Urban carp secret among the houses on bread punch.

July 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm

On a recent visit to a friend, who had just moved into my neighbourhood, I took a wrong turn on his housing estate and found myself at a dead end, my way blocked by a tree shrouded pond among the houses. Apart from a few openings in the trees, where ducks had been fed, the pond was completely overgrown. It had at some time been the ornamental pond to a large house, ivy covered steps and an inaccessible boat slipway surrounded by rusted railings, baring testament to this. The house and grounds were now gone, replaced by modern, but expensive houses hidden behind high walls and gates.

The lake is fed by a stream flowing from a nature reserve a mile upstream, where I’d seen carp swimming in it’s protected waters and wondered if any had migrated down to this little haven. A quick walk round before getting back in the car confirmed that this shallow pond did indeed hold a stock of fish, dimples in the middle at least indicating a shoal of rudd.

A few weeks later, I was forcing my way through the untended undergrowth, to an area just big enough to get my tackle box down, next to the stream inlet. A bit of trimming with snips soon had a space to get the pole working, although staking out my net, I realised that there was only six inches of water in close.

I hadn’t brought my boots, which meant that jacking up the box on it’s legs, further out in the pond, to find deeper water, was not on, unless I fancied wading in bare feet. I’m not that keen, so had to like it, or lump it. This decision was eased, when I plumbed the course of the stream and discovered another 18 inches of water. Perfect.



Today there were no signs of rudd on the surface, and opted to fish a new small dibber float, baited with a 7mm pellet of bread punch along the stream channel, just held back against the gentle inflow of water and put a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread in to get things moving. I was still sorting out my gear, getting comfortable, when my pole was almost pulled from my hand, as a good fish ran off with the bait, followed by the stretching pole elastic. I managed to fit a on a couple more metres of pole before the run stopped heading out, but then watched as it made for the trees on my right, more pressure and it rolled on the surface, a pound plus common carp.

A lucky start to the session? Another ball of bread was met by a swirling boil beneath it and the float slid away before it cocked. The elastic was out again, as a smaller common kited across the surface. They must live in this channel, waiting for the bread meant for the ducks, from the mums and kids of the estate.

Then the rudd moved in, some nice four ounce fish among them. Time for a heavier feed, mixing the liquidised bread with ground carp pellets and water, to put a thick carpet straight on the bottom of the channel, from six to nine metres out. I’d sneaked  some sweet corn from the freezer on my way out, but this was still frozen, so stuck with my biggest bread punch, squeezing two pellets together on the 14 hook. A typical rudd, lift and run bite was met with a solid juddering fight and a nice crucian carp was skating across the shallows.

The procession of fish to my net continued, until a slow sink away of the float saw the elastic go out and stay there, as a very large carp made it’s mind up what to do, before powering at a steady pace across the pond, while I extended my pole to it’s full eleven meters in pursuit of the fast disappearing elastic. Trying to keep an angle between the pole and this unseen lump, I hung on against the pressure. The possible double figure fish was not fighting, just swimming around stirring up the mud, anytime it wanted to really test my tackle, there would only be one outcome. The carp would win. Win it did, after what could have been ten minutes, a sudden spurt saw the elastic ping back into the tree to my side. The rig was tangled, but the 6lb main line allowed me to pull it out, less the hook on it’s 3lb line. It may have broken me, or the hook pulled out, I couldn’t tell. After this exertion my hands were shaking too much to repair the rig and reached inside my box for my well used waggler pole rig. The sweet corn had now thawed in the sun and I mixed a dozen pieces into the heavy mix and rebaited with it. The float lifted flat and another crucian was on, the earlier commotion not putting them off.

A rustle through the undergrowth behind me heralded ten minutes of nightmare. A big black labrador came charging into my little private clearing with a well chewed tennis ball in it’s mouth and dropped it beside me. It wanted me to throw it into the pond, picking it up and dropping it, panting and gesturing towards the water. I am not a doggy person, but on occasion have humoured the occasional dog in this way, but not when I have a swim full of fish eager to bite. With this he jumped in and turned expecting me to play, charging about and stopping, waiting for me to throw in the ball. “Oh bother”, or words to that effect. Another rustle and it was “Charlie’s” owner standing next to me. Charlie now went into hyperdrive, running back to the bank and out again. “Are you fishing?” the owner enquired. I just gestured around me in resignation. The owner reached down and threw the ball to the middle of the pond. Game over. I began packing up. “Sorry, we come here every day. I’ve never seen a fisherman here before!” I wonder why?

This had the makings of a fantastic haul of fish, under three hours of the bread punch, putting at least ten pounds in the net, the next three on the corn held the promise of many more. The penalty of these urban waters is that we anglers are intruding into the world of the general public, who have no understanding of our passion for fishing and it is us, who have to give way to the dog walkers, cyclists, duck feeders, etc.