Bread punch roach come in from the cold

December 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm

A slight rise in temperature from 6 to 8 Centigrade and the promise of a dry afternoon from the forecasters, enticed me from a warm home onto the bank of my local pond to test out a rediscovered pole this week.

Stacked with roach, this old clay pit set in the centre of a public recreation ground, would be the ideal place to check the tension of the new No 6 elastic, that I had fitted through the top section. Too tight and it would bounce fish off the size 18 barbless hook, too loose and it would not set the hook. I had adjusted the tension back home in the workshop, but a session on the bread punch would allow a decent shakedown.

I chose a swim with my back to the open football pitch, where the wind was blowing the falling leaves over toward the opposite bank, good for fishing, but already getting chilly around my nether regions. This would not be a long session anyway, as starting after 1 pm, it would be too dark to see the float by 4.

Plumbing the depth, I found the drop off into deeper water 4 metres out, where I expected to find the fish. Setting my float just off bottom, I tried a cast with punch only. Not a touch. Earlier in the year the float would have sailed away, but now it just sat there. A small ball of liquidised bread changed that. Recasting over the slowly sinking cloud of crumbs, the float sank away. A firm strike and 4 inches of elastic came out of the pole tip as a small roach was lifted with minimal resistance from the water and swung to hand. It was like gripping an ice lolly. Frosty mornings and northern winds had reduced the water temperature dramatically since my previous visit and I expected a difficult afternoon.

The bites were slow to develope, the float settling, showing tiny dips, before holding down a fraction. I struck at every positive movement and was rewarded by a fish every time, most less than an ounce, but after a dozen small roach the elastic stayed down, when I struck as a better fish bounced its way to the landing net.

This was not as bad a session as I thought, yes the bites were minute, taking up to two minutes from fish to fish, but they were still coming. Another nice roach stretching out the elastic again before coming to the net.

In the first hour I had taken over two dozen roach, the smallest balls of feed keeping the fish interested, without filling them up. The wind was now increasing, causing my knees to knock, despite thermals beneath my jeans, but the float kept holding down and roach continued to swing into my numb fingers.

Another hour and the light was already on the wane as I topped up the white crumb for the final time, having used less than half a pint. With the float shotted down, it was becoming difficult to see the tip, the catch rate had gone up and down, but with 48 fish in the net, it was still a decent bag for such a cold afternoon. The quality of the roach also surprised me, with several around 4 oz.

I was trying to get to 60 fish before the two and a half hour mark, beating it by ten minutes. Enough was enough, my knees had almost seized up, the wind was gusting and due to a rapid drop back down in the temperature, I could not control my shivers, despite several layers of clothing over my thermals.

The new elastic set up had not lost a fish, the old pole with the bread punch putting 5 lb on the scales.

Waste not want not

December 7, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Reluctant to venture outside due to bitterly cold winds, I resolved to sort through my tackle with a view to chucking some of it out this week. Reels were stripped and greased, while new lines were purchased for the various spools. A fly reel was partially seized and put to one side for later attention. At least it was now on the work bench instead of still attached to my fly rod, where on several occasions it had caused trouble, because I meant to fix it each time I returned home, only to lean the rod against the garage wall and forget it.

An almost new swing tip rod, the latest technology for still water bream back in the day, was taken out of its bag, sighed over and put back again. Must give it a go next season. My little 7 ft Hardy split cane spinning rod was put to one side, the moth eaten rod bag needs replacing. I’ve got another one somewhere? I bought this rod when I was 17, it doubled as a fly rod catching River Colne dace and chub, while in the same year, casting a Mepps spoon, I landed a 32 inch pike from the Thames at Romney weir in Windsor below the Castle. At least this has seen some use in recent years, with pike from the Basingstoke Canal and perch from my local pond.

I found a 9 metre carbon pole. I’d forgotten that I still had it. This pole had given me my biggest match win ever in the early 80’s on the Grand Union Canal, bread punch bringing me a net of roach and skimmer bream in baking heat for a weight of about 7 lb, that topped the weight of the 140 strong field. Even sharing part of the winnings with my team mates left me with a tidy sum, which went toward an 11 metre carbon pole, that was lighter and stiffer, with more street cred than its predecessor. Kept as a spare, until another 11 metre pole found its way into the rod bag, the 9 metre ended up alongside the swing tip rod in the loft.

I took the pole out of its bag. It was in perfect condition. A put over type to improve stiffness, opposed to the more modern push in narrow poles with more advanced carbon fibre, that are straight as a die at 18 metres, I remember this one getting floppy beyond 7 metres. There was still a white elastic fitted to the top section. A good pull and it broke, perished. The sort out stopped there. I would fit a new elastic and with no street cred left, use it for close in punch fishing.

The top ferule I had made from PTFE, a very slippery plastic. This was OK, but the bottom bung, which I had turned from nylon, was replaced by an up to date adjustable one that was cut down to suit. Fitted with a new blue No 6 easy slip elastic, I was ready to give it a go. All I needed was some mild weather.

Pheasant burgers with apricots

December 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Its good to have friends who shoot and even better when they have some surplus pheasants going spare. This week a nice fat, maize fed brace came my way and I decided to make some burgers, adding ready to eat apricots to complement the richness of the pheasant meat.

Building on the experience of my tasty rabbit and chorizo burgers (also on this blog) and substituting sausage meat for pork lardons, the recipe below produced a stunning burger that gets the mouth watering every time.

Ingredients

1kg Pheasant meat minced (coarse)

250 g Sausage meat, cut into 25 mm cubes

150 g Ready to eat apricots, rough cut to 5 mm cubes

1 Red onion finely chopped

1 Clove garlic finely chopped

1 Sprig rosemary

1 tbs Mixed herbs

1 tbs Worcester sauce

1 tbs Cooking oil

1 Thick slice wholemeal bread, reduced to bread crumbs

1 Egg (beaten)

Season to taste

Method

On a low heat, soften the onion and garlic in the oil and allow to cool.

Strip the rosemary leaves from the sprig and reduce with the bread in a liquidiser. This will allow the herb to be evenly spread.

Over a large mixing bowl begin to mince the pheasant, adding the cubes of sausage meat at regular intervals, which will result in an even mix of the two meats. Being low in natural fat, pheasant needs extra fat such as pork lardons, or sausage meat to aid cooking.

Add the onion and apricot then stir in, sprinkling on the bread, herbs, egg and Worcester sauce, turning the whole until an even blend is achieved.

Either roll into balls and flatten into patties, or place in a burger press between grease proof sheets and press out perfect burgers every time ready for the freezer.

That is just about it, either grill, or BBQ. Serve in a bun, or without. They are delicious!