A new trout fishing season awaits. I’m ready.

March 27, 2015 at 1:32 pm

April 1st may be All Fools Day, but it is also the first day of  river trout fishing in my neck of the woods, an event that gets the heart beating that bit faster, with anticipation of balmy days to come, watching trout rise on a pristine river. The reality of that first day is usually at odds with the dream, March Winds combining with those inevitable April Showers to sting eyes and numb fingers, while trying to present a fly to a wary trout, from a bank stripped bare of cover by winter frosts. It is also the day that ice cold water seeps into waders, that were dry, when hung up in September.

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While going shooting the other day, I detoured for a look at my favourite urban river, where it runs between factories and a recreation ground. Trucks thunder by on one side, while cyclists, dog walkers and kite flyers go about their preoccupation unaware, that, despite the annual encroachment of more housing and industrial development, this little chalk stream continues to provide free trout fishing on a par with many exclusive syndicate waters. Wading this 200 yard stretch on a late spring evening, has never failed to enchant me, the hard fighting wild brown trout a bonus to be savoured.

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Appetite whetted, it was time to check out my river fly fishing gear, knowing that I would be looking at a six month time warp since it was hung up and abandoned. I’d had many good intentions over the period, but despite a perfectly adequate heater, bench and light in my shed, there was always something else more important to distract my attention. An easy job is cleaning the fly line, which of course should have been done on my return from fishing, but like the rest of my gear, it had been ignored and I was looking at a tan line, stained grey by the swollen river of my last visit. At least I still had some cleaning gel left and heated the container with boiling water to melt it back to a fine liquid state. As the cleaning process was started, the line run round the back of two seats to keep it off the ground, a tissue moistened with the fluid, worked over it, I was reminded why I hadn’t bothered with it before. The plastic coating was cracked and picking up tissue, the coils now a series of flats. When asked about Christmas presents, a fly line was not on my list. New shirts and underwear cannot compensate for a state of the art line.

Next on my list was a browse through my various fly boxes, including a round plastic container with a secure flip top, carried in my fishing waistcoat, which became a deposit box. Successful flies were snipped off and dropped in to join many others, often wet and coated in mouth slime. Over time this became a ball of entangled hooks, only to be unravelled, when stocks were running low of the current favourite fly. This did not look good and mildew had set in. More hot water, a dessert bowl and some washing up liquid soon separated the sticky mass and individuals could be picked out and left to dry on some tissue, the dry flies among them will need retreating with floatant. Saddest sight of all was my Mayfly box, left closed for nine months, it was just a collection of hooks with the odd bit of fur, and feather. There was no sign of the mites, that had gorged on these once beautiful creations, while locked in their metal prison.

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It was time to get the fly tying box out, to replace flies lost to trees and rocks, while others were chewed, but repairable. I’ve given up tying winged dry flies, such as mayflies, but most nymphs are within my scope, and have found that variations of Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear (using rabbit fur) and my own Black Devil, weighted and unweighted are all I need for the season. The only dry fly I do tie, is a Deer Hair Emerger on various coloured dubbed bodies, which again works year round. Like most anglers, I have too many flies, having been tempted by internet offers over the years and doubt that I will ever need to buy another Klinkhammer. My basic flies do work and was grateful for a couple of wet mornings to replenish my stocks.

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This wild brown could not resist a Black Devil on a cold early season afternoon.

Through the wonders of the Internet, a fresh range of pretty mayflies were installed in a long forgotten fly box, found while searching through my pike fishing gear, my reel was greased,  ready to accept a reasonably priced No 5 weight floating line, that was on special offer and the flies were reorganised into groups. I’m ready.

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CZ 452 HMR Varmint long range accuracy cannot be eclipsed

March 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Breakfast in the garden watching the solar eclipse was abandoned, when thick clouds blanketed out any view of the sun, until once the moon had passed on it’s inevitable orbit, the skies cleared to reveal blue skies again. Like so many in the South of  England, who felt cheated by the weather gods from viewing this rare event, I was determined to do something to compensate. That something involved a 25 miles drive to my most northern shooting permission, high in the Chiltern Hills, where without a visit for nine months, I expected a rabbit bonanza, having already warned the butcher to clear a space in his cold room.


Disappointment number two was waiting for me, when informed by Phil the cattle farmer, that my precious rabbits had been gassed by his arable farming neighbour bordering the land. High petrol prices and nearer permissions had kept me from my pest control duties here and young oil seed rape plants had proved too tempting for the rabbits. Four, or five visits a year were all it took to keep the numbers in check and now I had paid the price too. Given time they will be back and so will I. All was not lost, as there is a warren at the other end of the farm. This I had decimated years ago, but fresh grass and ideal burrowing ground retained a small rabbit population, of which I now pinned my hopes of avoiding a wasted journey.

Parking in the folds of a small river valley, I climbed the gate and began to ascend the grassy downland towards the warren that abuts the hedgeline of the field, seeing the outlines of several rabbits as I breasted the top of the hill. Exposed against the skyline, I watched white tails flash in the sunlight, as one by one the rabbits melted back behind the hedge and the safety of a corner 250 yards away, well out of range of the HMR. Keeping low, I closed the gap, slowly sinking to the ground, when another rabbit came through the fence closer to me and began feeding. Slipping the rifle from it’s bag, while lying flat, I sprung the bi-pod back into position and clipped a 5 shot magazine up into the breech, cocking the bolt.

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Raising up to scan through the scope, I could now see three rabbits shuffling about feeding a 100 yards away and took a bead on the nearest. The supersonic crack from the muzzle broke the silence of the hillside, as the tiny .17 inch diameter bullet hit home, the rabbit flipping over with a reflex leap, disturbing the other two. One ran, but the other only it made as far as the fence, before another headshot tumbled it over the wire. Scanning the hedge line there was no other movement and after a 10 minute wait, got in position in it’s shadow, with a clear view to the corner and beyond.

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The late afternoon sun was still warm, considering it was the last official day of winter, but the shadows were already stretching out as I lay waiting for movement in the corner 120 yards away, where the rabbits had earlier filed out of the field. A pair of pheasants stuck their heads through the brambles and strutted off with straight backs, heads raised towards the opposite hedge to be followed by the rare sight of a guinea fowl wandering out into the sunlight.

As I considered getting up to retrieve the brace of rabbits, something passed behind the fence, sighting my scope on another rabbit, which hopped out into view, but stopped to feed with it’s back to me. Without a clear shot at it’s head, a body shot would ruin the meat and I waited for it to work round, only to be dismayed, when it raised up and went back where it came from, before I could take a shot. They usually oblige by stopping at the edge for a last look round, which ironically it normally is, but this one just kept on going. More minutes and a rabbit ran out from the corner on my side, stopped, then turned towards me. Again no good, a head on shot can pass right through the animal with very destructive consequences. Silent pleading from me and it turned it’s head to the left for long enough, the trigger was squeezed and the rabbit flopped over, before the report could echo back to me.

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A fifteen minute wait without any more coming out to play and I got up to collect these three, taking them back to my bag to paunch, ready for the butcher on the way home. All was packed away ready to go and I stood up for one last look around to see a brown smudge against the green of the field 150 yards away. Another rabbit had come out further round the corner. Getting back down, the rifle was uncased, loaded and cocked ready for one last shot. With hold over, I have shot rabbits at 200 yards on a windless day like this, using the HMR and with confidence I raised the rifle on the bi-pod to sight in line with the eye at the top of it’s head to allow for bullet drop. At that range, the delay between the crack of the bullet and it hitting home is only parts of a second, but it seemed an age before the rabbit jumped forward to remain motionless.

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What a shot, the CZ 452 .17 HMR is a heavy old rifle with the 16 inch Varmint barrel, but it just keeps pumping out the bullets with laser like accuracy on a still day. Packing everything away again, I was pleased to see nothing on view and relieved that it was down hill all the way back to the van, with approaching 10lb in weight of rabbits, plus that again of the rifle. The next task was to negotiate two large towns through the back roads, during the Friday rush hour, to deliver my bounty before the butcher’s shop closed it’s doors for the day, fewer than was expected, but he was happy.


Success and failure on the stick float.

March 19, 2015 at 1:14 am

Spoilt for choice on the last morning of the coarse fishing season, I fancied catching dace on the stick float and headed out after breakfast to a clear fast, flowing river an easy drive from home, having stopped off for fresh red maggots along the way. The local tackle dealer suggested an area new to me and having had it all a bit too easy of late, took up the challenge of the unknown stretch of water.

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Although crystal clear, there was a fair pace to the river, running over a gravel bottom, from shallows to a deep run between trees and I felt that tingle of excitement, as I tackled up my 14 foot trotting rod, the swim looking very chubby. A 9 No.4 John Dean stick float was brought out of retirement, the shot, shirt buttoned down, spreading towards the hook to give control to the float, while allowing the overdepth rig to skip and lift over the bottom, as it was trotted down.

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I’d added a few shakes of Haldi termeric to the maggots, which aid sinking and also in my view to add an extra flavour, which might bring a few fish up into the swim, having scattered a few handfuls upstream, while getting ready. The wind was in my favour, blowing steadily from the north, allowing the line to billow out behind the float, as it was swept down the swim, but being mid March, it also brought a wind chill with it, that soon persuaded me to pull the hood of my jacket up over my cap.

Those first few trots are to suss out the lie of the bottom and I wasn’t surprised when the float dragged under. A casual lift, saw the rod top bend over as if the float was snagged on a weed, but then it bounced and pulled over as a decent fish fought back, then ran across the stream. At first I didn’t recognise the fight, a slow pounding, that gave way to a skating glide, then another deep pounding, someway between a roach and a bream. It stayed down, until close, then glided to the surface for a second, to reveal the grey flank and massive red dorsal fin of a grayling, before diving again. Knowing what a soft mouth they have and aware of the small size 16 barbless hook, I treated the grayling with kid gloves, applying the minimum of pressure, using the current to do the fighting for me, until the pound fish was lying on it’s side ready for the net.


I haven’t caught a grayling for years and having taken out the hook, held it up for the camera, trying to hold the dorsal erect with my thumb. There was still plenty of fight left in this camera shy Lady of the Stream and it bucked in my hand, flipping over the rim of my landing net, to return with a plop to the river. No picture. It was a beautiful fish.

Ah well, that was the first hurdle over, there were some fish in the swim. All the experience in the world cannot overcome that doubt, when faced with a new water, will I catch here? The brain says that it looks right, but not until that float goes down and a fish is on, do you settle down from just drowning maggots, to catching fish.

The maggots went in, half a dozen every cast, thrown left handed upstream, the float dipped, but carried, bobbed and held, then up again. Held back, it pulled under, banging the tip. Missed it, the red maggots reduced to smashed pink skins. Dace, or chub? More tippy bites. Too much feed.  I tried a line closer to my bank and the float disappeared at an angle. Whoa, another good fish, that ran, twisted and turned unseen as it hugged the bottom. Keeping the rod high, I followed it’s every move, a roll and a long bar of silver said rainbow, the fish working it’s way back upstream, remaining deep, until a kiped mouth broke surface to be propelled by the current toward my net. It was a trout sure enough, but not a rainbow, a silvery wild brown trout making it two in thirty minutes.

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There were coarse fish in this swim, the taps and bobs indicating dace, but I couldn’t zero in on them. I tried shallowing up and running through chasing the maggot feed, single and double maggot on the hook, bites but no fish. A change was needed, the float was pulled up another two feet, the shot bulked two thirds down with just a couple of No. 4 on the tail, the lot cast underhand down into the killing zone and held back hard, slowly inched down the swim. Approaching the trees, the float went, followed by line. Sweeping the rod back, the hard rattling fight of a good dace was felt for a few seconds, then it came off. One of the double maggots was smashed. A repeat with a single maggot and the float went again, letting the line run for a second before the strike. That was better, I was in again, but not a dace, as the fish made for the tangle of roots across the river. It was not  large and the run was stopped with a slow backwind, that revealed a chub of around 8oz, when it breeched, before cutting back to the main flow, to begin a head shaking fight to the net, it’s white mouth lifting clear of the rim, as it was scooped up.

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The back of this chub’s throat, was full of crushed red maggots, a sign that the bait was getting down to the fish and I cast back in with confidence, keeping my cool, ignoring the first few dips of the float, letting it run, then holding back again. Down it went, I paused and struck, this time definitely a big dace tumbling over and over in it’s static fight, rattling the rod top,  slowly retrieving against the flow. As I readied the landing net, everything went solid. A pike had taken the dace, slowly moving across to the opposite side of the channel, bending the rod double, as I attempted to pull my hook free, feeling the slow shake of the pike’s head, while it turned with the current and drifted downstream. With a 5lb main line and 3lb link, I stood a chance of landing it, if the pike didn’t wake up, but a sudden spurt put paid to that idea, the float pinging back in a tangle minus it’s hook link.

I seem to be cursed by pike on these rivers, especially when catching dace, which form up in tight shoals, but are normally too quick and translucent under water to be crept up on by these big predators. When hooked, dace roll and tumble on the spot presenting a visible target, losing their natural advantages.

Tying on a fresh hook link, it was ten minutes before the dace returned to the feed and fifteen before a confident take saw another dace struggling to escape. Briefly, the line slackened, when the dace skated to the surface pursued by the pike, only to be grabbed in a boil of green spotted water, the orange variegated tail flapping on the surface, before powering away again with it’s spoils. The pike cruised upstream and paused to turn the dace, while I pulled for a break, the line parting on the razor sharp teeth. It was time for a sandwich, washed down with hot tea from the flask, while another link was tied on and I pondered on what to do next.

A bend in the river downstream appeared inviting, but on walking down for a look, snags on both sides of the banks, also seemed likely to hold pike, so I returned to my swim for another go, effectively starting all over again. The dace were long gone and after slogging away for twenty minutes, a trot below the trees produced another small chub, that initially felt like a much bigger fish, but it gave up before being drawn half way back, skimming along on the surface, mouth wide open to the net.

I stuck it out for twenty minutes without another fish. By then it was time to pack up, walking back to the van thinking of the other places I could have tried on the last day, but also grateful that I’d had some excitement, the high point being the grayling, the low, another session ruined by a pike. You win some and you lose some.

Memories of the Sowerbutts roach pole

March 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Sitting having a pint the other night, I was tapped on the shoulder by a stranger, who enquired about my long lost youth. Had I lived in a certain place  and been a member of the village fishing club? Taken aback, I stared hard at the craggy face opposite, before agreeing that I had, but not recognizing his name, when offered and feeling ashamed, when he knew mine. Unfazed, Ray went on to recall long forgotten members of the club and trips that we had been on in hired coaches, Eddie playing his mouth organ as we travelled, a few humming along to the tunes, while puffing on Old Holborn roll-ups. It was when he mentioned the stopping point on our way back from these early matches, the Five Horse Shoes pub on Remenham Hill, that the memories returned, of piping hot home made pasties, games of darts and being allowed an under aged half pint of brown ale, that the scales fell from my eyes, Ray being revealed as a skinny ginger kid, one of my rivals for the Junior Cup. That red mop was now bald, my black hair grey, but for ten minutes we were lads again.

We joined the village fishing club, chaired by a wheezy trade unionist, Bob, who ran a tight ship, whom even the senior members were afraid of, but who was probably the club’s best angler. Meetings were a serious affair and we juniors were expected to keep our opinions to ourselves, until “Any other Business?” was declared and then only when Bob gave us the nod. The club was affiliated to the London Anglers Association, which was also run along trade union lines, but being democratic, gave even the smallest group a crack at some of the best waters along the Thames, including the many gravel pits. It was on one of these pits, that Bob demonstrated his Sowerbutts 16 foot, 8 section, cane roach pole, which had a split cane top joint, to which was whipped a metal crook, with a knicker elastic shock absorber attached. This was a heavy bit of kit, with polished brass ferrules, which he rested sideways across his lap, the bottom section being about 2 inches in diameter, acting as a counter balance. Bob was fishing squares of bread crust in about 8 feet of water, with a crow quill float. As if they had been trained, once the float settled, the roach would steadily make off with the bait. Bob would thump the end of the pole over his lap, setting off a spring reaction, that carried along the pole to the tip, hooking the roach, the elastic stretching down into the water. He would then bring the pole back, unshipping the quick release sections as he did, until he could net the fish. A master of a lost art. He invariably won the matches, roach on bread, or hemp being his speciality. Matches in those days were size limit, which meant all those roach weighed in, had to be a minimum 8 inches long.

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This was Bob’s treasured possession, being kept in a velvet bag, the brass fittings wiped with tallow to allow the joints to slide freely. We   shared a punt with him, moored across the Thames weir stream at Windsor, Ray at one end and myself at the other, while the maestro sat on his heavily varnished home made box, complete with draws and a padded, lift up lid, where all his secrets were hidden. A continental tackle box before the name was invented. We sat on our canvas covered Efgeeco boxes, me with my ultra modern 12 foot Appollo Taperflash, tubular steel rod and Ray with his 12 foot Richard Walker split cane float rod, both of us using Aerial centrepin reels. Bob carefully withdrew each section of his Sowerbutts from it’s bag and placed them in order, resting on a towel against the gunwale of the punt, like a surgeon preparing for an operation. We were all a rush, banging about on the wooden boards, being restrained in our enthusiasm by a drawn out “Shuussh!” and a chesty cough from Bob.

Float rigs kept on winders were the norm then and we were soon ready to fish, once our mentor had plumbed the depth, giving us the nod of approval. Following by example, we dropped a handful of hemp each over the back of the punt to drift down in to the swim, scattering a few seeds in front to draw fish up. Ray and I trotted down and were soon missing bites from dace, while with a wide brimmed sun hat concentrating his gaze, Bob hunched over his pole waiting for a movement. Occasionally Bob dropped another handful of hemp behind the boat, silently ignoring our youthful chatter, as we swung in small dace, sitting like a heron poised for action. Thump! The pole bent over as the elastic bounced and he shipped back, swinging in a 6 oz roach, acknowledging the fact with a wry smile. Relighting his roll-up for a few puffs, then hitting into another roach, his bait resting just on the bottom, where a shoal of his target fish, roach, were beginning to gather in numbers.

The event was the club’s annual punt match, with members in five punts and I’m sure the old timer was not happy with the draw, having to share with us two whippersnappers, but he was now putting some sizeable fish in his net, most of our dace not meeting the required seven inches. Being nearest to the bank, I had slower water in front of me and set my float over depth, resting the rod across the punt to eat a sandwich. The float bobbed and sank, my first roach soon to be hustled aboard. The measuring stick said nine inches, well within the size limit and it joined the few dace in my net. When roach get the smell of hemp seed, the bites become unmissable and as more began to fill the net, respect for my elders diminished, Bob was still pulling them in, while I was getting more, trotting my float further down the flow, holding back the cork Avon float. Excited I began to feed out in front of me, taking the fish further down out of reach of the Sowerbutts, while I could inch the float towards them. Bob cursed me, blaming me for ruining his swim. He was right of course, fed correctly there were roach for all, but I got carried away with my success, did it all wrong and won the match, more by luck than judgement. As Bob knew, fishing over depth with a near stationary bait was the answer, I needed to eat a sandwich to realise it.

What a host of memories Ray brought back, he had joined the Navy and left the area, returning to his roots many years later. He still has that rod in the loft, as I do the Taperflash. I got it down a few years ago, giving it a wave about and wondered how I ever managed to catch anything with it. Ray would like to take up fishing again, email addresses have been exchanged, so watch this space.




Chub on bread punch dominate

March 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

Tipped off that the Basingstoke Canal was coming back on form following an indifferent winter, I resolved to take the fifteen mile drive to one of the more productive areas and plunder the  roach and skimmer bream shoals. Ready with a white loaf liquidised and some slices ready for the punch, I began loading the van with tackle. It was bitterly cold with a gusting wind, but the Basi is forgiving on that count, running through wooded banks, where a protected area can always be found and facing south, the sun can be warming, even on the frostiest day.

Reverse gear was selected and as I moved off, a cursory glance at my wife’s car revealed a flat rear tyre. On the rim, it was a puncture, a shiny screw head visible between the treads. Park the van, raise the car on the jack and take the wheel off. Her car has one of those space saver tyres for emergencies, but there is no way, that she would ever drive with it fitted. There was nothing for it, but to squeeze the tyre in among the tackle and drive the van to the tyre centre in town. Fortunately the tyre could be repaired within 30 minutes. Precious fishing time! For something to do, I walked the two hundred yards, to where the main feeder stream of my local river runs under the road. Last week it was roaring through and heavily coloured, today it ran clear, babbling over the stones. A change of venue was decided upon. I could make up the lost time by only taking the two mile drive back to the weir pool visited the previous week.

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The river was running at half the pace of last week, having dropped by eight inches and looked a much better prospect. Last week I had a whole range of baits, but prepared for the canal, only had bread and a few red worms, but this wasn’t a challenge, as this swim is usually chock full of big roach, while chub and other species are always present. The main problem here can be running out of bread feed, if the fish come on strong, but as I was hoping for a similar situation on the canal, that one was covered.

The same rig as last week come out, a 6 No 4 Ali stick float to 5 lb line and a 16 hook to 3lb. This is ideal for trotting through the swim, then holding back at the edge of the weir stream, while for later on, it has the weight to be held back in the full force of the white water. Due to the flow, I opted to use rolled strips for the punch, which do not get washed off the hook. To start, three egg sized balls were put in, enough to kill a canal swim, but here just a starter for ten, one inside, down the middle and the other towards the far bank, just upstream. I could see the balls sink and break, still being carried at a fair pace, so dropped the float in close and let the float run through. It dragged under. On the bottom? No, the rod bent into a hard running fish, that dived for the base of the bush, but the 14 foot Browning rod has a lot of backbone and soon had the white gaping mouth of a chub sliding across to the net.

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First cast, first fish, a 6oz chub, the 6mm bread pellet still on the hook. Next trot I shallowed up six inches and the same pellet accounted for a slightly larger chub.

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This is how it went for the following half hour, sometimes the float would reach the white water, at others it would sink out of sight the moment it hit the river. I’d been putting in big pinches of bread every cast, which was drawing the chub out of the fast water into the shallow river. The chub were in the 4 to 8 oz range, good fun to catch, but I was hankering after a change. It was time to top up the bread crumb.

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Adding 6 inches to the depth, I threw a couple more balls, just short of the white water in the hope of drawing some bigger fish up from the stream, guessing that the small chub were hoovering up the crumb before it got there. Casting to the edge and holding back,  the float disappeared in seconds and the pounding fight let me know it was a roach, before the float reappeared. This is not an easy swim to fish, the high bank allows good control of fish, but it is also a bit of a birdcage, with branches overhead, which make contact with the rod top, when bringing them to the net. The answer is to bend over and lean out to net all fish, while keeping the butt close the ground, not ideal, but it works.

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A nice roach made a change, then more small chub. I made a longer cast into the fast water, just easing the float down, holding the tip clear of the foam. It went under and I struck into a bright red rudd. They are supposed to live in placid lakes and rivers, but this one certainly hadn’t read the rule book.

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Another few chub and the gudgeon had moved onto the feed, every put into the hotspot at the edge, resulted in the deep hard fight from the bottom feeders.

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With nothing to lose, I piled in a few more egg sized balls, smacking into another six ounce chub. Next trot to the edge, the float glided under the foam and I felt the weight of a very good fish, which stood and fought, before sweeping down stream, as I backwound to cushion the load. It hugged the inside, taking line round the corner, bending the rod double against the force of the flow, the float briefly appeared, then swept up stream. It was making for the bush on my side, as I pushed the rod out in front of me, while reeling back to gain line. A black tail and the light bronze flash of a big chub broke surface, as it turned towards me, rolling, then diving for the bank beneath the bush. In seconds it snagged me, transferring the hook to a root. All went solid. I pulled for a beak, the line going at the hook.

It took me a couple of minutes to whip another hook to the line by hand, my float following more balls of bread feed. Bang, another roach was battling away, the best of three that afternoon. I had expected more, but there was still time.

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A magic triangle had formed, where I could not fail to hook a fish. This is how it can get on the bread punch, the feed coating the bottom and drifting down, while unlike maggots, the fish don’t get overfed so easily, but frantically search mopping up the feed. Another rudd took the bread, dashing all over the river, using it’s deep flanks to glance off the current.

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The next bite rattled the rod top and I lifted into another heavy fish, which dived and came off, the line pinging back in a tangle round the float.

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I’d been fighting a vicious wind all afternoon, my hands were freezing and the thought of struggling to unravel this one was too much, although it was tempting, as it seemed as though the better fish had finally moved in. The sun was now low and I’d been in shadow for a while; it could only get colder. A last cup of tea and I was ready to pack up.

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Around six pounds of fish from a busy hundred and fifty minutes, all taken on the bread punch for a cost of less than 50 pence. The bonus for me was to arrive home to a warm kitchen and the spicy aroma of bread pudding, laced with blue berries, the byproduct of the dicarded crusts, when the bread was liquidised.