Wednesday 22 December 2021

Warwickshire Stour - Ice Blocks and Ichthyolatry

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jeff Hatt from Idlers Quest quite a few times during his blogging escapades and it was our journey down to the river Itchen 6 years ago 😲where Jeff did most of the talking and I did most of the listening, well I was driving us down to Southampton after all. 

A few months prior to this trip I had posted a review on the Lesney Bread Bait Press which seemed more faff than anything else, especially in the depths of winter where the pinkies can stop functioning. Bread was therefore a topic of conversation, but more of that later. 


Work for Jeff got in the way as did his other other interests and for what was once the go too fishing fix for something different than the mainstream media offerings. It was Jeff and Keith for that matter that got me in to keeping a diary of my fishing, but also Jeff got me in to canal Zander fishing which if you have read my blog for a while, you know how much as a species they captivated me. 

Btw Keith Jobling's new River Anker blog can be found here

Jeff's best canal Zed was around 5lb if I recall which was a decent canal fish, what I didn't expect was that mine would exceed that a number of times, culminating in one >11lb.  Roach were his thing though, more so than canal Zander and Jeff like me liked to fish forgotten streams and brooks with unknown quarries.  Bread was his go to bait for the redfins where he used to target on the local running waters and also canals.


Lobworms certainly featured especially in coloured water but it was his article My Way With Bread   that changed the way I used bread for targeting chub as well as roach. 

Now a room full of Monkey's bashing at their keyboards could provide more accurate and realistic pandemic modelling results than the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, they could certainly learn something from Jeff's article about accuracy and repeatability, no finger in air to be seen in his article, it was tried and tested. 


I used to almost always tear off a large piece of bread, fold it in half and squeeze some of it firmly around the shank of the hook. 

I wasn't confident that the bread was still on half the time and usually after a missed bite a hard compressed piece of bread used to come back on the retrieve, which shows that the method worked to keep the bait on.

I always felt that the presentation was crude still even though chub especially didn't mind the lackadaisical approach, well they are known as gluttonous feeders after all.  

I'd also more often that not dip the bread in water before squeezing it to get the excess water out from it which would help the bait to sink or fall at a desired rate.  That can often mask the hook even more and could well lead to less hook-ups.

Jeff's way seemed to me initially anyway a little cumbersome too because the bread was anchored to the deck with split shot which meant ok, the bait was fluttering nicely off the bottom, but maybe not as naturally as a piece of bread that was unrestrained to do its own thing. 

That meant that not only was the bait often clear of the silt  or debris that had settled on the river bed, but also in strong to medium flows the shot acted as a stop for any leaves or whatnot before whatever it was got near the hookbait. 

It just seemed to work quite well straight from the off and the split shot could be adjusted to present the bait at different levels off the deck.

The colour of the water certainly makes a difference and I've found using the same set-up I'd switch to a worm bait if the water is tea coloured and up, where often the fish can be found resting in the slacks and a wriggly pungent worm can make all the difference. 


Its not a method I use all the time but it certainly has its place in my armoury and certainly when trying to target roach not just chub on small rivers using bread, it means I can reduce the hook size and the hook also pulls through the bread easier and nine times out of ten you know the visual white offering is in the fishes eyeline.

I've got the confidence that the bread stays on as well because more often than not on the retrieve the bread either floats to the surface or comes back with the hook in a fluffy mess. 

I carry a few different punches in my tackle bag but usually 35mm is all I need and the hook baits can obviously be prepared the night before in a warm house and not on a cold river bank.  Obviously if I want a smaller bait than 35mm I can halve it and then fold again, very versatile indeed.  

It was Jeff's method of convenience basically, so fold and squeeze a piece together, insert the hook and jobs a good'un, heck even the Warburtons blue lasted longer as the engineer in me would accurately punch the bread out, where the remaining bread used for the mash or liquidised as crumb for use in a feeder. 


Less wastage is good, as I'd get 9-12 baits quite easily, where as I'd manage 5 or 6 if I was lucky from my usual method. The baits can also be stored in a Tupperware container and can last longer generally because they are out in the air less basically.

Anyway enough of that, I was back down the Warwickshire Stour again, this time though I wanted to do a reccy in an area I'd not fished for ages but with only chub caught the last two visits I fancied trying the more 'roach' like swims this section has to try and catch a few roach.


The Stour roach don't go massive but certainly >1lb fish are up for grabs if anyone puts the effort in as they do turn up in the matches from time to time and I've had some nice ones over the years. This section was shallower but with gullies and holes to be fished these areas could well be holding spots for the specimens. 

Now a hard frost greeted me when I entered the field after driving down the muddy track but I really do love these conditions. In-fact winter is more my thing if I'm honest because it suits my roving style and also the banks are very quiet indeed.


This stretch isn't particularly long but plenty to go at and when the Stour has that lovely green tinge you know there are fish to be caught.

The river is low'ish at the minute but the beauty of this sort of river is that the river can vary so much from fast water, to slow and sluggish slacks and everything in-between. The first swim shown below is almost the first one you come to and it looked perfect for a bite.


I decided to start out with a really small feeder filled with liquidised bread and a 35mm folded disk of bread on the hook. I also fed a little bread in to the swim to try and get some interest from the fish.

What I didn't expect was literally within a minute or so a proper pull round on the 1 ounce tip and a chub was on. Well it was on, because it came off as quickly as it was hooked. But these are greedy chub after all and they often come back for a second go.


It didn't take long for another bite either a couple of tentative pulls before the tip properly pulled towards the water. Only a 2lber that felt like a block of ice and it had clearly been feeding on the flour filled freebies.

I put it downstream but no more fish were forthcoming and after a most welcome drink of tea I went on the rover. It was only a 3 hour session and 5 chub were caught the best shown below that was caught in the third swim. I cannot believe how cold they were, but then with the mesh of the landing net frozen solid after the first fish, it's certainly chilly out there for the fish at the minute.  


Roach didn't show whatsoever even after scaling down to a couple of red maggots in the last two swims. Not unexpected because the Chub are the hardiest of all fish.

A big drop in temperature I'm sure didn't help, a natter with the farmer on the opposite bank who thought I was mad and a dog walker who has fished this stretch over the last few years I've been given a couple of pointers. Anyway, an enjoyable session and let's be honest here, so what if the fish are not particularly big, if you don't get this style of fishing you never will. 

4 comments:

  1. Good write up Mick.

    Enjoyed that!

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    Replies
    1. Cheers George !! I know you would relate to the post !!

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  2. Cracking read that Mick . I once read an article by Phil smith where he wrote about fishing for chub with large pieces of bread crust . However the main content of the article was that the bread was cast far upstream between steamers or other vegetation . The angler then slowly eased the shot anchored chunks of bread down the swim back to himself . It was a very successful method for several of the Coventry specimen group .

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  3. Food for thought Baz !! Chub are very visual feeders and you can see why that would work !!

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