Casters find winter carp and rudd

January 19, 2015 at 11:15 pm

Continuing waves of strong winds, rain and snow, followed by brief days of plummeting temperatures, not rising above lower single figures, have kept my outside activities down to the occasional walk to the local supermarket. The route takes me alongside a stream, which for much of it’s length, acts as a rainwater run off for the housing estate through which it runs. To avoid flooding, the council created balance ponds at intervals to act as overflow reservoirs and fortunately for local anglers, a fish rescue at a silted up ancient pond in a nearby nature reserve, resulted in the stocking of these shallow pools with a mixture of mostly rudd, common and crucian carp.

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Days of heavy rain had seen the pond doing it’s job, floodwaters spilling over from the stream to take the level beyond it’s banks close to the rugby field. A few days later it was all change, with the level down and the margins full of cat ice following a hard frost. With worse weather to come, I decided to burn off some Christmas calories, loading up my trolley for the walk down the pond, which lies well away from any road access. In times of flood, the stream enters at one end and flows out of the other, creating a deeper channel in the silt and I set up my pole at 8 metres, with 2 metres to hand, expecting plenty of rudd during the afternoon. Red maggots from my new year outing, were turning to casters, despite chilling in the fridge and I catapulted a couple of pouches out, spraying them over an area beyond my pole. A pint of liquidised bread, mixed with handful of hempseed, also a similar amount of ground bait, was knocked together, formed into balls and scatter gunned out to spread over the baited area. A pole float, set to two feet, was punched out against the head wind and I settled down to wait for a bite. Nothing happened and I lifted out a couple of times to check that my 6 mm pellet of punched bread was still on. Ten minutes in and the float’s silhouette reduced and disappeared, swinging in a welcome rudd.

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Another ten minute wait, a lift of the float and I was in again to a matching rudd. At this point, a well wrapped up dog walker squeezed past my tackle box, commenting that the afternoon had turned out better than expected, “more than I can say about the fishing” I’d replied. This called for another spray of ground bait, the float sliding way before it settled on the next cast. The switch was now pulled and rudd followed rudd to my keepnet, taking over thirty in the next hour, most fish hooked well down, not put off by the size 14 hook to 3lb line. These rudd were of a good size, but I changed bait to caster to see if  any better fish were around.

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First chuck in with the caster, the float bobbed and sailed off, the hard fighting fish zooming about unlike a rudd and I got the landing net ready for the first time, only to see a small tench break surface in front of me.

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I’ve yet to catch any tench larger than this from the pond, but whatever their size, they are always welcome. Back to the rudd, the following several fish, a better stamp again.

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I’d seen a few bubbles burst on the surface and dropped the float over one, the float dithering, before a slow sink. I lifted and the surface erupted, with a carp flapping across the surface, then charging across the pond stretching out the elastic. The runs reduced and I shipped the pole back to 2 metres and netted a near pound common.

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Bubbles were now appearing throughout the baited area, the rudd had done a disappearing act and various sized commons and crucian hybrids were on the feed, although the bites were the merest lift, or holds, but the hook was well down every time. The carp’s lower lips were full of silt, a sign that they were almost static, filtering out the bait from the mud. I went back on the punch to improve the bites, but got smaller hybrids, so went back to the caster.

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A group containing two young families, babies in push chairs, with youngsters on scooters and trikes, now came along the narrow path and I got up to make way for them, a wheel over my carbon pole would not go down well. By the time they had scraped and clattered by, the swim had gone dead. My last portion of ground bait went in and I poured myself a long awaited hot cup of tea. I’d not had time before and the bitter wind had steadily chilled my body, but now could feel the refreshing heat working through to my stomach. The float conveniently waited for me to swallow my second cup, before bobbing in warning and then sinking. The carp were back and the elastic was out again. I’d set my time limit to 3:30, but the sun was just visible behind the trees and I’d fished on to land a couple more, when the surface exploded with a the best yet and hung on, following with my pole to ease the pull on the hook. It made a run across the pond towards the tree roots, the red elastic stretching and stretching, the tension forcing the carp to turn in a reducing arc, then run again in surges. The hook hold held, only just, it was in the skin of the lip.

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This was the decider, the cold was creeping in again and my hands were going numb, time to pack up.

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The light was fading fast and flash was needed on this lively net of fish, around 10lb, in two and a half hours on a freezing  winter’s afternoon, better than staying in to do the Times crossword any day.