Crucians and tench shine on the punch at King’s Pond

August 15, 2019 at 11:54 am

A mile from my chosen venue this week, Farnham AS water, King’s Pond, my way was blocked by a Road Closed sign, while a large yellow Diversion arrow pointed at a right angle away to the west. I am not familiar with the area and on my previous couple of visits last year used a Sat Nav to find it. I dutifully turned the van into the unknown, along narrow housing estate roads crowded with parked cars, until I reached a T junction and diverted left, across a roundabout signed Farnham. I don’t want go to Farnham! Diverted left again along another narrow road, I drove past the fishery entrance, having to drive into a side road, complete a 6 point turn and return. By now my blood pressure was at dangerous levels and once parked needed a cup of tea to settle down.

The clouds of earlier had gone and the midday sun brought sweat to my brow as I pulled the trolley  to the pond, my attitude not helped by the angler in the first peg. “How is it fishing?” Answer. “Rubbish. That rain yesterday killed it!” He was using banded pellets and had only had a few crucians since 6 am. The next angler had a similar story. Choosing a peg further along, I set up a pole and plumbed the depth, finding a drop off six feet out sloping from three feet to four.

Last season I did well here on the bread punch, but for today had decided to try a wet mix of bread crumb, ground carp pellets and 2 mm krill pellets. On the hook and as loose feed, I was going to try some soft 4 mm crab krill pellets. As a backup I had my trusty bread punch and some finely liquidised bread.

While mixing up the feed, I cast a 6 mm bread pellet over the shelf, keeping my eye on it, expecting the float to glide away at any moment with a small roach. It did not move. The wind was blowing from behind and across to the left, so I put four balls of my mix to the left, over the drop off and a metre further out, where I could hold the antenna float back against the drift. I pushed the size 16 hook through a 4 mm soft pellet and cast in over the feed. The float bobbed and vanished, the elastic streaming from my pole tip as I lifted. The elastic stretched out toward the far side in a straight line, then pinged back. I assumed that it was a carp, but will never know.

Encouraged, I cast over the feed again with the soft pellet, but all I got were taps and bobs. Within 15 minutes, tiny bubbles were rising over the feed, again no positive bites, then the float sank. Resistance, then a dead weight as I lifted a signal crayfish off the bottom, swinging it onto the grass, where it received the Last Rights from a bank stick. I got my hook back. More bobs and bumps, but no fish. Each cast had followed a small ball of feed and the bubbles were still rising from the bottom. I tried bread punch again and this time the float sank slowly. A fish! Only a small roach. Back to the pellet, more half takes and missed bites. Bread punch again, a small roach. After an hour I had three small roach. My “special” mix was now on the bottom and the soft pellets were not working.

Reaching into my bait bag, I brought out some very fine liquidised bread and changed pole rigs for a lighter antenna float with an size 18 hook. The tench and crucians were not playing ball with the pellets, so with nothing to lose, I went for the roach with a 5 mm pellet of bread. I dropped a small ball of bread over the shelf to my right and cast the new rig through the cloud. The float cocked and sank. Surprise, the elastic came out as a good roach pulled away down the swim. I netted it.

Wow. Instant gratification. I repeated the action, casting into the cloud. The float bobbed then dived. I was into a good fish, the pole bending as the elastic was pulled out, the rolling, diving fight letting me know that it was a tench before I saw it.

Next cast a different fight again, a solid straight run from a small perch. They are not supposed to take bread, but this one did.

A different fight again, this one had to be a crucian carp, the way it bounced the pole top, a gold flash in the sun, proved me right.

What a turnaround. I had tried pellets like everybody else, but if I had stuck to the punch from the start,  I probably would have done better. My next cast saw the float bob several times, then hold down. Only using the top three sections of pole, it again bent double into a large fish that fought from left to right and back again, the flash of gold the size of a dinner plate. The size 18 barbless hook held and I netted this beaut.

A two pound crucian glinting in the sun

Time for a cup of tea and a sandwich. It had been a hectic half hour and in the bright sunshine I was beginning to flag. Another ball of fine crumb went in, followed by the float. Bob, bob, hold under, strike and I was in again, a smaller tench taking out elastic, but soon beaten.

This was now one a chuck. A couple more roach, then this hard fighting crucian.

Some of the roach were better than average, but it was the the crucians that I came for. Fishing into the cloud, the bites were quite aggressive although hard to hit, rapid stabs of the float, but no sail aways.

A round chunky crucian, that had blown the punch up the line, this one around the pound mark.

The wind was now getting up, driving rain across he pond and I scrabbled for my hoodie, the shower gone before I had my jacket on. A fresh cast saw the float dip long enough to strike, followed by the crucian above going into my net.

The final crucian of the day, I had run out of the fine liquidised bread and it was time to go, before the traffic built up.

I had been determined to give the soft pellets a good go, but after an hour, they had failed to hook a single fish, despite evidence of feeding fish. The introduction of the fine liquidised bread seemed to switch the fish on and I ended up with a decent net after three hours.

King’s pond is part of the Badshot Lea complex and it backs onto Big Pond along a causeway. Behind me was a proper carp angler, bivvy and all the gear. He had popped over for a chat a few times and had come over again to see my fish before I put them back, when his bite alarm went off. Going back to his rod, he lifted into a large carp, playing it back to his swim, where he netted it in his cavernous landing net.

I suggested it was at least 20 lbs. “No, its just a decent double” He returned it without even a photo. He then got out his phone to show me the 32 lbs common that he caught there in February this year. Different strokes for different folks.






Drennan Float Fish stickfloat test on bread punch roach

August 9, 2019 at 6:39 pm

The arrival of a new reel of Drennan Float Fish line in 3.2 breaking strain was eagerly awaited this week to replace the old 2.6 B.S Bayer-Perlon on my ABU 501 match reel. On my last outing, a tangle had  reduced its length, the line was no longer running off the spool freely, so an update was required. Online reviews were good for the Float Fish line, being supple and free floating, while at 0.16mm the 3.2 lb Drennan line was the same diameter as my old Bayer 2.6 B.S. The line dropped through the letter box in the afternoon post and I was quick to load it onto the 501. A light olive colour, even this was similar to the Bayer line.

Any excuse to fish, bread bait and feed were soon out of the freezer and I was on my way to the river Blackwater ten miles away. Black clouds were gathering as I walked to a new swim, literally spending ten minutes hacking down stinging nettles to clear a fishing spot, as heavy raindrops began to cover the surface of the river. The shower was brief and refreshing in the humid air, just a fine drizzle remaining by 3:30 pm as I made my first cast.

This river is very shallow and I set my small 3 No 6 bodied stick float to just 18 inches deep to trot towards the bridge. The bottom is visible right across and following the first cloud of liquidised bread down, the float dipped and held under, the flash of a small roach indicating my first fish. The line was performing better than expected, considering the very light float, it pulling free of the reel spool without snagging.

Next trot, the float held down and I was playing a plump chub back upstream. I saw a pike dart across to the chub from cover along the opposite bank and raised the rod to draw the chub away, lifting it clear at my feet, leaving the 5 lb pike staring at the bank.

I prodded at the pike with my landing net and it turned to swim back over to the the other side. The pike returned and grabbed a small roach that I was playing, swimming back over, then letting go, but chasing the roach as I rushed it back to my side.

It began to rain again and I was already considering packing up, or moving. Unable to safely secure my tackle box on the steep bank, I was sitting on the bank with my feet resting on a narrow shelf, which was slowly eroding down toward the river and I was constantly shifting my weight to stay seated. Not ideal.

The pike took a small chub and charged off downstream, bending my 12 foot Hardy to the butt as I backwound the reel. This was the last straw, the size 16 hook holding firm in the pike’s jaw, while the chub dangled from the side, watching it swim by, as I now switched the rod to pull back down river. It lay motionless mid river and my attempts to jerk the hook free failed, causing the pike to retreat to the far side again. Pointing the rod at the pike, I pulled the line tight with my hand for a break. It obliged with a spurt away and the hook pulled free, complete with the now dead chub, which I threw back to the pike, last seen heading upstream.

I fed another couple of balls of bread in close, to keep the fish on  my side of the river, hooking a golden rudd, which I swung in.

The new Drennan line was working well, lifting easily to mend the line behind the float and setting the hook into a better roach.

The roach were lining up and getting bigger, the fish invisible until the hook was set.

The bites were very delicate, the float dipping and holding, then sinking slowly. Too early a strike usually resulted in a lost fish after a brief fight, too long could see the bait gone. I varied between 5 and 7 mm punches, the 5 mm on the size 16 hooking more fish, although the larger bait attracted better roach.

I was surprised that there were no dace in the swim, as my previous visits have had the dace going mad for the bread, juddering and jarring the float as they attacked the bait, often hooking themselves. Today was a much more sedate affair, another shy biting roach coming to the net.

This was the last decent roach, the pike attacking another as I played it back, coming off when I tried to hurry it in. A swirl down stream may have been the end of that roach. For me this too was the end of the roach, the pike had put them down. I scraped out a few more small chub and packed up at 6 pm.

The aim of the session was to test out my new line, which I felt it passed with flying colours. On the stickfloat, with a closed faced reel like the ABU 501, you want the line to be soft enough to coil off the spool, yet stiff enough to be able to mend the line back to the float. Allowing a bow in the line to develope, drags the float to one side, or worse speeds it downstream, which looks unnatural to the fish and no bites. I have said before, stick float fishing is becoming a lost art, which many today do not try, content to lob out a feeder on the bottom and wait for bites, while a good stickfloat man can entice the fish to his hook.

Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto rabbit stopper

August 6, 2019 at 11:00 am

I arrived at one of my shooting permissions on a warm evening to find that the hay had been cut, but not gathered in this week and opted for a walk round with my Magtech 7002 semi auto .22. The paddocks were still waist high with grass and cow parsley, as I walked along the farm lane toward the open fields, with little chance of spotting a wayward rabbit.

Approaching the old shed, a pair of rabbits crossed the path from the paddock and ducked down beneath the building, leaving me only enough time to raise the rifle before they were gone. I was aware now of another rabbit in the long grass beside the shed, again too late as it turned and hopped to safety. The gravel under foot probably sounds like thunder through bunny ears. They knew I was coming well in advance and I was not ready, thinking only of the area beyond. I reproached myself for my lack of fieldcraft, a stealthy creep along the edge, would have accounted for at least one of these big rabbits, I told myself.

On my last visit, the farmer’s son had filled in the burrows around the shed, but now they were scraped out again, evidence of a very active warren and as I rounded the building, rifle raised, I caught sight of brown fur disappearing round the back, with no sign when I reached the point. Hide and Seek.

Continuing along the path, through the gate, a rabbit pushed noisily through long grass into the safety of a patch of brambles, without offering a shot. I reached the cut field and waited by the next gate, where I had a clear view along the edge. Three rabbits were out between eighty and a hundred yards away, well out of range of the Magtech, with no cover in between. I decided to go back to the van for the HMR, but to stop first at the gatepost, where a bush gave cover back to the shed thirty yards away. The evening sun was still hot and the shed offered shade and green grass. Ten minutes into my wait, a rabbit appeared like magic beside the shed and hopped into the open. Resting the rifle on the gatepost, the muted pop from the silencer toppled the rabbit, the Winchester 42 grain subsonic bullet hitting home with a loud thud, that flushed out another feeding in the shade on my side of the path. It ran out, then back into the cover of the paddock, before I could get a bead on it.


A pair of rabbits appeared at the far end of the shed and chased in circles, not offering a shot, but keeping me busy with anticipation, spraying bullets at them may have struck lucky, but experience said not and I watched them eventually skip off in the opposite direction into another paddock.

Some minutes later the flushed out rabbit ventured back out and began feeding a yard away from the first. A dead rabbit does not seem to phase them. In the past I have picked off three, or four rabbits at long range with the HMR, continuing to feed, until they too were shot. At thirty yards this was a gift, the scope zeroed to this range giving a clear head shot.

The sun had now gone behind the trees and the area was in deep shadow. After 15 minutes there were no more offers and went forward and picked up these two big adults destined for more bunny burgers and pasties.



CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR pylon dusk stakeout

August 1, 2019 at 12:58 pm

A warm dry evening saw me back at the pylon warren, that I visited a few weeks ago. Haymaking has still not begun on this field and the previously cut grass has grown another inch or two following recent heavy rain. I was a little late, due to getting stuck in theme park traffic and the sun was already behind the trees.

Driving past the pylon I could see no rabbits out, but was prepared to wait, positioning myself about 60 yards from the warren with the HMR raised up a couple of inches on the bipod in an attempt to see over the grass.

The light was already fading, but I could see a set of ears twitching beyond a clump of grass another ten yards on. Too ill defined, the shot was not on. It obliged and trotted off, white tail bobbing, but stopped in even deeper grass. As I scanned the area, the brown shape of a closer rabbit passed across the scope and I followed it, only again to stop in deep grass, the tips of its ears twitching as it munched away. I clicked my tongue a couple of times and it looked up. I took the shot. Missed it. Turning back to the pylon, the rabbit stopped short, head and ears visible. I fired as it jumped forward again. Missed it!

Ten minutes later another rabbit hopped into the clearing and stopped. I didn’t miss this one. The light was now going fast as a dark shape crept round my side of the pylon. Masked by the greenery, it was barely visible and I waited for a better shot, which never happened, the rabbit slinking back to where it came from. This was frustrating, but was rewarded minutes later, when another bound into view from the blind side of the pylon, knocking it down with a snap shot. I had been on station for an hour, seen five and shot only two, it was now 8:15 pm and raised myself to go, however, from this higher position I could now see another feeding rabbit. Keeping my eye on the shape, I dropped down again, aligning the cross hairs below the just visible ears, the impact of the .17 bullet flipping the rabbit over.

Extremes of weather, too hot, then too wet, had kept me away from this productive warren and all the time the grass grows longer.