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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.

 

Magtech 7002 and CZ452 HMR Stakeout

July 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm

The heatwave continues and with no significant rain for almost two months fields are parched. I have not bothered going out shooting, as with pastures filled with waist high grass, rabbits have been invisible.

While on holiday in Cornwall last week, I had a call from the owner of a cottage that backs onto the land pictured above. He sounded desperate. Rabbits were tearing up his lawn. Could I come over and shoot them? I have shot this garden and the field beyond for years, the cottage owner Mrs Potter, now in her eighties, had reluctantly sold, and moved to a modern serviced flat. The new owner, a local businessman, had embarked on a major modernisation project at the 150 year old property. With the cottage nearing completion, he had started tidying the outbuildings and half acre garden, when I had introduced myself regarding controlling the rabbits. This was a few months ago and he had said that he had never seen a rabbit in the garden, at which I said, “Well there’s one” pointing to a big adult munching fresh grown shoots. I had added my number to his phone, then gone on my way.

The house is still unoccupied and I arrived at my first opportunity this week on a hot evening after 7 pm. Anticipating dozens of rabbits, as described by the owner, I took my Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto and a couple of ten shot magazines for a stalk around the garden, the parched main lawn being surprisingly devoid of rabbits, when I would have expected at least a couple on past experience. With flower beds and hedges, there is plenty of cover in the garden and the Magtech was cocked and ready to fire as I worked my way toward the rear, getting down to peer around every feature. Nothing.

I sat down with my back to a tree, where I had a good view of the rear garden and waited. Ten minutes later three rabbits made their way in single file through a gap in the gate from the overgrown field and spread out hastily grazing fresh green grass. In slow motion I raised the rifle and sighted on a broadside buck 30 yards away, ready to swing to the next target 10 yards on. Boof! The bullet found the upper chest and it collapsed, as my other target darted to one side and stopped. I fired, the rabbit back flipped and ran off. I had hit it, but not stopped it. They had retreated back through the gate and did not return.

I patrolled the garden several times with no other signs of rabbits, although evidence of their presence was everywhere, sheets of mesh covering bare patches of lawn chewed down to the subsoil. Returning the Magtech to the van, I brought out the CZ452 HMR and set up further down the garden with a view to the back fence 60 yards away and within sight of a third of the remaining lawn and flower beds to my left.

The reason that the rabbits had been attracted to the back of the garden was obvious, when I looked around, a sprinkler had been placed there and the fresh growth was in a slight dip, where the water had accumulated. With the sun going down, it was time to wait it out, the rifle aimed directly at the field gate.

Although I had my NiteSite attachment with me, I felt that I had waited around long enough, when a movement in the gloom at the gate, presented a pair of ears bobbing forward, followed by more. At least three rabbits were now passing back and forth sampling the grass. I had my night face mask on and was unseen as I switched positions trying to get a bead on one of them. A head raised and the rabbit fell. Shifting the bolt in a second, the cross hairs fell on another heading back to the gate, the rabbit dropping from view. Another pair zig-zagged in panic back to the field.

The other rabbit was five yards away, two does in under a minute. That’s how it goes sometimes.

The owner had requested a rabbit and I had strung up the buck in the wood shed and barricaded the door safe from foxes, before resuming my patrols. A text to the owner last night was replied to this morning, saying that the rabbit was now prepared for a meal tonight. Bon appetit.

 

 

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.

CZ 452 HMR evening visit

June 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

A warm still evening saw me back at the new permission this week, trying to keep in with the landowner, who expects the impossible, his land cleared of rabbits, while the grass is at knee height. The light was already fading when I arrived, but with my Nitesite as back up, was hopeful for a few more for the freezer.

He has mowed an area around the site, which helps spot rabbits, but those in the grass have learned to keep there heads down and sprint across the open spaces, stopping only to pass through the fence.

My best chance here is to enter the field keeping low, until I see the rabbits on an open space and get down for a shot, before they see me. Following round the cleared path, I saw a pair of rabbits dead ahead about 80 yards away and sank down prone. At ground level they were obscured by the long grass at one edge and moved over for a clear view. A white tail indicated that the pair had seen me already, moving toward the fence, the rear one paused and was dead in an instant, the other passing through to safety.

As I made my way over to pick up the rabbit, others were sneaking out of the long grass to the fence. A shot to hand at this range would have been lucky to find the mark and decided to clean the this one, while keeping a lookout along the cleared fence line. I settled down at the edge of the grass with a clear view up a rise for about 120 yards, no problem for the HMR on a still evening. A rabbit stuck its head out about 10 yards away, but soon turned tail and I waited, a barn owl quartering the field to my right taking my gaze for several minutes. Looking back, two rabbits were trotting in and out of the long grass near the top of the rise by a gate. Sometimes these games go on for a while, only to end with them back in their burrow. One stopped in the open and began grazing, while the other was out of sight. I don’t need a second chance, the scope was already zoned and the rifle cracked, the echo bouncing off nearby houses, as the rabbit reflex jumped. The second rabbit was startled and rushed into, then out of view again to appear sitting up at the top of the rise. Chambering another round, the cross hairs were on for head shot and it flipped over. I waited another ten minutes just in case any more appeared and made my way up the field to pick them up.

Cleaning duties done, I patrolled the top half of the field, again watching as another trio bolted for the fence from cover. In the corner a big, full red fox was sitting, it slowly rising to it’s feet. I had a clear shot to it’s pure white bib, but in this field he is on my side. I had wondered why I had not seen any young rabbit kits, here was the reason. The discarded rabbit remains of this evening would be cleared by morning.

I was satisfied with three adult rabbits from this evening and headed back down the path, cresting the rise to see a dark blob where I had shot the first. The bipod was flicked back open and I sighted on the unaware rabbit at least 120 yards away, aiming high on the shoulder, easing the trigger to send the tiny .17 inch bullet on its way. The silencer barked, followed by a moment’s delay before the rabbit rolled over.

This last one was a bonus, possibly the first of the pair that I had seen at the start. It was now getting dark, the Nitesite had not been needed and I made my way back to the gate on the lane. As I fiddled with the combination locks, the landowner came out of his house to ask how I had done, promising to cut the grass before my next visit.

 

Mayfly trout stream washout

June 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Thunderstorms were forecast across southern England this week on the first day of my three allotted syndicate days, but when none had arrived by lunch time, I took a chance and headed west, hoping to find the mayfly still being gorged by trout. Leaving home it was hot humid sunshine, but the nearer to the river I got, the darker it became. I decided to walk halfway down the river, to then wade back, but a look at the sky told me that I was on borrowed time.

Nothing stirred, my hoped for mayfly were missing, as a massive black cloud moved across from the south. I pushed on downstream, looking for trout among the weed beds. The heat in my waders was building and sweat was dripping down my neck, then as the sun came out, my polaroids began to steam up. I took them off and continued downstream, where a few mayfly had begun to lift off. All was not lost.

Entering the river was a relief, the cooling water having the desired effect of clearing my heat daze and rounding a bend, a rise beckoned me upstream. There was plenty of room to cast and with no wind, the line dropped ahead of another splashy rise. Ignored, I cast the small white mayfly again, watching it disappear in a ripple, tightening the line into a small wild brown that darted left and right, before dropping off as I lifted it from the water toward my hand. Once cursed by these small trout, I now welcome every one as a sign of the river’s recovery. Further up, another rise encouraged me to work the water a yard at a time, in the hope of raising another fish.

 

 

Then the rain started, just a few drops at first, then a cloudburst as a clap of thunder echoed across the pasture. I waded back down to the cover of an alder, tying on an unweighted flash back Hares Ear, while I waited for the shower to pass. This has proved a good alternative to a winged mayfly in the past, greased with floatant, it sits in the surface film like an emerging mayfly nymph. Soon it was dryer out in the diminishing rain, than under the tree, as heavy droplets fell from the leaves. Once again nothing was showing, just the occasional mayfly shaking free from the bankside vegetation, that skidded across the surface.

Again I prospected for takes along this fast shallow section, pausing to concentrate on a deeper glide of gravel and crowsfoot weed. I did not see the nymph sucked from the surface, only to react to the line shooting forward, feeling the surge of a good fish, as it stood on its tail to erupt on the surface. A brief run upstream bent the rod to the water, it springing back as the trout turned, running down behind me. My longhandled net was not to hand and holding my rod high, tried to steer the thrashing fish down toward it. Second sweep, the silver trout was in the net.

This had been an epic battle, controlled by the trout, with me on catch up trying to take the upper hand, expecting the barbless hook to come free at anytime.

No sooner had I unhooked the fish and held it upstream to recover, than the rain began in earnest, getting heavier by the second. With a peaked cap, jacket and chest waders it was bearable, but the river was being hammered and it was not a difficult decision to call it quits.

By the time I had returned to the road, my jacket and shirt were soaked through, but this time the waders held in the warmth from my lower body. While putting my rod away, another member came trudging up the other side of the river, he too had taken a chance with the weather and lost. As we talked, the clouds parted and bright sunshine beamed down, a signal for the mayfly to hatch, that persuaded my companion to pick up his rod and head upstream for some more punishment, while I headed for home.