Autumn bread punch roach on the stick float

October 23, 2019 at 5:58 pm

A dry sunny afternoon called for a change of plans this week and I drove the van a couple of miles to my local river, with a plan to catch some chub before the the leaves fall. I was worried that days of rain would have coloured up the river, but found it clear with a steady pace, a change from my last visit in summer, when it was almost like a still canal. It is a good half mile walk from the car park to the chosen swim, which fortunately was empty, having invested the energy in getting there.

On the outside of a curve, the flow carries beneath a far bank bush, then under trees and has reliably produced catches of chub to over a pound; good sport on my 12 ft Hardy float rod. This was the most transparent that I have seen the river this year, leaves clearly visible on the bottom and I was keen to clear a patch among the Himalayan Balsam to place my tackle box. From mid river, there is a depth of 3 ft, deepening another 6 inches close to the bush, giving a level trot without snags.

Setting up with a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stem stick float, I started the session with the float set to run through a foot off bottom, the chub charging through the cloud of liquidised bread before it reaches bottom. While getting ready, I had thrown a ball upstream of the bush and with a 6mm punch of bread on the hook, followed a second ball as it broke up, drifting downstream. The float sank out of sight on contact with the river and I braced for a rod bending fight. The rod did bend, but only to a five inch chub.

Each cast saw the float sink away before it had travelled a yard, but each time the result was the same, or smaller. A cast to the downstream end of the bush brought a matching pair of tiny roach, the only rod bender coming from a lone rudd.

This is the first time that I’ve not had a decent chub in the first five minutes from this swim and after a dozen trots, added a foot to the depth to trip bottom, where I hoped to find a few roach. I put a ball down the middle and another one above the bush, where an underhand cast positioned the float, holding back slightly to straighten the line to the rod. The float sank and I was playing a roach. At least something was working!

Next cast, same spot, a bigger roach that flashed silver in the sunlight, as it rushed around the river, the size 16 barbless hook falling out in the landing net.

If I can’t catch chub, then fighting roach are an acceptable substitute and the bread punch was queuing them up to get on the hook.

Another fin perfect beauty from this little river, which runs through a narrow ribbon of greenery alongside a main road on one side and a housing estate on the other. More urban than rural.


After an hour the bites were getting fussy with the roach smaller and I noticed that the water had gone cloudy, while the pace picked up.

The next fish was a surprise, a bottom hugging gudgeon, the first I’ve seen since the pollution that wiped out most of the fish three years ago.

My pleasure at this first sight was soon displaced as gudgeon began to be the only fish feeding and even these went off, when the river turned orange. This was a problem before, when builders erecting 2,400 new homes across the main road, that runs parallel to the river, were flushing mud and sand from the new roads straight into the surface drains. They have obviously started a new phase of housing and this is the result. The answer for me was get get my tea and sandwiches out and wait for it to pass, setting the float over dept to lay on mid river.

My picnic was interrupted, when the float bobbed then sank and I snatched up the rod to feel a decent roach on the hook, the rod bending as it ran off downstream, unseen in the murk, before coming to the net.

The river began to clear and a cast back above the bush produced a sail away bite and a small chub.

A bite that sped downstream was stopped and another brightly painted rudd swung to hand.

The roach were now back feeding and I cashed in, making up for lost time, taking one a chuck.

Having started fishing at 12, I made this solid roach my last fish three hours later.


With my second bread square with no spaces left to punch, it was time to pack up and join the traffic home.

A mixed bag of about 50 fish, despite the slow interlude, was compensated for the lack of chub by a net of prime roach.

During the long uphill walk back to the van, I could see that the bottom had turned orange with the sand, evidence that the construction company were not keeping to their agreement with the Environment Agency to flush contaminated water into overflow ponds.