Bread punch quality chub and roach season closer

March 15, 2019 at 12:31 pm

As storm Gareth swept across England toward the North Sea, I made a last minute decision to fish my local river whatever its condition this afternoon. This was my final chance for some winter chub, it being the last day of the UK river season. The day had begun with heavy rain, but bright sunshine and strong winds were drying the roads as I drove into the carpark. Unloading my tackle onto my trolley from the van, I was unsure of the state of the river, but arrived at my swim after 2 pm to find a pacey flow, but good colour, fining down after the rain.

Setting up an ali stemmed stick float, I plumbed the depth to find a channel three feet deep running along the opposite bank in the main flow of the river. Throwing in two balls of liquidised upstream of my swim, I cast into the sinking cloud as it swept by, missing a rapid bite as it passed the tree downstream. The 5mm pellet of bread was gone from the size 16 hook, so I rebaited and trotted through again at half speed. This time the float buried with the line following and my 12 foot Hardy rod bending into a hard fighting chub.

I put in another ball and repeated the process, the float dipping then diving. In again, but this time the bouncing of my rod top indicated a good roach, taking my time to bring the fish to the net.

More roach followed, putting in a small ball every other cast keeping the bites coming every trot. This one another specimen.

The roach were getting bigger, this one rushing off downstream like a chub, but that characteristic tumbling fight needing caution to avoid the barbless hook coming free.

There was no doubt about the next bite, the rod bending round when contact was made, as a big chub charged off down stream. The chub turned and swam back upstream hugging the bank, then passed me at speed making for roots on my bank. It nearly reached its goal, but side strain pressured it away to turn downstream again, eventually getting its head up to the net.

What a lump. This chub far exeded my expectations from this small river, having taken a tiny 5mm pellet of bread. The feed was breaking up into small particles and the fish were swooping through the cloud sucking it in.

The roach were still there including another clonker.

I had been missing bites from the off, this small dace hanging onto the bait as it ran through the swim.

Another decent chub stormed off before turning back to be netted.

The pace now picked up and the river turned orange, the local building site was washing off their roads again, the tankers discharging into holding ponds, that are full due to the storms, which then overflow into the river.

The bites stopped. Following the clouds of feed down had no result. It was time to have a snack and a cup of tea. After fifteen minutes the river began to clear again, the float sank and I was playing another chub.

I was back in the groove again catching roach among nuisance dace and mini chublets, but then a bigger roach tested my rod again, when it ran away at the bottom of the trot, needing a rapid backwind.

Having netted this good roach, I cast in again, just holding back to settle the float, when it sank away downstream and the rod was at full bend again with a chub under my rod tip, backwinding to ease the strain on the hook, biding my time to get it to the net.

It was now approaching 5pm and the wind was picking up again. The main road a hundred yards away was already filling up with traffic and I decided to pack up in ten minutes time. A small chub came to the net, then next cast it was action stations again as a another big chub made off downstream against the backwind.

With this chub in the net I packed up. I have had many memorable last days of the season, but this one is up there among the greats.

A pint of liquidised bread and half a slice of medium white were all that I needed for three action packed hours.

Thirteen pounds of quality fish from a river that was destroyed by pollution a few years ago.

Roach bread punch Braybrooke backstop

March 12, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain, rapidly raised river levels over the weekend and with only strong winds forecast for Monday, before yet more stormy conditions in the days ahead, I took the opportunity to check out my local river. With the river season about to end on Thursday, it was now or never for a chance at some winter chub. One glance said it all, the weir was at full flow, while the feeder stream was a churning mass of brown water. The river would have to wait for the new season in June and decided to fall back on Jeane’s Pond in Braybrooke Park.

On arrival I found another pair of refugees from the river huddled in the wind, the bright sunshine counteracting the wind chill slightly. They were fishing running line waggler rigs with maggot bait and seemed content catching three inch rudd.

I moved round the pond to where the north west wind blowing over my left shoulder, was defused by a high bank and set up a pole to fish the bread punch. I had not fished this peg before and was surprised how shallow it was, the shelf extending two yards out at two feet deep, only dropping another six inches further out. I considered moving round to a deeper swim, but it was comfortable out of the full force of the wind and opted to stay put. Setting the float at a few inches over two feet I was ready.

Putting in a couple of small balls of liquidised bread, one over the shelf and another a few feet further out, I dropped the rig in with a 5 mm bread pellet on the size 18 hook over the second ball, letting the wind bring the float round to the shelf. This will usually result in a bite, but this time nothing. No bites for ten minutes, apart from a couple of tremours of the float antenna. Fish were there, but not that interested in feeding. There had been a lot of sleet and hail overnight, maybe the water was too cold?

Ten minutes is a long time to go without a bite on the punch, so I tried something else. In the past on frozen canals, a sprinkling of vanilla powder had upped the bite rate, so this was my next move, adding water to make a sloppy mix, that I put in with a couple more balls. Dropping the float in over the sinking yellow cloud, the float trembled and sank.

Only a small roach, but better than the other pair were catching. As I swung it in there was a cheer from the other side “At least you haven’t blanked!” I cheered back. Over the feed the float dithered and sank again, this time the pole elastic pulling out of the tip. It was a nice roach fighting deep, but breaking down to the top two sections, I guided it into the landing net.

“Nice one!” came the call from the others. The vanilla seemed to be working, the float going down as the float cocked each time. Mostly ounce fish with the occasional better roach.

I added a couple more balls, taking a few fish off the shelf edge, then back to the outer line. The float went down, but before I could strike the elastic zoomed out. A pike had taken the roach. I had seen fish jumping ten yards to my right, now one had moved in and was stretching the elastic toward the middle, curving round to my left, before it came off. The hook was still in place. A couple more balls went in and I followed with the float.

A small rudd came to the net, then nothing. The pike was back in the swim putting the fish down. I got out my sandwiches and poured a cup of tea. It was a sunny, if breezy day and it was better than working.

Fish began jumping to my left, the pike had moved on and I began to catch again. I fed the last of my bread mix and fished over it. The bites were slow to develope, but the fish were bigger.

A few more rudd began taking on the drop, one quite decent.

More fish, then the pike returned chasing a roach, but not before I swung it out of reach. This was a nuisance, hook it and I could lose my rig, leave the pike alone and it might go away. I picked up my flask of tea and walked round for a chat with the other anglers. They were still catching very small rudd on their maggots, with the odd decent fish. One had lost a large specimen, possibly a tench. They were happy enough.

Returning to peg 16, I continued to catch again, fishing over my feed until 3 pm. It had seemed a long four and a half hours, the sun was down behind the trees and I was getting cold.

The vanilla seemed to have worked, bringing fish into the swim, but it also seems to have brought a pike with it.

These silver red fins had kept the float going under all day.

Blackwater bread punch roach

March 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Temperatures in the 60s, broke all the records for February this week and I made an effort to get to my club’s stretch of River Blackwater, while the sun shone. Having unloaded my tackle from the van, it was early afternoon, when I walked downstream looking for a suitable swim, finding just what I was looking for on the outside of a bend.

A tree had fallen into the river, diverting the flow and I set up my Hardy twelve foot float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stem stick float to trot down to the ivy covered snag. I could clearly see the bottom and initially set the float to two feet deep, but with the flow dragging it under, brought the depth down to eighteen inches. Very shallow, but with a small holly bush between me and the fish, I punched out a 5 mm pellet of bread and fed in a couple of balls, following down with the float. The float had only drifted a few feet, when it dived under and a small roach was bouncing at the end of the line.

First cast. There were three others fishing, as I walked to my swim and they were all without a bite, so this was a good sign. The following six trots put another four slightly larger roach in the net, before the bites stopped.


Had I fed it off already? The float now reached the tree, before it sank away again, another roach flashing in the sunlight as I set the hook. A green flash, a swirl and the rod bending over, as a small pike seized the fish, made my heart sink. It dived back beneath the sunken tree and sulked there, while I pulled the rod back under pressure. It came out, a small one of about two pounds, swimming over to the opposite side, before breaching in the shallows and cutting the two pound hook link. Pike are a nuisance to the float fisherman, putting the fish down and ruining the swim, their razor sharp teeth usually making short work of the hook line.

This is one Blackwater pike that did not get away!

I dropped a ball of liquidised bread in close to my bank, watching it break up in the current, then got out a size 16 barbless, that I had whipped to nylon only the day before, while sitting at the garden table in the sun, having made up a couple of identical Drennan stickfloat rigs at the same time. One of those float rigs was now getting a new hook, which baited with another 5 mm pellet of punched bread, was cast back in. The float sailed on untroubled, until it ran out toward the middle along the dead tree, then it sank. Fish on!

The Hardy bent round, as this small chub made the most of its first run in the pushing current, thinking it was bigger than it was, but once held, the chublet soon gave up the fight. A couple more followed, then the roach came back.

This had taken just ahead of the tree on the inside and rushed to the middle, zig zagging in the shallow water, taking my time to reel it back to the landing net. Next trot same place, another nice roach.

I was on a roll, next trot another quality roach was on its way to the net. A swirl and the pike was back, taking the roach, the hook pulling out. At this point I felt like going home, as I watched the pike slink back over to the far side to swallow the roach.

A couple more balls of bread soon got the roach going again, small ones at first, then I struck into a 12 oz skimmer bream, that rolled off the hook, just as I reached across from the high bank with the landing net. My next roach fought all the way back, this time staying on long enough for me to net.

I kept my eye on the pike for some time, eventually getting engrossed in catching roach, mostly 2 to 3 oz fish, with the odd clonker in there to wake me up.

One of the other club members had packed up and now sat down beside me, putting the World to Rights as I continued to fill the keepnet. My feed had concentrated the fish in an area just ahead of the tree, settling down to a rhythm, trot down with the flow, slow the float with a finger over the open face of my ABU 501 reel, watch the float tip bob and sink, draw back, rather than strike, then reel in.

My club mate left and with the time getting on for rush hour, I decided one more fish would do it, a quality roach topping an enjoyable session.

It had been a glorious afternoon, the low sun just beginning to lose its warmth by 4 pm.

A busy time on the punch, early on the 5 mm punch was best, but in the end the 6 mm found the better fish.

Catching at around two pounds an hour, this made a fitting end to the 2018 -19 river fishing season.