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Braybrooke Jeanes Pond fishing worth a soaking

September 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

With my wife planning a visit to the recently revamped town centre for the afternoon, I had a few hours available for an impromptu visit to a local pond set in a wooded hollow amid a busy council run park. The forecast was for stormy conditions later in the day, but arriving in the car park at 1 pm, the sun was shining with just the occasional fluffy white cloud drifting by. No need for waterproofs and by the time I’d reached my chosen swim, I was stripping off my hooded jacket.

This peg was new to me, but I have seen others catch nets of quality roach and rudd from here and set up my pole to plumb the depth, a shallow margin dropping away to a hole 4 ft deep close to the edge of the lily bed. My last visit had been in early July for a Grenfell Fire charity match and this had been the winning peg with 10 lb of roach and rudd after 5 hours, taken with hemp and caster.

My only bait came straight from the freezer, a white slice of Warburtons and a third of a loaf of liquidised bread for feed, which were still solid as I tackled up, crumbling the liquidised into my bait tray to mix with some ground trout pellets, before adding enough water for a light ball to be formed. I put in two egg sized balls to start, one at the edge of the shelf 3 metres out toward the lilies, the other at the centre of the hole another metre on.

With only three lengths of pole out, I cast onto the drop off and watched the float dip and sink away. A lift and the elastic bounced out with a hand size rudd, putting the landing net out for the first time.

In the seconds that it took to set the size 18 hook, the fish had swallowed the 5 mm bread pellet, a pattern that repeated itself for most of the afternoon. They love the bread. No fussing, the float goes straight down. Every half dozen fish I flicked in a pinch of feed, 2 to 3 ounce roach and rudd coming like clockwork with the odd bonus roach, or rudd.

Bubbles were now appearing on the surface 4 metres out, where I had been dropping in the occasional ball of feed and I added another length of pole, increasing the depth slightly.  The bait was taken on the drop, the float heading toward the lily bed as the elastic stretched out with a good rudd.

Shortly after this fish, the wind began to pick up and I could smell rain in the air, as black clouds swept in over the sky.

In minutes I was struggling to get my jacket back on, as a sudden rain shower hissed across the surface, the natural bowl around the pond creating a mini whirlwind that whipped up waves and bent the pole round. The float was out of sight for most of the time, often the movement of line from a taking fish the first indication of a bite.

I considered packing up, but then the sun would come out again. The fish were still feeding, aided by the sparing introduction of small tight balls of crumb close to the lily bed. Another squall of wind and rain forced it’s way through my cotton jacket and it was cold too, but the warming sun soon returned. The float had gone again, the line stretching out, followed by the elastic that curved away in an arc. This was a very good roach that fought all the way to the net, the size 18 hook dropping out as I lifted it out.

Minutes later I was playing another big roach that ran off with the bait hooking itself. My first thought was that a pike had taken a small roach and run off, making for open water, the initial pull had been so strong.

The rudd seemed to have gone, but quality roach kept coming to the net, until a bite saw the elastic extending back to the safety of the lilies. This was a much heavier fish, that fought doggedly before running for open water. My guess was confirmed, when a black tail broke the surface to reveal a tench. I had been trying for tench here all year, plenty of roach and rudd, but this was the first. Breaking the pole down to the top two for the net, it went again taking out the elastic, but it came back, wallowing into the landing net.

The rules of this club are separate nets for carp and tench and I frantically got my spare net out with one hand, while the other held onto the landing net, which had been lowered into the water. This little fiasco lasted 15 minutes taking precious fishing time, but I felt that where there is one tench, there will be others on the feed. This proved not to be the case, unless the roach were getting to the bread first, one of my last fish being possibly the best roach of the day.

I had promised to be home by 6 pm and at 5 I netted my final roach. I was down to my last quarter of punch bread and would need to mix some more crumb.

It was time to pull in my nets for a weigh in. The tench was 3 lb 8 oz and the silvers didn’t quite make 10 lb. I had chucked back a couple of dozen smaller roach, so I reckon 14 lb in under 4 hours fishing time is about right. This was a noted tench water once and another one would have topped an enjoyable afternoon. Total cost of fishing about 20 pence.

 

Baked rabbit with peppers and courgettes Sunday roast

September 10, 2017 at 7:20 pm

With a pair of tender young rabbits fresh from the cricket field, I had considered a family BBQ for these fryers, but heavy showers and thunder put a stop to that idea and my mind turned to a Sunday roast with a difference.

These days I tend to just take the loins and back legs for most dishes, unless making bunny burgers, or pasties. Instead of kebabs from the loins and marinated legs on the barbie, I would oven bake everything in one tray. This proved to be a very successful tasty dish. More tasty than it looks my wife said.

 

Ingredients

500 grams approx (two young rabbits)

120 grams of smoked pancetta lardons

300 grams new potatoes quartered

one red pepper, sliced

one red onion, rough cut longways

two small courgettes sliced

2 cloves garlic

2 stripped sprigs of rosemary

1 tbs mixed herbs

2 tbs olive oil

250 mil dry cider, or white wine

Method

Place the herbs and garlic in a liquidiser and reduce to a paste.

Pour one tbs of the oil into a bowl, then mix in the herb paste, followed by the rabbit, cutting the loins into 25 mm chunks. Work the marinade into the meat and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Spread the loin pieces and lardons in a large baking tray, and then place the prepared vegetables into the marinading bowl and add the other tbs of oil, stirring and shaking to ensure full coverage. Pour over the top of the small meat pieces, then place the legs on the top.

Put the tray in the oven preheated to 220 degrees and leave for 30 minutes. Take out briefly, the potatoes and legs will already be browning. Turn over the veg and meat, mixing in the juices. Turn over the legs to allow even baking.

Pour over the cider, or wine. This will prevent the dish from drying out, with the bonus of providing a rich gravy. I used half a bottle of my own dry cider.

Return to the the oven for a further 45 minutes. Check and baste the dish after 30 minutes adding a dash more liquid if needed.

Serve straight from the dish.

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP review

August 31, 2017 at 9:58 am

My neighbour is moving and asked if I was interested in buying an air rifle that had been cluttering up his office for the last couple of years. Taken as part payment for work he had done, it had been used by his son for plinking in the garden a few times, then put away. Already well served by my .177 Relum springer, Webley Venom Viper .22 PCP and the FAC rated Career 707 .22 PCP, I was not seeking another air rifle, but said I would take a look at it. Unzipping the gun bag, I could see that it was an iconic Weihrauch HW 100 with a thumbhole walnut stock in perfect condition.

Used for target shooting and pest control alike, this rifle has gained a reputation in the precharged pneumatic  air rifle world on par with the BSA Airsporter of many years ago.

The asking price was well below what I would have expected for a rifle of this quality and took up the offer of a trial before I made any decisions. The rifle also came with a 7 litre diver’s bottle and I filled the rifle to 200 bar before setting up a target at 25 yards to shoot prone off the bipod. Also supplied was a near full tin of JSB Match pellets, which filled the two 14 shot magazines.

The scope, which was an optional extra, is a Hawke Panarama EV 4-12 mag x 50 AO IR with parallax adjustment from zero to infinity. The illuminated mil dot scale has a choice of red, or blue illumination with a brightness scale from 1 to 5.

The magazine loaded easily from the right hand side with the cocking lever pulled back, a thumb switch pushing forward to then positively locate the magazine. With the cocking lever pushed forward, a centre spindle for the magazine comes forward for more location, as the pellet feed probe pushes the pellet into the barrel ensuring no damage to the pellet. The trigger is very light and smooth, the pellet sent on its way silently with no vibration back through the rifle. Reloading can be done with little effort on the bipod without unsighting the scope and the minimum of mechanical noise. In fact the click of the pellet hitting the wooden target back stop was the loudest, if any noise. A lot of thought and engineering knowledge has gone into this rifle.

With the target at 25 yards, the first shot was an inch high and a half inch to the right, although I was glad to see that the following few shots were equally off target. The thumb wheels for windage and elevation were smooth in operation with fine, but positive clicks and I was soon clover leafing the targets, taking out the 10 mm centre bull. Moving back 5 yards to 30, I was please to see very little drop of the pellets, a 14 shot magazine opening up a touching hole group on the same zero.

I am not a target shooter and and could have adjusted for the right to left breeze, while a higher magnification would also have shown the drift. At 20 yards the group was tighter and half an inch higher on the same zero.

At 160 bar on the the end of cylinder gauge, the pellets were still falling into place, a sign of a well regulated air charging valve system.

The HW100 Sport is not a lightweight, with a scope and bipod it weighs over 9 lbs, a bit heavy for me firing to hand, although the thumbhole stock gives a good firm hold on the rifle, when bringing the rifle up to the eye for a snap shot. This rifle was new in 2013 and in 2014 a shorter by 4 inches carbine was brought out, no doubt to address the weight issue, while also allowing more flexibility when hunting, especially if shooting from a vehicle.

Overall I was very impressed with the Weihrauch HW100 Sport and took over ownership of the rifle, taking it out a few days later for a test in the field using the heavier 19 grain H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, which I have used in my Carrer 707 to good effect at longer ranges, than I expected from this 12 ft lb weapon.

This was the first of three rabbits taken during a brief after dusk session at my sports ground permission. With the blue graticule illumination on the scope, the rifle had clinical accuracy on prone head shots out to 30 yards.

Bread punch crucians, roach and skimmer bream make up for a bad start.

August 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

With a guest ticket and key in my pocket, I took a 15 mile drive into the next county this week, leaving after rush hour to avoid the traffic, but forgetting the long queues lining up to get into the nearby Theme Park, the cars full of holidaying school kids. “Are we there yet?” This obstruction passed, a few miles on saw me in another tailback on the main road to the motorway. Looking ahead, I could see the westbound carriageway was not moving. A short one section belt down the westbound, cuts out a whole grind through the main town between me and the fishing lake. Cars and trucks were now diverting along this alternative route and I joined the stop, start throng of frustrated drivers. All the westwards roads seemed clogged and I pressed on through traffic lights, past speed cameras; chance would be a fine thing.

At last I reached a narrow lane, a much used short cut, when I lived nearby, although even this had big vans and trucks heading my way, squeezing me into the tree lined edges. Passing through the next village, I was sorry to see the local butcher had closed down, the shop long boarded up. The butcher used to have rabbits and pheasants hanging up outside, many of them mine, a useful source of pocket money.

Pulling the van up in the car park, all that was now needed was to unload the gear onto my trolley, unlock a gate, cross a field, unlock another gate, then make my way through a wood to the lake side. It seemed a long time since my wife had handed me my flask and sandwiches, seeing me off with a goodbye peck on the lips. A cup of tea from that flask was just the ticket.

This lake is full of carp, where the popular method is to cast a bait close to the island bank, or lily beds for results, but I was here for the other fish, crucian carp, roach and skimmer bream and set up my pole to 5 metres, feeding a line at that distance with a few balls of liquidised bread mixed with crushed carp pellets. Confident that I would catch on the bread punch, I’d brought no other bait.

Within ten minutes, the baited area was beginning to fizz with bubbles, as fish moved in to feed. The first few casts with a 6 mm bread pellet on the hook, saw Kamikaze mini roach attacking the bait, but then the elastic stretched into a better fish and I netted the first skimmer. After a brief burst of subsurface activity, the flat sided fish was literally skimming on its side toward my net.

The tiny roach had been pushed out of the swim as more skimmer bream found the bait, coming to the net at regular intervals. Then the elastic stayed down and the slow motion thud of a real bream bounced the pole as it swam to my left, before surfacing in front of the reeds. Breaking down the pole to bring it closer brought a reaction that saw the elastic stretch out again, requiring the rapid addition of the extra three metres, as it ploughed through the the middle of the baited area stirring up mud and bubbles. I’d become too used to the smaller skimmers and tried to bring it in too soon. It was on the surface again and this time I inched the pole back through my fingers to bring it closer to the net. Back down to the top two, its back was out of the water and I waited for the bream to come closer, the elastic at full stretch as it rolled over. The hook in the tip of the lip pulled out. What a let down.

I soon recovered, when next cast the float bobbed a few times and drifted under. I lifted the pole to feel the juddering fight of the first crucian, the elastic working overtime as it rushed around the swim, then into the net.

The crucians and skimmers were competing for the bait, the occasional ball of feed keeping a metre wide area of bubbles going in front of me. A nice roach managed to get in on the act.

The bites were not easy to see due to the thick covering of bright green algae, the float dipping beneath the surface and out of sight. Usually a float tip can be followed under water as a bite develops, before deciding to strike, now it was a case of delaying for a second or two before lifting the pole. Most fish were very lightly hooked, even after a delay. One delay saw the elastic zooming out, a carp had hooked itself and was heading straight for the lily bed. Too late, it was in the lilies before I could react, but lifted the pole high to keep the line clear. The carp stayed put, the line going solid and I pulled for a break. The elastic was like a bow string and fortunately the 2 lb hook link broke, firing the float back. The internal bung holding the elastic needed pulling back down the pole to increase the tension, but with a new size 16 hook, and no tangles, I was ready again. Another ball of feed for the fish, a cup of tea and a sandwich for me.

There were no more dramas and the net continued to fill. I varied the bread punch size from 6 to 7 mm, but it made no difference to the fish, steady feed keeping them in a tight area.

A better skimmer

A golden crucian

A roach bream hybrid

It had been a weird weather day, very humid, sometimes spotting with heavy rain, then bright, hot sunshine followed by drizzle, when I had to cover up the punch bread. In the same way I never knew what species of fish would take.

I had come for the crucians, taking about twenty, this one being the best.

I was also pleased to catch a few nice roach, this one being the last fish of the day.

I could have gone on for longer, but had to call a halt if I was to avoid the traffic misery of the morning and pulled in my net to the sound of splashing fish.

A 14 lb mixed bag in under five hours.

Urban river chub and roach spree cut short by pollution

August 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Following several pollution incidents this year, my local river appeared to be in recovery six weeks ago, when despite an unidentifiable surface scum, it fished well on the bread punch with most of the silver fish species ending up in my keepnet. As a bailiff for the council backed fishing club, that has taken control of the water, my patrols have shown a healthy river running clear and decided that it was time for another monitoring session.

Arriving on a bright afternoon I walked down to an area where a club Himalayan balsam clearing operation has left an open area ideal for fishing. Expecting chub from under the far bank trees, I dropped in a couple of balls of liquidised bread, before setting up my 12 ft Hardy stick float rod with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed float. A sail away bite was a good sign and struck into my first fish, a palm sized rudd.

On my way to the swim I’d passed Jane, who was fishing with her young son. After a membership check, she said that they “only” had bread as bait and hadn’t caught anything yet. Informing her that I rarely fished with anything else, I suggested that she come down to see how I was getting on later.

As that first fish plopped into the keepnet, Jane appeared behind me and my next cast saw the float dive away again, the rod bending now into a hard fighting chub.

My visitor was amazed when the next cast saw a repeat performance, followed by a furious fight from an even bigger chub, that charged off downstream before coming to the net.

Another ball of bread and the float sank away again, the rod bending over as the fish dived back beneath the trees, now with an even larger chub. Close to my bank a submerged branch was visible and each time the chub had made a dive toward it as they neared the landing net, this one almost making it to the snag, but side strain kept it clear.

During this time I was giving a running commentary and trying to give Jane a crash course in bread punch fishing. Her son was using big pinches of bread from a slice, which were giving nibbling bites, while my 5 mm bread pellet was getting a positive pull under every cast. How do you pack years of experience into ten minutes? I’m sure Jane returned to her son more confused than when she arrived.

A smaller chub followed from beneath the trees, then the bites became difficult to hit. Leaving the float to disappear from view before striking gave the answer, 4 inch chublets. Their bigger brothers had gone off the feed and these juveniles were fighting over the bait as it sank. I stopped feeding that line and switched to the middle. Setting the float another foot deeper, I cast down stream and held it back over the feed. A dip, dip, sink bite brought another change of fish as a roach of a few ounces came to the surface. The next bite from the middle had me convinced that I had another chub, when it rushed over to the far bank, but the flash of a red dorsal fin identified it as a decent roach.

This was the last good fish of the session. I had become aware that the river was becoming misty with a grey/blue tinge, while the bites were becoming very fussy, those fish hooked being tiny roach of less than an ounce, which I put straight back. Shallowing up the float, I was back to the miniature chub again from under the trees. As the river became more coloured, the bites faded away. In my book, if you can’t catch on the punch, you can’t catch anything.

Half an hour without a bite is a long time, when the previous hour was a fish a chuck, even if most of them were too small for the net. The once visible submerged branches in close had now faded in the murk and it was time investigate where it was coming from.

I had intended fishing for three hours, but it was pointless to carry on, what had started as a possible red letter day had ended with disappointment and I pulled in my net.

I walked back upstream towards the outlet weir. Jane and her son were long gone, they would have stopped getting bites before me.

At the weir the blue tinged water was coming from my side of the sill, the cloudy mixture billowing into the clear water from the confluence of the wild river. Somewhere under the town upstream, contaminated water was emptying down a drain. Accidental, or intentional it can only be bad for the river. The Environment Agency have been informed, but the three outlet pipes are linked to many miles of rainwater drains under industrial estates. Searching for a needle in a haystack comes to mind.

 

42 grain Winchester .22 subsonic, long range field test

August 14, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Having carried out a series of comparison tests between RWS subsonics and the new 42 grain Winchester subs on paper targets, I was keen to try them out on rabbits, but had been unable to find the time, when conditions were right. Today that opportunity arrived, when a dull humid afternoon with a few spots of rain, eased into a mellow, dry windless evening.

Driving along the lane toward the farm, rabbits were visible in the pasture, while another hopped across the entrance as I passed through the gates. Despite these heartening signs, it was all change once I’d unloaded the Magtech semi auto from the van, the sight of a rabbit squeezing under a fence to disappear into the brambles beyond, being the only indication of my furry quarry.

Like all my current permissions, regular visits have kept the bunny populations in check, while as one of my landowners suggested the other day, they have figured out that my van parked in the lane means trouble. Whatever the cause, there seemed to be nothing about as I passed along the lane and decided that it was going to be a waiting game, climbing the motorway embankment to where I would have a view over a wide area covering two known warrens.

This is a favourite vantage point for the HMR, giving safe shots out to 150 yards with an 180 degree panoramic view. Having set the zero for 50 yards on the .22 Magtech, I was expecting targets to appear up to 70 yards out, giving the fast moving 42 grain Winchesters the chance to prove their worth.

I had settled down with the Magtech rested on my gun bag, when a rabbit appeared from beneath a hedge to my left. It was about 50 yards away and was confident of a kill, lining up the cross hairs on it’s upper chest. Squeezing the trigger, nothing happened. I’d forgotten to cock the action. Reaching forward, I pulled back the lever, letting it spring forward to feed the first bullet into the breach. Sighting on the rabbit, I was in time to watch it pass through the rear hedge 60 yards away. The ground below the embankment is rough from winter cattle and I hadn’t chambered the round for safety reasons.

Five minutes later the rabbit was back, working its way along the hedge beneath an apple tree. It paused and I shot it, dropping forward with out a kick, but I remained sighted on the head just in case it had only been stunned. It did not move. The Magtech was only a cheap rifle, when I bought it over ten years ago, but it settled into being extremely accurate with the right ammo. The 42 grain Winchester had proved its accuracy and knock down power, while being almost silent against the background noise of the motorway behind me.

Firing from the embankment top, it had been point and shoot at this range due to the drop cancelling out the looping trajectory. Looking back I was impressed by the distance.

I had remained at my post, waiting for more movement, while scanning the area. A hundred yards to my left, several rabbits had come out on the top of the embankment and considered the thirty yard crawl to get in range, but twenty minutes after the first, another rabbit broke cover. It stopped to dig into wood chippings long enough for me to swing round for a shot between the shoulders. A leap in the air and it was still.

Another clean shot beyond 50 yards. The Winchesters have a larger diameter hollow point, than the equally accurate RWS subs, of which I have questioned their knock down power, probably due to the small hollow point. No need for a second safety shot with these Winchesters. A few minutes later and another rabbit emerged from brambles into a small hollow at least seventy yards away. Allowing for drop, I aimed high on its chest and squeezed the trigger, watching it jump forward then stop.

The top of the embankment was still a hive of activity, with white tails flicking among the nettles and I decided to pick up my bounty, then return to the van for a closer shot. Walking down the incline, I disturbed a feeding rabbit, which ran across the path in front of me, then stopped short of the fence. At thirty yards the image was blurred in my scope, but the white of its front was a big target as I raised the rifle and squeezed off the shot, flipping it over in a back somersault.

 Four rabbits with four shots from the 42 grain Winchester subsonics, three at long range for a .22, will see my RWS subs pushed to the back of the gun cabinet for the time being, to be used for zeroing, while these young rabbits will make good eating, being kept in the freezer for a rainy pie making day.

 

 

 

Bread punch roach and skimmer bream action at Kingsley Pond

August 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

An invite to fish Kingsley Pond in Hampshire, as a guest of the Oakhanger club chairman David, was not to be turned down, despite a weather forecast of blustery winds and showers. I’d cancelled a visit last year due to the weather and missed out on a good day’s fishing at this prolific two acre pond, so turned up prepared for the worst complete with all my wet weather gear. David was already fishing when I arrived and sat me down in a swim close to his. He was fishing with cubes of luncheon meat on a size 14 hair rig, fished under a waggler float cast to a lily bed 10 yards out. All very new to me, but just the rig for the specimen fish inhabiting these waters. I was sticking to my tried and tested bread punch method to target the often ignored roach and skimmer bream, with the chance of a tench, or crucian carp thrown in for good measure.

No sooner had I set out my stall to fish, the heavens opened with the first of many squally showers, which saw me struggling into leggings and a waterproof jacket, preferring these to sitting under the restriction of an umbrella. Plumbing the swim, I found that the maximum depth out to six metres was no more that two feet, with less than a foot close in, not even enough to cover a keepnet.

Feeding an area four metres out in front of me and another beyond the edge of the small lily bed to my right, I was ready to reacquaint myself with Kingsley, where I had last fished 30 years ago. Then I had fished the pole with hemp and caster for the quality roach it held, taking a lucky tench to boost my match weight. Today I was using the same Shakespeare carbon pole over a bed of liquidised bread, laced with ground carp and micro krill pellets, with a smattering of sweetcorn for good measure. That would do.

The first ten minutes saw me bashing out small roach, most of which I considered too small for the net, chucking them straight back, so switched from bread punch to a piece of sweet corn. Missed bites and more small roach. Then the first skimmer. I had rebaited with the corn and dropped the rig in at my feet ready to add two joints to my top two sections, when there was a swirl and the elastic zoomed out, almost pulling the top sections from my hand. A second later the whole lot pinged back minus the hook, tangling the pole rig in the process. I was fortunate to have been holding the pole at the time, or it may not have been only a carp that I had just lost. After unraveling the tangle, I was searching for another size 16 to 2.5 lb hook link in my box, when David walked over to show me the 5 lb tench that he had just landed on the meat.

This small rudd was followed by a stonker of 8 oz, which flipped from my hands as I stretched out my fingers to show its red fins ready for a photo. Literally gone in a blur.

I had gone back to the bread punch, going from 6 mm to 7 mm bringing better fish, including some nice roach.

The rain was on and off, while the gusting wind often made it difficult to hold the pole, sinking the tip and waiting for the float to reappear from the waves. When it didn’t there was a fish on. Occasionally the wind would drop to be bathed in sunshine. The fish had no preference, they just kept biting.

David was catching well too, splashes from his bed of lilies indicating a satisfying session. A 2 lb crucian was carried over for me to see, with reports of a pound roach and one and a half pound bream, all on the the luncheon meat. He came back with a great chunk of the stuff. With only a size 16 hook, I cut the meat into small cubes and tried it out and got a good running bite. A signal crayfish had taken it.

A few missed bites and another big crayfish saw me back on the bread. Stick with what you know is my motto. I was not really set up for bigger fish as the earlier lost carp had shown. It takes time to get your hook back from a signal. After you have trodden on it, making sure it is dead, you have to cut the hooked limb off, then cut away to the hook. The luncheon meat was not wasted, it was very tasty.

Mixing up more feed, I was happy in my little fish catching zone, when a call from David got my attention. He was playing a carp, which had run in a semi circle close to the bank, before heading out again. It was eventually netted by the seasoned carp angler, the 10 lb common failing to break the 4 lb hook link.

This carp had taken a worm intended for a tench, providing me with a little interlude, the break giving me a chance for a quick sandwich, while David posed for a photo.

Getting back to my peg, the skimmer bream had done a disappearing act, the regular small balls of feed had held them in a tight area, but I was not complaining when the first cast back in brought a hard fighting roach.

More roach were in the swim, instead of the slow sink of the skimmers, the roach were just running off with the bait in the shallow water. The one below being my best of the day,

A roach bream hybrid, saw the start of another run of skimmers, this time a better stamp of fish.

We had agreed to fish until 3 pm and with five minutes to go, the elastic on my pole pulled out as I lifted into another fish, the dull thudding fight and a golden flank below the surface indicated a real bream this time, which slowly approached the net, it’s back out of the water in the shallow margin. Inches from safety, I pressured the pole to lift the bream over the rim of the net. It turned it’s head and the hook came out. Curses. It would have been nice to have ended the day with a fish that matched some of those that David had caught.

I am never happier than when watching a float go down, this haul in under five hours, proof of a happy day. Roll on the next invite.

Bread punch best for carp on evening pond

July 31, 2017 at 11:00 pm

I had been promising myself an evening on the local duck pond all summer, but scorching temperatures, not pleasant at the best of times, followed by storms and heavy showers sweeping across the the country had limited fishing time. Finding a free evening when it wasn’t raining, I took the short five minute drive to the pond. It takes longer to load and then unload the van again, than it takes to drive to the car park nestled among the estate’s houses. In my younger, fitter days, a brisk walk with the trolley would have completed the task, but today it’s what it is.

There were already several anglers set up around the 2 acre balancing pond, some more committed than others. No one seemed to have caught so far as I walked round, finding an open space opposite the island and next to a proper carp fisherman huddled in a chair watching his rods in a gap between trees.

Not having fished here since the winter, a white tide mark on the rocks lining the island, indicated that the level had dropped by at least 6 inches, not good in this already shallow water. I had heard that Thames Water had been doing work at the site. Lowering the outlet height would allow more water to be released during heavy rainfall, no doubt protecting the local houses, but not improving the fish habitat.

As usual, I had only brought bread for the punch and about half a pint of liquidised bread for feed, to which I mixed in a dusting of ground pellets. Wetting the feed mix, I threw out four loose balls along a line twenty yards out, that broke up on contact with the surface.

By the time I had tackled up my 12.5 foot Normark rod, bubbles were already beginning to appear in the baited area. Double punching 7 mm pellets onto the size 14 hook, the tip dipped seconds after my modified pole float hit the water. With no weight down the line and set to 15 inches deep, the bread was being pushed around by a fish, causing the float to dance around the surface without going under. Last summer the rudd in the pond were a nuisance, although worth catching once hooked. The float eventually stopped moving and assuming that the bread had been sucked off the hook, I lifted the rod to retrieve the float, only to find briefly that a carp was still holding the bait. The rod pulled down to the surface, then a bow wave heading toward the island said that the carp was gone.

The silly bites continued, the rudd seemingly doing a disappearing act this year, had left it to the carp to test my patience. Many times the float sank, to reappear a second later before a strike could be made. I lost count of the missed fish. One bite sailed away behind a bow wave, the line following. I tightened and leaned into thin air. Very frustrating.

Finally, the float held down long enough to make contact and the rod bent double into a running carp that trailed a slick of black mud, as it headed for the overhanging branches of the island. Back winding against the strain, the carp’s tail broke the surface in the shallow water, picking up a washing line of twigs, when it burrowed into the mud. Turning, it came back into the open water, where it was soon on its way to the net, although close to the bank it was almost beached, getting my net under it at full extension.

The commotion brought the serious carp man on the left to my side. He was yet to catch. The hook was just in the bottom lip of this five pound common. A lucky fish indeed. I like to keep my fish in the keepnet, until I finish, but the water was too shallow to cover the back of a carp, so it was returned without weighing.

My new companion stayed with me for a while, giving a running commentary on the iffy bites, uttering reassuring gasps every time I missed a fish. He talked of wafters and popups, artificial maggots and sweet corn, all foreign language to an old bread man like me. The Bread has done me proud so far, so why change.

A single pellet on the hook brought another rod bender, this time a barrel shaped mirror carp that ran hard to my right, out of sight behind a bush, where it wallowed on the surface like a stranded hippo. Sinking the rod tip into the mud in front of me, I reeled in and it followed, before running for the middle one more time. More back winding soon sapped its strength, turning on it’s side ready for the net.

It was still only 7:30, two carp in a hour and plenty of action in between. This mirror was the icing on the cake, but having intended fishing into the dusk, I rebaited with another single pellet and cast out. The baited area had given up its last fish and I cast another ten yards close to the island. The float sat without movement for five minutes, then vanished. Missed it! A boil spread out, where the carp had been.

Same again next cast, but this time the fish stayed on, relentlessly speeding toward the island, then running parallel to it. Everything went solid. Keeping the rod up, I could feel the carp the other side of the snag. Lowering the rod and giving line got the fish moving, but lifting in again, the line went solid, with the carp making waves the other side of the snag. The 6 lb line parted and my precious float bobbed to the surface. I will have to make up another one before my next outing.

Time to go home. I offered my fellow angler a couple of pieces of bread. He said he had missed a run on his floating artificial double sweetcorn pop up rig. He took the bread.

Bread punch tench make up the numbers

July 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

Continued hot and humid weather had banished any thoughts of fishing, but a freshening breeze and a forecast of thunderstorms by 7 pm, saw me liquidising a few slices of bread thawed from the freezer, with another slice for the punch, ready for the 10 minute walk to my local pond. Despite travelling light with just a pole and landing net, while my tackle box was loaded on the trolley with the barest of essentials, I’d seemingly sweated buckets by the time I reached the pond. The shaded swims all have dense lily beds alongside them, safe havens for running carp, so I chose to fish into open water, although it meant sitting in the full heat of the sun.

In this shallow swim, pole length is limited to six metres by a high bank behind, just allowing the top two sections to be unshipped when landing a fish, so with a short terminal rig, seven metres is the ideal fishing distance. I had been given some 2 mm krill pellets by a friend and added a handful to my ground bait mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets. The friend had said the krill pellets were a good tench attractor and knowing they are present in the pond it was worth a trial.

Having fed three balls along the seven metre line, the float sank away the instant the 6 mm bread pellet reached the bottom and a colourful rudd was swinging to hand.

For the next twenty minutes it was a rudd a chuck, until a different bite saw the pole elastic extending as a small powerful tench came fighting to the net. Maybe the krill pellets were working already.

Bubbles were now surfacing from the fed area and a dithering bite brought another change of fish as a small crucian carp came to hand.

The rudd had been pushed out by now and the elastic stretching out across the pond signalled a carp run. Shipping back the pole to the top two sections, the elastic took the strain, bring the carp steadily toward the landing net.

The punched bread was working well, with more crucians and small commons taking each put in, every punch representing a fish.

Putting in another three balls kept the bites and fish coming, including another tench dashing around the swim.

Small tench were now every other fish, while the occasional better common kept me on my toes.

I’d set a cut off time of six thirty, giving me three hours fishing time and on the dot the float went down with another hard fighting carp, this time an exotic fan tail, that would have been more at home in a garden pond.

In the previous hour the sky had darkened and the wind increased, that forecast of heavy rain seemed likely to be accurate and I pulled in the keepnet, this net falling just short of ten pounds. There were eight tench in amongst this catch, so maybe the krill pellets did the trick?

Half way up the hill to my home, it began to spot with rain and only wearing a T shirt expected a soaking, but made made it with a minute to spare before the heavens opened.

CZ 452 .17 HMR Varmint evening rabbit cull

July 19, 2017 at 10:02 am

A call from one of my landowners saying that his paddock was once again full of rabbits, saw me set off after rush hour on a balmy July evening, being met at the gate by Ray, who walked me through to the paddock, apologising for the fact that there were now only a few young kits visible. This is typical of many such calls, but undeterred I unsheathed the rifle and promptly dispatched the largest in view. The crack from the HMR brought panic from the until now unseen bunnie population, that suddenly appeared from nowhere, scattering in all directions without presenting a target.

Picking up the rabbit, I walked to the far corner and settled down, amazed to see fully ripe blackberries hanging out of the fence. These must be at least a month early, usually ripening in late August and going through to the first frosts. After bagging up the rabbit, I set about collecting blackberries, while I waited for some movement from the warren sixty yards away. With about a pound picked, a young rabbit appeared at the entrance to a burrow and in slow motion, I returned to the rifle and sighted through the scope. It was still sitting and with the bipod giving perfect support, lined up the cross hairs for a head shot. Number two was down without a kick.

Glancing behind as I picked, the bag had about 3 lb of fruit in it before another small rabbit popped out of the hedge at the other end of the paddock. An eighty yard shot with the scope at maximum 12 magnification, this is point and shoot with the HMR in the prone position and another head shot did it’s work.

The first time I’d shot this paddock it was used for fattening Dexter cattle. Then it was used to house Ray’s grand daughter’s pony and now with his extended family occupying the farmhouse and an adjacent bungalow, it had become a playground sporting goal posts and a trampoline. Not a good score for me this evening, but three less to dig up the pitch.

The remaining rabbits were still lying low and decided to move on to a field the other side of the yard before the light went. In cover of a tree, I peered over the fence to see several large rabbits feeding in a clear patch and eased the rifle up to rest on a post, downing two in quick succession.

This field is only used for hay and with it yet to be cut, it provided perfect cover for other rabbits to slink back to the far edge, brief glimpses of brown bodies not enough for a shot.

Climbing the fence I retrieved this pair, bagged them up, then returned to my vantage point, but a twenty minute wait brought nothing but a spectacular sunset.