Bread punch chub and dace on the stick float from the shallows

July 27, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Hot, hot, hot. Record breaking temperatures and high humidity sapped strength and enthusiasm for most activities this week, but thunderstorms brought some relief and I ventured back to my local river for three reasons, first that it is only ten minutes drive away, second that there are many shading trees and third that there are plenty of fish to be caught. The downside is that it runs through a very public recreation area full of dog walkers, cyclists, joggers and the public in general, curious as to why anyone would be fishing this apparently fishless stretch of water.

When I began fishing this little river nine years ago, it had been left to its own devices by the local council, only taking an interest, when the occasional tree fell across the path. In recent years its value as a wildlife habitat has been appreciated, shopping trolleys, discarded cycles and other detritus removed from the river and the banks cleared of many of the trees lining the banks, before they fell on some unsuspecting resident. Gone are the days, when an angler could settle down to fish unseen by all but the most observant walker, now we are in full view and if you are catching, you draw an audience.

Arriving mid afternoon, the cooling rain clouds had given way to more sunshine and I made my way past the crowded cafe down toward the river and my preferred swim, only to find it occupied by a couple repeatedly throwing a ball out to a bedraggled spaniel, enthusiastically diving into the muddied water to retrieve it. Walking back upstream, my next option was full of splashing ducks, being fed bread by several children watched over by a couple of mums. Above this the river passes quickly over stones to sweep along a run beneath a bush, where I could see movement among the shallows. This would have to do for a couple of hours.

The leaves on the bush showed signs of recent flooding, but now the river was crystal clear and I tackled up with a short carbon stemmed, bodied stick float carrying 4 No 6 shot and set to only a foot deep, a size 16 hook carrying a 5 mm pellet of punched bread. A small ball of bread was thrown a few feet above the bush and I watched it disintegrate, being attacked by several fish before it reached the bottom. First cast over to the opposite side saw the float glide away and the rod bent into a small chub.

Not large, but good sport dashing over the shallows on light tackle. Next cast came a dace.

Then a small roach. Three species in three casts.

Then. “Ooo you are catching a lot of fish” To my left on the raised bank were a mother, two daughters and a big black dog. “Do you mind if we let our dog swim in the river below you?” Having persuaded the lady that it would not be beneficial to my fishing, while one of her daughters held onto the straining leash, she stood at the edge looking across into the water. “I can’t see any fish. Its very clear.” I was too polite to tell her that the fish could see her bright blouse, as she waved her arms about, she explaining that her husband takes them fishing. I caught another dace from under the bush. This inspired the lady to call her husband, who was in a meeting at work, to inform him that I was catching fish from this little river and could he take them fishing here after work? I had stopped catching. Hubby said that he would get an EA licence on-line, which brought me to ask the question whether they were members of the Brayebrooke Club, who controlled the fishing rights. They were not. For me a stroke of luck. I informed them that day tickets were available at the cafe. The brood were gathered up, farewells were bid and they were gone to buy a ticket. Phew! A nice family, but they had scared the fish away.

Another couple of balls of liquidised bread thrown upstream of the bush, soon brought a bite and another small chub.

I could see fish glinting in the sun further down, as the particles flowed beyond the bush, the float usually under before it reached that far. The chub tended to sink the float and swim off, as did small rudd, while the dace gave sharp taps of the float, until the bait was gone. What worked with them was to suddenly stop the float, resulting in a sharp pull under and a rapid strike, often pulling them to the surface in a boil of spray. The small roach were very fussy, dipping the float a few millimetres, then letting go, until the bait was gone, or eventually holding the float down long enough for a strike. It had started raining, but I didn’t put on my jacket, the air was already hot and humid and it made no difference to the fishing. The fish were small, but entertaining. The net was filling and another section of punch bread was already full of holes.

The float disappeared and I was into a decent fish that flashed, when it turned to rush off downstream, pulling the rod round as I quickly backwound. I could see that it was a chub, zigzagging across the bottom away from me, until it gave up the fight, turning to follow the opposite bank upstream, steering it over to the landing net, keeping its white mouth clear of the water.

Worth the wait, considering a couple more interruptions to answer questions from bystanders, the bait trail attracting a better fish at last. I had tried a 6 mm punch this time, although the next cast brought a small rudd, so nothing proved.

Over two dozen fish in a busy two hours, that kept my concentration and reflexes on the edge.