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.