Carp cause a stir on the River Cut

June 27, 2023 at 2:43 pm

I was back on my local River Cut again this week, finding a contrast to the previous flash flood, there being little flow. I walked downstream to where a fallen tree was creating a pinch point, that put extra pace into the stream, ideal for the stickfloat.

The image above illustrates how low the river was, with mud banks visible opposite, while the main channel was only two feet deep, when plumbed.  My aim today was to catch one of the increasing number of carp, that this narrow tributary of the Thames holds and fed a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of sweet spice flakes.  Having located a slightly deeper area with a plummet five yards downstream, I started off with four egg sized balls to coat the bottom and cast in with a 5 No 4 stick float bulkshotted over depth on 5 lb main line to a 3 lb hook link.

Holding the float back over the baited area, I didn’t have long to wait for signs of a bite, the float sliding under within a minute, when a gudgeon swam off with the 7 mm pellet of bread in the size 14 barbless hook.

A few more of these, then my first roach, at least the heavy ground bait was attracting a few fish in.

I put in a couple more balls, the float swung in and the rod rested, waiting for another bite. I prefer to trot the float through, but this laying on method was just as productive, bobs of the float leading to it pulling under, gudgeon and roach competing for the bread.

The roach were getting bigger.

A burst of bubbles over the feed alerted me to the shape of a large fish on the bottom close to my bait and I picked up the rod as the float bobbed, lifted flat, then moved upstream toward me. Reeling back the slack, I lifted into the fish, which continued upstream with a slow shake of the head, passing under my rod heading for sunken branches, before turning with my 14 foot Browning bent double. Oh dear, this was a very big carp, that was now cruising downstream, while I backwound keeping on the side strain. It turned, following the bend in the river, pushing out a bow-wave, giving me a clear view as it accelerated out of sight, the float pinging back to drop at my feet. I’ve hooked and lost some big carp in this little river before, this was the biggest yet. The 3 lb hook link was broken at the loop to the main line. I will have to tie up some 4 lb hook links, when I get home.

I had started fishing at around 2 pm, it was still only twenty past. I put in another couple of balls of the heavy feed, which I could see sank straight to the bottom. I tied on another 14 to 3 lb line, had a cup of tea and tried again. More bubbles, the float marched away; I struck. Another gudgeon. Quick, get another punch of bread on the hook! I dropped the float back in. It bobbed, dipped and submerged, moving beyond the middle. Whoa! Another carp heading off downstream, as I backwound giving line. It turned swimming back upstream, hugging the opposite bank. This was smaller, but still a handful, turning it before the upstream snags, letting the Browning take the strain, while keeping the thrashing carp mid water, waiting for a netting opportunity as it dived about.

In the net, a 3 lb common carp.

This time I was ready for a piece of fruit cake with my cup of tea. These river carp really go!

Another lift and run bite got my heart thumping with anticipation, but it was a false alarm from a rudd. Being so shallow, the 10 inch hook link allowed the bread to drift to the bottom, attracting both rudd and chub.

From now on the bites slowed down as the river sped up, the water turning a mucky brown, even my keep net vanished in the murk. This is sometimes a twice daily occurance, when bites stop. I have often thought about borrowing an oxygen meter from one of my fishing clubs, to see if there is a drop in oxygen levels. Maybe it is just the fine sand particals, that clog the gills of the fish and put them off. I do not remember this happening before the massive increase in housing along the banks of the Cut in recent years. Whatever it is, reports to the Environment Agency fall on deaf ears. Dead fish get results.

Having tried various shotting combinations with no reward, I was ready to pack up after 45 minutes, when the float bobbed with a half interested bite. A few more trots and the float dived with a hooked rudd.

I fed plain white liquidised bread and began catching again, this rudd missing part of it’s tail, as did another. Mink, perch, or cormorant?

The roach and gudgeon had gone missing, but surface feeders like rudd and small chub had taken their

place. It seemed that the bottom feeders, including carp were still off the feed. I couldn’t wait for that to happen and packed up.

I will tie up some heavier hook links, a friend uses 6 lb straight through, but that would probably mean carp, or nothing. I still prefer the chance of a mixed bag.