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Sight/strike indicator nymph fishing review

April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Having grown up fishing a heavily greased leader as an indicator while nymph fishing, I was impressed by a short fluorescent braided indicator, that a friend was using with great success while Czech nymph fishing. Finding a set of three for sale online, I ordered a pack and sat back and waited for them to arrive from South Africa. The day of delivery was bright and clear and decided that a visit to my urban trout river would be a good test of the product, setting off after my evening meal.

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The sun was already low when I arrived and a strong downstream east wind was chilling the air, a look downstream showing no rises and little fly life. Tying in the indicator to the end of the leader, I added two feet of 4 lb line to the bottom loop of the indicator and then tied on my Black Devil nymph.

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Heading upstream along the busy road, I reached the first fishable section where trees hang over the river.

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The river was crystal clear, but no fish were on view as I worked the nymph over the gravel runs, the indicator clearly visible as it drifted downstream. Being as light as the line, it allowed the nymph to drop quietly onto the water, while being greased it floated high in the surface film. Casting along the far bank, the indicator jerked under and I overstruck into a six inch brown that lifted clear of the water, before falling back. That take was instant and I’m not sure that it would have registered on the leader.

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Moving up toward a long slack created by some flood debris, a cast between the branches saw the indicator dive to the left and on instinct lifted into a nice brown that rolled showing it’s white belly, before coming airborne in the shallow river. The 7ft No 4 rod kicked and bent as the trout headed straight for the snag, while I followed giving line. It rolled again, turning to zigzag past me, then settled down to swim up the middle, as I searched for my landing net, backtracking ten feet to pick it up and pull the brownie into the net.

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I had attracted a cyclist and a pair of dog walkers, while playing this beauty, the low light not capturing the full colours to do it justice. The bystanders were unaware that this urban river held such secrets. I sat and chatted as the trout recovered in my landing net, watching it swim slowly upstream to disappear against the gravel. Casting my way upstream, two more indications brought a pair of five inch parr, one swinging to hand, the other dropping off as I lifted it across the river. The light was golden with the sunset as I made my way back downstream, stopping at a man made feature to fish.

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Under the trees it was quite dark, but the indicator showed up well, when by now I would have been reduced to watching the bow in the line for movement, although the next take pulled hard upstream and I was soon playing a small but hard fighting brown.

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I missed a couple of short tugs from this pool, which with a longer rod would have given more control in the downstream wind and can see how this would mean more fish to the heavy Czech Nymph method. With an under body and rib of heavy copper wire, the Black Devil is a good early season nymph with just enough weight to fish off the bottom where fish are searching for caddis.

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The light was going fast and I walked to the lower end of this public water to see what changes had taken place since last season. Weed growth so far is minimal this year, which coupled with the lack of spring rainfall, has resulted in water so shallow that I saw the surface hump up, as a good trout turned to the nymph and struck too soon, pricking the fish, watching Vs and swirls, when it dashed off.

Windy conditions, coupled with shallow clear water on a hard fished public urban river proved to me, that this sight indicator will be a welcome addition to my tackle bag.

Trout stream season opens with optimism

April 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

River trout fishing is very limited in my area and joining a syndicate fishery within 15 miles of my new home several years ago was a dream come true. The tiny chalk stream held a head of wild brown trout, backed up by a yearly stock of triploid infertile browns, while with other trout fisheries upstream, the occasional rainbow trout added spice to life. The wild brown trout population was so prolific, that a few years ago the bailiffs decided that the annual stocking of triploids was unnecessary and missed a year as an experiment. This was a costly mistake. An increase in pike, mink and fry eating Canadian signal crayfish resulted in the collapse of the wild fish stock. With no large stock fish available, the predators turned to the wild fish. That was the theory, backed up by some of the worst returns ever and members walking away with their cheque books. The 30 member limit with a waiting list, dropped to two thirds last season and judging by the sparse numbers on the working parties it could be lower this season.

Prepared to give the syndicate another chance, I arrived on a bright spring morning for a brief visit last week to see how the river had fared over the winter, finding it unseasonably low and crystal clear, barely rattling over the stones.

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I had taken my rod, but there was no time for a proper session, intending to cast my Black Devil nymph to test out some of the gravel runs that had been modified by the winter floods. Walking downstream my shadow fell across the shallows and a trout swirled, darting for the cover of a bush. This was encouraging, as were several bare patches of gravel, evidence of wild trout spawning redds.

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Continuing downstream I could see one of the bailiffs applying weedkiller to an area badly affected by Himalayan Balsam last year and watched while he continued his work, deciding to turn back, as I had little time to fish, let alone stand chatting.

Stopping for a few casts between bankside trees, an upstream stab of the leader was a definite take of the nymph, but I was too quick, or maybe too slow, whatever, I missed it. A heart quickener no less and again encouraging, although I failed to get another response from that pool.

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Within sight of the road, I paused for a few casts where the flow pushes into a deep pool, making a long cast upstream to allow the nymph to trundle along the gravel, before it sank into the deeper water, retrieving line as it came back to me, keeping sight of the greased leader for any movement.  With the end of the fly line approaching the top eye, I lifted the rod to recast and a big brown trout came up from the depths like a Polaris rocket and grabbed the nymph, diving away, pulling the rod down, while stripping line through my fingers. It flashed gold for a few seconds, black spots clearly visible, before the barbless hook lost its hold, leaving me stunned by the sudden activity and staring at a slack line.

Excitement over, each pool was search in the hope of a repeat, when this time I would be ready to respond in the manner of an experienced trout angler, rather than a star struck novice, but second chances are rarely offered on the little river.

Below the road bridge a fish was rising to small patches of surface scum, but could not see what it was, while illuminated by the bright sunlight, several 4 inch trout moved in and out of the shadows beneath the road. There is hope for this fishery yet.

 

Bread punch retaliation at Braybrooke pond

March 24, 2017 at 10:57 pm

A few weeks ago one of my old match teammates invited me down to fish the prolific Jeanes pond in Braybrooke recreation ground close to my home. We had not fished together since our competitive days, but I knew that he would be out to give me a thrashing on what is now his weekly fishing venue. Arriving at the agreed time, I had found John already set up with rod in hand waiting for the off. After 4 hours fishing our weights had been close, the waggler float and maggot technique of John netting 8 lb 12 oz to my 8 lb 4 oz on the pole and bread punch.

Fishing my swim for the first time, I felt that I had not got the best out of it, despite a very respectable weight, so when an email arrived inviting me to join John and another ex-teammate Frank at the pond, I was happy to oblige. Again with the intention of only fishing the bread punch, I arrived to find them already fishing!

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A chill east wind was blowing the length of the pond causing a drift from right to left, not too much of a problem for me being able to sink the tip of my pole, but the two waggler anglers were at a disadvantage. John was still casting and feeding maggots toward the middle, where he had found a better stamp of fish before, but Frank had come in closer, having seven roach to John’s one as I began to tackle up. Plumbing my swim, it dropped away rapidly from two metres deep at three metres, to three metres at four metres and opted to fish with three metres of pole just off bottom, burying the size 16 hook in a 6 mm bread pellet. A pigeon egg sized ball of liquidised bread brought a bite immediately, but missed the first few sailaways, before the first of many roach came to hand.

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Reducing the depth on the float brought more positive bites, although many fish were under an ounce, over forty fish in the first hour putting only a couple of pounds in the net, enough to match my previous weight, but not enough to reach my expected target of 10 lbs in four hours. Eighty fish had scaled over 8 lbs previously. Better fish were there, but few and far between as the quantity climbed.

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Frank was finding some nice roach and rudd close in and it wasn’t long before John moved his float in close to that of his old rival Frank. The banter between these two is better than any Morcambe  and Wise comedy sketch, with Frank calling me over to referee where John’s swim ended and Frank’s started. I was now hooking a better class of fish myself, but with most barely hooked in the skin of the lip, I was netting them all, to a chorus of “Swing it in!”

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A half time tea break was called just as I hooked a nice golden rudd and by this time felt that the deficit with Frank had been made up, while John was slipping behind both of us.

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Taking time out for a sandwich, I could see that spring was coming to this shady spot, wild flowers growing on the far bank. The three metre line was slowing and put a couple of balls of feed in at five metres, adding another joint to the pole, while increasing the depth on the float.

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The float sank away and I was playing a better roach, that suddenly jumped clear of the water with a pike chasing it, unceremoniously swinging it in away from the green spotted monster.

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The pike moved away, surfacing next to John’s float, 7 to 8 lb he estimated, killing their swim, so they decided to pack up early. Lifting into a bite before going down to weigh their fish, the elastic came out on my pole with a very good roach or rudd thumping slowly deep in the pond. Waiting to see the fish to net it, the hook came out. Probably tried to rush it?

John had some good fish in his net, the scales measuring just over 7 lbs, while Frank’s weight had been swelled by some clonking rudd.

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Frank was pleased to have easily surpassed John’s weight with 8 lb taken on the waggler and maggot only ten yards from the bank.

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With still 30 minutes to make up on the other two, I wanted to fish on, but we pulled my net out to weigh the haul of around 130 roach and rudd, which pushed the scales to 8 lb 8oz. I had beaten them both, the better sized fish swinging it. We had all caught well on a cold windy day, different baits and methods being rewarded.

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While John and Frank packed up, the last of my bread feed was scraped together in the tray to form two small balls, which were plopped in on a 4 to 5 metre line, followed by my float rig, which was allowed to drift down through the cloud. More bites followed, most two to three ounce silvers, with a few larger specimens.

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This roach had part of a gill cover missing, but was otherwise in perfect condition and fought well. I stopped short of the 30 minutes, as I had used up my punch bread, roach number 140 being my last of the day.

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 Once more the bread punch had more than held it’s own against skilled anglers on the maggot and pinkie.

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Weighing up my final catch I had missed my target  four hour 10 lb weight by a mere 4oz, but feel that the surface of this pond has just been scratched and look forward to the warmer months, when tench, crucians and the mythical koi carp show up.

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Bread Punch Fishing Diaries – Book Review

March 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

As an advocate of fishing the bread punch, with many blog posts on The Urbanfieldsportsman web site, it was suggested that a pocket sized book be written on the technique, bringing together information gathered by myself over many years, with a selection of illustrated examples of it’s use through a season on a variety of waters.

I am so confident in the method, that I rarely take a back up bait with me, unless a water has a good head of perch, in which case a few worms from my compost heap will be collected before I go fishing. No longer an active match angler, I’m quite happy to pass on some of my “secrets”, something that I have been reminded of giving away, when publishing blogs over the years.

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On a recent visit to a local lake, I fished double bread pellet on a running line waggler float, taking six carp up to 8 lb, including a 5 lb mirror. I’d started off feeding an open area 20 yards out with four balls of mashed processed bread and fished over it. After ten minutes I had the first carp on the bank. Three proper carp anglers with all the gear, bite alarms, boilies and popups, failed to catch that afternoon. I would like to have included that session in the book, as with my last blog about catching chub with bread punch on the river Wey, but the line had to be drawn somewhere and Bread Punch Fishing Diaries was published.

I have highlighted these two fishing sessions to illustrate that fishing the bread punch is not just about catching small roach on a canal in winter, but a technique that can be used anywhere for quality fish, the cover image being of a 13 lb net of rudd taken in just a few hours from a free pond. I do not fish stock ponds, preferring to fish public lakes and rivers local to my home, adjusting tackle and methods to suit the venue, but always catching on the bread.

A click on the side bar link will go straight to Amazon Bookstore, where all sales commission will help with the upkeep of the Urbanfieldsports man blog.

 

 

 

 

Bread punch chub provide end of season finale

March 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

The last day of the coarse river fishing season often sees balmy spring like weather, but grey skies and a strengthening wind put paid to that theory. In recent years I have spent my last day catching big roach on the small river close to home, but with a couple of major pollution events since the new year, this river is now off my radar. With a club  membership that includes the upper river Wey, I took a chance that the  water’s chub would respond to my bread punch and heavy crumb feed to round off the season.

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Leaving home long after the morning rush hour, it still took nearly an hour to travel the 25 miles deep into the wilds of Surrey to locate the river, then find a place to squeeze the van into on the narrow lane by the bridge. The club handbook says of the stretch, that it is seldom fished. I’m not surprised, four or five cars are the limit on this lane. The handbook also states that fishing here suits the roving approach, with the minimum of tackle. Again, one look along the undulating bank at the boggy path, stiles and gates ahead of me, meant that the trolley would have to remain in the van. One final whinge, the river was pushing through and coloured.

Setting up for trotting a 6 No 4 Ali stem stick float, with an ABU 501 loaded with 5 lb line on my 12.5 foot Normark, I crammed a few necessities into my bait bag and headed off upstream to learn what I could about this virgin water. With plenty of twists and turns, this is what I call a real river, with the flow switching from bank to bank, creating slacks and eddies. Passing several likely fish holding areas, my progress was halted by a feeder stream, which had a bridge made up of two oddly angled planks, with no handrail, which would have challenged the SAS to cross safely. I turned round and walked back to a sweeping bend.

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This looked promising, but as on any new water, it is a blank canvas that needs a few trots through to begin to join up the dots. The bread feed had only been processed down to a coarse crumb that morning and held together with a light squeeze, dropping in a couple of egg sized balls upstream a rod length out, watching them break into attractive particles in the swirling current. The float carried away at speed from the rod top, the line spooling off the closed face reel, enough to hold the float back. After a few trots the float was set at 4 ft, with the shot bulked at the hook link, the size 14 barbless buried in an 8 mm pellet of bread. After several 25 yard trots my confidence was waning, when the float stabbed under half way down. It was a fish, not a big one, which danced in the flow, before coming to the surface, it’s silver flanks flashing briefly before it came off. It did not feel solid enough for a roach, or dace and for a 4 oz fish did not pull hard enough for a chub. With skimmers and grayling in this river it could have been either.

Putting in another ball, the float bobbed and lifted, then dived, the strike contacting a decent fish that ran off at full speed downstream, while I backwound furiously. In the coloured water it was difficult to see what I’d hooked, but the way it fought made me think that it was a trout. Rushing upstream under my feet, the fish was making for the roots of a bush, but side pressure brought it to the surface, a chub that now tried to tangle itself among weeds in the shallows, a swift sweep of the landing net making it mine.

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Phew, that was hectic, this 2 lb chub making the most of the swollen river. The hook was in the scissors of the jaw, needing the disgorger to push it free. Once released and after a calming cup of tea, I dropped in another ball of crumb, following it down with the float expecting another bite, but nothing and with the downstream wind blowing a gale, I considered moving, when the float kited over to the right.  Bang! The strike caused an underwater explosion, pulling the rod down to the water and I lifted my finger off the line, allowing it to run free to avoid a break. Bringing the rod back up to the vertical, I put my finger over the spooling line and felt the full weight of the running fish, which jumped clear. A brown trout of over a pound was now rolling on the surface 20 yards away and I dropped the rod top in response, only for the line to go slack. It had come off.

With the wind now at it’s worst, I gathered up my tackle and walked down to the next bend, where a sandy beach backed by a high bank offered shelter. The flow was directed along the far bank under several trees, although the wind was blasting this bank too and I gave up fishing an eddy under a stump, unable to keep a bow in the line from dragging the float. With this wind a heavier rig would have coped, but I was stuck with my original choice, however another greedy chub chasing the crumb feed made up for the lack of presentation, by sinking the float out of sight. Yes! I was in again and back winding to slow that initial rush, before the chub turned to swim along the opposite bank, fighting me and the current, that white mouth visible beneath the surface as I brought it across to the net. A pound plus fish.

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I was now realising that I had owned a permit for this water for a year and waited until the last day available to fish it. What a waste. These were fat fish, full of fight, caught in not ideal conditions. I was confident now that there were more fish to be had and cast again, hooking and losing a much smaller fish a few casts later. More crumb and a bumped fish made me think about a smaller punch, but the flow was washing bread from the hook and stayed with the 8 mm pellet.

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Walking to the end of the beach, I trotted the middle, the flow carrying the float over to my side towards a fishy looking groyne covered in bramble, holding back each time short of the jungle. Ten minutes of this and more feed being washed down kept my eyes glued to the orange float tip, as it passed close to the obstruction, pulling back and letting go. The line and float zipped downstream and I lifted to meet the full weight of another chub as it tried to get beneath the obstruction. The old Normark has a lot of backbone and I leaned back to heave the fish clear of the wooden posts, the line scribing a zigzag pattern on the surface, before making for deeper water. Maybe I’ve been catching too many lake fish lately, but these chub were in top condition, fighting all the way to the net.

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This one lived up to the chub name, being round like a barrel, giving me arm ache, staying deep and resisting all attempts to bring up until it was ready. The sun had come out and the wind eased, but decided to continue my exploration, walking down to a long nearside eddy that I’d passed on my way up.

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There was a definite crease between the fast and slow water and I hoped to find a few roach in the slack, dropping a couple of small balls in along the crease and switching to a 6 mm pellet of bread. The float wandered around in the eddy without a touch, so introduced another ball just in the flow followed by the float. The float bobbed and dipped with a bite then nothing. The bread was gone.  Encouraged, this was repeated. Again no bait. The slice had dried out losing doughiness, going flaky. Getting out a fresh slice, I punched another pellet that looked a lot better and cast in. The bobbing began again, then the float sank away and I lifted into not a roach, but another chub that steamed off at full speed to the middle. Battle commenced again, the pounding fight giving way to the odd head shake by the time it was ready for the net.

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With another nice chub on the bank it was time to go. The bread had proved itself once again, this time on an unknown water. The locals would probably say that legered, hair rigged meat would catch more and bigger fish, but I was very satisfied with my session. The 35 year old Normark is a heavy rod by today’s standards, especially in a strong wind, while in my opinion the ABU 500 series of  closed face reel is still the best stick float trotting reel going.

Waggler and maggot top pole and bread punch at Braybrooke needlematch

March 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm

An invite to join an ex team mate and match fishing rival John, for a pleasure fishing session at Jeanes pond in Braybrooke park, seemed like a good way to catch up, while catching a few fish. John usually arrives at about 10 am after a leisurely breakfast and I aimed to get there about then, but the tone of the day was set with a phone call at 8:45 to say that he was already at the pond. Gathering up liquidised bread from the freezer, with a slice of white for the hook, I mentioned to my wife that John was obviously very keen, being more competitive than me. ” I find that very hard to believe” she quipped.

I soon found out what sort of a session it was going to be, when I arrived to find him sitting rod in hand, waiting for the off. He was ready to dual, deciding to fish out toward the middle with maggot feed over a running line waggler rig, knowing that I would be trusting my day to the pole and bread punch.

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Overnight rain had passed through, revealing spring sunshine, although a sharp breeze was ruffling the surface. This was my third visit to the pond and chose to fish peg 5, which juts out into the water. Plumbing the depth, I found that the swim dropped away very steeply, being 6 ft deep at only 4 metres, and even deeper at 6 metres, leaving little line left between my float and the pole tip. Electing to fish up on the slope with the pole at 4 metres, John was swinging in his first roach, as I fed a small ball of crumb close to my float. The ball of feed did it’s job attracting fish to the area and I too was soon swinging in a small roach, followed by a clonking roach soon after.

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This was a welcome fish, as the majority were much smaller and I began counting them in. John was on 5 and I was on 15, but his were better fish. Going up from a 5 mm punch to a 6 mm just seemed to mean more missed bites and not bigger fish, so I switched back, the smaller punch proving a point with a nice rudd.

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I was still getting plenty of small roach, while my better fish seemed to equal John’s better fish at his lower catch rate.

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I was still ahead by more than twenty fish, when a trial cast with two more pole joints and an increase in depth, brought this rather scabby rudd, that was missing it’s top lip, evidence of rough handling and barbed hooks.

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More small roach followed and missed bites brought me back to the 4 metre line, where again  I was rewarded with a good roach.

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John hooked a pike, that snagged him close to the bank, then bit through the hookline. My score was climbing and I could tell that he was getting rattled, as I counted off the fish. With a hooklink to tie, he was even considering switching to the pole, but time and bait had been invested in the waggler line, so he soldiered on, soon hooking a big rudd, which I came round to net for him.

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That cheered him up, this fish cancelling out several of mine, although I countered with another good rudd.

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With the pike gone, John’s swim continued to build, with much better fish coming to his net, while mine were getting smaller. Time for a change back to the 6 metre line, dropping the float among two balls of crumb. All day the bites had been fussy, with a few dropped fish, most just hanging onto the skin of the lip The next bite said small roach to me, but the elastic came out and the fish stayed down, the dull flash of a good rudd, willing it to stay on.

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We had agreed to finish at 2 pm and the words from John “That’s it, all in” then “Fish on” made my heart sink, as too late I had switched to the deeper line and found better fish, my last, a 4 oz roach, being No 80 in my net.

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John came round to my swim, while I pulled the keepnet out, the sound of a good bag greeting him. On the scales my fish went just over 8 lb, not bad for four hours, the eighty fish averaging under 2 oz each.

We then walked back to John’s, where the sight of many fewer, but much better quality silver fish said it was going to be close. John’s expert arm lifted the net, and he grinned. “I think I’ve done you Kenny” He had too, by about 12 oz, the scales settling at 9 lb.

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It was a fair cop. Two opposite methods had put good bags on the scales, it could have gone either way, the real winners being the members of this prolific water.

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John with his winning smile and impressive net of quality roach and rudd.

 

 

CZ 452 .17 HMR and Magtech 7022 answer the call

March 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Last week I was pleased to get a call from one of my farmers in South Bucks, to tell me that he had moved his horses from a paddock and wanted to know, when I could come over to shoot the rabbits, that were once again increasing in numbers. This small farm is one of three dotted along a rural lane and he grazes Dexter cattle on the other two, which both have elderly owners, who have also given me permission to shoot over their land. Having not visited these farms since the Autumn, he got me up to date, as to how the other owners were, before we agreed to meet this week.

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An overcast, windy morning had given way to a bright afternoon, when I arrived at the farm, which has a mixture of grazing pastures ideal for the CZ HMR, while around the buildings I prefer the quieter .22 Magtech. The farmer was waiting as I drove into the yard and was eager to show me two rabbits feeding near the far fence eighty yards away. Without even putting on my jacket, the HMR was pulled from it’s case, a five shot magazine fed into place and the rifle cocked ready to rest on the fence for a shot. Unaware of the danger, the two rabbits were preoccupied and I sited on the one stretched out in the sun, causing it to leap up, when the bullet struck home. The other one ran in startled circles, before disappearing into the hedge.

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With nothing visible, I walked into the adjoining farm, where from the gate I can see the length of a narrow ten acre field.

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The sun was already low and it was the shadow of a rabbit, standing out almost black, that I saw first. With little cover at this time of year, I decided that it was better to shoot from 130 yards, than to chance spooking it by trying to get closer. Getting down prone for a shot off the bipod, with the magnification set at 12, I centred on the head, knowing that the light breeze would only drift the tiny 17 grain bullet a few inches at most. The rabbit just rolled over without a kick, the bullet passing right through it’s chest cavity and out the other side.

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Continuing along the hedge line I saw no more, but circling back along the other side, a rabbit was sitting up close to the entrance gate a hundred yards on. As I got down on the ground, the sound of the bipod clicking into place, caused the rabbit to sit bolt upright, ready to run and wasted no time in squeezing the trigger once the crosshairs found their mark.

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Back through the gate, a short walk along the path saw me overlooking the paddock again, where another pair of rabbits were busily feeding, moving from spot to spot. Further than the original pair, I followed one of them through the scope, the rifle again resting on the fence, until ready for the shot, that knocked it down.

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I waited around with the farmer for twenty minutes, but there were no more shows, even in the 15 acres abutting the paddock, despite his assurances that it had been alive with rabbits that morning. Loading up the van, it is only a short drive down the lane to the third farm, where I took out the Magtech .22 for a walk around the farm buildings.

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As I stalked the path, rabbits darted across it into the brambles through the fence, too fast to attempt a shot and I continued on to the field beyond, toward another warren in a hedge line. A rabbit was visible at 200 yards, but had melted back into the bushes, before I could get within range. The HMR could have taken it on, but I had made my choice of weapon and waited around in the cover of an old oak, in the hope of the rabbit venturing out again. Looking back, rabbits were out on the hill again and made my way back to the farm in cover, hoping to surprise a few, but sighting on the first, the sun now shining beneath the clouds ahead of me, was whiting out the scope. All I could hope for was to get as close as possible and pick one off, when they saw me and fled back to their holes among the brambles.

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That’s what field craft is all about, learning the habits of your quarry. The rabbits did just that, potting this one as it threaded it’s way through the prickly jungle. Walking back to the van, I heard honking geese, the lady owner giving her flock their evening feed, going over for a chat to inform her, that I was back on the scene for another season.

 

 

 

Magtech 7002 rabbit season opener through the woods

February 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Over the New Year, extreme cold and wet conditions saw me preparing for a new season by stripping and cleaning my rifles. The Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto rimfire benifitted from the full strip treatment, removing all those sticky carbon deposits, that can slow the return of the hammer and hamper the automatic feeding of the next bullet, while also oiling the trigger and hammer mechanisms. The barrel I left alone, as the rifle is as accurate as ever, a recent bullet comparison test giving very agreeable results for a .22 semi auto at 50 yards. A .22 barrel needs time to lead up after cleaning, and should only require cleaning if accuracy falls off.

A period of freak warm weather for February, saw me visiting the equestrian centre for the first time in months to check out the current rabbit stock, which had appeared to be struggling in November. First impressions can be misleading, but after parking the van, I walked twenty yards to look through the gate of a small paddock, which although empty of horses, had two rabbits on view 80 yards away. Before I could do a holdover shot at them, they trotted into the undergrowth at the far end. Turning to leave, a rustle through the brambles to my right revealed another rabbit, only feet away, that bounded over the bank and along the ditch out of sight. This was a good sign.

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Sunshine and little breeze had fooled the rabbits into thinking that it was spring, but it had also attracted the young female horse owners, who were out enjoying their half term school holidays exercising their mounts, by cantering round the various rides at the 80 acre centre. With every chance of being disturbed, while patrolling these open areas for rabbits, the only option was try the wood.

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The floor of the wood in February is usually carpeted in snow drops, but the cold weather had them behind, just pushing through the leaf litter, while now they were really confused in the warm sunshine and trying to set flowers. My attention was drawn by dry leaves being displaced at a trot and expected to see a pair of muntjack deer disturbed by my presence, but just caught sight of three big rabbits running from cover, full tilt across the open ground of the wood to bushes at the other end. Two collided and went tumbling in their haste to get to safety. With horse riders in the vicinity, a wild shot at them would have been irresponsible and dangerous, but a studied look to see where they had stopped was more valuable.

Walking into the brush to my side, I found two new holes, the scrapes fresh earth. The rabbits had been caught feeding in the open away from their holes and would probably return soon across the open ground, and found cover against a tree trunk, with a clear view to where the rabbits had taken refuge. Lying prone, with the Magtech rested on my gun bag, I waited for movement at the far end 50 yards away. A rabbit appeared, sitting up to test the air and I took aim, a clear view in the scope, illuminated by the sunlight. A gentle squeeze of the trigger and it toppled over. Another unseen rabbit bolted forward into the cover of another bush. After ten more minutes, I walked over to the bush to see several holes among the roots, then down to collect my prize.

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This large buck won’t get the chance to father any more offspring, but walking further into wood, a group of four kits shuffled away into the undergrowth, as fast as their little legs would take them, so maybe he has done his work already. On my November visit, I bemoaned the fact that I had been too successful in my shooting efforts, but now could see that they have been busy, while I have been away. Passing out of the side of the wood, I had a clear view along two of the rides, where at the far end of one, another rabbit was clearly visible sitting up on it’s haunches. At 150 yards it was well beyond the range of the Magtech, but there were two options, one to work my way toward it using the sparse cover offered by the bushes at the ride edge, or cut back into the wood to cut down the distance and hope that the rabbit was still there, when I emerged at the edge of the ride. Choosing option two, I made fast progress through the wood and crossed a ditch to slide up to the edge of the ride, pushing my gun bag out first, then positioning the rifle on it, before moving round to sight through the scope, while prone. The rabbit was still there, head down feeding about fifty yards away. Confident with a head shot, there was no arguing with a 40 grain bullet and the rabbit had enjoyed it’s last meal.

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Turning back into the wood toward a large warren, I was disappointed to see that the whole area had been taken over by badgers, with fresh digging extending out into the path, where a large hole was just waiting to trip a horse, or human. Gathering up some dead branches, I filled the hole as best I could, stuffing them deep into the passage, leaving a few protruding above the surface as a visual marker. Intending a few visits at dusk later in the season, snapping an ankle in one of these holes would not be welcome.

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Following round the path, a small group of rabbits were feeding on an open patch of ground and I stepped back into cover, moving as close as possible, before getting down on the ground to peep round the base of a bush. Two were still visible about forty yards away and pushed the bag forward as a rest, while inching out into the path. One sat up, presenting the perfect target, the shot flipping it over on it’s back. Swinging round for the second, I had a view of a white tail flashing away into the tangled undergrowth.

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These were all big old bucks, that will go toward my next batch of bunny burgers  http://www.urbanfieldsportsman.com/index.php/bunny-burgers-with-chorizo/ although I will save the loins for a tastier dish.

No doubt the equestrian centre owner will soon be complaining about the rabbits again and I will do my best to keep them down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pike among the red fins, spoil a red letter day at Braybrooke fishing lake

February 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Good reports from friends of catches of roach, rudd and crucian carp, drew me back for a second visit to Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club’s Jeans pond. Almost hidden by trees, this quiet little haven sits within a recreation ground, surrounded by a crowded housing estate north of my local town, where the recently formed community club, have been successfully working to regenerate a once neglected area, for the benefit of all.

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Warming winds from the Caribbean brought spring time temperatures on this February afternoon, although it also meant swirling gusts that rippled the surface in all directions. Four slices of liquidised white bread and a slice for the bread punch, were all I needed for a few hours fishing, setting up my pole to fish 8 metres out at peg 13. Lucky for some?

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Dropping a couple of small balls of bread either side of my float, I expected the usual instant response of the float sinking out of sight, but it needed a couple more balls and regular casts to allow the 5 mm pellet to slowly fall through the baited area, before a very welcome dip of the float brought the first of many roach to my net.

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It may have been a slow start, but I was soon in machine mode, cast, allow float to sink, strike, feed the pole back and break down to the last two metres to net, or swing in a fish. It was all roach, some five inches, some up to ten inches, but the rhythm was the same, the pole elastic taking the strain of better fish like the one below.

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Then it happened. Feeding back the pole, I’d just released the top two joints, when a pike grabbed the roach I was bringing in. The elastic stretched out into the pond, as I tried against the strain to reconnect the extra lengths of pole to be able to control the pike. Too late, the float pinged back, the line cut by razor sharp teeth. The hook link had been 2.6 lb line to a size 16. I now tied on a size 14 barbless to 4 lb line. If the pike took again, there was now more of a chance to land it. Feeding a couple more small balls of bread, the swim gradually built up to speed again, then a small roach was snatched off the hook, as it was being brought across the surface. The pike was back. The swim went dead.

I’d invested an hour of fishing time, plus bait to the swim already, so fed again, only for a nice roach to be seized. This time the pole was at full length and the pike dived away against the weight of the pole, before letting go of the roach.

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A lucky survivor, the roach had been grabbed across it’s lower back, causing minor damage to each side around the dorsal and anal fins, although the hook had ripped the mouth. It went into the keepnet for safe keeping, showing no signs of the trauma.

It was time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, while I considered the pros and cons of  continuing in this swim, but the thought of landing this unseen leviathan kept me going. Once upon a time, in the long distant past of my youth, I would have set up a heavy float, with a treble hook rig and cast out a roach as a live bait, until the pike took on my terms, but with live baiting banned at Jeans pond and a different enlightened mindset, I decided to soldier on.

It was a slow start again and the roach seemed to have gone, rudd having moved in, taking on the drop.

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Shallowing up, I was back in the groove once more, these rudd being clonkers, although there were a few lipless wonders among them, evidence of barbed hooks and poor handling.

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The best of this bunch was a golden rudd, again without an upper lip, that fought well against the heavy pole elastic.

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Possibly twelve ounces, this rudd and his friends were  building a respectable weight in my net and was hoping to top ten pounds, before the afternoon was out, but whether it was the sun sinking into the trees, or Mr Toothy the pike, I don’t know. The bites dried up. The other anglers around the pond were packing away their gear, but I was not ready yet and balled in the last of my crumb. With no bites at four feet, where I had been catching the rudd, I slid the float up two feet and went back down for the roach.

It was all systems go again with two, or three ounce roach every cast, then lifting a roach up on the strike, the elastic pulled out again. I lowered the pole to the water to take off the tension and waited for the pike to turn the fish, but it hadn’t read my script and kept going to my left. I put on two more lengths of pole and followed it, the elastic stretching deep into the gloom of the pond, while my carbon pole was taking on a dangerous curve. It was stalemate for a while, before the pike turned back toward the bank, shaking it’s head, before surging across in front of me to stop for a sulk.  Convinced that I had the better of this still unseen fish, I was tempted to lift the pole, but was restricted by the alder over the water. Keeping the pressure on, the float came to the surface, then was gone again with another run. Ping! The hook line had gone again, cut like a knife.

I finished off my tea, then tied on a new hooklink to find the roach still there. I doubted that the pike would back after that and felt that at least I had taught it a lesson, although my heart was not in the session any more and packed up after a few more small roach.

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As I pulled my net from the water, the sound of many fish splashing, then the weight as I lifted it out, made me think that I had reached my target 10 lbs, but the scales tell the truth and they settled at 8 lb 8 oz. In the circumstances, a really good weight for the cost of a third of the price of a 40p Tescos white loaf.

 

Carp put a bend in the rod at last

February 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Due to my recent reports of pollution on my local river, the Environment Agency are keeping me informed of their actions to improve the conditions on this urban waterway, beginning with the removal of trees to improve access for anglers, while allowing more light to reach the river bed. Meeting the local EA officer for a chat in the car park and a walk along the bank to view their intentions, which also will include work to improve the flow, plus the restocking of chub and roach to replace those lost, filled me with hope, but also a feeling of grief for the fish lost.

Returning home for lunch in the sunshine, produced a growing itch within me, that needed to be scratched; putting a bend in a rod, but time was against me.  I’ve been promising myself a lure fishing session on a pike filled canal 15 miles away, but that will have to wait for another day. With a carp pond only half a mile down and with wifely permission fresh in my ears, half a dozen slices of bread were whizzed up in the liquidiser, before the van was loaded ready for the short drive to the carpark.

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The pond had it’s usual mix of bird life, mallards, plus the noisy Canada geese, which had been joined by a dozen overwintering mandarin ducks, the drakes showing off their plumage to full effect.

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Before tackling up my 12.5 ft Normark float rod, I mixed up a tray of bread crumb and ground bait, wetting it down to soak. The plan is then to set up ready to fish, while keeping an eye out for a member of the duck feeding fraternity to arrive with a bag of bread.The ducks, especially the geese, can spot a feeder from a hundred yards and gather at the water’s edge in anticipation. While the chaos of the feeding process is under way, I lob tennis ball sized clumps of ground bait out into the swim, in this instance six balls in a rectangle 15 to 20 yards out. Being shallow, the balls need to break up on contact, to avoid the geese coming over later for a feast from the bottom.

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Using a modified pole float, with a fine tip, I cast a double punched 7 mm pellet of thick toasty bread into the baited area and waited. Although flat calm there was a drift on the pond from right to left and after mending the line, the twitch had attracted a fish, the float dipping, almost to the tip, then popping up. On the third dip I struck. Nothing. Bait gone. Rebaited , I cast into the same spot for a repeat performance, this time the float holding under. Missed again. With the float carrying all the weight and the hook link free to swing, the fish were just sucking at the bait with their lips. I added 3 inches to the depth and recast. After initial interest, the float remained static. Maybe the bait was gone? I lifted the rod slowly to see if the bait was on and the surface erupted as a carp was on for a second, watching a V shape zoom across the surface.

Time was getting on. I hadn’t started, until 2:30 pm, it was now 3 o’clock. Single bubbles were beginning to appear on the surface of the baited area, while a dark mud stain was visible. The fish were there rooting through the ground bait, but being very casual with the bread bait. Finally a proper bite, the float slowly sinking away, as I struck, taking up the bow in the line with a sweep, that made soft contact with something. It was carp already swimming toward me, that exploded with power, once it felt the hook. At last a bend in the rod right through to the butt, as the unseen fish swerved away from the bank making for the island, while I backwound at half speed to slow it down. With 6 lb line to a size 14 barbless, there were no fears of a break, but with plenty of snags on the bottom, there are no guarantees. The fish came round in a circle, close to the bank, just beyond my landing net, then rolled. A nice common. Continuing to roll, I pulled it toward my landing net and in. Phew! that was hard work.

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22 inches of brute power, not pristine with slight tail damage, but just what I needed to break my duck. The hook had been barely holding the top lip, coming out once the pressure was off. Now confident that I had it sussed, I missed the next bite. Sitting with my hands on my knees, I had watched the float dive away with the line following and made a grab for the rod too late. At least the bites were regular and the next strike made firm contact with a much smaller common, that seemed unable to understand that I was in charge, diving all over the place, coming to the net at the third attempt.

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The baited area was now stained with black mud from fighting and feeding carp, however, casting to a recent bubble usually brought an immediate response of interest, the float dipping a few times, followed by a slow sink. The next fish was another biggy, heading straight for the island at a speed I could not stop, the line singing in protest as it reached the shallows of the island, the carp rolling in a foot of water, before everything went solid. It had snagged me and dumped the hook. Pulling for a break, a line of bubbles indicated the the snag was free, a bundle of twigs dropping it’s contents as I reeled it back

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How do they do this, transferring the hook to a branch in seconds. Tying this lot together was a tangle of 20 lb line, possibly from a night fisherman overcasting into the trees. Once free, I cut the line up with my scissors, before finding a litter bin. If a duck, or goose were found tangled in this heavy line, the authorities would soon call a halt to fishing on this pond.

I was still missing bites. Leaving them too long often meant no bait, the bread softening up in the water, being sipped in like soup by the carp. It could take ten minutes for a bite to develope, or fail. Next bite will be a fish. Then it was.

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About two pounds, I thought it was a bigger carp, pulling hard to my left, trying to find sanctuary among the tree roots along my bank, but giving up against pressure of rod and reel. It had been a while since the second carp, the sun had sunk behind the houses, a cool breeze was beginning to blow across the pond toward me and without my winter layers of clothing was beginning to feel the February chill.

With my need to catch a rod bender satisfied with three carp, I was ready to pack up, gathering my bits and pieces together, when looking up I couldn’t see my float. It had been right out in front of me, but I now spotted it close to the bushes on my right. Reeling up the slack, I swept round in a strike and was in again, mud stirred up by the turbulence of another much larger common swirling up to the surface, following the fish as it disappeared round the corner out of sight. Side strain and backwind turned the forward motion out into the open water, where line was regained and the golden flank of another common carp momentarily broached the surface. The fight was still on, but I was winning, each pass bringing it closer to the net, until success, it was in. Needing both hands to grip the net and lift it onto the bank.

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What a tub. This fat common was in danger of running aground in the shallows at my feet and if I needed a bonus fish, this was it. Just a second with the disgorger and the hook came free from the side of it’s mouth. A minute later, the net was lowered into the water and the broad back submerged like a submarine and the carp was gone.

These carp give you quite a workout and certainly felt in need of a cup of tea, as I pulled the trolley back to the van.