Pike force a move at Braybrook

October 27, 2020 at 2:05 pm

The weather forecast was dry with sunny intervals, while the rest of the week would see rain and strong winds, so with bread from the freezer, I took the short drive to Braybrooke recreation ground to fish Jeanes’s Pond, arriving at 10:30 to find that I was the only angler there. I was pleased to see that the leaves had only just started to fall, which would make fishing easier.

I set out my stall in peg 18, well out of the wind, to fish the bread punch close in on the pole, putting in just one ball of white liquidised bread four metres out, followed by my 4 x 14 antenna float with a 5 mm punch of rolled bread on an 18 barbless hook, fished just off bottom. The float sat motionless for about five minutes before a tiny tell tale ring radiated out from the fine tip. It sank slowly out of sight and I lifted into a reasonable roach that pulled out the No 6 elastic.

A very nice first fish. Without feeding, I dropped the float over the same spot, this time only waiting a couple of minutes before the float sank again and another autumn roach coming to the landing net.

When the water is cold, the bites can be slow, but they were predictable, a slight movement of the antenna followed by a steady sink under the surface. Another nice roach followed.

I ventured in another small ball of feed and the float sank as a decent roach bounced the elastic. Suddenly the elastic stretched out. A pike had grabbed the roach and was swimming deeper into the pond, the light elastic offering little resistance as it turned and swallowed the fish. I lifted the pole as the 5 lb pike made several lazy runs, eventually swimming parallel to the bank along the surface out of range of the landing net, before diving again and coming in close, as I broke the pole down to the top three sections. I have had dozens of pike on at Jeanes’s Pond and never landed one, but this time I had one on the surface in front of me with the landing net ready. It was not to be, the razor sharp teeth cut through the line as the pike boiled on the surface.

That was the end of what promised to be a good session. I tied on another hook link and started again, feeding a couple more balls, one in close and one 5 metres out. The bites came back, but the good roach were gone, small roach, rudd and even a couple of baby perch taking the bread, including this lipless wonder.

Another angler arrived, new club member Mike, setting up in peg 16 and not long after he was playing a good fish, that was boiling on the surface. It looked like another pike. Walking round, I could see that he was struggling to land the pike on a 5 metre whip, while his landing net was too small to cope and went back for my own. Mike had been fishing cubes of luncheon meat, fairly hooking the pike in the jaw and with no elastic had good control of the fish; I netted it quickly. My camera was ready, but a flip of its tail launched the pike back into the water, so no pic for the blog.

Back at peg 18, still being cautious with the feed, I was beginning to get some better sized roach on the 5 metre line.

Then it happened. The pike was back, making a surface attack on a good roach as I readied the landing net. Already down to the top three sections of pole, I pulled hard against the pike and the hook pulled free, another quality roach meeting its doom. That was enough for me. The pike would wait for the better fish to return, then grab one and kill the swim again. Easy pickings.

Too early to go home and with sandwiches to eat, I loaded up my trolley and relocated to peg 2, close to a lily bed, where the wind would be at my back. It was much deeper here, over 4 feet and fed a couple of small balls along the drop off close the the lilies. Light rain showers were blowing in with the wind and I pulled my hood over my cap to keep my neck dry. So much for the weather forecast.

After a slow start again, it was soon a fish a chuck, but apart from this rudd, the fish were much smaller.

The sky turned black and the rain began to lash down.

With no waterproofs, I abandoned the swim, taking refuge under a bankside oak tree until the rain eased, following blue skies fooling me into fishing again. The punch bread was dry in its wallet and I had stowed the seat cushion safely in the dry pocket of the bait bag, so it was business as usual when I emerged from cover with more roach.

I should have used the dry period to pack up, not realising that this was just an interlude between even heavier showers. It was now just as wet under the tree, due to the runoff from the now sodden leaves and went back to pack up before the rain had stopped.

About seventy fish in total, a typical net of bread punch fish, which unfortunately draw the pike in for a meal that can be achieved with little effort.



Big crucian carp tops short break at Hitcham Ponds

October 22, 2020 at 10:59 am

I always try to fish Hitcham Round Pond in the Autumn before the leaves fall, arriving at noon to see the last of the sunshine, as dark clouds were being driven by a strengthening breeze. I was hoping for a few crucians and common carp, plus a skimmer bream on the bread punch from the Intertype AS water, taking advantage of the exchange ticket offered to my own Old Windsor AC.

I had not fished this swim before and found it shallower than expected at only 30 inches with no drop off. Unusually there was no surface activity, such as roach topping, or carp rolling, even the surface was devoid of bubbles from feeding fish. The weather last week had been cold and wet, but today the southern breeze had brought a pleasant rise in the temperature. The water had a bright green tinge.

With no noticeable shelf to aim at, I made up a sloppy mix of coarse liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, while keeping my eye on my 4 x 16 antenna float. It did not move, the 6 mm pellet of bread on the size 16 barbless hook ignored by the many small roach that fill this pond. Not a good sign, but I fed an area straight out in front between six and eight metres out, dropping the float in to the side of the nearest feed. Still no bites, so I went down to the 5 mm punch, the smallest for a size 16 hook, the shot strung out to allow the bread to fall through. Finally a bite, with the bait just off bottom. The float tip dithered and slowly sank;  not the crucian that I had expected, but a small roach.

It had taken time to catch this fish, but now the shoal had woken up and moved over the feed, each fish getting smaller, so more balls of feed went in on both lines to feed them off. Over the eight metre line a lift bite brought a palm sized skimmer bream, which raised my hope of better things to come.

Hope springs eternal and I continued working through the small stuff, both roach and small skimmers. The bites were still difficult to read and hard to hit, some better silver fish bouncing off against my heavy elastic. My next tray of feed was heavier and I went back deeper toward the bottom on the eight metre line, being rewarded by the sight of clusters of bubbles bursting on the surface. Still very small roach and skimmers, until I went up to a 7 mm punch, when the float lifted and bobbed before purposely submerging. The elastic was out following an initial run, then a classic rolling fight as a big crucian carp fought in circles. Breaking the pole down to the top three, the elastic did its job of wearing out the crucian, the golden scaled flanks visible each time it rolled beneath my feet, the landing net ready when the carp popped up on the surface.

I was lucky to land this crucian, the hook being in the very tip of the nose, falling out in the net. I had caught a 3 lb 8 oz crucian from the pond last year and this one was slightly smaller, a couple of ounces short of 3 lb, but it fought to the max.

I lobbed out a couple more balls onto the eight metre line and poured myself a cup of tea, letting the feed settle before casting over again. The surface was disturbed by the movements of a large fish and I waited, the float wavering in the boil, then slowly sinking out of sight. I lifted into the fish, which exploded into life as it powered toward the island stripping out the elastic, while I countered the run by raising the pole and turning to my right, the 35 year old carbon Shakespeare pole creaking under pressure, but again the 12 -18 red elastic did its job, slowing the carp and forcing it to curve back to my bank. As the pressure eased, so the common carp sped up again, heading along in front of me, while I broke the pole down to the top three sections to stay in contact, it passing at top speed heading for the lily bed on my right, with the elastic following. I turned the top three to the left taking the strain and crack, the bottom section split and folded half way up. The carp kept going and I was effectively now on a hand line with no control, watching the elastic disappear into the lilies as the common boiled on the other side. The hook came free, and I was left with a dead pole.

Time for another cup of tea and a think. I have another top three kit for this pole with a lighter elastic fitted at home, which can be swapped over to the heavy elastic, so it is not the end of this pole. It was still only 1:30, too early to go pack up. Back at the van was, my 14 foot Browning rod, so the pole was packed away and returned to the van and I walked back across the field with the holdall.  At the swim I set up the Browning with a fine antenna waggler rig. Probably an hour had elapsed since the bust up, the wind had changed to in my face, drifting the leaves that had been piled up in the corner round to my side of the pond. The light rig kept hanging up on the floating leaves, while the wind drifted the float away from the eight metre line, where bubbles were still rising. I managed to drop a small crucian and four ounce roach, probably due to too much bow in the line. The pole allows a positive upward strike. The fish were just nibbling at the bait and my success rate of hits to missed bites had quadrupled in a negative direction.

Before the pole break it seemed that the bigger fish had taken over the swim, but now I was back on the small stuff and decided to pack up. Usually by now bursts of bubbles from the numerous common carp in the pond would have been coming up over the feed, but today was not usual.


Blackwater chub saves the day

October 16, 2020 at 9:12 pm

I was optimistic for my first visit in a few months to Farnborough and District’s River Blackwater. Recent heavy rain had caused flooding, but I now expected the river to be fining down with a decent bit of colour; just right for some autumn roach fishing. As I walked over the bridge, I was disappointed to see the bottom right across. It was crystal clear and lower than I have ever seen it, but undeterred I pressed on upstream to one of the few swims where fishing the stick float is possible from the bank. Stopping at the swim, I realised that I had left my landing net pole back at the van. Being on the Blackwater Valley public path, there was no way that I was going to leave my trolley unattended, so it was back to the van again, then back upstream to the swim.

Three quarters of a mile walked and half an hour of wasted fishing time. I placed my box in the only gap in the trees. It had greatly reduced in a year and my first retrieve saw the rod top line get caught in the overhang. I would have to be more careful next time. First fish, a gudgeon, was safely steered through the gap, but later as I leaned out to net a roach, the rod top got caught again, leaving the roach jiggling about on the line until it fell off, springing the line up into the branch, causing a tangle. I managed to snag the line and float with my landing net and pulled it free, but the float broke in half. Another broken float.

I decided to load up the trolley again and to walk back downstream to a swim past the bridge that has no trees. When I got there, it was occupied by another angler. What next? Go home? Getting back to the bridge, I decided to fish above it. I had caught roach here before until a pike had turned up. It was worth a try.

I am not one to chop and change swims, but was not too happy with this one either, as from the high bank, I could see right across the bottom. Attaching another float from a winder, I trotted through, finding the depth was under two feet, but with no wind, float control was easy from the top of the high bank. I fed  liquidised bread, mixed with ground hemp, damped to allow small balls to be squeezed up. The idea was to let the feed carry down the swim toward the bridge, where I assumed the roach would be holed up. About the fourth trot, the float dipped then sank and a big gudgeon was swung in.

This was taken about half way to the bridge, and following down another ball of feed, the float went again in the same spot as the rod bent into another gudgeon. Encouraged, I repeated the process, again another bite in the same spot, but missed it. There must be a hollow there, holding the feed and fish. Another missed bite and I scaled down from a 6 mm punch of bread to a 5 mm. That’s better! The lightweight Hardy bent round, the flash of a roach clearly visible as I struck, taking my time to bring the fish back upstream against the strong flow. I guessed that the weir half a mile upstream was fully open to run off the overnight rain. From the high bank, I had to lean over with the landing net to get the net near the roach, the angle to the water too steep for comfort, but I guided it over the rim and scooped it up.

A fussy bite and another gudgeon followed, but the next cast the float passed the hot spot, drifting round to a side eddy where the float sank. I struck, the rod bent, then dead weight as I reeled back a stick. Another trot that passed through into the eddy brought back another twig. I now cast out to the middle, allowing the float to swing round to fish six feet further out, the float taking its time to reach the bridge, where I could just see it. Suddenly it was gone and I struck as the line stretched tight. Wham, the rod bent double as a long silver fish rolled on the surface and ran downstream, while I backwound the ABU 501. This was a reasonable chub, which was now searching for snags along the side of the bridge. It rolled again in a foot of water alongside the wall, thankfully heading out to the middle away from the snag filled eddy, while I held, then reeled to keep contact. Ten yards downstream, the chub’s white mouth was clear of the water and I steered it toward the net, again having trouble getting it stay in, lifting the pole with my foot to finally secure it.

A sigh of relief and time for a cup of tea and a sandwich. I fed a couple more balls out and down, followed by the float. Another bite in the same place, I paused and struck. Nothing. The bread was gone. A chub would have run with it. The float again travelled all the way to the bridge without a touch, then a dip and a dive. Another monster gudgeon was bending the rod again. They fight hard for their size. I tried back over the hollow. A couple of dips, but no proper bites. I think the fish could see the float in the shallow water and were wary of the bait.

Back over to the middle and the float worked its way down and under the bridge. It disappeared with line following and I swept the rod back. A definite fish, not a gudgeon, but a roach by the feel of it, as it tapped the rod top on the return. For safety, I leaned out with the landing net and brought it in.

This was my last fish landed, a smaller chub did manage to reach the snags in the eddy, depositing the hook in a branch. I let the line go slack for the chub to swim out, which it did leaving my hook behind.

All in all it had been a frustrating session, I couldn’t be bothered to untangle the hook link with cold hands and the light was going, so I packed up, the saving grace being the chub in my net, my personal best for this part of the Blackwater.

Bread punch commons and crucian carp late call at Allsmoor

October 9, 2020 at 6:08 pm

It has been a week of showers and sunshine. Every sunny day I had previous commitments that stopped me fishing, the others it rained. Then after a morning of heavy rain, the TV forecaster was talking of a glorious sunset, as the clouds would melt away. It was still raining at 2 pm with a strong wind and I gave up on the idea of fishing and got on with something else, but a patch of blue in the sky was creeping closer, giving me hope of that promised golden sunset. I gathered up my gear and loaded the trolley for the only fishing option available at short notice, the walk down to Allsmoor pond not far from home. The blue sky passed quickly, driven by a chill wind; not too welcoming for my arrival at 4 pm.

My preferred swim would keep the wind at my back and the sun out of my eyes, but when I got there some kind soul, or souls had launched a Tesco trolley into the water, too far from the bank to reach. What logic was behind this act of vandalism? Tesco is about half a mile away and the last 300 yards is over a rough path. There are some strange people about.

Back to the fishing. I continued round to a swim opposite and mixed up my ground bait, bread crumb, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and hempseed, putting four balls in 7 to 8 metres out. I then set up my pole with a small waggler rig swinging it out over the feed. The float sank immediately and a small rudd came in.

These rudd are an occupational hazard in this pond, you have to wade through them before the better fish move in over the feed. I often catch a few decent rudd, but this time they were all small.

I scraped up more groundbait into balls, hoping to feed off the rudd, but they just kept pulling the float down.

Then a good sign, pin hole bubbles bursting over the feed, while the float went in and did not disappear immediately. It sat, then lifted, before sinking to the surface and cruising off. Lifting into the strike, the heavy elastic came out as the hook was set, the fish unaware for a second that it had been hooked. It steamed off to the right toward a bed of lilies, unchecked by the 12-18 elastic, causing me to react by pulling back against it, a risky move that could have pulled the size 16 barbless hook free, but the carp turned broadside on and headed out into the pond, where I knew it could be beaten.

If it had turned into my bank I’m sure it would have been lost among the many snags. Like the shopping trolley opposite, someone has thrown the recent council tree trimmings into the water, my swim needing to be cleared with the landing net before I could put my net in, even then I had to leave a large ten foot bough in the water, it being too heavy to lift. I got the impression that one of the locals is anti fishing.

It was now apparent that the rudd had cleared off, as again the float just sat unmolested, until a series of dips and bobs of the tip indicated a crucian carp bite, as it sucked the punched bread between its lips. A slow submerge and I was playing a nice crucian that stirred up the mud with its rolling fight.

As can be seen, this otherwise perfect crucian had a badly ripped mouth, victim of a large barbed hook. Back out again, I cast to the middle of a burst of bubbles. No dithering this time and the float sank away as another crucian made off with the bread.

So much for that golden sunset, a black cloud was now moving in from the west, blocking out the last remaining rays and I was having trouble seeing the slot in my punch. It was only 5:15 and sunset was not due for another hour, but the sullen gloom crept closer.

The next fish ran like a carp, but was one of the colourful crucians that inhabit the pond.

Bubbles were steadily rising now and a bite was certain each cast, this time it was another common carp that that fought all the way to the net.

That dark cloud was now overhead and a heavy drizzle began to hiss on the surface and I pulled my waterproof jacket over my head, not having time to put it on, as the float was gone again.

These small crucians had taken over, the poor light creating strange colours from my camera.

Darker still, the camera was struggling without the flash. I could still see the float though and netted another.

The flash was on for this last crucian. It was still raining and I had to pack up as it was getting darker by the minute. It was just after 6 pm, that golden sunset would have given me another half hour of fishing.


A short but sweet session from a small local pond that never fails to fill my net. This a free fishery under the control of the council, which is unfortunately open to abuse by the mindless few.