Strawberry carp surprise in the sun at Jeanes Pond

April 21, 2023 at 2:53 pm

A blue sky and sunshine greeted me for an early start at Braybrook Fishing Club’s Jeanes pond this week, intending to cram in three hours fishing, before forecast strong winds and rain swept in during the afternoon. A cool breeze was already howling through the trees behind me as I tackled up at 10 am, but the pond is in a hollow and peg 13 was already a sun trap.

To my right the lily bed was just beginning to grow after long winter and carp were  basking in the sun, nudging the pads as they slowly moved around. With carp in mind, I mixed up a tray of heavy groundbait; liquidised bread, ground hemp and trout pellets, laced with strawberry powder, this damped down enough to hold together. Plumbing the depth, there was a drop off going down to four feet close to the lilies and put in two walnut sized balls. There was no surface activity and the water was a thick olive green, which was not encouraging, and opted for a 4 x 16 antenna float, with the weight bulked to within a foot of the size 18 hook to avoid any small rudd, starting with 6 mm bread punch.

The first bite was a slow dip of the antenna, which held before slowly sinking and I lifted the pole to make contact was a 3 oz roach. The tiny hook was just in the skin of the top lip and netted the roach for safety.

Back over the baited area, I lowered the bait down and watched the float dip, lift, then steadily sink away out of sight. Again, a 3 oz roach putting a bend in the pole tip, but very lightly hooked. It had been very cold overnight and the roach needed time to take the punched bread.

I put in another walnut sized ball of feed, watching it sink quickly towards the bottom, then followed it down with the float rig. The float sat for  a few minutes undisturbed and I thought that a pike had moved into the swim. A slight dip of the antenna preceded a lift, then a steady movement to the right. A rudd, I thought and lifted. The float stayed down and the elastic came out. Something big was waking up on the bottom. Convinced that a pike had taken a roach, I drew the fish away from the lilies, which responded with a burst of power, that stretched out elastic from the pole, running to my left. As the fish turned, I followed it with the pole, expecting the size 18 hook to pull free, or the 1.5 lb breaking strain hook link to fail. The elastic was doing it’s job and soon the fish rolled on the surface. It was a carp. Breaking the pole down to the top three sections, the carp was soon ready for the net.

A very deep 3lb common carp

I put in another ball of groundbait, then it was time for a cup of tea and a sandwich to get my breath back.  Dropping the float in next to the lilies, I did not have long to wait for another typical rudd bite, unfortunately it was a rudd!

Dropping in again I was ready for anything and this time it was a typical tench bite, rapid lifts and bobs, then the float sank away out of sight. Ooops, the elastic was out again as the fish ran out toward the middle of the pond. This felt like a tench, with dives and rolls deep beneath the surface, the elastic following down. The float appearing on the surface let me know that I was winning the battle. It rolled, showing a golden belly and a deep bronze flank, surely not a big bream, there aren’t any in here, are there? Only breaking the pole down to four metres, the strange fish was guided to my landing net. It was a big fantail!

This barrel of a fish weighed 4lb 4oz and I wondered if it was the same fantail, that I caught at Jeanes in June 2021.

This one was 2lb 8oz

Although the bites had been slow on the size 18 hook, I decided to go up a size to a 16 on a 2lb hook link, just in case I encountered any more big fish, swapping over to a 7mm bread punch at the same time. Having fed another ball of the strawberry flavoured groundbait, bubbles were now bursting over the area and I was on tenter hooks waiting for my next fish. Gentle raising and lowering of the float antenna showed interest amid the bubbles, but the bite took time to develope. Was it the bigger hook and bait? Eventually the float sank and the tip bent over with the anti climax of a seven inch roach, again only just hooked. The sun was hot, but the water was cold.

Bubbles were coming up in bursts, and I was convinced that tench were now in the swim, but each time a roach had taken the punched bread.

These roach were not  big, but worth catching, proof that the pond is at last coming out of the winter doldrums. The sky continued to clear, while the temperature climbed in my little suntrap, drying out my ground bait and mini slices of punch bread, needing to resort to dropping water off the landing net into the bait tray, to keep the bait soft. By now large carp were cruising the surface, not my target fish today with only a pole, but a tench, or two would have been welcome; still, beggars can’t be choosers and I continued bashing out roach.

My cut off time was 1pm, by which time I was overheating, having started the day wearing two thick jackets. It had been an interesting three hours on the bread punch, having tried out a few thing, but I was glad to pack up. It seems that I had enjoyed a mini climate at Jeanes, my wife complaining of the cold, when she walked to Tesco that morning.

A worthwhile net of roach on any day, without the bonus carp.