Stick float and bread punch find winter silver fish

November 29, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Storm clouds parted this week to reveal morning sunshine, provoking my wife to comment that she was surprised that I had not planned a fishing trip. “Strange that you should mention it. I was just thinking that myself,” was my reply. This was true, despite all the technology available to the forecasters, prediction seems to be back in the dark ages these days. Some once said, “The only reliable thing about the British weather is that it is unreliable” I had not considered fishing due to a very wet forecast, but here we were with sunshine. The words “You can go if you like” did not need discussion, the bread was taken out of the freezer, followed by changing into warmer clothing, while an early lunch and a flask of tea were prepared by my understanding wife. The tackle was already in the van, so after a quick parting kiss, I was on my way at noon. With sunset at 4 pm, it would have to be a short session and I headed straight to my local river two miles away. Unloading the van, I made my way across the bridge, looking down to see the river in full flood, the colour of builder’s tea, sweeping down from the weir.

On the inside of a bend, this swim offers slack water in close, while the far side has a deeper channel carrying the full flow. Even in these conditions, with the river running level with the bank, the maximum depth in the channel is only three feet and opted for a 4 No 4 Drennan ali stemmed stick, a bit on the light side considering the speed of the river, but better for presenting the punch.

I wetted down a small quantity of liquidised bread, enough for it to hold together and sink, throwing it upstream to my right to avoid taking the fish too far down the swim. First trot the float dived out of sight and the rod bent into a roach that took full advantage of the strong current.

A smaller roach was next, then the rod bent hard round as a small chub dived back toward the bush.

Another good roach followed, but I tried to bully it back to the landing net and the size 16 barbless hook pulled out. Worried that the escapee would take the rest of the shoal with it, I put another two balls of feed upstream, then followed through with the float. Half way down the trot, the float dived away and I was rewarded with the best roach so far.


This roach ran upstream, then turned on a sixpence to dash down with the flow. In this heavily coloured water, these fish were invisible until close to the surface, guiding them over to my shallow side ready for the net.

A cold wind began blowing downstream, the enemy of all stick float anglers, while intermittent drizzle caused me to pull up my jacket hood and cover my punch bread. The flow had picked up and I tried trotting through the slacker water just past middle and began picking up smaller roach, feeding closer in hoping for better fish, but after several 2 oz fish, tried back out in the channel.

I had missed a few rapid bites and holding back hard gave an answer, when a dace hooked itself, tumbling off the hook in seconds. I added another six inches to the depth and inched the float down, the float again blipping below the surface with a dace that stayed on.

A few more dace and a small chub followed before I tried another tactic. Adding another six inches to the depth and pulling most of the shot to bulk a foot above the hook, I swung the well over depth rig out into the channel, allowing the line to trip over my finger from the ABU 501, then pulling the rod back slowly to halt the float with the line running free. Following down again usually saw the float pull under with a good roach, if not a repeat of the process did the trick.

The roach were hard on the bottom scooping up the feed and regular small tight balls thrown well upstream kept them there, while the dace chased the loose offerings.

Gudgeon had joined the roach feeding on the carpet of bread crumbs, catching two for every roach.

The light was now fading fast and the drizzle had turned to light rain, making this roach my last at 3:30.

It had been difficult to keep the bread dry in the rain, constant rebaiting exposing it too often. Harder, steam rolled punch bread would have survived better, but I had done none and had persevered with soggy bait, a 7 mm punch allowing enough bread to wrap around the hook.

I had still been catching when I packed up, an earlier start could have doubled this 4 lb net of silvers.