Bread punch Rudd galore at Allsmoor Pond

March 28, 2023 at 12:43 pm

A cold, but sunny afternoon, was the only chance to fish this week, with rain forecast for several days after. Having had good bags of common and crucian carp early in the year before, I took the short walk to my very local Allsmoor Pond, to find three of the swims occupied by other anglers. All were struggling to get bites, with fewer than a dozen small rudd and gudgeon between them. At least it was warm facing the sun and I set up my heavy duty pole to 6 metres, with a 3BB antenna float rig, 2 metres long, to swing fish in to hand from the top two sections.

Ground bait was liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, sprinkled with a spicy red mix. The pond is only two feet deep above fine silt and the mix was damped down just enough to hold together for the 7 to 8 metre throw, putting in two balls on that line. Starting off with a 6 mm punch of bread on the size 14 hook, the float slid away immediately as a small rudd gorged the bread. After a repeat of this half a dozen times, I went up to a 7 mm punch and swung in a better sized roach.

The 7 mm punch seemed to be selecting better sized rudd and I was busy swinging them in.

Smaller rudd were still taking the bread and I went up to an 8 mm punch in an effort to attract larger fish, but the small stuff were still having a go and even gorging the bigger pellet, while I bumped several others, so it was soon back to the 7 mm pellet. A runaway bite on the drop, met solid resistance from a fiesty little common carp, that was still fighting and camera shy, when I tried to take a photo.

I had hoped for several more of this little fellow’s bigger brothers, but it was not to be today and apart from a similar sized crucian carp, that fell off as I lifted it out of the water, it was back to bashing out the rudd. Regular balls of feed kept the better fish in the swim.

The sun was now dipping behind the trees, bringing a distinct drop in temperature and I set my time to pack up to 5 pm, although I was tempted to continue following this rudd. One of the other anglers had given up a couple of hours before, while the two to my right had the same idea as me and began putting their rods away. Immediately to my right, fishing pellets and sweetcorn the tally was six fish, rudd and gudgeon, plus a 6 oz tench, while his friend gave up on the pellet and fished bread for a dozen rudd and gudgeon, plus a crucian carp

My three hours had produced over 90 rudd, none as big as I usually catch here, but enough to keep my hopes of better fish to come, alive.

A very busy three hours.



Roach and rudd wake up at Jeanes Pond

March 23, 2023 at 12:34 am

With an unexpected opportunity to fish this week, I set off in bright sunshine after lunch for a few hours at the Braybrook Fishing Club’s still water fishery, Jeanes Pond. After weeks of cold and wet weather, I was looking forward to getting some late March sun on my face, while watching a float go down.

In the time that it took for the short drive to the pond, the wind had got up, blowing dark clouds and a shower of rain in my direction. My intended swim was in the full force of the wind, so I set up in the least affected area, although the whipped up waves were causing a circular drift around the pond.

Not to worry, this was just a test to see what was biting, if at all; a fish or two would be a bonus. Too early for tench and crucians, I was hoping for some decent roach and rudd on the bread punch. I had intended to fish five to six metres out on the pole close to the bottom, but the swirling wind made it impossible to steady the pole and so reduced down to four metres in four feet of water. This was just over the shelf and I squeezed up a ball of plain white liquidised bread to feed into the deeper water. Fishing light with a fine antenna float and the shot bulked 15 inches from the size 18 hook, I punched a 5 mm pellet of bread, then cast the rig next to the sinking bait cloud.

The float settled, dipped and slowly sank with the line following it down. A sharp lift of the pole set the hook into a hard fighting roach that was soon in the landing net, where the hook dropped out.

This would do for a start. If they were all like this I would be happy. In again over the same area and the float slid sideways, definitely a rudd bite. The bait was taken on the drop and I struck on the first lift, just hooking the top lip.

These rudd were now in a solid layer of fish, intercepting every offering intended for the roach on the bottom. Most gorging the bread in seconds, as they lifted the float and skated away.

When the bait was able to avoid the rudd, a slow motion roach bite would follow, gradually submerging.

Little and often feed of nugget sized balls of bread kept the bites coming.

This roach had damage to both sides of it’s tail. Pike, or cormorant?

These roach were the best of a bunch, outnumbered by small rudd.

This was my last fish of the afternoon, a better sized rudd, but nowhere near my target size.

A month ago I had fifteen fish at Jeanes Pond, while this week put four times as many in the net over the same time period. All we need now is more quality fish.

Roach fishing on the last day of the season interrupted by Blackwater pike

March 15, 2023 at 8:22 pm

Traditionally for me, the last day of the river season in the UK has been blessed by warm weather and good fishing, which has left me wishing away the next three months, until June 16th, opening day. This time I awoke to rain lashing the windows and a forecast of rain all day, driven by a cold wind from the north west. By 11 am the rain had gone, replaced by sunshine and clouds, while the latest forecast was now for heavy rain by 3 pm. Enough time for a last bash at the big roach on the River Blackwater. The advantage of fishing the breadpunch, is that bait and feed is always ready in the freezer. I thawed a couple of small slices in the microwave, my wife made tea and sandwiches, while I changed into my warm fishing gear and then I was on my way to the river.

Due to recent heavy rain, the river was pushing hard, but running clear, meeting another member of Farnborough & District AS crossing the bridge to fish the club water. He turned left upstream, while I turned right, walking past the unoccupied swim that had provided a decent haul of chub and roach a few weeks ago, continuing down to a new swim to me, where a fallen tree was pushing the flow along my bank, while creating an eddy extending beyond the middle.

My 14 foot Browning float rod was set up with a 3 BB Ali stemmed stick float to a size 14 barbless hook. I fed a mixture of liquidised bread, crushed hemp, and ground carp pellets, with a dusting of annaseed mix, damped down enough water to form firm balls to sink quickly through the fast flowing river. Two balls of feed were put over to the head of the crease and I cast in with a 7 mm punch of bread on the hook. It looked very chubby over there and expected a chub first cast. I was not disappointed, the float travelled a yard and sailed away downstream. I struck and felt the force of a 4 oz chub as the hook set, watching it turn. This would do for a start. Too soon, a grey flash and a 5 lb pike had taken the chub, running downstream, before stopping to consume the chub. Keeping up the pressure, my rod was bent double as it swam back upstream and I got my landing net ready, the pike just under the surface, with the chub still fighting outside the jaws. The hook link cut through and the float flew back in a tangle.

My tackle seems to be a magnet to Blackwater pike and as I sorted the tangle, then tied on a new hook link, I contemplated moving back upstream, but decided to feed another ball. I missed the next bite, striking too fast, but the following bite dipped, then sank away and a decent roach was pounding away along the crease. Whoomf! The pike had grabbed the roach, ripping it from the hook. That was enough for me. Looking upstream, I could see that the other swim was still empty and decided to move, clipping up the float rod, grabbing my landing net and staking a claim on the new swim. Going back, I loaded the trolley, tipped the feed into a bag and retraced my steps. By the time that I was set up again, I’d wasted an hour and was keen to get going again.

The swim was different to the last time that I had fished it. The sunken tree that had diverted the flow along my bank, had now been swung round in the latest flooding, sending the flow along the opposite bank and creating mini whirlpools down the middle. The level was also up by six inches and I raised the float a foot and bulked the shot closer to the hook to allow the float to be slowed down, while keeping the bait on and off the bottom. Casting over close to the ivy, the flow was bouncing off the shuttering and bringing the float down the middle under the leaning tree, not where I wanted it, but it would have to do. At least the wind was upstream to my right, allowing easy mending of the line with the 14 foot rod.

On my last visit, I caught from the off without any feed, but now there were no bites, until a couple of balls had been put over close to the shuttering. Just past the tree, the float stabbed down and a small chub was on it’s way to the net. Easing the float down controlled by my finger on the ABU 501 spool, the float was carried further to the left in the variable current, before going under. A slightly better chub this time, then, you’ve guessed it, a pike took it. I had to keep the rod low, due to a plug with line attached hanging over the water, letting the pike do it’s thing, bucking and running upstream, while I retreived line when I could. It was only a small pike of  2 to 3 lb and got the landing net out ready, when it let go of the chub. I have had pike on so many times on this river and felt sure this one was mine.

With only scale damage, it would live to fight another day and popped it into my keep net. The air temperture was in single figures today, despite the sunshine and this chub was cold to the touch.

I began getting bites half way down the trot, quick knocks like dace, taking the bread, but not connecting. I tried shallowing up and running through at the speed of the current, more knocks but no fish. Trying the other way and I added even more depth, stopping and starting the float. Several times I felt a fish, or saw a flash of silver, but nothing. They were just hanging onto the bait. I went down to a 5 mm punch and fed a firm bullet of feed each time. I hooked one at last, a roach.

These were coming from the shallowest and swiftest part of the swim over a sand bar and I was becoming preoccupied trying to catch the small roach and chub. On my last visit I had caught good roach further down beyond the bar and now went back up to the 7 mm punch, drifting the bait over  the top, then letting it drop into the slower water. This worked when a quality roach buried the float. Taking my time, I reeled back steadily, the power of the flow bringing the roach to the surface on it’s side.

Winter river roach are the hardest fighters, swelled by spawn, they use their broad flanks to great effect in the strong flows. Now to try again. A small roach got in the way next trot, but I was soon into another clonker roach.

The regular feed had brought these better roach into a small area, however the varied flow rate made it difficult to get my float into the hot spot, or the smaller fish would rob the bait on the way down. A chilling wind had also got up, as the sun sank behind dark rain clouds. Excuses, excuses I know, but float control was difficult in these conditions. The float ran further than before and sank, a pause and a good fish was on, running back downstream at first, then it turned and gradually came back to the waiting landing net. Another beautiful winter roach.

Confident there were more there, I scraped up the last of my feed, this being my second trayful and fed a couple of balls over to the shuttering, watching them wash downstream. Following the feed, with the float held back hard, it was back in the hotspot, released then held. It sank and I was in again, not as big as before, but respectable.

With the hook rebaited with a 7 mm pellet of bread, I ran the float back down. It dipped and came back up, then dipped again. A very small fish? The float continued further than before, then lifted. I struck into another good roach and began bringing it back. It swam into a snag. I let line out in the hope of it swimming out again. The line moved off, it had swum out again. I struck again and the rod bent double. This was no snag, it was another pike! I backwound the reel, until it stopped then turned, running up the inside of the bend, where it snagged me. Letting the line go worked, but the pike ran back in. The line was stuck fast and I pulled for a break. It came free, less the 3 lb hook link and the float body.

The remains of my float can be seen at the bottom of my bait tray. At least another couple of hours of light was available to fish, but I’d had enough pike for one day, well not quite, as while putting my rod in the holdall, there was a splash at my keepnet, where a pike was busy trying to bite through to my fish. I pulled the net away, although a more switched on angler would have scooped it up with the landing net.

Oh well, at least I had managed to get out for the last day of the season and caught a few quality roach, although looming on the horizon was a black cloud that dumped freezing rain on me, before I had time to get back to the van.

River Whitewater work parties prepare for the 2023 trout season

March 4, 2023 at 3:07 pm

With less than a month to go before the start of the trout fishing season, Farnborough and District AS have been preparing the banks and clearing the River Whitewaterof fallen trees.

Severe flooding over the winter has changed the river flow in areas, a gravel run has shifted above this pool to scour out a deep hole, where there was once a muddy slack. The river looked in good condition, running crystal clear with good weed growth.

Since intensive crayfish trapping was undertaken by commercial trappers, the numbers of trapped has increased. This net containing at least two dozen adult crays. Averages of 50 kg a week removed, has been good for the processing plant, while the FADAS flyfishing members have seen an increased number of juvenile wild brown trout being caught and returned. This points to a higher survival rate for, spawn, fry and the invertabrates that they feed on.

A bonus for the working party this week, was to release a young wild brown trout from a crayfish net.

Riches to rags on a cold River Cut

March 3, 2023 at 4:42 pm

Following a fanastic session on the River Blackwater the week before, with over ten pounds of roach and chub on the bread punch, I was hoping for a repeat performance on my local River Cut. A friend had fished the bread punch last week on the Cut, catching a decent net of chub and roach and I was looking forward to the same this week. Although officialy Spring, temperatures had been in the mid single figures all week, but chub don’t mind the cold do they? After a frost, the sun was shining, warming the air and I went out for an afternoon of testing my new landing net.

At the top end of the stretch, the river was crystal clear, but the further down that I walked, the more murky it became, guessing that the daily pollution had come through and with little flow, I would be lucky to get a bite, let alone any fish.

With my 14 ft Browning rod still set up in my fishing ready rod holdall, I decided to save time by fishing with the 3BB stick float to a size 14 hook. This rig worked perfectly in the fast flowing Blackwater and would still be OK against the Cut chub, but after twenty minutes without a bite. I was ready for a change to a finer float rig. My friend had said that he would come to see me that afternoon, so decided to stick it out until then. I had been feeding small nuggets of compressed liquidised bread around the float each cast and was taken by surprise, when the float bobbed and went under. I missed it! Next cast I studied every tremble of the float, it held, then sank and a fish was on. A lowley gudgeon that felt like an ice lolley to the touch, even with already cold hands.

I missed another very fussy bite, then a rattling fight from a small roach raised my hopes.

My friend arrived in time for another gudgeon. At least I was getting bites regularly now.

We sat and chatted, interrupted by the occasional fish. They were not getting any bigger and I was still missing bites. A lost hook on a snag gave me the excuse to change the rig to a 5 No 4 stick with a size 18 hook, to fish with a smaller 4 mm punch. Regular nuggets of feed kept the bites coming, but my hoped for bonus fish were not appearing. The sun had gone behind the houses, that line the west side of the strip of green through which the Cut runs and the cold was returning, along with an increasing upstream wind. I considered that it might be worth hanging on for a bit longer, but after two hours of struggle, it was time to pack up.

At least the bread punch had got me bites on a near freezing afternoon.

The riches of the Blackwater the week before, unfortunately could not be repeated  a week later on the Cut. The cold water and pollution played their part, my keepnet stinking of oil, when I pulled it out.