Bread punch roach inspire speedy recovery at Jeanes Pond

June 29, 2022 at 9:35 pm

In my fifth week of recovery, from life changing complete knee replacement surgery, I was encouraged to  get more ambitious with my physio therapy, with some real life exercises. What better than a couple of hours gentle fishing for roach on my local pond? First, I needed agreement from my wife, after all, she would be loading the car with my gear, driving to the pond, then loading the fishing trolley and pulling it to my chosen swim, while I looked on with loving words of encouragement! Now partial weight bearing, I was able to walk with the aid of sticks, from the carpark, to the disabled swim 200 yards away on the flat surface. We made it!

Although tench and carp have been coming out of the pond this month, my ambition today was just to get some fish in the net and watch the float going under, while getting back in the groove, co-ordinating my movements. The pond was a thick green colour, with no surface movement from topping fish, while a powerful wind was blowing at an angle from right to left creating a surface drift on my side, left to right.

Plumbing the depth revealed a shallow shelf, dropping a foot more, four metres out and I set my 16 x 4 antenna float to fish just off the bottom, with a 6 mm punch on a size 16 barbless hook. Keeping things simple, I fed two small balls of white liquidised bread a metre apart at 4 metres and cast in. Nothing happened, the float just sat there. Several cast later the bread was still on the hook, untouched. This was soft fresh bread. I did not want to feed anymore. This was rubbish. Then the antenna, dipped and sank. A lift and a small roach came to hand.

At last, proof that something was feeding! Another cast, the float settled and sank slowly away.

A better roach again. It was like a door had opened and roach had swum through. The float was under again and the best roach yet was in the landing net.

My wife was on my left, busy filling in a crossword. It was easier for her to net the fish, as I guided them in. I would call out “Net”, she would look up, push the net forward and another roach was in the keepnet.

These were all reasonable roach and the net was filling, but a swirl behind the roach below, ended the catching spree. A pike was in the swim. Small fish scattered and the bites stopped.

I fed further out and put on two more lengths of pole. After a wait, the float was dipping again, when a small rudd took the bread.

This was the only rudd, but the roach were back again. The bites were unmissable. A few gentle dips of the antenna, before it steadily sank from view.

I had only been fishing for an hour, with over twenty roach in the net, not big, but respectable. The pressure on my leg was beginning to tell, while my seat cushion was feeling harder than I remembered it. I would give it another hour. I took a break, handing the pole to my wife, instructing her through a bite. She hooked into another roach and I did the honours with the landing net.

More nice roach

This was my last fish of the session, another quality roach.

This pond was full of big roach and rudd five years ago, where did they go? Maybe they are still there, but uncatchable, who knows? The bread punch had filled my net again, while giving me some much needed R&R and physio combined.

We were packed up by 4:30 and ready for a cup of tea at home. I’ll give fishing a try in a couple of weeks, but I couldn’t wait to get my feet up and take some painkillers after this short session.






Bread punch roach and dace River Blackwater bonanza

June 18, 2022 at 9:00 pm

At this time of year I put a visit to the River Blackwater into my diary, however, now in my fourth week of recovery from complicated knee replacement surgery, I am still only partial weight bearing on crutches and unable to do much more than a few laps of my garden, while a trip to the river bank is for now out of bounds.

The Blackwater runs south to north and being within 10 miles of my home at any point, I would fish it more, but generally parking is a problem, my van being too tall to get under the 2 metre barriers restricting access to most public carparks along the river. I had recently been told of a free stretch with no barriers, that ran behind an industrial estate and decided to check it out. With tackle in the van and bread from the freezer, it was worth a look, if not I could fall back on the a club stretch of Blackwater a few miles downstream.

Driving into the industrial estate, I could see immediately that parking would be a problem, designated company parking, causing the overflow of cars and vans to park up on kerbs and block entrances. I cruised the parked cars to the end, finding a space among those of a car company. Slotting in the van, I realised that I could not occupy the space for long, but while I was there, I could at least take a look at the river, which lay just through a screen of trees. The banks were overgrown, but the river was clear with little weed and I could see big chub swimming up and down, but with overhanging trees, fishing would be difficult.

Ready to drive off, I walked back to the van, only to be met by the site manager, who informed me that I was parked in a designated parking area. I apologised, saying that I just wanted to look at the river, regarding the fishing. At this his mood changed, telling me how good it was for fishing and being an angler himself, he would show me his favourite swims.

We walked up to a weir, where we could see a shoal of about a dozen bream of about 2 lb each, just sitting in the flow of the back eddy. Again it was overhung with trees, various floats tangled among the branches, evidence of attempted float fishing, it would be feeder fishing, or nothing here. We walked back to the carpark and he said “Why not have a dabble? If anybody complains about your van, say that Tony said that it was OK to park”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted his offer, loaded up my trolley and headed back to the weir.

Just upstream of the trees, close to the outfall, was a short strip of overgrown bank, that would allow me to cast a float, spending the next twenty minutes hacking away at the stinging nettles and dead giant hog weed, with a bank stick. There was just enough room for the tackle box, so set up my 14 foot Browning with a 6BB bodied stick float and was ready to fish.

I threw out a couple of balls of liquidised bread to my side of the flow, ready to use a 6mm bread punch on a size 14 barbless hook.

First cast in the float sailed away and a hard fighting roach swung to hand.

The swim was no more than two feet deep, and I bulked the shot round the base of the float, with two No 4 shot six inches apart up from the hook. This rig worked well with no tangling, the heavy float allowing me to hold back despite the ever increasing wind.

Every put in was followed by a take, the roach often hooking themselves each time I held back hard, although this sometimes meant a bounced fish. I was catching steadily, putting in another ball and watching the shoal of roach rip into it.

Who said that perch don’t take bread, this being one of two that I caught. Roach continued to line up for the bread, having found a sweet spot on the crease between the outfall and the eddy, an under hand cast laying the float behind the bait each time, the fish grabbing the bread as it fluttered down to the bottom.

All this changed in minutes, as the sound of the water rushing over the weir drowned out the roar of the wind gusting through the trees. Upstream extra water was being released into the river, forcing the back eddy to reverse its motion and strong enough to drag my keep net round. Where I had been holding the float back against the steady flow, it was now coming back toward me. The roach were still there taking the bread, but I now began to drop lightly hooked fish. Casting out into the strong flow, the bites had changed, lightning dips and bangs of the float indicating dace, knocking off the bait in seconds. Stopping the float put me in direct contact with the fast biting dace, rattling the rod top and briefly flashing over before throwing the hook.

Got one! More by luck than judgement, setting the hook, then releasing the line allowed the dace to run, before lifting into it again. This seemed a better tactic, but their tumbling fight in the more powerful stream, saw more dace throw the hook, than reached the net. Roach were still among the dace, the more positive bites, meaning fewer lost fish.

As quickly as the rush of water had begun, it slowed again and the catching spree continued along the crease, another ball of bread concentrating the roach in a tight area. I was aware of Tony standing to one side watching me swing in fish after fish. When I asked how long he had stood there, he said “Six fish” then looking at his watch “Four minutes”. I had hoped to find one or two of the bream among the roach, but had probably struck too soon on the slower biting slabs.

Tony had never seen the bread punch in action and could not believe that it was so effective on “his” river. I said that I would be packing up at 5 pm, having fished for five hours by then and he said that he would come back for the weigh in.

The larger roach had now pushed their way to the front and going up to a 7mm punch seemed to increase the number of netters.

What a clonker! The big roach just kept coming, despite the wind that was now blowing leaves and twigs into the river and making an underhand cast impossible, a powerful overhead cast the only way to get the float out to the crease.

Like a tap being turned on, the weir began to roar again, transforming the the eddy into a whirlpool, the dace sweeping over to my side, some good ones among them.

Control of the float became difficult with the wind billowing the line back toward me, while the float was swept away in the flow. It was time to put the rod down, get out the cheese and pickle sandwiches, followed by a cup of tea. There was an area close to my bank, that looked static and I dropped the float in, but this was full of tiny chublets and gudgeon, taking several of each, before giving up to brave the elements again.

The quality roach were still there and the landing net was coming out for every other fish.

The weir shut down again and I put in another ball of liquidised bread, just to keep the roach in place, each cast bringing another.

At 5 pm the roach were still feeding, but I could hear the traffic building up on the main road behind me and I had promised to be home by six, so the rod was brought in and I took stock of the session.

The bait tray told the story of a busy afternoon, having fed a third of a loaf of liquidised bread.

As promised, Tony arrived to help me weigh in the net, I guessed it at 12 lb, while he suggested 15 lb. Lifting up the scales was an effort and the 14 lb scales bounced, then settled back to 13 lb 8 oz. I am sure that if I had set up my much softer Hardy 12 footer, I would have landed more fish, but would it have coped with the stormy winds as well? Ah well, who cares? I had had another great session on the bread punch, shame about the car parking.