CZ452 HMR proves it’s worth at long range on the Warren

March 31, 2022 at 12:49 pm

A brief spell of warm weather saw me back at the warren for an evening visit, armed with my CZ452 HMR in place of the Magtech 7002 semi auto .22, which had been giving good service taking close range rabbits around the burrows during daylight hours. Many of the burrows were now abandoned and the rabbits had migrated to the outer reaches of the field, where the banks of a dried up stream have provided a safer home. With the farmer ready to put her young Angus bullocks out to grass after Easter, it has been important to keep up the pressure to render the field free of burrows and safe for the cattle.

At the far end of the warren there were still a few active burrows and I got comfortable lying down with the HMR on the bipod, giving a clear view of the area a hundred yards away. The evening sun was bright beneath the clouds and after weeks of cold and rain it was a pleasure to be feeling the warmth on my face. My attention had been diverted to a group of roe deer the other side of the stream, trying to count them among the bankside foliage, when I looked back to see a pair of dark brown blobs close to the burrows. Through the scope, the blobs were transformed into a pair of  fat rabbits. I worked the rifle bolt to feed a bullet into the chamber, centred the crosshairs, breathed out and squeezed the trigger, in that instant watching the rabbit slump forward. Ten yards away, the second rabbit was undisturbed, still munching the lush grass, head down with it’s back to me. I had to wait for it to raise it’s head, or move, ideally side ways on. This was not a shooting gallery, this rabbit could decide to run off at any moment. There was tension, while I waited.

Another rabbit came out further down and began feeding. About a hundred and twenty yards away, it was still in range and facing forward at an angle. There was no wind, it was a better shot. The bullet had already been chambered and was on its way. The rabbit rolled over. The remaining rabbit did not give me a third shot, the crack from the supersonic HMR bullet passing by got it’s attention and it disappeared in a flash. I waited for twenty minutes and nothing more emerged, so walked down to pick up the harvested rabbits.

From this end of the warren, I had a clear view down to the dried up stream, but there were no signs of movement. The sun had dropped behind the trees and a cool breeze had started up. I decided to spend the time cleaning the two rabbits, while keeping an eye on the field. Rabbits can appear almost out of thin air and I looked up to see one sixty yards away close to the stream. The breeze was from the east blowing into my face at an angle to the rabbit, which should not affect the 17 grain bullet, but playing safe aimed for the chest area. Boof! The rabbit jumped clear of the ground and lay still.

Three shots and three rabbits for the freezer. A rewarding two hours spent in the fresh air, not in front of the TV. Walking back the light was fading fast and clumps of grass were imitating rabbits, one actually was one, but was gone before I could unsling the rifle.


Carp, crucians and rudd queue up for the bread punch as the sun shines

March 20, 2022 at 7:26 pm

A cold, foggy start to the day, was followed by sunshine and blue skies by lunchtime, too good to waste messing about in the garden, when you have a green fingered wife with seeds to plant and a pond waking up from winter a short walk from home. Just a few weeks ago the pond had been covered by ice, but today rudd were dimpling the surface as I set up my pole. Being a balancing pond to prevent flooding on the nearby brook, recent heavy rain had brought plenty of colour to the water, helped by fine sand carried high in the air north from the Sahara.

For years I have been using here the same short waggler float, made from a cut down Billy Makin Canal Grey and once again it is a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The float and shot are still attached to the same 5 lb line, the only variation being the size of hook to the 3 lb hook link. With the Spring Equinox only a couple of days away, it was time to go up to a size 14 barbless instead of the winter size 16. The other concession was to move a No 6 shot down to join the No 8 at the hook link, expecting lift bites instead of the slight dips of the float experienced in winter. All pretty basic stuff I know, but when the fish are on the feed, it all makes a difference with more fish in the net at the end of a session.

Ground bait was my usual mix of 50% coarse liquidised bread, 20% ground hemp, 20% ground carp pellets and 5% strawberry flavouring and the same of Haith’s spicy red. Probably 100% liquidised bread would work the same, but I am confident with this and I know it works. This I damped down enough to hold together and put two balls in out at 8 metres, then got myself sorted, attaching the float rig to the pole connector, before punching a 6 mm pellet from a fresh mini slice of bread. Hook baited, I swung out the rig into the baited area. The float settled and lifted. It was exactly 1 pm as I pulled in the first rudd. Not a monster, but it was a start.

In again a minute later and a perfect lift bite, when the bait was picked up from the bottom, releasing the weight on the bottom shot, the float rising from the surface by an inch. That’s better, a decent rudd.

Then another. These rudd have fantastic colouring, with bright red fins fading to pale green.

Next cast the pole elastic came out as a carp put a bend in the pole, running to the right, then changing tack to run back the other way, stirring up black mud in it’s wake. The main pole was soon shoved back into the bushes behind, while I played the fish on the top two joints, bringing it to the waiting landing net.

An early common carp is always a good sign on this pond and I put in another couple of ground bait balls to hold any others that may be in the swim, although decent rudd continued to lift the float.

A dithering bite, that lifted and dropped the float indicated a crucian, that I hit on the next lift, the solid little carp taking out elastic as it dived around the swim at high speed, swimming straight into the awaiting landing net.

A similar bite had me poised for another crucian, but a clonking gudgeon was the result.

Rudd and gudgeon continued one a chuck and I scraped up the last of my feed in an effort to encourage some better fish. I mixed up another batch for later, then cast back in over the feed and guess what? A small common took on the drop, flipping over on the surface before diving for cover, pulling out the elastic. The spirited fight was soon over.

This was shaping up to be a classic session and the following cast confirmed it, with an even bigger carp running across the pond toward the reeds, but the power of the 12-18 red elastic slowed the run and the fish turned in an arc, while I held the pole high to avoid floating twigs on the surface. Soon, the pole was down to the top two sections and the elastic was returning to the tip, as the fight continued with the carp trying to bury itself in the bankside roots. Success, it was in the landing net.

A fat common carp that refused to play ball for the camera, still fighting in the landing net.

I needed a cup of tea after this one, putting in another ball of feed for good measure and dropping the float over the top. Bang! I was in again, three carp in as many casts. A tiddler by comparison, but still a good fish.

The carp were still over the feed and I was in again to a bonus common, taking my time to bring it in.

More feed and more carp followed.

I put in a ball of feed and swung the float out over the cloud, the float lay flat, then zoomed away, the elastic coming out before I could strike. This was the biggest yet and I tried to raise the pole to avoid losing the top elasticated sections, as it cut a V across the surface toward an old sign post 30 yards away. Ping! The hook pulled out, rattling the connector back to the pole tip. I’ve had carp here over 5 lb on the pole, but this was way over that. Consoling myself, I rebaited the hook and cast in. A bob and a lift saw a crucian break the surface as I over struck, but it remained on the hook.

I was vaguely aware of a woman on the opposite bank with a carrier bag, from which she was pulling out slices of bread and crusts to throw to a pair of Canada geese, that were only half bothered by the offerings floating on the surface. I continued to fish and netted another small carp.

The slices were now drifting round the pond to my side. They were being attacked by rafts of small rudd, which began to take my bait, before it could get down to the bottom. This was reluctant speed fishing, as I tried to fish through them. Some were decent sized, but most were only a couple of ounces. The bait did manage to get through and a crucian was the result, but it was game over as far as I was concerned.

A heavier float would have punched through the shoal quicker, but it was too late in the day to change and I packed up at 4 pm.

My trusty little waggler float and punched bread had worked the magic again, putting 10 lb 8 oz on the scales in three hours. A good result for a free council pond.

Bread punch roach and chub bonanza closes river season

March 15, 2022 at 10:30 am

With the river season about to close for three months, I had three options to try in the hope of a bumper session to mark the day, arriving at my first option to find the parking space clear and no one fishing. It had been third time lucky for this swim below the weir, my previous two visits this month finding it occupied. There had been an overnight frost, but the sun had come out to warm the air and I looked forward to getting a few good fish in the net.

At this time of year big roach congregate here ready for spawning and I hoped that bread punch on the stick float would be the answer on this mild day. Arriving at 11:30, I set out my stall at the top of the steep bank and began mixing my ground bait, liquidised bread, ground hemp, ground carp pellets and a good dusting of Haiths Red Spice, that seems to work well in coloured water. I added a splash of water to hold the balls together and put a couple in across to the edge of the foam opposite. It was just a case of putting together my 14 foot Browning float rod from the ready to fish holdall, having set up a 4 No 4 ali stemmed stick float with a new size 14 barbless hook the day before, punching out a 6 mm pellet of bread and casting over to the fed area.

The float was set off bottom with a long hook link in the hope of a chub before the roach moved in. The float had barely settled, when it slowly sank from view and a solid resistance exploded into action with a run toward the foaming weir outlet. A rapid back wind of my ABU501 eased the pressure on the hook link and a chub, smaller than first thought, was on the surface ready for the landing net.

A couple of smaller chub were next in the queue, before I added another foot to the depth and slid the shirt buttoned No 6s together to form a bulk above the hook link. The bread was now just tripping bottom and a dip of the float was followed by a hold down, that I hit with my finger on the spool. The juddering fight said roach and flash of silver confirmed it, as I inched out the landing net from the high bank  to collect it.

Not your every day roach, this was a clonker, although it would prove par for the course, when it’s equal took next cast.

Each roach gave a good account of itself, they were all fighting fit.

Stepping up the feed to a small nugget each cast began a feeding frenzy, as juvenile chub and gudgeon moved in over the feed, the float often taken on the drop. A tight line was taking a small fish a minute, swinging in, then out again to unhook, rebait and repeat. Every now and then a roach would beat them to the bread and a battle royal would commence.

A decent chub had me backwinding again, as it made full use of the area in front of me, trying to snag the float along the opposite bank, before powering upstream toward a sunken branch. Stopped again, suddenly it was on the surface with it’s big white mouth open.

I checked my watch, it was still only 12:30 and that chub had pushed my weigh to about 5 lb in the net. The feed was going down rapidly and I decided to mix up some more, stopping for my lunch time sandwich and a cup of tea, while I was at it. First cast in the float was under again and this rather tatty roach was putting up a show of defiance.

Most of the gudgeon were huge by any standards, scudding across the bottom and putting a bend in the rod.

Many of the chub were worth catching too, going off like a coiled spring, once they realised that they were hooked.

The one above took some persuading to come to the net.

The roach kept coming, the bites not shy, despite the size 14 hook, although most hooks fell out in the net.

By 2.00 pm the feed was gone again and I mixed up more. I was on a strict time limit today, having a visitor call after 4.00, so would have to pack up at 3.00. Sod’s Law was that there was no sign of the fish going off the feed.

Another angler had set up on the inside of the bend opposite and was fishing with a 4 metre elasticated whip, feeding maggots, he had been swinging in gudgeon and small chub, oblivious that I was into much better quality fish.

It had clouded over, then to drizzle with light rain, so put my big jumper back on again, a case of being more haste, less speed, as I struggled to get it over my head without taking my cap off. Doh! Not to worry, the roach didn’t mind waiting!

I had stopped taking photos of the roach, but could not ignore the quality, as they come to the net.

Still going strong, I netted this one with three minutes to go, then recast and hooked my last fish bang on 3.00 pm.

The angler across the river had now been watching me and I told him that I was now packing up. Did he want to take over where I leave off? He began stripping down his pole.

Evidence of a busy few hours, over 80 holes meant at least that many fish, if not more, as the smaller chub and gudgeon were out of the river so quickly, that the punched bread often remained on the hook.

What a haul. I attempted to weigh these fish in my landing net, but the scales bottomed at 13 lb (6kg). I removed the chub, but they still bottomed out, so maybe 15 lb in three hours fishing.

As I was loading the the tackle into the van, my phone buzzed with a text. You guessed it, my visitor would not be coming after all. Ah well, no complaints, what a great catch.

Bread punch chub and roach feed, despite pollution and cormorants on the Cut

March 9, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Following my outing last week, when I netted some big chub from my local River Cut, I decided to have a last session on the town water, before the end of the river fishing season. Controlled by the Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club, the river here has been recently cleared of fallen trees and the banks tidied up by the Environment Agency and I walked down to a swim, that I’d not fished for many years.

A tree had stretched across this swim, restricting the trot, now it would be possible to run a float along the tangled bushes reaching down into the river on the right. It looked very chubby. I mixed up a simple 60/30 combination of liquidised bread and ground hempseed, which I damped down enough to form compressed balls of feed, dropping one down the middle and the other over to the opposite bank.

I set the float shallow to follow the first ball and watched it slide away as the float cocked, when a roach took the 6 mm punch of bread, a good roach, that had obvious signs of being attacked by a cormorant.

Despite the injuries, this roach fought well.

The following cast alongside the bushes saw the float hold down, the strike bending the rod into a chub, that dived into the snags. Side strain pulled the chub out to the clear water and the waiting landing net.

This had all the makings of a good session, when the third cast produced a rudd, three species in three casts.

I put another ball along the opposite side and followed it down, the rod bending over again as another chub unsuccessfully tried out the right hand snags, only to switch to the near bank in a charge downstream toward a log, thankfully steering it away, bringing the net out once more.

The river had been coloured, when I arrived at noon, but now the flow picked up with a flush of brown water. I had come to fish in the afternoon, as most mornings suffered from the influx of this dirty water, but here it was at 1 pm. The effect was immediate, the bites faded away. A small roach and a tiny gudgeon were the only fish in the next twenty minutes. Time to get out the sandwiches.

This is a deep swim with four feet down the middle and so raised the float to fish over depth, resting the rod and laying on. Ten minutes later the float bobbed and sank, while I had a cup of tea in one hand and a sandwich in the other. The float popped up again. Missed it. The bread was gone. Oh well, that was a good sign. Refreshments over, I held the rod and studied the float. I waited. Eventually it bobbed again, then went under. A small gudgeon. Then another. Next a good sign, a roach.

Time to set the float higher and trot through again, following a ball of feed. A small chub, then another.

The dead period was over, lasting an hour. The flow receded and the brown stain washed away. This has been reported to the Environment Agency on numerous occasions, but nothing is found. Over an hour the discharge must be many gallons washed down the rainwater drains, or from a sluice upstream. No fish seem to die and no action is taken, but if like me, you are investing in time to build up a swim, it is annoying. Some people have turned up to fish, only to find no fish biting at that time and pack up again, not realising that an hour wait will see them taking the bait again.

It was not fantastic fishing, but the float was going down, even if it was only a few small gudgeon, roach, or even dace.

The landing net came out for a better sized rudd. It was still early and there was a chance to redeem the session yet.

The rod was bending again and I was backwinding a running chub, that turned and swam back to me.

Now a decent roach was fighting all the way to the net. I was back in the catching groove.

These fish were a long way down the swim, bobbing the float as they followed the bait, before they took the float down. More dace, then a better roach.

The float skated sideways across the river and I assumed it was a small rudd, but I was pleasantly surprised when the rod arched over into another good chub. It made for the downstream log along my bank and snagged itself. I got up, landing net in hand, to persuade it out again. My 14 foot rod caught in the alder above me. The chub came out of the snag, flapped on the surface mid water and came off. The line pinged back becoming more tangled in the tree above. I’m sure, that if this had been filmed and put on Youtube, it would have gone viral, very funny for some, but not for me. I managed to retrieve the float, which was wrapped in line and shot. Cutting the line allowed me to pull the rest through from the tree. I had other float rigs, plus another rod made up ready to fish in my holdall, but decided enough was enough and packed up.

Walking back to the van, the river was now clear, but the bottom was sandy. Was this building sand and cement washed off the roads of one of the many new housing estates surrounding the town?

Not a good way to end an improving session. Rain is forecast for the next few days. Monday will be my last opportunity to fish. Where will I go?

Not a bad result considering.




Trout anglers get ready for the 2022 season on the River Whitewater

March 7, 2022 at 12:16 pm

The small Hampshire chalk stream controlled by Farnborough and District A.S, is looking in good condition for the 2022 trout fishing season, after working parties cleared away fallen trees from the River Whitewater and cut back over growth.

More a social event, than work, members were able to catch up on last season’s successes and failures, while notes were swapped over what was caught from where and with what fly. With only a small fly fishing membership, it is rare to meet another angler on the bank during the season and the preseason work parties are ideal for getting feed back.

Covid restrictions had limited the amount of work that could be undertaken on this natural river last year, but members have been busy making up for lost time. Above, willows were beginning to restrict the flow, while making casting impossible. Below, brambles had grown out across the river, catching flies, while the preseason haircut will allow casting to trout sheltering under the opposite bank.

Running through working farm land, the Whitewater fishing has to be a balance between the angler’s interests and the farmer’s commercial requirements. The land is rotated between arable and livestock, the anglers happy with a recent change over to sheep, following years of rearing frisky young bullocks, which roamed around in gangs terrorising any angler that they spotted on the bank. After a few near misses from flying hooves, I avoided any of the fields where they were pastured, preferring personal safety, over catching trout.

A dedicated team that has removed literally tons of signal crayfish from this little river over the last few years, resulted in successful spawning of wild fish, which are showing up in greater numbers.

There are now all year classes of trout showing.

The Whitewater was stocked with a wide variety of trout in the years before triploids and now has a mix of classic browns, and more silvery browns similar to the this one below, that I took last season on a mayfly.

Whatever their variety, these brown trout fight to the maximum effort and all require nursing back to full strength, before releasing. With only a few weeks to the start of the new season on April 1st, we can only look forward to balmy spring and summer days and the chance to net one of these beautiful fish.








Bread punch chub fight among the snags

March 1, 2022 at 5:51 pm

Always looking to try other waters, this week I followed my local river downstream to a point that it flows beneath a road bridge, where there is access to a short overgrown bit of bank. Being at the side of the bridge, the bank slopes steeply down to the river, but a small flat area was just big enough to get my tackle box located, adjusting the feet to counteract the slope, although it meant sitting back six feet from the river.

The main current passes against this bank, flowing out of a narrow shallow tail of the pool, which creates a muddy eddy that flows back toward the bridge along the opposite bank. In the summer this bank is an impenetrable mass of Himalayan balsam and stinging nettles, that spill over into the water and today I could see their remnants still lining the bankside.

I’ve not fished this pool for some years. It looks really productive, but it was always evident that it had regularly been fished for food, either by men, or cormorants. The main channel is about four feet deep with a steady flow, ideal for roach, but I have only had one in the past, no gudgeon, or perch either, unlike the wooded river a mile upstream. A few decent chub it did have, again no small ones, another sign of cormorants.

Why was I bothering if it is so bad? Well, I think that all anglers are optimists and I like a challenge. So here I was setting up my trusty 14 foot Browning float rod with a 4 No 4 ali stemmed Drennan stick float, while combining liquidised bread, ground hemp and a jar of Haiths red spice mix, damped down to squeeze up some tight balls of feed.

I started off putting in two egg sized balls of feed, six feet out into the flow upstream under the concrete sill of the bridge, holding the float back as the balls sank. In the past I have caught a chub first, or second trot right under the rod top here, but today nothing and watched the float travel unmolested along my bank.

After fifteen minutes of casting and recasting, the float dipped as I held back at the end of the trot. “Go on, go under” It dipped and held. Missed it! Bread gone. At least there was some thing there. Even a gudgeon would do this afternoon. I swapped from a 6 mm punch to a 5 mm on the size 16 barbless, put in another ball and followed on down, holding back hard at intervals. The float dipped at the same spot, then went under. Probably a snag, I left it for a second and struck. Woomph! I was into a decent fish that ran off downstream, while I back wound the ABU501. Keeping the rod high, I lost sight of the line, reeling back when the fish allowed. Too late, I saw that it was heading for the tangled roots along my bank and laid the rod over in an attempt to pull it away, while reeling hard. It all went solid. I could see the float. I pulled and the fish pulled back. I gave it slack and on the third pull it came free. I bullied it back out into open water, seeing the three pound chub for the first time, as it spiralled round in front of me, getting it’s head head up and into the net.

The hook was in the tip of mouth and came out in the net. A very fat chub.

What a lump. Phew! Time for a cup tea and a sandwich. I fed another couple of balls, this time further out. That chub was probably living under the bank and I wanted to encourage any others to feed away from it. The wind got up, blowing from the southwest into my face, putting a bow in the line, making float control difficult, holding back dragging the float off line. The float sank, I paused and struck. Yes! I was in again, this time a smaller fish of a pound and I relaxed, reeling back down the middle. It found a snag on the bottom. Solid. I walked downstream of the snag, but the fish was gone. The float came back minus the hook.

Adding to my woes, the forecast rain had arrived early, sinking the line and causing a few missed bites. I was feeding a small ball a trot and the chub were there. A longer delay and a long swooping strike made contact with another decent chub, which I managed to keep in mid water, reeling back hard, but reaching to my side for the landing net gave enough slack for it to dive into the roots at my feet. A tug of war was won by the chub, another hook to tie on and two fish lost. The Browning is a good rod for roach, but seems to lack the back bone for these bigger chub.

In again and I took no chances, having the landing net ready, while reeling back hard to keep the float in sight, shortening the line to pull the head up for the landing net. Another nice one.

The wind now was driving in heavier rain and covered up as best I could, but it was worth a soaking. Thinking this, when I struck into the best fish of the afternoon, the rod doubling over as it kicked for freedom. The “chub” ran to the opposite bank, lifting a long sunken branch up to the surface, when it dived beneath it. The float line parted and I lost the whole rig. Elation to devastation in seconds.

This was a cue to pack up, but it was still early and I had more float rigs. This new rig had size 14 hook to a heavier line and I punched out a 6 mm pellet of bread to cover the hook. It was difficult to see the dotted down float as the rain increased and it was one of those is it there, or not moments, when I struck into number three. Reeling hard, the chub zigzagged toward my bank, but I drew it away in time, only for the fish to dive beneath my keep net at the last minute, before swimming straight into the landing net. Another clonker, long and slim.

The rain had stopped as suddenly as it had begun and the sky brightened, giving a better contrast between light and dark on the surface, allowing a clearer view of the float. Scraping up the last of my feed, I put more balls down the middle and shallowed up the float, leaving two No 4s to act as droppers. Chub number four took in the shallow tail of the pool, the float looked like it had dragged under, but I struck anyway, the fish exploding out of the water, tail walking like a trout. Although smaller than the rest, it fought savagely, shaking it’s head as though lightly hooked, but stayed on to the net.

Still a good sized chub.

I missed another couple of bites, due to the bow in the line, but the next was well and truly on and heading for a sunken tree at the outflow. I held on as the rod bent over taking the strain, the dark back of a carp, or a very fat chub broached on the surface of the shallows, before the inevitable happened and the 3 lb hook link snapped.

I tied on another hook, but there were no more bites. Even my slice of bread had runout of holes.

It had been a draw, four lost and four netted, not a good average. A heavier line all round might have put more in the net, but then I may not have got the bites. No doubt my friend who fishes a link leger with 6 lb line straight through, with luncheon meat on a size 8 hook would have got more out, but that’s fishing.

Persistence pays off.