Bread punch crucians, roach and skimmer bream make up for a bad start.

August 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

With a guest ticket and key in my pocket, I took a 15 mile drive into the next county this week, leaving after rush hour to avoid the traffic, but forgetting the long queues lining up to get into the nearby Theme Park, the cars full of holidaying school kids. “Are we there yet?” This obstruction passed, a few miles on saw me in another tailback on the main road to the motorway. Looking ahead, I could see the westbound carriageway was not moving. A short one section belt down the westbound, cuts out a whole grind through the main town between me and the fishing lake. Cars and trucks were now diverting along this alternative route and I joined the stop, start throng of frustrated drivers. All the westwards roads seemed clogged and I pressed on through traffic lights, past speed cameras; chance would be a fine thing.

At last I reached a narrow lane, a much used short cut, when I lived nearby, although even this had big vans and trucks heading my way, squeezing me into the tree lined edges. Passing through the next village, I was sorry to see the local butcher had closed down, the shop long boarded up. The butcher used to have rabbits and pheasants hanging up outside, many of them mine, a useful source of pocket money.

Pulling the van up in the car park, all that was now needed was to unload the gear onto my trolley, unlock a gate, cross a field, unlock another gate, then make my way through a wood to the lake side. It seemed a long time since my wife had handed me my flask and sandwiches, seeing me off with a goodbye peck on the lips. A cup of tea from that flask was just the ticket.

This lake is full of carp, where the popular method is to cast a bait close to the island bank, or lily beds for results, but I was here for the other fish, crucian carp, roach and skimmer bream and set up my pole to 5 metres, feeding a line at that distance with a few balls of liquidised bread mixed with crushed carp pellets. Confident that I would catch on the bread punch, I’d brought no other bait.

Within ten minutes, the baited area was beginning to fizz with bubbles, as fish moved in to feed. The first few casts with a 6 mm bread pellet on the hook, saw Kamikaze mini roach attacking the bait, but then the elastic stretched into a better fish and I netted the first skimmer. After a brief burst of subsurface activity, the flat sided fish was literally skimming on its side toward my net.

The tiny roach had been pushed out of the swim as more skimmer bream found the bait, coming to the net at regular intervals. Then the elastic stayed down and the slow motion thud of a real bream bounced the pole as it swam to my left, before surfacing in front of the reeds. Breaking down the pole to bring it closer brought a reaction that saw the elastic stretch out again, requiring the rapid addition of the extra three metres, as it ploughed through the the middle of the baited area stirring up mud and bubbles. I’d become too used to the smaller skimmers and tried to bring it in too soon. It was on the surface again and this time I inched the pole back through my fingers to bring it closer to the net. Back down to the top two, its back was out of the water and I waited for the bream to come closer, the elastic at full stretch as it rolled over. The hook in the tip of the lip pulled out. What a let down.

I soon recovered, when next cast the float bobbed a few times and drifted under. I lifted the pole to feel the juddering fight of the first crucian, the elastic working overtime as it rushed around the swim, then into the net.

The crucians and skimmers were competing for the bait, the occasional ball of feed keeping a metre wide area of bubbles going in front of me. A nice roach managed to get in on the act.

The bites were not easy to see due to the thick covering of bright green algae, the float dipping beneath the surface and out of sight. Usually a float tip can be followed under water as a bite develops, before deciding to strike, now it was a case of delaying for a second or two before lifting the pole. Most fish were very lightly hooked, even after a delay. One delay saw the elastic zooming out, a carp had hooked itself and was heading straight for the lily bed. Too late, it was in the lilies before I could react, but lifted the pole high to keep the line clear. The carp stayed put, the line going solid and I pulled for a break. The elastic was like a bow string and fortunately the 2 lb hook link broke, firing the float back. The internal bung holding the elastic needed pulling back down the pole to increase the tension, but with a new size 16 hook, and no tangles, I was ready again. Another ball of feed for the fish, a cup of tea and a sandwich for me.

There were no more dramas and the net continued to fill. I varied the bread punch size from 6 to 7 mm, but it made no difference to the fish, steady feed keeping them in a tight area.

A better skimmer

A golden crucian

A roach bream hybrid

It had been a weird weather day, very humid, sometimes spotting with heavy rain, then bright, hot sunshine followed by drizzle, when I had to cover up the punch bread. In the same way I never knew what species of fish would take.

I had come for the crucians, taking about twenty, this one being the best.

I was also pleased to catch a few nice roach, this one being the last fish of the day.

I could have gone on for longer, but had to call a halt if I was to avoid the traffic misery of the morning and pulled in my net to the sound of splashing fish.

A 14 lb mixed bag in under five hours.