Match and pleasure anglers have discovered that hard-to-tempt canal roach and skimmers readily take punched bread when baits such as maggots fail to raise a bite. But now that more and more anglers are using the technique, it is necessary to refine your tactics if you want to stay one step ahead of the field.
Two ways to feed
There are two basic approaches to feeding for the punch. One way – the laying-the- table’ approach – is to feed at the start of the session, catch as many fish off that initial feed as you can and then feed again. This works well when there are large roach, skimmers and bream about.
Another way is to feed small amounts constantly. This works well when you are after a net of small fish such as loz roach. The approach you adopt should be governed by the way the fish are feeding on the day. Sometimes a combination of the two may yield the best result.
The lazy way
The ‘laying-the-table’ approach is a rather lazy way of feeding, but on the right day it can be very effective. The feed consists of simple liquidized bread. How much, how often? Use a pole cup to feed accurately. The top of an aerosol spray makes an excellent cup. In summer, when the fish are having a go, you might cup in six aerosol caps to start with — particularly if there are larger fish such as skimmers about. Try kicking off with a large hook and punch – a size 16 or 18 with an 8mm diameter punch, say. Laying a bait of this size on the bottom can account for good roach in the 10oz bracket, and skimmers and larger bream as well. If this doesn’t produce bites, then come off the bottom with a smaller hook and bait – a 3mm diameter pellet on a size 22, perhaps. After a while bites become less frequent and may stop altogether. This is the time to feed again, and it should produce more bites. If you feed and no more bites are forthcoming then you can be fairly sure you’ve exhausted the swim.
In winter, cut back. For example, if you are expecting six bream in a five hour session, two aerosol caps should be plenty. Sit and wait. When you’ve caught your six fish, or if bites seem to be coming regularly, think about giving your swim another half or full cup.
For roach, try feeding a small pole cup every ten minutes. Do this for as long as you are getting bites.
You may find that as you feed again bites become less frequent. If this happens early in a session it may mean that the fish don’t want much feed. Ease off and the bites should return. When bites start to tail off again, that’s the time to feed.
If you are after a net of very small roach try the second approach. Feed very small amounts regularly. Liquidized bread tends to be a bit too filling, so use a mix of two-thirds brown breadcrumb groundbait to one third white and put it through a flour sieve to remove large particles before wetting it. Add ground almonds to give the bait extra appeal. A typical mix would be 2 lb of brown to 1lb of white to 8oz of ground almond. Make a sloppy, lump-free mix by adding the groundbait to the water.
Feed the smallest balls possible. Obviously, the farther out you fish the larger the balls have to be – but try to keep them down to the size of a marble. Feed every cast. The ball should be sloppy enough to break up in midwater and create a cloud. Keep feeding in the same spot. Work out where the ball is breaking up in your swim — especially when the canal is flowing. If, for example, the canal is flowing from left to right then you may have to feed at the 11 o’clock position and fish at the 1 o’clock position.