On the Kennet & Avon canal
Bread fishing falls into three main categories i.e. punch, flake and paste. Starting with punch fishing, bread punches can be bought from all good tackle shops and is a method aimed at the vast amount of roach that inhabit the canal, this like all bread methods is easy to prepare and fish and is also very cheap, the preparation starts at home with a loaf of steamed white bread which is the cheap medium sliced bread from the supermarket, first step is to take about six slices and cut the crusts off, this is your hook bait which should be stored in a small plastic bag to keep fresh, some anglers moisten their bread a bit more by hold a slice over steam and then lightly rolling with a rolling pin to give a firmer slice, some times better if you are using very small hooks and punch sizes again storing your bait in an air tight bag to stop it drying out. The groudbait or feed for this method consists of taking the rest of the loaf of bread and putting it through a liquidizer until it is chopped to a pulp, this is now ready to use without adding any water at all but you can put in additives at this stage before storing back in the bread bag. You can do a few batches at the same time as the liquidized bread freezes well for further trips.
An alternative ground bait for punch fishing is plain brown or white crumb from your tackle shop which is mixed with water to a wet consistency like a slop to form an enticing cloud from top to bottom.
Punch fishing can be done with a variety of tackle, rod and reel, long pole or whips with the latter being by far the quickest for amassing large weights of fish but with the drawback being if a large fish is hooked then the chances of landing it are greatly reduced. A simple waggler set up with very little weight down the line and fished over depth covers most situations with a small bodied float on the long pole for times when the fish aren’t feeding very well, about 2lb main line with hooks from 16-22 depending on the size of punch being used.
The line of feed can be anywhere from near to far bank for example if you are fishing a 4m whip the you will be feeding and fishing at about 6m and after deciding on your line of attack open up your bag of liquidized bread and lightly squeeze a small amount between two or three fingers and throw (or use a pole pot) to the feed line, the bread should float for a little while before breaking up and forming an enticing cloud of particles in the water attracting those canal roach, don’t let a bite develop when punch fishing as the bait and the fish will be gone if you don’t strike quick enough.
For paste fishing I take a large unsliced loaf of any kind cut it into large pieces at leave it some where warm and safe to dry out completely. To make the paste I take some of the dried bread and grind it up in the liquidizer add a little flower (additives can be added at this stage if required) and adding a small amount of water at a time work the mixture into a wet doughy paste and put into a plastic bag to keep the paste moist. For flake fishing I use a small fresh unsliced loaf and pull of bits of flake as required when fishing.
Groudbait for both flake and paste fishing consists of taking the rest of the dried out loaf mentioned earlier adding water and leaving to soak, when enough water is soaked up the bread can be broken up with your hand into a pulp that can be fed into the swim by hand, its better to put in to little water to start with as more can easily be added for further ground baiting later in the session and remember that this ground bait and the liquidized bread for punch fishing are both very filling and erring on feeding to little is better than to much on the canal because you can always put more in but you can’t take it out.
Tackle for paste and flake fishing is normally stronger using 2.5lb+ line with 8-16 strong hooks as tench, bream and bigger roach are very fond of bread in its larger forms and as the bait is fished hard on the bottom a normal waggler set up will suffice fishing anywhere across the canal with the tops and bottoms of ledges both near and far bank being more productive.