Bread punch strikes crucian gold at Allsmoor.

April 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm

After a couple of disappointing visits to another local pond recently, I decided that it was time for some bag up therapy at my very local Allsmoor Pond, a short walk from my home. There was a cold wind from the east, but the sun was shining and I settled down in the shade of a tree.

I mixed up a tray of coarse liquidised bread and ground carp pellets, sprinkled with strawberry essence, damped it down and squeezed up some loose balls to break up on impact in the two foot deep swim, putting in four balls before tackling up my pole. The swim was a bit of a parrot cage, with the tree overhead and another growing out to my left. Casting my small 2 BB waggler required feeding the pole out, then giving it an under hand flick to put the float to the left of the lily bed to my right. By 2 pm I was ready and bubbles were popping up on the surface.

The float did not dive away as expected from a small rudd, but instead gave the characteristic dips and dithers of a crucian carp. The float slowly moved away and under. I lifted into the frantic fight of a small crucian, that dived for the cover of the lilies, pulling out the elastic, while counteracted with the pole, dragging it back out. A rapid pull back with the pole to the top two sections, saw the crucian skim back to the landing net.

A crucian first cast. I usually have to fish my way through a raft of rudd before the crucians move in.

Next cast, another crucian.

The following cast saw the elastic out with a small common carp burying itself among the lillies.  An attempt to pull it free failed, so the slack line trick was tried. It worked as the fish swam free, but only for a few feet, when the carp dug deep again. Slack line and watch the float. It moved again and I put on side strain and it came out. It was not a big carp, thank goodness.

I cast further over to the left and the float was away again with the fish fighting hard, left to right, pulling it away from the lilies this time.

This pond is full of surprises, a fantail crucian hybrid having taken the 7 mm punch of bread on a size 14 hook. Next cast, a crucian had successfully taken the bread.

A burst of bubbles next to my float forewarned of something bigger and seconds later the float lifted, then slid away and I watched the elastic stretching out toward a post standing up over to my left. This was a good carp, that stirred up the mud as it powered away, then rolling on the surface, when the elastic slowed it’s progress. It turned back toward the lilies, pushing through and I put on side strain. The hook came out and the rig shot across into the tree to my left. Even the elastic was wrapped around a branch. I tried to pull it free, the elastic stretching beyond it’s maximum breaking strain and snapped at the weakest point at the Stonfo connector knot, leaving me holding some loose elastic.

This could have been the end of my session. I had lost my float that has done good service on this pond for the last twelve years on this pond and without another large elastic to line connector, I was stumped, but with a possible exceptional fishing session to follow, I tied a loop in the elastic as get out jail measure.

Attaching a double looped 6 lb shock leader onto a waggler float rig, that I had only made up the week before, got me fishing again. I must have had a premonition, that I would lose my old favourite float, and made up a replacement. HaHa!

Another couple of balls of feed to the left of the lilies and the new float was in action, sinking away.

Another hard fighting common was soon under control, the reduced length of elastic exerting more pressure and it was soon in the net.

Some of these crucians are hybrids with common carp, getting the best of both worlds, a hard stand and fight without the long runs of a common.

It was now a crucian a chuck. I reckoned that they preferred the shade on such a bright day and my ground bait had concentrated them over the feed. Here are just a selection.

A small common broke the procession of crucians, that were filling the net.

Another surprise, a baby common carp.

More crucians.

More variety. A nice rudd.

Another fantail.

A common.

Then the rudd moved in.

A third fantail.

Then the crucians were back.

I could have kept on, but my three hours were up. It had been much colder than I had anticipated and despite my wife walking down to the pond with a sweater earlier, I was freezing. It had been a good session on the bread punch, marred by the loss of my favourite float, the old one was gone, long live the  new one.

A fantastic net of fish from a free council owned unstocked water surrounded by housing estates, where the scales just failed to hit the 10 lb mark.

 

 

 

 

Tench and carp feed despite gale force winds and rain at Kings Pond

April 9, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Last week a hail storm forced me to abandon a fly fishing session and this week my only opportunity to fish was on a day with a forecast of showers and wind gusts up to 50 mph. I decided that the only place to give protection from the elements was Farnham’s Kings Pond, where the wind would be broken by a thick stand of willows behind me. Or so I thought. Since my last visit, the willows have been trimmed back and thinned out, with the wind blowing directly across a large lake. I had also got the wind direction wrong with it coming over my right shoulder. Not ideal. Two very cold looking anglers were already there and neither had had a bite. The temperature reading in the van had been 5 degrees C and I could not see myself staying long in these conditions, not even bothering to put my keep net in, as I thought that a blank was on the cards.

I found a swim thirty yards down from the second angler and set up my pole to fish over the shelf into five feet of water, twenty feet out, with  a 5 BB antenna float bulked to 18 inches of the hook with a single No 1 shot as a tell tale weight six inches down toward the hook on the bottom. This rig fished with the antenna riding through the waves like a submarine periscope without disturbing the bread punch bait.

Feeling that I was unlikely to stay long, I only mixed up a small amount of ground bait, coarse liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and a sprinkle of strawberry flavouring, adding water to compress firm balls. I bracketed the float with four balls of feed and hung onto the pole, sinking the top section, as the gusts threatened to pull the pole from my hands. Although there was a strong tow on the surface from the  wind, the float remained stationary. After ten minutes, the float dipped under a wave, then appeared after another. A bite! I lifted the pole to see that the 5 mm punch of bread was gone. In again and the float still showed an inch of antenna. Strike! Contact. A rattle at the end of the pole was a small roach, which lifted clear of the surface, then flew off with the breeze before I could reach it. More missed bites and dropped roach called for a change. I went up to a 7 mm punch, pulled the bulk shot down to the hook link and added another three inches to the depth.

The lift bites from small roach following the bait down stopped, but so did the bites. I put in the last of my feed tray and studied the float. It held down and I lifted as the elastic came out. It was a decent fish, that was slowly becoming aware that it was hooked. Then it was off, racing across the pond, until the pull of the elastic proved too much and it turned back at speed trying to burrow into the bank further along toward the angler on my right. Glimpses of the float gave me an idea where it was. It broached further out, briefly seeing a deep bronze side, before it was gone again. The wind was gusting as I held the pole high trying to direct the powerful fish toward my landing net, but it dived under to my bank again. The pole was still at 6 metres, with 6 metres of elastic out. I was fighting the wind and the fish, while the landing net was being blown away from the fish like a parachute. At last it all came together as the wind eased, a mirror carp was on the surface and my net slipped under it.

The size 14 barbless hook dropped out in the net and I considered myself fortunate to land the barrel shaped bundle of muscle, following such an epic battle. A quick weigh in at over two pounds and I lowered the unmarked mirror carp back into the pond.

After a reviving cup of tea and a sandwich, I mixed up another tray of feed, ready to start again, putting a couple of balls around the float. The small roach were still worrying the punched bread bait, lifting the float, but being almost impossible to hit, with the buried pole tip slowing down the strike. The float held under and I was in again for a few seconds, as another carp powered away across the pond, stripping out the elastic, only for the hook to pull free. Adding to the brutally cold wind, rain began clattering against my thick waterproof jacket, but I was dry within my cocoon, looking out on the foaming pond. It was grim for a while, but the clouds soon passed, better fish were in the swim and I was confident of another waiting to be caught.

A classic lift bite popped the float up, then slid under and I lifted into solid resistance that gave way to a pounding run that ended with a skimmer bream flapping on the surface. Breaking the pole down brought the skimmer close, but it flashed about in front of me, not ready for the net. This is when you lose them, the hook easily pulling from the soft mouth, but I followed every movement with the pole, until the skimmer lay on it’s side and I scooped it up.

Not a big fish, but worth catching. Skimmers can come up in the water after ground bait and I shallowed up by six inches, moving the bulk shot further away from the hook to give a slower fall of the bait. More missed bites, small roach and no skimmers.

I added depth and moved the bulk shot back down. First cast in the float submerged with purpose and the slow movement of a big fish was pulling elastic from the pole tip. This was not a carp, the runs were shorter and in all directions. I brought the pole back and detached the top two sections for better control, but this fish was heavy and hugging the side of the bank in front of me. I needed more leverage to pull it away to open water and added the two bottom sections again, seeing the golden flank of a big tench boil below the surface. The heavy 12-18 elastic was doing its job, the hook was holding and we were both getting tired. The surface boils increased and the landing net was ready, when it swam my way. Phew. Success!

The hook was in the top lip and came out with just a twist. Considering the number of rolls and turns during the fight, it is amazing that it stayed on. I now tried to get a photo of the tench on my lap, but it was not playing ball at all, the one above being the most successful of several attempts. In the net, the scales read 4 lb 8 oz, before I lowered it back into the pond. A flash of gold and it was gone.

Dropping straight back in, the float cruised away and I was in again. A bigger tench this time testing the elastic as it swam relentlessly toward the other angler, who I now saw was playing a monster of his own. Mine turned back to open water, boiling on the surface, while I extended the landing net against the wind. The elastic sprang back. This time the hook lost its grip. I looked toward the angler on my right. He had lost his fish too.

Conditions were getting worse and when I lost another carp fighting wind and fish, I decided to call it a day. It was not pleasant, there would be other opportunities. My neighbour, a local, had been using two rods, a feeder over and a waggler down the inside, plenty of hemp and pellets bringing five fish, a small carp, two tench and a pair of brown gold fish. A lesson for next time, more hemp. As usual I had not deviated from the bread punch.

A black cloud was gathering as I loaded up the trolley, fighting the head wind to get back to the van before the deluge, leaving the trolley in the lee of the van, while I scrambled in through the side door with the pole. What a day!

River Whitewater 2022 trout season open day put on ice.

April 3, 2022 at 4:53 pm

A week is a long time regarding the British weather. A week ago I had attended the Farnborough and District Angling Society’s work party on their Hampshire chalk stream, the River Whitewater. There was a good attendance of members, working in the Spring sunshine, clearing banks and removing fallen trees following the winter of storms. Wild garlic was scenting the air, while hatches of large dark olives were fluttering across the river and I looked forward to my first trout fishing outing on the following Friday, Open Day on April 1st .

In the meantime temperatures had plummeted to below zero accompanied by showers of hail, sleet and snow. By midday the frost had been thawed from the grass, with the sun shining between breaks in the clouds and I decided to drive to the river, taking a chance on the weather. I had a new fly line on my reel to try, plus some non traditional fly patterns in my box from Fish4Flies to compare with my own successful early season GH Sedge nymph, Deerhair Emerger and Blackdevil nymph.

Three of the Fish4Flies patterns I was keen to compare my traditional patterns with, were their Pinkey Tungsten Bug, Olive F-Wing and Zug Bug, all tied with synthetic materials.

As I drove closer to the river, the sky darkened with a massive black cloud, but there was an patch of blue in the distance and I parked up. My goodness, there was a bitter wind blowing, what a difference to last week, but I was here now and determined to get my line on the water, walking across the field to a pool that is noted for a few juvenile trout. I started off with my Blackdevil nymph bouncing along the bottom, impressed with the new Sunray 4 weight floating line, which flew out from my seven foot Shakespeare Agility rod with just a flick of the shoulder.

Running the nymph close to the edge along the deep run, the line straightened. A fish! No a branch on the bottom. Oh well, it got my heart racing for a second. Thankfully the branch came away from the bottom and drifted back to me. Picking it out of the river made me realise just how cold the river was. My hands were already frozen and now they were at another level, too cold and numb to try one of my new flies.

Having covered all the lies that have produced trout in the past, I climbed out of the river and walked up to deep a pool with a back eddy. I warmed my hands on a cup of hot tea. I could feel the hot liquid going down to my stomach. Very reviving. Time to try out the Pinkey Bug, casting along the crease of the eddy. This has a tungsten bead as a thorax and hit the water with a “plip” and sank quickly, like a Czech nymph, keeping the rod tip high and watching the line drift back to me. The line straightened. Another branch from the bottom. The eddy was full of them.

The wind was getting up and sleet began to fall. Sheltering under a tree, I checked my watch. I had only been there for 45 minutes, enough time to know that no trout would be caught by me today. After all, April 1st is All Fools Day in the UK and I qualified at this moment.

The weekend was forecast to be even worse with heavy rain and sleet again. Next week? My wife was not surprised to see me home so soon, even a life long optimist like myself knows when to quit.