Carp cause a stir on the River Cut

June 27, 2023 at 2:43 pm

I was back on my local River Cut again this week, finding a contrast to the previous flash flood, there being little flow. I walked downstream to where a fallen tree was creating a pinch point, that put extra pace into the stream, ideal for the stickfloat.

The image above illustrates how low the river was, with mud banks visible opposite, while the main channel was only two feet deep, when plumbed.  My aim today was to catch one of the increasing number of carp, that this narrow tributary of the Thames holds and fed a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of sweet spice flakes.  Having located a slightly deeper area with a plummet five yards downstream, I started off with four egg sized balls to coat the bottom and cast in with a 5 No 4 stick float bulkshotted over depth on 5 lb main line to a 3 lb hook link.

Holding the float back over the baited area, I didn’t have long to wait for signs of a bite, the float sliding under within a minute, when a gudgeon swam off with the 7 mm pellet of bread in the size 14 barbless hook.

A few more of these, then my first roach, at least the heavy ground bait was attracting a few fish in.

I put in a couple more balls, the float swung in and the rod rested, waiting for another bite. I prefer to trot the float through, but this laying on method was just as productive, bobs of the float leading to it pulling under, gudgeon and roach competing for the bread.

The roach were getting bigger.

A burst of bubbles over the feed alerted me to the shape of a large fish on the bottom close to my bait and I picked up the rod as the float bobbed, lifted flat, then moved upstream toward me. Reeling back the slack, I lifted into the fish, which continued upstream with a slow shake of the head, passing under my rod heading for sunken branches, before turning with my 14 foot Browning bent double. Oh dear, this was a very big carp, that was now cruising downstream, while I backwound keeping on the side strain. It turned, following the bend in the river, pushing out a bow-wave, giving me a clear view as it accelerated out of sight, the float pinging back to drop at my feet. I’ve hooked and lost some big carp in this little river before, this was the biggest yet. The 3 lb hook link was broken at the loop to the main line. I will have to tie up some 4 lb hook links, when I get home.

I had started fishing at around 2 pm, it was still only twenty past. I put in another couple of balls of the heavy feed, which I could see sank straight to the bottom. I tied on another 14 to 3 lb line, had a cup of tea and tried again. More bubbles, the float marched away; I struck. Another gudgeon. Quick, get another punch of bread on the hook! I dropped the float back in. It bobbed, dipped and submerged, moving beyond the middle. Whoa! Another carp heading off downstream, as I backwound giving line. It turned swimming back upstream, hugging the opposite bank. This was smaller, but still a handful, turning it before the upstream snags, letting the Browning take the strain, while keeping the thrashing carp mid water, waiting for a netting opportunity as it dived about.

In the net, a 3 lb common carp.

This time I was ready for a piece of fruit cake with my cup of tea. These river carp really go!

Another lift and run bite got my heart thumping with anticipation, but it was a false alarm from a rudd. Being so shallow, the 10 inch hook link allowed the bread to drift to the bottom, attracting both rudd and chub.

From now on the bites slowed down as the river sped up, the water turning a mucky brown, even my keep net vanished in the murk. This is sometimes a twice daily occurance, when bites stop. I have often thought about borrowing an oxygen meter from one of my fishing clubs, to see if there is a drop in oxygen levels. Maybe it is just the fine sand particals, that clog the gills of the fish and put them off. I do not remember this happening before the massive increase in housing along the banks of the Cut in recent years. Whatever it is, reports to the Environment Agency fall on deaf ears. Dead fish get results.

Having tried various shotting combinations with no reward, I was ready to pack up after 45 minutes, when the float bobbed with a half interested bite. A few more trots and the float dived with a hooked rudd.

I fed plain white liquidised bread and began catching again, this rudd missing part of it’s tail, as did another. Mink, perch, or cormorant?

The roach and gudgeon had gone missing, but surface feeders like rudd and small chub had taken their

place. It seemed that the bottom feeders, including carp were still off the feed. I couldn’t wait for that to happen and packed up.

I will tie up some heavier hook links, a friend uses 6 lb straight through, but that would probably mean carp, or nothing. I still prefer the chance of a mixed bag.

Chub and roach reward the bread punch on a flooded River Cut

June 21, 2023 at 10:06 am

With no rain for weeks, my local River Cut was almost static for the first day of the river season on the 16th June and I decided to give it a miss, until we had some decent rain. That rain came this morning, waking me at 6 am, when a shower developed into a deluge. The forecast for the day however, was of more showers until noon, then heavy rain again at 5 pm. A dry window worth exploiting.

My two float rods were already made up with stick floats and new hook links attached in my ready to fish holdall, all I needed was to prepare some slices of punch bread for the hook and take some preground liquidised bread from the freezer. As my target fish were going to be roach and hopefully a few chub, I ground up some dry hempseed to mix with the liquidised bread. At this stage I had no idea what state the river would be in, but with the amount of rain in the past few hours, at least it would have a bit of pace.

Pace it did have, rushing along the overgrown opposite bank, while a fine layer of wet silt on top of the fishing platform, was evidence that the river had been much higher earlier on. This flash flood was just what the little river needed to freshen it up and revitalise the fish. Intending to fish the fast water opposite, I plumbed up, finding over three feet of water, setting the 5 No 4 ali stemmed stick float a further ten inches deeper to fish the bottom, when held back. My feed was a stiff mix of liquidised bread, spicy seed flakes and a good portion of the ground hemp, my aim being to create a bed of feed along the bottom to bounce a 6 mm pellet of punch along. Well that was the theory anyway.

Putting in a couple of medium balls upstream along the opposite bank, I inched the float downstream at half speed, the yellow tip holding, then disappearing first trot. A lift of my 14 ft Browning rod produced a gudgeon, not ideal, as this river can sometimes resemble gudgeon alley. Next trot, a small roach became airborne on the strike. Swung to hand, the hook was rebaited and back fishing.

That’s better, a bit more resistance this time and a better roach was netted for good measure.

These roach were coming at the end of the trot, ahead of trailing branches and decided to put in a couple more balls further upstream to draw the fish up.

The roach were following the trail of feed and getting bigger. I hit a snag that moved. Slowly at first, then it ran in a straight line toward me and upstream into shallower water. I had the net ready, but the unseen fish had other ideas and turned with the current towards the trailing branches. Putting on pressure, the hook came free; the finewire had opened out. There are a lot of carp in the Cut these days, roach gear is not up to them.

I got snagged on the bottom, losing a hook and realised that the river had gone down in the last hour, no longer being level with the bank. I tied on a new hook link, moved my string of No 8 shot further from the hook and reduced the depth. I now cast upstream and across to the opposite bank. The float buried and I hooked a roach. The extra feed had brought the fish upstream. I bumped the next few fish and went down to a 5 mm punch. Contact. They wanted a smaller bait. The float was going under opposite me, almost beneath my rod top. I struck into a decent chub, which went berserk, but stayed on.

I began putting in a pigeon egg sized ball of feed every other cast and the chub were lining up, the ground hemp spewing from their mouths.

Roach were still getting in on the act, including this quality fish, the 5 mm punch making a difference.

I was running out of bait again and mixed up some more, taking time for a sandwich and a cup of tea.

Back in again, the float travelled a yard, then sank with another chub charging off. Lightly hooked too.

The roach stood their ground, thumping away. They weren’t shy biters today and the landing net was busy. The river had continued to drop, indicated by the same snag along the trotting line and another lost hook. I shallowed up again, the whole rig from float tip to hook was now less than two feet. I threw over a decent size feed ball, upstream and a foot from the opposite bank. As the float rig hit the water, it dived away.

This was a much better chub, that stormed off downstream heading for the roots, but was brought under control by backwinding my ABU501. A few more charges and it’s head was out of the water, the size 16 hook just hanging onto the tip of the lip. A few more like this one would have been welcome.

I was still catching, but it was fast approaching my packing up time of 4 pm and scraping up the last of my feed, I had one last cast, netting another nice roach.

A minute to 4 pm, there was time for one more cast and the rod bent into another chub, to end the session.

I could have continued catching, but my wife was preparing one of my favourite meals tonight and I didn’t want to be late, also that heavy rain was due at 5. (It never arrived)

Once again the bread punch had proved it’s worth, my total outlay being under 50 pence in these difficult financial times.

Over 5 lb of chub, roach, rudd and gudgeon in under four hours.




Heatwave Tench a bonus among bread punch silvers at Braybrooke.

June 14, 2023 at 12:36 pm

While the rest of the UK benefitted from cooling rainstorms, my part of the country had to sit and watch the clouds pass us by. The first evening of forecast storms had my wife and I rushing around the garden securing plants, as a mini whirlwind drove large droplets 0f rain in our direction. Then it stopped, the black clouds depositting their loads to west of us, causing flash flooding.

I had intended fishing the next day, but once again the forecast was for an Amber Alert of heavy rain and a possible month’s rain in one day. Good news, our water butts were nearly empty. We kept our eyes on the sky, where were the clouds? They passed to the east of us this time

So, today we checked the forecast. Nothing. Blue skies and daylong sunshine. The plants will have to wait, I’m going fishing. The local pond at Braybrooke recreation ground is well shaded, with tall trees lining the hollow formed by brickmakers scavenging for the rich red clay, to produce bricks, for use in such iconic buildings as The Royal Albert Hall.

There was only one other angler fishing, when I arrived at 10 am and I settled down on the Point, which juts out into five feet of water. The shade extended half way across, with a cool breeze blowing from the east to my left and I set up the pole to 4 metres, with a heavy 2 gram antenna rig, bulked a foot from the size 14 hook, set just off bottom. Having had a successful session the week before, with a couple of tench in the lily fringed swim opposite, I made up the same groundbait mix of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets, with a sprinkling of strawberry powder. There is a defined drop off here and I put two decent firm balls into the five foot deep swim.

First cast the float dipped a couple of  times, then slowly sank, the juddering fight indicating a nettable roach, that had taken the 7 mm pellet of punched bread.

The surface was covered by fry and small rudd and the bulked shot had done its job of punching through to the bottom. The bites took their time to develope, but waiting for that slow sink of the antenna was the gaurantee of another roach.

Fifteen minutes into the session, another roach bite met with a solid resistance, which was definitely a tench, a short run was replaced by a tumbling fight, stretching the pole elastic as it plunged deep toward the middle. It turned and ran toward the bush on my left and the line went solid. It had found the roots. I let the line go slack, keeping an eye on the float. The float moved off, heading round the corner of the Point and I put on tension again, drawing the pole back round. The fight was on again, the elastic stretching out toward the middle. I slipped on another length of pole, which gave more control, when the unseen fish came close to my bank. It rolled, a good sized tench was ready for the landing net.

A chunky 3 lb 6 oz male tench hooked firmley in the lip.

“I’ve got my beady red eye on you!

The downside of catching  tench is the slime. My line was now coated in this thick jelly-like substance and I spent the next ten minutes unpicking a tangle.  Success. A cup of tea and a sandwich and I was ready to fish again, following another ball of feed with the float. The wind had picked up and the antenna dragged under in the drift. Another tench? The elastic came out of the pole as I lifted, but it was solid. The hook was snagged. Bringing the pole in, I pulled hard on the elastic. The 3 lb hook link broke. Having survived the tangle, I felt that I had got off lightly. A new link was looped on.

Casting out to my left to avoid the snag, the antenna popped up immediately, and I was playing a decent rudd to the net.

I decided to replumb the depth out at five metres, setting the bait to fish on the bottom, then putting into the area my last couple of balls of feed. Small rudd and roach were now being swung in and I decided to mix up another stiff mix to draw in some better fish. It seemed to work.

As the sun rose higher, so the shadow reduced, finally reaching my fishing line and I began to catch more rudd, intercepting the bait midwater.

My hopes of another tench had gone. Even in my protected area, the heat was getting through and at 1:30 I called it a day, despite still catching one a chuck to hand. This roach being my last.

Not a pretty rig, but it works on this pond, where there are shoals of very small rudd ready to grab an angler’s bait; also I think that the punch scores over the maggot, as it is a bigger bait attracting better fish.

Proof of the pudding, a decent tench amoung a net of roach and rudd, all in three hours fishing.





Strawberry loving tench and roach on a bread punch season opener.

June 2, 2023 at 1:32 pm

The month long close season during May at my local still water, Jeanes Pond, experienced a clear transition from winter to summer this year, heavy frosts at the end of April a distant memory, when the sun shone through morning clouds to reveal blue skies at lunchtime. The rapidly rising temperature gave me the green light to set off for a few hours fishing in search of tench today. Due to a recent self-inflicted injury, my mobility was severly restricted for a few weeks and I had to pressgang my wife into trolley towing duty, with the promise of sunshine.

The local council had recently installed an electric aeration pump, which has been running for the last three days to protect fish stocks during the prolonged dry spell, following the deaths of some of the larger carp.

I started off the session by mixing up half a dozen balls of groundbait, 50% liquidised bread, 20% ground hemp, 20% ground carp pellets and 10% of powdered strawberry flavouring, all damped down, then left to absorb the water. Having plumbed the depth, I put four tight balls along the edge of the lily bed, where there was four feet of water, followed by a 4 x 16 float rig, bulk shotted antenna float, with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 16 barbless hook. I dropped the float straight down into the baited area and watched it cock, lift, then sink as a decent rudd took the bread.

In again and this time the bait got through the rudd, the float settled, then slowly sank, with line following. A better fish, this time a roach.

This was a very slimy individual, a hard fighting summer fish. It made a change for the roach to be warm to the touch, unlike the ice lollies of a month before.

A couple more free biting roach made their way into my net, then a characteristic lift and bob, saw the float dive. Before I could say “tench”, I was playing one. It’s pounding fight pulled out the elastic, heading straight for the lilies. Putting the pole over to the left, I kept the pressure on and it turned and headed out toward the middle, raising the pole to slow the progress. My wife looked up from her book, while I let the tench tire itself against the 6 metres of pole. It was now rolling close to my bank and I had removed 2 meters preparing for netting, when the tench appeared on the surface and it was swept into the waiting landing net.

A deep barrel shaped tench, about 2 lb, with massive tail was looking up at me, the size 16 hook, just inside the upper lip. My first attempt to unhook the fish produced a strong head shake and a hook transfered to the landing net. Phew! I had landed this tench just in time for the bailiff to witness it.

Inpecting the hook, the gape had been opened out. I had been lucky to land this fish. I decided to put on a much heavier rig. My choice was a 2g antenna float, again with the weight bulked close to the size 14 hook. A single No 4 shot was 100mm from the hook as a tell tale and the whole rig was set 150mm over depth. This rig is supposed to be rudd proof, going straight down to the bottom, avoiding the swarms of small fish, the 7 mm punch  attracting  better quality roach.

The earlier clouds had now been burned off and I had to strip off my hoodie, while my wife searched out the shade.

Fishing is sooo exciting!

The bites from the roach took time to develope, slight bobs and lifts, followed by a slow sink.

Feeding roach were throwing up fine bubbles as they rooted among the groundbait, but another couple of balls brought more interest. Bursts of larger bubbles appeared around my float, the antenna lifted right out, then slowly sank. A positive lift of the pole, saw the tip bend over as the elastic came out, slowly at first, then faster as the fish woke up and headed for the safety of the lilies. This fish was much bigger than the first and full pressure, was bending the six metres of pole over its length. A boil at the edge of the lily bed indicated a turn of the unseen fish, as it headed towards open water at speed. My wife was back out of her chair, as I followed the fish, keeping up the presure. “What is it?” she asked. “I think its a carp, judging by this run!” I replied, hanging on. I had not seen the stonfo line connector yet and the float was another six feet beyond that. Hang on and follow the fish was all I could do, reducing each run with pressure from the elastic. At last the float appeared and I made a rapid removal of the lower two sections, before the unkown fish revealed itself to be a large tench, which was quickly netted.

Look at that tail!

The hook was soon out and a quick weigh-in took the scales just past 4lb, my biggest yet from Jeanes Pond.

I scraped up the last of my feed and put it in, hoping for more  tench. The sun was still beating down, not ideal, but this one had decided to sniff out the strawberry flavour, so why not others?

The roach were keeping me busy and were all goers, but the sun soon moved behind the trees, leaving my wife in the shade, who was now complaining of feeling the cooling breeze. She reminded me that we had agreed to go home at 5 pm. We were now into that just one more fish zone!

At 5 pm, this was the last roach, another clonker. It was time to go. It had been a busy three hours.

The bright sunshine had rapidly dried out my bread, requiring regular replacements from the bread wallet in my bait apron. The moorhens were very happy to receive my cast offs, as were the small rudd.

A busy three hours fishing.