Tench, a common and a big crucian carp worth the soaking.

June 30, 2021 at 9:24 am

While my wife went off for her first appointment at the hairdressers since Lockdown began, I took advantage of the two free hours for a quick visit to my local Jeanes Pond, before the need to get home to watch the England v Germany football game in the European Cup.

Arriving at Jeanes, the pond looked good, although the forecast afternoon rain had already begun. I had no waterproofs, but was under a tree and the rain was warm. So far this season I had been unable to catch a tench and was prepared to foresake my reliable bread punch for sweet corn.  Adding a strawberry ground bait to my usual mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets was another diversion from my normal approach, but this additive had proved effective in my distant past and was retrieved from it’s sealed tin at the back of my fishing cupboard.

Intending to fish the shallow shelf in front of me, I only needed the top three sections of my pole, the top two containing a No 6 elastic. Float was a 2 gram antenna, with the shot bulked 18 inches from the size 16 barbless hook and a No 4 tell tale shot half way between. I plumbed the depth and set the float to fish 2 inches off bottom.

Damping down the strawberry mix to form firm balls, I put four into a metre square area 2 -3 metres out and watched in amazement as the surface in front of me began to fizz with bubbles. Although I had added half a dozen sweet corn to the mix, I started with a double punched 7 mm pellet of bread coated in the strawberry mix and dropped the bait over the bubbles. The float went down, cocked and lifted and I struck into a rudd at half depth.

These were good weight building fish, but after a dozen, or so, decided to switch to the sweet corn. Not a movement, just the occasional lift and bob. I loose fed some more corn over the area, followed by another small ball of feed. More fizzing and a lift and run bite. This time I was playing a better fish, seeing the silver and gold flash from a decent rudd, which danced around the swim before turning on it’s side for the landing net, but a last second fight back, saw it turn and shed the hook. Blow it!

Back on the bread I was not missing many bites, when the float lifted and sank, with the squirming resistance suggesting a tench, which stretched out the elastic with several runs and surface boils, but the hook held in the very tip of it’s nose and I netted my first 2021 tench. Hurray!

That was worth a cup of tea and a sandwich, nowhere near my PB, but a hard fighter on this elastic. Another couple of balls went in and dropped the double punched 7 mm pellet in over the fizzing surface. More rudd picking the bait up from the bottom. No roach today for some reason.

Back on the sweet corn and the same indifferent bites. The float was dithering in and out of the surface, when it went down with conviction and I lifted into a much larger fish, that seem unaware that it was hooked. A friend had witnessed the tench being caught and now began a guessing game as we tried to figure out what I’d hooked. Unseen, it bored deep pulling out elastic, until forced to change direction, once almost successful at reaching the roots beneath my tree. Then a flash of dirty gold, that looked as deep as a bream, before it dived again. We were both beginning to tire, it came close to the net, but was gone again. Let it go round again Ken. Next pass it was in the net.

This was a weird one, a two and a half pound crucian fan tail. I have caught them half this size in another local pond, but first time here. This is an ornamental pond fish, probably liberated, when a garden pond was filled in.

In this image the large fins are clearly visible.

Minutes later and I was in again, as a small common carp made off with the sweet corn, giving a lively fight until popping up for the net.

The rain had been increasing steadily, penetrating the tree cover and the hood over my cap was now sodden and hung on for a break in the weather, but a wall of rain was advancing toward me.

Back on the bread, a slow sink away of the float brought out the elastic, and I was playing another tench. It was strange that most people had caught their tench on meat, or sweet corn, but mine had preferred the strawberry flavoured bread.

I persevered with the bread, but only rudd were now feeding as the rain lashed down.

All the feed had been put in and the bread was getting wet. I was soaked up top, but my seat was dry with my legs covered by my bait apron. It was time to brave the elements.

I rushed around packing up, getting even wetter, but it had been worth the soaking, after an interesting two hours. I had learned a few things and been reminded of others, being rewarded with some quality fish in the process.

I arrived home soaked through, but in time to sit down with a hot cup of tea to watch an exciting game of football, with the young England side knocking Germany out of the European Cup, following a convincing two nil win. Again, Hurray!



Stick float and bread punch River Cut season opener bonanza

June 23, 2021 at 8:54 am

A month’s rain in a day saw the little River Cut near my home rise three feet with flood water last week, but it was back down to normal levels, when I went for my first session of the new season this week. More rain over the weekend had kept the flow rate up, but decided that a 4 No 4 bodied, ali stemmed stick float was the tool to cope with the shallow swim. The flood had deposited several dead branches into the swim in front of me and I spent ten minutes fishing them out with my 4 metre landing net.

While setting up, I fed a couple of balls of plain white liquidised bread upstream of my swim, one past middle and the other along the opposite bank roots. This swim is the tail of a long left hand bend, with shallows on the inside and up to three feet deep along the far side. With most of the shot under the float, I had 3 No 8 shot spread a foot up from the nine inch hook link to a size 16 barbless hook. This rig is versatile, being able to be fished over depth and held back hard, to being shallowed up and run through with the current.

My first cast over to the far side saw my float drag under and thinking that the float was over depth, lifted to ease the bait off the bottom. The rod bent over with a small chub fighting furiously to lose the hook.

This chub was followed in quick succession by two others, that got bigger with each cast.

Then the roach moved in. Starting on a 5 mm punch of bread, the bites were typical of roach, dips and holds followed by the sinking of the float.

It was a delight to be back using the stick float, matched with the 12 foot lightweight Hardy and an ABU 501 reel. The open faced reel allows the line to run out over the spool controlled by my right index finger, the finger locking the line at the moment of the strike. Any large fish hooked can be given line by just raising the finger to allow line to flow as a buffer. The majority of the fish caught were lightly hooked, needed the landing net, the hook often coming out in the net.

Every half dozen roach, I threw a small ball of the liquidised bread upstream, which was building up a carpet on the bottom, that the roach were gathering over. Easing the float down, I waited for a sign of a bite, a hold, or a dip, then would lock my finger on the spool to stop the float and it would sink, followed by a strike. It worked every time. Often the float would dive, but these were usually small dace, or gudgeon.

The roach just kept coming.

These roach were lined up, I had tried going up to a 6 mm punch, but found that it did not select bigger fish and went back to the 5 mm, getting into a routine, almost fishing by numbers, although some fish were more reluctant to come to the net that others.

These were all clonkers, fighting hard, aided by the strong current, often broaching on the strike.

I had set my finishing time at 3 pm, which gave me four hours of fishing and counting up the punch holes in my bread this related to at least eighty fish, which included chub, dace, gudgeon and of course roach. Despite feeding steadily, I had used about 6 oz of liquidised bread. Total cost 10p.

Despite a couple of dogs retrieving branches for their owners and curious members of the public peering down into the river next to me, this little river continued to provide bites and fish all day.


Quality roach and rudd queue up for the bread punch in the rain

June 18, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Heavy overnight rain had given way to sunshine by midday this week and after lunch I took the short journey to my local Jeanes Pond. The aim was to test out a softer setting on my pole elastic, but also try for an elusive tench. Well aware that more rain was due later that afternoon, I was complete with waterproofs just in case the forecasters were correct.

I walked round and set up with a lily bed to my right, mixing up liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and Haiths Spicy Red, adding enough water to form up some firm fast sinking balls of feed, which I put in to form a line along the shelf from the lilies toward my peg. I had plumbed the depth at 4 feet and set the depth of my 2 gram antenna float for the bait to rest on the bottom, with a tell tale No 4 shot nine inches from the hook to indicate bites as a lift of the antenna. Bait was to be a 7 mm punch of bread on a size 16 barbless hook.

Once the balls went in, the surface was full of small fish, despite the rapidly sinking feed. With my pole at 7 metres, I fished along the shelf and initially had to work through a wall of small rudd and roach, the good news being that the addition of another six inches of elastic added at the bung end had worked and was no longer bouncing off fish, as had been the case last week. Soon bubbles were rising from the bottom over the feed and a good rudd was testing the elastic, when it ran out toward the middle.

The roach were getting better too, dropping in over the bubbles settling  the float, before the antenna lifted for the strike.

The next roach, showed signs of a pike attack.

Even a small perch got in on the act, chasing the bread down.

The roach bites were now becoming predictable. After an initial dithering of the antenna, it would lift as the fish picked up the bait, the strike bouncing the pole elastic, then it was a case of lay over the pole and pull it back to remove the top two sections, then bringing the roach to the surface and the net.

Regular pigeon egg sized balls kept the bites coming and my keepnet was beginning to fill.

Decent rudd were now lying in wait for the 7 mm punch of bread, running off back to the middle each time.

It had been spitting with rain for ten minutes, before making up its mind with a proper downpour and I committed to putting on my waterproofs. I dislike fishing under umbrellas and I am not too fond of the restriction of waterproofs either, but needs must, especially when the fish are biting.

I mixed up extra feed, the roach throwing up more bubbles, dropping the float over the top bringing a bite every time. It was impossible to keep the small slices of bread dry for the hook and switched to rolled bread, the rain softening the bait in my tray.

Dry within my waterproof cucoon, I continued netting roach and rudd. At least it was warm.

It was good to see these decent sized rudd again. They were once a reliable feature when fishing at Jeanes Pond and fight all the way to the net.

This was my last fish of the afternoon, a quality bread punch roach. I was disappointed that I had not been able to persuade any tench, crucians, or common carp to feed, but then I’d had a busy afternoon without them.

The rain had stopped. It was time to pack up and head home before my wife sent out a search party. No sooner had I begun to pack away my pole, then down it came again




Fiery Deer Gen3 Tripod Review rabbit stakeout with the CZ452 Varmint HMR

June 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

A cold wet spring, followed by high temperatures, has seen a spurt in undergrowth this year, no less on a rabbit warren, that I have been trying to clear for the land owners. Evening visits had become less productive as the grass grew and I opted to buy a Fiery Deer Tripod to allow me to spot and shoot rabbits over the top of the vegetation from a kneeling position.

A week later and it was even worse, but standing instead of kneeling still allowed clear shots.

Next to this field is one currently grazed by horses, which have cropped the grass and this week I decided to concentrate on the rabbits in that field until this one is cut. I was not the only one looking out for rabbits, a fox was sitting out waiting for movement, allowing me to walk up to take a photo, only running off when I pushed my luck too far. Yes, I could have shot it, but he is doing my job for me, catching rabbits.

Further along there is a dead tree, which I used to use as a base in pre covid days and I set up my tripod there and waited.

I moved the tripod forward so that I could sit on the tree, adjusting the height in seconds due to the trigger mechanism. The CZ452 Varmint hanging safely on the rubberised V mount by it’s Harris bipod. What a contrast between the two fields.

The Fiery Deer Tripod has obviously been designed with the deer stalker in mind, but it is perfect for smaller game, such as rabbits and rats. When not in use the light weight allows it to be used as a walking aid over rough ground. On this warren the nettles and grass now cover the many burrows, but the tripod can be used to test the ground ahead.

The legs are held in a clip at the base of tripod, one permanently fixed to a leg, while the other two are free to be released and swung out to steady the tripod on its rubber feet. There is a more expensive, near identical tripod on the market, without the clipped legs, the other having a lanyard and plastic feet, instead of rubber, which in my book make the Fiery Deer a better buy. A friend, who has the more expensive tripod, has to look down to free the lanyard, while the plastic feet slide on concrete, when shooting rats in a barn.

The comfortable rubber hand grip has a trigger, which can be unlocked by releasing a catch on the side, which then allows the legs to release and the V rest to be adjusted to the desired height.

The trigger and dual catch, which is both sides of the trigger, are shown here, flip up to release and down to lock. The V rest rotates through 360 degrees for panning shots. I was amazed at how rapidly the tripod can be deployed, giving an immediate solid base to shoot from.

Unscrew the V rest and choice of two camera mounts are available, a 3/8 inch by 16 TPI thread, sitting over one of 1/4 inch by 20 TPI. Clever.

Well engineered, the tripod head pulls out of the legs from one metre, ideal as a hunting/walking staff, to 1.8 metres, just right for taking a shot while standing, the leg spread is also variable and adjustable to suit any ground, or slope, just mount the rifle, release the ambidextrous catch and trigger with your free hand, position the rifle at the chosen height, release the trigger to hold the position and lock with the finger catch. This takes a lot longer to explain, than do.

It wasn’t long before a pair of rabbits broke from the cover of the long grass opposite, chasing around, before disappearing back to where they came from 80 yards away. Another ten minutes later they were out again, stopping to feed. The HMR was already on the V mount and the rabbits in the cross hairs. A quick working of the rifle bolt and they were ready to collect.

Last of the Mayfly bonus

June 10, 2021 at 1:34 pm

An evening visit to the tiny Hampshire chalk stream, the River Whitewater, gave  me a last chance to fish the Mayfly this week, hot sunny days and warm evenings extending the hatch. Arriving before 7 pm, the sun was still streaming across the corn field as I made my way upstream and the Mayfly were already dancing on the breeze.

A Mayfly on my arm

Without waders and only wellies, my fishing would be limited to fishing from the bank, but I already knew where I would start first, far upstream toward the weir, where I had lost fish the week before. So I thought anyway, the sound of a big fish crashing into a Mayfly stopping me in my tracks.

Looking back downstream I could see possibly two fish rising with abandon, attacking the latest hatch. Minutes earlier when I had passed the area, there was no sign of fish, or Mayfly on the water, but that is the potluck of fly fishing in early June. By the time that I had travelled back, all was quiet again and I positioned myself as close to the river as I could. Behind was a tree, while upstream were reeds and a clump of cow parsley, with willows along the opposite bank.

Suddenly a fish rose beyond the clump of cow parsley, then another. There were definitely two good fish there, but the cast was impossible. After  extending my landing net to about 8 ft, I went for it, making horizontal false casts past the bush, but the Grey Wulff landed nowhere near the spot. The flow was too fast to avoid the fly dragging and I was lifting and casting. The trout were in a frenzy and so was I. Suddenly the line went tight as I lifted off and chaos ensued as the trout imitated an out board motor, hidden from view. I assumed that I was going to lose this fish in the following seconds, but stayed with it, relieved when it surged upstream, across the shallows. The monster had transformed into a pound plus stockie and I had gathered my senses to take control. It now burrowed in the reeds on my side, heading downstream toward a deep root lined hole, letting the 5 lb tippet and my rod take the strain, it turned back and rolled on the surface. I sat down and stuck out the heavy ali landing net into the flow and the trout obliged by swimming in. Phew! I was shattered and on the verge of slipping in on the sloping bank. I managed a couple of quick photos, removed the mangled barbless fly and slid the net back to the river for the trout to recover, then swim off.

Not the best image, but better than the one with my finger over the lens.

Waiting for a knee replacement, regaining my feet was a struggle, but helped by my sturdy landing net I managed it and continued upstream, rises were few and far between, most coming from beneath bushes, no doubt from previously hooked fish. My Grey Wulff was now changed for a smaller white Mayfly, more of a match for those around me and having reached the deep run, that had been full of fish last week, I began working my fly upstream, but with no rises, or takers.

I moved up to the next section, where a fish rose close to the bank behind a bush and I slid down the bank to stand on the marshy bottom. With overhanging trees and standing cow parsley, this was another difficult cast, but as I edged closer, the fish rose again. I managed to get the fly behind the bush and it came up and I missed the take. The line now became entangled in the cow parsley on my side and as I sorted it out the fish rose again. I tried and missed again. I’m obviously losing my touch. I hadn’t put it down, as it rose again. A few more casts and the fly fell right. It came up and third time lucky, it was on. Not a big fish, I drew the wild brown trout back as it tumbled on the surface, then it was off the hook. As I said earlier, I’m losing my touch.

Getting back up to the top of the bank taught me a lesson, don’t try that again until post operation. I continued upstream, to the weir, but despite plenty of Mayfly about, there were no more rising fish and I turned back. The sun was now behind the trees and a few fish were rising toward the road, but apart from the occasional pause to consider taking them on, I made my way back contenting myself with the fact that I had landed a lucky stockie and for once had not lost any flies.





Roach and rudd galore on the bread punch at Braybrooke

June 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

A last minute change of plan left me with a few hours free to fish this week, opting for nearby Jeanes Pond at Braybrooke Rec now that the weather has warmed up. Reports of a few tench being caught decided my approach for the session, taking my stiff pole with strong elastic, not so much for the tench, which run to about 4 lb, but to cope with any pike that may take a roach.

As usual the convenience of the bread punch can’t be beaten. There is no need to drive off to the tackle shop for bait, when all you need is sitting ready to thaw in the freezer. Ten seconds for bread slices and 40 for a bag of liquidised bread in the microwave is enough for bait ready to fish with. If I had known the night before that I was fishing, the bag could have been left in the fridge over night to slowly thaw.

To match my pole set up, I used a 3 gram bodied antenna float, bulk shotted to within a foot of the hook and a No 6 tell tale shot 6 inches from it, the rig set for the bait to fish just on the bottom. For ground bait I used 4 ounces of liquidised bread as a base, with about a table spoon each of Haiths Red Spice mix, ground carp pellets and 2 mm Krill pellets. Wetted down, this mix was formed into half a dozen tight balls and spread along the drop off four metres out. The tench here tend to search along the shelf of the drop off and it wasn’t long before bubbles began to rise from the bottom. The idea of the tight balls is to try to avoid the small rudd and roach with the feed sinking straight down, likewise the bulked down float, although lift bites and runaways proved that this was not working too well, although there were some better roach among the tiddlers.

Bubbles were steadily rising and every time that the bait managed to reach the bottom, there was a lift and a slow sink away and another decent roach.

The occasional rudd managed to intercept the bait, holding the body of the float high in the water, then drifting off before I struck. I bounced many of these off due to the lack of give in my pole and elastic.

Another lift, bob, sail away, which I thought was a rudd, turned out to be a tench, carp, or pike. I never saw the fish, just the elastic stretching out, before the hook lost grip. Leaving these bites longer all resulted in a small gorged rudd. Very frustrating. The roach kept coming. They were loving my ground bait, if there were tench down on the bottom, the roach were beating them to the 6 mm pellets of bread punch.

I lost another mystery fish, while I was bouncing off one in three roach. I had already slackened off the elastic, but it was not enough and I assume that the elastic was putting too much pressure on the hook, when the better fish swam off. One of the others fishing nearby, had just caught two tench on the trot and I mixed up some more feed and put it in. Taking a cup of tea and my sandwiches, I walked round for a chat to Kevin to see what he was doing right. A running line waggler rig and maggots on the shelf was his answer, the tench being about 3 lb and a baby of 8 0z. After swapping life stories, I wandered back to my swim and continued catching roach.

Kevin’s brother Trev now came round for a chat and asked about the bread punch and the roach obliged, then I struck into and lost a smaller tench as it fought deep. This pole elastic will need slackening off before I fish again. I had watched another angler opposite fishing a feeder to the edge of a bed of lilies and seen him catch three tench. This was not working. I persevered for another hour, no more mystery fish and plenty of lost roach was enough for one session and I packed up.

The tench rig, that last year had put three tench, a 2 lb crucian and some small common carp in my net, but not today. Lifting my net from the water, I was still surprise by the amount of fish, considering that I had bounced so many off.




Wild trout respond to the Mayfly on the urban river

June 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm

My first evening visit to an urban trout stream paid off this week with a hectic hour of action, until heavy rain forced me to take shelter, before finally giving up. I had left home in bright sunshine, but the sky was black on the horizon. I had not heeded the forecast of isolated showers, keen to get to the river while Mayfly were still flying, trouble was that it isolated over me!

Walking over the bridge at 7 pm, I could see Mayfly in the air and trout rising upstream. My rod was already set up with a small White Mayfly and made my way past the bus stop to begin fishing from the green. I had just needle knotted on a new 11 ft weight forward leader and was keen to see how it performed. Casting up to a rise, I was impressed to watch the leader punch out, then gracefully float down to the surface. Second cast a fish rose and a small trout was on, but then buried in the weed. Easing the pressure, but keeping up the tension, saw the trout swim out of the other side and the battle commence, until beaten it drifted into my landing net.

Due to the barbless hook, this 8 inch wild brown was quickly returned unharmed to swim off strongly against the flow, although the artificial Mayfly had not survived the head shaking fight and required replacing. Fortunately I had a duplicate and was soon ready to fish again, but the hatch was over, with just the occasional fly floating down.

Suddenly the river was alive with rises again, as another flurry of Mayfly began lifting off, skidding across the surface. Smaller fish were launching themselves out of the water as they chased their prey. On the far side, a larger trout was smacking at the flies, sometimes clearing the surface, its golden flanks flashing as it turned. Protected by an overhanging bush, it remained close to the edge ignoring my imitation each time it drifted by.

Measuring out another couple of feet of line, I managed to bounce the fly off the bank and watched with anticipation as it drifted under the bush. Plop! The fly was gone and the line tightening as I lifted the rod. It boiled on the surface and I stripped line to pull it from the roots. My 7 ft rod took the strain as I rewound the spare line onto the reel, only for a sudden run to strip line off it again, back to the far bank. I could see that this was a good fish for this small river and had my landing net ready, when it dived toward a bank of weed close to my side, but thankfully side strain pulled it round and after a run downstream it was on its side and in the net.

I am afraid that too much adrenaline had caused camera shake and this was the best one that I took, but it is still a pretty fish, these wild trout fat with their Mayfly bonanza.

By the time that I had tied on a small yellow Mayfly, it was spitting with rain, but the trout were still rising and after a couple of missed fish, I moved down to where I heard a better trout rising just upstream of an overhanging horse chestnut tree. It was only rising occasionally and waited for it to come up between the far side and a long raft of weed. Making rapid casts to avoid line drag and the tree, the yellow fly was like a beacon, drifting a yard then being extracted at the last second. The fly was becoming waterlogged by the rain and I blobbed drying powder over it, making false casts, before watching the fly float down, travel a foot and disappear. Wham! I was in again as it ran straight down under the tree, forcing me to keep the rod flat as it fought unseen, the rod bucking and bending. This was not as big as the last and was soon playing it on the reel, bringing it out from cover on the surface to the net.

The light had gone, but the rain was now beating down and after releasing my last captive, I headed for cover and the comfort of my car, then home.

My evening had been saved by a speedy delivery from Barbless Flies, www.barbless-flies.co.uk, a friendly Yorkshire company with the personal touch, that supplied my new leader and fly floatant powder.