Stick float chub bonus on the bread punch at the River Blackwater

January 20, 2022 at 1:42 pm

I chose the one day without frost for a revisit to a swim on the River Blackwater this week, but had to contend with heavy drizzle instead, which was dripping like rain from the tree above for the first hour. Not to worry, I tackled up with the same rod and rig, that I had used before Christmas, to net some quality roach and perch, hoping to improve on that result.

Fishing the bread punch on a 5 No 4 ali stemmed stick float to a size 16 barbless, I fed a single ball of liquidised bread, with ground carp pellets, heavily laced with ground hemp, over to the ivy covered steel shuttering along the far bank. Trotting close to the shuttering, the first cast saw the float slide away down stream as a small chub made off with the bread.

The next cast, the float travelled further before burying, when a slightly bigger roach took.

A couple of small roach later, my 14 foot Browning bent over as a 6 oz chub steamed off down stream and the landing net was out for the first time.

Another ball of feed over brought more small roach, then a rapid missed bite. Then another, the bread gone each time. Dace? My answer for these was going down from a 6 to a 5mm punch, a tighter line, with a stop and let run control of the float. Usually the float holds under just as it runs again. An instant strike and I was into a tumbling dace, followed by another to prove the technique.

It was now apparent that this was going to be a different session than my last visit. Then it had been large roach, but today it was mostly small stuff, some so small that they came off on the retrieve, not hooked, but holding onto the bread. There was no mistaking the the next fish, the float going down and staying there, while the rod reacted to the steady thump of a very decent fish, that turned and disappeared off downstream at a rate of knots, only checked by the release of line under my finger on the Abu 501 spool. Once it had slowed, I clicked in the line pickup and played it on the reel, backwinding as it made lunges downstream again.

I had not seen the fish, until it was close and the big white mouth of a chub broke the surface, allowing me to guide it toward the landing net. A fat fish, I guessed it to be at least two pounds and it had certainly given me a wake up call.

The river level was dropping all the time, it was three feet deep out in front of me when I started, but a tide mark on the shuttering showed that the level had dropped by six inches and I was constantly adjusting the depth. Further down was a sand bar, where the float needed to be lifted over to avoid snagging. I assumed that the bread feed had accumulated there, as better sized roach were taking with confidence, breaking the surface each time I struck.

At this point the river was now less than two feet deep, but the roach were not put off in the clear water. The hot spot was a twenty five yard trot, I could have moved closer, but decided on the side of caution, not wanting to scare off the shoal.

The conditions now were ideal for the stick float, the wind had picked up, blowing from the north, cold but upstream. The bites were predictable, some lifts of the float, others slight hold downs. I struck everything, these usually small roach, dace, or chub, straight down was always a better fish.

One of those straight down bites was a much better fish, that ran another ten yards down stream. I thought that I had at last hooked one of the big roach, but no, it was a nice chub of about a pound.

I had mixed up some more feed earlier and was putting over a small ball every other cast in an effort to feed off the small stuff. It hadn’t worked, as I was still swinging them in, but the size had improved with odd good’un.

That north wind was now getting into my bones and I set my pack up time to 3 pm. All my tea had been drunk and I was in that just one more decent fish mode.

It was beyond 3 pm, when I finally called it a day, the failing light affecting the picture of a hard fighting chub that took among the roach. Once in the landing net, I said “that’ll do, time to go home”.

It had been an interesting few hours, constantly chasing the fish, inducing bites, changing depths and shotting patterns. These shallow rivers can give great sport on the stick float, it requires constant work, but the rewards can be satisfying.

Bread punch beats the frost with roach, rudd, crucians and carp at Allsmoor

January 13, 2022 at 7:53 pm

Freezing overnight fog had effectively welded the locks and doors of my van shut, when I went to get my fishing tackle out for the walk to my local pond this week. A quick nip into the kitchen to boil a kettle soon put things right, once the hot water had a chance to work its magic on the frozen metalwork. The grass was still white, but the low winter sun was soon burning off the last of the fog, as I walked toward the pond pulling my trolley. A well wrapped up walker commented that I was brave going fishing in this weather. As we passed I replied “Demented more like!” Family commitments over the Christmas and New Year period had kept me away from the bank for three weeks, while foul weather had also played its part. Today was forecast as dry, but very cold and I chose a swim that offered all day sunshine. At midday the frost was still on the grass.

Setting up a small waggler rig and my pole at 8 metres, I mixed up a shallow tray of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, with a liberal dusting of strawberry essence, intending to feed lightly with just two egg sized balls of ground bait. Strawberry flavouring has worked well for me on still waters this year and I was confident that it would work without needing to overfeed the shallow swim.

The norm here is to catch rudd from the off, but today I waited fifteen minutes before the yellow tipped float stirred and gently bobbed. A dog walker was passing the time of day, when I exclaimed “Look a bite!” The float edged under and I lifted into a gudgeon. I rebaited the size 14 hook with a 6 mm pellet of bread and cast over the feed again. Only a five minute wait later, the float gave a couple of bobs, then sank from sight and I lifted into a fish that ran to the left at speed, pulling out a foot of elastic. In this swim there is a high bank behind and I had to lift the pole high into the bushes to pull it back, before I could unship the top two sections. I was surprised to see a silver flash and not the gold of a crucian and even more surprised to see that this was a good roach.

I have not caught a roach in this pond for years, let alone a decent sized one, but I was not complaining. It had fought better than an equally size rudd, keeping deep and tumbling like a crucian. Next cast, the float settled and sank and I struck into another hard fighting roach.

What do they say about buses? You wait for ages, then two come along. This roach was even bigger. I cast back in and the float went down a again, another roach? No, a small rudd got there first.

The rudd had moved in with avengence, taking the bait on the drop. I had not put any more feed in, but they had certainly woken up. No complaints again, as some were a decent size and kept me warm and busy, constantly passing the pole up behind me to reach the fish.

The gudgeon get bigger every season, but are still a nuisance, giving a very crucian like bite and disappointment every time you hook one.

Another good roach managed to find my bait, fighting all the way to the net and I wondered how many more might be down there?

A few more rudd, then the elastic was out as a crucian carp exploded into life, the solid bundle of energy, diving and weaving its way to the landing net.

These crucians were one a chuck, when I first fished here a dozen years ago, but now they are few and far between. A lift and a steady slide away had me poised for another rudd, not the sudden rush of a carp, that ran out toward the far side stretching elastic behind it. Pulling against the strain, it curved round in an arc, breaking the surface and rolling, before coming back toward me. More rapid feeding back of the pole followed, until I had the top two metres of pole to hand. It dived beneath the bushes to my left and when I failed to pull it away, giving a slack line persuaded it to swim out again. Soon it was on the top and in the landing net.

I had been putting in the occasional ball of feed, but now I scraped up the last from the tray, throwing four balls in a line nine metres out, then sat back and had a cup tea with a sandwich. Where there is one carp, there are usually more. Casting back over the feed, the float sank away on the drop. Bang! I was straight into another carp. Good job that I had had that fortifying break, as once again I followed a carp, while it ran around in circles in the shallow pond, the leverage at my end of the pole being intense as it made run after run against the elastic.

We wore each other down, but in the end it was me with the landing net, that succeeded and it was time for another cuppa followed by a sandwich. The light was now fading as the sun tracked behind the leafless trees, while the temperature had noticeably dropped and I decided to pack up after another 15 minutes. A colourful crucian carp helped change my mind, when after a brief battle, I netted this chunky fish.

These crucians tend to swim around in tight shoals and another tentative bite saw me waiting for a more positive movement of the float, as often they will sit sucking the bread, until it is gone. Tap, tap, tap. I lost patience and lifted. The elastic came out and the pole bent over. Not a crucian, but another carp zoomed off kicking up a trail of black mud, while I followed it with the pole, as it ran from left to right, then back again. When near the net, I could see that it was a distinctive ghost carp with spectacle markings round its eyes, one that I had caught a few years ago as a half pounder.

Back out again there was another tapping bite, which stopped. Convinced that the bread had been sucked off the hook, I lifted to have the elastic come out as small crucian was still holding on.

These were like peas in a pod. Each time the bait went in, they would latch onto it, usually with an initial rapid bobbing of the float, then nothing, or the merest movement. I bumped a few. A smaller hook and bait may have worked, but with carp about, I was not prepared to take the risk.

I was still getting the occasional rudd, the one below having a badly damaged top lip. Why do people still use barbed hooks?

I ended up with five of the ornamental crucians, this one being my last fish of the afternoon.

The bread punch had proved itself as a cheap and effective bait, accounting for about fifty fish during a very cold session.

This small stream fed pond in a very urban environment, is always full of surprises, today it was the trio of big roach topped off by a few bonus carp.