Meadowbank River Stour roach fishing on the bread punch

September 8, 2021 at 10:23 pm

Temperatures soared into the 30’s this week, when I took my campervan to Meadowbank Holiday Park, Christchurch, where residents can enjoy free fishing on 300 yards of the famous Dorset Stour. Only booked in for two nights, I made the most of the stay by leaving my pitch late in the afternoon, to park in the shade just yards from the river, being fortunate to find a swim close to the van. Despite the heat, most swims were taken, the only one available having trees over hanging the river in front of me, but a 2 gram bolo float attached to my 12 foot Hardy float rod allowed an underhand swing out through a gap to the flow beyond the middle. Not ideal, but fishable, although a raft of weed on the inside of my bend proved difficult to negotiate, when landing fish.

Being 8 to 10 feet deep, with  streamer weed lying in channels along the bottom, my previous visits have responded to balls of a mix of liquidised bread, as a base with a 20% portions of ground carp pellets, ground hempseed and boiled hempseed with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, this with enough water added for stiff balls to be squeezed up. Trial trots of the float, found a weed free channel about 15 yards out on the edge of the flow, closer in was minnow hell. I would have preferred to have trotted close to the far bank, but I did not have the headroom to cast that far.

Putting in a couple of pigeon egg sized balls out in front of me, I cast in with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on the size 14 barbless hook, starting with the bait a foot off the bottom, I hoped to bring the fish up to mid water with regular feed to avoid the weed. The big 2 gram float bobbed and lifted moments after landing, as a bleak attacked the bread. A strong upstream wind had put a bow in the line and I missed, but mending the line to the float brought a bleak next cast.

These were big bleak, but without any sign of a fight, they meekly swim in with the float. A few more of these and the float dipped, held and sank, raising my rod in response put a good bend in the rod as a decent roach was brought zig zagging up toward the surface, skimming the fish the last couple of yards through the raft of weed to the net.

More bleak, then bang I was in again, this fish staying down and pulling through the streamer weed before coming free, but the low afternoon sun kept it hidden until the net. A clonking dace lightly hooked in the bottom lip.

I lost another dace as it tumbled through the weed, which was annoying and resolved to put less pressure on the fish to bring them higher in the water above the streamer weed. I shallowed up another 6 inches and struck into another bleak lift bite that turned out to be the best roach yet.

Keeping up regular feed balls to the head of the swim, now lined up the roach, pushing out the bleak.


Positive bites took time to develope, dips leading to holds, or steady sinking of the float.


I now lost three good fish on the trot, the first dived down into the streamer weed and came off, the second may have been a chub, as it rushed back towards the far bank, while I back wound my reel to avoid a break and the hook pulled free. The third fish I treated with kid gloves, slowly bring it back, when it made a run parallel to the bank into a raft of weed, where I watched the big roach get entangled. Slacking off the line worked and it swam out and was soon on the surface coming toward the landing net, when it took a dive under the net into more weed, dumping the hook. A very good roach approaching a pound, gone.

I was back to catching bleak again, until a boil beneath a ball of feed, followed by a scattering of fish indicated one thing, a pike. Another ball of feed and I had visual evidence, when a 5 to 6 lb pike leapt clear of the water in my swim, somersaulting over to crash land upside down with a massive impact. The roach were gone, but I still caught bleak, which were ignored by the pike, that continued to boil on the surface chasing fish. I stirred my wife from her book and sent her back to get my spinning rod and pike lures. I stopped feeding and put on a couple of red worms to trot through. The bleak loved them.

 The pike was now chasing fish along the far bank. Setting up my old split cane spinning rod with a three inch sinking plug, I searched out the water beneath the trees without a touch and went back to the worm on the float taking a roach, which gave me the confidence to try feeding the line again.

I went back down on the depth and put in two more balls and started a new soft piece of bread. Another bleak or two and the float stayed down as a roach sucked in the bread. That pike had cost me dear, scaring off the roach, but the landing net was ready again and there was still time to cash in. Raising the rod high to land the roach was near disaster, when the rod tip made contact with the overhanging branches. The line came free and I breathed out. That would have been typical to have lost it with the line tangled in the branches.

The wind had dropped and conditions seemed perfect, when the float dipped and cruised under, striking into a hard running roach, lifting my finger from the ABU501 spool to give line. Having lost three good fish, I was on tenter hooks again, trying to play a decent roach as lightly as I could, seeing it finally just before I brought it over the raft of weed. Phew! At last it was in the landing net.

Scattering fish said that the pike was back, or maybe another, the fish sweeping in along my bank as it chased a roach, finishing with a swirl. “Poor fish” commented my wife. We packed up.

I seemed to be the only one fishing the float that evening, halibut pellets seeming to be the standard bait, fished on a bomb over a bed of pellets, or in a PVA bag. There are a few double figure barbel in the river and some big chub, plus big bream, along with of course plenty of pike. Once more the bread punch had seen me put some quality roach in the net, even from a difficult swim.

I’ve yet to have a consistent session on this bit of the River Stour, a pike usually sticking it’s pointed snout into the proceedings uninvited, despite that, there were some lovely roach here.