Winter bread punch rudd between the storms

January 29, 2020 at 12:39 am

The pattern of UK weather this winter has been stormy days of heavy rain followed by brief windows of dry mornings, or afternoons, then more rain. If, like me, you prefer to fish in the dry, then it is a case of trusting the forecasts and fitting in a session when you can.

This week my only available day promised a sunny morning and the possibility of a shower in the afternoon, although while getting ready that morning, it was still raining from the night before. I had intended driving to the Basingstoke Canal in the hope of a few bream on the punch, but scratched the idea and waited for the rain clouds to pass. A weak sun eventually appeared and I trundled the tackle trolley down to my local pond just to wet a line, the paths still running with rainwater.

The pond was deserted, not even the usual dog walkers were venturing out on this soggy morning and I chose a swim with the breeze at my back, setting up my pole with a light waggler rig on arrival at 10 am.

To my right was a died back lily bed and I fed half a dozen balls of a damp mix of liquidised bread and ground carp pellets out ten metres in front of me, where the depth increases to 30 inches above the silt. This pond once had an overflow from a culverted stream, but the silt has now virtually blocked the inlet and stopped any movement, but the old stream bed still gives extra depth and I fished over it, but had to wait ten minutes before my first indication of a bite. The float dipped and slowly sank and I lifted into a decent rudd, that came off as I shifted the pole back. Another 6 mm pellet of punch went onto the size 16 barbless hook and I was fishing again. Another wait, then another rudd lost. I put a couple of balls out, then went back over them with a 5 mm punch on the hook, the float going straight down and a rudd was skimming toward the net.

The 5 mm punch looked small on the size 16 hook, but it made the difference as rudd began to pile into the keepnet, going up to the larger punch did not attract bigger rudd, but resulted in more lost fish, so the 5 mm won the argument. Bubbles coming up from the bottom indicated that crucians were in the swim, but the rudd were getting to the bait first and I pushed on in an effort to empty the swim of the silvers, giving myself a workout, shipping back the pole to the top 3, then swinging to hand, taking a rudd a minute.

Keeping up the feed did the opposite of my intention, it did not feed them off, instead bringing more in. Usually the larger fish, crucians and common carp move in after an hour, pushing the rudd out, but today the rudd kept on coming, taking on the drop.

The weak sun had soon retreated as the breeze increased, driving black clouds over the pond, my choice of swim taking advantage of the wind on my back, a lift and flick of the pole placing the float perfectly every time. It was getting colder and I pulled my hood up over my cap. The rain would not be too far behind.

My wife arrived for a brief visit, the pond a short diversion on her walk to the Tesco supermarket, and I took a breather from the action, washing down a cheese and pickle sandwich with a warming cup of tea, before returning to the challenge of emptying the pond of rudd. Having run out of feed in my tray, I decided not to mix up more unless the swim died, hoping to attract the attention of crucians, if the rudd lost interest.

Despite the wind trying to sink my float as it flashed on and off in the waves, every time it failed to reappear I lifted into yet another rudd. It was like being on a production line, repeating my actions time after time. The elastic coming out as I hooked into something solid, woke me up, the fish scything round to the right into the lily bed, as I held it back with the pole. It rolled on the surface briefly, the short gold body of a pound crucian clearly visible, before it dived into the snag, picking up a small sunken branch, as it burrowed through the decaying vegetation. The hook pulled free.

Cursing my impatience, I dropped the float over a burst of small bubbles. The float dithered and bobbed, then moved off. The elastic was out again. At last, the crucians were taking the bread! This one fought its ground, then headed off to the left, only to come off again. I should have waited. These crucians take a lot longer to mouth the bait than rudd, More bait on the hook and I plonked the float back over the bubbles. It sank and I waited, until the line followed. A lift of the pole and another rudd was skimming back to me.

The hook was well down, but quick work with the disgorger had the hook free, but this was my last fish, as hail stones began to beat down on myself and the pond, causing me to reach for my wax cotton jacket.

Struggling to get the jacket on with the hood over my head, there was a blinding flash through the trees and an instant crash of thunder that made me jump back on my seat. That was it, I was holding a 9 metre lightning conductor, time to pack up quick. While the thunder continued to echo around the area, the heavens opened to a deluge of freezing rain, soaking everything in an instant, my punch bread now floating around the bait tray. It was 12:55 on the dot. Just when it seem likely that I was about to start catching the elusive crucian carp, I was being forced by nature to pack up. No one could fish in conditions like these.

My pole was dried off, but soaked in seconds, my other tackle slid back inside the box through a narrow opening to avoid the rain, a futile gesture as the water poured in. Pulling in my net, I was surprised by the number of fish and despite my haste to leave, got out my scales to record the weight, over 7 lb in under three hours.

Ready for the half mile uphill walk back to my home, dragging my trolley, the rain increased to a frenzy.

Winter fishing at its best.