Bread punch rudd make up for missing tench at Shawfields

August 27, 2021 at 12:43 pm

I paid a rare visit to Farnborough and District’s Shawfields Lake complex at Aldershot this week, hoping to repeat a late June visit last year, when I landed four decent tench fishing the bread punch with the pole on the small lake. The last fish on that afternoon tipped the scales at 4 lb 8 oz.

Letting myself into the fishery through the security gate, I had to walk the length of the main lake and was aware that I seemed to be the only angler there, finding the small lake unoccupied too. Was this going to be another one of those days, when the word had got out that the fish were off the feed? With a choice of swims, I returned to the same one as last year, at least it held some tench last year, so why not today? Expecting tench and a possible carp, I had brought my pole fitted with 12-18lb rated elastic through the top two sections, with a 2g antenna float rig to cope with an obvious surface drift.

Plumbing the depth I found an even four feet depth and made up a my usual mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, which seems to work everywhere at the moment. First cast, the float sat for a few minutes before dipping and side slipping away. Lifting into the bite, the elastic had no effect on the small rudd bouncing on the end.

Fishing just off bottom with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread on the size 14 hook, the float was dropped in over the feed again, but this time the float kept going down and a better rudd was making it’s way to the surface.

An even better rudd this time, which was encouraging, a few like this would be appreciated, while I waited for a tench. In again and another rudd was drawn back to the net.

Getting into a catching rhythm, there was a swirl beneath the surface, as a pike chased one of my rudd, which I swung in to safety. I changed my fishing line, coming in closer to the lily bed and caught again, but after a few more rudd, the pike was back, this time grabbing a fish, before letting go. The swim went dead. The rudd had been scared off. I had some small red worms from my home compost heap, a tench favourite and switched baits, the result, an instant bite. This was a small perch that dived away pulling out elastic briefly, before coming to the surface. I fed my rudd line seven metres out with a few more balls of feed and concentrated on the perch close in.

I now began catching a perch a cast, often on the same worm, a bit of fun trying to hook them before they swallowed the worm, moving the bait getting instant results,  the disgorger otherwise soon retrieving the barbless hook.

While catching a succession of these small perch, the pike attacked my keepnet and I looked into the water to see a 2 – 3lb pike staring at the net, much like a cat studying a bird in a cage. I put my landing net in behind its tail in an attempt to scoop it in, but the pike was gone in a swirl!

A better sized rudd took the worm, fighting hard and I expected the pike to attack again as it struggled on the surface, but the landing net brought it to hand. This was a sign that the rudd had returned and switched back to bread punch and began filling my keepnet.

The pike was back again and had seized a rudd through the fine mesh net, shaking its head. I heaved the net up and the pike swirled away. I was still catching rudd, when Farnborough chairman Chris came round for a chat. He had finished work early and brought his rods down for a few hours of peace and quiet.

Chris was impressed that the rudd were putting on weight since being introduced a few years ago and with more family members joining the club, these rudd and perch are ideal for young and old anglers alike.

I had a surprise, when a hard fighting rudd turned out to be a perch, that had taken the punched bread.

The pike was still tugging at my keep net, but while it was there, it wasn’t chasing my rudd, so I was happy continuing to catch.

These were worth catching and next year will have put on even more weight.

My last rudd was panicked into the lilies, leaping out of the water as the pike hunted it down and I lifted it clear of the water to safety.

Another decent rudd, possibly the best of the afternoon, that would have been a mouthful for the juvenile pike. It was close to my deadline, wanting to beat the traffic home, my last cast bringing a surprise bread loving perch again.

There were no tench today, but I had been kept entertained, after all every bite was a potential tench.

Lifting out the net, there was evidence of a busy afternoon with well over 50 rudd and perch.

Arriving home I checked my keepnet and found several jagged tears from the pike.



Bread punch selects big roach from the River Blackwater weir pool

August 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Strong winds were forecast for my visit to the River Blackwater this week, but at least it was going to be dry. Since last year’s visit, the undergrowth was crowding the path, with brambles constantly wrapping round the axles of my trolley, three steps forward and one back, making slow progress toward my goal, the weir pool.

I had hoped to fish closer to the weir and trot down from there, but another half hour would have been needed to chop my way through and instead settled the tackle box on a high bank under the canopy of a tree, which meant using my 12 foot Hardy instead of the 14 foot Browning. Add to this the branches hanging in front of me requiring an under hand cast out to the the flow, I was feeling beaten before I even made a cast, but I have never failed to have a good net of fish from this pool and continued to set out my stall. Bait was to be my faithful bread punch, fished over a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of the strawberry flavouring, that has been attracting some big roach for me lately.

The weir pushes the flow hard over to the far bank, creating a back eddy that flows under your feet towards the weir again. This is a very shallow swim, having a maximum depth of  two feet at the deepest point, where a layer of silk weed covers the bottom.

I carry my rods in a Drennan ready to fish holdall and started off with the 4 No 4 ali stem stick float attached to the Hardy’s line. With the shot bulked close to the hook, the rig cast well, with an underhand flick and no tangles. On my side of the flow, the river slowed as it began to eddy and I concentrated a few firm balls of feed  into the apex in front of me. The float travelled a yard, dipped and dived. Missed it! No, there was a rattle on the rod tip from a tiny chub.

A dozen of these and I added another six inches to the depth to fish well over depth. The upstream wind had increased holding the float back with a bow in the line and was constantly mending the line to allow the float to travel down stream. I began to catch gudgeon.

I needed a heavier float once the wind increased, the 4 No 4 being blown upstream and opened up the rod bag to rob the Browning of the 6 No 4 Stick float. Feeding another couple of stiff balls of feed, while I did the switch, The swim was primed for my next cast, the extra weight counteracting the wind giving better presentation. The float dipped, then held and I struck into solid resistance, seeing a deep fish flash over before it dived into the faster water. At last, a big roach. It came off. Blow it! Another ball of feed preceded my next cast. The float dipped and held. Strike! Another good roach, this came off too as I readied the landing net.

The roach were now in the swim and on the next trot, paused until the float had disappeared before striking. Another rod bender was running back into the fast water and I released line from the spool, letting the rod do the work, and back winding, bringing it into the shallows, it’s red fins clearly visible.

Next trot I was in again, another absolute clonker. Giving line to counter the first run worked again.

The wind continued to increase, bowing the line and I was having to rapidly reel in the slack before each strike. Some fish I missed completely, but the bread punch is a bait that is taken down into the throat and the float stayed down long enough to make contact most of the time.

Regular balls of feed kept the roach lined up. Sometimes I saw a roach take the bait near the surface, when the wind reversed the movement of the float swinging the bait up. I wondered what the catch rate would have been on a less gusty day. Each time the wind dropped a fish or two were guaranteed.

This one was at least 10 oz, most 6 oz and upwards. The one below was the smallest roach of the session.

They just kept coming, walkers on the path opposite often stopping, when they saw my rod bent into another big red fin.

If the wind dragged the float offline, a big gudgeon was always ready to pounce, keeping me busy, but the roach were my obvious target, who could blame me, when they were like this.

With over two dozen quality roach in the net, I’d run out of 6mm holes to punch in the bread and I was ready to pack up, the “just one more” syndrome had kept me fishing beyond my four hour limit already.

The last roach

Other anglers often ask me why I always fish the bread punch; apart from the obvious low cost and convenience of bait availability, it is a method that consistently produces results, when other baits don’t.


Quality bread punch roach and rudd fill the net on the River Cut

August 11, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Extremes of weather have seen my local River Cut going up and down like a yoyo, heatwave sunshine, giving way to thundery showers, then back again in an hour. With no rain the day before, I was banking on stable river conditions, when I arrived to fish this week. Most swims had been underwater the day before and I headed for one set on a high bank. It was overgrown with stinging nettles, evidence that it had rarely been fished so far this season and I got busy clearing room for my tackle box. A tree had fallen during the recent gales, forcing the increased flow along my side, while the deeper water along the far bank was now a static eddy.

With plenty of headroom, I opted for my 14 foot Browning float rod, coupled with a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float to a size 14 barbless hook. There was less than two feet of water along my bank, but this was where the flow was and feeding a mixture of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, I hoped to draw fish up from below and across. As an added attractant, I sprinkled strawberry flavouring over the dry mix, before stirring and adding river water to make up fast sinking balls that would sink quickly, then break up in a trail along the bottom.

First trot after the feed, the float kited off to one side and I was playing a spirited young chub, that required the landing net. From the high bank, it was quite a stretch to reach the chub, despite the 10 foot handle, the angle needing a combined pull back with the rod and a scoop with the net. Another smaller chub, then the float bobbed and sank with a reasonable roach, zig zagging back to the net.

Then the first of many gudgeon.

15 minutes in and the rod bent over into a fish that took downstream. Lifting my finger from the ABU 501 spool, the fish ran taking line. I thought that it was a chub, but soon realised that the slow bouncing fight was from a good roach.

Regular small balls of feed dropped into the flow were bringing a bite a chuck, bulked shot at half depth with a single No 6 nine inches from the hook, allowing the 6 mm punch of bread to flutter up from the bottom. This swim was full of dace a couple of years ago, but they seem to have disappeared. They were not natural to the little river before it was polluted, but stocking by the Environment Agency saw them flourish for a while. Although only ten miles from the Thames at Bray, a series of weirs and mills has prevented their movement upstream, while serious flooding has probably carried them down stream.

They say variety is the spice of life and so it was today with a decent rudd adding to the mix.

Quality roach had taken up position in a narrow eddy at the curve of the downstream berm. To avoid the gudgeon and smaller roach, I began casting underhand into the area, being rewarded with a series of clonker roach, one after the other, taking my time to bring them back to the landing net.

Any one of the roach above would have brightened any angler’s day, the next fish a big rudd coming from the same eddy.

Next cast it was back to the roach again, fishing by numbers. Swing the float downstream, hold back, then allow the float to drift with the current. Bob, lift and sink, then a steady strike upstream with the finger on the line, ready to give line on the initial run, which usually saw the fish broach on the surface.

A golden rudd added variety, while smaller roach and gudgeon were beginning to get in on the act.

There were still plenty quality roach responding to the regular feed, the predictable bites being difficult to miss.

I had used up my first batch of feed and mixed up some more, resting the swim, while I fed myself with cheese and piccalilli sandwiches and tea from my flask. The sun had come up over the trees, but a light breeze was turning this into the perfect day’s fishing. No tangles, lost hooks, or fish. I could have packed up now after two hours and felt that I’d had a good day, BUT days like this do not come along that often and the roach were waiting.

Straight back in the groove, a roach tried to get in under my berm, after I gave it a bit of slack, when it charged off downstream.

Wow, look at this rudd. Round like a barrel, it zoomed off like a chub, while I played catch up.

I think that this new feed mix was dryer than the first, as more surface loving rudd took the bait, this feed not sinking as quickly. Adding more water had the desired result. The roach were back on the feed.

This roach had a damaged top lip.  A barbed hook, or an infection, I couldn’t tell. The next roach also had damage on it’s top lip, and a wound above the gill cover.

At this time I saw two very large fish swimming along the far side, a pair of possible double figure carp. The river was a dirty brown, but when they came out of the shade, I could see them clearly. I was tempted momentarily to cast over to them, but common sense prevailed. They were too big for me on this tackle. I stuck to the inside line and landed another good roach.

Its possible that the carp had spooked the roach, or maybe the carp had scared chub from the far side I don’t know, but I now began to catch small chublets trotting along the edge of the berm, finishing with the one below, which gave a very good account of itself.

The good roach seemed to have gone, although there were still plenty of smaller nettable roach, plus the inevitable gudgeon to be had, but four hours at this catch rate gets a bit wearing after a while.

I did not miss many bites and judging from the number of punch holes in the bread, I caught around 130 fish for 9 pounds in weight.



Weihrauch HW100T .22 versus rabbits in the veggie patch

August 7, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Over the last couple of years my brother in law has been troubled by rabbits feeding on his garden vegetables, while I have been happy to keep down their numbers with my air rifle. He has had no problems this year, as his veggie patch now resembles Fort Knox, with netting and wire mesh keeping them safe from the bunnies.

For years Neale has been providing his next door neighbour Dianne with surplus produce, but this year she has ambitiously planted up an area at the bottom of her garden with lettuces, runner beans, chard and courgettes (zucchini). Dianne was dismayed to find the chard and lettuces were being cropped to the ground. Thinking that it was wood pigeons, she spoke to Neale, who provided netting to put over them, but he was quick to point out the tell tale droppings scattered around. Rabbits. Like Neale’s, Dianne’s garden backs onto a wood, the source of his rabbit problem. Once the courgettes began to disappear, along with a complete plant, it was time to give me a call, although with flowers and shrubs obscuring the vegetables, Dianne had not witnessed any rabbits, just the evidence.

I arrived later on a dull evening. It had rained heavily earlier, rabbits don’t like the rain, their fur is not water proof and I doubted whether they would be out. I had brought my Weihrauch HW100T as it had a full charge of compressed air, the .22 air rifle deadly on rabbits out to 30 yards. Unlike Neale’s garden, there is no clear line of sight down it and setting up my tripod in the cover of a laurel, I sat down to wait for movement coming down the path from the wood. Nothing appeared.

A cup of tea and a piece of cake later, I was fearing more rain from a threatening  black cloud and considering my options, when I looked back to see a big rabbit by the raised beds. Where did that come from? It took seconds to place the rifle in the V, but the rabbit had moved from view. More movement. There were two of them, one a juvenile in full view, but just an angle on head shot for the adult. Ping! The silencer is so efficient, but the Thwack from the 16 grain pellet hitting the adult’s skull panicked the juvenile into action, while the deadly accurate Weihrauch slumped the large rabbit forward.

Another adult rabbit jumped down from the courgette bed. Was this the one that I had seen earlier? How many were there? I had expected them to come down the path from the wood, but they had a safer way in. I could see movement through the runner beans and waited before creeping forward for a clear shot around the side. They saw me first and were gone through the bushes. I picked up the rabbit and carried it up to Dianne at the house. “Good shot!” she exclaimed, “Got anymore?” I shook my head.

Where had they got in? We went back to the gate and the wire fence, finding a scrape hidden by ivy. This was the way in. Neale still had some two inch square mesh and we spent the rest of the evening plugging the gaps. That should stop them for the time being.