Blattling the elements at Hitcham Ponds pays off with roach

March 28, 2024 at 5:47 pm

We all have days when we wished that we hadn’t bothered with something, but we still go ahead with it. My day this week began the night before, when leaving my Old Windsor fishing club meeting in the pouring rain. One of the other members had used an exchange ticket to fish another club’s water Hitcham Ponds recently and had not caught much, but had enjoyed his fishing, so seeing our club secretary under his umbrella, I asked if the exchange ticket was still valid, the reply was positive and he rummaged in the his bag, then produced the ticket with it’s key, reminding me that it ran on March 31st.

I had been warned and feeling a bit like Cinderella, decided to fish the Ponds the next day. Checking the weather, it was showing chances of varying amounts of rain from 10 am until 2 pm, topping out at 11 am with 90% chance, with high winds. Chances, right? How accurate had the forecast been lately. I had made my mind up by 9 am. It was sunny with a blue sky. I put a rain proof jacket in the van just in case.

The first bad omen appeared a mile from home. At the crossroad, the lane ahead was closed. I had driven home from the club that way; it was flooded then, but now had a large tree fallen across the road. A fifteen minute diversion put me to the rear of a queue for the Legoland Easter traffic. Soon clear of Windsor, I passed over a flooded River Thames, onto the M4, then north, up hill into the country and the Pond. A good mixed fishery, I remembered my last visit

There was a tench in there too.

I unloaded my gear from the van and started the trek to the locked gate, which eventually opened. I was then faced by another obstacle. Mud. This is the shallow route, to the right it was too steep to climb with a trolley. I got up as high as I could, then forced my way through the wooded area to my left. Not far to go now, but it was raining already and the wind was howling through the trees.

 

Having reached the pond, my way was blocked by more mud and an over flowing pond. The wind was lashing the surface with heavy rain an a hour ahead of schedule. I turned round and headed up a path that joins the pond at the far end, where thankfully the bushes gave some relief from the wind. Many of the permanant pegs were under water, but peg 12 was higher than most and made my tackle box safe on the slippery decking.

I hate setting up in the rain, you try to keep everything dry, but the rain wins in the end. Having plumbed the depth and fixed on a 4 x 14 antenna float with a size 16 barbless hook to a 3 lb link, I fed a line 6 metres out, where the pond drops to about 1.2 metres and another at 8 metres. I once won a winter match from this peg with over 200 roach on the pole with the bread punch, it being so cold that the bank was white with frost all day and the carp did not feed. I kept trying for them too, going over to the island on the waggler on running line, but with roach in front of me, I kept going and won a nice bit of pocket money, plus a pretty rose bowl. Today was warmer, but still in single figures.

That was many years ago and today I hunkered down, hood up, while the rain lashed my back. After ten minutes I got my first bite 6 metres out. I missed it and the next, just slight hold downs, that popped up again with the bread gone. I was keeping my punch bread in my waterproof apron and punching into a small bait bowl, also kept out of the rain in the same pouch. At the first sign of the next bite, I induced it with a steady sideways pull and waited, the float pulling back under immediately. I was elated to feel a fish on the hook, but it was a tiny three inch roach, which I threw back. More followed. I missed some and lost some. It wasted a wet half hour.

This was not a match, I was hoping for a few decent fish, skimmer bream, crucians, or roach, I didn’t mind. Swinging the float out to 8 metres, it just sat there, while the ground bait was now soggy and broke up in a cloud on the surface. It would find its way to the bottom eventually. I had a few steady lift bites, which got me excited, but again proved to be small roach. I missed a proper bite, a slow sink, that held under. I struck, but the bait was gone. After a quick rebait with the 6 mm punch, I cast over the same spot and the float went down out of sight. The elastic came out and a nice roach was being drawn back to the landing net

The hook came out in the net, these fish were just sucking at the bait. The groundbait was having an effect, another roach following a few minutes later. I had the bulk shot just past midway down the line and a pair of droppers spaced to the hooklink

I tried out inducing the bites again, hooking four, but netting only one. It was quick, but they were barely hooked, dropping off if I tried to lift them in. If I waited long enough the float would eventually hold down, even then it was only a 50/50 chance of landing a fish.

The rain was now easing off, but the wind was swirling around the pond, dragging the foat and I was constantly mending the bow in the line to the float. A bonus roach got my hopes up, a fat hard fighter, but as the sun came out, the fish got smaller and more spread out

I was disappointed that no skimmer bream had shown up, even a few blades. I usually fish at the other end, where they out compete the roach for the bread. There were four inch waves piling into the bank during the rainstorm. Mind you I had not seen, or heard any carp crashing about around the island either.

Grey clouds were forming again and the temperture dropping a degree or two, when I missed my last bite and decided, that I needed plenty of time to dry out everything, ready for the obstacle course that waited in the woods.

Providing that Intertype issue exchange tickets next season, I’ll be back as Arnie would say!