float, even minnows were pulling it under. Big chub, bream and barbel occupy this weirpool, but a couple of empty cans of luncheon meat on the bank pointed to their usual diet, treble maggot and lumps of bread flake not interesting them. The whistle blew for the end of the match and I packed my gear away, waiting for the scalesman, being the last in line. At least I had a few nice roach to show for a very cold day.

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The scales went round to 2 lb 3 oz and was pleasantly surprised to be placed second, being squarely beaten by a net of four fish, a 4lb chub included among an 8 lb plus bag.

 

 

Black Friday nature walk with the Magtech .22

November 26, 2016 at 11:19 am

Lured back to the high street by Black Friday discounts, my wife hoped to complete her Christmas shopping in one hit. With me acting as her driver, she was dropped off in town, while I continued on to the northern outskirts for a visit to the equestrian centre, in the hope of a few rabbits for the freezer. I say hope, as it has been slim pickings since a concentrated effort in the spring had reduced numbers, some once hotspots, now showing no sign of habitation.

It was a glorious mild afternoon with the sun throwing long shadows, as I walked along the lane from the stables and noticed that the owner had been busy clearing a long abandoned heap of stable waste, which had rotted down to rich black compost. Once covered in grass and pock marked with burrows, it had been my first and last port of call for an evening potting rabbits from the comfort of straw bales with my Webley Viper air rifle. Those days and the rabbits have long gone, although the grassy bank occasionally hosted a few occupants and had always been worth a look.

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Further along the lane is the next point of interest, a small clearing which acts as a general dumping ground, where through the trees I spotted a pair of big rabbits with their heads down feeding. Keeping low, I crept round from the side, rifle raised and ready. One was already spooked and gone, but the other was sitting bolt upright to the left of the rubbish heap. The shot flipped the rabbit over and it lay there kicking, which is just a reflex, but I prefer another to the head to make sure. Walking forward, the second rabbit appeared from behind the heap, making for the brambles on the right, pausing at the edge long enough to be stopped in it’s tracks with another shot.

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That was a good start. After paunching and skinning, they were bagged up, before moving on toward the wood, searching for the dark rounded outlines of more rabbits along the ride at it’s edge.

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On such a mild day, I’d expected to see a few rabbits out sunning themselves, but no and walking the length of the ride looking for recent droppings, sadly confirmed the fact that rabbits don’t seem to live here anymore.

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Moving into the wood, a rabbit bursting from undergrowth at my feet, bounded through the leaf litter to the safety of bushes at the end of the clearing. Following along the path, I stopped and listened for movement. It was close, probably intending to double back, and I slowly walked into the area.  Only feet away it jumped up, invisible in the autumn undergrowth, startling me as it scurried through the bushes before stopping again. Even with the magnification down to the minimum 3, the image was blurred, but the shot was unmissable and I fired. It leaped in the air and disappeared from view again. I could not find it, crossing back and forth, it was gone, maybe down a rabbit hole at the base of a tree yards on from the spot. If hit at that range, the shock alone would have killed it.

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That was my last sighting of a rabbit, starting out on a traverse of the boundary round the 80 acres that produced nothing, even where I had shot two six weeks before, was empty. Thinking about it, the rabbits may have been keeping their heads down, but my walk was interrupted by a deep red fox, a pair of muntjac deer, pheasants, screeching green parrots, wood peckers, jays and magpies, while kites soared overhead and pigeons clattered out of the trees as I passed. Surrounded by houses, a hospital and schools, I am fortunate to have this among my permissions, even if my work here is almost complete.

Back in the traffic, my wife was waiting at our agreed pick up point in the town centre, the sweet smell of perfume filling the car, her wrists testing grounds for expensive fragrances soon to be given as presents.

 

 

Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club net Jean’s pond

November 18, 2016 at 7:18 pm

It’s not often you get anglers complaining, that they have too many fish in their pond, but that’s what happened at the recently formed Braybrooke Community Fishing Club, the members calling in the Environment Agency to destock some of the thousands of small roach and rudd populating their Jean’s pond. On my doorstep, I had not been aware of the water, only five minutes drive from my home, until invited to fish last month, when I had caught a mixed bag of fish, topped off by a four pound plus tench. I had no complaints of my catch.

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Invited down to watch the EA net the pond, I arrived to find agency worker Stuart persuading fish to leave the safety of a lily bed, before the net was drawn to the bank, revealing hundreds of their target small rudd and roach.

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A raft of autumn leaves had hampered the netting operation, the first session resulting in plenty of leaves, but no fish, the second more successful, although there were a large number of quality fish in the net, many being returned to the water. Dropping the lead weighted mesh in a circle from a boat each time, most of the near surface area of the pond was covered and the Environment Agency men were satisfied with their efforts, after four hauls.

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One of the reasons for the destocking, was the lack of natural predators apart from a few perch, the members having no knowledge of any pike in the pond for years, but the surprise of the morning was…..a pike.

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Where there is one pike, there must be more, the morning’s work providing only a brief snapshot of the pond stock. No tench, or crucian carp, of which there are many, came to light, but an estimated thousand small silver fish were put in the water tank ready for transportation to one of the other Bracknell council controlled ponds. Members will debate the need for the netting, but preparing for the morning, community workers with grappling hooks dragged a wide selection of detritus from the water, sunken logs, a dozen cycles, children’s scooters and shopping trolleys piling up on the banks before they were done. This once neglected gem is getting ready to shine again.

Less than a year into this community project, the club is going from strength to strength, attracting novice and returning anglers to the sport, while providing families the opportunity to meet with their neighbours, to take part in a variety of nature inspired events, which have included birds of prey, reptiles and bat walks. In an increasingly inward looking world of mobile phones, it is a pleasure to see bright eyed young children taking a keen interest in their surroundings.

Autumn roach bread punch fishing

November 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

Desperately needed rain came relentlessly to my local river last week, in days pushing the levels over the banks, as the acres of concrete and tarmac from the surrounding housing estates, flushed the excess rainwater down land drains into the watercourse. This vital job done, the river settled down again, running clear with a steady flow and with a few afternoon hours unexpectedly available, I made the short drive to the recreation ground car park. Beyond the tennis courts, five -a-side football pitches and crazy golf, the river appears from it’s subterranean route beneath the town to flow through a narrow green corridor between a main road and houses.cut-097

Leaves were falling like confetti on my arrival, not helped by a brief, but heavy shower of rain as I tackled up my lightweight 12 ft Hardy rod, ABU 501 reel combo, with a 3 No4 Middy ali stem stick float. The only bait available had been several slices of white bread, saving a couple of slices for the punch, while the remainder was whizzed down in the liquidiser for feed.

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Very shallow on my side, the flow was running along the opposite bank, where a couple of small balls of bread feed were followed by my float rig. Dip, dip, sink; I struck into the first cast, bringing a roach to the surface immediately, the float set at two feet, taken on the drop.

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Some of my canal fishing mates may say that a size 14 hook is too big for a 5 mm pellet of punched bread, but it works well on this little river, a larger pellet often giving a less positive bite. Next cast in, the float went straight down and a better roach was bouncing the rod top.

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The occasional small ball of feed had the roach lined up, passing the twenty mark long before the first hour was up.

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Breaking the chain, the next bite saw a fish rush off downstream in response to the strike, the Hardy taking on a good bend, as a small chub ran back under the tree, before turning to run along the opposite bank upstream of me, popping up onto the surface for the net.

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The roach had been happy to take the bait with the float running through, but the bites were getting fussy and decided to deepen up by six inches, holding the float back to half speed getting an instant pull under, the culprit being a deep fighting gudgeon.

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Holding back the float had it’s problems, the leaves stacking up against the line hiding the float tip, bites often being indicated by a ripple from the leaves. Mending the line back behind the float also became difficult, trapping the line and dragging the float, as the leaves continued to cover the surface.

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Roach were now competing with gudgeon for the bait, some real clonkers fighting like mini barbel, hugging the bottom as they dashed about. This fat one was at least 2 oz in weight.

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By 3:15, the light was already fading, the sky a dull grey as a fine drizzle filled the air, but the bites were still coming, small chub and rudd adding to the mix, fishing on in the hope of a decent chub, or roach to end the day.

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Stretching out the session for another 30 minutes, this rudd was my last fish, it becoming difficult to see the slot in the punch to hook the pellet. By now the drizzle had graduated to proper rain and I cut the rig from my line to avoid being tempted to continue.

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Evidence of never a dull moment on the bread punch, over fifty fish in a relaxed two and a half hours session. Home in time for hot tea and biscuits by 4:30 pm.

Roach and chub on the mash

November 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm

What a difference a year can make. Last year I cut a new swim out on the bank of my local river and enjoyed a successful afternoon catching small chub, topped off with a near 2 lb perch. A planned return this week was scotched when I saw the river: there was no water, less than half the usual rainfall over the last six weeks has had a drastic effect.

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This same view last year was very different, being able to trot a stick float across the whole river.chub-034

Intending to trot down to the overhanging tree from the left bank, it was clear that another swim was needed and headed off along the lane to the weir, where flowing water was guaranteed. Finding the popular peg unoccupied, the van was parked and my gear unloaded.

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This swim has always provided plenty of action with roach and chub on the stick float, feeding into the river to draw fish from the outfall, but with levels down by two feet, the only movement was being caused by a back eddy. With a mix of liquidised sweet corn and bread feed pressed into a ball introduced into the eddy, I watched it sink, breaking up in the clear water to be swept back into the outfall on my bank.

Casting in with a 6 mm bread pellet on size 14 hook, the the float drifted back toward me, and sank slowly. Not the bottom, a good roach exploded onto the surface, dashing out into the outfall and putting a good bend in the rod.

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The float was set at only two feet and tripping bottom, the fish taking right under the rod top and clearly visible on the strike, the next fish being a hard fighting chubl. With no depth these fish had nowhere to go, but out into the fast water.

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Alternating the bait between bread and sweet corn made no difference to the species, regular feed keeping the fish out in front of me.cut-082

Another good roach close in, a pole would probably been better then the running line, but carp and much larger chub can put in an appearance at any time in this swim, so the rod and reel is a good insurance policy.

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Rudd are also present, this one being the best in a succession of fish coming from under my feet in the first hour. When the bites began to slow, holding back the float down the edge of the foam kept them coming.

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After two and a half hours, the light was going, the temperature had dropped and I decided to call it a day, around 5 lb of fish filling the net.cut-095

 

Crucian carp oblige

October 31, 2016 at 3:55 pm

With the choice of an afternoon shopping expedition with my wife on offer, I took the safe option and went fishing instead, not wanting to upset her acquisition flow, allowing her to browse at will. All I needed now was to catch a few fish and we would both be happy. My local recreation ground, with it’s pond within easy walking distance, can be relied upon to provide a busy afternoon’s sport, so with a kiss from my wife, the trolley was loaded and I was on my way.alls-107

I’d cut this swim out six weeks before on my last visit, then the leaves being still fresh and green, but now the gold of autumn has taken over. A mix of liquidised bread, black with hempseed, was pressed into loose balls  and  thrown in at between 7 and 8 metres, with a scattering of sweet corn over the area, before setting up. alls-110

There being no wind, a 0.4g float set two feet deep, to a size 16 barbless hook would do the job, shotted to show the last 6 mm of the tip. Rudd are usually a problem for the first 30 minutes of fishing here and when the float marched across the surface seconds after the first drop in, the pattern seemed set, but the elastic stretching out from the pole on the strike meant a small common had taken the sweet corn.

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That would do nicely for a start. My next cast produced a few knocks and dips, but nothing to strike, so the sweet corn came off and a 6 mm pellet of punched bread was substituted. The float sank in a series of dips and I lifted to feel the juddering fight of a crucian, pulling the pole back to unship the last 3 metres for netting the zig zagging carp.

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This little thumper set the scene for a succession of crucians on the punch, the net coming out at regular intervals, the hook barely in the skin of the lip. A couple of missed bites made me switch back to the corn, getting a more positive bite and a better crucian.

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The fish here are a mix and match, this one having a fan tail, gold fish and koy having been released from family ponds appearing from time to time. I even caught a terrapin here once.

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This was the last crucian of the afternoon, another fan tail, variety being given by a few more small commons, 3 hours from 1:30, until 4:30 being enough time to net about 30 fish for 11 lb.

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By the time I’d walked back home and put the gear away, my evening meal was on the table. That’s what I call teamwork.

Bread punch chub surprise

October 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm

My plan to fish the weir pool of my local river fell at the first hurdle today, when a drive-by revealed a van parked in the gateway and a leger angler seated in the only swim. Winding down my window, I asked if he’d caught. A slow shake of his head told me that hadn’t, or that he was being cagey, not wanting to pass on his success. That swim is full of big roach, chub and the occasional carp; he must have caught. Where now? The river flows away from the lane, behind private houses and across fields, passing under a main road two miles away, where I now headed off to investigate.

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I have driven over this bridge many times, but the lack of parking and chest high wild hop vines have put me off attempting to fish in the past. An overgrown gateway a hundred yards away, allowed the van to squeeze into a space with the wheels off the roadway, while with the onset of autumn, the hops were dying back. It was worth a try.

The weir swim is next to the parking spot and hadn’t packed the trolley, but now I needed it. Deciding to travel light, I set up my 14 ft match rod at the van with a 4 No 4 ali stick float, taking only a landing net and my bait bag on the hike. Getting down to the river proved a challenge, a steep slope, coupled with the unrelenting vines and stinging nettles wrapping round my ankles, made me consider the wisdom of my decision to fish.

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Once down on the flood plane, the pool looked promising, the flow from under the bridge forcing along my bank, then swinging across to the exit, creating an eddy along the opposite side. Making myself comfortable on the bank, I laid out the bait trays from my tackle box on either side, while sitting on the box cushion, quite a home from home. While getting ready, I’d put a couple of balls of crumb down the middle of the flow, following with a single before dropping the float in, baited with a pellet of punched bread. I’d guessed the depth at three feet and was not surprised to see the float drag under. Too shallow. I lifted the rod to confirm, disappointed that I’d hook the bottom, when the rod bent over. The float traced a Z in the surface, then disappeared. A large fish had been woken up, slowly at first, then bursting into life to rush across the pool and down the far side toward the tail, forcing a rapid backwind of the reel under pressure. It turned, coming back along the near bank. This river has many carp, due to the lakes along it’s length and a flash of bronze scales seemed to verify my suspicion, but another surface roll exposed the gaping white lips of a chub, which dived into the reeds below me, before being forced out into the waiting landing net.

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A long lean chub, it weighed in at 3 lb 4 oz, way off it’s expected winter weight, which could exceed 4 lb. Not bad for a first cast with roach in mind. Released it sank slowly away with a flick of the tail.

Ready to fish again, the float followed two more balls of bread into the swim. Looking down to free line caught on a nettle, I missed the float going under, searching the surface to see the line speeding away downstream. I was in again with a bang, the rod arcing over into a more powerful fish, that was already heading for the exit. Again on the backwind, I leaned back, letting the rod do it’s work, the size 16 barbless hook holding. The relentless run had to be stopped. If the fish got out of the pool it would be lost. My days of chasing a fish downstream are long gone and I was relieved to see the chub broach the surface, turning to fight up the middle of the run. After battling right under my rod top, it popped up to the surface like a depth charged submarine and just lay there to be netted.

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Four ounces heavier that the first, this chub was shorter, but “chubbier” in much better condition. Two in two casts, how many more were down there?

Now regretting taking my keep net out from the bag, to cut down on weight for the walk, I returned the chub before sorting out the tackle for another trot through. Two more balls plopped in followed by the float. It sank out of sight as though a lead weight was attached, the rod top following it down the instant I lifted. Ping! Bumped it! The float sprang back, wrapping round the tip in a bird’s nest tangle.

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This was game over. Spare float rigs were in the tackle box, back at the van and there was no way that I could untangle the knot. I could go back and return with a float to start again, but decided to pack up. This was only an exploratory visit anyway, which had turned out better than expected. Next time I will come fully equipped with the tackle box on my trolley and a keepnet.

Braybrooke Community fishing lake rewards a visit

October 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

An invite to fish a lake owned by my local council, was followed up by a visit this week. Needing Google maps to find the water, which sits in one corner of a recreation ground, surrounded by a network of streets among a 70’s housing estate, I arrived to find a well laid out car park, with a path down to the lake a 100 yards away. braybrooke-001

Part of a project to involve the community in nature projects for the whole family, the lake has benefited from tree clearance and the creation of six disabled swims next to the car park, while paths and existing swims have been made safe.  A club was recently formed, offering access to an on site community hall, where regular nature based events have been held, while the inclusion of  fishing tuition for the whole family, by qualified coaches, has raised awareness of fishing as a safe, healthy pastime for youngsters.

Looking out at the lake for the first time, a patch of lilies to my left looked very fishy, although with rudd topping all over, I thought that any swim would have done.

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Plumbing the depth, I found the bottom shelving steadily away to 4 ft at 7 metres and selected a 4 x14 float to suit, the shot bulked to 18 inches, with a No 6 shot six inches from the hook.

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On the opposite bank a mother and child were busy emptying a bag of bread into the water, feeding the ducks. Bread must make up a fair bit of these fishes’ diet and I opted to start on the bread punch, having fed three egg sized balls of ground bait, heavily laced with hemp seed and sweet corn, in a tight group 7 metres out close to the lilies. First cast in the float dipped and sank in seconds, swinging in a well rounded roach in good condition.

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In again, the elastic came out on my next lift, this time a thumping rudd, that needed the landing net.

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This rudd had lost it’s top lip to an over eager angler, who preferred barbed hooks, my barbless size 14 slipped out easily once the pressure was eased. Off to a good start, I soon tried a sweet corn, netting my best so far.

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I continued to catch, this roach having a lot of rudd in it’s genes, the pole elastic staying out, until just before the net.

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Half an hour into the session, the silver fish stopped and small bubbles began to burst on the surface; a better fish was in the feeding zone. Selecting a large piece of corn, I dropped the bait on top and waited. Rings appeared around the float, before it lifted slightly, then slowly moved off, until it was gone. I lifted and felt the sudden surge of a very good fish, as it ran toward the middle, scattering rudd in it’s wake, the pole bending against the heavy elastic, which stretched out beneath the surface, arcing round back toward the lily bed. Pushing the pole hard over to the right, the fish surfaced in a boil, a dark body visible for a second, before it’s broad black tail forced down again. I was winning the battle, keeping the tench clear of the lilies with it rolling on the surface, then lying on it’s side with a single pectoral fin erect as if in surrender ready for the landing net.

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A female tench in perfect condition, which weighed in at 4 lb 4 oz, my best for a long time and certainly the largest I’ve netted on the pole, making my choice of red 12 -18 elastic, the right one.

I continued pulling roach and rudd from the same spot, bread punch and red worm reviving the action, when the bites slowed on the corn. More bubbles produced a perfect tench bite, which I missed, probably in haste. I was joined by another club member, who settled down to fish on the other side of the lily bed. He spotted a large koy carp among the lillies, giving me a running commentary of it’s whereabouts, which was well clear of our baits.

Dave, the other angler, gave me the low down on what was in the lake, no pike, but a few good perch, carp and koy, plus a big goldfish. The environment agency had also introduced a thousand crucian carp into the lake during their improvements, but they had so far failed to show.

A shower of rain seemed to pull the switch on my bites,  so at 4 pm, by which time I would have expected to be catching more tench, I packed up.

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The tench dwarfed some of the quality roach and rudd in my net, estimating around 10 lbs taken in two and a half hours of fishing.

The Braybrooke Nature and Fishing Club http://www.bcnfc.btck.co.uk/ are offering a family membership, (two adults and three children) for £25, with an adult ticket at £20. Seniors £15 and juniors over 12 £10.