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Bread punch roach dominate with bonus carp and perch on the River Cut

September 16, 2021 at 9:22 am

Overnight rain had increased the colour and flow of my local River Cut this week and I looked forward to a decent net of fish, as I searched out a suitable stick float swim, most having overhanging branches. I found my ideal spot with plenty of clearance for my 14 foot Browning, but a sunken branch was visible below the surface, stranded on a mud bank out in front of me. It was just in range of my landing net and bit by bit, I was able to start shifting it. Fifteen minutes of fishing time was spent getting it out, but to leave it would have guaranteed lost fish.

Better out than in.

Not having fished the Cut since the summer, I was keen to get a session in before the leaves start to drop. With no wind and a steady flow, conditions seemed ideal at 10 am.

The river here is only 30 inches deep and I set up with a 5 No 4 Drennan ali stemmed stick float to a size 16 barbless hook, the shot bulked half way with a single No 4 dropper 9 inches from the hook. This would flutter the 6 mm punch of bread, just off the bottom every time the float was held back on its way down the swim. Feed was a base mix of liquidised bread, with a sprinkling of ground carp pellets and a handful of ground hemp. I damped the mix down to allow a firm ball to be squeezed up and dropped a ball close to the edge of the far bank berm.

Following in with the float, there was a bob and a slide and I lifted into a roach, that fought well before sliding over into the landing net.

 Not bad for the first punch fish, although it went down hill from there, with a couple of small chub.

A few gudgeon and some rudd.

I put in another ball of feed and felt the solid resistance of a much better roach, that ran for the far bank.

Next cast I was in again, allowing the fish to fight in the deeper water along the far side, before bringing another good roach over the mudbank to the landing net.

Regular feeding kept the bigger roach interested as the bottom became coated with bread crumbs.

Many of these roach were hooked inside the mouth, the float would usually signal a bite with a slight dip, or a bob as it ran down the swim. A touch on the rim of the ABU501 was enough to slow the float slightly, after which the float would sink away to an unmissable bite.

My keep net was beginning to fill, as I got into a catching rhythm, a roach every few minutes sliding into the landing net.

A slow sink of the float met solid resistance and a 20 yard run downstream needed a rapid response, allowing line to be stripped from the reel under load, the obvious carp then turning round and powering upstream, passing by making a bee line for a fallen tree in the water. I put pressure on and it turned and ran back down the narrow waterway. For the first time I saw the carp, not too big, possibly 2 lb and I brought it up to the surface to net, aware of the shallow mud bank ahead of it. Leaning out with the landing net to guide the common in.

The Cut now has a head of common, mirror and crucian carp, this warrior showing signs of previous battles.

The roach below had a hole in its gill plate, but still fought like the clappers, chasing all over the river.

This perch was a surprise, taking the bread bait, it ran in a straight line and I thought that it was a small carp, until it turned on it’s side to expose it’s stripes.

Running out of feed and punch holes, I made this rudd my last fish of the day.

It had been a busy session, as indicated by the number of punch holes, each one representing at least one fish. With no pike in the river, unlike last week on the River Stour, it was good to fish unworried by “Mr Toothy.”

Over seventy fish, mostly roach in under four hours, were boosted to over nine pounds by the common carp.

 

 

Meadowbank River Stour roach fishing on the bread punch

September 8, 2021 at 10:23 pm

Temperatures soared into the 30’s this week, when I took my campervan to Meadowbank Holiday Park, Christchurch, where residents can enjoy free fishing on 300 yards of the famous Dorset Stour. Only booked in for two nights, I made the most of the stay by leaving my pitch late in the afternoon, to park in the shade just yards from the river, being fortunate to find a swim close to the van. Despite the heat, most swims were taken, the only one available having trees over hanging the river in front of me, but a 2 gram bolo float attached to my 12 foot Hardy float rod allowed an underhand swing out through a gap to the flow beyond the middle. Not ideal, but fishable, although a raft of weed on the inside of my bend proved difficult to negotiate, when landing fish.

Being 8 to 10 feet deep, with  streamer weed lying in channels along the bottom, my previous visits have responded to balls of a mix of liquidised bread, as a base with a 20% portions of ground carp pellets, ground hempseed and boiled hempseed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, this with enough water added for stiff balls to be squeezed up. Trial trots of the float, found a weed free channel about 15 yards out on the edge of the flow, closer in was minnow hell. I would have preferred to have trotted close to the far bank, but I did not have the headroom to cast that far.

Putting in a couple of pigeon egg sized balls out in front of me, I cast in with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on the size 14 barbless hook, starting with the bait a foot off the bottom, I hoped to bring the fish up to mid water with regular feed to avoid the weed. The big 2 gram float bobbed and lifted moments after landing, as a bleak attacked the bread. A strong upstream wind had put a bow in the line and I missed, but mending the line to the float brought a bleak next cast.

These were big bleak, but without any sign of a fight, they meekly swim in with the float. A few more of these and the float dipped, held and sank, raising my rod in response put a good bend in the rod as a decent roach was brought zig zagging up toward the surface, skimming the fish the last couple of yards through the raft of weed to the net.

More bleak, then bang I was in again, this fish staying down and pulling through the streamer weed before coming free, but the low afternoon sun kept it hidden until the net. A clonking dace lightly hooked in the bottom lip.

I lost another dace as it tumbled through the weed, which was annoying and resolved to put less pressure on the fish to bring them higher in the water above the streamer weed. I shallowed up another 6 inches and struck into another bleak lift bite that turned out to be the best roach yet.

Keeping up regular feed balls to the head of the swim, now lined up the roach, pushing out the bleak.

Concentration.

Positive bites took time to develope, dips leading to holds, or steady sinking of the float.

 

I now lost three good fish on the trot, the first dived down into the streamer weed and came off, the second may have been a chub, as it rushed back towards the far bank, while I back wound my reel to avoid a break and the hook pulled free. The third fish I treated with kid gloves, slowly bring it back, when it made a run parallel to the bank into a raft of weed, where I watched the big roach get entangled. Slacking off the line worked and it swam out and was soon on the surface coming toward the landing net, when it took a dive under the net into more weed, dumping the hook. A very good roach approaching a pound, gone.

I was back to catching bleak again, until a boil beneath a ball of feed, followed by a scattering of fish indicated one thing, a pike. Another ball of feed and I had visual evidence, when a 5 to 6 lb pike leapt clear of the water in my swim, somersaulting over to crash land upside down with a massive impact. The roach were gone, but I still caught bleak, which were ignored by the pike, that continued to boil on the surface chasing fish. I stirred my wife from her book and sent her back to get my spinning rod and pike lures. I stopped feeding and put on a couple of red worms to trot through. The bleak loved them.

 The pike was now chasing fish along the far bank. Setting up my old split cane spinning rod with a three inch sinking plug, I searched out the water beneath the trees without a touch and went back to the worm on the float taking a roach, which gave me the confidence to try feeding the line again.

I went back down on the depth and put in two more balls and started a new soft piece of bread. Another bleak or two and the float stayed down as a roach sucked in the bread. That pike had cost me dear, scaring off the roach, but the landing net was ready again and there was still time to cash in. Raising the rod high to land the roach was near disaster, when the rod tip made contact with the overhanging branches. The line came free and I breathed out. That would have been typical to have lost it with the line tangled in the branches.

The wind had dropped and conditions seemed perfect, when the float dipped and cruised under, striking into a hard running roach, lifting my finger from the ABU501 spool to give line. Having lost three good fish, I was on tenter hooks again, trying to play a decent roach as lightly as I could, seeing it finally just before I brought it over the raft of weed. Phew! At last it was in the landing net.

Scattering fish said that the pike was back, or maybe another, the fish sweeping in along my bank as it chased a roach, finishing with a swirl. “Poor fish” commented my wife. We packed up.

I seemed to be the only one fishing the float that evening, halibut pellets seeming to be the standard bait, fished on a bomb over a bed of pellets, or in a PVA bag. There are a few double figure barbel in the river and some big chub, plus big bream, along with of course plenty of pike. Once more the bread punch had seen me put some quality roach in the net, even from a difficult swim.

I’ve yet to have a consistent session on this bit of the River Stour, a pike usually sticking it’s pointed snout into the proceedings uninvited, despite that, there were some lovely roach here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basingstoke Canal bread punch roach at St Johns

September 3, 2021 at 1:22 pm

With a morning free this week, I paid a long overdue visit to the Basingstoke Canal at St Johns in Surrey, where in the past I have enjoyed sessions catching roach and skimmer bream on the bread punch. Parking the van in the free public car park, I was disappointed to see that there is now a time limit of four hours for parking, which means that, allowing time to walk to the canal, set up, then pack up later, a three hour session will be the maximum without the chance of a penalty.

This was going to be a sprint, literally and loaded up my trolley in quick time to get to the bankside. The path leads through a small wood and as I neared the canal I could hear the engine of a barge heading for the lock, which was unusual as due to shortage of water in the canal, the use of the locks is restricted, in fact this was the first barge that I have ever seen on this stretch of canal.

Before Covid, this was a well fished section, but it was obvious that very few swims, or overhead trees had been cleared. Finding a gap between the trees, I set about making room among the brambles for my tackle box, aware that I was now on a tight time schedule.

The barge had stirred up the bottom, putting a bit of colour in the water, which is good, but had also dragged up weed, which covered the surface. Moan, moan, moan. I was already making excuses for what could be my first blank of the season and I hadn’t even made a cast yet. Oh yes, I might as well  say that there was also a strong wind blowing from the East along the canal.

Setting up the pole with a 4 x 14 fine antenna float to a size 18 barbless hook for a 5 mm punch of bread, I dropped a small ball of plain liquidised bread just over the weed, followed by the float, set off the bottom. The float sank as it cocked and I swung in a small roach.

I continued to take small roach off that one ball of feed, until I saw a jack pike chase one of the roach in, panicking it to the surface. Adding a couple more lengths to the pole, I fed another ball past the middle and followed with the float, increasing the depth by six inches. I had planned to fish the middle later, hoping to find a few skimmer bream, but the pike forced my hand. It was now business as usual, with a roach a chuck and mixed up some damped down feed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring in the hope of some better sized fish. It seemed to work. The landing net came out for this one.

I had several better sized roach and put in another ball down the middle, watching a couple of  decent roach search through the cloud as it sank. Casting across the area to fall through the cloud, the float slid away and the No 5 elastic came out, when I lifted into a much better roach, that flashed in the sunlight on the strike.

That’s more like it. This roach was in perfect condition, making a bee line for the opposite bank, but was soon in the net.

A couple more roach followed before a slow sinking bite saw the elastic out again and a bend in the pole. I could see the float moving steadily to the right and thought big bream, but a thin green shape began to rise to the surface. It was that jack again, this time with a roach held across it’s jaws. It turned back through the swim and I held on trying for a break, but the lightweight elastic stretched out until the juvenile slowed to a stop, shaking it’s head. I janked at the pole trying to pull the roach free, or cut the line, but it stayed put, before pulling steadily over to the far side taking elastic. After a few minutes of this tug of war, the pike was on the surface and coming my way. The landing net was out ready. The poor roach was still visible and as I broke the pole down to the top two sections, the pike rolled and the float pinged back to wrap in a tangle round the pole tip.

A pike, the bane of my life had done it again, ruined my fishing. I figured out a long time ago that feeding liquidised bread, excites bait fish to the extent that any pike in the area homes in with it’s built in fish radar. At least this one had a decent roach to feed on now. The tangle was impossible to unravel and I fitted a replacement rig.

Another ball of the strawberry feed soon had more bites and roach filling the net, but now the barge was filling the lock with water to pass downstream and the canal sped up. Holding back the float produced a washing line of floating weed and I missed a few bites and bounced a couple of others off the hook.

The pike had scared off the decent roach and I’d had no sign of skimmers, even small ones, so with this last roach, I decided to pack up early and avoid a parking fine.

I had used up most of my bread holes anyway.

Considering the number of runners, dog walkers and cyclists, including a trio of tandem riders, that all had to have the pole cleared from their path, forty odd roach was not bad for a little over two hours fishing.

Bread punch rudd make up for missing tench at Shawfields

August 27, 2021 at 12:43 pm

I paid a rare visit to Farnborough and District’s Shawfields Lake complex at Aldershot this week, hoping to repeat a late June visit last year, when I landed four decent tench fishing the bread punch with the pole on the small lake. The last fish on that afternoon tipped the scales at 4 lb 8 oz.

Letting myself into the fishery through the security gate, I had to walk the length of the main lake and was aware that I seemed to be the only angler there, finding the small lake unoccupied too. Was this going to be another one of those days, when the word had got out that the fish were off the feed? With a choice of swims, I returned to the same one as last year, at least it held some tench last year, so why not today? Expecting tench and a possible carp, I had brought my pole fitted with 12-18lb rated elastic through the top two sections, with a 2g antenna float rig to cope with an obvious surface drift.

Plumbing the depth I found an even four feet depth and made up a my usual mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, which seems to work everywhere at the moment. First cast, the float sat for a few minutes before dipping and side slipping away. Lifting into the bite, the elastic had no effect on the small rudd bouncing on the end.

Fishing just off bottom with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread on the size 14 hook, the float was dropped in over the feed again, but this time the float kept going down and a better rudd was making it’s way to the surface.

An even better rudd this time, which was encouraging, a few like this would be appreciated, while I waited for a tench. In again and another rudd was drawn back to the net.

Getting into a catching rhythm, there was a swirl beneath the surface, as a pike chased one of my rudd, which I swung in to safety. I changed my fishing line, coming in closer to the lily bed and caught again, but after a few more rudd, the pike was back, this time grabbing a fish, before letting go. The swim went dead. The rudd had been scared off. I had some small red worms from my home compost heap, a tench favourite and switched baits, the result, an instant bite. This was a small perch that dived away pulling out elastic briefly, before coming to the surface. I fed my rudd line seven metres out with a few more balls of feed and concentrated on the perch close in.

I now began catching a perch a cast, often on the same worm, a bit of fun trying to hook them before they swallowed the worm, moving the bait getting instant results,  the disgorger otherwise soon retrieving the barbless hook.

While catching a succession of these small perch, the pike attacked my keepnet and I looked into the water to see a 2 – 3lb pike staring at the net, much like a cat studying a bird in a cage. I put my landing net in behind its tail in an attempt to scoop it in, but the pike was gone in a swirl!

A better sized rudd took the worm, fighting hard and I expected the pike to attack again as it struggled on the surface, but the landing net brought it to hand. This was a sign that the rudd had returned and switched back to bread punch and began filling my keepnet.

The pike was back again and had seized a rudd through the fine mesh net, shaking its head. I heaved the net up and the pike swirled away. I was still catching rudd, when Farnborough chairman Chris came round for a chat. He had finished work early and brought his rods down for a few hours of peace and quiet.

Chris was impressed that the rudd were putting on weight since being introduced a few years ago and with more family members joining the club, these rudd and perch are ideal for young and old anglers alike.

I had a surprise, when a hard fighting rudd turned out to be a perch, that had taken the punched bread.

The pike was still tugging at my keep net, but while it was there, it wasn’t chasing my rudd, so I was happy continuing to catch.

These were worth catching and next year will have put on even more weight.

My last rudd was panicked into the lilies, leaping out of the water as the pike hunted it down and I lifted it clear of the water to safety.

Another decent rudd, possibly the best of the afternoon, that would have been a mouthful for the juvenile pike. It was close to my deadline, wanting to beat the traffic home, my last cast bringing a surprise bread loving perch again.

There were no tench today, but I had been kept entertained, after all every bite was a potential tench.

Lifting out the net, there was evidence of a busy afternoon with well over 50 rudd and perch.

Arriving home I checked my keepnet and found several jagged tears from the pike.

 

 

Bread punch selects big roach from the River Blackwater weir pool

August 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Strong winds were forecast for my visit to the River Blackwater this week, but at least it was going to be dry. Since last year’s visit, the undergrowth was crowding the path, with brambles constantly wrapping round the axles of my trolley, three steps forward and one back, making slow progress toward my goal, the weir pool.

I had hoped to fish closer to the weir and trot down from there, but another half hour would have been needed to chop my way through and instead settled the tackle box on a high bank under the canopy of a tree, which meant using my 12 foot Hardy instead of the 14 foot Browning. Add to this the branches hanging in front of me requiring an under hand cast out to the the flow, I was feeling beaten before I even made a cast, but I have never failed to have a good net of fish from this pool and continued to set out my stall. Bait was to be my faithful bread punch, fished over a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of the strawberry flavouring, that has been attracting some big roach for me lately.

The weir pushes the flow hard over to the far bank, creating a back eddy that flows under your feet towards the weir again. This is a very shallow swim, having a maximum depth of  two feet at the deepest point, where a layer of silk weed covers the bottom.

I carry my rods in a Drennan ready to fish holdall and started off with the 4 No 4 ali stem stick float attached to the Hardy’s line. With the shot bulked close to the hook, the rig cast well, with an underhand flick and no tangles. On my side of the flow, the river slowed as it began to eddy and I concentrated a few firm balls of feed  into the apex in front of me. The float travelled a yard, dipped and dived. Missed it! No, there was a rattle on the rod tip from a tiny chub.

A dozen of these and I added another six inches to the depth to fish well over depth. The upstream wind had increased holding the float back with a bow in the line and was constantly mending the line to allow the float to travel down stream. I began to catch gudgeon.

I needed a heavier float once the wind increased, the 4 No 4 being blown upstream and opened up the rod bag to rob the Browning of the 6 No 4 Stick float. Feeding another couple of stiff balls of feed, while I did the switch, The swim was primed for my next cast, the extra weight counteracting the wind giving better presentation. The float dipped, then held and I struck into solid resistance, seeing a deep fish flash over before it dived into the faster water. At last, a big roach. It came off. Blow it! Another ball of feed preceded my next cast. The float dipped and held. Strike! Another good roach, this came off too as I readied the landing net.

The roach were now in the swim and on the next trot, paused until the float had disappeared before striking. Another rod bender was running back into the fast water and I released line from the spool, letting the rod do the work, and back winding, bringing it into the shallows, it’s red fins clearly visible.

Next trot I was in again, another absolute clonker. Giving line to counter the first run worked again.

The wind continued to increase, bowing the line and I was having to rapidly reel in the slack before each strike. Some fish I missed completely, but the bread punch is a bait that is taken down into the throat and the float stayed down long enough to make contact most of the time.

Regular balls of feed kept the roach lined up. Sometimes I saw a roach take the bait near the surface, when the wind reversed the movement of the float swinging the bait up. I wondered what the catch rate would have been on a less gusty day. Each time the wind dropped a fish or two were guaranteed.

This one was at least 10 oz, most 6 oz and upwards. The one below was the smallest roach of the session.

They just kept coming, walkers on the path opposite often stopping, when they saw my rod bent into another big red fin.

If the wind dragged the float offline, a big gudgeon was always ready to pounce, keeping me busy, but the roach were my obvious target, who could blame me, when they were like this.

With over two dozen quality roach in the net, I’d run out of 6mm holes to punch in the bread and I was ready to pack up, the “just one more” syndrome had kept me fishing beyond my four hour limit already.

The last roach

Other anglers often ask me why I always fish the bread punch; apart from the obvious low cost and convenience of bait availability, it is a method that consistently produces results, when other baits don’t.

 

Quality bread punch roach and rudd fill the net on the River Cut

August 11, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Extremes of weather have seen my local River Cut going up and down like a yoyo, heatwave sunshine, giving way to thundery showers, then back again in an hour. With no rain the day before, I was banking on stable river conditions, when I arrived to fish this week. Most swims had been underwater the day before and I headed for one set on a high bank. It was overgrown with stinging nettles, evidence that it had rarely been fished so far this season and I got busy clearing room for my tackle box. A tree had fallen during the recent gales, forcing the increased flow along my side, while the deeper water along the far bank was now a static eddy.

With plenty of headroom, I opted for my 14 foot Browning float rod, coupled with a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float to a size 14 barbless hook. There was less than two feet of water along my bank, but this was where the flow was and feeding a mixture of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, I hoped to draw fish up from below and across. As an added attractant, I sprinkled strawberry flavouring over the dry mix, before stirring and adding river water to make up fast sinking balls that would sink quickly, then break up in a trail along the bottom.

First trot after the feed, the float kited off to one side and I was playing a spirited young chub, that required the landing net. From the high bank, it was quite a stretch to reach the chub, despite the 10 foot handle, the angle needing a combined pull back with the rod and a scoop with the net. Another smaller chub, then the float bobbed and sank with a reasonable roach, zig zagging back to the net.

Then the first of many gudgeon.

15 minutes in and the rod bent over into a fish that took downstream. Lifting my finger from the ABU 501 spool, the fish ran taking line. I thought that it was a chub, but soon realised that the slow bouncing fight was from a good roach.

Regular small balls of feed dropped into the flow were bringing a bite a chuck, bulked shot at half depth with a single No 6 nine inches from the hook, allowing the 6 mm punch of bread to flutter up from the bottom. This swim was full of dace a couple of years ago, but they seem to have disappeared. They were not natural to the little river before it was polluted, but stocking by the Environment Agency saw them flourish for a while. Although only ten miles from the Thames at Bray, a series of weirs and mills has prevented their movement upstream, while serious flooding has probably carried them down stream.

They say variety is the spice of life and so it was today with a decent rudd adding to the mix.

Quality roach had taken up position in a narrow eddy at the curve of the downstream berm. To avoid the gudgeon and smaller roach, I began casting underhand into the area, being rewarded with a series of clonker roach, one after the other, taking my time to bring them back to the landing net.

Any one of the roach above would have brightened any angler’s day, the next fish a big rudd coming from the same eddy.

Next cast it was back to the roach again, fishing by numbers. Swing the float downstream, hold back, then allow the float to drift with the current. Bob, lift and sink, then a steady strike upstream with the finger on the line, ready to give line on the initial run, which usually saw the fish broach on the surface.

A golden rudd added variety, while smaller roach and gudgeon were beginning to get in on the act.

There were still plenty quality roach responding to the regular feed, the predictable bites being difficult to miss.

I had used up my first batch of feed and mixed up some more, resting the swim, while I fed myself with cheese and piccalilli sandwiches and tea from my flask. The sun had come up over the trees, but a light breeze was turning this into the perfect day’s fishing. No tangles, lost hooks, or fish. I could have packed up now after two hours and felt that I’d had a good day, BUT days like this do not come along that often and the roach were waiting.

Straight back in the groove, a roach tried to get in under my berm, after I gave it a bit of slack, when it charged off downstream.

Wow, look at this rudd. Round like a barrel, it zoomed off like a chub, while I played catch up.

I think that this new feed mix was dryer than the first, as more surface loving rudd took the bait, this feed not sinking as quickly. Adding more water had the desired result. The roach were back on the feed.

This roach had a damaged top lip.  A barbed hook, or an infection, I couldn’t tell. The next roach also had damage on it’s top lip, and a wound above the gill cover.

At this time I saw two very large fish swimming along the far side, a pair of possible double figure carp. The river was a dirty brown, but when they came out of the shade, I could see them clearly. I was tempted momentarily to cast over to them, but common sense prevailed. They were too big for me on this tackle. I stuck to the inside line and landed another good roach.

Its possible that the carp had spooked the roach, or maybe the carp had scared chub from the far side I don’t know, but I now began to catch small chublets trotting along the edge of the berm, finishing with the one below, which gave a very good account of itself.

The good roach seemed to have gone, although there were still plenty of smaller nettable roach, plus the inevitable gudgeon to be had, but four hours at this catch rate gets a bit wearing after a while.

I did not miss many bites and judging from the number of punch holes in the bread, I caught around 130 fish for 9 pounds in weight.

 

 

Weihrauch HW100T .22 versus rabbits in the veggie patch

August 7, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Over the last couple of years my brother in law has been troubled by rabbits feeding on his garden vegetables, while I have been happy to keep down their numbers with my air rifle. He has had no problems this year, as his veggie patch now resembles Fort Knox, with netting and wire mesh keeping them safe from the bunnies.

For years Neale has been providing his next door neighbour Dianne with surplus produce, but this year she has ambitiously planted up an area at the bottom of her garden with lettuces, runner beans, chard and courgettes (zucchini). Dianne was dismayed to find the chard and lettuces were being cropped to the ground. Thinking that it was wood pigeons, she spoke to Neale, who provided netting to put over them, but he was quick to point out the tell tale droppings scattered around. Rabbits. Like Neale’s, Dianne’s garden backs onto a wood, the source of his rabbit problem. Once the courgettes began to disappear, along with a complete plant, it was time to give me a call, although with flowers and shrubs obscuring the vegetables, Dianne had not witnessed any rabbits, just the evidence.

I arrived later on a dull evening. It had rained heavily earlier, rabbits don’t like the rain, their fur is not water proof and I doubted whether they would be out. I had brought my Weihrauch HW100T as it had a full charge of compressed air, the .22 air rifle deadly on rabbits out to 30 yards. Unlike Neale’s garden, there is no clear line of sight down it and setting up my tripod in the cover of a laurel, I sat down to wait for movement coming down the path from the wood. Nothing appeared.

A cup of tea and a piece of cake later, I was fearing more rain from a threatening  black cloud and considering my options, when I looked back to see a big rabbit by the raised beds. Where did that come from? It took seconds to place the rifle in the V, but the rabbit had moved from view. More movement. There were two of them, one a juvenile in full view, but just an angle on head shot for the adult. Ping! The silencer is so efficient, but the Thwack from the 16 grain pellet hitting the adult’s skull panicked the juvenile into action, while the deadly accurate Weihrauch slumped the large rabbit forward.

Another adult rabbit jumped down from the courgette bed. Was this the one that I had seen earlier? How many were there? I had expected them to come down the path from the wood, but they had a safer way in. I could see movement through the runner beans and waited before creeping forward for a clear shot around the side. They saw me first and were gone through the bushes. I picked up the rabbit and carried it up to Dianne at the house. “Good shot!” she exclaimed, “Got anymore?” I shook my head.

Where had they got in? We went back to the gate and the wire fence, finding a scrape hidden by ivy. This was the way in. Neale still had some two inch square mesh and we spent the rest of the evening plugging the gaps. That should stop them for the time being.

 

 

CZ 452 HMR Varmint and Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto share the rabbits

July 27, 2021 at 3:35 pm

A call from one of my landowners, that rabbits were taking over her paddock again, saw me make an early evening  visit this week, armed with my .22 Magtech 7002 semi auto and the CZ452 HMR Varmint rifles. She had said that her son had counted 13 out there that afternoon and decided that it was time for another cull.

I have history with this paddock. Several years ago the whole farm was overrun with rabbits and from this paddock alone I had shot 14 on my first visit, starting off close in with the Magtech, then taking over with the HMR to mop up the stragglers that made it to the far fence. Further visits had decimated the rabbit population, allowing the grass to grow and livestock to fatten up in the area. Then a thriving warren existed thirty to fifty yards out from the fence, running back to the righthand hedge row, but today that warren is just a few burrows.

A couple of trips back to the van and I was ready. Knowing that I had the garden fence to contend with, I brought my Fiery Deer Gen 3 tripod to give a rock steady gun mount, the fence not the ideal shooting platform in the past. There were no rabbits visible when I arrived, but I did not have to wait long, as a rabbit emerged from it’s burrow just forty yards away. Picking up the Magtech, I worked the bolt to load a Winchester 42 grain subsonic into the breech, settled the rifle into the tripod V, sighted and fired, knocking the rabbit down.

The thud as the bullet struck home, brought a reaction from further down the field and white tails flashed, with their owners rushing headlong to the safety of the nettles a hundred yards away opposite me. Picking up the HMR, a Hornady 17 grain ballistic tipped bullet was shifted into the chamber and the heavy rifle rested on the tripod. Scanning the far side a large doe was sitting up reviewing the situation. At x12 magnification I went for a head shot and the rabbit did a backflip. Two down. Swinging the rifle round to the right a few yards, a head was just visible in the grass and sighting behind the eye, I squeezed off another shot. Spot on! The rabbit clawed the air and sank from view into the grass. Three.

Ten yards to the left another rabbit was making tracks for the nettles and I followed it on the tripod waiting for the bunny to stop. What the!!! Several sheep ran into the line of fire. Where did they come from? Kirsty had said nothing about sheep in the field. They had been startled by the crack of the HMR, but were now grazing contentedly in front of me. I rang her. Full of apologies, she explained that they had some rare breed sheep penned at the far end a few hundred yards away, that were free to roam the paddock and did not expect them to be a problem. While the sheep were rounded up with the aid of a rattled bag of pellets, I stepped out to retrieve the closest rabbit, seeing that it was in perfect health.

The entertaining interlude had put the rabbits down for now and I switched to full magazines and topped up the used ones while I waited.

A pair of rabbits appeared together at the nettles and jumped out into the paddock, trotting round before stopping to feed. Sighting on the nearest, it fell to the HMR, but the other one was spooked and leapt back into cover. Oh well, I had hoped for more than four and decided to give the session another ten minutes, when on time another rabbit cautiously came out alongside the pig enclosure, the head on shot throwing it backwards. Five.

I waited another 15 minutes, but nothing came out. Taking my ammo bag and the lightweight Magtech, just in case, I walked out into the paddock to bag up my harvest. Half way across it was Sod’s Law that another rabbit came out and decided to stare me down. Too far for a shot to hand, I needed to shoot prone resting on the ammo bag. With nettles and thistles under foot, I side stepped into a clearer section of grass and lay down, expecting the rabbit to be gone, but no, it was still there sitting upright. At least 50 yards away, these are the best shots for a .22, as aiming at the head, the bullet will drop down into a vital part of the chest. Pop! The rabbit jumped and fell. Number 6. With a decent silencer, a .22 subsonic round is quiet compared to the supersonic .17 HMR, the crack being the sound of the bullet after it leaves the barrel.

Walking back to the gate, Kirsty was waiting. “How many did you get?” “Six” “Oh, I thought that you would have had more” “I would have if it hadn’t been for the sheep!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

 

 

River Carp on the bread punch, spice up a roach session

July 19, 2021 at 8:47 pm

Temperature forecasts of 30 Centigrade, meant for a brief morning visit to my local River Cut this week, my choice of swim was dictated by the amount of shade on offer, it already being over 25 when I arrived at 9am.

Club members had been catching carp since heavy flooding of a few weeks ago, escapees from lakes above, or below the stretch and I was keen to get in on the act. Choice of rod was my browning 14 footer, paired with an Abu 501 reel loaded with 5 lb mainline to a 3.2 lb BS hook link with a size 14 barbless. Bait was to be my reliable bread punch, with a heavy feed of liquidised bread, mixed with ground carp pellets and a sprinkling of Haiths Spicy Red additive. The float was a 6 No 4 Ali stick, with the shot bulked to within a foot of the hook and another No 4 half way down as a tell tale.

With carp in mind, I mixed the feed wet to sink and put two balls in a couple of yards above an overhanging bush, swinging the over depth float out to hold back in the slight flow. The response was immediate with the float sliding away and a small rudd flashing away in the murky water.

Not a bad rudd to start. These fish once covered the upper levels of the river, but had disappeared and I was at first pleased to see them, although after the tenth one grabbed my bait, I was rapidly changing my mind. Adding another 6 inches to the depth and moving the tell tale closer to the hook. I put in more feed balls, squeezing them up hard, watching them sink straight down. I had gone up from the 6 mm bread punch to a 7 mm. Something worked, as the next fish was a clonking roach, that dived quickly back into the roots of the bush, before being drawn upstream to the middle, then across to the landing net.

Ah, that’s more like it, the float lifted and I was playing another big roach.

This one also dived hard for the bush and I decided to feed even further out. The extra feed was to beyond the middle, where there was less flow, dead leaves were backing up on the float and were less problem here. The float would settle then lift as the bait was picked up. I usually waited for the float to move off before striking.

Rudd were still getting through, but they were generally better fish. This one with orange fins and a green hue to the scales.


 

The roach were back and I was in a rhythm, bait the hook, swing the float in, hold back. The float would lift and bob, then sink; striking with my finger on the spool just in case of a big one.

A small chub put the theory to the test, diving back to the roots, feeling like a much larger fish.

There was no doubting the next bite, when the line went solid from a big fish that swam steadily upstream, slowly shaking its head, unaware that it was hooked. I was giving line from the spool as it passed upstream, seeing the deep golden body and fat black tail of a carp cruising by, while my rod bent double. It kept going and I put more pressure on as it neared an overhanging bush, bringing the carp to the surface. I’d landed a five pounder the week before from a local pond and this was as long, but much deeper. I was just a passenger on this journey and jumped when the carp flapped its tail. It turned back gaining speed and I stripped the line through the rings to stay in contact, the rod slack, then bent double as it powered by taking line. Despite my efforts, the carp kept doing, the rod powered up and the 3.2 lb hook link snapped.

A cool drink of orange with a shortbread, and I was ready to start again. Tying on another size 14, I punched out a 7 mm pellet and swung it in. A bob, a lift and I was into a decent roach.

I began catching a gudgeon a chuck.

A couple more balls in and the roach were back.

A roach bite suddenly went heavy and I was playing a small carp that cruised up and down, searching out the snags, but once on the surface it was under my control and in the net.

This is what I came for. A little barrel of fun.

Back in and first cast yet another clonker roach, that did not give up easily.

There were plenty of smaller roach and many big gudgeon but you can’t photograph them all, but some required a comment. This one had an ulcer, but fought well.

This one looked like it had been attacked by a pike, but there are none in the Cut. Maybe a mink.

The damage was both sides with penetration marks.

It was 12:30, my three hours was up and I punched my last hole in the bread, swinging the float in. The float dithered and bobbed like a small roach, but the strike said another story as the rod bent into another carp. This was not as big as the first, but big enough to treat with a lot of respect. I managed to contain the carp within the area in front of me, stopping it from going under the bush and keeping it from the far side, holding the rod high and responding to every dash for freedom. It swam back out of the net once, but was soon back in.

A two and a half pound powerhouse. Next year these carp will be unstoppable without much heavier gear.

A busy morning that proved much better than expected with many decent roach and the pair of bonus carp.

 

 

Common and crucian carp dominate on the bread punch

July 14, 2021 at 6:24 pm

After a couple of mediocre fishing sessions lately, I paid a visit to a pond that is within walking distance of my home, for a confidence boosting few hours in the afternoon. Under an acre in size, the pond sits within the bounds of a sports field and is part of a chain of balance ponds that control the flash flooding of a brook, which runs through the urban area. It is full of a wide variety of coarse fish and I never know what will end up in my net, but that the bread punch has never failed me, despite others using more exotic baits.

Before setting up, I mixed up liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, adding enough water to form sloppy balls of feed. Being so shallow, I want the balls to keep their shape for throwing, but to break up on contact with the surface of the pond. I fed a metre square area 7 to 8 metres out, to be ready to fish. A simple waggler rig to a size 14 barbless hook, set to two feet deep, just above the muddy bottom, with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread was swung out to the middle of the fed area. The float disappeared in seconds, lifting into a powerful fish that ran off toward the lily bed to my right, taking elastic. Expecting a small rudd first cast, this was a shock, but the heavy 12-18 elastic compensated, the hook held and I netted a golden common/crucian carp hybrid.

The following fish were all good sized netable rudd, the bites being steady sailaways, the fish a range of shades of green and gold.

I had taken a chance on the strawberry flavouring, but it was certainly working and my next bite saw the elastic stretch out toward the middle, the fish, a small common staying deep throwing up a trail of black mud.

Bubbles were now appearing steadily across the fed area and a cast to the middle of them produced a characteristic crucian bite, small bobs and nibbles followed by a gradual sinking of the float.

Although only about 8 oz, I struggled to get this crucian in the net. It rolled and dived in every direction apart from the net, until it finally popped up and lay on its side.

If I thought that the little crucian was trouble, the next was an arm wrenching battle royal, when a 5 lb common carp went off with the tiny 6 mm pellet of bread. The elastic shot out as it headed straight for the big bed of lilies opposite and I struggled to keep the pole at an angle to the fish, afraid that the top two sections would be pulled off the pole. Once it realised that that direction was not working, it ran back along the line of least resistance toward the lilies to my right. Due to the lack of depth, the only form of escape was to run, trying to get in under the bushes and rushing around. Once it began to roll on the surface, I knew it was beat, and broke the pole down to the top three, but getting its head up long enough to net was wearing on my arms, aware that the size 14 barbless hook could come out at any time. Finally a long pull back of the pole brought it toward the landing net and it was mine, the hook in the tip of the lip snagging in the net.

Not my biggest carp ever, but probably the biggest on the pole and certainly from this little pond on the bread punch. The water in front of me was now grey with churned up mud and after a cup of tea and a piece of short bread, I put a couple more balls of feed in and cast out. A dithering bite eventually showed signs of going under and I lifted into a small colourful crucian.

There was more commotion, when a common carp made off at warp speed, but again the elastic did its job and patience saw it to the net.

 These colourful crucians, were now putting in an appearance, this being one of the better ones.

The float cruised away and I was having another workout, as a pound plus common carp charged off, following it around the pond with the pole in ever decreasing circles, pulling it away from the bushes on my side, when it neared the net.

Swinging in a stonking gudgeon got me worried that they would take over the swim, but this was the first of just a few.

I needn’t have worried as now some crucian carp and hybrids moved over the feed, having put regular small offerings into the same spot, bubbles now bursting on the surface.

Still getting the occasional Crucian hybrid, the more colourful versions had taken over and it was one a chuck, although being fussy biters, each “chuck” took about five minutes.

This was one of the better ones, good net fillers, but not as hard fighting as the standard versions.

It was getting close to going home time, all my feed had been fed and I was running out of spaces in my bread, the last fish being another decent rudd.

Bouncing my 13 lb scales, I returned the big common and reweighed the net, the total being 16 lb 4 oz, not bad for a busy four hour session.  Unfortunately the bright late afternoon sun washed out the colours of this image, but I was eager to get the catch back into the water as soon as possible and didn’t want to mess around trying for a better shot. To save more handling, they were slowly lowered into the pond still in the landing net, swimming off safely.