Bread punch roach dominate at Braybrooke

June 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Reports of tench being caught at Braybrooke Park drew me to Jeanes Pond this week, a sunny afternoon being a last chance before a forecast week of rain. A strong wind was blowing across the pond, which would have made fishing difficult in a favoured swim next to lily beds, so I settled for the easy option in the lee of the clubhouse.

There was only one other angler on the water and he was in the next swim. Fishing the feeder with maggot over toward the lilies, he was catching a succession of quality roach, topping his session with a 12 oz tench. There are much larger tench in the pond, but intending to fish pole and bread punch, I would be happy to catch a few of the smaller tench that had been introduced by the Environment Agency a couple of years before, plus a net full of prime roach.

This year the pond has been plagued with tiny roach and rudd and my plan was to feed tight balls of liquidised bread and ground fish pellets, while using a 4 x 16 antenna float with No 8 shot strung out close to the 3 lb hook link, to drop straight through the small stuff. That was the theory anyway, the proof would be in the pudding.

Plumbing the depth, the main shelf was only three metres out, dropping off again at four and I fed four balls to start in a square over the area, setting the float to fish just off bottom. Dropping the float in the centre of the square, with a 6 mm bread pellet, I watched the float dip and glide away and I swung in a small rudd.

A good size for the first fish and I was soon back in with a few smaller rudd and roach. A burst of bubbles over the feed promised something else and I lifted the float, dropping it dead centre. In seconds the antenna dipped, then popped up again, dithered then dived as a small tench made off with the bait, stretching out the elastic, making me think that I had a better fish.

This little battler was covered in some sort of lice, which had no effect on its fighting abilities. Bubbles were rising steadily from the feed and the next drop in saw the elastic out again as a better rudd stormed off.

I resisted putting in more feed, as so far the tiny roach and rudd had kept away, bubbles were still bursting in the surface and decided that less was best. Another pretty rudd followed.

The next fish stayed deep, fighting hard as it moved around the swim, thinking that it was another small tench, being surprised to see a good roach surface for the landing net.

Before coming to fish, I had put two “waterproof” plasters on my finger to cover a dermatitis sore, they lasted twenty minutes. Should have read the instructions. Probably said “do not get these waterproof plasters wet” Ha!

Another couple of balls of feed kept the bubbles and the fish coming, another nice roach responding to the bread punch. A friend had fished the pond on the punch at the weekend, saying that he had only caught very small fish, but I was still having success on, or just off bottom. I did have a brief spell of catching the tinies, but going up to a size 7 mm punch seemed to solve that.

The float shot away and the unmistakable rolling fight of a better tench had the elastic touching the water as it ran round the swim, the net eventually catching up with it. The fight had be brief, but there was still plenty of energy left, its muscle power making hook removal difficult. This was the only other tench of the late afternoon apart from another similar fish dropped earlier. This may have been it.

I tried more feed and got another cracking roach next cast, the float barely settling before it cruised under.

The landing net was out constantly, the 3 metre long handle needed from the high fishing platform. This was becoming a workout. Who said fishing was a lazy man’s sport?

 Rudd were making up the numbers.

Now the local school was disgorging, teenage pupils crowding around a sunken shopping trolley at the edge of the pond opposite. They were trying to pull it up the bank, when one of them tipped head first into the green water. Did he fall, or was he pushed? The answer was that half a dozen of his mates ran back up the path, before he could extract himself, the other half stood and laughed, until he climbed out with punches flying. In full school uniform, his mother would not be pleased!

As the afternoon went on, the bites got cagier, the sailaways of earlier, now became like those of winter, light dips and pauses, giving way to eventual slow sinking of the tip, the setting of the hook being a surprise to both fish and angler.

Changing the punch for the smaller 6mm seemed to speed up the bites, maybe the fish had had there fill, but I had put in less than half a pint in total, so that was unlikely to be the reason. Small bubbles were still rising and the keepnet was still filling.

Grape sized balls of feed had maintained interest for the fish and I was waiting for another tench.

I had intended packing up at six, but the float continued to sink and I was stuck in the “just one more fish” syndrome, forcing myself to stop thirty minutes later.

It had been an enjoyable four hours, no pike trouble for a change, plenty of sizeable fish and the threatened showers had held off, although the wind had created an anti-clockwise surface drift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horam Manor Fishery entertains on the bread punch

May 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm

The East Sussex village of Horam proved the ideal place for a spot of R & R this week. Still suffering with a painful ankle, I booked my campervan into Horam Manor Country Park for a couple of days, seeing that a fishery is among the facilities, which include nature trails and horse riding. Only fit for sitting beside a lake for a few hours, I opted for Great Pond, close to the parking area and overlooked by The Bistro, with a selection of food and drinks available all day. What more can you ask for? Oh yeh, all this for a two rod fishing ticket of £5.

There are nine lakes and ponds to choose from, relics of medievil iron working along a stream, where the ore was exposed down the steep valley, the ore once dug out and smelted on the spot, the ponds getting the name of hammer ponds, where the rough iron was taken from the charcoal kilns and forged with hammers into ingots. Now tall pines and bluebell woods mask this once early industrial site.

Setting up along the dam, I mixed ground carp pellets with 2 mm krill pellets and liqudised bread, then added water to make up several soft balls, that I put in 4 to 5 metres out over the deeper water. Using a 7 mm bread punch pellet on a size 16 barbless, the float cruised off with the first bite and a rudd came to the net.

Several rudd followed in rapid succession, before a slower, steady submerge of the float indicated the first of many carp, that strung out the elastic, letting the fish have its head, until ready for the pole to be pulled back to the top two joints, the landing net ready and waiting.

This mirror was quickly returned, the no keepnet rule going against the grain with this ex-matchman.

Another hard fighting carp. Its a pity that the barbless hook rule seems to have been ignored here, many fish being without their top lips.

A better sized mirror carp, that fought well on the light pole tackle, 3 lb hook link, to 4 lb main line. With carp above double figures in this pond, I was taking a chance, but preferred these tactics to those of many around me fishing matching twin stepped up carp rods, when if they hooked fish of this size, skimmed them back across the surface. There was one bivvy set up on the pond, most of the more serious carp men and ladies seeking out the isolation of the lakes further down the valley.

The bread punch continued to take its toll of the residents of the pond, this common making an effort to reach the reed bed opposite, before the elastic persuaded it to do otherwise.

There were plenty of greedy little tench eager to get to the punch first, the bites and fight unmistakable.

A silver ghost carp put in an appearance.

These carp would be a match angler’s dream, free feeding with enough fight to make life interesting.

A bit of a lump. My wife (tackle carrier) asked if I get bored catching so many fish? Er, Never.

Mirrors were one to every three commons, interspersed with small tench and rudd. There are supposed to be some crucians in the water, but I never saw one, although several big perch were busy chasing small rudd in and out of the reed beds.

Look at the tail on this tench. I lost one of about a pound at the net trying to bully it in.

I had started at 1:30 pm, now it was nearing 4:30, but the fish were unrelenting, a couple more balls of feed had kept them coming, the commons mouths full of mud as they hovered up the fine particles.

I had stopped taking pics of the fish long before, but this chunky common carp and my last fish of the day, another pretty mirror warranted the effort.

I had honestly lost count of the number of the various species, as I attempted to fill in the returns form, say twenty rudd of around 4 oz, a dozen small tench to 8 oz, eight, or nine mirror carp to 12 oz and twenty five common carp to 1lb 8 oz. All in three hours. All on the bread punch.

 

 

Syndicate trout stream rewards persistance

May 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

Following up on my visit to a free urban trout stream, where the mayfly were just beginning to fly, I was encouraged to take the ten mile drive to my Hampshire syndicate chalk stream. The sun was shining and a light upstream wind was ruffling the surface, when I arrived after 3 pm.

Walking upstream it looked perfect, but something was missing, flies and rising trout. I had hoped to start with the White Mayfly, that I had used on the urban river, but was not so sure, deciding to make my way up toward the wier, before changing to a nymph.

This is what I found, when I got my rod down from its rack in the garage. A mouse had eaten the cork of the handle. Although off the ground, the mouse must have considered that it was worth the climb, only eating into one side, where my fingers wrap around. Maybe the floatant grease that I use had permeated into the corks, making a tasty mouse snack. The positive side is that I now have finger grips in the handle!

Without waders, I kept well away from the bank, pausing to study the river ahead, spotting a single rise 50 yards upstream close to the opposite bank. It rose again as I neared the spot, a raft of branches that had collected at a small bush. Another rise coincided with the first sight of a white mayfly lifting off from the surface. Casting was going to be difficult from this high bank, with trees hanging over the water, but a mayfly disappearing in a swirl ahead of me spurred me on. Sitting on the bank with my legs over the river, I made side casts up to the spot, but the upstream wind caught the leader each time, swinging it back over to my side. Mayfly were still lifting off, but a vertical cast saw the fly line land heavily ahead of the fish. It stopped rising.

The artificial was soon waterlogged, sinking on landing, so I got up and moved on, making false casts as I walked to dry it out. There were still a few Mayfly about and another rise a 100 yards ahead saw me approach with caution. Here cattle had broken the bank down and was able to stand at water level to cast, although once again overhanging branches called for a side cast.

The trout was rising every few minutes on the outside of the bend below a willow and I edged closer, increasing the length of my casts, being frustrated each time that I had the range, to catch on dead, long grass and cow parsley along the bank behind me. Plenty of time, mayfly were still coming off and the fish was still plopping away. Retrieving the fly for the second time, I went grass cutting, reducing the obstacles by hand, then inched back to my rod to start again.

The artificial was regreased, rubbed between my fingers, recast and ignored. The wind was still blowing the fly away from the bank and I aimed further in, watching it float down dangerously close to the bank. The trout took in a side swipe and I was in! An initial boil and it bolted upstream, stripping line toward the bend. Side on it was a long fish and not stopping, testing the rod as it bent to the butt. Against the pressure it came back, giving repeated, but shorter bursts of power each time. Standing at the tail of the pool, I bided my time, until it was ready for the net, drifting it across the shallows to be scooped up.

Not a wild fish, but a well conditioned stockie 17 inches long, fueled by a regular supply of Mayfly. After returning to the river, holding its head facing upstream, it kicked away to swim back to the pool.

I was content with this brown trout, walking back to the road, not being tempted by the few fish now rising to another Mayfly hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild trout ready for Mayfly bonanza on urban river

May 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm

An ankle injury had kept me away from the river bank for over a month, but using my landing net as a walking aid, I was able to cover the short distance from the car to the bank of my urban trout stream this week. Arriving after 7 pm, the sun was close to the horizon as I made my way upstream, disappointed that there were no fish rising.

Although it was bright sunshine beyond the trees, in the shade there was a chill downstream wind and assumed that this was keeping the fly life down. I decided to start off with a size 14 unweighted Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, casting along the edges of the weeds and close to my bank, the nymph just hanging in the surface film. After ten yards, a swirl, followed by a tightening of the leader, saw an automatic response as I made contact with a seven inch parr, that tumbled across the surface and came off the barbless hook. Oh well, that got my heart thumping, raising my hopes of better fish to come.

Moving up to open water below an overhanging laurel, the nymph now waterlogged, failed to get the attention of any more trout, wherever it was cast. Seeing a small rise alongside a weed bed, I tied on an Elk Hair Emerger, rubbing floatant grease into the fly, before casting above the bed. A pound trout appeared from nowhere, took one look and dashed off in the opposite direction. My other were casts ignored. This is free, unmonitored fishing and I got the feeling that these fish had been covered too many times already, my usually successful Emerger, not cutting the mustard this evening.

I decided to backtrack downstream along the road, where the sun was still on the water, seeing that Grannom flies were scudding across the surface, a rise further down among the trees confirming my choice of the Orange Elk Emerger. All I needed was a place to cast from the high bank, my sore ankle too unsteady to be climbing down to the waters edge.

I stopped at an open bank covered with cow parsley, where reeds and wild watercress grew out into the water. It was difficult casting from this point, but this was my only option, the overgrown bank making it difficult to control the line. I had brought my 7 ft 3 Weight rod, where my 9 ft 5 Weight would have been the answer to cope with the bankside vegetation. A month before, only the occasional daffodil would have been present.

White Mayflies had begun launch into the air and like a switch, the apparently barren river came to life with fish rising in front of me. A few casts with the Emerger were ignored, but a last minute grab of the Mayfly box, when leaving home, was now to pay off as I rooted through it to find a white Mayfly.

Tying this monster on was easy compared to the smaller flies earlier. Rubbing it in with floatant, saw it sitting high and proud on the surface. Not for long. It had drifted only a few feet, before it was engulfed in a splashy take. The strike was absorbed by the line caught in the watercress and I missed my chance. Maybe a small fish. Watching for the next rise, I made a long cast upstream close to the far bank, this time seeing a deep bronze flank roll over the fly. Yes! I was in, the short rod bending double as the trout bucked and dived in the clear river. The hook held and I stripped back line as the trout ran downstream past me, boiling on the surface. “Stay down!” I pleaded, fearful that the hook would shake out, but no, the gods were on my side this time and with the landing net at full extension, the wild brownie was scooped into the net.

About 12 oz, this beautiful trout was already deep and round, the early feast of Mayfly a healthy boost to its diet. Holding the trout upstream in the landing net for several minutes, I waited until it was ready to swim off, before turning the net over, watching the dark back disappear beneath the cress. The sun was now touching the fields across the river and I was glad that I had put on a sweat shirt as the breeze had transformed into a downstream wind, dragging the fly across the surface seconds after it had dropped onto the water.

As the last of the sun sank beyond the field, the wind dropped enough to allow the fly to float down to the surface close to my side, being taken aggressively in an instant by an 8 oz fish that boiled on the surface, as I frantically tried to free the flyline from the cow parsley along my bank. Soon the leader was caught in the watercress and the trout gone. Untangling the line, the Mayfly was still in place, deciding to call it quits for the evening.

I had hoped for more fish, but it was good to get back out on the river with a fly rod, the adrenaline helping me to forget the pain in my ankle for an hour, or two.

 

Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 rimfire spring rabbit watch

May 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Once a regular on my list of permissions, the equestrian centre has been reduced to just the occasional visit these days, due to lack of rabbits on this once prolific 80 acre site. Bounded by a large housing estate on three sides, it is possible that poaching, or myxomatosis has decimated the numbers, but a call to the owners had a positive report of more rabbits seen around the grounds.

Arriving on a bright spring afternoon there was little evidence of a rabbit revival, the long driveway, once offering a shot, or two, still devoid of rabbits. Parking up in the yard, I was met by the lady owner, who told me that they had seen rabbits around the feed storage sheds recently, but walking out that way with the Magtech failed to show any sign of rabbits, even recent droppings and I carried on out toward the wood.

Bluebells were already covering the ground, being early this year. Birds were singing, making this a very pleasant country walk, but there were still no signs of rabbits, despite frequent stops to wait and watch for movement. A muntjac deer burst from cover, making me start, the young doe trotting on to the next clump of fresh green foliage, being the only thing of interest apart from squirrels.

The nature walk continued, passing through the wood I could see from the higher ground two boundaries with no sign of bunnies, where once there would have been small groups every hundred yards. Turning back I took the path parallel to the wood, there was still time to drive on to another permission, where I was bound to have more success. Picking up my pace to climb the rise, I stopped and ducked down. A big rabbit was feeding in the enclosure next to the path ahead about 70 yards away.

Keeping down, I slowly moved forward, getting down to crawl to the top of the rise. It was still there, sitting up facing back to the path. Resting the rifle on my bag, I got ready for the shot, just as it moved back to the path. The rabbit stopped at the fence post, it’s head clearly visible. This was my only chance. I squeezed the trigger and it sprang forward, lying motionless.

The rabbit was only yards from a fresh burrow, a delay on my part would have seen it lost. I was pleased with the shot, at 45 yards just behind the eye, a testament to the accuracy and hitting power of the 42 grain Winchester subsonic rounds.

After cleaning out the rabbit I moved on, this action had reduced my future chances here once more, but as they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I did see a pair of rabbits along a far hedge line as I walked back to the stables, but nothing else and had removed the magazine ready to return to the van, when a rabbit ran across the path toward the sheds. Stopping to refit the magazine and cock the action, I stepped round the fence into the alleyway to see the rabbit against a shed twenty yards away. It froze and I fired. Two others now appeared from nowhere down by a wood pile and I hit one of them, firing again to make sure. Short and sweet.

As the owner had said, they WERE around the feed sheds, a stake out may have saved a walk, but its not all about putting food on the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread punch roach and rudd shine at Braybrooke closer

May 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Having injured my ankle, I had been out of action for a couple of weeks, but was determined to get down to my local Jeane’s Pond at Braybrooke Park for a last chance at the roach and rudd, before its annual month long close season was imposed on May 1st. With the carpark only a 100 yards from the pond, I had reduced the tackle in my box to a minimum, needing to pull my trolley, while hobbling along using a walking stick in the other hand. This was a slow painful process and had never noticed before how uneven the path was, twisting my ankle at every step. A dog walker coming the other way gave me a smile “Don’t worry mate, you’ll get there”. Get there I eventually did, justifying my choice of peg 18, the nearest of the disabled, wheelchair friendly pegs.

The scene was welcoming, little breeze and bright sunshine, while the pond had a soft green tint, the only downside being branches and logs that had been dumped into the water at my feet, the disadvantage of a public park frequented by bored teenagers at night. I spent the next ten minutes removing these with my landing net, tipping them onto the bank, ready for tonight’s revellers.

Intending to fish my reliable bread punch method, I gathered everything I needed to within hands reach, selecting a light antenna rig to a size 18 barbless hook, choosing to begin with a 6 mm bread punch. Plumbing the swim, the ledge was 3 feet deep, sloping down to 4 feet, 5 yards out.

Ready to begin, I squeezed up a small ball of liquidised bread, dropping it in just over the shelf, intending to create an area of feed that would roll down the slope into the deeper water. With my pole at 3 metres, I cast in and pulled back to the shelf, the float skating away immediately as a small rudd took the bread on the drop.

Half a dozen of these made me think that I might have chosen the wrong method, but then the following rudd began to get bigger, as the feed attracted in better fish.

More better rudd took confidently, the bites sliding away, then a different bite, the antenna giving a few dips before slowly sinking out of sight. The No 6 elastic came out as a good roach flashed in the green water, following it with the pole as it ran from left to right, sliding the landing net out ready for it to give up on the surface.

At last, the first decent fish, the size 18 fine wire hook holding firmly in the top lip. At this stage I had not introduced any more feed for fear of encouraging the tiny roach and rudd that had plagued me earlier, but now I chanced another small ball to the top of the drop off, fishing to the left of the cloud.

Another nice roach sank the float and the landing net was out again, followed by the best rudd so far.

Good fish were now coming every cast, some from the top of the shelf, some half way down.

The midday sun was so bright, that I had to hold the fish in the shade of my body, the glare from the silver scales, whiting out the images. Fishing either side of the feed kept the bites coming steadily and the landing net in constant use.

These rudd would take the bread and run back out to the deeper water, but I was not tempted to fish further out, while I continued to catch these clonkers close in.

Another good roach followed a ball of feed, beginning a run of the hard fighting fish that were taking the bait close to the bottom.

Then it stopped. The water erupted as a pike chased a roach, that almost jumped into the landing net as it tried to escape, the pike grabbing the fish through the net, pulling it down. I dragged the net free and the water boiled. The fish were panicked and would not take, more forays causing good sized fish to scatter across the surface.

Time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, while I reflected on my efforts so far. I had been fishing for two hours and reckoned that I already had six, or seven pounds of fish in my net, but it was too early to pack up, the sun was out and the birds were singing in the trees, accompanied by the staccato hammering of a wood pecker. I would stick it out. Putting in another couple of balls of feed five metres out, took the pike further away, while I fished along the edges, picking up smaller roach and rudd, although rapid swinging in caused a few to drop off, when the pike came visiting.

There were still a few decent fish to be had, this rudd avoiding a mauling as I hussled it to to the net. By 3 pm the local school had begun disgorging its pupils, several deciding that throwing logs and branches into the pond was a good idea, and after landing yet another big roach I called it a day.

Pulling out the keep net, I knew that I had under estimated the weight before, the number and quality of the fish pushing the scales well beyond 9 lbs and considering all the small roach and rudd that I had thrown back, 10 lbs would have been in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career 707 .22 PCP Carbine rabbit stopper

April 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

Like myself, Neale my brother-inlaw is a keen gardener, who has been busy raising seedlings in his greenhouse ready to plant out. Last week we visited Neale and he took us down the garden to show us that something had eaten his recently planted lettuces. Protected against wood pigeons with netting and old CDs dangling from strings, he could not figure out what had cropped to the ground the fresh young plants. “Rabbits” I said, pointing to fresh, round shiny droppings on the grass next to the veggie patch.

Having lived in the same house for over 40 years, apart from rats, which were dealt with by my .177 Relum springer air rifle, Neale had never had rabbit trouble before, even with a large wood that his 100 yard garden backs onto and wondered where they had appeared from. Further along the road there had been a single bungalow in an acre of land, the smallholding having been sold to property developers, who had now just completed a dozen houses on the site. I guessed that the rabbits had been occupying the plot, until pushed out by the builders, going into the wood, or migrating through the other gardens over the winter to now home in on Neale’s tender lettuces.

That evening while shutting up the greenhouse, he saw them, two rabbits coming out from under a hedge, watching as they scouted round the sheds and a rough patch of uncultivated ground. Fascinated at first Neale watched them, until they made their way up toward the now empty lettuce bed. He had stepped out into their path and seen them dive back under the hedge. Later looking out from the kitchen, there they were again, bold as brass sitting munching on the back lawn. A chain link fence finishes at the hedge and next day Neale cut up some old steel fencing to fill the gap underneath the hedge. They were back on the lawn that evening. A rabbit can easily pass through a four inch square mesh fence and they had.

My suggestion that I bring an air rifle round the following evening was accepted and I arrived early to survey the scene looking for a vantage point. Neale had already surrounded the veggie patch with netting, having planted out more young lettuces.

Both of the shed doors faced in the wrong directions, while shooting from the kitchen to the lawn had the greenhouse in the background, which was bound to result in a broken pane of glass, if trying to hit a running rabbit. I had brought a camo net and strung it across between the greenhouse and the chain link fence, placing a comfy garden chair behind it. The net has a pair of windows at seat height, a relic of a previous hide and ideal for shooting from a chair. After a cup of tea and putting on a thick jumper under my camo jacket, I was ready to pull down my balaclava ski mask and fitted a camo cap over the top to hide my white face. This my wife and brother in-law thought was hilarious, taking a snap on his phone, before I made my way back down the garden.

From Neale’s description they were large rabbits and I had brought my Career 707 .22 FAC rated carbine to deal with them. The .22 Magtech rimfire would have been dangerous in the confines of this narrow garden, but with 28 ft/lbs firing a 19 grain Baracuda Hunter Extreme, the Career is the safe, but deadly option.

Sitting back in the chair looking through the net window, my concentration had waned after 30 minutes, jerking alert at the sight of a big rabbit, ears folded back, forcing through the square mesh under the hedge. Aiming through the net window, I was tempted to take a shot at this defenseless animal twenty yards away, but held the rifle to my eye waiting for its mate to follow seconds later, this time the muted report from the silencer was drowned out by the thud of the pellet finding the target. The first rabbit, now on the grass, sat up and bolted to the corner by the gate, trying to get down the gap between it and the hedge. I stood up, in seconds working the Winchester style trigger under lever action to cock the rifle and load another pellet, which hit in the upper body, flipping the rabbit over and leaving it motionless. It had been an execution, all over in seconds.

I laid them out on the lawn. My wife said “Poor rabbits.” Neale looked shocked, “It was so quick.” They had been watching from the kitchen, but had missed the final few seconds of the stakeout. He refused the offer of the rabbits, preferring prepacked, supermarket factory farmed chicken. The doe was in kit, so it was just as well that they were stopped. Neale has made a better job of the fence, using two inch square heavy mesh, while the veggies are in an enclosure resembling Fort Knox. I’m not sure that he will tell me of rabbit trouble in the future, but the Career will be ready if he does..

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.