Bread Punch Rudd Gold Rush

June 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm

I could not ignore the first day of the coarse fishing season, June 16th and had my sights set on a stretch of river nearby, but events overtook me, being unable to reach a tackle dealer to buy maggots for bait. Checking through the freezer, there was a small bag of  liquidised bread and a few quarter slices of white loaf, unused and returned, following a previous winter session over three months ago. The crumb was thawed out in the microwave and broken down, while the slices were also microwaved and rolled out to 2 mm thick and rewrapped in the cling film, that had held them. They felt a bit crusty, but would work well enough with a large punch.

There was not enough crumb for the river and decided to try a small pond, spotted while on a family walk this spring, a boggy wood between the main road and a housing estate, having recently been transformed by building a boardwalk through the area, where a slow moving, meandering stream, creates a series of shallow ponds.

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Loading up my trolley, I made my way through the now overgrown wood, past each pond, some almost dry, while the others were covered in a green scum and looked decidedly stagnant. By the time the last pond was reached, I was convinced that this was a fool’s errand. Half of it was now dry black mud, the remainder much smaller than I remembered, looking more suited to newts, than fish.

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There was a gap between the trees wide enough to swing a pole out and I set up on what is now a muddy beach, clearing away 4 ft high nettles to allow room for my box. This was true virgin country and already had my doubts about this dark pool, but the water was clear with 30 inches depth seven metres out. Lightly squeezing a couple of egg sized balls of bread, I threw them out six feet apart and watched them spread and sink, hoping for a fishy response, swirls, or bubbles, but not a sign. Punching out a 6 mm pellet of bread, for the size 14 barbless hook, I thought that I would give it half an hour without a bite, before packing up. The float settled and sank immediately. I lifted and the elastic extended from the end of the pole, arcing round to the left, as the surface erupted in a shower gold flanks and red fins. A deep bodied, black backed rudd had taken the bread.

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Until that float sank, my ability to read a water had been challenged, but now I swung into full predator mode, hooking on another punched pellet, then shipping it out, to be sucked in again by another fighting rudd.

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The sun was bright, the rudd were coming one a chuck and I was heating up, my black jacket soaking in the solar energy, it taking three fish stages to remove. Yes, I could have stopped fishing to take it off, but that’s the trouble with old matchfishermen, they never lose that need to get as many fish in the net as possible.

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These rudd were barrel shaped, probably spawn bound and all between 4 and 8 ounces, obviously healthy, but I wondered where the small fish were in this shrinking pond. After a busy hour, there were over twenty in my net, adding ten more in the next half hour, before the bites began to slow. While feeding the occasional small ball of bread, I’d also scattered a few grains of sweet corn, but the rudd were only interested in the bread. A group of tiny bubbles were regularly bursting on the surface to my right, signs that fish other than rudd were coming in to feed, possibly crucian carp and I invested time with the float sitting in their midst, watching it bob and dip, striking once, when it inched slowly away, feeling brief solid resistance. A return to the middle each time would bring another rudd and with my time limited, resolved to return another day with a more interesting ground bait, to encourage these mystery fish to feed.

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After two and a half hours, my already tired bread, was drying out and with an evening engagement planned, decided that an early return home, before the usual traffic crush would make a pleasant change. Pulling my net from the water, I was investigated by Poppy the dog, whose owner assisted the rapid transfer of rudd to my landing net for weighing and a photo, this net of over forty fish just topping 13 lb.

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