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Bread punch rudd make up for missing tench at Shawfields

August 27, 2021 at 12:43 pm

I paid a rare visit to Farnborough and District’s Shawfields Lake complex at Aldershot this week, hoping to repeat a late June visit last year, when I landed four decent tench fishing the bread punch with the pole on the small lake. The last fish on that afternoon tipped the scales at 4 lb 8 oz.

Letting myself into the fishery through the security gate, I had to walk the length of the main lake and was aware that I seemed to be the only angler there, finding the small lake unoccupied too. Was this going to be another one of those days, when the word had got out that the fish were off the feed? With a choice of swims, I returned to the same one as last year, at least it held some tench last year, so why not today? Expecting tench and a possible carp, I had brought my pole fitted with 12-18lb rated elastic through the top two sections, with a 2g antenna float rig to cope with an obvious surface drift.

Plumbing the depth I found an even four feet depth and made up a my usual mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, which seems to work everywhere at the moment. First cast, the float sat for a few minutes before dipping and side slipping away. Lifting into the bite, the elastic had no effect on the small rudd bouncing on the end.

Fishing just off bottom with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread on the size 14 hook, the float was dropped in over the feed again, but this time the float kept going down and a better rudd was making it’s way to the surface.

An even better rudd this time, which was encouraging, a few like this would be appreciated, while I waited for a tench. In again and another rudd was drawn back to the net.

Getting into a catching rhythm, there was a swirl beneath the surface, as a pike chased one of my rudd, which I swung in to safety. I changed my fishing line, coming in closer to the lily bed and caught again, but after a few more rudd, the pike was back, this time grabbing a fish, before letting go. The swim went dead. The rudd had been scared off. I had some small red worms from my home compost heap, a tench favourite and switched baits, the result, an instant bite. This was a small perch that dived away pulling out elastic briefly, before coming to the surface. I fed my rudd line seven metres out with a few more balls of feed and concentrated on the perch close in.

I now began catching a perch a cast, often on the same worm, a bit of fun trying to hook them before they swallowed the worm, moving the bait getting instant results,  the disgorger otherwise soon retrieving the barbless hook.

While catching a succession of these small perch, the pike attacked my keepnet and I looked into the water to see a 2 – 3lb pike staring at the net, much like a cat studying a bird in a cage. I put my landing net in behind its tail in an attempt to scoop it in, but the pike was gone in a swirl!

A better sized rudd took the worm, fighting hard and I expected the pike to attack again as it struggled on the surface, but the landing net brought it to hand. This was a sign that the rudd had returned and switched back to bread punch and began filling my keepnet.

The pike was back again and had seized a rudd through the fine mesh net, shaking its head. I heaved the net up and the pike swirled away. I was still catching rudd, when Farnborough chairman Chris came round for a chat. He had finished work early and brought his rods down for a few hours of peace and quiet.

Chris was impressed that the rudd were putting on weight since being introduced a few years ago and with more family members joining the club, these rudd and perch are ideal for young and old anglers alike.

I had a surprise, when a hard fighting rudd turned out to be a perch, that had taken the punched bread.

The pike was still tugging at my keep net, but while it was there, it wasn’t chasing my rudd, so I was happy continuing to catch.

These were worth catching and next year will have put on even more weight.

My last rudd was panicked into the lilies, leaping out of the water as the pike hunted it down and I lifted it clear of the water to safety.

Another decent rudd, possibly the best of the afternoon, that would have been a mouthful for the juvenile pike. It was close to my deadline, wanting to beat the traffic home, my last cast bringing a surprise bread loving perch again.

There were no tench today, but I had been kept entertained, after all every bite was a potential tench.

Lifting out the net, there was evidence of a busy afternoon with well over 50 rudd and perch.

Arriving home I checked my keepnet and found several jagged tears from the pike.



Bread punch selects big roach from the River Blackwater weir pool

August 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm

Strong winds were forecast for my visit to the River Blackwater this week, but at least it was going to be dry. Since last year’s visit, the undergrowth was crowding the path, with brambles constantly wrapping round the axles of my trolley, three steps forward and one back, making slow progress toward my goal, the weir pool.

I had hoped to fish closer to the weir and trot down from there, but another half hour would have been needed to chop my way through and instead settled the tackle box on a high bank under the canopy of a tree, which meant using my 12 foot Hardy instead of the 14 foot Browning. Add to this the branches hanging in front of me requiring an under hand cast out to the the flow, I was feeling beaten before I even made a cast, but I have never failed to have a good net of fish from this pool and continued to set out my stall. Bait was to be my faithful bread punch, fished over a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of the strawberry flavouring, that has been attracting some big roach for me lately.

The weir pushes the flow hard over to the far bank, creating a back eddy that flows under your feet towards the weir again. This is a very shallow swim, having a maximum depth of  two feet at the deepest point, where a layer of silk weed covers the bottom.

I carry my rods in a Drennan ready to fish holdall and started off with the 4 No 4 ali stem stick float attached to the Hardy’s line. With the shot bulked close to the hook, the rig cast well, with an underhand flick and no tangles. On my side of the flow, the river slowed as it began to eddy and I concentrated a few firm balls of feed  into the apex in front of me. The float travelled a yard, dipped and dived. Missed it! No, there was a rattle on the rod tip from a tiny chub.

A dozen of these and I added another six inches to the depth to fish well over depth. The upstream wind had increased holding the float back with a bow in the line and was constantly mending the line to allow the float to travel down stream. I began to catch gudgeon.

I needed a heavier float once the wind increased, the 4 No 4 being blown upstream and opened up the rod bag to rob the Browning of the 6 No 4 Stick float. Feeding another couple of stiff balls of feed, while I did the switch, The swim was primed for my next cast, the extra weight counteracting the wind giving better presentation. The float dipped, then held and I struck into solid resistance, seeing a deep fish flash over before it dived into the faster water. At last, a big roach. It came off. Blow it! Another ball of feed preceded my next cast. The float dipped and held. Strike! Another good roach, this came off too as I readied the landing net.

The roach were now in the swim and on the next trot, paused until the float had disappeared before striking. Another rod bender was running back into the fast water and I released line from the spool, letting the rod do the work, and back winding, bringing it into the shallows, it’s red fins clearly visible.

Next trot I was in again, another absolute clonker. Giving line to counter the first run worked again.

The wind continued to increase, bowing the line and I was having to rapidly reel in the slack before each strike. Some fish I missed completely, but the bread punch is a bait that is taken down into the throat and the float stayed down long enough to make contact most of the time.

Regular balls of feed kept the roach lined up. Sometimes I saw a roach take the bait near the surface, when the wind reversed the movement of the float swinging the bait up. I wondered what the catch rate would have been on a less gusty day. Each time the wind dropped a fish or two were guaranteed.

This one was at least 10 oz, most 6 oz and upwards. The one below was the smallest roach of the session.

They just kept coming, walkers on the path opposite often stopping, when they saw my rod bent into another big red fin.

If the wind dragged the float offline, a big gudgeon was always ready to pounce, keeping me busy, but the roach were my obvious target, who could blame me, when they were like this.

With over two dozen quality roach in the net, I’d run out of 6mm holes to punch in the bread and I was ready to pack up, the “just one more” syndrome had kept me fishing beyond my four hour limit already.

The last roach

Other anglers often ask me why I always fish the bread punch; apart from the obvious low cost and convenience of bait availability, it is a method that consistently produces results, when other baits don’t.


Quality bread punch roach and rudd fill the net on the River Cut

August 11, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Extremes of weather have seen my local River Cut going up and down like a yoyo, heatwave sunshine, giving way to thundery showers, then back again in an hour. With no rain the day before, I was banking on stable river conditions, when I arrived to fish this week. Most swims had been underwater the day before and I headed for one set on a high bank. It was overgrown with stinging nettles, evidence that it had rarely been fished so far this season and I got busy clearing room for my tackle box. A tree had fallen during the recent gales, forcing the increased flow along my side, while the deeper water along the far bank was now a static eddy.

With plenty of headroom, I opted for my 14 foot Browning float rod, coupled with a 6 No 4 ali stem stick float to a size 14 barbless hook. There was less than two feet of water along my bank, but this was where the flow was and feeding a mixture of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and ground hemp, I hoped to draw fish up from below and across. As an added attractant, I sprinkled strawberry flavouring over the dry mix, before stirring and adding river water to make up fast sinking balls that would sink quickly, then break up in a trail along the bottom.

First trot after the feed, the float kited off to one side and I was playing a spirited young chub, that required the landing net. From the high bank, it was quite a stretch to reach the chub, despite the 10 foot handle, the angle needing a combined pull back with the rod and a scoop with the net. Another smaller chub, then the float bobbed and sank with a reasonable roach, zig zagging back to the net.

Then the first of many gudgeon.

15 minutes in and the rod bent over into a fish that took downstream. Lifting my finger from the ABU 501 spool, the fish ran taking line. I thought that it was a chub, but soon realised that the slow bouncing fight was from a good roach.

Regular small balls of feed dropped into the flow were bringing a bite a chuck, bulked shot at half depth with a single No 6 nine inches from the hook, allowing the 6 mm punch of bread to flutter up from the bottom. This swim was full of dace a couple of years ago, but they seem to have disappeared. They were not natural to the little river before it was polluted, but stocking by the Environment Agency saw them flourish for a while. Although only ten miles from the Thames at Bray, a series of weirs and mills has prevented their movement upstream, while serious flooding has probably carried them down stream.

They say variety is the spice of life and so it was today with a decent rudd adding to the mix.

Quality roach had taken up position in a narrow eddy at the curve of the downstream berm. To avoid the gudgeon and smaller roach, I began casting underhand into the area, being rewarded with a series of clonker roach, one after the other, taking my time to bring them back to the landing net.

Any one of the roach above would have brightened any angler’s day, the next fish a big rudd coming from the same eddy.

Next cast it was back to the roach again, fishing by numbers. Swing the float downstream, hold back, then allow the float to drift with the current. Bob, lift and sink, then a steady strike upstream with the finger on the line, ready to give line on the initial run, which usually saw the fish broach on the surface.

A golden rudd added variety, while smaller roach and gudgeon were beginning to get in on the act.

There were still plenty quality roach responding to the regular feed, the predictable bites being difficult to miss.

I had used up my first batch of feed and mixed up some more, resting the swim, while I fed myself with cheese and piccalilli sandwiches and tea from my flask. The sun had come up over the trees, but a light breeze was turning this into the perfect day’s fishing. No tangles, lost hooks, or fish. I could have packed up now after two hours and felt that I’d had a good day, BUT days like this do not come along that often and the roach were waiting.

Straight back in the groove, a roach tried to get in under my berm, after I gave it a bit of slack, when it charged off downstream.

Wow, look at this rudd. Round like a barrel, it zoomed off like a chub, while I played catch up.

I think that this new feed mix was dryer than the first, as more surface loving rudd took the bait, this feed not sinking as quickly. Adding more water had the desired result. The roach were back on the feed.

This roach had a damaged top lip.  A barbed hook, or an infection, I couldn’t tell. The next roach also had damage on it’s top lip, and a wound above the gill cover.

At this time I saw two very large fish swimming along the far side, a pair of possible double figure carp. The river was a dirty brown, but when they came out of the shade, I could see them clearly. I was tempted momentarily to cast over to them, but common sense prevailed. They were too big for me on this tackle. I stuck to the inside line and landed another good roach.

Its possible that the carp had spooked the roach, or maybe the carp had scared chub from the far side I don’t know, but I now began to catch small chublets trotting along the edge of the berm, finishing with the one below, which gave a very good account of itself.

The good roach seemed to have gone, although there were still plenty of smaller nettable roach, plus the inevitable gudgeon to be had, but four hours at this catch rate gets a bit wearing after a while.

I did not miss many bites and judging from the number of punch holes in the bread, I caught around 130 fish for 9 pounds in weight.



Weihrauch HW100T .22 versus rabbits in the veggie patch

August 7, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Over the last couple of years my brother in law has been troubled by rabbits feeding on his garden vegetables, while I have been happy to keep down their numbers with my air rifle. He has had no problems this year, as his veggie patch now resembles Fort Knox, with netting and wire mesh keeping them safe from the bunnies.

For years Neale has been providing his next door neighbour Dianne with surplus produce, but this year she has ambitiously planted up an area at the bottom of her garden with lettuces, runner beans, chard and courgettes (zucchini). Dianne was dismayed to find the chard and lettuces were being cropped to the ground. Thinking that it was wood pigeons, she spoke to Neale, who provided netting to put over them, but he was quick to point out the tell tale droppings scattered around. Rabbits. Like Neale’s, Dianne’s garden backs onto a wood, the source of his rabbit problem. Once the courgettes began to disappear, along with a complete plant, it was time to give me a call, although with flowers and shrubs obscuring the vegetables, Dianne had not witnessed any rabbits, just the evidence.

I arrived later on a dull evening. It had rained heavily earlier, rabbits don’t like the rain, their fur is not water proof and I doubted whether they would be out. I had brought my Weihrauch HW100T as it had a full charge of compressed air, the .22 air rifle deadly on rabbits out to 30 yards. Unlike Neale’s garden, there is no clear line of sight down it and setting up my tripod in the cover of a laurel, I sat down to wait for movement coming down the path from the wood. Nothing appeared.

A cup of tea and a piece of cake later, I was fearing more rain from a threatening  black cloud and considering my options, when I looked back to see a big rabbit by the raised beds. Where did that come from? It took seconds to place the rifle in the V, but the rabbit had moved from view. More movement. There were two of them, one a juvenile in full view, but just an angle on head shot for the adult. Ping! The silencer is so efficient, but the Thwack from the 16 grain pellet hitting the adult’s skull panicked the juvenile into action, while the deadly accurate Weihrauch slumped the large rabbit forward.

Another adult rabbit jumped down from the courgette bed. Was this the one that I had seen earlier? How many were there? I had expected them to come down the path from the wood, but they had a safer way in. I could see movement through the runner beans and waited before creeping forward for a clear shot around the side. They saw me first and were gone through the bushes. I picked up the rabbit and carried it up to Dianne at the house. “Good shot!” she exclaimed, “Got anymore?” I shook my head.

Where had they got in? We went back to the gate and the wire fence, finding a scrape hidden by ivy. This was the way in. Neale still had some two inch square mesh and we spent the rest of the evening plugging the gaps. That should stop them for the time being.



CZ 452 HMR Varmint and Magtech 7002 .22 semi auto share the rabbits

July 27, 2021 at 3:35 pm

A call from one of my landowners, that rabbits were taking over her paddock again, saw me make an early evening  visit this week, armed with my .22 Magtech 7002 semi auto and the CZ452 HMR Varmint rifles. She had said that her son had counted 13 out there that afternoon and decided that it was time for another cull.

I have history with this paddock. Several years ago the whole farm was overrun with rabbits and from this paddock alone I had shot 14 on my first visit, starting off close in with the Magtech, then taking over with the HMR to mop up the stragglers that made it to the far fence. Further visits had decimated the rabbit population, allowing the grass to grow and livestock to fatten up in the area. Then a thriving warren existed thirty to fifty yards out from the fence, running back to the righthand hedge row, but today that warren is just a few burrows.

A couple of trips back to the van and I was ready. Knowing that I had the garden fence to contend with, I brought my Fiery Deer Gen 3 tripod to give a rock steady gun mount, the fence not the ideal shooting platform in the past. There were no rabbits visible when I arrived, but I did not have to wait long, as a rabbit emerged from it’s burrow just forty yards away. Picking up the Magtech, I worked the bolt to load a Winchester 42 grain subsonic into the breech, settled the rifle into the tripod V, sighted and fired, knocking the rabbit down.

The thud as the bullet struck home, brought a reaction from further down the field and white tails flashed, with their owners rushing headlong to the safety of the nettles a hundred yards away opposite me. Picking up the HMR, a Hornady 17 grain ballistic tipped bullet was shifted into the chamber and the heavy rifle rested on the tripod. Scanning the far side a large doe was sitting up reviewing the situation. At x12 magnification I went for a head shot and the rabbit did a backflip. Two down. Swinging the rifle round to the right a few yards, a head was just visible in the grass and sighting behind the eye, I squeezed off another shot. Spot on! The rabbit clawed the air and sank from view into the grass. Three.

Ten yards to the left another rabbit was making tracks for the nettles and I followed it on the tripod waiting for the bunny to stop. What the!!! Several sheep ran into the line of fire. Where did they come from? Kirsty had said nothing about sheep in the field. They had been startled by the crack of the HMR, but were now grazing contentedly in front of me. I rang her. Full of apologies, she explained that they had some rare breed sheep penned at the far end a few hundred yards away, that were free to roam the paddock and did not expect them to be a problem. While the sheep were rounded up with the aid of a rattled bag of pellets, I stepped out to retrieve the closest rabbit, seeing that it was in perfect health.

The entertaining interlude had put the rabbits down for now and I switched to full magazines and topped up the used ones while I waited.

A pair of rabbits appeared together at the nettles and jumped out into the paddock, trotting round before stopping to feed. Sighting on the nearest, it fell to the HMR, but the other one was spooked and leapt back into cover. Oh well, I had hoped for more than four and decided to give the session another ten minutes, when on time another rabbit cautiously came out alongside the pig enclosure, the head on shot throwing it backwards. Five.

I waited another 15 minutes, but nothing came out. Taking my ammo bag and the lightweight Magtech, just in case, I walked out into the paddock to bag up my harvest. Half way across it was Sod’s Law that another rabbit came out and decided to stare me down. Too far for a shot to hand, I needed to shoot prone resting on the ammo bag. With nettles and thistles under foot, I side stepped into a clearer section of grass and lay down, expecting the rabbit to be gone, but no, it was still there sitting upright. At least 50 yards away, these are the best shots for a .22, as aiming at the head, the bullet will drop down into a vital part of the chest. Pop! The rabbit jumped and fell. Number 6. With a decent silencer, a .22 subsonic round is quiet compared to the supersonic .17 HMR, the crack being the sound of the bullet after it leaves the barrel.

Walking back to the gate, Kirsty was waiting. “How many did you get?” “Six” “Oh, I thought that you would have had more” “I would have if it hadn’t been for the sheep!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”



River Carp on the bread punch, spice up a roach session

July 19, 2021 at 8:47 pm

Temperature forecasts of 30 Centigrade, meant for a brief morning visit to my local River Cut this week, my choice of swim was dictated by the amount of shade on offer, it already being over 25 when I arrived at 9am.

Club members had been catching carp since heavy flooding of a few weeks ago, escapees from lakes above, or below the stretch and I was keen to get in on the act. Choice of rod was my browning 14 footer, paired with an Abu 501 reel loaded with 5 lb mainline to a 3.2 lb BS hook link with a size 14 barbless. Bait was to be my reliable bread punch, with a heavy feed of liquidised bread, mixed with ground carp pellets and a sprinkling of Haiths Spicy Red additive. The float was a 6 No 4 Ali stick, with the shot bulked to within a foot of the hook and another No 4 half way down as a tell tale.

With carp in mind, I mixed the feed wet to sink and put two balls in a couple of yards above an overhanging bush, swinging the over depth float out to hold back in the slight flow. The response was immediate with the float sliding away and a small rudd flashing away in the murky water.

Not a bad rudd to start. These fish once covered the upper levels of the river, but had disappeared and I was at first pleased to see them, although after the tenth one grabbed my bait, I was rapidly changing my mind. Adding another 6 inches to the depth and moving the tell tale closer to the hook. I put in more feed balls, squeezing them up hard, watching them sink straight down. I had gone up from the 6 mm bread punch to a 7 mm. Something worked, as the next fish was a clonking roach, that dived quickly back into the roots of the bush, before being drawn upstream to the middle, then across to the landing net.

Ah, that’s more like it, the float lifted and I was playing another big roach.

This one also dived hard for the bush and I decided to feed even further out. The extra feed was to beyond the middle, where there was less flow, dead leaves were backing up on the float and were less problem here. The float would settle then lift as the bait was picked up. I usually waited for the float to move off before striking.

Rudd were still getting through, but they were generally better fish. This one with orange fins and a green hue to the scales.


The roach were back and I was in a rhythm, bait the hook, swing the float in, hold back. The float would lift and bob, then sink; striking with my finger on the spool just in case of a big one.

A small chub put the theory to the test, diving back to the roots, feeling like a much larger fish.

There was no doubting the next bite, when the line went solid from a big fish that swam steadily upstream, slowly shaking its head, unaware that it was hooked. I was giving line from the spool as it passed upstream, seeing the deep golden body and fat black tail of a carp cruising by, while my rod bent double. It kept going and I put more pressure on as it neared an overhanging bush, bringing the carp to the surface. I’d landed a five pounder the week before from a local pond and this was as long, but much deeper. I was just a passenger on this journey and jumped when the carp flapped its tail. It turned back gaining speed and I stripped the line through the rings to stay in contact, the rod slack, then bent double as it powered by taking line. Despite my efforts, the carp kept doing, the rod powered up and the 3.2 lb hook link snapped.

A cool drink of orange with a shortbread, and I was ready to start again. Tying on another size 14, I punched out a 7 mm pellet and swung it in. A bob, a lift and I was into a decent roach.

I began catching a gudgeon a chuck.

A couple more balls in and the roach were back.

A roach bite suddenly went heavy and I was playing a small carp that cruised up and down, searching out the snags, but once on the surface it was under my control and in the net.

This is what I came for. A little barrel of fun.

Back in and first cast yet another clonker roach, that did not give up easily.

There were plenty of smaller roach and many big gudgeon but you can’t photograph them all, but some required a comment. This one had an ulcer, but fought well.

This one looked like it had been attacked by a pike, but there are none in the Cut. Maybe a mink.

The damage was both sides with penetration marks.

It was 12:30, my three hours was up and I punched my last hole in the bread, swinging the float in. The float dithered and bobbed like a small roach, but the strike said another story as the rod bent into another carp. This was not as big as the first, but big enough to treat with a lot of respect. I managed to contain the carp within the area in front of me, stopping it from going under the bush and keeping it from the far side, holding the rod high and responding to every dash for freedom. It swam back out of the net once, but was soon back in.

A two and a half pound powerhouse. Next year these carp will be unstoppable without much heavier gear.

A busy morning that proved much better than expected with many decent roach and the pair of bonus carp.



Common and crucian carp dominate on the bread punch

July 14, 2021 at 6:24 pm

After a couple of mediocre fishing sessions lately, I paid a visit to a pond that is within walking distance of my home, for a confidence boosting few hours in the afternoon. Under an acre in size, the pond sits within the bounds of a sports field and is part of a chain of balance ponds that control the flash flooding of a brook, which runs through the urban area. It is full of a wide variety of coarse fish and I never know what will end up in my net, but that the bread punch has never failed me, despite others using more exotic baits.

Before setting up, I mixed up liquidised bread and ground carp pellets with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, adding enough water to form sloppy balls of feed. Being so shallow, I want the balls to keep their shape for throwing, but to break up on contact with the surface of the pond. I fed a metre square area 7 to 8 metres out, to be ready to fish. A simple waggler rig to a size 14 barbless hook, set to two feet deep, just above the muddy bottom, with a 6 mm punched pellet of bread was swung out to the middle of the fed area. The float disappeared in seconds, lifting into a powerful fish that ran off toward the lily bed to my right, taking elastic. Expecting a small rudd first cast, this was a shock, but the heavy 12-18 elastic compensated, the hook held and I netted a golden common/crucian carp hybrid.

The following fish were all good sized netable rudd, the bites being steady sailaways, the fish a range of shades of green and gold.

I had taken a chance on the strawberry flavouring, but it was certainly working and my next bite saw the elastic stretch out toward the middle, the fish, a small common staying deep throwing up a trail of black mud.

Bubbles were now appearing steadily across the fed area and a cast to the middle of them produced a characteristic crucian bite, small bobs and nibbles followed by a gradual sinking of the float.

Although only about 8 oz, I struggled to get this crucian in the net. It rolled and dived in every direction apart from the net, until it finally popped up and lay on its side.

If I thought that the little crucian was trouble, the next was an arm wrenching battle royal, when a 5 lb common carp went off with the tiny 6 mm pellet of bread. The elastic shot out as it headed straight for the big bed of lilies opposite and I struggled to keep the pole at an angle to the fish, afraid that the top two sections would be pulled off the pole. Once it realised that that direction was not working, it ran back along the line of least resistance toward the lilies to my right. Due to the lack of depth, the only form of escape was to run, trying to get in under the bushes and rushing around. Once it began to roll on the surface, I knew it was beat, and broke the pole down to the top three, but getting its head up long enough to net was wearing on my arms, aware that the size 14 barbless hook could come out at any time. Finally a long pull back of the pole brought it toward the landing net and it was mine, the hook in the tip of the lip snagging in the net.

Not my biggest carp ever, but probably the biggest on the pole and certainly from this little pond on the bread punch. The water in front of me was now grey with churned up mud and after a cup of tea and a piece of short bread, I put a couple more balls of feed in and cast out. A dithering bite eventually showed signs of going under and I lifted into a small colourful crucian.

There was more commotion, when a common carp made off at warp speed, but again the elastic did its job and patience saw it to the net.

 These colourful crucians, were now putting in an appearance, this being one of the better ones.

The float cruised away and I was having another workout, as a pound plus common carp charged off, following it around the pond with the pole in ever decreasing circles, pulling it away from the bushes on my side, when it neared the net.

Swinging in a stonking gudgeon got me worried that they would take over the swim, but this was the first of just a few.

I needn’t have worried as now some crucian carp and hybrids moved over the feed, having put regular small offerings into the same spot, bubbles now bursting on the surface.

Still getting the occasional Crucian hybrid, the more colourful versions had taken over and it was one a chuck, although being fussy biters, each “chuck” took about five minutes.

This was one of the better ones, good net fillers, but not as hard fighting as the standard versions.

It was getting close to going home time, all my feed had been fed and I was running out of spaces in my bread, the last fish being another decent rudd.

Bouncing my 13 lb scales, I returned the big common and reweighed the net, the total being 16 lb 4 oz, not bad for a busy four hour session.  Unfortunately the bright late afternoon sun washed out the colours of this image, but I was eager to get the catch back into the water as soon as possible and didn’t want to mess around trying for a better shot. To save more handling, they were slowly lowered into the pond still in the landing net, swimming off safely.



Pike cause a stir on the River Stour at Christchurch

July 11, 2021 at 1:49 pm

Social fishing is when wives come along too, but days have to be allocated for socialising and others for fishing. A brief visit to Meadowbank Touring Park on the banks of the River Stour at Christchurch, was one such event this week. With rain forecast for Wednesday and sunshine for Thursday, a long lunch at the New Queen pub was the obvious choice for Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for my friend John and I to get on with the serious business of fishing, while the two Julies soaked up the sun. Er, one problem. The British weather decided not to co-operate. It rained.

Results on the Stour since the start of the season had been poor and so it was for John and I as we struggled to get through the minnows. John was thirty yards downstream on an opening out bend, while I had the straight above. Starting on a 3 gram stick float over eight feet of water, John soon switched to the swim feeder with bread on the hook, still unable to escape the minnows, until roach found his bait. Going back to the float, feeding hemp, but with bread punch on the hook he began to pick up the occasional small roach.

Upstream I had streamer weed stretching out past the middle of the river, but found a six foot deep run four metres out and began feeding tight balls of liquidised bread, ground carp pellets and hemp, plus boiled hemp seed, putting them in a rod length upstream. In front of me, giant hog weed had lined the bank, which the owners had cut back, then allowed to fall forward into the river, creating a tangled barrier which extended eight feet into the river. My first job was to drag out an area wide enough to get the keepnet in and to give space for netting fish. At last I was ready to fish and after thirty minutes of frustration in the form of bait stealing minnows, my swim switched on and I began to catch roach.

Making an upstream cast, the 6 No 4 stick float float was settling in front of me and under as I held it back, the fish being over the feed where it had carpeted the bottom. Perfect, but not quite. Streamer weed lined the channel in front and claimed two fish, until I began lifting them up to the surface over the weed to where I could net them.

Bites were plentiful, due mainly to the minnows, some of which were monsters, like small gudgeon, but dace had also invaded the swim, stripping the bread in seconds, lifting and bobbing the float, but evading the hook, leaving it bare. I tried sweet corn and neat hempseed on the hook, again bobs and dives of the float, but no fish. Back on the bread punch, I managed to land a few, but most tumbled off before I could get them to the surface. At least the rain had stopped and my Julie was able to remove her rain jacket and mine from her knees, when the sun came out. She went back to make some sandwiches.

I hooked a decent roach, that suddenly shot to the surface. A pike was after it and I swung it clear, just as the pike swirled on the surface.

The swim went dead. My attempts to revive it with more feed were mocked by the pike, that dived each time into the middle of it, scattering fish in all directions. Julie returned with freshly made sandwiches, which were consumed, before I asked her to go back for my spinning rod and plugs. Good wife that she is, went off, returning later with the pike fishing kit. I had begun catapulting hempseed over to the middle, ignoring the inside line, which was a mistake, as by the time that I had set up the spinning rod, the pike had moved, the surface fishing lure untroubled.

Trotting the float down the middle soon saw the float disappear and a small roach hooked and landed.

The hempseed feed with punched bread on the hook was working again and another roach was at the surface on it’s way to the net. The surface erupted and the roach was snatched off! Another pike, or the same one? I tied on another size 14 barbless hook and went back to my inside line, feeding only hempseed with bread punch on the hook. More fussy bites and a dace in the net. Good.

The float went down and the rod bent double with a big fish, that slowly swam upstream, then accelerated, powering out toward the middle, as I backwound the ABU 501 in response. I said to Julie that this was a big fish, maybe a barbel, or a big bream. Applying steady pressure it turned back and I got the landing net ready, but it kept deep and went off again. The hook came free. My disappointment turned to anger, when I saw that a small scale was impaled on the hook. It had been a pike, that had taken a dace as I hooked it, the hook pulling out on the second run.

Assuming that the pike would be content with it’s latest meal, I continued trotting down the inside line, holding back then easing the float bringing a positive bite. Yes! A good dace was tumbling deep beneath the rod top and I got the landing net ready, as I brought it up over the streamer weed. A green flash, the rod arched over and the dace was gone, the pike leaving a swirling boil on the surface.

That was enough for one day. I was tempted to have a go with a deep swimming lure, but sometimes you have to admit defeat. I had never got a chance to put a decent session together, before The Pike stuck his long toothy snout in to spoil the day. Even building a new swim down the middle had found a pike.

I walked down to John, who had also had troubles of one kind, or another. He had doubled my weight, but was in the process of packing up himself. Our verdict, Social 10 out of 10, Fishing 4 out of 10. Next time we will try a different spot and take some proper pike gear.


The grass is always greener on the other side?

July 4, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Within a few miles of my home, I am very fortunate to have a wide variety of excellent fishing, yet never satisfied, I am always searching for somewhere new, ideally with better fishing. Carp have put in an appearance in my local river and they were high on my must catch list, but I have had a hankering to fish a club water over twenty miles away since before we were all locked down. My previous visit, over three years ago, had put some decent roach and pound crucian in my net during a brief morning session and I had always intended to return to give it a good go.

Rising early, I set off to beat the traffic and was doing well, until I hit a tailback in the filter lane off a busy dual carriageway. Two changes of the traffic lights later, I had turned up the hill towards my desired venue. The traffic was slow, but then it stopped again. A train was heading into the station and the level crossing gates had come down. Hand brake on and wait. And wait. Two trains, one in either direction. Sit and relax. The gates went up and we were moving forward slowly. A truck, held up like the rest of us on the opposite side, was trying to force its way across my queue, from a fork in the opposite direction, to join the traffic coming towards me. Horns blared and arms were waved from windows, until someone gave way and we moved on. Not far. The local school had opened its gates for the multitude of 4x4s to drop off their precious cargos. Cars were entering my road from all sides. In my day we walked, or cycled to school, but today’s parents believe that some form of evil harm will befall their offspring, so get out the gas guzzler.

At last I was on the country road, then driving down the rutted track to The Pond, parking at the Dam to avoid the crowded carpark. There was plenty of room for the van in front of another car, leaving space for its exit. Tackle on the trolley, I made my way across the dam towards another angler and stopped for a chat. “How’s it fishing?” I knew the answer from the look on his face. “Rubbish.” He was fishing two rods, had arrived the day before and had one crucian carp, then bivvied up for the night, risen at 4 am, lost one fish at 6 am and hadn’t had a bite since. As he said, rubbish. I moved into the swim next to him, it having a bed of lilies to my left.

It looked perfect, but where were all the anglers on the far side? The carpark had only one car in it. Oh dear. Looks like it has been rubbish for quite a while. The Bush Telegraph had spoken.

I had intended filling it in with the same strawberry mix, that had given me a big crucian, a common carp and two tench, plus a string of rudd from my local pond earlier in the week, but decided that a quarter of what I had used, would be safer. There was no sign of surface activity at all, no bubbles, or fish topping. Plumbing the depth, there was a sharp drop off from four to six feet half way along my side of the lily bed and set my 2 gram antenna float to fish three inches off bottom, with a 7 mm bread pellet on a size 16 barbless hook. I put in one small ball close to the lilies, followed by the float and waited.

After five minutes, the float gave a half dip, followed at intervals by others, before it eventually slowly sank below the surface. I struck. Missed it. The bread was still on the hook. Five minutes later I missed another bite. Same story. I punched out a 5 mm pellet for the hook. A better bite and a rudd in the landing net.

My neighbour was soon at my side, keen to see me catch a fish. We watched as the float dithered and half sank. The strike brought the elastic out briefly as a fish fought deep, then ran out to open water. Not a monster, but a hard fighting little crucian carp.

Two fish in ten minutes, maybe it would not be so bad after all. My neighbour was very interested in the bread punch and the pole, as I managed to miss the next two bites and drop another crucian, when I struck the fussy bite too soon. I put in a second small ball of the ground carp pellet and liquidised bread mix with a sprinkling of strawberry flavouring, dropping the float in over it. These bites were taking forever to develope, but patience was rewarded with another rudd.

This one was heavy with spawn, being barrel shaped. Maybe they were preoccupied with spawning and not feeding. My new friend lived in Watford, a 50 mile drive away, a long way for one fish. He had decided to start packing up, but returned when my net was out again. He had been using Peperami sausage as bait and offered me a piece, which I tried as a small cube on the hook. We talked of clubs and waters that we had in common, while we watched the motionless float being ignored. The ten minute trial was a failure and the bread went back on for more knocks leading to a fish on.

A roach this time, but again so lightly hooked that I was netting them all. I tried fishing higher in the water through the cloud, but after missing several bites and hooking a four inch roach, I went back down to the bottom. Time was ticking on and the one remaining angler on the far side was loading his car to leave. The occasional bubble was now rising from the edge of the lilies and I was encouraged to stay by another roach.

Convinced that my float rig was too heavy, I switched to a much lighter antenna float with a size eighteen hook. I think that this was more for my benefit rather than the fish, as the bites did not improve and my miss rate went up. Finally I hooked a roach, how I don’t know, as its lip was missing.

By now I had decided to join my neighbour, who was still ferrying his various bits of equipment back to his car. As if to taunt me, the float went under with a rudd, while I gathered my bits. The sun had come out and was already hot on my back, enough of an incentive to leave I thought.

One day I will visit this fishery at a more productive time.

I had time to pop in at another pond on the way back, maybe that was fishing better? I didn’t bother getting out my gear and wandered over to the pond. Three friends were fishing at adjacent swims. “How’s it fishing?” “Rubbish.” The grass is not always greener on the other side is it? I climbed back in the van and continued home.

Tench, a common and a big crucian carp worth the soaking.

June 30, 2021 at 9:24 am

While my wife went off for her first appointment at the hairdressers since Lockdown began, I took advantage of the two free hours for a quick visit to my local Jeanes Pond, before the need to get home to watch the England v Germany football game in the European Cup.

Arriving at Jeanes, the pond looked good, although the forecast afternoon rain had already begun. I had no waterproofs, but was under a tree and the rain was warm. So far this season I had been unable to catch a tench and was prepared to foresake my reliable bread punch for sweet corn.  Adding a strawberry ground bait to my usual mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets was another diversion from my normal approach, but this additive had proved effective in my distant past and was retrieved from it’s sealed tin at the back of my fishing cupboard.

Intending to fish the shallow shelf in front of me, I only needed the top three sections of my pole, the top two containing a No 6 elastic. Float was a 2 gram antenna, with the shot bulked 18 inches from the size 16 barbless hook and a No 4 tell tale shot half way between. I plumbed the depth and set the float to fish 2 inches off bottom.

Damping down the strawberry mix to form firm balls, I put four into a metre square area 2 -3 metres out and watched in amazement as the surface in front of me began to fizz with bubbles. Although I had added half a dozen sweet corn to the mix, I started with a double punched 7 mm pellet of bread coated in the strawberry mix and dropped the bait over the bubbles. The float went down, cocked and lifted and I struck into a rudd at half depth.

These were good weight building fish, but after a dozen, or so, decided to switch to the sweet corn. Not a movement, just the occasional lift and bob. I loose fed some more corn over the area, followed by another small ball of feed. More fizzing and a lift and run bite. This time I was playing a better fish, seeing the silver and gold flash from a decent rudd, which danced around the swim before turning on it’s side for the landing net, but a last second fight back, saw it turn and shed the hook. Blow it!

Back on the bread I was not missing many bites, when the float lifted and sank, with the squirming resistance suggesting a tench, which stretched out the elastic with several runs and surface boils, but the hook held in the very tip of it’s nose and I netted my first 2021 tench. Hurray!

That was worth a cup of tea and a sandwich, nowhere near my PB, but a hard fighter on this elastic. Another couple of balls went in and dropped the double punched 7 mm pellet in over the fizzing surface. More rudd picking the bait up from the bottom. No roach today for some reason.

Back on the sweet corn and the same indifferent bites. The float was dithering in and out of the surface, when it went down with conviction and I lifted into a much larger fish, that seem unaware that it was hooked. A friend had witnessed the tench being caught and now began a guessing game as we tried to figure out what I’d hooked. Unseen, it bored deep pulling out elastic, until forced to change direction, once almost successful at reaching the roots beneath my tree. Then a flash of dirty gold, that looked as deep as a bream, before it dived again. We were both beginning to tire, it came close to the net, but was gone again. Let it go round again Ken. Next pass it was in the net.

This was a weird one, a two and a half pound crucian fan tail. I have caught them half this size in another local pond, but first time here. This is an ornamental pond fish, probably liberated, when a garden pond was filled in.

In this image the large fins are clearly visible.

Minutes later and I was in again, as a small common carp made off with the sweet corn, giving a lively fight until popping up for the net.

The rain had been increasing steadily, penetrating the tree cover and the hood over my cap was now sodden and hung on for a break in the weather, but a wall of rain was advancing toward me.

Back on the bread, a slow sink away of the float brought out the elastic, and I was playing another tench. It was strange that most people had caught their tench on meat, or sweet corn, but mine had preferred the strawberry flavoured bread.

I persevered with the bread, but only rudd were now feeding as the rain lashed down.

All the feed had been put in and the bread was getting wet. I was soaked up top, but my seat was dry with my legs covered by my bait apron. It was time to brave the elements.

I rushed around packing up, getting even wetter, but it had been worth the soaking, after an interesting two hours. I had learned a few things and been reminded of others, being rewarded with some quality fish in the process.

I arrived home soaked through, but in time to sit down with a hot cup of tea to watch an exciting game of football, with the young England side knocking Germany out of the European Cup, following a convincing two nil win. Again, Hurray!