Bread punch mixed bag from gudgeon alley

September 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm

My tiny local river has suffered with several pollution events this year, causing thousands of fish deaths, but the upper reaches seem to have recovered and I was keen to see how the productive weir swim was getting on. My last visit in February had resulted in a blank, when in previous years quality roach had queued up for the bread punch.

Not trusted to buy my wife’s birthday present on my own, we had driven to a nearby town to look at rings, with the option of going on further to view more jewelers, but had struck lucky at only the second shop, finding the ideal gift, that we were both happy with. Driving back we had listened to a news report of reintroduced otters in Wiltshire, finding urban fish ponds full of expensive Koi carp easy pickings, emptying the ponds and strewing half eaten remains over the gardens. This obviously got me onto the subject of fishing that afternoon, although it would have to be a short session, being reminded that she was baking a favourite dish that afternoon, which would spoil if I was late home.

Bearing in mind, that a month after the pollution, I had failed to get a bite from this popular spot, I was not encouraged to find the swim overgrown, overhanging branches creating a parrot cage, which would make fishing with my 14 ft rod difficult. In the past the regulars have kept the branches trimmed, but was this a sign that it was no longer fishing?

Setting my 6 No. 4 ali stemmed stick float to run through shallow, I hoped to pick up a few early chub, before the roach moved it. That was the theory anyway, as the float followed a couple of balls of liquidised bread down the swim. At the foam, the float sailed away and firm resistance saw a rudd skimming towards the landing net. The rod snagged in an overhanging branch, as I brought the fish to the net, but all was ok and number one was in the keepnet.

A smaller rudd, a tiny chub, then a better chub came in quick succession, swinging the chub in to avoid the tree.

Fears of no fish in the swim were blown away with a fish a chuck, small chub and rudd taking the bread just below the surface.

The chub were getting smaller, throwing most of them straight back and changed tactics, bulking the shot at the hook link, while adding 18 inches to the depth, dragging bottom. Dip, dip, dive. A gudgeon came swinging in.

The gudgeon here fight like mini barbel, hugging the bottom, giving the impression of being bigger fish. These were now coming with every cast, the bread coating the bottom encouraging an impenetrable wall of the greedy fish. I was fishing with a big 7 mm bread pellet on a size 14 hook, but that did not stop them.

What to do? Stop feeding, or feed heavier? I chose the second option and the roach moved in. Once more the rod got snagged, but pulled through.

I tried to bring the next roach round to the side of the branch, but the fish swam off the hook. Then I attempted swinging them in, only to lose another. They were lightly hooked and heavy fish. Adding another 6 inches to the depth worked. Well over depth and held back to half river speed, every time the bait entered the edge of the foam it sank out of sight, followed by the line. These were decent roach, that ran into the fast water, putting a good bend in the rod, but being securely hooked deeper in the lip.

Running the gauntlet with the tree continued, requiring some careful maneuvering with the landing net at full stretch. I continued to bash my way through waves of gudgeon, but the roach, when they came were worth it.

I’d started late at 3:15 and two and a half hours later it was time to stop. This was supposed to be only a taster session and any longer would not go down well, if my wife’s special meal was ruined. As I pulled the  clattering net out of the water, I reflected on the disaster that had befallen this small river only 8 months before, the picture below taken a hundred yards upstream.

What a contrast, my catch below, 8 pounds of prime healthy fish, roach rudd, chub and yes, gudgeon.

I arrived home in time to sit down to a turkey steak, baked in a foil parcel with cheese, mushrooms and onions, served on a bed of carrots and beans fresh from the garden. A perfect day.