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Carp in the River Cut, good, or bad news?

July 20, 2023 at 2:09 pm

My local river Cut is being taken over by small carp, which were a bonus to the chub and roach catches from this tiny river, but anglers are now reporting that the number of tackle busting encounters from big carp are on the increase. Having experienced this myself on several occasions, when fishing for roach on the stickfloat, I tried something different this week. Arriving after 1 pm, I took my heavy duty pole, fitted with 14-18 lb elastic in an attempt to counter the power of Cyprinus Carpio, or the common carp to you and me.

Walking downstream to my chosen swim, there was little flow, despite overnight rain, and the river was running clear over the shallows. My optimism evaporated the further that I walked, as the river grew murkier with a brown stain that blocked out the view of the bottom. I knew that this would mean very few bites and took my time mixing up some sloppy groundbait of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets, laced with a sweet spice mix. With very little flow, I chose a 3 No 4 float rig on a long line to fish four metres to hand. This swim has many sunken snags, including just downstream and a shopping trolley five yards upstream, so I tightened up the elastic by a couple of turns to be able to persuade any carp away from them.

The river was beginning to clear and I fed an area just past the middle. After a few very fiddly bites, the float held down long enough to strike and a tiny gudgeon swung to hand. The gudgeon got bigger.

It had taken a 7 mm punched bread pellet on a size 14 barbless hook. At least there were bites and after missing a few more nibbles, a small roach was hooked from a pull down bite. Things were looking up.

Roach had found the groundbait and the bites were becoming bolder, with the landing net out for the first time.

I put a couple more balls of feed in and saw a decent carp swim through the cloud. I went up to an 8 mm punch and cast in. As the bait sank, the float lifted, then dived away, pulling out the elastic from the pole tip. There was a brief lull before the fish realised that it was hooked, then it was off back to the downstream snags, pulling for all it was worth. I pulled back. With twenty feet of elastic out, it surfaced and turned toward the opposite bank, as I fitted another metre of pole to gain control. Each time it ran, I pulled back in the opposite direction, until it rolled onto it’s side. Now my pole was too long, as I couldn’t reach the 3 lb carp with the landing net and unshipped the lower length. The momentary slack let the carp have it’s head and it rolled off the hook. Curses!

I put in another ball and cast over it. The float slid sideways. I was in again, a small carp this time fighting toward the snags. The elastic was not out far and the golden carp was soon in the net. It was a nice rudd!

Another slideaway bite had me ready for another carp, lifting a roach clear of the water on the strike. It was not a small fish, but I broke the pole down and swung it in.

The hook was barely in the top lip and I was lucky that the hook held. I was now hungry for another carp and considered this a nuisance fish.

I cast through another ball of feed and the float went again. Yes! A carp! I drew it clear of the snags and it followed the line of least resistance toward my bank. About a pound, the carp was turbo charged, when it ran into my keepnet, dragging it upstream before coming off. The hook was in the bottom end of the net. More curses!

Pulling in the net, the barbless hook came free with ease. Rebaiting with an 8mm punch, the rig was cast into the baited area. A few dips and the float sank away. The elastic was out, the fish fighting furiously. Was it a chub? No a decent roach, that was soon in the net. This heavy pole tackle stopped better silver fish in their tracks.

The bites were getting fussy again and gudgeon were taking over. The flow had picked up and the water had taken on the brown tint again, while a slightly sickly aroma filled the air. More pollution was on the way. The bites stopped completely at 3:15 and started as nibbles by 4 pm.

I spent the time drinking tea, eating a Wagon Wheel for nourishment and mixing up another tray of sloppy ground bait. I had put a couple of balls in close and layed on. The river was like thick soup and it was impossible to see the bottom. My keepnet had become coated in brown sediment. At least I hope it was sediment.

Staring at my static float, it sank away downstream, pulling out the elastic. Grabbing the pole, solid movement indicated a carp, but the hook lost hold. Treble curses! That was number three lost.

I piled in half my tray of feed, clouding the water even more. The float lifted with a few rapid stabs, then glided off with another pound plus carp making for the snags. Mustn’t lose this one. Brute force was needed to guide it to safety around the obstacles, especially the shopping trolley, which sat waiting to snag me. Keeping the carp in the middle, was an effort, countering each move, until it was in the landing net.

This fish has been through the wars, with abrasions on both flanks, but it fought like a demon and at least saved my pride. The hook had come out in the net, again lucky to land one at last.

The bites continued to be very fussy and I went down to a 6 mm punch, small roach, gudgeon, chublets and dace attacking the bait, throwing most of them back, while many bounced off against the stiff pole. At this stage I considered slackening off the elastic, as I lost more roach of the calibre below, than I landed.

Throwing a small ball a cast was working and soon another 3 lb carp was rampaging round the swim. This could have been the decent carp that I lost earlier, a deep bronze fish, who knows? What I do know is, that it did a death roll and came off! Four out of five carp lost did not prove that my heavy pole idea was a success. I think that I had the elastic too tight and pulled the hooks out, while bouncing off many roach. I’ll return with 6 lb line to a 4 lb hook link on my Normark rod next time.

The bread punch had prooved the only bait needed again, although in the sunshine the bread slices were hardening off quickly, fresh soft replacements needed regularly.

It had been a frustrating afternoon, with lost carp and blank spells due to the pollution coming through, but was it worth the effort? Of course it was!




Clonker roach and a bonus tench reward the bread punch at Jeanes Pond

July 11, 2023 at 2:10 pm

With thundery showers forecast for the rest of the week, I got the mower out and gave my lawns, front and back, a much needed haircut today, as they resembled a meadow of wild flowers, rather than a suburban garden. After emptying the grass cuttings onto the compost heap, the garden shed became the focus of my attention. The mower had been buried under boxes of logs and I could easily have wedged it back in, but my new found enthusiasm saw me in rearrangement mode, which actually ended up with me sweeping the floor. That was a first!

My wife was busy pruning roses in the front garden, when I asked her if there was anything else that I could do to help. She looked around; she had it all under control. Why don’t you go fishing? The thought of another big tench from my local Jeanes Pond did appeal. Time to channel that enthusiastic energy. In twenty minutes, a flask of tea had been made, punch bread prepared and I was queuing at the first set of roadworks.

Arriving at the pond, I had a choice of swims, although strong winds sweeping in from the west ruled out half of them, but peg 16 is protected by a high fence and trees. Ideal. The tench and carp tend to browse the margins here and I fed a few firm balls of ground bait close in along the shelf, only two to three metres out.

Getting a bait through the rafts of small rudd is a problem here and my 2 gram antenna pole rig was clipped on, with the shot bulked to within eight inches of the size 14 hook. Crude I know, but it works, keeping most of the kamikazi rudd at bay. I plumbed the depth and set the float overdepth, with the bulk shot just off bottom. By the time that I was ready to fish, the strawberry flavoured ground bait was already working, with the surface fizzing with tiny bubbles. The 7 mm pellet of punched bread was instantly attacked by fry, when I dropped the float straight down from the three metres of pole, but once down among the bubbles, the float lifted and I swung in a roach.

This fish showed signs of a predator attack, with half it’s tail missing, probably from one of the visiting cormorants, another reason why the fish stay close to the margins.

Some of the tiny rudd were still getting through, hanging onto the bread, but a lift of the float as I cast in, brought some bigger brothers, which fought well.

Roach, or rudd? I think there are plenty of hybrids in this pond, the one below was a definite rudd.

I kept a steady supply of ground bait balls going in and the bubbles continued rising, I’m convinced that this one was a true roach. Once the bigger fish move in the over the feed, the small stuff make for the exit.

The bites were now unmissable and the fish definite roach, the landing net in regular use.

It was creeping towards my cut off time, but it is difficult to call a halt, when the fish are so willing.

Not arguments about this rudd, although the bite came from the bottom along with the roach.

A bob and a lift said another rudd, but the bend in the pole and a straight line run back to the lily bed said carp. I put on another length of pole as the fish turned back to my bank, heading into the roots of the trees, pushing the pole out, steered the still unseen fish back out into the pond, where it broached. A dark green tench. I let the elastic do all the work, the hook held and the tench slid into the landing net.

The hook came out in the net and in this light, the tench was now golden. It looked heavier than it was, but just scraped 3lb 12oz. I returned it straight away and decided to pack up.

Many anglers think that the bread punch requires fine lines and tiny hooks, this brutal rig proves them wrong. Two and a half hours of constant feeding and catching had found a net of clonkers,

Lift bites among the waves provide a mixed bag at Kings Pond

July 7, 2023 at 5:57 pm

With my first choice of venue blocked by a string of traffic light controlled road works, I decided to head south to Farnham and Kings Pond in the hope of a decent afternoon’s fishing. My last visit to the venue in October had been a great success, with mirror carp, F1 hybrids and skimmer bream filling my net and looked forward to a repeat performance.

As with my last visit, I enquired “How’s it fishing?” to the first anglers along the bank. Same answer “Rubbish!” Well, that rubbish day produced the net above for me, so I was not put off by their reply. Their bites had dried up and would soon pack up.

There was a steady breeze running right to left and a I set up a heavy two gram pole rig to cope with the drift, attached to a 3 lb hooklink and a size 14 barbless hook, as some of the tench and carp present here are in excess of 6 lb.

I mixed up a tray of my usual pond ground bait, 50% liquidised bread, 20% ground carp pellets and 20% ground hempseed, with a 10% sprinkling of strawberry powder, which I damped down to form stiff balls. Having plumbed the depth, I found a shelf four metres out, dropping from 3 feet to 4 feet at six metres and put in a line of feed, two balls on the shelf and another four out to six metres. My bait was a 7 mm pellet of punched bread.

With the shot bulked a foot from the hook, I hoped to punch through the layer of small roach near the surface, dropping the rig over the drop off. The surface drift was strong along the narrow pond, pulling the antenna beneath the surface, the tip winking off and on in the waves, but a half lift, then a dip was followed by a full lift, which I struck, feeling the resistance of a roach.

On the next peg, the angler called down to his mate “He’s got one already!” This was just the start, more small roach followed. “He’s in again!” he relayed down, as I netted a small mirror carp.

This mirror had a badly damaged mouth. So much for the barbless only rule. Matches take place on this pond and handling care is not a priority to many.

A few more roach and another couple of small mirrors followed from along the drop off. I was on a roll. Then….”Any of you lads got a campervan in the car park?” I looked up “What’s up mate?” It was a contractor, who was replacing a fence next to my van. There were no warning signs that the work was going to be carried out, but I now had to follow him back, find another parking place and walk back to my peg again. At least 30 minutes wasted. I seemed to have lost the mirrors, although small roach and rudd were running away with the float.

I mixed up more ground bait and laid down a bed of feed. Bubbles were now bursting on the surface and I dropped the float over the top and watched it settle. It dithered, then the antenna lifted, bobbing the float and I lifted into a hard running fish, that was taking elastic from the pole tip. The landing net was out again and a deep bodied hybrid was soon in the net.

The wind was increasing and my neighbours decided to pack up, gathering round to watch me to catch a couple more small mirrors on the trot from the 6 metre line. Tiny roach had also swept in over the feed, several being blown off the hook, before I could grab them.

I was having trouble holding the pole against the gusts, the antenna pulling under in the drift, resorting to sighting along the pole to see which way it was moving. Lift bites were barely visible, a jerk to the left being the only indication, which usually resulted in a fish, while sailaways were usually missed.

I had shallowed up by a foot as the bites were coming on the drop, some better roach being hooked the instant the float lifted, while I bumped a couple of mirrors as a consequence of their slower bite.

The wind chilled, increasing to a near gale and I knew what was coming next, a brief heavy shower hissed down the pond. Hanging onto the pole, the float was nowhere to be seen and I lifted into a bouncing roach.

I’d had enough of battling the elements and decided to pack up, feeding the remainder of my groundbait to a hen mallard and her two adolescent ducklings, which was greatly appreciated.

The bread punch had kept the bites coming, although small roach were a nuisance, while rough conditions did not help float control. Excuses, excuses. Better luck next time.


Carp cause a stir on the River Cut

June 27, 2023 at 2:43 pm

I was back on my local River Cut again this week, finding a contrast to the previous flash flood, there being little flow. I walked downstream to where a fallen tree was creating a pinch point, that put extra pace into the stream, ideal for the stickfloat.

The image above illustrates how low the river was, with mud banks visible opposite, while the main channel was only two feet deep, when plumbed.  My aim today was to catch one of the increasing number of carp, that this narrow tributary of the Thames holds and fed a heavy mix of liquidised bread, ground pellets and ground hemp with a sprinkling of sweet spice flakes.  Having located a slightly deeper area with a plummet five yards downstream, I started off with four egg sized balls to coat the bottom and cast in with a 5 No 4 stick float bulkshotted over depth on 5 lb main line to a 3 lb hook link.

Holding the float back over the baited area, I didn’t have long to wait for signs of a bite, the float sliding under within a minute, when a gudgeon swam off with the 7 mm pellet of bread in the size 14 barbless hook.

A few more of these, then my first roach, at least the heavy ground bait was attracting a few fish in.

I put in a couple more balls, the float swung in and the rod rested, waiting for another bite. I prefer to trot the float through, but this laying on method was just as productive, bobs of the float leading to it pulling under, gudgeon and roach competing for the bread.

The roach were getting bigger.

A burst of bubbles over the feed alerted me to the shape of a large fish on the bottom close to my bait and I picked up the rod as the float bobbed, lifted flat, then moved upstream toward me. Reeling back the slack, I lifted into the fish, which continued upstream with a slow shake of the head, passing under my rod heading for sunken branches, before turning with my 14 foot Browning bent double. Oh dear, this was a very big carp, that was now cruising downstream, while I backwound keeping on the side strain. It turned, following the bend in the river, pushing out a bow-wave, giving me a clear view as it accelerated out of sight, the float pinging back to drop at my feet. I’ve hooked and lost some big carp in this little river before, this was the biggest yet. The 3 lb hook link was broken at the loop to the main line. I will have to tie up some 4 lb hook links, when I get home.

I had started fishing at around 2 pm, it was still only twenty past. I put in another couple of balls of the heavy feed, which I could see sank straight to the bottom. I tied on another 14 to 3 lb line, had a cup of tea and tried again. More bubbles, the float marched away; I struck. Another gudgeon. Quick, get another punch of bread on the hook! I dropped the float back in. It bobbed, dipped and submerged, moving beyond the middle. Whoa! Another carp heading off downstream, as I backwound giving line. It turned swimming back upstream, hugging the opposite bank. This was smaller, but still a handful, turning it before the upstream snags, letting the Browning take the strain, while keeping the thrashing carp mid water, waiting for a netting opportunity as it dived about.

In the net, a 3 lb common carp.

This time I was ready for a piece of fruit cake with my cup of tea. These river carp really go!

Another lift and run bite got my heart thumping with anticipation, but it was a false alarm from a rudd. Being so shallow, the 10 inch hook link allowed the bread to drift to the bottom, attracting both rudd and chub.

From now on the bites slowed down as the river sped up, the water turning a mucky brown, even my keep net vanished in the murk. This is sometimes a twice daily occurance, when bites stop. I have often thought about borrowing an oxygen meter from one of my fishing clubs, to see if there is a drop in oxygen levels. Maybe it is just the fine sand particals, that clog the gills of the fish and put them off. I do not remember this happening before the massive increase in housing along the banks of the Cut in recent years. Whatever it is, reports to the Environment Agency fall on deaf ears. Dead fish get results.

Having tried various shotting combinations with no reward, I was ready to pack up after 45 minutes, when the float bobbed with a half interested bite. A few more trots and the float dived with a hooked rudd.

I fed plain white liquidised bread and began catching again, this rudd missing part of it’s tail, as did another. Mink, perch, or cormorant?

The roach and gudgeon had gone missing, but surface feeders like rudd and small chub had taken their

place. It seemed that the bottom feeders, including carp were still off the feed. I couldn’t wait for that to happen and packed up.

I will tie up some heavier hook links, a friend uses 6 lb straight through, but that would probably mean carp, or nothing. I still prefer the chance of a mixed bag.

Chub and roach reward the bread punch on a flooded River Cut

June 21, 2023 at 10:06 am

With no rain for weeks, my local River Cut was almost static for the first day of the river season on the 16th June and I decided to give it a miss, until we had some decent rain. That rain came this morning, waking me at 6 am, when a shower developed into a deluge. The forecast for the day however, was of more showers until noon, then heavy rain again at 5 pm. A dry window worth exploiting.

My two float rods were already made up with stick floats and new hook links attached in my ready to fish holdall, all I needed was to prepare some slices of punch bread for the hook and take some preground liquidised bread from the freezer. As my target fish were going to be roach and hopefully a few chub, I ground up some dry hempseed to mix with the liquidised bread. At this stage I had no idea what state the river would be in, but with the amount of rain in the past few hours, at least it would have a bit of pace.

Pace it did have, rushing along the overgrown opposite bank, while a fine layer of wet silt on top of the fishing platform, was evidence that the river had been much higher earlier on. This flash flood was just what the little river needed to freshen it up and revitalise the fish. Intending to fish the fast water opposite, I plumbed up, finding over three feet of water, setting the 5 No 4 ali stemmed stick float a further ten inches deeper to fish the bottom, when held back. My feed was a stiff mix of liquidised bread, spicy seed flakes and a good portion of the ground hemp, my aim being to create a bed of feed along the bottom to bounce a 6 mm pellet of punch along. Well that was the theory anyway.

Putting in a couple of medium balls upstream along the opposite bank, I inched the float downstream at half speed, the yellow tip holding, then disappearing first trot. A lift of my 14 ft Browning rod produced a gudgeon, not ideal, as this river can sometimes resemble gudgeon alley. Next trot, a small roach became airborne on the strike. Swung to hand, the hook was rebaited and back fishing.

That’s better, a bit more resistance this time and a better roach was netted for good measure.

These roach were coming at the end of the trot, ahead of trailing branches and decided to put in a couple more balls further upstream to draw the fish up.

The roach were following the trail of feed and getting bigger. I hit a snag that moved. Slowly at first, then it ran in a straight line toward me and upstream into shallower water. I had the net ready, but the unseen fish had other ideas and turned with the current towards the trailing branches. Putting on pressure, the hook came free; the finewire had opened out. There are a lot of carp in the Cut these days, roach gear is not up to them.

I got snagged on the bottom, losing a hook and realised that the river had gone down in the last hour, no longer being level with the bank. I tied on a new hook link, moved my string of No 8 shot further from the hook and reduced the depth. I now cast upstream and across to the opposite bank. The float buried and I hooked a roach. The extra feed had brought the fish upstream. I bumped the next few fish and went down to a 5 mm punch. Contact. They wanted a smaller bait. The float was going under opposite me, almost beneath my rod top. I struck into a decent chub, which went berserk, but stayed on.

I began putting in a pigeon egg sized ball of feed every other cast and the chub were lining up, the ground hemp spewing from their mouths.

Roach were still getting in on the act, including this quality fish, the 5 mm punch making a difference.

I was running out of bait again and mixed up some more, taking time for a sandwich and a cup of tea.

Back in again, the float travelled a yard, then sank with another chub charging off. Lightly hooked too.

The roach stood their ground, thumping away. They weren’t shy biters today and the landing net was busy. The river had continued to drop, indicated by the same snag along the trotting line and another lost hook. I shallowed up again, the whole rig from float tip to hook was now less than two feet. I threw over a decent size feed ball, upstream and a foot from the opposite bank. As the float rig hit the water, it dived away.

This was a much better chub, that stormed off downstream heading for the roots, but was brought under control by backwinding my ABU501. A few more charges and it’s head was out of the water, the size 16 hook just hanging onto the tip of the lip. A few more like this one would have been welcome.

I was still catching, but it was fast approaching my packing up time of 4 pm and scraping up the last of my feed, I had one last cast, netting another nice roach.

A minute to 4 pm, there was time for one more cast and the rod bent into another chub, to end the session.

I could have continued catching, but my wife was preparing one of my favourite meals tonight and I didn’t want to be late, also that heavy rain was due at 5. (It never arrived)

Once again the bread punch had proved it’s worth, my total outlay being under 50 pence in these difficult financial times.

Over 5 lb of chub, roach, rudd and gudgeon in under four hours.




Heatwave Tench a bonus among bread punch silvers at Braybrooke.

June 14, 2023 at 12:36 pm

While the rest of the UK benefitted from cooling rainstorms, my part of the country had to sit and watch the clouds pass us by. The first evening of forecast storms had my wife and I rushing around the garden securing plants, as a mini whirlwind drove large droplets 0f rain in our direction. Then it stopped, the black clouds depositting their loads to west of us, causing flash flooding.

I had intended fishing the next day, but once again the forecast was for an Amber Alert of heavy rain and a possible month’s rain in one day. Good news, our water butts were nearly empty. We kept our eyes on the sky, where were the clouds? They passed to the east of us this time

So, today we checked the forecast. Nothing. Blue skies and daylong sunshine. The plants will have to wait, I’m going fishing. The local pond at Braybrooke recreation ground is well shaded, with tall trees lining the hollow formed by brickmakers scavenging for the rich red clay, to produce bricks, for use in such iconic buildings as The Royal Albert Hall.

There was only one other angler fishing, when I arrived at 10 am and I settled down on the Point, which juts out into five feet of water. The shade extended half way across, with a cool breeze blowing from the east to my left and I set up the pole to 4 metres, with a heavy 2 gram antenna rig, bulked a foot from the size 14 hook, set just off bottom. Having had a successful session the week before, with a couple of tench in the lily fringed swim opposite, I made up the same groundbait mix of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets, with a sprinkling of strawberry powder. There is a defined drop off here and I put two decent firm balls into the five foot deep swim.

First cast the float dipped a couple of  times, then slowly sank, the juddering fight indicating a nettable roach, that had taken the 7 mm pellet of punched bread.

The surface was covered by fry and small rudd and the bulked shot had done its job of punching through to the bottom. The bites took their time to develope, but waiting for that slow sink of the antenna was the gaurantee of another roach.

Fifteen minutes into the session, another roach bite met with a solid resistance, which was definitely a tench, a short run was replaced by a tumbling fight, stretching the pole elastic as it plunged deep toward the middle. It turned and ran toward the bush on my left and the line went solid. It had found the roots. I let the line go slack, keeping an eye on the float. The float moved off, heading round the corner of the Point and I put on tension again, drawing the pole back round. The fight was on again, the elastic stretching out toward the middle. I slipped on another length of pole, which gave more control, when the unseen fish came close to my bank. It rolled, a good sized tench was ready for the landing net.

A chunky 3 lb 6 oz male tench hooked firmley in the lip.

“I’ve got my beady red eye on you!

The downside of catching  tench is the slime. My line was now coated in this thick jelly-like substance and I spent the next ten minutes unpicking a tangle.  Success. A cup of tea and a sandwich and I was ready to fish again, following another ball of feed with the float. The wind had picked up and the antenna dragged under in the drift. Another tench? The elastic came out of the pole as I lifted, but it was solid. The hook was snagged. Bringing the pole in, I pulled hard on the elastic. The 3 lb hook link broke. Having survived the tangle, I felt that I had got off lightly. A new link was looped on.

Casting out to my left to avoid the snag, the antenna popped up immediately, and I was playing a decent rudd to the net.

I decided to replumb the depth out at five metres, setting the bait to fish on the bottom, then putting into the area my last couple of balls of feed. Small rudd and roach were now being swung in and I decided to mix up another stiff mix to draw in some better fish. It seemed to work.

As the sun rose higher, so the shadow reduced, finally reaching my fishing line and I began to catch more rudd, intercepting the bait midwater.

My hopes of another tench had gone. Even in my protected area, the heat was getting through and at 1:30 I called it a day, despite still catching one a chuck to hand. This roach being my last.

Not a pretty rig, but it works on this pond, where there are shoals of very small rudd ready to grab an angler’s bait; also I think that the punch scores over the maggot, as it is a bigger bait attracting better fish.

Proof of the pudding, a decent tench amoung a net of roach and rudd, all in three hours fishing.





Strawberry loving tench and roach on a bread punch season opener.

June 2, 2023 at 1:32 pm

The month long close season during May at my local still water, Jeanes Pond, experienced a clear transition from winter to summer this year, heavy frosts at the end of April a distant memory, when the sun shone through morning clouds to reveal blue skies at lunchtime. The rapidly rising temperature gave me the green light to set off for a few hours fishing in search of tench today. Due to a recent self-inflicted injury, my mobility was severly restricted for a few weeks and I had to pressgang my wife into trolley towing duty, with the promise of sunshine.

The local council had recently installed an electric aeration pump, which has been running for the last three days to protect fish stocks during the prolonged dry spell, following the deaths of some of the larger carp.

I started off the session by mixing up half a dozen balls of groundbait, 50% liquidised bread, 20% ground hemp, 20% ground carp pellets and 10% of powdered strawberry flavouring, all damped down, then left to absorb the water. Having plumbed the depth, I put four tight balls along the edge of the lily bed, where there was four feet of water, followed by a 4 x 16 float rig, bulk shotted antenna float, with a 6 mm pellet of punched bread on a size 16 barbless hook. I dropped the float straight down into the baited area and watched it cock, lift, then sink as a decent rudd took the bread.

In again and this time the bait got through the rudd, the float settled, then slowly sank, with line following. A better fish, this time a roach.

This was a very slimy individual, a hard fighting summer fish. It made a change for the roach to be warm to the touch, unlike the ice lollies of a month before.

A couple more free biting roach made their way into my net, then a characteristic lift and bob, saw the float dive. Before I could say “tench”, I was playing one. It’s pounding fight pulled out the elastic, heading straight for the lilies. Putting the pole over to the left, I kept the pressure on and it turned and headed out toward the middle, raising the pole to slow the progress. My wife looked up from her book, while I let the tench tire itself against the 6 metres of pole. It was now rolling close to my bank and I had removed 2 meters preparing for netting, when the tench appeared on the surface and it was swept into the waiting landing net.

A deep barrel shaped tench, about 2 lb, with massive tail was looking up at me, the size 16 hook, just inside the upper lip. My first attempt to unhook the fish produced a strong head shake and a hook transfered to the landing net. Phew! I had landed this tench just in time for the bailiff to witness it.

Inpecting the hook, the gape had been opened out. I had been lucky to land this fish. I decided to put on a much heavier rig. My choice was a 2g antenna float, again with the weight bulked close to the size 14 hook. A single No 4 shot was 100mm from the hook as a tell tale and the whole rig was set 150mm over depth. This rig is supposed to be rudd proof, going straight down to the bottom, avoiding the swarms of small fish, the 7 mm punch  attracting  better quality roach.

The earlier clouds had now been burned off and I had to strip off my hoodie, while my wife searched out the shade.

Fishing is sooo exciting!

The bites from the roach took time to develope, slight bobs and lifts, followed by a slow sink.

Feeding roach were throwing up fine bubbles as they rooted among the groundbait, but another couple of balls brought more interest. Bursts of larger bubbles appeared around my float, the antenna lifted right out, then slowly sank. A positive lift of the pole, saw the tip bend over as the elastic came out, slowly at first, then faster as the fish woke up and headed for the safety of the lilies. This fish was much bigger than the first and full pressure, was bending the six metres of pole over its length. A boil at the edge of the lily bed indicated a turn of the unseen fish, as it headed towards open water at speed. My wife was back out of her chair, as I followed the fish, keeping up the presure. “What is it?” she asked. “I think its a carp, judging by this run!” I replied, hanging on. I had not seen the stonfo line connector yet and the float was another six feet beyond that. Hang on and follow the fish was all I could do, reducing each run with pressure from the elastic. At last the float appeared and I made a rapid removal of the lower two sections, before the unkown fish revealed itself to be a large tench, which was quickly netted.

Look at that tail!

The hook was soon out and a quick weigh-in took the scales just past 4lb, my biggest yet from Jeanes Pond.

I scraped up the last of my feed and put it in, hoping for more  tench. The sun was still beating down, not ideal, but this one had decided to sniff out the strawberry flavour, so why not others?

The roach were keeping me busy and were all goers, but the sun soon moved behind the trees, leaving my wife in the shade, who was now complaining of feeling the cooling breeze. She reminded me that we had agreed to go home at 5 pm. We were now into that just one more fish zone!

At 5 pm, this was the last roach, another clonker. It was time to go. It had been a busy three hours.

The bright sunshine had rapidly dried out my bread, requiring regular replacements from the bread wallet in my bait apron. The moorhens were very happy to receive my cast offs, as were the small rudd.

A busy three hours fishing.


Roach compensate for great expectations of carp and tench at Jeanes Pond

April 27, 2023 at 9:52 am

Following a day baking in the sunshine, while filling my keep net with carp and roach last week, I invited a friend to join me this week for a bit of social fishing at Braybrook’s Jeanes pond, now that the weather and fishing had improved. Meeting the bailiff in the car park, he spoke of big roach and tench being caught at the weekend, so we were keen to get going, despite heavy rain overnight and a frost that morning. Setting up in adjacent pegs gave us a chance to catch up on our news and to discuss tactics, John using a 5 metre elasticated whip, with a waggler rig to fish a variety of hook baits, red worm, sweet corn and maggots over a bed of hempseed. I would start at 3 metres on the pole with bread punch, having put in two palm sized balls of heavy ground bait to bypass the small rudd. As with last week, the feed mix of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets was liberally sprinkled with strawberry flavouring.

There was an immediate difference from last week, when the bottom of the pond fizzed with fish feeding on my ground bait, today nothing. Oh dear, it was going to be hard. With my float rig over the feed, a ring radiated from the antenna. A bite. The float indications of interest progressed to a slow sink and I lifted into a three ounce roach. Wow, this fish was cold, the water temp must be really low? The hook was just in the skin of the lip. They were just sucking at the bait.

The sun was shining on our arrival, but clouds soon blew a cold north wind in our faces. At least I was getting fish in my net, while John was suffering with sucked maggots. I decided to not put any more feed in as the roach were obliging, still fussy bites, but they were coming in at a steady rate.

All much of a muchness, these roach were hard fighters, taking a 6 mm punch of bread on a size 16 hook.

John was ringing the changes on his bait, taking a nice rudd on worm, along with a small perch, but most of his fish came to double maggot.

We had at least expected a tench, or two, but by 1 pm our enthusiasm had evaporated, having expected better things before the Braybrook season ends this weekend on the May bank holiday. Looking forward, the enforced one month close season on this pond will soon be over and I will be hoping for better fishing on June 1st.

Two hours was enough time to accumulate two dozen roach.




Strawberry carp surprise in the sun at Jeanes Pond

April 21, 2023 at 2:53 pm

A blue sky and sunshine greeted me for an early start at Braybrook Fishing Club’s Jeanes pond this week, intending to cram in three hours fishing, before forecast strong winds and rain swept in during the afternoon. A cool breeze was already howling through the trees behind me as I tackled up at 10 am, but the pond is in a hollow and peg 13 was already a sun trap.

To my right the lily bed was just beginning to grow after long winter and carp were  basking in the sun, nudging the pads as they slowly moved around. With carp in mind, I mixed up a tray of heavy groundbait; liquidised bread, ground hemp and trout pellets, laced with strawberry powder, this damped down enough to hold together. Plumbing the depth, there was a drop off going down to four feet close to the lilies and put in two walnut sized balls. There was no surface activity and the water was a thick olive green, which was not encouraging, and opted for a 4 x 16 antenna float, with the weight bulked to within a foot of the size 18 hook to avoid any small rudd, starting with 6 mm bread punch.

The first bite was a slow dip of the antenna, which held before slowly sinking and I lifted the pole to make contact was a 3 oz roach. The tiny hook was just in the skin of the top lip and netted the roach for safety.

Back over the baited area, I lowered the bait down and watched the float dip, lift, then steadily sink away out of sight. Again, a 3 oz roach putting a bend in the pole tip, but very lightly hooked. It had been very cold overnight and the roach needed time to take the punched bread.

I put in another walnut sized ball of feed, watching it sink quickly towards the bottom, then followed it down with the float rig. The float sat for  a few minutes undisturbed and I thought that a pike had moved into the swim. A slight dip of the antenna preceded a lift, then a steady movement to the right. A rudd, I thought and lifted. The float stayed down and the elastic came out. Something big was waking up on the bottom. Convinced that a pike had taken a roach, I drew the fish away from the lilies, which responded with a burst of power, that stretched out elastic from the pole, running to my left. As the fish turned, I followed it with the pole, expecting the size 18 hook to pull free, or the 1.5 lb breaking strain hook link to fail. The elastic was doing it’s job and soon the fish rolled on the surface. It was a carp. Breaking the pole down to the top three sections, the carp was soon ready for the net.

A very deep 3lb common carp

I put in another ball of groundbait, then it was time for a cup of tea and a sandwich to get my breath back.  Dropping the float in next to the lilies, I did not have long to wait for another typical rudd bite, unfortunately it was a rudd!

Dropping in again I was ready for anything and this time it was a typical tench bite, rapid lifts and bobs, then the float sank away out of sight. Ooops, the elastic was out again as the fish ran out toward the middle of the pond. This felt like a tench, with dives and rolls deep beneath the surface, the elastic following down. The float appearing on the surface let me know that I was winning the battle. It rolled, showing a golden belly and a deep bronze flank, surely not a big bream, there aren’t any in here, are there? Only breaking the pole down to four metres, the strange fish was guided to my landing net. It was a big fantail!

This barrel of a fish weighed 4lb 4oz and I wondered if it was the same fantail, that I caught at Jeanes in June 2021.

This one was 2lb 8oz

Although the bites had been slow on the size 18 hook, I decided to go up a size to a 16 on a 2lb hook link, just in case I encountered any more big fish, swapping over to a 7mm bread punch at the same time. Having fed another ball of the strawberry flavoured groundbait, bubbles were now bursting over the area and I was on tenter hooks waiting for my next fish. Gentle raising and lowering of the float antenna showed interest amid the bubbles, but the bite took time to develope. Was it the bigger hook and bait? Eventually the float sank and the tip bent over with the anti climax of a seven inch roach, again only just hooked. The sun was hot, but the water was cold.

Bubbles were coming up in bursts, and I was convinced that tench were now in the swim, but each time a roach had taken the punched bread.

These roach were not  big, but worth catching, proof that the pond is at last coming out of the winter doldrums. The sky continued to clear, while the temperature climbed in my little suntrap, drying out my ground bait and mini slices of punch bread, needing to resort to dropping water off the landing net into the bait tray, to keep the bait soft. By now large carp were cruising the surface, not my target fish today with only a pole, but a tench, or two would have been welcome; still, beggars can’t be choosers and I continued bashing out roach.

My cut off time was 1pm, by which time I was overheating, having started the day wearing two thick jackets. It had been an interesting three hours on the bread punch, having tried out a few thing, but I was glad to pack up. It seems that I had enjoyed a mini climate at Jeanes, my wife complaining of the cold, when she walked to Tesco that morning.

A worthwhile net of roach on any day, without the bonus carp.


Carp and rudd wake up from the cold against the clock

April 18, 2023 at 1:25 pm

A wet morning was transformed by a bright afternoon sun this week and my thoughts turned to my very local pond. Would the carp and crucians be feeding at last, following weeks of alternating weather systems of wet storms, then frosts and snow? With many of my domestic chores completed, I gathered up my tackle and headed down to the pond for a few hours fishing, arriving at 3 pm in time for black clouds to hide the sun. The surface of the pond at this time of year is usually alive with rudd and cruising carp, but today it looked dead.

This was my first visit to the swim this year and spring growth has turned it into a parrot cage, with bushes intruding on either side and a tree growing behind catching the pole tip of the top two sections. Note to self, bring the croppers next time. Having balled in some groundbait of liquidised bread, ground hemp and ground carp pellets, I set up the pole with a small 2BB waggler float and cast in over the feed, the float tracking away immediately, when a small rudd took the 7mm pellet of punched bread on the size 14 barbless hook.

I was surprised just how cold this rudd felt, the heavy rain of late must have chilled the water. This pond is one of a chain of balance ponds, that was set up by the council to absorb flood water from the flood plain of a local brook, allowing housing estates to be built along its length.

Despite the lack of surface activity, there was plenty of action below the surface, once the better sized rudd homed in on the feed.

A welcome sign was a small common carp that made off with the punched bread at speed, pulling out the pole elastic for the first time today.

These small commons are from the lake upstream, washed down in floods a couple of years ago and now growing on in this pond. My next cast hooked into a much bigger carp, that dived into the roots at my feet, while avoiding the landing net, becoming snagged. Allowing the line to go slack, let the carp burrow deeper into the tangle, the opposite of what I had hoped and I was forced to try to hand line it out.  It went solid and the line broke below the float, ending with a tangle. I lobbed in a couple more small balls of feed to keep the carp interested, then searched in my box for a suitable replacement float, finding a short top and bottom float, that would cope with the surface drift created by the strong breeze.

The new float worked well, being held back in the drift and the rudd kept coming, some of them a better size.

A dithering bite, with dips and bobs of the float indicated a crucian carp, but when it slowly submerged, the surface exploded as a small common carp stormed off.

Time was ticking by and this was to be a brief visit, until 6 pm, then back for meal being prepared by my wife. To be late would not go down well the next time that I wanted to nip out for a quick fishing session.

The rudd continued to oblige.

A dithering bite and at last a crucian, which came off. I’d felt the time pressure and struck too soon. They just sit there and suck the bread and need time to swim off.

In again, it was now five minutes past six. Another dithering bite and a smaller crucian was pounding away. It was only a few ounces, but I decided to use the landing net to make sure of a photo for the blog. It too came off.

The crucians had finally woken up and I was determined to catch one. Missed a bite. One last cast, then I must pack up. Bob,bob, dip, gone! Yes! A solid fish, but not a crucian, a small common.

I packed up as quickly as I could. The crucians will have to wait for a warmer day.

I can’t complain, I had caught from the off, ok nothing big, but had put over sixty fish in the net in under three hours and got home in time for a very enjoyable meal. What more can you want?