When a friend suggested a post Christmas fishing session on a usually prolific local pond, I took the precaution of walking down to check it out, finding the surface covered with a thin layer of ice. Relaying the news to my friend, he decided to cancel. The following day saw heavy rain, then an overnight frost, but bright morning sunshine promised a dry day and I decided to venture out for a few hours after lunch. By mid morning, clouds were scudding across the sky, driven by a bitter wind from the north and my wife was questioning my sanity again, as I loaded up the fishing trolley for the short walk to the pond.
The sight of frozen puddles along the path did not bode well and when I reached the pond, sheets of ice were spreading out from the margins toward the middle, but the far end was free of ice, kept open by ducks, although it was rippled by gusts of wind. So far my investment had been to take liquidised bread and some punch slices from the freezer, plus a five minute walk, which with thermals and several layers of clothing had got me warmed up nicely. Circling the pond, I found a spot with the wind and “sun” on my back and set out my stall to give it a go. If it was no good, home was not far away. Only problem was that there was a traffic cone, courtesy of the local yobos, on it’s side ten feet out. Using my landing net pole, I managed to roll it round to sink in deeper water, just beneath the surface. Out of sight, out of mind.
In summer, a lily bed stretches out from the right, an escape route for the larger carp of this pond, but today only a few died back stalks were visible and I threw a few balls of bread along it’s edge. In summer this would have resulted in a boil of small rudd attacking the ground bait, but the surface remained undisturbed apart from the wind. Selecting a small 2BB waggler pole rig with a size 14 barbless, I was soon ready to fish, a 6mm bread pellet swung out on the 7 metre pole, being taken on the drop by a palm sized rudd.
The rudd here vary in colour from the usual silver with bright red fins, to greens and gold flanks with matching fins.
The bread punch was proving again to be the best cold water method, the float following the bait down each cast without hesitation.
The next fifteen minutes saw rudd swinging to hand in a steady flow, before a steady sink of the float had the pole elastic extending beneath the surface, when a small common cruised off with the bread. A quick dive into the lily bed was countered and the pole shipped back behind me, the top two removed to play the hard charging carp to my waiting landing net.
The hook dropped out in the net, the all important elastic doing it’s job to stay in contact with the fish. There are much larger carp in this pond, but this one would do very nicely for a starter, the reign of the rudd being over from this point onward. Bubbles were already appearing on the surface, a sign of crucian carp and my next cast had the bright yellow float tip, which was dotted down to the surface, flashing off and on, as it bobbed up and down with a bite. The No 8 shot four inches from the hook was lifted by a fish, revealing more float tip. I struck and felt the weight of a nice crucian, before it began it’s erratic fight, again shipping back instantly to the top two lengths of pole, letting the elastic do it’s work.
Not a crucian carp, but an exotic looking fan tail with extended fins, this barrel shaped fish hugging the bottom all the way to the net. The wind was still gusting behind me, making bite recognition difficult, the float appearing and disappearing in the ripples, each time it failed to show, I lifted into another fish.
The small pond is full of hybrids, this fan tail having more common carp in it than crucian, although the next carp was definitley a crucian….I think.
An hour into the session, the cutting wind dropped, but the sky went black with a cloud and the first of several short bursts of rain hissed on the surface. My hood was already up over my cap from the wind and felt cucooned from the elements, each shower passing in minutes, causing only slight discomfort. The bites had slowed since the rain and I plopped another ball of bread out in front of me, putting the float in close to the cloud of crumb. It zoomed off, followed by the elastic, another common was fighting for freedom.
The common carp were now outnumbering the crucians, each one stirring up the black mud as they fought, which seemed to attract more into the swim, this smaller common making an unsuccessful dash for the lilies.
Taking a detour on her walk to shop at Tesco, my wife appeared by my side, just as I netted another common this one close to a pound.
I was now into my third hour, longer than I’d expected, the wind and rain had gone, but the clearing sky had dropped the temperature and the chill was creeping into my bones. Reaching into her handbag, she found an After Eight mint to help see me through this fish catching spree and then returned home to make me a flask of tea. What a woman!
I scraped up my last ball of crumb and put it in. The bites had not slowed, in fact the float gave bite indications the moment it settled, but they were more fussy, not coming to a conclusion fast enough for me. I began striking at any positive movement, a lift, or dip. I hit most, missed a few and lost a some, including a pole bending common that came off at the net, that would have taken the hook in further, if given more time.
These heavily coloured crucians were the main culprits of the dithering bites. They would attack the bait on the drop, then sit off the bottom doing nothing with the bait in their lips. I was catching these, almost by numbers. Cast in, wait a minute, lift, break down the pole and net. So lightly hooked, they all needed netting. Being tempted to swing them in, often resulted in a dropped fish.
I was pleased to see this small tench. I don’t know how they got into the pond, but they are getting bigger each year, this the best yet.
My wife arrived in time for the netting of yet another fan tail crucian, the welcome cups of hot tea spurring me on. With time now denoted by fish, she stayed for a few more, before continuing to the shops. Having worked in a factory during my life, the fish were coming as though on a production line, getting into a rhythm only slowed by the size of fish. I’d lost count of how many caught, but my bait box told the story, each punch of bread being a fish.
As 4 pm approached, the float dipped under and I hooked into the best fish of the day, a common of well over a pound, that ran toward the middle, before giving into the pressure of the elastic.
The light was now fading fast and made this my last fish, unclipping the rig from the pole, before I could be tempted to go on. The session, on a day, during the coldest week of the winter, topped all my expectations, this being confirmed when I lifted the keepnet from the water.
For a non commercial local pond, this was a fantastic haul taken in under four hours. It bounced my usual scales, which go up to 6 kg, so rooted in my box for my 50 lb scales, managing to hold the net up long enough to see the needle stop just short of 20 lb. Bread punch rules.