Riches to rags on a cold River Cut

March 3, 2023 at 4:42 pm

Following a fanastic session on the River Blackwater the week before, with over ten pounds of roach and chub on the bread punch, I was hoping for a repeat performance on my local River Cut. A friend had fished the bread punch last week on the Cut, catching a decent net of chub and roach and I was looking forward to the same this week. Although officialy Spring, temperatures had been in the mid single figures all week, but chub don’t mind the cold do they? After a frost, the sun was shining, warming the air and I went out for an afternoon of testing my new landing net.

At the top end of the stretch, the river was crystal clear, but the further down that I walked, the more murky it became, guessing that the daily pollution had come through and with little flow, I would be lucky to get a bite, let alone any fish.

With my 14 ft Browning rod still set up in my fishing ready rod holdall, I decided to save time by fishing with the 3BB stick float to a size 14 hook. This rig worked perfectly in the fast flowing Blackwater and would still be OK against the Cut chub, but after twenty minutes without a bite. I was ready for a change to a finer float rig. My friend had said that he would come to see me that afternoon, so decided to stick it out until then. I had been feeding small nuggets of compressed liquidised bread around the float each cast and was taken by surprise, when the float bobbed and went under. I missed it! Next cast I studied every tremble of the float, it held, then sank and a fish was on. A lowley gudgeon that felt like an ice lolley to the touch, even with already cold hands.

I missed another very fussy bite, then a rattling fight from a small roach raised my hopes.

My friend arrived in time for another gudgeon. At least I was getting bites regularly now.

We sat and chatted, interrupted by the occasional fish. They were not getting any bigger and I was still missing bites. A lost hook on a snag gave me the excuse to change the rig to a 5 No 4 stick with a size 18 hook, to fish with a smaller 4 mm punch. Regular nuggets of feed kept the bites coming, but my hoped for bonus fish were not appearing. The sun had gone behind the houses, that line the west side of the strip of green through which the Cut runs and the cold was returning, along with an increasing upstream wind. I considered that it might be worth hanging on for a bit longer, but after two hours of struggle, it was time to pack up.

At least the bread punch had got me bites on a near freezing afternoon.

The riches of the Blackwater the week before, unfortunately could not be repeated  a week later on the Cut. The cold water and pollution played their part, my keepnet stinking of oil, when I pulled it out.