Fussy roach respond to bread punch at Braybrooke

March 23, 2021 at 9:01 pm

Spring had finally arrived this week, when I arrived at Jeanes Pond for a few hours of afternoon sun trying to coax a few bites out of the resident roach, following some harsh winter months so far this year. I was not very optimistic following a report of a friend, who had persevered for five hours, trying all he knew to put half a dozen fish in his net the previous week.

Set in the middle of a large housing estate, Braybrooke Recreation Ground had its fair share of local residents taking the air and enjoying the first warm day this year. As I set out my stall on the bank, I scanned the surface for signs of life, but the lack of topping fish made me think that I was still too early. I decided that a small size 18 hook with a 5 mm punch, to a lightweight 4 x 14 antenna float was the way to start, with only the minimum of fine sieved liquidised bread feed. There was a gentle breeze blowing into my bank and I assumed that the warmed surface would thermocycle down from my bank. That’s the theory anyway and on a potentially hard session, it’s good to have a bit of science on your side.

I started off with just a handful of plain liquidised crumb in my bait tray, damping it down enough to pinch together. Plumbing the depth, I found 3 feet close in dropping to 4 feet, 6 feet out and opted to fish with just the top two sections of pole, dropping a 20 mm ball of bread in at two metres, watching it fall quickly through the cloud to the bottom. Last year this pond had been plagued by tiny roach and rudd and no bites were preferable to a net of them.

Swinging the float out in line with the feed, the breeze drifted the float slowly back to my bank without any sign of a bite. I had set the float to fish six inches off bottom at two metres, expecting it ground on the bottom a meter out, which it did, giving me a brief flutter of excitement, when I mistook the dip of the float as a bite. Two or three casts later, a tell tale ring radiated from the antenna. Now, that was a bite! The float dipped and dithered, then held and I struck. Missed it. This time a bite straight away, that held and bobbed, before slowly sinking. Missed again. Maybe the punch was too big? I got out my 4 mm punch and pushed the pellet round the bend in the hook. My last outing was on the river after chub using a 7 mm punch, this 4 mm looked minute, even on a size 18 hook. Next cast, a more positive bite and I hooked something. A small rudd.

Not too bad. At least it was a fish after ten minutes. Next cast the float sat, then sank slowly. I was in again. this time a small roach.

At least there was life beneath the surface, albeit small. The smaller punch was working, the fish just sucking the bait, being hooked in the top, or bottom lip. With ten small silvers in the net, I ventured in another small ball of feed. The fish were freezing to the touch and I guessed more curious than hungry and didn’t want to feed them off. A slow bite that half pulled under and I was playing something decent, that was fighting deep, boiling the surface with turbulence and bouncing out the elastic. The net was out and a proper roach was guided in.

This is what I had come for, the small stuff was the scouting party and I hoped for more of the quality fish. This had come from less than a metre out, right on the bottom and I added another 3 inches to the depth, while putting in another small ball of feed off the end of my top two. A couple more scouts and the float eased down, lifting into another pole bender, that flashed in the sunlight.

This time a rudd, showing signs of damage from a pike, scales and some of the tail missing. Pike of all sizes inhabit this pond and I expect to encounter one taking my fish on every visit. The bites were slow to develope, but the fish were growing in size, so I wasn’t complaining.

Another clonker that fought like the clappers on the lightweight rig, the tiny offering of bait the answer.

The sun was now hot, boosted by the blinding reflection, which forced me to start a new feed area as the sun moved round. Feeding two metres to the right, the small stuff was back again for a while, until I was playing a better roach again.

I was now feeling overdressed, having been caught out too many times this year, that extra jumper was now being regretted, but the fish were still coming to the net and time would be lost taking it off.

This roach had a strange blister on it’s head, but still fought well. The bites were now really slow to develope, the wind had dropped completely and the float would sit for several minutes before the first tell tale dip of the float began to grow into something to strike at. I missed a few of these bites due to impatience, but they were worth the wait.

The local primary school had now chucked out and noisy gangs of eight year olds were chasing around the banks, “Where are you running to?” one chasing group shouted to the leader “I don’t know. Follow me!” he screamed. The peace was shattered. Another group found logs that had been removed from the pond and began throwing them back in.”Oiy!” I shouted. A pause and the logs continued.

I decided to pack up after my next fish, another roach this one also with part of the tail missing.

Another nice roach apart from the missing tail and scale drop that seems to be common on the better fish now. It used to be on the rudd, but now the roach have it too.

“Whatcha caught Mister. Come and see what this Man has caught” The crowd gathered. Fame at Last.

A very satisfying net of roach, when I was expecting a hard time.




River Whitewater work party progress

March 21, 2021 at 1:42 pm

With only a couple of weeks before the 2021 trout flyfishing season opens on the River Whitewater, members of Farnborough and District AS were busy this weekend getting their three mile stretch of the Hampshire chalk stream ready.

The team split in two, half clearing the banks and trimming back over hanging trees, while others carried out much needed work constructing a safe bridge over a steep sided, often water filled drainage ditch.

Early in the day, a hen mallard flew out from the bankside undergrowth as it was being cleared, revealing a nest with a dozen eggs.

Work stopped on this section of bank and the mallard was soon back on her clutch of  eggs.

The Farnborough club engaged a commercial crayfish fisherman last year, who has been been setting nets along the river, at one time collecting 50 kilos a week. Several nets were in place along this stretch, one that we examined having over a dozen large signal crayfish trapped waiting for collection.

It is hoped that once the numbers of this invasive species are under control, the wild trout spawn will have a chance to develope and grow. When I first joined the flyfishing section of the club, juvenile wild brown trout were present in large numbers, often at nuisance levels, but now they are a rare, but welcome sight. To complement the wild trout population, the club will be stocking a limited number of triploid brown trout throughout their section of the river.

Walking downstream to view the new bridge, the farmer had been busy adding to his stock of wood for sale, while also erecting 300 yards of cattle fence, again without consultation with the club, who have held the riparian fishing rights to this water for over 50 years. If he had consulted the club, we would have asked for the inclusion of a couple of access gates through the barbed wire fence, now we will have to wade across the river, or approach form downstream at the stile. The only good thing about the fence is that it will keep the boisterous young bullocks, that are brought on at the farm, well away from the anglers.

The new bridge at the stile was a work of agricultural art, with heavyweight railway sleepers bedded down into the ground over the ditch.

I can testify that the new sleepers are firmly held in place by steel brackets, while a wire mesh covers the woodwork giving a non slip surface. This ditch has ben a problem for years. Too wide to jump, with sides too steep and slippery to climb. The Farnborough club’s new management team are to be congratulated for their enthusiasm and ongoing improvements, which will result in a better angling experience for the paying members.



Bread punch crucians and rudd blow away the Lockdown Blues

March 3, 2021 at 5:30 pm

With news that the Lockdown travel restrictions are to continue for months to come, a few enquiries confirmed that nowhere local was fishing due to the continued cold weather. I had experienced this the previous week on my local river, when I struggled to connect with fish, bites being reduced to nibbles. Scaling down to a size twenty hook and 4mm punch of bread, while putting an extra shot under the stick float, had given me something to strike at, but my tally after an hour was five tiny roach, two sticklebacks and an old sock. I packed up and returned home. The same swim a year before had put several chub to over a pound, with quality roach in my net.

Frosty mornings and glorious afternoons have become the norm lately and with the mist beginning to lift this week after lunch, I decided to try the pond within walking distance of my home, although the gloomy responses from a couple of other anglers around the pond did not lift my hopes.

I settled myself down at the top end of the pond and made up a shallow mix of feed, just 4 oz of liquidised bread, dusted with ground carp pellets and a red spice additive. The pond is about two feet deep above mud and a sloppy feed works well here. There is a post that sticks up in line with the pole line and I fed several small balls my side of it. I set up a cut down waggler rig that only takes three No 4 shot, with a size 16 hook and a 6mm punch of bread and cast in. The float went down immediately and a small rudd was swung to hand.

This was already an improvement on my expectations and several rudd later there was a solid resistance on the strike and a small crucian carp was skidding across the surface toward the landing net.

More rudd, then a big gudgeon cartwheeled toward the net. This pond is so shallow, that most fish break the surface when hooked.

These gudgeon are massive, a remnant of the days when a brook ran through the pond, the brook culverted away, but flowing through in times of flood, the pond acting as a balance pond.  The float kept going under with more rudd slideaways, while a bobbing bite produced crucian number two.

More feed brought a flurry of gudgeon, each one a couple of ounces and out fighting the rudd.

These gudgeon seem to have taken over from the small tench that were almost a nuisance a few years ago. Just when they were getting to a decent size, they disappeared. Maybe they are feasting on bloodworm all day and are no longer interested my bread, hopefully to reappear as two pounders in the future.

This was my last crucian, I had put in the last of my feed and pinprick bubbles appeared around my float before I lifted into this little battler. Putting the float back over the bubbles, an even bigger gudgeon took the punched bread, giving a good impression of a crucian as it scudded across the bottom.

I reckon this one was at least three ounces, maybe there is a record to be caught in this pond?

A chilling east wind now began to ruffle the surface along the pond toward me and bites became difficult to spot, watching the line at the pole tip being the best indicator, the rudd moving off with the bait.

The wind dropped again, but so did the temperature, the pond going to flat calm as mist began to form over the surface. The other anglers had left already and decided that I would have one last cast, the float slowly sinking away, to be met by an eruption on the strike as a good fish fought back hard. I thought that it was a better crucian and was surprised to see a good rudd come to the surface at the landing net.

I now gave it another fifteen minutes, just in case there were a few more decent fish around, but his small rudd was my last fish.

  The bites were still coming, but I had had my fun, the bread punch again finding plenty of fish.

From this swim in February a few years ago, I had over 20 lb of common and crucian carp, but that had been a very mild winter, this year I was happy for small mercies and went home with a smile on my face.