Bread Punch Roach on the Basingstoke Canal. Mostly small stuff.

November 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm

The Basingstoke Canal near Woking proved a worthwhile alternative to a flooded Thames this week, when a change of plan gave me a few hours in the afternoon to go fishing. The bread punch is the ideal bait and method for spontaneous outings, as I store liquidized bread and a few pieces of medium sliced in the freezer. A slice of frozen bread is cut in four, then placed in the microwave for 15 seconds, causing a rapid thaw, before being rolled out to a millimetre thick and wrapped in cling film. That’s it, bait prep over. 

The canal was a picture of peacefulness, a light wind ruffling the surface as set up my pole, while the autumn sun warmed the air, the only downside being the crystal clear water, testimony to the lack of boat traffic. I set up a small wire stemmed pole float with just four No. 10 shot down the line, to a fine wire long shank size 20 hook and plumbed the depth to find the near and far shelves of the canal. The boat road is under three feet at it’s deepest. I measured out a quarter of a pint of the now thawed liquidized bread, compressed a small ball and lobbed it onto the nearside drop-off, watching it slowly break up, forming a cloud on it’s way to the shelf. The water was very clear. I was hoping for some skimmer bream from this swim, but they usually show when there is a tinge of colour in the canal and this was not their day, as the first of many four inch roach made off with the pellet of bread.

The near shelf was still going strong, but not producing any bonus fish, when I switched lines to just past middle with two more joints on the pole, fishing over another small ball of fine crumb. More small roach. I went up on punch size to a 5mm and fished 6 inches over depth. This often sorts out a better roach, or a skimmer, but no, more tiny roach, some just hanging onto the pellet jammed in their mouths. The same on the far shelf.

With the sun getting low over the trees, another ball was dropped in over the near shelf for a session of tiddler bashing, the float bobbing and sliding away seconds after cocking. I was now swinging the fish to hand, lifting into the first movement of the float, any longer and the disgorger was needed to reach the barbless hook. I lost count of the number of fish, all roach, bar one three ounce skimmer, which had me reaching for the landing net at first, but swung it in anyway. It just seemed big compared to the rest.

Once the sun had gone, the temperature dropped like a stone and following my third “just one more” roach, I pulled my net in for a tally up. Despite throwing the the tiniest back, there were still at least fifty sprat sized silvers balled in my landing net ready to be released. Less than a quarter of a pint of white crumb had been used, while onto my second square of bread, over seventy punches had been made. A busy two hours.