Bread punch Rudd galore at Allsmoor Pond

March 28, 2023 at 12:43 pm

A cold, but sunny afternoon, was the only chance to fish this week, with rain forecast for several days after. Having had good bags of common and crucian carp early in the year before, I took the short walk to my very local Allsmoor Pond, to find three of the swims occupied by other anglers. All were struggling to get bites, with fewer than a dozen small rudd and gudgeon between them. At least it was warm facing the sun and I set up my heavy duty pole to 6 metres, with a 3BB antenna float rig, 2 metres long, to swing fish in to hand from the top two sections.

Ground bait was liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, sprinkled with a spicy red mix. The pond is only two feet deep above fine silt and the mix was damped down just enough to hold together for the 7 to 8 metre throw, putting in two balls on that line. Starting off with a 6 mm punch of bread on the size 14 hook, the float slid away immediately as a small rudd gorged the bread. After a repeat of this half a dozen times, I went up to a 7 mm punch and swung in a better sized roach.

The 7 mm punch seemed to be selecting better sized rudd and I was busy swinging them in.

Smaller rudd were still taking the bread and I went up to an 8 mm punch in an effort to attract larger fish, but the small stuff were still having a go and even gorging the bigger pellet, while I bumped several others, so it was soon back to the 7 mm pellet. A runaway bite on the drop, met solid resistance from a fiesty little common carp, that was still fighting and camera shy, when I tried to take a photo.

I had hoped for several more of this little fellow’s bigger brothers, but it was not to be today and apart from a similar sized crucian carp, that fell off as I lifted it out of the water, it was back to bashing out the rudd. Regular balls of feed kept the better fish in the swim.

The sun was now dipping behind the trees, bringing a distinct drop in temperature and I set my time to pack up to 5 pm, although I was tempted to continue following this rudd. One of the other anglers had given up a couple of hours before, while the two to my right had the same idea as me and began putting their rods away. Immediately to my right, fishing pellets and sweetcorn the tally was six fish, rudd and gudgeon, plus a 6 oz tench, while his friend gave up on the pellet and fished bread for a dozen rudd and gudgeon, plus a crucian carp

My three hours had produced over 90 rudd, none as big as I usually catch here, but enough to keep my hopes of better fish to come, alive.

A very busy three hours.



Roach and rudd wake up at Jeanes Pond

March 23, 2023 at 12:34 am

With an unexpected opportunity to fish this week, I set off in bright sunshine after lunch for a few hours at the Braybrook Fishing Club’s still water fishery, Jeanes Pond. After weeks of cold and wet weather, I was looking forward to getting some late March sun on my face, while watching a float go down.

In the time that it took for the short drive to the pond, the wind had got up, blowing dark clouds and a shower of rain in my direction. My intended swim was in the full force of the wind, so I set up in the least affected area, although the whipped up waves were causing a circular drift around the pond.

Not to worry, this was just a test to see what was biting, if at all; a fish or two would be a bonus. Too early for tench and crucians, I was hoping for some decent roach and rudd on the bread punch. I had intended to fish five to six metres out on the pole close to the bottom, but the swirling wind made it impossible to steady the pole and so reduced down to four metres in four feet of water. This was just over the shelf and I squeezed up a ball of plain white liquidised bread to feed into the deeper water. Fishing light with a fine antenna float and the shot bulked 15 inches from the size 18 hook, I punched a 5 mm pellet of bread, then cast the rig next to the sinking bait cloud.

The float settled, dipped and slowly sank with the line following it down. A sharp lift of the pole set the hook into a hard fighting roach that was soon in the landing net, where the hook dropped out.

This would do for a start. If they were all like this I would be happy. In again over the same area and the float slid sideways, definitely a rudd bite. The bait was taken on the drop and I struck on the first lift, just hooking the top lip.

These rudd were now in a solid layer of fish, intercepting every offering intended for the roach on the bottom. Most gorging the bread in seconds, as they lifted the float and skated away.

When the bait was able to avoid the rudd, a slow motion roach bite would follow, gradually submerging.

Little and often feed of nugget sized balls of bread kept the bites coming.

This roach had damage to both sides of it’s tail. Pike, or cormorant?

These roach were the best of a bunch, outnumbered by small rudd.

This was my last fish of the afternoon, a better sized rudd, but nowhere near my target size.

A month ago I had fifteen fish at Jeanes Pond, while this week put four times as many in the net over the same time period. All we need now is more quality fish.

Roach fishing on the last day of the season interrupted by Blackwater pike

March 15, 2023 at 8:22 pm

Traditionally for me, the last day of the river season in the UK has been blessed by warm weather and good fishing, which has left me wishing away the next three months, until June 16th, opening day. This time I awoke to rain lashing the windows and a forecast of rain all day, driven by a cold wind from the north west. By 11 am the rain had gone, replaced by sunshine and clouds, while the latest forecast was now for heavy rain by 3 pm. Enough time for a last bash at the big roach on the River Blackwater. The advantage of fishing the breadpunch, is that bait and feed is always ready in the freezer. I thawed a couple of small slices in the microwave, my wife made tea and sandwiches, while I changed into my warm fishing gear and then I was on my way to the river.

Due to recent heavy rain, the river was pushing hard, but running clear, meeting another member of Farnborough & District AS crossing the bridge to fish the club water. He turned left upstream, while I turned right, walking past the unoccupied swim that had provided a decent haul of chub and roach a few weeks ago, continuing down to a new swim to me, where a fallen tree was pushing the flow along my bank, while creating an eddy extending beyond the middle.

My 14 foot Browning float rod was set up with a 3 BB Ali stemmed stick float to a size 14 barbless hook. I fed a mixture of liquidised bread, crushed hemp, and ground carp pellets, with a dusting of annaseed mix, damped down enough water to form firm balls to sink quickly through the fast flowing river. Two balls of feed were put over to the head of the crease and I cast in with a 7 mm punch of bread on the hook. It looked very chubby over there and expected a chub first cast. I was not disappointed, the float travelled a yard and sailed away downstream. I struck and felt the force of a 4 oz chub as the hook set, watching it turn. This would do for a start. Too soon, a grey flash and a 5 lb pike had taken the chub, running downstream, before stopping to consume the chub. Keeping up the pressure, my rod was bent double as it swam back upstream and I got my landing net ready, the pike just under the surface, with the chub still fighting outside the jaws. The hook link cut through and the float flew back in a tangle.

My tackle seems to be a magnet to Blackwater pike and as I sorted the tangle, then tied on a new hook link, I contemplated moving back upstream, but decided to feed another ball. I missed the next bite, striking too fast, but the following bite dipped, then sank away and a decent roach was pounding away along the crease. Whoomf! The pike had grabbed the roach, ripping it from the hook. That was enough for me. Looking upstream, I could see that the other swim was still empty and decided to move, clipping up the float rod, grabbing my landing net and staking a claim on the new swim. Going back, I loaded the trolley, tipped the feed into a bag and retraced my steps. By the time that I was set up again, I’d wasted an hour and was keen to get going again.

The swim was different to the last time that I had fished it. The sunken tree that had diverted the flow along my bank, had now been swung round in the latest flooding, sending the flow along the opposite bank and creating mini whirlpools down the middle. The level was also up by six inches and I raised the float a foot and bulked the shot closer to the hook to allow the float to be slowed down, while keeping the bait on and off the bottom. Casting over close to the ivy, the flow was bouncing off the shuttering and bringing the float down the middle under the leaning tree, not where I wanted it, but it would have to do. At least the wind was upstream to my right, allowing easy mending of the line with the 14 foot rod.

On my last visit, I caught from the off without any feed, but now there were no bites, until a couple of balls had been put over close to the shuttering. Just past the tree, the float stabbed down and a small chub was on it’s way to the net. Easing the float down controlled by my finger on the ABU 501 spool, the float was carried further to the left in the variable current, before going under. A slightly better chub this time, then, you’ve guessed it, a pike took it. I had to keep the rod low, due to a plug with line attached hanging over the water, letting the pike do it’s thing, bucking and running upstream, while I retreived line when I could. It was only a small pike of  2 to 3 lb and got the landing net out ready, when it let go of the chub. I have had pike on so many times on this river and felt sure this one was mine.

With only scale damage, it would live to fight another day and popped it into my keep net. The air temperture was in single figures today, despite the sunshine and this chub was cold to the touch.

I began getting bites half way down the trot, quick knocks like dace, taking the bread, but not connecting. I tried shallowing up and running through at the speed of the current, more knocks but no fish. Trying the other way and I added even more depth, stopping and starting the float. Several times I felt a fish, or saw a flash of silver, but nothing. They were just hanging onto the bait. I went down to a 5 mm punch and fed a firm bullet of feed each time. I hooked one at last, a roach.

These were coming from the shallowest and swiftest part of the swim over a sand bar and I was becoming preoccupied trying to catch the small roach and chub. On my last visit I had caught good roach further down beyond the bar and now went back up to the 7 mm punch, drifting the bait over  the top, then letting it drop into the slower water. This worked when a quality roach buried the float. Taking my time, I reeled back steadily, the power of the flow bringing the roach to the surface on it’s side.

Winter river roach are the hardest fighters, swelled by spawn, they use their broad flanks to great effect in the strong flows. Now to try again. A small roach got in the way next trot, but I was soon into another clonker roach.

The regular feed had brought these better roach into a small area, however the varied flow rate made it difficult to get my float into the hot spot, or the smaller fish would rob the bait on the way down. A chilling wind had also got up, as the sun sank behind dark rain clouds. Excuses, excuses I know, but float control was difficult in these conditions. The float ran further than before and sank, a pause and a good fish was on, running back downstream at first, then it turned and gradually came back to the waiting landing net. Another beautiful winter roach.

Confident there were more there, I scraped up the last of my feed, this being my second trayful and fed a couple of balls over to the shuttering, watching them wash downstream. Following the feed, with the float held back hard, it was back in the hotspot, released then held. It sank and I was in again, not as big as before, but respectable.

With the hook rebaited with a 7 mm pellet of bread, I ran the float back down. It dipped and came back up, then dipped again. A very small fish? The float continued further than before, then lifted. I struck into another good roach and began bringing it back. It swam into a snag. I let line out in the hope of it swimming out again. The line moved off, it had swum out again. I struck again and the rod bent double. This was no snag, it was another pike! I backwound the reel, until it stopped then turned, running up the inside of the bend, where it snagged me. Letting the line go worked, but the pike ran back in. The line was stuck fast and I pulled for a break. It came free, less the 3 lb hook link and the float body.

The remains of my float can be seen at the bottom of my bait tray. At least another couple of hours of light was available to fish, but I’d had enough pike for one day, well not quite, as while putting my rod in the holdall, there was a splash at my keepnet, where a pike was busy trying to bite through to my fish. I pulled the net away, although a more switched on angler would have scooped it up with the landing net.

Oh well, at least I had managed to get out for the last day of the season and caught a few quality roach, although looming on the horizon was a black cloud that dumped freezing rain on me, before I had time to get back to the van.

River Whitewater work parties prepare for the 2023 trout season

March 4, 2023 at 3:07 pm

With less than a month to go before the start of the trout fishing season, Farnborough and District AS have been preparing the banks and clearing the River Whitewaterof fallen trees.

Severe flooding over the winter has changed the river flow in areas, a gravel run has shifted above this pool to scour out a deep hole, where there was once a muddy slack. The river looked in good condition, running crystal clear with good weed growth.

Since intensive crayfish trapping was undertaken by commercial trappers, the numbers of trapped has increased. This net containing at least two dozen adult crays. Averages of 50 kg a week removed, has been good for the processing plant, while the FADAS flyfishing members have seen an increased number of juvenile wild brown trout being caught and returned. This points to a higher survival rate for, spawn, fry and the invertabrates that they feed on.

A bonus for the working party this week, was to release a young wild brown trout from a crayfish net.

Riches to rags on a cold River Cut

March 3, 2023 at 4:42 pm

Following a fanastic session on the River Blackwater the week before, with over ten pounds of roach and chub on the bread punch, I was hoping for a repeat performance on my local River Cut. A friend had fished the bread punch last week on the Cut, catching a decent net of chub and roach and I was looking forward to the same this week. Although officialy Spring, temperatures had been in the mid single figures all week, but chub don’t mind the cold do they? After a frost, the sun was shining, warming the air and I went out for an afternoon of testing my new landing net.

At the top end of the stretch, the river was crystal clear, but the further down that I walked, the more murky it became, guessing that the daily pollution had come through and with little flow, I would be lucky to get a bite, let alone any fish.

With my 14 ft Browning rod still set up in my fishing ready rod holdall, I decided to save time by fishing with the 3BB stick float to a size 14 hook. This rig worked perfectly in the fast flowing Blackwater and would still be OK against the Cut chub, but after twenty minutes without a bite. I was ready for a change to a finer float rig. My friend had said that he would come to see me that afternoon, so decided to stick it out until then. I had been feeding small nuggets of compressed liquidised bread around the float each cast and was taken by surprise, when the float bobbed and went under. I missed it! Next cast I studied every tremble of the float, it held, then sank and a fish was on. A lowley gudgeon that felt like an ice lolley to the touch, even with already cold hands.

I missed another very fussy bite, then a rattling fight from a small roach raised my hopes.

My friend arrived in time for another gudgeon. At least I was getting bites regularly now.

We sat and chatted, interrupted by the occasional fish. They were not getting any bigger and I was still missing bites. A lost hook on a snag gave me the excuse to change the rig to a 5 No 4 stick with a size 18 hook, to fish with a smaller 4 mm punch. Regular nuggets of feed kept the bites coming, but my hoped for bonus fish were not appearing. The sun had gone behind the houses, that line the west side of the strip of green through which the Cut runs and the cold was returning, along with an increasing upstream wind. I considered that it might be worth hanging on for a bit longer, but after two hours of struggle, it was time to pack up.

At least the bread punch had got me bites on a near freezing afternoon.

The riches of the Blackwater the week before, unfortunately could not be repeated  a week later on the Cut. The cold water and pollution played their part, my keepnet stinking of oil, when I pulled it out.



Big roach shine on the River Blackwater for the bread punch

February 22, 2023 at 8:03 pm

With only three weeks of the UK river fishing season left to run, my wish list of waters to visit is becoming crowded, following weeks of freezing weather and floods. On the list for today was the Farnborough and District’s stretch of the River Blackwater, but heavy drizzle and a cold wind gave me second thoughts about going. I’m getting soft in my old age and the thought of shivering in the wet hoping for a big roach did not appeal, however, one look at the weather forecast for the rest of the week, showing rain and even lower temperatures to follow, made my mind up for me. Bread was taken from the freezer, tea and sandwiches made and I was on my way.

Arriving at the Blackwater, I’d never seen it so low and clear and made my way to a swim that I know has some depth, hoping that it was unoccupied. Of course it was. Who else would volunteer to fish on a day like this? At the tail of a bend, this swim usually has the benefit of the flow being directed along the opposite bank, but today a tree had fallen across the bend, speeding up the flow and sending whirlpools coursing through the middle of the river.

To my relief, the rain stopped as I began setting up my 14 foot Browning Sygma float rod with a 3BB ali stemmed stick float, to a size 14 barbless hook. I set the depth at 30 inches, intending to fish overdepth with a long tail lifted on and off the bottom. Trotting through with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread to test the depth, the float disappeared at the over hanging tree and a dace was fighting on the surface.

I decided to see how far I could go without putting in any feed and trotted though again, the float going under at the same point and a larger dace was rolling on the surface. Another trot and this time a roach.

One a chuck so far, smaller roach, and dace. It was time to put in some feed. Putting in a ball of plain liquidised bread, I watched it break up, being disbursted by the swirling water. I put in another ball with the same result and thought that heavier groundbait would be needed today. Trotting through, the float travelled beyond the tree and dived, the rod bending into a better fish, as a small chub took the bread. I could see the chub flash over when I struck, the bread was not sinking.

Putting in another ball of liquidised bread, I shallowed up by six inches to fish through the cloud and began getting fish only yards down the trot, this quality roach requiring a rapid lift of my finger from the ABU501 spool to avoid a break.

Small dace, roach and chub were taking turns to attack the punch, but the fish were retreating further down beyond the tree. It was time for that heavier groundbait mix. Liquidised bread, ground hemp, ground carp pellets with a spicy annaseed mix, were formed up into tight balls and a couple dropped in upstream. These brought bites and fish closer to me again. I raised the float to the original depth and hit into the best roach yet, that fought all the way to the landing net in the strong flow.

There is a sand bank just before the tree and I think that the heavier feed was accumulating behind it, bringing in better fish. This was now a hotspot and after a few more fish, I was into another clonker roach.

These roach were the reason for turning up today and it wasn’t long before another was putting a good bend in the rod.

Small roach had moved in over the feed, but every half dozen fish there was a rod bender.

The river level was dropping fast and the bait was dragging bottom, even submerged rat burrows under the bank were now clearly visible. I reckoned that there was only 18 inches of water passing over the sandbank, the increased flow causing an eddy behind it. I stepped up the feed and shallowed the float up again, easing it over the sandbank, then letting it run, the float disappearing each time. All the fish were broaching, when I set the hook, none less then the best roach yet, which kited in the direction of a now visible sunken branch from the overhanging tree. I had to swing the rod from my right, round to the left to draw the deep flanked roach away, while avoiding a dangling stick float wrapped in a tangle of line. The hook hold held and the redfin hugged the bottom, while it was causiously reeled it back toward the waiting landing net.

After this roach, it was time for a cup of tea and to open my untouched sandwiches. Arriving at noon, it was already 2:30 and I was seriously in need of sustenance. I fed another ball of feed upstream, while scoffing down one of my wife’s lovingly prepared sandwiches, swilled down with tea, before getting straight back to the fishing. The float had travelled two yards, then sunk out of sight. Bang! I was in again, this fish taking line off my fingertip at a rate of knots. I lost sight of the float, until a splash warned me that the unseen fish was attempting to snag the far bank trailing ivy. Pulling the fish free, I could see that it was a decent chub and kept up the pressure to bring it over to the middle, it’s gaping white mouth a sign to keep it coming toward the net. A solid chub.

Although the cold upstream wind was proving uncomfortable, the thought of more good fish to come kept me going. After wading through a raft of smaller roach, I was rewarded with another rod bender, this one coming into the shallows on my side and burying it’s head among a tangle of sunken twigs and heavy black line, the lot scooped into my landing net.

Unhooking the roach was the easy bit, unwravelling my float line and the tangled oak twigs was not. I gave up trying, instead cutting the black line away with scissors proved quicker, dumping the mess into my bait bag for later.

I had not fed the swim for ten minutes and it showed, the shoal had drifted further down following the remnants of feed. Small roach were obliging, but their bites were not positive, dipping the float as the bait carried downstream, either stripping the punched bread, or eventually burying the float.

The bait tray was now almost empty and I scraped together enough for a few more balls and introduced them every three or four fish. I was catching from the sandbank again, but only small roach, when I contacted another decent fish, that slapped the surface in the shallow water, throwing up spray, before diving away. I let this fish play itself out on the rodtip before reeling back, as it was rolling like a big dace, not thumping like a roach. Surprise, surprise it was a roach and a good one too.

With this one in the net, I called it a day, one of my best for big roach on the Blackwater.

The last time that I fished this swim, I was plagued by a pike, that took several of my decent roach and dace, while actually having it to my net, until it let go of the roach in it’s mouth. I expected a pike attack today at anytime, while retreiving fish, but today I’d been allowed a full four hour session and this was the result. Over 10lb of hard fighting silvers.


Jeanes Pond wakes up from the cold with roach and rudd

February 21, 2023 at 10:25 am

A spur of the moment decision to test the waters for bites, saw me arrive at Brayrooke’s Jeanes Pond at 2 pm this week. If I had no bites, then I would be gone by 2:30. The ice has gone and temperatures are scraping double figures, so it was worth a session with a light 4 x 14 pole rig to a size 18 hook and a 4 mm punch of bread.


Arriving at Peg 16, I was not hopeful, the pond miror-like without a ripple from wind, or fish. With some fine plain liquidised bread, I squeezed up a pigeon egg sized ball of feed and dropped it beside my antenna float, 3 metres out. The wait began. The float was dotted down with just 6 mm of the antenna visible above the flat calm surface. Several minutes passed before a ring radiated out from the antenna. There was interest in the bait. The float tremoured a few times before sinking level with the surface, then slowly disappearing with the line following down. I lifted the pole and yes there was a fish on, a rudd coming to the surface to be swung in.

Barely hooked, I was lucky to land this one. The next bite was more bold and the hooked rudd seemed secure, but fell off the hook, dropping close the bank on my left, where it was engulfed by a pike, the swerl throwing up a mass of bubbles. A pike already! I fed another ball of feed to my right and began catching again. Bites were plentiful, but so were missed and dropped fish, the soft bread pellet still intact.

I had begun fishing a foot off bottom and catching rudd, but with more small balls of feed going in, I moved the float up to fish just off the bottom, where roach had gathered around the feed. These bites took longer to devlope, but most resulted in a roach and my net was filling.

My keepnet was now attacked by a 5 lb pike trying to take one of my roach, it’s teeth lodged in the mesh causing it to panic, bucking and rolling on the surface. The bites stopped soon after.

Adding another length of pole, I fed a ball further out and fished over it, the bite starting slow, then sinking away to the depths. A better rudd.

I added more depth and was among the roach again, swinging them in to avoid that pike.

I hooked into a decent roach, too heavy to swing in and brought it across the surface as quickly as possible. Too late! The pike zoomed in an arc up to intercept the unfortunate roach and grabbed it. On for a few seconds, the hookline was cut through and the float rig sprung up to finish in a tangle around the pole tip.

That ended a promising session, the bread punch producing fish from an apparently lifeless pond.

Canal tactics with the pole and bread punch work on the River Cut

February 14, 2023 at 6:08 pm

The sun was shining and birds were singing as I walked downstream on the River Cut this week, it seemed that Spring had come early. Intending to fish a new swim, I had left home after lunch, hoping to avoid the daily influx of brown water, that puts the fish off the feed, but was disappointed to see the brown stain again.

I fed a small ball of plain liquidised bread and trotted a 4 No 4 stick float through the ball as it sank, not hopeful of seeing a bite, but slight tremors and dips indicated that something was there. Switching to a 4 mm punch on a size eighteen hook did not impove the bites, so plan B was called for. Last week the brown water had called a halt to catching fish, so this week I had put my pole into the rod bag. Clipping a rig with a 4 x 16 antenna float to an 18 hook into the stonfo connector, I was soon back in business.

With the pole at 5 metres, I was able to drop the rig into a gap downstream of flood debris opposite. Plopping over another small ball of feed, I held the float back, letting it run into the cloud. The antenna, tremored and slowly dipped a few times and I lifted the pole into a small rudd, which felt like a block of ice in my already cold hands.

First cast! The sensitive, lightweight float made a difference. The hook was just in the top lip. I now tried again, the float travelling another yard, before more tremors and half dips, this time a small roach dropped off as I swung it in. After more missed bites and very small roach hanging onto the punched bread, I mixed up some heavier feed with ground hemp and annaseed in an attempt to encourage some better fish to feed. It didn’t make any difference, more small fish.

They began to get bigger.

Then I caught a dace.

The bites were still fussy. The pace of the river had picked up again and I wondered where this volume of water was coming from. I was fishing overdepth and feeding the pole down through my fingers and still had not had a proper bite to take the float under. I began hooking into snags washing down the swim.

The flow was so strong that my keepnet was dragged round and I decided to put on another metre of pole to fish over into the slack water behind the far bank debris. I lobbed over a ball of plain feed and cast to it. The float shot under as a tiny roach took the bait and came off. At least it was a bit of action. A small rudd tracked away with the bread and stayed on. Another cast, another tiny roach, then a swirl and the ealstic came out, the fish boring deep toward the snags. This had to be a perch, as there are no pike in the Cut. It was a good fish, the dark bars across it’s back clearly visible as it turned away and rushed off down stream, taking the roach with it. I had seen small fish jumping earlier, this must have been the cause.

The river slowed and began to take on a greenish tinge. I reduced the pole to 5 metres again, dropping the float in on my side of the debris, to follow a cloud of plain feed. The float sank to half the antenna and sailed away downstream; lifting the pole bringing the flash of a much better roach below the surface.The landing net was out for the first time today. A couple of smaller roach and the net was out again.

The river was back to normal. I was even catching gudgeon. Feeding a pinch of feed every cast, I was into a rhythm, dropping the rig in and pulling it back into the gap in the debris, then letting it go to catch up with feed cloud, then easing it back, the float sinking to order, often with a better roach.

A rudd got in on the act.

A small chub charged off, the hook falling out in the net.

This was a return to the Cut that of old, with a fish a chuck, the coloured water a lottery of if and when it comes. It seems to be random, although usually in the morning.

The pole elastic was out again, a perch had struck again, this time coming to the surface and shaking it’s head, the tiny hook pulling free. Maybe I should bring my spinning rod next time?

The catching spree continued, the feed was on the bottom ignored for hours and now they wanted it.

No apologies for showing more roach.

The last fish, a good roach taken at 10 minutes to 5 to bring my session to a 3 hour close. It was still light enough to fish, but I didn’t want to pack up in the dark and anyway I had run out of holes to punch.

It had been a tricky start to the afternoon and I’m sure that if I had stuck to the stick float, I would not have had half the fish in my net. Pity about the perch.


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.

Environment Agency, Only Rain Down The Drain, scheme to cut pollution

December 7, 2022 at 7:21 pm

The Environment Agency, in conjuction with Thames 21, are being proactive in an attempt to reduce river pollution from land drains into local rivers, by marking roadside drains with Only Rain Down the Drain logos. Housing and a large industrial estate have covered an area, where below ground, a small river flows “out of sight and out of mind” of the thousands of people that live and work there. That river is regularly polluted through the ground water system, sometimes through the innocent dumping of old engine oil down a drain by a DIY mechanic, after an oil change, to discharges on an industrial scale from unthinking busines owners.

Ironically this was minutes after the EA’s Calverton Fish Farm had delivered 1200, chub, roach and dace to restock after a major fish kill. In the bottom right of the picture is an oil stained pollution boom from an earlier spill. The river had gone from this:

To this, in seconds:

The bucket of quality roach below was collected from the outfall sill after a grey flush through.

The source of this pollution was never traced, it passed through and the river was clear again in an hour, before Thames Water, or the Agency were able to take water samples. It is hoped that by making people aware that surface drains end up in their local river, it will help them understand the possible outcomes of their inconsiderate actions.

This week, for what has become an annual event, the Environment Agency were back again with their fish delivery truck from Calverton Fish Farm, with a top up of fish for the beleagured River Cut.

None the worse for their early morning drive from Nottinghamshire.

On this occasion the EA’s Technical Officer Laurence Hook did the honours, introducing two hundred each of chub, roach and dace.

This was another example of the Environment Agency giving value for money to Fishing License payers.