Allsmoor a dog day, too hot for comfort.

May 20, 2024 at 10:19 pm

This week an afternoon visit to my local pond, hoping to catch a few crucians, was a non starter, arriving to find, that a bright blue sky and unrelenting sunshine had caused algae coating the bottom to become full of bubbles and to float to the surface.

The light breeze was pushing all the algae over to my side of the pond and making casting a hit, or  miss affair, it being a 70/30 chance of the breadpunch bait being coated with the slimy green fronds. Further out toward the middle it was clearer and with the pole at 9 metres, was able to lower the bait into the gaps. Groundbait was balled into the area and the float began to skate across the surface, as small rudd were attracted in, most dropping off the size 14 hook in the 7 mm punch of bread.

This was definitely a dog day, too hot for even dogs to bother to run around. Catching tiny rudd after rudd was beginning to challenge even my optimism and it was only the thought of having to tackle the uphill walk home in this heat, that kept me seated on my tacklebox.

A slideaway bite on the fine antenna float, resulting in the elastic of my pole slowly stretching out, woke me from my hazy dream state. At last a better fish, but even this small carp seemed reluctant to fight and after following it around, as it collected a washing line of algae over the float and line, I drew it into the landing net.

Back into the same area, I waited for another bite. A dither, a dip and a slow sinkaway had me poised for more action, but the gudgeon hooked was no compensation. More small rudd followed, then I lifted the float to check that the motionless antenna was not due to the bait being coated with algae, when the suface erupted,  a crucian carp leaping clear of the surface. Crucians will often just sit with the bread held between their lips. A short hectic battle ensued, before the elastic went clack and returned to the pole. The precious crucian was gone, along with my enthusiasm. Maybe the crucians were coming on the feed, but I was not prepared to wait. I packed up, loaded the trolley and began the walk home.

 

River Whitewater comes to life after months of floods.

May 11, 2024 at 12:00 am

The Hampshire chalkstream, the River Whitewater has been in flood since March and I had to wait until the middle of May this week to pay my first visit of the season. A week of sunshine encouraged me pay an evening visit to the river, which is controlled by Farnborough and District AS, but the river was still carrying too much water and colour for traditional dry fly tactics, so I opted for a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, a good early season starter on the Whitewater.

As I walked upstream from the road, there was plenty of fly life, even a few Mayfly lifting off, while large Daddy Long Legs Crane Flies were scudding about from the bankside grass, but no sign of rises, even from the deep slower sections. This was only a scouting exercise anyway and I made my way towards the weir, casting the GRHE nymph to likely looking runs. It was also a pleasure casting a fly again, satisfied that my accuracy had not suffered due to lack of practice, a classic case of Just Like Riding a Bike, you never forget.

As I reached this section there was a rise ahead of me and I planned my approach to avoid the trees and bankside vegitation and even extended my landing net to its maximum to be able to reach the river from the bank. I began working the nymph upstream toward the point that I had seen the rise, but the flow was too quick, skating the nymph along just below the surface. There was a pluck on the line. That WAS a take. Time to try something else. I have a box labled Heavy Nymphs and I reached in for a size 14 Gold Head GRHE. This would slow down the retrieve and fish deeper. It was worth a try.

I began searching the slower water close to the opposite bank. The line stopped on the retreive and I lifted the rod. I was IN. In that instant a trout leapt vertically out of the river in front of me, tumbling in an effort to shed the hook, before running downstream past me, putting a bend in my seven foot rod and leaping clear again. It was only an eight inch wildie, but after catching roach all winter, this brown trout could fight. It swam into underwater reeds and became lodged. I walked downstream of the snag and it swam out. Battle commenced again, but it was one sided and the landing net was waiting.

Many of the wild browns in the Whitewater have this steely silver look, unfortunately the bright evening sun glared out most of the spots. Keeping the trout in the net, I lowered it back into the river with its head upstream, waiting for the gills to start pumping before allowing it to swim free.

I continued to walk upstream, casting as I went, a deep pull on the line bringing a fish to the surface. It was a small chub, which fought briefly, before being swung in.

I was pleased with the result, a trout and chub in less than an hour’s fishing, not big fish, but considering the pace and colour of the Whitewater, encouraging.

Mirror and common carp make all the running on the pole with breadpunch

May 10, 2024 at 10:42 am

My first visit of the year to Farnham’s Kings Pond was bathed in sunshine when I arrived this week, finding the canal-like pond devoid of reed growth and lily beds, which define this often prolific water. I say prolific, because like many these days, cormorants have decimated fish stocks in recent years, with fishery managers unable to control the black death, as they are often called, due to very strict and often impossible rules relating to the General Licence on shooting of wild birds. As expected, a pair of cormorants were already active at the far end of the pond and I set up close to the entrance.

There was no visible movement, or surface activity and I considered that it was going to be hard going, setting up a 4 x 14 antenna float to a size 16 fine wire hook for a 5 mm punch of bread. I started off with a single ball of white liquidised bread over the shelf into four feet of water four metres out and was surprised to get a positive bite first cast from a nice roach.

Next put in the float buried and another decent roach came to hand. At least the cororants hadn’t finished these off yet. Roach were coming steadily and I fed another ball of liquidised bread. The float disappeared and headed out toward the middle, stretching out the elastic before I could raise the pole. This was a good fish and added two more lengths of pole as the elastic continued out through the bush in the pole tip. Raising the pole to the vertical and resting it on my thigh, I let the unseen fish get on with the fight, as the pole bent in response to the surges, running in an arc against the resistance. Soon it was on the surface and I could see that it was a mirror carp, grown on from those 8 oz fish stocked a couple of years ago. Keeping the pole at six metres, the fight continued in deminishing circles, until I could steer it into the landing net.

This embattled mirror carp, had certainly been in the wars, showing the signs of surviving the hooked beak of a cormorant with a pointed scar on its flank. The fine wire hook was twisted out of shape and changed it for a size 14.

With this fish in the net, I decided to up my game and mix up some heavier ground bait, using a bait dropper to get the bait down.

The first bite over the feed looked promising with a lift and a slow sink of the float. I braced for another carp, but slight resistance saw a small skimmer bream slide across the surface to hand.

 

I’ve had some good bags of skimmers from here before, but the roach were getting their heads down, some better fish among them.

The elastic was out again, slowly at first, then a long pale fish zizagged through my swim. A Koi? The pole was still at 6 metres and I pulled it up vertical again as this much larger fish made for the far bank at warp speed. The float line and elastic held as the pole bent to a dangerous point, but it was a case of waiting for the carp to wear itself out, finally rolling on the top and reluctantly being brought back to the landing net.

The barbless hook was just in the lip and easily removed and I guessed the weight at 5 lb. I continued to catch roach and the occasional rudd that followed the bait down, while putting in droppers of groundbait, a mix of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and strawberry additive.

The float sat with the antenna half sunk and I lifted into another good fish, that was slow to respond to the hook, before bursting into life and running for the far bank, where a paling fence acts as a fish refuge, allowing free passage for fish, while resticting cormorants. The elastic was at full stretch, but also at full force and the fish turned and I got a clear view of the heavily scaled flank of another common carp. I was getting used to this and supported the pole on my thigh, while the carp had several surges of power in its escape attempts. Smaller than the previous fish, about 2 lb, the common was soon in the net.

It was now very hot in the sun, I put in the last of my groundbait and decided to pack up in another half hour. More roach and another skimmer followed before the elastic was out again. After an initial run, a smaller mirror carp surfaced and was soon in the net.

This last mirror was the signal to pack up. No doubt staying on for another hour would have produced more carp, as they had found the feed, but the afternoon would only get hotter, something that has been missing so far this year. I still had to walk back to the van, load up and get out in the traffic before rush hour. Once again the humble bread punch had proved itself a worthy bait.

Pulling my keepnet out was quite a lift and following a quick photo, the contents were slipped back.