Stick float chub bonus on the bread punch at the River Blackwater

January 20, 2022 at 1:42 pm

I chose the one day without frost for a revisit to a swim on the River Blackwater this week, but had to contend with heavy drizzle instead, which was dripping like rain from the tree above for the first hour. Not to worry, I tackled up with the same rod and rig, that I had used before Christmas, to net some quality roach and perch, hoping to improve on that result.

Fishing the bread punch on a 5 No 4 ali stemmed stick float to a size 16 barbless, I fed a single ball of liquidised bread, with ground carp pellets, heavily laced with ground hemp, over to the ivy covered steel shuttering along the far bank. Trotting close to the shuttering, the first cast saw the float slide away down stream as a small chub made off with the bread.

The next cast, the float travelled further before burying, when a slightly bigger roach took.

A couple of small roach later, my 14 foot Browning bent over as a 6 oz chub steamed off down stream and the landing net was out for the first time.

Another ball of feed over brought more small roach, then a rapid missed bite. Then another, the bread gone each time. Dace? My answer for these was going down from a 6 to a 5mm punch, a tighter line, with a stop and let run control of the float. Usually the float holds under just as it runs again. An instant strike and I was into a tumbling dace, followed by another to prove the technique.

It was now apparent that this was going to be a different session than my last visit. Then it had been large roach, but today it was mostly small stuff, some so small that they came off on the retrieve, not hooked, but holding onto the bread. There was no mistaking the the next fish, the float going down and staying there, while the rod reacted to the steady thump of a very decent fish, that turned and disappeared off downstream at a rate of knots, only checked by the release of line under my finger on the Abu 501 spool. Once it had slowed, I clicked in the line pickup and played it on the reel, backwinding as it made lunges downstream again.

I had not seen the fish, until it was close and the big white mouth of a chub broke the surface, allowing me to guide it toward the landing net. A fat fish, I guessed it to be at least two pounds and it had certainly given me a wake up call.

The river level was dropping all the time, it was three feet deep out in front of me when I started, but a tide mark on the shuttering showed that the level had dropped by six inches and I was constantly adjusting the depth. Further down was a sand bar, where the float needed to be lifted over to avoid snagging. I assumed that the bread feed had accumulated there, as better sized roach were taking with confidence, breaking the surface each time I struck.

At this point the river was now less than two feet deep, but the roach were not put off in the clear water. The hot spot was a twenty five yard trot, I could have moved closer, but decided on the side of caution, not wanting to scare off the shoal.

The conditions now were ideal for the stick float, the wind had picked up, blowing from the north, cold but upstream. The bites were predictable, some lifts of the float, others slight hold downs. I struck everything, these usually small roach, dace, or chub, straight down was always a better fish.

One of those straight down bites was a much better fish, that ran another ten yards down stream. I thought that I had at last hooked one of the big roach, but no, it was a nice chub of about a pound.

I had mixed up some more feed earlier and was putting over a small ball every other cast in an effort to feed off the small stuff. It hadn’t worked, as I was still swinging them in, but the size had improved with odd good’un.

That north wind was now getting into my bones and I set my pack up time to 3 pm. All my tea had been drunk and I was in that just one more decent fish mode.

It was beyond 3 pm, when I finally called it a day, the failing light affecting the picture of a hard fighting chub that took among the roach. Once in the landing net, I said “that’ll do, time to go home”.

It had been an interesting few hours, constantly chasing the fish, inducing bites, changing depths and shotting patterns. These shallow rivers can give great sport on the stick float, it requires constant work, but the rewards can be satisfying.