Bread punch beats the cold on Lockdown

November 6, 2020 at 5:49 pm

Freezing fog caused me to delay my fishing this week, waiting for morning sunshine to break through and melt the ice on the van windscreen before I ventured out after lunch. I was well aware that three hours fishing would be the maximum possible with sunset at 4:30 pm, with more fog threatened at around 3. The drop in temperature has been quite sudden and it seemed strange to be getting my thermals, thick woolen socks and heavy three ply jumper out of the wardrobe, when a week ago I was working in the garden wearing only jeans and a T shirt.

My original plan had been to take a drive to the River Blackwater, but now with time tight, I decided that my local River Cut was a better option, only to find a diversion in place that doubled the distance. Not to worry, fishing is all about relaxation and rushing often often ends up with frustration and tangles. I am well drilled in unpacking the van, then loading the trolley, so once parked in the only lay-by, I was soon at the weir and tackled up.

It was unusual to see less water than normal coming over the sill, with only a slight back eddy coming across the main river to my left, which had little flow, my 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick barely moving toward the foam. Dropping in my first ball of liquidised bread, I watched it break up into a cloud as it gradually sank to the bottom. With the float set six inches off the bottom, I put in another ball of feed under the tip of my 14 foot Browning and lowered the float rig down with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on the size 16 hook. It had only travelled a foot before the float dragged under and I was playing my first fish, a small chub, that rushed off toward the fast water.

This gave a good account of itself and I leaned out to net it from the high bank. Chub are usually the first to move in on the bread and when the float lifted then lay flat, I assumed that it was chub number two, but the dogged thudding fight as it rushed around the pool, said roach, a flash of red fins among the foam confirming my guess. This fish felt like an ice lolly to touch and it wasn’t long before my fingers began to feel numb.

Fish can tell when they are lightly hooked and often fight harder, this one being no exception to the rule, taking me from bank to bank, before I could slip the net under it, where the barbless hook dropped out once the pressure was relieved.

After a couple more shallow trots into the foam without another bite, I added another six inches to the depth to trip bottom in the 30 inch deep swim, the float dipping and sinking next cast. The rod bent over again and I thought that another small chub was rushing away with the bait, hugging the bottom, then surfacing as I swung it to hand. A monster gudgeon.

This was the beginning of a gudgeon raid, as the shoal settled over the bread feed out in front of me. I kept going bashing my way through them, as sooner or later I knew that the roach would follow. I usually get a triangular hot spot form in the eddy, where the feed collects on the bottom and becomes filled with roach, but today the fish seemed to be in a narrow back eddy, which headed back into the boiling weir. Adding another six inches to the depth, with No 6 shot spread from the hook link up to the bulk two thirds from the float, an underhand cast put the float between the slack and the back eddy, watching it sail upstream into the weir, often going under as it settled. More gudgeon, but also the odd roach began to show.

These were all fat fish in full fighting fitness, that headed straight into the fast water and I struck all of them with my index finger covering the spool of the ABU 501, able to momentarily give line by lifting the finger to allow the line to run free on that first rapid burst of power from the fish.

By 2:30 the fog had started to roll in again, blanketing out the low sun and my breath began to huff steam as the temperature fell, while it was already becoming difficult to pull the hook though into the punch in the low light.

I had no intention of packing up yet, despite the discomfort and I kept feeding and catching, even if most of them were gudgeon.

All fish were welcome, not least another small chub, which rushed around the pool to be swung in.

There used to be many fine chub to be had from this pool, along with carp, but those days seem to be gone, even the large roach were missing from this session today, hoping that they are growing fat on sweet corn, judging by the number of empty cans littering the banks.

Every time that I was ready to call it a day, the rod would bend into another roach and I would press on catching gudgeon again until the next one came along.

This was the last one that came out on my camera and I packed up after one more roach.

It had been a very busy two and a half hours with about 60 fish, mostly gudgeon. Feeding a small ball of liquidised bread every other cast had used up the equivalent of two thirds of a loaf. The cold had slowly crept into my bones, despite frequent cups of tea, but I feel that afternoon was worth the effort, although my wife had other ideas.