Canal tactics with the pole and bread punch work on the River Cut

February 14, 2023 at 6:08 pm

The sun was shining and birds were singing as I walked downstream on the River Cut this week, it seemed that Spring had come early. Intending to fish a new swim, I had left home after lunch, hoping to avoid the daily influx of brown water, that puts the fish off the feed, but was disappointed to see the brown stain again.

I fed a small ball of plain liquidised bread and trotted a 4 No 4 stick float through the ball as it sank, not hopeful of seeing a bite, but slight tremors and dips indicated that something was there. Switching to a 4 mm punch on a size eighteen hook did not impove the bites, so plan B was called for. Last week the brown water had called a halt to catching fish, so this week I had put my pole into the rod bag. Clipping a rig with a 4 x 16 antenna float to an 18 hook into the stonfo connector, I was soon back in business.

With the pole at 5 metres, I was able to drop the rig into a gap downstream of flood debris opposite. Plopping over another small ball of feed, I held the float back, letting it run into the cloud. The antenna, tremored and slowly dipped a few times and I lifted the pole into a small rudd, which felt like a block of ice in my already cold hands.

First cast! The sensitive, lightweight float made a difference. The hook was just in the top lip. I now tried again, the float travelling another yard, before more tremors and half dips, this time a small roach dropped off as I swung it in. After more missed bites and very small roach hanging onto the punched bread, I mixed up some heavier feed with ground hemp and annaseed in an attempt to encourage some better fish to feed. It didn’t make any difference, more small fish.

They began to get bigger.

Then I caught a dace.

The bites were still fussy. The pace of the river had picked up again and I wondered where this volume of water was coming from. I was fishing overdepth and feeding the pole down through my fingers and still had not had a proper bite to take the float under. I began hooking into snags washing down the swim.

The flow was so strong that my keepnet was dragged round and I decided to put on another metre of pole to fish over into the slack water behind the far bank debris. I lobbed over a ball of plain feed and cast to it. The float shot under as a tiny roach took the bait and came off. At least it was a bit of action. A small rudd tracked away with the bread and stayed on. Another cast, another tiny roach, then a swirl and the ealstic came out, the fish boring deep toward the snags. This had to be a perch, as there are no pike in the Cut. It was a good fish, the dark bars across it’s back clearly visible as it turned away and rushed off down stream, taking the roach with it. I had seen small fish jumping earlier, this must have been the cause.

The river slowed and began to take on a greenish tinge. I reduced the pole to 5 metres again, dropping the float in on my side of the debris, to follow a cloud of plain feed. The float sank to half the antenna and sailed away downstream; lifting the pole bringing the flash of a much better roach below the surface.The landing net was out for the first time today. A couple of smaller roach and the net was out again.

The river was back to normal. I was even catching gudgeon. Feeding a pinch of feed every cast, I was into a rhythm, dropping the rig in and pulling it back into the gap in the debris, then letting it go to catch up with feed cloud, then easing it back, the float sinking to order, often with a better roach.

A rudd got in on the act.

A small chub charged off, the hook falling out in the net.

This was a return to the Cut that of old, with a fish a chuck, the coloured water a lottery of if and when it comes. It seems to be random, although usually in the morning.

The pole elastic was out again, a perch had struck again, this time coming to the surface and shaking it’s head, the tiny hook pulling free. Maybe I should bring my spinning rod next time?

The catching spree continued, the feed was on the bottom ignored for hours and now they wanted it.

No apologies for showing more roach.

The last fish, a good roach taken at 10 minutes to 5 to bring my session to a 3 hour close. It was still light enough to fish, but I didn’t want to pack up in the dark and anyway I had run out of holes to punch.

It had been a tricky start to the afternoon and I’m sure that if I had stuck to the stick float, I would not have had half the fish in my net. Pity about the perch.