Silvers fill in for missing crucians

October 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

Having returned from a short cruise, there was much unpacking and washing to do, so my wife suggested that I get out of her hair and go fishing. The morning had been clear and bright with chill in the air and an afternoon fishing seemed a good idea. I checked the freezer and found a half used bag of liquidised bread, plus some frozen quarters of punch bread, certainly enough for a few hours on the pole somewhere. I had been told of a little fished pond beyond the next town, with a good head of crucian carp and tench and decided to look it up on Google maps, Streetview helping to locate the secluded entrance off a well worn lane.

It was a bit of a trek getting there, but the pond looked well tended and I chose a swim close to the carpark, these often being fished more, than those further away, with more fish. Fishing near bridges on canals is usually better for the same reason. Setting out my stall, I noticed that the water was crystal clear, with no surface activity. Not a good sign.

Plumbing the depth revealed a 3 ft maximum at 6 metres and I mixed up enough crumb and ground carp pellets for half a dozen sloppy balls of feed, that would spread, but sink quickly. I put in three balls in a line out in front of me, then dropped the float beyond the middle of the feed, with a 6 mm pellet of bread on the size 18 barbless hook. The float sank immediately and a small roach came to hand, the hook well down its throat.

There was no messing about, these roach really wanted the bread and I decided to bash through them, until the better fish moved onto the feed. They kept taking the bait, despite putting on a heavier float with the shot bulked down, some roach so small it was a wonder how they got the bait in their mouths. Several fish were stunted, with large heads and short bodies. Usually crucians will have found the feed in that first hour, their tiny bubbles always a giveaway, but not on this pond today, my only hope being a lucky tench, or even a cruising common carp.

I put in the last of my ground bait in the hope of feeding the small roach off, while attracting in a few better specimens. Nothing else showed, and with the cold wind now blowing hard in my face, I decided to cut and run, before rush hour traffic had a chance to build.

Maybe this 4 lb net was a good bag on the day. There was no chance of getting bored, but the occasional decent crucian would have been appreciated. My early getaway had no effect either, a crunch on the motorway causing traffic jams where ever I drove.

River Blackwater chub, dace and roach stickfloat workout

October 4, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Within ten miles of my home is a free stretch of the fast flowing river Blackwater, that meanders through wild, tree lined banks for half a mile, creating shallows and deep runs at every turn. A proper river in my book, much like the Colne of my youth, where the stickfloat was king.

It is two years since my last visit and much had changed, trees had fallen in creating new eddies, while other swims were now full of streamer weed. The river suits the roving specimen hunter, able to flick a bait beneath overhanging bushes, but I was looking for a long run with somewhere to park my tackle box and room to cast a 14 foot rod.

With an average depth of only 30 inches and the bottom visible across the river, it appears fishless, but looks can be deceiving. Today I was armed with half a pint of maggots, this being enough for the four hours I intended fishing, where little and often is the rule.  I set up a 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float, with most of the weight bulked beneath the float, a single No 4 and a No 8 on the 2 lb hook link down the line, a size 18 barbless for a single maggot completing the rig.

I plumbed the depth across the width, finding a channel midway at 30 inches deep, shallowing up to two feet along sunken branches on the opposite bank, setting my float to run through along the far side. A dozen maggots broadcast upstream across the swim could be seen drifting back down in the bright sunlight and cast the float among them for my first trot through. Third cast, at the end of the trot, the float held under, but I missed the strike, the red maggot sucked hollow. A few more maggots in and the float held under again, this time the rod bent round on contact as the fish rushed off downstream, before zig-zagging toward the snags along the far side. Pressure brought a chub’s white mouth to the surface and I steered the fish over to my landing net, aware of the strong pull from the current close to my bank.

This was a good start. The following cast, the float sank immediately, a solid fight and a small perch was swinging to hand.

Straight in and the float sank again to be met by a different fight, the bounce, bounce of a roach giving the game away.

Three fish in three casts, the fourth unbelievably resulting in a different fight again, as a dace tumbled and flashed in the sunshine along the far side.

The Blackwater is full of hard fighting dace of good size, this one taking a white maggot. I always add Termeric powder to my maggots, it gives them a touch of spice, that I am sure is attractive to the fish.


Alternating between far bank and middle with white and red maggots, while feeding 3 to 4 maggots a cast upstream of me kept the fish coming every cast, a decent perch taking right under my feet.

Although I could not see them against the gravel bottom, these fish were snapping up the maggots when they hit the water. A cast to the far side, upstream to where I had thrown the next batch of maggots, saw the float slide sideways and the rod bend over into another chub.

After two hours the bites began to slow, with fish coming further down the swim, deepening up and holding the float back in stages giving some rod thumping bites, never knowing what would take the bait, even some big gudgeon getting in on the act.

Stopping for a sandwich and some tea, I continued to feed the swim, finding better roach had moved into the middle of the trot.

If the float got through there was usually a perch, chub, or a good dace waiting further downstream. Some dace like the one below being around 8 oz, would explode on the surface when hooked, the tail of the swim shallower and faster than in front of me.

Constantly ringing the changes, over depth holding back, shallow running through, inside, middle and far bank, heavy and light feed, kept putting fish in my keepnet. It was repetitive work, the landing net seeming to get heavier with each fish. I was aiming to continue for a full four hours, but as the bites trailed away again, I thought of the long walk back to the carpark and hoped for a fish to end the day on. It came in the shape of a 10 oz roach, that ran to the far bank snags like a chub, then fought up and down the swim, before finally getting its head clear of the surface, praying that the size 18 barbless hook would keep hold long enough to slide it into the landing net.

What a session, one of my best on the Blackwater, certainly my best on the maggot, only bettered by a  preblog winter day, when I found a shoal of big roach and dace holed up in a deep eddy, taking well into double figures on the bread punch, the weight boosted by a couple of 2 lb chub.

Eight and a half pounds of pristine, quality fish taken in four hours, when for once the pike stayed away.

Quality roach fail to disappoint at Jeanes Pond

October 2, 2017 at 11:07 pm

A day clearing the garden ready for winter had been planned for today, but a text from my friend Peter inviting me to join him for a few hours fishing at the Braybrooke club’s Jeanes Pond could not be ignored and I arrived to find him already tackling up in his favourite swim, peg 13. I had fished the peg on a stormy afternoon a few weeks ago, netting 10 lb of roach with a bonus 3 lb 8oz tench, all on the bread punch and was interested to see how Peter would get on with his maggot bait.

Winds from hurricane Maria had blown across the Atlantic to exhaust themselves on the English countryside, however set in a hollow, Jeanes pond is immune from all, but a howling south westerly and it was like a mild spring morning, when I set up in peg 18. This swim was new to me, and I set about plumbing the depth, finding 4 feet in the right hand corner and only 3 feet to my left, this old brick clay pit varying in depth from 2 to 6 feet depending on the peg.

Putting in a small ball of liquidised bread to my right on the 3 metre line, I followed with the float and watched it cock and sink slowly out of sight. A lift and a rudd was swinging to hand.

Many of the golden rudd have this tatty look about their scales, while the silver ones are pristine. I was not complaining, they all fight as well. With the pole at 3 metres, I was catching under my feet out to 4 metres, a 6 mm pellet of punch bread on a size 16 hook accounting for fish after fish, the occasional small ball of crumb, keeping them coming steadily, including this roach.

Peter’s maggots were also taking quality roach, along with small perch, but the maggots could not match the speed of the bread punch for hooking fish, the float cocking and sinking in one movement.


I even caught a small perch, that had seized the bread on the drop. It was pot luck, what size each fish was, the 6 mm pellet even being swallowed by 3 inch roach in a second. Below is the best roach of the morning.

Like a switch the bites stopped and I saw the culprit, a flash of green in my swim being a pike, as it chased a fish. A patch of bubbles suddenly erupted from the baited area, when it swooped on a roach I had hooked, the fish splashing on the surface in panic before I could lift it out.

I cast away from the baited area to my left, another small ball of bread bringing instant bites again, but the pike moved to the new area, snatching a small roach from the hook. The bites had slowed again and my final roach jumped clear of the water with the pike inches behind it.

This perfect roach survived a mauling and my decision to pack up coincided with Peter getting his float snagged in an overhanging branch, breaking the line. For us it had been a social event, catching up on our news, while also putting a few fish in the net, Peter finishing with 3 lb and 6 lb on the scales for myself.

The bread punch perch is visible top right.

Bread punch mixed bag from gudgeon alley

September 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm

My tiny local river has suffered with several pollution events this year, causing thousands of fish deaths, but the upper reaches seem to have recovered and I was keen to see how the productive weir swim was getting on. My last visit in February had resulted in a blank, when in previous years quality roach had queued up for the bread punch.

Not trusted to buy my wife’s birthday present on my own, we had driven to a nearby town to look at rings, with the option of going on further to view more jewelers, but had struck lucky at only the second shop, finding the ideal gift, that we were both happy with. Driving back we had listened to a news report of reintroduced otters in Wiltshire, finding urban fish ponds full of expensive Koi carp easy pickings, emptying the ponds and strewing half eaten remains over the gardens. This obviously got me onto the subject of fishing that afternoon, although it would have to be a short session, being reminded that she was baking a favourite dish that afternoon, which would spoil if I was late home.

Bearing in mind, that a month after the pollution, I had failed to get a bite from this popular spot, I was not encouraged to find the swim overgrown, overhanging branches creating a parrot cage, which would make fishing with my 14 ft rod difficult. In the past the regulars have kept the branches trimmed, but was this a sign that it was no longer fishing?

Setting my 6 No. 4 ali stemmed stick float to run through shallow, I hoped to pick up a few early chub, before the roach moved it. That was the theory anyway, as the float followed a couple of balls of liquidised bread down the swim. At the foam, the float sailed away and firm resistance saw a rudd skimming towards the landing net. The rod snagged in an overhanging branch, as I brought the fish to the net, but all was ok and number one was in the keepnet.

A smaller rudd, a tiny chub, then a better chub came in quick succession, swinging the chub in to avoid the tree.

Fears of no fish in the swim were blown away with a fish a chuck, small chub and rudd taking the bread just below the surface.

The chub were getting smaller, throwing most of them straight back and changed tactics, bulking the shot at the hook link, while adding 18 inches to the depth, dragging bottom. Dip, dip, dive. A gudgeon came swinging in.

The gudgeon here fight like mini barbel, hugging the bottom, giving the impression of being bigger fish. These were now coming with every cast, the bread coating the bottom encouraging an impenetrable wall of the greedy fish. I was fishing with a big 7 mm bread pellet on a size 14 hook, but that did not stop them.

What to do? Stop feeding, or feed heavier? I chose the second option and the roach moved in. Once more the rod got snagged, but pulled through.

I tried to bring the next roach round to the side of the branch, but the fish swam off the hook. Then I attempted swinging them in, only to lose another. They were lightly hooked and heavy fish. Adding another 6 inches to the depth worked. Well over depth and held back to half river speed, every time the bait entered the edge of the foam it sank out of sight, followed by the line. These were decent roach, that ran into the fast water, putting a good bend in the rod, but being securely hooked deeper in the lip.

Running the gauntlet with the tree continued, requiring some careful maneuvering with the landing net at full stretch. I continued to bash my way through waves of gudgeon, but the roach, when they came were worth it.

I’d started late at 3:15 and two and a half hours later it was time to stop. This was supposed to be only a taster session and any longer would not go down well, if my wife’s special meal was ruined. As I pulled the  clattering net out of the water, I reflected on the disaster that had befallen this small river only 8 months before, the picture below taken a hundred yards upstream.

What a contrast, my catch below, 8 pounds of prime healthy fish, roach rudd, chub and yes, gudgeon.

I arrived home in time to sit down to a turkey steak, baked in a foil parcel with cheese, mushrooms and onions, served on a bed of carrots and beans fresh from the garden. A perfect day.

Braybrooke Jeanes Pond fishing worth a soaking

September 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

With my wife planning a visit to the recently revamped town centre for the afternoon, I had a few hours available for an impromptu visit to a local pond set in a wooded hollow amid a busy council run park. The forecast was for stormy conditions later in the day, but arriving in the car park at 1 pm, the sun was shining with just the occasional fluffy white cloud drifting by. No need for waterproofs and by the time I’d reached my chosen swim, I was stripping off my hooded jacket.

This peg was new to me, but I have seen others catch nets of quality roach and rudd from here and set up my pole to plumb the depth, a shallow margin dropping away to a hole 4 ft deep close to the edge of the lily bed. My last visit had been in early July for a Grenfell Fire charity match and this had been the winning peg with 10 lb of roach and rudd after 5 hours, taken with hemp and caster.

My only bait came straight from the freezer, a white slice of Warburtons and a third of a loaf of liquidised bread for feed, which were still solid as I tackled up, crumbling the liquidised into my bait tray to mix with some ground trout pellets, before adding enough water for a light ball to be formed. I put in two egg sized balls to start, one at the edge of the shelf 3 metres out toward the lilies, the other at the centre of the hole another metre on.

With only three lengths of pole out, I cast onto the drop off and watched the float dip and sink away. A lift and the elastic bounced out with a hand size rudd, putting the landing net out for the first time.

In the seconds that it took to set the size 18 hook, the fish had swallowed the 5 mm bread pellet, a pattern that repeated itself for most of the afternoon. They love the bread. No fussing, the float goes straight down. Every half dozen fish I flicked in a pinch of feed, 2 to 3 ounce roach and rudd coming like clockwork with the odd bonus roach, or rudd.

Bubbles were now appearing on the surface 4 metres out, where I had been dropping in the occasional ball of feed and I added another length of pole, increasing the depth slightly.  The bait was taken on the drop, the float heading toward the lily bed as the elastic stretched out with a good rudd.

Shortly after this fish, the wind began to pick up and I could smell rain in the air, as black clouds swept in over the sky.

In minutes I was struggling to get my jacket back on, as a sudden rain shower hissed across the surface, the natural bowl around the pond creating a mini whirlwind that whipped up waves and bent the pole round. The float was out of sight for most of the time, often the movement of line from a taking fish the first indication of a bite.

I considered packing up, but then the sun would come out again. The fish were still feeding, aided by the sparing introduction of small tight balls of crumb close to the lily bed. Another squall of wind and rain forced it’s way through my cotton jacket and it was cold too, but the warming sun soon returned. The float had gone again, the line stretching out, followed by the elastic that curved away in an arc. This was a very good roach that fought all the way to the net, the size 18 hook dropping out as I lifted it out.

Minutes later I was playing another big roach that ran off with the bait hooking itself. My first thought was that a pike had taken a small roach and run off, making for open water, the initial pull had been so strong.

The rudd seemed to have gone, but quality roach kept coming to the net, until a bite saw the elastic extending back to the safety of the lilies. This was a much heavier fish, that fought doggedly before running for open water. My guess was confirmed, when a black tail broke the surface to reveal a tench. I had been trying for tench here all year, plenty of roach and rudd, but this was the first. Breaking the pole down to the top two for the net, it went again taking out the elastic, but it came back, wallowing into the landing net.

The rules of this club are separate nets for carp and tench and I frantically got my spare net out with one hand, while the other held onto the landing net, which had been lowered into the water. This little fiasco lasted 15 minutes taking precious fishing time, but I felt that where there is one tench, there will be others on the feed. This proved not to be the case, unless the roach were getting to the bread first, one of my last fish being possibly the best roach of the day.

I had promised to be home by 6 pm and at 5 I netted my final roach. I was down to my last quarter of punch bread and would need to mix some more crumb.

It was time to pull in my nets for a weigh in. The tench was 3 lb 8 oz and the silvers didn’t quite make 10 lb. I had chucked back a couple of dozen smaller roach, so I reckon 14 lb in under 4 hours fishing time is about right. This was a noted tench water once and another one would have topped an enjoyable afternoon. Total cost of fishing about 20 pence.


Bread punch crucians, roach and skimmer bream make up for a bad start.

August 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

With a guest ticket and key in my pocket, I took a 15 mile drive into the next county this week, leaving after rush hour to avoid the traffic, but forgetting the long queues lining up to get into the nearby Theme Park, the cars full of holidaying school kids. “Are we there yet?” This obstruction passed, a few miles on saw me in another tailback on the main road to the motorway. Looking ahead, I could see the westbound carriageway was not moving. A short one section belt down the westbound, cuts out a whole grind through the main town between me and the fishing lake. Cars and trucks were now diverting along this alternative route and I joined the stop, start throng of frustrated drivers. All the westwards roads seemed clogged and I pressed on through traffic lights, past speed cameras; chance would be a fine thing.

At last I reached a narrow lane, a much used short cut, when I lived nearby, although even this had big vans and trucks heading my way, squeezing me into the tree lined edges. Passing through the next village, I was sorry to see the local butcher had closed down, the shop long boarded up. The butcher used to have rabbits and pheasants hanging up outside, many of them mine, a useful source of pocket money.

Pulling the van up in the car park, all that was now needed was to unload the gear onto my trolley, unlock a gate, cross a field, unlock another gate, then make my way through a wood to the lake side. It seemed a long time since my wife had handed me my flask and sandwiches, seeing me off with a goodbye peck on the lips. A cup of tea from that flask was just the ticket.

This lake is full of carp, where the popular method is to cast a bait close to the island bank, or lily beds for results, but I was here for the other fish, crucian carp, roach and skimmer bream and set up my pole to 5 metres, feeding a line at that distance with a few balls of liquidised bread mixed with crushed carp pellets. Confident that I would catch on the bread punch, I’d brought no other bait.

Within ten minutes, the baited area was beginning to fizz with bubbles, as fish moved in to feed. The first few casts with a 6 mm bread pellet on the hook, saw Kamikaze mini roach attacking the bait, but then the elastic stretched into a better fish and I netted the first skimmer. After a brief burst of subsurface activity, the flat sided fish was literally skimming on its side toward my net.

The tiny roach had been pushed out of the swim as more skimmer bream found the bait, coming to the net at regular intervals. Then the elastic stayed down and the slow motion thud of a real bream bounced the pole as it swam to my left, before surfacing in front of the reeds. Breaking down the pole to bring it closer brought a reaction that saw the elastic stretch out again, requiring the rapid addition of the extra three metres, as it ploughed through the the middle of the baited area stirring up mud and bubbles. I’d become too used to the smaller skimmers and tried to bring it in too soon. It was on the surface again and this time I inched the pole back through my fingers to bring it closer to the net. Back down to the top two, its back was out of the water and I waited for the bream to come closer, the elastic at full stretch as it rolled over. The hook in the tip of the lip pulled out. What a let down.

I soon recovered, when next cast the float bobbed a few times and drifted under. I lifted the pole to feel the juddering fight of the first crucian, the elastic working overtime as it rushed around the swim, then into the net.

The crucians and skimmers were competing for the bait, the occasional ball of feed keeping a metre wide area of bubbles going in front of me. A nice roach managed to get in on the act.

The bites were not easy to see due to the thick covering of bright green algae, the float dipping beneath the surface and out of sight. Usually a float tip can be followed under water as a bite develops, before deciding to strike, now it was a case of delaying for a second or two before lifting the pole. Most fish were very lightly hooked, even after a delay. One delay saw the elastic zooming out, a carp had hooked itself and was heading straight for the lily bed. Too late, it was in the lilies before I could react, but lifted the pole high to keep the line clear. The carp stayed put, the line going solid and I pulled for a break. The elastic was like a bow string and fortunately the 2 lb hook link broke, firing the float back. The internal bung holding the elastic needed pulling back down the pole to increase the tension, but with a new size 16 hook, and no tangles, I was ready again. Another ball of feed for the fish, a cup of tea and a sandwich for me.

There were no more dramas and the net continued to fill. I varied the bread punch size from 6 to 7 mm, but it made no difference to the fish, steady feed keeping them in a tight area.

A better skimmer

A golden crucian

A roach bream hybrid

It had been a weird weather day, very humid, sometimes spotting with heavy rain, then bright, hot sunshine followed by drizzle, when I had to cover up the punch bread. In the same way I never knew what species of fish would take.

I had come for the crucians, taking about twenty, this one being the best.

I was also pleased to catch a few nice roach, this one being the last fish of the day.

I could have gone on for longer, but had to call a halt if I was to avoid the traffic misery of the morning and pulled in my net to the sound of splashing fish.

A 14 lb mixed bag in under five hours.

Urban river chub and roach spree cut short by pollution

August 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Following several pollution incidents this year, my local river appeared to be in recovery six weeks ago, when despite an unidentifiable surface scum, it fished well on the bread punch with most of the silver fish species ending up in my keepnet. As a bailiff for the council backed fishing club, that has taken control of the water, my patrols have shown a healthy river running clear and decided that it was time for another monitoring session.

Arriving on a bright afternoon I walked down to an area where a club Himalayan balsam clearing operation has left an open area ideal for fishing. Expecting chub from under the far bank trees, I dropped in a couple of balls of liquidised bread, before setting up my 12 ft Hardy stick float rod with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed float. A sail away bite was a good sign and struck into my first fish, a palm sized rudd.

On my way to the swim I’d passed Jane, who was fishing with her young son. After a membership check, she said that they “only” had bread as bait and hadn’t caught anything yet. Informing her that I rarely fished with anything else, I suggested that she come down to see how I was getting on later.

As that first fish plopped into the keepnet, Jane appeared behind me and my next cast saw the float dive away again, the rod bending now into a hard fighting chub.

My visitor was amazed when the next cast saw a repeat performance, followed by a furious fight from an even bigger chub, that charged off downstream before coming to the net.

Another ball of bread and the float sank away again, the rod bending over as the fish dived back beneath the trees, now with an even larger chub. Close to my bank a submerged branch was visible and each time the chub had made a dive toward it as they neared the landing net, this one almost making it to the snag, but side strain kept it clear.

During this time I was giving a running commentary and trying to give Jane a crash course in bread punch fishing. Her son was using big pinches of bread from a slice, which were giving nibbling bites, while my 5 mm bread pellet was getting a positive pull under every cast. How do you pack years of experience into ten minutes? I’m sure Jane returned to her son more confused than when she arrived.

A smaller chub followed from beneath the trees, then the bites became difficult to hit. Leaving the float to disappear from view before striking gave the answer, 4 inch chublets. Their bigger brothers had gone off the feed and these juveniles were fighting over the bait as it sank. I stopped feeding that line and switched to the middle. Setting the float another foot deeper, I cast down stream and held it back over the feed. A dip, dip, sink bite brought another change of fish as a roach of a few ounces came to the surface. The next bite from the middle had me convinced that I had another chub, when it rushed over to the far bank, but the flash of a red dorsal fin identified it as a decent roach.

This was the last good fish of the session. I had become aware that the river was becoming misty with a grey/blue tinge, while the bites were becoming very fussy, those fish hooked being tiny roach of less than an ounce, which I put straight back. Shallowing up the float, I was back to the miniature chub again from under the trees. As the river became more coloured, the bites faded away. In my book, if you can’t catch on the punch, you can’t catch anything.

Half an hour without a bite is a long time, when the previous hour was a fish a chuck, even if most of them were too small for the net. The once visible submerged branches in close had now faded in the murk and it was time investigate where it was coming from.

I had intended fishing for three hours, but it was pointless to carry on, what had started as a possible red letter day had ended with disappointment and I pulled in my net.

I walked back upstream towards the outlet weir. Jane and her son were long gone, they would have stopped getting bites before me.

At the weir the blue tinged water was coming from my side of the sill, the cloudy mixture billowing into the clear water from the confluence of the wild river. Somewhere under the town upstream, contaminated water was emptying down a drain. Accidental, or intentional it can only be bad for the river. The Environment Agency have been informed, but the three outlet pipes are linked to many miles of rainwater drains under industrial estates. Searching for a needle in a haystack comes to mind.


Bread punch roach and skimmer bream action at Kingsley Pond

August 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

An invite to fish Kingsley Pond in Hampshire, as a guest of the Oakhanger club chairman David, was not to be turned down, despite a weather forecast of blustery winds and showers. I’d cancelled a visit last year due to the weather and missed out on a good day’s fishing at this prolific two acre pond, so turned up prepared for the worst complete with all my wet weather gear. David was already fishing when I arrived and sat me down in a swim close to his. He was fishing with cubes of luncheon meat on a size 14 hair rig, fished under a waggler float cast to a lily bed 10 yards out. All very new to me, but just the rig for the specimen fish inhabiting these waters. I was sticking to my tried and tested bread punch method to target the often ignored roach and skimmer bream, with the chance of a tench, or crucian carp thrown in for good measure.

No sooner had I set out my stall to fish, the heavens opened with the first of many squally showers, which saw me struggling into leggings and a waterproof jacket, preferring these to sitting under the restriction of an umbrella. Plumbing the swim, I found that the maximum depth out to six metres was no more that two feet, with less than a foot close in, not even enough to cover a keepnet.

Feeding an area four metres out in front of me and another beyond the edge of the small lily bed to my right, I was ready to reacquaint myself with Kingsley, where I had last fished 30 years ago. Then I had fished the pole with hemp and caster for the quality roach it held, taking a lucky tench to boost my match weight. Today I was using the same Shakespeare carbon pole over a bed of liquidised bread, laced with ground carp and micro krill pellets, with a smattering of sweetcorn for good measure. That would do.

The first ten minutes saw me bashing out small roach, most of which I considered too small for the net, chucking them straight back, so switched from bread punch to a piece of sweet corn. Missed bites and more small roach. Then the first skimmer. I had rebaited with the corn and dropped the rig in at my feet ready to add two joints to my top two sections, when there was a swirl and the elastic zoomed out, almost pulling the top sections from my hand. A second later the whole lot pinged back minus the hook, tangling the pole rig in the process. I was fortunate to have been holding the pole at the time, or it may not have been only a carp that I had just lost. After unraveling the tangle, I was searching for another size 16 to 2.5 lb hook link in my box, when David walked over to show me the 5 lb tench that he had just landed on the meat.

This small rudd was followed by a stonker of 8 oz, which flipped from my hands as I stretched out my fingers to show its red fins ready for a photo. Literally gone in a blur.

I had gone back to the bread punch, going from 6 mm to 7 mm bringing better fish, including some nice roach.

The rain was on and off, while the gusting wind often made it difficult to hold the pole, sinking the tip and waiting for the float to reappear from the waves. When it didn’t there was a fish on. Occasionally the wind would drop to be bathed in sunshine. The fish had no preference, they just kept biting.

David was catching well too, splashes from his bed of lilies indicating a satisfying session. A 2 lb crucian was carried over for me to see, with reports of a pound roach and one and a half pound bream, all on the the luncheon meat. He came back with a great chunk of the stuff. With only a size 16 hook, I cut the meat into small cubes and tried it out and got a good running bite. A signal crayfish had taken it.

A few missed bites and another big crayfish saw me back on the bread. Stick with what you know is my motto. I was not really set up for bigger fish as the earlier lost carp had shown. It takes time to get your hook back from a signal. After you have trodden on it, making sure it is dead, you have to cut the hooked limb off, then cut away to the hook. The luncheon meat was not wasted, it was very tasty.

Mixing up more feed, I was happy in my little fish catching zone, when a call from David got my attention. He was playing a carp, which had run in a semi circle close to the bank, before heading out again. It was eventually netted by the seasoned carp angler, the 10 lb common failing to break the 4 lb hook link.

This carp had taken a worm intended for a tench, providing me with a little interlude, the break giving me a chance for a quick sandwich, while David posed for a photo.

Getting back to my peg, the skimmer bream had done a disappearing act, the regular small balls of feed had held them in a tight area, but I was not complaining when the first cast back in brought a hard fighting roach.

More roach were in the swim, instead of the slow sink of the skimmers, the roach were just running off with the bait in the shallow water. The one below being my best of the day,

A roach bream hybrid, saw the start of another run of skimmers, this time a better stamp of fish.

We had agreed to fish until 3 pm and with five minutes to go, the elastic on my pole pulled out as I lifted into another fish, the dull thudding fight and a golden flank below the surface indicated a real bream this time, which slowly approached the net, it’s back out of the water in the shallow margin. Inches from safety, I pressured the pole to lift the bream over the rim of the net. It turned it’s head and the hook came out. Curses. It would have been nice to have ended the day with a fish that matched some of those that David had caught.

I am never happier than when watching a float go down, this haul in under five hours, proof of a happy day. Roll on the next invite.

Bread punch best for carp on evening pond

July 31, 2017 at 11:00 pm

I had been promising myself an evening on the local duck pond all summer, but scorching temperatures, not pleasant at the best of times, followed by storms and heavy showers sweeping across the the country had limited fishing time. Finding a free evening when it wasn’t raining, I took the short five minute drive to the pond. It takes longer to load and then unload the van again, than it takes to drive to the car park nestled among the estate’s houses. In my younger, fitter days, a brisk walk with the trolley would have completed the task, but today it’s what it is.

There were already several anglers set up around the 2 acre balancing pond, some more committed than others. No one seemed to have caught so far as I walked round, finding an open space opposite the island and next to a proper carp fisherman huddled in a chair watching his rods in a gap between trees.

Not having fished here since the winter, a white tide mark on the rocks lining the island, indicated that the level had dropped by at least 6 inches, not good in this already shallow water. I had heard that Thames Water had been doing work at the site. Lowering the outlet height would allow more water to be released during heavy rainfall, no doubt protecting the local houses, but not improving the fish habitat.

As usual, I had only brought bread for the punch and about half a pint of liquidised bread for feed, to which I mixed in a dusting of ground pellets. Wetting the feed mix, I threw out four loose balls along a line twenty yards out, that broke up on contact with the surface.

By the time I had tackled up my 12.5 foot Normark rod, bubbles were already beginning to appear in the baited area. Double punching 7 mm pellets onto the size 14 hook, the tip dipped seconds after my modified pole float hit the water. With no weight down the line and set to 15 inches deep, the bread was being pushed around by a fish, causing the float to dance around the surface without going under. Last summer the rudd in the pond were a nuisance, although worth catching once hooked. The float eventually stopped moving and assuming that the bread had been sucked off the hook, I lifted the rod to retrieve the float, only to find briefly that a carp was still holding the bait. The rod pulled down to the surface, then a bow wave heading toward the island said that the carp was gone.

The silly bites continued, the rudd seemingly doing a disappearing act this year, had left it to the carp to test my patience. Many times the float sank, to reappear a second later before a strike could be made. I lost count of the missed fish. One bite sailed away behind a bow wave, the line following. I tightened and leaned into thin air. Very frustrating.

Finally, the float held down long enough to make contact and the rod bent double into a running carp that trailed a slick of black mud, as it headed for the overhanging branches of the island. Back winding against the strain, the carp’s tail broke the surface in the shallow water, picking up a washing line of twigs, when it burrowed into the mud. Turning, it came back into the open water, where it was soon on its way to the net, although close to the bank it was almost beached, getting my net under it at full extension.

The commotion brought the serious carp man on the left to my side. He was yet to catch. The hook was just in the bottom lip of this five pound common. A lucky fish indeed. I like to keep my fish in the keepnet, until I finish, but the water was too shallow to cover the back of a carp, so it was returned without weighing.

My new companion stayed with me for a while, giving a running commentary on the iffy bites, uttering reassuring gasps every time I missed a fish. He talked of wafters and popups, artificial maggots and sweet corn, all foreign language to an old bread man like me. The Bread has done me proud so far, so why change.

A single pellet on the hook brought another rod bender, this time a barrel shaped mirror carp that ran hard to my right, out of sight behind a bush, where it wallowed on the surface like a stranded hippo. Sinking the rod tip into the mud in front of me, I reeled in and it followed, before running for the middle one more time. More back winding soon sapped its strength, turning on it’s side ready for the net.

It was still only 7:30, two carp in a hour and plenty of action in between. This mirror was the icing on the cake, but having intended fishing into the dusk, I rebaited with another single pellet and cast out. The baited area had given up its last fish and I cast another ten yards close to the island. The float sat without movement for five minutes, then vanished. Missed it! A boil spread out, where the carp had been.

Same again next cast, but this time the fish stayed on, relentlessly speeding toward the island, then running parallel to it. Everything went solid. Keeping the rod up, I could feel the carp the other side of the snag. Lowering the rod and giving line got the fish moving, but lifting in again, the line went solid, with the carp making waves the other side of the snag. The 6 lb line parted and my precious float bobbed to the surface. I will have to make up another one before my next outing.

Time to go home. I offered my fellow angler a couple of pieces of bread. He said he had missed a run on his floating artificial double sweetcorn pop up rig. He took the bread.

Bread punch tench make up the numbers

July 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

Continued hot and humid weather had banished any thoughts of fishing, but a freshening breeze and a forecast of thunderstorms by 7 pm, saw me liquidising a few slices of bread thawed from the freezer, with another slice for the punch, ready for the 10 minute walk to my local pond. Despite travelling light with just a pole and landing net, while my tackle box was loaded on the trolley with the barest of essentials, I’d seemingly sweated buckets by the time I reached the pond. The shaded swims all have dense lily beds alongside them, safe havens for running carp, so I chose to fish into open water, although it meant sitting in the full heat of the sun.

In this shallow swim, pole length is limited to six metres by a high bank behind, just allowing the top two sections to be unshipped when landing a fish, so with a short terminal rig, seven metres is the ideal fishing distance. I had been given some 2 mm krill pellets by a friend and added a handful to my ground bait mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets. The friend had said the krill pellets were a good tench attractor and knowing they are present in the pond it was worth a trial.

Having fed three balls along the seven metre line, the float sank away the instant the 6 mm bread pellet reached the bottom and a colourful rudd was swinging to hand.

For the next twenty minutes it was a rudd a chuck, until a different bite saw the pole elastic extending as a small powerful tench came fighting to the net. Maybe the krill pellets were working already.

Bubbles were now surfacing from the fed area and a dithering bite brought another change of fish as a small crucian carp came to hand.

The rudd had been pushed out by now and the elastic stretching out across the pond signalled a carp run. Shipping back the pole to the top two sections, the elastic took the strain, bring the carp steadily toward the landing net.

The punched bread was working well, with more crucians and small commons taking each put in, every punch representing a fish.

Putting in another three balls kept the bites and fish coming, including another tench dashing around the swim.

Small tench were now every other fish, while the occasional better common kept me on my toes.

I’d set a cut off time of six thirty, giving me three hours fishing time and on the dot the float went down with another hard fighting carp, this time an exotic fan tail, that would have been more at home in a garden pond.

In the previous hour the sky had darkened and the wind increased, that forecast of heavy rain seemed likely to be accurate and I pulled in the keepnet, this net falling just short of ten pounds. There were eight tench in amongst this catch, so maybe the krill pellets did the trick?

Half way up the hill to my home, it began to spot with rain and only wearing a T shirt expected a soaking, but made made it with a minute to spare before the heavens opened.