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.

Bread punch tench new personal best

May 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

On the way to the local garden centre with my wife this week, we passed a sign to a country park not far off our route and decided to check it out. It was free entry offering, wooded walks, picnic areas, a cafe and as we discovered, a lake, where pinned to a tree, was a sign saying that day fishing permits were available from the cafe. After our walk we of course needed a cup of tea and stopped at the cafe, where I found that the day tickets were a very reasonable price.

Loaded down with plants from the garden centre, my wife had her afternoon sorted, while a fishing trip would give me something to do. There were frozen bread slices and liquidised bread in the freezer, so bait was not a problem, and after lunch gathered up my tackle, then headed back to the country park five miles away.

The cafe owner was not a fisherman and had no knowledge of the fish in the lake, “I just sell the day tickets”, so it was going to be a case of suck it and see. With only a pole, I went to the dam end of the lake expecting deep water, but plumbing the depth revealed only two feet at 6 metres. Opting for a shallow pond waggler rig in my box, I mixed up wet, sloppy bread crumb and laced an area 5 to 6 metres out with the feed, and sat back waiting for a bite. There was no surface activity and thought that it might be a long wait.

In my rush to get away, I had left my landing net pole behind and improvised with a keepnet attachment for my tackle box. At only half a metre long, landing a big fish could be difficult.

A minute after the float had settled, a tell tale ring, then a dip warned of some interest in the 5 mm bread pellet, before it slid from view. A lift of the pole and a jiggling fight as I slid the pole back to release the top two sections, bringing a small roach to hand.

The roach were gathering round the feed and it was one a chuck, although another ball of feed seemed to bring smaller fish. Going up to a 7 mm punch, I cast to the side of the feed and got a better roach that required the use of my improvised landing net. It meant breaking down the pole each time to the top two sections, but it worked.

Next cast, the float stayed down and the elastic came out of the pole tip, the fish taking a couple of runs in the shallow water, before my netting technique had a proper test.

A chunky pound bream. This session could be interesting. Going in blind to a water is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the extra challenge. I am always confident that the Bread will sort out better fish. The next bite proved this, when solid resistance, followed by an elastic stretching run towards a snag to the right of my swim, saw me pulling hard in the opposite direction. The water was boiling as the fish turned and rolled, the wide tail of a bream showing several times before I began to bring the pole back to the last two joints.

A five pound bream. Another test of my netting skills, the size 16 barbless holding firm in the corner of its mouth. Casting in again, the float cruised under and I was in for a repeat performance, these big fish having only one option, run!

These were large bream for such a shallow lake, this one going off with the bait like a carp from the off, running time and again, before succumbing to pressure from the elastic.

The next few fish were quality roach, the bream possibly put off by the commotion of the others. The lake was certainly full of good fish, first impressions belying the reality. The next fish was a mystery, it was bouncing the elastic like a big roach, giving little resistance and I was down to the top two sections with the net ready, when it suddenly woke up and made off in a straight run toward the middle of the lake. I held on against the strain, the elastic in the two sections extending many times its length. Not expecting big fish, I had picked up the pole I use for big roach and rudd with a No 6 elastic, while I should have brought that with the size 12-18 elastic to deal with bigger lumps. Too late now, this was an epic battle, constantly pulling hard to keep the unseen fish from the snags. I was able to get the rest of the pole attached, which gave me more control and leverage, but knew eventually that I would have to break down to the top two metres of pole to land it. I had still not seen the fish and now assumed that it was a carp. Getting weaker, it began to boil in the mirky water close in and with three sections plus the elastic out, I pushed the pole back over my head in an arc, forcing the fish to surface toward the waiting landing net. I was shocked by the sight of a massive tench, open mouthed as it slid over the net. It was in and I lifted it over the bank edge.

Shaped like a barrel, this spawn filled tench had taken forever to get in, no doubt due to that massive tail, fortunately the hook came free from the hard lip with a short jab of the disgorger. Put on the scales the dial went to 6lb 8 oz. Two weeks ago at a club lake my personal best tench had gone from 5 lb to 5 lb 8 oz, now I had topped it by a full pound from a day ticket water. Phew! I was ready for a cup of tea and a slice of homemade banana fruit cake, my hands still shaking as I poured from the flask, spilling half a cup.

I made up some more sloppy bread and threw it out. I doubted whether much would be hanging round after that disturbance, but after a few more roach, the elastic came out again as another bream went through the motions of escape.

By comparison to the tench, this was a doddle to get in at around three pounds and I added it to my crowded keep net. It was now close to going home time, the Friday afternoon traffic in this area tailing back a mile to get to the motorway and I was going to try  a longer less congested country road route back. I had started fishing at 2 pm and made 5 pm my target, but I was in a just “one more fish” mode as it approached. The roach were still coming, when the elastic came out again, this time there was nothing to shout home about, a small bream coming to the net at a leisurely pace to be the last of the three hour session.

With effort I pulled the net from the water, hooking the scales to one of the inside lifting straps, registering 28 lbs of fish, which included a pile quality of roach.

My attempts to take a pic of the net contents proved impossible to capture, but the size of that tench cannot be denied. I returned these as carefully as I could, hoping that next time my expectations are not too great. The new longer distance route, cut 20 minutes off the shorter congested route, so it ended up a win win sort of day.

Bread punch big bream and tench surprise

April 30, 2018 at 4:14 pm

A first visit to any new fishery has an element of wonder and armed only with information from the club secretary, that I would catch on the pole with bread punch, I let myself through the combination controlled gate to follow a wooded footpath leading to the bank of a secluded lake.

First sight filled me with apprehension. There were literally scores of double figure carp cruising around, not my target fish today. I was hoping to be taking roach and skimmer bream on the punch and did not fancy getting tangled up with any of these monsters, the only safety net being my heaviest 12 -18 size elastic through the top two sections of pole.

A 16 g antenna float rig with 2 lb hook line to a size 14 barbless was looped into the stonfo connector at the pole tip and I plumbed the depth, finding 4 feet at 2 metres, dropping to 5 feet deep at 3 metres. I wetted down half a pint of liquidised bread, dropping two squeezed up balls in at the drop off and another a metre further out. With the pole at 3 metres, I swung out the rig with a 5 mm pellet of punched bread and watched the float settle, then lift again, before steadily drifting away and down. A lift and the elastic bounced out of the pole tip as a nice size rudd fought below the surface.

This was a good start. A few more like this one would not go amiss. Another pellet of bread on the hook and I swung out again. An identical bite, a lift of the float, followed by a slow sink away. I raised the pole to set the hook into solid resistance, the elastic now stretched down to the surface and continued out slowly, the pole taking on a bend as the unseen fish thumped rhythmically away on the hook. This had to be a large bream and I added another length of pole to allow me to follow the fish. There was a deep bronze flash beneath the surface, as the elastic exerted maximum pressure. The fish went deep again, swimming toward me and I unshipped the extra metre of pole. It ran out again and I pushed out the landing net as it rolled on the surface. Now on its side, I raised the pole putting more pressure on the bream and it slid toward, then into the net. Phew! It was on the bank.

The hook was just in the side of the lip, pushing out easily with the disgorger. A big male, this bream had white spawning bumps, calcium tubercles covering its head and shoulders, ready to defend its territory from other males, that try to intrude on its harem of spawn heavy females. What a lump, this beast pushing the scales round to 5 lb 12 oz, before I carried it in the landing net to a spot twenty yards along the bank, where I released it.

After the commotion of landing the bream, I dropped another couple of feed balls over the drop off and cast out again. The float settled and sat there for five minutes. I lifted out to check the bread. It was still there. Any rudd, or roach would have taken it by now. I swung the bait out again. The float bobbed, then disappeared down a hole out of sight. The elastic was already coming out as I lifted. Grabbing another length of pole I followed the elastic. Whoa! This fish was shifting. It must be a carp? It then changed direction, boiling the surface. A flash of gold as it reversed again briefly showed a good tench. I hung on, balancing the pole, trying to keep the tip high, the elastic taking the heavy shocks. I’m sure that on a rod and line, I would have been broken by now. The runs slowed and the tench was on the surface and soon netted.

I am not known as a big fish angler and needed to get my breath back after this big female. Once again the hook was just in the lip, this time in the hard tip of the nose. Leaving it in the landing net, the weight was exactly 4 lbs and again carried it away from the swim for release. A cup of tea and a bite of sandwich was needed.

Wiping slime from the line and the shot, I was ready to see what else was on offer, following another couple of feed balls with the float. The antenna sank, then popped up again before I could strike. The float sat still. The bait was gone. I went up a size of punch to 6 mm and double punched a thick pellet then recast. The antenna raised and lowered, then lifted, moving slowly off, sinking away again, until out of sight. A sharp raise of the pole pulled out the elastic again, but this time no explosion, just a steady pull toward the centre of the lake. Another bream? No, the fish suddenly woke up and began to fight its corner, head shaking as it ran, taking out the elastic in spurts, while I added another two lengths of pole to follow its every move. It was being drawn closer as I removed the pole sections again, passing deep across the front of me, but surfacing at the end of its run. An even bigger female tench now lay ready to be netted.

Weighed in at 5 lb 8 oz, this was a new personal best for me, the fact that I also caught it on a so called small fish method, pole with bread punch was an added bonus in my book. I had decided that this and any other large fish would be returned immediately, rather than put in the keep net, avoiding a slimy net being paramount.

The next bite slid away to be met with another explosive reaction from a much smaller, but hyper active male tench that dived and rolled around the swim, until exhausted.

At 2 lb this big finned male seemed like a tiddler in comparison to the previous pair, although what he lacked in weight was made up in sheer muscle power.

I was now ready for anything and when the float sank away again, I guessed it was another tench, larger than the last and just as energetic. To my right was a lily bed and this one kept powering toward it, despite putting on side strain, the elastic following it all the way, until it was in the roots. Several times I tried to pull it free, but each time the lilies pulled back. Time to slacken the line and wait for the float to move off. Minutes later the float tracked away from the bed as the tench swam out of hiding. A long hard pull and the fight was into round two, the tench out for the count, after a few short runs.

This chunky lump of solid muscle weighed in at 3 lb 8 oz. Tench have always been a favourite, the first day of the coarse fishing season on June 16th, being celabrated as a lad, by getting up at 3 am to cycle to the local canal, catching maybe half a dozen tench of a pound on bread, packing up by 7 am to cycle to the newsagents, where I would rush through my paper round, before heading off to school for a sleep!

It was time to top up the liquidised bread feed, have another sandwich and pour more tea, as I was beginning to flag. This was too much excitement for one day.

Rested, I cast out again for the latest instalment, what next? I did not have long to wait. The float dithered, then sank slowly away and I lifted into another big bream with its slow thud, thud fight, the elastic again doing its work, all I had to do was hang on, following each move with the pole, until ready for the net.

Across from me, another angler had hooked a fish as I cast out and was still playing it on rod and line, while I had netted this 4 lb 8 oz bream, weighed it, returned the fish, then rebaited, before he had his landing net out for another large bream.

Bubbles were still bursting over my baited area, when I lifted into another big bream, that kited toward the middle, it being a matter of time, before, on the surface, the net slipped under it.

Full of spawn and round like a dish, the scales dropped to 5 lb 8 oz, this female almost equaling the weight of the first today. Time was now getting on, this had only been intended as a taster session, but there was still time for one more cast and rebaited, the rig was swung out again. They were still feeding, the float taking time to sink out of view and yes, another big bream was steadily pulling out the elastic toward the middle, using its weight to surge away. In a match I would have be trying to get the fish on the bank as quickly as possible, but catching bream is almost relaxing, once hooked in their tough mouths they tend to stay on and it is worth waiting for them to be ready for the net.

Last of the day at 5 lb 4 oz, this was another fatty ready to spawn. I am sure that I could have sat there catching these and more tench for the rest of the afternoon, but that would have to wait for another time, it was time to get out in the motorway traffic, before the rest of humanity.

Bread punch nets quality roach and rudd

April 26, 2018 at 8:45 pm

With Braybrooke Park’s Jeane’s Pond closed for a month at the end of April, I took advantage of a dry weather forecast to fish it this week. Set up by 10 am, I was keen to find out if the warmer weather would mean more and better fish on the bread punch and set myself a target of at least ten pounds for the five hour session.

Conditions were perfect with a slight breeze ruffling the surface, the pond having a healthy green tinge. Being cold and wet overnight, I had overdressed and was feeling the warmth of the sun already. Considering taking off my hooded jacket, the float sank away and the No. 5 elastic on my pole stretched out as the first fish of the day came to the net.

I never got the chance to take off that hoody, as the bread punch worked its magic and I got into a catching rhythm. Targeting the better fish, I was using coarse ground bread crumbs, wetted down to sink quickly and spread out near the bottom. Starting off with a 5 mm punch to a size 14 hook, the bites were confident, usually sinking as the float cocked, the larger hook allowing the average 3 to 4 oz fish to be swung to hand with three metre length of pole.

The roach were outnumbering the rudd, more fish needing the net as the first hour progressed and I was confident that my 10 lb target would be reached. I had plumbed the depth before I had started and found a drop off 3 metres out, where I fed a pigeon egg ball of feed every 15 minutes, fishing to one side or the other of the feed. This was working well and quality roach and rudd were now the norm.

This was a fin perfect roach, while many of the rudd were quite tatty, having dropped scales, although their fighting qualities were not affected.

Other rudd were perfect, as the one below shows, having golden scales and bright red fins.

With little  warning the wind got up and the heavens opened. This was not part of the script. I was thankful that I had not taken off the jacket, pulling the hood over my cap, but it was not even shower proof, my bait apron acting as a temporary buffer between my jeans and the downpour. In seconds the bread punch slice was soft and useless, but all was not lost as I keep the spares in a polythene wallet. It was a case of, “batten down the hatches” and wait for the storm to pass, which it did after five minutes. My wife shopping only a mile away never saw a drop. April Showers?

The sun was soon out again and the quality fish kept coming. I topped up the bread feed and changed the feed pattern as small fish were now forming a barrier between the upper surface and the bottom. I now fed two lines over the drop off, two metres apart, still only a pigeon egg size ball every twenty minutes, but staggered between the two feed areas. I also went up to a 7 mm pellet of bread. The good fish were still down there, fishing away from the fed area, while the small fish were preoccupied over the feed.

This roach had a badly damaged lip. It is barbless hooks only on this pond. Somebody is not aware of the rules. The previous captor had ripped the hook out.

The bites were now slower, the bites steadily building until the float sank from sight followed by the line, each lift of the rig seeing the elastic come out as yet another good fish fought for freedom.

One such bite saw the elastic stretch away and I was convinced that I hooked a tench, the fish making long runs, until it surfaced like a submarine. It was a fan tale crucian carp, a rarity in this pond.

Another fine, hard fighting roach came to the net. Despite the slow bites, these were all just hooked in the upper lip, the hooks often transferring to the landing net.

This was the last of the day. The rig snagged on vegetation at my feet and pulled free, the float and line spun round the pole tip. Not the first time that a bird’s nest had cut short my fishing. I had lost my first rig up the tree to my left, when the hook had pinged out of a fish in the landing net. Now my spare was gone too. I had another rig with a slightly heavier float, but it was close to my 3 pm deadline and I called it a day.

It was obvious that I had easily topped my 10 lb target weight for five hours and when my 14 lb limit scales bottomed out, I reached for the 50 lb set. These swung round to 17 lb 8 oz. A foreign lady watched with her children as I weighed these up, she taking a picture on her phone for husband, who also fishes with bread she said. “Are you going to eat any of those?” she asked. “In our country we do, but in England you throw them back” Yes we do.

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.