When winter starts to bite on rivers, drains and canals, forget images of idyllic countryside scenes and instead turn your attention to the hustle and bustle of towns and cities.
Winter sees fish make a migration into built-up city and town centres like the River Welland at Stamford, seeking shelter, warmer water and a reliable source of food – and that means bread.
Throughout winter, thousands of loaves get thrown in by the public to feed the ducks – something that fish, roach in particular, have latched on to. Bread is now such a big part of their winter diet that they’ll often ignore other baits.
That’s not to say that roach fishing with punch is easy, but bread is a very ‘instant’ bait. If you’re going to catch, you’ll catch on it within 10 minutes. If not, it’s time to move, as even in areas where hundreds of roach pack in they can still be nomadic and shoal up tightly.
Here's how I fish it...
Add plenty of gravel
My feed is liquidised bread, which I blend and then push through a riddle for a fine mix. I add lots of very fine aquarium gravel to make the ball of feed sink quickly.
Set up two rigs
I have two rigs ready. One is positive, using a 0.6g or 0.8g round-bodied float for holding the bait still. The second is a 4x14 slim pencil float for running slowly down the peg.
I’ll start on a big piece of 5mm or 6mm breadpunch to see if there are any quality roach about. After the opening 15 minutes, I’ll drop to 4mm once the early flurry of bites fades.
‘Rattle’ in some hemp
After 20 minutes, I’ll pick up the catapult and fire in some hemp over the bread. This prolongs the need to feed bread again and lets me use hemp on the hook too.
Controlling the rig is key, so fish and feed downstream. This only needs to be one o’clock on a clock face, and lets me get all the line above the float firmly behind it.
Go big with hooks
Once it’s swollen in the water, a 4mm piece of breadpunch is quite a big bait, so a small hook isn’t needed. Use a size 18, fished on a 0.09mm hooklength to 0.12mm line.