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River Blackwater wakes up to the bread punch

June 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Torrential rain at the beginning of the week had worked through and I found the River Blackwater low and clear, when I arrived on Thursday. This stretch is relatively new to me, my club Farnborough and District AS only acquiring the water at the turn of the year. The bottom end of the stretch narrows giving several deep runs, where I have had good roach and dace fishing on the stick float, but today I walked up toward the top gate, where the river is very shallow, finding a swim with just enough room for my 12 ft Hardy among the trees.

The bottom was visible right across, but a couple of balls of liquidised bread soon had fish heading into the clouds of particles, the float sinking away with the first of several small chub.

Then another ball of bread brought a surprise, a small skimmer bream out of place in the fast flowing shallows.

A better fight meant a roach had taken the 6 mm bread pellet and the landing net came out for the first time from the high bank.

The roach were now queuing up, many swingers, plus the odd netter.

The roach were slowly drifting back down the swim, taking longer to get a bite and longer to net, so I added more bread to the tray, damping it down and throwing further back upstream.

The roach followed the feed and I began to hit fish on a tight line as I followed down with my rod.

This clonker took off the top of the rod, tail walking in a shower of spray, but staying on the size sixteen barbless long enough for the net.

I had had a couple of small dace, but my next was a beaut, doggedly tumbling and rolling to the net.

These dace were hard to hit, tipping and holding the float just below the surface, often hooking the fish only to lose it seconds later.

This roach was competing with the dace in only two feet of water, the bite taking the float straight down, while the dace continued to play games with me, losing, or missing the majority.

Keeping a tight line just off bottom and going down to a smaller 5 mm punch was the answer, although some still hooked themselves, only to come off again. Regular feed of tight, damp balls of bread kept the bites coming in a short area.

As quickly as they had come on the scene, the dace gave way to roach again and I gave a couple of bread punch tutorials to passersby, the roach sitting over the feed five yards down the trot, making it look too easy.

The best roach of the session came during one of these demo’s, making sure that I did not rush it to the net.

I was still taking a roach a cast, but had to call it a day after almost five hours, having run out of feed, this roach being my last fish.

One of my watchers helped me bring in the net, he being amazed at the number of fish. I tipped the contents of the keepnet into my landing net, which he was supporting, unfortunately he let the landing net slide to one side and many of the fish fell onto the bank, needing to be scooped up again, covering them in dirt. A quick photo and a weigh in at just under eleven pounds, soon had them back in the river.

 

Stick float river season opener madness

June 19, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Time was at a premium this Sunday June 16th, the first day of the coarse fishing river season, it being Father’s Day and dedicated to Family and not fishing. Monday was forecast with good weather, with heavy rain returning for the rest of the week, so it would have to be Monday to fish the river, but then friends invited us over for coffee in the morning, this was extended to lunch…….. Driving home my wife commented that I would not have time to go fishing now, as we were seeing other friends in the evening. I knew this and was already calculating how much time I would get to actually fish.

Once home, I was rushing around sorting tackle, getting changed and taking bread from the freezer, before loading up the van. Time was slipping away as I drove down the drive, my wife mouthing the words, “You’re mad” as she waved me off. Yes, I suppose I and many other anglers take things to the extreme for a bit of fishing, but this was my only chance on the river for the rest of the week. The ground is still waterlogged from the last floods, when we had a month’s rainfall in a day.

Slowed by school traffic, I arrived at the carpark, loaded up my trolley and set off on the 500 yard walk to my chosen swim on the river Cut, where I had ended the season on March 14th. Then I had two large chub, a lot of nettable chub and roach; today was an unknown.

The bankside vegetation was stained with silt from the floods of last week and I dragged my trolley through black mud to reach the river. This was not going to plan, it was 4 o’clock already and I had not even tackled up. Having promised to be on my way home by 6 pm, this would have to be a very quick visit.

I could see a raft of 3 to 4 inch chublets close to the surface in the sunshine and decided to make up a heavy bread mix, that would go down quickly and roll along the bottom. Setting up my 12 foot Hardy float rod, with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed stick float and starting with a 5 mm bread punch on a size 16 hook, I was ready to fish in 15 minutes.

Putting in two firm balls of bread, one close to the opposite bank and the other two thirds over, I followed down with the float. Despite the previous floods, there was little flow, but the float soon slid sideways and the rod bent into the first fish, a 6 inch chub. Swinging this in the rod tangled in overhead branches. In March the trees were bare with plenty of clearance, now the elder tree was full of leaf and flower it hung much lower catching the line, leaving the chub hanging over the river. Putting the landing net out under the struggling chub, I pulled it back to me, releasing the line from the branches. The tiny chub had now moved into the swim, diving away with the bread. After throwing back a few and missing others, I increased the punch size to 7 mm. The next fish was a decent rudd, which I netted, keeping my rod down. The larger bait seemed to be working.

The rudd was full of fight and in perfect condition. The following trot saw the float slide away again, as an even better rudd fought for freedom.

I swung in another smaller rudd and yes, got the rod tip stuck in the tree again. While I reached for the landing net to release it, the rudd wriggled free, falling back into the river. Luckily the line did not bounce up into the branches and I dragged the net through to catch the hook. I then , hooked and lost another good rudd at the landing net, the line springing back to tangle in the nettles at my feet. I could hear my wife’s comment, “Serves you right for rushing.” Time to sit back, have a cup of tea, relax and undo the tangle.

I put in another ball of bread and followed it down with the float. A fussy bite and a slow sink met firm resistance as a decent roach now came to the net.

The rudd had now cleared off and this was my only roach, the bites now coming at the end of the trot, where the conker tree branches met the river. More small chub, plus a rod bender of 9 inches kept me interested. I tried another ball out in front of me, hoping to bring the fish back up, the result being sharp dives and nibbles, missing the bites, the hook stripped bare in a couple of yards. I swapped back to the 5 mm pellet, squeezing it on the hook and bounced a dace, that stayed on long enough to see its tumbling fight. More missed bites, until I held the float back hard midway down the trot. The float dipped and I struck into a better dace, this time keeping it on long enough for the landing net. While playing this fish, I missed a call on my phone.

These dace, introduced two years ago, have grown rapidly, but are not easy to catch in the shallow river. Dace, the saxon word for dart, describes them well, they will rob bait from a hook in seconds, often somehow crushing a maggot to a skin without getting hooked.

I checked my phone. It was my wife reminding me not to be late home. A few more missed bites, then the float dived away at the end of the trot, the Hardy bending round as a fish dived for the sunken branches. It was a chub, not massive, but that first run was impressive, as it ran toward the sunken branches, it turning to search out safety along the opposite bank. Keeping my rod low, I avoided the parrot cage of elder above my head and slid the landing net underneath.

Time to pack up. I would like to have fished on, there may have been more chub there, but I had my orders, time has a habit of slipping by quickly, when it is in short supply.

Not a bad net for such a short visit. I spent more time getting to and from the river, tackling and packing away, than actually fishing. Was it worth the trouble? Of course it was!

 

 

 

 

Bread punch roach dominate at Braybrooke

June 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Reports of tench being caught at Braybrooke Park drew me to Jeanes Pond this week, a sunny afternoon being a last chance before a forecast week of rain. A strong wind was blowing across the pond, which would have made fishing difficult in a favoured swim next to lily beds, so I settled for the easy option in the lee of the clubhouse.

There was only one other angler on the water and he was in the next swim. Fishing the feeder with maggot over toward the lilies, he was catching a succession of quality roach, topping his session with a 12 oz tench. There are much larger tench in the pond, but intending to fish pole and bread punch, I would be happy to catch a few of the smaller tench that had been introduced by the Environment Agency a couple of years before, plus a net full of prime roach.

This year the pond has been plagued with tiny roach and rudd and my plan was to feed tight balls of liquidised bread and ground fish pellets, while using a 4 x 16 antenna float with No 8 shot strung out close to the 3 lb hook link, to drop straight through the small stuff. That was the theory anyway, the proof would be in the pudding.

Plumbing the depth, the main shelf was only three metres out, dropping off again at four and I fed four balls to start in a square over the area, setting the float to fish just off bottom. Dropping the float in the centre of the square, with a 6 mm bread pellet, I watched the float dip and glide away and I swung in a small rudd.

A good size for the first fish and I was soon back in with a few smaller rudd and roach. A burst of bubbles over the feed promised something else and I lifted the float, dropping it dead centre. In seconds the antenna dipped, then popped up again, dithered then dived as a small tench made off with the bait, stretching out the elastic, making me think that I had a better fish.

This little battler was covered in some sort of lice, which had no effect on its fighting abilities. Bubbles were rising steadily from the feed and the next drop in saw the elastic out again as a better rudd stormed off.

I resisted putting in more feed, as so far the tiny roach and rudd had kept away, bubbles were still bursting in the surface and decided that less was best. Another pretty rudd followed.

The next fish stayed deep, fighting hard as it moved around the swim, thinking that it was another small tench, being surprised to see a good roach surface for the landing net.

Before coming to fish, I had put two “waterproof” plasters on my finger to cover a dermatitis sore, they lasted twenty minutes. Should have read the instructions. Probably said “do not get these waterproof plasters wet” Ha!

Another couple of balls of feed kept the bubbles and the fish coming, another nice roach responding to the bread punch. A friend had fished the pond on the punch at the weekend, saying that he had only caught very small fish, but I was still having success on, or just off bottom. I did have a brief spell of catching the tinies, but going up to a size 7 mm punch seemed to solve that.

The float shot away and the unmistakable rolling fight of a better tench had the elastic touching the water as it ran round the swim, the net eventually catching up with it. The fight had be brief, but there was still plenty of energy left, its muscle power making hook removal difficult. This was the only other tench of the late afternoon apart from another similar fish dropped earlier. This may have been it.

I tried more feed and got another cracking roach next cast, the float barely settling before it cruised under.

The landing net was out constantly, the 3 metre long handle needed from the high fishing platform. This was becoming a workout. Who said fishing was a lazy man’s sport?

 Rudd were making up the numbers.

Now the local school was disgorging, teenage pupils crowding around a sunken shopping trolley at the edge of the pond opposite. They were trying to pull it up the bank, when one of them tipped head first into the green water. Did he fall, or was he pushed? The answer was that half a dozen of his mates ran back up the path, before he could extract himself, the other half stood and laughed, until he climbed out with punches flying. In full school uniform, his mother would not be pleased!

As the afternoon went on, the bites got cagier, the sailaways of earlier, now became like those of winter, light dips and pauses, giving way to eventual slow sinking of the tip, the setting of the hook being a surprise to both fish and angler.

Changing the punch for the smaller 6mm seemed to speed up the bites, maybe the fish had had there fill, but I had put in less than half a pint in total, so that was unlikely to be the reason. Small bubbles were still rising and the keepnet was still filling.

Grape sized balls of feed had maintained interest for the fish and I was waiting for another tench.

I had intended packing up at six, but the float continued to sink and I was stuck in the “just one more fish” syndrome, forcing myself to stop thirty minutes later.

It had been an enjoyable four hours, no pike trouble for a change, plenty of sizeable fish and the threatened showers had held off, although the wind had created an anti-clockwise surface drift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horam Manor Fishery entertains on the bread punch

May 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm

The East Sussex village of Horam proved the ideal place for a spot of R & R this week. Still suffering with a painful ankle, I booked my campervan into Horam Manor Country Park for a couple of days, seeing that a fishery is among the facilities, which include nature trails and horse riding. Only fit for sitting beside a lake for a few hours, I opted for Great Pond, close to the parking area and overlooked by The Bistro, with a selection of food and drinks available all day. What more can you ask for? Oh yeh, all this for a two rod fishing ticket of £5.

There are nine lakes and ponds to choose from, relics of medievil iron working along a stream, where the ore was exposed down the steep valley, the ore once dug out and smelted on the spot, the ponds getting the name of hammer ponds, where the rough iron was taken from the charcoal kilns and forged with hammers into ingots. Now tall pines and bluebell woods mask this once early industrial site.

Setting up along the dam, I mixed ground carp pellets with 2 mm krill pellets and liqudised bread, then added water to make up several soft balls, that I put in 4 to 5 metres out over the deeper water. Using a 7 mm bread punch pellet on a size 16 barbless, the float cruised off with the first bite and a rudd came to the net.

Several rudd followed in rapid succession, before a slower, steady submerge of the float indicated the first of many carp, that strung out the elastic, letting the fish have its head, until ready for the pole to be pulled back to the top two joints, the landing net ready and waiting.

This mirror was quickly returned, the no keepnet rule going against the grain with this ex-matchman.

Another hard fighting carp. Its a pity that the barbless hook rule seems to have been ignored here, many fish being without their top lips.

A better sized mirror carp, that fought well on the light pole tackle, 3 lb hook link, to 4 lb main line. With carp above double figures in this pond, I was taking a chance, but preferred these tactics to those of many around me fishing matching twin stepped up carp rods, when if they hooked fish of this size, skimmed them back across the surface. There was one bivvy set up on the pond, most of the more serious carp men and ladies seeking out the isolation of the lakes further down the valley.

The bread punch continued to take its toll of the residents of the pond, this common making an effort to reach the reed bed opposite, before the elastic persuaded it to do otherwise.

There were plenty of greedy little tench eager to get to the punch first, the bites and fight unmistakable.

A silver ghost carp put in an appearance.

These carp would be a match angler’s dream, free feeding with enough fight to make life interesting.

A bit of a lump. My wife (tackle carrier) asked if I get bored catching so many fish? Er, Never.

Mirrors were one to every three commons, interspersed with small tench and rudd. There are supposed to be some crucians in the water, but I never saw one, although several big perch were busy chasing small rudd in and out of the reed beds.

Look at the tail on this tench. I lost one of about a pound at the net trying to bully it in.

I had started at 1:30 pm, now it was nearing 4:30, but the fish were unrelenting, a couple more balls of feed had kept them coming, the commons mouths full of mud as they hovered up the fine particles.

I had stopped taking pics of the fish long before, but this chunky common carp and my last fish of the day, another pretty mirror warranted the effort.

I had honestly lost count of the number of the various species, as I attempted to fill in the returns form, say twenty rudd of around 4 oz, a dozen small tench to 8 oz, eight, or nine mirror carp to 12 oz and twenty five common carp to 1lb 8 oz. All in three hours. All on the bread punch.

 

 

Syndicate trout stream rewards persistance

May 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

Following up on my visit to a free urban trout stream, where the mayfly were just beginning to fly, I was encouraged to take the ten mile drive to my Hampshire syndicate chalk stream. The sun was shining and a light upstream wind was ruffling the surface, when I arrived after 3 pm.

Walking upstream it looked perfect, but something was missing, flies and rising trout. I had hoped to start with the White Mayfly, that I had used on the urban river, but was not so sure, deciding to make my way up toward the wier, before changing to a nymph.

This is what I found, when I got my rod down from its rack in the garage. A mouse had eaten the cork of the handle. Although off the ground, the mouse must have considered that it was worth the climb, only eating into one side, where my fingers wrap around. Maybe the floatant grease that I use had permeated into the corks, making a tasty mouse snack. The positive side is that I now have finger grips in the handle!

Without waders, I kept well away from the bank, pausing to study the river ahead, spotting a single rise 50 yards upstream close to the opposite bank. It rose again as I neared the spot, a raft of branches that had collected at a small bush. Another rise coincided with the first sight of a white mayfly lifting off from the surface. Casting was going to be difficult from this high bank, with trees hanging over the water, but a mayfly disappearing in a swirl ahead of me spurred me on. Sitting on the bank with my legs over the river, I made side casts up to the spot, but the upstream wind caught the leader each time, swinging it back over to my side. Mayfly were still lifting off, but a vertical cast saw the fly line land heavily ahead of the fish. It stopped rising.

The artificial was soon waterlogged, sinking on landing, so I got up and moved on, making false casts as I walked to dry it out. There were still a few Mayfly about and another rise a 100 yards ahead saw me approach with caution. Here cattle had broken the bank down and was able to stand at water level to cast, although once again overhanging branches called for a side cast.

The trout was rising every few minutes on the outside of the bend below a willow and I edged closer, increasing the length of my casts, being frustrated each time that I had the range, to catch on dead, long grass and cow parsley along the bank behind me. Plenty of time, mayfly were still coming off and the fish was still plopping away. Retrieving the fly for the second time, I went grass cutting, reducing the obstacles by hand, then inched back to my rod to start again.

The artificial was regreased, rubbed between my fingers, recast and ignored. The wind was still blowing the fly away from the bank and I aimed further in, watching it float down dangerously close to the bank. The trout took in a side swipe and I was in! An initial boil and it bolted upstream, stripping line toward the bend. Side on it was a long fish and not stopping, testing the rod as it bent to the butt. Against the pressure it came back, giving repeated, but shorter bursts of power each time. Standing at the tail of the pool, I bided my time, until it was ready for the net, drifting it across the shallows to be scooped up.

Not a wild fish, but a well conditioned stockie 17 inches long, fueled by a regular supply of Mayfly. After returning to the river, holding its head facing upstream, it kicked away to swim back to the pool.

I was content with this brown trout, walking back to the road, not being tempted by the few fish now rising to another Mayfly hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild trout ready for Mayfly bonanza on urban river

May 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm

An ankle injury had kept me away from the river bank for over a month, but using my landing net as a walking aid, I was able to cover the short distance from the car to the bank of my urban trout stream this week. Arriving after 7 pm, the sun was close to the horizon as I made my way upstream, disappointed that there were no fish rising.

Although it was bright sunshine beyond the trees, in the shade there was a chill downstream wind and assumed that this was keeping the fly life down. I decided to start off with a size 14 unweighted Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, casting along the edges of the weeds and close to my bank, the nymph just hanging in the surface film. After ten yards, a swirl, followed by a tightening of the leader, saw an automatic response as I made contact with a seven inch parr, that tumbled across the surface and came off the barbless hook. Oh well, that got my heart thumping, raising my hopes of better fish to come.

Moving up to open water below an overhanging laurel, the nymph now waterlogged, failed to get the attention of any more trout, wherever it was cast. Seeing a small rise alongside a weed bed, I tied on an Elk Hair Emerger, rubbing floatant grease into the fly, before casting above the bed. A pound trout appeared from nowhere, took one look and dashed off in the opposite direction. My other were casts ignored. This is free, unmonitored fishing and I got the feeling that these fish had been covered too many times already, my usually successful Emerger, not cutting the mustard this evening.

I decided to backtrack downstream along the road, where the sun was still on the water, seeing that Grannom flies were scudding across the surface, a rise further down among the trees confirming my choice of the Orange Elk Emerger. All I needed was a place to cast from the high bank, my sore ankle too unsteady to be climbing down to the waters edge.

I stopped at an open bank covered with cow parsley, where reeds and wild watercress grew out into the water. It was difficult casting from this point, but this was my only option, the overgrown bank making it difficult to control the line. I had brought my 7 ft 3 Weight rod, where my 9 ft 5 Weight would have been the answer to cope with the bankside vegetation. A month before, only the occasional daffodil would have been present.

White Mayflies had begun launch into the air and like a switch, the apparently barren river came to life with fish rising in front of me. A few casts with the Emerger were ignored, but a last minute grab of the Mayfly box, when leaving home, was now to pay off as I rooted through it to find a white Mayfly.

Tying this monster on was easy compared to the smaller flies earlier. Rubbing it in with floatant, saw it sitting high and proud on the surface. Not for long. It had drifted only a few feet, before it was engulfed in a splashy take. The strike was absorbed by the line caught in the watercress and I missed my chance. Maybe a small fish. Watching for the next rise, I made a long cast upstream close to the far bank, this time seeing a deep bronze flank roll over the fly. Yes! I was in, the short rod bending double as the trout bucked and dived in the clear river. The hook held and I stripped back line as the trout ran downstream past me, boiling on the surface. “Stay down!” I pleaded, fearful that the hook would shake out, but no, the gods were on my side this time and with the landing net at full extension, the wild brownie was scooped into the net.

About 12 oz, this beautiful trout was already deep and round, the early feast of Mayfly a healthy boost to its diet. Holding the trout upstream in the landing net for several minutes, I waited until it was ready to swim off, before turning the net over, watching the dark back disappear beneath the cress. The sun was now touching the fields across the river and I was glad that I had put on a sweat shirt as the breeze had transformed into a downstream wind, dragging the fly across the surface seconds after it had dropped onto the water.

As the last of the sun sank beyond the field, the wind dropped enough to allow the fly to float down to the surface close to my side, being taken aggressively in an instant by an 8 oz fish that boiled on the surface, as I frantically tried to free the flyline from the cow parsley along my bank. Soon the leader was caught in the watercress and the trout gone. Untangling the line, the Mayfly was still in place, deciding to call it quits for the evening.

I had hoped for more fish, but it was good to get back out on the river with a fly rod, the adrenaline helping me to forget the pain in my ankle for an hour, or two.

 

Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 rimfire spring rabbit watch

May 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Once a regular on my list of permissions, the equestrian centre has been reduced to just the occasional visit these days, due to lack of rabbits on this once prolific 80 acre site. Bounded by a large housing estate on three sides, it is possible that poaching, or myxomatosis has decimated the numbers, but a call to the owners had a positive report of more rabbits seen around the grounds.

Arriving on a bright spring afternoon there was little evidence of a rabbit revival, the long driveway, once offering a shot, or two, still devoid of rabbits. Parking up in the yard, I was met by the lady owner, who told me that they had seen rabbits around the feed storage sheds recently, but walking out that way with the Magtech failed to show any sign of rabbits, even recent droppings and I carried on out toward the wood.

Bluebells were already covering the ground, being early this year. Birds were singing, making this a very pleasant country walk, but there were still no signs of rabbits, despite frequent stops to wait and watch for movement. A muntjac deer burst from cover, making me start, the young doe trotting on to the next clump of fresh green foliage, being the only thing of interest apart from squirrels.

The nature walk continued, passing through the wood I could see from the higher ground two boundaries with no sign of bunnies, where once there would have been small groups every hundred yards. Turning back I took the path parallel to the wood, there was still time to drive on to another permission, where I was bound to have more success. Picking up my pace to climb the rise, I stopped and ducked down. A big rabbit was feeding in the enclosure next to the path ahead about 70 yards away.

Keeping down, I slowly moved forward, getting down to crawl to the top of the rise. It was still there, sitting up facing back to the path. Resting the rifle on my bag, I got ready for the shot, just as it moved back to the path. The rabbit stopped at the fence post, it’s head clearly visible. This was my only chance. I squeezed the trigger and it sprang forward, lying motionless.

The rabbit was only yards from a fresh burrow, a delay on my part would have seen it lost. I was pleased with the shot, at 45 yards just behind the eye, a testament to the accuracy and hitting power of the 42 grain Winchester subsonic rounds.

After cleaning out the rabbit I moved on, this action had reduced my future chances here once more, but as they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I did see a pair of rabbits along a far hedge line as I walked back to the stables, but nothing else and had removed the magazine ready to return to the van, when a rabbit ran across the path toward the sheds. Stopping to refit the magazine and cock the action, I stepped round the fence into the alleyway to see the rabbit against a shed twenty yards away. It froze and I fired. Two others now appeared from nowhere down by a wood pile and I hit one of them, firing again to make sure. Short and sweet.

As the owner had said, they WERE around the feed sheds, a stake out may have saved a walk, but its not all about putting food on the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread punch roach and rudd shine at Braybrooke closer

May 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Having injured my ankle, I had been out of action for a couple of weeks, but was determined to get down to my local Jeane’s Pond at Braybrooke Park for a last chance at the roach and rudd, before its annual month long close season was imposed on May 1st. With the carpark only a 100 yards from the pond, I had reduced the tackle in my box to a minimum, needing to pull my trolley, while hobbling along using a walking stick in the other hand. This was a slow painful process and had never noticed before how uneven the path was, twisting my ankle at every step. A dog walker coming the other way gave me a smile “Don’t worry mate, you’ll get there”. Get there I eventually did, justifying my choice of peg 18, the nearest of the disabled, wheelchair friendly pegs.

The scene was welcoming, little breeze and bright sunshine, while the pond had a soft green tint, the only downside being branches and logs that had been dumped into the water at my feet, the disadvantage of a public park frequented by bored teenagers at night. I spent the next ten minutes removing these with my landing net, tipping them onto the bank, ready for tonight’s revellers.

Intending to fish my reliable bread punch method, I gathered everything I needed to within hands reach, selecting a light antenna rig to a size 18 barbless hook, choosing to begin with a 6 mm bread punch. Plumbing the swim, the ledge was 3 feet deep, sloping down to 4 feet, 5 yards out.

Ready to begin, I squeezed up a small ball of liquidised bread, dropping it in just over the shelf, intending to create an area of feed that would roll down the slope into the deeper water. With my pole at 3 metres, I cast in and pulled back to the shelf, the float skating away immediately as a small rudd took the bread on the drop.

Half a dozen of these made me think that I might have chosen the wrong method, but then the following rudd began to get bigger, as the feed attracted in better fish.

More better rudd took confidently, the bites sliding away, then a different bite, the antenna giving a few dips before slowly sinking out of sight. The No 6 elastic came out as a good roach flashed in the green water, following it with the pole as it ran from left to right, sliding the landing net out ready for it to give up on the surface.

At last, the first decent fish, the size 18 fine wire hook holding firmly in the top lip. At this stage I had not introduced any more feed for fear of encouraging the tiny roach and rudd that had plagued me earlier, but now I chanced another small ball to the top of the drop off, fishing to the left of the cloud.

Another nice roach sank the float and the landing net was out again, followed by the best rudd so far.

Good fish were now coming every cast, some from the top of the shelf, some half way down.

The midday sun was so bright, that I had to hold the fish in the shade of my body, the glare from the silver scales, whiting out the images. Fishing either side of the feed kept the bites coming steadily and the landing net in constant use.

These rudd would take the bread and run back out to the deeper water, but I was not tempted to fish further out, while I continued to catch these clonkers close in.

Another good roach followed a ball of feed, beginning a run of the hard fighting fish that were taking the bait close to the bottom.

Then it stopped. The water erupted as a pike chased a roach, that almost jumped into the landing net as it tried to escape, the pike grabbing the fish through the net, pulling it down. I dragged the net free and the water boiled. The fish were panicked and would not take, more forays causing good sized fish to scatter across the surface.

Time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, while I reflected on my efforts so far. I had been fishing for two hours and reckoned that I already had six, or seven pounds of fish in my net, but it was too early to pack up, the sun was out and the birds were singing in the trees, accompanied by the staccato hammering of a wood pecker. I would stick it out. Putting in another couple of balls of feed five metres out, took the pike further away, while I fished along the edges, picking up smaller roach and rudd, although rapid swinging in caused a few to drop off, when the pike came visiting.

There were still a few decent fish to be had, this rudd avoiding a mauling as I hussled it to to the net. By 3 pm the local school had begun disgorging its pupils, several deciding that throwing logs and branches into the pond was a good idea, and after landing yet another big roach I called it a day.

Pulling out the keep net, I knew that I had under estimated the weight before, the number and quality of the fish pushing the scales well beyond 9 lbs and considering all the small roach and rudd that I had thrown back, 10 lbs would have been in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career 707 .22 PCP Carbine rabbit stopper

April 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

Like myself, Neale my brother-inlaw is a keen gardener, who has been busy raising seedlings in his greenhouse ready to plant out. Last week we visited Neale and he took us down the garden to show us that something had eaten his recently planted lettuces. Protected against wood pigeons with netting and old CDs dangling from strings, he could not figure out what had cropped to the ground the fresh young plants. “Rabbits” I said, pointing to fresh, round shiny droppings on the grass next to the veggie patch.

Having lived in the same house for over 40 years, apart from rats, which were dealt with by my .177 Relum springer air rifle, Neale had never had rabbit trouble before, even with a large wood that his 100 yard garden backs onto and wondered where they had appeared from. Further along the road there had been a single bungalow in an acre of land, the smallholding having been sold to property developers, who had now just completed a dozen houses on the site. I guessed that the rabbits had been occupying the plot, until pushed out by the builders, going into the wood, or migrating through the other gardens over the winter to now home in on Neale’s tender lettuces.

That evening while shutting up the greenhouse, he saw them, two rabbits coming out from under a hedge, watching as they scouted round the sheds and a rough patch of uncultivated ground. Fascinated at first Neale watched them, until they made their way up toward the now empty lettuce bed. He had stepped out into their path and seen them dive back under the hedge. Later looking out from the kitchen, there they were again, bold as brass sitting munching on the back lawn. A chain link fence finishes at the hedge and next day Neale cut up some old steel fencing to fill the gap underneath the hedge. They were back on the lawn that evening. A rabbit can easily pass through a four inch square mesh fence and they had.

My suggestion that I bring an air rifle round the following evening was accepted and I arrived early to survey the scene looking for a vantage point. Neale had already surrounded the veggie patch with netting, having planted out more young lettuces.

Both of the shed doors faced in the wrong directions, while shooting from the kitchen to the lawn had the greenhouse in the background, which was bound to result in a broken pane of glass, if trying to hit a running rabbit. I had brought a camo net and strung it across between the greenhouse and the chain link fence, placing a comfy garden chair behind it. The net has a pair of windows at seat height, a relic of a previous hide and ideal for shooting from a chair. After a cup of tea and putting on a thick jumper under my camo jacket, I was ready to pull down my balaclava ski mask and fitted a camo cap over the top to hide my white face. This my wife and brother in-law thought was hilarious, taking a snap on his phone, before I made my way back down the garden.

From Neale’s description they were large rabbits and I had brought my Career 707 .22 FAC rated carbine to deal with them. The .22 Magtech rimfire would have been dangerous in the confines of this narrow garden, but with 28 ft/lbs firing a 19 grain Baracuda Hunter Extreme, the Career is the safe, but deadly option.

Sitting back in the chair looking through the net window, my concentration had waned after 30 minutes, jerking alert at the sight of a big rabbit, ears folded back, forcing through the square mesh under the hedge. Aiming through the net window, I was tempted to take a shot at this defenseless animal twenty yards away, but held the rifle to my eye waiting for its mate to follow seconds later, this time the muted report from the silencer was drowned out by the thud of the pellet finding the target. The first rabbit, now on the grass, sat up and bolted to the corner by the gate, trying to get down the gap between it and the hedge. I stood up, in seconds working the Winchester style trigger under lever action to cock the rifle and load another pellet, which hit in the upper body, flipping the rabbit over and leaving it motionless. It had been an execution, all over in seconds.

I laid them out on the lawn. My wife said “Poor rabbits.” Neale looked shocked, “It was so quick.” They had been watching from the kitchen, but had missed the final few seconds of the stakeout. He refused the offer of the rabbits, preferring prepacked, supermarket factory farmed chicken. The doe was in kit, so it was just as well that they were stopped. Neale has made a better job of the fence, using two inch square heavy mesh, while the veggies are in an enclosure resembling Fort Knox. I’m not sure that he will tell me of rabbit trouble in the future, but the Career will be ready if he does..

CZ HMR 452 Varmint long range rabbit sniping

April 15, 2019 at 3:55 pm

My chance to return to a farm, where rabbits were busy creating a new warren, came after a week of rain, although clear blue skies brought a chilling wind from the Baltic. It was already late afternoon and the shadows were extending, as I unpacked the CZ HMR Varmint from the van.

The previous visit had been a quick walk round with my Magtech .22 semi auto rimfire, where I had been lucky to bag a couple of buck rabbits, while others had been well out of range of the .22, but now that I had the HMR with me, I set out across the fields toward the warren.

White tails were bobbing long before I reached the fence line, settling down to wait with the rifle rested on a horizontal section of woodwork. I had been watching a pair of buzzards circling high above the trees and looked back across the field to see the outline of a rabbit sitting out close to the far fence, a good 150 yards away. On a still day this would have been a certain shot, but with a steady east wind blowing at an angle into my face, I had to allow for drift of the tiny .17 inch bullet. Aiming high at the nose, I expected the hit to carry right and down into the head, but the crack from the silencer saw the rabbit duck down. I had missed, passing over the top. The rabbit was still there as I quickly chambered another round, this time aiming dead on for the head. Crack, boof! A body shot lifted the rabbit and it lay still.

Beyond the far fence I could see more rabbits moving about, and after 15 minutes without any shows my side, crossed into the field to collect my rabbit, turning it over to see that the HMR body shot had destroyed the meat. I left it for the buzzards.

Over the fence, rabbits were everywhere, running in all directions, many young kitts along with a few adults, gone in seconds. Ahead was the old warren that I had harvested the year before, now showing signs of fresh burrowing among the new growth of stinging nettles. An hour of hide and seek resulted in two more young kitts, before I gave up chasing shadows, as they darted amongst the greenery.

Turning back to the farm I could see several rabbits close to the willows and followed a hollow in the field, keeping low, until I was within 120 yards of the group, pushing the rifle to the crest, before taking up position behind the telescopic sight for a solid bipod mounted shot. The wind had now dropped and spoilt for choice, I took on the nearest adult, dropping it immediately. Scattering in confusion, the rabbits cleared the area, but one stopped at the edge of the trees long enough for a second shot. Two in twenty seconds.

The HMR had proved its worth yet again, the heavy steel 16 inch barrel ensuring repeatable accuracy over long range, while the .17 inch, 17 grain V-Max bullet travelling at over 2,500 feet per second delivers over a 100 ft/lbs of energy at a 100 yards.

Looking back across to the warren, rabbits like prairie dogs, were sitting up at their burrows in the evening sun, unaware of my plans for the coming season.