Bread punch roach never fail to please on the River Cut

November 18, 2023 at 10:08 pm

I had started the day with a long overdue visit to the river Blackwater, which looked in perfect condition following a couple of rainy days. It was flowing fast, but had good colour and I was optimistic of a busy session catching autumn roach on the bread punch.

Having made up a heavy mix of ground bait, I fed a couple of firm balls down the middle on the edge of the flow and another pair in close into the slacker water. I then assembled my 14 foot Browning float rod to give the feed time to work its magic downstream. A 6 No 4 stickfloat was looped on, complete with a size 14 crystal barbless hook. All that was needed was a 7 mm punch of bread and the rig was cast my side of the fast water and checked at intervals on the way down. My finger checked the line on the ABU 501 and the float disappeared. Yes! A good roach broached on the surface when I struck and I began a steady retrieve. A bow wave appeared to the side of the roach and the green, grey flank of a pike arced over and seized the roach, turning downstream as I backwound my reel. Feeling the resistance, the pike accelerated downstream and my 3 lb hooklink parted.

I had expected a pike at some time, but not this soon. A lure fisherman was working the swim as I arrived with no takes, but I have found that a six ounce roach fighting to escape from my hook, works every time! I don’t enjoy feeding pike with pristine roach and decided to pack up and head for home and my local River Cut, which has no pike, yet…….

The Cut was also up and running, with a hint of colour and I was soon tackled up from my ready to fish rod bag, using the same float rig as earlier, while I had emptied the remaining ground bait into a bag, also saving time, but ready to put in a couple of balls along the opposite bank. The move had taken 90 minutes, but I reckoned that I had two hours to make amends. The float had only travelled a yard before it sank away and I felt the resistance of a decent roach, seeing it flashing over on the strike. It was exactly 2 pm.

Another punch of bread and the float was back out there. Bang! The rod was bending over again with another roach. They seemed to be fighting harder than usual, probably due to the higher oxygen levels in the fast water.

These were decent sized roach, not the 6 to 8 oz beauties of the Blackwater, but full of fight and in tip top condition.

Every few roach I put over another ball upstream of my float. There was only two feet of water over there and the roach were taking on the drop, giving sideways bites.

Holding back hard produced downstream bites. I thought that they were chub, but it was their smaller cousins dace, that were hitting the bait hard, requiring a quick lift of the trigger finger to avoid pulling out of these tumbling battlers.

The roach kept coming, this one hooked in the cheek, a sign of a feeding frenzy, not the expected fussy bite of its species.

What a clonker, this roach was spewing fresh groundbait from its mouth, with barely enough room for the bread.

Dace were becoming more numerous, as were some big gudgeon appearing on the scene.

I decided to begin casting downstream of the feed, where the water was slower and deeper and was back among the roach.

Another clonker from the slower water, where I was expecting a carp, but those big gudgeon were everywhere.

I was rapidly running out of holes to punch and searched out the bread squares for spaces. One of the last to be punched produced this big dace from the bottom end of the swim.

There were no dace in the Cut until they were stocked by the Environment Agency several years ago, following pollution that killed thousands of fish. After this session it is clear that have been successful.

The light was going fast and I had to use the camera flash for the last photos. I had been fishing for under two hours and put over 6 lbs on the scales. A non-stop catching spree.