A selection of punch floats. Maver
xl and Basset floats, such as London punch are my first choice on a strung
out shotting pattern, for bulk shot a rugby or diamond shape is ideal and a
wire stem for bulk rigs is not a major requirement.
On big rivers where the roach are bigger and have less
time to inspect the bait, bigger floats such as topper Haskins and
wagglers can be used to fish the punch 4 to 5 rod lengths out, which is
sometimes required if you are to be in the catching zone. Also the bread
punch feeder can also have it's day. Using gravel added to punch feed in
fast rivers is one of many feeding ploys in extreme conditions. However,
for starters it is better to try and perfect the bread punch technique on
canals and then apply what you have learnt to other boundaries. Shotting
patterns need some thought as well as hooks etc. and again you need to
apply thought as to what species you are targeting. For example, if bream,
I would fish slightly over depth and I would use a bigger sized punch and
have a bulk and three droppers. Unlike with roach, a strung out
pattern would be my first choice as well as a bagging rig, and my starting
gambit would be to fish this 1 inch off full depth. Now all this I knew or
thought I did.
"where was I going
You may well be asking yourself the same question, I did, especially when a
battering was being had time and time again. Well the main part was in the
feeding, but a lot of it was in trying to achieve the impossible! The
biggest mistake anglers make when fishing the punch is trying to fish and
feed by hand to far out. Lots of angler will start to fish at 5 or
bread punch straight from the bag, BIG MISTAKE!
You will hear such statements as feed a
ball and fish it out or cupped in two balls had them for an hour then they
went, etc. Again no respect for the species that they are targeting. Bold
statements indeed you may well say!
However, What I will say now could result in a total
change in the way you fish bread punch. The most biggest consideration on
how you fish the punch and what feeding method you apply is dictated
mostly by the species you are after. So how is it possible to catch big
weights of canal roach? Again we have to think about the species, with
roach the little and often approach has always been a good way to feed
whether with bronze maggots, hemp, casters etc. We know this from fishing
other methods, so why do 95% of anglers feed a big ball of bread
punch straight from the bag, and end up doing more damage than they could
imagine? Yes, initially they will get a few fish, but you must think of it
as the equivalent to tipping in a pint of maggots and then to add to it!
They then top up again and again and the peg ultimately
I could understand if the target species was bream by feeding a big cup
then fishing it out and not topping up. (I have had more bream
disappear in winter from topping up a peg with more feed than I ever have
by losing one in the peg.)
However, I digress so how should we target canal roach for big weights?
Obviously by feeding little and often and accurately. Not easy at a
distance, this method can be devastatingly applied when feeding by
hand maximum 4 metres at a real push 5, but the accuracy will suffer
because of the small size of feed that you are feeding by hand, so a small
squatt pot attached to the pole is the answer.
For really big weights, 3 or 4 metres to hand is "The Canal Method" for
Roach. What makes me smile is that most anglers move automatically to the
5/6 metre line without a look on this line, blaming the clarity of the
stating they will not catch close without even trying!
Rob Pottinger is a punch angler supreme and on one match he knocked out
another 20lb bag at 3mtres at Northchurch on the Grand Union canal.
Anglers watching said the water was so clear they could see the bottom but
no fish, yet "Potty" was catching very regularly! They only saw the roach
it flashed after being hooked, time and time again. If I had not seen this
for myself I would have said nonsense and that myths are made on such
So how do we prepare this great bait and how do we feed it? Firstly buy a
loaf, my preference is a Tesco value loaf, extremely cheap and ideal for
feed. If fishing on Sunday I purchase a loaf on the Wednesday before and
liquidise it on Saturday for use on Sunday. I take off the crusts of each
slice and then place each slice in a liquidiser. Once liquidised I then
put the liquidised bread through a pinkie riddle, re liquidising any lumps
that don't go through. Some top bread anglers actually use a coffee
grinder putting it through a slice at a time, a laborious process but it
makes the finished product extremely fine. The loaf, being a few days old,
dries out making it ideal to liquidise for feed, as for the bread for the
hook any good brand will do, the fresher the better as this needs to be
stickier. I use medium Hovis white, but any decent brand will do. Again
preparation is needed. I cut off the crusts place each slice into a
microwave oven for 10 seconds and then roll each slice before cutting in
half and placing in cling film to stop it from drying out.
Bread punch, liquidised, sieved with
the crust cut off ready to use or freeze until required.
Having prepared my bread punch it is then used on the
match and any unused bread punch is frozen and used next time, although
I always use fresh steamed 'rolled' bread for the hook. For feeding, I
pour some of the bread
punch into a shallow tray and have more at one end.
I use an Octoplus groundbait tray and top as I
go. This was what was left after my session with the 10lb of small
roach caught at 4mtres.
Picking my feed from the shallow end using two fingers and a thumb
allows me to pick up tiny amounts of crumb, feeding little and often
is the key, you will find that feeding accurately at 4 metres is easy
with practice. With the Roach it pays to look on top and bottom of the
near shelf in the deeper water, however when you catch on top of the
shelf it can be quicker and a real big bag can be achieved. Other
times you may have to catch down or alternate between the two.
Obviously you can feed across the canal and on Roach dominated
boundaries I will again adopt a little and often approach with a small
squatt pot, although if there are skimmers/bream about then I will
consider feeding a tangerine sized ball across and fishing over it
without topping up! In fact, even with carp on commercials I have
noticed that the cracks only re feed another ball when the bites
really start to dry up.
But for the Roach, it is little and often if you want a big bag! Again
this is not a method for the lazy because you will have to work
mentally assessing when to feed and when to concentrate on catching,
bread is a very filling bait and even though you are feeding very
small amounts you have to be extremely careful. You have to have your
finger on the pulse and swinging to hand and
re baiting and unhooking have to become second nature if a weight of
10lb + is required and for those big weights you have to be cooking on
I have had a small practice on the Grand Union canal to show you how I
set my stall for this type of fishing, my preferred float patterns and
more importantly how to feed correctly. But before I do there are a
few other areas we need to cover.
Bread Punches. When purchasing a
bread punch there are several things to consider:
1) It needs to be shallow.
2) The centre cut needs to go to the centre of the punch.
3) It needs to cut cleanly.
4) Preferably it should float.
5) You should have a variety of sizes.
For really large pieces of punch for use on carp fisheries, meat
punches may be used or Middy groundbait punches. Some of the best
commercial punches that I have found are the Drennan type and some
Middy punches. A lot of anglers rave about the old Image punches, but
the slits in these could be
anywhere such was the poor quality of the punch. Either that or I was
extremely unlucky in the two sets that I purchased, however lots of
anglers make their own from bit's of car aerials , even bit's of
carbon off cuts, but I personally can't be bothered.
A selection of different types of punches all
used for punching out bread for species from roach to carp.
As I have already stated everything with bread
has to be specie related. So for this session I will feed little and
often for the Roach, lines will be 0.10 mainline and 0.8 flouro
carbon hook length of 6 to 8 inches to the first shot. A size 22/20
hook a fine Gamakatsu blue hook, although I sometimes use a Kamasan
B511 and if need be, and really bagging, would change to a B611. A
decent Punch board helps and I use an Image board which has a
sliding cover keeping the bread fresh to a certain degree whilst
fishing, however some anglers just use a bait box lid to place the
bread on prior to punching out pieces for the hook.
The float that I am using in this feature is the white bodied Maver
XL hemp float, it meets all the requirements, being slim having a
wire stem, and very sensitive. It can be shotted down, sometimes the
roach that move the bristle a sixteenth of an inch are the lumps,
these bite s need to be seen before they can be hit. The shotting
pattern is simply spread shot in the bottom 3rd of the float set 2
inches apart to give a natural drop with a 6 inch hook length.
Using this shotting pattern means that if need be various types of
presentation can be achieved to induce bites if the going gets
tough, such as holding the rig still against the tow or edging it
through, almost popping the punch into the fishes mouth.
If you want decent weights of fish on punch then you need to apply a
bit of thought to the method, more importantly the species of fish
you are targeting, and then apply what you already know about the
method to the type of fish you seek. Do this and you will
undoubtedly catch a lot more fish! Do not wear blinkers the punch,
like any method, can be complimented. Using hemp with punch can
result in a better bag of fish by switching later to the hemp. Some
top teams try to wean the roach onto the squatt from the punch to
try to improve the catch rate, do not be frightened to experiment to
get the best out of punch.
10lb of bread punch Roach which were caught
on a freezing cold day. The small size may have been improved with a
switch to hemp
13lb of roach when a switch to
hemp was made later in the session, this time it worked! Both bags
were caught at 4 metres using the feeding pattern described.
Remember the blind are easily lead!!!!
Open your eyes to a new way of fishing and BA!