Bread punch finds quality roach and rudd at Braybrooke pond

April 13, 2018 at 2:58 pm

A last minute change of plans left a few hours free for fishing this afternoon, although a rain shower as I loaded up my tackle gave me second thoughts. The day had dawned grey and misty, but a sharp, cutting wind from the east had blown that away, bringing brief showers and drizzle. With top to toe thermal insulation and a waterproof jacket, I was ready to face the unseasonal elements at Jeanes pond in Braybrooke Park.

It was not exactly blowing a gale when I arrived, but it was drizzling with fine rain for the first half hour as I set out my stall to fish and after making sure that all I needed was to hand from my tackle box, with my jacket hood over my cap, I settled down in my own cozy little world.

Plumbing the depth, I found that the inside shelf fell away to 2 metres deep, with just the top two sections in place, ideal for some close in fishing with the bread punch. Hoping to target better sized roach and rudd close to the bottom, I soaked my bread crumb feed, to allow it to sink quickly through the top layers, where the small stuff live. A couple of balls of the sloppy mix were dropped over the shelf, followed shortly by the first cast of the afternoon. The float settled and sank away, lifting into a three ounce roach.

Small, but perfectly formed, this would do well for a start. The next cast saw the pole take a set, as the No 6 elastic was pulled from the top two sections.

Ah that’s better, a solid roach failing to shake free the size 18 barbless. Another ball of feed and they were queuing up for the 5 mm pellet of punch bread.

What a clonker, this roach/rudd hybrid started with a slow thumping fight that ended with the fish dashing in all directions, the elastic cushioning the runs as I followed it with the two metre section of pole.

Another monster from the deep at my feet, the mouth said roach, but the body said rudd. The one below was a definite rudd, the missing top lip a common sight on this pond.

The inside line continued to provide plenty of action, just the occasional small ball of feed keeping them interested.

Still they came. The bites took their time to develope, slight dimpling of the float resulting in the steady sink of the tip, each fish lightly hooked in the lip, most dropping out in the landing net.

After an hour, the bites on the inside slowed and I fed a few small balls of feed further out, fitting another length of pole on to fish at four metres .

The first cast at four metre brought another clonker, that fought all over the swim, the net coming out for most fish.

Back in the groove again the net began to fill with quality roach and rudd. I had used half a pint of feed and wetted down another quarter, putting in another three balls at four metres. This was too much as smaller roach and rudd began taking on the drop, causing a few missed lift bites. Shallowing up the float brought faster bites, but smaller fish, getting one a minute. I stopped feeding and set the float back to two metres.

This did the trick and I was back among the quality fish, this ragged lipless wonder fighting deep, until ready for the net.

This was the last of the day, I had punched my way through half a slice of bread, counting over 60 holes and guessed that I had about 8 lbs, the scales being the proof of the pudding at 8 lb 8 oz.

Bread punch roach and rudd shine

March 23, 2018 at 4:28 pm

A busy week left only an afternoon free for a few hours fishing and decided that the local Jeane’s pond was the easiest option on a cold windy day. Taking the short walk from the car park, I found the pond becalmed, the wind passing high over the top through the surrounding trees and opted to fish along the north bank.

No sooner had I set up and begun to fish, than the wind turned to blow across the playing field, through the gap toward my peg, causing my float to be pulled back and forth in the drift. A couple of missed bites made my mind up to move, packing most of my tackle away again for a two stage migration to the west side of the pond. This was not perfect. I’d stopped here earlier, but the swim in front of me was full of fallen branches from the trees behind and had to spend the next ten minutes fishing them out with the landing net.

This is a public park and while setting up again, I encountered another fishing hazard; friendly walkers. You know how it goes as you are sitting with rod in hand. “Are there any fish in here? Have you caught anything yet?” The answers “Yes lots” and “Not yet” leading to “What sort of fish?”, etc, etc. Being a bit of a fishing ambassador, these conversations can often run on.

It was a full hour since arriving, that my float went back into the water. Finding the shelf about four metres out, I put in a couple of small balls of liquidised bread, one on the edge and another five metres out, the size 18 hook carrying a 4 mm pellet of punch. Earlier I had invited a friend to join me fishing, but he had decline, after hearing reports that the pond was not fishing at all, with a recent junior match only producing a total of five fish over three hours. Expecting the worst, I was surprised to see the float dive seconds after it had settled on the water, although the four inch rudd that came to hand did not. The first half dozen fish were all very small rudd, but then resistance and a better rudd was guided into the landing net.

This one had come from the five metre line and I took a chance by putting another small ball just past it. The rudd were very cold to the touch and I did not want to overfeed the swim, but was keen to hold and bring in a few better fish. Its always a balance on the punch.

I need not have worried, as another rudd was soon working the pole elastic, the float sinking away steadily each time the rig went in.

Roach now moved in and the landing net was in regular use, many of the fish lightly hooked, the barbless dropping out in the net once the pressure was off. I had gone up to a 5 mm punch, which seemed to be attracting larger fish.

What a beauty, this fine roach worth the visit on its own, keeping the elastic out all the way to the net.

There was no slow down in the bites and more feed switched the rudd back on, a 7 mm punch giving a slower fall to the bait and lift bites.

I had begun the session using rolled bread for the smaller size punch, but swapped to plain slice for rudd on the drop.

Taking several better rudd in quick succession on the 7 mm punch worked for a while, then the size of fish reduced again, with a few missed bites, so it was back to the 5 mm punch, a positive bite bringing the last decent fish of the day.

As I was netting this rudd, over my shoulder came “Oooh. Have you caught a fish mister?” It was young Emmeline and her friend, not yet teenagers, but both home after school, done up to the nines with make-up and varnished nails. “Can I hold the fish? Oh it has blood on it. No, its the red of the fins. Can we catch a fish mister?” So began a mini teach-in. The inside line was full of small rudd and with two of them holding the same pole at one time, they each got to hook and swing in their own fish. I took the hook out to allow them each to return their fish.

It was time for me to return my fish, tipping them into my landing net for a photo, then weighing them in at over 7 lbs. Not bad for 3 hours actual fishing time. The girls were impressed.

They merrily thanked me and headed of in the direction of some equally young lads. “We’ve been catching fish!”



Bread punch crucian carp bonanza

March 15, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Rain, snow and yet more rain have relegated my thoughts of an end of season chub session on my local rivers to a pipe dream this year. Two nil poi river visits, saw me taking the walk to the recreation ground near my home, where the pond has never failed to satisfy my need to catch fish.

The pond had not escaped the extreme weather either. A week before ice was covered with snow and the following thaw saw the feeder stream so full, that the pond expanded beyond its banks. Today, all was back to normal, but with no surface activity, I wondered what sort of a session it would be.

With liquidised bread from the freezer, I was hoping for a few crucian carp and possibly a common carp, or two, but all swims are a blank canvas, until you start to fish. Being shallow, with soft silt mud from the stream, I added water to the bread crumb to form a sloppy mix, that would spread on contact with the surface and snow down to cover the mud, a four ball, metre square area, eight metres out, giving me a good starting point.

Extending the pole to seven metres, I swung out a small waggler, set to two feet deep, to fish a 5 mm pellet of punch bread on an 18 hook, just off the mud bottom. The float sank away immediately and a fin perfect rudd came to hand.

I’d be happy to catch these all day, but the next dithering bite suggested a crucian and the juddering fight, cushioned by the extended elastic, confirmed my hopes.

What a beauty. This fat crucian the first of many, that moved over my bread feed, throwing up pinprick bubbles to burst on the surface. The sun had come out and suddenly winter had turned to spring, thermals and a thick jumper soon proving to be the wrong clothing choice.

The crucians were now coming like clockwork, cast in, dip,dip, sink of the float, lift, elastic out, pull back pole to top two, then let the elastic do its work, crucian on the surface and net. This fan tail a variation of the hybrid common-crucian theme of the pond, that was causing me to overheat. Between fish I stripped off the jumper, emerging to see the float under and another fish on.

A better rudd, its fins bright red in the sunlight, needed the net. A crucian fan tail was next, the hook on the outside of its lip, many dropping out in the landing net.

A runaway bite saw the elastic stretch out as a common carp made a bee line for the post that stuck out of the water in front of me, side pressure changing its mind to the point that it rushed in the opposite direction, burying its head in the dead reeds, the wrong side of my keep net at my feet. The 2 lb fish was marooned and flapping on the surface and I had to lift the landing net over the keep net to scoop it up. Not so easy, the hook came out and the carp stood on its head trying to burrow through. The carp won the battle and struggled free. Time to sit back and calm down with a soothing cup of tea. This was not a match, the sun was out and a woodpecker was hammering away at a tree in the woods behind me. I enjoyed the moment.

Bites had not slowed in the two hours since my original baiting of the swim , but decided to put in some more feed to keep the ball rolling, dropping in a couple more balls of bread into the area.

Gathering up my tackle again, the next cast brought what I at first thought was another common, but the initial run gave way to the tumbling fight of the best crucian so far, a silver flanked fish. This was in contrast to my next fish, a true crucian carp.

The procession of fish filling my keep net continued and was aware that a good weight was building, counting up the number of punch holes in my bread after three hours indicating about seventy fish so far.

I would try to get to five hours, the weather was kind and the fish were still coming, but I was already getting tired. Another cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit provided by my wife on her way to the supermarket helped. Another couple of bait balls were put in and I was ready again.

This small tench was a surprise, a summer fish no doubt warmed by bright sunshine on the shallow pond.

A rare sight was this gudgeon, an ancestor of the original brook inhabitants, before the pond was dammed.

Look at the tail on that! A fan tail that was almost as long as its owner. The constant playing and netting of fish was beginning to wear me out after four hours slog and resolved to pack up after one more decent fish, it coming in the shape of a fat crucian.

I had caught a whole range of fish, rudd, tench, gudgeon, common carp, but mostly crucian carp of all sizes, my bait, half a pint of liquidised bread and a slice of bread for the punch. Pulling my keep net out of the water was a heave, my best weight of fish for a long time.

Almost over brimming my landing net, my 50 lb scales stopped at 26 lb, the best I have ever managed on the bread punch in four hours fishing. Loading up my trolley, I began the uphill walk back to my home, for a well earned cup of tea and another of those chocolate biscuits.

Bread punch roach and skimmers through the ice on the Basingstoke Canal

February 16, 2018 at 9:31 pm

A report that a club match had produced a 10 lb winning weight, with follow up weights of roach and bream, saw me on the banks of the Basingstoke Canal this week. A bright dry day was forecast, but an overnight frost left the surface covered with a sheet of ice.

The match had been frost free and my hopes of dropping in on one of the winning pegs had been thwarted by bank to bank ice. Dragging my trolley, I walked up to a bend in the canal, where direct sunlight had still not worked its magic, so walked all the way back to the “good pegs”, where I began breaking the ice with the butt of my extended pole, scooping out enough with my landing net to fish just over the near shelf. My informant had said that the bream had been taken down the middle of the canal. No chance of that, four metres out would have to do.

By the time I was ready to fish, a few free floating pieces had been cleared and the first quarter of the canal was fishable. Being sparing with the liquidised bread feed, I dropped a small ball over the shelf and another a metre beyond. That would have to do until I got some fish in the net. With my antennae  float set just off bottom, and a 4 mm bread pellet on a fine wire size 18 hook, it took ten minutes for the first signs of a bite, rings radiating from the float bristle giving warning of a slight dip. I lifted the pole to feel resistance and swung in my first roach.

Not a bad roach for this part of the canal. I fished this part of the Basi quite often once, then good weights of roach and skimmer bream could be taken on the bread punch, but something changed, the bream disappeared and the only roach were tiny, which in turn attracted many small jack pike to feed on them.

This jack had been troubling my fish, until I put on a plug and pulled it out. They are a lot bigger these days.

A welcome skimmer bream told me that I was in the right spot and the float was soon on its way down again for a better roach.

These fish are weight builders and after a very slow start, they were beginning to queue up for the punch. I decided to keep the feed to a minimum, dropping in another 20 mm ball after 20 minutes.

Adding another metre of pole, the bites became more confident and a classic lift bite brought another skimmer to the net.

A few fish later the elastic came out, as a very nice roach flashed silver beneath the surface and I took my time guiding it into the net.

This deep round roach went 8 oz on its own, net fish outnumbering those swung in. I had begun to miss quick bites, the culprits proving to be three inch roach, that were attacking the punch bread as it fell through on the drop. After I had thrown back half a dozen of these tiny roach, a swirl in the swim scattered several across the surface. A pike had moved in. Adding two more metres of pole, I fed another ball and fished right up to the thinning ice, hooking a better roach, bringing it round away from the pike and swung it in.

This worked for two more fish, then the elastic stretched out. The pike had taken a nice roach, just after I had set the hook. This had only one outcome, whether I landed it, or not. My swim would be ruined. With little resistance from the elastic, the pike stopped, turned and swallowed the roach. Heading back to the opposite bank on the surface, it did me one favour. At least it was breaking up the ice past the middle. It was about two feet long and around 3 lb in weight, not enough to over strain my elastic, as I had come prepared for possible big bream, but the way it was stirring up the mud, there was no chance of bream now anyway. I had brought my lightweight canal net today and the pike looked too long to fit in, but got most of its body in and lifted, only for it to slip out again, spinning as it did, cutting the line. A swirl and it was gone.

I had been here before, a promising swim written off in minutes by a pike. Although only fishing for 90 minutes, I considered packing up. I could move, but that would mean going through the process of breaking the ice again, although it was much thinner now. It was a sunny day, I would start again. There was an identical rig on the winder. It took only minutes to swap over. The other rig had been cut at the loop of the hook link. That roach was well down the pike’s gullet. Maybe he’d had his fill for the day.

I fed a couple of balls of bread to the middle, cast out and rested my pole. Time to try those ham and cheese sandwiches, that I had watched my wife make for me this morning. The tea was still hot from my flask. A kingfisher flew along the canal. Bike riders and runners passed behind me. Dog walkers asked if I had caught anything. I told them of the pike. Life wasn’t too bad.

The float sank. Another small skimmer. It had been 30 minutes since the skirmish with the pike, but I whizzed the pole back as quickly as possible. Another bite, another skimmer, this one bigger. Lost it. Should have taken my time. Another small ball went in to compensate. A couple of smaller roach followed. Lost the skimmers? The float sank again, this time a decent roach. Wham! The pike struck again. I pulled the pole round hard for a break. The pike had let go. The roach panicked on the surface and I swung it in.

The jaw marks from the pike were visible, but it had let go leaving missing scales and minimal damage. This was the decider for me. I would pack up. In the past I have set up a spinning rod to combat the pike, but this time left it behind.

I took my time putting the gear away, chatting to anyone that asked of my day. A couple from Zimbabwe got the full treatment, including a quick teach in on fishing the bread punch.

That was my lot for three hours, twenty fish for just under 3 lbs, including some quality roach. It could have been so much more without Mr Toothy.

Winter bread punch endurance test

February 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm

In the week that the BBC brought online their latest all singing, all dancing weather forecasting software, they got it all wrong for friend Peter and I, when we fished our local Jeane’s Pond at Braybrooke Park today. They predicted a dry sunny start and warmer temperatures. What did we get? The pond covered by ice when we arrived, then rain as we tackled up, that was on and off until lunchtime, with a chill wind gusting across the water all day.

My original plan had been to fish the swim above, but found it iced over, so set up on the opposite side of the outcrop, where there was clear water, but the wind was blowing in my face. Peter had settled into a swim he had fished the week before, as it was in the lee of buildings, but he was also hoping for a few of the big rudd that helped him to a 6 lb finishing weight on that occasion.

Peter was snug under his brolley, while I faced the storm, trying to cope with the wind that was blowing my float about. I had fed a couple of balls of liquidised bread just beyond the drop off into the deeper water, but the wind was causing a drift that was bringing my rig back toward me, the shallow shelf littered with twigs and branches blown from the adjacent trees. Every cast in, the float dragged the hook into these underwater obstacles and I was soon building up a collection on the bank. When the wind dropped, the float stood still and I would get a bite.

Peter had already caught a small roach, but my first was a better than average size and I took advantage of the calmer conditions to swing a few in before the wind picked up again. A 4 mm bread punch was doing the damage, missing a few bites on the 5 mm to an 18 hook.

I was still picking off the occasional roach, but conditions continued to worsen and I considered moving round out of the wind next to Peter. Getting up to look at my preferred swim, I saw that the wind was breaking up the ice, blowing it into the far corner. With my jacket hood up, this peg would be easier to fish, as the wind would be on my back and the float rig downwind, being easier to control.

My float is in there somewhere! Holding the float back against the drift, a few small balls of bread concentrated the bites into a tight area and I was catching again.

By 2 pm Peter had had enough. Although out of the main force of the wind, he was freezing with cold hands and knocking knees. I went round to see what he had caught on the maggot, four nice rudd and a roach for just over a pound in total.

The bread punch was obviously doing better than the maggot today, having counted over 30 roach into my net already and I walked back to my peg determined to stick it out for another hour.


Topping up with some more bread crumb, I put in another couple of balls, allowing the bait to fall through the cloud and picking up a nice roach on the drop.

Fishing just off the bottom in four feet of water, the bites were slow to develope, with the odd dip of the float an indication that the tip was about to steadily sink beneath the surface.

The bites were still coming, when I pulled in for the last time at 3 pm, but a light drizzle of rain was threatening to prove the forecasters right at last and was keen to get away before the main downpour.

An all roach bag of over four pounds was my lot for the day, but not enough to keep the cold at bay.

Bread punch roach beat off the maggot challenge

January 26, 2018 at 12:51 am

George, the latest storm to strike the UK, lashed the southern counties with relentless rain this week, keeping me busy with household chores and giving me the opportunity to top up my supply of liquidised bread, ready for a session on the bread punch against two of my fishing pals, who would be fishing the waggler and maggot on my local pond.

Arriving at 10 am, I found my friend Peter already in “the Flyer” peg 13 and exmatchteam mate John in Peg 16, his favourite. I had hoped that they would have chosen swims further round the pond to allow us to fish alongside each other, but I was happy to slot in next to John at peg 17. Although we all want to beat each other, these are social occasions and being close enough for a bit of banter is what it is all about.

Both fishing out on the waggler with maggot feed, the two early birds had failed to get a bite yet and I was quietly confident that once I had put in a couple of balls of liquidised bread, the roach would come to the punch. After what seemed an age, but was only minutes, my pole float tip radiated tell tale rings, then held down slightly without going under. I was soon playing my first fish, a reasonable punch roach. It was icy to the touch.

Bite now followed bite in rapid succession and the other two were protesting as I vocally counted them into my net. “Look he’s got another one!” Peter broke the maggot drowners duck, when his rod bent into an 8 oz roach, which he lifted from the water, the low winter sun flashing on its silver flanks, straight into his hand. I was still catching steadily, many of my fish in the 2 to 3 oz range, with the occasional better roach.

John was now leaning back into good roach, which cheered him up. At one time he had psyched himself out. Not getting a bite at any method he tried, while I was into a rhythm; cast out float, watch it cock and sink, strike and swing it in every minute. With John concentrating on his long range waggler tactics, regular feed was now bringing bites and fish, while Peter continued to swing in some lovely roach. I was not bothered, I was well ahead on fish and weight, enjoying myself demonstrating the superiority of the punch over maggot on a hard day. John sang a ditty “They call him the Breadman”. Oh how we laughed!

I had been catching off the end of my top two sections of pole on the drop off into deeper water, when the fish switched off. Adding depth and two more metres of pole, I cast over another ball of feed and had a bite first cast. They had moved out. A decent roach suggested the reason for the fish switching off.

It had been mauled by a pike. Somehow the roach had escaped certain death, teeth marks showing at least two attempts to clamp it in a pike’s toothy jaws. Despite this roach, I continued to fill my net, until a massive swirl to my right caught my attention in time to watch a roach snatched from the surface as it tried to escape. No bites again. By casting around the swim I continued to take the odd fish. They were spooked and so was I, lifting my fish clear of the water quickly to avoid tempting the pike to strike again. The pike moved along to John’s swim, then on to Peter, who also saw it. My inside line was still dead and fed further out, being rewarded with my best roach of the day.

The wind had increased, causing a drift to sweep the float round to my right and I gave up on the outside line, feeding to the shelf, where I could hold back on the float. I was still taking fish in in fits and starts, ringing the changes on depth to keep them coming, including my only rudd.

As the sun passed behind the trees, the temperature dropped rapidly, driven on by the wind and we decided to pack up early, spurred on by a brief shower of rain. I had hoped for a bumper session, following a week of mild weather, but the previous day of heavy rain had chilled the pond resulting in some indifferent bites and missed fish for all three of us. I had managed about seventy fish for just over five pounds, well down on my expectations.

A last gasp quality roach boosted John’s net to four pounds, his best roach being about 10 oz.

Peter had managed to put a similar bag of good roach together for about three and a half pounds. Putting our gear away, the sun came out again, but we’d had our fill for one day, along with a few laughs at each other’s expense. Better luck next time.



Bread punch roach quantity tops maggot quality

January 13, 2018 at 6:22 pm

My old friend Peter suggested a laid back side by side fishing session this week, just like we used to when we were kids on the local canal. That once free canal is now controlled by a large fishing club with no day tickets available, but both being senior members of Braybrooke Community Fishing Club, we arranged to meet this morning, fishing 20 feet apart, he in peg 1 and myself in peg 2 at Jeane’s Pond.

Although the temperature was only 6 degrees Centigrade, there was no wind and with sunshine forecast to arrive by noon, we looked forward to a pleasant few hours of fishing. Peter is a very good all round angler, but a match fisher he is not and I thought that it would be interesting to see how his old skool tactics fared against the pole with bread punch.

Peter was using rod and line with a self cocking waggler, and light shot down to a size 12 hook with double red maggot, while I set up the pole rig that I had fished through the ice with at the Fur and Feather match before Christmas. This was a 14 g carbon stemmed antennae float, shotted to 6 mm of the bristle, to a size 18 hook.

Putting in a small ball of liquidised bread just over the shelf into four feet of water, I cast in with a 4 mm pellet of punched bread and waited for a sign of a bite. Nothing happened for a couple of minutes, then tell tale rings radiated out from the bristle, before it slowly sank below the surface. A nice roach big enough to net was a good sign, although the fact that it felt ice cold was not. The hook was barely in the skin of the lip and dropped out in the landing net.

Bites were coming with every cast now, swinging most roach to hand with only the top two sections of pole needed to reach the fish. Many were under an ounce, but better fish continued to fill my keepnet.

Pete’s waggler tip stood out like a beacon 25mm clear of the surface, but it dipped when something showed interest, then sank from view. That something put a bend in the rod and his landing net went out for the first time for a six ounce roach. Just a fluke? No, the float went down again and an eight ounce roach fought to the net. I had thought that he would struggle with his double red maggots on a size 12 hook, but he was proving me wrong. My float sank again and the net came out for another nice roach.

It began to rain, not spots, but that incessant heavy drizzle that hisses on the surface of the pond, while soaking everything in minutes. Pete dragged his umbrella from its holdall, while I reached behind me for my wax cotton jacket. So much for sunshine by lunchtime. Pete made himself comfortable, somehow squeezing his six foot plus frame beneath the confines of the umbrella, positioning his fishing chair in the optimum position and sitting back with a self satisfied smile, while I struggled into the stiff jacket, pulling the hood up over my head. With the jacket left open at the front, I was able to keep the bread from the rain by spreading it over the bait tray.

The bites had slowed for me on the inside line, possibly due to the maggots being fed by Pete only yards away and I fed a ball of bread out further, while adding another length to the pole. This increased my catch rate again, but Pete continued with a steady delivery of quality roach to his net. If I had been on my own, I would have been content to fish at this range, until it had been fished out, but old rivalries die hard and adding another length of pole, while increasing the depth of the float, I went out in search of better fish.

Casting out over a ball of fresh bread crumbs, the float settled and continued down. The deep body and bright red fins of a rudd were a welcome sight, netting this fish to be sure.

We considered packing up due to the rain, but decided to continue as we dislike packing up in the rain, when all the tackle is put away wet. The fish didn’t mind the rain, they were wet already and still feeding, so we carried on. I lost a big rudd, when a pole section would not come apart smoothly due to the wet, giving slack and allowing the hook to slip free. I dropped another ball over the area to hold the shoal and fished on, taking another decent roach.

Pete had now moved out into the deeper water, finding a big roach of around 12 oz and I answered with another rudd.

The efficiency of the pole and ease that fish take the punch bread, saw me taking ten fish to Pete’s one, although his one fish often matched the weight of my ten. I pressed on with my small hook and bait combination, his big hook and bait allowed the better fish time to find the bait, while mine was consumed by the nearest and greediest.

Each punch represents a fish, the 4 mm giving more positive bites than the 5 mm. Next time out I will try a size 14 hook with 6 and 7 mm punches to see if the fish get bigger.

By 3 pm the rain had stopped so we took the chance to pack up and weigh our catches. Pete had about 15 quality roach and rudd for 4 lb.

In contrast I had over a hundred red fins for 6 lb. A good result on a cold wet day filled with banter and reminiscence.


Bread punch crucian carp defy the storm

January 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Plans to fish my local river were put on the back burner, when the latest weather system to hit the UK, storm Dylan blasting through at 70 mph bringing torrential rain and sleet that pushed up the water levels beyond the banks. Hot on its heels came storm Eleanor dumping more heavy down falls over night. The forecasters had predicted a dry, but windy day to follow and while my wife had trotted off to the January Sales, I loaded up my fishing trolley for the half mile walk down to my very local pond.

The pond is termed a balance pond, its function being to absorb any excess flood water flowing down the stream that runs into it. The stream was close to its banks and I could hear the rush of water as I neared the pond. Drowning this out was the drone of wind through branches and as I began to walk the bankside path, a powerful icy gust stopped me in my tracks. The pond was being frothed up by the unrelenting wind, the only clear spot being in the lee of a giant oak surrounded by a tangle of brambles, the area having a cosy swim down out of the wind. Although well wrapped up against the cold, with thermals and a wax cotton jacket, the thought passed through my mind, “Why do I put myself through this?”

The wind was roaring through a gap in the trees to my right, causing a back eddy of air to whip up mini whirlwinds in front of me. This was the first time that I had fished this swim, as it has a stump sticking up from the bottom 20 metres out, providing an obvious escape route for a running carp.

Crucian carp were my target fish today and I tipped enough coarse ground bread crumb into the bait tray for a few hour’s fishing, lightly squeezing up three egg sized balls and feeding a line toward the stump at 7, 8 and 9 metres. The pond is very shallow and I set my small waggler float at 500 mm to fish just off bottom, the size 16 hook carrying a 5 mm punched pellet of bread.

The swirling wind made it difficult to swing the bait out, but adding another length of pole made it impossible to hold straight, when the wind cranked up to its full strength, moaning through the trees like a siren sending out an alarm. Looking up at the heavy boughs of oak above me, I wondered if I could take cover should one snap free. Winds over 70 mph were recorded close to my pond today and I was right to worry.

Among the ripples, the bright yellow tip of my float continued to blink on and off in the waves, then it stayed down. A lift saw a tiny rudd swung to my hand. At least something was biting today.

This rudd got the ball rolling. Too small for my net it went back in. Better fish followed on each cast.

An on, off bite met solid resistance from a hard fighting crucian, my extended net just reaching to the edge of the rushes to scoop it to safety. At home, a landing net handle 500 mm longer, a present from my wife at Christmas, sits in my rod bag. Travelling light today, I had grabbed a pole and my old handle.

Next cast saw the line speeding toward the stump as a common carp raced away with the bread. Side strain let the elastic do all the work and the fish turned back to the margins, holding it away until it rolled on the surface. Another good fish in the net.

The float was away again, this time a much larger rudd was pulling out the elastic.

These crucian carp have grown steadily in the pond, fish of this size now the norm.

The elastic zoomed out again as another common made for the stump, before being brought under control. The commons had come out to play.

The next cast brought disaster, as another common fought for freedom, finding a sunken log in which to transfer the hook, the line going solid. Pulling for a break, the elastic stretched out and the log moved toward me slowly, until it was beneath the rushes in front of me. At full stretch I could not get the landing net beneath it, eventually giving up and breaking the hook link.

Putting out a couple more balls of bread, I tied on another another hook link. Time for a cup of tea and a sandwich. The wind had veered round to the south, blowing across the front of me, lifting dead leaves from the ground onto the pond to make casting pot luck. I hooked my keepnet, the reeds in front of me and leaves on the surface. The session was becoming chaotic. Whenever the float landed in clear water, it was under again and another crucian carp was in the net.

Small heavily coloured crucians had moved onto the feed, these fish content to sit sucking the bait, rarely moving off with it, the odd dip of the float the only indication, but each lift of the pole saw another on the line.

It was all smaller crucians now, plus the occasional rudd for variety and with conditions worsening, I set my finish time for 3:30. My flask of hot tea was empty and I was looking forward to a fresh hot cup at home, when the float buried and I lifted into the best common carp of the day. The elastic was out again, as a massive gust pulled the pole round against the fish, finding myself fighting the wind and the carp at one time. The common stayed on, despite the lack of control and as it was netted, I decided to pack up before the four hours were up. It had been hard work fighting the elements and the fish.

Once again the bread punch had shown its versatility, the 5 mm punch surprisingly attracting bigger fish than the 6 mm. Weighing up the net at the end, the scales hit the 14 lb limit. There may have been 20 lb there, but it was not important. I’d survived a battering and wanted to go home.

Walking back up the hill to my home, I passed two workmen pavioring a driveway. “Been fishing in this weather? We have to work out here, what’s your excuse!” I couldn’t answer, all I could think of was that hot cup of tea.

Roach fishing through the ice

December 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm

The alarm went at 7 am. It was still dark. Out of the window the grass was white with frost. I had organised a Fur and Feather fishing match with my local club today and had to attend whatever the weather. Distant memories of the feelings of dread, having to fish winter leagues on similar frozen mornings with my old matchteam, came flooding back. It was going to be hard.

Scraping ice from the windscreen, I remembered long drives in the dark to distant canals; at least this would be a short hop to my local pond. A hundred yards from home I stopped behind a car at the exit of my housing estate, blocking its way was another that had gone straight on at the roundabout. The road was like sheet ice. When we all got going again, my wheels slid on the slope.

It was no surprise to find the pond like a skating rink, the club chairman already busy with a grappling hook on a rope smashing through the frozen surface at each swim. A 30 minute delay was agreed and after the draw for the numbered pegs, we made our way to our swims to begin netting out the broken ice.

With the match reduced to three hours, I was prepared to struggle for bites, setting up a canal rig on the pole with a fine wire long shank size 20 barbless hook to fish small 3 and 4 mm bread punches, just off bottom. Plumbing the depth there was a drop off close to the bank, which allowed me to fish with only the top two joints, swinging the rig out to the ice and dragging it back to fall off the edge. A couple of tiny balls of finely liquidised bread placed close to the ice went in to start things off and I waited.

With the float bristle shotted to sit 6 mm above the surface, it sat there for five minutes, before a slight tremble of the float was followed by a slow sink of a few millimetres. I struck and there was resistance on the line, the elastic pulling from the tip. I netted my first roach.

Each time I put the rig out, the tremble and slow sink was repeated. I had six roach before the first of my competitors, the club chairman, swung in a tiny roach. I was still catching fish and was confident enough to put in another small ball of feed, also seeding a dozen casters at the edge of the ice for later.

My main rival was John the chairman, who has fished the pond since a child, going on in later life to be an accomplished match angler. I was catching more fish, but his were bigger. The 3 mm punch was giving better bites and after two hours there were 28 fish in my net. I put on a caster, dropping in over the seeded area. The float went straight down and I was playing another nettable roach.

Great, the roach were on the caster. No other bites in the next five minutes saw me switch back to the bread. Putting in another half dozen casters, I pulled out a piece of compressed rolled punch bread to give a more hookable 3 mm pellet. The bites continued, but I began to miss them, hitting one in five. John on the bank opposite had netted a good roach worth a dozen of mine. I went back on the caster and hooked another net roach.

I needed a lot more of these, but depite a few dips of the float, no more came on the caster. I was still missing bites with the rolled bread and realised too late, that it was too hard on the hook for the fish to take into their mouths. They could pull the float under, but the hook would not set. Getting out a fresh slice segmant, with only minutes to spare, I put another half dozen small roach in my net before time was called.

Three hours of hard work for 1 lb 13 oz on the scales was only enough for second place for me, the winner being John the club chairman, who had also fished the bread punch and caster, finding some better roach toward the end for a 2 lb 15 oz total. There was a tie for third with 14 oz.

Before the match it had been suggested that we draw lots for the seasonal prizes and go back home to our beds, but all caught something, with prizes for all.

The origin of the Fur and Feather match was a contest at Christmas fishing for meat prizes in harder times, when a voucher at the local butchers shop could be redeemed for a turkey, or a ham. Now days a bottle of whiskey, or a box of chocolates are a welcome substitution.

Environment Agency keep their promises

December 14, 2017 at 7:01 pm

As part of fishery improvements in my area, the Environment Agency had promised a restocking programme on a variety of waters, inviting me along on a whistle stop tour accompanying their unique fish delivery vehicle this week.

First stop was Roundmoor ditch, which carries the outfall from a Water Treatment works of a large town, into the River Thames. Once known as the “Mucky Ditch” for obvious reasons, it now runs bright and clear, offering a stable environment for fish. Acting as a natural barrier between the town and a medieval common, the banks have been eroded due to the grazing of cattle over many years, increasing the width and reducing the depth. Part of the ongoing work is to rebuild the banks, adding fish holding berms, while fencing the banks to protect them from cattle. Last year there was an initial restocking of dace, chub and roach and this week the Agency were back with another five hundred each of roach and chub to boost the stock.

Fish farm worker Nick Gill had driven down from the E A’s Calverton, Notts fish rearing facility that morning, getting straight into action seeding this fast flowing stream with its allocation of fish. With a schedule to keep, Nick was soon on his way to the next drop.

Ten miles south is another Thames tributary, the River Cut, where the Agency have been working on an ambitious plan for months, clearing banks and creating berms to speed up this mud filled channel, which is part of a green corridor between new houses and a major road on one side and an established housing estate on the other. Despite many years of neglect as a convenient dumping ground for unwanted shopping trolleys among other things, beneath the surface, shoals of roach and chub have been quietly providing excellent sport to those prepared to battle their way through to the banks.

This has now changed with the formation of the council backed Braybrooke Community and Nature Fishing Club, whose aim it is to promote fishing as a healthy outdoor activity for all ages in the local area. Given control of this council owned land, the Club, which has raised money through varies schemes and aided by the Environment Agency, are well on the way to achieving their goal, with the provision of fishing platforms for fit and disabled anglers.

Watched by an appreciative audience of council workers, Nick was busy again emptying tanks holding twelve hundred chub, and a thousand roach to replace fish lost following a series of oil spillages into the river.

Working next to one of the recently created fishing platforms, Nick also introduced a thousand dace into the water, the dace, though not a naturally occurring fish this far from the Thames, will thrive once the berm work has been completed.

Last port of call for the day, was the short drive to Braybrooke’s Jeane’s Pond for a delivery of three hundred small tench, to replace two thousand small roach netted out by the Agency a year ago, which were moved to another town water.

Given the honour of introducing the tench to Jeane’s Pond, club secretary Danny has been invaluable; his experience in the Police Force and as a council officer, has allowed him to negotiate a way through the paper work jungle needed to raise funds and to gain permission for the bank works, from associated nature organisations based around the river Cut.

Disappointing those poised with cameras waiting for him to take a header into the pond, non fisherman Danny hopes to find time to take up the sport next year.