Rudd provide hot pole action.

July 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm

It was one of those hot listless days, with the temperature hovering around 30C, when every movement seemed to take double the effort, that I decided to visit my small local pond for the second time this summer. The afternoon had been spent searching out the shadiest parts of the garden, while my enduring wife turned down offers of various outings, as they came to my mind, as “Too Hot!”  Surprisingly, the suggestion of a walk down to the pond after Tea, was looked upon as an acceptable joint activity, which saw me spring into action, scurrying around gathering up bits of tackle and bait. Refreshed, the tackle trolley was loaded and a ten minute stroll saw us at the bankside by 6 pm, seeking the cover of a tree, which soon proved short lived as the sun moved round to bring it’s full force to bare.

My preferred summer method on this pond is to feed curried hemp, with 6mm cubes of luncheon meat, dusted with curry powder and left over night in the fridge. This switches on the native common and crucian carp population quickly, while tending to keep all, but the largest rudd at bay. Today was a rushed, unplanned affair and my only ground bait was a mix of liquidised bread, with ground, hard carp pellets, the hook bait being sweet corn straight from the freezer. As I tackled up, rudd were already swirling on the surface and I knew that getting through them would be a problem, but thought that heavy balls of feed would soon bring in the carp to push them out. Wrong.

Six egg shaped balls of feed were put in, leading away from the lily bed to the centre of my swim, 8 to 9 metres out, while I set up a 4 x No 10 pole rig with 5lb line through to a size 14 barbless on a 3lb hook link. The pond has a uniform depth of only 2 feet and with crucians as a hoped for target, I wanted to see their fussy bites, while the commons, which rarely run to more than 2lb, can often prove cagey too.

As soon as the float hit the water, it dipped under and the first of too many rudd felt the hook, a pristine golden fish had sucked the sweet corn to the back of it’s throat in a second. The pole was going in and out at speed, with a rudd a minute slipping into the keep net. My wife commented, that pole fishing was not proper fishing, as the solid layer of rudd showed no sign of deminishing, it reminding her of a party game, when a child, where a stick with a string and magnet attached, was lowered into a tub of tin fish, a shiny fish sticking to the magnet each time it was lowered into the tub. These were some of the best rudd I’d taken from the pond and pressed on determined to build a decent weight.

Small bubbles were now bursting on the surface, a sure sign of carp on the muddy bottom, but still I couldn’t get through to them and decided a cast away from the feed might be the answer, putting the float close to a clump of weed. This time the float merely settled instead of zooming off, then rings appeared around the float. Ah, a carp at last. The rings progressed to dips, then a slow submerge off to the right. A firm lift and I was into something heavy, the elastic came out and stayed put as the something slowly made a beeline for the weed bed. A big carp, that hadn’t woken up? I didn’t have a long wait to find out what it was, a round shape the size of a soccer ball, briefly surfacing, before diving back down as fast as it’s paddles would take it. A large terrapin!

Hugging the bottom, this released pet resisted all of my attempts to bring it to the bank, paddling away from me as hard as it legs would carry it, needing to hand line it within rage of the landing net, then dragging it across to my pitch, where it retracted into it’s shell. The barbless hook was in the terrapin’s mouth somewhere, but I stopped short of trying to take it out and cut the line as close as I could, much to my wife’s amusement. The fuss had attracted the attention of a couple of other anglers and I walked it round to show them, before continuing to the other end of the pond and releasing it.

This whole interlude had taken 20 minutes of productive fishing time and I quickly tied another hook to the link, sweet corn on and a cast in. The float sailed off. The rudd collection continued.

The sun was still hot, I was dripping with sweat and my wife was growing tired of the repetition, rudd following rudd. A cool drink was required and she volunteered to walk home to get one, arriving back just as I netted my first carp of the evening. A crucian hybrid. This had given a good fight, making it to the lily bed, but coming out again. I needed that drink.

The fed area was now a mass of bubbles and the rudd had moved out, each bite being indicated by the slightest of movement from the float, crucians nudging and sucking the bait, before moving away with it. Others just sat with the bait, sucking the goodness out to a skin. Some of these I hooked, some splashed to the surface and came off.

A few times the tiniest of bites saw the elastic fly out as unseen commons accelerated into the weed bed, or the lilies, the elastic unable to buffer the runs, the 3 lb hook link parting like cotton. Next visit I shall take a rig with 8lb to 5lb hook link and hope that it doesn’t affect the quantity of bites.

A welcome sight were some small tench, being larger than those caught last year, punching far higher than their actual weight.

As the sun began to sink behind the trees, some better hybrids put in an appearance and it was a case of saying just one more fish, until with the light going fast, I had to call a halt at 9 pm.

This pound plus common took on the dot of nine, the last hour finally bringing the quality fish I’d been after all evening.

A terrific mixed bag of fish taken in under two and a half hours of hectic fishing, this free fishing among the houses always throwing up a surprise, or two, the terrapin being the strangest.


CZ 452 .17 HMR makes hay while the sun shines

July 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

A warm wet spring, saw rapid growth of the grasses and thistles on most of my shooting permissions this year, good news for the cattle farmers, but not for the shooter required to keep the rabbit population in check. One of my farms has had little attention from me this year, due first to the absent farmer penning his animals close to the yard, creating a living security barrier to keep people off his land, including me, then, when he finally let the beasts onto the land, due to the soft ground, the grass was so long, that the rabbits were hidden. Arriving this week, the grass had been cut and the hay gathered in.

This small farm is on a reclaimed landfill site, where methane is drawn off to power an electricity plant, while on two sides, land fill continues with huge trucks dumping loads of rubbish, to be bulldozed flat and covered with earth. Not your rural ideal, but the farm is a haven of wildlife, returned to beef production, all be it, used to rear and fatten young bullocks and heifers, while a large bull keeps guard over his charges.

With calves in tow, these cattle can be unpredictable and having already been bumped a few times by over enthusiastic bullocks, I stay well clear and with the land divided down the middle, opt for the ruminant free zone every time.

The land slopes down toward the active landfill site and I circled round to approach the top of a tree lined hedge line, that harbours a large warren, several rabbits being visible in the distance. If the land had been flat, I could have set up with the HMR on the bipod and picked off my targets from this position, but the curve of the slope masked the rabbits from view, when prone; a fifty yard crawl being required. Although cloudy, it was a hot sultry day and the sweat was soon dripping from my brow, as I shuffled forward, pushing the rifle and shooting bag ahead of me. Still the rabbits were hidden, just the tips of their twitching ears visible.

My bipod is a Harris, extendable to 27 inches and now within fifty yards of the first group, I couldn’t chance getting closer, so my next tactic was to extend the legs out to 15 inches, about the max for prone shooting. Through the scope, I could just make out the head of a rabbit and fired, only to see a puff of dirt and grass as the bullet slammed into the curve of the slope twenty yards away, the rifle firing low at that point, due to scope height. Untroubled, the rabbits continued feeding and now the bipod legs were extended further to over 20 inches, allowing me to sit up and shoot with the legs resting on my boots. Four, or five rabbits were now in clear sight over the brow and selecting the largest, took head shots on two in quick succession, before the rest scuttled back through the hedge.

Sitting it out for another ten minutes, I waited for more movement ahead of me, until another large rabbit stepped through the wire fence 80 yards away. The Harris legs were lowered to the default setting, my target stopping on a raised hummock long enough for a clear shot behind the eye, that sent it into a back flip. Scanning with my scope further along the hedge line, more rabbits were out, but beyond them, workers were still on the site beyond the field 250 yards away, well within range of the .17 bullet, if a ricochet occurred. With no more safe shots available, I gathered up and cleaned my prizes.

Moving to the other side of the field, I shot another three in the next hour and decided to call it a day, before the dreaded traffic built up for the drive home. Fortunately the farmer arrived as I was climbing the yard gate and was able to show him my spoils for the afternoon. I assured him that with the grass gone, I could get back down to business again.




Wild brown trout flyfishing come rain, or shine.

July 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Following a 230 mile round trip to collect my sister from Weymouth for a family gathering, I thought a visit to my local syndicate river was off limits, but as she and my wife settled down in front of the TV for their evening soap fix, I made my escape with the minimum of pleading on my part. The sun was blinding, as I drove west to the river, but rain was forecast for later, with heavy showers to follow over the weekend, so this was my only chance to fish this week.

Walking along the overgrown banks, I was pleased to see just a hint of colour, as the river babbled over the shallows. I’d not fished this section all season, even missing out on Duffer’s Fortnight, when mayfly were rising fish all over the river. The winter floods had created a new run along the opposite bank, which extended into a long pool and thought that it offered refuge for a fish, or two.

There were plenty of grannoms scudding about the surface, but no rises, so a Black Devil nymph was tied on to search out the deeper pockets for trout.  I waded downstream in cover of the right hand bank, before moving out to the middle, where short upstream and across casts could be made to cover the faster water. A short six foot leader, greased to float within 18 inches of the fly, is all that is needed in this sort of fishing, casting and recasting, while watching the floating leader. The slightest, stop, twitch, or a “buzz”, when the line seems to vibrate, must be responded to with a quick lift of the rod. My little 7ft Shakespeare Odyssey 4/5 weight rod is perfect for this and minutes into the session, the line darted forward 3 inches and I saw the flash of gold from a small brown, before it tumbled off.

Moving upstream a few yards, there was a back eddy formed behind tree roots jutting into the flow and I tried casts directly to the edge of the flow and into the slack, but it was a cast higher up into the full flow, that met with a solid take. There was a brief explosion of resistance at the head of the pool, then slack line as a ten inch wild brown turned and dashed down stream into a bed of streamer weed, bursting onto the surface once contact was made again. To avoid the bundle of energy from bouncing off, I gave it line, then drew it back upstream, once it’s head was down.

These small browns will take advantage of every depression on the riverbed, ambushing their food as it rushes by over their heads, darting out and back in an eye blink.

I now moved up the shallows, casting into every nook and cranny, but no one was home and found myself at the tail of the next pool, where the river turns sharp right, offering deep water and cover at the edges, a happy trout hunting ground for me in the past. Again no rising fish were showing and I prospected the nymph along the edges, gradually casting further into the pool with no response, not a good sign for this part of the river. A sudden heavy rain shower forced me back into cover, while the evening sun continued to shine beneath the cloud. There must have been an impressive rainbow somewhere out of my sight, as I huddled against the bankside bushes. I took the time to change my leader length by looping in another two feet of 4lb line and tying on a heavier Gold Head Hares Ear to get deep into the pool, the trout not in their expected places hard under the banks.

With the sun back out and the smell of fresh rain still in the air, I began the search process again, disappointed that a good fish that had been growing larger each season was no longer present under bushes to my right. Wading further into the pool, I made an extended cast up to the bend and watched the nymph sink to the depths. The leader did not drift back, but stayed put and I lifted to avoid an assumed snag, that burst into life and headed off round the bend upstream. It hugged the bottom fighting hard, definitely a trout, not a chub, zig zagging across the the pool to appear briefly at my feet, one of the many silver browns that have populated the river. The fight tailed off as the trout turned back to the deeper water, bringing it’s head up and with my landing net still leaning against the bank downstream, I made a successful lift with my left hand under the fish for the capture.

Fin perfect and in prime condition, this was my second and last trout of the evening, the sun shining beneath yet another storm cloud, that was about to empty it’s contents over the Hampshire countryside. Content to hold onto my prize, until a kick of the tail sent it back to the pool, I climbed out of the river and made it back to the van, as raindrops began bouncing off the roof.








Urban carp secret among the houses on bread punch.

July 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm

On a recent visit to a friend, who had just moved into my neighbourhood, I took a wrong turn on his housing estate and found myself at a dead end, my way blocked by a tree shrouded pond among the houses. Apart from a few openings in the trees, where ducks had been fed, the pond was completely overgrown. It had at some time been the ornamental pond to a large house, ivy covered steps and an inaccessible boat slipway surrounded by rusted railings, baring testament to this. The house and grounds were now gone, replaced by modern, but expensive houses hidden behind high walls and gates.

The lake is fed by a stream flowing from a nature reserve a mile upstream, where I’d seen carp swimming in it’s protected waters and wondered if any had migrated down to this little haven. A quick walk round before getting back in the car confirmed that this shallow pond did indeed hold a stock of fish, dimples in the middle at least indicating a shoal of rudd.

A few weeks later, I was forcing my way through the untended undergrowth, to an area just big enough to get my tackle box down, next to the stream inlet. A bit of trimming with snips soon had a space to get the pole working, although staking out my net, I realised that there was only six inches of water in close.

I hadn’t brought my boots, which meant that jacking up the box on it’s legs, further out in the pond, to find deeper water, was not on, unless I fancied wading in bare feet. I’m not that keen, so had to like it, or lump it. This decision was eased, when I plumbed the course of the stream and discovered another 18 inches of water. Perfect.



Today there were no signs of rudd on the surface, and opted to fish a new small dibber float, baited with a 7mm pellet of bread punch along the stream channel, just held back against the gentle inflow of water and put a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread in to get things moving. I was still sorting out my gear, getting comfortable, when my pole was almost pulled from my hand, as a good fish ran off with the bait, followed by the stretching pole elastic. I managed to fit a on a couple more metres of pole before the run stopped heading out, but then watched as it made for the trees on my right, more pressure and it rolled on the surface, a pound plus common carp.

A lucky start to the session? Another ball of bread was met by a swirling boil beneath it and the float slid away before it cocked. The elastic was out again, as a smaller common kited across the surface. They must live in this channel, waiting for the bread meant for the ducks, from the mums and kids of the estate.

Then the rudd moved in, some nice four ounce fish among them. Time for a heavier feed, mixing the liquidised bread with ground carp pellets and water, to put a thick carpet straight on the bottom of the channel, from six to nine metres out. I’d sneaked  some sweet corn from the freezer on my way out, but this was still frozen, so stuck with my biggest bread punch, squeezing two pellets together on the 14 hook. A typical rudd, lift and run bite was met with a solid juddering fight and a nice crucian carp was skating across the shallows.

The procession of fish to my net continued, until a slow sink away of the float saw the elastic go out and stay there, as a very large carp made it’s mind up what to do, before powering at a steady pace across the pond, while I extended my pole to it’s full eleven meters in pursuit of the fast disappearing elastic. Trying to keep an angle between the pole and this unseen lump, I hung on against the pressure. The possible double figure fish was not fighting, just swimming around stirring up the mud, anytime it wanted to really test my tackle, there would only be one outcome. The carp would win. Win it did, after what could have been ten minutes, a sudden spurt saw the elastic ping back into the tree to my side. The rig was tangled, but the 6lb main line allowed me to pull it out, less the hook on it’s 3lb line. It may have broken me, or the hook pulled out, I couldn’t tell. After this exertion my hands were shaking too much to repair the rig and reached inside my box for my well used waggler pole rig. The sweet corn had now thawed in the sun and I mixed a dozen pieces into the heavy mix and rebaited with it. The float lifted flat and another crucian was on, the earlier commotion not putting them off.

A rustle through the undergrowth behind me heralded ten minutes of nightmare. A big black labrador came charging into my little private clearing with a well chewed tennis ball in it’s mouth and dropped it beside me. It wanted me to throw it into the pond, picking it up and dropping it, panting and gesturing towards the water. I am not a doggy person, but on occasion have humoured the occasional dog in this way, but not when I have a swim full of fish eager to bite. With this he jumped in and turned expecting me to play, charging about and stopping, waiting for me to throw in the ball. “Oh bother”, or words to that effect. Another rustle and it was “Charlie’s” owner standing next to me. Charlie now went into hyperdrive, running back to the bank and out again. “Are you fishing?” the owner enquired. I just gestured around me in resignation. The owner reached down and threw the ball to the middle of the pond. Game over. I began packing up. “Sorry, we come here every day. I’ve never seen a fisherman here before!” I wonder why?

This had the makings of a fantastic haul of fish, under three hours of the bread punch, putting at least ten pounds in the net, the next three on the corn held the promise of many more. The penalty of these urban waters is that we anglers are intruding into the world of the general public, who have no understanding of our passion for fishing and it is us, who have to give way to the dog walkers, cyclists, duck feeders, etc.





Latimer Park Flyfishery Birthday Treat

July 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

My longtime friend Peter’s offer of a birthday treat, as his guest at Latimer Park Fishery, was gratefully accepted this week, following his report of three good fish he’d caught  before 9 am the previous day. Collected from my home and transported to this little jewel in the Buckinghamshire countryside, we arrived at 10:30 to be met by a dour faced bailiff, who told of very few fish caught by members that morning.

The priority for Peter and I was to enjoy the day for what it was, a day out in good company at a picturesque venue; catching fish would be a bonus. A slight ripple gave us confidence, Peter setting up with a red nymph, his successful fly of the day before, while I opted for legged gold head Hares Ear nymph, to be slowly worked back, off the bottom on a figure of eight retrieve. The two Latimer lakes are formed from dams across the Chess, which flows out of the chalk above the nearby town of Chesham, the river running in it’s channel down the centre of the upper lake, requiring a good cast to find the deeper water. There was little surface movement and no response to either nymph, so it was time for a change on my part to a buoyant Deerhair Sedge, the same fly serving me for years on rivers and lakes, when the fishing got hard. On a long leader, tipped down to 6lb breaking strain, I cast to the centre and waited in vain for a rise to this tasty looking morsel. Plan B, twitch the fly back to me, three inches at a time, every minute. Five minutes into this regime, a nose emerged on the surface observing the fly, another twitch and the line sank as the sedge was sucked in. A steady lift, pulled the line from the surface, making a solid contact, before catapulting the line back at me, as the hook lost hold.

Another missed fish for me and Peter changed over to a dry fly, getting into a trout straight away, which he then lost. This exciting, but frustrating interlude continued, until Peter was at last playing a good fish to the net. This 3lb rainbow was knocked on the head and another two pounder shortly after released. The guest rules are that we could catch seven fish in total, killing our first fish each, then the last fish of the day, whoever takes it. I was now feeling left behind, and was relieved to see a positive take of the fly, lifting into a big fish, that tail walked away from me and came off. Retrieving the line, a curled end to the tippet, showed that the line had parted at the knot, taking my favourite sedge with it. Together we had taken many a fish over the years and now it was gone. Tying on a replica, my next cast saw the fly vanish seconds after it touched the surface and I was playing another good fish, that just refused to come in, realising that I’d hooked it in the gill plate, which allowed the rainbow to swim away from me.

Eventually this fully finned, 20 inch, three pounder was on the bank, following what seemed a ten minute fight and during which time, Peter had hooked and landed yet another rainbow, which he released. This left us another three to take and with the wind swinging round, making casting difficult, we retired back to the club house for some lunch, topped up with plenty of banter with other club members.

During lunch the wind had dropped to nothing, leaving a flat calm with no apparent surface activity. We decided to change tactics to fish with small nymphs 18 inces below a yarn indicator. Arriving at the bankside, we could see from strings of small bubbles, that trout were feeding among the clumps of blanket weed on the edge of the deeper water and targeted this area. My first cast saw an instant, but hesitant response to the Diawl Bach nymph, the indicator bobbing and dipping, before gliding under, to be missed on the strike. Peter was having the same trouble and we both missed many unmissables, before I twitched back at a bob of the indicator and felt the solid pull from my second fish.

This perfect, recent stock fish was barely hooked in the nose, a sign that curiosity, not hunger had resulted in a visit to the bank. I held the fish in the cool water, until it was ready to swim off, the fight taking a lot out of this plump rainbow. The fun continued with plenty of offers and missed trout, during which time the sunshine had resulted in more blanket weed floating to the surface, making the static indicator tactic the only reliable method.

My third rainbow was hard won and fought like a demon, at one time spinning away from me and wrapping it’self in line and weed, torpedoing around the shallows, before I bullied it into the net. Peter had also hooked a fish, our joint seventh and it was this two pound rainbow that was taken. Static, or twitched artificials had worked on the day, the fish not interested in following a lure, or nymph, most of those members, who slogged away retrieving, going home fishless.

All in all an enjoyable day and certainly a birthday treat with a chauffeured cross country drive home. Thanks Peter.