Stick float and bread punch find winter silver fish

November 29, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Storm clouds parted this week to reveal morning sunshine, provoking my wife to comment that she was surprised that I had not planned a fishing trip. “Strange that you should mention it. I was just thinking that myself,” was my reply. This was true, despite all the technology available to the forecasters, prediction seems to be back in the dark ages these days. Some once said, “The only reliable thing about the British weather is that it is unreliable” I had not considered fishing due to a very wet forecast, but here we were with sunshine. The words “You can go if you like” did not need discussion, the bread was taken out of the freezer, followed by changing into warmer clothing, while an early lunch and a flask of tea were prepared by my understanding wife. The tackle was already in the van, so after a quick parting kiss, I was on my way at noon. With sunset at 4 pm, it would have to be a short session and I headed straight to my local river two miles away. Unloading the van, I made my way across the bridge, looking down to see the river in full flood, the colour of builder’s tea, sweeping down from the weir.

On the inside of a bend, this swim offers slack water in close, while the far side has a deeper channel carrying the full flow. Even in these conditions, with the river running level with the bank, the maximum depth in the channel is only three feet and opted for a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stemmed stick, a bit on the light side considering the speed of the river, but better for presenting the punch.

I wetted down a small quantity of liquidised bread, enough for it to hold together and sink, throwing it upstream to my right to avoid taking the fish too far down the swim. First trot the float dived out of sight and the rod bent into a roach that took full advantage of the strong current.

A smaller roach was next, then the rod bent hard round as a small chub dived back toward the bush.

Another good roach followed, but I tried to bully it back to the landing net and the size 16 barbless hook pulled out. Worried that the escapee would take the rest of the shoal with it, I put another two balls of feed upstream, then followed through with the float. Half way down the trot, the float dived away and I was rewarded with the best roach so far.


This roach ran upstream, then turned on a sixpence to dash down with the flow. In this heavily coloured water, these fish were invisible until close to the surface, guiding them over to my shallow side ready for the net.

A cold wind began blowing downstream, the enemy of all stick float anglers, while intermittent drizzle caused me to pull up my jacket hood and cover my punch bread. The flow had picked up and I tried trotting through the slacker water just past middle and began picking up smaller roach, feeding closer in hoping for better fish, but after several 2 oz fish, tried back out in the channel.

I had missed a few rapid bites and holding back hard gave an answer, when a dace hooked itself, tumbling off the hook in seconds. I added another six inches to the depth and inched the float down, the float again blipping below the surface with a dace that stayed on.

A few more dace and a small chub followed before I tried another tactic. Adding another six inches to the depth and pulling most of the shot to bulk a foot above the hook, I swung the well over depth rig out into the channel, allowing the line to trip over my finger from the ABU 501, then pulling the rod back slowly to halt the float with the line running free. Following down again usually saw the float pull under with a good roach, if not a repeat of the process did the trick.

The roach were hard on the bottom scooping up the feed and regular small tight balls thrown well upstream kept them there, while the dace chased the loose offerings.

Gudgeon had joined the roach feeding on the carpet of bread crumbs, catching two for every roach.

The light was now fading fast and the drizzle had turned to light rain, making this roach my last at 3:30.

It had been difficult to keep the bread dry in the rain, constant rebaiting exposing it too often. Harder, steam rolled punch bread would have survived better, but I had done none and had persevered with soggy bait, a 7 mm punch allowing enough bread to wrap around the hook.

I had still been catching when I packed up, an earlier start could have doubled this 4 lb net of silvers.





Bread punch beats the cold for rudd and carp

November 21, 2019 at 4:14 pm

The coldest night of the year so far had left the grass crunchy white, but by 11 am the low winter sun was out and warm on my back, as I took the 10 minute walk to a nearby pond for a few hours on the bread punch. Apart from ice in the margins, the rest of this shallow pond was clear and I walked round to the north west end, where the winter sun had a chance to warm the surface.

There was no surface movement, a sign that even the resident shoals of rudd were feeling the cold and I decided that a single ball of liquidised bread at 8 metres was enough to start. Dropping the waggler rig over the feed got no reaction after several minutes and I assumed that the 5 mm punched bread had fallen off the hook. Lifting out, the bait was still there and I tried again, more minutes passing, before a slight dip of the float indicated interest. When half the float tip sank, I lifted into a small rudd.

Putting the float back out over the feed, saw a speedier response and a better rudd swung to hand.

The rudd were waking up and I chanced another ball close to the first to create a bit of competition among the fish, putting the float in to the right of the second ball and to the left of the first, each time the float sinking away with another rudd. The elastic came out, when a good rudd made off with the float carp style, gradual submersion with the line following down a hole. The landing net had to come out for this one.

The condition of these fish was impressive, thick in the shoulder they fought all the way to the net.

Encouraged by the now free biting rudd, I put in another two balls of bread in the hope of attracting the local crucian and common carp population to feed, but after the first hour it had been rudd, rudd and more rudd, a lone quality roach breaking the trend.

This pond used to be balanced 50-50 between roach and rudd, but then with rudd like these, who is complaining? Not me.

My next fish was a gudgeon, a survivor from the brook that once flowed through this area, before the council covered the land with houses and culverted the stream underground, the pond used to balance the flow in times of flood.

The sun had now sunk behind the trees on the railway embankment, while the light and temperature were falling in unison, a chilling breeze ruffling the surface, blowing directly at me, making bite detection difficult and fishing uncomfortable. I had set my finishing time to 3 pm, but with five minutes to go, the float drifted beneath the waves and I struck into the solid resistance of a crucian carp.

This was followed by a small common carp that pulled out the elastic in a run worthy of a fish twice its size.

The reduced light seemed to have put down the rudd and brought on the carp, but it also encouraged more gudgeon to feed, getting them one a chuck, like fishing in a bucket.

I probably had about a dozen of these big gudgeon, before after a similar dithering bite, I hooked into another crucian.

The crucian bites were slow to develope, but worth the wait for these little battlers. Pin prick bubbles were now bursting in the swim as the feed was mopped up from the muddy bottom.

I had expected the crucians to come on sooner, but they were most welcome after my rudd bashing of earlier.

I did not see the bite of my last fish, only striking when I saw the line moving across the surface, a chunky common carp stirring up the mud in its efforts to escape.

I should have switched to flash on my camera, the result, a fuzzy picture, but it was time to go, not wishing to walk back in the dark.

This cut down canal waggler has served me well on this pond, as has the bread punch.

Never a dull moment left little time for drinking tea and eating sandwiches today, the scales showing close to 10 lbs for four hours work.

Pike calls time on roach fishing at Braybrooke

November 14, 2019 at 11:44 am

When I was a child, my brother and I would stare out through steamed up windows, as rain lashed down, forming armies of rain soldiers that marched down the path to our house. We would sing a little nursery rhyme “Rain, rain go away, Come again another day. Rain, rain go to Spain, fair weather come again.” We wanted to go out to play, but the rain stopped us. The rhyme gave us hope, that the clouds would part, giving way to sunshine. The weather of late caused me to remember those long lost days, reciting the words did not work then and do not today, but feeling the frustration of being kept inside, while I wanted to be out fishing, has not changed.

I got my chance today, a clear day was promised by the weatherman and I set the alarm to rise early to take advantage of it, but looking outside, I saw that Jack Frost had visited overnight, coating the grass and cars with white. I could counter this with thermals and winter woolies, but frost would have an effect on the fishing and hoped that Jeane’s Pond at Braybrooke recreation ground was not covered with ice.

What a relief, conditions seemed perfect, strong winds had failed to shift the autumn leaves onto the pond and today not a whiff of breeze ruffled the surface. This swim has deeper water close in and I set up with a 16 x 4 antenna float to fish 3 foot deep onto the shelf to my left, close to the drop off into another foot of water. A small ball of liquidised bread onto the shelf and another a few feet further out, was my opening gambit, laying the float across the feed on the shelf.

Starting with a 5mm bread pellet on a size 16 barbless, I had to wait five minutes before the first tell tale rings spread out from the float to indicate a bite, the antenna then sinking very slowly beneath the surface. A firm lift of the short pole, saw the elastic come briefly out of the tip, as contact was made and a roach surfaced to be netted.

A decent roach first cast was a good sign that the fish had not been put off by the cold, although this one felt like an ice lolly in my hand. Dropping the float back over the feed, the float dipped and sank away again with another roach.

Resisting the temptation to feed more bread, I continued fishing over the spot, the slow biting roach obliging by taking the punch.

Even a small perch got in on the act, taking the bait on the drop.

After twenty roach, the bites stopped abruptly. I guessed that a pike had moved into the concentration of feeding fish. Dropping in a ball of bread, then following it with the float got an instant bite and a smaller roach, then nothing. I now fed a ball to my extreme right a few yards away and started again, the first bite bringing a decent roach.

I was back in the groove again, swinging in fish, plus the occasional netter.

The bites slowed again, then the pike took a roach. The elastic stretched out steadily as the pike moved off. It was in no hurry, the bright orange stonfo elastic connector following the float into the depths, as I put on more sections of pole. This was a big pike and it circled from the right out to the middle, unaware of my efforts to stay in contact, the elastic doing its job as I followed it round. The pressure began to tell and the pike turned back toward me, first the stonfo, then the float reappeared, while I unshipped the pole down to four metres, ready to net the beast. It let go of the roach.

I was disappointed not to have netted the pike. They have been the bane of my life on many waters this year, especially at this pond and would at least liked to have had the satisfaction of getting this one on the bank. I would have returned it well away from my swim, then continued fishing uninterrupted.

A couple more balls of feed soon had the bites coming, but the pike struck again, zooming off this time, taking the roach with it. The pike had gone to the right, so I went back over to where I had started on the left and began to catch again. It did not take long for the pike to return, swirling after hooked fish. Whatever the size, I now lifted everything out as quickly as possible. As I lifted a roach out, the pike followed, its head clear of the surface, jaws wide open, then fell back into the water.

This was a double figure pike, the surface boil remaining long enough for me to get a photo, despite being in shock.

The pike had won the battle of nerves and it was time to call it a day in this swim. I was taking my wife to the cinema in the afternoon anyway, so it had only been intended as a short session. It had been just over two hours of productive fishing. Shame about the pike.