Bread punch roach save the day at Braybrooke Park

September 21, 2021 at 6:50 pm

A cancelled appointment left me with a few hours to kill this week, which meant the chance of an unscheduled fishing session, but where to go? My local River Cut is fishing it’s head off, but I ticked that box last week. The River Blackwater needs rain, the Whitewater is too overgrown and the Thames is too far to walk to get to the best swims. The local still waters are not producing, but in the end I settled on the nearest, Jeanes Pond at Braybrooke Park, it is two miles away, with only a short walk from the car park to comfortable swims. It has carp, crucian carp and tench, with some big roach and rudd sitting in the wings, so what’s not to like?

It was unusual to see nobody fishing, likewise no fish topping and worse still, a thick scum covering the surface. The wind was blowing from the East, pushing the scum to the West end of the pond and I chose a clear swim, peg 5, which has a depth of 6 feet and tackled up with a heavy 2g antenna float to counteract the East to West surface drift. Expecting some better fish, I fixed a size 14 barbless hook to the rig to fish a 7 mm punch of bread just off bottom. Having mixed up liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hempseed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, my latest favourite carp/tench ground bait, I dropped a couple of balls in over the shelf ten feet out and waited for a bite.

Not the normal instant bite today. I recast just to check that the bread was still on the hook. It was. Hmm? As I had been tackling up, a dog walker seemed to be checking out the swims and when he got to me he enquired how I was getting on. “Nothing yet, are you fishing?” He replied that he was a new member and so far had not caught a fish, coming down to get some local knowledge. I explained that I hadn’t had a bite yet, which was strange. With that, my float sank out of sight and I missed it. “Not to worry, plenty more where that came from,” I said casting in again. The float dragged under in the drift and struck. It was solid on the bottom.

At this point I realised the the lightweight orange No 5 elastic was still fitted to the pole from my recent canal visit, not the heavier grey fitted to the top two back in the van. I pulled for a break and the elastic broke at the stonfo connector knot. I was holding the elastic and released the telescopic end of the pole to stop the elastic disappearing up inside it under tension. The float was visible and I managed to trap the line with my landing net to pull the rig close to the bank., Getting hold of the line, I pulled the rig back to find that the hook was embedded in a curved lump of steel. The 2 1/2 lb hook link broke and the steel sank back to the bottom. By now the visitor had realised that I was a complete Wally, with nothing to teach him and left me alone to retie the elastic to the stonfo line connector and tie on a new hook.

A half hour wasted, I dropped in another ball of feed and waited a few minutes for something to happen to the float. It dipped, bobbed and lifted. A tench? No, the tap, tap at the end of the line was a rudd.

Not a bad start, however it was a rudd, which must have followed the bait down from midwater, despite the shot being bulked close to the hook. I rebaited and dropped in over the feed. Another wait, then a gentle tremor of the float, which increased to nibbles at the bread, the float holding under for a moment, when I struck, a small roach being swung in. These bites were very fussy and I missed several.

I added a No 4 shot to the float, sinking the antenna to the tip and dropped to a 6mm punch. This gave better indication and the catch rate went up. Steady, regular feed of the ground bait was beginning to work and fine bubbles were rising all around the float. After an hour the fussy bites were gone and the float was sinking away slowly as the roach grew bigger.

Bubbles would burst all over the surface in what I have named carp bursts in the past, when dropping the bait down into the middle would usually result in a carp. Not today though, just another roach.

These were not too bad in size, certainly not the clonkers of the past, but worth catching. Where have all those big fish gone? Where are the tench and crucians? A friend arrived at my side, an expert on this pond, but he could give no answers either, he has been struggling to catch too.

These roach were not shy and and I bashed my way through them hoping for something better, but better did not come and by 2:30 I had had enough and decided to make this my last fish.

At least the pike had left me alone this time. It had been a delayed start, that sped up to a fish a cast by the end of the four hour session, the bread punch keeping me busy.


Bread punch roach dominate with bonus carp and perch on the River Cut

September 16, 2021 at 9:22 am

Overnight rain had increased the colour and flow of my local River Cut this week and I looked forward to a decent net of fish, as I searched out a suitable stick float swim, most having overhanging branches. I found my ideal spot with plenty of clearance for my 14 foot Browning, but a sunken branch was visible below the surface, stranded on a mud bank out in front of me. It was just in range of my landing net and bit by bit, I was able to start shifting it. Fifteen minutes of fishing time was spent getting it out, but to leave it would have guaranteed lost fish.

Better out than in.

Not having fished the Cut since the summer, I was keen to get a session in before the leaves start to drop. With no wind and a steady flow, conditions seemed ideal at 10 am.

The river here is only 30 inches deep and I set up with a 5 No 4 Drennan ali stemmed stick float to a size 16 barbless hook, the shot bulked half way with a single No 4 dropper 9 inches from the hook. This would flutter the 6 mm punch of bread, just off the bottom every time the float was held back on its way down the swim. Feed was a base mix of liquidised bread, with a sprinkling of ground carp pellets and a handful of ground hemp. I damped the mix down to allow a firm ball to be squeezed up and dropped a ball close to the edge of the far bank berm.

Following in with the float, there was a bob and a slide and I lifted into a roach, that fought well before sliding over into the landing net.

 Not bad for the first punch fish, although it went down hill from there, with a couple of small chub.

A few gudgeon and some rudd.

I put in another ball of feed and felt the solid resistance of a much better roach, that ran for the far bank.

Next cast I was in again, allowing the fish to fight in the deeper water along the far side, before bringing another good roach over the mudbank to the landing net.

Regular feeding kept the bigger roach interested as the bottom became coated with bread crumbs.

Many of these roach were hooked inside the mouth, the float would usually signal a bite with a slight dip, or a bob as it ran down the swim. A touch on the rim of the ABU501 was enough to slow the float slightly, after which the float would sink away to an unmissable bite.

My keep net was beginning to fill, as I got into a catching rhythm, a roach every few minutes sliding into the landing net.

A slow sink of the float met solid resistance and a 20 yard run downstream needed a rapid response, allowing line to be stripped from the reel under load, the obvious carp then turning round and powering upstream, passing by making a bee line for a fallen tree in the water. I put pressure on and it turned and ran back down the narrow waterway. For the first time I saw the carp, not too big, possibly 2 lb and I brought it up to the surface to net, aware of the shallow mud bank ahead of it. Leaning out with the landing net to guide the common in.

The Cut now has a head of common, mirror and crucian carp, this warrior showing signs of previous battles.

The roach below had a hole in its gill plate, but still fought like the clappers, chasing all over the river.

This perch was a surprise, taking the bread bait, it ran in a straight line and I thought that it was a small carp, until it turned on it’s side to expose it’s stripes.

Running out of feed and punch holes, I made this rudd my last fish of the day.

It had been a busy session, as indicated by the number of punch holes, each one representing at least one fish. With no pike in the river, unlike last week on the River Stour, it was good to fish unworried by “Mr Toothy.”

Over seventy fish, mostly roach in under four hours, were boosted to over nine pounds by the common carp.



Meadowbank River Stour roach fishing on the bread punch

September 8, 2021 at 10:23 pm

Temperatures soared into the 30’s this week, when I took my campervan to Meadowbank Holiday Park, Christchurch, where residents can enjoy free fishing on 300 yards of the famous Dorset Stour. Only booked in for two nights, I made the most of the stay by leaving my pitch late in the afternoon, to park in the shade just yards from the river, being fortunate to find a swim close to the van. Despite the heat, most swims were taken, the only one available having trees over hanging the river in front of me, but a 2 gram bolo float attached to my 12 foot Hardy float rod allowed an underhand swing out through a gap to the flow beyond the middle. Not ideal, but fishable, although a raft of weed on the inside of my bend proved difficult to negotiate, when landing fish.

Being 8 to 10 feet deep, with  streamer weed lying in channels along the bottom, my previous visits have responded to balls of a mix of liquidised bread, as a base with a 20% portions of ground carp pellets, ground hempseed and boiled hempseed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, this with enough water added for stiff balls to be squeezed up. Trial trots of the float, found a weed free channel about 15 yards out on the edge of the flow, closer in was minnow hell. I would have preferred to have trotted close to the far bank, but I did not have the headroom to cast that far.

Putting in a couple of pigeon egg sized balls out in front of me, I cast in with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on the size 14 barbless hook, starting with the bait a foot off the bottom, I hoped to bring the fish up to mid water with regular feed to avoid the weed. The big 2 gram float bobbed and lifted moments after landing, as a bleak attacked the bread. A strong upstream wind had put a bow in the line and I missed, but mending the line to the float brought a bleak next cast.

These were big bleak, but without any sign of a fight, they meekly swim in with the float. A few more of these and the float dipped, held and sank, raising my rod in response put a good bend in the rod as a decent roach was brought zig zagging up toward the surface, skimming the fish the last couple of yards through the raft of weed to the net.

More bleak, then bang I was in again, this fish staying down and pulling through the streamer weed before coming free, but the low afternoon sun kept it hidden until the net. A clonking dace lightly hooked in the bottom lip.

I lost another dace as it tumbled through the weed, which was annoying and resolved to put less pressure on the fish to bring them higher in the water above the streamer weed. I shallowed up another 6 inches and struck into another bleak lift bite that turned out to be the best roach yet.

Keeping up regular feed balls to the head of the swim, now lined up the roach, pushing out the bleak.


Positive bites took time to develope, dips leading to holds, or steady sinking of the float.


I now lost three good fish on the trot, the first dived down into the streamer weed and came off, the second may have been a chub, as it rushed back towards the far bank, while I back wound my reel to avoid a break and the hook pulled free. The third fish I treated with kid gloves, slowly bring it back, when it made a run parallel to the bank into a raft of weed, where I watched the big roach get entangled. Slacking off the line worked and it swam out and was soon on the surface coming toward the landing net, when it took a dive under the net into more weed, dumping the hook. A very good roach approaching a pound, gone.

I was back to catching bleak again, until a boil beneath a ball of feed, followed by a scattering of fish indicated one thing, a pike. Another ball of feed and I had visual evidence, when a 5 to 6 lb pike leapt clear of the water in my swim, somersaulting over to crash land upside down with a massive impact. The roach were gone, but I still caught bleak, which were ignored by the pike, that continued to boil on the surface chasing fish. I stirred my wife from her book and sent her back to get my spinning rod and pike lures. I stopped feeding and put on a couple of red worms to trot through. The bleak loved them.

 The pike was now chasing fish along the far bank. Setting up my old split cane spinning rod with a three inch sinking plug, I searched out the water beneath the trees without a touch and went back to the worm on the float taking a roach, which gave me the confidence to try feeding the line again.

I went back down on the depth and put in two more balls and started a new soft piece of bread. Another bleak or two and the float stayed down as a roach sucked in the bread. That pike had cost me dear, scaring off the roach, but the landing net was ready again and there was still time to cash in. Raising the rod high to land the roach was near disaster, when the rod tip made contact with the overhanging branches. The line came free and I breathed out. That would have been typical to have lost it with the line tangled in the branches.

The wind had dropped and conditions seemed perfect, when the float dipped and cruised under, striking into a hard running roach, lifting my finger from the ABU501 spool to give line. Having lost three good fish, I was on tenter hooks again, trying to play a decent roach as lightly as I could, seeing it finally just before I brought it over the raft of weed. Phew! At last it was in the landing net.

Scattering fish said that the pike was back, or maybe another, the fish sweeping in along my bank as it chased a roach, finishing with a swirl. “Poor fish” commented my wife. We packed up.

I seemed to be the only one fishing the float that evening, halibut pellets seeming to be the standard bait, fished on a bomb over a bed of pellets, or in a PVA bag. There are a few double figure barbel in the river and some big chub, plus big bream, along with of course plenty of pike. Once more the bread punch had seen me put some quality roach in the net, even from a difficult swim.

I’ve yet to have a consistent session on this bit of the River Stour, a pike usually sticking it’s pointed snout into the proceedings uninvited, despite that, there were some lovely roach here.

















Basingstoke Canal bread punch roach at St Johns

September 3, 2021 at 1:22 pm

With a morning free this week, I paid a long overdue visit to the Basingstoke Canal at St Johns in Surrey, where in the past I have enjoyed sessions catching roach and skimmer bream on the bread punch. Parking the van in the free public car park, I was disappointed to see that there is now a time limit of four hours for parking, which means that, allowing time to walk to the canal, set up, then pack up later, a three hour session will be the maximum without the chance of a penalty.

This was going to be a sprint, literally and loaded up my trolley in quick time to get to the bankside. The path leads through a small wood and as I neared the canal I could hear the engine of a barge heading for the lock, which was unusual as due to shortage of water in the canal, the use of the locks is restricted, in fact this was the first barge that I have ever seen on this stretch of canal.

Before Covid, this was a well fished section, but it was obvious that very few swims, or overhead trees had been cleared. Finding a gap between the trees, I set about making room among the brambles for my tackle box, aware that I was now on a tight time schedule.

The barge had stirred up the bottom, putting a bit of colour in the water, which is good, but had also dragged up weed, which covered the surface. Moan, moan, moan. I was already making excuses for what could be my first blank of the season and I hadn’t even made a cast yet. Oh yes, I might as well  say that there was also a strong wind blowing from the East along the canal.

Setting up the pole with a 4 x 14 fine antenna float to a size 18 barbless hook for a 5 mm punch of bread, I dropped a small ball of plain liquidised bread just over the weed, followed by the float, set off the bottom. The float sank as it cocked and I swung in a small roach.

I continued to take small roach off that one ball of feed, until I saw a jack pike chase one of the roach in, panicking it to the surface. Adding a couple more lengths to the pole, I fed another ball past the middle and followed with the float, increasing the depth by six inches. I had planned to fish the middle later, hoping to find a few skimmer bream, but the pike forced my hand. It was now business as usual, with a roach a chuck and mixed up some damped down feed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring in the hope of some better sized fish. It seemed to work. The landing net came out for this one.

I had several better sized roach and put in another ball down the middle, watching a couple of  decent roach search through the cloud as it sank. Casting across the area to fall through the cloud, the float slid away and the No 5 elastic came out, when I lifted into a much better roach, that flashed in the sunlight on the strike.

That’s more like it. This roach was in perfect condition, making a bee line for the opposite bank, but was soon in the net.

A couple more roach followed before a slow sinking bite saw the elastic out again and a bend in the pole. I could see the float moving steadily to the right and thought big bream, but a thin green shape began to rise to the surface. It was that jack again, this time with a roach held across it’s jaws. It turned back through the swim and I held on trying for a break, but the lightweight elastic stretched out until the juvenile slowed to a stop, shaking it’s head. I janked at the pole trying to pull the roach free, or cut the line, but it stayed put, before pulling steadily over to the far side taking elastic. After a few minutes of this tug of war, the pike was on the surface and coming my way. The landing net was out ready. The poor roach was still visible and as I broke the pole down to the top two sections, the pike rolled and the float pinged back to wrap in a tangle round the pole tip.

A pike, the bane of my life had done it again, ruined my fishing. I figured out a long time ago that feeding liquidised bread, excites bait fish to the extent that any pike in the area homes in with it’s built in fish radar. At least this one had a decent roach to feed on now. The tangle was impossible to unravel and I fitted a replacement rig.

Another ball of the strawberry feed soon had more bites and roach filling the net, but now the barge was filling the lock with water to pass downstream and the canal sped up. Holding back the float produced a washing line of floating weed and I missed a few bites and bounced a couple of others off the hook.

The pike had scared off the decent roach and I’d had no sign of skimmers, even small ones, so with this last roach, I decided to pack up early and avoid a parking fine.

I had used up most of my bread holes anyway.

Considering the number of runners, dog walkers and cyclists, including a trio of tandem riders, that all had to have the pole cleared from their path, forty odd roach was not bad for a little over two hours fishing.