Winter bread punch carp from the duckpond

December 30, 2015 at 5:26 pm

A post Christmas dinner walk is a tradition in my family and armed with bread for the ducks, we trekked the half mile to the banks of a small lake, set among the houses near our home, to find that even the seagulls were disinterested in our offerings, the surface of the lake already littered with crusts. If the ducks were full, the local carp population was not, the unseasonably warm weather bringing the fish up to the surface to feed, watching whole slices of bread broken up and devoured in minutes.

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A few days later, with my last visitors homeward bound, the van was loaded and parked beside the lake, where I could see the surface dimpled by rising fish, sucking in the latest free offerings. The lake was formed for flood relief of the stream that runs through it and following a recent freak downpour, it had almost burst it’s banks, which has resulted in the local council lowering the level of the outlet, leaving barely eighteen inches of water covering the silt.

Down wind of the main duck feeding area, a dark stain of silt was stirred up by the feeding fish and I set up my twelve and a half foot Normark match rod with a simple float rig, 6 lb line running through to a weighted pellet feeder waggler float, with a 12 inch, 5 lb hook link, to a size 14 forged barbless. For bait I’d considered floating crust, but opted for double punched white bread, the second punch tending to tear rather than cut, giving a more natural looking pellet with a fringe on top.

With fish out in front of me, there was no need to feed and a 25 yard cast put the float right in among them. The intial splash of the heavy float spooked the fish, but five minutes later the float bobbed and lifted as a carp sampled the bread, before sinking out of sight, my rod arcing round, when it met the running line. In the shallow water, a bow wave zoomed toward the island, slowed by the slipping clutch of my reel and backwinding, the carp turning away to open water, then circling back to run along the front of the island, before turning again to fight below trees to my left. On this tackle, bullying was not an option, but eventually the carp was in the net.

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Round like a barrel, this carp was 17 inches long and scaled over 7 lbs, the size 14 barbless, just holding in the side of the mouth. A fresh white medium sliced loaf provided the bait, the 7 mm punched pellets fitting well on a size 14 hook.

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Next cast in the bite was more fussy, the float pulled under and I waited for the run, but after two seconds it popped up again. Bringing it in, the bait was still there, but obviously sucked. New bait on, I cast in again. More bobs, then a hold down and I struck. This time a smaller fish stood it’s ground and fought all the way to the net with only token runs, which at first sight looked like a large crucian carp, but with a down turned mouth I reasoned it was a hybrid.

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I dropped the next two fish, the second taking the float under and running toward me, before I could strike, then turning away setting the hook, which it threw with a spectacular leap, spiraling through the air. The hot spot was now devoid of bites, the fish were still rising to bread on the surface, but apart from dipping the float from time to time, they had learned to avoid it. A cast to the virgin water in the middle of the lake saw the bait taken on the drop and I was soon playing another fast running common, reducing it’s runs each time, until netted.

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A shower of rain had chilled the air, visibility was dropping with a weak sun sinking behind the houses and following another dropped fish, I decided on just one more cast toward the island. A fish was moving inches below the surface, nudging more bits of floating bread from the steady stream of visitors, the wind blowing a constant supply to it’s mouth. It edged closer to the float, which sank amidst a swirl and I struck into a more powerful fish, a shower of spray heralding an almighty run beneath the overhanging branches of the island. The rod doubled round despite my rapid back winding, other carp swirling out of the way of it’s run, heavy kicks screeching the clutch, as I tried to stop it’s progress round the back of the island. With nothing to lose apart from maybe a broken rod, I hung on and it swung away from the island, arcing round into open water, where I could retrieve line, a black trail of silt marking it’s position. It remained unseen, until seconds before being netted, expecting to see a double figure fish, after this battle, but the sight of another fin perfect common of 7 lb did not disappoint.

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A recent report said that white bread is not a good diet for ducks, but it does not seemed to harm these carp, probably more usual carp baits such as boilies and halibut pellets will catch more fish, but my method provided an interesting afternoon’s sport.

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Beside my swim, a small shrine had been set up with night lights. Maybe a night fisherman had been trying to invoke a bit of supernatural assistance.

Bread punch mixed bag

December 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm

The mild December continues, but stormy weather is always a threat and was undecided on where to go this week for some fishing, my local pond still fenced off awaiting work to commence. Due to be finished before Christmas. Ha! I opted for a stretch of my local river not visited this year, where I know I can catch a few chub up to a pound on the stick float.

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Crossing the bridge, one look at the river made me think it was in flood, due to the colour, but with the main stream running clear, the side stream feeder was the culprit. A year ago the road skirting the stream ran through farmland, but now that land is covered in earthworks and new house construction, over 2,000 planned, with surface site run off pouring straight into the feeder stream. Continuing downstream, a new culvert has been constructed, draining directly into the river from the site opposite, exactly at the head of my chub swim, sludge carpeting the bottom. So much for my plans.

My initial reaction was to turn round and go home, but curiosity took over, wondering how far down this contamination extended, finding the river still coloured two hundred yards further down, although the heavier deposits had now settled out.

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Setting up on the outside of a bend, the flow pushed into the bank on my side and I was confident that if I was to catch chub anywhere, this would be the place. While setting up, I’d lobbed a couple of balls of liquidised bread in close to the bank and first cast in the float sank out of sight, my 12 ft Hardy rod bending into solid resistance. Big chub! No, a submerged shopping trolley was lurking in the murky water, right on the ideal fishing line. I pulled for a break, the whole rig pinging back, my decision to use 5 lb main line to a 3 lb hook link paying off.

Taking a mental note of the trolley position, I fed further out directly in front of me, an underhand cast dropping the float in behind. Again the float sank away, but this time the rod bounced and a rudd was skimming over the surface, soon to be scooped into the net.

cut 005With the feed going in upstream, fish were taking every cast, a 5 mm pellet of bread on a size 16 hook, finding a string of rudd, each one taking the hook well down, but removed with a flick of the disgorger. I began swinging them in, only to lose a 6 ounce fish, as I lifted off, the barbless hook coming out at the critical moment, the fish swimming off taking the shoal with it. Further down the swim, gudgeon were eager to take their place, as usual fighting well beyond their weight. A few small roach had begun to show and I took a chance, introducing a handful of ground carp pellets to the bread, hoping to bring bigger roach to the punch, but the opposite happened and I was flooded out with gudgeon, getting them one a chuck.

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The sky had now clouded over, the light falling away despite it only being 2 pm; if the forecast was correct, there would be rain by 3. A downstream wind was now ruffling the surface and I had to change lines again, fishing over depth, easing the 3 No 4 stick down toward the waiting shopping trolley.

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Back to plain white bread feed, I set about building another swim close in, a sail away bite welcoming the return of the rudd. In again, the float dragged under. Bang, solid resistance and a run to the far bank, before I could backwind, then a run downstream. Next second, the fish was snagged in the trolley, but it came free running up beneath the overhanging tree behind me. Side strain and it came back, only to dive beneath my bank, pulling hard to reveal a pound chub, which was promptly ushered into the net. Frantic action, that lasted maybe two minutes.

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The hook was barely hanging on by a thin bit of skin in the bottom lip, which considering the pressure applied to land this chub, it’s amazing that it held. Also it shows how easy it would be to transfer the hook to a snag. My lucky day.

cut 013Another rudd, and more gudgeon were still pulling the float under, despite the conditions worsening, the wind lifting the float from the water in some gusts and I had entered the “just one more fish” state of mind prior to packing up, when the float held under as a good roach took the bait. The bight colours made me think it was a rudd as it fought midstream, but once in my hand, the overhanging lip confirmed it’s species.

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Thinking that there was going to be a last minute rush of roach, I fished on for a few more casts, but gudgeon were the only takers and with the first drops of rain already falling, I made ready for a rapid exit. It had been a busy two and half hours of feeding and fishing, the trolley had stopped me making the most of the swim, while the weather had once again literally put a damper on things. It will be a shame, if this little river, already hemmed in by the urban sprawl of a major town, ends it’s days full of silt, or worse still, culverted beneath concrete to suit the town planners.

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The scales pushed round to over 4 lbs, helped by about 40 fat gudgeon and the chub, mostly small stuff, the enjoyment coming from not knowing what will be on the end, when that float goes down.

December rabbits fall to the Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto.

December 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

In December I try to get round to my various shooting permissions for a chat with the owners and to confirm my shooting rights for another season, taking a rifle, but not expecting to see much to shoot, due to frosts, floods, or snow. This year in the south of England daffodils are flowering and the grass is still growing, while the North suffer all of the above, a visit to the local equestrian centre this week being bathed in warming winter sunshine.

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Rounding a corner, the sight of half a dozen rabbits feeding at the edge of the wood took me by surprise and I stepped back behind the cover of a fence to plan my next move. They were about eighty yards away, too far for a safe shot with the .22 Magtech, but a stout fence post stood directly between me and them, enough cover for a slow walk forward. Once at the post, the range was down to 60 yards and I rested the rifle for a shot, but the low sun was shining across the lense of the scope, glaring out the sight picture. Lifting my hand to shield the sun was enough scare the rabbits, as one by one they hopped back into the brambles, but an individual paused long enough for the trigger to be squeezed, knocking it down.

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Reaching the young buck, I was happy to see the result, a perfect head shot, having aimed just below the ears with a 50 yard zero, the bullet had dropped about an inch. I had spent time earlier in the year setting up the sights and was confident that the bullet would go where expected.

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Entering the wood with the magnification on the scope down to x4, I was ready for my next target, as I approached the area of the fleeing rabbits, stopping every few yards to survey the ground ahead. A movement to my left and a rabbit trotted out into the bright sunlight. It stopped, then dropped, as I followed it’s track with the scope and fired.

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Number two, probably from the first group. I waited, but no more appeared so steadily made my way down the path, pigeons bursting out of the trees above as I progressed. Oh for a shotgun right now. Due to the four legged residents on this 80 acre equine site, even my Magtech was vetted for sound by the owner, a shot gun would be guaranteed to scare the horses, so no deal.

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Having shot this wood for about ten years, certain areas are bankers and the clearing ahead proved it’s worth again with the sight of a feeding rabbit 50 yards away. Head down, with it’s back to me, I got down prone with the rifle resting on my bag, waiting for the shot, the scope back to maximum. It moved a foot to the left and crumpled from another head shot.

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Three rabbits in the bag from the first 100 yards of wood, again probably one of those seen earlier, enough to dent the population trend for a while. Passing out of the wood and following one of the rides around the perimeter, there were no more signs of my quarry, although a muntjac deer scurried across my path, flushing a cock pheasant into the open, both off limits to me.

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I turned a corner to reveal another hot spot, where in summer there is ample cover, today an 80 yard no-man’s land opens up across the edge of a field to a warren in the far hedge. There were two big rabbits sitting out, but I needed to get closer to stand a chance and edged forward to rest the rifle on a fence post, spooking one of them back into the hedge, while the other turned to follow, sitting bolt upright. The fence post was not too stable, but I took the shot anyway, aiming high on the head, expecting the 40 grain bullet to drop into the chest. I missed, firing again as it moved forward, then again following it into the bushes. Focussing my eyes on the spot, I walked round to look for a dead rabbit in the undergrowth, but no sign. All three had missed. More haste, less speed.

Looking further along the ride, more rabbits were out on the other side of a sunken lane, which bisects the hedge and I picked my way through this hedge to the parallel ride, approaching unseen. Dropping into the sunken lane I was able to peer through the bushes to see three rabbits only twenty yards away and belly crawled up the slope pushing the shooting bag ahead of me. Resting on the bag, scope mag to x3, the cross hairs settled on the nearest and pop, number four was in the bag.

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This last one was a big doe, twice the weight of the smallest buck, which when skinned and cleaned barely fitted in my bag, making the walk back a bit of a slog. The owners were happy to confirm another season of shooting, agreeing that numbers were down again, the rides being free of rabbit burrows, although a badger set was now spilling out onto a track through the woods. Glad to say, that is not my problem.

Big Perch rewards persistance.

December 11, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Having chanced upon another stretch of my local river, which although close to a narrow lane, had been hidden behind undergrowth during summer, it was now in view through the naked trees, returning this week armed with a pole saw and croppers, intending to cut out a new swim, leaving my rod behind.

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From the road bridge, the river curves round beneath a tree, a virgin section of water protected by a band of brambles 30 feet thick and I set about chopping my way through, coming out onto the bank an easy trot to the overhanging tree. In an hour an area wide enough to accommodate my tackle box had been cleared and I wished that I’d been tempted to bring my gear for a few casts. 

Overnight rain had been rattling against the windows, as yet another winter storm blew in from the Atlantic and the van bow-waved down the flooded lane alongside the river, which was up 6 inches on the day before. The morning clouds had parted to reveal bright sunshine, but with more wind and showers due in the afternoon, I was keen to get fishing from the new swim and was soon sighting my tackle box next to the bank. My usual set up of the Hardy 12 footer, 3 No 4 stick float, a bag of liquidised bread, slices for the the hook, plus a few brandlings from the compost heap for a change of bait, were all I needed, travelling light without spare reels, rod bag, or keepnet.

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The river was now quite coloured, with increased pace, the flow pushing along my side under the brambles, watching the first balls of bread twist and turn, before breaking up. Dropping the float rig in off the end of my rod top, it drifted three feet, then dived under the brambles, as a small chub took the bread, striking sideways to pull the fish away from the bank.

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The net came out for the first of many times for this six ounce chub, the fish lined up in the slower water along the edge, each trot going further down the swim before the float slid away. Specimen hunters will scoff at these chublets, but I have never grown tired of watching a float go under and soon the float needed to reach the confines of the overhanging tree before it sank, each strike being flat level with the surface to avoid the trailing branches, the rod bending double with the initial run.

Gudgeon were now beginning to bother the bread pellet, the float dipping and bobbing, often knocking the bait off, before I could strike. The gudgeon hooked were all good size, fighting deep, but getting in the way of bigger fish and I dipped into the worm box for a fat brandling, cutting it in half , before hooking it on the 16 barbless. First trot down with the worm, the float lifted and drifted across behind the trailing branches, bumping a good fish on the strike. Used to a fast strike on the bread, I’d not allowed enough time for the worm to be swallowed and paid the price again, just a straggly piece of skin left of the brandling.

The tail section now went on and the float made it’s way down to the tree, checking it’s passage from time to time, the sun illuminating the bright orange tip twenty yards away. It buried, I waited, then struck, another hard fighting little chub battling all the way back along the far bank.

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These chub were never been caught, fin perfect fish, some only six inches long with the worm filling their mouths, the float now flirting with a tangle of water borne branches thirty yards away. Again the float sank and I paused, the line then stripping through my fingers, as a much larger fish took. I was not aware that I struck, just of back winding furiously, with the line speeding off round the bend. This had to be a carp, not a chub, as it kept on running out of sight. My 5 lb line was reel bound, briefly failing to pay out, the lightweight Hardy bending beyond it’s test curve, while the 3 lb hook link held. The run slowed and stopped, the fish sulking mid channel, it’s head buried in rotted reeds, immovable. Minutes passed and I was convinced that the barbless hook had been dumped, reeling down for a break, hoping at least to get the hidden float back. A massive swirl told me that the fish was still there and now moving upstream along the far bank, a roll and a kick revealing a deep body in the murk, keeping on the pressure without forcing the issue. Brute force would not win this battle, the fish swimming in spurts upstream, it’s broad back on the surface, then on it’s side, a large perch, all fight gone, relying on it’s weight alone against the flow of the river. Reaching out with the landing net, the big stripey swam in like a sheep entering a pen, much to my relief.

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The size 16 hook was deep inside it’s mouth, easily pushed out with a disgorger, but secure enough to hold. The perch lay there exhausted, it roughly measuring 13 inches compared to my 16 inch net and after a few quick pics I lowered it back into the river in the landing net, keeping it upstream, until ready to swim off. The forecast rain, along with a gusting wind, arrived during this last fight and I took my cue to exit this exposed high bank position for the comfort of the van, then home for a welcome cup of tea.






Exploration pays off in chub.

December 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

A local road diversion sent me along a lane bordered by my productive little river last week and today I was loaded up and ready to try a swim, that looked very chubby, when I’d driven by. Problem was, that I had a morning visit to my brother-in-law booked for belated birthday wishes and would only have the afternoon free. My plans were further dented, when the sausage rolls and cakes came out and we stayed for lunch, leaving little time for fishing later. Returning home before 2 pm, with my wife busying herself putting up the Christmas tree, I quickly changed and headed off to the new section of river.

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Parking the van, I followed the river upstream to my desired swim, only to realise, yes it looked chubby, but overhanging trees would prevent anything, but a six foot rod from landing a fish. As if to rub it in, a large fish swirled beneath a tangle of branches, when I turned away. I would have to explore further. There were some mouth watering swims, but without a machete, they were inaccessible and turned back past the van to find an open space behind the roadside tangle. Time was getting on and decided to give it a go, forcing my way through a barrier of bramble and twigs, to the relatively open bank beyond.

Setting up my lightweight 12 ft Hardy rod, with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed stick to 5 lb main line and size 16 on a 3 lb hooklink, I followed a ball of liquidise bread with the float rig at 18 inches to test the depth.

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The float dragged under immediately and I silently cursed the shallow water, lifting in the hope, that I hadn’t hooked into a snag first cast, the rod arching round proving me wrong with a small chub diving away.

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Netting the first chub was not easy in this parrot cage of a swim, there being a narrow gap to pass the rod top through as I brought it up and back to sweep the fish into the net, the tip rattling through the finer twigs above me. With the keepnet deployed, I set about filling it, abandoning the landing net to swing the chub in, the bent rod just missing the the overhang each time. My aim had been to trot to the base of the tree opposite downstream, but the float sank out of sight long before it had travelled that far, with chub around the 6 oz mark competing for the bread pellets.

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I had started just before 3 pm and knew an hour’s fishing would be about my limit on this overcast December afternoon, continuing to catch right up to my self imposed time of 4 pm, allowing me to pack up before it got dark. I’d fed about a quarter of a loaf of bread, which kept them interested and never did discover how deep the swim was, most fish, all chub, taking on the drop and had no need to vary the float depth, finishing with eighteen in the net. More feed over a longer period, could produce some larger fish.

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Next visit will see me armed with a pole saw and a bill hook to do a bit of trimming before I fish, a few gems hidden among the undergrowth, just waiting to be exploited.