Heatwave roach and chub take the bread punch on the River Cut

August 12, 2020 at 12:54 pm

I got up early this week in an attempt to avoid the extreme heat that is no longer a novelty in the south of England, while the rest of the country is being blessed with heavy downpours and cool breezes. Stepping out of the house at 8 am, it was already over 20 degrees Centigrade, as I climbed into the van for the short drive to my local river Cut. The night before I had removed all the heavy items from my tackle box to lighten my load for the following morning’s walk from the recreation ground car park down to the river, passing very keen tennis players toiling away on the courts. I was already sweating and only pulling a trolley. Masochists, or what?

The previous week my wife and I had demolished a 25 yard stand of Himalayan Balsam to reach this swim. The flowers had not yet set seeds, so ten minutes of effort should result in a balsam free bank next year, this invasive annual plant dying off each year and requiring the previous season’s seeds to germinate the following year to continue the life cycle.

There was very little flow and I set up a lightweight 4 No 4 Drennan ali stick float, which has a fine tip for bite indication. With a No 4 below the float and the remaining shot strung out toward the hook link, I plumbed the depth at 30 inches, a deep swim for this river, and trotted through with a 6 mm pellet of bread on the size 16 hook, just off bottom. A ball of plain white liquidised bread over to the logs of the berm on the opposite side, brought a small chub first cast.

This fish fought well, but the next cast brought and even better chub, that zoomed off downstream, bending my 12 foot Hardy to the butt, while I backwound my reel to avoid the hook pulling free.

Each time the float went in, a chub sank it away out of sight, even the smaller ones giving a good account of themselves.

The best of the rest being this one below, that skated off across the surface on the strike.

Then a dithering bite, before the float slowly sank, a bouncing fight indicating a small roach.

Another ball over to the berm, kept the roach lined up, the bites being predictable, a light dip or two followed by a slow sinking of the tip. Most required the landing net.

A couple of rudd were next in line. There were once shoals of rudd dotting the surface of the Cut, but recent pollution events have put an end to them, this small one a welcome returnee.

A few nice gudgeon were now pushing their way onto the feed, another fish that I thought that had disappeared.

By 10 am the sun had begun to shine through the trees and the air was becoming hot and oppressive, but the roach were still putting a bend in the rod.

The flow had begun to pick up and I guessed what would be coming next, the mystery orange water that gets released from somewhere upstream at least twice a day. A very fussy bite came from this last decent roach.

When I had arrived the river was clear, now it was a murky orange colour and the bites stopped. It was now 10:30, time for another swig on my orange juice and to retrieve my sandwiches from the cool shadows behind my tackle box. I went through the motions of fishing, knowing that this dead water usually passes in about 30 minutes. I got a bite! A tiny gudgeon.

Then a small roach, that toyed with the bait, until it finally gathered the strength to pull the float under.

A few more like this and I was back in business with another decent roach taken from the shadows alongside the log berm.

The next fish was another surprise, a dace. I saw hundreds of these dead, littering the bottom three months ago due to the last pollution. Pleased to see that some have survived.

I had fed a couple of balls over to the berm, when the orange water first came through and now the roach were making up for lost time.

Although I was still catching, the sun on my back was now very uncomfortable and I made this next roach my last.

No angler likes walking away from good fishing, but with the thought of loading up my trolley and the uphill trek back to van in the the midday heat did not appeal. The thought of the old Noel Coward song “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” came to mind, inserting fishermen into the lyric!

I had begun missing bites at one time and went down to a 5 mm punch, putting it down to dace and over enthusiasm on my part, but a return to the 6 mm brought better fish.

About 5 lbs in three hours fishing, despite the blank period on one of the hottest days of the year, was well worth the torturous return to the van. Even the tennis courts were empty on a day that locally hit 35 degrees Centigrade, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit in old money.