CZ 452 HMR Varmint and Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto share the rabbits

July 27, 2021 at 3:35 pm

A call from one of my landowners, that rabbits were taking over her paddock again, saw me make an early evening  visit this week, armed with my .22 Magtech 7002 semi auto and the CZ452 HMR Varmint rifles. She had said that her son had counted 13 out there that afternoon and decided that it was time for another cull.

I have history with this paddock. Several years ago the whole farm was overrun with rabbits and from this paddock alone I had shot 14 on my first visit, starting off close in with the Magtech, then taking over with the HMR to mop up the stragglers that made it to the far fence. Further visits had decimated the rabbit population, allowing the grass to grow and livestock to fatten up in the area. Then a thriving warren existed thirty to fifty yards out from the fence, running back to the righthand hedge row, but today that warren is just a few burrows.

A couple of trips back to the van and I was ready. Knowing that I had the garden fence to contend with, I brought my Fiery Deer Gen 3 tripod to give a rock steady gun mount, the fence not the ideal shooting platform in the past. There were no rabbits visible when I arrived, but I did not have to wait long, as a rabbit emerged from it’s burrow just forty yards away. Picking up the Magtech, I worked the bolt to load a Winchester 42 grain subsonic into the breech, settled the rifle into the tripod V, sighted and fired, knocking the rabbit down.

The thud as the bullet struck home, brought a reaction from further down the field and white tails flashed, with their owners rushing headlong to the safety of the nettles a hundred yards away opposite me. Picking up the HMR, a Hornady 17 grain ballistic tipped bullet was shifted into the chamber and the heavy rifle rested on the tripod. Scanning the far side a large doe was sitting up reviewing the situation. At x12 magnification I went for a head shot and the rabbit did a backflip. Two down. Swinging the rifle round to the right a few yards, a head was just visible in the grass and sighting behind the eye, I squeezed off another shot. Spot on! The rabbit clawed the air and sank from view into the grass. Three.

Ten yards to the left another rabbit was making tracks for the nettles and I followed it on the tripod waiting for the bunny to stop. What the!!! Several sheep ran into the line of fire. Where did they come from? Kirsty had said nothing about sheep in the field. They had been startled by the crack of the HMR, but were now grazing contentedly in front of me. I rang her. Full of apologies, she explained that they had some rare breed sheep penned at the far end a few hundred yards away, that were free to roam the paddock and did not expect them to be a problem. While the sheep were rounded up with the aid of a rattled bag of pellets, I stepped out to retrieve the closest rabbit, seeing that it was in perfect health.

The entertaining interlude had put the rabbits down for now and I switched to full magazines and topped up the used ones while I waited.

A pair of rabbits appeared together at the nettles and jumped out into the paddock, trotting round before stopping to feed. Sighting on the nearest, it fell to the HMR, but the other one was spooked and leapt back into cover. Oh well, I had hoped for more than four and decided to give the session another ten minutes, when on time another rabbit cautiously came out alongside the pig enclosure, the head on shot throwing it backwards. Five.

I waited another 15 minutes, but nothing came out. Taking my ammo bag and the lightweight Magtech, just in case, I walked out into the paddock to bag up my harvest. Half way across it was Sod’s Law that another rabbit came out and decided to stare me down. Too far for a shot to hand, I needed to shoot prone resting on the ammo bag. With nettles and thistles under foot, I side stepped into a clearer section of grass and lay down, expecting the rabbit to be gone, but no, it was still there sitting upright. At least 50 yards away, these are the best shots for a .22, as aiming at the head, the bullet will drop down into a vital part of the chest. Pop! The rabbit jumped and fell. Number 6. With a decent silencer, a .22 subsonic round is quiet compared to the supersonic .17 HMR, the crack being the sound of the bullet after it leaves the barrel.

Walking back to the gate, Kirsty was waiting. “How many did you get?” “Six” “Oh, I thought that you would have had more” “I would have if it hadn’t been for the sheep!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

 

 

River Carp on the bread punch, spice up a roach session

July 19, 2021 at 8:47 pm

Temperature forecasts of 30 Centigrade, meant for a brief morning visit to my local River Cut this week, my choice of swim was dictated by the amount of shade on offer, it already being over 25 when I arrived at 9am.

Club members had been catching carp since heavy flooding of a few weeks ago, escapees from lakes above, or below the stretch and I was keen to get in on the act. Choice of rod was my browning 14 footer, paired with an Abu 501 reel loaded with 5 lb mainline to a 3.2 lb BS hook link with a size 14 barbless. Bait was to be my reliable bread punch, with a heavy feed of liquidised bread, mixed with ground carp pellets and a sprinkling of Haiths Spicy Red additive. The float was a 6 No 4 Ali stick, with the shot bulked to within a foot of the hook and another No 4 half way down as a tell tale.

With carp in mind, I mixed the feed wet to sink and put two balls in a couple of yards above an overhanging bush, swinging the over depth float out to hold back in the slight flow. The response was immediate with the float sliding away and a small rudd flashing away in the murky water.

Not a bad rudd to start. These fish once covered the upper levels of the river, but had disappeared and I was at first pleased to see them, although after the tenth one grabbed my bait, I was rapidly changing my mind. Adding another 6 inches to the depth and moving the tell tale closer to the hook. I put in more feed balls, squeezing them up hard, watching them sink straight down. I had gone up from the 6 mm bread punch to a 7 mm. Something worked, as the next fish was a clonking roach, that dived quickly back into the roots of the bush, before being drawn upstream to the middle, then across to the landing net.

Ah, that’s more like it, the float lifted and I was playing another big roach.

This one also dived hard for the bush and I decided to feed even further out. The extra feed was to beyond the middle, where there was less flow, dead leaves were backing up on the float and were less problem here. The float would settle then lift as the bait was picked up. I usually waited for the float to move off before striking.

Rudd were still getting through, but they were generally better fish. This one with orange fins and a green hue to the scales.


 

The roach were back and I was in a rhythm, bait the hook, swing the float in, hold back. The float would lift and bob, then sink; striking with my finger on the spool just in case of a big one.

A small chub put the theory to the test, diving back to the roots, feeling like a much larger fish.

There was no doubting the next bite, when the line went solid from a big fish that swam steadily upstream, slowly shaking its head, unaware that it was hooked. I was giving line from the spool as it passed upstream, seeing the deep golden body and fat black tail of a carp cruising by, while my rod bent double. It kept going and I put more pressure on as it neared an overhanging bush, bringing the carp to the surface. I’d landed a five pounder the week before from a local pond and this was as long, but much deeper. I was just a passenger on this journey and jumped when the carp flapped its tail. It turned back gaining speed and I stripped the line through the rings to stay in contact, the rod slack, then bent double as it powered by taking line. Despite my efforts, the carp kept doing, the rod powered up and the 3.2 lb hook link snapped.

A cool drink of orange with a shortbread, and I was ready to start again. Tying on another size 14, I punched out a 7 mm pellet and swung it in. A bob, a lift and I was into a decent roach.

I began catching a gudgeon a chuck.

A couple more balls in and the roach were back.

A roach bite suddenly went heavy and I was playing a small carp that cruised up and down, searching out the snags, but once on the surface it was under my control and in the net.

This is what I came for. A little barrel of fun.

Back in and first cast yet another clonker roach, that did not give up easily.

There were plenty of smaller roach and many big gudgeon but you can’t photograph them all, but some required a comment. This one had an ulcer, but fought well.

This one looked like it had been attacked by a pike, but there are none in the Cut. Maybe a mink.

The damage was both sides with penetration marks.

It was 12:30, my three hours was up and I punched my last hole in the bread, swinging the float in. The float dithered and bobbed like a small roach, but the strike said another story as the rod bent into another carp. This was not as big as the first, but big enough to treat with a lot of respect. I managed to contain the carp within the area in front of me, stopping it from going under the bush and keeping it from the far side, holding the rod high and responding to every dash for freedom. It swam back out of the net once, but was soon back in.

A two and a half pound powerhouse. Next year these carp will be unstoppable without much heavier gear.

A busy morning that proved much better than expected with many decent roach and the pair of bonus carp.

 

 

Common and crucian carp dominate on the bread punch

July 14, 2021 at 6:24 pm

After a couple of mediocre fishing sessions lately, I paid a visit to a pond that is within walking distance of my home, for a confidence boosting few hours in the afternoon. Under an acre in size, the pond sits within the bounds of a sports field and is part of a chain of balance ponds that control the flash flooding of a brook, which runs through the urban area. It is full of a wide variety of coarse fish and I never know what will end up in my net, but that the bread punch has never failed me, despite others using more exotic baits.

Before setting up, I mixed up liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, adding enough water to form sloppy balls of feed. Being so shallow, I want the balls to keep their shape for throwing, but to break up on contact with the surface of the pond. I fed a metre square area 7 to 8 metres out, to be ready to fish. A simple waggler rig to a size 14 barbless hook, set to two feet deep, just above the muddy bottom, with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread was swung out to the middle of the fed area. The float disappeared in seconds, lifting into a powerful fish that ran off toward the lily bed to my right, taking elastic. Expecting a small rudd first cast, this was a shock, but the heavy 12-18 elastic compensated, the hook held and I netted a golden common/crucian carp hybrid.

The following fish were all good sized netable rudd, the bites being steady sailaways, the fish a range of shades of green and gold.

I had taken a chance on the strawberry flavouring, but it was certainly working and my next bite saw the elastic stretch out toward the middle, the fish, a small common staying deep throwing up a trail of black mud.

Bubbles were now appearing steadily across the fed area and a cast to the middle of them produced a characteristic crucian bite, small bobs and nibbles followed by a gradual sinking of the float.

Although only about 8 oz, I struggled to get this crucian in the net. It rolled and dived in every direction apart from the net, until it finally popped up and lay on its side.

If I thought that the little crucian was trouble, the next was an arm wrenching battle royal, when a 5 lb common carp went off with the tiny 6 mm pellet of bread. The elastic shot out as it headed straight for the big bed of lilies opposite and I struggled to keep the pole at an angle to the fish, afraid that the top two sections would be pulled off the pole. Once it realised that that direction was not working, it ran back along the line of least resistance toward the lilies to my right. Due to the lack of depth, the only form of escape was to run, trying to get in under the bushes and rushing around. Once it began to roll on the surface, I knew it was beat, and broke the pole down to the top three, but getting its head up long enough to net was wearing on my arms, aware that the size 14 barbless hook could come out at any time. Finally a long pull back of the pole brought it toward the landing net and it was mine, the hook in the tip of the lip snagging in the net.

Not my biggest carp ever, but probably the biggest on the pole and certainly from this little pond on the bread punch. The water in front of me was now grey with churned up mud and after a cup of tea and a piece of short bread, I put a couple more balls of feed in and cast out. A dithering bite eventually showed signs of going under and I lifted into a small colourful crucian.

There was more commotion, when a common carp made off at warp speed, but again the elastic did its job and patience saw it to the net.

 These colourful crucians, were now putting in an appearance, this being one of the better ones.

The float cruised away and I was having another workout, as a pound plus common carp charged off, following it around the pond with the pole in ever decreasing circles, pulling it away from the bushes on my side, when it neared the net.

Swinging in a stonking gudgeon got me worried that they would take over the swim, but this was the first of just a few.

I needn’t have worried as now some crucian carp and hybrids moved over the feed, having put regular small offerings into the same spot, bubbles now bursting on the surface.

Still getting the occasional Crucian hybrid, the more colourful versions had taken over and it was one a chuck, although being fussy biters, each “chuck” took about five minutes.

This was one of the better ones, good net fillers, but not as hard fighting as the standard versions.

It was getting close to going home time, all my feed had been fed and I was running out of spaces in my bread, the last fish being another decent rudd.

Bouncing my 13 lb scales, I returned the big common and reweighed the net, the total being 16 lb 4 oz, not bad for a busy four hour session.  Unfortunately the bright late afternoon sun washed out the colours of this image, but I was eager to get the catch back into the water as soon as possible and didn’t want to mess around trying for a better shot. To save more handling, they were slowly lowered into the pond still in the landing net, swimming off safely.

 

 

Pike cause a stir on the River Stour at Christchurch

July 11, 2021 at 1:49 pm

Social fishing is when wives come along too, but days have to be allocated for socialising and others for fishing. A brief visit to Meadowbank Touring Park on the banks of the River Stour at Christchurch, was one such event this week. With rain forecast for Wednesday and sunshine for Thursday, a long lunch at the New Queen pub was the obvious choice for Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for my friend John and I to get on with the serious business of fishing, while the two Julies soaked up the sun. Er, one problem. The British weather decided not to co-operate. It rained.

Results on the Stour since the start of the season had been poor and so it was for John and I as we struggled to get through the minnows. John was thirty yards downstream on an opening out bend, while I had the straight above. Starting on a 3 gram stick float over eight feet of water, John soon switched to the swim feeder with bread on the hook, still unable to escape the minnows, until roach found his bait. Going back to the float, feeding hemp, but with bread punch on the hook he began to pick up the occasional small roach.

Upstream I had streamer weed stretching out past the middle of the river, but found a six foot deep run four metres out and began feeding tight balls of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and hemp, plus boiled hemp seed, putting them in a rod length upstream. In front of me, giant hog weed had lined the bank, which the owners had cut back, then allowed to fall forward into the river, creating a tangled barrier which extended eight feet into the river. My first job was to drag out an area wide enough to get the keepnet in and to give space for netting fish. At last I was ready to fish and after thirty minutes of frustration in the form of bait stealing minnows, my swim switched on and I began to catch roach.

Making an upstream cast, the 6 No 4 stick float float was settling in front of me and under as I held it back, the fish being over the feed where it had carpeted the bottom. Perfect, but not quite. Streamer weed lined the channel in front and claimed two fish, until I began lifting them up to the surface over the weed to where I could net them.

Bites were plentiful, due mainly to the minnows, some of which were monsters, like small gudgeon, but dace had also invaded the swim, stripping the bread in seconds, lifting and bobbing the float, but evading the hook, leaving it bare. I tried sweet corn and neat hempseed on the hook, again bobs and dives of the float, but no fish. Back on the bread punch, I managed to land a few, but most tumbled off before I could get them to the surface. At least the rain had stopped and my Julie was able to remove her rain jacket and mine from her knees, when the sun came out. She went back to make some sandwiches.

I hooked a decent roach, that suddenly shot to the surface. A pike was after it and I swung it clear, just as the pike swirled on the surface.

The swim went dead. My attempts to revive it with more feed were mocked by the pike, that dived each time into the middle of it, scattering fish in all directions. Julie returned with freshly made sandwiches, which were consumed, before I asked her to go back for my spinning rod and plugs. Good wife that she is, went off, returning later with the pike fishing kit. I had begun catapulting hempseed over to the middle, ignoring the inside line, which was a mistake, as by the time that I had set up the spinning rod, the pike had moved, the surface fishing lure untroubled.

Trotting the float down the middle soon saw the float disappear and a small roach hooked and landed.

The hempseed feed with punched bread on the hook was working again and another roach was at the surface on it’s way to the net. The surface erupted and the roach was snatched off! Another pike, or the same one? I tied on another size 14 barbless hook and went back to my inside line, feeding only hempseed with bread punch on the hook. More fussy bites and a dace in the net. Good.

The float went down and the rod bent double with a big fish, that slowly swam upstream, then accelerated, powering out toward the middle, as I backwound the ABU 501 in response. I said to Julie that this was a big fish, maybe a barbel, or a big bream. Applying steady pressure it turned back and I got the landing net ready, but it kept deep and went off again. The hook came free. My disappointment turned to anger, when I saw that a small scale was impaled on the hook. It had been a pike, that had taken a dace as I hooked it, the hook pulling out on the second run.

Assuming that the pike would be content with it’s latest meal, I continued trotting down the inside line, holding back then easing the float bringing a positive bite. Yes! A good dace was tumbling deep beneath the rod top and I got the landing net ready, as I brought it up over the streamer weed. A green flash, the rod arched over and the dace was gone, the pike leaving a swirling boil on the surface.

That was enough for one day. I was tempted to have a go with a deep swimming lure, but sometimes you have to admit defeat. I had never got a chance to put a decent session together, before The Pike stuck his long toothy snout in to spoil the day. Even building a new swim down the middle had found a pike.

I walked down to John, who had also had troubles of one kind, or another. He had doubled my weight, but was in the process of packing up himself. Our verdict, Social 10 out of 10, Fishing 4 out of 10. Next time we will try a different spot and take some proper pike gear.

 

The grass is always greener on the other side?

July 4, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Within a few miles of my home, I am very fortunate to have a wide variety of excellent fishing, yet never satisfied, I am always searching for somewhere new, ideally with better fishing. Carp have put in an appearance in my local river and they were high on my must catch list, but I have had a hankering to fish a club water over twenty miles away since before we were all locked down. My previous visit, over three years ago, had put some decent roach and pound crucian in my net during a brief morning session and I had always intended to return to give it a good go.

Rising early, I set off to beat the traffic and was doing well, until I hit a tailback in the filter lane off a busy dual carriageway. Two changes of the traffic lights later, I had turned up the hill towards my desired venue. The traffic was slow, but then it stopped again. A train was heading into the station and the level crossing gates had come down. Hand brake on and wait. And wait. Two trains, one in either direction. Sit and relax. The gates went up and we were moving forward slowly. A truck, held up like the rest of us on the opposite side, was trying to force its way across my queue, from a fork in the opposite direction, to join the traffic coming towards me. Horns blared and arms were waved from windows, until someone gave way and we moved on. Not far. The local school had opened its gates for the multitude of 4x4s to drop off their precious cargos. Cars were entering my road from all sides. In my day we walked, or cycled to school, but today’s parents believe that some form of evil harm will befall their offspring, so get out the gas guzzler.

At last I was on the country road, then driving down the rutted track to The Pond, parking at the Dam to avoid the crowded carpark. There was plenty of room for the van in front of another car, leaving space for its exit. Tackle on the trolley, I made my way across the dam towards another angler and stopped for a chat. “How’s it fishing?” I knew the answer from the look on his face. “Rubbish.” He was fishing two rods, had arrived the day before and had one crucian carp, then bivvied up for the night, risen at 4 am, lost one fish at 6 am and hadn’t had a bite since. As he said, rubbish. I moved into the swim next to him, it having a bed of lilies to my left.

It looked perfect, but where were all the anglers on the far side? The carpark had only one car in it. Oh dear. Looks like it has been rubbish for quite a while. The Bush Telegraph had spoken.

I had intended filling it in with the same strawberry mix, that had given me a big crucian, a common carp and two tench, plus a string of rudd from my local pond earlier in the week, but decided that a quarter of what I had used, would be safer. There was no sign of surface activity at all, no bubbles, or fish topping. Plumbing the depth, there was a sharp drop off from four to six feet half way along my side of the lily bed and set my 2 gram antenna float to fish three inches off bottom, with a 7 mm bread pellet on a size 16 barbless hook. I put in one small ball close to the lilies, followed by the float and waited.

After five minutes, the float gave a half dip, followed at intervals by others, before it eventually slowly sank below the surface. I struck. Missed it. The bread was still on the hook. Five minutes later I missed another bite. Same story. I punched out a 5 mm pellet for the hook. A better bite and a rudd in the landing net.

My neighbour was soon at my side, keen to see me catch a fish. We watched as the float dithered and half sank. The strike brought the elastic out briefly as a fish fought deep, then ran out to open water. Not a monster, but a hard fighting little crucian carp.

Two fish in ten minutes, maybe it would not be so bad after all. My neighbour was very interested in the bread punch and the pole, as I managed to miss the next two bites and drop another crucian, when I struck the fussy bite too soon. I put in a second small ball of the ground carp pellet and liquidised bread mix with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, dropping the float in over it. These bites were taking forever to develope, but patience was rewarded with another rudd.

This one was heavy with spawn, being barrel shaped. Maybe they were preoccupied with spawning and not feeding. My new friend lived in Watford, a 50 mile drive away, a long way for one fish. He had decided to start packing up, but returned when my net was out again. He had been using Peperami sausage as bait and offered me a piece, which I tried as a small cube on the hook. We talked of clubs and waters that we had in common, while we watched the motionless float being ignored. The ten minute trial was a failure and the bread went back on for more knocks leading to a fish on.

A roach this time, but again so lightly hooked that I was netting them all. I tried fishing higher in the water through the cloud, but after missing several bites and hooking a four inch roach, I went back down to the bottom. Time was ticking on and the one remaining angler on the far side was loading his car to leave. The occasional bubble was now rising from the edge of the lilies and I was encouraged to stay by another roach.

Convinced that my float rig was too heavy, I switched to a much lighter antenna float with a size eighteen hook. I think that this was more for my benefit rather than the fish, as the bites did not improve and my miss rate went up. Finally I hooked a roach, how I don’t know, as its lip was missing.

By now I had decided to join my neighbour, who was still ferrying his various bits of equipment back to his car. As if to taunt me, the float went under with a rudd, while I gathered my bits. The sun had come out and was already hot on my back, enough of an incentive to leave I thought.

One day I will visit this fishery at a more productive time.

I had time to pop in at another pond on the way back, maybe that was fishing better? I didn’t bother getting out my gear and wandered over to the pond. Three friends were fishing at adjacent swims. “How’s it fishing?” “Rubbish.” The grass is not always greener on the other side is it? I climbed back in the van and continued home.