Winter bread punch rudd between the storms

January 29, 2020 at 12:39 am

The pattern of UK weather this winter has been stormy days of heavy rain followed by brief windows of dry mornings, or afternoons, then more rain. If, like me, you prefer to fish in the dry, then it is a case of trusting the forecasts and fitting in a session when you can.

This week my only available day promised a sunny morning and the possibility of a shower in the afternoon, although while getting ready that morning, it was still raining from the night before. I had intended driving to the Basingstoke Canal in the hope of a few bream on the punch, but scratched the idea and waited for the rain clouds to pass. A weak sun eventually appeared and I trundled the tackle trolley down to my local pond just to wet a line, the paths still running with rainwater.

The pond was deserted, not even the usual dog walkers were venturing out on this soggy morning and I chose a swim with the breeze at my back, setting up my pole with a light waggler rig on arrival at 10 am.

To my right was a died back lily bed and I fed half a dozen balls of a damp mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets out ten metres in front of me, where the depth increases to 30 inches above the silt. This pond once had an overflow from a culverted stream, but the silt has now virtually blocked the inlet and stopped any movement, but the old stream bed still gives extra depth and I fished over it, but had to wait ten minutes before my first indication of a bite. The float dipped and slowly sank and I lifted into a decent rudd, that came off as I shifted the pole back. Another 6 mm pellet of punch went onto the size 16 barbless hook and I was fishing again. Another wait, then another rudd lost. I put a couple of balls out, then went back over them with a 5 mm punch on the hook, the float going straight down and a rudd was skimming toward the net.

The 5 mm punch looked small on the size 16 hook, but it made the difference as rudd began to pile into the keepnet, going up to the larger punch did not attract bigger rudd, but resulted in more lost fish, so the 5 mm won the argument. Bubbles coming up from the bottom indicated that crucians were in the swim, but the rudd were getting to the bait first and I pushed on in an effort to empty the swim of the silvers, giving myself a workout, shipping back the pole to the top 3, then swinging to hand, taking a rudd a minute.

Keeping up the feed did the opposite of my intention, it did not feed them off, instead bringing more in. Usually the larger fish, crucians and common carp move in after an hour, pushing the rudd out, but today the rudd kept on coming, taking on the drop.

The weak sun had soon retreated as the breeze increased, driving black clouds over the pond, my choice of swim taking advantage of the wind on my back, a lift and flick of the pole placing the float perfectly every time. It was getting colder and I pulled my hood up over my cap. The rain would not be too far behind.

My wife arrived for a brief visit, the pond a short diversion on her walk to the Tesco supermarket, and I took a breather from the action, washing down a cheese and pickle sandwich with a warming cup of tea, before returning to the challenge of emptying the pond of rudd. Having run out of feed in my tray, I decided not to mix up more unless the swim died, hoping to attract the attention of crucians, if the rudd lost interest.

Despite the wind trying to sink my float as it flashed on and off in the waves, every time it failed to reappear I lifted into yet another rudd. It was like being on a production line, repeating my actions time after time. The elastic coming out as I hooked into something solid, woke me up, the fish scything round to the right into the lily bed, as I held it back with the pole. It rolled on the surface briefly, the short gold body of a pound crucian clearly visible, before it dived into the snag, picking up a small sunken branch, as it burrowed through the decaying vegetation. The hook pulled free.

Cursing my impatience, I dropped the float over a burst of small bubbles. The float dithered and bobbed, then moved off. The elastic was out again. At last, the crucians were taking the bread! This one fought its ground, then headed off to the left, only to come off again. I should have waited. These crucians take a lot longer to mouth the bait than rudd, More bait on the hook and I plonked the float back over the bubbles. It sank and I waited, until the line followed. A lift of the pole and another rudd was skimming back to me.

The hook was well down, but quick work with the disgorger had the hook free, but this was my last fish, as hail stones began to beat down on myself and the pond, causing me to reach for my wax cotton jacket.

Struggling to get the jacket on with the hood over my head, there was a blinding flash through the trees and an instant crash of thunder that made me jump back on my seat. That was it, I was holding a 9 metre lightning conductor, time to pack up quick. While the thunder continued to echo around the area, the heavens opened to a deluge of freezing rain, soaking everything in an instant, my punch bread now floating around the bait tray. It was 12:55 on the dot. Just when it seem likely that I was about to start catching the elusive crucian carp, I was being forced by nature to pack up. No one could fish in conditions like these.

My pole was dried off, but soaked in seconds, my other tackle slid back inside the box through a narrow opening to avoid the rain, a futile gesture as the water poured in. Pulling in my net, I was surprised by the number of fish and despite my haste to leave, got out my scales to record the weight, over 7 lb in under three hours.

Ready for the half mile uphill walk back to my home, dragging my trolley, the rain increased to a frenzy.

Winter fishing at its best.



Bread punch finds shy winter carp

January 9, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Looking for a change of venue this week and still in possession of an exchange ticket for a club water a dozen miles away, I set off in sunshine for the shallow tree lined pond set in farmland high above a large town. I had last fished at Hitcham Ponds in October, before the leaves had dropped, but now the surface was covered with thousands of black rotting leaves, not an encouraging sight, as I set up my pole to fish the bread punch.

The sun had long gone by the time I arrived, settling in for another dull January day, the lack of surface activity making for a cautious start. There was a slight shelf into 3 feet of water at 5 metres and I started here with a small ball of liquidised bread, following in with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 16 barbless hook. No bites. Each time I brought the rig back in, the hook was coated with the dead leaves, so I reduced the depth on my antenna float by 3 inches, as the plummet had obviously sunk deep into a layer of these dead leaves. Another ball brought signs of a bite, a ring radiating out from the antenna, then a half hold down of the float. I lifted into what felt like another leaf, but it was a tiny roach, that had filled its mouth with the bread, the disgorger needed to remove the hook. Oh well, it was a start. I had once won a match here in freezing conditions on the bread punch, with over a hundred of these bait robbers. This was a pleasure session and I was after bigger game, hopefully a net of skimmer bream and crucians, plus a bonus carp or two.

After half an hour fine bubbles were now appearing in the surface film, the small roach giving way to slightly larger skimmer bream. Mixing up more feed, this time adding some ground carp pellets, I fed a line 6 metres out with three egg sized balls, going up to an 8 mm punch in an attempt to attract something bigger. I was still catching five inch skimmers and roach, missing bites due to the larger punch on the 16 hook, so went back to the 6 mm punch. All these fish were going into my keep net, the aim to feed off, or catch enough to give better fish a chance.

Another angler came along the bank having packed up. Bob said that he had failed to catch and was packing up before the rain started between 1 and 2 pm. This was news to me, my home forecast had said sunshine all day, but this side of the Thames Valley it was already a different story.

As Bob disappeared through the trees, my float slowly sank and I lifted into solid resistance, that moved steadily to my left, a carp that did not realise that it was hooked, stretching out the pole elastic. Suddenly it awoke, powering off toward the island taking elastic, but turning again. I kept pressure on following it with the pole, until it neared the surface, then bringing back the pole to the top three sections, keeping the landing net ready. It was still not giving up, but after an arm aching couple of minutes, I drew it over the net.

The hook dropped out in the net, this 2 lb common still full of fight.

As predicted, the rain started just after 1 pm, a fine drizzle at first, then an ever darkening sky bringing light rain. I hunkered down under my jacket hood, making sure that my punch bread was out of the weather. The next fish was a brightly painted rudd.

Larger bubbles were now bursting above the feed and the float dithered and lifted, striking into another carp that rushed off to the middle, rolled and came off. I put in another ball of feed and tried again. A few more small rudd, then I was in again. I thought that this was a crucian at first, as it was rolling rather than running, but the proof was in the net, another common. Two – One to me.

It had taken a while to bring the carp onto the feed, but I was soon playing another, allowing it to wear its self out, then bringing it close to net, only for it to go into warp drive again, once I was down to the top three again, the hook pulling free close to the net. Curses! I should have taken my time. Two – All.

A burst of bubbles next to my float indicated another carp was interested, the float dipping, then moving away with an unmissable bite, the elastic zooming out as the hook made contact. This was a much better fish than before and I followed with the pole as it ran along the bank to my left. Once turned, the carp tried to get under a clump of dead rushes, but pointing the pole away, held it out from the bank. Learning from the last lost fish, I kept it at range, not breaking down the pole until the last minute, although when the back end of the pole jammed in brambles behind me, I had to stand up and reach forward to grab the third section. Bringing the carp to the surface, it was soon netted.

This one was about 4 lb, the hook just inside the lip, needing a firm push with the disgorger to free it. I was now Three – Two up and quite content to pack up and get out of the rain, but another burst of bubbles meant that a large fish was browsing the feed and cast the float across the bubbles, the fish taking on the drop, another decent carp steaming off across the pond. Taking my time again, I had no desire to bully the common carp to the net, this would be my last fish and it stayed on. Four – Two.

The swim was now fizzing with bubbles, but I resisted the temptation to carry on. It was 3 pm and getting darker, a brighter day would have given me another half hour and more carp, but my legs were already soaked, comfort overruling carp these days.

It had been a busy session, just one of the carp outweighing all of the silvers taken previously, a quick weigh in seeing over 11 lbs on the scales.





New Year roach shine on the Blackwater

January 3, 2020 at 7:54 pm

After the sunshine of Monday’s session on the local river Cut, heavy black clouds were scudding across the sky as I approached the river Blackwater on Thursday, close to the town that bares its name. My wife’s desire for a mooch around the Lexicon Shopping Centre near our home, gave me a free pass for an afternoon fishing, even though it seemed that it could be a damp one.

With light drizzle in the air, I walked upstream to a swim that I had fished in summer, the grey outlook in contrast to the lush green I remembered. The river was low and clear, but pushing hard, this being the tail of a wide bend, where a channel no more than two feet deep passes close to the my bank. Getting ready to fish, I put in my keep net and saw it swept off to the side in the current, deciding that a heavy 6 No 4 ali stick would give better control, despite the shallow depth.

With only bread punch as usual, I readied the liquidised bread, squeezing up a firm ball, throwing it ten feet upstream close in, watching it break up as it swirled in the flow drifting down stream. About to cast in, another angler arrived at my side, returning back to his car after a blank session further upstream. After the usual pleasantries and the refusal of some maggots, due to the fact that I only had bread as bait, I cast in to test the flow and hooked a roach in the first five feet of travel, letting the fish run out to the middle before bringing it back to the net.

Amazed at the instant success, my visitor peered over the bank into the shallows in front of me, surprised that there were roach, where he could see the bottom. My experience of earlier in the week, on the equally clear and shallow Cut, when passers by had scared away my fish doing just that, were fresh in my mind. He was a very pleasant fellow and continued to chat, watching the float, as I worked it further down the swim, holding back bringing another positive bite, followed by a roach in the net.

The fish were sitting ten yards downstream in the main flow, dipping the float as it drifted down, knocking off the 6 mm bread pellet each time, but stopping the travel after the first sign of a bite brought a fish on, but off again, losing two big dace on as many casts. With overhanging branches, the fish had to be reeled back flat to the river, until close enough to net.I fed another ball to keep up interest and ran through again, this time lifting into a small chub under my rod top, that dived away, letting it run, trying to avoid another lost fish from the size 16 barbless hook.

My new friend had stepped away from the bank to answer his phone and the fish had moved back up to the feed, but now he was back again and the bites dropped away. This was not easy fishing, the weir upstream was now at full flow and I added six inches to the depth and bulked the shot closer to the hook, taking more roach ten yards down.

Damping down the bread feed, I squeezed up pigeon egg sized balls, plopping them in upstream of me every few casts, the balls breaking up and coating the bottom close to me, dropping the float out in front, trotting through with a tight line, some of the bites bending the rod tip as the fish took.

After about an hour my visitor left, hopefully having learned something about fishing the punch and leaving me to catch some more fish. Although well before sunset, it was now growing darker, the low clouds depositing an uncomfortable, downstream wind driven misty drizzle. Not pleasant, with the need to keep the punch bread covered to stop it being softened too much.

I now had the fish where I wanted them, this chub hooking itself. I lost another big dace as it churned on the surface, but compensated with another decent roach next cast.

The fish kept coming, this chub the last to stay in focus on my camera, the Flash whiting out the images. Gudgeon, small dace and roach taking their turn over the feed. The pace of the river had picked again, washing out debris, coating my line and I was beginning to spend more time unpicking these washing lines, than fishing and called it a day before 3 pm, not wanting to pack up in the dark.

The Punch had done me well again, although a size 14 may have hung onto some of the big dace long enough to net them, but I was not complaining, it had been a short spontaneous session, that kept delivering fish to the net.