Crucian carp and roach worth a soaking?

August 11, 2018 at 3:22 pm

The forecast said sunshine and showers between 11 am  and 12 today, but arriving at Kings Pond near Farnham, it was already raining as I tackled up before 10. A strong wind was also getting up, so I had stopped at the first peg, where there was a bit of bankside cover. Preferring not to fish under a brolly, I put on a large waterproof hooded jacket, which when sitting on my box, drapes over my legs. This was enough for any shower and anyway it’s summer, the rain is warm isn’t it?

The main problem was that, fishing the bread punch, I needed to keep my punch bread dry, so I part filled a bait box with liquidised bread for feed and cleared an area to punch the quarter slices. Replacing the lid each time.

I squeezed up a couple of balls and put them over the shelf into 4 ft of water. The bottom here is clean sand and I plumbed the depth to fish just on bottom. I started with a 5 mm punch on a size 16 hook, but was plagued by small roach sinking the float each time.

Rain was increasing, making bite detection difficult and switched over my rig from a 4 x 14 float to a 4 x 16 with a slightly thicker antenna and a size 14 barbless hook, going up to a 7 mm punch pellet. This worked, the float being more visible and I watched it hold down a couple of times before sinking beneath the rain lashed surface. Lifting in, the elastic came out as the fish kept deep out of sight, until close to the net, a crucian carp popped up to the top.

Not a monster, but this is what I came for, the pond noted for it’s crucians and tench. I was beginning to have my doubts though, a passing angler on his way home, complaining that he had been there since 6 am without a fish. The pond had been dead during the heatwave and he had hoped, like me, that the recent rain would perk things up. He was using pellets, I was on the bread, which in difficult conditions gives me an edge. The elastic was out again, this time a nice roach coming to the net.

The larger pellet of bread was still being attacked by small roach and I was surprised, when a lift bite saw the elastic stretching out across toward the opposite bank, this fight different to a roach or crucian. Soon this fish was on the surface, its dorsal fin clear before sliding into the net.

This was a very shiny fish, a brief appearance of the sun glinting off its scales. It was very pale, more like a silver bream, roach hybrid, than the usual roach bream hybrid. It may have been a european ide, the Farnham AS even stocking barble into this pond, so why not ide?

The sun was short lived, the wind increased and in the distance could hear thunder rolling towards me, then flashes of lightning. The rain hammered down again and I hunkered down beneath my hood.

The first I knew that the float was gone, was the elastic zooming out of the pole tip heading for the lily bed opposite. This was a carp, or one of the fabled barble and I turned the pole to counter the run, the pole bending round. The fish rolled, then headed back in my direction and came off. What a let down, a decent sized fish would have been a just reward for sitting out in this storm. The hook was still there and I baited up with another three balls spread out in front of me, then sat out the worst that the weather could throw at me.

The wind eased and I dropped the float over the baited area, the float sinking away after a minute of dithering. This time I was back in control as a decent crucian fought deep under my feet, the hook dropping out in the landing net.

I made no mistake about the next bite, a broad healthy roach powering away, pulling out the elastic.

The wind began gusting, with steady big rain drops hitting the surface and I could hear thunder in the distance. When the float went down, I decided that this was going to be the last fish, another roach coming to the net.

As the rain began to pound down, I tried to pack up, the storm arriving like a tornado, with thunder, lightning and hail.

The storm was overhead and feeling vulnerable I retreated to a bush, that gave some shelter from the wind, but no protection from a lightning strike. With the rain now running from my jacket soaking my legs, I began throwing bits of tackle into bags. I would sort it all out later.

Pulling my net from the water, it now felt warm to the touch, tipping my fish into the landing net for a quick photo, before returning them.

Walking back to the van, the sun came out again, but too late for me. Arriving home early, my wife spoke of one short five minute shower at 11 am, while I had suffered all morning. At least the weather forecast was right for somebody.

 

 

 

 

Tench miss the point at Braybrooke

July 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm

A weekend of rain had cooled everything down, but a strong wind was blowing by 3 pm, when I arrived at Braybrooke Park to fish Jeane’s Pond this week.

Reports of tench and crucian carp coming out, saw me liquidising some frozen sweetcorn to add to my feed, while I also boiled up half a cup of hemp seed to go in the mix.  On the bank, half a pint of liquidised bread, was the base for my feed, sprinkling over some grains of sweet corn, mixing in the liquidised sweet corn and hemp to make four firm balls, that I put in over the shelf 4 metres out, two in front and two in a line toward the lily bed, watching the balls sink quickly to the bottom. For bait I had bread punch slices, sweet corn and some ready prepared tares, which I had bought online, being disappointed that they were no bigger than the hemp seed. I prefer tares that are at least twice as large as the hemp feed. I also had a tub of soft hooker pellets. Used to only bread as bait, it would be interesting to find out what was best on the day, if any?

Within minutes of the feed going in, the surface was a mass of bubbles bursting on the surface and I tackled up a 4 x 16 float, with the shot grouped a foot from the size 14 barbless hook in an attempt to get through “the small stuff” near the surface. A double punched 7 mm pellet of bread was dropped in off the end of my pole and I watched the bait fall through, only to see the float rise and skate off. Expecting a tiny roach, the elastic shot out as I lifted into a quality rudd.

Next drop in the float settled and sat for a minute, then sank away, again firm resistance, this time a roach swinging in to my hand, the size 14 holding firm in the top lip.

More roach and rudd followed, many chasing the bread down. I gave the tares a try, their size more suited to a size 16 hook, but the big hook did not bother the small roach that grabbed the tare. I loose fed a few grains of sweet corn and the rudd came swooping back in, the corn on the hook being attacked immediately, the float zooming off. Surprisingly I missed most of these bites, despite the big hook, the occasional good rudd being landed. Several times a small pike chased my fish to the surface in panic, but I lifted them all clear of its teeth.

I went back on the bread, more roach, then the float bobbed and stayed down as a small, but strong fish fought back. It was a tench, probably one of the 300 stocked last year.

Note the wasp on my hand, the liquidised sweet corn had them crawling all over the bait box, waiting to be crushed by a well positioned plummet. The surface was still a mas of bubbles, the occasional eruption a clear sign of a carp, or larger tench on the feed, but they could not be tempted by bread, corn, or pellet, the float rocking on the surface with the disturbance. The float kept going under, anticipating an epic battle, but even these quality rudd and roach were an anti climax.

The corn, pellet and tare all gave missed bites, the only consistent hook bait being the bread.

I still rang the changes and a big piece of corn attracted a bite that brought out the elastic, that convinced me that a better tench had taken at last, but no, a golden round shape flashing deep, proving to be a nice crucian carp.

I have had a crucian on my last three visits to Jeane’s, it’s a shame there are not a few more, as they fight well in the deeper water. It was now close to 6 pm and I had set my self a three hour time limit to get home for tea and bang on time I connected with my last fish, another quality roach.

Had I learned anything from these bait changes? The bread seemed to hook every time, but even the tiniest of roach and rudd would take the 7 mm punch. I have punches to 12 mm, maybe a much bigger punch on a heavier pole float will get the bait down better. The sweet corn got bites all the time on the bottom, but what looked like definite big fish sinkaways were missed. The tares worked, but only brought fish of a few ounces at best. The pellets were often ignored, but this may have been a different story if I had been feeding them.

It had been a busy three hours of fishing, throwing back many smaller fish, a quick weigh up putting just under 8 lbs on the scales. All the fish were returned in the landing net with no casualties.

Roach and rudd defy the heat at the weir

July 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

The effort of loading my fishing gear into the van, was enough to induce an all over sweat, as 32 C temperatures continued across southern England this week. Heeding advice by the Met. Office to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, I had decided that a couple of late afternoon hours in the shade at the weir on my local river, would be enough to see how the lower end of the fishery had recovered from the 2017 pollution, my last outing there this February producing not a single bite.

Having unloaded and pulled the trolley 200 yards to the weir swim, it was a relief to get my tackle box in position out of the unrelenting sunshine and sit down. I set up my 14 ft Browning match rod, to fish a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float, with bread punch on the size 14 hook. This is my usual rig for this pool, where big chub, roach and the occasional carp could be expected in the past, but today it was all about, what would be biting, if anything. There was very little flow coming down the river to my left, the depth a foot down on normal, while the outfall from the town water treatment works was pushing as hard as ever, creating an eddy that extended well upstream beneath my feet.

A couple of balls of liquidised bread were dropped into the middle and I saw them carried back over to my bank by the eddy. There is usually enough flow to keep the feed and the float down the middle here, the inside bank so full of snags, that it is fished at one’s peril, although worth a few trots to start with, due to a few resident chub being ready to take the bait before the snags do. The biggies were not there, but a 3 oz chub buried the float first cast. A cast to the centre of the foam and the float was gone again, this time a small rudd swinging to hand. In again and now a small roach. A couple more balls went in and the float bobbed a few times and dragged under. A gudgeon came to hand.

These have gone from the upper section of the river, but this little fellow was a welcome sight. I tried a trot along the edge of the foam, holding back in the rapid flow, feeling the line tighten against my finger as the float sank. Bang! This was a better fish, fighting hard across the weir stream, a nice roach having taken the 7 mm pellet of bread.

This is what I had been hoping for, there were still some decent roach here. My next trot through the foam seeing the float plunge as an even larger roach fought for freedom.

I had swung the previous roach in, but this time made the effort to lean out over the high bank with the landing net. These roach have always been infected with the black spot virus, not found elsewhere on the river.

Rudd are supposed to be still water fish, but these prefer the fast aerated water of the weir.

Continuing to feed every few casts kept the bites coming, but now I was having trouble with the punch bread. Not my usual Warburtons Blue, I had tried another supposed “stay fresh” brand that had been on offer at Tescos. From frozen, it was initially too wet and soft for the punch, then going through a rapid drying out cycle in the heat, to become too dry to stay on the hook. It came off, when held back in the flow and was stolen from the hook before a bite could develope. I began striking at every dip of the float, bumping a few better fish. The slices still had their crusts on and tearing these off and punching through the crusts gave a firm hook hold and I was back in business.

This rudd was a bonus among a swarm of small gudgeon, that took over the centre area of the pool, I had been glad to see them at first, but now they were becoming a nuisance.

This gudgeon fought like a demon, running hard into the flow and upstream into the weir stream. A few more ounces and these could be a serious contender.

The bread crusts were now gone and a double punched 7 mm bread pellet gave a dip bite, followed by an instant strike, that bent the rod tip over as another roach made off into the foaming water.

The net came out for the last time for this quality roach, as it was now getting close to tea time, my wife having her marinated chicken kebabs on their skewers, ready for the oven.

Not a massive haul, but about 30 fish in under two hours, proof enough that the river is now worth a longer session, once there has been some rain and the temperatures return to normal.

 

 

Bread punch chub dominate river revival

July 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm

A couple of weeks ago I visited my local river for a test fish, to see what species were showing, following six months of continual pollution with waste oil products, that had been washed down the drains of a business upstream of the river. Fishing at the upper end of the stretch, chub had made the running, with a few stocked roach and dace adding to the mix, plus a surprise perch, which took the bread punch bait.

Today I chose a slower, slightly deeper swim toward the middle of the venue, needing to pull out 6 ft high clumps of invasive Himalayan Balsam, before I could get close enough to put my tackle box down. Fish were already topping as I tackled up, trying to keep off the skyline to avoid scaring them off.

Intending to fish the stick float and bread punch, I put in a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread past the middle, while I was tackling up and was rewarded with a slide away bite first cast, my 12 ft Hardy rod bending well over to stop the surging run of a chub.

About six ounces, I had to swing this one in as my landing net had become tangled in the under growth.

Another swinger. Hooked firmly in the lip, the crystal bend barbless size 14 gave confidence with these hard fighting chub on light tackle.

All part of the same year class, these chub were spewing up the bread feed, the float sinking down and away each time.

This fish made a bee line for my bank in an attempt to find a snag, diving left and right in rapid succession, a slightly larger chub may have managed to pass the hook to an underwater branch.

Another slide away bite, but this time a fight that skidded across the surface. A rudd, I thought that all of these had perished in the pollution, but here was one to prove me wrong. These were so common once.

A shoal of rudd had moved in, topped by this beauty, making sure the landing net was ready, when it eventually stopped running and turning.

This used to be a roach river and it was good to see a few roach turning up, the chub were still about and I had just netted this one, when there was an almighty splash ten yards upstream.

Two dogs had seen several ducks sheltering under the tree to my right. They were not on leads and ran down the bank, full tilt into the river, scattering the ducks, appearing from under the branches in pursuit, straight through my swim. “Peter, Daniel! Come here!” Biblical names! The lady owner was standing to my right red in the face with rage, as the two spaniels circled the pool. The ducks had flown, but the dogs could not get up the bank, as it was too overgrown. They disappeared back beneath the branches into the hands of their owner on the bank. She now praised them for returning, then followed them at a pace as they ran off downstream. Not a word of apology!

My swim was dead. I had only been fishing for just over an hour and decided to pack up what I could, then move downstream. Weighing up, there was over three pounds of fish in my net. The roach were just beginning to show. It could have been a productive few hours.

With my rod still made up, I searched out another swim, but most were hidden behind a thick wall of balsam. The one I found was in a jungle of stinging nettles and I set about hacking them down with a bank stick.

I have had good results from this swim in better times and I started off as before, a couple of balls of liquidised bread, then a cast into the area. The float settled and sank and I was playing a six ounce chub.

Another chub and a rudd followed. I was back in business. Moving was a time consuming effort in oppressive heat, but an hour here would make up for the ruined swim upstream. Thunderstorms were promised, but humidity close to drizzle was all I got.

There were a few roach here too, but with little flow, their fussy bites were hard to hit.

Once again it was good to see that the rudd had spread out along the river.

The wind picked up briefly, shaking dried out leaves from the trees, which just sat there with the upstream breeze. Every time I put in a ball of feed, I could see it breaking up and spreading downstream, but the float was trapped each time by the leaves. Two out of three casts resulted in a hung up float rig.

When the bait got down to the fish, I had a bite, usually from a roach. At 1pm I made my last cast, the surface litter was making fishing difficult. The float dithered with a roach bite, dipping and lifting. I struck as the float held under for a second and the rod bent over into another chub, that ran to the far side debris. The fight was short lived and I netted it.

The fact that there seem to be more chub about, may be due to fewer roach. If these chub continue to grow on, next year could see some impressive weights of fish. I just hope that we have seen the last of the pollution.

Two nets of fish from a split session, two hours of fishing time putting over 5lbs on the scales.

 

Bread punch roach keep rudd in the shade at Braybrooke

July 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

Unbearable heat and humidity have not inspired me to go fishing of late, but with cooling winds and cloud cover promised, I ventured out this morning to my local pond at Braybrooke recreation ground. Arriving after 9 am, I found the banks deserted and chose a swim that would keep me in the shade all morning. Not having fished Jeane’s pond since April, I was pleased to see activity all over the surface. Rudd were investigating every piece of wind blown flotsam, that had landed on the surface, while perch were scattering fry in every corner.

My swim was fizzing with bubbles thrown up by feeding fish and I couldn’t wait to plumb the depth and start fishing. There was about 6 ft, 4 metres out and I set the float to fish just off bottom. Once again only having the bread punch available as bait did not phase me. I decided to feed four balls of wet crumb straight in, putting one close to the lily bed and three in a line 2 metres wide in front of me.

First drop in the float sank without caution and the elastic came out in response to a hard fighting rudd. It felt warm in my hand, the pond must be like a tepid bath.

For the next few minutes smaller roach and rudd had invaded the heavily baited swim, then the float settled and registered a bite that cruised under, the strike setting the size 16 hook into a net worthy roach, that stayed deep.

Due to the depth, I had concentrated the shot in the bottom 18 inches with a 9 inch tail, which was sending the bait straight down. The float cocked and sank again. Unmissable, another quality roach was pounding away against the elastic and I took my time bringing it to the surface.

Back in again and the elastic remained out. This was not a roach, or a rudd, the surface boiling as the fish fought against the elastic. I thought it was a tench, but got a surprise, when the long dorsal fin of a fat crucian carp scythed through the water. It would not give up, diving and running, but eventually on its side I netted it.

The run of big roach went on…

And on…

Yet another big roach. They were just sitting there over the feed.

Eventually the big fish were mostly in my net and the average size began to fall.

The sun was coming round and more rudd were taking near the surface.

I took a chance and made up one more stiff ball, watching the rudd attack the moment it hit the water.

A few more small roach and rudd got to the bread first, but then success and I was playing another decent roach.

I scraped up the last of the wet crumb and put it in, bringing round a few better rudd.

At 12:30 I stopped fishing, just short of three hours, the sun was now over the trees and the temperature had risen again. It was time to pull in the keepnet. I hoped that I had over 10 lbs, but missed the target by a pound, but with the quality of fish landed, who was complaining?

 

Bread punch chub oblige after pollution

July 3, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Constant pollution events, caused by a local company dumping oil based waste down the drains at their industrial site, all but wiped out the coarse fish stock of my local river last year. Thames Water and the local Environment Agency did their best to recover the river, with booms to catch the polluted water and work to speed up the flow, but the damage had been done, the once prolific little river, where most  English species would be likely to turn up during a session, was not worth a visit. Three blank days for me a testament to this.

An early Christmas present for the river, was the introduction of a mix of over 3,000 roach, chub and dace by the Environment Agency from their Calverton Fish Farm in an effort to supplement fish lost. The river did not contain any dace before, but the Agency considered the river suitable.

With the country in the grip of a heatwave, I did not fancy sitting by a lake getting roasted today and decided that a couple of hours in the shade by the local river, would be a better option, while giving me the opportunity to test out its recovery.

Walking from the carpark, the first thing I saw was another pollution boom at the outfall weir. Not more pollution? The river runs under the industrial estate, from where the last culprit was tracked down from. The company was given a warning. Surely they are not up their old tricks again?

At 10 am, the sun was already beating down as I walked along the river looking for some flow and shade. No rain has fallen in weeks and the level was well down, with areas of exposed gravel and dried mud in the margins. My original choice of swim is deeper than average, but it now looked like a pond with no movement and I retraced my steps to a shallow run around the outside of a bend, where the river drops over gravel before the bend. The water here would be more oxygenated and likely to hold fish despite being only two feet deep.

Setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy stickfloat on my 12 foot Hardy rod, I bulked the main shot below the float, with just a No 6 shot 9 inches from the size 14 hook. Intending to fish bread punches of 5 and 6 mm, the 14 is a good standby, as I have had chub to 3 lb from this swim in the past. While getting ready, I lobbed a small ball of liquidised bread over beneath the opposite bank and watched it spread and sink. What flow there was did not carry it far.

First cast over, the float sank out of sight and the first of several small chub swung to hand.

Big enough to put a bend in the rod, these bites were unmissable, the size of chub making them likely to be part of the batch of stocked fish.

A different bite, another fish, this time a roach glinting in the sun. Next trot, a classic slow bob and a steady sink away had the rod bending again, as a much larger roach threw up puffs of mud darting from one side to the other. Then the line went solid, when the roach managed to find a snag, leaving the hook in a sunken twig. I pulled for a break, but straightened the hook, releasing the rig to catapult into the undergrowth. Once retrieved and untangled, I was ready again, putting two more small balls over in an attempt to hold the shoal of roach. The roach were long gone, but the bites had changed again. Tippy dips and dives removing the bread bait with ease.

Holding back hard, with a tight line, soon confirmed my hunch, they were small dace.

This then was definitely one of the stockies, the little battler even refusing to hold still for a photo. I will probably be grateful for these dace in a couple of years, when they have put on a few more ounces, but now they were a nuisance, stripping the bait without submerging the float. Going over depth and dragging the float back upstream an inch, or two works on the Thames and it worked here to put a few more in the net.The dace were hard work for little reward, missing far more than I hooked and bouncing a good fish, chub, or roach with a rapid strike.

With the first hour of my two over, I reached into the bread bag and put two larger balls close to the overhanging branches in an attempt to bring out more chub. It worked and the rod was bending again as I netted a better fish.

Better again, these chub were coming out from the shadows to scoop up the drifting crumb, sweeping the float back towards the trees in one pass. Connecting was explosive, with that characteristic chub power surge multiplied by the lack of depth.

The next bite produced a surprise, a perch, not the first that I have taken on the bread punch.

The chub kept responding to the occasional ball of liquidised bread, the dace well and truly crowded out.

They were getting bigger, but I had promised to be home in time for lunch and at 12:30, my cut off time, the landing net slipped under the last chub of the morning.

These latest chub are survivors of the pollution, probably having dropped down from the wild river above the outfall. Missing today were the rudd, gudgeon and roach that usually make up the bag in summer on this little river, but beggars cannot be choosers and will be happy to return.

Once more the bread punch had not let me down, maybe maggots would have got me a shed load of perch, but they would also have meant a dace sucking the life out each maggot. As it was, the bread was in the freezer this morning, and went back in later on.

 

 

Prolific fishery fails to live up to promise

June 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Last week I opted to avoid bad weather and fished my local pond, instead of a noted prolific club water. Today a damp, grey start was giving way to sunshine and I loaded up the van for the twenty mile drive south to the tench and crucian carp filled pond.

By the time I arrived, the sun had burned off the cloud and I walked from the carpark, along the bank to a lone angler and asked how he was getting on. No tench and no crucian carp, just a few bits. His swim looked perfect, with lily beds either side of a six foot deep open area. A few pegs down was an equally attractive looking swim, but I could see the bottom out to the lilies. I wanted deeper water close in and continued over the dam to the opposite bank, where I had been advised there was four feet off the bank.

Plumbing the depth, there was a shelf 4 metres out, sloping down from four feet to six at 5 metres, ideal for punch fishing. Wetting down half a pint of liquidised bread, I plopped in a small ball on the top of the shelf and another over the bottom. With the antenna float set at five feet, I swung out the rig to the middle of the drop off and waited. The float settled and sank slowly, hooking a small roach, which I netted. I then missed the following half a dozen bites. They would pull down half of the float bristle, then ignore the bait, or the float would dive briefly, then return.

The sound of a fishing trolley being pulled along the bank, made me look up, to then be greeted by another angler, who told me that he was practicing for Sunday’s match. He then informed me that this was the wrong bank to be fishing in the summer, as it was too deep and the water had not warmed up yet. He was only fishing it, as he wanted to get an idea of its capabilities, just in case he was drawn here. Seeing that I was fishing the bread punch, he now poured more cold water on my coals, saying that the punch is OK here in winter and that micro pellets are the only bait that will catch in the summer. A final blow was that I would not see crucians, or tench as they were spawning at the other end of the pond in the shallow inlet. He then continued 30 yards up the bank and set up a pole to fish. Oh well, I was here now and would have to see what I could do.

Putting out more balls of feed, I cast over them and watched the float slide away. The elastic came out as a decent fish bent the pole, a silver flash the first indication of a quality roach.

I looked over to the other angler, who gave me a thumbs up. Considering all the things that I was supposedly doing wrong, something must be right? Some of my roach had damaged flanks, possible cormorant damage? The bites continued to be a challenge, missing the unmissable, yet hooking mere dips of the float.

I was beginning to get the hang of the bites, when a swirl at one of my roach, made me swing it to safety. The bites stopped, when the surface erupted with scattering fish. A pike? I walked along to the matchman and told him of the pike. “No pike. A big perch. They are over 3 lb in here!” He was fishing white pellets over loose fed micro pellets, but so far had nothing to show for his efforts, while I had half a dozen punch roach in my net. He said that he was surprised, that I was managing to catch roach on the bread punch, as everybody fished pellets here in the summer. Better than hemp he continued.

I returned to my peg and fed again, dropping a couple of loose balls close to a lily bed to my left, followed by my float, which sat still, dipped and sank. Lifting the pole, the elastic came out and the float stayed put as something heavier decided to come out of its corner fighting, keeping close to the bottom, until the pole was down to the top two and a fat crucian carp surfaced ready for the landing net.

My new found friend obviously had his eye on me and called out “tench?” I replied “crucian” Another thumbs up. The hook was in the skin of the lip, coming out in the net. I was lucky to get this one.

More fussy bites brought the occasional roach, usually after another ball of bread sank, breaking up into a cloud on its way down to the bottom. It was now very hot, with a cloudless sky, the sun being absorbed by my black T shirt making me feel uncomfortable, but with my three hour session close to an end, I stuck it out to compare last week’s catch with this one.

Close to the lillies, I struck into another dip of the float to be met by the elastic coming out and a slow thumping fight, that I at first thought was a bream, but then it speeded up, doggedly pulling toward the middle. Seeing the pole bent over, my eagle eyed companion was soon out of his seat and by my side. What was it? Raising the pole, the fish turned and broke the surface. It was a large crucian of maybe two pounds in weight, that rolled and dived toward the lily bed, then came off, the line pinging back to wrap around the pole tip. I let out a gasp of exasperation. That fish would have finished off the day nicely.

Chatting as I packed up, he was impressed with my dozen bread caught roach and a crucian, considering that I was on the wrong bait, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He had only three roach to show, having abandoned the inside to fish out on the long pole over a bed of pellets. “It never fishes here when the sun shines”

About a quarter of last week’s 12 lb weight on my doorstep pond, but just as satisfying. Match anglers tend to blindly follow the latest trends, but sometimes the Old Skool methods, like the bread punch, can still lead the way. I wonder if he will give it a try on Sunday?

Bread Punch Carp and Crucians in the lull before the storm

June 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Returning from a short motoring holiday earlier this week, I had promised myself a full day at a small lake that was supposed to be stuffed with tench and crucian carp, having been told that 30 to 40 lb of these golden battlers was on the cards for a competent angler. Unfortunately, one look at the latest weather forecast told me that the session would not be happening this week, as another storm, this one named Hector, was already sweeping in from the Atlantic. With the last of my post holiday chores complete by lunchtime today, the next best thing available to me, was a few hours on the pond 10 minutes walk from my home.

The atmosphere was hot and humid with no wind, a far cry from the threatened stormy weather forecast for later in the day. Passing the shallow water at the inlet, the surface was alive with spawning common carp chasing around stirring up the mud and splashing in the margins, the pond at the dam end a picture of tranquility.

This swim is only two feet deep, to a thick layer of silt and I set up the pole with a small homemade waggler rig, 4 lb line to a 3 lb hooklink and a size 14 crystal barbless, enough to cope with most of the fish in the pond. With the common carp preoccupied at the far end, the No 6 pole elastic was man enough for anything today. Bait was my standby bread punch, with liquidised bread feed, which I soaked down to a slop, putting out half a dozen soft balls 6 to 7 metres out on two lines 2 metres apart. This allows me to feed one and fish the other, as rudd can often stop the bait getting through to the crucians initially after a feed.

As expected, first cast saw the float zoom off, as a small rudd took the 6 mm punched pellet of bread.

The rudd here vary in colour from silver, through green to orange, hybrids abounding in the pond, which affects commons and crucians alike.

The first fifteen minutes had rudd swinging to hand one after the other, then like a switch they stopped, as I noticed a dark stain of mud below the surface. The bottom feeders had moved in. A bobbing bite slowly submerged and I lifted the pole, stretching out the elastic into a crucian, that circled the swim to end up in my landing net.

A very nice, bog standard crucian carp, barely hooked in the top lip, was the first of many. The following bite did not mess about, sinking steadily away trailing line. The strike and immediate run toward the lily bed needed no guessing, as a common carp stripped out the elastic, putting an impressive bend in the pole. Breaking the pole down to the top three gave me control and the elastic soon did its job in wearing down the fish.

With a hint of crucian about this common, there was no doubting the next fish, a bob, bob, dive bite that saw the elastic follow a frantic fight to the net from a tench that punched well above its weight.

The next fish rang the changes again, giving a fight that went on and on, keeping deep, each time the net came close, it charged off again.

A fan tail crucian hybrid, that used its tail to good effect. I read that wild crucians were originally used to develope goldfish in asia, as they have genes that adapt for hybridisation. This one has obviously come from one of the domestic goldfish that were once common in this pond.

With barbules and a down turned mouth this carp fought like a common, dashing off with the bait, but again having crucian traits.

There was no mistake identifying this as a true crucian, most of them very lightly hooked, just sucking the bread without moving off, striking when the bite looked like it was progressing. If left too long, a bare hook was the result.

I had been feeding the occasional ball of bread to my alternative swims, switching over to see the float zoom away seconds after the bait hit the surface. Expecting a small rudd, my lift contacted with a solid force heading in the opposite direction, as a pound plus common grabbed the bread, taking the elastic close to the lilies, before it turned. Churning up black mud, the carp eventually fought itself to a standstill, sliding into the net without a fuss.

I have caught mirror carp in this pond before and wonder if this common is a mix of the two, with maybe a dash of ghost carp in it. Koi, goldfish and ghost carp were in this pond, when I first fished it eight years ago, but they seem to have gone, this could be the next generation?

The crucians kept on coming, but I was missing bites due to another highly coloured sub species of crucian, that has a smaller mouth.

These crucians give the float a couple of bobs, then just sit there. Thinking that the bait was gone, I would lift out to find one on the end, sometimes losing them, or fail to make contact after a decent bite. Like rudd they tend to frequent upper level of the pond.

Talking of rudd, my net was steadily filling with them, a shoal would sweep in for a few fish, then it was back to the carp.

This was the best of many rudd, that pushed its way in among the crucians, the punch continuing to do the business of putting fish in the keepnet.

By the time that I netted this monster fantail, the sun had gone and the promised wind was beginning to blow, flecked with rain and I was into the realm of “just one more fish” as my third hour of fishing came closer. I had an audience of three teenage lads sitting astride their mountain bikes in silence, as I continued to whip out fish, mostly rudd, but the better fish were still there.

These small coloured crucians were now taking over, not fighting as well as their plainer cousins, but all fish were fish in the net.

This small common was the last of the afternoon session, the wind was blowing the float about, the reason I hooked it being that the line was running away, as waves now replaced ripples. A hooked and lost fish prompted me to finish five minutes short of my five hours, I had caught plenty and without a jacket was expecting a soaking.

Pulling the keepnet in, was a signal for my young audience to come round to investigate the foaming water, as I tipped the catch into my landing net for a photo, the scales pushing past 12 lbs afterwards. Easing the fish back into the pond, the lads stood mesmerised watching them swim off. One of the lads fished with his father for carp and was doubly impressed that I had caught all the fish on the bread punch.

Bread punch common carp challenge

June 1, 2018 at 9:49 am

Days of thunderstorms and their associate downpours had made outdoor activities pot luck, as to whether a soaking was on the cards, or not in recent days, but the forecast for the afternoon was dry and after a few household chores, loaded up the van to take the short drive to my local pond.

The pond is classed as a balance pond, acting as an over spill reservoir for a brook that runs in from the forest through housing estates. The pond was doing its intended job, the banks had been breached overnight showing a tide mark that extended way beyond where I now put my tackle box, the water still just over the bank. A heavy mist kept humidity high, almost to the level of a light drizzle, but there was no wind, which meant no surface drift, the float fisherman’s curse.

As with previous visits to the pond, my approach was to soak some liquidised bread crumb, press it into loose balls and bait an area twenty yards out. Using a cut down pole float, bulk shotted at the  base to allow an 18 inch tail to fall free to a size 14 barbless hook, bait was a double punched 7 mm pellet of bread. This was all cast out on my 12.5 foot Normark float rod. The difference now was, that there was another foot of water, due to the extra flow coming down the brook. Like most carp, when not browsing through the deep sedimentary mud, they cruise around close to the surface, these being my target fish, the punch pellet being slightly buoyant.

When I first fished this pond eight years ago, it had a good head of rudd, which tended be a nuisance, attacking the bread, but like the numerous perch and gudgeon, that I am told were once in abundance here, the only fish are now carp. This now means that any bite will be a decent carp, as with the previous observation, small carp would often be taken along with the rudd, but not anymore. I assume that the deep mud and coloured water have made spawning impossible to the extent that the rudd died out and the carp just get bigger.

I did not need to wait for a bite, the float dipping several times, before vanishing, followed by the V of the line behind it. I leaned back into the strike and nearly got impaled by the float, as it was catapulted out of the water. I had missed one of those express train bites, having watched the bite develope, picked up the rod in readiness, seen the line tighten and failed to connect. The next bite showed interest as the float cocked, the bristle rocking from the turbulence of a carp as it pushed the bread around. I was on the verge of striking as the tip sank to the surface, only to pop up again and be still. The bread was gone. Next I tried striking at the slightest movement. Nothing.

I mixed up some more feed and lobbed it into the swim. The float disappeared again. Missed it. Doing nothing different, the float was gone, the line followed and I made contact with an explosive force that was an unseen carp, that bent the rod double in its first run. Twice I thought that it was ready for the net, but each time it ran again, left and right making for the bankside tree roots. This was fun, the fish was not large, but good sport, a stepped up carp rod with heavy line would have stopped it dead. I had the time and inclination to wait until it was ready for the net.

The hook was just in the side of the mouth and dropped out in the net, this well rounded four pounder being returned immediately. Mixing up the last of my feed, I cast out again. Bubbles had been bursting in the swim from the off. The carp were there. Why couldn’t I catch them? Each bite was a variation on a theme. I tried going deeper by a foot. Twitching the float as a bite progressed. Bigger baits. Smaller baits. I suppose this is why people get addicted to carp fishing. A very learned friend of mine, who knew of my fishing habit, once described angling as the pursuit of the brainless, by the mindless. These wild carp certainly have a brain and I was losing my mind trying to catch another.

I called my wife asking her to delay dinner by an hour. I cut her conversation short. I had another bite and had to go. Missed that one too. With minutes to the new deadline, the float went again and I was in. About the size of the first, the fight was just as hectic. Each time I gained line, I had to give it back. At last the golden flank of a carp flashed, when it rolled; a sure sign of it tiring. Soon it was in the net, the hook barely in the skin of the top lip.

I think that they were playing a game of balance the bait on the end of your nose without being caught.

Whatever the reason for the missed bites, maybe next time I will try a pole with a lighter float and a heavy elastic. This pond is half a mile away from home, I have to go back.

Bread punch skimmer bream dominate at Kingsley Pond

May 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Seconds before my alarm went off at 7 am, a text message awoke me. It was my friend Peter informing me that he had just arrived at Kingsley Pond, our fishing venue for the day. Thanks Peter. My wife’s plan for the day was to paint our bedroom, which meant me assisting in pulling everything into the middle of the room, before going down for breakfast. With bait out of the freezer, sandwiches and flask made, I was soon on my way toward a daily grid lock traffic situation, where on the roundabout over a motorway, traffic catches up with its tail, desperate drivers not willing to give up a car space making it worse. Car by car, truck by truck, my route onto the empty motorway cleared, taking 45 minutes to travel half a mile. This is why Peter gets up really early to fish, whereas I prefer to travel outside the rush hour, this compromise cost me time on just one day, these commuters face it every day.

The rest of my journey was traffic free and I could soak up the green wooded hills of Hampshire, arriving in the village carpark beside the pond after 9 am. My reason for the visit, was that Peter had bagged up the week before, with lists of fish caught resulting in a keepnet so heavy, that he could not lift it from the water. Arriving on the bank, I found him back in his favourite swim by an island, but this time he had little to report, a 4 lb tench and a small carp, plus a few roach. He was on the same method, feeding pellets over a waggler float twenty yards out, but this time the fish were not really interested.

Dropping off my tackle in the swim next door, I set off back across the road to pay for my guest ticket, only to find that I needed Peter’s membership card to complete the paperwork. Ah bureaucracy don’t you just love it?

By 10 am I was ready to fish, even at this time the sun was beating down, although a refreshing breeze was keeping things comfortable. I had been prepared to fish the pellet like Peter, even bringing two keepnets, but opted for the cautious approach and decided to start on the bread punch. At least I knew that this would get a few fish in the net. Due to the shallow water, I mixed up a sloppy mix of bread crumb and covered the area 4 to 5 metres out with the slow sinking cloud bait. Hoping for big fish today, I had my heavy duty pole set up, complete with heavy elastic, not willing to be given the runaround, as I had last week by large bream and tench on light elastic. This would prove to be a mistake.

Attracted by the cloud of bread, the float was disappearing each put in as small roach and skimmer bream found my 5 mm pellet of bread, only to bounce off again against the heavy elastic. A better sized skimmer worked the elastic and stayed on.

The bites were now slow and deliberate, but the fish very lightly hooked, were being bumped off against the elastic on the strike. After a frustrating hour, with very few fish actually reaching the landing net, it was time for a change. First I stripped off my jacket. It was already too hot. Then I changed poles, putting away the heavy duty job and getting out my other option with the lighter elastic. This had the immediate effect of bringing a fish a cast, although any attempt to swing in even a small roach resulted in a dropped fish.

The skimmers kept coming, while Peter was struggling for a bite on the pellet.

As the temperature rose, I began to miss bites, the bait staying on the hook being a sign that the bread was too hard. It seemed ok to touch, punching out freely, but each time a fresh piece was removed from its protective cling film, I caught fish for several punches, then the cycle would start over. To avoid running out of punch bread, I began tearing off smaller pieces of the fresh doughy slices.

I had some sweet corn as a back up, intending to use it for the tench, big crucians and bream that Peter had promised we would be catching. Adding corn to the bread feed, I tried some on the hook and got a tench bite, struck and caught a roach.

Then another. They wanted the corn and were taking on the drop.

Switching back to bread brought more skimmers.

The skimmers were like peas in a pod, all about the same size and more reliable than the roach,  continuing to hook, play and net them as though on a production line. As the sun moved round, Peter had landed a few more quality fish from the shade in close, a small mirror carp, a two pound crucian and another four pound tench along with some good sized roach. The pellet was paying off at last. I fed an area in the shade to my right with sweet corn, but attracted relatively small roach and considered the wait for a decent fish, if they existed at all in the swim, not worth it, when every time I put in with the punch, a skimmer bream would oblige.

Come 3 pm I’d had enough of the sunshine, while despite trying a few things, had failed to catch anything over 8 oz. Peter had justified sticking it out on the pellet with a good variety of fish.

It had been a busy five hours, once I had changed to the lighter elastic, but still required a gentle touch to get them in on a day too hot, even for mad dogs and Englishmen.

Not what I had expected, over 12 lb of silvers, but a just reward for persistence. On the road by 4 pm, we missed the worst of the traffic and I returned to find a wife pleased with her freshly painted bedroom.