River Blackwater wakes up to the bread punch

June 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Torrential rain at the beginning of the week had worked through and I found the River Blackwater low and clear, when I arrived on Thursday. This stretch is relatively new to me, my club Farnborough and District AS only acquiring the water at the turn of the year. The bottom end of the stretch narrows giving several deep runs, where I have had good roach and dace fishing on the stick float, but today I walked up toward the top gate, where the river is very shallow, finding a swim with just enough room for my 12 ft Hardy among the trees.

The bottom was visible right across, but a couple of balls of liquidised bread soon had fish heading into the clouds of particles, the float sinking away with the first of several small chub.

Then another ball of bread brought a surprise, a small skimmer bream out of place in the fast flowing shallows.

A better fight meant a roach had taken the 6 mm bread pellet and the landing net came out for the first time from the high bank.

The roach were now queuing up, many swingers, plus the odd netter.

The roach were slowly drifting back down the swim, taking longer to get a bite and longer to net, so I added more bread to the tray, damping it down and throwing further back upstream.

The roach followed the feed and I began to hit fish on a tight line as I followed down with my rod.

This clonker took off the top of the rod, tail walking in a shower of spray, but staying on the size sixteen barbless long enough for the net.

I had had a couple of small dace, but my next was a beaut, doggedly tumbling and rolling to the net.

These dace were hard to hit, tipping and holding the float just below the surface, often hooking the fish only to lose it seconds later.

This roach was competing with the dace in only two feet of water, the bite taking the float straight down, while the dace continued to play games with me, losing, or missing the majority.

Keeping a tight line just off bottom and going down to a smaller 5 mm punch was the answer, although some still hooked themselves, only to come off again. Regular feed of tight, damp balls of bread kept the bites coming in a short area.

As quickly as they had come on the scene, the dace gave way to roach again and I gave a couple of bread punch tutorials to passersby, the roach sitting over the feed five yards down the trot, making it look too easy.

The best roach of the session came during one of these demo’s, making sure that I did not rush it to the net.

I was still taking a roach a cast, but had to call it a day after almost five hours, having run out of feed, this roach being my last fish.

One of my watchers helped me bring in the net, he being amazed at the number of fish. I tipped the contents of the keepnet into my landing net, which he was supporting, unfortunately he let the landing net slide to one side and many of the fish fell onto the bank, needing to be scooped up again, covering them in dirt. A quick photo and a weigh in at just under eleven pounds, soon had them back in the river.


Stick float river season opener madness

June 19, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Time was at a premium this Sunday June 16th, the first day of the coarse fishing river season, it being Father’s Day and dedicated to Family and not fishing. Monday was forecast with good weather, with heavy rain returning for the rest of the week, so it would have to be Monday to fish the river, but then friends invited us over for coffee in the morning, this was extended to lunch…….. Driving home my wife commented that I would not have time to go fishing now, as we were seeing other friends in the evening. I knew this and was already calculating how much time I would get to actually fish.

Once home, I was rushing around sorting tackle, getting changed and taking bread from the freezer, before loading up the van. Time was slipping away as I drove down the drive, my wife mouthing the words, “You’re mad” as she waved me off. Yes, I suppose I and many other anglers take things to the extreme for a bit of fishing, but this was my only chance on the river for the rest of the week. The ground is still waterlogged from the last floods, when we had a month’s rainfall in a day.

Slowed by school traffic, I arrived at the carpark, loaded up my trolley and set off on the 500 yard walk to my chosen swim on the river Cut, where I had ended the season on March 14th. Then I had two large chub, a lot of nettable chub and roach; today was an unknown.

The bankside vegetation was stained with silt from the floods of last week and I dragged my trolley through black mud to reach the river. This was not going to plan, it was 4 o’clock already and I had not even tackled up. Having promised to be on my way home by 6 pm, this would have to be a very quick visit.

I could see a raft of 3 to 4 inch chublets close to the surface in the sunshine and decided to make up a heavy bread mix, that would go down quickly and roll along the bottom. Setting up my 12 foot Hardy float rod, with a 3 No 4 ali stemmed stick float and starting with a 5 mm bread punch on a size 16 hook, I was ready to fish in 15 minutes.

Putting in two firm balls of bread, one close to the opposite bank and the other two thirds over, I followed down with the float. Despite the previous floods, there was little flow, but the float soon slid sideways and the rod bent into the first fish, a 6 inch chub. Swinging this in the rod tangled in overhead branches. In March the trees were bare with plenty of clearance, now the elder tree was full of leaf and flower it hung much lower catching the line, leaving the chub hanging over the river. Putting the landing net out under the struggling chub, I pulled it back to me, releasing the line from the branches. The tiny chub had now moved into the swim, diving away with the bread. After throwing back a few and missing others, I increased the punch size to 7 mm. The next fish was a decent rudd, which I netted, keeping my rod down. The larger bait seemed to be working.

The rudd was full of fight and in perfect condition. The following trot saw the float slide away again, as an even better rudd fought for freedom.

I swung in another smaller rudd and yes, got the rod tip stuck in the tree again. While I reached for the landing net to release it, the rudd wriggled free, falling back into the river. Luckily the line did not bounce up into the branches and I dragged the net through to catch the hook. I then , hooked and lost another good rudd at the landing net, the line springing back to tangle in the nettles at my feet. I could hear my wife’s comment, “Serves you right for rushing.” Time to sit back, have a cup of tea, relax and undo the tangle.

I put in another ball of bread and followed it down with the float. A fussy bite and a slow sink met firm resistance as a decent roach now came to the net.

The rudd had now cleared off and this was my only roach, the bites now coming at the end of the trot, where the conker tree branches met the river. More small chub, plus a rod bender of 9 inches kept me interested. I tried another ball out in front of me, hoping to bring the fish back up, the result being sharp dives and nibbles, missing the bites, the hook stripped bare in a couple of yards. I swapped back to the 5 mm pellet, squeezing it on the hook and bounced a dace, that stayed on long enough to see its tumbling fight. More missed bites, until I held the float back hard midway down the trot. The float dipped and I struck into a better dace, this time keeping it on long enough for the landing net. While playing this fish, I missed a call on my phone.

These dace, introduced two years ago, have grown rapidly, but are not easy to catch in the shallow river. Dace, the saxon word for dart, describes them well, they will rob bait from a hook in seconds, often somehow crushing a maggot to a skin without getting hooked.

I checked my phone. It was my wife reminding me not to be late home. A few more missed bites, then the float dived away at the end of the trot, the Hardy bending round as a fish dived for the sunken branches. It was a chub, not massive, but that first run was impressive, as it ran toward the sunken branches, it turning to search out safety along the opposite bank. Keeping my rod low, I avoided the parrot cage of elder above my head and slid the landing net underneath.

Time to pack up. I would like to have fished on, there may have been more chub there, but I had my orders, time has a habit of slipping by quickly, when it is in short supply.

Not a bad net for such a short visit. I spent more time getting to and from the river, tackling and packing away, than actually fishing. Was it worth the trouble? Of course it was!





Bread punch roach dominate at Braybrooke

June 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Reports of tench being caught at Braybrooke Park drew me to Jeanes Pond this week, a sunny afternoon being a last chance before a forecast week of rain. A strong wind was blowing across the pond, which would have made fishing difficult in a favoured swim next to lily beds, so I settled for the easy option in the lee of the clubhouse.

There was only one other angler on the water and he was in the next swim. Fishing the feeder with maggot over toward the lilies, he was catching a succession of quality roach, topping his session with a 12 oz tench. There are much larger tench in the pond, but intending to fish pole and bread punch, I would be happy to catch a few of the smaller tench that had been introduced by the Environment Agency a couple of years before, plus a net full of prime roach.

This year the pond has been plagued with tiny roach and rudd and my plan was to feed tight balls of liquidised bread and ground fish pellets, while using a 4 x 16 antenna float with No 8 shot strung out close to the 3 lb hook link, to drop straight through the small stuff. That was the theory anyway, the proof would be in the pudding.

Plumbing the depth, the main shelf was only three metres out, dropping off again at four and I fed four balls to start in a square over the area, setting the float to fish just off bottom. Dropping the float in the centre of the square, with a 6 mm bread pellet, I watched the float dip and glide away and I swung in a small rudd.

A good size for the first fish and I was soon back in with a few smaller rudd and roach. A burst of bubbles over the feed promised something else and I lifted the float, dropping it dead centre. In seconds the antenna dipped, then popped up again, dithered then dived as a small tench made off with the bait, stretching out the elastic, making me think that I had a better fish.

This little battler was covered in some sort of lice, which had no effect on its fighting abilities. Bubbles were rising steadily from the feed and the next drop in saw the elastic out again as a better rudd stormed off.

I resisted putting in more feed, as so far the tiny roach and rudd had kept away, bubbles were still bursting in the surface and decided that less was best. Another pretty rudd followed.

The next fish stayed deep, fighting hard as it moved around the swim, thinking that it was another small tench, being surprised to see a good roach surface for the landing net.

Before coming to fish, I had put two “waterproof” plasters on my finger to cover a dermatitis sore, they lasted twenty minutes. Should have read the instructions. Probably said “do not get these waterproof plasters wet” Ha!

Another couple of balls of feed kept the bubbles and the fish coming, another nice roach responding to the bread punch. A friend had fished the pond on the punch at the weekend, saying that he had only caught very small fish, but I was still having success on, or just off bottom. I did have a brief spell of catching the tinies, but going up to a size 7 mm punch seemed to solve that.

The float shot away and the unmistakable rolling fight of a better tench had the elastic touching the water as it ran round the swim, the net eventually catching up with it. The fight had be brief, but there was still plenty of energy left, its muscle power making hook removal difficult. This was the only other tench of the late afternoon apart from another similar fish dropped earlier. This may have been it.

I tried more feed and got another cracking roach next cast, the float barely settling before it cruised under.

The landing net was out constantly, the 3 metre long handle needed from the high fishing platform. This was becoming a workout. Who said fishing was a lazy man’s sport?

 Rudd were making up the numbers.

Now the local school was disgorging, teenage pupils crowding around a sunken shopping trolley at the edge of the pond opposite. They were trying to pull it up the bank, when one of them tipped head first into the green water. Did he fall, or was he pushed? The answer was that half a dozen of his mates ran back up the path, before he could extract himself, the other half stood and laughed, until he climbed out with punches flying. In full school uniform, his mother would not be pleased!

As the afternoon went on, the bites got cagier, the sailaways of earlier, now became like those of winter, light dips and pauses, giving way to eventual slow sinking of the tip, the setting of the hook being a surprise to both fish and angler.

Changing the punch for the smaller 6mm seemed to speed up the bites, maybe the fish had had there fill, but I had put in less than half a pint in total, so that was unlikely to be the reason. Small bubbles were still rising and the keepnet was still filling.

Grape sized balls of feed had maintained interest for the fish and I was waiting for another tench.

I had intended packing up at six, but the float continued to sink and I was stuck in the “just one more fish” syndrome, forcing myself to stop thirty minutes later.

It had been an enjoyable four hours, no pike trouble for a change, plenty of sizeable fish and the threatened showers had held off, although the wind had created an anti-clockwise surface drift.