Bread punch chub and roach beat the cold

January 21, 2016 at 10:11 am

The rains have gone, but a chill wind from the north was threatening snow, when I arrived at the local river this week and despite bright sunshine, it was definitely thermals weather. Evidence of the recent storms was everywhere, finding yet another banker swim a tangled mess of twisted tree trunks and broken branches. Another rotten tree had fallen along the bank at a bend in the river, this time creating casting room and just leaving space for my tackle box. This would do fine.

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Even at 1pm, the sun was just above the houses behind me, warming the back of my neck as it passed through the trees. Protected in the narrow combe, the harsh wind from the north was reduced to a steady upstream breeze, ideal for my chosen method, the stick float. There was a good pace to the river and as I tackled up the colour changed from slightly cloudy to a bright orange, the builders of the new housing estate upstream were washing off their sandy roadways again.

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By the time that I was ready to fish, the colour had washed through and a couple of balls of liquidised bread lobbed close to the far bank, were followed by my first cast of the afternoon. Running through at half depth, the 3 No 4 stick float was slowed by the line pulling off my closed face reel and when the float lifted, I guessed that a small roach, or rudd was sucking at the 5 mm pellet of bread. Wrong. A halfhearted strike was met by  solid resistance, followed by a boil as the fish darted toward the far bank, bending my lightweight Hardy to the butt. A flash of silver outlined a decent chub, before it ran off upstream, charging this way and that in the shallow river, turning onto it’s side eventually to slide into the net.

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The size 16 barbless hook dropped out in the net, this pound plus chub, still full of fight, opening up the score. Another ball of bread was again followed by the float, which this time ran the length of the trot with just the odd dip, but stopping it’s motion with my finger over the reel provoked a firm pull down of the tip and I struck into my first roach, which bounced it’s way back to the net.

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With a start like this, the cold was soon forgotten, but now the roach were getting smaller and I decided to increase the depth by 18 inches to trip bottom, to fish over the sunken bread crumbs. Letting it run at half speed, then checking the float at the first sign of a bite, usually resulted in a slow drag under and another better roach pounding away.

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The orange water began to wash through again and the bites stopped, so I put in two more balls and increased the depth again by another 6 inches, holding back firmly. The float bobbed, then sank. This time a gudgeon had taken the bait. Then more came swinging in, until the river cleared again and the roach came back, small ones at first, then a few clonkers.

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The roach seemed to like the slight tinge of silt, while the gudgeon preferred the sandy colouration, either that, or the roach didn’t like the sand and stopped feeding, allowing the gudgeon to get at the bread. Whatever the case, the roach lined up on the bread coating the bottom, the float going down every time it reached the hot spot, one small chub  getting in on the act, before the dreaded sand came through again. It was 4 pm, gudgeon were taking again, the sun had gone and I was getting cold, despite the thermal underwear, so decided to pack up, despite there still being good light. Putting my rod away, I felt a twinge of regret seeing the river clear, knowing that the roach would soon be back.

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I better result than I expected on such a bone chilling day, quality roach, boosted by the chub for a weight of over 6 lb.


Rabbit loin, bacon and asparagus cottage pie

January 16, 2016 at 6:54 pm

With four rabbits earmarked for more bunny burgers, I set about separating the loins in preparation for a family favourite, which includes smoked bacon loins with asparagus baked under a cheesy potato topping.

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Serves 4

500g  Rabbit Loins, removed from either side of the spine. Sliced into bite size chunks across the loin

250g  Smoked Bacon Loin. Slice into lardons, then rough cut into 20 mm pieces

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1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 large onion – coarsely chopped

125g Asparagus Spears rough cut into 30 mm lengths

I tbsp Plain Flour

2 tbsp Cre’me Fraiche, or Double Cream

1 cup Water

800g Mashed Potato add – 2 tbsp Butter, 2 tbsp grated Cheddar Cheese and 1 tbsp Milk. The potatoes can be quartered and boiled ready for mashing, as the meat is being prepared, the mash ready at the end of cooking.

2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese grated to act as a mash topping

This dish needs no seasoning, or stock, as the smoked bacon provides enough.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions, turning to soften for a few minutes. Remove from the pan, then add the asparagus pieces, increase heat until browned at the edges, then remove. Now introduce the two meats to the pan, the fat from the bacon will help cook the rabbit through, then add the vegetables again.

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Sprinkle over the flour, until it thickens, adding water, stirring as you go, bringing to the boil to thicken the sauce, then mix in the the cre’me fraiche, until all the contents are covered. Pour the the mixture into a large casserole dish.

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Now add the cheesy mashed potato to the dish, spooning it over to cover evenly, using a fork to spike up the surface. Sprinkle over the Parmesan, adding a tomato garnish, if wished. Place under a hot grill, until the top is browned and the cheese melted.

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 A simple, but very flavoursome dish, which can be ready, start to finish in just 30 minutes.






Carp reward last resort

January 11, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Finding a few hours when it wasn’t teeming with rain, or blowing a gale, sometimes both, put a block on my sporting efforts this week. A shooting expedition saw me holed up in a farmhouse kitchen drinking tea, while I waited for an unforecasted storm to pass, giving up when the biscuits came out. Supposed dry days turned out to be wet, while the wet ones were.  At last a day came where heavy morning rain was driven away by a gusting cold wind, with bright sunshine and I ventured out, first to my local river, where, as expected, it was rushing through level with the bank, then backtracking to the lake that I had fish last week. Here the level was up by about a foot, the balance pond absorbing the flash flood water of the stream that flows into it. The eastern side now transformed into a slow moving river, whipped by the wind. With houses set on a high bank, the western side was in the lee and the surface relatively calm.

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The water was now a mucky brown, not very encouraging, but the sun was still shining along this bank and I decided to give it an hour, setting up a hundred yards from the car park. Unlike last week, there were no cruising carp, the air temperature well down and the influx of fresh cold water bringing the change. The same rig went onto the Normark twelve and a half footer, 6 lb line to a 14 barbless under a chunky pellet waggler, which as it turned out was right for the windy conditions, but wrong for the now fussy carp. I mashed up some white bread slices and threw the balls out toward the island, the floating crusts ignored by fish and ducks alike, casting the punch baited rig into the area. After 10 minutes without a movement, I was getting restless, then the float dipped and popped back up a second later. I waited for another five minutes and reeled back in to find the bread gone. Another cast, another wait. The float disappeared and I sat looking at an empty space, before it registered on my brain, striking just as it popped up again. Fish were active, but only sucking at the bait. Was it only small rudd? Next cast, I studied the float intensely, it gave two sharp bobs and I struck. Bang! The line went solid, then V’d off toward the island, running round to the left, a good fish. Backwinding to ease the initial run, the rod took the strain, turning the fish into open water, stirring up the black mud in clouds and collecting a couple of twigs on the way back to the net.

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Well worth the visit, this fat 6 lb common carp literally took my breath away, running left and right in the shallow water, a cup of reviving tea needed before I was able to rebait, then cast back to the area. Bubbles were now beginning to break the surface and I wet, then mashed another slice, the ball disintegrating on contact.

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Punching out three 7 mm pellets and squeezing them onto the size 14 forged hook, the point was covered, giving the fish plenty to suck on, which they were obviously doing, without running off with the bait in true carp fashion. I looked in my box for a float that would be more sensitive, while carrying weight for casting and stability, coming up with a couple of candidates, but opted to stay with what was working, intending to strike at any prolonged activity.

Well into my second hour, the sun had sunk behind the houses and the cold was creeping into my bones. The bobbing bites had kept my interest, I’d missed several and hit another decent carp only to lose it close in. A couple of sharp taps of the float resulted in a strike that made contact again, this time a more manageable common of around 3 lbs. This one was enough for me and with a warm home beckoning less than half a mile away, I packed up.

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These carp are all built like battleships and in perfect condition, the lake among the houses, a little gem enjoyed by just a few local anglers, who are aware of it’s presence. With my preferred local water still fenced off undergoing work by the council, this is high on my list for another visit soon.