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Trout stream work party feeds optimism

January 13, 2019 at 7:23 pm

The January working party on the Hampshire syndicate trout stream, that I fish, has often been flooded off, but this year the river was running clear, as I joined several members walking up to the weir to begin cutting back willow and alder, in an effort to aid casting.  It was encouraging to see several trout redds, where spawning trout had cleared  shallow troughs in the gravel to deposit their fertilised eggs.

This stretch had not been trimmed for a couple of seasons and last year had proved almost impossible to fish, due to branches hanging low over the river, while trout rose unchallenged by anglers’ flies.

The chainsaw saw plenty of action removing a fallen tree, while a couple of pole saws trimmed back overhanging branches along a 200 yard stretch. A fire was started to dispose of the cuttings, a strong wind bringing it up to furnace temperatures in minutes, as a constant supply of cuttings were ferried along the banks to its central point.


Calling a halt after three hours for a tea break, plans were discussed for further work parties following on in the next few weeks, more trimming back down to the roadside on this stretch, while flow deflectors were earmarked for improvement and repair. Ranunculus weed, transplanted last year, was also seen to be growing well on the gravel runs, the long fronds acting as a haven for nymphs and young trout alike.

Two years ago the landowner diverted the river to build a new bridge, without consulting the anglers, reducing the flow to a trickle and many fish were lost in this and the stretch down stream. It appears that nature is already repairing much of the habitat damage and with more sunlight now able to reach the riverbed, fly life and weed growth will improve, much to the benefit of the anglers.

New Year stick float bread punch reward on the River Blackwater

January 3, 2019 at 8:25 pm

Before Christmas, I had found the River Blackwater flooded and coloured, requiring a switch to a still water close to home, but with no rain for over a week, I drove to the river before noon, finding it running fast, but clear. This was to be only my third visit to this Surrey stretch and followed the river downstream looking for a swim with clearance overhead for my 14 foot Browning float rod.

On the inside of a bend, I set my tackle box down on a sand bank, where the flow ran down the far side, before sweeping across to the middle for the next bend, an ideal stick float swim. Plumbing the depth, there was three feet of water close to the far bank and I set up a heavy 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float to cope with the rapid pace of the river.

Preparing to fish the bread punch, I had no idea what fish to expect in this swim, it looked chubby, but I expected roach to be the main contenders for my bait. I fed a couple of firm balls of liquidised bread upstream of my swim, watching them swirl in the current, sinking with a tail of fine particles, as they sped downstream. The temperature was not far off zero and I started with 5 mm bread pellet on a size 18 hook, fishing for bites, just to see what turned up. Without a bite on the first few trots, I put in another ball, following it down with the float. A lightning quick dip of the float and the absence of bait on the hook was encouraging and I followed another ball down to more unstrikeable dips. I put another No 4 shot under the float and raised it three inches, slowing the float, easing the line over my finger. The float tip was now just above the surface and held down for half a second. I struck to firm resistance, seeing a bar of silver arc across the stream, as a very good dace broke surface. The net came out, as I slowly led the fish upstream to it.

A hard fighting kipper dace, was followed by another next cast, each time the float was checked, it dipped and sank from view.

Dace followed dace.

Then a small roach.

Several smaller roach now intercepted the bait further up the swim and I stopped my regular pigeon sized balls, these fish keen to hang on the the bait, rarely sinking the float, but most strikes resulting in a roach on. I tried a 6 mm punch to get through to better fish, but this meant more bumped, or missed bites. Going back to the 5 mm pellet brought a firm bite and a good dace tumbling back to the net.

The bites were now coming 15 yards down the trot, and I let the float run at half speed, then held back hard, the float submerging on cue, as a nice sized roach dived off downstream, the initial fight more like a chub in this speedy little river.

The roach had moved onto the feed, out numbering the dace two to one, when I netted this clonker.

“That’s a nice one” I turned round to see another angler standing behind me. “What bait are you using?” I held up a square of punched bread. “Bread punch.” He stood and watched as I netted another roach, then a good dace in quick succession. He had only had a couple of small roach and a perch all morning, the fish only tipping the ends of his maggots. Not concentrating, I began missing bites, so rested my rod and poured myself a cup of tea, while we talked, dipping into the bag of sandwiches prepared by my wife that morning. Ooooh, turkey and honey glazed ham, spread with cranberry sauce, just what the doctor ordered! These conversations with locals can be useful, this guy telling me of free fishing on the river Wey in the heart of Farnham, including all the best parking spots. Another new water to add to my list.

As the angler continued back to his car, I dropped another couple of balls of bread feed along the far bank, following down with the float, which sank deep out of sight immediately, the rod bending over, following the unseen fish, as it dashed off downstream, while I backwound the reel to avoid a break. The fish stayed deep, slowly shaking its head, as I regained line. It felt like a small pike that had grabbed a roach, but a green flank with black bars indicated a chunky perch. The perch rolled as it neared the landing net, but the hook held its grip on the edge of the big white extended mouth, long enough to be lifted to safety.

I have caught perch on the punch before, but this is one of the biggest, the carnivore mistaking the bread for something living, when it dropped from the surface.

The dace fest continued, the fish having dropped further down the swim, the current taking the float beyond an overhanging branch, where stopping the float at the end of the trot and pulling upstream brought savage takes. My last fish of the afternoon was a roach taken at the bottom of the trot, that fought all the way back, being convinced that I would lose it, even at the net.

My next trot had reached the overhanging branch, when the float pulled under, bending the rod round and setting the hook as the fish rushed off downstream, while I gave line over my controlling finger. Raising the rod, the tip bent and bucked with a very good fish, closing the bail arm to reel, what I could see to be a chub of about 2 lb, its white mouth clear of the water. I decided to close the gap by tucking the landing net under my arm and reeling the line back to the chub. Big mistake. Looking down at the chub, I had not taken account of a tree overhanging the bank, managing to walk the rod into the tangle of branches overhead, leaving the chub stranded in the shallows, flapping about until the hook came free.

This was the end of my session. I retrieved the precious float rig, cutting the line to pull back through the branches and returned to my box. Where I was standing had been alongside the overhanging branch, the bottom clearly visible and only two feet deep at this point. Although there was still at least another half hour’s good light left of the afternoon, it would have taken that long to bring the fish back.

A pleasing sight on a near freezing afternoon at the very start of the year. I will be back to explore further.


Bread punch carp and crucians promise on winter pond

December 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Having suffered his third blank fishing session in a row on Monday, my friend Peter was keen to break his duck before the Christmas break. I suggested the pond ten minutes walk from my home, where I promised that it was impossible to not catch a fish, be it a crucian, or common carp, let alone a few dozen rudd.

We arrived in bright sunshine and set up, Peter with running line and waggler, while I got out my carp pole with a small 2 BB waggler, ready to fish the bread punch over damp, coarse bread crumb mixed with ground carp pellets. I squeezed up four balls and put them out in a square pattern 6 & 7 metres out, while getting ready to fish. Peter fed out a bed of pellets and fished over the top with maggot, then immediately began swinging in tiny rudd, after tiny rudd, happy to be catching fish at last, but I reminded him that he would soon get fed up with catching them. Which he did.

I too was having rudd trouble, but my 6 mm bread pellet seemed to be getting better sized rudd and going up to a 7 mm punch gave the larger fish a chance to take the bait.

The sunshine soon was masked by dark scudding clouds and the temperature dropped suddenly with the first shower of the morning, the fresh wind directly in my face making casting of the lightweight waggler difficult. The rudd did not mind and the float kept sinking, the elastic coming out with my first crucian.

Peter had tired of the tiny maggot caught rudd and switched to pellet on the hook. More rudd, although a couple of four inch crucians also managed to find the hook. My heavy elastic came out again, as a small common carp made a run for it, stirring up mud on the way to the landing net.

As I recast, Peter let out a call and I looked over to see his rod bending into a good fish, that ran round in front of him, then came off. This pond has been heavily poached for food fish this year and rod benders are in short supply, so I was as sorry as him to see it throw the hook. More rudd for me, then solid resistance as the elastic reached down into the pond, with a decent crucian pounding away, arcing round before popping up to the surface at my net.

Crucian carp like this were one a chuck here once, but today I was grateful for small mercies. Missing also were the tench that have been growing bigger every year, a rare lone gudgeon no compensation.

Peter was into another good fish, a pound plus common carp that fought hard against the rod, this time the size 14 hook staying put to the landing net.

At last Peter was happy, I had kept my promise of fish to break his blank period and this was the best of the day for both of us.

As if in answer to Peter’s carp, my elastic was out again with a larger crucian than the last, that doggedly stood its ground, rolling and diving all the way to the net.

A slow submerge of my yellow tipped waggler, was met by a firm lift of the pole and a run that took the elastic out toward Peter’s bank, as another common stormed off, then turned to my left against the pressure. Breaking down the pole to 4 metres I guided the rolling carp to my net.

I was amazed, when I saw how small this common carp was, its fight as strong as a fish twice the size.

Brief showers continued to sweep across the pond, Peter’s umbrella going up and down like a yoyo, while I sat through them without waterproofs, having believed the weather reports of a dry day. Each time I reached for my waxed jacket, the rain stopped.

I balled in the last of my groundbait to keep the bites coming, although rudd seemed to be the culprits pulling down the float, you never know what will turn up in this pond. A more solid strike brought a silvery fish to the surface, not another rudd, but an ornamental ghost carp.

This little carp looked like it was wearing dark rimmed glasses, a black V stretching back across the nose to encircle the eyes.

The rain began again, the sky an opaque grey to the horizon. This time I put on my jacket, while Peter called over to say that he was packing up. I agreed, there was no sign of a let up, our hands were already frozen, why add to the misery, when a hot cup of tea was waiting at my house a few hundred yards up the hill?

This cut down Billy Makin Canal Grey has served me well over the years.

Not the haul that I was hoping for from this once prolific pond, but a satisfying result on a cold wet morning.

Braybrooke roach save the day

December 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm

My friend Peter and I had been planning a return visit to Kingsley Pond in Hampshire for months, but the hot dry summer had reduced the water to unfishable levels, until recent rains had raised the water table again. Planning a day at the pond, we travelled in our own vehicles to meet up, but while on the way I had a call from Peter to say that he was now at Kingsley and the pond was frozen over from bank to bank. Hopes of bream and big roach would have to wait for a milder day.

I suggested we try the River Blackwater, where I had a good net of roach the previous week and diverted back into Surrey to park at the riverside. Heavy weekend rain had flooded the river, the clear shallows now muddy raging torrents. I contacted Peter again to give him the good news of the floods, suggesting that we drive back to Berkshire to check out Jeanes’ Pond at Braybrooke Park.

We arrived at the Braybrooke carpark at the same time, Peter’s M3 and dual carraigeway route in his BMW overtaking the cross country diversion taken by my van. Walking down to Jeanes’ Pond, it was a relief to see clear water. Our drive through three shires had cost us over two hours fishing time, to arrive at a venue two miles from my home.

We set up in adjacent swims, my usual choice being pole and bread punch, while Peter set up a running line and waggler rig to fish maggots over a bed of carp pellets. There were no visible signs of fish on the surface and I opted for a winter rig of a fine antenna float with 6 No 8 shot, shirt buttoned down to a size 18 hook to 1.7 lb line. The level here was about a foot down on normal and I plumbed the depth at a metre over the shelf at 3 metres, setting my float to fish a 100 mm off bottom. I guessed bites could be hard to come by and started off with just one small nugget of liquidised bread over the shelf, casting my float into the sinking cloud of feed.

The float sat for five minutes without a tremble, so I put another nugget a metre to the right and fished into the cloud. Still no sign of a bite, my next move was to cast back to the first cloud. The float sank slowly down and I lifted into the resistance of a small roach, watching it drop back into the water as I swung it in.

Into the same spot, the float sank immediately and I brought the small roach fighting to the surface, only for the resistance in the surface tension to prove enough to pull the hook from the lightly held fish. In again the float dithered, held down a fraction, then popped up. Not sure, I struck anyway and brought the small roach away from the swim and into my hand.

It was a start, Peter and another angler hadn’t seen a bite yet on their maggots, while mine were now coming every put in, although the size was nowhere near what we had been getting a few months ago.

I put in another small ball of bread on the side I was catching from and moved back across to previously baited area. The float sank again and a better sized roach was drawn round to the side.

The feed one, fish the other method, kept the fish coming relentlessly, while Peter was still biteless, the other angler coming round to watch the bread punch in action, having had only one tiny roach all morning. He returned to his peg and packed up.

These fish were really cold to the touch on a day when temperatures were in the low single figures; they had drifted across to the feed, but the liquidised bread has no content, the 4 mm pellet of soft bread an easy meal to suck in like thick soup. After two hours, Peter had had enough and began packing up, but I still had holes to punch in my bread, the bites, although no more than dotting down the float bristle, were still bringing a fish a cast.

The roach were now getting bigger, but by 2 pm I had filled my punch bread with holes and proved a point again, that in very cold conditions, the bread punch will always put fish in the net.

My hole count suggested 80 roach, the largest no more than 3 oz, but you can’t beat a float going under every cast, even if the fish are small, they all add up, this net weighing over 3 lb, more than a pound an hour.

Peter has now been studying my book on bread punch fishing, determined to play me at my own game.

Bread Punch Roach come in from the Cold.

December 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Having made plans to go fishing, when the forecast said 11 degrees for today, I woke up to find the grass stiff with frost and a forecast of 2 degrees maximum all day, with a wind chill taking it down below that. Apparently a Siberian blast, had blown away a relatively balmy wet front from the Atlantic.

The van was already loaded and my bread bait from the freezer had thawed overnight, so the thermals were removed from their moth proof bags, the woolly shirt taken from the hanger and my thick tri-knit pullover found lurking at the top of the wardrobe. With a thick hoody under the pullover and a fur lined, thermal hat, I headed off to the river Blackwater 20 minutes drive away, arriving at 11 am.

I had not fished this section of river before and walked through frost chilled grass, until I found the inside of a bend, where floods had deposited a mudbank wide enough for my tackle box, with a gap in the trees that would allow my 14 ft Browning float rod to just pass through.

I set up with a 6 No 4 ali stemmed, bodied stick float and opted for a size 18 barbless to 2.8 lb hook link. My usual choice of hook for this rig is a size 16, but on such a cold day bites might be at a premium, so went down a size. By 12 I was ready to fish, throwing out two well squeezed balls of liquidised bread into the channel running along the opposite bank. Guessing the depth at two feet, I swung out the float rig to the channel, letting it run through at half speed. The float had gone 10 yards, when it dipped and sank down to the tip. Strike! Yes, a nice fish pulling hard against the rod, then it was off. In again, the float trotted 15 yards and disappeared. Strike! This time the fish flashed and rolled, then came off again. I put in another ball of bread and tried again, putting the float up another 6 inches, then easing the float down the swim and stopping it at intervals. The float dived and I was in, this time a roach visible in the clear water. The landing net came out and I slid the roach across the shallows into it.

Lifting the roach from the net with the line, the hook popped out. It had been hooked in the skin of its lip. They were obviously just sucking at the 6 mm bread pellet, as it hovered in the flow, holding back hard giving the roach a chance to take the bait. Going down to a 5 mm punch, the float was cast again and stopped several yards down the channel. The float sank and the rod bent into a good fish, letting it run downstream with the flow, back winding the reel, then slowly winding it back to the edge of the shallows, skimming it across to the net.

This roach took the bait straight down, the smaller punch making the difference, the following cast netting another clonker.

Another ball of bread went in again, well upstream into the channel, trying to bring the fish up to me. It worked, the next roach coming as the float cocked.

A shoal had moved over the bread coating the bottom, regular feed balls, every few fish, keeping them coming, swinging the smaller roach to hand. A lone gudgeon broke the chain, boring deep as it fought upstream.

A freezing chill wind got up, blowing straight downstream, putting a bow in the line and I began missing, or dropping roach, landing about one in three hooked fish. I bulked the shot a foot from the hook and added another foot of line beneath the float, lifting and easing the float down the river with a tight line, constantly mending the line against the wind. Bites were now coming about ten yards downstream, the bob, bob, sink, dipping of the float becoming predictable. If it was bobbing, or half held under, I struck, following up with an easing of the line, bullying resulting in a lost roach.

A figure appeared upstream of the bush opposite and the fish retreated downstream. Well wrapped against the cold and wearing a Cossack style fur hat, the man was on his lunch break from the factory opposite, not realising that his presence on the bank had just scared my fish off. I lobbed over another ball of feed and got my tea and sandwiches out too, passing the time of day with my visitor, before resuming my efforts, bites now coming 15 yards down. The wind was now dragging the float over toward my bank, the float often sinking as I mended the line back to my float, hooking a roach.

Putting in more feed brought the roach back up within range and the tight line put more fish in the net, but I was still losing fish, probably due to the stiff tip action of the 14 foot Browning, my 12 foot Hardy lightweight rod would have held more fish, but would not have given that extra length to control the trot. Unlike many anglers, I do not own a vast array of rods and with most of my tackle at least 30 years old, fishing is all about compromise.

By 2 pm the wind had dropped, allowing better presentation of the bait and my catch rate improved, shallowing up to run through at half speed. Having topped up my bait container with the last of my liquidised bread, I was playing a roach, when a pair of husky type dogs bounded along the towpath toward me, sniffing around my bait. Once the fish was netted, I looked round to see that one of the dogs had its head in the container lapping up my feed, the owner offering a lame “Sorry.”

With no more feed going in, the trots got longer and the chance of fish throwing the size 18 hook increased, a big fish, chub, or roach, took twenty yards downstream, but came off before I could tame its fight. The weak December sun had now sunk low into the trees, bringing an extra chill to the air , the light falling away, making bite detection difficult as the float tip merged into the background.

The roach above was my last fish, by five past three I had run out of bread to punch, every space having been filled with holes.

It had been a busy three hours, the forgotten art of stick float fishing bringing me a 6 lb net of many quality roach and a wish to return before Christmas, weather permitting.

Passing several promising swims on my way back, I noted a couple with the flow under my own bank, ideal for the little Hardy rod. The grass still crunched with frost under my feet and I couldn’t wait to reach the van to turn the heater up to 11.



Environment Agency stock boost for polluted river

December 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Environment Agency officers, gave my local river Cut a clean bill of health this week, delivering another 1,500 juvenile coarse fish from their Calverton Fish Farm, to the small Thames tributary, that was badly hit by a severe fish kill in early 2017. Since then the river has benefitted from bank works to improve the flow and also an injection of over 3,000 fish.

A bright December morning was ideal to transfer the fish, 500 each of chub, roach and dace, from the fish transporter on the bank, to the clear shallow stream.

Some good sized roach were introduced.

The chub above are already worth catching.

Head Park Warden and secretary of the controlling Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club, Danny Williams, helped with the introduction of the 500 dace.

Having fished the Cut last week, I can confirm that the fish introduced last year have already grown to a good size. Previously there were no dace in these upper reaches and yet they are now a hard to hook, fast biting species occupying the shallow gravel runs.

The dace above was the best of a dozen dace taken on stick float and bread punch, along with small chub and roach, during a short two hour visit.

With more bank work to improve the flow promised by the EA in the coming months, club members can hopefully look forward to a return to catches of a few years ago.

Small river secrets

November 27, 2018 at 7:20 pm

My local river meanders either side of a narrow lane, often out of sight of the roadway, but with the leaves missing and undergrowth dying down, I was able to push my way through to a swim, that was new to me this afternoon. There was no path and I had to carry my tackle to the swim in stages over dead trees and and through a tangle of branches. Once at the river, I found a mudbank that was solid enough to support the tackle box, with enough head room to clear my twelve foot Hardy float rod.

I could see leaves on the bottom and set up my 3 No 4 stick float to fish two feet deep with a size 16 hook to carry a 6 mm punch of bread. The restricted width increased the pace and I watched a couple of balls of liquidised bread break up into a cloud, drifting down toward a tree that had fallen over the river.

My first cast was not encouraging, the float carrying fifteen yards down to the tree before it disappeared, as a small chub took the bread. The soft action of the Hardy absorbed the initial run and the fish had its mouth out of the water by the time it reached the net.

It was a cold day, with temperatures well in the single figures, but this chub was still cold to the touch. This little river is one of the best kept secrets in my locality, although not easy to fish, due to overhanging branches, it rarely fails to give an enjoyable few hours free fishing.

A couple of smaller chub followed, then another rod bender, as a better chub fought to find a snag beneath the tree, the rod applying just enough pressure to keep it clear, the net ready and waiting by the time it reached the mudbank.

After swinging in another chublet, the next cast saw the float ease toward the fallen tree again, seeing it lift, then sythe across toward my bank, responding with a strike that pulled the rod down, and a rapid backwind of the reel. Beyond the tree, the fish was making a beeline for a large branch sloping from the bank into the water, but pressure turned it away. Soon the open, white mouth of a 2 lb chub, surfaced close to me and I reached down for the landing net, but the chub ran back downstream, before turning again to run back along the opposite bank. Unseen by me was a single frond of bramble hanging down into the water, the chub getting behind it to entangle the float. The chub thrashed on the surface and I pulled to free the line, breaking it. The float disappeared, then popped up close to the opposite bank.

I now had to make up another float rig, changing to a reel with 5 lb line on it, the 2.8 lb breaking strain line OK on a snag free river, but here I had paid a price, the light touch of the thinner line, too vulnerable in these circumstances. While getting set up again, I fed a few more balls in to compensate for the lost chub, this time fitting a 4 No 4 ali stick to match the heavier reel line, the size 16 hook to a 2.8 hook link.
Following down a ball of bread, the float bobbed, then slowly sank. Lifting the rod, I assumed that this float was fishing deeper, dragging on the bottom, but no, the juddering fight of a roach was welcome and I netted the first of several. Small roach had moved over the feed, but the dithering bites were missable and I moved the float up another 6 inches to hold back, swinging the float down over the baited area. Holding back, I waited for the first tap of the float, let it run a foot, then stopped it again. Usually the float sank on the first release, swinging in a roach, or small chub each time, the bread crumbs now coating the bottom ten yards down.

The better chub had also moved up, the closer takes requiring the lifting of my finger on the trigger, letting line free on the initial run, then lifting the rod to play the fish.

A small ball of bread a cast kept the bites coming, mostly small chub, although the occasional better fish made it through to the end of the trot, fighting hard in the shallow river. The sun had gone down and it was now difficult to see the float under the tree, this last chub coming long after the float had disappeared from sight among the shadows, striking blind and making contact.

Over the feed, I struck into a decent roach that ran down stream, then turned into my bank searching out the bottom near the end of the mud. It found a branch on the bottom, transferring the hook. I pulled and it came free, only to fly up, getting entangled in a bramble. As a reaction, I flicked it back in time to see it wrap around the rod top.

This was the end for me, having failed to put on enough layers, I was shaking with cold, my fingers in no shape to tie knots and pinch on shot. I’d had a good afternoon, despite the mini disasters, at least a dozen rod bending chub and enough small fish to keep the float going under.



Bread Punch Carp Surprise

November 18, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Continued unseasonal mild weather had put the local carp lake on my target list, then days of rain flowed down the feeder stream and caused it to overflow the banks, being four feet up a week ago. While waiting for the level to drop, the Weatherman was predicting frosts and wintery showers after this weekend, so with Saturday afternoon free, I arrived to find that the level had dropped to just below the bank.

The sun was already beginning to drop below the houses, as I damped down some coarse bread crumb, ready to fish my modified pole float, waggler rig.

Squeezing out four balls of wet bread, I fed an area 20 yards out, where I had seen some carp movements, followed by the float with a 12 mm punch of bread wrapped round the hook. I did not have to wait long for a response, the float dipped a few times, then slowly sank away. The line at the rod tip moved forward and swept back the 12.5 ft Normark float rod ready for the explosive run of a carp. Missed it! I could not understand how?

I cast out again and missed another perfect bite. Maybe the bread was too big? The carp often take their time here, pushing the bait around without taking it in. I tried a double punched 6 mm pellet of bread. Same again. Next I tried a single 6 mm pellet, squeezed to a lozenge shape. The float dithered, then shot under. Another big strike and hooked a leaf. Not a leaf, a tiny carp!

So that was it. The long hot summer had obviously been good for spawning and this was the result. A couple more misses, then another perfect example.

These bites were just like the real thing and each time I braced myself for a strong run, only to have an anticlimax each time. I even had a couple of baby mirror carp.

Then, bang, I hit into a proper carp. The float had slowly sunk and the strike had seen the line V out then go solid, moments before a muddy swirl beneath the float. The carp kept going out toward the centre of the lake, then turned in an arc toward overhanging bushes on my right. I brought the rod round over my left shoulder and reeled back line, the carp turning to rush by ten yards out, stirring up a mud trail as it passed. It was now under the trees to my left and turned the rod to counter the escape attempt, a small branch surfacing between me and the carp. A couple more short runs on a tight line had the carp rolling in front of me. The net was out and I pulled back the rod to guide in a nice common.

Just like the mini version, but 6 lb heavier. Phew! That was a fight. As fat as a barrel, but packing a punch. Photo session over, it was back in the lake.

I cast back out. There was still a muddy stain in the water, but I had an instant bite. Strike! Resistance, but only another small carp.

Spot the difference.

I carried on, each time striking in anticipation of a big carp, but not so, although everyone was different.

By 4 pm the clear sky was heralding a frosty night, the temperature falling away and I packed up. At least twenty mini carp had translated into one decent common on my light tackle, a match rod to 6 lb line. Without the bait stealers, it could have been more.


Bread Punch Autumn Roach on the Stickfloat

November 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

A few days of heavy rain had increased the flow and added some welcome colour to my local river this week. With a mild, dry day forecast, I made my way to the weir, hoping for some decent sized roach on the bread punch, fished on the stickfloat. The river was up about a foot on its summer level, the increased pace creating waves, where it met the outfall.

Set up with a 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float to size 16 hook, I started off by putting in two egg sized balls of liquidised bread slightly upstream of my box, one down the middle, the other two feet from the bank, watching them sink and break up as they washed down stream. Guessing the depth at three feet, I ran through off the top of my 14 foot rod, seeing the float dive under half way down the swim, the rod bending into a 6 ounce chub, that ran back to the fast water, a rapid backwind of the reel cushioning the pull. This swim has a high bank and I swung the 3 metre landing net out out to collect the chub.

Another 6 mm bread pellet on the hook and I was ready again, this time a roach burying the hook.

I had come for the roach and this was a good start, my next trot being down the inside line, where the occasional pound-plus chub, can be found under the bush. The float dived long before reaching the bush and on contact I was convinced it was a chub, the rod bending down as the fish ran into the foam. Using an open face ABU 501 reel, I lifted my line controlling index finger to release line, when the fish continued downstream into the fast water, a flash of red fins proving that it was sized roach, eventually bringing the zigzagging fish back to the net.

Next cast was a repeat performance, the float diving beneath my feet on the inside and I was battling another beauty.

This one had black spot desease, caused by a flat worm lavae, that latch onto the skin of the fish, the fish covering the area with black pigment. The roach in this pool are often covered in the spots, which as far as I can see, do not affect the health the fish, this one being full of fight and rounded in the body.

I fed a couple more balls to keep them coming, the roach taking on the run through in the pacy flow.

Usually an eddy is formed, where the river meets the outfall, this being the hot spot, but today the force of the river was pushing the eddy back upstream into the tumbler and I tried a cast to the edge of the foam, watching the float travel upstream and disappear. Giving line, I paused, then struck, the rod bending round as a fish fought upstream into the weir. Keeping the rod low to avoid the bush, I held the run, reeling steadily back, the fish dropping into the flow, then diving for the base of the roots. I kept winding, seeing a big roach of about a pound pulling against the rod. It dived again and came off, the size 16 hook pulling free. Ouch! That hurt, cursing myself for being impatient.

I dropped in another ball and tried again in the same spot, the float carrying upstream, dipping, then vanishing with another rod bender, this time easing the pressure and backwinding, watching a good roach fighting hard under the bank, taking my time to get the net under it.

Not a pound roach, but a very nice fish all the same, the upstream eddy holding some nice fish. I hooked, then lost another stormer, that ran over to the the far side of the weir stream, before connecting me to a dead branch, shedding the hook. My next roach made it back to the net without too much fuss.

I decided to rest the weir stream to concentrate on the river, going over depth on the float by a foot, to offer a stationary bait close to the confluence. The float had just held back, when it bobbed a couple of times and slid away, lifting into a solid resistance, that slowly woke up into another hard fighting roach.

This roach was about 12 oz, taking me all over the river in an effort to escape. Once again the net was out for a good fish and I leaned back to counterbalance the leverage. Looking inside its mouth as I removed the hook, I could see a grey line of silt, a sure sign that the roach were Hovering up the fine bread crumb, that was coating the bottom.

Once again, the laying on technique worked immediately, the float giving a couple of bobs, before holding under with a good roach, that made straight for the fast water, as I backwound. With this one netted, it was time for a cup of tea and a sandwich, I know I could have had a couple more fish in the net in that time, but the fish were not going anywhere, while I was feeling knackered.

I had fed another ball of bread before my tea, my first cast back in seeing a sail away take and the rod bending over again with yet another quality roach.

I tried laying on at my feet, getting a bobbing bite, that I thought was one of the three inch chub that I had been troubled with along the edge, but no, the line went solid with the roach above.

As the morning slipped into the afternoon, the bites slowed and I tried shallowing up again. I had gone up to a 7 mm punch also and now went down to a 5 mm pellet. Success, the change brought more confident bites and the catching spree continued.

A small ball of feed every other fish had, the roach lined up on the edge of the fast water, easing the float into the foam, resulting in a disappearing float each time.

I had only allowed myself three and a half hours fishing today, due to a family commitment, having to stop when the roach were still going strong, but this was not a match and I made the decision to stop at this last roach. Yet another clonker.

Looking at my punched bread, I could see that I had had a good session, varying the punch size and depth resulting a memorable net of roach.

A quick weigh-in pushed the scales close to 9 lbs, a satisfying end to the session. It was rewarding to see that this part of the river has recovered from a devastating series of pollution events 18 months previously.

Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto Autumn rabbits

November 12, 2018 at 6:49 pm

It is a while since my last visit to the equestrian centre, due to a severe lack of rabbits, good for a walk in the country air, but not good for the pot, this wooded path once yielding several rabbits at a pass. I was back again on a bright windy Autumn afternoon, following a call from the owners, to say that they had begun to see more rabbits in this area.

The Magtech .22 is the ideal rifle for this style of shooting, where a steady, stop and start movement will often flush out a rabbit, or two, its light weight allowing the rifle to be brought rapidly up to the eye.

I heard the first rabbit before I saw it, as it trotted away through the undergrowth to my left, stepping over to the right to get a view of it. It had seen me and stopped as it considered crossing the open path to the ditch on the other side. Illuminated by the low sunshine, it offered a perfect shot, the 42 grain Winchester Subsonic flipping it over at 30 yards.

As I paunched this rabbit, I saw another cross from the field into the ditch about 50 yards further up, but could not get a bead on it. They seemed to have repopulated the banks of the ditch this dry summer, it often has water in it for most of the year, the soft sandy soil ideal for burrowing, but now it was full of dead grass, ideal cover.

I walked from tree to tree, scanning the ditch through the scope, seeing a large rabbit sitting at the top of the ditch looking out to the field beyond. At 40 yards, resting on the tree trunk, I aimed between the shoulders and saw it jump before toppling down the bank, disturbing an unseen rabbit in the grass below, which ran a few yards and stopped still. Sighting on the new target, the Magtech barked through the silencer, dropping the second rabbit. Two in under a minute.

I walked to the end of the path, but saw no more and turned at the top, to walk along the ditch from the field side. A shape in the field moved, it was a rabbit about 80 yards away, too far for a safe shot with the .22, but I crouched low and kept it in sight. The light was already going fast, the sun having sunk below the trees and I hoped to get closer before it saw me. It moved out of the field onto the path, then to the top of the ditch, sitting bolt upright. I’d closed down another twenty yards and it was now, or never, getting down prone to shoot off my gun bag, rotating the scope to its 12 x magnification. In this light, the rabbit was almost invisible and I aimed at the top of the chest, then squeezed the trigger, the rifle bouncing with the recoil, as the rabbit jumped into the ditch. Missed it! I walked down to check, using a bush as a guide. It was there, still kicking. Although it was probably only a nerve reflex, I stepped down and fired again in the back of its head. It was still.

These rabbits were in a confined area of the ditch and I saw no more burrows along its length. Having switched to using the new 42 grain Winchester subsonic .22 bullets, they have proved both accurate and deadly in the Magtech 7002. This is the time when rabbits are out feeding, before the cold wet winter gets a grip.