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Bread punch roach inspire speedy recovery at Jeanes Pond

June 29, 2022 at 9:35 pm

In my fifth week of recovery, from life changing complete knee replacement surgery, I was encouraged to  get more ambitious with my physio therapy, with some real life exercises. What better than a couple of hours gentle fishing for roach on my local pond? First, I needed agreement from my wife, after all, she would be loading the car with my gear, driving to the pond, then loading the fishing trolley and pulling it to my chosen swim, while I looked on with loving words of encouragement! Now partial weight bearing, I was able to walk with the aid of sticks, from the carpark, to the disabled swim 200 yards away on the flat surface. We made it!

Although tench and carp have been coming out of the pond this month, my ambition today was just to get some fish in the net and watch the float going under, while getting back in the groove, co-ordinating my movements. The pond was a thick green colour, with no surface movement from topping fish, while a powerful wind was blowing at an angle from right to left creating a surface drift on my side, left to right.

Plumbing the depth revealed a shallow shelf, dropping a foot more, four metres out and I set my 16 x 4 antenna float to fish just off the bottom, with a 6 mm punch on a size 16 barbless hook. Keeping things simple, I fed two small balls of white liquidised bread a metre apart at 4 metres and cast in. Nothing happened, the float just sat there. Several cast later the bread was still on the hook, untouched. This was soft fresh bread. I did not want to feed anymore. This was rubbish. Then the antenna, dipped and sank. A lift and a small roach came to hand.

At last, proof that something was feeding! Another cast, the float settled and sank slowly away.

A better roach again. It was like a door had opened and roach had swum through. The float was under again and the best roach yet was in the landing net.

My wife was on my left, busy filling in a crossword. It was easier for her to net the fish, as I guided them in. I would call out “Net”, she would look up, push the net forward and another roach was in the keepnet.

These were all reasonable roach and the net was filling, but a swirl behind the roach below, ended the catching spree. A pike was in the swim. Small fish scattered and the bites stopped.

I fed further out and put on two more lengths of pole. After a wait, the float was dipping again, when a small rudd took the bread.

This was the only rudd, but the roach were back again. The bites were unmissable. A few gentle dips of the antenna, before it steadily sank from view.

I had only been fishing for an hour, with over twenty roach in the net, not big, but respectable. The pressure on my leg was beginning to tell, while my seat cushion was feeling harder than I remembered it. I would give it another hour. I took a break, handing the pole to my wife, instructing her through a bite. She hooked into another roach and I did the honours with the landing net.

More nice roach

This was my last fish of the session, another quality roach.

This pond was full of big roach and rudd five years ago, where did they go? Maybe they are still there, but uncatchable, who knows? The bread punch had filled my net again, while giving me some much needed R&R and physio combined.

We were packed up by 4:30 and ready for a cup of tea at home. I’ll give fishing a try in a couple of weeks, but I couldn’t wait to get my feet up and take some painkillers after this short session.






Bread punch roach and dace River Blackwater bonanza

June 18, 2022 at 9:00 pm

At this time of year I put a visit to the River Blackwater into my diary, however, now in my fourth week of recovery from complicated knee replacement surgery, I am still only partial weight bearing on crutches and unable to do much more than a few laps of my garden, while a trip to the river bank is for now out of bounds.

The Blackwater runs south to north and being within 10 miles of my home at any point, I would fish it more, but generally parking is a problem, my van being too tall to get under the 2 metre barriers restricting access to most public carparks along the river. I had recently been told of a free stretch with no barriers, that ran behind an industrial estate and decided to check it out. With tackle in the van and bread from the freezer, it was worth a look, if not I could fall back on the a club stretch of Blackwater a few miles downstream.

Driving into the industrial estate, I could see immediately that parking would be a problem, designated company parking, causing the overflow of cars and vans to park up on kerbs and block entrances. I cruised the parked cars to the end, finding a space among those of a car company. Slotting in the van, I realised that I could not occupy the space for long, but while I was there, I could at least take a look at the river, which lay just through a screen of trees. The banks were overgrown, but the river was clear with little weed and I could see big chub swimming up and down, but with overhanging trees, fishing would be difficult.

Ready to drive off, I walked back to the van, only to be met by the site manager, who informed me that I was parked in a designated parking area. I apologised, saying that I just wanted to look at the river, regarding the fishing. At this his mood changed, telling me how good it was for fishing and being an angler himself, he would show me his favourite swims.

We walked up to a weir, where we could see a shoal of about a dozen bream of about 2 lb each, just sitting in the flow of the back eddy. Again it was overhung with trees, various floats tangled among the branches, evidence of attempted float fishing, it would be feeder fishing, or nothing here. We walked back to the carpark and he said “Why not have a dabble? If anybody complains about your van, say that Tony said that it was OK to park”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted his offer, loaded up my trolley and headed back to the weir.

Just upstream of the trees, close to the outfall, was a short strip of overgrown bank, that would allow me to cast a float, spending the next twenty minutes hacking away at the stinging nettles and dead giant hog weed, with a bank stick. There was just enough room for the tackle box, so set up my 14 foot Browning with a 6BB bodied stick float and was ready to fish.

I threw out a couple of balls of liquidised bread to my side of the flow, ready to use a 6mm bread punch on a size 14 barbless hook.

First cast in the float sailed away and a hard fighting roach swung to hand.

The swim was no more than two feet deep, and I bulked the shot round the base of the float, with two No 4 shot six inches apart up from the hook. This rig worked well with no tangling, the heavy float allowing me to hold back despite the ever increasing wind.

Every put in was followed by a take, the roach often hooking themselves each time I held back hard, although this sometimes meant a bounced fish. I was catching steadily, putting in another ball and watching the shoal of roach rip into it.

Who said that perch don’t take bread, this being one of two that I caught. Roach continued to line up for the bread, having found a sweet spot on the crease between the outfall and the eddy, an under hand cast laying the float behind the bait each time, the fish grabbing the bread as it fluttered down to the bottom.

All this changed in minutes, as the sound of the water rushing over the weir drowned out the roar of the wind gusting through the trees. Upstream extra water was being released into the river, forcing the back eddy to reverse its motion and strong enough to drag my keep net round. Where I had been holding the float back against the steady flow, it was now coming back toward me. The roach were still there taking the bread, but I now began to drop lightly hooked fish. Casting out into the strong flow, the bites had changed, lightning dips and bangs of the float indicating dace, knocking off the bait in seconds. Stopping the float put me in direct contact with the fast biting dace, rattling the rod top and briefly flashing over before throwing the hook.

Got one! More by luck than judgement, setting the hook, then releasing the line allowed the dace to run, before lifting into it again. This seemed a better tactic, but their tumbling fight in the more powerful stream, saw more dace throw the hook, than reached the net. Roach were still among the dace, the more positive bites, meaning fewer lost fish.

As quickly as the rush of water had begun, it slowed again and the catching spree continued along the crease, another ball of bread concentrating the roach in a tight area. I was aware of Tony standing to one side watching me swing in fish after fish. When I asked how long he had stood there, he said “Six fish” then looking at his watch “Four minutes”. I had hoped to find one or two of the bream among the roach, but had probably struck too soon on the slower biting slabs.

Tony had never seen the bread punch in action and could not believe that it was so effective on “his” river. I said that I would be packing up at 5 pm, having fished for five hours by then and he said that he would come back for the weigh in.

The larger roach had now pushed their way to the front and going up to a 7mm punch seemed to increase the number of netters.

What a clonker! The big roach just kept coming, despite the wind that was now blowing leaves and twigs into the river and making an underhand cast impossible, a powerful overhead cast the only way to get the float out to the crease.

Like a tap being turned on, the weir began to roar again, transforming the the eddy into a whirlpool, the dace sweeping over to my side, some good ones among them.

Control of the float became difficult with the wind billowing the line back toward me, while the float was swept away in the flow. It was time to put the rod down, get out the cheese and pickle sandwiches, followed by a cup of tea. There was an area close to my bank, that looked static and I dropped the float in, but this was full of tiny chublets and gudgeon, taking several of each, before giving up to brave the elements again.

The quality roach were still there and the landing net was coming out for every other fish.

The weir shut down again and I put in another ball of liquidised bread, just to keep the roach in place, each cast bringing another.

At 5 pm the roach were still feeding, but I could hear the traffic building up on the main road behind me and I had promised to be home by six, so the rod was brought in and I took stock of the session.

The bait tray told the story of a busy afternoon, having fed a third of a loaf of liquidised bread.

As promised, Tony arrived to help me weigh in the net, I guessed it at 12 lb, while he suggested 15 lb. Lifting up the scales was an effort and the 14 lb scales bounced, then settled back to 13 lb 8 oz. I am sure that if I had set up my much softer Hardy 12 footer, I would have landed more fish, but would it have coped with the stormy winds as well? Ah well, who cares? I had had another great session on the bread punch, shame about the car parking.

Rudd and carp bread punch workout after the showers at Allsmoor.

May 21, 2022 at 11:22 am

With knee replacement surgery booked for early next week, I was keen to get some fish in the net, before my forced retirement from fishing, while I recuperate. This spring has seen most still waters in the area not fishing, due to sudden warm weather throwing the spawning switch on fish stocks and I was taking a chance with my local pond. Heavy morning rain had helped me clear the decks in preparation for my incapacity, but a burst of bright sunshine got me thinking of just one more fishing session and my wife kindly drove me the short distance to Allsmoor Pond.

As I walked along the pond, I could see carp paired up, breaking the surface among the reeds, preoccupied with spawning and wondered what would be feeding today. Setting up my pole, fish were also rolling among the roots of the bushes either side of me, while fresh growth from the bushes and the tree above, had turned this swim into a parrot cage, leaving little room for the keepnet and landing net.

Getting comfortable, with everything to hand from the tackle box, I damped down liquidised bread, ground pellets, ground hemp and strawberry essence, squeezing up four balls to put in six metres out. Predictably, the float antenna lifted and sank within seconds of casting into the baited area, as a decent rudd took the 6 mm punch of bread.

This was a good start, a quality rudd from the off. Back in, the float lifted, then sank away and the elastic came out as a carp made a run for the lily pads opposite. The elastic was doing its job and the carp turned away in an arc to swim towards my bushes. I put on another length of pole to pull it away from my bank, back to the middle, where it broached on the surface. It was a ghost carp. The elastic was pulling back inside the pole and I readied the landing net, breaking the pole down to the top three sections to slide it into the net.

I knew this fish. I have watched it grow. This is the third time that I have landed this bespectacled carp, it is rapidly putting on weight. Next time it could be trouble.

Suddenly the black clouds had given way to sunshine and I was now overdressed, having expected more rain as forecast, the May sun was now at full blast in the blue sky. There was no time to strip off. I would just have to sweat, as the rudd were coming thick and fast. Pulling the pole back and lifting it high behind me through the trees to avoid the bank.

A small common managed to get in amongst the rudd, pulling out elastic before being swung to hand.

Look at these beautiful rudd. I just hope that they keep growing. A pound fish is on the cards.

A fishing friend, Geoff, was walking his dog round the pond and stopped for a chat and to watch the rudd being hooked in rapid succession, when the elastic was out again with a good fish. From his standing position, he could see this fish. “It’s a big crucian carp!” he exclaimed, but it was not fighting like a crucian as it made a B-line for the lilies. The pole was bending and the elastic stretching, all a novelty for Geoff, who usually fishes for carp with bolt rigs and electronic buzzers on the line. The size 14 hook kept its grip and the net was waiting after a late lunge for the roots, the deep sided common carp, not has big as it’s fight suggested.

The carp had finally moved in over the feed, the next fish being this baby common. The clouds were also back again and the wind got up, blowing a shower across the pond, but I was in catching mode with a shoal of these miniature scrappers taking the bread on the drop, to be returned immediately.

The next carp was very big, but just sat there bemused, swimming slowly around with it’s black back out of the water. I followed it with the pole, waiting for it to wake up, which it did, bursting into life, stirring up the black mud, the elastic cutting a V through the surface over to the opposite bank, before the hook came out, catapulting the elastic and float back at lightning speed, tangling the line round the float. The tangle was a mess. I cut off the hook link and pulled the tangle tight round the float. A new hook link got me fishing again with no depth adjustment.

The rudd did not mind the shallow bait, this another beauty.

Another rudd complete with tangled float.

More feed had brought the small commons back, but the rain was falling harder and it was time for one last cast and this mirror carp was the result.

The scale pattern on this mirror is impressive, although it looks like the resident heron has left a stab mark on it’s flank.

Three hours and half a slice of bread had filled my net again, and can only hope for a speedy recovery from my knee surgery for me to start fishing again.

Over 12 lb of rudd and carp on the bread punch. Where were the crucian carp today?

Bread punch shines among the mirror carp at Kings Pond

May 8, 2022 at 11:12 am

After battling strong winds on my first couple of visits to Farnham’s Kings Pond this year, it was third time lucky, when I arrived to find flat calm conditions and sunshine.

On my previous sessions, I had been forced to use a heavy float nailed to the bottom, with the float tip appearing and disappearing among the troughs between the waves. That first session was wet, but I had seen a four and a half pound tench, a two and a half pound mirror carp and a skimmer bream with several roach, during a frustrating time missing bites and losing fish, due to bad bite indication from fussy fish. The next outing was even more misery on a very cold April day, just seven roach seeing me pack up early to retreat back to the van.

With a bed of lilies along the shallow opposite bank, I started off by setting up my 14 foot float rod to fish an antenna waggler over to the far side. Adding water to a tray of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and strawberry additive, squeezing up a couple of egg sized balls and lobbing them over, also dropping another couple four metres out on my side, where the pond drops off to four feet deep.

Casting over with the waggler, the float settled for a minute, then slowly tracked off to the left. With only a single No 8 shot down the line, a foot from the hook, I guessed that it was probably a small roach and struck, the bend in my rod saying different. The fish stayed deep, until close to my bank and saw that it was a small mirror carp.

A little powerhouse.

Pinching another 6 mm punch of bread onto the size 14 barbless, the waggler was soon back over to the lilies, sinking out of sight as it settled. Bang! An even better fish was pulling hard back to the lilies, a definite carp run requiring a backwind of my ABU501. This was not a big fish and it turned and broached on the surface, eventually giving up and skimming into the landing net.

Another mirror carp.

I could get used to this I thought, the groundbait had drawn them in and a bite developed immediately. My float was at least a foot over depth with the bread taken on the drop. The next fish was not a carp, the rod tip was bouncing on the retrieve and the sight of bright red fins confirmed a decent rudd.

Every cast over resulted in a fish, although small roach and rudd were taking over, while some carp were still getting to the bait first.

I decided to set up the pole to try the inside drop off, bringing the waggler over resulting in an instant bite as a mirror took the punch. At first I tried to fish the rod and line, while I set up the pole, but fish kept coming causing confusion and tangles, so had to bring the rod in to concentrate on the job in hand.

For the pole, I selected a 4 x 16 top and bottom antenna float, with the weight bulked 18 inches from the hook and a No 8 at the hook link, the hook being a size 14 barbless crystal. I dropped in a small ball of feed, followed by the float. It sank and the elastic was out with a small mirror diving away, then  watched the fish spiralling up to the surface, the scales shining in the sunlight.

Being greedy, I tried to fish the waggler back over and the pole inside, but found myself playing two fish at once, putting my foot on the pole, reeling back the waggler carp, which I netted, then netting the pole carp. That was a first for me, two fish in the net at once.

At least these two at once were manageable on the rod and pole, I would have been in trouble, if they had been much bigger. I put the rod to one side to concentrate on the pole after this.

Another small ball of feed five metres out, followed by the pole float, saw the antenna slide away and the No 6 elastic was out again. My keepnet was beginning to fill.

This was entertaining fishing, unhook a carp, punch out a pellet of bread, pass onto hook, feed the pole out over the feed, wait a minute for the float to sink, lift into another carp, let the elastic work, break down to top two and net. Repeat.

Every half dozen fish, I dropped in a small ball of groundbait to keep the fish competing for food, the 6 mm piece of bread on the hook, the only food item on offer.

There were a few surprises, this golden rudd being one of them, the float lifting flat, when it took on the drop.

Below is a now rare crucian carp for this pond. They were stocked in large numbers some years ago, my best being over 2 lb, but during the Lockdown period they seemed to disappear, possibly down the gullets of the many cormorants that visit every day. The Farnham club decided to drain down and net the pond this winter, finding very few crucians left, of the thousands stocked over the years. With this in mind, the club stocked heavily with the fast growing mirror carp. It is a pity, as I prefer the thumping fight of a crucian, to the constant running of the mirrors, but these will soon be too big to swallow.

I’m not complaining, I like catching any fish that puts up a decent fight and the mirrors were very obliging. My efforts were attracting the attention of other anglers fishing maggots, pellets, or sweet corn, my catch rate far exceeding theirs. The angler to my left came and sat with me for ten minutes, he had bread punches, but had been lured away by the promise of more fish on pellets. I gave him a fresh piece of punch bread to fish over the top of his pellets and he began to catch a few more, including a small tench. I gave him a thumbs up, but was jealous of the 8 oz fish, as I was hoping for a tench, or two myself.

The soft bread is easier for fish to suck in, while even “soft” pellets are quite hard, also on the punch, the feed gives a taste of food to come, while feeding pellets can easily feed off your shoal.

Theory over. I mixed up more feed and kept netting fish, including rudd and small commons, but they were crowded out by the mirrors.

The main problem today was keeping the punch bread fresh, the small quarter slices drying out quickly in the bright sunshine. Fortunately I had a good supply in a plastic wallet away from the heat in my bait bag.

With the bait tray empty again, it was time to pack up in time to beat the rush hour traffic home. Pulling the keepnet out was a struggle, emptying it into my landing net for a photo and weighing. I could see that my usual 13 lb scales would not be suitable and reached in for the 50 lb set, seeing the pointer indicate over 18 lbs. Not bad for under four hour’s hard work.


Bread punch strikes crucian gold at Allsmoor.

April 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm

After a couple of disappointing visits to another local pond recently, I decided that it was time for some bag up therapy at my very local Allsmoor Pond, a short walk from my home. There was a cold wind from the east, but the sun was shining and I settled down in the shade of a tree.

I mixed up a tray of coarse liquidised bread and ground carp pellets, sprinkled with strawberry essence, damped it down and squeezed up some loose balls to break up on impact in the two foot deep swim, putting in four balls before tackling up my pole. The swim was a bit of a parrot cage, with the tree overhead and another growing out to my left. Casting my small 2 BB waggler required feeding the pole out, then giving it an under hand flick to put the float to the left of the lily bed to my right. By 2 pm I was ready and bubbles were popping up on the surface.

The float did not dive away as expected from a small rudd, but instead gave the characteristic dips and dithers of a crucian carp. The float slowly moved away and under. I lifted into the frantic fight of a small crucian, that dived for the cover of the lilies, pulling out the elastic, while counteracted with the pole, dragging it back out. A rapid pull back with the pole to the top two sections, saw the crucian skim back to the landing net.

A crucian first cast. I usually have to fish my way through a raft of rudd before the crucians move in.

Next cast, another crucian.

The following cast saw the elastic out with a small common carp burying itself among the lillies.  An attempt to pull it free failed, so the slack line trick was tried. It worked as the fish swam free, but only for a few feet, when the carp dug deep again. Slack line and watch the float. It moved again and I put on side strain and it came out. It was not a big carp, thank goodness.

I cast further over to the left and the float was away again with the fish fighting hard, left to right, pulling it away from the lilies this time.

This pond is full of surprises, a fantail crucian hybrid having taken the 7 mm punch of bread on a size 14 hook. Next cast, a crucian had successfully taken the bread.

A burst of bubbles next to my float forewarned of something bigger and seconds later the float lifted, then slid away and I watched the elastic stretching out toward a post standing up over to my left. This was a good carp, that stirred up the mud as it powered away, then rolling on the surface, when the elastic slowed it’s progress. It turned back toward the lilies, pushing through and I put on side strain. The hook came out and the rig shot across into the tree to my left. Even the elastic was wrapped around a branch. I tried to pull it free, the elastic stretching beyond it’s maximum breaking strain and snapped at the weakest point at the Stonfo connector knot, leaving me holding some loose elastic.

This could have been the end of my session. I had lost my float that has done good service on this pond for the last twelve years on this pond and without another large elastic to line connector, I was stumped, but with a possible exceptional fishing session to follow, I tied a loop in the elastic as get out jail measure.

Attaching a double looped 6 lb shock leader onto a waggler float rig, that I had only made up the week before, got me fishing again. I must have had a premonition, that I would lose my old favourite float, and made up a replacement. HaHa!

Another couple of balls of feed to the left of the lilies and the new float was in action, sinking away.

Another hard fighting common was soon under control, the reduced length of elastic exerting more pressure and it was soon in the net.

Some of these crucians are hybrids with common carp, getting the best of both worlds, a hard stand and fight without the long runs of a common.

It was now a crucian a chuck. I reckoned that they preferred the shade on such a bright day and my ground bait had concentrated them over the feed. Here are just a selection.

A small common broke the procession of crucians, that were filling the net.

Another surprise, a baby common carp.

More crucians.

More variety. A nice rudd.

Another fantail.

A common.

Then the rudd moved in.

A third fantail.

Then the crucians were back.

I could have kept on, but my three hours were up. It had been much colder than I had anticipated and despite my wife walking down to the pond with a sweater earlier, I was freezing. It had been a good session on the bread punch, marred by the loss of my favourite float, the old one was gone, long live the  new one.

A fantastic net of fish from a free council owned unstocked water surrounded by housing estates, where the scales just failed to hit the 10 lb mark.





Tench and carp feed despite gale force winds and rain at Kings Pond

April 9, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Last week a hail storm forced me to abandon a fly fishing session and this week my only opportunity to fish was on a day with a forecast of showers and wind gusts up to 50 mph. I decided that the only place to give protection from the elements was Farnham’s Kings Pond, where the wind would be broken by a thick stand of willows behind me. Or so I thought. Since my last visit, the willows have been trimmed back and thinned out, with the wind blowing directly across a large lake. I had also got the wind direction wrong with it coming over my right shoulder. Not ideal. Two very cold looking anglers were already there and neither had had a bite. The temperature reading in the van had been 5 degrees C and I could not see myself staying long in these conditions, not even bothering to put my keep net in, as I thought that a blank was on the cards.

I found a swim thirty yards down from the second angler and set up my pole to fish over the shelf into five feet of water, twenty feet out, with  a 5 BB antenna float bulked to 18 inches of the hook with a single No 1 shot as a tell tale weight six inches down toward the hook on the bottom. This rig fished with the antenna riding through the waves like a submarine periscope without disturbing the bread punch bait.

Feeling that I was unlikely to stay long, I only mixed up a small amount of ground bait, coarse liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and a sprinkle of strawberry flavouring, adding water to compress firm balls. I bracketed the float with four balls of feed and hung onto the pole, sinking the top section, as the gusts threatened to pull the pole from my hands. Although there was a strong tow on the surface from the  wind, the float remained stationary. After ten minutes, the float dipped under a wave, then appeared after another. A bite! I lifted the pole to see that the 5 mm punch of bread was gone. In again and the float still showed an inch of antenna. Strike! Contact. A rattle at the end of the pole was a small roach, which lifted clear of the surface, then flew off with the breeze before I could reach it. More missed bites and dropped roach called for a change. I went up to a 7 mm punch, pulled the bulk shot down to the hook link and added another three inches to the depth.

The lift bites from small roach following the bait down stopped, but so did the bites. I put in the last of my feed tray and studied the float. It held down and I lifted as the elastic came out. It was a decent fish, that was slowly becoming aware that it was hooked. Then it was off, racing across the pond, until the pull of the elastic proved too much and it turned back at speed trying to burrow into the bank further along toward the angler on my right. Glimpses of the float gave me an idea where it was. It broached further out, briefly seeing a deep bronze side, before it was gone again. The wind was gusting as I held the pole high trying to direct the powerful fish toward my landing net, but it dived under to my bank again. The pole was still at 6 metres, with 6 metres of elastic out. I was fighting the wind and the fish, while the landing net was being blown away from the fish like a parachute. At last it all came together as the wind eased, a mirror carp was on the surface and my net slipped under it.

The size 14 barbless hook dropped out in the net and I considered myself fortunate to land the barrel shaped bundle of muscle, following such an epic battle. A quick weigh in at over two pounds and I lowered the unmarked mirror carp back into the pond.

After a reviving cup of tea and a sandwich, I mixed up another tray of feed, ready to start again, putting a couple of balls around the float. The small roach were still worrying the punched bread bait, lifting the float, but being almost impossible to hit, with the buried pole tip slowing down the strike. The float held under and I was in again for a few seconds, as another carp powered away across the pond, stripping out the elastic, only for the hook to pull free. Adding to the brutally cold wind, rain began clattering against my thick waterproof jacket, but I was dry within my cocoon, looking out on the foaming pond. It was grim for a while, but the clouds soon passed, better fish were in the swim and I was confident of another waiting to be caught.

A classic lift bite popped the float up, then slid under and I lifted into solid resistance that gave way to a pounding run that ended with a skimmer bream flapping on the surface. Breaking the pole down brought the skimmer close, but it flashed about in front of me, not ready for the net. This is when you lose them, the hook easily pulling from the soft mouth, but I followed every movement with the pole, until the skimmer lay on it’s side and I scooped it up.

Not a big fish, but worth catching. Skimmers can come up in the water after ground bait and I shallowed up by six inches, moving the bulk shot further away from the hook to give a slower fall of the bait. More missed bites, small roach and no skimmers.

I added depth and moved the bulk shot back down. First cast in the float submerged with purpose and the slow movement of a big fish was pulling elastic from the pole tip. This was not a carp, the runs were shorter and in all directions. I brought the pole back and detached the top two sections for better control, but this fish was heavy and hugging the side of the bank in front of me. I needed more leverage to pull it away to open water and added the two bottom sections again, seeing the golden flank of a big tench boil below the surface. The heavy 12-18 elastic was doing its job, the hook was holding and we were both getting tired. The surface boils increased and the landing net was ready, when it swam my way. Phew. Success!

The hook was in the top lip and came out with just a twist. Considering the number of rolls and turns during the fight, it is amazing that it stayed on. I now tried to get a photo of the tench on my lap, but it was not playing ball at all, the one above being the most successful of several attempts. In the net, the scales read 4 lb 8 oz, before I lowered it back into the pond. A flash of gold and it was gone.

Dropping straight back in, the float cruised away and I was in again. A bigger tench this time testing the elastic as it swam relentlessly toward the other angler, who I now saw was playing a monster of his own. Mine turned back to open water, boiling on the surface, while I extended the landing net against the wind. The elastic sprang back. This time the hook lost its grip. I looked toward the angler on my right. He had lost his fish too.

Conditions were getting worse and when I lost another carp fighting wind and fish, I decided to call it a day. It was not pleasant, there would be other opportunities. My neighbour, a local, had been using two rods, a feeder over and a waggler down the inside, plenty of hemp and pellets bringing five fish, a small carp, two tench and a pair of brown gold fish. A lesson for next time, more hemp. As usual I had not deviated from the bread punch.

A black cloud was gathering as I loaded up the trolley, fighting the head wind to get back to the van before the deluge, leaving the trolley in the lee of the van, while I scrambled in through the side door with the pole. What a day!

River Whitewater 2022 trout season open day put on ice.

April 3, 2022 at 4:53 pm

A week is a long time regarding the British weather. A week ago I had attended the Farnborough and District Angling Society’s work party on their Hampshire chalk stream, the River Whitewater. There was a good attendance of members, working in the Spring sunshine, clearing banks and removing fallen trees following the winter of storms. Wild garlic was scenting the air, while hatches of large dark olives were fluttering across the river and I looked forward to my first trout fishing outing on the following Friday, Open Day on April 1st .

In the meantime temperatures had plummeted to below zero accompanied by showers of hail, sleet and snow. By midday the frost had been thawed from the grass, with the sun shining between breaks in the clouds and I decided to drive to the river, taking a chance on the weather. I had a new fly line on my reel to try, plus some non traditional fly patterns in my box from Fish4Flies to compare with my own successful early season GH Sedge nymph, Deerhair Emerger and Blackdevil nymph.

Three of the Fish4Flies patterns I was keen to compare my traditional patterns with, were their Pinkey Tungsten Bug, Olive F-Wing and Zug Bug, all tied with synthetic materials.

As I drove closer to the river, the sky darkened with a massive black cloud, but there was an patch of blue in the distance and I parked up. My goodness, there was a bitter wind blowing, what a difference to last week, but I was here now and determined to get my line on the water, walking across the field to a pool that is noted for a few juvenile trout. I started off with my Blackdevil nymph bouncing along the bottom, impressed with the new Sunray 4 weight floating line, which flew out from my seven foot Shakespeare Agility rod with just a flick of the shoulder.

Running the nymph close to the edge along the deep run, the line straightened. A fish! No a branch on the bottom. Oh well, it got my heart racing for a second. Thankfully the branch came away from the bottom and drifted back to me. Picking it out of the river made me realise just how cold the river was. My hands were already frozen and now they were at another level, too cold and numb to try one of my new flies.

Having covered all the lies that have produced trout in the past, I climbed out of the river and walked up to deep a pool with a back eddy. I warmed my hands on a cup of hot tea. I could feel the hot liquid going down to my stomach. Very reviving. Time to try out the Pinkey Bug, casting along the crease of the eddy. This has a tungsten bead as a thorax and hit the water with a “plip” and sank quickly, like a Czech nymph, keeping the rod tip high and watching the line drift back to me. The line straightened. Another branch from the bottom. The eddy was full of them.

The wind was getting up and sleet began to fall. Sheltering under a tree, I checked my watch. I had only been there for 45 minutes, enough time to know that no trout would be caught by me today. After all, April 1st is All Fools Day in the UK and I qualified at this moment.

The weekend was forecast to be even worse with heavy rain and sleet again. Next week? My wife was not surprised to see me home so soon, even a life long optimist like myself knows when to quit.

CZ452 HMR proves it’s worth at long range on the Warren

March 31, 2022 at 12:49 pm

A brief spell of warm weather saw me back at the warren for an evening visit, armed with my CZ452 HMR in place of the Magtech 7002 semi auto .22, which had been giving good service taking close range rabbits around the burrows during daylight hours. Many of the burrows were now abandoned and the rabbits had migrated to the outer reaches of the field, where the banks of a dried up stream have provided a safer home. With the farmer ready to put her young Angus bullocks out to grass after Easter, it has been important to keep up the pressure to render the field free of burrows and safe for the cattle.

At the far end of the warren there were still a few active burrows and I got comfortable lying down with the HMR on the bipod, giving a clear view of the area a hundred yards away. The evening sun was bright beneath the clouds and after weeks of cold and rain it was a pleasure to be feeling the warmth on my face. My attention had been diverted to a group of roe deer the other side of the stream, trying to count them among the bankside foliage, when I looked back to see a pair of dark brown blobs close to the burrows. Through the scope, the blobs were transformed into a pair of  fat rabbits. I worked the rifle bolt to feed a bullet into the chamber, centred the crosshairs, breathed out and squeezed the trigger, in that instant watching the rabbit slump forward. Ten yards away, the second rabbit was undisturbed, still munching the lush grass, head down with it’s back to me. I had to wait for it to raise it’s head, or move, ideally side ways on. This was not a shooting gallery, this rabbit could decide to run off at any moment. There was tension, while I waited.

Another rabbit came out further down and began feeding. About a hundred and twenty yards away, it was still in range and facing forward at an angle. There was no wind, it was a better shot. The bullet had already been chambered and was on its way. The rabbit rolled over. The remaining rabbit did not give me a third shot, the crack from the supersonic HMR bullet passing by got it’s attention and it disappeared in a flash. I waited for twenty minutes and nothing more emerged, so walked down to pick up the harvested rabbits.

From this end of the warren, I had a clear view down to the dried up stream, but there were no signs of movement. The sun had dropped behind the trees and a cool breeze had started up. I decided to spend the time cleaning the two rabbits, while keeping an eye on the field. Rabbits can appear almost out of thin air and I looked up to see one sixty yards away close to the stream. The breeze was from the east blowing into my face at an angle to the rabbit, which should not affect the 17 grain bullet, but playing safe aimed for the chest area. Boof! The rabbit jumped clear of the ground and lay still.

Three shots and three rabbits for the freezer. A rewarding two hours spent in the fresh air, not in front of the TV. Walking back the light was fading fast and clumps of grass were imitating rabbits, one actually was one, but was gone before I could unsling the rifle.


Carp, crucians and rudd queue up for the bread punch as the sun shines

March 20, 2022 at 7:26 pm

A cold, foggy start to the day, was followed by sunshine and blue skies by lunchtime, too good to waste messing about in the garden, when you have a green fingered wife with seeds to plant and a pond waking up from winter a short walk from home. Just a few weeks ago the pond had been covered by ice, but today rudd were dimpling the surface as I set up my pole. Being a balancing pond to prevent flooding on the nearby brook, recent heavy rain had brought plenty of colour to the water, helped by fine sand carried high in the air north from the Sahara.

For years I have been using here the same short waggler float, made from a cut down Billy Makin Canal Grey and once again it is a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The float and shot are still attached to the same 5 lb line, the only variation being the size of hook to the 3 lb hook link. With the Spring Equinox only a couple of days away, it was time to go up to a size 14 barbless instead of the winter size 16. The other concession was to move a No 6 shot down to join the No 8 at the hook link, expecting lift bites instead of the slight dips of the float experienced in winter. All pretty basic stuff I know, but when the fish are on the feed, it all makes a difference with more fish in the net at the end of a session.

Ground bait was my usual mix of 50% coarse liquidised bread, 20% ground hemp, 20% ground carp pellets and 5% strawberry flavouring and the same of Haith’s spicy red. Probably 100% liquidised bread would work the same, but I am confident with this and I know it works. This I damped down enough to hold together and put two balls in out at 8 metres, then got myself sorted, attaching the float rig to the pole connector, before punching a 6 mm pellet from a fresh mini slice of bread. Hook baited, I swung out the rig into the baited area. The float settled and lifted. It was exactly 1 pm as I pulled in the first rudd. Not a monster, but it was a start.

In again a minute later and a perfect lift bite, when the bait was picked up from the bottom, releasing the weight on the bottom shot, the float rising from the surface by an inch. That’s better, a decent rudd.

Then another. These rudd have fantastic colouring, with bright red fins fading to pale green.

Next cast the pole elastic came out as a carp put a bend in the pole, running to the right, then changing tack to run back the other way, stirring up black mud in it’s wake. The main pole was soon shoved back into the bushes behind, while I played the fish on the top two joints, bringing it to the waiting landing net.

An early common carp is always a good sign on this pond and I put in another couple of ground bait balls to hold any others that may be in the swim, although decent rudd continued to lift the float.

A dithering bite, that lifted and dropped the float indicated a crucian, that I hit on the next lift, the solid little carp taking out elastic as it dived around the swim at high speed, swimming straight into the awaiting landing net.

A similar bite had me poised for another crucian, but a clonking gudgeon was the result.

Rudd and gudgeon continued one a chuck and I scraped up the last of my feed in an effort to encourage some better fish. I mixed up another batch for later, then cast back in over the feed and guess what? A small common took on the drop, flipping over on the surface before diving for cover, pulling out the elastic. The spirited fight was soon over.

This was shaping up to be a classic session and the following cast confirmed it, with an even bigger carp running across the pond toward the reeds, but the power of the 12-18 red elastic slowed the run and the fish turned in an arc, while I held the pole high to avoid floating twigs on the surface. Soon, the pole was down to the top two sections and the elastic was returning to the tip, as the fight continued with the carp trying to bury itself in the bankside roots. Success, it was in the landing net.

A fat common carp that refused to play ball for the camera, still fighting in the landing net.

I needed a cup of tea after this one, putting in another ball of feed for good measure and dropping the float over the top. Bang! I was in again, three carp in as many casts. A tiddler by comparison, but still a good fish.

The carp were still over the feed and I was in again to a bonus common, taking my time to bring it in.

More feed and more carp followed.

I put in a ball of feed and swung the float out over the cloud, the float lay flat, then zoomed away, the elastic coming out before I could strike. This was the biggest yet and I tried to raise the pole to avoid losing the top elasticated sections, as it cut a V across the surface toward an old sign post 30 yards away. Ping! The hook pulled out, rattling the connector back to the pole tip. I’ve had carp here over 5 lb on the pole, but this was way over that. Consoling myself, I rebaited the hook and cast in. A bob and a lift saw a crucian break the surface as I over struck, but it remained on the hook.

I was vaguely aware of a woman on the opposite bank with a carrier bag, from which she was pulling out slices of bread and crusts to throw to a pair of Canada geese, that were only half bothered by the offerings floating on the surface. I continued to fish and netted another small carp.

The slices were now drifting round the pond to my side. They were being attacked by rafts of small rudd, which began to take my bait, before it could get down to the bottom. This was reluctant speed fishing, as I tried to fish through them. Some were decent sized, but most were only a couple of ounces. The bait did manage to get through and a crucian was the result, but it was game over as far as I was concerned.

A heavier float would have punched through the shoal quicker, but it was too late in the day to change and I packed up at 4 pm.

My trusty little waggler float and punched bread had worked the magic again, putting 10 lb 8 oz on the scales in three hours. A good result for a free council pond.

Bread punch roach and chub bonanza closes river season

March 15, 2022 at 10:30 am

With the river season about to close for three months, I had three options to try in the hope of a bumper session to mark the day, arriving at my first option to find the parking space clear and no one fishing. It had been third time lucky for this swim below the weir, my previous two visits this month finding it occupied. There had been an overnight frost, but the sun had come out to warm the air and I looked forward to getting a few good fish in the net.

At this time of year big roach congregate here ready for spawning and I hoped that bread punch on the stick float would be the answer on this mild day. Arriving at 11:30, I set out my stall at the top of the steep bank and began mixing my ground bait, liquidised bread, ground hemp, ground carp pellets and a good dusting of Haiths Red Spice, that seems to work well in coloured water. I added a splash of water to hold the balls together and put a couple in across to the edge of the foam opposite. It was just a case of putting together my 14 foot Browning float rod from the ready to fish holdall, having set up a 4 No 4 ali stemmed stick float with a new size 14 barbless hook the day before, punching out a 6 mm pellet of bread and casting over to the fed area.

The float was set off bottom with a long hook link in the hope of a chub before the roach moved in. The float had barely settled, when it slowly sank from view and a solid resistance exploded into action with a run toward the foaming weir outlet. A rapid back wind of my ABU501 eased the pressure on the hook link and a chub, smaller than first thought, was on the surface ready for the landing net.

A couple of smaller chub were next in the queue, before I added another foot to the depth and slid the shirt buttoned No 6s together to form a bulk above the hook link. The bread was now just tripping bottom and a dip of the float was followed by a hold down, that I hit with my finger on the spool. The juddering fight said roach and flash of silver confirmed it, as I inched out the landing net from the high bank  to collect it.

Not your every day roach, this was a clonker, although it would prove par for the course, when it’s equal took next cast.

Each roach gave a good account of itself, they were all fighting fit.

Stepping up the feed to a small nugget each cast began a feeding frenzy, as juvenile chub and gudgeon moved in over the feed, the float often taken on the drop. A tight line was taking a small fish a minute, swinging in, then out again to unhook, rebait and repeat. Every now and then a roach would beat them to the bread and a battle royal would commence.

A decent chub had me backwinding again, as it made full use of the area in front of me, trying to snag the float along the opposite bank, before powering upstream toward a sunken branch. Stopped again, suddenly it was on the surface with it’s big white mouth open.

I checked my watch, it was still only 12:30 and that chub had pushed my weigh to about 5 lb in the net. The feed was going down rapidly and I decided to mix up some more, stopping for my lunch time sandwich and a cup of tea, while I was at it. First cast in the float was under again and this rather tatty roach was putting up a show of defiance.

Most of the gudgeon were huge by any standards, scudding across the bottom and putting a bend in the rod.

Many of the chub were worth catching too, going off like a coiled spring, once they realised that they were hooked.

The one above took some persuading to come to the net.

The roach kept coming, the bites not shy, despite the size 14 hook, although most hooks fell out in the net.

By 2.00 pm the feed was gone again and I mixed up more. I was on a strict time limit today, having a visitor call after 4.00, so would have to pack up at 3.00. Sod’s Law was that there was no sign of the fish going off the feed.

Another angler had set up on the inside of the bend opposite and was fishing with a 4 metre elasticated whip, feeding maggots, he had been swinging in gudgeon and small chub, oblivious that I was into much better quality fish.

It had clouded over, then to drizzle with light rain, so put my big jumper back on again, a case of being more haste, less speed, as I struggled to get it over my head without taking my cap off. Doh! Not to worry, the roach didn’t mind waiting!

I had stopped taking photos of the roach, but could not ignore the quality, as they come to the net.

Still going strong, I netted this one with three minutes to go, then recast and hooked my last fish bang on 3.00 pm.

The angler across the river had now been watching me and I told him that I was now packing up. Did he want to take over where I leave off? He began stripping down his pole.

Evidence of a busy few hours, over 80 holes meant at least that many fish, if not more, as the smaller chub and gudgeon were out of the river so quickly, that the punched bread often remained on the hook.

What a haul. I attempted to weigh these fish in my landing net, but the scales bottomed at 13 lb (6kg). I removed the chub, but they still bottomed out, so maybe 15 lb in three hours fishing.

As I was loading the the tackle into the van, my phone buzzed with a text. You guessed it, my visitor would not be coming after all. Ah well, no complaints, what a great catch.