Chub, roach and dace line up for the bread punch on the Cut

March 10, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Following reports of more pollution on my local river Cut, controlled by the council backed Braybrooke Community Nature & Fishing Club, I decided to check it out for myself this week with an afternoon fishing session between the storms. I had walked the river the day before and it had been level with the bank, the colour of milky builder’s  tea, but today it had dropped back and although running fast, was carrying only a tinge of colour. Pollution booms were still in place across the main river, blackened with an oily deposit and I was prepared to pack up, if I had failed to catch after 30 minutes.

The morning had begun with blue skies, but by noon, as I tackled up, flat grey clouds had taken over again, the forecast of heavy rain sweeping in between 3 and 4 pm looked likely.

The river here was pushing  hard along the opposite bank and I opted for a 6 No 4 ali stemmed stick float fished on my soft 12 foot Hardy rod, controlled with an ABU 501 closed face reel. The previous week I had used this rig a couple of miles downstream on a flooded section of the river, bulking the shot a foot from the hook, but today pushed the main bulk beneath the float to give good float control, while spreading four No 6 shot six inches up from the size 16 barbless hook to give a natural fall of the bread punch pellet.

I wet down some liquidised bread and squeezed together a small ball, throwing it up stream close to the far bank. With a 5 mm punch of bread on the hook, an under arm cast put the float close to the bank in the path of the feed. I straightened the line to the float and eased it down, watching it slant away, lifting into a good fish that dashed off downstream, the long shape of a chub flashing beneath the surface. Taking my time, it was soon in the net.

First cast! Was it a fluke? Another 5 mm punch of bread and I cast in again. The river was running fast and I eased the float down again, slowing it to half speed, releasing and stopping the line with my finger as it came off the reel. The float dipped, then half held down and I struck. This time a silver flash and the juddering fight of a dace was bending the rod top.

A fat dace, evidence that stocking by the Environment Agency with five inch dace in 2017, after a major pollution event, has been a success, the river being devoid of these hard fighting fish before this.

Dace made the running for the next ten minutes and I tried another ball of feed, increasing the depth by three inches, again holding the float back, then releasing it, swinging the bread on and off the bottom.

The float held down and I was in again, a golden flash followed by the dogged thump of a roach as it fought along the far bank, continuing upstream past my keepnet, where I netted it. This was turning into one of my better fishing sessions, any doubts about the pollution long forgotten. Another trot, another roach.

Dace were competing with the roach, the extra depth of the float allowing more positive bites.

Another small ball of bread kept the fish lined up, bites coming in the first six feet of trot, the float under in ten feet. Roach had moved up over the feed and became the main feature.

After an hour there were over twenty quality fish in the net already and I needed to wet down some more feed, a small ball every three, or four fish working well. Early on I switched to rolled bread as bait because the dace were knocking the standard slice off the hook.

The catching spree continued, getting into a rhythm, zeroing in on the roach, the landing net required for most.

Even the gudgeon were chunky, hugging the bottom all the way back.

Dace were still in the mix, along with gudgeon and roach. Chub may have been further down under the bush, but the float never reached that far before it was buried by fish like the roach below.

As predicted the rain started at 3:15. By 3:30 pm it was hammering down and I packed up, this dace being my last fish of a very productive afternoon.

Thanks to the Environment Agency and Thames Water, this little unsung river, a tributary of the mighty Thames, has been saved to provide excellent fishing for a small club.

Not bad for a few hours on the bread punch.