Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 ready for the season at the warren

February 27, 2022 at 1:13 pm

After a winter of storms and frosts, I took the Magtech 7002 semi auto .22 to check out the warren this week. My last visit in November was after an attempt to fill in the burrows and flatten the land with a heavy tractor, the deep burrows making the land dangerous for grazing animals.

Passing through the gate I could see movement in the distance. It was rabbits chasing around well out of range of the Magtech and I kicked myself for leaving the CZ452 HMR in the gun cabinet. The CZ is a heavyweight compared with the Magtech, which is the ideal rifle for walking round, but with no cover, the rabbits were making themselves scarce once I came into view. The name of the game today was to reconnoitre the warren for new burrows and I did not have to walk far to discover the first of several.

This one even had very recent footprints exiting and entering the new burrow. Twenty yards further on there was another. The rabbits had been busy.

From this vantage point, I could see rabbits moving from the high ground of the warren, to the tree lined ditch further down the field. Once again well in range of the CZ HMR, but the Magtech was set on a 30 yard zero for shooting around the farm buildings.

I decided to set up a target to reset the Magtech zero to 50 yards, which would give me a better chance on the warren today. I walked to the far end of the field, which is bordered by a hedge line and set up a paper target fifty yards away, walking back to the rifle which I rested on my shooting bag for prone shots. A group of three covered a 25 mm diameter 50 mm below the bull, demonstrating the drop over the extra 20 yards of the 42 grain Winchester .22 subsonic bullet. I adjusted the scope turret, until a five shot group was placed around the bull, good enough to cleanly dispatch a rabbit at that range.

While lying there reloading the ten shot magazine, a rabbit popped up twenty yards to the left of the target and I quickly fitted the ten shot magazine back into the rifle, flicking the lever back to shift a bullet into the breech. The rabbit  trotted a few yards, then sat up. The cross hairs were on and I aimed for the upper chest, squeezing the trigger and feeling the recoil, as the rabbit backflipped and lay still. Got it! A clean dispatch at sixty yards.

Rabbit casserole this week.

No more came out and I walked back to the centre of the warren, with an oak tree behind me to break up my outline on the horizon. With the Magtech on my shooting tripod, I could cover much of the warren and waited for something to show.

Apart from a couple of rabbits along the far tree line, nothing stirred  and soon the cold north wind persuaded me to call it a day. Next time I will bring the HMR on a warmer afternoon. Even rabbits don’t like the cold.

The River Cut performs despite pollution

February 18, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Driven by a 200 mph Jest Stream, storms continue to batter Britain and this week I fitted in a session on my local River Cut at the tail end of Storm Dudley and the beginning of Storm Eunice. Having witnessed dead fish and pollution of the Cut first hand last week, I was keen to find out if the fishing had been affected, arriving around noon to find the river coloured and rushing through, after heavy rain from Storm Dudley. The Cut runs from south to north, which meant that the Braybrooke Fishing Club west bank was protected from the wind by the high flood bank and trees, and once settled down in my swim, the surface was flat calm, despite the gale howling through the trees above.

Due to the cloudy river, I added some Haith’s Spicy Mix to my liquidised bread and ground hemp groundbait, putting two egg sized balls past the middle into the main flow. First trot of my 4 No 4 stick float saw the tip bob and sink, a lift of the rod bringing an opposite reaction from a roach some where in the mirk.

I had had my doubts about the river and did not put my keepnet in at the start, but the positive bite from that roach changed my mind that it was worth putting it in. Another small roach next trot confirmed that it was going to be a good session.

Next trot I eased the float close to the opposite bank bush, holding it back burying the float, as a decent fish took the 6 mm pellet of bread. Again I could not see the fish, but it stayed deep rushing off upstream and when the big white mouth appeared on the surface my hunch was confirmed. A chub.

It was a bite a chuck from the off, more small roach, then the float held down and the rod bent over into a fish that ran downstream with the current. I had to put on side strain, while backwinding the ABU501 to keep it away from the bush, steering it into the shallow water on the inside of the bend and getting a brief sight of a better chub. It was now just a case of letting the chub have its head each time it fought back, getting the landing net ready, once it’s mouth was out of the water.

The variety of fish in the Cut was evident, as a couple of red finned rudd followed the chub.

Big gudgeon and dace were vying for the bread.

Now better roach put in an appearance, as I trotted the float down to the bush. I demonstrated the holding back technique to another angler, who had come up to watch, my 14 foot Browning holding the float out into the hot spot as it buried each time.

With the roach on the scene, I stepped up the feed, following a small nugget down every cast. The float slid sideways in the first yard and the rod bent over again with a chub that took time to wake up, shaking it’s head violently before heading off down stream. Back winding and reeling, the size 16 barbless hook kept hold and it was number three in the net.

More roach.

This was turning into an epic session, a bite a trot, often by small roach and monster gudgeon. This one fought so hard that I thought it was a small chub. If only they grew much bigger.

The pace of the river picked up and the fish got smaller. I guessed what was coming. More pollution.

The river changed colour rapidly. I assumed that the white “emulsion” was coming through the outlet pipes again. The bites by the bush stopped.

I brought the float in close and laid on over depth in a relatively clear area and was surprised to get a bite from the quality roach above.

Soon there were no more gaps in the cloud. Four inch gudgeon were still feeding out of the flow, but the colour was completely from bank to bank.

I had been too busy to eat my lunch before, but now I poured a cup of tea and got out my sandwiches, finding that my wife had put a surprise in my bag. A retro Wagon Wheel biscuit, marshmallow, with jam inside on a crunchy biscuit, covered in sweet chocolate. We would do any chore for our mothers back in the Day, if we knew that there was going to be a Wagon Wheel at the end of it!

I sat and waited for the river to clear, taking the occasional tiny gudgeon as compensation over the following half hour. I could see fish topping in the main flow, the thick pollution causing them to gulp air from the surface.

The river began to clear and I tried back down the main flow to the bush. The bites were now dithering, this roach giving a lift bite, like that of a much smaller fish. I added three inches to the depth and went down to a 5 mm punch, bouncing the bread along the bottom. It worked. I was back in business.

The chub above took well below the bush, again a dithering bite, maybe from a small roach, that suddenly sank out of sight. Charging off downstream, this fish was almost at the bend before it turned back, getting a second wind and attempting to get among fallen branches trapped in the bush by the latest spate. It came out, the rod taking the strain, the chub exhausted almost swimming into the landing net.

The roach were all sizes, this fatty, more rudd than roach.

I had decided to pack up once I ran out of holes in my bread, but gave in and got out another piece. They were still feeding, a small chub giving me a wake up call as it dashed about.

It had rained followed by an icy wind blowing downstream and float control became difficult, but the rudd didn’t seem to mind and I put several more in my net.

The last of the day.

The sign of a successful afternoon, slowed to a halt by the pollution, but recovered to make up for lost gains. Judging by the number of punched holes, I had put over a hundred fish in my net in the four hour session, at least 50% being gudgeon, but topped out with five chub and quality roach.




Pollution continues on the River Cut, a river in crisis

February 13, 2022 at 2:11 pm

Only a day after the Environment Agency were working on improvements to my local River Cut, I was driving past the club water, when I saw another member fishing and decided to stop for a chat, turning the van round to park in a layby at the top of the section, where outlet pipes flow out into the river. Pulling up, I could see across to the outlet and witnessed its water turn from clear to white in seconds, spilling over the sill at the weir to cloud the water. By the time that I reached the outlet, the whole river had changed colour.

On the sill was a lone roach flapping in distress, before lying still. I had called the Environment Agency on their Incident Line 0800 807060, which was answered immediately. Once the call was finished, I took the image above, by which time the rate of flow had slowed. The EA had contacted Thames Water, to send out a technician to test the water quality, who by the time he arrived four hours later, found the river to be clear with no sign of pollution. This had been the case the week before, when a club member spotted dead fish on the sill. They had been flushed through by pollution down inside the tunnel, then washed out onto the sill to die. These were river fish, roach and gudgeon. One roach was still alive, when the EA arrived. The water quality was tested and found to be up to standard, the coloured water having washed away.

There were over two dozen dead fish, which had been in top condition before they were killed.

These fish are a mystery, as there is no known stream inlet upstream of this point, although they could have entered through the overflow grille from the Mill Pond as fry, to grow on to become healthy adults in a deeper section of the pipework, like Ninja Turtles of the fish world.

In the past this was Downmill Brook, a natural stream that flowed from Swinley Forest above the small market town of Bracknell, then known for it’s brick making. Passing to the west of the town, the stream flowed through lakes at Southill Park, a stately home, then on to power a water mill, before entering the River Cut, named in the 1820’s when it was diverted to flow directly into the Thames at Bray, rather than meandering through meadows, where it caused annual flooding westward toward the town of Twyford, finally entering the Thames twenty miles upstream of Bray.

Bracknell became industrialised after the war, with  most of the streams that made up the Cut being culverted, as the once rural land was concreted over for houses and industrial estates, the rainwater drainage running directly into these hidden streams. Here lies the problem of the beleaguered Cut, an out of sight out of mind, out of mind attitude of many residents and business owners, is that it is far easier to pour old oil, and paint for instance, down the drains, than it is to take it to the council tip, which has imposed restrictions of access, requiring proof of a Bracknell address before applying online for a time and date to attend, usually a week after applying. Much easier to chuck it down a drain, when no one is looking.

Only a day after my my photo at the head of this post, a fellow club member took this image of the outlet of yet another industrial scale spillage into the Cut. No dead fish were seen this time.

In 2017 the Environment Agency recorded 13 serious pollution events on the River Cut, one of which, traced back to a company on the Western Industrial Estate, resulted in a total fish kill downstream of the same outlet. That company was never prosecuted, but advised of environmentally suitable disposal. The oily substance from that single event four years ago, still oozes from the mud along the banks of the Cut.

Having fished the river since moving to the town twelve years ago, I have enjoyed excellent fishing for roach and chub, despite it being overgrown and full of rubbish. Before the formation of the Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club and a general clean up, one of the areas renowned for it’s chub was the Shopping Trolley Swim. Older locals speak of the 60s and 70s, when the river was a dumping ground, where if you had tried to fish, the men in white coats would have soon been by your side!

What of my friend Mick, who was fishing further downstream on the day I stopped for a chat? He had been catching some quality roach, until the river changed colour, then only a few small gudgeon, before packing up.

Mick’s swim

Thanks to the dedication of the local Environment Agency officers, who wish to see the Cut continue as a viable fishery for local people, they have made regular restocking of fish a priority, but how long their persistence can continue, will be a decision of higher management considering costs over returns. Annual testing of the river has rated the general water quality as moderate, while each test for chemicals has rated it with a Fail.



Environment Agency add value to the River Cut

February 8, 2022 at 7:42 pm

The Environment Agency returned after thee years to the tiny urban River Cut this week, to carry out repairs to berms and to remove fallen trees from the river. Controlled by Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing club, a small Bracknell based club; the Agency have proved that Fishing License money is available for improvements, whatever the size of organisation.

Looks can be deceptive, this little river holds chub, bream and carp and crucians to 4 lb, roach and perch to a pound along with dace and some of the biggest gudgeon around. Stick float and light leger tactics account for most of the fish, although chub and perch have fallen to a variety of lures this year.

This tree had conveniently fallen on top of an existing berm, the new wood and brush added to speed the flow.

Fallen trees were incorporated into the existing berms

Overhanging branches were reaching over to the near bank and cut back to open up a new swim.

Club members lent a hand in clearing away trimmed branches.

An angler fishing, while the Environment Agency stopped for lunch. Shortly after this photo was taken, he netted a 2 lb chub.

This view shows how the shape and flow of the river has altered since the introduction of the berms, this once being a straight, shallow stretch, full of silt, that now has deep runs, curves and eddies.

An example of a recent catch of mine from the River Cut.

Chub and roach make a late afternoon visit to the Blackwater worthwhile.

February 2, 2022 at 6:53 pm

Warmer temperatures and sunshine drew me to a small Farnborough lake this week, but fussy bites and one bumped fish in an hour, saw me put away my pole at 1 pm and head off in the van to the nearby River Blackwater, where I knew the fish would be biting. By 2:30 my 14 foot Browning float rod was set up with a 4 No 4 stick float to a size 16 barbless hook and the first ball of liquidised bread, ground hemp with ground carp pellets had been introduced into the swim.

The sun was already beginning to sink beyond the trees, as I made my first trot close into my bank, following the sinking cloud of feed and missed a bite that held down for at least a second, before my shocked brain sent signals to my right arm to strike! The bait was gone. What a difference to the lake four miles up the road.

Next trot I gave it full concentration as the float half dipped and bobbed. I held back hard and the float sank. Contact, but only a very small roach came skittering across the surface. I missed the next few bites, then another small roach.

They were hanging onto the 6 mm punch of bread, nibbling away until the hook was bare. I went down to a 5 mm punch and shallowed up and fished through a small nugget of feed. There was a dip. That was it, the bread was gone. I had been using a fresh piece of bread to punch out the bait. Maybe it was too soft? I pulled out a rolled piece of bread from the wallet, that had been compressed to a third of normal thickness. Once on the hook, I gave it another squeeze for luck and dropped the float in again. It dipped, then swerved. I held back and it sank. Another small roach? No, the rod bent and bucked as a better roach flashed under the surface and the net was out. The hook came out in the net.

The depth here was only 30 inches and the hook was three inches off the bottom, swinging up higher, when I held the float back. A nugget of feed every other cast was bringing the fish up in the water. I missed a bite, then let the float go again to see the float disappear immediately and I hooked into a tumbling little dace. These are notorious for stripping a hook in seconds. I persevered with a tight line, dip, dip, pull upstream six inches. The dace were hooking themselves, many falling off. Time to change tactics. I was sure that the better fish were down near the bottom, where the feed was laying down a carpet and moved the float up six inches to fish over depth, and bunched the shot closer to the hook above the single No 8, while selecting the 6 mm punch again.

The change worked. The float dipped a few times, then buried as a good roach responded to the rising bait and I was in again, taking my time to reel back to the net. Very nice.

The next roach was as even better, and I back wound the ABU501 as it made a run downstream, then slowly brought it back upstream. This was not a match against the clock and the fish was soon on it’s side ready to be netted from the high bank.

On the next trot I struck too soon, then let the float run a further ten yards, where the float lifted and sank as I struck, hitting into the fish as it moved downstream, instantly lifting my finger off the spool as it surged off. The rod pulled round as I gave line, then back wound. This was a much better fish, that was hugging the shuttering on my side, as I brought it back. It was now making straight for the snag ten yards down from me and I held the rod out in a failed attempt to keep it away. The line went solid and the branch on the surface moved against the pull of the fish. I let the line go slack and the float popped back onto the surface, then moved off. The fish was still on and soon on the surface in front of me. A chub.

The top lip had been ripped at some time and my hook was in the landing net, so I guess that I had been lucky to land this one, despite the snag.

As I put the chub in the keepnet, I was aware of someone standing beside me and looked up to see one of the men from the building site across the river. He was complete with a white protective helmet and a dayglo yellow jacket, stepping forward to look down into the river. “Shallow isn’t it?” I replied that he had probably scared all the fish away now. “Sorry mate.” He left to bother the angler fishing further upstream.

Scare the fish he had and I had to trot much further down before the next bite. It bobbed, and sank. A small fish rattled on the end. It was a perch.

I had a few worms with me and put one on. The float only travelled ten feet before it dragged under.

A perfectly formed little bruiser.

I used the same worm to catch a succession of similar sized and smaller perch, then went back to the bread, when there was nothing left on the hook. The bottom must have be covered with them. I stepped up the feed rate to a nugget a cast in an attempt to pull the fish back up the swim.

All was not lost, a small dace, a swinger roach, then the one above heralded the return of the better fish.

I was now witnessing a glorious sunset, the sky golden behind me and pink ahead. The river was now in shadow and it was becoming difficult to see the tip of the float beyond ten yards, this was compounded when playing a fish, the one above almost at a far bank snag before I was able to persuade it away.

I shallowed up to two feet deep, as the bites were coming in the first five yards, while following the feed down. The roach above rolling on the surface, when I struck, rapidly giving line to avoid pulling the hook out.

This chub took under the rod top, when I dropped the float in, it taking off like only a chub can, hugging the far bank shuttering in an attempt to find a snag.

The light was now going fast as heavy cloud shaded out the last of the sunset and I was lucky to spot the bite of the roach above. One second the float was there, then it was gone and I searched the surface then struck, being lucky to land the hard fighting red fin, as it was hooked on the outside of the nose.

The last roach of the afternoon was another perfect specimen, that fought all the way, trying to find a snag under my feet and being difficult to net.

I scraped up the last of my feed and plopped it in, following on with the float, which ran ten feet before sliding sideways and vanishing out of sight. Chub of this size are manageable on a light stick float rig, once the initial run has been countered, this one making a series of short runs before giving up. It was not dark when I took this pic. My camera could not adjust to the low light and I used the flash. I made this chub the last fish, packing up at 5 pm.

I had been too optimistic expecting the lake to fish well after all the cold weather, but glad that I had forced myself to leave the comfort of a sunny peg, to move to the Blackwater and can only guess at what those extra two hours would have put in the net.