Chub, roach and dace provide a bonus, despite a flooded River Cut

March 14, 2024 at 11:11 am

Looking back over my blogs, it has been four months since I last fished a river. In fact it was a flooded River Cut back in November, that I fished, being rewarded with a net of roach and dace, all taken on the stick float with bread punch as bait.

It was mach warmer then and fish were in top condition, but since that date the little River Cut close to my home has been polluted twice and flooded constantly. When not flooded it was freezing cold. With only one day of the UK river season left, after more days of rain, I felt it was now or never for me to try my luck.

Parking up the van and unloading my gear, I was soon looking down on the confluence of the weir from the industrial estate and the natural river, which winds its way across fields for five miles to this point. The weir had disappeared, brown water flowing straight across into a swirling brown eddy.

On another day, I would have turned around and found a pond to fish, but would have had to wait three months for my next opportunity to fish a river, as still waters are not governed by a close season. Following the Cut down along the path, many of the swims were under water, with no access. I found a swim where the river had receded enough to allow room for my tackle box, although my feet were in thick silt. I decided to give it a go, setting myself a time limit of 30 minutes without a fish, before I packed up and moved to a nearby pond.

The river was the colour of strong tea and running level with the bank, but being on the inside of a bend, my side offered some shelter from the flow. Setting up my 14 foot Browning float rod with a 6 No 4 Ali stemmed stick float to a size 14 barbless hook, with a 7 mm punch of bread, I set the float over depth with a 300 mm tail. Squeezing up a tight ball of liquidised bread, I dropped it in 6 feet from the bank and followed the ball down, checking the float at interals to swing the bait up in the current.

Trotting the length to my left, the float went under, the strike bringing back a sunken branch. Elation and depression in two seconds! The float was dropped in again, to follow another ball downstream. Ten yards down the float dipped and slid under, my strike, an automatic reflex as the rod bent over. No snag this time! Second cast! A good sized fish was slowly waking up beneath the surface, intially swimming upstream toward me, then turning and running over to the opposite bank, while I allowed line to spill over the spool of my ABU 501 to ease the shock loading on the 3 lb hooklink. It was a few minutes before I had a glimpes of the fish, a broad black back and a large white mouth unmistakenly a decent chub. Aware that this may be my only fish of the afternoon, I sunk the landing net and drew the chub over it, lifting it clear of the surface. A solid two pounder.

As the image shows, the hook was just in the skin of the upper lip and came away with a minimum of pressure. How is that for luck?

I dropped in another ball of white crumb and tried again, the float sliding under in the same spot. I braced for the strike, but this time it was a small roach. No worries, this looked like it was going to be a bumper session. Gudgeon and more small roach followed, then a decent dace.

I now began to miss bites, just taps and and dips. Was it more dace? Do I need to need more feed, or less? The decision to replace the size 14 hook with a 16 was made for for me, when the snag at the bottom of my trot refused to budge. A size 16 to 2 lb line was looped on, going down a size on punch to 6 mm too. The bites were still fussy and I managed to hook a couple that were about three inches long, just hanging onto the bread before falling off. Time to change tactics.

Running along the opposite bank is an eddy, caused by a fallen tree upstream and after lobbing a couple of balls of feed over, cast into the fed area. This eddy has held a good head of rudd on previous visits and was worth a try, but nothing was happening. I added depth to the float and raised the rod to keep the line to the float off the water. The float lifted and sat half cocked for a minute. A snag or a rudd? I lifted the rod higher. It was a snag. There was always one over there. Pointing the rod at the snag, I pulled for a break. It was coming free, when the rod top nodded. It was a big fish, but it was not fighting, just lying there keeping pace with the river. Aware that I only had a size 16 hook to 2 lb line, I gently drew the fish over to my side. Mid river it decided that it didn’t want to play this game any more, rolled and shot off downstream, showing a deep bronze flank before snapping my hooklink. Not a carp, but a big bream? I landed one of over 3 lb from this swim in the past. This was much bigger.

I percivered trotting the far bank for another 15 minutes with no sign of a bite and came back to my side, again no bites. The pace had picked up and now there was a distinct farmyard smell from the river. Could it be the daily pollution that put me off the Cut before, due to suddenly the bites drying up, then starting again an hour later? I added two feet to the depth and cast my float five yards downstream, laying on with my rod rested on the keepnet. The flask and sandwiches came out. Every ten minutes I checked the bread on the hook. It was still there. Not even a gudgeon was interested now. Eventually the float dipped and pulled under with a decent fish fighting deep. It was a good roach.

There were no more bites, whatever method I tried. It hadn’t been a complete disaster and I had some nice fish in my net, but I’d had to work for them. That three hours seemed a lot longer.