Bread punch selects big roach from the River Blackwater weir pool

August 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Strong winds were forecast for my visit to the River Blackwater this week, but at least it was going to be dry. Since last year’s visit, the undergrowth was crowding the path, with brambles constantly wrapping round the axles of my trolley, three steps forward and one back, making slow progress toward my goal, the weir pool.

I had hoped to fish closer to the weir and trot down from there, but another half hour would have been needed to chop my way through and instead settled the tackle box on a high bank under the canopy of a tree, which meant using my 12 foot Hardy instead of the 14 foot Browning. Add to this the branches hanging in front of me requiring an under hand cast out to the the flow, I was feeling beaten before I even made a cast, but I have never failed to have a good net of fish from this pool and continued to set out my stall. Bait was to be my faithful bread punch, fished over a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of the strawberry flavouring, that has been attracting some big roach for me lately.

The weir pushes the flow hard over to the far bank, creating a back eddy that flows under your feet towards the weir again. This is a very shallow swim, having a maximum depth of  two feet at the deepest point, where a layer of silk weed covers the bottom.

I carry my rods in a Drennan ready to fish holdall and started off with the 4 No 4 ali stem stick float attached to the Hardy’s line. With the shot bulked close to the hook, the rig cast well, with an underhand flick and no tangles. On my side of the flow, the river slowed as it began to eddy and I concentrated a few firm balls of feed  into the apex in front of me. The float travelled a yard, dipped and dived. Missed it! No, there was a rattle on the rod tip from a tiny chub.

A dozen of these and I added another six inches to the depth to fish well over depth. The upstream wind had increased holding the float back with a bow in the line and was constantly mending the line to allow the float to travel down stream. I began to catch gudgeon.

I needed a heavier float once the wind increased, the 4 No 4 being blown upstream and opened up the rod bag to rob the Browning of the 6 No 4 Stick float. Feeding another couple of stiff balls of feed, while I did the switch, The swim was primed for my next cast, the extra weight counteracting the wind giving better presentation. The float dipped, then held and I struck into solid resistance, seeing a deep fish flash over before it dived into the faster water. At last, a big roach. It came off. Blow it! Another ball of feed preceded my next cast. The float dipped and held. Strike! Another good roach, this came off too as I readied the landing net.

The roach were now in the swim and on the next trot, paused until the float had disappeared before striking. Another rod bender was running back into the fast water and I released line from the spool, letting the rod do the work, and back winding, bringing it into the shallows, it’s red fins clearly visible.

Next trot I was in again, another absolute clonker. Giving line to counter the first run worked again.

The wind continued to increase, bowing the line and I was having to rapidly reel in the slack before each strike. Some fish I missed completely, but the bread punch is a bait that is taken down into the throat and the float stayed down long enough to make contact most of the time.

Regular balls of feed kept the roach lined up. Sometimes I saw a roach take the bait near the surface, when the wind reversed the movement of the float swinging the bait up. I wondered what the catch rate would have been on a less gusty day. Each time the wind dropped a fish or two were guaranteed.

This one was at least 10 oz, most 6 oz and upwards. The one below was the smallest roach of the session.

They just kept coming, walkers on the path opposite often stopping, when they saw my rod bent into another big red fin.

If the wind dragged the float offline, a big gudgeon was always ready to pounce, keeping me busy, but the roach were my obvious target, who could blame me, when they were like this.

With over two dozen quality roach in the net, I’d run out of 6mm holes to punch in the bread and I was ready to pack up, the “just one more” syndrome had kept me fishing beyond my four hour limit already.

The last roach

Other anglers often ask me why I always fish the bread punch; apart from the obvious low cost and convenience of bait availability, it is a method that consistently produces results, when other baits don’t.