Big Roach, rudd and crucian carp bonus on the bread punch at Allsmoor

January 30, 2024 at 3:03 pm

A sudden change plan left me with a few hours spare for an afternoon fishing on my doorstep at Allsmoor Pond this week, but unlike most days this year so far, the sky remained blue after a frosty start, although a strong icy wind from the north west would mean that only a couple of swims would be fishable. Walking to Allsmoor from home was a head down affair against the gusting blast and I hoped that no-one else would be crazy enough to fish today, six degrees Centigrade had been forecast, but so had a minus two wind chill!

It was obvious from the state of the paths, that the pond had been over the banks in recent days, but it was free of ice, while more importantly the high bank behind me, and the wood to my left was was giving me cover from the wind, although twigs continued to rain down on me all afternoon. As I had guessed, there were no other anglers prepared to take a chance today, even dog walkers were few and far between.

In my corner at 1 pm, it was quite cosy as I mxed up half a tray of  groundbait, putting three balls in a line 8 metres out, a metre apart. In summer a lily bed takes up half this swim and my aim was to fish along the edge of the died back bed and out into the open water. Fifteen years ago, there had been a small weir under my feet, where the water from the brook fed out into a culvert, but now this end was silted up, while at the far end, silt had encouraged the growth of bull rushes, that were slowly creating two ponds. Unfortunately, the maintenance of this pond was handed over to the local council by the EA, and like many UK councils, there is no money in the kitty for such projects.

The official purpose of this session was to test the setup of my new 16 – 20 pole elastic, but first I needed bites and I was beginning to think that size 16 barbless hook to 3 lb line under a 4 x 16 antenna  float was too heavy. After several minutes a bite developed, then stopped. Induce a bite? The float was moved slightly to the left against the drift. It dived and the first of several three ounce rudd was tumbling across the surface.

The hook was just in the top of the lip, a sign that the rudd was just pushing the 6 mm punch pellet around, moving the bait had forced a snatch and grab. The rudd and water were ice cold, but at least they were showing interest. I put in another small ball and cast over it, the float vanishing immediately and the elastic stretching out as a better fish erupted onto the surface. The pond is only 30 inches deep and the only instict for the fish is to run. The elastic was working well and a quality roach was soon on its side sliding into the landing net.

What a beaut.

This roach had obviously been awoken by the strawberry flavoured liquidised bread and ground hemp balls of feed, inducing the bites not necessary now, as all the bites were unmissable slide-aways.

Rudd were now taking freely, pristine quality fish taking the 7 mm punched bread. The elastic had been pulled down inside the pole and I tightened it up by one turn on the winder. A larger rudd was soon testing the new elastic setting, absorbing the shock of another snatch and grab take.

I continued to feed small balls of feed into the area and my keepnet was steadily filling.

Pinprick bubbles were appearing on the surface, a sure sign that crucian carp were now feeding on the groundbait. I added another three inches to the depth, but began dredging up small twigs and branches, although one snag made off across the pond. A hard fighting crucian!

The sun had gone below the trees and I have found that these crucians tend to avoid bright sunshine and so it was this afternoon, with only a few rudd now being taken, as the crucians took over.

This pale crucian buried itself in the old lily bed to my left and would not move, so I eased off the pressure and waited several minutes, until the line began to move off. After a firm pull, the crucian was off running again, dragging a branch behind it, that had tangled in the hook link. The size 16 barbless hook held on long enough for the landing net to do its job, before coming free.

These crucians give a very delicate bite, but go off like a train when hooked, then tumble and dive to the net. The light was now going and the cold creeping in and I was in the “just one more” mode.

That’ll do. I packed up.

Over 6 lb in under two hours.





Reluctant roach oblige on the bread punch at Jeanes Pond.

January 25, 2024 at 10:40 pm

My local Jeanes Pond was finally free of ice this week and the last named storm Jocelyn, had blown itself out over Scotland, leaving Southern England with a relatively peaceful day with a strong breeze and threatening grey skies, but well worth a visit in one of the sheltered swims.

Unable to fish for weeks due to the storms, I had been reviewing my fishing tackle and a check of the 10 to 14 grey elastic on my 11 metre medium weight pole, had highlighted chafing from the PTFE bush. It has been a case of “out of sight, out of mind” the pole being put away with an external clean after each use, but I had rarely examined the condition of the all important elastic, which is located in the top two sections. Being “Old Skool”, I do not own multiple top sections for my poles and certainly don’t have a puller section, which allows the tension on the elastic to be varied, when playing a fish. My method is to preset the tension on the bung winder, putting on, or off coils of the elastic before I fish. This allows the pole to be used for small roach, or medium sized tench and carp, depending on the number of turns of elastic on the wider. Being a new elastic, I needed to set up for the minimum pull and the small roach at Jeanes would be ideal.

This was going to be a flying visit, not arriving until after 1:00pm. By the time that I had mixed up about a cup of liquidised bread and added a few ingredients, such as gound hemp, then set out my stall, it was 1:45, not a lot of time before the light goes. Having plumbed the depth at five feet over the shelf at six metres, I put in a couple of small balls of feed a metre apart out in front, swinging the antenna float out to fall through the feed. For ten, or more minutes, there was no movement of the float and I lifted it out a couple of times to check that the 4 mm pellet of punch was still on the size 18 barbless hook. It was each time. I put in another small ball and cast over it. The antenna dipped under, then came up, before slowly sinking from view. Missed it. Each time it sank, I counted down. Five seconds. Missed. Ten seconds. Missed. At twenty seconds the line was moving down. I lifted and felt a fish. It was only a small roach, but the elastic was working, absorbing the bouncing fight. The hook fell out in the net.

The bites were mere dots and dips, until the roach slowly made off with the bread. Each bite took minutes to develope. Sometimes an induced take, a steady draw of the float speeded up the bite.

I was still missing bites, the bread usually intact and a recast over the spot brought an instant response.

These were reasonable winter punch roach, that were working the new elastic and no adjustments were needed.

I had dispensed with the landing net, swinging them in, but the roach before this one caught me out, staying deep it was about four ounces and a last minute flick released the hook, before I could get my hand to it. I have caught many thousands of fish in my time, but I still hate to lose one, even a small roach.

This roach showed signs of a cormorant attack, but it also fought well, testing the elastic.

The wind was now howling through the trees behind me and the drift was increasing, dragging the float to the right, so with a dozen roach in the net I called it a day at 3:00pm.

Despite thermals, I was still cold, although it had been good to get out of the house away from Netflix.






Water, water everywhere, but nowhere to fish.

January 10, 2024 at 8:47 pm

December in the UK was the wettest for years, with flooded rivers, topped off by storm Gerrit after the Christmas period, but the brand new 2024 started off with storm Henk, which piled on the agony for anyone travelling from A to B, going to work, shopping, or for anglers, fishing.

Heading for a small pond, where there was a good chance of roach and skimmer bream on the bread punch, I encountered a closed road and turned around following a detour of a few miles, only to be met by another flooded road.

There was no way that I was going to attempt this and made for higher ground toward home. The bread could go back in the freezer for another day. Curiosity got the better of me and I drove over the Thames near Windsor, being unable to see where the river started and the sports field ended.

Taking the long way home, I stopped at the Jubilee River Relief Channel, which was dug to protect Maidenhead and Windsor from flooding, but the confluence joins the Thames half way along the image above and that is flooded! It had been intended to continue the flood relief all the way to the Tidal Thames twenty miles away, but it never materialised due to planning issues and of course money! The consequences of this are that towns and villages downstream now have regular flooding.

The usually placid waters of the Jubilee River below Maidenhead were turbulant when I arrived. Walking down to the swim that I fished a few weeks ago, there had been a gentle gravel slope to the river’s edge, where there is a line of small trees and bushes. Today I would have need chest waders to fish in the same spot. In front of me was a swirling eddy, there may have been fish sheltering there, but I did not hang around to find out.

Arriving home, there was a Facebook post from one of my other clubs, Twyford. This was an aerial image taken from a drone, which shows the Thames over the banks, engulfing a prolific Thames backwater, invisible in this image, that was restocked with barbel, chub and roach in December. One comment wondered where those fish are now. Tilbury? was the answer from one of the other members.

The floods are now subsiding. but now we have had snow and heavy frosts. I think that I will be sitting by the fire for a few days yet.