Winter roach take bread punch on the stick float after the floods

January 19, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Heavy rain had caused flash floods on my local river Cut this week. Draining the acres of concrete and tarmac around the town, the little river has been up and over its banks like a yoyo in recent weeks. With more rain forecast, I was lucky to catch it on the way down again, when I visited for an afternoon’s fishing.

For the first time this year, I followed the path downstream to a swim where a bush grows out into the river on the outside of a bend, with the main flow and deeper water passing beneath it. This has obviously proved a popular spot, judging by a variety of floats tangled in the branches along the waterline.

Positioning my tackle box upstream of the bush, I set up my 12 foot Hardy float rod with a 4 No 4 Drennan Ali stick float to a size 18 hook, to fish a 5 mm punch of rolled bread. Plumbing the depth over to the front edge of the bush, the float was adjusted to fish an inch off bottom to start with. The pace of the river was quite quick here and expected to go over depth to hold the float back to slow it down if bites were slow in coming. Over night temperatures had been close to zero again and decided to mix up only a small amount of liquidised bread with a dusting of Haith’s red Spice attractor. This has a sweet aroma and has proved good for roach and chub in similar conditions for me before, also when damped down it forms firmer balls of feed, which sink quicker on a fast flow. On a cold, dull day it helps to think that you have an edge to get the bites.

I squeezed up a couple of pigeon egg sized balls of feed and put them in one and two yards upstream of the bush, watching the balls fall through the cloud, the line edging the bush. Easing the float through along the edge of the bush produced a slight hold of the float. I stopped the float with a finger over the line and the float sank, the strike putting a bend in the rod from a hard fighting roach.

This is what I came for, a solid roach that dived back under the bush before being drawn away into open water and the landing net. The hook fell out in the net and decided to net every fish whatever its size.

The bites were very fussy, but consistent, helped I think by the Spice mix, putting in a small ball every 15 minutes. The hot spot was just to the end of the bush and if I hadn’t struck a bite by then, a full stop of the float often saw it pulled down by another clonker.

These roach did not hang around once hooked, fighting deep, while I tried to slowly bring them to the surface, before sliding them over to the net. I lost one big ‘un, when it change direction suddenly and headed for the shallows on my bank, only to run itself aground. Lifting it over the lip of the landing net, it gave a flip and was unhooked, heading off at top speed before I could net it again. Flip!

Several bites I missed because the float dithered and half sank, then popped up again, while leaving the float to continue ended up with no bread on the hook. I think these may have been dace, or maybe gudgeon, or even one of the many stickle backs that have flourished this year. Who knows, as none were hooked.

The pace picked up and I added 6 inches to the depth and trickled the float through, holding the float up with the rod raised and continued to catch roach.

One of these quality roach had a large slash on it’s shoulder, possibly a stab from a heron? It fought well, but I put it back immediately to avoid damage in the keepnet and it darted away, none the worse for wear.

The bites were now becoming mere touches as the river sped up even more than before, it had rained lightly in the previous hour, but this was a real flush through. A heavy shower further upstream? I added another 6 inches to the depth and slowed the float to quarter pace, the float dragged under and I was in again.

I thought that this was a chub when I first struck, the roach diving away downstream behind the bush as it fought with the current keeping deep, but that characteristic pounding fight was not chub-like and a flash of silver said roach. Having lost one big roach already that afternoon, I took my time bringing it to the surface and my net. What a beauty.

Time for a cup of tea and a mince pie.

It was now hard work controlling the float, a gusting downstream wind not helping, but the roach were still there.

Now disaster struck. Somehow my reel line snagged around a root at my feet and I jerked it free, snapping the line. Rather than cutting off my float, then rethreading new line through the rod rings back to the float, I opted to tie a blood knot to rejoin the two ends. Even with cold, shaking hands, I completed this and continued fishing, but the knot kept catching in the small rings of the rod, ruining my float presentation. This was the end of my bites. It had been a rewarding two and a half hours, packing up at 2:30.


Winter rudd and carp on bread punch, beat the cold in Lockdown

January 13, 2021 at 5:07 pm

Abiding by the UK Lockdown rules of travel within the confines of your town, or village, my local pond fitted the bill, it being a short walk from my home. Only two days before the pond had been covered in ice, but overnight rain had flooded the feeder stream, leaving it coloured, but fishable.

A light drizzle still lingered in the air, as I set up my pole at seven metres to fish my usual summer, or winter light waggler rig, mixing up a wet mix of liquidised bread with a dusting of ground carp pellets and a few dozen 2 mm krill pellets, which soon softened to add a bit more attraction. Bait was to be a 6 mm punched bread pellet on a size 16 barbless hook. There was no surface activity, but I was hopeful that the four small balls of feed put out at 9 metres, would soon wake up the resident fish enough to show some interest.

It took less than five minutes for the first ring to radiate out from the float tip and another couple for the tip to sink below the surface from a disinterested rudd. In summer the bait would have been attacked on contact with the water, but after prolonged days and nights of subzero temperatures I was beginning to have my doubts, of the bread punch’s ability to catch fish in the coldest conditions. Confidence renewed, I swung in a small rudd.

A couple of minutes later, the float was gone again with another small rudd swung to hand from the top three pole sections.

Bites were still slow, but the swim was definitely warming up and the sight of pin prick bubbles close to my float got me poised for action, while a series of sharp dips followed by a steady sink away of the tip, saw the elastic pull out from the pole for the first time that afternoon.

This fat crucian carp dashed around stirring up mud until right under my net, then popped up onto the surface ready to be landed. The rudd were getting bigger too.

These rudd were solid and full of fight, lightly hooked they all required the landing net.

My rudd catching rhythm was interrupted by a solid rush, when I hooked into a carp, that stripped out the elastic, boiling up the black mud as it tracked across the pond, while I followed with the pole under tension keeping up the pressure. My wife had arrived minutes earlier and watched as I shifted the pole behind me, before breaking the pole down to the top three for the final run in to the net.

A perfect wild common carp and worth the effort to come out on a cold, dull afternoon. Time to celebrate with a shared KitKat and warming cup of tea, before putting out another couple of feed balls. It was soon too cold for my wife to stand around and she continued her walk to the post box, just missing the capture of one of this pond’s oddities, a crucian-fantail hybrid that got my heart racing again.

Crucian shaped with a powerful rudder, this fan tail motored around in the shallow pond, making netting a guessing game as to where it would appear next, but was eventually intercepted.

There were still plenty of rudd to catch, the slow bites of earlier settling into a predictable sequence.

I scraped up the last of the feed and was running out of holes to punch in my rolled bread. I started to consider packing up soon, although still only 2:30, the clouds had darkened and the temperature was dropping fast. These thoughts evaporated, when I lifted into yet another decent carp, that shot off towards the remains of a lily bed to my right, steadily pulling out elastic, but slowing as the pressure increased, bringing it to a mud boiling halt, before it turned and rushed past me into the open water. It soon rolled in front of me and down to the top three, I guided it into the net.

Another fatty and round like a barrel, the size barbless 16 hook held just inside the skin of its mouth.

A gudgeon and several more small rudd passed the time toward 3 pm, a last decent rudd topping two and a half hours of constant action. There would be tea and a slice of Christmas short bread waiting at home.





Lockdown 3 Latest. Angling reinstated as a permissible recreation

January 7, 2021 at 1:38 pm

Following representations from the Angling Trust and Members of Parliament, the Government have backtracked on their earlier decision to ban angling, due to it not being considered a viable form of exercise, but have reconsidered it as a permissible form of recreation. Tier 4 rules apply, with social distancing and no more that two people fishing together, while fishing competitions remain banned. Tackle shops can open on a strictly click and collect basis. Travel to fish should be kept as local as possible.

Having allowed angling to continue throughout Lockdown 2, it did seem illogical to ban it for this third lockdown. The mental health aspects of getting out in the fresh air and fishing are well documented, while anyone that has dragged their fishing tackle from the car, then trudged over wet ground to their favourite fishing spot will agree, that it is also a healthy form of physical exercise, apart from landing a decent net of fish.




Lockdown No 3 comes into force. Angling banned until further notice.

January 6, 2021 at 6:52 pm

With my part of the UK already in Tier 4 and the new strain of Covid 19 rampant, the UK Government have been on catch up trying to thwart a rapid rise in infection, leading to greatly increased hospital admissions and ultimately deaths. Lockdown 2, announced for a month at the end of October, had seen a reduction in the original strain of the virus and hopes of a five day family Christmas were announced, only to be cut back to one day, as the new strain took hold. Many families, my own included, decided to err on the side of safety and restrict their Christmas interaction to Zoom calls.

With the announcement of a looming third Lockdown, it was assumed that Angling once again would be permitted as reasonable exercise and I went fishing yesterday afternoon, while my wife went off to the local Tesco to get stocked up with essentials. Sticking to the Tier 4 guidelines of minimum travel, I drove the two miles to Jeanes Pond in the hope of a few decent winter roach on the pole and bread punch, although it was blowing a gale and just above zero in temperature.

I walked round the pond to be in the lee of the hill and set up at peg 13, just in time for the rain to start. Covering up the liqudised bread, I fed a pigeon egg sized ball over the drop off 5 metres out and swung the 4 x 16 antenna float out to drop through the fine cloud of bread. I waited for a bite and waited some more. Lifting the rig and recasting after 5 minutes. The 5 mm bait was still there untouched. This is unusual, even after the succession of sub zero nights over the past few days, I would have expected a bite by now. I put in another small ball of bread two metres to the left, raising the hook six inches and cast over it. Another few minutes and a welcome ring radiated out from the antenna. A bite at last. Another ring and a half dip that held. I struck and missed the bite. More dithering bites, all missed.

I decided that the 4 x 16 float with a 5 mm punch in a size 16 was too big for these lethargic fish and changed the rig to a 4 x 14 fine antenna float to a size 18 hook with a 4 mm punch of bread. I put another small ball over the original spot and cast over it again. Another ring and the float slowly moved. Thinking that it was probably wind drift, I struck anyway and felt the resistance of a fish, that soon splashed upon the surface, before being lifted to hand. Despite my cold hands, it was freezing cold to the touch.

A small rudd. At this stage I was not complaining and at least it had stretched out the No 6 elastic a bit. I dropped the float in again. This time I felt the fish, but it dropped off as I lifted it to hand. I put a small ball over both areas and got out my bag of punch bread, selecting a strip of rolled bread. 2 mm thick, it punched out a tight 4 mm pellet, which slipped into the hook. Casting over the second feed area, the float sank as it cocked and I was bringing a roach to the landing net.

The fish had woken up, but the bites were still difficult to hit. Hooking a tiny four inch roach, I bulked the shot closer to the hook and stopped feeding. If there were better fish in the swim, they would be on the bottom by now and raised the float to fish just off bottom.

The wind had veered round causing an opposite drift, not helping bite detection, sporadic rain adding to the misery and after an hour at 2 pm, I only had five fish in the net, none of them the clonkers, that I came for. The original area had gone dead and I suspected that a pike had drifted in, but the wait for bites over the second produced a few more.

It was not pleasant fishing in this weather with diminishing results, another four inch roach and slightly better one being the final fish at 2:20.

Ten minutes without a bite saw me pack up at 2:30. I had used very little liquidised bread for fear of feeding the fish off, when their metabolism would have been barely ticking over, but who knows, maybe I didn’t feed enough? That’s fishing.

I arrived home not long after my wife, who was busy filling the freezer and shelves with supplies. Hearing my tale of woe, she agreed that I could make up for it by fishing the next day if I wished. My planning of a visit to a prolific river was interrupted by a call from an angling friend, who informed me of the good news, that angling was banned until further notice.

By law I can walk along and sit by a river taking in the scenery, but the moment I put a rod in my hand, I am performing an illegal act. What is the logic in that? Happy Days.