Bread punch finds shy winter carp

January 9, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Looking for a change of venue this week and still in possession of an exchange ticket for a club water a dozen miles away, I set off in sunshine for the shallow tree lined pond set in farmland high above a large town. I had last fished at Hitcham Ponds in October, before the leaves had dropped, but now the surface was covered with thousands of black rotting leaves, not an encouraging sight, as I set up my pole to fish the bread punch.

The sun had long gone by the time I arrived, settling in for another dull January day, the lack of surface activity making for a cautious start. There was a slight shelf into 3 feet of water at 5 metres and I started here with a small ball of liquidised bread, following in with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 16 barbless hook. No bites. Each time I brought the rig back in, the hook was coated with the dead leaves, so I reduced the depth on my antenna float by 3 inches, as the plummet had obviously sunk deep into a layer of these dead leaves. Another ball brought signs of a bite, a ring radiating out from the antenna, then a half hold down of the float. I lifted into what felt like another leaf, but it was a tiny roach, that had filled its mouth with the bread, the disgorger needed to remove the hook. Oh well, it was a start. I had once won a match here in freezing conditions on the bread punch, with over a hundred of these bait robbers. This was a pleasure session and I was after bigger game, hopefully a net of skimmer bream and crucians, plus a bonus carp or two.

After half an hour fine bubbles were now appearing in the surface film, the small roach giving way to slightly larger skimmer bream. Mixing up more feed, this time adding some ground carp pellets, I fed a line 6 metres out with three egg sized balls, going up to an 8 mm punch in an attempt to attract something bigger. I was still catching five inch skimmers and roach, missing bites due to the larger punch on the 16 hook, so went back to the 6 mm punch. All these fish were going into my keep net, the aim to feed off, or catch enough to give better fish a chance.

Another angler came along the bank having packed up. Bob said that he had failed to catch and was packing up before the rain started between 1 and 2 pm. This was news to me, my home forecast had said sunshine all day, but this side of the Thames Valley it was already a different story.

As Bob disappeared through the trees, my float slowly sank and I lifted into solid resistance, that moved steadily to my left, a carp that did not realise that it was hooked, stretching out the pole elastic. Suddenly it awoke, powering off toward the island taking elastic, but turning again. I kept pressure on following it with the pole, until it neared the surface, then bringing back the pole to the top three sections, keeping the landing net ready. It was still not giving up, but after an arm aching couple of minutes, I drew it over the net.

The hook dropped out in the net, this 2 lb common still full of fight.

As predicted, the rain started just after 1 pm, a fine drizzle at first, then an ever darkening sky bringing light rain. I hunkered down under my jacket hood, making sure that my punch bread was out of the weather. The next fish was a brightly painted rudd.

Larger bubbles were now bursting above the feed and the float dithered and lifted, striking into another carp that rushed off to the middle, rolled and came off. I put in another ball of feed and tried again. A few more small rudd, then I was in again. I thought that this was a crucian at first, as it was rolling rather than running, but the proof was in the net, another common. Two – One to me.

It had taken a while to bring the carp onto the feed, but I was soon playing another, allowing it to wear its self out, then bringing it close to net, only for it to go into warp drive again, once I was down to the top three again, the hook pulling free close to the net. Curses! I should have taken my time. Two – All.

A burst of bubbles next to my float indicated another carp was interested, the float dipping, then moving away with an unmissable bite, the elastic zooming out as the hook made contact. This was a much better fish than before and I followed with the pole as it ran along the bank to my left. Once turned, the carp tried to get under a clump of dead rushes, but pointing the pole away, held it out from the bank. Learning from the last lost fish, I kept it at range, not breaking down the pole until the last minute, although when the back end of the pole jammed in brambles behind me, I had to stand up and reach forward to grab the third section. Bringing the carp to the surface, it was soon netted.

This one was about 4 lb, the hook just inside the lip, needing a firm push with the disgorger to free it. I was now Three – Two up and quite content to pack up and get out of the rain, but another burst of bubbles meant that a large fish was browsing the feed and cast the float across the bubbles, the fish taking on the drop, another decent carp steaming off across the pond. Taking my time again, I had no desire to bully the common carp to the net, this would be my last fish and it stayed on. Four – Two.

The swim was now fizzing with bubbles, but I resisted the temptation to carry on. It was 3 pm and getting darker, a brighter day would have given me another half hour and more carp, but my legs were already soaked, comfort overruling carp these days.

It had been a busy session, just one of the carp outweighing all of the silvers taken previously, a quick weigh in seeing over 11 lbs on the scales.