Carp in the River Cut, good, or bad news?

July 20, 2023 at 2:09 pm

My local river Cut is being taken over by small carp, which were a bonus to the chub and roach catches from this tiny river, but anglers are now reporting that the number of tackle busting encounters from big carp are on the increase. Having experienced this myself on several occasions, when fishing for roach on the stickfloat, I tried something different this week. Arriving after 1 pm, I took my heavy duty pole, fitted with 14-18 lb elastic in an attempt to counter the power of Cyprinus Carpio, or the common carp to you and me.

Walking downstream to my chosen swim, there was little flow, despite overnight rain, and the river was running clear over the shallows. My optimism evaporated the further that I walked, as the river grew murkier with a brown stain that blocked out the view of the bottom. I knew that this would mean very few bites and took my time mixing up some sloppy groundbait of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets, laced with a sweet spice mix. With very little flow, I chose a 3 No 4 float rig on a long line to fish four metres to hand. This swim has many sunken snags, including just downstream and a shopping trolley five yards upstream, so I tightened up the elastic by a couple of turns to be able to persuade any carp away from them.

The river was beginning to clear and I fed an area just past the middle. After a few very fiddly bites, the float held down long enough to strike and a tiny gudgeon swung to hand. The gudgeon got bigger.

It had taken a 7 mm punched bread pellet on a size 14 barbless hook. At least there were bites and after missing a few more nibbles, a small roach was hooked from a pull down bite. Things were looking up.

Roach had found the groundbait and the bites were becoming bolder, with the landing net out for the first time.

I put a couple more balls of feed in and saw a decent carp swim through the cloud. I went up to an 8 mm punch and cast in. As the bait sank, the float lifted, then dived away, pulling out the elastic from the pole tip. There was a brief lull before the fish realised that it was hooked, then it was off back to the downstream snags, pulling for all it was worth. I pulled back. With twenty feet of elastic out, it surfaced and turned toward the opposite bank, as I fitted another metre of pole to gain control. Each time it ran, I pulled back in the opposite direction, until it rolled onto it’s side. Now my pole was too long, as I couldn’t reach the 3 lb carp with the landing net and unshipped the lower length. The momentary slack let the carp have it’s head and it rolled off the hook. Curses!

I put in another ball and cast over it. The float slid sideways. I was in again, a small carp this time fighting toward the snags. The elastic was not out far and the golden carp was soon in the net. It was a nice rudd!

Another slideaway bite had me ready for another carp, lifting a roach clear of the water on the strike. It was not a small fish, but I broke the pole down and swung it in.

The hook was barely in the top lip and I was lucky that the hook held. I was now hungry for another carp and considered this a nuisance fish.

I cast through another ball of feed and the float went again. Yes! A carp! I drew it clear of the snags and it followed the line of least resistance toward my bank. About a pound, the carp was turbo charged, when it ran into my keepnet, dragging it upstream before coming off. The hook was in the bottom end of the net. More curses!

Pulling in the net, the barbless hook came free with ease. Rebaiting with an 8mm punch, the rig was cast into the baited area. A few dips and the float sank away. The elastic was out, the fish fighting furiously. Was it a chub? No a decent roach, that was soon in the net. This heavy pole tackle stopped better silver fish in their tracks.

The bites were getting fussy again and gudgeon were taking over. The flow had picked up and the water had taken on the brown tint again, while a slightly sickly aroma filled the air. More pollution was on the way. The bites stopped completely at 3:15 and started as nibbles by 4 pm.

I spent the time drinking tea, eating a Wagon Wheel for nourishment and mixing up another tray of sloppy ground bait. I had put a couple of balls in close and layed on. The river was like thick soup and it was impossible to see the bottom. My keepnet had become coated in brown sediment. At least I hope it was sediment.

Staring at my static float, it sank away downstream, pulling out the elastic. Grabbing the pole, solid movement indicated a carp, but the hook lost hold. Treble curses! That was number three lost.

I piled in half my tray of feed, clouding the water even more. The float lifted with a few rapid stabs, then glided off with another pound plus carp making for the snags. Mustn’t lose this one. Brute force was needed to guide it to safety around the obstacles, especially the shopping trolley, which sat waiting to snag me. Keeping the carp in the middle, was an effort, countering each move, until it was in the landing net.

This fish has been through the wars, with abrasions on both flanks, but it fought like a demon and at least saved my pride. The hook had come out in the net, again lucky to land one at last.

The bites continued to be very fussy and I went down to a 6 mm punch, small roach, gudgeon, chublets and dace attacking the bait, throwing most of them back, while many bounced off against the stiff pole. At this stage I considered slackening off the elastic, as I lost more roach of the calibre below, than I landed.

Throwing a small ball a cast was working and soon another 3 lb carp was rampaging round the swim. This could have been the decent carp that I lost earlier, a deep bronze fish, who knows? What I do know is, that it did a death roll and came off! Four out of five carp lost did not prove that my heavy pole idea was a success. I think that I had the elastic too tight and pulled the hooks out, while bouncing off many roach. I’ll return with 6 lb line to a 4 lb hook link on my Normark rod next time.

The bread punch had prooved the only bait needed again, although in the sunshine the bread slices were hardening off quickly, fresh soft replacements needed regularly.

It had been a frustrating afternoon, with lost carp and blank spells due to the pollution coming through, but was it worth the effort? Of course it was!




Clonker roach and a bonus tench reward the bread punch at Jeanes Pond

July 11, 2023 at 2:10 pm

With thundery showers forecast for the rest of the week, I got the mower out and gave my lawns, front and back, a much needed haircut today, as they resembled a meadow of wild flowers, rather than a suburban garden. After emptying the grass cuttings onto the compost heap, the garden shed became the focus of my attention. The mower had been buried under boxes of logs and I could easily have wedged it back in, but my new found enthusiasm saw me in rearrangement mode, which actually ended up with me sweeping the floor. That was a first!

My wife was busy pruning roses in the front garden, when I asked her if there was anything else that I could do to help. She looked around; she had it all under control. Why don’t you go fishing? The thought of another big tench from my local Jeanes Pond did appeal. Time to channel that enthusiastic energy. In twenty minutes, a flask of tea had been made, punch bread prepared and I was queuing at the first set of roadworks.

Arriving at the pond, I had a choice of swims, although strong winds sweeping in from the west ruled out half of them, but peg 16 is protected by a high fence and trees. Ideal. The tench and carp tend to browse the margins here and I fed a few firm balls of ground bait close in along the shelf, only two to three metres out.

Getting a bait through the rafts of small rudd is a problem here and my 2 gram antenna pole rig was clipped on, with the shot bulked to within eight inches of the size 14 hook. Crude I know, but it works, keeping most of the kamikazi rudd at bay. I plumbed the depth and set the float overdepth, with the bulk shot just off bottom. By the time that I was ready to fish, the strawberry flavoured ground bait was already working, with the surface fizzing with tiny bubbles. The 7 mm pellet of punched bread was instantly attacked by fry, when I dropped the float straight down from the three metres of pole, but once down among the bubbles, the float lifted and I swung in a roach.

This fish showed signs of a predator attack, with half it’s tail missing, probably from one of the visiting cormorants, another reason why the fish stay close to the margins.

Some of the tiny rudd were still getting through, hanging onto the bread, but a lift of the float as I cast in, brought some bigger brothers, which fought well.

Roach, or rudd? I think there are plenty of hybrids in this pond, the one below was a definite rudd.

I kept a steady supply of ground bait balls going in and the bubbles continued rising, I’m convinced that this one was a true roach. Once the bigger fish move in the over the feed, the small stuff make for the exit.

The bites were now unmissable and the fish definite roach, the landing net in regular use.

It was creeping towards my cut off time, but it is difficult to call a halt, when the fish are so willing.

Not arguments about this rudd, although the bite came from the bottom along with the roach.

A bob and a lift said another rudd, but the bend in the pole and a straight line run back to the lily bed said carp. I put on another length of pole as the fish turned back to my bank, heading into the roots of the trees, pushing the pole out, steered the still unseen fish back out into the pond, where it broached. A dark green tench. I let the elastic do all the work, the hook held and the tench slid into the landing net.

The hook came out in the net and in this light, the tench was now golden. It looked heavier than it was, but just scraped 3lb 12oz. I returned it straight away and decided to pack up.

Many anglers think that the bread punch requires fine lines and tiny hooks, this brutal rig proves them wrong. Two and a half hours of constant feeding and catching had found a net of clonkers,

Lift bites among the waves provide a mixed bag at Kings Pond

July 7, 2023 at 5:57 pm

With my first choice of venue blocked by a string of traffic light controlled road works, I decided to head south to Farnham and Kings Pond in the hope of a decent afternoon’s fishing. My last visit to the venue in October had been a great success, with mirror carp, F1 hybrids and skimmer bream filling my net and looked forward to a repeat performance.

As with my last visit, I enquired “How’s it fishing?” to the first anglers along the bank. Same answer “Rubbish!” Well, that rubbish day produced the net above for me, so I was not put off by their reply. Their bites had dried up and would soon pack up.

There was a steady breeze running right to left and a I set up a heavy two gram pole rig to cope with the drift, attached to a 3 lb hooklink and a size 14 barbless hook, as some of the tench and carp present here are in excess of 6 lb.

I mixed up a tray of my usual pond ground bait, 50% liquidised bread, 20% ground carp pellets and 20% ground hempseed, with a 10% sprinkling of strawberry powder, which I damped down to form stiff balls. Having plumbed the depth, I found a shelf four metres out, dropping from 3 feet to 4 feet at six metres and put in a line of feed, two balls on the shelf and another four out to six metres. My bait was a 7 mm pellet of punched bread.

With the shot bulked a foot from the hook, I hoped to punch through the layer of small roach near the surface, dropping the rig over the drop off. The surface drift was strong along the narrow pond, pulling the antenna beneath the surface, the tip winking off and on in the waves, but a half lift, then a dip was followed by a full lift, which I struck, feeling the resistance of a roach.

On the next peg, the angler called down to his mate “He’s got one already!” This was just the start, more small roach followed. “He’s in again!” he relayed down, as I netted a small mirror carp.

This mirror had a badly damaged mouth. So much for the barbless only rule. Matches take place on this pond and handling care is not a priority to many.

A few more roach and another couple of small mirrors followed from along the drop off. I was on a roll. Then….”Any of you lads got a campervan in the car park?” I looked up “What’s up mate?” It was a contractor, who was replacing a fence next to my van. There were no warning signs that the work was going to be carried out, but I now had to follow him back, find another parking place and walk back to my peg again. At least 30 minutes wasted. I seemed to have lost the mirrors, although small roach and rudd were running away with the float.

I mixed up more ground bait and laid down a bed of feed. Bubbles were now bursting on the surface and I dropped the float over the top and watched it settle. It dithered, then the antenna lifted, bobbing the float and I lifted into a hard running fish, that was taking elastic from the pole tip. The landing net was out again and a deep bodied hybrid was soon in the net.

The wind was increasing and my neighbours decided to pack up, gathering round to watch me to catch a couple more small mirrors on the trot from the 6 metre line. Tiny roach had also swept in over the feed, several being blown off the hook, before I could grab them.

I was having trouble holding the pole against the gusts, the antenna pulling under in the drift, resorting to sighting along the pole to see which way it was moving. Lift bites were barely visible, a jerk to the left being the only indication, which usually resulted in a fish, while sailaways were usually missed.

I had shallowed up by a foot as the bites were coming on the drop, some better roach being hooked the instant the float lifted, while I bumped a couple of mirrors as a consequence of their slower bite.

The wind chilled, increasing to a near gale and I knew what was coming next, a brief heavy shower hissed down the pond. Hanging onto the pole, the float was nowhere to be seen and I lifted into a bouncing roach.

I’d had enough of battling the elements and decided to pack up, feeding the remainder of my groundbait to a hen mallard and her two adolescent ducklings, which was greatly appreciated.

The bread punch had kept the bites coming, although small roach were a nuisance, while rough conditions did not help float control. Excuses, excuses. Better luck next time.