Bread punch chub and roach reward tenacity

December 22, 2016 at 2:28 pm

With visitors over the Christmas period and bad weather threatened, my only chance to fish for sometime came this week, when morning cloud drifted away to reveal a blue sky and low winter sunshine. So near the winter equinox, I needed to get out straight after lunch to manage a couple of hours on my local river. Loading my gear into the van, I was interrupted by our window cleaner, who was on his pre Christmas rounds. A carp fisherman himself, with several French caught 30 pounders to his name, the usual angler to angler conversation began, before I excused myself to get his payment, adding a little extra for his Christmas Box. He was up his ladder, when I returned, taking the opportunity to hand over the cash and escape, as precious daylight was at a premium.


The river was crystal clear and about 6 inches down on normal, with a steady run along my bank; it looked perfect. My last visit put two chub of over 3 lbs each in the landing net before I lost my float rig. Then I was travelling light with the rod made up and had to pack up, but this time was fully equipped with tackle box and keep net in anticipation of a busy afternoon.

Running under the road, the river boils over a concrete sill, pushing toward my side, before curving round to create an eddy, the remaining water passing over a shallow gravel run at the far end. For bait I had some week old maggots, many of which had turned to casters and also coarse crumb with compressed slices for the hook. Expecting big fish the, 12.5 ft Normark was set up with a 4 No 4 ali stemmed stick to a size 16 barbless hook and 2.6 link.


Confident in the bread punch, I squeezed up a couple of egg sized balls of crumb, putting one in down my side and the other in the slower water my side of the eddy. On my previous visit the two chub had come on consecutive casts, both on the bread punch, so was ready for action from the off, running the float through at half speed a foot off the bottom. The first trot was disappointing with no sign of a bite, the bread pellet still hooked adding to this, as nothing had been near it. A couple more bread balls were dropped in, scattering fragments in the swirling river and I tried again. Each trot was taking about five minutes to complete the 25 yards and on the third, the float lifted, then sailed under, hitting a good fish twenty yards away. I backwound as the fish made for the shallow exit, before turning to run along under the far bank, the float not visible until under my rod top. The long body of a chub was visible in the clear water trying to bury it’s head in the dead weeds at my feet, but one scoop of the landing net saw it on the bank.


Just in the lip, the hook transferred to the landing net once the pressure was off and felt lucky to have landed this pound and a half chub, before it dumped the hook in the weeds. Picking up the chub to put it in the keep net, I noted how cold it felt, despite the cool air. Maybe that was the reason for a shortage of bites. Too cold. There was a depth of four feet close in and I set the float over depth to inch it down the inside, where I expected to find a shoal of roach. As a friend used to say, the float is talking to me, unfortunately it was saying that there was nothing there!

Allowing the float to travel round with the eddy, I had to mend the line to stay in contact, but there was a massive bow in the line, when the float eased under. A sweeping strike made contact and I was playing a better fish, that broached the surface at the shallow outlet. Another chub. Although bigger, this one was less trouble and on it’s side by the time it was netted.


Once again the hook had the lightest of holds in the corner of it’s mouth and fell out the moment I touched it. Two chub in half and hour, slow, but encouraging, this one being about two pounds, joined it’s brother in the keep net. I kept feeding and trying various depths, but the inside line was barren and it was on another long trot around the far end of the eddy, that the float went down again. The rolling, bouncing fight told me that I was now playing a nice roach, the red fins clearly visible as it was brought along the far side.


A deep round fish of about 8 oz, this raised my spirits, thinking that the roach had come on at last. No they hadn’t, this was it. With an hour gone and no more bites, I switched to the maggots. Feeding down the inside I went through the motions again, shallow at first for chub, then over depth for the roach, but not a sign of a bite. Needing more control of the float at range, the 4 No 4 float was eased out of it’s retaining rubbers and a 6 No 4 substituted, then shot added. Rather than wait for the float to travel down, the heavier rig was cast to the start of the eddy and the maggot mix catapulted over the area. Bites did come, but nothing that I could hit, sharp taps and dips, as the maggots were sucked thin. This second hour was hard work for no result and I reasoned that it was minnows, small roach, or tiny chub.

Now the sun had gone below the tree line, while a chilling mist was covering the fields and I considered packing up, but decided to give the bread another go, scraping up the last of my crumb for a couple of balls, which I followed down with the float. At the start of the eddy, I held back hard and mended the bow in the line, sinking the float. It didn’t come up again, the line straightening with a hooked fish. Another nice chub, it headed for the exit, but turned at the shallows and raced back along the far side, before drifting across toward my net, then diving deep into the pool at my feet. Net at the ready, it rolled on the surface and came off! Curses!

Several more fruitless casts later, I packed up feeling that I’d not got the most out of this swim. Maybe the maggots were too old and tough, or should I have stuck it out on the bread? Who knows? That’s fishing.


The dropped chub would have helped fill this net, but it’s still a reasonable bag for a cold winter afternoon. I’d watched kingfishers zooming back and forth, while pheasants strutted along the opposite bank, with the reward of a few fish.