A couple of weeks touring in my campervan, with strict instructions to leave the rods behind, had me weighing up the many options on my return, ending with indecision and no fishing. Living in a town that is blessed with cycle paths, my afternoon health kick saw me detour to the banks of a local pond, which I had discounted due to a large and growing population of Canada geese, which make baiting and fishing impossible. This time, no geese and very few ducks, while carp and rudd were topping all over the surface. On the cycle ride home, the fishing trip took shape, bread from the freezer would be thawed in time for a couple of hours after tea, while hooks had to be tied and floats inspected.
Walking down to the pond I saw another angler in my chosen swim, a bay flanked by overhanging bushes. He, like me had been tempted to fish, while out cycling, his chosen bait a can of sweet corn from the kitchen. He had not caught anything due to the cursed rudd knocking the bait. I don’t mind catching rudd, in fact any carp would be a by product of catching them on the bread.
I’d obviously been a bit too casual getting ready, as the only angler free swim was on a bare bank with open water, but if needs be I could make the cast toward island. The water here is only about 18 inches deep over thick black mud and I intended to fish a short 2 AA waggler with no weight down the line and 24 inch tail.
Being used to bread fed to the ducks, the carp often cruise just below the surface sucking in the half sunk morsels missed by our feathered friends and my method is to compress the bread punch into the slice, then drag a ragged piece of flake with it. The hook sits in the compressed pellet, while the flake is buoyant, allowing the bait to float up close to the surface, which can produce some exciting fishing. I made up a tray of sloppy mashed bread and sprayed it out toward the middle, then cast in among it. Dragging the float back a foot brought an immediate response with the float skidding under. A silver flash on the strike saw the first and smallest of many rudd to come across to my net.
Eager to grab any bait, these rudd are the main target during the school holidays and it’s good to see boy and girls fishing as a diversion from their iPhones, although rod in one hand and phone in the other is a common sight. The rudd got better, a few rod benders among them.
Several times a carp would nudge the bait, the float not moving, while at others the sunken line would give a line bite with no fish. A broad back rising out of the water was the first sign of a large carp as it sucked in the bread, the strike meeting instant acceleration and a spinning reel handle, black mud rising in the direction of the island. After a 30 yard run, this fish went to sleep, allowing me to reel it slowly over to my bank, but then the switch was pulled and it zoomed by unseen in the mud, to find refuge under a bush out of sight, wallowing in the shallows. Once again I reeled it back, my 12.5 foot Normark float rod bent double, parallel with the surface, until the big common made a break for the open water, running through the baited area, scattering rudd and carp alike. Keeping the rod high, pressure was beginning to tell and the fish started to roll with short runs. The landing net was out. It turned for one more burst of speed and the hook came out. The forged size 16 barbless had opened out, the 90 degree crystal bend, now being 130 degrees. A gasp from behind stifled the curse on my lips. A couple out for an evening walk round the pond, had stopped to watch the battle, unaware of the size of fish beneath the dark waters.
I gathered my thoughts, tying on another hook and link. I usually fish here with a size 14 forged hook, but again opted for the lighter size 16, which would allow the bread to float better. The last remnants of mashed bread were thrown out into the now blackened water and I cast out again, waiting five minutes before the float sank again. Poised for a carp, another nice rudd was skimmed over the surface. They were still there, the stirred up bottom acting like a magnet, as more rudd fell to the method; cast in, allow to sink, wait, then draw the float back a foot, the float going at any time during the process. I missed a few, but not a slow sink that saw more hectic action with a smaller common clattering clear of the surface with a roll that wrapped the line around it. By comparison to the first carp, this settled into a routine, that I would win, drawing the 3 lb fish over the net, before it could run again.
It was now past 8 pm and the light was fading fast as the sun sank below the houses behind me, the float tip just visible in the gloom. It vanished trailing line. I struck and missed. Carp, or rudd? Casting again, the bread was taken as the float cocked. I was into another carp, this time a runner stopping in his tracks to observe the rod bending fight, that went in ever decreasing circles, sinking the net and lifting as it passed. About the same size as the last, the hook sat just at the edge of it’s mouth, a decent tug would have pulled it free.
Time to pack up; I’d had two hours of constant bites, 20 odd battling rudd and two respectable carp on light tackle, plus one near double, that was almost mine. A lesson learned? Instead of thinking about it, go fishing more.