Heatwave chub, roach and dace compete for the bread punch at the weir

August 11, 2022 at 8:13 am

With all southern rivers suffering reduced flows due to the continuing heatwave, I took a drive to my local river Cut this week, being surprised that the swim beside the outfall weir from the Thames Water treatment works was vacant. Driving further up the lane to park, I crossed the river bridge and looked downstream. It was choked with reeds.

It seems ironic that in the past, I have trotted a bait downstream from this bridge, to a bush holding a good head of chub. Reduced flows have gradually allowed reeds to encroach from either bank, causing flooding of the bridge and road closures during the winter.

With the tackle unloaded, I made my way back to the weir. At 10 am the sun was already hot and I welcomed the shade and cool air at the swim. The main river to my left was barely moving, but the outfall was in full flow, creating an eddy that extended upstream, while also splitting at the opposite bank. Too many options. Usually the eddy creates a sweet spot triangle, where the ground bait collects, holding the fish all day, but today I would need to chase the fish.

The main river was creeping past my keepnet and I began by introducing a couple of small balls of feed, liquidised bread, crushed pellets and crushed hemp at my feet. On the hook was a 6 mm pellet of bread. As the float reached the edge of the foam, the float sank and I was playing a decent roach, the landing net was out and number one was in my hand.

A couple more smaller roach and the gudgeon moved in to mop up the feed, each trot seeing the float disappear before it reached the foam.

The roach seemed to have moved off as the flow increased and I decided feed across to the opposite side, where the foam was pushing. At first it was a 4 inch mini chub a cast, then the float buried and the rod wrapped round with a better fish, as a chub ran into the foaming outfall.

These chub were now queuing up for the groundbait, it spewing from their throats, when I removed the hooks.

This pocket of chub reduced in size and I was back to bashing out the mini versions and the inevitable gudgeon. Time to try another area. The flow was splitting off to the right at the bend, running off downstream and an underhand flick of the rod put the float just above it, followed by a ball of feed. A couple of trots and the float buried, when a plump dace snatched the punched bread.

Dace love hemp, crushed being no exception, diving off with the float as I held back in just eighteen inches of water. These furious fighters give 100% and I tumbled a few of the smaller ones off the size 14 barbless hook, the larger dace heading straight for the faster water each time.

This dace was still full of fight

The flow had changed again as the outfall was increased, giving a straight trot to the my opposite bank, pushing the eddy back round to the left, against the flow of the Cut. I mixed up more ground bait, squeezing up stiff balls to drop into the faster water, knowing that they would begin to carpet the bottom round the eddy.

It was good to see another roach. They had been in the eddy all the time, it was just a matter of locating them. Smaller roach and rudd were coming regularly along with gudgeon of course. Another wrap round of the rod heralded a better chub, as it dived into the faster outfall, bringing it back eventually, to net from the high bank.

The sun had now crept over the trees and I was no longer in the shade, the heat becoming oppressive. My catch rate was still one a chuck with more decent roach in the mix, but set my sights on 2 pm to pack up, despite more good roach.

This one was a clonker, that ran off downstream, with me rapidly back winding my ABU 501 reel, just as well too, as the hook fell out in the net.

I had kept my bread pieces in a polythene wallet in my bait apron and covering them with a cloth to keep them soft once in the bait tray. Each punch was a fish, often taking two of the smaller ones on the same piece.

An example of a busy session, that netted around 150 fish in four hours.