Against the odds, bread punch finds the fish on the River Cut

February 7, 2023 at 4:48 pm

At home the grass was white with frost and I had to scrape ice from the car, but bight sunshine promised to raise the temperature to a heady 8C; the forecast for the rest of the week going down hill there, so I loaded my tackle into the car for my first fishing session this year on the local River Cut. The closest swim to the car park is the disabled platform, where when I last fished in November, the river was over the banks, whereas today, with patches of exposed mud and crystal clear water, it was the complete opposite. It could be a hiding to nothing, but nothing ventured nothing gained, so they say.

Intending to fish the bread punch, I started cautiously, setting up my 14 ft Browning float rod with a 5 No 4 Ali stemmed stick float, with just two No 8 droppers down the line to a size 18 chrystal bend barbless hook, fished over depth with a 5 mm punch of bread. A small ball of plain white liquidised bread was lobbed over, just short of the opposite bank, followed by the float rig, which was slowed to half speed, stopped and released to search along the bankside vegetation.

The dotted down float showed no sign of interest, until the third trot, when the float paused and dipped level with the surface. An automatic response brought the flash of a fish under the water and a gudgeon did it’s impression of a mini barbel, before it was lifted out to my hand.

That was a very timid bite, but at least it was a bite and more gudgeon followed, until a dip and a lift resulted in the bright flash of a roach, as it dashed around the swim. Although small, the landing net came out for this one. I put over a second ball of plain white feed, watching it break up as it drifted down to the bottom.

More gudgeon and then a better roach, this one definitely needing the landing net, the hook just in the skin of the top lip.

It was a bite a chuck from the eager roach and gudgeon taking the punch, but then the flow increased and the bites slowed to a stop in ten minutes, as the river became murky. This was a sign of pollution washing down from the industrial estate upstream, a daily occurance these days. Whatever it is puts the fish off the feed, usually lasting for a biteless hour. The Environment Agency are not interested, as no fish are killed, but for the angler it is time to get out the sandwiches and wait. Going through the motions, continuing to trot the float through, with no fish to attack the bread, I began finding snags on the bottom, losing hooks  and locating a few unsavoury items discarded by the many dog walkers.

I went for broke and mixed up a tray of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets, ground hemp and a spicy additive with a strong anaseed aroma, putting in a couple of balls close to the opposite bank.

I had gone down to a 4mm punch on the size 18 hook and had a few nibbling bites as the flow slowed, then the float sank and a small gudgeon was on!

Like a switch had been flicked on, I was catching again, gudgeon, a small roach, then a dace.

I went back up to the 5mm punch. Even the gudgeon were getting bigger.

Just when I was busy making up for lost time, there was a massive splash to my right. It sounded like someone had fallen in. It was worse than that, a golden retreiver had run down the bank and dived in after a pair of ducks, bounding after them downstream though my swim. I lifted my float out in disbelief, looking round for the dog owner, who was still walking down the path. She called the dog, it waded back upstream then climbed out. The owner scolded her pet, saying what a naughty doggy it was, clipped on it’s leash and contined behind me along the path without an apology.

I put in a couple more balls of feed and started again, it taking ten more minutes before the next bite.

A good roach raised my hopes, a fussy bite producing the best fish yet, the landing net reaching out over the muddy shallows.

This roach had all the colouring of a fat dace, but it was a rare roach / dace hybrid, dace have black eyes, not red. Lightly hooked, the hook fell out in the net.

As if to prove the point, my next fish was a hard fighting dace, a fat one too.

These fast biting dace took when the float was stopped on the trot, grabbing the bread bait as it swung up from the bottom, sinking the float.

It had been a frustrating session, but in the end a satisfying one, with a mixed bag of fish to show for it.