Pike trouble cuts short River Whitewater tryout

August 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

A month ago I joined a work party on Farnborough and District’s River Whitewater, the lower end, close to where it joins the River Blackwater, having been neglected and overgrown in recent years. One of the swims cleared looked ideal for the stick float and this week I made an afternoon visit to give it a try.

With a stile to climb, I left my tackle box and trolley in the van, travelling light with my rod set up in it’s ready to use bag, with essentials like bread punches, hooks and a disgorger in my bait bag. Knowing that I have caught plenty of perch fly fishing for trout in the upper reach of the river, I had brought a dozen small worms as an alternative bait to my usual bread punch.

Settling down on the bank, I soon found out that this was a bit of a parrot cage, with my twelve foot Hardy scraping the branches above my head, but I have coped with worse and finding three feet of water over toward the trees on the far side, began to fish. A couple of balls of liquidised bread were followed down with my float, with no response. Another ball over and the float trotted ten yards before sliding under. Strike, something there and I reeled back a small chublet.

Four more of these, then five yards down the float the float sank, more resistance and a better chub.

On my light tackle, a 4 No 4 float to a size 16 barbless hook, this little chub gave a good account of itself, as did the next small chub, that took the 7 mm punch of bread.

Next trot a roach had found the bread feed, and I got the landing net ready, but then, whoomph a pike took it, storming off downstream, before turning and swimming along my bank, shaking its head with the roach across its jaws. It was only about three pounds and swam into the landing net, but turned before I could lift it. I thought I had the pike beat, when it rolled in mid river, but it dived down toward a sunken tree downstream and cut through the hook line when I tried to stop it. Time for a new hook.

I threw over another ball of feed and cast in to it, the float sinking straight away. What was it, not a chub diving for cover, or a bouncing roach, this fish hugging the bottom with a dogged fight. It was a perch. Not for the first time, the bread had been taken on the drop mistaken for a small fish.

There were obviously perch about and after a few trots without a bite, I got out the bait box with the the worms. First time in the float sank again, this time with a better perch.

The perch were all over the river, some only five inches long, others better sized, needing the net, but it was good sport, the float disappearing out of sight each time, not knowing how big they were until the hook was set. I had only grabbed about a dozen worms from the compost heap and they were soon gone, so it was back to the bread.

After the pike I had continued feeding a few balls past the middle and I was pleased, when the float dipped, then held and I was reeling in a small roach.

Good news. I cast in again, the float went under and I was playing another perch, probably the best of the day. Another perch on the bread.

Another small ball over and I eased the float though again, a dip and a sink. This time it was a roach, a bit bigger and I netted it for safety.

They seemed to be back in the swim. I missed the next bite, but here was no mistaking the next, as a better roach put a bend in the rod. A swirl and the pike had grabbed this roach, continuing to swim upstream, visible in the sunlight. I was determined to get it in this time, back winding whenever it pulled away, following with the rod as it ran downstream, turning it back to the landing net, but the Hardy was too soft to stop it going under the tree and it snagged me below my keep net. I let the line go slack, hoping that it would swim out, it did, but deeper into the roots. I pulled for a break and got my float back, but it was broken. Pike seem to be the bane of my life.

That was it then, my spare floats were in the van. I had hoped to fish for another hour, but you can’t win them all.

Nothing big, but enough to keep me busy for 90 minutes. I had hoped for a decent net of roach, or a better chub, but better luck next time.




Small carp among the tench on the bread punch at Jeanes’s Pond

August 20, 2020 at 8:24 pm

Welcome overnight rain gave way to a windy, but sunny morning this week at Braybrooke Club’s Jeanes’s Pond, when I arrived for a few hour’s, hoping for tench on the bread punch. I was not sure how the pond would fish after the heatwave of late, which had been followed by cool temperatures and heavy rain.

In an attempt to avoid the small roach and rudd that occupy the upper layers of the pond, I intended to fish on, or just off the bottom of the 5 foot deep swim using a 2 gram antenna float, with the shot bulked within a foot of the size 16 hook. Not ideal for presentation, but a longer tail would have meant a slower sink of the bait and the chance of a bait robbing immature roach, or rudd getting to the punch bread.

Feed was a base of coarse liquidised bead, mixed with ground carp pellets, ground hemp and boiled hempseed, squeezed into small tight balls, that sank quickly. I fed a line of three balls out toward the lily bed and waited, the antenna sitting with a quarter of an inch showing, a single No 6 shot close to the hook acting as a tell tale. With the bait on, or just off the bottom, any lift of the bait will raise the shot and lift the antenna. Simples. The first challenge was to get a bite. I waited for ten minutes before the float gave a small lift and sank. Resistance and a roach was being drawn towards the landing net. It dropped off the hook. As tench were my target, I was using my heavier pole with thick 12 – 18 elastic.There is little give in the tip and the roach bounced off the barbless hook.

I withdrew the elastic bung from the pole and eased the tension by unrolling a coil of elastic.

Rebaiting with a 6 mm punch of bread I dropped the float in 8 metres out, followed by another ball of feed. Bubbles began to appear around the float. It wobbled, lifted and sank taking line. A firm lift and I was in. The elastic came out slowly at first, as if the fish was unaware of the hook, then it took off in the direction of the pads, the elastic stopping the run before the fish turned and came back in my direction, while I unshipped the pole down to the top three. At first I thought that it was a crucian carp, rolling from side to side, but I had sight of the dark green of a small tench and was ready with the landing net.

This is what I came for the hook falling out in the landing net. Bubbles were coming up all over the feed area now and dropped in again. The float lifted and sank and I lifted in anticipation, but a tap, tap fight as I raised the pole said roach and I quickly pulled back to the top three to net it.

Not a bad roach, but on this tackle no problem, good to see that I was at least avoiding the tiny fish. Next cast in the float wavered and sank and a more powerful fish was charging off against the elastic. It was a small carp, staying down until the last minute.

The a last time I fished the pond I had a few of these and this was no different, the next three fish being like peas in a pod.

A roach was next up, again quite a nice one, the float having sat motionless as bubble broke on the surface, before showing a rings of interest around the antenna, then sinking.

Another nice roach was followed by a burst of bubbles around the float, a lift of the whole antenna, which plopped down again sinking away. Woah! This was a much better fish, that ran out parallel with the pads, before turning in towards them, as I put on side strain to keep it out. The hook hold held and I played it on the top three, waiting for it to reduce the runs and come to the net.

This tough 2 lb male was too much of a handful to hold and with the hook just in the skin of the lip, the hook was soon out and the tench in the keepnet.

This was a much darker common, than the other three, they are built like barrels and fight all the way to the net. I mixed up some more feed to keep the fish coming, this one a better roach.

I was into another decent fish, that ran out toward the middle, staying down, until close to the bank, rolling and diving, a mystery fish until I netted it. A small mirror carp with pretty markings.

A string of roach, meant that they were over the feed now, possibly drawn to the hemp, not the clonkers that I have had in the past, but respectable.

The bubbles were still popping on the surface and a much smaller common carp was followed  next drop in by a much better one, that fought like a crucian.


The wind by now had turned to blow in my face, but the heavy float held station, but as the sun shone above the trees onto the water the bubbles reduced and I caught the only rudd of the morning.

This fish took on the drop, steady feed and lighter float would have caught more, but the heavy tactics were now only producing roach.

This was my last roach of the morning, soon the sun would be beating down and it was time to go home for lunch.

The punch had worked well again, varying between 6 and 8 mm had not selected better fish. I also missed a few bites and dropped several small roach on the stiff rig, but it had been another learning exercise, I’m sure that there were far more tench and carp in my swim than I caught.

Two tench, six small commons and one mirror, plus a net of roach between 9 am and lunchtime was OK by me.

Bread punch roach and bream worth the walk on the Leeds and Liverpool canal

August 20, 2020 at 4:34 pm

Following a report from Bingley angler Johnathan this week, he was out again a few days later, this time on his doorstep on the Leeds and Liverpool canal not far from his home. With no car parking near the canal due to the Bingley by-pass, he walked with his fishing trolley along the tow path to fish opposite a local landmark, the Damart factory, which is below the Three Rises Locks.

On furlough from his chef’s duties, cooking for the stars of Coronation Street among others, Johnathan used man power to reach his swim on the once vital trade route between Leeds and Liverpool. The canal is 127 miles long, crossing the Pennines, through tunnels and over viaducts and continued commercial trade with coal, limestone and industrial goods into the 1980’s. Looking at the image above, it is a good job that there is decent fishing fishing to be had the other end.

With a tackle layout like this, social distancing is guaranteed along the bank. Jon’s pole is a 13 Metre Daiwa Connoissuer XLS, with a No 5 Preston slip elastic, 0.40 gram Guru Pinger float with a spread bulk on a 2.6 lb (0.10 mm) Match Team line direct to a size 16 Kamasam barbless hook.

Known locally as the Ginger Breadman, Jon is a great exponent of the bread punch and started off by cupping in two balls of white liquidised bread mixed with a sprinkling of fenugreek powder at 9 metres. This was interesting to me, as I have used fenugreek powder purchased from my local Tescos for years, as an atractor for skimmers and bream on waters where they are present. The pic below was from a water I fished as a guest, the pellet fishing locals surprised by my catch on the bread punch.

Fishing just off bottom in four feet of water, Jon was into roach and small skimmers from the off, getting into a catching rhythm, but still giving way the local bird life.

Switching between a double punched 5 mm pellet of bread and a single 7 mm brought a lift bite, that slid away to the side, the No 5 Preston Slip elastic coming out on the strike, as a large bream made off across the canal. Eventually the steady pressure of the elastic brought the bream within netting range and taking his time, Jon slid the net under a 4 lb slab. Ten minutes later he was in again, this time a slightly smaller 3 lb bream, which he had to hurry to the net, as in the distance he could see a huge barge making its way toward him heading for the Three Rises Lock on his left.

A floating hotel! What a disaster, this monstrosity sucking all the water away into muddy whirlpools, then washing it back as it maneuvered over to his side to moor up for the lock. It was time to take stock, have a bite to eat and a cup Yorkshire Tea. The bream would soon settle down again further out and a cup of feed close in, soon saw roach taking on the top three joints of pole and even a perch taking the bread on the drop. Two more cups over the 9 metre line had roach and skimmers taking again, then another 4 lb lump cruised off with the bait putting the elastic to the test, followed by more roach, then another slab.

Switching back to the inside line, when the middle died, Jon continued to catch a few bits, before going out for a final hour on the 9 metre line, where he continued to catch better sized roach and skimmers.

The bream were too large for a landing net pic, a shot into the keepnet being enough at the end of a busy session.

All that was needed now was to return the fish, load up the trolley and head back down the towpath.

Thanks for the report Jonathan.




Bread punch on the River Aire at Bingley finds grayling, trout and chub

August 18, 2020 at 3:02 pm

If regulars to this blog are scratching their heads wondering whether I have moved up’t West Yorkshire, I’ll say no, but I know a man, who lives there. Johnathan, a contract chef from Bingley, a convert to the bread punch, known locally as the Ginger Breadman, has been working wonders on his local Bingley Angling Club waters since he was a junior, a member of various match teams, until marriage and a daughter brought Jon to his senses. Now a devoted family man, he has left the pressure and politics of match angling behind, but still enjoys a day out trying to get as many fish in his net as possible.

Travelling light, Jon made his way down towards the bottom of the Bingley club stretch of the river Aire, just upstream of the Bingley by-pass, where he climbed down into the known armchair swim. Unlike me, Jon’s tackle is bang up to date, setting up his 13 foot Daiwa Spectrum spliced tip rod, matched to a Daiwa 1657 reel, loaded with 2.6 lb Drennan float fish mono to a size 14 Kamasan B611 barbless hook. Intending to fish the stick float, Jon’s choice was an Ali stemmed John Allerton 4 No 4, set with the shot strung out over the 4 foot depth.

Feed was a bucket full of coarse white liquidised bread mixed with Dynamite hempseed, while hook bait was my favourite and his, Warburtons Blue medium sliced.

Intending to fish with 12 mm punched bread, Jon has made a simple punch using a short length of carbon, salvaged from a broken pole top.

Feeding a few balls of bread and hemp to start in the fast flowing river, minnows were a menace, bashing his way through and feeding them off, until a decisive pull down of the float brought solid resisitance from the bottom of the trot, that bent the Spectrum float rod over as a hard fighting brown trout kited across the river. The rod took the shocks and the landing net was soon under the trout.

This beautiful wild brownie was soon released, to be followed by a succession of chub ranging from 8 to 15 inches long, with a few roach getting in on the act. Each trot brought a bite, sometimes a minnow, the next could be a decent chub. The uncertainty of this type of river fishing often bringing up a surprise fish, in Jon’s case a 2 lb 8oz grayling, his personal best, taking on the drop from a cast along the opposite side of the river.

A pair of canoeists paddling straight through the middle of his swim, put an end to the fishing for the day, breaking up the shoal, but it was time to make a move anyway.

The river Aire is a good mixed fishery above industrial Bingley, offering reliable catches of trout and grayling for flyfishers, while supporting all the coarse species, including barbel, following a restocking program by the EA from their Calverton fish farm. Jon’s catch typical of the area.

Thanks Jon for the fishing report, and I hope to feature a few more in the future.

Tight lines.


Heatwave roach and chub take the bread punch on the River Cut

August 12, 2020 at 12:54 pm

I got up early this week in an attempt to avoid the extreme heat that is no longer a novelty in the south of England, while the rest of the country is being blessed with heavy downpours and cool breezes. Stepping out of the house at 8 am, it was already over 20 degrees Centigrade, as I climbed into the van for the short drive to my local river Cut. The night before I had removed all the heavy items from my tackle box to lighten my load for the following morning’s walk from the recreation ground car park down to the river, passing very keen tennis players toiling away on the courts. I was already sweating and only pulling a trolley. Masochists, or what?

The previous week my wife and I had demolished a 25 yard stand of Himalayan Balsam to reach this swim. The flowers had not yet set seeds, so ten minutes of effort should result in a balsam free bank next year, this invasive annual plant dying off each year and requiring the previous season’s seeds to germinate the following year to continue the life cycle.

There was very little flow and I set up a lightweight 4 No 4 Drennan ali stick float, which has a fine tip for bite indication. With a No 4 below the float and the remaining shot strung out toward the hook link, I plumbed the depth at 30 inches, a deep swim for this river, and trotted through with a 6 mm pellet of bread on the size 16 hook, just off bottom. A ball of plain white liquidised bread over to the logs of the berm on the opposite side, brought a small chub first cast.

This fish fought well, but the next cast brought and even better chub, that zoomed off downstream, bending my 12 foot Hardy to the butt, while I backwound my reel to avoid the hook pulling free.

Each time the float went in, a chub sank it away out of sight, even the smaller ones giving a good account of themselves.

The best of the rest being this one below, that skated off across the surface on the strike.

Then a dithering bite, before the float slowly sank, a bouncing fight indicating a small roach.

Another ball over to the berm, kept the roach lined up, the bites being predictable, a light dip or two followed by a slow sinking of the tip. Most required the landing net.

A couple of rudd were next in line. There were once shoals of rudd dotting the surface of the Cut, but recent pollution events have put an end to them, this small one a welcome returnee.

A few nice gudgeon were now pushing their way onto the feed, another fish that I thought that had disappeared.

By 10 am the sun had begun to shine through the trees and the air was becoming hot and oppressive, but the roach were still putting a bend in the rod.

The flow had begun to pick up and I guessed what would be coming next, the mystery orange water that gets released from somewhere upstream at least twice a day. A very fussy bite came from this last decent roach.

When I had arrived the river was clear, now it was a murky orange colour and the bites stopped. It was now 10:30, time for another swig on my orange juice and to retrieve my sandwiches from the cool shadows behind my tackle box. I went through the motions of fishing, knowing that this dead water usually passes in about 30 minutes. I got a bite! A tiny gudgeon.

Then a small roach, that toyed with the bait, until it finally gathered the strength to pull the float under.

A few more like this and I was back in business with another decent roach taken from the shadows alongside the log berm.

The next fish was another surprise, a dace. I saw hundreds of these dead, littering the bottom three months ago due to the last pollution. Pleased to see that some have survived.

I had fed a couple of balls over to the berm, when the orange water first came through and now the roach were making up for lost time.

Although I was still catching, the sun on my back was now very uncomfortable and I made this next roach my last.

No angler likes walking away from good fishing, but with the thought of loading up my trolley and the uphill trek back to van in the the midday heat did not appeal. The thought of the old Noel Coward song “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” came to mind, inserting fishermen into the lyric!

I had begun missing bites at one time and went down to a 5 mm punch, putting it down to dace and over enthusiasm on my part, but a return to the 6 mm brought better fish.

About 5 lbs in three hours fishing, despite the blank period on one of the hottest days of the year, was well worth the torturous return to the van. Even the tennis courts were empty on a day that locally hit 35 degrees Centigrade, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit in old money.



River Blackwater roach queue up for the bread punch

August 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Following a visit to the busy River Thames at Windsor last week, I swapped a ten foot deep swim for the shallows of the fast flowing River Blackwater for my latest outing. Only a fifteen minute drive from home, I was able to park close to the river due to the closure over the Lockdown of a large industrial building, which had previously policed its private car park. Unloading the van, I was soon following the winding path that led to the weir pool.

Crystal clear, the tail of the pool just shouts fish and I set up my twelve foot Hardy float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stemmed stick float to fish along the edge of the flow fifteen yards out. As can be seen from the image, there is an eddy under my bank pushing the reeds back and the flow splits to carry the float along the opposite bank, or into the back eddy. With such a light float, set at two feet with the shot bulked at nine inches from the size 16 barbless hook, my aim was to just fish my side of the river.

The sun was in and out of the clouds, being driven by a strong wind from the north west. One minute I was being baked, the next chilled by the wind, which was blasting upstream, not ideal for keeping the bread slices fresh and the liquidised feed moist for throwing, but preferred for trotting a stick float.

Deciding to just use plain white liquidised bread feed from the super market bread bag, that I use to store it in the freezer, I reached in and squeezed up a tight ball, throwing it out into the edge of the flow, watching it break up, swirling in the current. An underhand cast out into the breaking mass of bread particles, saw the float sink out of sight and the first of many roach was putting a bend in the rod.

The wind was proving difficult, the float carrying across easily from my ABU 501 reel, but the line was being blown back into a bow and I was having to mend the bow with my rod, while reeling back to the float, often the float being long gone by the time the line was tight to the float. Fortunately these fish were roach and not fast biting dace, the 6 mm pellet of bread being well inside their mouths when I struck.

These roach were not shy and once the float went down it stayed down, the occasional ball of feed keeping them lined up and coming to the landing net.

In this shallow river most fish kited off across into the faster water and I often needed to backwind to avoid the hook pulling free, being able to watch every twist and turn from my box on the high bank, the red fins visible in the clear water.

So it went on, roach after roach sinking the float, the shoal slowly dropping back as the bread began to coat the bottom. I shallowed the float up to 18 inches, the depth of the tail of the pool, casting down and across to stay in contact. When the float sank a one second pause guaranteed a fish, most of them having the milky residue of bread in their mouths from the bottom.

I was troubled by wasps all afternoon, this one taking a shine to one of my roach.

Whether I was finally getting through the roach, or not I don’t know, but big gristly gudgeon began to get in on the scene.

Reeling in a couple, a perch appeared each time and chased them in, until a smaller gudgeon was not so lucky and I watched the perch beat it up and swallow it head first. I was now playing a perch that ran across to the fast water, again with me backwinding the reel until it slowed and turned, bringing it back to the landing net.

Once in the net the gudgeon’s tail was still flapping, then it was ejected completly. Fortunately for both fish, the hook failed to make contact with the throat of the perch, if it had, I’m afraid I would have had to cut the line and left both fish to their fate.

The roach kept coming and I was surprised that even in this really shallow water there were no dace. By now the sun had moved round revealing the golden gravel at the tail of the pool, the fish invisible until they flashed over on the strike.

There were now more gudgeon than roach being hooked and with my self imposed time limit of four hours approaching, I made this clonker my last fish.

The bait tray told the story of a successful session. Anglers talk of this type of pellet and that sort of additive, but a back to basics plain white bread and a rod in the right hands can still work wonders.

I had expected dace, a few chub and maybe the odd skimmer bream, even a barbel from this swim, but my first love, the roach failed to let me down.

A quick weigh up put just under 9 lbs on the scales, the Blackwater a river of hidden potential.