CZ HMR 452 Varmint long range rabbit sniping

April 15, 2019 at 3:55 pm

My chance to return to a farm, where rabbits were busy creating a new warren, came after a week of rain, although clear blue skies brought a chilling wind from the Baltic. It was already late afternoon and the shadows were extending, as I unpacked the CZ HMR Varmint from the van.

The previous visit had been a quick walk round with my Magtech .22 semi auto rimfire, where I had been lucky to bag a couple of buck rabbits, while others had been well out of range of the .22, but now that I had the HMR with me, I set out across the fields toward the warren.

White tails were bobbing long before I reached the fence line, settling down to wait with the rifle rested on a horizontal section of woodwork. I had been watching a pair of buzzards circling high above the trees and looked back across the field to see the outline of a rabbit sitting out close to the far fence, a good 150 yards away. On a still day this would have been a certain shot, but with a steady east wind blowing at an angle into my face, I had to allow for drift of the tiny .17 inch bullet. Aiming high at the nose, I expected the hit to carry right and down into the head, but the crack from the silencer saw the rabbit duck down. I had missed, passing over the top. The rabbit was still there as I quickly chambered another round, this time aiming dead on for the head. Crack, boof! A body shot lifted the rabbit and it lay still.

Beyond the far fence I could see more rabbits moving about, and after 15 minutes without any shows my side, crossed into the field to collect my rabbit, turning it over to see that the HMR body shot had destroyed the meat. I left it for the buzzards.

Over the fence, rabbits were everywhere, running in all directions, many young kitts along with a few adults, gone in seconds. Ahead was the old warren that I had harvested the year before, now showing signs of fresh burrowing among the new growth of stinging nettles. An hour of hide and seek resulted in two more young kitts, before I gave up chasing shadows, as they darted amongst the greenery.

Turning back to the farm I could see several rabbits close to the willows and followed a hollow in the field, keeping low, until I was within 120 yards of the group, pushing the rifle to the crest, before taking up position behind the telescopic sight for a solid bipod mounted shot. The wind had now dropped and spoilt for choice, I took on the nearest adult, dropping it immediately. Scattering in confusion, the rabbits cleared the area, but one stopped at the edge of the trees long enough for a second shot. Two in twenty seconds.

The HMR had proved its worth yet again, the heavy steel 16 inch barrel ensuring repeatable accuracy over long range, while the .17 inch, 17 grain V-Max bullet travelling at over 2,500 feet per second delivers over a 100 ft/lbs of energy at a 100 yards.

Looking back across to the warren, rabbits like prairie dogs, were sitting up at their burrows in the evening sun, unaware of my plans for the coming season.

 

Bread punch finds quality roach and rudd at Braybrooke

April 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Despite bright sunshine, a bitterly cold east wind was sweeping across my local pond at Braybrooke Park, when I arrived before noon for a few hour’s fishing this week, hoping that a recent warm spell had brought a better stamp of roach and rudd on the feed. I walked round to get the wind at my back, pulling my hood up over my cap to keep out the the worst of the chill, while I set up a short pole.

Plumbing the depth I found there was a narrow shelf of about four feet wide by four feet deep, that then dropped off a cliff into six feet, or more. In the lee of the bank, with only the top two sections of the pole, I followed a small ball of liquidised bread with the antenna float and waited for a bite. After a couple of minutes the first tell tale rings radiated out from the float as a fish showed interest, the float slowly sinking below the surface. A firm lift and the elastic came out in response to a fighting roach.

This was a good start, the 5 mm bread pellet on a size 18 barbless hook finding a better roach first cast. Dropping the rig back in saw a carbon copy bite, this time an even bigger roach, that stayed down, before making a run for the deeper water, testing the elastic on the short pole.

Several more decent roach followed, before I ventured in another ball of feed, following the cloud down with the float, that just slid away as a rudd took the bread.

Not a monster, but a hard fighter on the light tackle all the same. Next cast was different, the thudding fight of a much larger rudd taking elastic from the pole tip, as I followed its every move. My net had been out for every fish so far this afternoon and I was careful to get this one in.

The rudd had moved in on the bread, another decent one coming next cast, that fought as hard as the last.

Again the elastic was out as an even larger rudd was flashing beneath the green tinted surface, running along the shelf beneath my feet. It went under my keep net and transferred the hook near the bottom of it. There was nothing for it, but to lift out the net and retrieve the hook. Putting the net back in scared off the shoal of rudd, my next cast seeing the float sit motionless. Time for tea and a sandwich. I dropped in another ball on the shelf and another over into the depths. Adding another joint to the pole up to 3 metres, I increased the float depth by 18 inches and swung it out over the deeper water. Immediately it slid under, but instead of the expected clonker, the line jiggled as a tiny rudd was swung to hand.

Tiny rudd followed tiny rudd, each one returned, probably to swim back for another go. I got out a fresh bag of crumb and squeezed up a couple of tight balls, again dropping them over the edge of the shelf, then threw out a couple of loose balls further out. The tight balls were for the larger fish in close, the others for cloud and the tiny rudd. That was the theory and it seemed to work as the bait fished deep soon had a steady sinking bite and another proper roach came to the net.

There was no doubt that the distraction had worked, when my next bite put a bend in the pole as the elastic was dragged beneath the surface, when the best fish yet fought for freedom.

I took my time before breaking the pole back down to two metres for the landing net, this beautiful roach in perfect condition, determined to escape. The occasional very small rudd and roach still made it through to the hook, but the edge of the drop off continued to bring 3 to 4 oz fish each cast, topped off by another big rudd, that fought like a fish twice as large.

The wind had now dropped and I was feeling overdressed in the sun. I had proved to myself that there were now plenty of bonus fish to be had on the bread punch, although a tench or a crucian carp would have been the icing on the cake. Setting my finishing time at 3 pm, I was rewarded with one last quality roach from the top of the shelf, the fish below being it.

At the end of the three hour session on this council owned pond, there were some good fish in my net.

 

Magtech 7022 semi auto .22 spring rabbits

March 28, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Arriving at one of my shooting permissions for the first time this season, it was more of a social visit to the lady farm owner, than anything else. Ruth was happy for me to continue controlling the rabbit population, although she commented that lately rabbits were a rare sight on her land, especially her garden and vegetable patch, which had once been overrun.

Taking the Magtech semi auto out of the van, I went on a patrol of the farm buildings looking for signs of fresh burrow digging and recent droppings, stopping to peer over the fence of a small paddock, where a rabbit was preoccupied munching on a clear area of fresh grass.

Resting on the fence, I sighted on the back of its head between the ears. At 60 yards this allowed for the bullet drop on my 50 yard rifle zero. A squeeze of the trigger and the rabbit tumbled forward.

A healthy buck to start the ball rolling, I bagged this up and continued my search. Ruth had been right about the area round the farm, there were few signs of rabbits, even a reliable warren had apparently been abandoned and I continued out toward the pastures.

The willows have proved productive in the past and I made my way down toward them keeping my eyes peeled, unfortunately being spotted by a group of rabbits among the tangle of branches, their white tails bobbing away to safety, before I could take a shot.

Turning right, I worked my way slowly along the fence line, seeing a big rabbit pop out of a burrow in the next field. It was about 200 yards away and keeping the line of fence posts between us, I reduced the distance to a hundred yards, before it sat up to look round and sniff the air. My shooting jacket and trousers have been conditioned by years of crawling through fields and muck, while without a hint of aftershave round my chin, the smell of dangerous human must be limited. At this range with my .17 HMR it would have been game over for the rabbit, but the .22 subsonic bullet drop at distance is about eight inches at 100 yards. The wind was behind me and I crouched down until the rabbit had got back to eating, covering another slow twenty yards before it sat up again. Resting the Magtech on my bag. allowing six inches holdover, I fired and watched the rabbit duck away out of sight. I couldn’t tell if I had hit it and got up again moving along the fence for a closer look.

 The land ahead was full of fresh earth from burrows and as I scanned the area, a rabbit popped up out of a burrow, saw me and dived back down again. Next time I would be ready. Moving along the fence, I waited behind a bush. Minutes later, 50 yards to my right another appeared. I raised the rifle and fired, the rabbit somersaulting as the bullet hit bone with a crack. With no more shows after ten minutes, I crossed the fence to retrieve the rabbit. There was no sign of the first, which I had obviously missed, but my second lay still.

 

A perfect head shot, another buck that will not be breeding this year. There were deep burrows everywhere along this tree line, a hazard for cattle grazing the field.

I continued my tour, noting several areas needing attention, seeing rabbits out in the evening sun, too far away for the Winchester .22 subs, even my Remington High Velocity bullets would have struggled. Next time I will bring the HMR. I was happy, two nice rabbits in the bag and plenty more where they came from.

 

Positive signs for 2019 trout season

March 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm

A good turnout of members on my syndicate trout stream this weekend, was a sign of optimism for the coming 2019 trout season on April 1st, following two bad years on the north Hampshire fishery.

In 2017 the landowner diverted the river to build a new bridge, the flow reduced to a trickle, leaving trout stranded in shallow pools open to predators, such as mink and herons. This was done without consultation with the anglers, who could have mounted a rescue operation. Many trout and coarse fish were lost.

Last season we enjoyed a long hot summer with associated low river levels, after a cold wet spring. Trout were hard to reach, seeking out deeper water under banks and trees, many members not returning to the water once the Mayfly were over. Even the chub and dace were scarce during the summer months on my few brief visits. The last fortnight of September gave me hope for this year, when I caught a couple of ten inch wild browns from both ends of the fishery, plus losing a very large trout two weeks running from the same spot.

This was the last trout of the season for me, bright silver like a rainbow.

During autumn and winter, the mixed fishery is fished by coarse anglers, who reported many juvenile trout taking their maggot baits and judging by the redds created by spawning trout, observed on the working party this January, trout stocks should soon regain previous levels. 

Work on the river has involved the creation of berms to speed up flow, while intrusive willow has been cut back and overhanging trees trimmed.

This clump of willows claimed two of my best brown trout last year, the deep pool now accessible from the bank, avoiding the need for a tricky upstream cast from the tree shrouded river.

Here’s hoping that the 2019 Whitewater trout fishing season puts a few more wild browns in the net.

 

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.

Bread punch common carp in the winter sun

February 21, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Days of double figure temperatures and a bright sunny afternoon, promised a few hours of successful carp fishing at a council owned lake a short drive from my home this week. With a car park at the waters edge, it is ideal for the casual angler, although the shallow, silt filled water is not the easiest to fish. Being a magnet for local mums with bread to feed the many ducks and Canada geese, the carp are used to bread being readily available as feed and I arrived with only bread as bait.

The council have recently trimmed the trees opposite the top of the island and I set up a float rod to fish through a gap, out into the channel. The float is a cut down antenna pole float carrying about 3 AA, the main line 6 lb and the hook link 4 lb to a size 16 barbless hook.

I mixed up a pint of coarse processed bread, adding a teaspoon each of curry powder and the same of vanilla powder, wetting this down to form sloppy balls. With so many ducks and geese around, I waited for an obliging mum to arrive before throwing the balls in three quarters over toward the island. With the ducks preoccupied on the adjacent bank, my feed was able sink onto the silt without being gobbled up by the feathered hordes.

Casting out into the fed area, I sunk the line to avoid the wind drift, the antenna soon showing signs of interest in the double punched 6 mm bread bait fished just above the silt. The float slowly sank away trailing line and I struck hard to lift the sunken line, the rod bending over into an explosive carp, that headed back over to the island snags. This was not a big fish and I held the run without any need to backwind, the clutch staying silent as the carp dashed from side to side, being brought closer to the landing net each time.

I have netted several commons to eight pounds from this small lake in the past, but I was happy with this three pounder, my spur of the moment decision to come fishing justified.

I now managed to miss a couple of unmissable bites, then striking into a tiny common, which it seems the lake may now be infested with. Back in November I had caught several baby carp, commons and mirrors and here was another nibbling at the bait.

With a few more of these micro carp returned, I decided to mix up some feed in the hope of attracting some of their larger brothers, but the extra, instead of feeding them off, brought in a greedy shoal. Each bite had to be treated like the real thing and striking into thin air, to see a tiny carp spinning on the hook was becoming tiresome.

I had gone up to a 7 mm double punched bread pellet, but this was no deterrent, the soft bait easily sucked into their mouths. The float disappeared again and I struck into a running carp. At last. It had been two hours since the last decent fish and this one was fighting harder, making long runs against the reel, stirring up a trail of black mud in its wake, then diving under the bank into the roots, eventually rolling repeatedly to the net.

About four pounds, this wild common carp made the most of its extra weight and satisfied my desire to continue; I had been sitting in the shade all afternoon and was now feeling cold. Time to pack up and head home for a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake.

 

Kingsley Pond bread punch roach and skimmer bream

February 15, 2019 at 1:51 pm

I had just finished scraping the ice from the windscreen of my van, when my friend Peter arrived to join me for the drive to Kingsley Pond in East Hampshire. Peter is a member of Oakhanger AC and I would be fishing on a guest ticket, available at the community shop across the road to the pond.

Bright sunshine was burning off freezing fog on the drive and we hoped that the pond would not be covered in ice as it was on our previously abandoned visit. Still shrouded in mist when we arrived, the pond seemed ice bound again, but a thin covering of algae over the still surface proved to be an optical illusion, much to our relief, having both invested a fair bit of mileage to get there.

By the time we had arranged the guest ticket and tackled up, an east wind was ruffling the surface, but this did not bother the fish, my first cast following a small ball of liquidised bread, the tip of my float dipping several times before slowly sinking away. The first few casts brought a one ounce roach each put in, then the elastic came out with a better fish staying deep, breaking the pole down to the top two to net it.

The size 18 hook dropped out in the net, all the fish so far taking a 4 mm punched pellet of bread offered under 4 g antenna float. When I plumbed the depth, I found three feet at 5  metres and I fed a couple of small balls along this line 2 metres apart, fishing out in front of me, when the wind dropped and to the right holding back in the wind.

The extra feed began to attract skimmer bream into the swim, the fussy bites reliably resulting in a slow sink away of the float, the slab sided silvers beginning to fill my keepnet.

A surprise catch was a golden rudd among the roach and skimmers.

A hard fighting roach/bream hybrid also got in on the act.

Peter had been sitting without a bite all this time, his double maggot on a running line waggler rig untouched, until a change from a size 14 hook to a size 18 and a single maggot, produced bites. Shotting the float down close to the tip, improved his chances of hooking fish, although not as effective as the bread punch and pole combination.

The down wind feed area was now full of skimmers and a small ball of feed every three fish held them there.

We set a time of 3:30 to finish fishing, despite us both catching at a regular rate, one of my largest skimmers coming just before the dead line.

In the cold water the 4 mm punch produced more positive bites, even the skimmers preferring the smaller bait.

The warm a wind hardened up the punch bread quite quickly and I had to change to fresh slices during the five hour session to avoid missing bites.

Considering the frosty start, I was pleased with the end result of about a hundred fish, the punch out fishing the maggot ten to one. Peter was happy with his day, having caught a few nice roach and a decent skimmer, while we sat within chatting distance in the sun.

Bread punch silvers brighten the gloom

February 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Heavy rain, then snow and ice, followed by more rain, had kept me away from fishing for too long and with a brief gap in the weather today, I took the short drive to my local Jeanes’ Pond in Braybrooke Park, to see if bread punch would coax the roach to feed. Bearing in mind that the pond had been covered with ice, then snow only a few days ago, I was not convinced, that I would catch, but at least I was giving it a go, instead of sitting at home staring out of the window.

On my way, I passed through a heavy shower of rain and as I tackled up, force 5 winds were driving a massive black cloud my way, blocking out the mid day sun. Scrambling for my waterproof jacket, I was just in time to avoid a soaking, as sleet filled rain hissed across the pond, keeping me pinned down for ten minutes. No sooner had the rain gone, the sun came out into a clear blue sky, my choice of the north bank being justified by the fact, that the wind would be blowing warmed surface water over to my side. That was theory anyway, the first ten minutes without a bite making me think otherwise.

My setup was a light canal antenna float, dotted down to just below the tip, a size 18 barbless hook being tied to a 1.7 lb bottom line. I plumbed the depth, seeing that a shelf dropped down to 3 feet, 4 metres out, then dropped again to 4 feet 5 metres out. I put a small ball of fine liquidised bread over each shelf, fishing over the near shelf four inches off bottom, the 4 mm pellet of bread untouched each time that I lifted out, when the float drifted up to the shelf. Another small ball over the near shelf saw the tip dip slightly, as the rig drifted into the cloud, the antenna silhouette against the surface switching on and off, then off as the float held under. I lifted and was surprised to feel the resistance of a decent fish as the pole bent with the elastic pulled clear of the tip. This was a net worthy roach, the bite indicating a much smaller fish.

Ice cold to the touch, the fish must have been barely awake, the next bite merely trembling the antenna before holding it down. These roach were generally bigger than I expected, considering the feeble bites and I settled into a slow, but steady rhythm of hooking fish, only interrupted by another short burst of rain.

The sun was reflecting on the water dead in front of me, moving across to the right as the session progressed, the tiny float tip black against the glare, switching on and off in the surface, a good bite indicator. The inside line went dead after an hour and I added depth to the float, plus another metre to the pole to fish over the next shelf, getting a bite immediately over the feed.

Not a monster, but a hard fighting roach all the same, this one of several that continued to take the 4 mm punch pellet, a step up to a 5 mm resulting in missed bites, rather than bigger fish. Waiting longer for bites, I shallowed up again and came back onto the inside line, resting the swim bringing another good roach.

Two anglers had set up opposite me fishing wagglers, but failed to catch, while I steadily lifted small roach from the cold water, the pair gone before the hour. I was now feeding very small balls every fifteen minutes, one to the left and fish to the right, then the opposite, which brought a good bite and two, or three fish each switch. Not speed fishing, but the keepnet was filling.

I began catching small rudd on the drop, a sign that the water was warming, then it went dead again. The bites had dried up, so I went back out to the far line. It was very slow, a small fish every five minutes. I had fed the inside and came back over it, but again waited five minutes for a sign of a bite, the float dipping several times before it slowly sank. I struck into a moving fish, that powered away taking out the elastic and I added another metre of pole to follow as it ran toward the old lily bed, putting on side strain, turning it to arc toward the middle. As the fish ran across in front of me, I saw that it was a small pike of about a pound, and unshipped the extra length of pole, drawing the pike across the surface against the elastic to my landing net. A roach was held across its jaws, which came free when the pike rolled in front of the net. The pike had taken the roach as I struck and not been hooked, dropping the fish by accident, or design. Apart from scale damage, the roach swam off without a second look.

I continued to fish, taking a few more small roach every five minutes, or so; maybe the pike was back. It was now 3 pm and the sun was behind the clubhouse, the air temperature dropping away, so I packed up.

Around fifty silver fish in under three hours, when the bread punch proved its worth in cold water conditions.