Autumn roach bonanza rewards the stick float and bread punch

November 11, 2021 at 6:43 pm

A warm bright morning saw me revisit a swim last fished in the summer on my local river Cut. Then I had three carp among a net of quality roach, but now, falling leaves and a gin clear river, following nights of frost, left a question mark over what I would catch. On my walk to the swim, I had seen a pair of cormorants sitting over the river and wondered how long they have been living here, knowing that each one requires at least a pound of fish a day to survive. Multiply that by 365 days and they could consume 800 lbs of fish a year between them. The river could soon go the way of many others and be devoid of fish, due to these once sea birds.

On setting up my 14 foot Browning float road, I could see a long branch had washed down in the recent floods to cover the bush opposite, extending downstream for several yards, effectively cutting off the best part of the swim, where the float is drifted up to the bush and held back, then worked along the front of the bush. The swim is only three feet deep at the bush and I could see leaves on the bottom extending right across, not a good sign. There was little flow and chose a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stick float to a size 16 barbless hook, starting off with a 5 mm bread punch.

Not sure how it would fish, if at all, I mixed up a quarter of a pint of liquidised bread, with a covering of ground carp pellets and a handful of ground hempseed, damped down to allow loose balls to be squeezed up. I put in one small ball upstream of the long branch and cast in alongside it, the float carrying downstream a yard, then slowly sinking away, when a small chub took the bait. A brief, fierce fight and the chub was in the net. It was time to get serious and put on the bait apron.

Casting into a gap in the leaves, the float gave a gentle dip as it drifted down, a lift of the rod enough to slow the float, resulting in another slow sink. This time a decent roach was diving back to the bush under the branch to be pulled clear, zig-zagging back to the landing net.

My fears of it going to be a hard day were dismissed with a repeat performance, as the float sank away with a better roach from the same spot.

The next roach appeared to have damage across it’s back. With no pike present in the Cut, I could only assume that this one had escaped the grip of a cormorant.

More roach followed.

A decent sized dace that exploded into action.

I put in another ball of feed and began catching monster gudgeon.

I lifted into a snag that began to move. The golden shape of  2 lb crucian carp flashed beneath the bush and I drew it out into open water, where it suddenly woke up, rushing off upstream, pressure turning it, before rolling on the surface. At this point I thought that I had the carp and pushed out the landing net ready, but it turned and powered over to the opposite bank, running downstream toward the bush, getting behind the branch. Turning the carp, I gave too much pressure and the 16 barbless hook pulled out, leaving the crucian to realise that it was now free to sink back to the bush.

That was annoying, but I rebaited and fed another couple of balls over and I was back catching roach.

Like a lucky dip at the fair, everyone was a winner, the occasional small ball of feed keeping the fish lined up beneath the branch, slowing the float to a standstill bringing a predictable slow sink and another fighting roach, the next one the best of the afternoon. Who said that the bread punch only catches small fish?

This is last fish of the day, starting at 11 am and finishing dead on 3 pm, the bites were still coming, but 4 hours was enough. This is just a snapshot of the hundred odd fish that I caught, the punched bread evidence of a very productive session.

Pulling out my keepnet, I could hear that I had a good weight and lifting up on the scales they were bouncing around the nine pounds mark in the landing net.

Roach, chub, dace and monster gudgeon, all from a tiny river, under threat from pollution and now cormorants.