Bread punch roach and chub bonanza closes river season

March 15, 2022 at 10:30 am

With the river season about to close for three months, I had three options to try in the hope of a bumper session to mark the day, arriving at my first option to find the parking space clear and no one fishing. It had been third time lucky for this swim below the weir, my previous two visits this month finding it occupied. There had been an overnight frost, but the sun had come out to warm the air and I looked forward to getting a few good fish in the net.

At this time of year big roach congregate here ready for spawning and I hoped that bread punch on the stick float would be the answer on this mild day. Arriving at 11:30, I set out my stall at the top of the steep bank and began mixing my ground bait, liquidised bread, ground hemp, ground carp pellets and a good dusting of Haiths Red Spice, that seems to work well in coloured water. I added a splash of water to hold the balls together and put a couple in across to the edge of the foam opposite. It was just a case of putting together my 14 foot Browning float rod from the ready to fish holdall, having set up a 4 No 4 ali stemmed stick float with a new size 14 barbless hook the day before, punching out a 6 mm pellet of bread and casting over to the fed area.

The float was set off bottom with a long hook link in the hope of a chub before the roach moved in. The float had barely settled, when it slowly sank from view and a solid resistance exploded into action with a run toward the foaming weir outlet. A rapid back wind of my ABU501 eased the pressure on the hook link and a chub, smaller than first thought, was on the surface ready for the landing net.

A couple of smaller chub were next in the queue, before I added another foot to the depth and slid the shirt buttoned No 6s together to form a bulk above the hook link. The bread was now just tripping bottom and a dip of the float was followed by a hold down, that I hit with my finger on the spool. The juddering fight said roach and flash of silver confirmed it, as I inched out the landing net from the high bank  to collect it.

Not your every day roach, this was a clonker, although it would prove par for the course, when it’s equal took next cast.

Each roach gave a good account of itself, they were all fighting fit.

Stepping up the feed to a small nugget each cast began a feeding frenzy, as juvenile chub and gudgeon moved in over the feed, the float often taken on the drop. A tight line was taking a small fish a minute, swinging in, then out again to unhook, rebait and repeat. Every now and then a roach would beat them to the bread and a battle royal would commence.

A decent chub had me backwinding again, as it made full use of the area in front of me, trying to snag the float along the opposite bank, before powering upstream toward a sunken branch. Stopped again, suddenly it was on the surface with it’s big white mouth open.

I checked my watch, it was still only 12:30 and that chub had pushed my weigh to about 5 lb in the net. The feed was going down rapidly and I decided to mix up some more, stopping for my lunch time sandwich and a cup of tea, while I was at it. First cast in the float was under again and this rather tatty roach was putting up a show of defiance.

Most of the gudgeon were huge by any standards, scudding across the bottom and putting a bend in the rod.

Many of the chub were worth catching too, going off like a coiled spring, once they realised that they were hooked.

The one above took some persuading to come to the net.

The roach kept coming, the bites not shy, despite the size 14 hook, although most hooks fell out in the net.

By 2.00 pm the feed was gone again and I mixed up more. I was on a strict time limit today, having a visitor call after 4.00, so would have to pack up at 3.00. Sod’s Law was that there was no sign of the fish going off the feed.

Another angler had set up on the inside of the bend opposite and was fishing with a 4 metre elasticated whip, feeding maggots, he had been swinging in gudgeon and small chub, oblivious that I was into much better quality fish.

It had clouded over, then to drizzle with light rain, so put my big jumper back on again, a case of being more haste, less speed, as I struggled to get it over my head without taking my cap off. Doh! Not to worry, the roach didn’t mind waiting!

I had stopped taking photos of the roach, but could not ignore the quality, as they come to the net.

Still going strong, I netted this one with three minutes to go, then recast and hooked my last fish bang on 3.00 pm.

The angler across the river had now been watching me and I told him that I was now packing up. Did he want to take over where I leave off? He began stripping down his pole.

Evidence of a busy few hours, over 80 holes meant at least that many fish, if not more, as the smaller chub and gudgeon were out of the river so quickly, that the punched bread often remained on the hook.

What a haul. I attempted to weigh these fish in my landing net, but the scales bottomed at 13 lb (6kg). I removed the chub, but they still bottomed out, so maybe 15 lb in three hours fishing.

As I was loading the the tackle into the van, my phone buzzed with a text. You guessed it, my visitor would not be coming after all. Ah well, no complaints, what a great catch.