Stick float and bread punch River Cut season opener bonanza

June 23, 2021 at 8:54 am

A month’s rain in a day saw the little River Cut near my home rise three feet with flood water last week, but it was back down to normal levels, when I went for my first session of the new season this week. More rain over the weekend had kept the flow rate up, but decided that a 4 No 4 bodied, ali stemmed stick float was the tool to cope with the shallow swim. The flood had deposited several dead branches into the swim in front of me and I spent ten minutes fishing them out with my 4 metre landing net.

While setting up, I fed a couple of balls of plain white liquidised bread upstream of my swim, one past middle and the other along the opposite bank roots. This swim is the tail of a long left hand bend, with shallows on the inside and up to three feet deep along the far side. With most of the shot under the float, I had 3 No 8 shot spread a foot up from the nine inch hook link to a size 16 barbless hook. This rig is versatile, being able to be fished over depth and held back hard, to being shallowed up and run through with the current.

My first cast over to the far side saw my float drag under and thinking that the float was over depth, lifted to ease the bait off the bottom. The rod bent over with a small chub fighting furiously to lose the hook.

This chub was followed in quick succession by two others, that got bigger with each cast.

Then the roach moved in. Starting on a 5 mm punch of bread, the bites were typical of roach, dips and holds followed by the sinking of the float.

It was a delight to be back using the stick float, matched with the 12 foot lightweight Hardy and an ABU 501 reel. The open faced reel allows the line to run out over the spool controlled by my right index finger, the finger locking the line at the moment of the strike. Any large fish hooked can be given line by just raising the finger to allow line to flow as a buffer. The majority of the fish caught were lightly hooked, needed the landing net, the hook often coming out in the net.

Every half dozen roach, I threw a small ball of the liquidised bread upstream, which was building up a carpet on the bottom, that the roach were gathering over. Easing the float down, I waited for a sign of a bite, a hold, or a dip, then would lock my finger on the spool to stop the float and it would sink, followed by a strike. It worked every time. Often the float would dive, but these were usually small dace, or gudgeon.

The roach just kept coming.

These roach were lined up, I had tried going up to a 6 mm punch, but found that it did not select bigger fish and went back to the 5 mm, getting into a routine, almost fishing by numbers, although some fish were more reluctant to come to the net that others.

These were all clonkers, fighting hard, aided by the strong current, often broaching on the strike.

I had set my finishing time at 3 pm, which gave me four hours of fishing and counting up the punch holes in my bread this related to at least eighty fish, which included chub, dace, gudgeon and of course roach. Despite feeding steadily, I had used about 6 oz of liquidised bread. Total cost 10p.

Despite a couple of dogs retrieving branches for their owners and curious members of the public peering down into the river next to me, this little river continued to provide bites and fish all day.