Chub on bread punch dominate

March 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

Tipped off that the Basingstoke Canal was coming back on form following an indifferent winter, I resolved to take the fifteen mile drive to one of the more productive areas and plunder the  roach and skimmer bream shoals. Ready with a white loaf liquidised and some slices ready for the punch, I began loading the van with tackle. It was bitterly cold with a gusting wind, but the Basi is forgiving on that count, running through wooded banks, where a protected area can always be found and facing south, the sun can be warming, even on the frostiest day.

Reverse gear was selected and as I moved off, a cursory glance at my wife’s car revealed a flat rear tyre. On the rim, it was a puncture, a shiny screw head visible between the treads. Park the van, raise the car on the jack and take the wheel off. Her car has one of those space saver tyres for emergencies, but there is no way, that she would ever drive with it fitted. There was nothing for it, but to squeeze the tyre in among the tackle and drive the van to the tyre centre in town. Fortunately the tyre could be repaired within 30 minutes. Precious fishing time! For something to do, I walked the two hundred yards, to where the main feeder stream of my local river runs under the road. Last week it was roaring through and heavily coloured, today it ran clear, babbling over the stones. A change of venue was decided upon. I could make up the lost time by only taking the two mile drive back to the weir pool visited the previous week.

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The river was running at half the pace of last week, having dropped by eight inches and looked a much better prospect. Last week I had a whole range of baits, but prepared for the canal, only had bread and a few red worms, but this wasn’t a challenge, as this swim is usually chock full of big roach, while chub and other species are always present. The main problem here can be running out of bread feed, if the fish come on strong, but as I was hoping for a similar situation on the canal, that one was covered.

The same rig as last week come out, a 6 No 4 Ali stick float to 5 lb line and a 16 hook to 3lb. This is ideal for trotting through the swim, then holding back at the edge of the weir stream, while for later on, it has the weight to be held back in the full force of the white water. Due to the flow, I opted to use rolled strips for the punch, which do not get washed off the hook. To start, three egg sized balls were put in, enough to kill a canal swim, but here just a starter for ten, one inside, down the middle and the other towards the far bank, just upstream. I could see the balls sink and break, still being carried at a fair pace, so dropped the float in close and let the float run through. It dragged under. On the bottom? No, the rod bent into a hard running fish, that dived for the base of the bush, but the 14 foot Browning rod has a lot of backbone and soon had the white gaping mouth of a chub sliding across to the net.

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First cast, first fish, a 6oz chub, the 6mm bread pellet still on the hook. Next trot I shallowed up six inches and the same pellet accounted for a slightly larger chub.

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This is how it went for the following half hour, sometimes the float would reach the white water, at others it would sink out of sight the moment it hit the river. I’d been putting in big pinches of bread every cast, which was drawing the chub out of the fast water into the shallow river. The chub were in the 4 to 8 oz range, good fun to catch, but I was hankering after a change. It was time to top up the bread crumb.

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Adding 6 inches to the depth, I threw a couple more balls, just short of the white water in the hope of drawing some bigger fish up from the stream, guessing that the small chub were hoovering up the crumb before it got there. Casting to the edge and holding back,  the float disappeared in seconds and the pounding fight let me know it was a roach, before the float reappeared. This is not an easy swim to fish, the high bank allows good control of fish, but it is also a bit of a birdcage, with branches overhead, which make contact with the rod top, when bringing them to the net. The answer is to bend over and lean out to net all fish, while keeping the butt close the ground, not ideal, but it works.

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A nice roach made a change, then more small chub. I made a longer cast into the fast water, just easing the float down, holding the tip clear of the foam. It went under and I struck into a bright red rudd. They are supposed to live in placid lakes and rivers, but this one certainly hadn’t read the rule book.

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Another few chub and the gudgeon had moved onto the feed, every put into the hotspot at the edge, resulted in the deep hard fight from the bottom feeders.

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With nothing to lose, I piled in a few more egg sized balls, smacking into another six ounce chub. Next trot to the edge, the float glided under the foam and I felt the weight of a very good fish, which stood and fought, before sweeping down stream, as I backwound to cushion the load. It hugged the inside, taking line round the corner, bending the rod double against the force of the flow, the float briefly appeared, then swept up stream. It was making for the bush on my side, as I pushed the rod out in front of me, while reeling back to gain line. A black tail and the light bronze flash of a big chub broke surface, as it turned towards me, rolling, then diving for the bank beneath the bush. In seconds it snagged me, transferring the hook to a root. All went solid. I pulled for a beak, the line going at the hook.

It took me a couple of minutes to whip another hook to the line by hand, my float following more balls of bread feed. Bang, another roach was battling away, the best of three that afternoon. I had expected more, but there was still time.

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A magic triangle had formed, where I could not fail to hook a fish. This is how it can get on the bread punch, the feed coating the bottom and drifting down, while unlike maggots, the fish don’t get overfed so easily, but frantically search mopping up the feed. Another rudd took the bread, dashing all over the river, using it’s deep flanks to glance off the current.

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The next bite rattled the rod top and I lifted into another heavy fish, which dived and came off, the line pinging back in a tangle round the float.

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I’d been fighting a vicious wind all afternoon, my hands were freezing and the thought of struggling to unravel this one was too much, although it was tempting, as it seemed as though the better fish had finally moved in. The sun was now low and I’d been in shadow for a while; it could only get colder. A last cup of tea and I was ready to pack up.

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Around six pounds of fish from a busy hundred and fifty minutes, all taken on the bread punch for a cost of less than 50 pence. The bonus for me was to arrive home to a warm kitchen and the spicy aroma of bread pudding, laced with blue berries, the byproduct of the dicarded crusts, when the bread was liquidised.