Bread punch roach beat the deep freeze.

February 27, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Turning down the exciting prospect of a shopping expedition with my wife in town, I took  another option open to me and went fishing, as negative temperatures overnight had given way to a balmy 4 degrees C at lunch time in the sun. With thermals and a flask of tea to keep out the cold, I figured that a few hours by my local lake waiting for a carp, or two, was to be preferred. One problem. Arriving at the lake car park, I could see a thin layer of ice covering the surface, the only open area being occupied by Canada geese. Time for a plan B. Doubling back, I headed north toward the nearby river, hoping that the usually prolific weir swim was unoccupied, doing a drive by to check before parking up and unloading my gear. It was empty. Only a masochist would volunteer to fish today.

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The river was running clear with a good pace and I took a chance tackling up my 14 ft rod with a 3 No 4 ali stick, which was a bit light for the flow, but with no wind was better for presentation. Being prepared for the lake I’d brought coarse bread crumbs run through the food processor, instead of my usual liquidised feed, while the punch was straight from a loaf.

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I squeezed a couple of egg sized balls and put them down the middle, following down with the float, letting it run through, the float diving out of sight each time it reached the white water, but missing both unmissables. There is an  eddy at the foam, running back to the weir and after adding six inches to the depth, eased the float toward it at half speed, this time the bite developing into a slow slideaway, that resulted in a six ounce roach.

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 More feed and the roach were lining up, every one a netter.

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The bites were now coming higher up the swim, the roach following the feed trail, laying the line down off the rod top to fall through, letting it run, then stopping it dead, bringing a response every time, the bites slow and easy to hit.

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This chub took on the edge of the fast water, taking off downstream flat out and I thought that it was much bigger, bending the rod with the full force of the river, before it turned. Two more small chub followed, then the roach were back.

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The float bobbed a couple of times and zoomed off to give me the surprise of the day, a small perch had taken the 6 mm bread pellet. What this carnivore was doing taking bread I don’t know, but the barbless hook was inside the mouth not in it’s lip. Maybe it was confused, when the bread fluttered up from bottom as I held it back, thinking it was a fish.

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There is a snag on the inside next to the weir, which I was able to pull out of if the float went too far, but I’d also had some fish there, so it was not unexpected, when the float went down and I struck the snag, only for the rod to kick back with a big fish surging across the weir pool, chasing down along the opposite bank under back wind pressure. It turned and began a head shaking fight back upstream, making a bee line for the corner snag, while I pointed the rod out over the river, dragging it away. A last minute dive saw what was a chub of about 3 lb hard under my bank, trying to bury it’s nose under the keep net, while I chased it with the landing net.

A comedy of errors was unfolding, the chub was churning on the surface with the rod line under the keep net and I managed to scoop it up into the landing net on the other side, but although I had released the reel line, the float had become entangled in the keep net, each time I lifted the chub, it was pulled back out of the landing net. I tried to lift the keep net out, but that was caught under the bank too. Time for desperate measures, I slid down the steep bank holding the landing net clear of the water, then dropped the net and grabbed the chub with my left hand. Success. I now reached over the water and unhooked the chub. It flipped, then slid out of my left hand and dropped into the half submerged landing net. Relief turned to dismay, when the chub casually swam over the rim and away before I could lift the net, which was jammed on the bank. Failure.

This frantic episode had exhausted me. I had been inches away from falling into the freezing water, which would not have gone down well at home, that’s if I had been able to climb back out onto this isolated bank. The keep net still needed to be disentangled from the roots, the only positive being that the float rig released complete with hook. Time for a cup of tea, while I pondered my masochistic tendencies.

Twenty minutes of fishing had been lost by the time I was ready to try again and another ten minutes before the float dipped for another quality roach to be pounding away beneath the rod top. They were back over the feed.

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Each time the line was laid on the water, the float allowed to run, then stopped, the float sank out of sight with a good roach, the best of the day eventually coming to the net, after running into the fast water.

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bread 057It was now beginning to get dark and although there were more fish there, it was time to pack up. I’d recovered from my disaster and finished with a respectable net of gleaming roach and chub from this tiny river.

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