Jon Arthur takes to a town lake armed with £3 worth of bait, on a mission to catch a quality bag of roach in far from ideal conditions…
In this day and age it’s easy to get lost in the mist of baits and additives, and sometimes I think we forget how simple and cheap fishing can be! I’m taking to the banks of a Furzton Lake armed with a liquidised loaf of bread and a pint of hempseed – two of the simplest, cheapest but also most effective roach baits on the planet…
A Redfin Recipe!
Roach are one of my favourite fish – I love them! There are probably no two baits finer than hemp and bread for catching them too. These two baits complement each other incredibly well. Bread is a very instant bait. You can always tell if there are any roach in the area because you will get a bite almost first drop-in. Whether you’re fishing on a canal, river or lake, this is normally the case. Bread is really visible with its white colour, and liquidised bread makes a fish-attracting cloud as it falls through the water to quickly draw in fish.
Hemp can be quite different, however. Roach often take quite a bit of time to gain confidence in feeding on hemp. Sometimes it’s half an hour before you get a bite on it, while other days it can be two or three hours, or even more! Once the roach do start feeding on it, though, they become addicted and often end up in a ravenous frenzy. The fish you can tempt on hemp are normally a very good stamp too. The key is to maintain a very rhythmic feeding pattern and keep a constant stream of seed falling through the water. Combine hemp and bread together and you have the perfect roach recipe. Bread is great for starting a session on, while hemp can provide you with a fantastic finish to it with quality fish.
Jon only uses the best looking hookers!
I always cook my own hemp for hookinh. There are lots of varieties of tinned hemp out there, which are great for feeding, but this is often too small and split too much to get on the hook.
1. Soak a pint of uncooked hempseed in water overnight.
2. Place this in a saucepan and cover it with water and bring it to the boil.
3. I always add a pinch of salt and sugar at this stage to enhance the flavour.
4. Once boiling, turn the heat down and leave the hemp to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Keep watching the hemp so that you can see when it begins to split. Sometimes I take out a few grains early because these are ideal for hooking when they have only just split.
6. I always save the oily water that I cook my hemp in. This is great for mixing groundbait with, and I always keep my hemp in this water when on the bank.
1. I don't have a preference on wich bread to use when liquidising - something cheap and a little bit old is normally good. This kind of bread is normally a little bit dry and when whizzed up in the blender is goes very fine!
2. Leave the crusts intact when liquidising – it’s all goodness and means you get more for your money!
3. Place three or four slices in the blender at a time. I normally cut mine in half so they hit the blades quicker.
4. Hold the lid and bottom of the blender and make sure you give it a controlled shake to make sure all the bread gets chopped evenly.
5. Place the bread in a bag in the freezer. Once frozen, take it out and, while frozen, blend it again. This makes it extre-fine.
6. On arriving at the bank, I place some bread in a maggot tub and add water a bit at a time until I can form a damp ball – not sloppy, but not compressed like groundbait. You need the bread to sink but break up quickly on, or near to the bottom.
I have assembled two rigs offering different kinds of presentation. There’s a fairly strong wind, making things awkward because it’s blowing slightly across and towards me here.
The first rig is quite positive, a 1g Drennan G-Tip 3 float, shotted with an olivette three feet from the hook with three No9 droppers below. Hopefully, this will be the main rig, especially for bread. This is very stable and allows me to accurately present my hook bait right over the feed. This can be very important at the start of a session, when the fish are right on the bread, homing in on your ball of feed.
The second rig offers a very different kind of presentation, intended more for hemp and catching fish on the drop. Because I’m going to be loose feeding hemp, the fish normally intercept it as it falls. This second rig is made to mimic this feed and features a 0.4g float with No10 and No11 shot strung out in the bottom half. Starting six inches away from my hook is the first No 11, and there are four more spread three inches apart going up the rig. Above these, the No10s start strung out the same.
Both rigs are made on 0.117mm Drennan Supplex and feature either a 0.075mm Supplex hooklength, or Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength. Hook-wise, there is only one for me when it comes to roach – a Kamasan B511. I have these tied from a size 18 to a size 22, and they cover nearly all my natural and stillwater roach fishing. My elastic is simply a No5 Preston Slip through my full top kit.
You join me at the lovely Furzton Lake at Milton Keynes. This is a very big lake that I’ve fished quite a few times over the years. Normally, however, anglers fish with maggots, casters or groundbait on the pole and I’ve always wondered if bread and hemp would work. I’ve got set up nice and comfortably, with my box placed in the shallow margins. When it’s windy like today, getting nice and low to the water is a big help – you get out of the wind, are more comfortable and can present your rig much better. Getting in the water gives you a little more distance too on lakes with shallow margins, meaning you don’t need to fish as far out on the pole.
Top Tip: Cheeky Pinkies…
One little trick that I like to do is place a pinch of fluoro pinkies in my bread mix. You only need a pinch to add loads of colour to the bait and give you another hook bait option. It’s surprising how many big perch, skimmers and hybrids you can catch by fishing with a pinkie over the top of your bread!
To start, I’ve cupped in a large ball of liquidised bread mix and sprinkled half a pot of hempseed over the top. I don’t think the fish will really eat the hemp but it spreads out as it falls and creates a little bit of a grazing area around by feed. I’m going to start loose feeding immediately too; a dozen grains every few minutes.
Baiting up with a 4mm punch of bread and starting on the heavy rig, I get my first bite after just five minutes! The wind is getting really bad already but catching is a real reward! Half a dozen quick fish in the first 15 minutes prove just how instant bread is – even on a vast expanse of water like this, the fish have homed straight in on it!
Jon stores his hemp in a milk bottle, along with all the lovely jucies it is cooked in!
It’s incredibly difficult to present the rig and, as well as the wind, the lake is towing from left to right really strongly. Most of my bites, however, seem to be coming right on my feed. To make the most of this, I need to place my rig in the water well above the feed, some two metres uptow of it to the right. This way, the rig settles just above where I think my bread is on the deck and I can control the rig over this area and just below it, where it’s likely that some of my loose-fed hemp is landing.
The fishing is very steady but really rewarding too. After three or four chunky fish, bites dry up and I’ve been re-feeding with a small nugget of the wetted-up bread mix, containing a few pinkies and pinch of hemp. Slipping a pinkie on every now and again has worked well too, bringing an odd extra bite, but I’m two hours into the session and I’m yet to get a bite on hemp.
Ringing the changes is really important whenever you’re catching chunky roach like this. To keep them coming you can’t afford to be lazy, and after three or four bites you normally need to change something to bring another run of fish. I’m alternating between 4mm and 5mm punches of bread on the hook and I’ve also played around with the depth quite a lot.
Immediately after re-feeding, it seems better to fish about eight inches off the bottom. This is probably because there are quite a few bits of bread floating up and off my feed. After a few fish here, I simply drop back down to dead depth and enjoy another little run of fish there once the swim has settled.
With around an hour of the session left bites really slow down. Picking up my lighter rig for hemp, I’m surprised to get a sudden bite out of the blue to the far left of my feed area. It’s a better fish too at 8oz – a perfect hemp specimen. This prompts me to try presenting this lighter rig slightly downtow and I manage a good run of these better fish in the closing stages. Eight quality redfins on the seed make for a perfect finish to the session and prove just how important it is to persevere when feeding hemp. It’s also interesting how these were sat right at the extreme left of the swim. They were most likely picking off the odd bit of loose feed and bread crust that pops-up and wafts down to them in the tow. With over double figures of roach in the net on literally £3 worth of bait, it’s been a lovely few hours. Find a local lake, keep your bait cheap and simple and enjoy some budget bagging when you get a few spare hours this month!
Hemp And Bread Secrets
1. The perfect hooker! The grain is still intact with just a small amount of kernel showing
2. Jon generally finds that 5mm and 4mm punches prove the best when good-stamp roach are the target
3. Hemp pinkies and bread - the downfall of many a roach over the years
4. Note how the point of the hook is exposed. This helps Jon convert more bites into roach in the net!
Name: Jon Arthur
Pole: Drennan Acolyte
Venue: Furzton Lake
Location: Milton Keynes MK1 4GA
Day tickets: £7 on the bank