Skimmer Bream save the day at Kings Pond

April 10, 2021 at 5:54 pm

Feeling like I have just come out of hibernation, I ventured out to fish, when the temperature was due to scrape into double figures at a promised 11 degrees Centigrade warm spell this week. A Jet Stream that often wanders down from Iceland, has kept the UK suffering with wind chills down into the negative zone and fishing has suffered accordingly. Being officially Spring, I had put my thermals away a month ago, but regretted it when I arrived at Farnham’s Kings Pond. Winter work parties had cut back the trees that form a windbreak between Badshot Lea Big Pond and an ice cold wind was now sweeping across the 0.7 acres of Kings.

Walking round in a fruitless search of a swim that was out of the wind, I was met by glum looks and shaking heads, when I asked how it was fishing. So far only one of the six hardy souls fishing so far had a fish, a single 3 oz roach. This time last year I had been lucky to find an empty swim, now I was spoilt for choice.

In my hibernation, I had removed a troublesome No 5 light elastic from the top two telescopic sections of my pole and replaced it with a shorter length in the top section. Expecting a range of fish from roach, bream, tench and crucian carp, this would prove a good test of the tension of the elastic, but judging by the reactions so far, I would be lucky to catch anything.

Today bites would be at a premium and I set up with a 4 x 14 fine antenna float rig with a size 18 barbless hook, to fish a 5 mm bread punch over the shelf into the deeper water, this starting 4 metres out at a metre deep, falling away to 2.5 metres at 6 metres. Feeding a couple of small balls of sieved liquidised bread over the shelf produced no bites in fifteen minutes and I replumbed the depth to just off bottom at 6 metres, holding back against the drift. Another couple of feed balls and the float dipped and slowly sank. I struck. Missed it. Another 5 minute wait and I missed again. This repeated a few times before I switched to a 4 mm punch.

Next cast the float dipped and sank away and rattle at the end produced a very small roach, that was cold to the touch. No wonder these fish were not interested in a bigger bait.

A few more even smaller roach followed and assumed that the feed ball was breaking up early, attracting the smaller fish, many falling off the hook in the wind. I mixed up a heavier mix of bread with some Haiths sweet spice mix, forming a tight ball that dropped straight through to the bottom. Bulking the shot close to the hook, I lowered the bait in over the top and the float cruised under. A lift of the pole and a roach was bouncing the pole top.

This was a better roach, but I would have expected the elastic to have come out a few inches to absorb the shock as I struck. The next roach did not test the elastic either.

The next bite proved to me that I should have adjusted the elastic, striking into a good fish, maybe a crucian, or a roach that bounced deep under the pole, bending the top, but not extending the elastic. Laying the pole over to one side, I began steadily working it back to me along the bank, due to bushes behind. It came off the size 18 barbless. The elastic seemed free enough, pulling it through the tip by hand, but being already stretched over its metre length, it was obviously too tight. I carried out a quick bankside mod by removing the top two telescopic tips, sliding out the top and removing the elastic bung in the end with the orange No 5 elastic attached and unhooked it. Cutting a spare piece of blue No 6 elastic, I formed a loop, passed it through the orange loop to pull back and reattach the linked pieces to the hook. This has relieved the tension by 40 mm. If I feel that I need even less tension, I can add a longer loop of blue.

I carry a screw in my tackle box, which acts as a handy extractor that fits into the end of the bung.

Back to the fishing. The wind had increased and holding the pole against the crosswind was hard work, while the ripples made bite detection an all or nothing affair.

The next roach stayed on, the elastic coming out a couple of inches on the strike. More adjustment was needed, but not today. My fingers were now cold, the temperature having dropped further as the wind swept across the Big Pond. There were now only two of us left on the water, the others seeing sense and retreating home. Deciding to give it another hour, I fed two more tight balls of the spice mix and dropped the rig in over it.

The bite, when it came, sank slowly, taking the last metre of line to the float with it. I struck and the elastic stayed down. Thud, thud. This felt like a decent skimmer, the pole tip following the elastic as the fish fought back. I lowered the pole, bringing it round parallel with the bank, feeding it through my fingers, until I reached the top two. The elastic was out of the tip with the weight, while responding to the dogged fight. By now the skimmer was on the surface and slid into my landing net. The hook dropped out in the net. The elastic had done its work.

This skimmer had been worth the wait. A couple more roach followed and stayed on, but I also missed a couple of unmissable bites, where the float sank slowly out of sight and I braced for a decent fish, only to see a bare hook. Lack of practice?

Another unmissable saw the elastic out again, that thudding fight taking the fish out toward the middle before the elastic brought it back, a better skimmer bream rolling several times on the surface, as I eased it to my bank and the net.

Again the hook came out in the net, this fish just hooked in the skin of the mouth. I kept going for a little longer, but pleasure fishing is supposed to be just that, I have endured too many Winter League matches, where points are everything and the smallest gudgeon can make a difference to your team’s result. I don’t need to do that anymore and after this last roach, I packed up.

It was hard to judge the amount of feed needed, probably feeding no more than 6 oz of liquidised bread, plus a sprinkling of flavouring, double punching with the 4 mm punch to conceal the size 18 hook. A 20 may have been better.

On a cold blustery day the two skimmer bream saved the day and I look forward to my next visit, when I hope that the tench and crucians will be in feeding mood.