Braybrooke roach save the day

December 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm

My friend Peter and I had been planning a return visit to Kingsley Pond in Hampshire for months, but the hot dry summer had reduced the water to unfishable levels, until recent rains had raised the water table again. Planning a day at the pond, we travelled in our own vehicles to meet up, but while on the way I had a call from Peter to say that he was now at Kingsley and the pond was frozen over from bank to bank. Hopes of bream and big roach would have to wait for a milder day.

I suggested we try the River Blackwater, where I had a good net of roach the previous week and diverted back into Surrey to park at the riverside. Heavy weekend rain had flooded the river, the clear shallows now muddy raging torrents. I contacted Peter again to give him the good news of the floods, suggesting that we drive back to Berkshire to check out Jeanes’ Pond at Braybrooke Park.

We arrived at the Braybrooke carpark at the same time, Peter’s M3 and dual carraigeway route in his BMW overtaking the cross country diversion taken by my van. Walking down to Jeanes’ Pond, it was a relief to see clear water. Our drive through three shires had cost us over two hours fishing time, to arrive at a venue two miles from my home.

We set up in adjacent swims, my usual choice being pole and bread punch, while Peter set up a running line and waggler rig to fish maggots over a bed of carp pellets. There were no visible signs of fish on the surface and I opted for a winter rig of a fine antenna float with 6 No 8 shot, shirt buttoned down to a size 18 hook to 1.7 lb line. The level here was about a foot down on normal and I plumbed the depth at a metre over the shelf at 3 metres, setting my float to fish a 100 mm off bottom. I guessed bites could be hard to come by and started off with just one small nugget of liquidised bread over the shelf, casting my float into the sinking cloud of feed.

The float sat for five minutes without a tremble, so I put another nugget a metre to the right and fished into the cloud. Still no sign of a bite, my next move was to cast back to the first cloud. The float sank slowly down and I lifted into the resistance of a small roach, watching it drop back into the water as I swung it in.

Into the same spot, the float sank immediately and I brought the small roach fighting to the surface, only for the resistance in the surface tension to prove enough to pull the hook from the lightly held fish. In again the float dithered, held down a fraction, then popped up. Not sure, I struck anyway and brought the small roach away from the swim and into my hand.

It was a start, Peter and another angler hadn’t seen a bite yet on their maggots, while mine were now coming every put in, although the size was nowhere near what we had been getting a few months ago.

I put in another small ball of bread on the side I was catching from and moved back across to previously baited area. The float sank again and a better sized roach was drawn round to the side.

The feed one, fish the other method, kept the fish coming relentlessly, while Peter was still biteless, the other angler coming round to watch the bread punch in action, having had only one tiny roach all morning. He returned to his peg and packed up.

These fish were really cold to the touch on a day when temperatures were in the low single figures; they had drifted across to the feed, but the liquidised bread has no content, the 4 mm pellet of soft bread an easy meal to suck in like thick soup. After two hours, Peter had had enough and began packing up, but I still had holes to punch in my bread, the bites, although no more than dotting down the float bristle, were still bringing a fish a cast.

The roach were now getting bigger, but by 2 pm I had filled my punch bread with holes and proved a point again, that in very cold conditions, the bread punch will always put fish in the net.

My hole count suggested 80 roach, the largest no more than 3 oz, but you can’t beat a float going under every cast, even if the fish are small, they all add up, this net weighing over 3 lb, more than a pound an hour.

Peter has now been studying my book on bread punch fishing, determined to play me at my own game.