Tench miss the point at Braybrooke

July 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm

A weekend of rain had cooled everything down, but a strong wind was blowing by 3 pm, when I arrived at Braybrooke Park to fish Jeane’s Pond this week.

Reports of tench and crucian carp coming out, saw me liquidising some frozen sweetcorn to add to my feed, while I also boiled up half a cup of hemp seed to go in the mix.  On the bank, half a pint of liquidised bread, was the base for my feed, sprinkling over some grains of sweet corn, mixing in the liquidised sweet corn and hemp to make four firm balls, that I put in over the shelf 4 metres out, two in front and two in a line toward the lily bed, watching the balls sink quickly to the bottom. For bait I had bread punch slices, sweet corn and some ready prepared tares, which I had bought online, being disappointed that they were no bigger than the hemp seed. I prefer tares that are at least twice as large as the hemp feed. I also had a tub of soft hooker pellets. Used to only bread as bait, it would be interesting to find out what was best on the day, if any?

Within minutes of the feed going in, the surface was a mass of bubbles bursting on the surface and I tackled up a 4 x 16 float, with the shot grouped a foot from the size 14 barbless hook in an attempt to get through “the small stuff” near the surface. A double punched 7 mm pellet of bread was dropped in off the end of my pole and I watched the bait fall through, only to see the float rise and skate off. Expecting a tiny roach, the elastic shot out as I lifted into a quality rudd.

Next drop in the float settled and sat for a minute, then sank away, again firm resistance, this time a roach swinging in to my hand, the size 14 holding firm in the top lip.

More roach and rudd followed, many chasing the bread down. I gave the tares a try, their size more suited to a size 16 hook, but the big hook did not bother the small roach that grabbed the tare. I loose fed a few grains of sweet corn and the rudd came swooping back in, the corn on the hook being attacked immediately, the float zooming off. Surprisingly I missed most of these bites, despite the big hook, the occasional good rudd being landed. Several times a small pike chased my fish to the surface in panic, but I lifted them all clear of its teeth.

I went back on the bread, more roach, then the float bobbed and stayed down as a small, but strong fish fought back. It was a tench, probably one of the 300 stocked last year.

Note the wasp on my hand, the liquidised sweet corn had them crawling all over the bait box, waiting to be crushed by a well positioned plummet. The surface was still a mas of bubbles, the occasional eruption a clear sign of a carp, or larger tench on the feed, but they could not be tempted by bread, corn, or pellet, the float rocking on the surface with the disturbance. The float kept going under, anticipating an epic battle, but even these quality rudd and roach were an anti climax.

The corn, pellet and tare all gave missed bites, the only consistent hook bait being the bread.

I still rang the changes and a big piece of corn attracted a bite that brought out the elastic, that convinced me that a better tench had taken at last, but no, a golden round shape flashing deep, proving to be a nice crucian carp.

I have had a crucian on my last three visits to Jeane’s, it’s a shame there are not a few more, as they fight well in the deeper water. It was now close to 6 pm and I had set my self a three hour time limit to get home for tea and bang on time I connected with my last fish, another quality roach.

Had I learned anything from these bait changes? The bread seemed to hook every time, but even the tiniest of roach and rudd would take the 7 mm punch. I have punches to 12 mm, maybe a much bigger punch on a heavier pole float will get the bait down better. The sweet corn got bites all the time on the bottom, but what looked like definite big fish sinkaways were missed. The tares worked, but only brought fish of a few ounces at best. The pellets were often ignored, but this may have been a different story if I had been feeding them.

It had been a busy three hours of fishing, throwing back many smaller fish, a quick weigh up putting just under 8 lbs on the scales. All the fish were returned in the landing net with no casualties.

Roach and rudd defy the heat at the weir

July 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

The effort of loading my fishing gear into the van, was enough to induce an all over sweat, as 32 C temperatures continued across southern England this week. Heeding advice by the Met. Office to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, I had decided that a couple of late afternoon hours in the shade at the weir on my local river, would be enough to see how the lower end of the fishery had recovered from the 2017 pollution, my last outing there this February producing not a single bite.

Having unloaded and pulled the trolley 200 yards to the weir swim, it was a relief to get my tackle box in position out of the unrelenting sunshine and sit down. I set up my 14 ft Browning match rod, to fish a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float, with bread punch on the size 14 hook. This is my usual rig for this pool, where big chub, roach and the occasional carp could be expected in the past, but today it was all about, what would be biting, if anything. There was very little flow coming down the river to my left, the depth a foot down on normal, while the outfall from the town water treatment works was pushing as hard as ever, creating an eddy that extended well upstream beneath my feet.

A couple of balls of liquidised bread were dropped into the middle and I saw them carried back over to my bank by the eddy. There is usually enough flow to keep the feed and the float down the middle here, the inside bank so full of snags, that it is fished at one’s peril, although worth a few trots to start with, due to a few resident chub being ready to take the bait before the snags do. The biggies were not there, but a 3 oz chub buried the float first cast. A cast to the centre of the foam and the float was gone again, this time a small rudd swinging to hand. In again and now a small roach. A couple more balls went in and the float bobbed a few times and dragged under. A gudgeon came to hand.

These have gone from the upper section of the river, but this little fellow was a welcome sight. I tried a trot along the edge of the foam, holding back in the rapid flow, feeling the line tighten against my finger as the float sank. Bang! This was a better fish, fighting hard across the weir stream, a nice roach having taken the 7 mm pellet of bread.

This is what I had been hoping for, there were still some decent roach here. My next trot through the foam seeing the float plunge as an even larger roach fought for freedom.

I had swung the previous roach in, but this time made the effort to lean out over the high bank with the landing net. These roach have always been infected with the black spot virus, not found elsewhere on the river.

Rudd are supposed to be still water fish, but these prefer the fast aerated water of the weir.

Continuing to feed every few casts kept the bites coming, but now I was having trouble with the punch bread. Not my usual Warburtons Blue, I had tried another supposed “stay fresh” brand that had been on offer at Tescos. From frozen, it was initially too wet and soft for the punch, then going through a rapid drying out cycle in the heat, to become too dry to stay on the hook. It came off, when held back in the flow and was stolen from the hook before a bite could develope. I began striking at every dip of the float, bumping a few better fish. The slices still had their crusts on and tearing these off and punching through the crusts gave a firm hook hold and I was back in business.

This rudd was a bonus among a swarm of small gudgeon, that took over the centre area of the pool, I had been glad to see them at first, but now they were becoming a nuisance.

This gudgeon fought like a demon, running hard into the flow and upstream into the weir stream. A few more ounces and these could be a serious contender.

The bread crusts were now gone and a double punched 7 mm bread pellet gave a dip bite, followed by an instant strike, that bent the rod tip over as another roach made off into the foaming water.

The net came out for the last time for this quality roach, as it was now getting close to tea time, my wife having her marinated chicken kebabs on their skewers, ready for the oven.

Not a massive haul, but about 30 fish in under two hours, proof enough that the river is now worth a longer session, once there has been some rain and the temperatures return to normal.



Bread punch chub dominate river revival

July 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm

A couple of weeks ago I visited my local river for a test fish, to see what species were showing, following six months of continual pollution with waste oil products, that had been washed down the drains of a business upstream of the river. Fishing at the upper end of the stretch, chub had made the running, with a few stocked roach and dace adding to the mix, plus a surprise perch, which took the bread punch bait.

Today I chose a slower, slightly deeper swim toward the middle of the venue, needing to pull out 6 ft high clumps of invasive Himalayan Balsam, before I could get close enough to put my tackle box down. Fish were already topping as I tackled up, trying to keep off the skyline to avoid scaring them off.

Intending to fish the stick float and bread punch, I put in a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread past the middle, while I was tackling up and was rewarded with a slide away bite first cast, my 12 ft Hardy rod bending well over to stop the surging run of a chub.

About six ounces, I had to swing this one in as my landing net had become tangled in the under growth.

Another swinger. Hooked firmly in the lip, the crystal bend barbless size 14 gave confidence with these hard fighting chub on light tackle.

All part of the same year class, these chub were spewing up the bread feed, the float sinking down and away each time.

This fish made a bee line for my bank in an attempt to find a snag, diving left and right in rapid succession, a slightly larger chub may have managed to pass the hook to an underwater branch.

Another slide away bite, but this time a fight that skidded across the surface. A rudd, I thought that all of these had perished in the pollution, but here was one to prove me wrong. These were so common once.

A shoal of rudd had moved in, topped by this beauty, making sure the landing net was ready, when it eventually stopped running and turning.

This used to be a roach river and it was good to see a few roach turning up, the chub were still about and I had just netted this one, when there was an almighty splash ten yards upstream.

Two dogs had seen several ducks sheltering under the tree to my right. They were not on leads and ran down the bank, full tilt into the river, scattering the ducks, appearing from under the branches in pursuit, straight through my swim. “Peter, Daniel! Come here!” Biblical names! The lady owner was standing to my right red in the face with rage, as the two spaniels circled the pool. The ducks had flown, but the dogs could not get up the bank, as it was too overgrown. They disappeared back beneath the branches into the hands of their owner on the bank. She now praised them for returning, then followed them at a pace as they ran off downstream. Not a word of apology!

My swim was dead. I had only been fishing for just over an hour and decided to pack up what I could, then move downstream. Weighing up, there was over three pounds of fish in my net. The roach were just beginning to show. It could have been a productive few hours.

With my rod still made up, I searched out another swim, but most were hidden behind a thick wall of balsam. The one I found was in a jungle of stinging nettles and I set about hacking them down with a bank stick.

I have had good results from this swim in better times and I started off as before, a couple of balls of liquidised bread, then a cast into the area. The float settled and sank and I was playing a six ounce chub.

Another chub and a rudd followed. I was back in business. Moving was a time consuming effort in oppressive heat, but an hour here would make up for the ruined swim upstream. Thunderstorms were promised, but humidity close to drizzle was all I got.

There were a few roach here too, but with little flow, their fussy bites were hard to hit.

Once again it was good to see that the rudd had spread out along the river.

The wind picked up briefly, shaking dried out leaves from the trees, which just sat there with the upstream breeze. Every time I put in a ball of feed, I could see it breaking up and spreading downstream, but the float was trapped each time by the leaves. Two out of three casts resulted in a hung up float rig.

When the bait got down to the fish, I had a bite, usually from a roach. At 1pm I made my last cast, the surface litter was making fishing difficult. The float dithered with a roach bite, dipping and lifting. I struck as the float held under for a second and the rod bent over into another chub, that ran to the far side debris. The fight was short lived and I netted it.

The fact that there seem to be more chub about, may be due to fewer roach. If these chub continue to grow on, next year could see some impressive weights of fish. I just hope that we have seen the last of the pollution.

Two nets of fish from a split session, two hours of fishing time putting over 5lbs on the scales.


Magtech 7002 and CZ452 HMR Stakeout

July 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm

The heatwave continues and with no significant rain for almost two months fields are parched. I have not bothered going out shooting, as with pastures filled with waist high grass, rabbits have been invisible.

While on holiday in Cornwall last week, I had a call from the owner of a cottage that backs onto the land pictured above. He sounded desperate. Rabbits were tearing up his lawn. Could I come over and shoot them? I have shot this garden and the field beyond for years, the cottage owner Mrs Potter, now in her eighties, had reluctantly sold, and moved to a modern serviced flat. The new owner, a local businessman, had embarked on a major modernisation project at the 150 year old property. With the cottage nearing completion, he had started tidying the outbuildings and half acre garden, when I had introduced myself regarding controlling the rabbits. This was a few months ago and he had said that he had never seen a rabbit in the garden, at which I said, “Well there’s one” pointing to a big adult munching fresh grown shoots. I had added my number to his phone, then gone on my way.

The house is still unoccupied and I arrived at my first opportunity this week on a hot evening after 7 pm. Anticipating dozens of rabbits, as described by the owner, I took my Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto and a couple of ten shot magazines for a stalk around the garden, the parched main lawn being surprisingly devoid of rabbits, when I would have expected at least a couple on past experience. With flower beds and hedges, there is plenty of cover in the garden and the Magtech was cocked and ready to fire as I worked my way toward the rear, getting down to peer around every feature. Nothing.

I sat down with my back to a tree, where I had a good view of the rear garden and waited. Ten minutes later three rabbits made their way in single file through a gap in the gate from the overgrown field and spread out hastily grazing fresh green grass. In slow motion I raised the rifle and sighted on a broadside buck 30 yards away, ready to swing to the next target 10 yards on. Boof! The bullet found the upper chest and it collapsed, as my other target darted to one side and stopped. I fired, the rabbit back flipped and ran off. I had hit it, but not stopped it. They had retreated back through the gate and did not return.

I patrolled the garden several times with no other signs of rabbits, although evidence of their presence was everywhere, sheets of mesh covering bare patches of lawn chewed down to the subsoil. Returning the Magtech to the van, I brought out the CZ452 HMR and set up further down the garden with a view to the back fence 60 yards away and within sight of a third of the remaining lawn and flower beds to my left.

The reason that the rabbits had been attracted to the back of the garden was obvious, when I looked around, a sprinkler had been placed there and the fresh growth was in a slight dip, where the water had accumulated. With the sun going down, it was time to wait it out, the rifle aimed directly at the field gate.

Although I had my NiteSite attachment with me, I felt that I had waited around long enough, when a movement in the gloom at the gate, presented a pair of ears bobbing forward, followed by more. At least three rabbits were now passing back and forth sampling the grass. I had my night face mask on and was unseen as I switched positions trying to get a bead on one of them. A head raised and the rabbit fell. Shifting the bolt in a second, the cross hairs fell on another heading back to the gate, the rabbit dropping from view. Another pair zig-zagged in panic back to the field.

The other rabbit was five yards away, two does in under a minute. That’s how it goes sometimes.

The owner had requested a rabbit and I had strung up the buck in the wood shed and barricaded the door safe from foxes, before resuming my patrols. A text to the owner last night was replied to this morning, saying that the rabbit was now prepared for a meal tonight. Bon appetit.



Bread punch roach keep rudd in the shade at Braybrooke

July 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

Unbearable heat and humidity have not inspired me to go fishing of late, but with cooling winds and cloud cover promised, I ventured out this morning to my local pond at Braybrooke recreation ground. Arriving after 9 am, I found the banks deserted and chose a swim that would keep me in the shade all morning. Not having fished Jeane’s pond since April, I was pleased to see activity all over the surface. Rudd were investigating every piece of wind blown flotsam, that had landed on the surface, while perch were scattering fry in every corner.

My swim was fizzing with bubbles thrown up by feeding fish and I couldn’t wait to plumb the depth and start fishing. There was about 6 ft, 4 metres out and I set the float to fish just off bottom. Once again only having the bread punch available as bait did not phase me. I decided to feed four balls of wet crumb straight in, putting one close to the lily bed and three in a line 2 metres wide in front of me.

First drop in the float sank without caution and the elastic came out in response to a hard fighting rudd. It felt warm in my hand, the pond must be like a tepid bath.

For the next few minutes smaller roach and rudd had invaded the heavily baited swim, then the float settled and registered a bite that cruised under, the strike setting the size 16 hook into a net worthy roach, that stayed deep.

Due to the depth, I had concentrated the shot in the bottom 18 inches with a 9 inch tail, which was sending the bait straight down. The float cocked and sank again. Unmissable, another quality roach was pounding away against the elastic and I took my time bringing it to the surface.

Back in again and the elastic remained out. This was not a roach, or a rudd, the surface boiling as the fish fought against the elastic. I thought it was a tench, but got a surprise, when the long dorsal fin of a fat crucian carp scythed through the water. It would not give up, diving and running, but eventually on its side I netted it.

The run of big roach went on…

And on…

Yet another big roach. They were just sitting there over the feed.

Eventually the big fish were mostly in my net and the average size began to fall.

The sun was coming round and more rudd were taking near the surface.

I took a chance and made up one more stiff ball, watching the rudd attack the moment it hit the water.

A few more small roach and rudd got to the bread first, but then success and I was playing another decent roach.

I scraped up the last of the wet crumb and put it in, bringing round a few better rudd.

At 12:30 I stopped fishing, just short of three hours, the sun was now over the trees and the temperature had risen again. It was time to pull in the keepnet. I hoped that I had over 10 lbs, but missed the target by a pound, but with the quality of fish landed, who was complaining?


Bread punch chub oblige after pollution

July 3, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Constant pollution events, caused by a local company dumping oil based waste down the drains at their industrial site, all but wiped out the coarse fish stock of my local river last year. Thames Water and the local Environment Agency did their best to recover the river, with booms to catch the polluted water and work to speed up the flow, but the damage had been done, the once prolific little river, where most  English species would be likely to turn up during a session, was not worth a visit. Three blank days for me a testament to this.

An early Christmas present for the river, was the introduction of a mix of over 3,000 roach, chub and dace by the Environment Agency from their Calverton Fish Farm in an effort to supplement fish lost. The river did not contain any dace before, but the Agency considered the river suitable.

With the country in the grip of a heatwave, I did not fancy sitting by a lake getting roasted today and decided that a couple of hours in the shade by the local river, would be a better option, while giving me the opportunity to test out its recovery.

Walking from the carpark, the first thing I saw was another pollution boom at the outfall weir. Not more pollution? The river runs under the industrial estate, from where the last culprit was tracked down from. The company was given a warning. Surely they are not up their old tricks again?

At 10 am, the sun was already beating down as I walked along the river looking for some flow and shade. No rain has fallen in weeks and the level was well down, with areas of exposed gravel and dried mud in the margins. My original choice of swim is deeper than average, but it now looked like a pond with no movement and I retraced my steps to a shallow run around the outside of a bend, where the river drops over gravel before the bend. The water here would be more oxygenated and likely to hold fish despite being only two feet deep.

Setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy stickfloat on my 12 foot Hardy rod, I bulked the main shot below the float, with just a No 6 shot 9 inches from the size 14 hook. Intending to fish bread punches of 5 and 6 mm, the 14 is a good standby, as I have had chub to 3 lb from this swim in the past. While getting ready, I lobbed a small ball of liquidised bread over beneath the opposite bank and watched it spread and sink. What flow there was did not carry it far.

First cast over, the float sank out of sight and the first of several small chub swung to hand.

Big enough to put a bend in the rod, these bites were unmissable, the size of chub making them likely to be part of the batch of stocked fish.

A different bite, another fish, this time a roach glinting in the sun. Next trot, a classic slow bob and a steady sink away had the rod bending again, as a much larger roach threw up puffs of mud darting from one side to the other. Then the line went solid, when the roach managed to find a snag, leaving the hook in a sunken twig. I pulled for a break, but straightened the hook, releasing the rig to catapult into the undergrowth. Once retrieved and untangled, I was ready again, putting two more small balls over in an attempt to hold the shoal of roach. The roach were long gone, but the bites had changed again. Tippy dips and dives removing the bread bait with ease.

Holding back hard, with a tight line, soon confirmed my hunch, they were small dace.

This then was definitely one of the stockies, the little battler even refusing to hold still for a photo. I will probably be grateful for these dace in a couple of years, when they have put on a few more ounces, but now they were a nuisance, stripping the bait without submerging the float. Going over depth and dragging the float back upstream an inch, or two works on the Thames and it worked here to put a few more in the net.The dace were hard work for little reward, missing far more than I hooked and bouncing a good fish, chub, or roach with a rapid strike.

With the first hour of my two over, I reached into the bread bag and put two larger balls close to the overhanging branches in an attempt to bring out more chub. It worked and the rod was bending again as I netted a better fish.

Better again, these chub were coming out from the shadows to scoop up the drifting crumb, sweeping the float back towards the trees in one pass. Connecting was explosive, with that characteristic chub power surge multiplied by the lack of depth.

The next bite produced a surprise, a perch, not the first that I have taken on the bread punch.

The chub kept responding to the occasional ball of liquidised bread, the dace well and truly crowded out.

They were getting bigger, but I had promised to be home in time for lunch and at 12:30, my cut off time, the landing net slipped under the last chub of the morning.

These latest chub are survivors of the pollution, probably having dropped down from the wild river above the outfall. Missing today were the rudd, gudgeon and roach that usually make up the bag in summer on this little river, but beggars cannot be choosers and will be happy to return.

Once more the bread punch had not let me down, maybe maggots would have got me a shed load of perch, but they would also have meant a dace sucking the life out each maggot. As it was, the bread was in the freezer this morning, and went back in later on.